Author Topic: GLORY DAYS  (Read 19575 times)

Offline memory master

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Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #180 on: June 23, 2019, 11:05:42 AM »
I guess the eyesight and memories are better than I thought. Thanks Dan and Chief JK :o

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Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #180 on: June 23, 2019, 11:05:42 AM »

Offline JohnnyGage

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Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #181 on: June 23, 2019, 07:02:01 PM »
LADDER 31; DAYS OF RIDING
Part 2

Intervale Avenue is a wide thoroughfare, the firehouse sits between two buildings, an apartment house on the left side closer to 169th Street, and a 2 story storage loft type building to the right. The firehouse is a three story building with large windows on the second floor, the brick looks to be a light brown or tan with red trim. A single door between the two bays allows entry into quarters. Over the left bay door metal lettering says “LADDER 31”, over the right bay door the same metal lettering says “82 ENGINE”. Although the firehouse has only two bay doors, five pieces, sometimes six pieces of apparatus would park and respond from it. The first few times I rode with L 31, even though the overhead lettering said; “Ladder 31”,  Engine 85, Engine 82 and TCU 712 would respond from that bay, Ladder 31 would be in the bay marked “Engine 82”. The reason was that the L 31 bay was much longer in length and could accommodate the extra apparatus. Positioned to the rear of the firehouse, E 85 would be parked alongside E 82 with just enough room to walk between rigs. Then the TCU would be parked in front of those pieces. At different times I was there, sometimes there was a Battalion in quarters. Battalion 27. The chief’s aide would park the car diagonally with the front facing outwards and exiting the “Engine 82” bay. Ladder 31 would be backed into the bay as far back as it could go. Remember, at this time, L 31 was a tiller. Behind L 31 was the kitchen. It was a tight fit, then on certain days Squad 2 would be at quarters. The nickname was appropriate “LA CASA GRANDE”. Unfortunately I never witnessed what it was like when re-locating companies came to cover the house units that were out of service or recuperating... but it must have been a fun madhouse!

Today, only L 31 and E 82 are in quarters by themselves parked in their respective bays.. I’m introduced to the Boss, Lt. Bob Farrell, Jack gets the ok from the boss for me to ride, up front...front and center of the big red machine!...coincidentally most of the times I ride it is with Lieutenant Bob Farrell who also became the Captain and remained at L 31. The other Boss I remember was a big guy, named Captain McCaffrey.

(Sidenote: The very first time I ride with L 31 I meet Capt. McCaffrey. The Cap is a big guy, reminds me of Oakland Raiders Coach John Madden, and there is really very little room in the front seat with him. He has me ride the jumpseat behind him in the rear of the rig, back with the guys, That was cool!...However, the following day tour, I am now back home...on the evening news is a story about L 31 being coaxed into a block, Aldus Street, with a rubbish fire in the middle of the street, L 31 was blocked in and bombarded with rocks and bottles from Gypsey Cab protesters. The following day is a Daily News photo,  the second page has Captain McCaffrey standing in front of L 31 pointing at the broken windshield. I called Jack...Jack was working, he told me everyone on the backstep squeezed into the jumpseats seeking cover, the same seat I sat the day before!...Close call for me!)

It is 0900, the bells toll 11 times indicating the change of tour. The bells don’t sound like ding, ding or clang, clang, it’s more like a clink, clink, clink in a steady toll eleven times.

I introduce myself to the Ladder Chauffeur, again, most of the other times I've come in Big Charlie McCarthy was behind the wheel. I offer to help with washing the rig, and he allows me to wash it  down with the hose after he brushes the rig with soap...Other chauffeurs I remember riding with was Richard “Dick” Bittles, and Vinny Bollon.

(Vinny would go on to become a long time labor leader with the UFA, UFOA and IAFF. I recall the day I rode with him, the troops were calling him “Balloon” unmercifully, mocking his last name, and he was a bit, should we say, portly...“it is balloon, VINNY BALLOON!...” was heard the whole day. RIP Vinny)

A few times I came to Intervale Avenue on a Sunday morning. The mornings generally started out quietly. One special time, the rigs have been moved out of the bay and the fireman on housewatch has two lengths of 1 ½” from the hydrant out front and is washing down the apparatus floor from the rear to the front. As a young “Explorer” firefighter with my neighborhood volunteer fire department we used to look forward to our training which consisted of running two lengths of 1 ½” line from a nearby hydrant. Donning full firefighter garb, we would learn how to position ourselves to back up the nozzle firefighter, taking pressure off him as he advanced the hoseline, third guy would make sure the hose moves forward freely. We took this training very seriously, we envisioned ourselves moving in on the gates of hell... Open the nob, try the wide fog pattern, move up a few feet, narrow fog pattern, a few more feet and then straight stream, close bale slowly so as not to create a water hammer. Everyone got a shot at handling the hoseline for a few moments, it was exciting when your turn came and it was big league to us Explorers then...Today I am watching this fireman, I don’t recall his name, but he’s from 82 and moving the hoseline by himself effortlessly washing out dirt and debris toward the street. I’m wondering, “shouldn’t he have a backup?”...Then he turns to me, “hey son, why don’t you grab this and finish washing down the floor, push the dirt towards the street”... He isn’t asking, kind of politely ordering me to take over. I like that I’m trusted and happy to be a small part of the team, “glad to help!”...he shuts down the line and hands it over to me,”got it kid?” and departs for something back in the kitchen. I now have this nozzle and hose in my hand and I’m thinking will I be able to handle it? And shouldn’t I have a backup at least?  But I just go with it, I pull the bale back slowly and open up the nozzle. I am in my glory, I’m moving this line with pressure back and forth sweeping out the bays...Wait until I tell the other “Explorers” when I get back!

