We’ve been here at Station 51, the San Francisco Fire Department’s newest fire house, for just over a year. As you may recall we took over for the Federal Firefighter’s who were no longer going to be staffing the Presidio of San Francisco.
We moved into the almost 100 years young firehouse and began to make it our home.
Funny thing about old houses though, is that they have quirks and this house is no exception.
My absolute favorite thing is the incredible number of phone jacks here. There are dozens of all shapes and ages. In the old apparatus garage, now a make shift gym we plugged in a phone to answer when exercising. Makes sense, but it never rang. You can make calls on it just fine, but it never rang when the other 2 house lines would. We dismissed it as a broken ringer since all of our phones are hand me downs.
Then one morning I heard a faint ringing coming from he gym. Curious, I went to investigate.
It was ringing.
I think we have Rod Serling’s old phone because the people that call that number are the most interesting people I have ever spoken to. They often have no idea they have called a fire house, or are using a telephone to begin with.
One woman was calling to ask if I would give her $5 to get home to her dog. When I asked where she was she admitted she wasn’t sure and hung up.
Another woman called and after I answered “firehouse” which is how we answer the non official phone, she asked “Is this AT&T?”. “Uh, no, this is a San Francisco Firehouse.” “Are you sure?” “Quite sure.”
Sometimes we get butt dialed and I try to listen to hear if I can figure out where these people are.
Could they all be in one place? Could it be a prank? If it is it is the most well thought through prank I’ve ever been hit with since the calls keep getting weirder and weirder.
Just the other morning I was on my way out when it rang and I ran to answer it.
“I’m trying to find out about a fire extinguisher?”
“OK, how can I help?”
“It’s gone off the wall. Did you guys take it or what?”
A semi-fair question, not the first time I’ve heard it.
“Where are you right now?” Thinking the answer ‘home’ or ‘at work’ would come next…
“I’m in a bathroom and there’s a sign that says fire extinguisher but no hook or anything.”
“Sir, what City are you in?”
“Why do you need to know?” *click*
The pace of speech and accent would have caused anyone on the other line to crack up laughing if it was a prank.
I love that phone.