Author Topic: GLORY DAYS  (Read 76257 times)

Online JohnnyGage

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 397
Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #240 on: September 03, 2019, 09:49:28 PM »
GORY DAYS; Part 8
Snapshots, continued

MAN HIT BY TRAIN...1

With four subway lines intersecting ENY there was plenty activity both above grade on the elevated, or “El” and underground in the stations. Numerous fights, stabbings and rapes were common jobs that were assigned.........
11 /17/ 78;  0225 hrs: “Liberty 375, Man Injured, struck by train. Pennsylvania Avenue and Livonia Avenue Station.”

(Flash forward to today; an assignment like the one mentioned above would initiate the response of the Cavalry from all the emergency agencies. In 1978 it was just Liberty 375).

Back to 1978...“Liberty 375, 10-4” My partner is Hall and we know the intersection very well, when we arrive a Transit Police Officer is with a teen who is laying on his side on the platform next to the tracks, it appears to be a fractured leg after being hit by a train is his story. He continues to tell us he jumped onto the tracks to retrieve his red baseball cap when it fell off his head and onto the tracks as a train was approaching. The teen jumped down, grabbed his cap and was clipped by the passing train while fetching his cap thus fracturing his lower left leg.

“OK, I said”...Unbelievable but true, there is no train in the station, the platform is empty and all is calm except for the teen, the Transit Cop, Hall and myself. I splint his leg with a small greenish blue wooden splint about eighteen inches long that has a little bit of a plastic cushion and have him sit in the stair chair to take him down to the street. The teen insists he can hop to the bus... so “hop” he goes on one leg, I hold his other arm as he steadies himself down the handrails of the El.

When we arrive at Brookdale Hospital, we then transfer him into a wheelchair and as I begin to push him into the emergency department, his treasured red hat falls off again, I bend over to retrieve it, and the teen says: “Forget the hat”…I remind him “but you were almost killed trying to retrieve your hat a few minutes ago”. He says “F$%* it, Let it go, who needs it”....




MAN HIT BY TRAIN...2

Lawrence and I are pulling out of Brookdale Hospital, Lawrence is driving and I’m the tech. I grab the telephone like radio handset and transmit to Brooklyn CO; “Liberty 374; 10-98” (available); it is 5/ 31 /79; 0409 hrs...Immediately Brooklyn CO has a job for us, “DOA on the tracks”, additional information is for us to meet transit police at Kingston Avenue and Eastern Parkway. Lawrence and I respond the few blocks to the location and pull up behind the black and white Transit Authority Police car, where we are met by a couple of Transit PO’s. I go to the back of the bus and get my tackle box first aid kit, one of the Transit PO’s says I won’t need it, the victim has been DOA for a long time, and we are here to pronounce the DOA and collect the body. Down the steps Lawrence and I follow the two Transit POs.

(HISTORICAL NOTE: During my period with EMS, there were three Police Agencies covering NYC; the Housing Authority Police who patrolled the Projects, the Transit Police who patrolled the subways and bus lines, and the City Police, NYPD. The three agencies merged into one during the Rudy Giuliani administration).

The power to the tracks have been turned off and all four of us proceed through the station to the end, we walk single file along the “catwalk” a brief distance alongside the track bed, Lawrence and I are behind the PO’s, I point my flashlight slightly ahead of me to make sure of the dark footing.  We have reached the end of the catwalk and are now on the tracks about a football fields length from the station where the PO points to what looks like a dusty black knapsack without shoulder straps lying adjacent to the outside of the track and against the cement wall. Shining my flashlight and looking closer, I notice there is a couple of broken bones protruding from this dry and dirty satchel. It’s a DOA alright,  that must have been hit numerous times by trains over a long period of time and the body has been reduced to a small rucksack made from twisted clothing. The PO has a body bag with him, the PO and I lift the body, it is not heavy at all, and place the remains in the body bag. The body is carried upstairs and into the back of the bus where Lawrence and I transported the unidentified victim to Kings County Morgue for identification.






Below are two headlines from the Daily News of jobs I handled. The headlines say enough!



Thanks for reading...hope you enjoyed!    KMG-365
« Last Edit: September 03, 2019, 10:04:28 PM by JohnnyGage »

Nycfire.net

Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #240 on: September 03, 2019, 09:49:28 PM »

Online nfd2004

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5185
  • Gender: Male
Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #241 on: September 06, 2019, 08:29:31 AM »
 Mr Gage, in your last sentence in the above post of "Gory Days", (added to G"L"ORY DAYS), "you" thank us for reading...hope you enjoyed.

 Well of course, I can't speak for EVERYBODY here, but I hope that my vote does count. Without a doubt in my mind, as I read these stories they are GREAT. Not only that, the pictures that you have posted along with it, are CLASSICs that take us back to those days when parts of NYC had hit rock bottom and those firefighters, police officers, ems members, or those doctors and nurses working the emergency rooms in those over pack hospitals, were caught right up in the middle of it.

 Back then, my primary care physician was in her early school days working in a major NYC inner city hospital emergency room. Whenever I visit her, our conversation is more about "back in those days", than of my own health. She usually just tells me, "You're all set Willy (Thank the Good Lord), then the next five or ten minutes of my scheduled visit we talk about the GLORY and GORY DAYS, that Mr Gage has been telling us about. In fact, I think she might enjoy reading these stories too. So when I see her next January, I'm going to pass this onto her.

 I gotta also tell you that there's not too many other patients she has that live around here, that can relate to those NYC days of the past, like Mr Willy D. I guess our yearly incomes are kinda different but we can still talk the same game.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2019, 08:31:10 AM by nfd2004 »

Online JohnnyGage

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 397
Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #242 on: September 07, 2019, 07:44:53 AM »
"Mr. GAGE?"....please, all my friends call me Johnny, "Mr. Gage" is my pops... Glad to hear you're fit as a fiddle (your special secret diet is paying off!...more Big Macs and a Pepe pizza please!)...yes indeed, turn your Doc onto the wonderful Nycfire.net stories and recollections found on the hundreds of posts and threads contributed to this net, by all means.


« Last Edit: September 07, 2019, 07:54:44 AM by JohnnyGage »

Online JohnnyGage

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 397
Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #243 on: September 07, 2019, 06:55:21 PM »
Hello Troops, I'm going to switch gears for now and resume the finale of "Gory Days" after this column in a few days as I begin a solemn observance of the upcoming week and will be out of service.

9/11 carries a heavy burden of memory and it is right that it should not pass from our memory. We remember the heroism of the many who lost their lives in saving others, we grieve still for those who suffered and died, friends and strangers, family and and friends. We remember the death and devestation our eyes were not meant to see. And we remember the feeling of emptiness when our "world stopped turning, that September day"*. Never forget.

                                                                 *********
REMEMBERING "THAT" SEPTEMBER


It is the end of August, 2001. I am currently assigned to Ladder 31 and I am sitting at the kitchen table of “The Big House”, awaiting roll call and enjoying a cup of coffee before committee work starts. Lt Luby, the boss of the day comes down from his office and joins me. “Johnny” he says, “the Battalion has informed us we need to detail a man down to the First Division to reinforce the lack of manpower in downtown Manhattan,'' He continues,” it is not your detail as you have seniority over the next selected member, but the detail would be difficult on the junior member as he lives a distance away, and don’t you live in the area?”... I get the message, and I’m not about to make any waves, “No problem, Boss, I’ll take the detail”.