On another weekend day visit both companies have Multi Unit Drill (MUD...if that’s what they called it back then). We mount up on the rig...E 82 heads out and makes the right turn leaving quarters, cross over 169th Street and onto Tiffany Street L 31 follows. We stop in front of a six story vacant apartment building, all the windows are removed, it is like a six story dump. Some windows actually have a tree or large weed growing out of them, it’s an odd thing to see, nothing like a tree growing from a vacant building window on the upper floor...The members of E 82 and L 31 are checking their breathing apparatus and the truck guys look over their saw. In the meantime  82’s MPO hooks to a hydrant and pumps water through the deck gun into an empty window. The MPO notices me in the street observing, he yells to the fireman on top directing the deck gun to come down, “we need to get some ‘youth’ up there”, guy’s milling around now catch the phrase and that becomes the day’s mantra like “it is BALLOON”... any topic of discussion that would require an answer…”WE NEED YOUTH”... it seemed like everyone was saying it and having fun with it... Operate the deck gun?... Again back in the Explorers, this was inconceivable since we were not allowed on top of the apparatus, nor were we allowed to operate anything larger than a handline... I eagerly hopped up to the deck gun, took control of it and aimed it from window to window, blasting the imaginary red devil to smithereens. I was having a ball!

Today, Charlie and I finish washing down the rig. Guys have completed their committee work and sitting and are now relaxing in the kitchen talking, there is less joking, more regular talk. I’m itching to start running. Just before 11:00 am the voice alarm alert tone sounds, it is a quick…”fwooop”... followed by the dispatcher announcing the companies as one long number: “82-85-31-59 into box…”. We empty out of the kitchen, half the guys head towards the engine, the other half including me hustle to the truck...and we are off to the races…

Back then the rigs had a mechanical siren, it had a distinctive pitch, rrrr- ARRR- RRRRR... there was no mistaking the unique sound of a fire truck approaching. The air horn also had a growl type pitch, not the loud “BLAP” you hear on today's apparatus...The day remains hectic, the runs come in a steady flow with different boxes coming in. Many times we pull up just in front of quarters and off we go again. I recall a few vacant building fires during days riding where 31 operated for a while, nothing spectacular though. Most calls of course were 10-92’s, outside rubbish and car fires. When the rigs would stop and the guys go to work, it seemed like the whole neighborhood came alive with kids climbing all over the truck like monkey bars. Young Spanish faces would curiously peer in at me sitting inside the cab or standing outside nearby. I did recall watching Jack drive the tiller and operate as the Outside Vent Man at a job, he worked the front fire escape, the windows were tinned up alongside the fire escape to prevent entry into the building and tough to open. It seemed with every tinned up window removed more smoke would come out. The fire was inside the vacant building and quickly knocked out by E 82.

Both companies have been running since this morning, it’s after lunch and my buddy Mel is at the firehouse. He has come in from his home to visit me.  I am honored to have this friendship with Mel, Mel is a very religious man, he is over six feet tall, and lean. We walk to the outside courtyard in the rear of the firehouse, there he introduces me to three guinea pigs in a large cage. Mel tells me that they were rescued at a fire recently, and holding them until the owner finds a new home for them. He and I catch up on stories since I haven’t seen him in a while. It’s good to see Mel.

Hope you enjoyed, stay tuned for part 3, thanks for reading!   KMG-365



82 and 31 squeezed in between an apartment building and loft style storage building


169th Street in foreground, firehouse is on left on a wide Intervale Av, Home Street comes in on an angle.


A good spot in front of firehouse with seven streets intersecting for watching a unique lifestyle go by in the South Bronx and the occasional rig like L 59 returning back to qtrs. The guys always gave a full arm swing hello as they drove by.


Jack backing in the tiller. "LA CASA GRANDE" across and above the tiller windshield.


"It is balloon!"  Vinny Bollon, LCC (RIP)

Two common sights:




« Last Edit: June 29, 2019, 07:01:04 AM by JohnnyGage »

Offline JohnnyGage

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Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #182 on: June 28, 2019, 11:13:04 AM »
PROFILE: MEL HAZEL  L 31

Mel Hazel... I met Mel on one of my first trips to 82 /31 in 1971. Mel had just completed his probation at Ladder 31. Mel is a tall and lean man, he has a great sense of humor, very religious and a well respected fireman. Most times when I would visit  the Intervale firehouse with Jack, Mel would make it a point to come in and visit me. I really appreciated his friendship and always looked forward to seeing him. During the winter months when I could not get off from school Mel and I would exchange letters.

In 1973 Mel made a “Roof Rope” rescue. The rescue was one of a kind back during the War Years, at the time there was no “Lifesaving Rope Evolution” as we know it today. Truck company members back then were issued a personal harness that they wore as an accessory around their waist.  Later, his unique rescue would be a feature story in a WNYF magazine. Mel rescued the older teenager by doing a single slide and having the victim embrace him. The victim was about to jump from fire conditions into the courtyard below... Mel made the risky grab, and was recognized by receiving the Hugh Bonner Medal.

