The Big Picture Chief

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As I Was Growing Up (still a half baked process) I remember thinking that a hero was always someone who did something big, loud and remarkable. As time has gone on-I have learned that it takes many forms. One of THE FIRST FIRE BOOKS I ever read was a tactics book (1973?) by Manny Fried (FDNY DC, Ret, RIP) and in his forward he mentions the heroics of Chief Bill Clark, FDNY, RIP. Seems that Clark saved his (Fried's) life - not by some heroic physical action, but by calm thinking and quick tactical actions and decisions.

That's what this story on Firehouse.Com is about. Only this one is about an old friend and brother of mine by the name of Lee Strickland. Lee and I go back into the 70's when we were firefighters in the same FD together - on Long Island. The best way I can describe Lee is a big, smiling man, with a heart ten times as big. Lee, quite simply is one of those "good guys" who just wants to help-and do the right thing.

Lee is a Vietnam Vet - a decorated helicopter pilot. He is a full-time professor for the NY College of Aeronautics, near LaGuardia Airport, is the 1st Deputy Chief of the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department on Long Island. Manhasset-Lakeville is a big, busy volunteer department lead by Chief of Department Brian Morris, his four Deputy Chiefs with nearly 250 of the best firefighters, EMT's & Medics around, 5 fire companies, 11 engines, 3 trucks, 2 rescue's, 2-ALS ambulances etc. They have a web page Check it out.

Anyway -- on the weekend of April 5th, Lee had a chance to save the lives of some of his firefighters. This was not an issue of him racing into a building or anything like that. Lee was returning from a run and was sitting in his car-in front of the firehouse that he runs out of and was "keeping an eye" on his firefighters as they backed their apparatus into quarters.

While keeping an eye on "the big picture" ... Lee saw a car come racing toward his firefighters at a high rate of speed. This was something like 0200 hours-when the real clowns are out there-and this clown was gunning right toward Lee's men. The driver ignored the traffic signals, the strobes, the apparatus lights and everything else. As the car approached the men-Lee hit the gas pedal of his marked Fire Chief car and placed his car directly in front of the wild car-taking the hit-stopping it from striking-and saving at least two firefighters lives.

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