The detail is for ninety days, and I will have a choice to which company I will take the detail to. Anyway, by taking the detail the reduced travel commute will afford me extra time to study for the upcoming lieutenants exam scheduled for October.  I suggest to the boss that I would prefer to do my detail at Ladder 10, in the shadow of the WTC South Tower and only a few blocks from my apartment in Battery Park City that I can walk to work... Furthermore, being assigned to L 10 for the next few months, the night tours are usually very quiet as city workers vacate lower Manhattan and back to their homes in outlying suburbs leaving the World Trade Center area desolate and quiet, another perfect opportunity for me to cram in additional quality study time. The detail will benefit me and my studying.

My detail starts September 7, a day tour. The Captain of L 10 has asked me to go to the South Street Seaport firehouse, E 4 and L 15, they need a Ladder Chauffeur for the day tour to drive their Mack Tower Ladder, “10-4 Boss, on my way”.... A young firefighter, named Scott Larsen  helps me with inspecting the compartments and tools. He is a jovial young man and I can tell by his spirit he loves the job, he is just off his probation and we have fun together going over the tower ladder and inspecting tools. I’m in luck too, the boss is my old buddy from our training school days, Joe Leavy. Joe and I stood shoulder to shoulder in ranks during our time at the “Rock”. Joe is the Lieutenant today and it will be fun driving him and catching up on old times. Joe is very meticulous in everything he does, he even speaks clearly and confidently. Joe loves working downtown Manhattan, he has an interest in building architecture and the area certainly has plenty of that.

The following day I am off, and will now report for my first night tour September 9th into the 10th, second night tour 10th into the 11th at L 10 as I have no mutual partners at this time and working straight tours. So tonight, my first night tour, I am the Ladder Chauffeur of L 10 for this tour and driving the Captain; Paul M., Lieutenant Greg Atlas from E 10 welcomes me to the firehouse, “a little slice of heaven” as he describes the joint.... I get a good jump on studying upstairs in a small quiet back room carved out of the firehouse to study. The night has been very quiet and I am looking forward to the premier of Steven Spielberg's “Band of Brothers” on tv...Just before the epic starts, the Captain stops by the apparatus floor tv room and tells me that my temporary detail group assignment is loaded with manpower, he is going to adjust “the chart” and I will be moved to another group for the remainder of my detail to fill vacancies. So, tonight will be my last night and I will go on a three day leave, the 11th, 12th and 13th, and report for the day tour on the 14th. Sweet I think, the next few days I will be off, head over to Staten Island for the lieutenant prep class on the 11th...it is all going to work out!



SEPTEMBER 10th

BRIAN

On September 10th, my colleague and good buddy Brian from L 38 will be returning from a serious fire in Queens where he fractured his leg at the infamous “Fathers Day Fire”. Brian is the boss of the elite Rescue 4.  on Father's Day a fire in a hardware store in Astoria Queens exploded and killed three firefighters, two of the firefighters from Brian's company. Brian was inside when the explosion occurred and suffered a fractured leg and placed on medical leave...But now his fracture has healed and Brian is chomping at the bit to do what he loves to do, fire duty.

It wasn’t only a few weeks ago that I invited Brian and his wife Donna to join my wife an me for dinner near our Battery Park apartment. We decided to dine at “Tall Ships Bar and Grille” at the base of the Marriot hotel next to the WTC South Tower #2. During our conversation Brian asked me to consider transferring to R 4, which I politely declined ...again...we laughed, dine al fresco and felt alive in the cool brisk air next to the towering WTC. Brian surprised me by telling me that he is looking forward to going back to work shortly, in fact the next week.

I worked with Brian during our Ladder 38 days when he transferred in from a Harlem Engine Company. We were both the same age, had a side business painting homes, young children with the same age...often there were times we would enjoy each others company while cleaning our paint brushes together at the apparatus floor slop sink... and wonder “does it get any better than this?”. We were assigned to the same groups and worked together almost every tour. Brian was passionate about studying for promotion, I knew he was going places!  Brian, was a tough and aggressive firefighter despite his laid back relaxed demeanor, he was always smiling. Many early mornings after runs Brian turned me onto peanut butter english muffins. Brian and I parted ways, he wanted more action at R4 and I was looking for more work in Bushwick. During our time separated we stayed in touch... Brian asked me for a photograph of me in fire gear, I dug one out and gave it to him. Unbeknownst to me Brian was in the process of producing the exciting “Brothers in Battle” video... where he did incorporate my photo!

On September 10th Brian left his new dream home he and Donna had just moved into. He had been “eyeballing” this house for some time, when  the home went up for sale, Brian and Donna jumped all over it. Tonight Brian has been called in for overtime, he will be the covering boss of the Bronx Rescue 3.


Future Legend Proby Brian E 36


MIKE

I was assigned the groups to drive Lt. Mike Warchola and Lt. Vinny Giammona. Mike was a fun and interesting, but complex character. He had a dark, funny warped sense of humor and we got along just great in the front seat of the rig, in fact we often shared intimate conversations especially during building inspection when the troops would be inspecting buildings for the assigned three hours and we would sit monitoring the radio together with a cup of coffee.

During my time driving Mike, the company was  just recovering from the Watts Street fire where the Captain of Ladder 5 John Drennan, Chris Siedenberg and Jimmy Young died horrifically at the Watts Street fire. Mike almost died in a fire as a proby from smoke inhalation and he would be very upset during a period of time when the FDNY was experiencing line of duty deaths almost every few weeks. I accompanied Mike to one of the funerals of a Brother who died at Father's Day fire, standing side by side with him in formation he confided how distressed he was of dying so horrifically. I consoled Mike, as terrible as it was, I reassured him it was an unfortunate accident...Mike would agree, and feel better. Mike was divorced and a voracious reader, he would read a three inch paperback novel in two days sitting at his home, and tell me the next day how he hated the book, but felt compelled to finish it. He was super smart, too, I have heard people describe Mike as mensa smart probably the smartest person I ever met, although he was not a big conversationalist, when he spoke his depth of knowledge on any subject was amazing especially his insight of travel and science was staggering.

Mike could be a little high strung to, and I knew the right time to push his buttons...every now and then, when a run would come in I’d look at him climbing into the rig and ask “you know where this box is, I haven’t a clue?” a look of despair with a hint of panic he would exclaim “Ain’t my job to know where we are going!! it's your job to know!!”.

Mike was divorced, but had a girlfriend. He would prepare for date night as he would go clamming out on Long Island near his dad's house in Southampton and rake in a couple dozen clams, run into the nearby supermarket and buy whatever linguini pasta that was on sale and make linguini and clam sauce dinner for his girlfriend...oh yeah, he would rent a movie at the local video store near his home in Queens, usually a “Godzilla” type genre as he was a big fan of those creatures, especially Mothra. The next tour we worked together he would love telling me about his date and especially how “frugal” he was. I said he was a “cheap bastard”.

