Firefighter/Author Will Wyatt
Will Wyatt is a funny guy, but looks aren’t everything…
Seriously folks, I had a great time interviewing Will on my Firefighter Storytellers show with my partner-in-crime and new co-host: Chief Tom Merrill from the Snyder Fire District here in Erie County NY.
The show airs at May 12, 2011 – 9pm EDT on the FirefighterNetcast Radio Network.
Will is a firefighter in The Village Fire Department near Houston TX and is the author of the great read: “And a Paycheck Too!”
Before I share Will’s Run-to-the-Curb story, I’ll share a story he sent me the day after we taped his show:
Had we only waited one day.
I was working in the “less attractive” part of our response area today and we were dispatched to a non emergency assist the citizen call.
We arrived and found three women in the front yard crying. Their eyes are wide with fear. I don’t even have to ask what’s going on because I know exactly what the problem is. I walk into the front yard and they all begin talking at once telling about the snake in the kitchen. I ask the one who speaks English: “How big and what color?” She describes a water moccasin and extends her arms as far as she can reach.
The local animal control arrives and basically laughs and says “I’m not going in there.” He begins getting us numbers for a snake-man. Meanwhile, the owner — who is diabetic — starts shaking and says she needs her diabetic medicine, which is in the bedroom. Armed with an orange box-light and a pike pole, I enter and retrieve the Walmart bag on her bed.
No sign of the serpent.
And now we return to our regularly scheduled program: Here’s Will’s Run-to-the-Curb Story —
I was introduced to the fire service at a young age. I grew up in Gibbstown, New Jersey which is a suburb of Philadelphia. The fire station was one block from us. In those days the volunteer companies had an air raid siren thing on the roof that alerted the fire fighters to a fire. Gibbstown had an air horn type of thing. It was so loud there was literally no escaping it. The air horn system was interfaced with the Gamewell box system and naturally I learned the box numbers at an early age. I knew the difference in a telephone alarm or a pulled box.
My earliest memory of fire trucks was an open cab Mack Gibbstown had. When you say open cab now, younger fire fighters think of jump seats with a roof overhead. No, this thing had no roof. That to me is an open cab.
In 1968, and I believe in 1972, Gibbstown bought new Ward laFrances. They were the biggest fire trucks I had ever seen. Ironically, we took delivery of a new Pierce PUC a year or two ago and it would dwarf the old Ward LaFrances. It is a two story pumper; it has a ladder to get into the hose bed. The dashboard looks like an airplane cockpit. There are TV screens, computer displays and all sorts of stuff. The first fire truck I drove was a Ward La France similar to Gibbstown’s pumpers with a 5 speed manual transmission double clutch and the air horn was operated by some weed eater string hanging down from the ceiling.
One of my fondest memories was when an outfit got a new truck in the Northeast back in those days, there was always a housing. I don’t know if they still do that or not but back in those days housing made for an hour long fire truck parade. I ran and sat on the curb for sure on those Saturdays. There would be fire trucks from all overNew Jerseyand other states too. I of course had a few favorites like the open cab Maxim ladder truck that Almonneson Lake, NJ ran. I have always been a fire truck person. I just like them. I am always looking at pictures on the net.
Also the Fire Fighters in the State of New Jerseyhad a yearly convention in Wildwood. The culmination of which was a ginormous fire truck parade. I got to go to that a couple of times. I don’t know if they still do that or not.
I got into the fire service in 1985. I knew the fire service was what I wanted to do. However, in New Jersey most of the fire departments were volunteer. Philadelphia was closing fire stations and laying off firefighters. I am originally from New Orleans and had family in Texas so that’s where I ended up. I attended the Lamar University Fire Academy to receive my state certification in 1984. I was hired at the Village Fire Dept as a dispatcher in 1985.
I have been at the Village Fire Dept. the majority of my career. I worked a couple of years at the Rosenberg, TX Fire Dept. as a full time training officer before returning to the Village Fire Dept. and fire suppression. During my time at the Village I worked for 14 years on a part time basis at the Jacinto City Fire Dept. While in Jacinto City I worked as fire marshal and Deputy Chief. I now work on a part time basis at the Cloverleaf Fire Dept. and North Channel EMS.
My earliest influence in the fire service was from the Chief of the Gibbstown Fire Dept. Ray Williams. He always took time to talk to me about the equipment and tactics when I was hanging around the station.
My closest call actually ocurred this past Father’s Day. A house fire came in one night while I was working at Cloverleaf. We arrived and the situation was marginal. Flames were coming out of every opening of this house. I could see rafters in part of the roof through the flames but I felt like we could still do some good.
There was a hydrant in the front yard but of course it didn’t work. The next nearest hydrant had been conveniently removed by the water department. At the height of the crisis a car port constructed of steel I-beams dislodged from the house and hit me in the head. I was knocked out briefly and under some metal. I spent the night in the hospital with a mild concussion. I don’t know if that was my darkest moment but it was the most embarrassing. Before that I got lost in a house one night in a fire. I got out but the experience scared the daylights out of me.
I guess you never want to say that you’ve seen it all, because the minute you do, you’ll regret it.
I have not seen it all, but I’ve seen enough.