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What Makes a Firefighter Say “Wow”


There are a few things that make us all say wow.  Usually it is something tragic, something amazing, or something scary.  Firefighters see a lot of tragic, amazing and scary thing, but what do firefighters see that make us say “Wow”?

What come to my mind first when I think of Wow is when we see the incredible force something has.  There are a lot of examples of force that we see, one of them might be the force of a vehicle when it hits an unmovable object like a concrete wall.  One of my first call involved a car full of teens that hit a concrete barrier.  All occupants of the car were killed, which was tragic.  Even though the result of the accident was tragic, the wow came from the damage that occurred to the car as a result of the force.  Weather can cause considerable damage, and we say wow not because of the damage but to the amazing force on that weather event.

One thing that gets a lot of Wows is when we respond to incidents that show a huge amount of stupidity.  There are accidents which usually have a cause, and then there are things that just happen, but the Wows come from the things that really are stupid.  You could probably put these in the accident category but the cause is stupidity.  Stupidity seems to go hand in hand with drug or alcohol use.  The more people drink the dumber they get.  Someone decided to check the smoke alarm by holding a lighter next to it.  The detector did go off, and it actually melted.  Power tools especially chains saws should not be used when intoxicated.  Starting a fire with gasoline is not too smart, but when you pour gasoline on a burning fire that is plain stupid.  The dumber you are the louder the Wow.

When it comes to cleaning, I like to mix some different types of cleaners together.  There are a few types of cleaners that should not be mixed together.  Not many things mix well with bleach and when a few of those things are mixed together in a plastic bottle, they come shooting up out of the bottle right into the face of the person pouring them together.  Chemical reactions are very dangerous and those nasty smelling things mixed together really burn your skin if it gets on you.  When water is applied to burning magnesium, the reaction is pretty dramatic.  A bright white fire results and not many firefighters see that flare up without giving a Wow.

One thing that gets a lot of Wows, at least from me, is what drivers do when the see an emergency vehicle.  To say the least it is unpredictable.  It is a very simple concept, when you see an emergency vehicle approaching, pull to the right and stop.  Some drivers stop in the middle of the road, a lot will pull into the center median, and some just keep driving like you aren’t there.  The ones that get a Wow are the ones that drive up over the curb onto the sidewalk, and the ones that slam on the brakes and get rear ended by cars behind them.

Firefighters say Wow just like everyone else, but since we see a lot more it takes some crazy stuff to get a reaction.  What makes you say Wow?

By John Morse

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