Mike often worked up a good sweat on the treadmill in the firehouse, as soon as he as done he would bum a cigarette from someone nearby, rip off the filter, turn the cig around and light the torn off filter side and smoke the cig without a filter...he was a character!  Mike was a passionate traveler of the US parks, like his dating custom he also was a frugal traveler driving cross country to national parks in his blue and gray duct taped Datsun pick up truck packed with sandwiches he made at home instead of stopping off at restaurants. Mike in a sense was frugal, and I chided him often, but he was saving every nickel and dime for his two young children's education.

Today is  September 10th, a day of mixed emotions for Mike, reflecting upon his career...tomorrow morning he will count down his final twenty four hours as a FDNY lieutenant at Ladder 5. He has twenty four single dollar bills in his pocket and will peel one off each hour as the countdown begins.


VINNY

September 10th Vinny is working a straight up twenty-four hour tour, meaning he reported for duty at 0900 hrs and will be relieved by LT Mike Warchola the following morning at 0900 hrs, a special day awaits him. Along with Mike, depending on the tour I chaueffer either Mike or Vinny. I couldn’t ask for better colleagues to share the front seat of the rig with.

Vinny is one of the most energetic firefighters I have ever met, he could run circles around the energizer bunny. Already wound up when he reports for duty, he and I like to start off the tour with a cup of double espresso! Vinny is a real gym enthusiast and physical fitness fanatic, his dedicated workouts reveal he is in great shape. Whenever we would get proby firefighters that just graduated proby school and most physically fit of their lives, Vinny would offer a friendly challenge to race them up ten stories with full firefighting gear including breathing apparatus in a local hi-rise. It never failed, Vinny would be up at the top floor waiting for them.

Vinny was genuinely funny, his wit and remarks were humorous and came naturally. Special night-tours he would conduct the shift change “Roll Call” in an Elvis costume complete with beer belly...he had a wonderful exuberant personality on top of a great sense of humor. Vinny's sense of humor also extended to his family; he had four daughters whose name could be converted to become a boys name, for instance Nicoletta was called Nicky, Daniella was called Danny and same for the other two. He would introduce them as “His boys” to newcomers. Vinny was a relentless participant at his daughters soccer games, his abounding energy had him running up and down along the sidelines in front of the other parents. I can only imagine a young Vinny who must have been a terror to his school teachers...but a dream to his wife's mother.

Vinny had a serious side when we were responding to a job or turned the corner and saw work ahead. Vinny was fearless and  gutsy on the fire floor, a true leader... the younger members trusted and  loved working with him.  And in just twenty four hours, when Mike comes in to relieve Vinny he will be headed straight home to celebrate his fortieth birthday where his wife will be setting up for his special day and special birthday party just as all big kids want.

The last tour before I transferred from Ladder 5 and driving Vinny, I'm backing the tiller truck into quarters from an early morning job and noticing a beautiful serene spring sunlight starting to rise over the buildings in front of the firehouse... now parked inside the firehouse, activate the air brakes and shut down the motor...the cab is quiet and I take in the beauty of the new day...I notice Vinny is doing the same and Vinny says to me with his smiling face; “Danny, y’know, these are our “GLORY DAYS!”.


Birthday Boy Vinny

0846. 1028.

0846 hours the following morning, September 11, 2001 fate will not be kind to Brian, Mike and Vinny.

Captain Brian Hickey (R4 working OT in R3) starts responding to the WTC with his company of Rescue firefighters. Lieutenant Vinny Giammona is filling in Lieutenant Mike Warchola of the days scheduled events as the firehouse computer alerts “all companies” to the WTC. Vinny quickly calls his wife that he will be home late... “off duty” he jumps into the empty seat of Ladder 5 as the heroes roll out under the big red overhead apparatus door to a rapidly changing world.

1028 hours. Brian, Mike and Vinny have perished in the heaping smoldering wreckage of the collapsed towers that plummeted in ten seconds at over one hundred miles per hour. Along with them is Lt. “Slice of Heaven” Atlas, L 15 Proby Scott Larsen and my training school buddy L 15 Lt. Joe Leavy.

Only Brians helmet and a small bone fragment was found among the tons of debris. Mike, who I had to calm down and reassure that previous Line of duty deaths were such freak accidents and his premonition of dying a horrible death, slowly suffocates in the stairwell not too far from trapped Ladder 6 members, transmits a call for help dies an agonizing, slow death...on the desk back at the firehouse is twenty four single dollars, untouched.  Vinny was last seen, his face with confidence, focus and determination climbing the stairs in WTC 1 to help rescue trapped workers on upper floors instead of heading home to enjoy his special birthday is never recovered...One could only surmise that Vinny kept climbing the stairs faster than anyone straight into heaven.
                                                                     
                                                                      ********

September 11. Today we pray for the families and remember the victims of 9/11. I will take this day off, have an English muffin with peanut butter, find a peaceful quiet place to pray and never forget the many lives murdered and special friends lost on this day, remember those who served, and those who carry on.

                                                                                              “GLORY DAYS, well, they'll pass you by…"



"Slice of Heaven"; Lt. Gregg Atlas E 10


Jovial Proby; FF Scott Larsen L 15


Proby School Buddy; Lt. Jim Leavy L 15



Brother in Battle, Great Friend; Capt Brian Hickey (Cov, R3)


Frugal Best Boss; Lt. Mike Warchola L 5


Elvis Impersonator and Best Boss x2; Lt. Vinny Giammona L 5

(* "Where were you" by Alan Jackson)


                                                                             KMG-365
« Last Edit: September 09, 2019, 09:42:08 AM by JohnnyGage »

Offline raybrag

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2161
Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #244 on: September 07, 2019, 08:04:31 PM »
Thank you, Dan.  You are a great writer.  You already have a huge chunk of a book written . . . just download it (if you don't already have it on disk), rearrange some of it, get yourself an agent, and get it published.  Maybe I'm naive, but it think it would do just as well as Dennis Smith's.
Ray Braguglia
Newport News VA


