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Firehouse Funnies
by Will Wyatt

Every firefighting scenario needs a great movie line

The best movie lines invariably find their way onto the fireground and into the firehouse often with hilarious results

By Will Wyatt

A lot of classic movie lines have withstood the test of time and are still a part of our vernacular. I often wonder if that fact is lost on those in the entertainment industry.

Clark Gable had one of the true classic of classic movie lines in the 1939 movie "Gone with the Wind" when he said to actress Vivien Leigh, "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn!"

This was back in a time when four letter words weren't heard in movies. In fact, there was even controversy prior to the film being released about the use of the word "damn." However, to illustrate its enduring quality, the line was voted the number one all time movie line by the American Film Institute in 2005.

Everybody knows somebody who is a movie-line genius; many fire departments have at least one. Of course the fire service lends itself well to movie lines — fertile feeding ground for those buffs.

Plethora of lines
Naturally, one of the greatest movies ever recorded on film as far as movie lines for the fire service is "Backdraft." It provides a plethora of movie lines for any fire department. That is a reference to "The Three Amigos" and El Guapo: "We have had a plethora of fire alarms today."

I can't count the times walking around a commercial occupancy on a fire alarm or smell of smoke when somebody has calmly said, "Check that door for heat, Tim."

Or there's Donald Sutherland's, "Funny thing about firemen, they’re always firemen." And then there's Robert DeNiro walking around a burned up building saying, "Come on, where did you come from?" I actually did that once. I didn't expect to hear any voices aside from the normal voices I hear. I just wanted to do it. 

Of course I have actually heard somebody in the back seat yell at another firefighter who was dressing, "You're doing it wrong!"

Don't call me Shirley
The movie "Airplane" is another gold mine for movie lines.

"Where is the medic unit? They're at the hospital. They're at the hospital? Yes, it's a building with sick people, but that's not important right now."

As a crew leaves on a run you can expect to hear the ever popular, "Good luck we're all counting on you!" Or maybe you'll hear, "Surely we will make that on a 2nd alarm. We didn't make it and don't call me Shirley."

The "Vacation" series of movies have provided some memorable lines. Any type of recreation or amusement park is naturally Walley World. "Good talk son, good talk" after any serious discussion. "We're closed the moose out front should have told you."

"Christmas Vacation," which is one of my all time favorites, provides a lot of lines. Any new piece of apparatus or any piece of equipment immediately after washing begs for a "She's a beaut, Clark." A malfunction of warning lights gets a "the little lights aren't twinkling, Clark."

Of course Randy Quaid utters the ultimate line of the movie: "That's the gift that keeps on giving the whole year round." It works well after a firefighter gets an award or is recognized for something.

Get serious
Serious movies also supply great fire service movie lines. I have many, many times wanted to ask a patient on an EMS scene who has done something silly, "Private Pyle, what is your malfunction?" I haven't, however.

The number one fire service movie line, the one I have heard the most where ever I have been has to be: "Badges? We don't need no stinking badges." This line has quite a history to it. I had no idea.

The line first appeared in the 1927 novel "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre." Twenty-one years later it appeared in the movie of the same name.

The original line in the 1948 movie with Humphrey Bogart was: "Badges? We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinkin’ badges." The line has been misquoted ever since. 

In 1967, it was used in an episode of "The Monkeys." However, it's the 1974 Mel Brooks classic "Blazing Saddles" that most people remember. Actor Harvey Korman hands a badge to actor Rich Garcia and it is Garcia who recites a version of the line.

Any time a dress shirt or Class A uniform is needed, I hear somebody say the badge line. We have only scratched the surface here.

What is your favorite fire service movie line? Let me hear from you. 

About the author

Will Wyatt, who is originally from New Orleans, has been in the fire service for 25 years. Will currently works as an engineer/operator at the Village Fire Department in the Houston, Texas, area. Will also works part time at another fire department and part time at a 911 emergency medical service. He has held numerous ranks with fire departments in the Houston area including full time training officer, fire marshal and deputy chief. Will holds a master fire fighter certification with the State of Texas, an instructor certification, pump operator certification, an associate degree from Houston Community College and a basic EMT certification. Recently will authored a book on the fire service entitled, "And a Paycheck, Too!" Check out an excerpt here. Contact Will at Will.Wyatt@firerescue1.com.



