Congratulations to Richard Turner on his retirement after serving the city for nearly 32 years. Rick was hired on March 17th of 1980. After fire training Rick was placed on the A platoon as a jumper firefighter. Rick would work as a jumper for several years before being assigned to Ladder 1 on December 24th, 1993. Rick would remain with the company more than 16 years as a firefighter then tillerman with the arrival of the tractor-drawn ladder in 1997. On April 5th of 2010 Rick took assignment to Rescue 1 as the driver. Rick officially finishes Friday morning at 800 hours....
As part of something that we've been wanting to do for a while, I've sent Rick a list of questions before he heads out of here. It's unfortunate that the department has suffered the loss of a great deal of firefighting experience in the past 2 years. I hope to try and regain a small piece of that experience with these simple interview questions.
Question #1 - Apparatus/Tools/Equipment
Was there anything Apparatus/Tools/Equipment-wise during your career that you felt had a special need, operated quirky, or you felt was a potential problem?
There have been a lot of changes in 32 years when I first came on the job. The first apparatus I drove was a 1941 open-Cab Mack Pumper with a double clutch manual shift. In order to pump the rig, you had to manually put it in pump gear, and then manually shift from volume to pressure. These days you get into an enclosed cab apparatus and push a button to start the vehicle, push a button to place it in pump gear, and push buttons to open & close valves.
One thing I want to tell my brothers is to know your rig, no matter what type or how old or new it is. Check it when you come on duty & make sure everything is in good working order. There is nothing worse than hitting the street and finding out your tank is half empty, or the jacks on your aerial won’t deploy. It is your responsibility & your butt!
Question #2 - Calls/Incidents/Experiences/Problem Buildings
Tell us about any calls, incidents, or experiences that offer a lesson learned for other firefighters (especially new ones). I'm sure you could think of many things in your career, but just pick out one or two things that come to mind as being most important.
Thinking back over the years, there were a lot of these lessons & experiences. The one I feel most important not only to me, but the entire department was the aftermath of the Y.M.C.A. fire in 1985. The fire caused the death of volunteer firefighter Donald Jacobs, and a civilian whom he was trying to remove from the building. From that point on, the city began to require more strict training for volunteer firefighters. With the expanded training requirements, volunteer ranks began to dwindle. Reading Firefighters Local 1803 began negotiating and campaigning to hire more paid firefighters. The city had been operating with one paid firefighter driver on an apparatus. The final straw on the manpower issue came one evening when a house caught fire on Spring Garden Street. The fire spread rapidly, and caused every single piece of apparatus to respond to make up for the lack of volunteer firefighters to fight the fire. Several firefighters would also sustain injuries at this fire, due to the low staffing. This fire, along with newspaper articles, and information presented by the local would ultimately lead to the hiring of enough firefighters to staff apparatus with 2 at all times.
The staffing was(is) still not enough, but monumental to those that served by themselves for all those years.
Question #3 - Department History
Can you name something from the department that you feel we have lost over the years that might be good to bring back or recall? (procedure, policy, event, ceremony, etc)
I could write a book on this one….
The policies & procedures have always been a grey area. They are written and distributed, and most times forgotten. Then another chief comes along and revises it, but fails to rescind the original. Many times you get confused when looking at the various policies, which one do you follow?
Question #4 - Your Wisdom
Can you write one thing that you feel would be helpful to pass on to new firefighter that could help them stay healthy & safe throughout their career?
All I could pass on to a new firefighter is this:
Stay healthy & stay active both at home and at work.
Don’t become a couch potato at home.
Keep up to date with your “Honey-Do” list!
Stay busy at work, even during your down time.
Stay safe, take your time, stop, look, and think before you go running into some strange building.
Ricks Last Night At Rescue 1
Ricks Retirement Party
Rick was also featured on our affiliate site Centralpabravest