I’m not saying there’s a pyrophile in your station house, but some of the firefighters I know pack matches in their turn-out gear. I’m not saying there’s any sickos in the mix; no rain-coated strangers out by the woodpile, clutching their jollies while the abandoned orphanage they’d just poured gasoline on starts to crackle and pop. No Sir, I’m not saying that at all! So get your twisted nose out of my imagination and know that of the first responders I come into contact with, ALL are heroes in waiting. Hell, even the women got bigger grapes than me! I’m just saying there’s an unspoken affinity for incineration among Your City’s Bravest. Why else would they constantly think up news ways to burn old shit down? Yeah, yeah - I know: TRAINING. Whether they’re sticking firecrackers in a mannequin’s mouth, lighting hay bales inside some old barn or weirding out high schoolers with their DUI theater, you’ll not find a gang of grown-ups more apt to torch a crackhouse than those cats with nicknames for their favorite axes.
Thus, it was only by employer mandate that I attended Friday’s Fire Expo at the Lawrence Joel Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum, a trade show of sorts for folks with red lights permanently mounted on their dash. I counted a couple dozen showroom-ready fire engines when I arrived - which incidentally was just after 5 AM! Hey, how did I know I’d end up outside during the coldest dawn in four years when I agreed to work an upcoming morning shift? I didn’t, but as (my lack of) luck would have it, I ended the work-week all a shiver, cursing the distant rising sun as guys with last names stenciled on their helmets threw the switch on an LP tank and created a roiling tower of fire and smoke just so they could have fun putting it out. Did I mention it was less than 11 degrees?
That’s what the thermometer read, though I’m assured by the meteorologists sipping coffee back on the set that it felt much colder. Thanks, fellas! If I could feel my fingers, I’d use one of them to express my appreciation. Instead, I’ll just huddle here in the sub-zero freeze and try to remember just how much I hate the heat. Luckily, I’m not the only camera-schlub out here fighting frostbite. Two of the other stations sent crews too and together we’ve all rued the day we didn’t pursue fields like library science, golf course management or video game design. That way we wouldn’t be out here in the elements, extremities tingling and twenty something show stackers counting backward in our red, raw ears. For God’s sake, just look at me and George Harrison here… If Batman had a cold, camera-handling nemesis named, I dunno, Lenslinger, we’d be his bumbling and clumsy video henchmen. This has been fun and all, Chief, but the next time you want to scare the homeless with your little LP gas-blaster, can we do it a little later in the day?