It’s time for some honesty. In many ways, I’m still a kid—I look up to certain people, characters, and professions for inspiration and see them as my heroes. I want to be as tough, cool, strong, and self-sacrificing as they are. In short, I want to be a good person and help others. And at the top of my list of heroes (just below Batman) are firefighters.
Firefighters rank among some of the most trusted professions, according to an Ipsos poll. Everyone’s pretty much aware that their jobs require physical, emotional, and mental fortitude that far from everyone has. And they save people for a living. However, these everyday heroes also have to deal with their fair share of stupid situations.
Case in point, the firefighters of Reddit shared stories about the idiots they had to ‘rescue from incredibly dumb situations. Have a read through some of their stories below and let us know which one of these sounded the most ridiculous to you.
However, such situations are outliers. Bored Panda spoke about the constant physical and psychological stress that firefighters have to deal with in their profession with a psychotherapist who is currently conducting research on this very topic.
#1A motorist had a bad alternator and the car died while she/he was driving. The electric lock control stopped working. We were dispatched for a person trapped in a motor vehicle. On arrival, the advice was given to manually lift the lock knob.
You can easily tell the ones who will not survive the first 24 hours of the zombie apocalypse.
#2I'm not a firefighter, but I used to do a lot of disaster response work.
Hurricane Floyd. Eastern NC. I had a farmer with a large family that refused to evacuate his house. Stubborn bastard. River had broke loose, floodwaters were coming up fast, and the police had given up on changing his mind. I drove my truck right up into his yard, rolled down the window and asked him to dress his kids in something orange or bright yellow. He asked me why and I said "So body recovery will be able to distinguish them from all the dead pigs floating around."
He told me to f**k off, but 5 minutes later he had the whole family in the vehicle and they got the hell out.
#3Two bikini clad girls had to be rescued from a swift moving river in a canoe. Neither girl brought a life vest or a PADDLE
The psychotherapist, who is researching the psychology of firefighters and the challenges they face, explained that this is a profession that requires all-rounded people: firefighters have to be strong, have razor-sharp intellect, and have to be quick. The expert preferred to remain anonymous.
“In their line of work, firefighters have to deal with difficult and unpredictable circumstances which give rise to intense stress reactions,” the expert said.
Some of these stressors arise from the demands of the job itself: their jobs are physically demanding, they have to work in high temperatures and near toxic materials, and use professional equipment. This can lead to lung, heart, and hearing problems. However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The psychological toll is equally as big (if not bigger).
#4I was a volunteer firefighter many years back. One summer, after a long period of no rain, two good old boys decide to have a few (dozen) beers and take their Jeep into a nearby field to go off-roading.
Well, ~2 ft. tall corn stalks that are bone-dry wind-up getting jammed up into the undercarriage, which, on a 90+ degree day, turns out to be hot enough to ignite a fire. The owner of the field sees the situation unfolding from their house and calls for fire and police.
Given the proximity to my location, I go directly to the scene after hearing the page go out and see these two assholes trying to drive the Jeep faster and faster to put the fire out. Eventually, the engine gives out, but they won’t leave the car. I physically had to reach-in, burning my arms in the process (since I didn’t respond to the station first to get my turnout gear), and pull them out - somehow, they decided that remaining in the car would slowdown the flames.
And because they thought it was a good idea to continue driving a burning vehicle around a dry field, we now have a significant brush fire and have to call mutual aid from another county to help douse the fire.
State Police get involved, I have a nice trip to the hospital. And assholes lose their Jeep and the remainder of their booze.
#5Former Fire and Rescue Firefighter here -
Have helped release several dogs and children stuck in the mechanism part of a recliner chair. Also a bird stuck in a tree, go figure.
#6We needed to close the main connection through a forest over the winter because the trees were falling faster on the road than we could remove them due to way to much snow falling. Also the redirection was more than an hour longer due to the snow.
Some cars thought that they would come through but turned around as soon as they saw the trees on the road.
One semi also thought he'd get through. He drove up to the trees and called the fire brigade and complained why we didn't remove the trees. As he was calling a bunch of trees behind him also fell locking him in.
It stood there one month before the trees and the snow could get removed by us that at least the semi can back out. We needed another month until the road was free again.
“Some psychological challenges include having to work in constantly-shifting and unknown surroundings, being pressured by time, having to communicate with victims, taking responsibility for civilians and your teammates, and having to take care of the remains of those who die in fires,” the psychotherapist told Bored Panda just how exhausting and tough being a firefighter really is.
