There is a lieutenant in my hometown department who has held a number of positions over the years. One of the best (in my opinion) was as a photographer. I won’t reveal his name because he would likely have a fit about it, but many of you who have taken courses in hazardous materials have probably had this guy standing in front of your class.
For years this gentleman took 35mm slides of incidents, apparatus and personnel – some dating back 20 years. The slides were placed in carousels and boxes and locked away in a storage room at the department’s training bureau.
After the first of the year and during a major cleaning and organizing, I was lucky enough to unearth these little treasures. I knew George had taken a lot of photographs but I was pleasantly surprised to find hundreds of photos of retired firefighters, trucks of yesteryear, and fires that existed only in old news clippings and stories passed along from old-timer to rookie.
It has taken me this long just to get to the point that I know just about what and where everything is. In a perfect world I would have all day to sit back with a tall iced tea and a huge lightboard and see what all had been found in the dark crevasses known as “the store room”.
Be that as it may, I am once again living in the past. Finding pictures of our old snorkel and the telesquirt I rode when I first came on board as a rookie on Truck 5 help me appreciate where we have been and conversely where we are going. Seeing faces of firefighters known in my youth help me to appreciate the faces of the youth coming on in the 21st century.
Our training chief enjoys history, albeit not as much as I do – but he too appreciates the background of the fire service. He has indulged me to display historical pieces in the front lobby of our building; an old uniform hat, a leather helmet, a section of wooden water main made from a hollowed out tree… pieces that help remind some of the new guys coming on that while they may bring a great deal of education and enthusiasm to the job, the old stuff still has a tremendous value that cannot be overlooked – or underappreciated.
So, thanks George. I have taken possession of your slides and am still trying to get them converted over to a CD for preservation. At least for me, even a little bit of history is history worth keeping.