No this is not about military stories. This is about old farts that retell the stories from their youth. Do not be mistaken that the talk is just to hear oneself talk, it is actually trying to impart a bit of experience.

The Fourth of July is over with and millions of dollars of fireworks were shot off. And in the process of being loud and obnoxious there were several people lose everything when a bottle rocket or some other ordinance was shot off without caring for anything but the pleasure of having it go boom.

I was reading about another house that was burned in the paper today. This is not an unusual occurrence this time of year. Was it really that much fun to watch your neighbors house burn up? One lady was saved by her dog barking when the roof was burning after she went to bed. She is sure that if the dog had not been going crazy she would never have woken up and would be dead right now.

My first years with the fire department Wichita had banned fireworks completely. So there was a steady stream of people going out into the county shooting their fireworks where it was legal. Both sides of the highways going out of town at a diagonal in all directions would be lined up bumper to bumper for miles shooting off fireworks in the ditches and farmers fields. Even a few times when harvest was late and wheat was still standing uncut.

I was talking to my old Deputy Chief who had been my first Captain. I had not visited with him for years. It was a very enjoyable time. We talked about how the equipment has gotten bigger and more expensive. He visits stations from time to time and said he tried to tell the young bucks of today how our 4ths used to be. They have no concept of what we used to go through every year.

One year we counted calls starting at 10am on the 4th and going the rest of the shift to about 2am. The high for 7 stations was 172 calls. One year there were 152, another 125, and one year we had rain and still had around 50.

We did not have the luxury of being able to come back to the station and clean up and do paperwork. We went from call to call and spent the next week writing reports. One year I came in off duty and ran the Jeep out of Station 3. With 5 men in the station that left 2 men per engine, one on the tank, and the Jeep was left setting. The Jeep was the handiest thing we had. I ran it until the pump broke down and then rode with the tank man using it as just another engine.

Even though Wichita made fireworks legal again it is very limited as to what types they allow. Burn enough houses down and create enough problems and the city will ban them again. And the county will pay the price.

Having fun is great but when there is no respect anymore the few will ruin it for the many. And then the county will be finding out that Quints are not very good at chasing fires in fields. No Jeeps anymore so the $650,000 trucks set and pickups do the job now.

One thing I did not mention, at that time we had reserve units and had every piece of equipment that pumped water running. We even had a pickup full of Boy Scout Explorers using buckets and gunny sacks to help mop up behind us so we could go on to the next call.

Is the fireworks business so profitable that it is OK to burn down your neighbors house? Or a farmers field? Or your own house?

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