How Far We’ve Come

Look ma', no gear!

Look ma', no gear!

I love this picture. Not because it is an easy target for us safety minded guys who like using these kinds of pictures for training purposes. No, I love it because this was just how it used to be. It still doesn’t make it right, but, in small towns all over America and the world, volunteer fire companies did with what they had.

Most of these guys probably left their jobs in the middle of the day, and their employers were okay with that, to fight a fire that threatened a neighbor in their small, tight-knit community.  Their gear was likely still at the firehouse so they met the trucks at the scene that were driven by the older volunteers that didn’t actively fight fire anymore.  Granted, the fires of yesterday are not the same as they are today in terms of release rate of heat and flame, but they were still working fires.

This is a picture from my hometown department that is  now a progressive combination department and I am trying to find out about the characters in this photo.  I just wanted to post it to show an example of how far we have come in the fire service.  I don’t condone or encourage not wearing gear, you must wear your PPE.  The purpose of this is not  to glamorize the actions portrayed in the photo, just the progress that we have made and to honor those that had to do with what they had at the time.

I encourage you all to visit your local volunteer departments if they are still around.  Find the old guys and ask for the stories and accounts of fires from yesteryear.  Once gems of the fire service are gone, so are the memories and stories that were untold or never asked about.  We are lucky now, we have great technology and training, but we have much to improve on.  Some day we will be the old guys and we will need to pass on our stories too, hopefully someone will ask.  Stay safe and be careful.

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