Â Somewhere in my career between thinking I knew everything and realizing I didn’t I found myself working for Captain Michael Day at Engine 10, the Broad Street Bullies. I had just been shacked from my previous spot, shacking being the equivalent of being traded to a different team because you didn’t fit in with your present one. It was a low point for me, somewhere around year nine of my career. I was on the road until they found a spot for me.
Around three we got a call for a working building fire. I took the tool seat, and off we went. There was a smoke condition haf a mile away, flames visible on Side 2. Engine 10 stopped just past the fire building, Ladder 5 right behind us. It is vitally important that each and every firefighter do his job well at a fire, the safety of everybody depends on it. Captain Day ordered me to “Force that Door!” then left to do a size up.
I took my axe, used my body weight and the head like a battering ram and popped it open after three whacks. Then, I used a little trick somebody taught me years ago. I put the flat part of the axe into the space between the door and the jamb and twisted. The door fell from the hinges, I did it again in the middle, then at the bottom. The door was gone. I threw it to the side just as the Captain and the crew came through with the line. I backed them up, stretched the line up some stairs and we put the fire out.
Later, as I walked by his office, I heard Captain Day say to somebody from the company, probably so I could hear, but I’ll never know, the most important words that anybody who works with a fire department anywhere can hear.
“Whatever happened is over, Morse is a good firefighter.”
Those words had, and continue to have a profound effect on every aspect of my career. A few years later I transferred to the rescue division, but I never forget what Captain Day said, or the lessons from one of the people who made me a “good firefighter,”Â Lieutenant Frank Quetta.
Rest in Peace, Chief Day. I can’tell believe it’s been a decade since you left us.