Mel and I stayed in touch during his time in L 31. As I got older and after the rope rescue Mel transferred to Rescue 3 then became a Fire Marshal and we lost touch.

Miraculously, Mel and I reconnected on the morning of September 11, 2001. I had just emerged from the Deutsche Bank on Liberty Street after the collapse of the South Tower, and onto Greenwich Street which is next door to L 10’s quarters, I was trying to make my way to the North tower where my wife worked. At the time I believed that she was safe, seeking refuge on the roof of the North Tower. I came out of the Bank, the gray matter still blinding and choking from the first collapse, a lone figure appeared from the dust, I recognized him immediately...but Mel spoke first, he saw my helmet frontpiece with the red insert and a white 31. “Hey 31, you ok?” was his first words. I followed up, “Hey Mel, it’s me Dan”. He recognized me immediately after that and we embraced...I told Mel I needed to find my wife, she was working and is somewhere in the North Tower. We discussed the best way to get there standing surrounded by the debris of the South Tower that was blocking our path and stagnant dust... Overhead we heard fighter jets passing, but we could not see them... Just then, a Police Officer rounded a corner with a radio ran by us, without stopping he yelled ro us the North Tower was about to fall!...and no sooner did he say that the tower began to crumble... Mel and I could not outrun the showering debris field about to rain down on us, we took immediate cover and positioned ourselves in an upright fetal position against the Deutsche Bank outer wall, our hands covering our heads, I had my helmet I was holding onto. We were barely covered by an overhang. Together we awaited our fate as we were pelted by rocks, cement, hot wind with embers and debris. Mel and I both thought the “big hit” was imminent. It was very close, but, by the grace of God we had survived. However, being so close we thought we would now suffocate as there was no air to breathe.

(For further reading...both Mel and I have given our full 9/11 account in Dennis Smith's Book; REPORT FROM GROUND ZERO)

In 2004, Mel, me, my buddy from E 53 Martin and a firefighter from the Eastchester Fire Department created a committee to have the Tuckahoe, NY Post Office dedicated to the memory of FDNY Fire Marshal Ronnie Bucca that was murdered on 9/11. With 100% affirmation from Congress, the PO was dedicated in the summer of 2005, Brother Mel officiated the ceremonies as Mel knew Ronnie very well from the Fire Marshal office. The ceremony was dignified and regal, streets were closed surrounding the facility that was well attended and supported by the community, local fire department and various military organizations.

Mel and I have never lost touch since, we continue to have phone conversations and try to connect during the 9/11 Memorials. Our friendship as Mel would often say “was baptized by fire”. I agree, Brother.

Thanks for reading!    KMG 365

Dennis, Mel and Me at Mels house remembering 9/11



Mel; Medal Day photo


« Last Edit: June 28, 2019, 11:16:59 AM by JohnnyGage »

Offline JohnnyGage

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Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #183 on: June 28, 2019, 08:12:51 PM »
HISTORIC STREETS OF SOUTH BRONX

Being in the front seat of the American LaFrance tiller I got a real chance to experience not just the War Year fires era, but also appreciated the demographics that went with it. Responding over the cobblestone and checking out the street sign of the box location was unique and brimming with history...there is more magic than meets the eye!

For instance the ubiquitous street sign, during the “War Years” was a different color than as we know it today. While Willy and many other buffs were referring to maps and checking out the street signs in the Bronx they were looking up at a blue sign with white lettering...and if they traveled too far west into Manhattan the sign color would change to boro coded yellow with black lettering. Yes, there was a time when you could recognize what boro you were in just by looking at the color of the street sign. Later, sometime around 1980 NYC standardized the street sign by eliminating the color code and keeping with the new federal regulation of a green background with white lettering for all boros. Queens County reversed the Bronx color code, white background with blue lettering and Brooklyn was a simple black background and white lettering. Staten Island simply copied Manhattans colors.

And, getting to these boxes over rough cobblestone streets was an experience, I can imagine fire horses trying to travel the same routes we were lumbering over with the rig some fifty years later. But we were not traveling over “cobblestone”, rather “Belgium Block”. Cobblestone was an early paved stone that was untooled and naturally rounded, not good for a street surface. However,  Belgium block, was tooled granite in a rectangular shape and used up to 1860. The block, came from quarries in New Jersey and Northeastern United States, not Belgium, and was much more resilient than cobblestone. They were uniformed in shape, 4-5” wide, proportioned to the size of a horseshoe that gave the horse carrying a heavy load a secure and firm foothold. The problem with the Belgium Block was that they became slick when wet and had a propensity to get out of level. In 1990, the American Disabilities Act mandated that “streets and sidewalks should be accessible for all”.  That did it for the Belgium Block as the irregularity made them challenging for accessibility. There are about 15 miles of Belgium Block that remains in various parts of NYC.