Offline 68jk09

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 11218
  • Gender: Male
Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #245 on: September 08, 2019, 03:43:15 AM »
I do not want to piggyback on Dan's sincere recollection's but since we "Never Forget" i would want to add to it....as stated Brian Hickey was a FF in ENG*36 then LAD*38 then R*4 ......he & his Brother (not OTJ but involved in video productions) had produced the great "Brothers In Battle" video ... i was a LT in SQ*41 & Brian was a FF detailed from R*4 to 41....i had not seen the video but he brought a draft copy with him & we got to view it in between runs....a  few years later Brian was Promoted to LT & after awhile got a LTs spot in 126 while i was the CPT of 275....we had many jobs together & before the organization of 133 126 was our 1st Due Truck on a lot of our boxes ....when i transferred to 126 as the CPT Brian was already there as a LT & was ready to step up & get involved with any projects .....i wanted to move some stuff around in the office & he said "tell me what you want"....Brian being a painter on the side brought all his stuff in & painted the whole office after we rearranged it ...about the same time the Job was moving into the computer age which was totally foreign to me (i was just getting past using the fax machine for the daily manpower) .....Brian was already a wiz with the computer & taught me a lot on the keyboard & screen....as said by Dan Brian was badly injured at the Fathers Day Fire...i remember Brian leading the Procession to the Church for his Chauffer Harry Ford's Funeral Mass & being bent a little with a sideways limp as his leg was not fully healed .....as said on 9-11-01 he was working OT to cover an opening for the CPT of R*3....that morning as we were at the site guys said Brian was working in R*3 .....& later (as rumors fly) some said he had been transported by boat to a Hospital in New Jersey alive which proved to be erroneous.....at Brians Funeral Mass his Dad Ray Hickey a great Man (who always spoke up for the Fire Service & wrote many "Letters To the Editor" published in The Chief  gave the Eulogy & stated " i had 2 Sons ...both died ...one from cancer but before he lived for several months & got to say goodbyes to all while suffering & my other Son did not get get the chance to say goodbye as he died in several seconds at the WTC....which was better ? ".....the Church was silent for quite awhile.......   I did not know LT Mike Warchola LAD*5 but i came OTJ with his Brother Dennis who was assigned to 230 & myself to 108 in an adjoining FH....LT Vinny Giamonna LAD*5 was a Baseball Player along with my Son on the same team at St Kevin's  .....Vinny was OTJ a serious FF/LT but also reminded me of Adam Sandler at times  ....Vinny had a way to lighten things up.... as Dan said about Vinnys  children's names his Sister (Married to a FF & survior of both collapses ) have a Daughter named Vincenza in Honor of Vinny. ......Continued Rest In Peace To All.

Offline memory master

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2417
Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #246 on: September 08, 2019, 07:01:51 AM »
18 years have passed and yet it's going to be a very hard day again. To those who are no longer with us may God Bless you and your families and to those ailing as a result of the cowardly attack may St. Jude heal you.

Online nfd2004

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5185
  • Gender: Male
Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #247 on: September 08, 2019, 07:33:58 AM »
 I remember going to classes at the FDNY Fire Academy. Those classes would be given by members of the FDNY who would donate their time to share their firefighting knowledge and experience with others. Those classes would be given every three months charging a small fee. The money collected would in turn go to the FDNY Burn Center.

 Two of the most frequent contributors (FDNY Members) who gave those classes were Ray Downey and Andy Fredricks. They were TWO of the 343 FDNY members who were murdered that day.

 We will NEVER FORGET

 Where were you ?

  

Online JohnnyGage

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 397
Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #248 on: September 15, 2019, 08:36:58 PM »
GORY DAYS; Part 9
Fires / Epilogue

It wasn’t often, but once and a while we would be called to stand by at a fire, however I do not recall or have recorded anytime I had to treat a firefighter.  But a few of the fires I recorded were interesting.

EMS LOG: 7/20/79   0417 hrs  STUYVESANT ST.   FIRE/DOA 

Lawrence and I were assigned to a fire that has been extinguished on Stuyvesant Street off of Gates Avenue, the FDNY has recovered a DOA and it is our job to transport the body to Kings County Morgue. Lawrence pulls the bus up to the heavily fire and smoke damaged three story Brownstone style home, most of the fire apparatus has left the scene and the house is a smoldering ruin. The Fire Chief has requested Lawrence to back the ambulance up as close to the steps of the home in preparation of removing the body as there is a large crowd gathering and becoming a little rowdy. Inside a room on the parlour floor, appears to be a small boy, seven years old burnt beyond recognition, and it's hard to tell its a young boy with all the burnt debris around and covering him. With the help of the remaining firefighters we take the young boy, wrap him delicately in the sheet... carefully carry him out and place his remains on the stretcher in the back of the bus and  transport him to KCH. The crowd is loud, they are not violent, but very upset. I remember praying for his soul, and I always remembered his full name, his first name was Sam.

EMS LOG:  3/12/79   1317 hrs   FULTON ST.   CHILD BURNED

This tour I am working overtime after my graveyard shift, I am working with another Corpsman that I have never worked before, it is a woman and she has been with EMS for a long time, so she drives and I tech. Day tour Liberty 374 has been assigned to a job on Fulton Street for a Burn Victim. We turn the corner onto Fulton Street,  Fulton Street has the “El” running overhead and you need to be careful of not colliding with the “el” stanchions that holds the structure up...I expected to see fire apparatus, but there is a single engine at the scene and a Chief's car. My partner and I walk up a flight of stairs, wondering where was the fire, there is no smoke or water on the steps or floor...however, sitting on a kitchen chair is a ten year old boy who was left home alone. He was playing with the gas oven knob and was standing in front of the open door when the oven went “poof!”...He looks badly sunburned, all his eyebrows and half the hair on his head is scorched or singed... My first thought treating the boy was of the dopey coyote on the Roadrunner cartoon who holds the stick of dynamite when it goes “Poof”.

EMS LOG:   6/23/79     0708 hrs  E 98 Street and KINGS HWY    MALE JUMPER at FIRE

It is just about the end of our night tour, I am working with my partner Lawrence and we are assigned to a fire over on E 98 and Kings Highway almost across the street from the quarters of Engine 283. The reported fire is in a large six story apartment house. Additional information coming to us from the Brooklyn CO is to expect a jumper from the fourth floor. Lawrence is driving and parks the ambulance a short distance away from the operating fire apparatus and hose lines. Soon as Lawrence stops I hop out to open the two back doors of the bus... reach in to push the release mechanism holding the stretcher and remove it from the bus...While focusing on the stretcher release there is a voice behind me, “Man, you gotta get me to a hospital”, however I am just about to release the stretcher and thinking what other equipment I’m going to need for the jumper…”Man, you gotta get me to a hospital”...I tell the “voice” without turning around... “in a minute, I’m a little busy”...With that he responds again, “You gotta take me to a hospital…” This time I turn to the “voice”, the “Voice” IS the jumper, his charred skin hangs from his outstretched arms and hands, his shirt has been burnt off and he only has pants on just barely. He is completely burnt over most of his soot darkened body with a few small pink patches. “You Jumped?” I ask incredulously?...he told me he had to, from the fourth floor!...“Well, my good man, let’s hop into the back of the bus and lay down on the stretcher!”.

EMS LOG:    7/ 21/ 79     Saturday; Clear, cool.  My Partner is (NYCFIRE.NET); 69METS Garrett L.

On this night  I am working with Garrett, future FDNY Rescue 3 member and long time member of this forum. I recall most of the night having very interesting and enjoyable conversations while sharing the front seat of the Liberty bus with Garrett and chatting about our similar future FDNY endeavors... Just a quick 23 years later we would reunite at a pension forum just before we both retired. Below I recorded how Garrett and I spent the graveyard shift covering East New York.

0048 hrs:  Pine and Blake for a collision.
0143 hrs:  2045 Union for a stabbing.
0230 hrs:  325 Van Siclen for a maternity.
0406 hrs:  Autumn and Liberty for a sick person.
0620 hrs:  E83rd and Ditmas for a person injured.
0713 hrs:  75 PCT for a stabbing

MY LAST ASSIGNMENT
EMS LOG:   8/1/79    0735 hrs     PENNSYLVANIA AVE & LINDEN BLVD   COLLISION

Tonight is my final night tour with the NYC EMS. I have been called to join the ranks of the Washington DC Fire Department and I am scheduled to be sworn in on August 6, 1979.

