Take a second, and think about the dumbest person you can imagine. Now picture them in a life or death situation: What is their likelihood of survival? Well, be glad that you’re not the one that has to worry about this hypothetical because somebody does. While we would hope that firefighters and paramedics spend most days heroically saving innocent lives, they often risk life and limb on the job to rescue total dummies. Not everyone can be graced with innate acumen, but at the least, we can be entertained by these tales told by brave firefighters.
1. This is Going on YouTube
I once had a firefighter tell me he almost died in a house fire while going back into the house to look for the owner. A neighbor was concerned about why the firefighter was still in the residence, so he asked another firefighter. The other firefighter said, “He's looking for the owner of the home.” The neighbor then pointed and said, “He’s right over there with the video camera.”
Turns out, the owner did not think it was important to alert the fire department that he was out of the house. Instead, he was just taking a video of the whole event. The fire started because the owner had tried to smother his barbecue cooker flame with leftover wood from the siding that had been installed on his home. The owner did not realize it would burn. He burned his whole house down.
2. Hot Pie
I was called to a home to get a pie out of the oven before it caught fire. The lady had gone to the store and was delayed for some reason. She called 9-1-1 to have the fire department take the pie out of the oven and place it on the stove. The call came in as, " Something stuck in oven, and unable to turn off the stove." Still my number one call in 32 years.
3. That Wasn’t Santa
I once rescued a guy trying to surprise his girlfriend on Christmas by coming down the chimney completely unannounced. Her son noticed something was going on before she did, and put a starter log in the fireplace. It almost killed the guy, but had the smoke not started billowing out the fireplace into the living room, no one would have noticed.
I ran into her with a different guy by St. Patrick’s Day.
4. Should’ve used a Sea-Doo
This dummy tried to cross a raging river in zero-degree weather that was about 300 feet wide on a snowmobile. He lived but didn't make the crossing, and the snowmobile was recovered days later.
5. High Visibility, Low Intelligence
Hurricane Floyd. Eastern North Carolina. I had a farmer with a large family that refused to evacuate his house. Stubborn son of a gun. The river had broken loose, floodwaters were coming up fast, and the police had given up on changing his mind. I drove my truck right up into his yard, rolled down the window and asked him to dress his kids in something orange or bright yellow.
He asked me why, and I said something so disturbing that I knew it would get him going. I told him the reason was "So that body recovery will be able to distinguish them from all the dead pigs floating around." He told me to screw off, but five minutes later he had the whole family in the vehicle and they got the heck out.
6. A Tree Falls in the Forest...
We needed to close the main road through a forest over the winter, because the trees were falling faster on the road than we could remove them due to extreme snowfall. Also, the detour was more than an hour longer due to the snow. Some cars thought that they could still come through the road, but turned around as soon as they saw the fallen trees.
One semi also thought he'd get through. He drove up to the trees, called the fire brigade to complain, and asked why we didn't remove the trees. As he was calling, a bunch of trees behind him also fell, locking him in. The truck stood there one month before the trees and the snow could get removed by us. We needed another month until the road was free again.
7. For the ‘Gram
I’m a former firefighter/EMT. Easily the dumbest person I encountered was a mother of four, who decided it would be an awesome idea to get a Facebook/Instagram worthy picture of her kids (all under age 10) sitting in a rowboat. The mother untied it from the dock, and thought that she'd just pull them back with the rope... That she forgot to hold on to.
They floated a half-mile down the river before the two oldest boys managed to grab a branch hanging over the bank. It was really surreal to see four young kids, all in matching clothing, sitting in a boat waiting to be rescued. I have no clue what happened after but they were physically fine, just scared, and a little tired, but the mom was in full-blown panic mode and kept getting in our way.
I hope she's making better choices now.
8. Attention Chore
I'm not a firefighter, but my brother's wife at the time was. There was this massive structure fire at a barn in town that drew out nearly every truck in the general area—like three towns’ worth of firefighters trying to get this thing under control. During all of this, there was some lady who continuously called 9-1-1 asking over and over again, "What's going on at the farm up the road?"
According to my sister-in-law, this woman would have to be an absolute and complete moron to not realize what was going on as the fire could be seen for miles. Fast forward later into the night, and one of the ambulances on the scene suddenly leaves—obviously not normal for this sort of situation, but there isn't much time to question it.
