Author Topic: GLORY DAYS  (Read 183929 times)

Offline 68jk09

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Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #270 on: October 31, 2019, 06:42:06 PM »

Nycfire.net

Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #270 on: October 31, 2019, 06:42:06 PM »

Offline JohnnyGage

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Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #271 on: November 01, 2019, 07:27:00 AM »
^^^^^^^^^Don't laugh JK, but I have one of these since I was a kid, still on my shelf with the coffe mug....




(This was on ebay, too)
I got this mug as a gift when I was a teenager and I became a junior fireman 1970ish, it is a heavy duty type gloss ceramic. I used it everyday for my morning coffee for many, many years and it still looks new.. It has been with me through all my travels. I retired it about twenty years ago and it now proudly sits in my hutch with my small collection of memoribilia and two lids.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2019, 07:36:49 AM by JohnnyGage »

Offline nfd2004

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Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #272 on: November 01, 2019, 09:28:36 AM »



(This was on ebay, too)
I got this mug as a gift when I was a teenager and I became a junior fireman 1970ish, it is a heavy duty type gloss ceramic. I used it everyday for my morning coffee for many, many years and it still looks new.. It has been with me through all my travels. I retired it about twenty years ago and it now proudly sits in my hutch with my small collection of memoribilia and two lids.

 Johnny, I had one of those cups too. Now, I just wish I still had it

Offline JohnnyGage

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Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #273 on: November 01, 2019, 02:48:01 PM »



(This was on ebay, too)
I got this mug as a gift when I was a teenager and I became a junior fireman 1970ish, it is a heavy duty type gloss ceramic. I used it everyday for my morning coffee for many, many years and it still looks new.. It has been with me through all my travels. I retired it about twenty years ago and it now proudly sits in my hutch with my small collection of memoribilia and two lids.

 Johnny, I had one of those cups too. Now, I just wish I still had it

Tis the season, Santa's listening...

Offline JohnnyGage

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Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #274 on: November 03, 2019, 08:13:41 PM »
DCFD Part 6
Brother Philly and a few Close Calls

Moving from Brooklyn to Long Island as so many military veterans families did in the late 50’s there was no shortage of us kids growing up together in the neighborhood. New ranch homes for first time home buyers were popping up all over Long Island creating new communities and roads, I recall the Long Island Expressway being constructed when it cut through my neck of the woods. My dad bought a three bedroom ranch in a growing development called Brentwood, about a forty minute ride east of NYC. He had the choice of buying any number of homes in the area, the area grew almost overnight with more and more new home buyers entering the neighborhood and more homes under construction. Boy and Girl Scout troops were formed and filled, then formed again, little leagues were created, school districts expanded and broke into smaller divisions to accommodate the urban sprawl, shopping centers sprang up with strip malls. And new friendships formed with all the outdoor activity, most were simple childhood and school friendships, and some of those friendships would last a lifetime. I was fortunate, My “Brother from another Mother” is Philly, to this day we consider and call each other, “Brothers”.

Philly and I met when we were eight years old playing together on the same Little League Baseball Team called “The Robins”. My Dad was the manager of our team, we wore yellow baseball tee shirts and hats with gloves to big for our hands. Philly was a die hard Yankee fan and I was a Mets fan, little did we know a fun rivalry would grow into a lifelong friendship. Philly was in a grade higher than me, although we did not go to the same school since he lived about a mile away from me in the same community but in another part of the school district...a smidgen too far for an eight year old to bike ride. However, we remained friends through little league, during the summer riding our bikes and hopping into backyard pools together, always comparing the Yanks vs the Mets and forever playing streetball and trading baseball cards. Later, Philly was involved with the Boy Scouts and I joined a “Junior Fire Department Explorer Post” that was being organized at our towns volunteer fire department. After not seeing Philly for a few years, I was happy to find out that he too would be joining the Explorer Post and we would be hanging out together again going to meetings, activities, drills and camping as “Junior Fire Department Explorers”.

When we became eighteen, we both joined our community Volunteer Fire Department together while working in a private ambulance business driving seniors to medical appointments. It was during our time together at the volunteer fire department we decided to focus and put all our energy into becoming career firefighters, somewhere...anywhere... Along with two other volunteer firefighters from our company who were friends of ours, Mike and Big Mac, the four of us decided to share information, pool our resources and start taking fire department entrance exams together. In 1977 we discovered the DCFD would be holding an entrance exam and carpooled to DC to take the exam. Fortunately we all did well on the DCFD exam, Mike and Big Mac were the first to be called for the DCFD Training Academy,  and almost a year later Philly and I would be hired together for the same proby class in August 1979.

Of course we could not believe our good fortune, Philly and I were ecstatic to have been hired by the Washington DC Fire Department at the same time! The proby class size was twenty-four candidates, it was comforting to know Philly and I would share the training experience together and car pool for the duration of the training school. During our proby training we both rented apartments in the same apartment complex outside DC near Laurel, Maryland.


On October 19, 1979 Philly and I graduated the DCFD Training School. Philly was assigned to Truck 13 located in NE section of DC. It is quartered with E 10, the firehouse is very active, in fact, one of the busiest in the DCFD. And, of course I was assigned to E 21.