And what about those street names we became so familiar in Report From Engine C0 82? JENNINGS Street was from one of the earliest settlers in the region. Men of the Jennings family served in the American Revolution, War of 1812, the Mexican and Civil War...Sam LEGGETT founded NY Gas Light Company and his sister; CHARLOTTE married William FOX who owned large acres of land with the TIFFANY family, the street leading to their home was called, wait for it... HOME Street...During the 1870’s SOUTHERN BOULEVARD, the southernmost boulevard at that time was designed as a grandiose thoroughfare sweeping through the wide estates of FOX, SIMPSON and TIFFANY. A brook that flowed from Crotona Park to the East River became the boundary of Morissania and West Farms, the brook was called “Bound Brook” which flowed “In the Valley”, hence INTERVALE Avenue ...An Italian pressman by the name of ALDUS created the slanted italic style of print that we call “italic type”, and the inventor of the rotary press was Colonel Robert HOE...General Colin Powell grew up on Captain KELLY street, once a large tract of farmland...A lot of history criss-crossing and covering those mean streets of the War Years!

Next: RIDING WITH L 31; P3

Hope you enjoyed, thanks for reading!   KMG 365


Old Bronx styled street sign



New Federal Guideline style seen in all boros


Boro coded colors


A little something for you Doo Woppers





Not Cobblestone, but actually Belgium Block!
« Last Edit: June 29, 2019, 08:41:12 AM by JohnnyGage »

Online 68jk09

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Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #184 on: June 28, 2019, 08:37:14 PM »
Some of the most interesting old time street signs were the ones that had the main street the sign was on &  had the cross st above in a smaller oval form....another interesting style was the porcelain ones that had white letters on a deep blue background that were placed on the sides of bldgs above the first floor level.... i wonder where both these style signs wound up after they were replaced....i hope they were saved & not scrapped.....  https://www.ebay.com/bhp/new-york-street-sign
« Last Edit: June 28, 2019, 08:40:16 PM by 68jk09 »

Offline JohnnyGage

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Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #185 on: June 28, 2019, 08:53:15 PM »
You're right JK, the above street signs were installed around 1964 replacing the street signs below that had the cross street in the "hump", as it was referrd to.





Offline JohnnyGage

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Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #186 on: July 02, 2019, 03:40:48 PM »
LADDER 31; DAYS OF RIDING
Epilogue

The alarms kept coming in, should I take them in or hang with Mel?...I didn’t have to think long…”get going you have a run, I’ll be here when you get back” Mel says.... It was a remarkable day, on the way back from one of the runs one of the truck members has the truck chauffeur Charlie pull over near a rubble pile of bricks. The truck member has the other members including Jack form a bucket brigade type line to stockpile as many bricks on the running board of the rig...he wants to build a bar-b-que pit outside in the back of the firehouse. I watch from the front looking over my shoulder through the cab window as the bricks are passed hand to hand and carefully stacked alongside the truck. The fireman thinks he has enough bricks “for now” and he tells Charlie; “drive slowly back to the firehouse”...Luckily, no runs came in while we “slowly responded back” to Intervale Avenue.

(After rewinding and resetting boxes it was common for the companies to “respond” back to the firehouse with warning lights and a tap on the siren, not as aggressively as an alarm, but without delay, the apparatus seemed to just cruise back towards the firehouse without any traffic control interference. I don’t know, but I believe this was common practice from the real old day of telegraph signals. A company would not know if another alarm came in before radios were installed into fire apparatus and only know if there was another run when the company “tapped back in quarters”... so it was urgent to return as quickly as possible. I’m not sure if this was an old tradition, I did notice it though and mentioned it to Jack during the day. I was comparing the difference to the “other” fire department I was also involved with on Long Island during my Explorer years... the rigs shut down the lights and stopped at red traffic lights returning from alarms, but today, up front in L 31 we just cruised through…or perhaps, that was just the way it was, too)

Anyway, we unload the bricks safely and without incident. Mel has invited me downstairs with the guys. There are about six guys including Jack, some from the truck, some from the engine... Mel and I make eight. (This must be the way a batboy feels sitting in the Yankee dugout). All of us sit around a wooden picnic table in the basement on loose chairs...it's been a busy day, R&R 92’s, little job here and there, brick collecting, stories shared and relentless ribbing is at its best...the tour will be over in a couple of hours. 

Dennis Smith’s book ‘Report From Engine Co. 82' has been released and I must have read it a half dozen times already. I remember telling the lady in a small book store in the South Shore Mall (on Long Island) that ”this” book will be released shortly and please put my name on the waiting list when it arrives...Unfortunately during my visits Dennis was not working and I did not get to meet him until much later while assigned to L 38. But what was interesting is now I can place the stories and recognize the street names from the book into today’s responses. I notice as we drive by Jennings Street, the infamous 10-92 Box 2743 on Charlotte Street and 170, weaving under the “El” on Southern Boulevard and other cool Bronx Street names like Tiffany, Fox and Simpson. When we drive down Simpson Street I look for the 41st Precinct that Dennis mentions in the book...the feeling is like “I read the book, now I’m seeing the movie”.

The day is winding down, I say so-long to Mel as he heads back home, cars are pulling up outside the firehouse, I notice no one drives a “new or flashy” car, lest it become a target. Guys start to come in for the night tour, from the rear of the firehouse the kitchen becomes alive again with loud laughter...It is interesting to see the transformation from the guys coming in wearing civilian clothes, go upstairs to the locker room and change into a navy colored uniform with a small FDNY patch over the pocket. The transformation is just as interesting to see guys go from the uniform back into civilian clothes, the quick switch reminds me of Clark Kent...Jack has been relieved and I wait for him to come downstairs, in the meantime I chatted with a couple of the guys hanging by the housewatch who are now awaiting their relief guy to report for duty. They encourage me to keep my dream strong, hope I had a fun day and say nice things about Jack, too.