Fast forward again, and as things are finally starting to calm down and are under control, one of the volunteers on the original ambulance comes over in his own car and shuffles sheepishly over to my sister-in-law and the chief of their department. He tells them that there is a woman down the road who called the ambulance—hence why they left.
She requires a lift assist, but absolutely refuses to let the EMTs do it. No, it has to be a firefighter. My sister-in-law, seeing that the other departments have things under control, goes with the volunteer to see what's up. Apparently, it was the same woman who had called 9-1-1 over and over again, and when they arrive, she is laying on the floor absolutely wailing.
EMTs say they can't find anything wrong with her, but with her requested firefighter they are finally able to get this woman up. They start asking her what happened, hoping she might be more willing to share with my sister-in-law there, and she says: "I was just feeling a little ignored. I figured this would get your attention"
This grown woman just laid herself on the floor, called for help, and insisted on a firefighter when there was no need—all because the barn fire was getting way more attention than she was, and the 9-1-1 operators wouldn't give her the gossip about what was going on.
I know she got in major trouble for abusing 9-1-1, but from what I hear from the people on both fire and ambulance, she has made a habit of calling for help whenever she feels she's not getting enough attention.
9. Toddler at Heart
I once had a girl who decided those toddler swings, with the seat that you stick their legs through like a little basket so they can't fall out, was made for a teenage girl. She got stuck and lost blood flow to her legs. We had to cut her down and get her to a hospital to have it safely removed, due to it basically becoming a tourniquet on both her legs.
10. A Real Knob
A motorist had a bad alternator, and their car died while he was driving. Their electric lock control for the doors of the vehicle stopped working. We were dispatched for a person trapped in a motor vehicle. On arrival, the advice was given to manually lift the lock knob so they could get out. You can easily tell who are the ones that will not survive the first 24 hours of the zombie apocalypse.
11. Stool Tool
I’m a firefighter/paramedic in a suburb of Phoenix. I had to transport a guy to the ER because he was—wait for it—constipated. His wife tried to dig it out with a wooden spoon. The spoon got stuck, and it hurt to move it. I walked in and there’s a 250-pound man, butt naked, lying on his side with a huge wooden spoon stuck halfway up his butt.
12. PSA: Wear your Seatbelt!
In general, people who didn't wear a seatbelt and the people they killed as a result. You have less control of a vehicle when you're not being held in place, so those wrecks are more common as the first sign of trouble. Your butt moves in the seat and reduces your ability to control the vehicle. You also become a projectile. If you're lucky, you only kill yourself.
If you're not, you wind up bouncing around and killing a passenger. Also, neglecting a seatbelt is the leading cause of partial ejections and reentry to vehicles, since nothing was holding them to the seats. There were many times I could have just been there cutting someone out of a seat with them being barely beat up, but instead, they had been scalped and died, or hit their kid, spouse, family member or friend and killed them.
One in particular that I remember was a large man not wearing a seatbelt in an overturned truck. He woke up while we were working on him, cutting the passenger side door up to get down to him as the vehicle was on its side. He kept asking us how his son was. At first, we didn't get it. Then we realized he was laying on his 15-year-old son, and because of the man's size, we didn't see him.
The son was wearing a seatbelt, but he died because his father smashed into him and smothered him to death while we worked, rather than just wear a seatbelt extender so his seatbelt fit.
13. Stuck on You
My dad and I are both firefighters. One time my father went to a house where an elderly man could not get out a leather recliner because he had been sitting in it for a week straight, and his wife would just serve him drinks and food there, so the guy never got up. But that’s not the only reason why it was the grossest call of all time.
He would just get drunk and urinate/defecate himself until he was physically stuck to the chair, and they had to cut him out.
14. A Report to Die for
My dad was witness to someone being stupid and rescued by a firefighter. My dad worked for IBM's tech support division for over a decade. A customer called in because he needed to run a report and send it out to the networked printer. For whatever reason, the report was failing to generate and the guy on the phone was freaking out because some corporate big-wig demanded that this report be printed and on his desk by 3 PM.
Just another day at work.