Graduation Day, Oct 19, 1979. "Me" top row left, Brother Philly, bottom row right.


Me and Philly visiting the old Volunteer Fire Department this year. First time back in almost 40 years!


And we both shared a couple of close calls that could have ended our happy careers quickly.

During a recent chat with Philly, he shared this story with me again.

DECEMBER 22, 1979: Two months on the job, Philly is riding the side of T 13, a late 60’s Seagrave tiller...his position is “Hook” and so his riding position would be on the officers side of the tractor trailer, back toward the tillerman where the “Hook” firefighters SCBA is mounted and covered in a protective covering from the weather on the trailer. It is a typical blustery, freezing December night, three days before Christmas. The truck is riding short and another firefighter is detailed in to fill the vacant spot. In the meantime, the firefighter running the “Bar” or “Barman” position is a senior firefighter Donald “Donnie” French. Since it is the choice position of the truck, usually the Sergeant or senior man that assumes the position. But tonight, Donnie asks Philly, “why don’t we switch and you run the ‘bar’ tonight”...as a proby, you very rarely get this opportunity to work in this position as you are often required to work by yourself alongside the engine company. Philly is delighted to swap positions and now moves up to the “Bar” riding position, still on the officer side but just behind the turntable and Donnie moves back closer to the tillerman.

During the course of the night tour, T 13 has been responding to many alarms in the area due to cold conditions and various emergencies attributed to the freezing weather. A familiar Box Alarm assignment has been transmitted again for T 13, the TD and Officer know the address well, there has been a recent spat of violence at the address with repeated attempts to set the structure on fire, this time a molotov cocktail has been thrown into the two story apartment house... the dispatcher advises all units responding over the radio that “children are reported trapped”. The TD is pushing the old Seagrave, every corner is another stop sign, the TD painstakingly keeps grinding through the gears getting the rig up to speed...Philly is hanging onto the side with his SCBA on his back, his collar pulled tight he tucks his chin against his chest, protecting his face from the pelting onslaught of the freezing air.


Seagrave tiller similar to T 13

T 13 is barreling against the wind toward the location and trapped children, only a couple of more blocks to go... the truck crests a hill on Blaine Avenue and is now heading downward toward a four way stop sign on the cross street, Division Street ...Posthaste racing down Division Street toward the officer side of T 13 is E 19 responding towards the same fire and the same four way stop sign…”LOOK OUT!” screams Donnie French from the back of the trailer as T 13 busts through the four way stop sign and notices E 19 also entering the intersection. E 19 tries slamming on the brakes, tires squealing... a “T-bone” collision is imminent…

Alerted from Donnie’s yell, Philly sees out of the corner of his eye the screeching Ford Wagon which is about to collide and hit him, he attempts to climb onto the turntable as E 19 smashes broadside into the middle of the trailer just behind him, “Hook” Firefighter Donnie French tries to climb up and over the ladder from his position to avoid the impact, but he does not clear the front of the Ford cab as it strikes the trailer severing his leg above the knee. Philly is tossed upside down from the blow and now hangs upside down, suspended on the SCBA bracket mounted alongside the rig. Members rush to his aid, he is lifted off and laid on the ground and awaits EMS, while other members go to the aid of Donnie.



Philly was very lucky, he was placed on Medical Leave for a few weeks for back strain. Firefighter Donald French lost his leg and had to retire. Philly went on to have a very successful career with the DCFD.

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

As mentioned before, Engine 21’s quarters  was designed to accommodate the newer and larger ladder trucks that were being designed during that era. Recently we have acquired an old Pirsch tiller spare that is parked in the second bay behind Ambulance 2. The protective wood coverings added after the 1968 riots over the cab have been removed and now the old rig is resting quietly.

Today is the start of “spring cleaning” for the firehouse and in preparation for “Annual Inspection”. After the New Year, the DCFD policy is for company officers to rotate to another platoon. Captain Mac has now been assigned to the third platoon and my new boss is Lt. Hammond. Although I did not get a chance to work with Lt.Hammond while he was assigned to the third platoon, as a young firefighter I was impressed with his youthful style and Robert Redford good looks, I admired his ambitious drive and hoped someday to work with him. Now I will get my chance and looking forward to this opportunity. When Lt. Hammond first came to our platoon, he had a line up in front of quarters...he told us one of his main objectives is a quick and swift turnout, “I want to see hustle when the tone goes off”...I liked the style, I liked his drive and aggressiveness. I thought we usually turned out very quick on all alarms, but he demanded that extra push, fine by me! 


Lt. Hammond

This spring morning, Lieutenant Hammond, he has made his famous “hunter style” pancakes for us and now it is time to roll up our sleeves and get to spring cleaning work. The first order of business is to move the rigs out of the station. WD Mickey and P Driver Neugie move their rigs onto the ramp of the firehouse. Now the old Pirsch needs to be moved, Lt. Hammond asks if I ever “tillered”. I have not is my reply…”Well, ok, anyway...hop up  there and do your best, keep the wheel straight and just don’t hit anything”. He shows me the chrome push button buzzer located on the left side of the windshield. I’m instructed, press “once” if you start to swerve toward the side of the garage before you "hit it", he says with a smile. I know he has full confidence in me and I know this will be a piece of cake...The uncovered tiller assembly is the old type, the chair and windshield are released and flipped over the ladder, the steering wheel pulls out and placed into a metal bracket on the side of the trailer so that the ladder is clear to raise.

