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A firefighter’s attachment: It might be hard to explain

It’s hard to explain the love a firefighter has for his or her tools, rig, and station.


Exterior of a brick fire station. (Photo/Wikimedia)

By Mick Mayers

Just as we grow attached to the people we work with at the fire station, we tend to get attached to the inanimate objects as well. This week we decommissioned the station where I spent the bulk of my career as the station commander and moved into a very beautiful new replacement.

I‘ll admit I‘m a little envious; this station is environmentally friendly, while my old station might have been on the short-list as a Superfund clean-up site. Not really, but in almost 30 years of hard service, she was way beyond showing her age.

As I walked around in the vacated shell with my colleague, also a long-timer at that house, it was like looking into the grave of a loved one.

We get “close” to the trucks we ride into battle as well. In our organization, we are strict about keeping all of our engines uniform so that a person on temporary assignment to that company can find the tools in the same place as in any other unit.There are, however, subtle ways of showing our affection, like adding a logo to the truck window or putting a stuffed mascot on the dashboard.

We have favorite tools as well. I used to carry a short hook along with my tools, even though it wasn‘t on my riding assignment list.

Yes, it was one more piece of equipment to deal with, but that hook had gotten me out of a jam or two over the years. It also made a nice pointer when I was trying to indicate where I wanted a ceiling pulled or which window I wanted the aerial tip to go to.

In the early days, firefighters were especially close to their apparatus. In the days of hand-drawn units, the men, often volunteers, sacrificed their own money to help buy the community pumper. When the unit arrived, they commissioned it with much ceremony.

It isn‘t hard to find old pictures of ornate paintings or carvings on these historic pieces. The crews depended on these rigs to save lives and property and took their care very seriously.

Horse-drawn apparatus came along and the personalities of these brave men were naturally drawn to their highly trained equine partners. And again, even with the motorized apparatus, it was nothing to see on any spring Saturday in the Northeast, a parade of these shiny, amazing pieces, celebrating some local function or another, but more often than not, the commissioning, or “housing” of a new fire truck.

For those who are so rational that they can‘t understand the love a firefighter has for his or her tools, their rig or their station, it might be a little hard to explain. But when you spend so much of your life with these things, or depend on them for not only the safety of the community but for the safety of your own brothers and sisters on the line, it is easy to see why we feel the way we do about them and get a little misty when we have to move on to the new.

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