It's fitting that my final assignment would be in the heart of East New York, the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and the heavily traveled Linden Blvd.  Only a little more than ten years earlier my dad would drive us over the swells between the cattails and marshland bordering Pennsylvania Avenue (that would later become Starret City) while heading to my grandparents' home. My brothers and I hooped and hollered as the swells were many and deep, the 1961 Ford Falcon station wagon would glide over them like a roller coaster and we would get a lift from our seats...This morning my final act as an NYC EMS Ambulance Corpsman would be treating a minor injury on this magical Pennsylvania Avenue and leaving the confines of the 75 PCT and ENY behind for my new adventure!


“GORY DAYS” Epilogue:

In the spring of 1978, a young lad from the suburbs of Long Island casually filled out an application to join the ranks of NYC EMS Ambulance Corpsman. For thirteen months I witnessed and was assigned to unimaginable amazing jobs with “Liberty 375 and 374”, smack dab in the middle of a notorious wild west neighborhood...memories that still seem inexplicable. I was also very fortunate to have worked with amazing and incredible professional veterans of NYC EMS that continue to deliver excellent results. I am grateful for their valuable lessons of savvy street sense, finesse and empathy...humbly indebted to them for sharing their streetwise expertise of medical knowledge and proficiency. Had I not kept a daily activity diary I would have to question myself of what I actually experienced during those graveyard tours... It certainly was an awesome journey, I was lucky to be a small part of it...but now it is time for the next one!


Thanks for reading!  Hope you enjoyed.        KMG-365


« Last Edit: September 15, 2019, 09:14:55 PM by JohnnyGage »

Online nfd2004

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5185
  • Gender: Male
Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #249 on: September 15, 2019, 10:24:20 PM »
 Johnny, Thank you for presenting us with your NYC EMS "Gory Days" Stories.

 As I read through every word, I felt like I was right there following you guys around. Those who work any EMS System are often "The Forgotten Hero's". Yet they save lives EVERY DAY. Of course we have members here who are a part of busy EMS Systems and we are all very THANKFUL for the GREAT JOB they do.

 Your stories also presented some of the dangers you faced. Never knowing what's behind the door you are about to enter.

 It is a very tough job which requires strength as well as the ability to communicate directly with citizens from all walks of life as well as family members.

 I can tell you that our friend Garrett L (69METS) was always a respected firefighter from what I hear. I'm sure it was the same thing while he worked the NYC EMS as well.

 We have other members here who also worked the NYC EMS before the merger into the FDNY/EMS. As you know Dan, another good friend, Charlie T., known here as "memory master" was a part of it, I believe retiring as a Lt. 

 I don't know if many guys knew this but this site owner, now an FDNY Lt., Tommy Bendick, also worked in the NYC EMS Health and Hospitals as well. I believe he was on duty and on the scene with the NYC EMS Health and Hospitals during the attack of the World Trade Center on 9/11.

 These days we have "John T"., grandson of John Bendick and nephew of Tommy Bendick working the FDNY/EMS system out of a busy EMS Station in the Bronx.

 We also have Philip D., aka "Lebby" working within the FDNY/EMS

 Whether it was 1979 back in the "Gory Days" of the NYC EMS Health and Hospitals, or some 40 years later within the FDNY/EMS, lives are still being "SAVED" because of people like them.

 THANK YOU TO ALL FOR WHAT YOU DO. Thank you as well to Dan, aka "Johnny" for telling us your stories. Should a book ever be written or a movie ever made, we were all lucky enough to get a sneak preview. 

Offline 68jk09

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 11218
  • Gender: Male
Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #250 on: September 15, 2019, 11:45:30 PM »
^^^ Thank You to our EMS Crew's .....  i took my last "Official Ride on an FDNY Rig"  which was an FDNY EMS Bus taking me to a Hospital.

Offline raybrag

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2161
Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #251 on: September 16, 2019, 09:54:21 AM »
Well said, Willy. I agree with you 100% . . . and as I have told Dan, he HAS to put it in book form. ;)
Ray Braguglia
Newport News VA


Online JohnnyGage

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 397
Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #252 on: September 22, 2019, 09:04:32 PM »
HOUSEWATCH

If the kitchen is the soul of the firehouse, it is safe to say that the housewatch is the heartbeat. Inside the housewatch (HW) all the daily activity is recorded in a journal, telephone calls are answered, visitors and chiefs received and alarms dispatched. The HW is where the group chart is displayed, the department radio monitored and department orders are maintained in a binder.



In pre-war firehouses, the HW area was a small space in the front of the firehouse on the apparatus floor that was designed to receive alarms and monitor the telegraph system. The houswatchman would record incoming bells on a chalkboard. Usually the area was opened and exposed to heat during the summer and cold during the winter, a small desk with a straight back wooden chair wood be placed on the slab of concrete about a step up from the apparatus floor and the area surrounded with brass railings and poles. The firefighter on HW duty had to wear a dress uniform shirt with tie, the bell cap and have his name plate with rank affixed to the side of the HW somewhere viewable.





Since the days of the horses, these small HW areas started to transform into small rooms with walls and ceiling and climate control. With the apparatus floor usually hot during the summer and cold during the winter doors were added to these crude makeshift cubicles where firehouses began to convert these makeshift cubicles into a more hospitable environment that required three hours of attention. Some HW’s were updated by firefighters themselves with creative brick work, cedar shakes, texture plywood with added pocket doors and a “bench”. Newer type firehouses built around and after the late 60’s were designed with a larger HW incorporated that resembled an office with ample room like Ladder 5 and Ladder 20.



FORBODEN! Years ago a bench was strictly forbidden, you were not permitted to have a couch or anything that resembled a bench in the HW lest you be caught in the horizontal position during the early morning...Now of course a bed was not allowed, but the cleverness of the guys would create a bench seat for others to join you and be able to “sit” at the HW. For many years the Chief would not approve of these additions, but slowly members added slick ideas to be a little more comfortable during the early morning HW shift. In addition to bench seats that “doubled” as a you-know what...In 88/38 we had a long “study table” that was hinged onto the back wall during the day tour and could be “lowered” during, ahem, much later hours...supported by chains from the leading edge affixed to the wall...when lowered it became a bunk, er, I mean desktop.

TV’s were also not allowed at one point. In many older HW’s throughout the city you could still find a small “cabinet” over the desk with a cover that could contain a small portable TV...if a Chief arrived for roll call or unexpectedly the hinged front cover would quickly flip up hiding that dastardly TV and cut off viewing the "Honeymooners".

ENGINE 88 / LADDER 38: Originally the firehouse was designed with two seperate entranceways and HW’s, an inside wall that ran the length of the firehouse seperated the the two companies. At one point in time, the members breached a small hole between the two housewatches to be able to speak to the firefighter on the other side and have a little company during the lonely late watch.  Finally, the members broke through the wall so that  both companies shared the responsibility of HW and only one member needed to stand HW at a time.

INSIDE THE HW: Inside the HW is a group chart board,  desk panel, HW journal, dispatch computer, telephones a binder of department orders and route cards.

