Thursday, December 30, 2010

My First Time at the Wheel

The year was about 1973 and I was working at #7 station in Riverside. Dick Cruickshank, the ladder driver, wanted to qualify as a driver on the engine in the station so Mickey Gleason, our captain, told Alex Lyder, the engine driver, to sit in the Captain’s seat and take Dick “around the block”. Needless to say it was much easier to get qualified as a driver back in those days. I remember it being close to Christmas and a lovely blanket of snow lay on the ground. Everything resembled a Currier and Ives painting. We had another vehicle in the station that was a small service ladder and it basically carried ladders but it wasn’t an aerial truck by any means. The thing that makes this all interesting is that I didn’t drive it; as a matter of fact I didn’t drive anything in the department at the time; Dick was driving the ladder but he was out driving something else at the moment.

Two of the remaining crew had jumped on the back of rig and out they went not expecting what was going to occur within the next hour. This was going to turn out to be a lot longer than a ride “around the block”. They had no sooner left the building when the alarm came in and dispatch declared, “2500 (I’m not sure of the number) Forest Glade Drive. We have received several calls.” Mick made a brilliant declaration at that time and stated, “I don’t think those guys are coming back to the station”. This was about 5 minutes after the alarm came in! He looked at me and asked, “Can you drive this thing?” (meaning the ladder) I shrugged my shoulders and answered, “I suppose so”. Hey, I was never one without an answer even though sometimes they might have not been well thought out at times. He opened the driver’s door and said, “GO”…. So I did; without him. I was about three blocks away when I realized the importance of his words about the crew not coming back to the station. I made an executive decision to return and pick up Mick. Mind you I had never driven an emergency vehicle ever. This was my maiden voyage and how exciting. I was approaching an intersection when I discovered that the horn also doubled as a siren. That was pretty neat until the spring holding all the pieces together in the center of the steering wheel let loose and came at my head like a Howitzer shell. Making the turn through the intersection was difficult as I was close to blacking out due what I thought was a concussion at the time. How I continued to drive and hold all these parts is still a mystery to me.

When I pulled up on the tarmac I could see that Mick was not taking it well at all. He was just standing there in the middle of the apparatus floor staring at the floor. It must have been a very strange feeling knowing you were the only one in the station while everyone else was at a working fire. I think he was suffering from loneliness

I’ve always believed that a good offensive is better than a medium defensive when it came to problem solving. When Mick came out of the station glaring at me and opened the door I threw all the siren parts at him. “See what you can do with these, Mick”, I yelled. It worked like a charm as Mick was mesmerized as to where all these parts came from! I know it’s hard to believe but it gets stranger from here on.

A considerable amount of time had now passed and we still had to go a few miles to get to our destination. Mick and I looked at each other and thought the same question: what was the address in Forest Glade? Now, to make matters worse, there are two entrances to Forest Glade; one off of Tecumseh Road and the other from Lauzon Road. We chose the wrong entrance. It was just bad luck that we picked the wrong way because if we had entered from Tecumseh road it would have taken us a few seconds as the house was closer to the corner. As we drove to the house Mick thought he had a great idea. He boldly said, “Why don’t we slow down and sneak in?” to which I quickly replied, “Well, seeing as were driving a 30 foot fire engine red vehicle in broad daylight it might be hard to “sneak’ up on anyone in the area even if it was at night”.

I actually didn’t realize how long it had taken us until I noticed that one of our crew, Russ Desjardins, from the back of the engine was changing the tank on his breathing apparatus. It sure didn’t feel like 20 minutes had gone by. I think what surprised the crew the most was that I never got a call from the Front Office. I’m lucky that way.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Digital Christmas

This is really good... A Digital Christmas...sit back and enjoy

If a commercial shows up on the bottom of the video ..just click on the X on the top right of the ad.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

You think going into burning buildings is risky....take a look at these guys... !

Let the cartoon end then sit back and squirm : )

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Jack Turns 65!

While he is away from his computer, walking Missy, I thought I would create a little post to notify everyone he is officially a senior citizen December 12th . I had a great 'little boy' picture of him to upload but you know how fragile those old black and white photos are so I didn't want to take a chance :-) Please join me in wishing him a Happy Birthday!
Happy Birthday Honey.... Love Jeannie...

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Here's George at #6 station. He was invited for dinner. Lot's of free dinners going around....maybe I'll drive back to Windsor and hang around Headquarters; someone might invite me in : )

On another note; I remember most of these guys when they were younger... time is a horrible thing isn't it? Then again, not everyone can retain their youthful good looks such as myself! It's a curse at times I know.

Hey, they finally got rid of Bill Hopkins! Here are the pictures to prove it....Hoppy's last dinner. On a serious note...I think Bill will enjoy retirement more than working. I don't think we have a witness that he ever worked....Happy retirement, Bill.... you left a legacy to be proud of..Nice Job! BTW, Sam Hyslop in the front row.

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