If you were stranded on an island and you could pick one individual from the annals of the history of the American Fire Service to accompany you, whom would be your choice? This question was posed to some of FDIC International 2018 instructors. Here are their responses…
Deputy Chief Billy Goldfeder, Loveland-Symmes (OH) Fire Department: Here are a few:
Curt Varone and Brad Pinsky: They would take immediate legal action and get the decision of being stuck on an island reversed.
Bobby Halton: He would know exactly what quote from history would allegedly make me feel better about being stuck on an island with him.
Frank Brannigan: He would be able to construct a boat from the trees on the island and get us the heck out of there.
Alan Brunacini. He would figure out a way for me to still be nice even though I am stuck on the island.
Mike Dugan: I could stand on his shoulders and easily be able to see and wave to any approaching ships.
Harry Carter: I would sleep well because he would never run out of stories to tell me … that would put me to sleep.
Dave Dodson: He would be able to make a fire for cooking, ensuring that the smoke would be safe and readable.
Bill Gustin: As island native cannibals approached us, he would offer them “peace cigars,” and the odds are that they wouldn’t eat us for dinner.
Ron Kanterman: On the slight chance that “two Jews are better than one” when stranded, he would bring measurable value to the situation.
John Salka: In the case that pirates attack, his command presence and voice would scare the life out of them.
Ray McCormack: His ability to keep fire in our life would ensure cooking ability and a signal at all times.
Frank Montagna: If life got too exciting, he would keep things calm, relaxed, and perhaps even slightly boring.
Frank Ricci: If we are attacked and treated unfairly, he would take the case all the way up to the Supreme Court.
Ron Siarnicki: He would come up with a way to do fundraising.
Mike Wilbur: He would ensure that our boat–once built–would have approved seat belts.
Steve Chikerotis: When we DO get rescued, there would be a great TV show about our being stranded.
Steve Kerber: We would have a scientific understanding of why we got stuck on the island.
Paul Combs: Our adventure would be graphically documented in nice colors.
Father Tom Mulcrone: We will be well-protected from up above while on the island.
Jerry Wells, battalion chief, Lewisville (TX) Fire Department: For me, it would be a Dallas firefighter named Jerry Keith Henderson. https://www.dmagazine.com/publications/d-magazine/2014/february/worst-fire-in-dallas-history-golden-pheasant-inferno/ Jerry was killed in the line of duty in Dallas on February 16, 1964, in the downtown “Golden Pheasant Fire.” He left behind a wife and five children. He was a great friend to my dad, who also was a Dallas firefighter). I was born March 9, 1964, and was named Jerry Keith Wells in his honor. It would be an honor to meet a man that was so well thought of by my father that he would give me that name. Jerry and I could catch up on so many things: family, fire service, legacies, and friends.
Deputy Chief (Ret.) Thomas Dunne, Fire Department of New York: There are so many great people to consider, but one in particular stands out. I worked with a firefighter in Manhattan named Mike. Mike encompassed all of the good attributes you would look for in a firefighter along with all of the great qualities you would appreciate in a person. He was tall and a gifted athlete; he kind of stood out in a group of firefighters. I think the reason was that his personality was most exceptional. Mike was a kind and easy-going guy with a tremendous sense of humor. He could see the ridiculousness in any situation, a talent that helped us all through some difficult moments. I always knew it would be a good 24-hour tour when I was working with him.
Mike set the standard when we worked at a fire. He displayed a quiet example of dedication and dignity in his work. I can still picture him, filthy and exhausted, after a long period of overhauling at a difficult building fire. He was covered with soot and his nose was running; but despite his obvious discomfort, he greeted me in the street with a smile on his face. He had the soul of a firefighter combined with the essence of pure class. Mike was one of the thousands killed on 9/11. His memory is one of the many I carry with me. He most certainly is an example of the kind of firefighter and person I hope my students will aspire to become.