HOUSE WATCH ASSIGNMENTS: HW duties are alternated monthly by each company, each company takes a shot at covering the HW...Usually the company that has HW duties does not have the responsibility of procuring the meal. A FF is assigned HW for three hours according to the group chart to be fair. The day tour is covered by the first three incoming firefighters according to the group chart. The night tour has five HW assignments, the firefighter that has the first 6x9 HW also has to do the 6x9 morning HW too!

GROUP CHART BOARD: Inside the HW of every firehouse in the city you will find a “group chart board” of some sort. They may not all be alike, yet their functions are the same. The chart is adjusted daily to the incoming groups for both day and night tour... For the day tour, the first three spots on this chart will indicate who has a particular “watch” or "detail". Each watch is for three hours beginning at 0900 hrs. When you are assigned to a watch, it is your responsibility to perform the duties required; maintaining the HW journal, receiving Chiefs or visitors, promptly answering the department phone, turning the fire company(ies) out on alarms and making sure the front of quarters is clear of any obstacle that may hinder response.



DESK PANEL: on the HW desk panel is the department phone, colored push buttons to open the bay door, push button for bells, a red phone from the Boro CO and the department radio and intercom system. In the middle of the desk is where the HW journal is maintained and kept.

HW JOURNAL: All daily activity of the company is recorded line by line in the 500 page journal. Each page is numbered, no pages are ever ripped out and no line is skipped recording entries. Runs, fuel deliveries, complaints, significant events, are recorded by the firefighter on HW. The journals are kept for twenty years. Each Company officer makes his entry at 0900 and 1800 hrs depicting the manpower assignment or any changes thereof.

All firefighters share in the responsibity of performing HW except for the Battalion Aide firefighter. A member begins his day tour 0900-1200 HW duties (which is called the 9 by, followed by the 12 by, etc). Immediately after the officer enters his “roll call” for the day tour the HW FF enters his name into the HW journal in blue or black ink. Only the HW FF writes in blue or black ink, anyone else that makes an entry, whether it be another officer, visiting chief or fire prevention employee signing out, will only use red ink...So great minds came up with the idea of taping a red pen to a blue pen with points facing opposite! The pen was left in the fold of the journal.

The 9 by HW FF enters the next line directly below the officers signed roll call; i.e.  “Firefighter Gage, E88, relieved FF DeSoto E88 on HW. Department PAQ (property, apparatus, quarters) in good condition”.

THE COMPUTER: Back during the “Glory Days”, the dispatch computer was not a touchscreen then, nor did the computer “voice” announce what company had to respond...You had to read the ticket, acknowledge the run by pressing the correct corresponding company button, press the 10-4 button, and finally the “send” button to acknowledge a run...immediately after doing so, the following sequence was done in double time; announce the run (either by public address system or in a loud voice... “GET OUT 82/31, PHONE ALARM…”), tap-out the required number of bells, open the bay door, rip off the double rolled carbon print out from computer and hand to the company officer, then quickly gear up. (When I ws the LCC, I used to like intercepting the print out before the company officer got it so that I could focus on the address and cross street for a few seconds, before handing it over to the boss).

If you were on HW and someone knocked on the door or wandered into quarters to report a fire or emergency, this was called a “verbal”. In this instance you turned out the company by hitting the bells and announcing over the public address system the “Verbal”. On the computer you would press the company ID number, then the “verbal” button on, followed by pressing the “send” button.... As the apparatus rolled out of quarters, the Boro CO would contact the officer via apparatus radio to ascertain information about the verbal and assign a box number to it, alleviating delay for a quicker response.

TELEPHONES: There were three types of phones in the HW. The regular telephone that was the business line for non-emergency calls. Some of the department phones could either be attached to the HW panel or loose on the desktop. When a call came in on the department phone, you immediately picked up and answered it; “E 24 / L 5 Fireman Gage”. Another phone that had no dial or numbers, just a small red light was the red phone mounted on the panel that went directly to the boro CO. Years ago if the dispatcher sensed from incoming calls that you were headed to a job, he might call ahead while another dispatcher typed in the "Box" info being sent to the computer. We called this “three rings” as that was how the phone was designed to alert you, three short rings in rapid succession.  The third phone was the outside phone where you answered the outside incoming phone calls usually for a member and then called said FF over the PA system. This was usually a coin operated phone mounted somewhere in the firehouse with an extension line directly to the HW, where you could only receive the incoming call...Don’t forget,  prior to 9/11, the individual cell phone was scarce and most people did not carry one.

CHIEF VISITS:  When visiting chiefs would visit quarters the HW FF will announce “Chief in quarters!” and will greet the chief at the HW desk with a hand salute. By this time, the company officer will come to the HW and greet the chief as the chief records his entry in the rear section of the journal designated for “Chief Visits”...sometimes the Chief will ask for a roll call. In this instance the HW FF will announce a roll call and the on duty  members will  assemble, form ranks in front of the apparatus. The company officer has a set procedure for roll call as per department guidelines...and will then start reading the names off his riding list...we say “here” when our name is called.. upon completion "all present and accounted for", the company officer then salutes the chief. Usually the chief will speak to the group at this time if he has something to say, if not, the formality concludes and the HW FF returns to the HW.

ROUTE CARDS: Inside every HW was a tin index card holder with cover. Whenever a company would “relocate” to another quarters and the response area was unfamiliar to the covering crew, the Officer or chauffeur would locate the tin box in the HW. When the company received an alarm, you could refer to one of the many index cards that was sorted numerically by box number. The index card gave you directions to the box.

DOING HOUSEWATCH: I enjoyed doing HW, in fact I usually spent most of my time in the HW at  E24/L5 during the months the truck was assigned duties. The HW office was very comfortable with a large glass window looking outside onto Sixth Avenue, the HW did not have that confined feeling and it was usually quiet. I’d settle in during the day tour, fresh cup of coffee and the NY Post and monitored the department radio. The quiet time afforded me time to study for the Lieutenants exam. (I began studying for the exam two years before the test was announced as generally the Lieutenants exam was given every two or three years). During the night tour, the early morning nightwatch was very conducive to studying. I’d take the watch from midnight all the way through till morning. Around 4 am I’d fix myself a nice fresh pot of coffee, open my study books and absorb the material for the next couple of hours. Around 6 a.m. it was time to flip on the FM radio to WCBS 101 oldies and listen to “Harry Harrison, the Morning Mayor” and catch the sunrise. It was a peaceful time.

NOTABLE HWs: Ladder 8 had a small narrow HW in front of quarters,  passerbys or a visiting guest got a treat to see the melted telephones that adorned the outside of the HW for display.



E 88 / L 38 had the HW between the two companies, each company on one and the other side with two sliding doors for each side. I remember being assigned to the HW on January 1986, while having the TV on  in the background I saw the space shuttle Challenger explode. Most firhouses have a bell alert system, however, in 88/38 we did not tap out bells for alarms, all alarms were communicated over the house PA system from a microphone that was similar to something a DJ would use.

E277 / L112 had the most confining and tight HW. You were squeezed into a small box about the size of a double phone booth...you could barely lean back on a chair from the desk. Thankfully, before the new firehouse was built, guys got together and modified the HW and made it a heckava lot more comfortable and accommodating. The joint wasn't called the "Ant Farm" for no reason!

