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

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