Amazing FDNY terminology which stood the test of time

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Nationwide the fire service often has different terms for the same equipment. Ex: booster line = redline = reel line = jump line. It’s interesting to see how FDNY terms were not only different than many other places but also endured the test of time even after the original piece of equipment for which it was named was replaced, upgraded, or different manufacturer:

Some Examples:

multiversal - a three inlet beast made of solid brass for the most part - it was a portable master stream with a set of stacked tips capable of flowing 600-800-1000 GPM. Originally they were mounted on the roofs of the 1950’s and 1960’s Mack C cabs. When the Mack CF’s came on the job in the late 1960’s they were equipped with a 2 inlet portable Stang that was locked in place on top of the pump house but could be removed and used with a folding grate for ground use. Yet many on the job still called it a multiversal. Later as the Seagrave pumpers came on the job a fixed deck gun was put in place along with the separate Akron ground monitors. - yet even to this day occasionally you will hear a progress report with the term “ multiversal in operation”.

Mask - Prior to self contained breathing apparatus- the fire service used the Chemox oxygen generating mask - when SCBA came into being , and the majority of the country called them airpaks or SCBA, FDNY continued to use the term Mask . To this day many members still call the entire scba a mask.

hook - going back to the 1800’s the hook and ladder companies used hooks to pull burning thatched roofs. The term continued to be used for centuries. In the mid and late 1900’s most fire departments were using the term pike pole. E.g. “ can we get some guys in here with pike poles to pull ceilings”. FDNY continued to use the term hooks. Today with the advent of many different types of hooks starting with the FDNY roof hook, then the plaster hook, trash hook, San Francisco hook, etc. ironically the generic term hook is being utilized more and more again

roll ups - a folded length of 2-1/2” (and now a 2” length as well) for shoulder carry at standpipe operations. Many departments call these hotel packs (Memphis), hi rise packs, standpipe packs, etc.

Roof rope - lifesaving rope in a bag carried to the roof - Many departments call them lifelines, life safety ropes etc.

Handi Talkie - this was a specific model of Portable Motorola radio with attached shoulder microphone that was used by FDNY in the 60’s and 70’s. Since 1980, FDNY has gone through many newer and different model Motorola radios - currently using the Apex model. FDNY members commonly use the term handi talkie to denote a portable radio even though the handi talkie was phased out 40 years ago.

the continued use of these terms helps perpetuate history and tradition - which we should all be doing with the newer members. Great stuff. Stay well all.
 
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Many of the early firefighters were unemployed sailors. Steam ships were rapidly replacing the labor-intensive sailing ships, resulting in high levels of unemployment for many sailors in New York City during the late 1800s and early 1900s. These sailors were accustomed to long periods of hard work, enduring incredible physical challenges sailing ships across the open seas with few family comforts; thus, they were a good fit for living a life away from home in a firehouse and capable of performing hazardous work in all weather conditions. Sailing ships was one of the most complicated tasks of the time and demanded good teamwork to overcome the dangers of sinking in a storm. One can imagine a group of ex-sailor firefighters regaling each other while sitting around the potbellied stove, telling tales of raging seas with “all hands on deck”; this is where the phrase “all-hands fire” originated.

By Chief Howard Hill, Fire Engineering Magazine 2019
 
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Nationwide the fire service often has different terms for the same equipment. Ex: booster line = redline = reel line = jump line. It’s interesting to see how FDNY terms were not only different than many other places but also endured the test of time even after the original piece of equipment for which it was named was replaced, upgraded, or different manufacturer:
Engines (Enjines) - for the steam engine that powers the pump.
Trucks - for the wagon that carries ladders and hooks. (Note: Truckies sounds better than Ladderers or Hookies)
Wagons - for the hose carrier.
Buggy - for the Chiefs' vehicles.
Squad - for the complement of people carried.
Tenders - for water tankers because in California tankers have wings.
Plug - for the hydrant.
Run - for how you used to respond to fires
 

mack

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"Collyer's Mansion Condition"​


For decades, FDNY used the terminology "Collyer's Mansion Condition" to describe a cluttered fire building.


FIREHOUSE

Collyer's Mansion Conditions




 

mack

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"Hook" has another past use. Someone could be hooked for breaking regulations.


More terms, which are sometimes hard to confirm department origin, but were used for decades in FDNY:

Halligan tool/bar - forcible entry tool invented by FDNY DC Hugh Halligan in 1948
MPO - aka Motor Pump Operator or chauffer
Transmit the Box - request for a full first alarm assignment - currently a "10-75"
Bus - an ambulance
Chinese 72
Rabbi - a mentor
Seagull - a meal raider looking for free leftovers
 
Last edited:
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"Collyer's Mansion Condition"​


For decades, FDNY used the terminology "Collyer's Mansion Condition" to describe a cluttered fire building.


FIREHOUSE

Collyer's Mansion Conditions




Yes! Funny if you use that term most elsewhere in the country - they are like what the hell is that? Great addition to this thread
 
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"Hook" has another past use. Someone could be hooked for breaking regulations.


More terms, which are sometimes hard to confirm department origin, but were used for decades in FDNY:

MPO - aka Motor Pump Operator or chauffer
Transmit the Box - request for a full first alarm assignment - currently a "10-75"
Bus - an ambulance
Chinese 72
Rabbi - a mentor
Seagull - a meal raider looking for free leftovers
Thanks Mack. Excellent additions along with probably will hold and fire is doubtful and “onion skin”
 
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In the modern politically correct FDNY the term "Collyers Mansion" is no longer to be used....the new term is "clutter" .......sub termed ...Light ...Medium or Heavy.
 
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Wasn't a hook also someone who could help you get a transfer into another company or a transfer out of a company?

Also QC/T - qualified chauffeur/tillerman in a truck company. As well as Take Up
 
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Take a mark/scratch in the journal
Put your ":John Hancock" on this line in the book
In the dispatcher's office - Give X companies 3 rings
 
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