About 10 minutes into the call, my dad starts to hear this strange high-pitched noise in the background. My dad asked what the noise was, and the guy replied that it was the fire alarm. When my dad asked if it was a drill, the guy said that the building was on fire. My dad replied, "Far be it from me to tell you what to do, but shouldn't you get out of there?"
The called said, "You don't understand. I HAVE to get this report printed, now are you going to help me or not?" So, they continue to troubleshoot the issue. A few minutes after that, my dad hears shouting in the background. My dad asks, "Umm, there seems to be a lot of yelling in the background, is everything OK?" He says, "Yeah, it's fine. It's just the firefighters evacuating the building."
My dad asks, "Shouldn't you get out of there too?" The guy, once again, says, "I absolutely HAVE to get this report printed—are you going to help me?" My dad says that he’s not sure that he should and that a report isn’t worth risking your life over. The caller starts to get furious, when the shouting in the background gets much louder.
A firefighter has come over to the guy on the phone and starts barking orders at him to get out of the building. The caller tells the firefighter, "Look, I have to print this report before 3 PM and I can't leave until it's printed." Over the phone, dad hears the firefighter scream, "I don't give a damn about your goddamned report, the building is on fire! Now MOVE!"
There's a scuffling noise, and the phone handset on the other end drops to the ground as the firefighter physically drags the caller away. After that, all dad could hear was the sound of the fire alarm and various crackling noises. Needless to say, the report did not get printed by 3 PM.
15. Keys Open Doors...
I once got called to a lockout. That’s where someone could not get into their vehicle. Get to the location, and I'm met with, "We just need a jump start" so I think, okay, wrong call. I get out the cables and ask them to pop the hood. They say, "Oh, we can't. We're locked out." The driver is holding the keys in their hand. The passenger window is down. I starting backing away assuming some kind of theft scam.
They actually thought they were locked out because the key fob wasn't unlocking the door. It turns out the fob battery had died. I had to show them how to use the key, after checking their ID again with the registration retrieved through the open window. The vehicle battery was not dead.
16. Without a Paddle
Two bikini-clad girls had to be rescued from a swift-moving river in a canoe. Neither girl had brought a life vest or a paddle.
17. Un-Happy Feet
Had a drunk guy in Antarctica chase a penguin. The penguin stuck his beak through the offending drunk guy's calf. He got sent home, and a report on international treaty breach wound up on some congress member's desk.
18. Like the 4th of July
I’m not a firefighter, but I was working with them that day. So back in my Harbor Master days, the town would have a 4th of July fireworks display every year. They would bring in a barge with something like 2,000 big ol’ mortars on it. We along with the Coast Guard, State Environmental Police, and a few local cops with boats would set up a “stay back” area around the barge for the show.
Nothing serious ever happened, so we generally sat around with the best seats in the house—until one year. So, we are all sitting there celebrating our independence by annihilating as much of the sky as the town budget would allow. About two-thirds of the way into the show, I notice a small fire on the front of the barge. I give everyone a heads up on the radio.
From a distance, we see one of the crew run across this barge that is vomiting projectiles into the sky, with a fire extinguisher in hand. About the same time as he arrives, the fire flares up big time. The guy just throws the fire extinguisher into said fire and starts running back to where they had a protected area. Before he makes it back, there is a massive flare-up/explosion.
Everybody turns their lights on and starts hauling butt to get to the crew. That's when the remaining fireworks started going off. We were the second ones to arrive, and one of the assistant harbormasters starts yelling at the crew to get off the barge. There are dozens of fireworks going off, and you can feel an intense heat every single time.
Balls of fire are just flying every which way. The crew is refusing to leave, and one guy is yelling at my co-worker that they can’t leave because all of their belongings were on the front of the barge, where the fireworks were exploding in their tubes. The look on my co-worker’s face was priceless, he just reaches up and starts pulling people down into his boat.
I think by the time he grabbed the second guy, they all got the message and started jumping in. We all get out of there asap. Somehow the only injuries were minor from people jumping into the boat. Though I did hear that one of the coast guard boats received a nice hole in the roof, I never actually saw it. We then make a call to the tug boat that brought the barge, to turn its water cannon on the barge.
