Each day, firefighters influence hundreds of people whether it be through an emergency response, a business inspection, or a young person visiting a fire station.
Two individuals who have influenced countless hundreds to become firefighters are Firefighter Paramedics Johnny Gage and Roy DeSoto. Their real names are Randolph Mantooth and Kevin Tighe and they played Gage and DeSoto on the NBC television series Emergency!
The show premiered fifty years ago on January 15, 1972, highlighting the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Gage and DeSoto were assigned to Squad 51 along with four others working on Engine 51. The station used during the show was Los Angles County Fire Station 127 located in Carson, California.
Eleven years before Emergency! premiered, I rode my first fire engine in Cedarville, New Jersey and decided then to become a firefighter. With dogged determination, I pursued that goal and each Saturday night Gage and DeSoto influenced me, along with Captain Stanley, Engineer Stoker (who was a real L.A. County firefighter), and Firefighters Lopez and Kelly as they responded to a wide variety of emergencies. The desire to attain my goal was also influenced by Dennis Smith, a New York City firefighter who authored Report From Engine Co. 82, detailing his experiences on a busy engine company in the South Bronx.
I am happy to say that I spent thirty-seven years as a firefighter starting in Cedarville and ending with Loveland Fire Rescue Authority, Colorado, with time in between as a firefighter in the Air Force and Marine Corps. Along the way Emergency!, Dennis Smith, and firefighters in Cedarville, Philadelphia, military fire departments, Loveland, and other departments influenced me.
Who has influenced you? Who are you influencing? What television shows, movies, and books have influenced you? Have they been good or bad influences? They all make a difference and each one has an impact on our lives and those around us.