Firefighters Are Priceless; Politicians Aren’t Worth 2 Cents!
As Vinnie was getting ready, Jimmy Mac was shaking like a V-Twin; trying hard to hide his laughing. He slapped Jake on the shoulder. Jake could be heard growling, “fucking new guy” under his breath as he looked in back of him. As KJ accelerated, he asked over his shoulder, “You all right, newbie?”
“I tore my bunkers. They ain’t even been dirty yet”, a dejected Vinnie proclaimed.
“Dirty? Hell, they haven’t even seen a fire. Still got that new smell. Yuck!” Jake complained.
“Chief is going to have your a**! He’s going to take great delight in meting out his special form of punishment”, Jake warned.
S*** was all Vinnie could think.
Chief Harold (Diesel) Forrester is a throwback to days gone by. If Jake is crusty, which he is, then Diesel is the bread baker! Diesel doesn’t have crust; he has an armor-like shell! He is on the other side of 60 and is having the time of his life. He is third generation firefighter and has over 46 years in. He takes great pride in having the fourth and fifth generation in his grandkids. In fact; grandson Danny is on the Grandview Fire Department.
“Danny’s my right hand man”, he proudly proclaims to anyone within earshot. No favoritism, either! Danny has earned his chops. All totaled, Diesel has 10 grandchildren in the fire service. He has the distinction of serving with Baltimore for a stint before moving to Grandview and after “retiring”. He and his wife, Mavis, are very involved with many county and state fire service organizations. The youngsters have a hard time keeping up with them! To this day, Diesel STILL rappels from a helicopter as a member of the county technical rescue team.
“It’s just a rope”, he says to the squeamish.
Is that all?
“Oh; there’s more, but I don’t like talking about it. Sounds too much like braggadocio”, says the Chief. And he’s sincere when he says that. Diesel is a firefighter’s firefighter…and very humble.
Chief Forrester has a weakness for trains. No; not model trains, but the ones that have been moving Man and Machine across this nation for 200 years. Coal-fired steam locomotives and the early diesels (hence; his nickname) are his favorites.
The Chief has made it a habit of coming in early and most of the time is the last to leave. You will only see him on-scene for the more complex incidents. He has full confidence in his men, as they do him. Respect floats both ways here. The Chief is very well liked by his men and by his peers, but he can’t say the same about certain politicians!
Diesel points out that he despises anyone who annually tries to gut the state fire prevention fund to “balance the budget”. Politicians claim that it’s “surplus”, but the Chief knows that it’s money needed to fund fire service projects that would not otherwise get funding. In fact, Chief Forrester is behind legislation to protect the fund by law. That way, it will no longer be the target of the insatiable appetites of the special interest puppets. He and the Governor call each other often and by first names. Chief Forrester has threatened on more than one occasion to surround the Governor’s mansion with fire apparatus to push the urgency of a particular legislative bill. It is that way with this bill to protect the fire prevention fund.
The Chief’s word is his bond and everyone knows it. They know that, when the Chief says he’s going to do it, it’s not a threat; it’s inevitable. It’s never a question of “if”, but “when”.
He never makes the same mistake twice. He wants to know his men AND their families, because there is nothing more important than family. Nothing! He learned a long time ago from his own life experiences that when dark, ugly, awful events attempt to consume you, family will surround you with their compassion and bring order back to you. Whether it’s your family at the fire station or your family at home, each member will, in their own way help you survive even the worst of times.
The Chief insists on the veterans watching over the new ones; which is why, unbeknownst to Jake, Vinnie will be partnered with him! Vinnie’s success or failure will be on his shoulders.
“Engine 53 to Dispatch”, Jake calmly barks into the mike.
“Go ahead with your radio traffic, 53”, says the dispatcher.
“Do we have a status on the call at 1542 South Division Street?” Jake asks.
“10-4, 53. Fire has spread from the garage into the occupancy. Unknown at this time if all occupants are out”, says the dispatcher.
“Copy that, Dispatch. Confirm Station 2 coverage for Central Station”, says Jake.
“10-4, 53. Coverage for Central Station on its way”, says the dispatcher.
“Ladder 15; catch the hydrant at Washington and South Division”, commands Jake.
