After my last depressing blog, I felt like writing about something a little lighter. With the threat of injury or death so near, firefighters have to have ways to lighten the stress. This blog showcases a few of those examples that I have found comical.The Viper
There is an unofficial fire department prank that is done at every station at some point. We call it the viper. It's very simple to do and all you need is clear tape or a rubber band. While no one is in the kitchen you tape or bind the sink sprayer so that it is locked open. Then you sit back and wait for the first guy or gal to turn on the faucet. With its positioning it is perfect for drenching their shirt. Those initial seconds of panic on their faces as they register what is happening and react are priceless. You just have to be careful not to nail a chief or an officer who doesn't have a very good sense of humor. I've seen no less than two sprayers ripped from the sink in anger. I'm not saying it is any less hysterical, but if you're the one who did it you’d better look out. So it costs us twenty bucks out of our pockets to fix, it is well worth the cash.
When I first came onto the fire department I had a lieutenant who occasionally took the brunt of a firehouse prank or two… Or fifty. The other units especially loved to mess with him. When he worked overtime one night before my shift started, the other unit taped an alarm clock to the back of a locker in his bedroom. Then they set that alarm for three o'clock in the morning. I was in the kitchen waiting for roll call as the previous unit guys explained their latest prank. Our station captain was in the kitchen with us when our lieutenant entered the room.
Our lieutenant had his head drooped forward like he was ashamed of something. “Uh, Cap,” he said while rubbing the back of his neck. “I had a problem with your locker last night.”
The Captain’s eyes bulged. “My locker?” he shouted. “What did you do to my locker?”
“Well, uh, I had to break into it last night. I cut your lock. It seems your alarm clock went off at three in the morning and I couldn't sleep.”
“I don't have an alarm clock in my locker.”
“Yeah, well, I didn’t find one. I think someone’s clock fell behind the locker.”
By this point I was dying inside trying to hold in my laughter as were the other guys. The Captain stormed from the room to check the damage with our lieutenant hot on his heels. I don’t think he ever realized that the guys were screwing with him.
As a rookie firefighter the pranks are endless. Storm watch is one of my favorites. It was around dinnertime and it was raining pretty heavily. The weatherman on the evening news reported a heavy storm was coming and you could sense in the air that it was going to be a busy night.
"Hey rookie,” one of the guys yelled. “You got storm watch." The new guy looked at us like he had no idea what we are talking about which, of course, he didn’t because it was total BS. “You don't know what storm watch is?” we asked.
He shook his head.
“I can't believe they didn't teach you about this in the Academy. Don't worry, lieutenant, I'll teach him. Come on, rookie.”
The lieutenant shook his head. “I don’t even want to know.”
This is where we gave the rookie an umbrella, had him grab his coat, and assigned him a radio which was turned to a channel that no one was using. Well, no one but us. Next, we helped him put a ladder against the side of the firehouse and showed him to the roof. You have to be careful with this prank and make sure there isn't any nearby lightning. Once he was situated on the roof in the pouring rain we told him to report the weather conditions every 5 minutes on the “special” radio channel. Then we went back into the warm inside and listened to his prompt five-minute reports.
By the way, don’t tell our chief about this. ;)
The firehouse has a million of these stories. Every once in awhile I’ll talk about them here.