The Polish Squad

Squad 4 was a blue collar fire combat unit. They smelled like smoke. Their helmets were scorched and scarred from battles with the fire dragon. When Squad 4 arrived at a fire you could be sure the situation would take a positive direction. Over the years many different Firefighters would run at this prestigious fire company. It was a badge of honor to be a Squad 4 man.

In the mid to late 1960s the roster became filled with Polish names. At that time it was a positive thing because the Squad was servicing the west side of Detroit which had a sizeable population of Polish immigrants. The Squad was still going to medical emergencies because the city had not yet established an emergency medical service. Many times the ability to speak Polish came in handy as the Firefighters of Squad 4 assisted citizens who could not understand English.

The day came when the Polish speaking boss of Squad 4 was replaced by a tough officer they addressed as Captain Roy. He only spoke English. His fun loving Firefighters gave him a proper initiation by only speaking Polish to each other when he was around. They would laugh and snicker when talking just to work on their new boss.

One day they got a medical run to a house where a man was having a seizure. On arrival the victim was flailing about on the floor. He was ranting and swearing in Polish. The new boss of Squad 4 turned to one of his men and said, "Ernie, tell him to get up."

The young Firefighter moved close to the man, bent close to his ear, and in perfect English said, "Get up."

Captain Roy was astounded. He looked at Ernie in disbelief and grumbled, "Damn it Ernie I could've done that myself."

Long after he retired the boss of Squad 4 liked to tell stories about his adventures with the Polish Squad. That tale was one of his favorites.

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