We got a big negative from them on that one, as they didn’t want to be anywhere near the fire. The next option was the volunteer fire department. The problem was that they didn't have a fireboat, just trucks. So, the possibly inebriated firemen needed to commandeer the local three-car ferry, and use that to get their truck to the barge. It took them about 30 minutes to get there and foam the thing down.
It was a pretty funny sight watching them trundle on, and having a laugh about being on a ferry. We actually had to bring in the freaking bomb squad from the local large city, but they couldn't make it till the next day. When we finally got the report, we found out the cause of the fire. All of the crew’s belongings, which were apparently sitting next to the mortars and not with the crew behind the protective barrier, were the initial fuel for the fire.
The kicker was all of the company’s insurance and licenses were with their stuff, so they were all gone too. Just all-around fun in small-town America.
19. A Cold Getaway
Had a fellow who was running from the police. He decided to climb on board a chunk of ice that was flowing down the river. I am sure he thought he was a genius at the time, but the issue was that there isn't really a whole lot north of our town for a few hundred miles, so his long-term planning wasn't great. Eventually, we found him hiding in a small icy overhang on the side of the river, suffering from hypothermia.
After a brief stay in the hospital, he ended up being arrested.
20. Two Jerks and a Jeep
I was a volunteer firefighter many years back. One summer, after a long period of no rain, two good old boys decide to have a few (dozen) beers and take their Jeep into a nearby field to go off-roading. Well, nearly two-foot-tall corn stalks that are bone-dry end up getting jammed up into the undercarriage of the Jeep, which, on a 90+ degree day, turns out to be hot enough to ignite a fire.
The owner of the field sees the situation unfolding from their house, and calls for fire and police. Given the proximity to my location, I go directly to the scene after hearing the call go out and see these two idiots trying to drive the Jeep faster and faster to put the fire out. Eventually, the engine gives out, but they won’t leave the car.
I physically had to reach in, burning my arms in the process since I didn’t respond to the station first to get my turnout gear, and pull them out—somehow, they decided that remaining in the car would slow down the flames. And because they thought it was a good idea to continue driving a burning vehicle around a dry field, we now had a significant brush fire and had to call mutual aid from another county to help douse the fire.
State Police get involved, and I have a nice trip to the hospital. The jerks lose their Jeep and the remainder of their booze.
21. Bird Brains
Former fire and rescue firefighter here. I have helped release several dogs and children stuck in the mechanism of a recliner chair. Also, a bird stuck in a tree. Go figure.
22. Scream Now, Cry Later
I was working on the 4th of July a few years ago. Several kids and their friends were home alone while the mother of the kids who lived in the apartment was at a BBQ. Kids had the idea to start playing with a lighter that they had found in one of the bedrooms. After lighting a cardboard box on fire, they panicked and shoved it under the bed.
By the time we were dispatched, the fire was blowing out of the bedroom windows and had progressed into much of the apartment. Luckily, the kids and their friends made it out of the apartment safely, as did the tenants in the first-floor unit. The mother arrives on the scene around the time that we are finishing up with overhaul.
Rather than show concern for her kids and their friends for their safety, she proceeds to scream at them in the street in front of the crowd of people that had gathered for ruining her night with her friends.
23. Fight Fire with... My Car
I used to work in an NYC public grammar school over the summers to pay for college back in the 90s. One of the full-time employees was a nice guy, but stupid. And I don't mean he was slow or anything, he just did dumb stuff because he was careless. One time he loaded up a trailer with like 25 gallons of gas and was driving it back through the main school parking lot.
He didn't realize that the container cracked open and spilled all 25 gallons in the parking lot. He didn't want to get in trouble, so he thought the best way to get rid of the evidence was to set the gas on fire. He didn't realize that burning gas gives off a lot of black smoke, and a gigantic cloud of black smoke coming from a school generally attracts a lot of attention from first responders.
Panicking, he tried to put the flaming lake of gas out by driving over it with his car. The fire department gets there, screaming at him to stop driving his car through flaming gasoline. They finally get the fire out and just...screamed at this guy for like 25 minutes. It was the funniest thing I've ever seen.
24. The Girl Who Cried “Cat”
I was the dumb call. My cat got her paw stuck under the dishwasher, and was screaming bloody murder. I couldn't move her paw and I couldn't lift the machine, so I sat with her while my husband called the fire department. She chewed right through one of my favorite blankets in her stress. Firefighters arrive, not in full suits but heavy boots and pants.