“Roger that, 53; Ladder 15 has the hydrant.”
You could see that look in Jake’s eyes.
Jimmy Mac is humming a song.
KJ is all business behind the wheel of Engine 53.
Vinnie is getting light-headed…
It’s a Bumpy Road to Grandview
Battalion Chief David (Davey Boy) Tucker was on-scene and doing his size up and assessment. He has pulled up out front in his squad and along with his driver, Sidney (Sid Vicious) Wilkerson. Attack on this one would be from “A” sector; right through the front door!
Battalion Chief David (Davey Boy) Tucker had a very unusual beginning with the Grandview Fire Department.
When he was 12 years old, he lived next to an old jake. What started out as a hobby of sorts (taking pictures at fires), turned into a passion for the job.
After high school, Davey Boy decided to get a fire investigation degree, so that he would always have something to fall back on, should his circumstances change and he could no longer actively participate in the grunt work, which he loved.
During the summer, Davey would work full time for the Maple City Fire Department, a town just east of where he grew up. He worked in the dispatch center during his shift, but could catch fire calls during his off-duty time. He also worked as POC (Paid On Call) at Maple City the rest of the year and while attending school in Connecticut, he lived at the fire station rent-free and responded as a volunteer. He also worked Dispatch for Hampton.
Life was very busy for Davey Boy, but he didn’t care. He had his dreams, was literally eating, sleeping and working at what he loved in life and was on his way in a big way!
Then, his dreams shattered! In his senior year of school, Davey went to the doctor for a physical, in anticipation of getting his full time gig as a career firefighter. In his medical records that he brought along, the doctor discovered that Davey had had heart surgery to correct a valve problem. Davy was 7 years old at the time and really hadn’t given it another thought. He was feeling no side effects, was physically strong and was in the best shape of his life, but the doctor red flagged his medical file, effectively ending Davey’s chances of getting to his dream job.
With his fire investigation degree in his pocket, Davey Boy worked a short stint for an insurance company, but longed to get back into the fire service, so he moved back to Hampton and worked part-time at dispatching until he could at least figure out a way to get back to what he loved most-FIREFIGHTING.
In 1993, Davey got the call from Grandview to come there as a fire alarm operator, dispatching for fire calls. He was “close” to having his dream job, but Davey and his lovely bride knew that his life would be unfulfilled, unless he could ride the rigs, hump hose, bottle up and throw wet stuff on the red stuff!
Davey worked as a fire alarm operator for 4 years. During that time, Davey was always spinning scenarios to come up with a job that would incorporate everything that he knew into his perfect job. After all; he didn’t have a defective heart, but had the heart of a firefighter; a heart that he was trying to fill with his investigative skills, his firefighting, dispatching and computer skills. He studied firefighting products, communication equipment, apparatus design and safety gear to feed his appetite and fill the void of not being in a jump seat. It was killing him, knowing that he wasn’t a real jake.
Then, in the spring of 1998, Davey lost his dad to cancer. One of the Battalion Chiefs was retiring, which meant that there would be a firefighter position opening up.
Davey went to Chief Forrester, with hat in hand and told him that he would do whatever he had to do to get his shot. Take another physical, sign a waiver, walk barefoot on hot coals-ANYTHING!
Chief told him, “If you can get the doctor that red-flagged your medical file to release you with a clean bill of health, then I will give you your shot”.
Davey wasn’t sure where his doctor was or even if he was still alive, but he started calling and started searching the Internet.
That was 6 years ago and Davey Boy has never looked back. He has been a Battalion Chief for little more than a year and a damned good one. Guys want in his company and nobody wants out! They know that Battalion Chief David (Davey Boy) Tucker is going to keep them safe.
“Command to 53; BC Tucker is on-scene. What is your ETA?”
Jake shot back, “Less than a minute!”
“Victor-Edward-Sam (VES) when you get here”, said Davey Boy.
Oh yeah Jake thought to himself.
Oh s*** Vinnie thought to HIMSELF…
The Adventures of Jake and Vinnie© is a fictional literary work. It is protected by federal copyright. The article is published under The Adventures of Jake and Vinnie© umbrella and is the intellectual property of Art Goodrich a.k.a. ChiefReason. It cannot be re-printed in any form.