Lt. Hammond fires up the ol’ girl, black smoke belches from the exhaust as he lets the rig idle for a bit. Both of the firehouse green colored wooden overhead bay doors are open, they are old and heavy...the bay door where the Pirsch tiller sits is broken and in the fixed “up” position. In DC firehouses with tiller rigs, the overhead doors must be either completely opened, or closed...they cannot be in a half or any other partially opened position. Since the bay door is broken, and that is where Ambulance 2 responds from the bay door is left in the open position during the warm spring like weather awaiting repairs.


Pirsch Spare Tiller

Lt. Hammond presses from the cab the “go” button with two quick “beep, beeps” , I return the same “beep beep”, he then releases the hand held brake, the rig has a throaty roar when he lets off the clutch and we start to pull forward from the rear of the firehouse...the cab clears and all is well...however, as we get closer,I began to notice an “L” shaped bracket hanging from the middle of the broken door, suspended, it is the “door lifting” bracket that attaches to the door frame and chain that lifts the door, only now it is not attached to the chain and is suspended in mid air. The rig starts to move a little quicker, I am concerned as I notice the bracket is hanging low and dead center of the door and tiller windshield... the rig approaches the bracket, with my left hand I attempt to push the bracket up and out of the way to clear the windshield but the metal bracket is fixed and does not move...the rig continues to move forward...I press hard on the chrome button to stop the rig “BEEEEEEP!”...By the time Lt. Hammond reacts, the “L” shaped bracket is crushing and driving the windshield onto me, splintering glass as the windshield gets hung up on the bracket. I duck and crouch into the tiller seat as the windshield and bracket shatters and showers me in glass coming closer towards my face and head, still with my thumb solidly pressing the stop button the large bay door comes crashing down on top of the aerial as the rig comes to a jolting halt.

Lt. Hammond runs to my aid, I am sloped backwards as far as I can go in the seat partially covered by the destroyed windshield assembly. The other members hearing the commotion and loud crash come to help. Other than a laceration to my left hand, I was fine and transported to the local Hospital. I received twelve stitches in my left hand behind the thumb. Lt. Hammond, of course upset and apologetic then told me later he was thinking about having a little fun with me in the rear, he was going to “blow” out of quarters... give me a ride! But decided not too at the last second. Whew! Who knew this job could be dangerous!

                                                                  ************
 I am now in my third year OTJ and taking my turn at details, today I have been detailed to T 2 located on M Street with E 1, not too far from Georgetown, DC’s oldest and charming historic neighborhood for tourists. My riding position on the late 1970 model American LaFrance tiller is the “Hook” behind the “Barman” on the officer side of the rig. During the afternoon T 2 is toned out for a Box Alarm reporting an unknown condition on an upper floor at a residential hi-rise in the SW section of DC. We will be second due to Tower Ladder T 10. By city code, structures in Washington cannot be over thirteen stories, doing so this keeps the Capitol and Washington Monument towering over the skyline from afar.

T 10 arrives first due and the members have already proceeded into the building when we arrive and park behind T 10,  there is no alley for us to report into and nothing is showing. I grab my hook, and I follow the officer, he enters an elevator with the other firefighters from the engine companies, it is full and he tells me to wait for the next elevator. There is an unknown condition on the seventh floor of this nine story residential hi-rise.

The “Hook” position firefighters primary task is basically a portable “ladder thrower” with the “Axe” firefighter, they throw portable ladders, then place a vent fan in a window from the outside, seldom does the “Hook” or “Axe” firefighters position require an SCBA...so, typical of the other “truckies”, I follow their lead and I am not wearing a SCBA either on this alarm. The second elevator comes down to the lobby (In 1980, DC did not have a similar Local Law 5 that NYC had recently incorporated which regulates fire service elevators, fire wardens, etc...furthermore, during that time the DCFD did not have a “Hi-Rise” Procedure).

I catch the next elevator with two firefighters who have entered the lobby from Rescue 1, they are the only two firefighters wearing an SCBA. The three of us board the elevator, one of the firefighters punches the seventh floor elevator button, where the emergency condition is reported...the elevator stops at the seventh floor...in the meantime, the unknown condition is now apparent, an apartment  fully involved with fire that has vented into the hallway with black swirling dense smoke, heat and fire...the black oily smoke is thick and compacted down to the floor. The elevator door opens to a solid wall of black smoke, the two Rescue firefighters immediately don their facepiece and ask if I will be ok, thankfully, the smoke does not enter the elevator as the elevator shaft must have a positive air flow and keeps the smoke from entering...I am beyond grateful, the smoke stands still in front of the opened elevator door like a black curtain, and does not enter. The Rescuemen disappear into the dense smoke as I immediately slam my thumb into the elevator button for the lobby below to get my SCBA...It seems like an eternity before the door finally closes.

 I returned to the rig to grab my SCBA and glance towards T 10... it has the bucket up and I now notice  the heavy fire venting from the terrace of the apartment on the seventh floor. That was a close call and a lesson learned the hard way about “hi-rise” residences, that I never forgot.