As soon as they came stomping around the corner to the kitchen, our cat was miraculously able to free her paw and she then took off to hide in the bathroom. The guys seemed confused, but at least it was easy. We thanked them profusely for being scary enough to free our cat, who had zero physical damage, not even a broken claw.
I guess she'd hooked her claws on something and didn't want to let it go, for love or money.
25. Rub a Dub Dub
We got a call about a little kid stuck in a bathtub. Nobody could make heads or tails of how a child can get physically stuck in a bathtub, so we rolled up in one of our engines and had a look. What had happened was that the child, almost three years old, had been left in the bath to play while it drained. The drain had a screwed-down sieve in it, with five holes.
Kiddo had five fingers and must have thought it a good idea to jam them into said holes. Of course, they swelled up and got stuck. So now we had a kid attached to a bathtub drain, and no way to get at the screw holding him there. A buddy and I were sent down to get earplugs, a dog plushie, a spare helmet, safety goggles, an angle grinder, and a large hammer.
We filled the tub back up a bit, enough so kiddo's hand was covered in water for cooling. We gave him the plushie, with instructions to make sure it didn’t get wet, gave him earplugs and a Real-Life Fireman's Helmet (trademark pending), and went to town. Four quick cuts around the drain hole, then bashed in the tiles, and finally another cut through the drain.
We then transported the boy/tub hybrid to the hospital for de-hybridization, since the fingers had become quite blue, and we didn't want to induce tourniquet removal syndrome without access to proper medical care. The little guy joined the youth fire department as soon as he was old enough; we must have left a good impression.
26. Eggrolls for Your Effort
Not me, but my dad was a firefighter in New York City, and once responded to a call at a Chinese food restaurant where the owner’s walkway was iced over. He apparently didn’t speak very good English, and maybe misunderstood the job of a fireman. I genuinely don't know. They salted down his front walkway for him and explained that this was 100% not their job.
They all had a good laugh and the guy gave them free eggrolls. People always used to ask him questions about crazy calls and he never enjoyed talking about them, so he would always tell that story. It happened in 1999 and still makes me laugh to this day 20 years later.
27. Not-So-Hot Moms
I'm not a firefighter, but recently in San Diego, a group of suburban moms decided to take their infants up the local hiking spot called Cowles Mountain. It’s not a particularly grueling hike, as many children and elderly people can do it. However, there is a heat stroke warning posted at the trailhead. Not to mention, it can get pretty hot here, and this last week was no exception with temperatures exceeding 90 degrees.
Well, these idiots took their infants up in this heat. The trail is pretty exposed, and due to its easy accessibility and “Instagram-worthiness” lots of inexperienced hikers flock to it. Many times with little to no water, because they underestimated how hot and difficult it could be. Needless to say, the fire department, EMS, and chopper were all called as these moms had taken their babies up and were too tired and exhausted to come down.
First responders had to go up and give water, check their conditions, and some even carried the babies down. I know fires are a lot hotter, but I bet they were cursing out these moms in their heads as they had to hike up the mountain in pretty much full gear. The moms came strolling down laughing and flipping off the cameras, as there were angry people gathered to see their stupidity.
This happened all because they wanted to take a group photo with their infants on a mountain on a hot day.
28. Face Plant, Face Palm
The fire department and paramedics had to come to my work one day because some kid didn’t know the difference between a swimming pool and a splash pad. There’s this artificial waterfall that goes down into a basin that’s only about two inches deep, where there’s fountains and stuff for kids to play in. This kid decided to climb up the waterfall, even though there are multiple signs posted not to do this.
He decided to dive off into the water below, that again, is only two inches deep. Luckily, the kid landed flat on his face, so he survived and avoided becoming paralyzed. He was knocked out cold immediately and probably would have drowned, but luckily his mother heard the splat and came running over screaming to pull him out.
29. A Proud Father
This happened to my son when he was six years old. He was at a Cub Scout meeting which was next door to the fire station. The firefighters had these racks where they'd lay their hoses out to dry. The little scouts were climbing on those racks one day, and my son's chubby leg slipped between the bars and got stuck. The firefighters had to come use the Jaws of Life on their own darn racks to free my kid.
