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  1. #1
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    Default In the old days....

    I've heard stories about beer in the department fridge and fighting structure fires in blue jeans. We've come a long way.... what history is hiding in the shadows of your city's fire department?


  2. #2
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    It was common for us to stand in the open jumpseats by the doghouse.
    We wore full length coats, 3/4 boots (almost always down), no hoods, and the red fireball gloves (plastic)
    Rappelling with the pompier belt
    Occasional use of gloves on medical calls
    We used to get a job and just put the fire out
    We used to have to drive stick shift and stop at intersections and operate the siren and avoid traffic all with a rig with one rotator and a pair of flashers.
    Our downtime was with only 6 tv channels and no internet

  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber Chief_Roy's Avatar
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    I think you'd be surprised how many department's "old days" are still present day for a lot of departments, especially small volunteer ones away from urban areas. Some of that is evident in my own recollections (mind you I've only been at this 20 years, too, so this stuff wasn't eons ago)...

    1. I do remember when beer was kept in the station fridge, but certainly not for on duty guys.

    2. I remember when beer was consumed at fires and sometimes the chief would pass around a flask he kept in his turnouts. This was only during the final overhaul and salvage phases, and only for off duty guys that had come in on overtime to work the fire. It sucked being on duty and seeing your buddy working a pike pole right next to you drinking a beer.

    3. I remember when wearing gloves for patient contact was only recommended

    4. I remember when none of our guys had Nomex hoods

    5. I also recall the firefighters wearing jeans bit, but never did it myself. A firefighter at a neighboring department became infamous when he came in from off duty to help with a fire. He was photographed by the press on the roof trying to ventilate...wearing jeans, t-shirt, and SCBA. He got in hot water for that, even back then.

    6. I remember the guys at some surrounding departments still riding tailboard, but we were no longer allowed to do it by the time I started.

    Just some of my memories in my career. I bet some of these are still going on, we just don't hear about it.

  4. #4
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    Default smoking?

    I still see firefighters (especially wildland) smoking on a call... don't agree with it though, I think it looks horrible!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Myfireangel View Post
    I still see firefighters (especially wildland) smoking on a call... don't agree with it though, I think it looks horrible!
    Firemen smoke on calls here all the time. I think a lot of the larger east coast and midwestern cities do that. Back when I was in a suburb we weren't even supposed to use tobacco off duty.

    There's still plenty of tradition at my department. We still have someone up all night for watch. We use a lot of old school terms. We still use 3" for supply line instead of LDH. We have over 30 fire houses and only a few don't use fire poles. There's also little pieces of history in the fire houses. In one house they found an old fire bucket owned by Francis Scott Key.

  6. #6
    Back In Black ChiefKN's Avatar
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    Before my time it was the engineer's responsibility to stock the glove box on the rigs with a pack of Lucky Strikes/Camels and a small bottle of blackberry brandy.

    Standing/Laying on the hose bed to gear up...

    Riding the tailboard (of course) and the running boards...

    Lady's Artillery bringing cases of beer to fire calls.

    Etc...
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

    "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

    "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

  7. #7
    Forum Member Jonnee's Avatar
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    Julie, there are a lot of things that happen back in the day, that most of us would like for it to remain there. I am not and will not go into detail on the forums but I can say of it was possible, we have done it!!

  8. #8
    Forum Member len1582's Avatar
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    FD did no EMS.
    11/2 or 21/2 inch hose only.
    Leather helmet with frontpiece cost less than $100.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiefKN View Post
    Lady's Artillery bringing cases of beer to fire calls.

    Etc...

    wow, things must have been a lot more dangerous in the old days

  10. #10
    Forum Member len1582's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nameless View Post
    wow, things must have been a lot more dangerous in the old days
    Yes...If you forgot the can opener for the beer you'd get slapped on the head.

  11. #11
    Back In Black ChiefKN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nameless View Post
    wow, things must have been a lot more dangerous in the old days
    Sure, they didn't wear airpacks and used a 1" booster on some ripping fires.

    Oh yea, another difference.

    When my dad joined in 1975, they ran 200 runs a year and 50 of them were structure fires another 50 were brush fires and then maybe 20 or so dumpster fires. The rest were alarms and the really bad mva's.

    When I joined in 1986, we ran 250 runs a year and 15 of them were structure fires, 12 were brush fires and the rest were mva's and alarms.

    Nowadays... they run 450 runs a year and 1 of them is a structure fire, 250 are mva's, 4 of them are brush, pretty much no dumpsters anymore... and the balance are junk calls (alarms, wires, etc).


