Open house at the fire station


The other night, a local fire station held an open house for kids/parents in the area. With a 2.5 year old son, not attending was not an option. When we arrived, we noticed that most of the activity was right inside the open garage doors of the fire station. So we headed in there. On the floor next to the ambulance were the boots, jackets and helmets that the firefighters wear. There was a woman there talking about them and letting kids try them on. She appeared to either be a firefighter herself, or at least someone who worked at the fire station. So, we went about putting the clothes/boots/ helmet on my son who loved it. The woman watching over the area was laughing as my son was hamming it up some. But then…out of nowhere, came this guy whom I took for an EMT. He offered zero introduction, he just started right in, and when he spoke, he spoke like one of those people who is desperately hoping you’ll say “wow” to whatever they say:

“C2, C3. Vertebrae. Not developed until age 13. Get that helmet off of him. I’m serious, get that helmet off of him right now. There was a 9 year old boy, son of a Fire Chief in Ohio. He was sitting on a riding lawnmower wearing his dad’s fire helmet, turned his head suddenly and ended up falling off the lawnmower. Died. That’s right, died. Why did he die? The weight of the helmet. His C2 and C3 vertebrae weren’t strong enough. Snapped his neck.”

Then, as suddenly as he approached us, he left us to take the other helmets away from other kids in the try-on area – the guy seemed to enjoy being the direct reason kids were suddenly having less fun. My wife and I just looked at each other struggling to believe what we’d just seen. Who just walks up to someone he doesn’t know and tells a horrific story apparently to illustrate a point that could be made by simply saying “that helmet may be a bit heavy for your boy’s neck”? And why was all of this equipment clearly out for kids to try on if it was so, ummm, lethal?

Some moments in life are really odd, and this was one of them.


11 Responses to “Open house at the fire station”

  1. Phil Hanrahan Says:

    Yikes. That sounds a bit like a Saturday Night Live skit – Mr Safety First Gone Mad. But one of those SNL skits where the audience isn’t laughing so much – because the dark absurdism is a little too weird. Like maybe a Chris Farley bit that went off the rails (granted, a rare occasion). And I write as someone who once suffered a broken neck. Not from a fire helmet, though. Diving into Lake Michigan during Milwaukee’s “Summerfest” musical festival. Summer of my 16th year. Last time I’ll ever attempt a “Tarzan” dive off a rock to impress girls.

    That didn’t work out so well.

  2. Joe Says:

    Chances of that happening are so remote that it is actually stupid to worry about it.

  3. johngalt Says:

    So, no we know what Brett is doing on his off week.

  4. Bear85 Says:

    I think falling off the lawnmower was a much greater factor in the kid breaking his neck.

    I mean, did this guy REALLY think the helmet was gonna spontaneously cause your kid’s neck to snap? What a tool.

  5. Scott W Says:

    The dude reminds me of Col. Flagg in the M*A*S*H series. Testosterone overload.

  6. joshywoshybigfatposhy Says:

    i don’t know, sounds pretty reasonable. i know this guy, he had a bad heart. he was doing bunch of pcp and meth and coke and he drank a gallon of microwaved bacon fat, and he tried to run as fast as he could up this flight of stairs. fell right over. died. that’s right, died. you know why he died? because he shouldn’t have been running up those stairs with a bad heart. taught the kids a valuable lesson that day.

  7. Maggie's_girl Says:

    I am so glad you shared this. It explains so much.

  8. Doug in Sandpoint Says:

    JWBFP…On a brighter note I heard the guy’s family won a $6MM wrongful death settlement from the stair manufacturer who was forced to declare bankruptcy and lay off their 17 employees. The kids learned to stay in school and become trial lawyers. They are searching for addional bacon-fat-mainlining PCP/Meth/coke fiends for a class action lawsuit. I saw it advertised on late night tv.

  9. joshywoshybigfatposhy Says:

    doug – wow, you really summed up the unfortunate side of the real world quite succinctly. and a big part of the reason why i’ve decided not to pursue law school.

    sometimes absurd jokes are a little too close to reality.

  10. Joe Says:

    joshy – I am a lawyer and their certainly are dinks out there who pursue these kind of crazy cases, but we need good people on the otherside of those cases to try to stop them. I do a significant amount of work in the class action/product liability area – defending businesses from these stupid claims. Don’t let the worst of us color the entire bunch.

    Feel free to shoot me an email sometime if you are seriously thinking about lawschool.

  11. 56Coop Says:

    Well there you go Joshy. I always new that twisted humor of yours would land you a career.

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