I am a firehouse.
I’ve been taken down and reassembled, board for board, nail for nail and put behind Plexiglas in a museum.
It seems strange how many of us are in museums.
Well, me and the doll house, anyway.
Okay, so not so many of us here today are in museums, but I am.
Most Americans think of a big red brick building with huge garage doors housing big red painted fire trucks, water trucks and loads of tools.
Firehouses with lookout towers built high so the guys could spot fires in town and dispatch trucks.
Firemen have a regular house type setting. Kitchens are wonderful these days and some fire houses raise money having firehouse pancake breakfasts.
Each fireman has his own cot.
They live much of their week in the fire house waiting for the call.
There really are fire house poles. I didn’t have one.
I wasn’t even painted.
I didn’t have a spotted dog assigned to me either.
I know I disappoint many people who pass on the other side of my glass.
I am just a shed.
I have antique tools among them are axes. The men could chop at flaming roofs.
It is hard for me to believe it but, back in the day, city folks had, of all things, wooden chimneys.
The fireman would arrive at a fire and shake a rattle to let sleeping folks know there was a fire and whoever woke up would come out and begin an actual bucket brigade.
Fire departments were mostly volunteer.
There have been a few famous fires.
The Chicago fire comes first to mind for most people so to make them feel at home there is a picture and text essay on the Chicago Fire and people can buy books on the subject on the way out.
There are other examples of firehouses all around me, like sets on a stage. I am small enough and simple enough to be represented entirely.
Firemen have been romanticized over time. Did I mention the calendars with the well muscled attractive men each having his own month?
You can buy one of those beefcake calendars that promote a variety of towns on the way out.
I have to tell you though that early firemen were not all that much to look at?
These fellows were your Uncle Ted.
They carried too much weight they came out of houses and apartments in robes and night shirts.
Balding heads and shabby shoes.
But that is okay, they got the job done.
If you walk around the corner there is a brief history of my walls, mention of some of the fires that were put out with my tools.
The part that really drives me crazy is the dumb adults who bring little kids in for a career day. Their parents dress them in rubber boots, too big and yellow slickers, throw a plastic helmet on them and then feed them candy.
What does that kid want to be when he grows up?
Well, today it is a fireman, of course, kids are highly suggestible.
Yesterday, that little boy over there with his ears all sticking out wanted to be Iron Man and if his parents buy him the plastic hat he might play at fireman on and off for the rest of his childhood.
It takes a lot more to be a fireman these days than being able to roll out of bed and hoist a bucket.
It takes more than being able to land properly from a pole slide.
Oh, that pole, it makes a great prop in the calendar pictures.
You can buy one on your way out.
Today, applicants, men and women, have to be able to pass some pretty difficult physical tests.
They have to understand chemistry, read those symbols on buildings containing toxic things.
They have to be as mentally fit as they are physically fit.
That doesn’t guarantee safety.
Yep, if you move along toward the far end of the room there are the Twin Towers aflame with the names of all the firemen and women who died there.
The face of firefighting is constantly changing, there are vehicles, suits, did you know a fireman is expected to double up as a rescue team in the event of a dirty bomb, earth quake, or other crazy event?
They have to know psychology.
They have to have basic paramedic type skills as well.
Anyway, you are welcome to look at my nearly stone-aged tools.
The earliest fire houses were essentially tool sheds.
I feel very honored that I am here altogether, fully articulated with lights shining through my open door.
I do wish those silly adults wouldn’t dress those kids up.
There are some pretty hot calendars, you can buy one on the way out.