Monday, October 20, 2008

The humble beginnings (Introduction)


I've always held to the idea that if you wanted to get anything done, especially the tough jobs, you should just get a bunch of firefighters together and stand back. They will get the job done! In doing so, there might be a slight chance that something could get broken or wet but that's a small price to pay. Besides, they would most likely stay around and dry the place out and probably fix what they broke! I've seen dog-tired firefighters, still on the scene of a house fire at two a.m., going the extra mile to reunite a child and his lost puppy, or find an elderly couple a place to spend the night , or simply making sure a scene is secure and safe before going back to their station. Speaking of the station; everyone knows that's the place to go if you are hurt or lost, or need shelter from the storm or to get your blood pressure taken, to name a few The funny thing is that most of the time the firefighters are falling all over themselves to be the one helping. The fire service puts together this interesting blend of people and gives them a rather simple (and impossible at times) mission:' Whatever happens today, Handle it!"

These are the folks I want these pages to focus on in both funny and serious ways. I'm sure there is no shortage of books and publications telling one part or another of this story and I say, more power to them. I haven't researched this but it appears that especially since 9-11, the fire service has received more and more good press. They deserve it, even though that was a tragic way to get it! My hope is that these stories will take a rather unique approach in several respects: Most of the stories are in a small town setting and not not New York City. Not that there is anything wrong with New York. I remember first reading "Report from Engine Co. 82" and being really impressed with the job those guys do, even to the point of emulating them. I suppose if there is a national stereotypical fire department it would be them. Funny though, when you're crawling into the middle of a house on fire, super-heated like hell itself and you sucking air and dragging hose, weighted down with BA and bunker- gear, half expecting to find a victim any minute, you probably are not asking yourself, now is this a big city fire or a small city fire! I know there are differences but , you get my point.

One other difference. I write from the perspective of a former firefighter, now retired. When I left the fire department I was one of the older guys . Okay, the oldest guy ) but now some of my cohorts that stayed are retiring with thirty plus years. I only had seventeen . The occupation I entered after the fire department may also influence my approach to this story. I spent another 17 years as a psychotherapist and psychology teacher. among other things. The teaching and counseling have offered me valuable experience for the task of understanding and developing personality profiles for the type of person who eagerly rushes into a burning building while everyone else is running out! I don't know, that is kind of strange! I went to graduate school while still with the fire department and I will admit, I had no shortage of subjects for practicing on and administering personality tests and the like. We had our share of dysfunctional people. In fact my shift may have actually put the 'fun' in dysfunctional but I really do not think we were significantly different from any number of other occupations. "Vellee Interesting"...... We may come back to this dellima.

The other difference in this book is that it will be a compilation of several different person's stories and not just my own. Over the years we discovered that whenever we get two or three firemen together the memories and stories just seem to flow. Hopefully that is what will happen as we pull together this book.

Tom Hudgens

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hey Eddie and others.............this blog is not just fire department stories although it would be okay if it became one. As you can see it has other things as well. comment on todays post or just email your ideas if you want. you all.