Upon arrival, "nothing showing"...fire now erupts from 7th floor apartment.


Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed!      KMG-365
« Last Edit: November 03, 2019, 10:22:50 PM by JohnnyGage »

Offline JohnnyGage

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Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #275 on: November 10, 2019, 07:52:48 PM »
DCFD Part 7
Ch Ch Ch Changes…

There have been changes at E 21. We recently received a new Hahn Engine that will replace the Ford Wagon, we will keep the second piece, the 68 Ford as our pumper. The DCFD went on a spending spree to update much of their fire apparatus and Hahn Fire Apparatus was the choice. The rigs now had automatic transmission and were fast, there would be no more riding in a makeshift box behind the cab. Lieutenant Hammond has been promoted to Captain, Mickey and Neugie have since retired and Lieutenant Tommy Dolner is my new boss replacing Lt. Hammond...The old Pirsch spare has been removed from quarters and soon T 14 will be joining E 21 as their quarters will start a renovation project that is going to take at least a year and so the Lanier Place firehouse will be a double house once again. On the National front, President Jimmy Carter has been defeated by Ronald Reagan and the hostages that were being held by Iran have now been brought back home. Some things haven’t changed, Smiley and the old lady in the frock dress still come through the firehouse everyday  like clockwork on a mission to get their soda from the soda machine in the rear quarters.



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

T 14 has now been relocated to our quarters and the firehouse is alive with the extra personnel and getting a little cramped, but in a good way, no one minds the company. T 14 has the same old model Pirsch spare that was just removed, since T 14 is one of the least active of Truck companies, they will be one of the last to get an upgraded rig, not a new rig, but one of the later model American LaFrance dragster type that FDNY uses from another company. The quiet of a single engine house has now transformed into a continuous beehive of activity. Even though the firehouse was designed to accommodate the longer ladder trucks, the living conditions are tight. The kitchen was extremely small, almost the same size of a ranch style house, the sitting room with television on the first floor could have been a small living room in the same ranch house. The sitting room had a four by eight dining room table with six chairs to eat, and a single couch up against the wall. The closeness was way too confining for two companies plus the ambulance crew to sit and comfortably eat. We acquired another large table about the same size and placed it on the apparatus floor between the rigs and a short distance away from the pool table that was usually covered with boxes, coats and other daily paraphernalia. Sitting on the apparatus floor was more comfortable, it seemed to have more leg room with better ventilation. The basement of the old firehouse was damp, dark and cavernous with low ceilings... unusable except for a pinball machine that was placed at the base of the stairs.

On the second floor was a full bunk room with old styled beds on original old wooden floors, a small two stall bathroom next to a small room of lockers. Two Company offices filled up the second floor. It appears the firehouse was designed more for the comfort of the horses than the manpower. During the evening, many of the guys hung out in front of quarters since there was no policy about sitting in chairs in front of quarters, in fact many DC firehouses had wooden benches in front of the firehouse. On any comfortable evening you could find a handful of guys just sitting in a half circle in front of the firehouse chatting between alarms or sitting by the front housewatch desk.


T 14, notice the SCBA mounted on frames outside the cab

Tonight I have been detailed across the floor to T 14. Now that they have been relocated to E 21 local boxes have been modified to include them and their fire activity has increased. T 14 has mostly senior men, they are stationed on Connecticut Avenue with E 28 and Fifth Battalion Chief.  It is hard to keep younger firefighters on the roster due to the sluggish activity of the company while the senior men who have worked in other busier companies appear to enjoy the slower pace.

Since I am detailed I’m expecting to be assigned to an outside position on the truck, either the “Hook” or “Axe”. However, the senior man would prefer tonight to be assigned the “Hook or Axe” position and offers me the chance to “run the Bar”,  the forcible entry position. I’m delighted  and excited to do so!

I’m in the process of conducting my apparatus check “walk around” inspecting the truck and going through all the compartments and notice a two and a half gallon dusty air pressure water extinguisher sitting in a compartment. I decide to take it out, dust it off, test it, top it off with water then fill with air. Through the task I’m having a flashback to my buff days with Uncle Jack and learning about the “can man”. I decide to take the can and place it in a position near to me on the side of the trailer.

Both companies have now finished dinner, dinner is served about six o’clock. One of the “soul” Brothers assigned to 21 is JB. He is a black firefighter and a good friend. And I refer to him as “my soul brother”,  JB has a motorcycle as well as I did and we used to ride together during our time off. JB is a good chef, he makes from scratch a delicious southern fried chicken meal complete with collard greens, mashed potatoes, gravy and cornbread... After dinner, the policy in every DC firehouse is that everyone, except the cook, and including the officer(s), rolls the dice that are kept on the blackboard shelf. Names are placed on the blackboard and as you roll the dice your number is recorded, whoever has “high and low” will do the pots, pans, dishes, cups and silverware since the firehouse does not have a dishwasher. Sometimes, among the “high and low” winners they will do a “roll off” and the loser gets to do the whole detail himself.

