Since early June, a slew of fires set by a yet-to-be-identified arsonist have left clouds of smoke hanging over the city of Pawtucket. But even these clouds have a silver lining: members of the Pawtucket Fire Department report that they have been having tons of fun sliding down the fire station’s pole.
“Our pole is really awesome to go down,” said Ramon Gomez, a firefighter and Pawtucket resident. “You just hold onto it and jump! I am always excited when I get a chance to ride the pole, and lately, there have been a lot of those.”
The arsonist has been implicated in seven house burnings and nine automobile explosions. For local firemen, that means sixteen slides on the pole. “Whoever is behind these fires is a villain, that much is clear,” said Todd Ramsey, Fire Chief of Pawtucket. “But thanks to him, I am reminded almost every day of why I became a fireman: sliding!”
The coolest part of responding to the arsonists’ fires is definitely the pole, Ramsey said, but that does not mean the fun stops when the firemen reach the ground floor of the station. “After that, we run to the trucks as fast as we can,” he reported. “We all yell stuff like, ‘Let’s get this douche-bag!’—anyway, we curse a ton.”
“Then we hop in the trucks and turn the flashing lights on,” Ramsey continued. “Those lights rule! Plus the siren makes a sound like, wee-woo-wee-woo. Because of the way the sound and the lights combine, the ride to the fire is the best ever.”
Between spraying super-powered hoses, wearing yellow suits, and, of course, sliding down the pole, firemen admit that they often forget about the person who started the fires. But most are quick to remember. “Thinking about that man makes me sad, but it makes me happy, too,” said fireman Howard Smith. “I hope the police catch him. But maybe after they catch him, they could still let him set fire to buildings every once in a while—not too many, just some of them. Some buildings would still be okay, I think.”
“And before they throw him in jail, they should let him come ride the pole at least once,” Smith suggested. “Otherwise it would be unfair.”
Little progress has been made towards even identifying the arsonist, however, largely due to a lack of motivation among members of the Pawtucket Police Department. “Someone turns up a piece of evidence, and it’s like, b-o-o-o-ring,” said Detective Melanie Ross. “That just means we get to turn on our computers and mess around with databases and hopefully fall asleep on our keyboards. If we’re lucky, we drive in the cars, but that’s nothing special because I already have a car at my house that I can use whenever I want.”
“If we ever arrest this guy, it will only be because we are tired of hearing firefighters talk about that goddamn pole,” Ross concluded.