Technology Survey: Enter to Win $250 Amazon Gift Card

Technology Survey: Enter to Win $250 Amazon Gift Card

12 slang terms only a firefighter would know

Too bad the deckie is a Jake.


By Scott Ziegler, FireRescue1 Contributor

Sometimes when I'm hanging out with my non-firefighting friends, I have to stop myself when talking about work because I realize I'm using terms they don't understand. I'm not talking about big words...I'm a firefighter; we don't use big, fancy words. I'm talking about slang terms used by only firefighters.

Here are a few terms that we use:

Firefighter with the "tip of the pipe" in slang terms. (Photo/FreeStockPhotos)
Firefighter with the "tip of the pipe" in slang terms. (Photo/FreeStockPhotos)

1. Stretchin'
In Detroit, when we get a working fire, we tell central that we are stretchin' on whatever it is we are going to work on. So for example, when we pull up to a house fire, we'd say, "Engine 30 stretchin' on a two flat going throughout." Or when we tell someone about our night; "I'm beat. We stretched three times last night." It doesn't mean we woke up three times to stretch our legs. It means my company responded to three fires and stretched our lines on said fires.

2. Jobs
This seems to be more of an East Coast thing, though I've heard it used occasionally around here. A job is a fire. "Went to four jobs last night". This means they went to four working fires. And it is usually said in some sort of cool accent.

3. Pipe
That's the hose. We also call it the line. It's almost never called a hose. 

4. Pipeman
This term seems to be used only by inner city firefighters. Pipeman is usually the person on the engine. Or to take it a step further, the person taking the pipe (refer to #3) into the fire to extinguish it. Yes...I said into the fire.

5. Tip
The nozzle. I haven't heard this used much in Detroit, but we used it at my old department. When you had the nozzle, you had the tip. That was always the question asked by the oncoming crew. "Who had the tip?" 

6. Jake
This one is kind of odd. I have no idea where it actually comes from. I have read several definitions and they're all different. But, what it means (here in Detroit) is that you are a terrible firefighter. You do not want to be called a Jake here. On the East Coast, it means you are a good firefighter. Again, in a cool accent, "That's a good Jake right there". I don't have any clue why they are complete opposite depending on your location.

7. Deckie
In Detroit we call the firefighters on the back of the engine a deckie. 

8. Truckie
A firefighter assigned to a ladder company.

9. Doin' it
This one makes me laugh. I don't even really know if it can actually be called a slang term, but between me and my buddies on the job, when we get a good stretch, or go to a good fire, we usually joke and say that we were "doin it". This comes from Backdraft.

10. J's
"She went off on J's." It means said firefighter is off work due to an injury.

11. Redline
A red, 1-inch diameter, hose line that puts out 60gpm. Our engines and trucks have them. We use it on car fires, trash fires, and even sometimes on dwelling fires. It's on a reel so it is deployed and put away very quickly. "Get that red line in here, we can get it," says the truckie.

12. The job
Firefighters refer to our job as "the job" because it is the only job. It's the best job."How long ya been on the job?" or "He's been on the job for a year." There are no other jobs out there that could possibly come close to comparing with "the job."

There are probably hundreds more. What slang terms did I leave out? What do you say in your department? But that's what I can think of at the moment. Be safe brothers and sisters.

 

About the author

Uniform Stories features a variety of contributors. These sources are experts and educators within their profession. Uniform Stories covers an array of subjects like field stories, entertaining anecdotes, and expert opinions.

Read more articles by Uniform Stories by clicking here

Recommended for you

Join the discussion

logo for print