We asked you to tell us your best story — and you folks did not disappoint.
We got dozens of submissions from Fire Dept. Coffee fans all over the country. Some stories were hilarious, some were strange and some were completely inspiring. We had submissions from firefighters, police officers, military members and more. It was incredibly difficult to choose between them. But we must have winners.
Congrats to our three winners for rising above an impressive bunch of stories.
Rick Folsy — “The Apartment with Its Own Pool”
James Turner — “Courage and Heroism in Action”
Michael J. Suber — “Paper or Plastic”
The Apartment with Its Own Pool
Thousands of calls, dozens of paper mills, one night I’ll never forget was about twelve years into my thirty-three-year career in Holyoke, Massachusetts. On a particularly oppressive summer night, just before midnight, my engine company responded to a five-story apartment building. A tenant on the fourth floor reported water coming through his light fixture.
I walked up to the fifth floor, where I could hear music and kids laughing. I knocked…waited…knocked again, waited a little longer until finally, a middle-aged man opened the door only enough to stick his head out into the hall. It was clear he didn’t want any uninvited guests coming into his apartment. I asked if he was having trouble with his plumbing, he said no; and continued to be evasive.
Finally, I was able to enter the apartment only to see a 4’ high by 12’ swimming pool set up in the middle of the unit! The apartment complex had to be evacuated and we had to use two portable pumps to pump out the 3,000 gallons of water, which added approximately 12.5 tons of weight to the aging apartment complex.
All the while, the fifth-floor pool owner is absolutely befuddled, and can’t understand why his aquatic fun is a hazard to his neighbors. To make matters more interesting the pool was in the middle of the apartment; touching all sides of the room; which meant to gain entry to the bedroom, you had to swim through the pool and get out on the other side.
— Rick Folsy
Courage and Heroism in Action
On Dec. 4, 1993, working as a Public Safety Officer (Police Officer and Firefighter) for the City of North Augusta, SC, I was dispatched to a criminal domestic call. As I was stopped at a traffic light, the dispatcher told another PSO and me that the suspect had left the scene in a so-and-so type and colored vehicle.
As I was stopped at the light, I saw a vehicle matching the description in front of me in the lane to my right. When the traffic light turned green, I got behind suspect vehicle and initiated my blue lights. At this time, a pursuit ensued. Suspect speed was not that fast but as he turned on a road and got out of his vehicle he took of running on foot. I exited my vehicle chasing after him.
As he went around a pickup truck and was on the right side, I came around the right front and as I did the suspect shot me right in the chest striking my bulletproof vest knocking me to the ground. As I was on the ground, the suspect shot me two more times striking me in the left side of my face and hip.
I returned fire, striking the suspect twice taking out the threat.
I had to retire due to the gunshot wound to my left side of my head but I am still alive today with the help of a vest. In 1994, I was awarded as South Carolina Officer of the Year, Aiken County Officer of the Year and was named as one of the Top Cops in America at the very first National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) award dinner in Washington, D.C.
— James Turner
Paper or Plastic?
Several years ago, while working as a paramedic on the streets of Albuquerque, my partner and I ran a memorable call. It was the dead of winter, cold, gloomy, and a fresh layer of wet snow on the ground. My unit was called to a local grocery store for a 32B1 (Man Down) call.
We walked into the grocery store and found a homeless gentleman sitting on the floor near one of the cashiers’ register area. The manager and several patrons were hovering over this man with great concern. He was complaining of cold exposure to his extremities, more specifically his feet. As you might imagine, he was wearing wet work boots with NO socks on in the middle of winter.
No one to this point had exposed his feet to assess his condition. Being the lead paramedic, I gently began to remove this man’s boots inside of the store to explore his problem. As you might imagine, I began slipping off his boots and a very strong odor began to emerge from this man’s feet.
The odor quickly began to disperse the onlookers while I remained steadfast. I began to search for quick answers in my head at this point and turned the manager and his helpful sacker at the end of the register.
I asked them for some bags to cover this man’s feet and cut down on the foul odor that was permeating the area. With a half-serious but comical response, the sacker boy replied, “Will that be paper or plastic, sir?”
Needless to say, it created quite a bit of laughter and levity to the situation.
— Michael J. Suber