attempted-arsonistThis is the time of year when, as it gets cold and icy, residents of this fair city begin to utilize emergency services on a more frequent basis. Old people slip and fall. Methamphetamine cooks move their labs indoors to get out of the elements, then proceed to catch the house on fire during their forays into illegal chemistry. If you are one of the folks that decides to dial 911 for an emergency, I thought I might offer you a primer. The following is a list you may want to consult before you make that call.


  • If you are going to take the time to report a house fire from your cell phone as you’re driving down the road, don’t be be the drive-by caller who then disappears. Show some intestinal fortitude. When we show up at 2 am ready to work only to find out you’ve called in an extravagant Christmas light display as a fire, I want to put a face to it. And then I want to laugh at/choke you, just a little.
  • When you have not had a bowel movement in three days, please don’t wait until 3:15 am until calling 911. I’m sure it was hurting in the middle of the day, and really? There’s not a whole lot the fire department can do for your situation. Know when to go. Like, after the first two days.
  • In the same vein, don’t chance a trip to the toilet if you’re over 600 lbs. and no one else is in the house. Chances are you’ll get stuck, and while we’re happy to serve, I hate to think of you all alone there, wedged between a wall and the stool for hours until discovered by your landlady.
  • Please don’t get all indignant if I’ve been to your house several times for the smell of smoke and ask you if you’ve been cooking again. I’m not insulting your cooking skills, I’m insulting your ignorance. Know the difference.
  • Don’t ask for a light for your smoke after you’ve called us for “shortness of breath” while hooked up to oxygen. The answer will always and forever be no.
  • If you threaten your Old Lady with burning her house down, don’t act all surprised when you’re arrested for the actual act. Consequences, my friend.
  • When we’re arriving at a working house fire, don’t wave your arms in the street like a raving lunatic, shouting and acting as though you’re having a seizure. I got it. I’m going to the house that has flames coming out of it. That’s where I’m going.
  • Don’t use your charcoal-fired grill as a means of heating your home. Bonfires on the living room floor rarely work out, either.
  • If you or a relative calls us because you’re jacked up on meth, or drunk, or both…..don’t get all huffy when I ask if you’re speeding. Save that one for the cops. It’s not like you called just to spend time with me, so let’s just dispense with the niceties. Stop bullshitting everyone in the room – there really aren’t bugs crawling all over your eyeballs, you’re just high.


  • Do keep the battery in your smoke detector. It sounds pretty bad when you tell us, as smoke and flames are rolling out of your house, that you took the battery out because “it kept beeping and shit when I’m watching my COPS”.
  • You do need to know that if I find your kid covered in fleas when we respond to your house, I’ll be calling the Division of Family Services immediately upon my return to the station. This will be after I’ve asked you about the flea bites and your response is “I dunno. Must be the chicken poxes or somethin’ “
  • If you decide to give birth in a liquor store, you do need to understand that this will become a piece of fire station lore and gossip. And you do need to know we’ll be describing it in vivid detail.
  • As well, if we find you tied up in some sort of kinky bondage play gone wrong, we’ll respect your privacy and never murmur a word of the details outside of the firehouse. But that sort of story?  You do know that it becomes currency like gold around the station dining table, right?
  • Do put on clothes, if at all possible. And no, belly-baring tank tops were most likely not designed with you in mind.
  • If you own a vicious, baby-killing pit bull, please do tell us about it before we go into whatever section of your “house” you keep it chained up in. I don’t care how sweet you think the dog is; it hates us and the feeling is mutual.
  • Do carefully consider your weapons of choice when you embark on a mission of revenge. Two baseball bats? Okay, that’s reasonable. Two weedeaters? That’s just funny, and apparently hurts like hell.
  • When we enter your domicile, do give consideration to the fact that I’m not a total idiot. When you say “sorry, I was just fixin’ to clean up” and I see years of cat shit and trash accumulated on the floor, you’re merely insulting my keen sense of observation. Besides, you called us for emergency response. We expect to see you at your worst, so just let it be. But clean the cat box, will ya?
  • When you call 911 and we arrive to find your house engulfed in flames and there is one of the No New Taxes signs planted in your yard (*note – that sales tax was to fund your fire dept.*), know that we do, indeed, appreciate the irony. I hope you do too, you turdblossom.