It’s about eight o’clock, some guys are sitting outside, I’m sitting by the front desk with a few other firefighters...all of a sudden we hear a little commotion coming from the private house that abuts against the firehouse desk wall. Running down alongside the concrete apron of the firehouse and dividing the firehouse from the neighbors house is a small brick wall that runs down to the sidewalk. Certain bricks that have been stylishly removed to allow light to show through them. But instead of light, we notice black smoke that starts seeping through the brick and instantaneously a loud yell from the resident “FIRE, FIRE!”.

The firefighter on the desk turns out the companies by banging the gong a rapid succession about a half dozen times while  announcing a fire next door. In the meantime I run to the Bar position,  in a flash my gear is on, instead of waiting for the rig to pull out of quarters, I grab the “bar” and the can while running next door, the first to arrive. In the basement floor is a narrow small den that has been converted into a library, maybe twelve by eight feet, the books on the shelves are rolling in orange flame and the smoke vents over my head. Squeezing the handle of the can the water knocks the fire down as JB and crew from E 21 comes in with the line. There is a look of awe emanating from them and my T 14 colleagues...The DCFD does not employ the “can” concept. Later, the conversation turns to the “can”... the common thought was that many could not believe the amount of fire that “little thing cut put out”.

After the fire the Fifth Battalion Chief takes the opportunity to stop by quarters and chat with the officers while members continue to clean the gear, top off the booster and I refill the can. The fire was contained in the library, the one hundred fifty foot inch and a half was used to wash down the hot spots has been drained and repacked, a fresh hot pot of coffee is on the way down and both companies are back in service.

Within minutes; “BOOOP, BOOOP” BOX ALARM ENGINE 21, 9, 11, 28  TRUCK 14, 9  RESCUE 2  BATTALION 5….”

The fire is reported about six doors down from the firehouse on the opposite side of the street and diagonally across the street from the earlier fire. This time I jump on the truck as it makes the left out of quarters behind the wagon and pumper and proceeds halfway up the street to the front of the reported address. With the Battalion Chief at quarters, he jumped into his car  (in DCFD parlance the chiefs car is referred to as “Chiefs Buggy”) and was first on the scene as we followed. The house is an old three story row frame that is set back from the street, as the truck comes to a halt I’m off with the bar and can, hopped up the three steps from the sidewalk to the brick walkway where another set of six steps will take me into the front door of the building.... There is a noticeable light haze of smoke that is lazily drifting out of the front door.

By the second set of steps stands the Battalion Chief... he notices me carrying the can and stops me in my tracks, “Whoa, where're  going with that?” he did not wait for my reply and orders... “you can leave that right outside here”. I complied and continued to the front door ahead of the line that was being stretched behind me. Inside the first floor living room the fireplace has a hot roaring fire, about ten inches of the leading edge of the oak floor in front of the fireplace has begun to smolder and shows the beginning stage of pyrolysis...a perfect can job!...Meantime,  E 21 stretched the line into the living room and took care of the issue cracking the line just enough to douse the singed floor. Oh well, like they say in the fire service... “A hundred years of tradition unimpeded by progress!”


Tight quarters, but it's ok, we sit on apparatus floor. E 21 and T 14


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

With my probation year behind me,  I joined the department “duckpin” bowling league that meets every Wednesday afternoon. Duckpin is different from regular bowling, the ball is about 5 inches in diameter, just a little larger than a softball,  the pins are smaller and lighter which makes it difficult to achieve a strike, so the bowler has three attempts per frame.  It is a good chance to meet many other DC firefighters that I might not have met from different shifts and firehouses. In addition, I also became a “Charter Member” of the Washington DC Emerald Society, marching in various local parades down Constitution Avenue that had deep exciting crowds viewing along the sidewalk. During my time on the DCFD there were about twelve hundred DC firefighters and in a short time I got to meet many through extra curricular activity.

One of the firefighters that I met during the bowling league was assigned across the city to another ladder company, tonight he happens to be detailed to T 14 for the night tour. His name is Freddie, he is stocky, brash and bold kind of guy...Freddie has a hobby, likes to break cojones, and today it’s my turn. He and another firefighter from T 14 are shooting pool in the back of the firehouse and Freddie repeatedly keeps calling me; “Yonkers”, I looked at him quizzically, I think I’m getting the joke, is it because I’m from New York? Should I tell him that Yonkers is not part of the city? No big deal, he’s a good guy and I just play along, he gets a charge every time he calls me Yonkers... “Hey Yonkers, say ‘warter’ for me...”Hey Yonkers, get me a glass of warter, will ya Yonkers”. OK, I get it, with my Brooklyn brogue he is having a fun time while the other truck guy smiles along. Again, “Hey, Yonkers, say New Yawk” he asserts with his best exaggerated NY accent. This goes on for a brief time and  I humor him. Freddie likes to chew tobacco as do many of the other firefighters. In fact, there are many ‘Redman’ chewing tobacco pouches laying around the firehouse and in the cabs of the rigs, many times during committee work during the day tour I often came across a disgusting dried spit can with tobacco that was forgotten and I had to toss it out.  (I have to admit, I did place a pinch in between my cheek and gums ...found it utterly repulsive!) Tonight Freddie is putting on a little show for the T 14 guy and having a little fun with the boy from New York City…”Hey Yonkers…” and I am about to turn the table on the good ol’ boy...