                                                *******************************

There is a tale about a young firefighter covering one of his first early morning HW details. The firehouse is very still, apparatus floor lights turned down...all is quiet except for the occasional creak and moan from the fire apparatus as the resting rig settles. Later that morning the young lad mentions to the senior firefighter about his HW ordeal...it was very quiet, in fact the only thing he heard was the occasional creaking from the apparatus. The senior firefighter told him the sounds he heard were made by Brothers who had worked in the firehouse years and years ago that have now passed, but return for a visit and climb aboard the old rig one more time...

Thanks for reading!...Hope you enjoyed, Next; Remembering DCFD.     KMG-365
« Last Edit: September 22, 2019, 10:20:54 PM by JohnnyGage »

Online JohnnyGage

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 397
Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #253 on: September 28, 2019, 07:54:20 PM »
DCFD; Part 1
Probationer

November 1979...After a shave and shower I put on my navy pants, black belt, navy blue shirt with “DC” collar brass on my right collar and “FD” brass on the other and pin a blue plastic name badge over my right pocket. New black navy style shoes with a bag full of new turnout gear I acquired from the quartermaster I’m ready for the drive from my small apartment in Maryland into DC, a forty minute trek to the firehouse down the Baltimore Washington Parkway into the confines of DC. As a condition of employment, a DC firefighter must live within a fifty mile radius from the Capital, a DC firefighter is not a Federal firefighter, but a civil servant of the district...This morning, I am a brand spanking new “probationer” firefighter, the term DCFD uses for their probationary firefighters...having just graduated from the Washington DC Fire Training Academy yesterday, this morning I will report for duty and start my very first day tour as a career firefighter. I pack my Plymouth Volare and proceed to drive from my small apartment in Maryland into DC, it is early morning...I weave my way through DC and turn down the one way Lanier Place, slowly I drive looking for the firehouse...the firehouse is set back in the middle of a tree lined bedroom neighborhood. Sidewalks run end to end in front of three and four story pre war apartment houses shared with nicely maintained federal style townhouses and Victorian homes on each side aligning the block. The firehouse is a two bay structure built in 1908 as a Spanish Colonial Revival style, and looks very similar to the Alamo. There are two units assigned there, Ambulance #2 and Engine Company 21.

It is a very comfortable early fall morning, the two green bay doors are open as I eagerly and anxiously enter the firehouse I am assigned.. Engine 21 a single, two piece engine company, I notice the doors are open on the rig and firefighter gear hanging off of the rig in anticipation of a run...it is early, the change of shift is occurring...there are a few firefighters hanging around the HW to meet the “new guy”, I am one of two newly assigned... I am assigned to Platoon #2, the other proby to Platoon #3 who is scheduled to report for duty in another day or so. Today, I’m the fresh meat... the guy from “New YAWK”...”I’m surrounded by seasoned veterans, their confidence is reassuring and encouraging, I'm feeling a little overwhelmed, praying that a run does not come in until I settle down, I note that soon I will have that same feeling of confidence displayed and it’s relieving.

I greet the new Brothers at the HW...The HW is located in the front of quarters, there are no walls or barriers, just a crude makeshift desk top with black plumbing pipes holding the desk up against the wall...the top of the desk has a clear plastic protector top covering the entire desk, underneath the plastic is an old yellowed map off the first due area and old Department orders and hand written notes. The desk is about four feet wide and extends about three feet from the side wall. A black swivel chair that has seen better days is in front of the desk. DCFD does not use the term HW, but desk, or front desk. The desk has an opened journal for recording personnel on duty and runs, a “vocal alarm” intercom system from the DCFD dispatcher with printer for alarms and a telephone. There are two push buttons on the front corner of the desk, one button is pressed to “acknowledge” an alarm, the other is to ring the “gong” that all firehouses have to alert the troops of a run. There is no particular cadence for ringing the gong. Just bang out enough gongs to alert the troops.


(guys hanging around the "HW". Notice the two buttons in forefront, one is to acknowledge a run, the other to activate the house gong.

Immediately, I am introduced to the Captain of the Engine, a very nice and cordial man named Captain Mac Fleming, he has a nice smile and is very welcoming, he reminds me of Uncle Jack... My new boss details what my duties will be for the near future... and what he expects from me. One of my duties he explains like this: “See this here desk (it is a rhetorical question as he continues…) this is “YOUR DESK” for the year you are on probation” (as he taps the desk proudly). He continues,  “During the day tours, this will be your place” maintaining a grin and goes on... “however there are three instances you can take a break from the desk. First, of course, when nature calls, second to make sure there is fresh coffee in the kitchen and last to watch a “GOOD” football game with us in the TV room”  Cool I’m thinking, then the Boss adds, “...oh, and I’ll let you know if it’s a “GOOD” football game”...

But I digress…
It was just about two years ago, July 11, 1977 that I took the Washington DC Firefighter Entrance Exam. Prior to that date in 1975 I had joined my community volunteer fire department along with three friends; Phil, Mac and Mike...we all had the yearning to become professional firefighters. After an attempt from my dad to get me into the local electricians union I told him I wanted to pursue a career with the NYC Fire Department. Although I could see he was a little upset with my decision, he did offer me profound advice: “Don’t put your eggs in one basket”... I heeded his trustworthy and solid advice and I passed my thoughts to the other three amigos. We began a letter writing campaign to take entrance exams in various fire departments that we could drive too. It did not matter who they were, we were organized and determined, we applied and took exams from Connecticut to Cleveland to Virginia...of course we also took the NYC Firefighter Exam together in 1977.

Oddly, The DCFD exam was given in New York, but to be safe, we four amigos car-pooled to Washington DC to take the exam. The exam process was peculiar... I encountered other entrance exams where I had to fill out an application, have a driver's license, a high school graduation and a copy of your birth certificate before you could even set foot into the facility to take the exam. However, the DC exam was a “walk in”...walk in, grab a seat, fill out the exam and good luck. And, the exam wasn’t that easy as I recall, it wasn’t your typical civil service one hundred question exam. There was the usual math, history, geography, pulley equations, spelling, etc...then there was a part called the “Aptitude Verbal Reasoning”. Verbal reasoning tests check if you can recognize the difference between facts and inferences...it assess your comprehension and logic skills, the ability to extract the correct meaning from complex information, quickly. The test is given by a monitor who recites explicit verbal instructions that you have to follow, then make a correct decided answer...This test ensures a candidate has strong reasoning skills. I never encountered an exam like that before, it was mind-blowing.

For FDNY, Unfortunately Mac, Mike and Phil did not do well on the NYC Fire Exam physical agility part,  subsequently I was the only one to pass, only to be held up because of litigation between the FDNY and women applicants. During this period, Mac and Mike were hired by the DCFD in the fall of 1978 together. The DCFD hires twenty-four recruits at a time for a full class. At that time, I was still employed with
NYC EMS, in August 1979 Phil and I both received notice that we were called together for the summer class in…In a short time, we four amigos would be all working for the DCFD!

I resigned from my position of NYC EMS Ambulance Corpsman...Together Phil and I relocated to the DC area from Long Island a few days before we were to be sworn in. Our Buddy Mac, who was already established in his bachelor pad offered to put us both up while we started proby school in his apartment in Laurel, Md.

