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The Midnight Express
October 15, 2013Posted by on
This will be a shorter version of a much more detailed post to come but for now, I have to share some of the story behind this photo.
A good friend and mentor of mine, Jim Guy just posted this photo of me that dates back almost 20 years.
I’ll never forget my first trip to Washington, DC and visiting the “Midnight Express” — home to 16 Engine, 3 Truck and the 6th Battalion Chief. Despite being my first trip, accompanied by Jim, Dave Sherman and Ric Dimpfl, they made me drive on the Beltway around DC — just perfect.
We were traveling as the management team of The Fire Fighter Newspaper, a publication just three years in existence at the time, to the annual National Fire & Emergency Services Congressional Caucus dinner hosted by the Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI.org) at the famous Washington Hilton. As the dinner cost something like $250 a plate, we were honored to be the guests of Volunteer Firemens Insurance Services (VFIS.com). (Why the Washington Hilton is famous is fodder for the longer version of this story!)
Once we settled into the hotel, we decided to go exploring DCFD firehouses via taxi cab. The crew at the first house we visited were nice enough but not exactly engaging with visiting firefighters, so we hailed another cab. Our new cab driver randomly dropped us at a firehouse located near the corner of 13th and L streets.
Stepping out of the cab, our eyes were drawn upward and we were immediately smitten by this three-story 1930s firehouse complete with bell tower, wedged between two modern high-rise office buildings. Lowering our eyes back down to street level, our attention was drawn to a bench centered between two of the bi-fold bay doors, painted fire-engine red and accessorized with a diamond-plate foot rest. Painted on the back of the bench were two words: “Midnight Express.”
We were promptly greeted by the firefighter sitting on the bench, his feet resting comfortably on the firefighter-tailored foot rest. Following brief introductions, we were invited inside.
From their Facebook page: The Midnight Express is first due to “The White House” and much of downtown D.C. to the South and West side of our first due, with a large area of residential high rises and row houses on the Northern and Eastern side of their first due. Their house on 13th St. quarters Battalion Chief 6, Engine Company 16, Tower Ladder 3, Firefighter Ambulance 16, EMS Captain 6, Water Supply Engine 56, Ready Reserve Engine 76 and “Old Face”. They’ve been living together as brothers in the “New Quarters” at 1018 13th St. since 1932.With me in the photo is one of the truckies, aptly named “Iron Mike” Rodgers. I’ll never forget how he grabbed a 10 lb. sledge at the bottom of the handle and touched it to his nose just by flinching his wrist. I told him he could probably do the same thing by holding me up by my ankle. He said, “I bet I can too!” lolI still have that same sweatshirt and hat more than 20 years later, compliments of Elliot Goodman and I think of my time spent with the DCFD and those three friends every time I wear it.
Six hours and one shared meal later, Battalion Chief Don Edwards, who went on to be Chief-of-Department, drove us back to our hotel in his chief’s buggy, dismissing us with the clear directive: “Next year you stay at the firehouse. No more fancy hotel for you guys.”
Good times, good friends and great memories were made as we revisited together every year for 4 years straight. More stories to follow.