“These psychological stressors can have not only short-term but also long-term effects. For example, research done by the International Association of Firefighters in 2018 showed that 19 percent of respondents thought about suicide, 27 percent had substance abuse problems, 59 percent said they had problems at home and at work, and 65 percent recorded having intrusive thoughts about traumatic events during work,” she said, adding that firefighters can also suffer from PTSD.
#7Dude picked up a metal ring from a hardware store in lieu of paying for an actual cock ring.
It got stuck. He went to the hospital. The hospital called the fire department because a dremel tool turned out to be the right tool for the job.
#8I once had a firefighter tell me he almost died in a house fire while going back into the house to look for the owner. A neighbor was concerned about why the firefighter was still in the residence so he asked another firefighter. This is about how the exchange went:
Neighbor: Why is that fireman still in the house?
Firefighter: He's looking for the owner of the home.
Neighbor: He is right over there with the video camera.
Turns out the owner did not think it was important to alert the fire department he was out of the house. Instead, he was just taking video of the whole event.
The fire started because the owner had tried to smother his barbecue cooker flame with left over wood from the siding that had been installed on his home. The owner did not realize it would burn. Burned his whole house down.
#9Fire department and the paramedics had to come to my work one day because some kid didn’t know the difference between a swimming pool and a splash pad...
There’s this artificial waterfall that goes down into a basin that’s only about 2 inches deep where there’s fountains and stuff for kids to play in. This kid decided to climb up the waterfall (there are multiple signs posted not to do this) and decided to dive off into the water below that again is only 2 INCHES DEEP!
Luckily the kid landed flat on his face so he survived and avoided being paralyzed but he was knocked out cold immediately and would have probably drowned but luckily his mother heard the splat and came running over screaming and pulled him out.
According to the psychotherapist, there are very high demands for firefighters because they’re responsible for “the safety and welfare of society.” They have to be able to respond to various dangerous and risky situations and put their lives at risk for the sake of others. That requires not just physical speed but also being able to make quick decisions under intense pressure. This is why firefighters nearly always rank in the top of lists of the most stressful professions.
I also wanted to learn how firefighters could deal with the fact that they can’t always save people in danger. According to the psychotherapist researching firefighters and the challenges they face, at the core of this lies the understanding that they shouldn’t overestimate the bounds of their duty. In short, and as harsh as it sounds—you physically can’t save everyone and you’re not personally responsible for saving everyone.
“They do the best that they can in every situation. You can’t take responsibility for everyone and it’s important to know your limits. When faced with intrusive thoughts and guilt, it’s vital that you speak to your colleagues and mental health specialists who can help you.”
#10I remember asking a firefighter about this once, and he said a guy who was [doing the dirty with] a woman. Her husband came home, so he jumped out the second story window buck naked and impaled himself through the upper leg on a fence paling. It was one of those fleur de lis ones, so it fucked up his leg pretty badly. They had to cut the paling out of the fence and load him into an ambulance.
#11Former firefighter/EMT. Easily the dumbest person I encountered was a mother of 4 who decided it would be an awesome idea to get a Facebook/Instagram worthy picture of her kids (all under age 10) sitting in a rowboat.
Mother untied it from the dock and thought she'd just pull them back with the rope... That she forgot to hold on to.
They floated a half mile down the river before the two oldest boys managed to grab a branch hanging over the bank.
It was really surreal to see 4 young kids, all in matching clothing, sitting in a boat waiting to be rescued. I have no clue what happened after, but they were physically fine, just scared, a little tired but the mom was in full blown panic mode and kept getting in our way. I hope she's making better choices now.
#12My dad was witness to someone being stupid and rescued by a firefighter. I posted this to the "Tales from tech support" subreddit a while ago. Here's the copy/paste.
My dad worked for IBM's AS/400 (A mainframe system) tech support division for over 10 years (1992 to 2003). A customer called in because he needed to run a report and send it out to the networked printer. For whatever reason, the report was failing to generate and the guy on the phone was freaking out because some corporate big-wig demand that this report be printed and on his desk by 3pm.
Just another day at work.
About 10 minutes into the call my dad starts to hear this strange high pitched noise in the background.
Dad, "Uhh, if you don't mind my asking, what's that noise it the background?"
Caller, "Oh, that's the fire alarm."
"Yeah, the building is on fire."
"Far be it from me to tell you what to do, but shouldn't you get out of there?"
"Dan... you don't understand. I HAVE to get this report printed, now are you going to help me or not?"
So they continue to troubleshoot the issue. A few minutes after that my dad hears shouting in the background.
