Mike simms's Blog (36)

tales from a tailboard fireman

While on a driving trip to Oregon, my wife and I witnessed a truck VS motorcycle accident. We stopped, I got into character and did what we do. I have been retired for 14 years now but it is like riding a bike, you never forget. When we arrived at our destination, we were having dinner with friends. My wife was relating the trip and mentioned the accident. Our friends asked me "what did you do?" And my answer was,"I took command, stopped the bystanders from doing anything stupid, and secured…

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Added by mike simms on July 8, 2012 at 5:25pm — No Comments

tales from a tailboard fireman

Here I am at 68. When I went through the Fire Academy in 1973, we had an old guy (55) waiting to retire who was teaching us knots. He told me," Kid, you're going to wake up and you will be me." He was so right. The time passes very quickly. I just read a book by a retired Chicago cop. I grew up there so it brought back lots of memories. There was one line that really says it all about the fire service: "Those hosers ( FFs?) sit on their butts most of the time, but when they have to do what…

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Added by mike simms on June 13, 2012 at 2:22pm — No Comments

Tales from a tailboard fireman-firehouse funnies and other stuff

I hope the job has not been changed due to the times we live in. When I worked  (1973-98) no matter what runs we got, having fun at the firehouse was S.O.P.

I was taken once. When I was working toward a promotion to captain I applied for a position in our support services division. It would have required me to go on a forty-hour week and commute every day. I really did not want to get it but had to put in to show I was a company guy. I got a call at the fire house and the voice on the…

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Added by mike simms on October 8, 2011 at 8:53pm — No Comments

Tales from a tailboard fireman- honoring our fallen

 

Once again, the country is honoring the First Responders who fell on 9/11. Big ceremonies are happening all over the land with politicians using the date to get photo ops with firefighters and police. Then on 9/12, they will go back and continue the fight to take away benefits negotiated by us, which we worked 25 to 30 years of daily danger for. When we left our families to go to work, our wives and children did not know if they would see us come home. Many of my friends have died…

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Added by mike simms on September 12, 2011 at 5:36pm — 1 Comment

Tales from a tailboard fireman-good fires/good firefights

I read an article about our troops in war zones. It quoted a special forces major as saying, "It has been quiet around here; been a while since a good firefight." To someone not in the business of high adrenalin that sounds strange. How can you have a good firefight?



Among firefighters we look forward to a "good fire." A good fire to me is no causalities, either civilians or firefighters: a house or apartment fire that is put out by the first alarm company and for sure not a wildfire… Continue

Added by mike simms on July 3, 2011 at 7:04pm — No Comments

Tales from a Tailboard Fireman ~ The realities of our job

I took my 3-year-old granddaughter to Station 16 in San Francisco. It is located in an area known as Cow Hollow. A nice station in a residential neighborhood. The guy I met on the apparatus floor was a good fella. He was there on a staffing readjustment so it was not his home station. He let her sit in the cab and when I noticed some strange gear he told me they did water rescue. It was part of their duty to respond to jumpers off the Golden Gate Bridge. It once again brought to mind the stuff… Continue

Added by mike simms on March 31, 2011 at 7:39pm — 4 Comments

tales from a tailboard fireman

Doug S. is retiring in August. He was a captain when I came on the job in 1973. He is pushing 70 now and is captain of engine 1 in downtown San Jose. It is a running company, lots of calls at night and one of the busiest in the city. I don't know how he does it. When I was in my 30s and 40s I could be up all night and have a life the next day. I would get off duty and could work on my home projects. In my late 40s and 50s night calls would ruin me the next day, I would go home and nap , but I… Continue

Added by mike simms on March 16, 2011 at 1:30am — No Comments

Tales from a tailboard fireman~Taking Heat

I went to a retirement dinner for a good guy. He worked at our downtown station for 30 years. It was a multiple unit firehouse and he always made sure he was on the rig getting the most runs. Usually our union does large combined retirement dinners, but due to legal costs over the last year money is no longer available. This dinner was put on by people he worked with over the years. He was involved in some great rescues and when he realized he could not do the job the way he felt it needed to… Continue

Added by mike simms on March 13, 2011 at 9:04pm — No Comments

Tales from a tail-board fireman

We buried a good man today. Twelve rigs and over 200 firefighters, captains and chiefs from all the local departments showed up. Nine pipers and a mixed honor guard from various departments participated. The large church was filled with friends, family, retired firefighters, and police. It was a good service, like so many others I have attended over the past years. His son spoke, the local union president-who is the son of a firefighter I worked with-spoke. A film collage of his life and open… Continue

Added by mike simms on March 5, 2011 at 7:01pm — No Comments

Tales from a tail-board fireman

It is amazing that we have to fight for our rights and pensions we paid for. I am going to yet another funeral for a firefighter.  John was 61 and had battled Cancer for the past number of years. This was guy that competed successfully in the firefighter iron man contests. He was in top shape physically and mentally, yet cancer linked to the job took him. Although we worked for different departments, I got to know him when one of my guys wanted to compete. He was glad to mentor a brother… Continue

