How to send your career up in flames, even before it starts
Unless you’re there for the big antique/flea market/collectible shows held a few times a year, there’s not all that much to do in Brimfield, Massachusetts.
I suspect that there’s even less to do in Holland, Massachusetts.
Don’t anyone take it personally, but there are few things that say “dead” to me more than a couple of towns located halfway between Worcester, Massachusetts and Springfield, Massachusetts.
Once you’ve had your fill of playing drive-by home run derby with your neighbor’s mailboxes, you can’t afford a bag, and there’s no one to go to the packy and buy a couple of cold ones for you, I’m guessing that the young folks might run out of things to keep them occupied.
Apparently, one thing that the youngsters can do is become something known as a “call firefighter.”
Now, I’ve always lived in cities, where there are professional fire departments, with paid firefighters. And I’m somewhat familiar with the notion of a volunteer firefighters who work ad hoc and gratis and supplement or substitute for paid fire brigades in small towns. But I hadn’t heard of call fighters, who work on an as-needed basis, and get paid for it.
Call firefighting has attracted at least a handful of young guys out in the Mass. boonies of Brimfield and Holland. And now this handful – three 18 year olds, a 19 year old, and a 20 year old: Brain, Jordan, Dylan, Patrick, and Jordan, which kind of makes them sound like The New Kids on the Block revival – have been charged with deliberately setting fire to a few empty buildings in Brimfield and Holland. They must have seen it as a win-win: they got to respond to the alarm and work those fires – plus they got paid.
I am well aware that young men aged 18-20 are not exactly well known for their thinking.
Still, I shake my head and ask myself what were they thinking?
The answer, I’m guessing, is that they most likely were thinking some variant of:
There’s nothing to do around here.
This place sucks!
I could use some cash.
Even the little brush fires give me a rush.
That building’s empty, anyway.
This place really sucks.
For not being able to think much beyond this, there are three counts of arson hanging over the fire helmets that used to be worn by those young heads.
Not to mention that if anyone of them had the desire to become a “real” fireman, swinging a Halligan in the Big City of Worcester, or the Big City of Springfield, they have pretty much put the kibosh on that career path.
And, of course, they’ll be caught in the Google crosshairs from here to eternity by college admissions officers, Army recruiters, prospective employers of any ilk, and the parents of any girls they got serious with.
I find it especially shocking that, even though they were little kids at the time, these young men – living as they do in Central Massachusetts, and serving as they were as call firefighters – were not aware of the deaths, in 1999, of six Worcester firemen who were working a fire in an abandoned warehouse. Thinking that there might be homeless people in residence, these Worcester guys – including the cousin of a close friend of mine - went inside an empty building to make sure that no one was there. Hard to believe that this story wasn’t known to the Brimfield-Holland Five, and that it wouldn’t have given them some pause before they decided that there’s no harm/no foul if the building they torch is empty.
Fortunately, no one was injured in these fires – other than the five dopes involved. But it could so easily have been otherwise.
In grammar school, the nuns were always warning us that our records were permanent and would follow us through life.
At first, we thought they were talking about our Our Lady of the Angels quarterly report cards. Oh, sure, we’d think, when we’re ancient, like thirty or something, someone was going to care whether we got an 88 or a 93 in Catechism.
Not that I had anything to worry about, but even when we figured out they were talking about shoplifting a rubber dagger at Woolworth’s or throwing an ice ball at a car, it struck most of us (even the goodiest of goodie-two-shoes; the scarediest of scaredy cats) that it was pretty harsh if your life could be ruined for snatching a nickel toy from Woolie’s. So we didn’t quite believe it. But, just in case, most of us didn’t swipe junk from stores.
Certainly, deliberately lighting a fire is tons more serious than petty shoplifting.
But whatever it is that you do these days is pretty much becoming part of that permanent record that follows you through life.
You’d think more “kids” would think about this before they took part in feckless, reckless activities just because they were bored, wanted to show off their fire fighting skills, or were looking for a bit more walking around money.
Even if these guys don’t end up doing any jail time – and I’m guessing that, if they don’t already have permanent records following them through life, they won’t go to jail; just get probation and restitution costs – their story will live on for as long as there are search engines and people with the ability to enter a search term.
Meanwhile, there’s a term for these guys, and it ain’t call firefighter.
Core story source: Boston Globe.