Dad, "Umm, there seems to be a lot of yelling in the background, is everything OK?"
Caller, "Yeah, it's fine. It's just the firefighters evacuating the building."
"Shouldn't you get out of there too?"
"Dan I absolutely HAVE to get this report printed are you going to help me?"
"I'm not sure that I should."
"We pay our support contract. I have to get this printed and you have to help me! It's almost 3pm!"
"It's just a report I don't think it's worth risking your life."
The caller starts to get furious when the shouting in the background gets much louder. A firefighter has come over to the guy on the phone and starts barking orders at him to get out of the building. The caller tells the firefighter "Look, I have to print this report before 3p and I can't leave until it's printed." Over the phone dad hears the firefighter scream, "I don't give a damn about your goddamned report the building is on fire! Now MOVE!"
There's a scuffling noise and the phone handset on the other end drops to the ground as the firefighter physically drags the caller away. After that, all dad could hear was the sound of the fire alarm and various crackling noises.
Needless to say, the report did not get printed by 3pm.
#13Me and my dad are both firefighters and he said one time they went to a house because an elderly man could not get out of the leather recliner because he had been sitting in it for a week straight and his wife would just serve him drinks/ food and the guy never got up. He would just get drunk and urinate/defecate himself until he was physically stuck to the chair and they had to cut him out.
#14Firefighter/Paramedic in suburb of Phx. Had to transport a guy to the ER because he was constipated. His wife tried to dig it out with a wooden spoon. Spoon got stuck and hurt to move it.
Walked in and there’s a 250 lb man, butt naked, lying on his side with a huge wooden spoon stuck halfway up his butt.
#15Heard this story from a friend. Emergency call comes in for a miscellaneous electrical hazard. Chief walks in and a woman tells him that the tv in the bedroom is making a weird noise. It's turned off but there's a low buzzing sound coming from the area. Chief unplugs the tv (which she didn't think to do???) and the noise doesn't stop. The tv is sitting on top of a chest of drawers so he opens up the top drawer and finds this woman's vibrator just buzzing away. Super awkward.
#16Dumbass tried to cross a raging river in zero degree weather about a 300 foot span on a snowmobile. He lived but didn't make the crossing and the machine was recovered days later.
#17I was called to a home to get a pie out of the oven before it caught fire. The lady went to the store and was delayed for some reason. she called 911 to have the fire department take the pie out of the oven and place it on the stove. The call came in as " Something stuck in over and unable to turn off stove". Still #1 call in 32 years
#18My friend’s former roommate was a firefighter. I describe him like this, and not as my friend because he’s actually a total dick, but he’s still a firefighter, so he saves lives.
Anyway, I was over at their place one day, and firefighter Dave (not his real name) comes home looking exhausted. We could smell the smoke on him, so we knew he had seen some action that day.
We asked him about it and he just got this really sad, but humored look in his eye. An instagram model has set her apartment building on fire by filling her room with candles for some photo shoot where she would pretend to be doing yoga in the middle of hundreds of candles.
But she saw a spider sitting on one of the lit candles... So she sprayed some Raid at it.
The room pretty much ignited extremely quickly and, in her fear, she threw the bottle of Raid at the fire, and then hid in her shower across the hall.
She was still in the apartment when Dave kicked in the door and carried her out, her apartment engulfed in flames. She was close to passing out from smoke inhalation, so Dave had to cradle her in his arms. As he carries her to the window to be lowered on a ladder, she says “Wait”.
Dave stops, thinking she is about to tell him about someone else that needs rescuing.
She meekly lifts her phone and snaps a selfie, making the duck face and everything, flames in the background.
Apparently by the time he left, the Instagram model had posted the photo to her profile and it was already getting tons of likes.
From what I hear, though, she DID kill the spider. So technically she wasn’t a TOTAL moron.
#19Police called to open a door of a flat for them. We came, knocked at the door, the inhabitant opened for us.
#20Had a fellow who was running from the police. He decided to climb on board a chunk of ice that was flowing down the river. I am sure he thought he was a genius at the time, but the issue is that there isn't really a whole lot north of our town for a few hundred miles, so his long term planning wasn't great. Eventually we found him hiding in a small icy overhang on the side of the river suffering from hypothermia.
After a brief stay in hospital he ended up being arrested.
#21This is my dads story, not mine, but I’ve heard it so many times I think I can accurately tell it here.
My dad was on the Boston Fire Department for a little over 35 years. For 13 of those years, he worked at a fire station in Dorchester. In Dorchester, there is a zoo. The Franklin Park Zoo. One morning in late September, they get a call to the Franklin Park Zoo for a young girl mauled by a gorilla.
