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March 04, 1977 - Image 3

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1977-03-04

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%Friday, March 4, 1977

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Page Three.

i

TH IHGA AL Pg he

By BRIAN BLANCHARI

fog

i te:

24 A hour

the

dlarm

to

ring,

shifts with other jobs, nigh

- SPORTS FANS rest easily es, rubbles, Ut U1VadL1U
in cha.irs scattered before the their families. Paul Barne
e sv a t e d TV, trading n e ages to do some of his r
e I V dn e ewtate business between c
thoughts and old jokes. As Stevettebsine seera
Grote dashes from one end of the station and several
the screen to. the other, an in- men have homewoark fron
sirenTht'thehery, Blnenes they take to suppleme
snired "That's the way, Blue." learning that oes on
breaks loose to fill the cluttered station.ttes
garag-.In addition to TV, r
But as the rest of Ann Arbor's pool, and conversation, th
basketball devotees reach for have two hours of clnss
another handful of popcorn, a I a t o hory ofeka y.
high pitched jangling sends the aic every week-day.
cit's ainmay critique the way the,
third platoon of the city's main+dled a recent fire or lea
fire station scurrying for their station for a practice run
fourth run of the day.
Within forty seconds, a cara- Sergeant Jackson say
van of new, lime-green and had a band for a while, 1
twenty-year-old fire-red trucks instruments now go u
roll out onto East Huron Street Talking, kidding - just
and roar off through the slowly the time of day - are lo
falling snow. for most people, but eas
In the back of the small res- passes between the mem
cue squad truck, two of the the platoon.
seventeen p 1 a t o o n members, .
Gerald Skicki and Hollis Smith, UPSTAIRS, Firefighter
scramble to don boots, jackets, rolled up his sleevesa
oxygen tanks, and helmets be: ready to clear the pool
fore the truck pulls up at the Jackson warned that if
s c e n e. Firefighters aren't al- was hot, it would mean
ways sure where they're going, fo2r any opponent. But
and for the first few minutes of wasn't hot, and he could
Iie jarring ride, Skicki and cafe some taunts fromh
Hollis try to figure out their lagus.
destination from the garbled Late i, the evening
voices coming from the speaker Barnes strolled into ther
b-ilt into the front of the truck. tion room with his brief
Tw:elve firefighters hop out of work on some real estat
fcr trucks in front of the Public ness. "Wheeler-dealer,"
Health building and Captain ,lled, jst as Captai
1[nry Mallory takes charge. Af- who owns several apar
ter dividing the group up to find ha been called "slum r
the source of the reported fire, Mike Jackson will mak(
they discover some burning food emergency runs-as opp
in an incinerator. The mius- fire runs-before midnig
t chided senior ofieer decides he knows most of them
that it isn't a problem, and the denrand much of his life
men trudge back to the trucks skill. When the bell ring
ir a more leisurely return times, only the rescue
tri, truick is sent to handle a
The blue-clad public servants from car accidents tol
walked into the old station at 7 out hoe o w n e r s. T
a.m. and they won't leave until trucks stav home. Many
a full day has passed. They fill the four firefighters wi
the forty-eight hours between to the scene of an accide

t class-'
n with
s man-
eal es-
alls at
of the
class-;
ent the
at the
,ading,
he men
in the
TheyE
ey han-
ave the
n.
s theyl
but the
unused.
passing
ast arts
sy talk
bers of
.1
Smith
and got4
table.!
Smith
doom
Smith
dn't es-
his col-
, Paul!
recrea-'
case to
e busi-
he is
Mallory,
tments,
ord-"
e eight
osed to
-ht, but
n won't
-saving
s three
squad
nything
locked-
he fire,
y times
ll rush;
nt only

to find an ambulance hired by'
the University or the county
taking care of the injured.
Jackson says the s t a t i o n
searched for a pattern to the
calls it received over three
years, but to no avail. The fire-
fighters have to be ready at any
time to race to an emergency
of any type, and they have ab-{
solutely no way of foretelling
what the emergency may be.
Firefighter Barnes pilots the
rescue squad, and so must be
alert before the rest of the crew.
Dozens of times each week, he
makes quick decisions at the
sound of the bell. He has to
know which way to turn as he
pulls out of the' garage, and
once he's on his way, he has to
look for short-cuts and listen for
corrections coming over the ra-
dio. "Three years ago I knew
all the streets in town," he
claims, "but the way the city is
growing it's hard to keep track
of each new street."
But if Barnes has any trouble
keeping track of the streets, the
ever-improving technology at the
finger-tips of the dispatcher
ks't likely to draw a blank. The
station is now in the process of
transferring books of maps into
microfilm for e a s y referral.
They're also started to tape
each phone call with its time
and date so they can check back
if someone hangs up too early
or if the department is accused
of responding too slowly.
These improvements are part
of a larger renovation plan
which will shift the Department
to A new building nearby and
provide for the purchase of a
new truck. But for now, the old
Huron St. surroundings serve
the firefighters pretty well.
S THE POOL game ends, the
shrill a I a r m bell sounds
three times, and the men are
suddenly down the worn, metal

poles and gone. The snow is each man a chance to try his
failing more heavily now as hand at a culinary delight -
Barnes maneuvers past slowed sometimes with disastrous re-
oars on the side of the road. sults. Tonight, they have sand-

Skicki and Smith don't have to
struggle with equipment This
time, so they just sit and try to!
roll with the bumps ands
swerves. The ride is a long one
down Packard, and by the time
the squad arrives, a private
ambulance crew has already
taken care of the seizure vic-
tim. But Barnes is proud any-
way-his squad has beaten en-
gines from the other city sta-
tions to the scene.
The ride hack is a slow one
because of basketball traffic,
and Smith and Skicki have time
to sit back and discuss the eve-I
ning meal. The firefighters cookr
two meals for themselves during
their 24-hour stint away from
home; a rotation system gives'

wiches and soup to look forward
to. -
But for all the indigestion,
boredom, and t e n s i o n that
comes with the job, there is
friendship and service as well.
Most of the firefighters have
been at it for years, and one
said that he waited two years
for a job in the Department.
Barnes sat waiting for the
others to get back in the truck
after a heart-attack run had
proved happily unnecessary. The
wife of. the high-blood-pressure
victim said to him with a smile,
"I'd just like to thank you peo-
ple . . . thanks for the beuatiful
service." Barnes grinned back
and told her it all came with
her taxes.

9

N

Photography

by

PIa'uline Lubens

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