I can’t thank Jack enough for allowing me to visit the firehouse again, as we hop into his Buick for the ride home. I’m exhausted, I am sure he is too. But what a day. Our ride home is a brief recap of the days events with a couple of chuckles...Then “quiet time” as we leave the cobblestone streets and running hydrants behind.  I take one final look at the firehouse as it slowly fades from sight as we head down 169th Street toward Southern Boulevard, my last glimpse I notice both rigs have their emergency lights on and it appears the War Wagons are about to “get out” on another run **

In a few months I will call Jack and ask if I can visit Intervale Avenue again, we will pick out a date that works for him and my folks who will drive me. I will go to my calendar on the wall in my bedroom and pencil in backwards counting down the days to my next adventure and write down questions in my notebook to bombard Jack with. In the meantime, I have started a fire memorabilia collection that is fun, train with my Explorer buddies moving handlines around in a parking lot and will reread Dennis’ book another half dozen times, that should keep me busy until then.

(** Little did I know that “My Days of Riding in L 31” would be over, the last time I would see and ride on Intervale Avenue)

Next;  Days of Riding;  Day Tour with E 97


Hope you enjoyed, and thanks for reading!   KMG-365


Stock photos of the area:






Infamous 10-92 Box location; Charlotte and 170


Lt / then Capt Bob Farrell, I would ride the frontseat and share my adventure with him, he was a very kind and welcoming officer. On my otherside would be Big Charlie McCarthy...I was "a teen sitting between Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle!"
« Last Edit: July 02, 2019, 09:41:23 PM by JohnnyGage »

Offline mack

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Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #187 on: July 02, 2019, 04:52:27 PM »
NYPD 41 Precinct - 1973:


     

Offline jkal

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Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #188 on: July 07, 2019, 01:17:17 PM »
Legends... It's the early 90's and I am a Fireman, working in TL-111. Captain Frank Pampalone is our Officer and I have the Irons. 176 Truck is relocated to Hook & Ladder 175 and Captain John Vigiano is working in 176. It is a day tour and we get a Job at Saratoga & Halsey, on Halsey. 2 1/2 story Brownstone type of building. Right across from the park. Engine 222 is 1st due and Lt Ronnie Carritue (soon to become the Captain of 112 Truck, where he was a Fireman) is working. Triple Deuce gives a 10-75 for a "working fire".  We (111) are responding as the only Truck Company and hear the Vig on the Department Radio telling Brooklyn Dispatch they are available (it's right around the corner from their qtrs) and they, 176, are assigned even though they are on Bradford St. We have a fire on the 2nd floor, up the stoop and in, with a floor above. Someone tells us there are kids on the top floor. I end up there with Ronnie C. but of course, no one is there. My point is, 3 Legends, Captain's Frank Pampalone; John Vigiano & Ronnie Carritue. The 3 main players at this job. How lucky was I to be around to work with these type of Officers. What an honor and I will Never forget what they taught me and Who they were.

Offline JohnnyGage

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Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #189 on: July 08, 2019, 07:13:44 PM »
I Thought I might just add a little twist before I continue with the "Days of riding..." compilations....


“GOTTA JOB!”

There is no comparison...nothing else that someone or something can do or say that will get your blood pumping while responding to a confirmed report of a working fire, a JOB...During the “War Years” the Masters on the backstep would look over the side of the rig to see smoke or get a whiff of burning wood and paint. From his observation or sense of smell, relay his hunch and let the other guys know it’s time to pull up the boots, cinch up the collar and clasp the top buckle of the rubber coat...It’s Showtime!

There were many other indications and clues to get a heads up on a “J-O-B”, JOB, a good JOB... When I first heard the term mentioned during my initial visit as a young lad on Intervale Avenue, I had no idea that a JOB meant a “fire”, a working fire. I thought maybe it referred to a task the company had to do...we had a JOB on Freeman Street...I thought, a “job”... what, like picking something up? An errand? Moving furniture? Construction?...Growing up in my house my Dad was an electrician, he would leave every morning and go to his “job”. So the term threw me off until I caught on. JOB, oh I see a working fire!  Got it…

Often the address description from the teleprinter would give you an inkling that you were going to catch work...on the ticket might be additional information such as;  “across from, to the rear of, next to or adjacent from” are all a pretty good indication that someone is reporting a legit fire. The time of day, especially early morning when you receive a “phone alarm” (versus an ERS Box) indicating that someone has phoned in the report of fire and actually observes a fire. On occasion the dispatcher would announce to the first due company over the intercom system that “you’re going to work” as the teleprinter spits out the message, or the dispatcher may even call the housewatch desk before the teleprinter begins to print out its message to give you a “heads up”.

During the War Years the housewatch fireman counted the bells and turned-out the company. Back then if the bells were tripping and the housewatch fireman received a “three ring” phone call that would pretty much confirm a job and get the blood flow percolating.

Certain Holidays you could generally count on catching a job, Halloween was a given, usually Fourth of July with errant fireworks and early New Years Morning after the party revelers have cleaned their home ashtrays of cigarettes, dumped the butts into the kitchen trash and head off to sleep.

Once and a while there was no clue of what to expect...During my Glory Days some corners still had a “pull box”, they were in the process of being replaced by the ERS box...as I wrote in a previous article while driving Tough Timmy, we pulled into the intersection of Prospect and 185 Street during the midday...no indication of fire, no smoke, no people waving...but “thar she blows!” as we inched closer into the intersection, a couple of windows of fire showing on the first floor rear of an apartment house... Hello! Showtime!

There were times while responding to an address, the dispatcher would tip you off on what you were about to encounter; “receiving multiple phone calls... we are filling out the box...reported people still inside, or on the fire escape”...you could expect a JOB after those radio transmissions, the dispatchers always spot on. Other good clues were a given, at night time if you spotted a glow in the direction you were traveling, and of course a smoke column during the day would be a good bet you had work. Many times responding during darkness, screeching down the main drag to the reported fire location and just before turning onto the block with the address, you could see the glow reflecting on a building opposite the fire building. That was always eerie...

Officers and some chauffeurs had a way to alert the troops in the back of the rig when a 10-75 was given or when the officer spotted a smoke column or something we couldn’t from the back. Depending on the officer, some would lightly tap the closed window separating the front of the rig to the back with the telephone handset, usually a few taps would do it...then there were officers who gave a few good arm and fist bangs on the rear window that shook the cab and got your juices flowing.

As a Ladder Company Chauffeur of a tiller, we did have an intercom where I could relay messages or additional information to the OVM tillerman, If we had a spare or the intercom was not working I stuck my left arm out and reached high from the window with a couple of arm circles and my thumb pointing up.

In “NO FRILLS L 112” as a Roofman, or any position for that matter riding in the back cab, if we confirmed a JOB, or a 10-75 transmitted by first arriving companies, the crew always made a point of placing one of our gloved  hands on top of each other over the engine compartment for a brief huddle embracing unity, spirit and Brotherhood seconds before we high-tailed it to our positions.

{Before I return to "Days of riding..." series, I have another little twist..."SURPRISE, SURPRISE!...memories, when you arrive at a JOB, without a 'heads up'"!...coming soon}

Thanks for reading!   KMG -365

Few stock photos....

Frame, very common in Bklyn, this one is on Honeywell (E 45 / E 88 area). Window over the front door was called the "dead man" room, as this room was easily cut off from fire...no other exit except out the window. These type fires were fast, fun and furious. Unless the common cockloft of attached frames were loaded with fire, then it was an all day affair!


Very typical Brooklyn job.


Good ol' vacant, where you learned to polish your craft!
(Notice box to right of door frame with slash through it)
« Last Edit: Today at 09:11:37 AM by JohnnyGage »

Offline JohnnyGage

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Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #190 on: July 12, 2019, 10:15:59 PM »
SURPRISE, SURPRISE!

Besides the surprise on Prospect Avenue and 185 Street I have written about before with E 88 Tough Timmy, and Monterey / 180 Street...there were a few other memorable incidents where there were no clues or indications of a fire arriving at the fire alarm box. Even though we always expect the unexpected, and fully prepared, there were instances that demand your immediate attention!...Especially “Pull Boxes” and “ERS-NC” were well known for the likeliness of a false alarm, once and a while they could be a bit of a surprise!

A day tour working in E 88 we receive a  ERS- NC run for LaFontaine and 181st street, with additional information being reported as a car fire...we respond as a single unit, after we made a right turn onto 182nd Street from Belmont Avenue we glance across the empty wasteland and vacant lots toward the box location. Behold, there is black smoke coming from the top floor of a five story walk up...unless the “reported Car fire is on the roof, we got ourselves a top floor job”...the boss transmits a 10-75 enroute...it was a top floor job!

Driving L 112 one morning we were out on the air when we received an ERS Box in E 218’s area and 218 is going to be delayed getting to the Box. As we near the Box from a block away we can see a six story vacant apartment building with about nine windows fronting the street. From the fourth to six floor, every window has fire showing, there is no exposure problem as the structure is surrounded by empty lots filled with rubbish. Since we are a rearmount, this will be a job for a couple of tower ladders and so it is my responsibility not to impede or block the positioning of the incoming tower ladders. Basically in this case, our job will be to stand by until the tower ladders have extinguished the fire and be used for overhaul, but that is going to be much later. Sometimes the chief would just send us away, go back in service...As I pull closer to the intersection, a man is standing at the box jumping up and down, waving his arms in a hyper excited manner and pointing to the obvious blaze.  I pulled the rig to the curb he ran toward us...knowing we would have to wait for the big guns who were on their way...I rolled down my window and asked him “if he saw a fire anywhere”...his reaction was priceless.

Flashback to da Bronx... I was detailed to E 45, the Eagles. For a night tour. It’s shortly after dinner when we are turned out by the housewatch for a car fire, Devoe Avenue and 180 Street as a single unit, the location is almost opposite the Bronx Communication Office, just a few doors down west of the CO. The “It isn’t easy being green” Mack pumper cuts down East Tremont Avenue and makes a left turn onto Devoe Avenue...in the meantime, one of the Bronx dispatchers decides to step out of the office to take a gander at the reported car fire. He turns, what he sees is not a car fire... and runs back in, we make a right turn onto 180 Street, Hello!...A frame house is almost completely involved and extending into exposure 4. We are by our lonesome...and quickly scramble to finish donning our gear...we  immediately split the crew, the first two members of 45 with the officer stretch a line into the fire building. I am part of the second team and we stretch a 2 ½” into exposure 4 as a defensive move, but after entering Exposure 4 fire has gotten a hold of the second floor.