In the kitchen is a little reserve for “clean” spit cans that have not been used yet, they are the small Del Monte corn or green beans vegetable cans that have the paper label removed, rinsed out and kept in a corner for the tobacco chewers...Freddie is using one of those cans tonight and I come up with this idea.... In the kitchen, I get the same type can he is spitting into and pour a drop of black coffee into it, when Freddie and the other firefighter is not paying attention, I swap the spit can Freddie has placed on top of the small workbench that is by the pool table with my smidgen amount of coffee.  I keep a close eye on it… Just then, as Freddie starts to  approach his way to the spit can, I intercede and grab “his” spit can...with the other firefighter looking on I take the spit can, (that has coffee in it) swirl so Freddie can see the dark brown liquid, and down it like a shot of whiskey...Freddie and the other firefighter eyes bug out!, there is a brief WTF moment...nonchalantly  I toss the empty can into the nearby garbage can, glance at Freddie whose smirk is now gone, looks bewildered and dumbstruck, and say…”Nobody ever heard of Yonkers...it’s New YAWK, New YAWK, so big they named it twice... Country Boy!”

Next: Rescue Squad 4 and Epilogue       

Hope you enjoyed, thanks for reading!       KMG-365



Today, the Brick wall (behind soda machine) where smoke came through remains the same as 40 years ago)
« Last Edit: November 12, 2019, 01:53:02 PM by JohnnyGage »

Offline FDNYSTATENISLAND

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Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #276 on: November 11, 2019, 11:44:18 PM »
Found this pic on Instagram today. Caption said it is DCFD back in the day. Johnny, are you familiar with this fire? If you zoom into the left side there are street signs. Also cool to note: looks like they attached a handline to the deckgun? Figured this would be the spot to post this picture lol. Keep up the great stories, us younger guys love it!




Offline JohnnyGage

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Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #277 on: November 12, 2019, 02:03:55 PM »
 Thanks FDNYSI !.....Yes, I remember the Pumper Driver at E 21 "Neugie" telling me during my probation that hooking up to the deck gun would afford you another discharge, the rigs only had 750 gpm pumps and three discharges... If I remember him telling me correctly, using the 4th discharge like this was common during the 68 riots where additional lines were stretched from rigs as needed and remained a tactic DCFD employed when necessary up until we got the new Hahn pumpers. Thanks for sharing the great photo and kind words, I appreciate it!
Best, JG

Offline raybrag

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Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #278 on: November 12, 2019, 03:01:12 PM »
FDNY is not the only department that innovates.  :o ;) :o
Ray Braguglia
Newport News VA


Offline lucky

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Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #279 on: November 12, 2019, 03:11:43 PM »
The late 40s Ward LaFrance pumpers only had two discharges although they were 750 GPM. The deck pipe discharge was used out of necessity.

Offline 68jk09

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Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #280 on: November 12, 2019, 03:35:15 PM »
I remember at Multiples way back seeing Pumpers with a Line off the Deckpipe as an additional discharge (of course way before the convoluted "no more than 2 Lines off a Pumper").....at MUD i used to set up a scenario where if a Pumper in proximity to a bldg that collapsed alongside & against one side of the Pumper opposite the Pump Panel negating using the discharge on that side & possibly the rear & or front discharge but this Pumper was in a key position to supply needed Handlines....my question to the Junior Men was what could be done ? ...very few thought of coming off the the piped in Stang as a discharge..... an oddball scenario but it could be a Lifesaver in certain instances...... as far as the "no more than 2 Lines" thing yes this is what is taught in more recent years but my point is "are the 2 original Lines actually flowing water & knocking down Fire or are they in a standby mode during overhaul ?" .....if the 3rd Line is immediately necessary it should take precedence.

Offline JohnnyGage

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Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #281 on: November 12, 2019, 04:33:52 PM »
Here is one of the New Hahns we received pumping away...looks like four lines discharging and two on the intakes:



Offline JohnnyGage

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Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #282 on: November 17, 2019, 10:47:04 PM »
DCFD: Part 8
Rescue Squad 4 and EPILOGUE


Engine 21 is assigned to the Fifth Battalion along with E 28 and T 14 that are stationed on Connecticut Avenue, Engine 20 and T 12 located on Wisconsin Avenue and Engine 31 a combination company that serves also as Rescue Squad 4, all three companies are located on the western side of Rock Creek Park and further north in the upper NW section of DC, a relatively wealthy quiet bedroom type region and with that the fire duty is sluggish as you could expect. Lucky for me, E 21 is the busy company within the Battalion and most sought after to work in as it is closer to the action and fire duty east of Rock Creek Park.

My probation is behind me and I am now well into my second year on the job and finding myself being detailed within the Battalion to E 31 and RS 4 quite often, in fact I am even filling in vacation spots for some of the regular members assigned to the company.

E 31 and RS 4 is a combination company as is all of the other Rescue Squads, or “Squads” as they are referred to in DC. There are a total of four RS companies that serve the District. Rescue 1 is the “Flagship” Squad, and responds to fires and emergencies mostly in the business and commercial sections downton. Rescue Squad 2 and  Rescue Squad 3 cover large areas of tough neighborhoods in NW and SE Washington, you could say they are the real workhorses of the department. And Rescue Squad 4 covers the upper NW section.


