This amusing anecdote is that of former Sandown fireman Colin Edwin Pidgeon and was kindly written down and supplied by his son Geoff just a few weeks after the former's sad passing in 2019.


When Dad joined the 'Grafton Street Gang' in '71, he worked in the Town Hall next to the fire station. It was the procedure, on receiving a 'shout', that the first man in would take the message from Control and start the log; times, address, which pump/s and incident type etc.

The downside to this was that you missed out on riding the engines to the incident. It only took a few day time calls and occasions doing the watchroom duties for Dad to get wise.

Rather than speed from the Town Hall to the fire station and be compelled to do the administration while others clambered aboard the engines and tore off to the fire, he would divert and hide in the toilets in Grafton Passage (the toilet entrance was directly opposite the side entrance to the station). From here he would watch for the first person to enter the station, and follow shortly after. He employed this tactic for three years until his work caused him to relocate to County Hall.

Over those years he was not the only fireman to use this manouvre and occasionally was joined in the public toilets by a cunning chum.

A Confession

Receiving Colin's anecdote from Geoff gave me a wry smile and compels me to admit a similar anecdote of my own... in fact more of a confession!

When I was first a firefighter at Ryde Fire Station the procedure there was the exact opposite of that described at Sandown. At the time the station boasted two engines and a water carrier. No matter which combination of appliances were required, whoever was the next person to arrive after all seats on the vehicles were occupied was compelled to do the watchroom duties... paperwork! 

At the time I lived within a stone's throw of the station and worked not that much farther away so it was very rare for me to not be a part of the riding crew for almost everything. However there were those odd occasions when I'd be out in the car or otherwise delayed from my usual rapid arrival.

In the event that I ran into the station and discovered that I was the first non-rider to arrive, my usual reaction would be to quickly check to see if anyone was close behind me and had seen me, and if not, duck and hide either behind the wheelie-bin by the entrance or in the toilet until some other unsuspecting colleague wandered in and started the admin.

Shame on me.