I have to admit that since I was assigned back to Fire Station 2 in January, I have had several projects I have wanted to complete. The projects aren’t about me…they are more about the station. I talked over a few ideas that came to mind with my crew, and they had a few ideas of their own.
There are many unique features that my station has when compared to the seven other stations in the city. For one, Fire Station 2 is our oldest station still in operation today. The original Station 1 used to reside on Watauga Street and was torn down after the new central station opened in 1971. Fire Station 2 is the only station that has all of the living quarters on the second floor, and is also the only station to have a pole from the bunk room into the apparatus bay. Because of the layout, our crew has to climb the steps to the second floor after every run. Typically, most of us don’t use the fire pole on a regular basis, so we also travel down the steps after the alarm sounds.
Almost a year ago, I had purchased a ‘Better Angels’ poster from the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. The poster was around 20 dollars, and I had it custom framed/matted at a local frame shop. The poster features the 343 fallen firefighters from 9/11/01 that have been painted individually onto small pieces of burned wood. The poster is a photo of all of the paintings, which actually are part of an exhibit that travels across the country. More information can be found on the Better Angels at www.betterangels911.com.
I had this framed poster at my house for quite some time. I don’t have an office to hang it in, so it has been in my living room since I got it. I knew that I didn’t want it in my living room forever, but also figured I would wait until it found its home.
After thinking about the station projects I had in mind, I placed the frame in my truck on the way to the station one day. After finishing up our morning duties that day, we centered and mounted it on the wall in the stairwell. It was the perfect place. Before and after each call, as our guys climb up or down the stairs, they will see the faces of the 343.
It didn’t take long for the guys to ask about the poster. Who owns it? Who paid for that? Is it going to stay there? Since we rotate stations every year, I actually wasn’t sure if I would be leaving it behind or not. I could care less about the cost, that’s not what it’s about. Almost all of the guys seemed to like it though, so we figured to take it a step further. One of the guys on my crew mentioned that we should get an old axe or pike pole and mount on each side. Within a few hours, we had rounded up an old axe and a 10′ pike pole that had been forgotten about up in the rafters.
Original or Refurbished
As firefighters, it’s in our nature to like our tools to be used and appear worn. We debated on whether or not to try to repaint the axe and touch up the pike pole. After discussion, we decided to leave everything original. The wall we were mounting the tools to is only 7 feet 4 inches tall. Since the pike pole was 10′, we had to cut it down. I was nervous about sawing a pike pole almost in half, but everything worked out in the end.
All of our apparatus have a color code for the equipment on that specific truck. Engine 2’s color code is black. We threw on a coat of black paint on the handles of each tool. The pike pole was cut down to a 6 footer, and we reattached the pike after sanding down the end with a belt sander.
Yesterday, I made a quick trip to a hardware store and picked up a few mounting brackets. Today, I primered the tip of the pike pole handle since we had sanded it down, and the wood had the fresh new look. I then reattached the pike to the shortened handle. We centered all the mounts up and installed them on the wall. The final touch was adding the tools to the mounts we had placed up. The small amount of work that went into the wall made all the difference in the world as you climb the stairs at our station. This is something that I’m proud of, that we’re proud of, and that hopefully the next guys will be proud of.
I couldn’t be more pleased with the way the wall turned out. Now that we finished this project, we will be working on a few others throughout the next several months. The entire wall didn’t take much time at all to throw together with tools that we already had. The only cost involved for me was a couple of dollars for a few screws and mounting brackets. I hope that our work will be appreciated in the future, and it is something that will always be displayed in the stairwell.