E 31 and RS 4

A combination company is both an Engine Company and a Rescue Squad, they are assigned a wagon and pumper and acts as a first due engine on all first due boxes. On any other assignment the company responds as the Rescue Squad. So it is not uncommon to see members store their gear between the apparatus on the apparatus floor awaiting alarms.

Years ago when the Rescue Squads were formed they were not an engine company but a distinct unit that had two pieces of apparatus, the second piece to the Rescue truck was an ambulance that followed the Squad. The RS members responsibility was to aid any injured firefighter,  in lieu of waiting for an ambulance, the RS transported the injured firefighter rather than waiting for a civilian ran ambulance to arrive.

RS 4’s rig is an older model Ford Bruco, the officer and driver ride in the cab while members ride in the back of the box. I was wondering why I was being detailed more often to the company more so than other firefighters in our Battalion and was told by the company officer it was because I had a working knowledge of the “Hurst Tool”... (While training once or twice with the company and their Hurst tool), so then when a detail pops up from RS 4 I got the heave ho from 21, but I never minded, the men there were all senior guys and they were very welcoming and cordial. Unlike other practices for “detailed” members I was not stuck with a watch or last to be relieved. They’re a good bunch of guys and I welcomed the detail whenever it popped up.
                                                       

RS 4

                                                               ***********

A little background on my Hurst Tool knowledge. When I joined my neighborhood volunteer fire department in 1975 I joined the only Truck Company that covered the community. We had two pieces, a mid mount American LaFrance eighty five foot aerial and an old Ford “floodlight” truck. As far as I can recall, the term “Rescue” to Long Island Volunteer Fire Departments referred to the Ambulance service within the department. So, as fire departments and communities began to expand, more special services were required and special operations were prescribed. Our volunteer fire department was one of the first volunteer fire departments to purchase a new exciting tool on the market, called the Hurst Tool that was designed to extricate vehicles from the victims. Since our response district covered the Long Island Expressway and various State Parkways along with secondary roads that had speed restrictions we responded to many emergencies reported as “Hurst tool assist” calls. Those days cars were not made of plastic and passengers were not obligated to wear seatbelts... a violent wreck could have some gnarly effects on people in the crumpled car.

During my time there in the volunteer fire department, our old floodlight truck morphed into a Rescue Truck as our company began a  vigorous training program with the new Hurst Tool, effectively retiring our antiquated porta power tools. In short order, we all  became very proficient and accomplished with the new device.

My first “pin job” came very soon after we received the tool. An early spring morning our company along with the local Engine Company was “toned” out for a “Hurst Tool request” by the Suffolk County Police Department for a motor vehicle vs. tree in the middle of town. In the back of the responding Rescue Truck it was “my turn” to become the tool operator, as it was our company policy to swap positions between Hurst tool request jobs. Ahead, Police car revolving lights lit up the eerie scene; a lime-green colored early 1970’s Barracuda has crashed head on into a large tree along the avenue at hi-speed, the car front end and engine has been crushed back onto the two semi conscious passengers in the front seat, they are squished alongside the crumpled car frame and engine block, pinned. Both victims have long hair and I recall thinking they were girls but later realized they appear to be young guys my age. In fact, I knew both of them from school. The driver happened to be a very close friend of mine during our High School days. After High School we parted and went our different ways, this early spring morning I am now cutting him out of the vehicle. Sadly he died enroute to the hospital. The passenger survived.

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

Anyway, back to RS 4. So knowing that I was able to handle the Hurst Tool, I found myself getting detailed there on many occasions. We did respond to many traffic accidents as their response area was huge with many cross streets and avenues, we also responded to smells and bells to the new hotels that were popping up in the area as DC was seeing a noticeable increase in visitors.

However, during the spring of 1982 I received two significant phone calls, the first was from my FDNY investigator who I recently contacted when I found out the lawsuit was settled concerning hiring women candidates. He stated that I would be a probationary candidate in the next class that would be amassed in the upcoming summer. The second call came from Captain Hammond who has now been assigned to the busy Rescue Squad 2 as their new commander. He asked if I would consider transferring into his new unit. What an honor I felt as to be asked to join this prestigious company. Unfortunately I had to decline the offer and tell him that I was being considered for the next upcoming FDNY class.


RS 2

And so...In a short three months from my conversation with Captain Hammond, August 1982 I was sworn into the FDNY, there standing with my hand up taking the oath in Cadman Plaza... later that day I called Lt. Tommy Dolner at E 21 and said that he could submit my official letter of resignation of the DCFD. I was sworn into the DCFD on August 6, 1979 and resigned three years to the day on August 6, 1982.


Lt. Dolner, crew of E 21 and a young JohnnyGage center.

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

EPILOGUE

It was an astonishing and amazing three years for me assigned to the DCFD, in addition, I also became a new dad. 