Fire department stories:
I had a couple of thoughts about fire department stories and since I am having fewer and fewer ’thoughts’ I decided I better write them down.
First, we all know that we can sometimes be the world’s worse (all public safety) at ’dark humor’ . What I mean is that we laugh about something serious, probably because we’d rather do that then cry about it, or get depressed, or whatever. I’ve spent the past 18 plus years psychoanalyzing myself and others as a counselor but that isn’t my intent here. (unless someone else wants to do a little of that.) My intent is not to hurt or belittle anyone so , hopefully, no one will take offense. Also, it seems most of what I remember as funny pokes fun at all of us, myself included. I think there are enough stories to go around but it’s just like family; we can pole fun at each other but don’t like it when others do the same.
All that said, I also don’t mean to focus on ’screw ups’ in a way that some people believe make the fire service look bad. Goodness, I’ve never seen a bunch that spends more time going over and over its mistakes and trying to avoid them in the future! We rehearse possible scenarios and dissect everything to the nth degree, shave a second here, a mile there. That’s all good………….the experts say all of us ought to be making a fairly high (around 30%) error rate anyway. If not, we’re probably not risking enough new things and are not learning enough………
A ny way………….with that said, see if you send some ideas under the heading of, “ Selected Short Screw ups”. You might start the story with something like,” I remember the day we…………… and then just talk about I t. A couple of examples:
I remember one night Eddie White and I were on duty at the CFD . Dewey was off that night and I was driving Engine 8B while Eddie drove A. (Don’t remember where the squad was but since we had more equipment than men, we had to do some creative things with engine assignments. (if you remember, eddie, fill in the blanks)
An awful storm had just started; big time thunder and lightening, pouring down rain. We got a call that someone had seen smoke around JP Carr school. Eddie was off in his nice, dry, enclosed cab and I started across the bay to my ‘convertible’. About that time our city manager (was it Paul Boring) came walking in the station. I turned around to see who had come in and hit a slick spot, sliding for about 3 or 4 feet before totally losing my balance and falling on my butt, then my head as it bounced off the bay floor. Paul rushed to see if I was okay but I was up, a little dazed but still in the fight. Come to think of it, it would have been a good idea to give me a ‘ten-count‘ just to make sure I was okay. After hitting my shin on the running board and climbing into the driver‘s seat, I reported, Engine 1B enroute to …………. Whatever the address was. Before this was out of my mouth, I was soaked to the bone; I mean I couldn‘t see anything and my feet kept slipping off the clutch, or break, accelerator enough to make me swerve and learch and jerk my way out onto Scott street headed over to help Eddie.
You may be able to guess where this thing is going. I didn’t get half way over there before Eddie , very dry and composed, came on the radio to let me know that I could cancel because it looked like the wind was blowing water that someone mistook for smoke.
I , on the other hand, was afraid to pick up my microphone for fear of being electrocuted………..
Then there was the night that we tied Bob Cooley’s belt to his bed and called the hot line to get the buzzer to sound. Everyone was laughing so hard we couldn’t breath while Bob dragged the bed as far he could before being stuck in to bedroom door way, cussing and yelling at us……………
Or the night I slept through the alarms going off at least just enough so that I missed getting in the engine on the way to a call (alarm at a business on Green Street.. I wasn’t about to miss the call, though, so my solution was to jump in turn out gear and then drive my 74 VW bug and head out to the call. . Funny scene, Fire engines and vW bug arriving on the scene……..Herby the Fire Bug…….. probably needs a new title………..false alarm by the way………..
Then there is a whole collection of calls that involved ‘things stuck in things’……….I remember one or two; a twelve year old with his finger stuck in his dad rifle barrel; then the guy who got his finger stuck in the coin machine at the car wash (didn’t we take the entire machine off the wall and transport it or am I just dreaming………..there have to be more of these and I’m just giving an introduction. I’ll develop a story around a few facts if I have to by adding a few details to make it a story!
Many more: I’ll never forget David Almand running into a dresser mirror and seeing his own image in the smoke filled room. Scared him to death………………….or the ‘great Halloween caper of 1900 something, when some unidentified firefighters harassed the guys on duty at the station
Or the day D. Collins and I about dropped the fat lady we were trying to transfer from her bed to a stretcher…..what an awful, sinking feeling to watch her disappear between the beds…….
Or Kerry’s comments about Alan Abbott after he got his EMT training………..carried his huge first aide box everywhere. Kerry said Alan was so gung ho he would end up on the street, trying to resuscitate an armadillo if one got hit. He was right……….
The “I’m burning, I’m burning call on N. Hicks, whee we thought we were going on a fire call but instead had an elderly man who wasn’t quite sure what the problem was……
Anyway, you get the picture. Send me more,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,and maybe yours will broaden the types of stories as well.
See ya.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

hearing God

Please read this disclaimer: This happens to me sometimes; I just ramble until I find the nswers or go to sleep. You're welcome to join my search and send me back some of what you’ve found or ere on the side of ‘common’ sense and go on to the next few posts.

