Column: The public is always welcome

An interesting article in a recent Times issue reported on a smoking garbage truck that came to the fire hall.

Probably a wise decision by the driver as he didn’t tie up a street or an intersection and they were able to unload the burning garbage at the back of the fire hall. Convenient for everyone.

The story reminded me of a similar incident back in the old days when we were a totally volunteer force. When someone phoned the emergency number, the sirens on the roof of the fire hall and City Hall were activated and then we dropped whatever we were doing at our jobs and raced to the fire hall.

One morning we were dispatched to a car fire at #10 and Glover.

Three of us arrived and jumped into the pumper and were leaving the hall when we almost ran into a big blue Buick pulling into the apron of the fire hall.

With lights flashing and siren screaming we pulled around him and yelled out the window and shook our fists at the idiot turning around in our parking lot. We got to Glover and #10 and there was no burning vehicle.

Just then the fire radioed that the driver of the car had driven it to the fire hall with smoke coming out from under the dash board.

We radioed back and asked if the car happened to be a big blue Buick.

It was, in fact, the car we had almost driven into.

The driver of the fire truck was the senior captain and he decided we should take the truck for a drive.

We went to Milner, back up to Murrayville, across to Brookswood. It was a good practice to give these trucks some exercise once in a while and by the time we got back, the wrecker had taken the vehicle and the driver away.

We only had to contend with the wise cracks from the rest of the crew.

We often had the public coming to the hall.

Kindergarten tours were popular and the guys enjoyed them. One morning the crew got a call and I had to go downstairs and finish the tour.

I showed the kids why we wore the protective, boots, pants, coats and helmets.

Next we moved to the truck so I could show them how we put on the breathing apparatus. I set my helmet on the floor and raised the cabinet door. When I reached in to grab the air tank, the door came down and hit me on the head.

I knew the 30 kids, their teachers and mothers were there for education but I also knew they didn’t want to learn how to creatively string curse words together, so I bit my lip.

Then one little six-year-old voice quietly observed, “Too bad you took your protective helmet off.”

The snickers broke into laughter and later the men reminded me of their memo requesting replacing the weak hydraulic hinges on the cabinets.

In my career, there were never two days the same at the fire hall.

New challenges walked through the front door every day and that kept the job exciting. I used to stress to the crews that it was not our building, it belonged to the public. We were caretakers and the public was always welcome.

It’s a great place to take your kids on a rainy summer day.

At least, that’s what McGregor says.