*In Remembrance of Salina Fire Engineer Richard “Steve” Funke
When I tell emergency responders about the “old days” they often look at me with disbelief. Granted, there are only a few of us old dinosaurs left.
We started our career when air packs were optional. And there were only a few available – 15 minute sling-pack demand style.
There were no thermal cameras. No hoods. No sit down seat for firefighters.
We rode on the tailboard with the wind blowing in our face, hanging on for dear life to a chin high chrome bar. On snowy days we might hook up a couple spanner belts and do a little skiing on the way back to the station. “Old days”
Gloves were the mustard colored cotton jersey version. Medical gloves weren’t available because infection control hadn’t been invented yet. Mobile radios were just making their entry. Turnout gear resembled a heavy rain coat with thigh level rubber boots. “Old days”
I could have referred to the old days as the “good old days”, but we know that operationally it wasn’t good. What was good though was the camaraderie.
During the “old days” emergency responders had a tighter bond. I believe it might best be explained with an example.
Several weeks ago one of the old timers left us. His name was Richard “Steve” Funke. Many of us simply called him “Mother.”
Mother spent the majority of his career as a fire engineer for the Salina Fire Department. And that role was probably part of the reason for the name “Mother”, but there was more, much more.
You see the caring didn’t start or stop on the fire ground. It was constant, whether it was preparing meals, or just general concern for your welfare. That was Steve. We will miss him.
The “old days” – they weren’t all bad.