I could have mentioned a few dozen times in this area that I have spent 15 years in the fire and rescue service of a volunteer department that has made over 14,000 calls a year. My name is in thousands of these reports. I was burned, shot and threatened by a very large knife. I had two plane crashes, countless car accidents, gave birth to two babies and had CPR hundreds of times. In the end, I saved more lives than I lost, and I never got paid a cent. That is a point of pride for me.
Each industry has its own vocabulary – rhetorical abbreviations that pass on information that others may not understand, but that mean very specific things to insiders. I thought I’d take you to the fire station to have a look at our strange dictionary. (Warning: Some of the following statements are … insensitive. If you have never been an emergency worker, it may be difficult to understand, but trust me when I say that it is possible to be compassionate and insensitive at the same time. Sometimes humor is the only good part of a really shitty day.)
Now in no particular order. . .
FNG: The full pronunciation of effing new guy, also known as a rookie. Also known as red hat, because in my jurisdiction FNGs wore red helmets on the bottom of the fire. I wanted them to wear cowbells, but they refused. We called her too Wheel chocks, although real wheel chocks always knew what to do and they never did stupid things.
Blue torches: There is no blue torch, but the FNGs didn’t know that. It was always fun to send them to the most distant fire station to bring back a box of blue torches. When they arrived at the destination station, these people would of course only have handed them over to another station, of course, miles away. This fun could last for hours. It was like a cat chasing a laser pointer. S.Moke Shifter (either left-handed or right-handed) could be used instead of blue torches.
Box o ‘rocks: The intellectual assessment of someone who, for example, did not understand the game of the blue torches after two or three stops.
Ticks: The name paid firefighters used for volunteers, supposedly because we were annoying and always hanging around. The fact that the volunteers built the fire station and bought all the vehicles and furniture in which they were sitting was often not recognized.
squirrel: This had at least two meanings. One was another derogatory term for volunteers, another was about enthusiasm. To “Squirrel made a call”Either meant to drive to the scene in yours POV (privately owned vehicle) or respond with a replacement lighter from the fire station.
Paid maids: In the early days, this was the tenure of the volunteer staff. Her daily chores included cleaning the kitchen and bathroom. (No, the two sides of the house didn’t always get along.)
Big eye: Have you ever experienced a challenge that was so big and unusual that you were somehow steam locked and didn’t know what to do first? That is the big eye. When the world is on fire or people cry out for help, it’s a bad thing. FNGs get the big eye a lot.
Fire ground: The general term for the location of an emergency with fire and rescue equipment. In my jurisdiction the senior OIC (officer in charge) the Due first (see below) dare (see below) was overall responsible for the fire ground while the senior Consultant (see below) on the ambulance was responsible for patient care.
OIC: Translated into the responsible officer, but is not necessarily tied to the rank. In my jurisdiction, the OIC of a device was the person in the Shotgun seat (right front seat). For example, if a captain was driving, but a sergeant on the seatThe sergeant would be responsible for the reason for the fire. It was a great way to train aspiring officers.
Fireground Commander: In the event of major incidents, the command is passed to a Head of department. The chiefs were the chief officers of their respective fire departments, but rarely commanded individual devices. Chiefs had their own Buggies but rarely wrestled command from the first due OIC. However, it was common for the OIC to offer command to the boss, who then decided whether to accept it or not. To be relieved without the first victim would be a slap in the face.
Bugles: Firefighter rank badge. Lieutenant wear a bugle on their collar points. Captains carry two. . . Department heads carry five.
dare: That has changed in many countries, but where I ran there were two in each fire station pump (what you think of when you think of “fire engine”). The first person to come out the door on a call was the car, and the second was the one Engine. Together, both the car and the engine were referred to as Engine manufacturer. So carriage 14 or engine 14 were separate vehicles. Engine Company 14 consisted of two vehicles, and when they were out, it was time for the fire to be terrified.
Consultant: The OIC of the ambulance.
Due first: The area in which a department or a Special vehicle (Ladder wagons, dangerous goods wagons, etc.) is shipped first. The closest one is second due, and so on. In my jurisdiction, shipping for a commercial alarm would sound something like this: “Box 1404 for the structural fire. Engine manufacturers 14, 13 and 2, trucks 14 and 13, squad 2, ambulance 14. “The first number of the Box number (in this case 14) indicates who is due first. The second part is a rough idea of how far the call is from the station. (Fire station 14 is in the middle of box 1400. The same applies to any other fire station.)
