Thursday, November 26, 2009

Vintage Schmotographs

I was going through some old files the other day and came accross some pictures. These are shots that I took when I was new to the fire service, back in 1980.

This is the very first fire engine that I ever rode on. It was a '78 or '79 Howe built on a Grumman chassis. It had a 8V92 T engine and went like a bat out of hell. I showed up one Tuesday evening, signed a form and received a helmet, and a surplus canvas turnout coat. The following few days were spent procuring a pair of wild-land boots, a pair of welding gloves, some military surplus goggles, a uniform and a scanner. Four days later, I was a volunteer firefighter, riding on this bad-ass beauty.

The shed behind the squad was our station, the carport our apparatus floor. The two guys in the picture were senior members and were often in charge of the unit. The dark haired guy squeezing the chamois was on the unit when it experienced a burn-over that killed a civilian and injured some firefighters on another engine.

We had some motivated, sharp kids in this company. One is a school district administrator, one is an RN, one was a med student, several went into law enforcement and several others went to work for the Very Big City Fire Dept. This company produced several members of the Kinda Big Fire Protection District, including myself.

By far the most fun I have ever had in my career. I learned so much about so many things.

I don't remember when, I don't remember where. That is my engine in the picture and the image was taken by me. I am guessing the summer or fall of 1981. The two firefighters with the pale yellow gear on were volunteers. We volunteers were issued those pale cotton jumpsuits for wild-land fires. We hated them. They never fit right, always tore out in the crotch and just plain sucked. We usually tried find a way to scam the USFS or the CDF out of nomex brush gear or bought our own.

This image was taken in 1984. It shows a crew from a neighboring fire district going defensive on a camper shell factory. The fire started in an outbuilding and spread to several other buildings. Note the lack of SCBA. Today, I think most of us would get in trouble for not having them on, even in defensive mode. I was driving by and stopped to take pictures. Some habits are hard to break.

All of the above pictures were taken with a Pentax K1000 manual SLR 35 mm camera and a cheap JC Penney lens. I stopped taking pictures because of the cost of developing the photos. Even getting proof sheets and then picking which images to get printed was getting out of hand.  Ya gotta love digital photography.

Thanks for suffering through my nostalgic episode,



  1. That old engine is a beauty, and the squad reminds me of the one from "emergency".

    I'm proud of the trucks I get to work on and I'd love to show them off. Unfortunately, no 2 departments in my area have remotely similar trucks. I'd surely give too good of an idea where I work if I did.

  2. Those are wonderful photos! It's fun to look back on the way it was and brings back memories. I did laugh at myself when I noticed when looking at the first shot of the fire truck and noticed the back end of a Chrysler product, either a Dodge or Plymouth, and wondered to myself what had become of it. Those smaller Darts and Scamps are collected now, especially the 2 doors with the V8.