Yesterday was our last of the cycle and I pulled the tour. Not only did I work, I also had to fill in and ride the Battalion. For those of you who follow this or any other of our local blogs, you’ll know that the North side Battalion runs out of the new Station #5.

Yesterday was my first day stepping foot into the new house and; I must admit, I had mixed feelings. My old house (Station #9) was one of the 2 houses closed to open this new station. For some or whatever reason, one half of my crew and I didn’t get the nod to make the move on C-shift and were reassigned to Station #3. As you can imagine, this left somewhat of a “bitter” taste in my mouth and I felt as if I could care less if I ever stepped foot inside. That said, it’s my duty to cover the Battalion in the Chief’s absence so I pretty much had to go. I’ll begin by saying WOW! The station is huge! I got lost several times just trying to find the Battalions Office, the bedroom or a bathroom. I will add that the guys have done a great job of making it feel like a “firehouse” rather than a concrete commercial structure. Their new table turned out BEAUTIFUL! ( I do need to ask where the old Station #9 table went though). I’ll assume the brass pole they have mounted in the TV room came out of either #9 or #5 and that was a nice touch as well. They have hung several pictures from and of both houses which also add to the “flavor” and preserve some history. What I wasn’t impressed with was the wasted space, some poor decisions / planning and the craftsmanship. The bay is huge. 4 pull through bays with more than ample space. The house is supposed to run an Engine, Ladder, Medic and Battalion. One thing I didn’t like is that they now also house a reserve ladder. They park it in the Battalion bay so, the Chief now has to back into his parking spot (and he doesn’t have a driver / spotter). I can’t figure millions of dollars for pull through bays that we can’t use (station #3 is the same with another reserve ladder parked in the Medic bay). Also, due to City code, the entrance / exit (or front pool as we call it) can only be so wide, which basically means too narrow for 4 fire trucks to be pulling in or out of. I also noticed the height of the bay. Nice for getting on top of trucks, buying taller ones in the future etc but these ceilings are WAY high. I asked the guys if they were coming back to put some sort of ceiling tile etc up and the reply was no. I didn’t measure it but is looks as though there is approx. 12-15 foot of space above the trusses. Seems to me that’s a lot of extra space to heat but I’m also not an engineer or HVAC guy (that’s Tyrone’s new gig). Big is nice but it also makes for some long walks. I thought the off going Battalion was kidding when he said I’d have to walk a mile to get to the car from the bedroom…. he wasn’t. And speaking of the bedroom, I kinda wondered who’s idea it was to place an upstairs TV room across the hall from the Captain and Chief’s bed room. I tried to turn in fairly early but there was no way I was going to get to sleep. I’m sure they were unaware but the conversation and sound from the TV room seemed to be amplified straight into the Chief’s bunk. So there I lay, tossing and turning; while the crew talked of everything from fighting the “big one” to breast feeding and the difference in cow manure depending on weather the cattle are on hay or pasture land (yea..firehouse conversations). As far as the craftsmanship … I just felt as if it was poor. VERY POOR. Had the station have been my personal home, I would not have accepted it from the contractor. There were several little issues that I noticed but one of the main ones was the floors (the interior floors,bays and pools). There are cracks EVERYWHERE. I’m not talking small ones either. They have come back and filled the cracks with caulk / putty or whatever but how long will that last? The station is less than 6 months old and every room has a crack in the floor. What will they look like or what condition will they be in 10 yrs from now? The finish also left a lot to be desired. There’s not really an easy way to say it … they looked like crap! The hallway leading to the Captain and Chief’s office looked more like unfinished concrete than the pools did. Now make sure you understand that.. they were clean (the assigned members had the place spotless) but the “finish” … well, it can’t really even be called a finish. OK, I don’t want this to be a “bitch” or negative post so I’ll quit there. I just wanted to say that in several ways, I was impressed with our Department’s newest station while at the same time I was also somewhat disappointed in what a Department such as ours will “settle for”. So, I titled the post “Memories” and yesterday brought back several. As I mentioned, this station is a combination of 2 of my old houses #5 and #9 (station #9 being the most recent). The Engine that now runs out of this house is old Engine #9 or the “War Wagon” as I called her. We caught several runs throughout the tour and I have to admit that I miss the sound of that 60 series Detroit. The ol War Wagon has a distinct sound either opened up or with her jake brake screaming and it felt like old times riding behind her and hearing her “roar”. The station is also located just blocks from our old house .. Station #9 and it felt good to be back riding through the old “hood” again. As I said, we had several runs along with training and a Captain’s meeting so the day passed quickly. Here’s a shot from a run earlier in the day. A small electrical fire / short circuit handled by Engine / Ladder #5 (note Engine #3 on scene as well).

Later, in the night; we were in and then right back out of bed for call after call. Burnt food, a rubbish fire on a back porch ..yadda yadda yadda and with every run, we just had “that” feeling. You know.. too many “almosts” and sure enough, the next run we caught was a job. Our Brothers and Sisters from the South side rolled up on a 2 story vacant with heavy smoke showing from side “Alpha”. A quick stretch, aggressive attack and good truck work resulted in a good job by all hands involved. Here are a few shots.. on scene were Engines 1, 5, 2, Ladders 1, 7, Medics 1, 7, RS1, Battalions 1 and 2.

If you look closely at the top pic, you’ll notice this was a 2 story, balloon construction with the fan s
et at the door and the fire was contained to the floor of origin. Yea.. no extension! Well done boys. I could dig into this topic a little but wont for now. The use of fans, the decision to go or not, vacant vs. occupied has been a big topic for discussion / debate lately but I’ll save it for another post.
Another thing that brought back some old memories was the Captain on the first in Engine. After the fire was “under control”, this Captain came out to change his bottle and give the Battalion a face to face update. At some point in the conversation, I took the time to tell Doug that he had done a “good job”. He put his arm around my shoulder, gave his “signature” laugh and told me it really wasn’t as bad as it had looked. Doug was assigned to me (as 1st Lt. on L13) when he graduated from rookie school! Now he’s a Captain at our Headquarter Station. Actually, all of the 4 privates assigned to #13 at that time are now Officers. Hurd and Connor are Captains while Franklin and Bradford are Lieutenants. Makes ya feel proud but also kind of…well..ummmm.. old. I don’t know. I guess all the training etc we did back then paid off… I hope so anyway. I just hope they remember me as one of their “good” examples of an Officer as opposed to the one they don’t want to be like.
Well, it’s getting late and after a night of no sleep, I could use the rest. Now I know what you’re gonna say .. how hard is it to sit there and type all night?? Well, let me assure you; this “blogging” stuff is harder than it looks. As tough as the Buckaroo is, even he has trouble hanging in..

Poor little fella is just wore out! I’m gonna close shop here and roll over beside him. We’re back to chunking square bales tomorrow so we both need the rest. I’ll try to post again later this week. If not, we’re back to work on Saturday. Until then, stay safe and in the house. Thanks for following.
Captain Wines