Firehouse vs. Fire Station

Ladder 7I’m safely home from Detroit and pulling my 2nd tour out of a 72 hrs straight.

My regular shift has me working Friday, Sunday and Tuesday but I’m working today (Saturday) to pay a Brother back for some time we recently traded. Friday, Saturday, Sunday sucks but I owe him.

I’m working out of Station #7 on B-shift. The House is located in our “South” Battalion” and holds a Ladder Company and  Ambulance (Medic Unit).

run board at station 7The Brother I traded with is not an Officer so I’m actually riding backwards on the Ladder. To be more precise, I have the “Irons” position. (Click on any photo thumbnail to enlarge)

I have to admit, It feels pretty good to ride the “back step” every now and again.

It also feels pretty good to be at this house and with this crew. It’s a good “change of pace” for me.

To begin with, they have a nice rig. It’s a fairly new Ladder and she’s set up pretty good. The worst part about this Ladder is that she runs “both ways”. Yea …. it has hose and a pump. This House used to have an Engine and Ladder until they shut the Engine down and replaced it with the Medic.

Now, the Ladder still has a 1st due but is forced to act as an Engine or Ladder depending on what the run is,where it is and who gets in first.  Confusing I know. A reported fire, structure, vehicle, rubbish etc; in Station 7’s 1st due has the Ladder assigned as an Engine …. running alone or within the full assignment  (on structures, an additional Ladder from across the City would then be added to the card ). That means that today, I could be stretching in or opening up …. you never know!

Ladder 7 crashI’m not a big fan of “quints” or the quint “concept” but if we have to ride one, Ladder 7 is not a bad ride.

She’s a pretty tough rig too.

It’s a 2009 Pierce that sustained some pretty serious damage about a year after she was placed into service.

I don’t remember if she was sent back to Pierce or if the repairs were handled within the City but either way, they did a good job. She’s a solid ride.

So, I have a good riding position on a good rig. I’m also riding with a good crew. The Captain here on B-Shift is newly promoted but strong. The Lt (Chauffeur with “acting” abilities) has been on the job and “in grade” a while and is also solid. The remainder of the crew is young. “Young” as in just out of Recruit School young.

Dorito L7 BThey’re hungry and don’t mind work. Their attitudes are right and I can see their love of the job. To me, that also shows strong leadership.

We’re riding with 4 on the Ladder and 2 on the Medic. I’m in the back with “Dorito” (Drew Garito)… 20 some years old and fresh out of Recruit School.  I think he’s a little nervous to have me in the back with him ….I can’t imagine why … LOL.

We’ve had a fairly busy morning with “monthly checks”, washing out, washing the rig, grocery shopping, station projects and a few runs. It’s a good kind of busy.

-img1-RAW-VIDEO--Fire-on-Marshall-Avenue-in-RoanokeThese kind of days give ya a good feeling of someone’s work ethic. I’ve been trying to “feel out” Dorito so I’ll know what to expect if we do catch some work. I think he’ll do just fine but I’ll keep an eye on him anyway.

I taught some of his Recruit School and Instructed at their burns but the honest answer is that I can’t remember em all. On top of that, he’s already seen plenty of work since being assigned to Company. His Officers say he did very well.

The fire pictured above right (from occurred on November 30, 2013 and was Dorito’s first job. There was plenty of work to go around on that one and the Brothers of B-Shift performed solidly.

View MORE PHOTOS from that fire HERE

OK, now; I have a good position on a good rig with a great crew. We’re also running out of a good house and that’s where the title comes from. Is there a difference in a “firehouse” and a “fire station” and if there is, what makes it? I say yes.

Station Ladder 7I came to work in a FIREHOUSE much like this one.

An older house, full of history, tradition and PRIDE. Hardwood floors, wooden lockers, brass knobs and poles. Plenty of pictures on the wall.

These type houses are small and keep a company together. The kitchen table or tailboard is usually the “gathering” area and the bunk rooms are wide open, dormitory style. In this house, they don’t even have doors on the bathroom stalls.

wooden lockers at #7You can’t help but feel “together” in a house like this because that’s exactly what you are … TOGETHER …there’s nowhere to hide.

Today, it seems as if we’re building more FIRE STATIONS. These stations are big …. HUGE structures that seem more “commercial” in nature. The older houses were built to look like and fit into the neighborhoods. The new “stations” stand out.

