Light a candle

So the shortest day cameAnd the year died, And everywhere down the centuries Of the snow-white world Came people singing, dancing, To drive the dark away. They lighted candles in the winter trees; They hung their homes with evergreen; They burned beseeching fires all night long To keep the year alive. And when the New…

Worcester, again

A little over a week ago it began as just another day at work.     Yesterday it ended with thousands of firefighters, a hundred bagpipes, and the obligatory television cameras.       (turn your speakers all the way up) Career or volunteer, big city or small town, FDNY or Oquossoc, ME; when the…

Make it stop!

Sunday night we were in a Christmas mood at work.  We dug the tree out of storage, hung the lights, and took a few embarrassing photos for Facebook.  Then we started to notice the updates.   A Fallon ambulance was struck head-on on the other side of our metropolitan area.  We followed live on FB,…

Reunion II

This is part 2 of a multipart series. If you missed the beginning, you might want to check out part 1.     So it was off to northern NH to retrieve the Howe. The current owner said she’s been well maintained and should be ready for the long trip home, but antique trucks can…

Reunion I

When I was a young recruit, we trained a lot on our reserve engine. Engine 3 was a 1963 International/Howe with a 750 GPM pump and 500 gallons of water. She was a legend in our department.   When delivered in 1964, Engine 3 provided an 88% increase in the department’s pumping capacity. Although only…

12 years

At 18:13 hours on Friday, December 3, 1999, Worcester Fire Alarm struck box 1438 for the Worcester Cold Storage building at 266 Franklin Street. Before the night was over, six firefighters would perish inside the hulking, windowless six-story maze of a building. Two would lose their way while searching for possible occupants; four more would…

Conflagration

Thirty years ago tonight @0235 hours, Lynn Fire Alarm transmitted box 414 for a reported fire at 264-266 Broad Street. The first arriving engine found fire showing from the front of an eight story mill and called for the Working Fire at 0238. By 0245, the district chief had struck the second, third, and fourth…

Nostalgia

I was organizing my iPhoto library, and I came across these. Engine 1 v3.0 was our last ‘rural’ fire engine.  Gas engine, manual transmission, hydrovac brakes, 3″ supply hose and a Squad 51 lightbar.  It was a relic from another era when it was new, but it served valiantly for 21 years before retirement in…

Frankenstein’s Engine

Long standing readers of NfMH will know that I commonly use the designation Engine 68 in my writings. Engine 68 is entirely a creation of my imagination, using experiences and impressions from my days on the engine as well as my interactions with other fire units. The 68 is simply a random number from my…

Situation Ready

Many years ago I watched a volunteer firefighter climb down from the cab of his ladder truck in nothing but shorts, boots, and a helmet. He took a portable radio and went to investigate a box alarm. I was embarrassed — for him, for his agency, for the fire service in general and myself by…