On August 6, 1979 my career as a career firefighter began, the inception of “Glory Day’s”...Phil had the better car so Phil was the designated driver for he and I as we headed to DC Fire Training Academy to be sworn in. I remember wearing a nice pair of slacks, navy sport coat, white shirt and tie...I also remembered as we crossed the parking lot lawn, an uncomfortable feeling of wet dew from the lawn under my right foot sock getting wet. The sole on my old “navy” shoe had a hole the size of a dime... Phil parked his Chevy Monza outside the gate of the training school, we approached the front door of the academy where there were about twenty other candidates nervously waiting... Shortly, we were greeted by the Sergeant who would be our training officer, he was welcoming...a very jovial and cheerful man, he immediately assembled us in alphabetical order and we all began to relax with his kindness. There were twenty- four of us, we had a full class of candidates including Phil, myself and two other guys, actually all four of us came from Long Island. There were two women were in my class and the rest were made up of guys who lived in the DC neighborhoods or surrounding Maryland/ Virginia area. The class bonded pretty quickly.

Our first order of business was to board an old school bus to the DCFD fire chief's office in another part of DC, we marched single file into the large office of DCFD Fire Chief Jefferson Lewis, he welcomed us, gave a little scoop on our future and then sworn us in as “Probationers”.  On his desk was  twenty four envelopes with two maltese cross badges with eagle on top inside, I was assigned Badge # 823...From there we hopped back into the bus for a ride to the quartermaster to get our uniforms and equipment.

All our turnout gear was brand new and bright yellow, the color of gear the DCFD wore. In addition to the usual turnout coat and pull up boots we were also given turn-out pants as they were called (Bunker pants) with short boots for night turnout. We also received three pairs of work duty uniforms, winter and summer work duty uniforms (no shorts), measured for a dress uniform and cap. Like I said, everything received was brand new except for the yellow MSA plastic helmet that was previously used, but not in bad shape. Back at the training facility we went through orientation and filling out mounds of paperwork. We were also given a daily committee work type assignment; windows cleaned, apparatus floor cleaned, offices cleaned, toilets cleaned, garbage pails emptied, etc. I was tasked to maintain the old late 1960’s Pirsch tiller war horse that was retired and maintained at the academy, my first tiller!.  I was now all set, except for one thing...on the way home I had to buy another pair of navy type shoe.

Class #273 reported the following day, twenty four brand spanking new wide eyed and ambitious  probationers, I was stoked and eager to get going and become a part of the DCFD. Phil and I reported the first day together, inside  my “EMERGENCY” lunch box a P&J sandwich.


(I was assigned this tiller, the wooden cab was removed. It was my responsibility to keep the reserve rig clean and ready for our training evolutions.)

Proby school was a couple of months, I don’t recall exactly how many weeks, I’m thinking about twelve...Training school was typical; calisthenic exercises first thing in the morning followed by a casual jog. After that we practiced throwing ladders, various hose evolutions, oil pit fires, climbing scaling ladders, operating various tools and appliances and classroom instruction. Part of the training curriculum was successfully completing engine chauffeur school (although DCFD does not use the term chauffeur but driver or technician), here we learned to draft, friction loss, pumping, single, reverse and dual hose lays, etc... When you graduated you were a competent engine chauffeur, er, driver...part of your continuing education was to be qualified to drive the company apparatus you eventually would be assigned within your first six months of probation. The final couple of weeks of school was an Emergency Medical Technician course that all probationers had to pass...



 The DCFD employs “civilians” as EMT’s to man the ambulances which are stationed in various firehouses throughout the city. If a “civilian” EMT taps out, a firefighter is detailed to cover the spot. You could count on being detailed to the ambulance when the weekend rolled around, as the EMT conveniently would go sick. DCFD had a sickness policy plan; MIP- minor illness plan. If you tapped out, you were placed on sick leave for three days without having to see the department doctor. You could do this three times a year. Also, engine companies responded to certain level medical calls, so everyone graduated as an EMT.

Our class was tight, many of us were former volunteer firefighters and had a genuine interest in becoming career firefighters, we shared stories and experiences, a new found friendship was forged... We all looked forward to the end of the week, Friday afternoon, when class let out there was about ten of us who would meet at a local beer joint, belt a few back, exchange stories, laugh at each other, make fun of the instructors in a good natured way, and continue to form a tight bond, a Brotherhood...To this day I still stay in touch with a few of my classmates.

The day before graduation we now became full fledged probationers,  this final day all members of our class will have to complete overhauling and cleaning of the equipment and training materials we have used for the next class. During a break the Sergeant enters and gathers us in the classroom with the department order for company assignments. I am assigned to Engine Company 21 located in the Northwest quadrant of Washington DC. Engine 21 has an outstanding reputation as an aggressive engine company in a single house.

The neighborhood that Engine 21 covers is called Adams Morgan. It is a community with a growing influx of immigrants from many countries, this lead to an increase in boarding houses and a diverse commercial shopping mecca. The neighborhood hit it’s low point after the 1968 riots. Today, Adams Morgan is one of the oldest and nicest neighborhoods in DC, still diverse, a community involved and contemporary.

However, the future would turn out to be a very interesting and historic time working a couple of miles from the White House. In 1979 Jimmy Carter was the resident at the White House, his administration was struggling with the energy crisis that ended a period of growth... both inflation and interest rates rose while economic growth, job creation and consumer confidence declined sharply. A month after graduation, the country would be embroiled for the next 444 days with The Iran Hostage Crisis standoff that November. Indeed...It would be a very interesting time to work in the Capital as more newsworthy events was about to unfold!.

Both my parents were at my graduation, “Uncle” Jack and his wife Irene joined the festivities. Jack suggested we go visit my new firehouse, he seems very excited and proud of my accomplishment, mentoring me from my early buff days on Intervale Avenue... He and Irene present me with a silver ID bracelet, it has a small DCFD badge replica with my badge number 823 in the middle of the maltese cross, I still keep it shined in my small jewelry box... Before leaving to check out my new assignment, the training school sergeant who was our lead instructor asked that I “donate” my trusted “EMERGENCY” lunch box to the academy museum, it was a hit during the weeks of training that provided fun jabs... I was happy to do so.

But, tonight would be a special night of celebration, the following day I will report to my new assignment and begin an exciting new journey with the DCFD Engine 21 “Alley Rats”.


Unk Jack at my graduation with my dad, close buddy Phil and his dad. The start of "Glory Days".


PROBATIONER tag.


Proby Manual that will be carried and maintained for the year I am on probation...that next!

Hope you enjoyed, more DCFD stuff to follow, thanks for reading.    KMG-365
« Last Edit: October 06, 2019, 06:58:52 PM by JohnnyGage »

Offline FairfaxFirePhotography

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 232
  • Gender: Male
  • Hit it Hard from the Yard... Sike!
    • YouTube Channel
Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #254 on: September 28, 2019, 11:53:10 PM »
JohnnyGage I am excited to read what the future holds with these DCFD stories. As my username suggests, I live and buff in the DC Metro area and have frequently been to calls and buffed the District, as well as the surrounding areas. This one is close to home and I am excited to read the future installments!

 

anything