I can’t understand why they build them so big and then cut em up. They build these big stations and cut the bedroom into cubicles. Every hallway has multiple doorways to individual study rooms, offices and hiding places. The “gathering” places are for individuals not entire companies. The walls are block and the floors concrete. It doesn’t have the “warm” feeling of a house …. it’s a cold concrete “station”.

I’ll also add that it takes more than a structure to build or make a Company. It takes LEADERSHIP. It takes a strong leader in these modern stations(or an older house for that matter) to keep the members out of their private rooms and engaged in Company activities. The bigger stations just make it easier for the members to stray off by themselves.

Members must have “buy in” with their Company. They have to WANT to be around the other members. They have to WANT to hang out in the kitchen and train on this or that. They have to WANT to be out by the tailboard participating in the conversation. They have to WANT to be out in the bay working out, out back shooting basketball or on the front pool playing corn hole. on FaceBook HERE

Captain Wines and RenickIt’s ironic. One of my first Captains, who is now retired 11 years; owns some rental property across the street from #7. After my 1st day on the job (at #9-C) I was reassigned to #2-A and put on the Ladder. Ronnie Renick was the Captain.

He noticed me out back today admiring a station project the boys were working on and came over to say hello. We had just finished washing the rig and, to this day; I always remember a saying he had when he’d tell us to wash the truck. “A clean truck is a happy truck”. LOL…. I was thinking about that “saying” (and may have even mentioned it to Dorito) and moments later, Ronnie comes walking across the street. Another cool thing is that Ronnie spent a lot of his career right here in this house! It was a good visit!

It’s been a good day to be a TRUCKIE!

So let me know what you think about the Firehouse vs. Fire Station issue. We LOVE to hear your comments and can’t wait to see what your thoughts are. Im hoping for a good, quiet and safe night …. for me and you. I’m back at Ol’ Lucky 13 tomorrow for Super Bowl Sunday and will try to check in.

Until I get back … Stay SAFE and in House!

Captain Wines

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  • C. Patterson

    Hey Capt.

    Everything you’ve wrote hear really put alot of things into perspective for me. I’ve been a volunteer for over 7 years now starting as a junior firefighter but before that growing up in older houses that family members have been apart of in N.J.

    I’ve belonged to departments in Florida and South Dakota, career/volly stations and strictly volly houses, Some new and some really old the oldest being built in the early 1900s in Nutley, N.J. my step dads old second home, now 12 years retired.

    The one thing over the years I always knew in my heart but couldnt quite categorize was the difference. I always refered to both as stations and houses never taking the time to discern the difference and honestly till now was too naive to know there was a difference.

    I always felt more at home, at peace in the older houses and always was saddend when a few houses I belonged to were either torn down or just replaced with just what you said mega stations where everyone has thier own bedrooms showers and bathrooms. The history alot of the time you would agree is lost along with the triditions that accompanied the men that filled them when a new station is built.

    Also reading this made me remember and truly miss the old days sitting around the table in a volley house with the guys after truck checks on the weekends just waiting for a run to come in but always hoping it wouldnt, we’d sit around in the bays, on the apparatus or in the dining room just telling war stories and as a youngster growing up its some of my fondest memories except when the tone would drop or the bell would ring and the guys would sneak me on the rigs.

    F.Y.I., I never left the back of the rig or the chief truck and only once a scene was deemed safe to help repack hose or tools onto the rig and never freelanced a fire scene as a kid. Also I was always wearing bunker gear and helmet for scene saftey, and visibility concerns, I had a great solid bunch of guys who cared for my saftey at all times. And no I was never confused with a certfifed firefighter being I was only 4 ft. tall at the time lol

    Those days are gone unfortunately and with that the old houses with the wooden floors and the old school fire alarm systems and the big open rooms that was either the dinning room or bunk room, because back then only the officer had the only office not the whole company had thier own. Also the pole, such a sad sight to see going away, I see more 2 floor station with just stairs now being built then with at least 1 pole, I feel we are starting to lose some of those traditions in the fire service I just wish thier was a better way to preserve them.

    Say Safe Captain Wines in House and on Scene.

  • I work in a house staffed by eight, that is large and compartmentalized. It’s easy to walk the building and wonder “is anyone else here?” No doors on the stalls? Why, even 40 or more years ago, would someone design a bathroom like that? Can someone explain?