During my three years working in DC all eyes were on the Nation’s Capital during a handful of historic National events which provided me a front seat to history; namely, a new Hollywood actor named Ronald Reagan would be elected President of the United States, the US diplomats being held hostage in Iran was over and the hostages were now on their way home, a horrific plane crash striking the 14th Street Bridge and then plunged into the icy Potomac River killing seventy-eight souls during a wintry mix snow storm, the assasination attempt of President Ronald Reagan that took place at the Washington Hilton Hotel about a mile away from E 21, President Reagan firing the Air Traffic controllers who continued to strike, Senate confirming the first female US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor...And if that wasn’t enough exciting National news emanating... the Washington DC football team the “Redskins” with legendary quarterback Joe Theisman leading his team to consecutive Super Bowl appearances was captivating the Nation. (NOTE: Whenever the Redskins would play a Sunday afternoon game, the streets in DC were virtually empty, you could hear the town roaring with excitement from all corners from touchdowns and sensational plays).



Coincidently I witnessed a tiny part of history when President Reagan was elected...There were approximately seven different “Presidential Inaugural Balls” being held throughout the city on the evening of January 20, 1981.  Since the Shoreham Hotel was one of the venues, and E 21 was nearby I was detailed in dress uniform to perform a “fire watch” for a Ball that was mostly made up of U.S. Senators to celebrate President Reagan's Inauguration. My position was standing at “Parade Rest”  to the left of the incoming double doors, with another firefighter on the opposite side...we both had water pressure extinguishers hidden behind the open doors. Since I had the first shift I was able to see many Senators walk right by me within arms reach like Bob Dole, Howard Baker and Barry Goldwater... Then all eyes turned toward my direction, well not at me, but to my left as Senator John Warner entered with his beautiful bride and actress Elizabeth Taylor on his arm. Subsequently I was relieved after an hour or so and never had the chance to see the new President and his wife arrive much later in the evening to join the festivities.



Living in Southern Maryland while off duty I enjoyed blue claw crab fishing with another buddy from my proby school Al who lived nearby. Once in awhile,  early morning Al and I would set out for the Chesapeake Bay, Al would steer his aluminum boat while I would easily fill four bushels of blue claw crabs with a net as the crabs hung onto our bait of chopped up chicken necks. Since Al worked in a double house he took two overflowing bushels into his firehouse and I would bring my bushel in for the guys in E 21 (before T 14) night tour...the fourth bushel, well that was our lunch for me and Al.

It was difficult leaving my buddies from the Long Island Volunteer Fire Department we all joined; But, Big Mac, Mike and Philly would go on to enjoy very successful careers with the DCFD. Big Mac retired as a well respected and beloved Battalion Chief, Mike as a Lieutenant and Philly was awarded “Firefighter of the Year” for “FIREHOUSE” Magazine for a daring rescue of a child in a house fire when he was assigned to Rescue 3 and is now enjoying his time retired in North Carolina with a beautiful home and family. To this day, we still all stay in touch.

I am grateful that I still stay in touch with Captain John Hammond through e-mails and enjoyed catching up with him a few years ago during lunch while reminiscing about our time together. He now lives in Tennessee enjoying his BlueGrass music and probably still making those outrageous pancakes.

Working in DC was thrilling...It was impressive being surrounded and noticing the unique buildings of our government, ...just seeing the Capital building was always stirring, especially when lit at night. Driving by the White House was intriguing... I wondered what the President was doing just then when I cruised by...and seeing the Washington Monument was majestic, don’t forget The FBI Headquarters where Efrem Zimbalist Jr worked out of...On occasion during the summer months between night tours I would take a book I was reading and sit along the Mall on a bench between the Monument and Capital, sometimes not even reading but just thinking about the history I was surrounded by.

It was immensely rewarding working as a firefighter in our Nation's Capital and I will continue to have a fond recollection of a scaling ladder rescue assist in an alley off 17th Street. Moreover, I had the pleasure of working with a very dedicated and professional Brotherhood of firefighters from a very well competent, skillful and experienced fire department that shared their skills and experiences with this young “New Yawker”. I often have to thank the women's organization that held up FDNY hiring, had the women's organization not held up my FDNY hiring, I would never have had the opportunity to work in this dynamic town, our Nation's Capital. Forty years later, I still have a personal connection with DC and splendid memories of my time there.

Next; Return to NYC and FDNY

Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed my DCFD recollection!      KMG-365

« Last Edit: November 18, 2019, 02:07:57 PM by JohnnyGage »

Offline nfd2004

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Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #283 on: November 19, 2019, 10:31:57 AM »
 Dan, THANK YOU VERY MUCH for telling us your DCFD stories. I remember some of the incidents that you talked about. Particularly the plane that crashed striking the 14th St Bridge.

 All of the pictures you posted are amazing. As well as telling us the history of your time with the DCFD. And earlier of course your "GORY DAYS", with the very busy NYC-EMS. Now known as the FDNY/EMS.

 Thank You Johnny, aka Mr Gage. 

 I guess (??????) your next series begins with your FDNY Probie Days. I'm sure that I am not the only one looking forward to that. When that time comes and you tell us about your days with Ladder Co 5, don't forget, "you know who", while you were at the Rock. And how you got to meet up with that FDNY buff again many years later.

Offline CanadianFireman

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Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #284 on: November 19, 2019, 12:51:43 PM »
This thread is amazing, thanks so much for all the memories of your career it sure is a real pleasure to read along!!

 

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