The first firehouse I ever set foot into was the volley company of my uncle. I remember walking past the great pumper there, and trying to see past the coats and helmets along the wall. It was a magical place to me. I can recall that it was dark with the dim glint of a rainy summer night when we walked in and proceeded through the engine bay. I could hear the voices of the firemen in the back of the house, probably the kitchen. Good men dwelt there. They don’t make men like that anymore.
The firehouse sat across from the Old Soldiers Home in Pikesville, Maryland. The whole street smacks of history. My grandmother, as a young lady remembered being the subject of whistling and playful calls as she walked passed by the old Confederate soldiers dwelling there. The firehouse has been replaced by a modern one. My uncle retired, I am in the midst of my career, the Old Soldier’s Home has become the barracks for the Maryland Troopers and the firehouse looks so small now, empty of firemen. Things change. But I can still feel the old firehouses, the men of years gone by.
I am a student of the fire service and will be for the rest of my career. I was once told that when I had 10 years on the job, I could call myself experienced. When I reached my tenth year, I didn’t feel like I knew enough yet. I am driven to know, to understand, to gain knowledge and to add experience. I do this so that I will not falter on the day of reckoning. I do this so that in the end, the men I lead will be able to say I watched over them vigilantly. I do this so that my father and my uncle will have been justified in the pride they feel so strongly for me as I walk in their footsteps. I do this to honor those who have fallen, having laid their lives down in the midst of their duty. RFB and Ride the red rig.
I am a Warrior Poet. Please join me and we’ll walk a bit together, perhaps smoke a stogie or two and share a strong cup of joe. Take a seat on the tailboard. We’ll blend together, share our hearts and minds, and become like brothers. Leatherheads, sewn with sturdy thread, woven into the filigree that marks us as firemen.