CLOSE

Do Fire Stations Ever Catch Fire?

Of course, the answer is of course. Life is just ironic that way. What's surprising however is how many stations have gone up in smoke, and how often it happens. Just this year, for instance, a firefighter in Japan, in haste, left the stove on while cooking dinner in the firehouse on the way out to fight a blaze. Ten fire trucks from other, nearby stations, had to put out the firehouse fire. Perhaps the guilty fireman should consider ordering-in for dinner from now on?

Closer to home, also this year, a fire broke out in a Capitol Heights, Maryland fire station. This one started in a fire truck engine. When an initial automatic fire alarm was sounded, volunteer firefighters on duty at the time foolishly cancelled it. Five minutes later, they were on the phone with dispatch requesting backup. Eight minutes after that, firefighters from a nearby station were on the scene, putting out the blaze.

Also in Maryland (Largo, to be exact), even more recently (May 19th, to be exact), the Bladensburg fire station caught fire when wiring inside the ladder truck went up in smoke. There were two fire station fires in Illinois not too long ago, as well. In Elwood on August 26,1995, a fire station caught fire and burned to the ground. And in Fillmore, a tiny community southeast of Springfield, another fire station caught fire and burned to the ground.

More recently, Pennsylvania had a lulu of its own. On July 7th, the Strattanville Volunteer Fire Department was alerted to a roof fire at its own station. The cause? Arson! When the two guys who started the fire were caught and brought into the police station, one of them said he lit his boxer shorts on fire and then threw them onto the roof of the fire station, adding that he "thought it would be funny" if the fire station caught fire.

Of course, there's nothing funny about any of these fires, but it does make you think. And ask other questions, like: who delivers the mail to a post office? Food for thought on this Labor Day...

arrow
History
The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
holidays
Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)
iStock
iStock

For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, UglyChristmasSweater.com sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios