GLORY DAYS

68jk09

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Once again nice job Dan ....i remember years ago Willy D telling me the story of meeting you while you were driving LAD*5 ...glad we have gotten to share in person....as i had posted in some past entries as far as the Fly Ladder Pipe Evolution which called for 5 FFs to set the Fly Pipe up we drilled over & over on setting the Fly Pipe in place with 2 FFs releasing the others for inside ops.... this definitely paid off in some serious Fires ...the biggest being 2nd Due at a heavily involved large Church Fire exposing a 6 sty occupied tenement with Fire on several floors & people trapped ....the Fly Pipe was knocking down the Church while we were inside the Tenement getting residents out before the 2nd Alarm Units arrived....it went to a 5th.....the Scaling Ladder is a tool that never should have been removed....the jury is still out on why...i think the death knell may have come down from OSHA but there may have been other influences regarding upper body strength ? i don't know ?
 

tem217

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the scaling ladder was removed from the rigs in the mid80s ironically around the same time a judge changed the physical requirements for the FDNY.
 

nfd2004

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LADDER 5; P 6
LCC; ‘SQUASHING BAD HABITS’

One afternoon it was our turn scheduled to head for Randall's Island, “The Rock” for a hands-on firefighting tactic scenario. The scenario would be a ‘surprise’. We worked alongside an engine company from Queens at the “Class A” building that was designed to be a tenement with a railroad flat footprint. Into the drill the instructors incorporated a “Mayday, downed firefighter” problem. L 5 had to rescue and recover an unconscious ‘dummy’ firefighter and safely remove him from the tenement. That day we had a stellar crew with Lieutenant Mike Warchola at the helm and after all was said and done we passed the evaluation with flying colors.

Heading back home to the Village we were all giddy, sweaty and proud of ourselves, but just before exiting the Rock I noticed a very nice jolly ol’ chap on the grassy knoll politely waving and gesturing for me to stop the rig. In his hand I wasn’t sure if he was holding a Big Mac or camera, but nonetheless I pulled the rig to the curb. The gentleman approached with a fervent smile, he introduced himself and kindly requested to take a few snaps of our newly striped and lettered rig. And little did anyone know, that in this small world it would become the dawn of a remarkable friendship a short time later with me and the famous Mr. Willy!...I'm happy to present Mr. Willys iconic photo with yours truly behind the wheel in my office...

View attachment 2716

Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed. KMG-365
Dan, I guess that was my "Lucky Day".

As most of us know, there aren't too many tillers around. I think the FDNY has maybe 18-20, I'm not sure.

Here in Connecticut there's only four cities that have them. Norwalk has One, Meriden has One, New London has One and I think New Haven has Two.

In my experience, unless a firehouse has a long ramp, it's pretty tough to get that great shot of a long hook & ladder truck. In my younger buff days, FDNYs "The Rock" was the perfect place for that. Various pieces of fire apparatus are usually there training or for maintenance. I used to walk around there with my camera and portable scanner. Today of course for security reasons that is not allowed.

Ladder 5 wasn't only a tiller but when I saw that gold "5" on the front and that striping that was a Classic. That rig was sitting in a perfect spot but seeing you guys in it, I thought you would be heading out before I could reach you. But that didn't happen.

I asked the LCC who I didn't know was "Johnny Gage" at the time, to hold it there so I could get a couple of quick shots of the rig. He did that for me and I sure was thankful for that.

Several years go by and I think "R1SmokeEater", Jamie M of the Yonkers FD asked me if he could post some rig shots I took on another web site. Dan and I have a mutual friend who is on the job and that friend just happens to see that Ladder 5 photo. Dan gets in touch with me and we talk about that day.

I mention to Dan about coming over here with us and the next thing we know, most of us are "hooked" on reading every chapter of Glory Days presented to us by the very popular Mr Johnny Gage, aka Dan Potter.
 

lfdlt31

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Nov 28, 2011
Messages
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Dan, I guess that was my "Lucky Day".

As most of us know, there aren't too many tillers around. I think the FDNY has maybe 18-20, I'm not sure.

Here in Connecticut there's only four cities that have them. Norwalk has One, Meriden has One, New London has One and I think New Haven has Two.

In my experience, unless a firehouse has a long ramp, it's pretty tough to get that great shot of a long hook & ladder truck. In my younger buff days, FDNYs "The Rock" was the perfect place for that. Various pieces of fire apparatus are usually there training or for maintenance. I used to walk around there with my camera and portable scanner. Today of course for security reasons that is not allowed.
In Canada there is only two tillers, in the whole country!!!! Always fun to see one when I am visiting a US city that has them.
 

H and L 147

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Jun 2, 2010
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Wow! You blew my mind, yes indeed that is forthcoming! You put a grand smile on my face, actually my next article!
I remember the day Chief Hayden and myself met you Mike and the company after BI and the chief brokered a deal that he would pay and he and I would become members. After a conference between the President and Vice president an agreement was made and we became members. I forget the member who put ketchup on his dogs that day but I remember the President taking swift action and banning him for life. Good times. I still have the scroll I printed up in the Div office with the VP and Pres signatures.
 

H and L 147

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Jun 2, 2010
Messages
651
Once again nice job Dan ....i remember years ago Willy D telling me the story of meeting you while you were driving LAD*5 ...glad we have gotten to share in person....as i had posted in some past entries as far as the Fly Ladder Pipe Evolution which called for 5 FFs to set the Fly Pipe up we drilled over & over on setting the Fly Pipe in place with 2 FFs releasing the others for inside ops.... this definitely paid off in some serious Fires ...the biggest being 2nd Due at a heavily involved large Church Fire exposing a 6 sty occupied tenement with Fire on several floors & people trapped ....the Fly Pipe was knocking down the Church while we were inside the Tenement getting residents out before the 2nd Alarm Units arrived....it went to a 5th.....the Scaling Ladder is a tool that never should have been removed....the jury is still out on why...i think the death knell may have come down from OSHA but there may have been other influences regarding upper body strength ? i don't know ?
I remember the scaling ladder rescue Bob Bolker made when he was in 147 with the help of John Fox then in 113
 

68jk09

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May 6, 2010
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12,320
It is a shame seeing Rigs riding around missing Scaling Ladders but with the "floor below nozzle or cockloft nozzle"?......keep those if need be but Scaling Ladders should still be an important part of the Life Saving arsenal.
 

JohnnyGage

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LADDER 5; P 7
‘TWO PEAS IN A POD’

“GET OUT TRUCK, TRUCK GOES” bellowed the firefighter on housewatch, “6th AVENUE AND WEST FOURTH, CHILD STUCK IN A SWING AT THE PLAYGROUND” was the follow up report he read from the print-out ticket. It was a sweltering summer afternoon when I fired up the rig as the members piled on, the Boss today is Lieutenant Mike Warchola the other officer I drive along with Lt. JJ. Today we have a new proby riding that has been assigned to L 5 and this is his second tour but the first with me and Mike.

With the two beeps from the tiller I turn the rig out of quarters north on 6th Avenue and within seconds pull over to the curb at West 4th Street where we observe a small group of adults giving the old college try attempting to lift this young beefy girl from the swing seat. However, the swing seat is designed for toddlers where the moms can put their little legs through the rubber seat for support but this young girl's legs are too large and don't budge an inch with their futile attempts. She obviously forced her legs through the holes and now they are firmly wedged into the seat up to her thighs.

I park the rig and come around the front just as Mike steps out from his seat and I give Mike a wink then glance at the proby, Mike knows exactly what I’m thinking and deadpans to the brand new proby; “get the saw out, YOU may have to cut off her legs.”

mike.jpeg
Meet Mike. You’ve heard of famous duos like Laurel and Hardy, Ernest and Julio, Martin and Lewis. Well I was Costello to his Abbott and vice versa. We could almost think what the other one was thinking sometimes as we spent many hours together sharing the front seat. Many hours together especially Building Inspection when the troops headed off to inspect whatever building they were assigned, for close to three hours we’d sit chatting and monitoring the apparatus radio, we became two peas in a pod. One of the traits we both shared was having a keen sense for mischievous dark humor and the more bizarre the better. Mike had this devilish smirk and suppressing laugh, when he tried to hold back his outburst his shoulders heaved up and down. He was a huge fan of Godzilla movies, especially ‘Mothra’, his favorite monster.

american_godzilla_fat.jpg

Mike was perhaps the most colorful and unique Boss I have ever worked with and I really enjoyed driving him, he was seven years older than I was but we had many things in common. It was he and JJ that offered me the seat to become their LCC when our groups worked. Mike was Mensa smart and deeply knowledgeable in many subjects especially anything relating to science, the undersea world and the Everglades. He was a voracious reader with a vocabulary way beyond extraordinary. Between runs, after dinner or at home he would read and complete a three inch paperback in a few days and then say he didn’t like the story but felt obligated to finish what he started.

Mike was a twenty four year veteran firefighter and was counting down the few months until he retired with plans for travel to more National Parks and exotic sights in Europe and the Far East that he read about.

A divorced bachelor living in a Queens townhouse with a Godzilla poster mounted on a wall, he was saving every penny for his two children's education. For a vacation he enjoyed hiking and traveled to National Parks out west driving his blue duct-taped Toyota pickup truck packed with homemade cold cut sandwiches. He had a girlfriend and he couldn’t wait to fill me in about his weekend “Frugal Date” as he called it. It started when he would visit his Dad who lived further out on Long Island’s south shore then go digging for clams in the nearby bay. Satisfied with his catch he returned home, but not before stopping off at the supermarket purchasing a single box of whatever brand macaroni was on sale and renting a Blockbuster video. When he saw me, he couldn’t wait to tell me about his “frugal” linguini and clams with a movie date that he kept under three bucks. I told him he wasn’t ‘frugal’ but a cheap bastard as he laughed in my face.

Mike could be stressed and edgy at times with other things happening in his life. In 1977 when he was hired Mike almost died in a fire while he was a proby fireman in Washington Heights. In fact he had to be flown and placed in a hyperbaric chamber to recover. And I am sure he was still upset after the devastating Watts Street fire where Captain Drennan and two young L 5 firefighters were incinerated. For a period of time, it seemed like the FDNY was going through a dark time with an unusual amount of firefighter fatalities occurring almost monthly and we were attending a lot of funerals. After Mike and I attended the funerals he would comment on how awful the firefighter died, and was seemingly distraught by their deaths. I remember reassuring him, and mentioning the deaths were freak accidents, we’ll learn from them and be more vigilant. Mike might have been shaken by their deaths, but that did not stop him from being a fearless intrepid firefighter and leader on the fire floor.

Another colorful characteristic Mike had, that I had fun with, was he never wanted to bring any attention to himself, and preferred to fly under the radar. In the office, all officers have their own ‘cubby’ shelf or ‘mailbox’ where unfinished paperwork or incoming mail could be stored. Three out of the four cubbies were jammed with paperwork where Mike’s looked like a ghost town, not a single note, letter or page was left and he often boasted about that and how efficient he was. Well, of course he never caught on to me stuffing the cubby with junk mail when I was working and he was off and then catching his reaction when he reported for duty and finding his cubby bulging with junk and clutter.

On days he was a little edgy and tense I’d catch him deep in thought climbing into the rig for a response and I’d ask “Any idea where this Box is?”, the startled look he gave me was priceless as all he could spit out, “Not my job, that's yours!”. He had a few good quotes, another of his
favorite crass quotes was telling other firefighters during typical kitchen banter was “I have a career, you have a job”. I loved that one.

A spoof gag we plotted together reached far beyond our control and L 5. One time ‘on air’ with the troops of L 5 we were out with the rig cashing our paychecks at the local bank on 6th Avenue near 8th Street. With lunch still a couple of hours away, Mike mentioned to me he was getting a little hungry and I said as a matter of fact I said I did too. Like scholars say, there is an opportunity in every crisis and the deeper the crisis, the better the opportunity and so Mike and I conceived the perfect ponzi scheme to keep our tummies satisfied and the L 5 “HOT DOG CLUB” was hatched. (To be continued…)

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed! KMG-365
 

68jk09

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^^^^ I never met Mike but i in while in 108 i worked with his Brother Denis who had been appointed to adjoining ENG*230 back in the late '60s.....a great guy who RET as a CPT in the early '90s.........CONTINUED REST IN PEACE MIKE ....9-11 .... michael warchola fdny
 

entropychaser

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Jun 27, 2017
Messages
101
Speaking of tiller rigs, On August 12, 1965, Chicago Truck 26 left their quarters on Wilcox responding to an alarm. It seems they pulled out sans tillerman. They made a left out of quarters and then a right hand turn on to Pulaski. The end of the rig hit a stop sign which, in turn, hit a little girl, killing her. Demonstrations and rioting ensued. The truck company was closed for two years and Ambulance 10 (which transported the girl) was moved to Engine 85.
 

JohnnyGage

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Another one just for Johnny Gage . . .View attachment 3242
Thanks Ray, that's "Baby". It was a 1968 Ford Pumper, that was well taken care of by the drivers assigned to drive it. I recall driving it one day and waxed the rig from bumper to bumper. Our second piece that followed the "Wagon".

When I was on, DCFD had two piece Engine Companies, the newer first piece was referred to as the Wagon, the second older piece the Pumper. I drove "Baby" many times, it was a quick and very reliable rig. The Pumper driver followed the Wagon, the pumper had every piece of equipment that the Wagon had. At E 21 we first had a 1973 Ford, then a 1981 Hahn Pumper. The first piece is where the officer and members rode. You drove the Pumper by yourself. When we got to the Box location, in DC there are many alleyways, if the Wagon went down the alleyway, you would split lay from the Wagon, the pumper would hook up to the supply source and pump to the wagon.

The other reason for the two piece engine company was in the case of civil unrest, the department could call back off duty firefighters and convert the double pieces into one engine company.

About 15 years ago, the DCFD abandoned the two piece Engine Concept and now runs a single Engine like the FDNY

.baby.png Heres "Baby" Behind our 1981 Hahn Wagon. Collectively we were "Engine Co. 21".
 
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JohnnyGage

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LADDER 5; P 8
‘HOT DOG CLUB’

When working with Lt. Mike you never knew what oddball type run you may wind up with as he seemed to get the wacky ones, especially working in the Village where you would expect to encounter a number of eccentric oddball characters that every now and then needed our services. One recollection was for a “biblical” burning bush outside a Jewish Nursing Home, of course the proverbial cat hung up on the baseball backstop that refused to come down and a parrot high in the tree next to the owner who was frozen from a fear of heights trying to capture the free bird. I had to thread the aerial through the branches and have Tommy Hannafin climb the aerial to retrieve the bird owner. The bird owner wasn’t satisfied and insisted we reposition the ladder to fetch his bird but Mike firmly advised him “we don’t do birds”.

With many young renegade free spirit citizens we had a few runs where their animated emotions ran the gamut. One particular instance I remember a tree had fallen completely across Greenwich Street blocking traffic, the street is a busy one way thoroughfare that is lined with maple trees on both sides. We were turned out and when we arrived there was a small lively crowd that was crying and carrying on over the fallen tree. But that wasn’t enough; they also began demanding that we use the ladder to lift the tree like a crane and place it back into the ground.

When the PD arrived we proceeded to go about cutting up the downed tree. Just as we were wrapping up putting the saw and other tools away, in passing, I mentioned to Mike in jest what you suppose would happen if you gave an order to cut down all the remaining trees on the block? And without hesitation Mike turned to the crowd and said loud enough for everyone to hear “CUT DOWN THE REST OF THESE TREES”. All I can say was thank God the PD was there, we almost created a riot.

We were not two minutes away the whole crew laughing aloud at the chaos we left behind from the tree removal job when we received a message from Manhattan CO: “MANHATTAN TO L 5, MEET THE DIVISION AT 6TH AVE AND 8TH STREET, K”. Mike is no longer laughing, he is beside himself now and mumbles to me “that cutting down all those trees was a joke” and now blames me for making that ‘stupid’ remark and getting us into trouble. Mike likes to fly under the radar and not bring attention to himself, but now I can see he has these dizzying thoughts circulating in his head as he fidgets in his hot seat. I’m unconcerned and tell him it's not the tree, you probably forgot to sign some paperwork in your haste to keep your cubby clean. It’s a tense five minute ride to the location, for Mike anyway, I’m having fun pressing his buttons.

I cut across Greenwich Avenue to 6th Avenue, there across the intersection on 8th Street is the First Division Chiefs car standing alongside the curb. I give Mike one more subtle pump, “your career is dead meat”, and pull up behind the Chiefs car.

Div1car.jpeg

Out of the passenger side exits the First Division Chief Pete Hayden, and from behind the wheel pops out his Aide Fr. Jim Cooney. Mike is sitting staunchly in his seat, ready for the reprimand, but Chief Pete strolls over to my side of the rig bypassing Mike and says pointing to Jim; “We want to join the HOT DOG CLUB”.

A few months ago while we were out with the rig cashing our checks at a bank on 6th Avenue Mike mentioned to me he was getting hungry and I said so was I, but lunch was still a couple of hours away. We noticed across the street from the bank on the Northeast corner of 6th Avenue and 8th Street is a twenty-four hour hot dog restaurant called “Gray’s Papaya” one of two in the city that serves high-quality inexpensive hot dogs for only fifty cents! We put our diabolical minds together and hatched the perfect ponzi scheme, the “L 5 HOT DOG CLUB” (HDC).

1274-Grays_Papaya1-supersize-pattern.jpg

We decided the initiation fee requires the new “constituent” to buy a round of dogs for the HDC members, and at that time, there were only two members, Mike the President and me the VP. So, when the crew came back from cashing their checks we casually asked if “anyone” was interested in joining the HDC as we were currently recruiting and there is a limited time to join the exclusive organization. That day we had four new “Charter” members join and shortly thereafter we had our fill of hot dogs. But, Little did we know the venture would take on a life of its own!

By all means, the scheme was perfect, Mike and I played up the advantages of joining the HDC as did the new members. Basically we ripped off the benefits of AAA and told the dupes, I mean, pledging HDC members they could expect to see a reduction in hotel rates, air fare, mortgage rates, car insurance, etc. We even at one point added a “free dental” program and kept expanding the list with each recruitment campaign.

But there were harsh and unforgiving rules, and breaking any single one resulted in expulsion and being “Banned for LIfe” or as we preferred, BFL. There was no exception as one E 24 Lieutenant found out to his dismay when he broke the number one cardinal rule; “Divulging any disparaging remark about the HDC” no matter how slim you were BFL. In this case, the guilty party mentioned at the kitchen table that he thought the HDC was a sham. Although he tried fervently to retract his remarks, even offering a written apology he was BFL, done deal. There were two other unequivocal rules; Never desecrate a hot dog by putting ketchup on it, and you could only have one dog, otherwise you were guilty of gluttony. Breaking any one of these three rules and you were unceremoniously tossed.

Little did we know our caper would take on a life of its own with the word spreading like wildfire throughout the Division. Members from other companies detailed to L 5 for the day eagerly asked to join the HDC. And now Division Chief Pete wants in.

4d8b97c5c5236.image.jpg


“Johnny, me and Jimmy want to join the Hot Dog Club”, said the Chief. I looked over at Mike who was now suddenly piqued with interest craning his neck toward me to hear what the Chief was saying. I sat back, looked at Mike and told him the Chief wanted to join the club “if” that was alright with him. Mike was relieved and I could see the color returning to his face as he relaxed back into his seat. I turned back to the Chief, “Yes, of course you can join, but…” as I made a hitchhiker's thumb towards Mike, “...Mike says you can be the Chief, but since He is the President of the Club he supersedes your rank”. If looks could kill, Mike was throwing daggers.

The Chief, a fine good natured gentleman and remarkable “War Year” legend fire officer had a good chuckle, then proceeded to buy a round of eight dogs. Mike and I were thrilled to add the future COD Boss and his Aide Jim Cooney to our robust roster. I said to Mike, good thing Chief Pete didn’t put any ketchup on his dog, you’d have to tell him he was BFL!

Thanks for reading, hope ya liked it! KMG-365
 
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68jk09

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May 6, 2010
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12,320
I worked with Pete Hayden when we were FFs in R*2 i remember many stops on our travels for some sort of street food that Pete always enjoyed....Jim Cooney LAD*147 is great guy who has attended some of our nycfire.net get togethers.
 

Signal73

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Jan 20, 2014
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8,781
Willy D asked me to post this:

From left to right
Steve Elliot, aka fltpara16 B/C Albemarle County Va FD
Retired Chief of Dept - Chief Pete Hayden
Robbie Cox - Capt Dade County Georgia FD
Elwood Erwin, aka CFDMarshall, nicknamed The Rev
B6A27E69-01F2-41C3-B077-ADD76A76C958.jpeg
 

fdce54

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Dec 26, 2007
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How come the Irishman does not have a cold beverage in his hand like the other three gentlemen?
 
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