Did you miss As the Kitchen Turns Part 1? Check it out here!
Every firehouse kitchen has a minimum of 4 types of firefighters.
Senior firefighters have forever been a fixture in the firehouse. There is always that “old guy” or the firefighter that everybody listens to when they speak. The guy the officers rely on during the hardest emergency calls or the mitigation of situations around the firehouse before they make it to the officer or admin levels.
The firefighters that have spent more time fighting fire and running the dreaded EMS calls have the ability to educate their brothers/sisters at the “house.” These folks usually hold the title of senior man or are unofficially known as such. These guys have the best stories too. The stories of fiery battles that could be in books, the hilarious stories of blunders and screw ups, and even the tall tales.
A story from a friend of ours at Station Pride, who is a “seasoned” firefighter shared with me;
” One story for you that’s still told on a regular basis at our house. I’m deathly afraid of snakes and the guys know it. They used to keep a rubber snake around the house to prank me with. They’ve put it in my guitar case, taped it to the back of my lap top so when I shut it, the thing jumps at me, They’ve laid it around corners, and much more . They don’t have it anymore, that I know of, because they pretty much made me pass out once, so they’ve calmed down on pranking me.
One shift a few years back was a pretty busy shift, busy enough we forgot some things at the grocery store for supper. One of the other guys does a lot of the cooking and it was getting close to time to start cooking. Their truck caught a run so myself, the Captain, and 2 others were in the kitchen trying to figure out what all was bought for supper. Well, just before the alert for the run came in, they were looking for a place in the kitchen to hide the rubber snake. When the alert came in, the guy with the snake ran into our walk-in pantry and threw it up on one of the shelves. While they were gone and we were getting ready to prepare supper, I asked the Captain where the potatoes were. He said that he believes they forgot them but that we had a half a box of instant masked potatoes in the pantry and we can just use those instead. So I went into the pantry to get the box of instant mash and guess where that snake was??? On top of that box! Another surprise was that the box of instant mash was actually never closed well when it was used the first time. Well, I reached up, grabbed the box, pulled it off the shelf, and here comes that snake. Yes, I jumped, yes I screamed, and yes when it was all over with, it looked like a blizzard just moved through our pantry because it snowed instant mash all over everything. Once the dust cleared, there was the Captain, almost in tears, even though he wasn’t in on the prank, nor did he know the snake was even up there, but it was on the floor, just outside the pantry door, and he knew exactly what happened. When the guys returned from their run, the story was told to them and it was marked down in the books as one of the funniest accidental unexpected pranks……in the kitchen at least.”
The kitchen allows the guys and gals to determine who they are working with. Who is in what mood, what is or isn’t the rookie doing, and learning about each other around the kitchen table. Can “the kid” cook or barely boil water? Does the Captain need more coffee or does the Lieutenant have a training idea? The family unit, like a group of men and women in a fire house, is molded around the kitchen and the kitchen table. Take pride in your firehouse, take pride in your family.
Firehouse kitchens are famous for hosting solutions to the world’s problems. A steaming Bunn coffee maker and with coffee cups in hand, Firefighters around the country discuss the difficult news of the day along with ways to resolve the issues. Sometimes the issues are department related, while other times, it’s U.S. and worldwide issues. One thing is common though, we always have a solution. Most of these topics never have a clear and obvious solution, but firefighters know how to make decisions. We are calculated and decisive. We are masters of organizing chaos and we are proficient at resolving dire situations.
It’s in the coffee. We stumble into the fire station, grab a cup joe and find a place to sit or stand. Activity picks up as the off-going shift is rolling out and the incoming-shift is getting their mind together. We sip on a cup and off we go, deep into conversation of the do’s, the don’t’s, the why’s, and the what-if’s of the happenings during our time apart between last shift and today. Who’s kids didn’t sleep the night before? Who’s truck broke down the first day off? Who’s wife burnt supper earlier in the week. Maybe make a verbal jab at the rookie for not introducing the girl he was with at the bar the other night?
It literally happens around the world, firemen come together under a roof and as trained problem solvers we offer tips, opinions and jokes. Around the kitchen table, topic after topic is brought up throughout the shift and handled or solved one way or another. There is always a solution. Its part of being family and gaining trust with your brothers. That table talk is the closest we get with our brothers. Jokes roll, jabs are made, officers cringe at things they immediately try to forget, and a bond is built. After tough calls the coffee is there, the table is willing to catch the tears and the exhaustion from grown men who have been beaten by the last run. If the kitchen walls could talk, they could write more than a book of stories. Shift after shift, month after month, year after year, firehouse kitchens around the globe are the center point of solving the problems of the world and all amongst a bunch of firefighters.