Another Fire Story??


The American fire service is steeped in colorful fire stories. The one trait that all jakes share is an ability to spin a tale.

I don't believe I have ever sat in a fire house kitchen for more than five minutes without hearing a fire story. I have managed to verify some very unusual fire stories that could easily have been mistaken for forklore.

July 13,1865 a fire was discovered at the Barnum Museum on Anne St. in New York City. During the excitement, a huge Bengal tiger broke loose of his cage and leaped from the second - story window to the street. Spectators stampeded in terror, others froze helplessly in their tracks. Several police officers banged away ineffectively with their small pistols.

Firefighter John Denham from Hose Company Number Fifteen grabbed his axe and with one mighty blow sprawled the animal in the street. A cheer went up form the crowd in the street. Denham then ran into the blazing building and carried out the fat lady, who weighed more than four hundred pounds.

Next, he carried out two children and then made a third trip to bring out the wooly-headed Albino woman.

After the fire when queried about his very unusual day Denham, known as a very quiet retiring fellow was at a loss to explain what got into him that day.*

The next time you sit down for coffee in the firehouse kitchen don't be to quick to dismiss that fire story as just another Jake spinning a tale.

*As you pass by. Written by Kenneth Holcumb Dunhee. Published by Hastings House 1952