Thursday, May 26, 2011

From Chapter Nineteen - Billy the Kid and Uncle Mike

In just a few years, Little Billy has developed into an excellent, well-trained firefighter, officer, and a degreed engineer. He’s now mentoring another aggressive and smart kid and watching the development of a young man he watched grow up–my son Mike.

The similarities between the two of them are striking, and they’ve developed a close relationship. I like Mike having someone from a younger generation that he can go to for answers and
someone who understands the state training bureaucracy from having experienced it firsthand. The fact that I trust him and the answers he’s giving my kid also helps. They now scuba dive together, and Mike does odd jobs for Billy around the house he’s building. It will be fun to watch how it turns out.


A chimney fire had extended to the wall and the construction was a bit unusual. The decorative false walls around the mantle created concealed spaces for the fire to run through. We were having a hell of a time chasing the fire down, and figuring out all the possible avenues of travel. Mike was sent in to give us one tool or another and then stood back to watch. Guido and I were working on opening up while having the standard, reserved, business-like discussion that takes place in such situations.

“What the fuck? You think we should open this fucker up?” Guido asked. “Goddamn this fucking thing is running. We gotta get ahead of the son of a bitch.”

On and on went the typical back-and-forth that goes on when we get frustrated digging out a fire like this. After a half hour we were satisfied we had it all, and we picked up to return to service.

On the way home, Mike was quiet. He asked a couple of questions, trying to learn about the tactics and methods we had employed. Finally the comment I had been waiting for came: “That wasn’t the Uncle Mike I knew.”

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