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10 strangest firefighter stories of 2016

This year, firefighters partook in a hot wing-eating contest, searched for Civil War-era shipwrecks and saved birds from trees


A turkey vulture suspended upside down 35 feet in the air by fishing wire.

Photo/San Rafael Fire Department

By FireRescue1 Staff

As the year comes to a close, we rounded up the 10 strangest firefighter stories.

From discovering creatures in fire hydrants, marrying a couple next to a crashed crane to rescuing birds from trees, firefighters had yet another interesting year.

But to be perfectly honest, how many times can you say your department helped identify a Civil War-era ship or beat an NFL player in a hot wing-eating contest?

1. Firefighters get surprise from clogged hydrant
Nova Scotia firefighters found an unexpected inhabitant responsible for clogging their fire hydrant: some sort of catfish. The crew discovered the creature after having difficulty drawing water from a nearby pond.

2. Fla. firefighters respond to burning mannequin, turns out to be human
When firefighters responded to a call about a burning mannequin, the last thing they were expecting was to find a dead person. Upon arriving on scene, crews quickly realized the mannequin was actually a person. The scene was later secured by authorities.

3. Boston fire station evacuated when resident brings in mortar shell
Sometimes, people drop off the most unusual things at a fire station. But one Boston fire station quickly evacuated after a resident brought them an old mortar shell. After evacuating, a bomb squad was called to handle the device; they determined it was not explosive.

4. Aussie firefighters free man’s penis from wrench
A man somehow managed to get his penis stuck inside a wrench box, prompting fire crews to give him a helping hand. Aussie firefighters used an angle grinder and measuring tape to perform the delicate extrication. One firefighter said they respond to “quite a few” of these kinds of calls.

5. Fire department chaplain marries couple at NYC crane collapse site
Everyone loves a wedding, even the most impromptu ones. FDNY Chaplain Ann Kansfield rushed to the scene of a collapsed crane, expecting the worst. Instead, she found a shivering bride in the snow. The bride had just finished having her hair done when the crane crashed. Upset that her wedding plans were derailed, Kansfield married the couple on the steps of a nearby building.

6. Video: Firefighter beats NFL player in hot wing challenge
In an epic face-off, a firefighter and New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski partook in a hot wing-eating challenge. The firefighter, named Jarrod, and Gronkowski were challenged to eat as many hot wings as possible in six minutes with no celery, carrots, dressing or drinks. As Gronkowski’s eyes teared up, Jarrod came out on top. Gronkowski admitted defeat, and said winning the Super Bowl was easier than the wing contest.

7. Truck flips, spills cheese on Ga. highway
Fire crews responded to a call of an overturned tractor-trailer that had spilled cartons of Cheez Whiz, Velveeta and Polly-O ricotta onto the highway. The driver was miraculously unharmed, although the cheese was not so lucky.

8. Charlotte Fire Department helps search Civil War shipwreck
Although participating in a shipwreck search may not be in their job description, Charlotte firefighters partook in locating and identifying a Civil War-era ship. Firefighters arranged for a sophisticated 3D solar device to help confirm the ship’s identity.

9. Calif. firefighters rescue bird from tree
In a paradoxical call, firefighters rescued a turkey vulture that found itself stuck in a tree. The turkey was hanging upside down after becoming entangled in fish wire. Firefighters initially had trouble reaching the bird, but were able to do so after bringing in a ladder truck.

10. It’s so hot in NY that manure is bursting into flames
This past summer, firefighters dealt with not only sweltering heat, but flaming horse manure. At least three fire departments responded to calls of the burning manure; it took them two hours to douse the manure.