Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Conversations I have now

"Hi son."

"Hey, ma."

"Were you at that fire on the East Side last night."

"I sure was."

"Where were you?"


"Where the fire was?'


"What time did the call come in."

"2 A.M."

"It's always 2 A.M."

"Is it?"

"How long did it take to put the flames out?"

"An hour. A little more."

"I saw on the news that a lot of people got injured."

"Yeah, I dragged two bodies out. They're both going to be okay though."

"How are you?"

"I'm good, just tired. It's not like I got much sleep last night. I'm leaving work now."

"Want to come here and sleep?"

"No, I want to go home and sleep."

"Okay, son, talk later. Love you."

"Love you, too."


Here is the information posted online about last night's fire: "At 1:54 a.m. today, FDNY was called to 515 East 72 Street in Manhattan for report of a fire on the 24th floor of a 41-story apartment building. The door from the fire apartment to the public hallway was left open; allowing the fire to spread beyond the apartment. Calls to 911 reported smoke on all 17 floors above the fire, which escalated to a 2nd alarm, bringing more than 100 Firefighters, EMTs, and Paramedics to the scene. The fire was brought under control at 3:42 a.m. There were 22 injuries at this fire; 2 critical injuries, 2 serious injuries, 14 non-life threatening injuries, and 4 injured Firefighters."


My son was with other people at the firehouse when I called him earlier, hence his monosyllabic responses. He just called me back to explain that. "Okay, you can ask me anything now," he said, and then he went on. "The main thing to know is if there is ever a fire, close the door. These people left the apartment door open after they ran out, which meant us having to crawl through a smoke and fire filled hallway we knew nothing about, unable to see anything as we tried to connect hoses and find the right apartment. It also meant people in surrounding apartments suffered deadly smoke inhalation. The two people we dragged out were technically dead from it, but fortunately the medics got back a pulse in both of them. Closing the door is really the most important thing. It's the difference between me walking down a clear hallway to your door and being able to be in control of the fire as we put it out, and dangerous, blind chaos."

He confirmed that a couple of firefighters were burned—"It's a fire, Ma, you get burned," he deadpanned when I sucked in a breath—and the outer covering of someone's helmet melted. But the burns were minor and everyone is basically okay. Honestly, every time I ask about his job, I discover something else I didn't know to worry about. Helmet covers can melt?!? In any case, now we know. ALWAYS close the door behind you. This concludes our public service announcement for today.


  1. Oh your precious heart. Courage, my friend.

  2. Courage indeed. Maybe you should make your tattoo permanent!

  3. Oh the words of your previous post come to remind us...yes, courage. Your son's work tugs at our hearts, even from this far away.

  4. There's more in this short post than a heart can handle.
    Your son!

  5. And Yes, the same. How you can stand it I don't know (but mothers do, don't we?)
    And thank you (and him), I didn't know about closing doors. Now I do.

  6. I promise I will close doors. And not go back for pets. Thank you. Thanks for giving the rest of us your son.

  7. You and your son are dear to me. Sending love. Remembering your mother's words and the courage that is her legacy. Your son's vision as a young boy of what he could do for others has evolved into love in action. That photo of your son made an astounding healing impression on my heart today. Thank you on so many levels.

  8. When my kids were little I made sure their bedroom doors were always shut at night. A door provides a lot of protection and reduces airflow.

    I'm so glad your son is ok. I imagine you worry every time you hear of a fire in New York.

  9. Thank you (and him) for that - I did not know. But now I do. And I will pass it on.

    Your stress level must be out of this world.

  10. I was holding my breath over this, too. I told my knitting group about the melted helmet, and they were anxious to know your son's okay! Not his helmet, but still. I passed on his reminder about keeping doors shut in this situation. So let him know his wisdom has traveled far!

    I just found your blog and I've been so moved by your recent posts. I'm going to read you from now on.
    Thank you.

  11. damn. gotta admire your son but hard for a mom.

  12. Thank you for the PSA. I don't think I knew that about closing the door as you run out of an apartment. That really should be taught yearly in every classroom.

  13. Before Christmas we went to see the musical " Come From Away" . Do you know it? One of the ladies who was stranded in Newfoundland immediately after 9/11 had a son who was in the fire service in NY. She spent a lot of time trying to phone and find out if he was OK. I thought of you and ( sorry to spoil the story if you should ever go to see it) at the end when she found out that he had died, it was all I could do to not give out a loud sob! Makes me feel like crying even now....it was a very powerful , true story and so beautifully executed on the stage.

  14. Thank you for the heads up about closing the door and thank you for your service.