30. A Kind Form of Torture
I'm no firefighter, but my sister called 9-1-1 because jalapeno juice was in her eye, and her doctor’s office was closed over the weekend. She described it as being waterboarded by the nicest guys on earth.
31. Fond Memories
A little girl needs to use the toilet. She locks the door, manages to get onto the toilet and use it all by herself—she's a big girl after all! Alas, the toilet is tall, and getting down is scary. Better wait for mom to come help. Except mom can't get in, because the little idiot locked the door and is too scared of the five inches from her feet to the floor, so she just sits there crying while sitting on the toilet.
The firemen break down the door and the little girl is saved. My lord, I was a stupid kid.
32. Bad Hiding Places
Costco company policy now requires that all safes/cabinets/etc. be locked on the display floor. It’s all because of this little genius in my hometown who locked himself in one once. None of the employees had the key or combination, and apparently 9-1-1 is faster than a locksmith. We had to cut the hinges off with a circular saw.
It scared the crap out of the kid, but he was fine. It was Saturday, so we snagged a few free samples on the way out. All in all, a good day! We rescued another kid out of a stuffed animal game at the fair once too. The kid climbed up through the trap door trying to reach the toys and got stuck. That was a fun one too.
33. Now We’re Cooking with Gas
Rolled up to a three-plex row of two-story townhomes. The unit in the middle was blowing and going. By the time we put the fire out, there was a huge “V” pattern on the backside of the complex, meaning you could see where the fire started, at about waist level near the rear wall, because everything above it was burned away upwards and outwards.
Just completely cratered and gone in a “V” shape all the way up to the now mostly missing roof. Turns out the genius in the middle unit was trying to start his charcoal BBQ grill. Unfortunately, he didn't have any starter fluid, so he got the fantastic idea to use gasoline instead. Alas, the coals didn't completely catch the first time he lit them off, so he decided to pour on more gasoline.
That’s right, more gasoline. Out of the glass jar he was using to store it in. A spark in the coals leapt up the pouring gas into the jar. Said genius panicked and threw the jar. Directly at the wall of his townhome. Where it exploded. The idiot Molotov cocktailed his own home. When we rolled up our hoses and went back in service, leaving the scene in the capable hands of the investigators, the neighbors from either side of his unit were angrily and animatedly grouped up on the sidewalk out front.
They were all waiting for Captain Dummy to return from the walk he had suddenly decided he needed to go on to "clear his head."
34. Save the Pig!
My brother-in-law used to be a fireman in NYC. His worst story was about a bunch of people who had decided to have a pig roast, in an apartment building, in the bathtub. Naturally, the bathtub heated up the walls sufficiently enough that they started a roaring blaze. He said when he got there, they were more interested in saving the pig than putting out the fire.
35. Hoarder Hazard
Most of the fires I’ve fought were electrical in nature like old ventilation fans, or cooking fires, clogged dryer vents, or actual arson. I told a gentleman in a hoarder house that if it caught on fire, we wouldn’t even attempt to come inside to save him, and he probably wouldn’t be able to get out because of all the trash. He said his place wouldn’t catch on fire anyway.
To which I replied, “You just set a pile of clothes on fire.” He had just tried to drop his cigarette into a coffee can and missed.
36. The Beer Must Stay Cold
My dad was a firefighter and he told me this story once. He was serving on his volunteer fire department up in Canada, and they got a call about a burning car in a small neighborhood. They rushed out to the location, and there was a man, drunk off his knocker, sitting in the driver’s seat of a crashed pickup truck on the side of a small road, while the truck's hood was on fire.
As they pulled the man out of the driver’s side of the truck, he kept yelling at them that his beer, which was in the back seat, was getting warm. My dad says that this story makes him sad to think about, but I still think it’s at least somewhat funny.
Not a firefighter, but I worked at McDonald’s back in high school, and one time this older guy goes into the bathroom and somehow locks himself in. The cops and fire department start rolling in. It’s a small town, so anytime there’s any stupid call, everyone shows up. They couldn’t get the door open with an ax either.