I’m right in the middle of trying to organize my thoughts, the small number I have, and write down some ideas on what I believe about knowing and hearing from God. Can one know him on this planet- earth side of the Kingdom? Well, that is what I have been thinking about lately and on the face of it, I believe that ought to be a fairly straight forward question but it hasn’t turned out to be quite so easy. But I forgot, that isn’t what prompted me to write these thoughts down today.
In a conversation with three or four other people the other day, one man said that he felt a major problem in the church in our area was that the leaders were generally untrained and didn’t know enough theology. We didn’t pursue this conversation and so, I can’t be certain that I know where he was going with that statement however I do believe I can make a fairly good guess. Actually, I had a funny thought about this idea.
The whole church was started , taught and , expanded world wide by a bunch of fisherman, tax collectors and ne’er do wells who generally, except for Paul I suppose, had not gone to graduate school or seminary. [I can only hope someone hasn’t done research on this and can offer definitive evidence of the apostles academic accomplishments, not to mention dental records!] What a dignified group ! God, knowing this about them of course, ‘used them’ to expand the church by letting them be run out of practically every town they settled in. We all know this but it just came across as rather funny to me in thinking about it. God used this bunch to start a brand new church but we don’t have enough professional leaders? How did they accomplish what they did? What did they have that we don’t have? Perhaps a big, “ Well- Duh!” is in order.
The obvious and first thing I think of is the advantage of not having a clue. Add to that dependence upon Holy Spirit . Read Acts………notice how many times you see phrases like, after we had prayed and fasted we, or…………it seemed to us that we should……. And more……they didn’t sound like they had a preconceived plan and they obviously made some mistakes. Also note, that Jesus told them that they would be taught, nurtured, provoked, guided,…..etc by Holy Spirit when Had returned to the Father. Then there were the ministry gifts that were left for the building up of the body to make disciples of all nations . Teachers and preachers, and prophets……….etc. Not natural gifting but supernatural…..(that’s another article) I’m afraid we sometimes educate ourselves beyond our place of need and dependence upon God. Isn’t that really why the church is still here, to make disciples of all the nations or people-groups? I’m thinking of a business meeting I went to once, where around six or seven people were charged with the job of developing our company mission statement. Now to begin with half these people flew in from Colorado and points west, for the most part, just for this exercise. We spent the day in a futile attempt to reduce all our collective goals into a short paragraph! We generated lots of ideas on the subject, used up numerous markers and legal pads and cost, who knows how much money, but I think we confused the issue more than clarified it. If we were honest most of us would write as our personal view on the companies mission statement, to make money for the company and hold on to our job! Anyway, where did my point go?
We were talking about the church. It just occurred to me that maybe in our effort to not get our religion wrong, we miss out on opportunities to get it right. I mean, we can and do spend countless hours in maintaining just the correct view of man’s depravity, for instance. We write and rewrite , think, pray and ponder our views and doctrines on the subject until we don’t see anymore flaws in it, and with that, we disprove our premise, that man can’t get anything right! I’m only half joking! And don’t tell me, I n this last example , we got it right because we prayed and God helped us. That sounds good but I know how easy it is to give lip service to prayer and besides, a good number of our churches don’t actually believe God would speak clearly to us in answered prayer anyway. We end up making ourselves feel better by winning the doctrine wars that go on between churches At best, we can listen intently to our highly educated advisors and preachers, and do our best to hold on to what they say is truth. At worse, we slip into guarded, paranoid , and fearful behavior and read another self help or ‘correct’ doctrine book and hope we end up on the ’approved plan’………………. I know, I know,, we do a lot of good things in the in between times and God uses ministries despite themselves but please…………….. In the words of one of my former pastor/friends, ’ I’m more fouled up than Hogan’s goat so I don’t claim to have all our solutions…………or wait, maybe I do.
Why don’t we just stop and ask God, and expect that He will answer, since he said, over and over again than he would. In that, some of us will have to try real hard to stiffle our religious spirit…..You’re the ones who are already correcting me when I capitalized the word He ; pronoun for God, even though I left it uncapitalized in the second sentence ! You might win the battle but lose the war if that is your usual approach to prayer! Just humor us ______________, well, I’m not sure what I am today…….I’ll just call myself a sometimes emerging ‘Babacosterianist’ and leave it at that.
Try reading the Bible for a week or two as much as you have a chance, especially in the ‘red letters’ but not just there. Anyway ask Holy Spirit to help you hear and obey and write down what God may be saying to you. I know, if you let yourself you can stop here and instantly get out your doctrine gun and beat me up. Don’t get me wrong,,,,,,,,,,,I agree we are to guard our doctrines but if you continue to ‘monitor yourself’ ‘ and seek first your familiar doctrine, you can see you will hardly ever actually go first person with God. At least that’s been my experience and remember ‘Hogan’s goat! I believe you’d be on pretty solid ground to accept in faith that God may just answer your prayer. As we grow and mature , some of us do find that our prayers don’t obligate God or require Him to answer in our way. That’s a given. And we don’t require or demand anything from God ….we got that. And we know we don’t have God’s perfect timing in answering our prayers. Knowing this is liberating though, we just lay back, breath deeply (the pneuma / the Spirit of God and that is where our preparation for doing the works come from………………
More later,

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Word

I sat down this morning to have a quiet time in the Word before starting other projects, something I haven’t been doing recently. First I struggled with trying to get comfortable in the chair I was in, and then the lighting over the table. My eyes were blinking and watering so bad it slowed down my reading even more than then the ‘snails-pace’ it has already gotten to due to Parkinson’s disease. I think you get the picture. In five or six minutes time it was obvious I couldn’t get into the reading and I kept losing focus both with my eyes and my brain. I decided to get up and move around instead of just sit there in misery and as soon as I did, Bible verses started coming into my memory. The Holy Spirit gave me scripture that applied perfectly with what I was trying to express on paper and these verses encouraged me to share with you what I was hearing from God.
Put the Word of God into your heart and mind and spirit, so that Holy Spirit can draw upon it and speak to you with it. Now that I can’t see as well as I used to it’s even more important that I have some of the Word in my heart. For instance, start reading in Psalm 119, almost anywhere but I was thinking of 11-16, ( can’t leave out vs. 18, 23b, 24, 27b …………….just keep reading and looking for references)…..It reminded me of the novel ‘Fahrenheit 454’, where the books had all been destroyed/ burned and the small group of escapees were memorizing different books for posterity. That’s kind of a neat challenge, though. If your Bible was taken away, how much of it would you remember? Even more telling; If the Holy Spirit left your body of believers, how long would it be or how many people would notice his absence?
Just a thought…………what’s yours?