Toledo, Oh. - Veteran firefighter James McGonkin left his SCBA on the fire engine last month and headed into a 3-alarm ripper to save some kids who were trapped in a basement.
"I'd just had it. First it was Big Oxygen telling us we needed SCBA's in the 80's when they got into bed with the NFPA. Then they teamed up with Big Pharma, scaring us with claims of cancer." McGonkin said after hocking up several loogies while leaning on the hood of his Battalion Chief's car. " Yeah we all bought into it for years, but a lot of us have woken up. I understand smoke can be deadly or very dangerous for SOME people, but so are strawberries and so is shellfish. Doesn't mean we ban the sale of them. I was eatin' smoke for a decade before I was forced to wear this crap. I've had it though, I'm not giving up my liberty any more."
Battalion Chief Scott Osborn seemed a bit less convinced.
"Well, he's got a point on one end, but..uh.. y'know there is a lot of evidence out there about y'know, cancer and stuff. And anyway that's just McGonkin, he's always been saltier than the ocean. One time I found him taking a shit in the bathroom of a building that the Chief had ordered us to evacuate. Just sitting there, stogie in his mouth and doing his business. We got a lot of guys like that in the fire service. Maybe you should be talking to my PIO about this..."
Rookie firefighter Greg Pinion has a very different opinion, however.
"I respect Jim and trust him with my life, but I think a lot of the old..um..experienced guys have a hard time changing with the times. Not wearing an SCBA is just anti-science. If we all stop wearing them we'll overwhelm our hospitals with CO poisoning cases within a month. With all due respect to Jim of course."
"The fire service has always been about service, and one of the ways we serve is to sooth the fears of the public." McGonkle says, pulling a cigar out of the band around his helmet and lighting it. " How would you feel if you were choking on the smoke of a real rager, only to see me saunter in wearing a mask and breathing easy? I bet you'd feel a lot more relieved if I showed up bare-faced and grinning. Used to be, I caught a pediatric grab back in the day, their faces would light up as soon as they saw me. Ever since SCBA's became mandatory, these kids just keep crying. The media and the government want to keep you scared though. It's a form of control, but your fear is your problem. Not mine."