I’m tired. It’s Friday, and it’s been a long week. Do you know what I mean?
I treated myself today, though, to a little dip into the past. I bought myself a Digital Police/Fire Scanner, one that is head and shoulders above the one we had when I was a kid.
I grew up in a house filled with firefighters. My dad was stationed at Engine House no. 31 in Baltimore City, and my brother Jim got his start at the Providence Volunteer Firehouse right down the street from where we live now. His son is now a firefighter in Baltimore County–three generations of fire that has defined a great deal of who I am today.
Our first scanner was a Bearcat desktop model, with seven “crystals” in it that captured everything from the dispatch to the return to service. Now, nearly 40 years later, I’m listening to the same types of calls that echoed from the dining room as I lay in my bed at night, not wanting to fall asleep for fear that I might miss an important alarm.
Nothing’s changed. Within minutes of unpacking the handheld scanner, I had it up and running, and I became instantly mesmerized by the dispatch of fire and police units to streets near and far. Funny how we can recall a part of our past so easily with a little squelch and a few 10-4’s.
The fire is in my blood. The call to serve, to assist, is something that I could never deny. However, I never fit into the volunteer houses that I tried to join. It was then that I realized that, just because you have an affinity for something, it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what you are supposed to do with your life.
Sometimes, it’s just the opposite.
I’m not sure if I regret not getting more involved. I’m so proud of my brother and my nephew for all that they have done and continue to do in the firefighter’s world to make our lives a little better, a little safer. Sometimes I think that I didn’t get more involved simply because I didn’t want to disappoint my father if I couldn’t make it through the training.
Or maybe it’s because I always put this pressure on myself to be the “college” kid of the family, and there was no real time to spend at the firehouse while I was in school.
Regardless, I didn’t do it, and here I am now, listening to the scanner and living a bit vicariously through the calls they run. It’s all good, though. Listening to the scanner brings me comfort, like I’m a little closer to Dad, ya know? It’s good to merge the past and present, I think, when it comes to things like this. I feel grounded in my roots of fire, and having Dad this close on such a cold winter’s night is quite comforting, to say the least.