Comments
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Marc Blaine Marc Blaine Wednesday, June 11, 2014 9:39:52 AM Steve McQueen (LAFD Battalion Chief) in The Towering Inferno- "Oh, they'll find some dumb son of a b__ to do it" And usually it is the person who repeats the line who winds up doing whatever unsafe/unpleasant/smelly job it is that needs to be done.
Pat Fitzpatrick Pat Fitzpatrick Wednesday, June 11, 2014 2:22:20 PM When things are piling up, usually problems, I like "and the hits just keep on coming."
David Mason David Mason Wednesday, June 11, 2014 3:33:47 PM My all time favorite is from the animated film "Madagascar" where the penguin says "Just smile and wave boys, just smile and wave".
Pj Stamper Pj Stamper Wednesday, June 11, 2014 6:30:04 PM There is the classic from Backdraft, " you go, we go" and my personal favorite from cool hand Luke " what we've got here is, failure to communicate" .
Tom Kitchen Jr Tom Kitchen Jr Wednesday, June 11, 2014 8:58:43 PM "These high rise gigs give me the creeps."
Doug Gregg Doug Gregg Wednesday, June 11, 2014 11:17:14 PM Apocalypse Now, "Charlie don't surf"! C-shift ( or any appropriate group or person) don't surf!
Ken Missel Ken Missel Thursday, June 12, 2014 10:58:49 AM Chef from apocalypse now "never get out of the f------ boat !"
Karl Hartmetz Karl Hartmetz Friday, June 13, 2014 11:37:06 AM When the fire is FINALLY out, " I love it when a plan come together" Hannibal Smith -A-Team.
Andrew Jordan Andrew Jordan Sunday, June 15, 2014 2:41:59 PM "shake and bake boys i think we got a barbecue"
Aaron Cantrell Aaron Cantrell Sunday, June 15, 2014 2:43:57 PM While describing the neighboring county's rescue squad on closing down a main road, all I can think of, and say on the radio during a mutual response call is Sheriff Buford T. Justices "You sumbitches couldn't close an umbrella"....
Paul Schewene Paul Schewene Sunday, June 15, 2014 3:10:07 PM The fire in "The Towering Inferno", was set in San Francisco. :) (Hence all the traditional lids... vice what would've been MSA Topgard helmets during that firefighting era in LA and LA County)
Nick Poynor Nick Poynor Sunday, June 15, 2014 3:13:03 PM Any time someone ask if its raining we break into family guy. How's the weather ollie? RAINING. do you have an umbrella? HAD ONE! Where is it? THREE MILES AWAY INSIDE OUT! !
Christopher Becknell Christopher Becknell Sunday, June 15, 2014 3:13:18 PM You go we go. Backdraft
Christopher Becknell Christopher Becknell Sunday, June 15, 2014 3:14:48 PM I'm a grown ass man and I cried like a girl in that scene. I was there holding on with them. Brothers till the end.
Dave Bloom Dave Bloom Sunday, June 15, 2014 3:18:51 PM I told you to stay right-be-f*&^in-side me,Tim!
Jonathan Braun Jonathan Braun Sunday, June 15, 2014 4:03:46 PM From "O Brother Where Art Though", "Damn we're in a tight spot". Heard this several times around the station, and even a couple of times on calls!
Chris O'Brien Chris O'Brien Sunday, June 15, 2014 5:12:23 PM Super Troopers- "Mother of God..." And pull your sunglasses down while saying it.
Michael Murphy Michael Murphy Sunday, June 15, 2014 6:04:28 PM This one's gonna taste like shit.
Michael Murphy Michael Murphy Sunday, June 15, 2014 6:06:13 PM Gonna need a bigger boat.
Joe Mathews Joe Mathews Sunday, June 15, 2014 6:16:09 PM "That Little guy... Don't worry about that little guy" Supertroopers. In referencing a Large Wound.
Ryan M Murray Ryan M Murray Sunday, June 15, 2014 6:16:52 PM Super Troopers is full of quotable lines. Getting a meal somewhere and someone can't decide, "Just order a large, Farva." Some really stupid person/dispatch blunder, "Go ahead radio." My favorite is "Mother of God, let's roll."
Sean Jernagan Sean Jernagan Sunday, June 15, 2014 6:38:09 PM Backdraft. Bull to Brian, "How do you do it man? How do you keep finding new and amazing ways to F@#% up?"
Chris Cain Chris Cain Sunday, June 15, 2014 6:55:06 PM From Blazing Saddles when someone ask me to hand them something "Excuse me while I whip this out"
Verlon E Dukes III Verlon E Dukes III Sunday, June 15, 2014 6:59:35 PM Merry Christmas....Sh@#er was full.
Leticia Salazar-Schilt Leticia Salazar-Schilt Sunday, June 15, 2014 7:26:13 PM Who's your brother Brian? You are Steven
Mike Taylor Mike Taylor Sunday, June 15, 2014 8:14:24 PM I'll be Bach (back). Used all the time.
Andrew Miller Andrew Miller Sunday, June 15, 2014 9:13:53 PM From spongebob when the firefighter puts out the grill fire at the krusty krab, everytime we have a fire and it's out I always yell "HURRAY!"
Michael Hill Michael Hill Sunday, June 15, 2014 9:38:28 PM Maybe I missed it when it comes to Back Draft but how could you not mention the lines you go we go" really. .........
Jason Parker Jason Parker Monday, June 16, 2014 2:20:15 AM And my favorite from Chuck and larry "going in alive and coming out the same way"
Joy Hinson Slaughter Joy Hinson Slaughter Monday, June 16, 2014 4:50:24 AM lol!
Zach Wilson Zach Wilson Monday, June 16, 2014 5:24:33 PM this happened the other day at work. With nothing else on tv, all the daily chores were done, My partner and I watched cartoons when the line by a character was "Just call me Zach the Rain Maker!" thats been an inside joke between us ever since!
Zach Hine Zach Hine Monday, June 16, 2014 5:39:49 PM My favorite movie line is from backdraft. When Steven walked up to shadow and asks if he found a cause for the fire. With a smirk he looks back and says "mice with matches". To this day we still make that the cause for all our alarms
Jeff Benton Jeff Benton Monday, June 16, 2014 7:08:55 PM It's John Wayne time !
Diana Sprain Diana Sprain Thursday, June 19, 2014 12:56:01 PM from "The Sandlot" "You're killing me, Smalls!" when someone does something stupid or is a little slow on catching on to the situation

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