So finally, one of them comes in with a ladder and I watch them have an argument over who gets to climb through the roof. Eventually, the skinnier one climbs through the ceiling panels, drops into the bathroom, and unlocks the door for him. It was pure insanity and I loved every second of it. I’ve got a picture of the guy halfway into the ceiling buried in my photos somewhere.
38. Short of Ideas
Had a guy last year that was driving down the highway while smoking. He went to flick the butt out of the window, but it flew into his back seat where it started some crap back there on fire. Instead of pulling over, this dummy takes off his shorts and tries to put out the fire with them, while still driving at highway speeds.
It didn't go so well, as he slid off the highway. The fire department showed up to this moron with his car burning, and him standing there in his underwear.
39. Frozen Fool
It was the coldest day of the year. This guy was trying to thaw a frozen water pipe in the basement, using a blow torch. Caught the wall on fire. He did not call 9-1-1 until the entire basement was on fire. Our chief was in the fire station, a couple of blocks away, and by the time he was on the scene, the first floor was burning. We spent five hours in the freezing cold, putting it out.
I was on an attack line, kneeling on the sidewalk and spraying water into a second-floor window. The mist was blowing back onto me from the water stream. Eventually, another firefighter relieved me so I could go to the Rehab tent. I couldn't get up—I was frozen to the ground, and my arms had a layer of ice on them so I couldn't bend them.
We were still fighting the fire when the insurance adjuster arrived. Our assistant chief said, "So, do you know what started this fire?" The guy replied, "Yeah, but we insure for stupidity."
40. Fire in the Hole
Years ago, we had this call straight out of Caddyshack. Some guy had gotten tired of this gopher ruining his yard. Little did he know, he was facing the Sun Tzu of gophers. The homeowner, dwelling upon his experience from Vietnam, decided that the best way to deal with the gopher was to treat the situation like a Viet Cong tunnel.
In lieu of a frag grenade, he poured a five-gallon can of gasoline down the gopher hole, waited with a varmint gun, and lit it off. The ensuing explosion caused a small crater to form in his yard. I am still thoroughly impressed that there was a proper fuel to air ratio in the network of tunnels that allowed for such an explosion to happen.
However, the gopher refused to surrender without a fight. The gopher ran out of the hole engulfed in flames, causing the guy's yard to catch on fire. But it got worse. The gopher sprinted into the guy's shed still on fire, and burrowed into a void space in the wall, where he died. Like the martyr perk from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, his still flaming remains set the inside of the wall on fire, as well as several flammables.
In the end, the guy's backyard was ruined, and about a quarter of his shed burned down taking out a bunch of power tools and a zero-turn mower. He definitely would have saved a few thousand dollars if he had hired an exterminator.
41. Poor Escape Route
I remember asking a firefighter about this once, and he said a guy who was sleeping with a married woman. Her husband came home, so he jumped out of the second-story window buck-naked, and impaled himself through the upper leg on a fence paling. It was one of those “Fleur De Lis” ones, so it messed up his leg pretty badly.
They had to cut the paling out of the fence and load him into an ambulance.
42. For the ‘Gram, Part 2
My friend’s former roommate was a firefighter. I describe him like this, and not as my friend because he’s actually a total jerk, but he’s still a firefighter, so he saves lives. Anyway, I was over at their place one day, and firefighter Dave comes home looking exhausted. We could smell the smoke on him, so we knew he had seen some action that day.
We asked him about it and he just got this really sad, but humored look in his eye. An Instagram model had set her apartment building on fire by filling her room with candles for some photoshoot where she would pretend to be doing yoga in the middle of hundreds of candles. But she saw a spider sitting on one of the lit candles, so she sprayed some Raid at it.
The room ignited extremely quickly, and in her fear, she threw the bottle of Raid at the fire and then hid in her shower across the hall. She was still in the apartment when Dave kicked in the door and carried her out, her apartment engulfed in flames. She was close to passing out from smoke inhalation, so Dave had to cradle her in his arms.
As he carries her to the window to be lowered on a ladder, she says “Wait.” Dave stops, thinking she is about to tell him about someone else that needs rescuing. She meekly lifts her phone and snaps a selfie, making the duck face and everything, flames in the background. Apparently, by the time he left, the Instagram model had posted the photo to her profile and it was already getting tons of likes.
From what I hear, though, she did kill the spider. So technically she wasn’t a total moron.