Smells and bells: I cannot imagine how many programs started with “smell of smoke” or “fire alarm”. They received these calls full boat (full alarm assignment – see below), got a group of people out of bed and left a complex report to fill out to the distressed first due officer of the motor company.
Work fire (or a worker): A real fire with real flames. The opposite of smells and bells.
Second alarm (or third …): Different types of structures have different Alarm assignments. In my jurisdiction, a single family fire had an alarm order from two engine manufacturers, a truck (Ladder car), a heavy squad (Think of a rolling toolbox with lots of cool toys) and an ambulance. At the top of the pile, the hospital had an alarm call from four motor companies, two trucks, two squads, and (I think) three ambulances. At the fire ground commander sounds a second alarm In the event of a fire, he orders a copy of the first alarm. Remember this when you hear of a four alarm fire.
Special alarm: Assume that the Fireground Commander only wants an engine company or another truck. That would be a special alarm, not to be confused with one additional alarm (see above).
Scratch: I think this is unique to volunteer departments. A device scratches when it doesn’t work Highlight the answer within three minutes of dispatch. If a house scratches, the next due device will be shipped in its place. There is no major humiliation.
Second (or third or fourth) call: These happen quite often during weather events when everyone is let their wheels run. Let’s say Wagon and Ambulance 14 are already making a call when the station arrives beat again for an incident. Shipping knows that the engine 14 and ambulance 14-2 are in the station, but they cannot know if they are busy. The shipping would sound like this: “Box 1425 for the car accident. Engine Company 14 (your second call), Ambulance 14 (your second call), Engine Company 2, Ambulance 2. ”Whoever came out first received the call.
Cut numbers: Occasionally someone entered the ward with an injury or illness, or we were walking towards something in service (see below). In this case, since the dispatcher has no idea that this is an incident, we would turn on the radio and ask him to “cut numbers” in the event of a new incident and give him the address. This would make the incident official and take the appropriate vehicle Out of service.
In operation / out of service. For many people, this is not intuitive. A device is in operation when it is available for a call. If a call is made (not available for another call), it is out of service. It was common for the dispatcher to ask us if we could help an ambulance with a medical call if we could “go on duty for a call”. If we were, there would be none second calls would be necessary.
Offer a call: Say that ambulance 14 is fair clear the hospital (which is due in station 13 for the first time) after dropping off a patient when a call comes in to box 1313, for example because of a car accident. If Ambulance 14’s OIC believes it is closer, it can Offer the call. It would sound something like this: “Ambulance 14, shipping. We are closer. Start up Ambulance 13. “It’s kind of a humiliation for station 13. In the old days there were rare bidding wars where no vehicle agreed to go into service, so there would be a race to the scene. Whoever got there first got the call.
Typed (or tapped): Shipping. “We were tapped last night for a wreck on Walker Road.” “You tapped us for a worker at the Bates Motel.”
Make a good stop: If a crew extinguishes a fire quickly and with minimal damage, it has stopped the fire well.
Cellar savers: Exactly the opposite of a good stop. If the roof lands in the basement (ie the structure is a total loss), the fire commander is credited with saving the basement. This is. . . Bad.
Snot slinger: A big fire. Aka, the great.
Teeth, hair and eyeball: The type of incident where the main equipment is body bags and tweezers.
DRT: Exactly dead there. (A bit about DOA.)
Federal Q.: This wonderful siren on the front bumper then sounds like an air raid siren on speed. Melting the Q. should really turn it up. Combined with that Air horn In rush hour, the Q melted lanes from the stopped traffic where cars couldn’t go anywhere. I had a driver for years who would melt the Q at oh dark earlyand called out his mantra from the window: “If I have to get up, you have to get up!”
I’m sure there are many that I’ve forgotten, but that’s a good place to start. So what about you, TKZers? They come from interesting backgrounds. Give us an insight into your secret dictionary.
One last thing. If you are a teacher or work in a book club and would like me to zoom in with you, email me at [email protected]
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