    When I mention "structure fire" I'm not talking about an NFIRS "structure fire"... I mean a real fire.
    Last edited by ChiefKN; 04-28-2010 at 03:08 PM.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

    "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

    "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

  12. #12
    Forum Member ravage17's Avatar
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    i'm 21 and have been in the service for 4 years andi would give anything to have been apart of those days. thats when i think firemen were truly firemen. no bitching about anything, just did your job and had fun.
    "The third reason we are fighting is because men like to fight. They always have and they always will. Some sophists and other crackpots deny that. They don't know what they're talking about. They are either goddamned fools or cowards, or both. Men like to fight, and if they don't they're not real men. "-Gen. George S. Patton

  13. #13
    Forum Member Doorbreaker's Avatar
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    I haven't been at it very long but when I joined my issue gear was 3/4 boots and long coat.
    We still run with 1.5" and 2.5" hose. (as do many other departments in the area).
    Never rode the tailboard though.
    Most members were issued scanners and a phone list. No pagers.
    One engine was even parked in a local members barn because it lowered the response time for the members!
    SCBA and Haz-Mat gear was something we saw in the "toy" catalogs.
    Still had beer in the fridge (some of the local departments not only still have beer in the fridge but have fully stocked bars in house with beer on tap), In ours I remember throwing out the beer that was in the fridge! I can think of more than one local dept. that had MAJOR problems with folks drinking at the scene rather than fighting a fire. Ours was one that got a black eye from that, if the stories I have heard from members and civilians are correct we deserved it.

  14. #14
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    Default I believe you

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonnee View Post
    Julie, there are a lot of things that happen back in the day, that most of us would like for it to remain there. I am not and will not go into detail on the forums but I can say of it was possible, we have done it!!
    There is a long line of couragous men and women trying to make the world a better place. Good or bad, it was the start of what we have today... take that as you will

  15. #15
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    Default Old gear

    Quote Originally Posted by Doorbreaker View Post
    I haven't been at it very long but when I joined my issue gear was 3/4 boots and long coat.
    We still run with 1.5" and 2.5" hose. (as do many other departments in the area).
    Never rode the tailboard though.
    Most members were issued scanners and a phone list. No pagers.
    One engine was even parked in a local members barn because it lowered the response time for the members!
    SCBA and Haz-Mat gear was something we saw in the "toy" catalogs.
    Still had beer in the fridge (some of the local departments not only still have beer in the fridge but have fully stocked bars in house with beer on tap), In ours I remember throwing out the beer that was in the fridge! I can think of more than one local dept. that had MAJOR problems with folks drinking at the scene rather than fighting a fire. Ours was one that got a black eye from that, if the stories I have heard from members and civilians are correct we deserved it.
    I am the Quartermaster for our department. We still have some of that old gear: three quarter coats, boots, an old water bucket or two from the forest service... and some ancient wildland fire helmets. Very neat.

  16. #16
    Forum Member CGITCH's Avatar
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    Our department still has a stocked fridge of blue smoothies. Although, there is a feeling that is going to change soon. It will be interesting to see if there is any turnover from the more "social" members who can't do much on a fire scene, or don't want to. I looked through pictures of the 70's 80's and early 90's last week. Definitely changed from back then. Up until 1997, we had two engines, a city engine and a rural engine. The city engine couldn't leave the city limits for rural fires. That is one of the biggest changes we have had.

  17. #17
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    mmm.... smoothies. I do have to say that we are spoiled. We try to keep drinks/snacks at the main station. Sometimes I have to hide them from the local police dept. (just kidding!)

  18. #18
    FIREMAN 1st GRADE E40FDNYL35's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    In the old days.... mid 80's I remember --
    FIRES, wood ladders, brass fittings, long coat and boots, real LEATHER HELMETS, NO EEO BULL*****, FIREMEN ..... BRING BACK THE OLD DAYS
    ALL GAVE SOME BUT SOME GAVE ALL
    NEVER FORGET 9-11-01
    343
    CAPT. Frank Callahan Ladder 35 *
    LT. John Ginley Engine 40
    FF. Bruce Gary Engine 40
    FF. Jimmy Giberson Ladder 35
    FF. Michael Otten Ladder 35 *
    FF. Steve Mercado Engine 40 *
    FF. Kevin Bracken Engine 40 *
    FF. Vincent Morello Ladder 35
    FF. Michael Roberts Ladder 35 *
    FF. Michael Lynch Engine 40
    FF. Michael Dauria Engine 40

    Charleston 9
    "If my job was easy a cop would be doing it."
    *******************CLICK HERE*****************

  19. #19
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    no advanced rescue equiptment like cutters, spreaders combi-tools, we had a porta power and bottle jacks. you would run code 3 to a vehicle accident to wash down the fluids into the storm drains. when you had a fire, you would call for neighboring fire companies that you got along with while skipping others. booster lines on vehicle fires and sometimes housefires. 11 guys on the first out pumper at nite . the fire siren that would sound 7 times at 3 am for a dumpster fire

  20. #20
    Forum Member MemphisE34a's Avatar
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    Fire Chiefs and adminstrations had to be competent.
    RK
    cell #901-494-9437

    Management is making sure things are done right. Leadership is doing the right thing. The fire service needs alot more leaders and a lot less managers.

    "Everyone goes home" is the mantra for the pussification of the modern, American fire service.


    Comments made are my own. They do not represent the official position or opinion of the Fire Department or the City for which I am employed. In fact, they are normally exactly the opposite.

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