Added by mike simms on March 2, 2011 at 6:17pm — No Comments

tales form a tailboard fireman

Had the thought today that I know a lot of dead people. I guess as we get older that is what happens. I ran into a new guy at a local drug store. He had on SJFD sweats so I introduced myself. When I told him I retired in 1998 his eyes got big. Our department has changed since then.  All new people and with the budget issues stations have closed and people have been laid off. When I came on the job in 1973, we had 28 stations with about 700 people. San Jose is a city of over 1,000,000 so we were… Continue

Added by mike simms on February 6, 2011 at 9:57pm — 1 Comment

Tales from a tailboard fireman: clam chowder

Tonight I made clam chowder for the family. It is a firehouse recipe I learned from my first Captain 37 years ago at Station 10 T10. In those days the light unit took all the EMS and the hose wagon took all the small fires. Being a Captain at a big 4 unit house was a good deal.This was before 911 came into use and people only called for an emergency.  Claire Evans was my clam chowder teacher, he was anal about how the potatoes had to be cut all the same size. In those days the cooks always had… Continue

Added by mike simms on January 1, 2011 at 9:17pm — 2 Comments

Tales from a tailboard fireman: death on the job.

Once again the tragic news of firefighters killed. Two more deaths in Chicago, the city where I grew up. The firehouse where I got my firemanship merit badge in 1957 is still in use today. It was old then, a horse barn converted to house gas rigs years before that. I left Chicago years ago, but I still feel an attachment and a great sadness for the loss. I remember the firemen sitting on chairs on both sides of the apparatus door and peeking a look inside when I walked by. Those guys responded… Continue

Added by mike simms on December 23, 2010 at 9:59pm — No Comments

This was my wife Deborah's thoughts on the retirement dinner we attended.Last night we went to a San Jose Firefighters Retirement dinner at a hotel/restaurant in San Jose. Thirty firefighters Mike wo…

This was my wife Deborah's thoughts on the retirement dinner we attended.



Last night we went to a San Jose Firefighters Retirement dinner at a hotel/restaurant in San Jose.

Thirty firefighters Mike worked with were retiring, and the room was filled to…
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Added by mike simms on March 7, 2010 at 10:30pm — No Comments

Tales from a Tailboard fireman-explosions big and small

We just had a news story about a person who found a pipe bomb on the beach and transported it to our local firehouse. Why someone would do that escapes me. I know we are the ultimate fixers, but come on. If you think this is a one-time event, I have a story.



One afternoon Gary and I were sitting in front of the apparatus door watching the world go by. A car pulled up and two guys got out. They carried a package to me and I thought they were…
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Added by mike simms on February 28, 2010 at 11:58am — No Comments

Tales from a Tailboard fireman-boot lickers and other strange events

I was working at Engine 7, located in the oldest working firehouse in San Jose. It was built in the early 1930s as a federal work project. It was a small Spanish-style house with 2 bedrooms, a small galley kitchen, and a living room. The basement had weights and a T.V. but this was before cable. The older firemen working when I came in went back to WWll and did not watch much T.V. They were great card and cribbage players.



Station 7 had walls about…
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Added by mike simms on February 7, 2010 at 5:38pm — No Comments

Tales from a Tailboard fireman-Fading memories 2: sad note and retirement dinner

There are some pictures and memories we retain that are so painful we try to block them but they still are there. This morning over breakfast they crept out again. My steel has been tempered in the hottest of furnaces. I have seen death and told families when we could do no more, but the death of children still brings tears to my eyes and a deep pain to my soul.



A good family friend, a young paramedic had a call that involved the death of a baby. I know this will be with her forever.… Continue

Added by mike simms on February 5, 2010 at 2:16pm — 1 Comment

Tales from a Tailboard fireman-fading memories

Most people now have never seen a Roledex. It was a device used on a desk to store phone numbers and business cards. It spun on an axis. I have one in my head as do most firefighters and cops. We store pictures of scenes we have seen, usually first impressions that stick with you. They are brought back by a related action or incident and you see the scene from 20 or 30 years ago in a color picture in your mind.



I do not know if I am blessed or cursed by my recall. There are times I… Continue

Added by mike simms on January 25, 2010 at 12:17am — 3 Comments

Tales from a Tailboard fireman-working with the boys in blue or sometimes brown

Firefighters interact with law enforcement at calls. Our interactions with our compatriots in blue and brown were good. There were some issues with Highway Patrol about closing freeways but even then very professional people.



DO YOU FEEL LUCKY?



In the movie Dirty Harry, he carried a 44 magnum. He shot a bunch of people with it but until one night I never understood what it really did.



We were called to a local motel on a shooting call. On arrival we… Continue

Added by mike simms on January 23, 2010 at 12:37pm — No Comments

Tales from a Tailboard fireman-making due

Friday is my day to volunteer with the local sheriff's department. I work in the vehicle abatement program. This means I drive a volunteer car and wear a uniform of sorts and get to listen to the command channel on the Motorola radio. To compare it to being in the captain's seat of a fire engine is like comparing looking at the Victoria's Secret catalog to sex. A very poor substitute.



Some local fire departments have volunteers but you must live in the district. Where I live there is… Continue

Added by mike simms on January 16, 2010 at 9:56pm — No Comments

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