This is the sort of call they’d get all the time. Gorilla jumps at the glass, kid gets scared, parents panic and call 911.
So they hop in the truck and ride on over. It’s one of those kinda foggy early fall mornings as they walk into the zoo. A couple of the other firefighters start walking into the zoo as my dad notices a man sitting on a bench holding a little girl in his arms. Assuming this is what the call is for, he walks over to the man. The little girl has a scrape on her forehead and she’s crying but is otherwise fine. The man looks like he just saw a ghost. So my dad asks the guy what’s going on.
The man just says “little joe is out”
My dad says “what does that mean?”
The man just repeats “little joe is out”
So my dad says “who the fuck is little joe!?”
Little joe is a 500lb adolescent male silverback gorilla. Loose in the streets of Boston. It’s right about now that my dad realizes that he’s not exactly qualified to handle a gorilla, but he doesn’t know who to call, so he calls everyone.
Two minutes later the fire chief shows up, not knowing what the call was about yet and, jumps out of his car saying “Mark, Mark, is this about a FUCKING gorilla!?”
My dad says “yeah, but how’d you hear that?”
The chief says “he’s standing at the bus stop on Seaver Street!”
Now the swat team shows up, hats on backwards, M16s in hand and my dad, being the smartass he is, looks at the sergeant and says “hey I don’t think this thing is armed”
He caught a bit of flak for that later on
Animal control and the swat team worked together to take down little joe. It took 14 tranquilizer darts before he finally went unconscious. Little joe is still alive and well at the Franklin Park Zoo. And here’s the picture of him at the bus stop for those of you who don’t believe me.
#22Just asked this question of a firefighter friend. He saved a guy who was siphoning gas out of someone's car by sucking gas towards his mouth to start the siphon. The would-be-thief was also smoking while doing it. Burns happened.
#23Had a drunk guy in Antarctica chase a penguin. Penguin stuck his beak through the offending drunk guy's calf. He got sent home, and a report on international treaty breach wound up on some congress member's desk.
Oh McMurdo, how I miss thee.
#24Not me but dad was a firefighter in nyc and once responded to a call at a chinese food restaurant where the owners walkway was iced over. He apparently didnt speak very good english and maybe misunderstood the job of a fireman? Genuinely don't know. They salted down his front walkway for him and explained that this was 100% not their job. They all had a good laugh and the guy gave them all free eggrolls. Ppl always used to ask him questions about crazy calls and he never enjoyed talking about that so he would always tell that story. Happened in '99 still makes me laugh to this day 20 years later.
#25Rescued a guy trying to surprise his girlfriend on Christmas by coming down the chimney completely unannounced. Her son noticed something was going on before she did, put a starter log in the fireplace and almost killed him had the smoke not started billowing out the fireplace into the living room.
I ran into her with a different guy by St. Patricks.
#26Cut handcuffs off a guy. He was super baked and bet his gf that he could Houdini his way out of them. She clamped them on tight and his hands were discoloured. He was yelling at us while the the bolt cutters pinched, but being stupid will cause pain. He was thankful. The best part was his gf gassing him in front of us and a couple of cops.
Also helped out a young woman that climbed 60+ feet up a tree to get her cat at 4am on Sunday morning.
#27i was the dumb call. my cat got her paw stuck under the dishwasher, and was screaming bloody murder. I couldn't move her paw and I couldn't lift the machine, so i sat with her while my husband called the fire department. She chewed right through one of my favorite blankets in her stress.
Fire fighters arrive, not in full suits but heavy boots and pants. Soon as they came around the corner to the kitchen our cat miraculously was able to free her paw and take off to hide in the bathroom.
The guys seemed confused, but at least it was easy? We thanked them profusely for being scary enough to free our cat, who had zero physical damage (not even a broken claw). I guess she'd hooked her claws on something and didn't want to let it go for love or money.
#28Not me, but brother in law used to be a fireman in NYC. His worst story was a bunch of Central Americans who didn't speak a word of English had decided to have a pig roast ... in an apartment building ... in the bath tub. Naturally, the bath tub heated up the walls sufficiently that they started a roaring blaze. He said when he got there they were more interested in them saving the pig than putting out the fire.
#29guy during some bad storms stored his generator gas in open 5gal paint buckets in his garage. Lit his gas grill in the garage. He and his cat both lived.
#30My dad saved a dude who got his gentleman’s bits stuck in a jacuzzi jet. Dude was looking for a cheap thrill and his dingus swelled up and jammed