Some may find this hard to believe but I kept a comprehensive log of every call I went on in the first six months I was in the fire service. That was nearly 30 years ago and I still have it today.
The log book is pretty interesting. It’s bound in a three-ring binder with a denim (yeah… denim) cover. I created forms for documenting each call and monthly call summaries. I hand-typed the originals on a “master” and my brother David ran them off on the ditto machine at school, complete with blue ink and that pungent odor that comes back to mind every time I look at these pages.
For those of you who have never heard of a ditto machine, it pre-dates the infamous Xerox copier but was a significant upgrade to carbon paper. Oh, never mind.
The fact that I kept track of all those calls and how I kept track of the details is even more interesting, to say the least. Not necessarily something to be proud of, but heck, I gave up on that years ago.
The almost minute-by-minute play-by-play in the opening pages is pretty funny (who really cares what time I got sworn in?), as are the acronyms and shortcuts I used to document the calls — along with the fact that I kept daily, weekly, monthly and yes, career-to-date stats. The hand-typed (as in, on a typewriter) “Firefighting Record of E.R. Schmittendorf Jr.” reads a lot like a bad Dragnet episode. I apparently had way too much time on my hands.
Why did I stop after only 6 months? I’m not really sure. It could be that I was attending to my studies as I was still in high school; perhaps I met a girl (see the entry for February 21, 1981. I’ll embelish that incident report later) — or it could have something to do with the fact that I could drink legally when I turned 18 on January 17, 1981.
Either way, don’t you think six months is enough? In case you don’t think so yet, wait til you read this. Do the terms Whacker or Blownut mean anything to you?
The entire book has been scanned but had to be edited to remove customer names and addresses despite the fact that the term HIPAA hadn’t even entered our vocabulary yet. For some of the entries, I had to change the names to protect the guilty. For others, the statute of limitations never expires.
Here it is for all to see. Go ahead, get a good laugh. I do, every time I read it or share it with someone else.
Despite its awkwardness, it does offer real value in that it reminds me of what brought me to this venture and reinspires me to continue in my love for the job.
I get a lot of enjoyment from laughing at myself – and I’m sure you will too. Check back often as I’ll be adding monthly chapters complete with background details of what I recollect about certain calls or other fire department happenings.
I apologize in advance…
Introduction: Log Book-1980-1981-INTRO
The Rest of the Story: Log Book-1980-1981-EDITED
PS – For further insight into my childhood and indoctrination into the fire service, read Fortune Tellers and The Lost Act of Popping In at www.tigerschmittendorf.com.
As of: 11/29/09