NOTE 1: The fire went to  a second alarm, we knocked out the fire on the second floor of exposure 4 and held a defensive position from the fire trying it's darnd'est to extend fom the fire building. Eventually the first line had to be backed out and tower ladders finished off the remaining fire. A parking lot was born on 180 Street.   NOTE 2: Engine 45 received an Engine Unit Citation for this fire...me too, my first (and only, thanks Eagles!)

Next, Return to; Riding with E 97.

Hope you enjoyed, and thanks for reading KMG-365


Stock photos... but very typical JOBS.






« Last Edit: July 12, 2019, 10:27:34 PM by JohnnyGage »

Offline JohnnyGage

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Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #191 on: July 17, 2019, 07:06:26 PM »
DAYS OF RIDING: Day Tour with E 97

I am awake before Jack comes in to get me for breakfast,  per my routine I mentioned in previous posts, my parents have dropped me off at Jack's house last night. Today I will be riding with Jack who has just recently transferred to E 97 in order to log more study time for the upcoming Lieutenant promotion exam. Transferring from L 31  to E 97 will cut his running almost in half, and that extra time Jack can focus on the subjects and study materials he will need to know and do well on the highly competitive exam. Jack and I head out this beautiful spring morning, Jack still has his Skylark and we leave from his Westchester County house after breakfast. Jack is committed to studying and shows me the bulging shoe box jammed with index cards he has hand written questions on. He says when ever he gets a few minutes he grabs a fistful of cards that have a question on the front and answer on the back, he reviews his hand written notes from the various study materials; FDNY Regulations, NFPA manual, WNYF articles, tactics, evolutions, building construction, circulars and procedures, plus many other topics he will have to remember to achieve a high passing score. Jack pulls out one of the cards, reads it and expounds adding a little more detail...I’m trying to listen, focus, it sounds interesting....but I am out of it...I woke up with a stomach bug. My head feels like it is on fire and I can feel heat around my eyeballs, they feel fuzzy and  I’m sure I am running a fever, my stomach is barking... But, no matter how sick I feel  I am not going to allow this opportunity to ride with Jack pass me by... The sickness pangs comes and goes, I feel a little relief for a few moments, then, bang... awful...I maintain a poker face and Jack has no idea I’m not doing very well this fine morning.

We exit from the parkway and make a right turn onto Astor Avenue in the northeast part of the Bronx. I do not know where the firehouse is as this will be my first time there, I am enjoying the very bucolic scenery, it is pastoral and peaceful as we drive through this section of the Bronx. Large homes are well kept, the lawns are edged and green, the shrubbery tidy, nice automobiles in the driveway...there are no hydrants running or belgium block streets, every apartment building we pass the windows are intact...I am anticipating the change from this beautiful countryside to the grittiness and dark side of the ghetto any minute now...Except, Jack pulls the car over in front of the firehouse on this beautiful tree lined street, the door is open and I can see the shiny Mack engine resting... No, we won’t be traveling to the South Bronx today. I remember saying to myself; “so, this is it?”...Where are the vacant buildings with trees growing from them, abandoned automobiles, garbage piles and knocked over fire hydrants? I am not totally disappointed and I dare not show my feelings, I am always grateful to be with Jack...but I can’t help to think about what is going on back on Intervale Avenue, the laughter in the kitchen and the turbulent neighborhood that was part of the adventure.

There are a few guys milling about the housewatch awaiting relief, the firehouse seems very quiet, clean and still. 0900 bells tap in. Jack has the 0900-1200 housewatch duties. We broom out the apparatus floor and straighten out the housewatch. I notice a paperboy making a delivery across the street. It is a very peaceful setting, yet I yearn and glance outside the quarters hoping to see and hear the racket of a Gypsey Cab or yellow tow truck racing by, but all is calm...Jack is finished sprucing up the housewatch area and now walks me around the older Mack engine...we open every compartment as Jack explains about the differences and uses of every tool, appliance and fitting. The rig is different from E 82, for one, the cab is rounded instead of square, it is an older version Mack pumper, the backstep and hosebed is uncovered and the guys riding the backstep hold onto what looks like subway handrails. There is no conestoga cover covering the hosebed... I try my best to focus and show interest as Jack describes the tools...Unfortunately I can only take in so much as I am literally about to pass-out. I try my best to pay attention,  white lights blind and I feel woozy as Jack describes the fittings... it sounds like the teacher from Charlie Brown, whannnnt wahhhh, wahhh, wahhh, wahh, I’m trying to listen but I cannot hear.  I must have held the perfect poker face as Jack had no clue about how I was feeling...things were not looking good...at any moment it could be “lights out”. But I push forward. Shortly after committee work, Jack bought me a “Yoo Hoo”, a refreshing chocolate drink from the firehouse vending machine and fortunately I was able to get it down. After committee work, the members gathered into the tranquil kitchen, it is not raucous as I was accustomed to, or expected. I remember sitting on a chair off to the corner of the room, my stomach is boiling and yelling at me. I slowly got up, unnoticed and made my way to the apparatus floor bathroom that was immaculately cleaned, I shut the door...my lights went out... I literally passed out, I’m not sure for how long, a few seconds I suppose, but when I came too I was on my knees driving that porcelain steering wheel doing the heave-ho! I remember thanking God that I just had that Yoo hoo. After a few minutes I regained my composure and felt much better actually. I returned to the kitchen, we had lunch. I’m not sure, but either someone went out for groceries or it was brought in since the rig did not leave quarters until after lunch.

