We’ve all heard the stories of people visiting Emergency Rooms for stubbed toes—this is real—I have personally responded on an ambulance call for a person with a stubbed toe. The fire department equivalent, again real, is the stereotypical cat stuck in the tree. My father had the best response I’ve ever heard when the dispatcher would call with a report from a citizen of a feline atop a sapling. “Tell the caller we’ve never seen a cat skeleton in a tree yet. When the kitty gets hungry enough, it’ll come down.” End of discussion. Other animal control calls for squirrels or bats in houses get filed in this miscellaneous category.
Less amusing was a recent incident I heard about where a citizen broke a fire truck windshield; literally beat a spider web of cracks in it with his bare hands, because the fire department couldn’t make his power come back on after a storm.
What some members of the public fail to remember at times is that it costs money every time a fire truck turns a wheel. Fuel, wear and tear, and indirect costs like insurance are all part of the equation every time a piece of apparatus moves. That’s the mechanical side; more importantly there is wear and tear on people too. Ill maintained and malfunctioning alarm systems are the bane of our existence. No fine or penalty seems sufficient after the third straight night of a false alarm at the same place at 3:00 AM.
The unnecessary, abusive, and downright strange calls continue to make up more than their fair share of any department’s call volume. You have to go, though, ‘cause that’s what we do.