Tales of the 7th Battalion 4


Being a Firefighter is more than just fighting fires. Because you live in the fire house during your 24 hour duty shifts, you become a part of the neighborhood. You get to know the people who live near you. When an emergency occurs, like a car that cannot be started or a snake crawls into a kitchen, people will run to the fire hall for help. At Engine 27 we were constantly helping a lady down the street whose 500 lb. husband kept falling out of bed. In the summer we used to block off the side street next to our building and open the hydrant for the kids to play in the water.From helping children put a kite together to bandaging a scrapped knee the Fire fighters were always there to help. On long summer nights we would sit on the bench in front of the fire house and talk with our neighbors. Each engine company in the 7th Battalion seemed to have its own unique set of personalities who just seemed to hang around all the time.

Engine 33 had Howard. He was a funny kid. He had a round head with brown hair parted in the middle. He wore glasses and was always giggling. He was not a pest but often became the object of fun for the Firefighters. We never knew what his home life was like but he adopted the Firefighters as his second family. He would run errands and help with chores around the fire house. He knew where the other fire companies were located in the Battalion. On the rare occasions that Howard became bothersome the guys would put a couple of bricks in a sealed box and tell Howard to deliver it to Engine 37. They would tell him the box contained items critical to fire operations. Howard would hike the mile and a half to Engine 37 and give the package to the Captain. Having been forewarned the Captain would tell Howard that the delivery should go to Engine 27 which is at the far end of the Battalion. Off Howard would go carrying his box of bricks. At Engine 27 the guys would reroute Howard to Engine 29 on West Jefferson. The guys there would send Howard back to Engine 33 telling him that all the material was not in the box. An unperturbed Howard would return to his starting point without complaint. The guys would laugh and treat Howard to ice cream and tell him that he could make the delivery next week when the rest of the material arrived.

Howard was special. When his family moved to Tennessee the guys threw him a retirement party at Mary’s bar. Speeches were given and toasts were made. The Firefighters chipped in and gave Howard several gifts. It was like losing one of our own.  It was one of the best parties ever thrown in the 7th Battalion.

We all missed Howard when he was gone.

Any of you old 7th Battalion guys out there with a story please contact me at .

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