As I sat in the serene kitchen a couple of guys played a board game, another did crossword puzzles in the paper. The conversation was low keyed and pleasant...but in my coconut I was going batty. I think the lieutenant sensed that. The lieutenant was a heavy set older Italian looking guy, not tall, broad with a beer belly. He was very nice and cordial. I think he felt bad that I was sitting in the kitchen without a run or any activity. About 2:00 pm he told the guys, let’s go out for a ride and check some hydrants. The guys calmly put away the game board and folded up the newspaper and strolled to the rig. The lieutenant told me to ride behind him in the jumpseat of the old Mack. We left quarters, I was by myself in the jumpseat as Jack and the rest of the crew rode the back step. The jumpseat was a fun spot, you were right beside the engine as it roared...We cruised by hydrants in the district, but never stopped to actually operate and test them. If they were where they were supposed to be, that would suffice. We cruised for about an hour throughout the district and returned to quarters mid afternoon. I returned to the kitchen where the game board was brought back out and the guy doing the newspaper puzzle returned to his puzzle. I was feeling much better and strolled around the apparatus floor, I took notice of the thawing apparatus that was in quarters, the rig was a bit dusty.

It wasn’t until almost 5 pm when we were finally assigned a run and I jumped on the rig behind the officer in the jumpseat...oh oh, trouble ahead; the day boss was relieved by the oncoming officer, E 97’s Captain...he spotted me sitting on the rig as he was donning his boots and coat…with wide eyed amazement he bellowed ”YOU!... WHAT ARE YOU DOING THERE?”...I was mortified (think Jackie Gleason; HUMMANAH, HUMMANAH)...I did not have time to answer…”GET OFF, GET OFF THE TRUCK”... To my chagrin, I hopped off the rig, stood next to the housewatch desk and watched as the engine whisked off to the box with Jack on the back step. It wasn’t long before the engine pulled back up to quarters and backed in, Jack was apologetic, but I was fine with it, I had time to adjust... Just being in the firehouse was fine with me, maybe a little embarrassed, but sometimes that’s the way it goes.

Jack got relieved, changed back to civilian attire and Engine 97 became history. I told Jack about my sickness on the way home, he was surprised, had no idea...I kept my poker face to the end and never tipped my hand!

Next: Days of Riding; The Best Bust


Hope you enjoyed, thanks for reading!   KMG-365




E 97 had a similar Mack C series rig
« Last Edit: July 17, 2019, 07:14:04 PM by JohnnyGage »

Offline turk132

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Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #192 on: July 20, 2019, 08:25:39 PM »
Pull Box 4762 was located on the west side of Park Ave at East 186 Street. East 186 St ended on the east side of Park Ave and the box location, on the west side, was not on a street corner but in the  block which stretched from E187 St to E 184 St. (Between the east and west side of Park Ave were the Metro North train tracks.) The Box stood by itself in front of a large empty lot which several buildings used to occupy. At 1745hrs, Box 4762 was pulled. It was a short ride from the firehouse, one block east on 187 St, right on the Park Ave to the Box. I got off the rig and grabbed the keys from the Boss to R&R the Box. As I was doing this, I hear a shout from down the street. A man is standing in front of the first building south of the vacant lot. He is pointing saying “Hey, there's a fire in the building”. It was late fall or early winter, so it was dark but I could see the front, the  rear and Exposure 4 side of the building but nothing was evident. I gave the keys back to the Boss and told him the guy is saying there's a fire in the building. I get back on the rig and we drive the ½ block to the building. The Boss headed into the building, we went to the backstep, still nothing showing, no excited people leaving the building, no odor. This changed very shortly when the Boss yelled to the chauffeur from the front door  “transmit a 10-75 and start a line to the 2nd floor”. Surprise, I grabbed my folds and the nozzle and headed into the building. On the 2nd floor the door to the fire apartment was open and smoke was rolling out from the top of the door jamb. The Truck was doing a search, I was positioned to the side of the door with the nozzle cracked waiting to hear the rush of air, followed by water. Suddenly banging and clanging from the fire apartment followed by the sound of a stampede: the Truck Officer, the Can Man, the Irons Man, bailing out of the fire apartment with fire venting out the top of the door into the hallway. After the Irons Man exited to door, he dropped right to his knees, pivoted around and grabbed the door, closing it. He looked at me and said “ hallway.. straight in..its a room all the way in the back”. We had our work cut out for us, but this is what the Engine lives for, fire at the door and an apartment  full of fire.  On the line that day were 2 probies, Andy Fredericks and Joe Stach. Years later Joe would comment “You dragged me down my first hallway”. I said “where was that”. He said “ you know, that job on Park Ave.” This was a “good” fire and a good learning experience for them. Andy Fredericks was killed on 9/11 as a member of Squad 18, Joe Stach recently passed from a 9/11 related illness. Two good men taken way too soon.......
« Last Edit: July 20, 2019, 08:29:10 PM by turk132 »