JD’s Comedy ‘Call Outs’!

JD Morgan’s Comedy ‘Call Outs’! – A ‘Shout’ is an Emergency ‘Call Out’ in the UK.


The sixth man on the ‘pump’ always got out of the back of the cab to give the Officer-In-Charge (OIC) a hand on a ‘shout’. This procedure had always been part of our station’s culture and so, in keeping with it, I jumped out to help our Leading Firefighter (LFF), Terry, in order to ‘scout out’ a large block of council flats where there was an ‘alarm sounding’.

I remember it being around half past eight in the evening; so, once again, we weren’t expecting any foul play, as it was more likely burnt toast, an over-heated saucepan boiled dry or steam coming from a showerhead. 

However, when we entered the staircase of this block of flats and made our way to its second floor, we could hear a man calling out for help! ‘Over here! Over here!’, he cried, and, as we hurried along a lengthy corridor which smelt of cheap booze and stale cigarette smoke, Terry noticed a front door ajar with a commotion coming from inside.

So, knocking loudly in order to announce ourselves – even though the door wasn’t shut – I entered quickly, calling out, ‘Fire Brigade! Can anyone hear me?’ As there was no response, Terry pushed past and we both walked into the lounge only to be confronted by a sight that I have never forgotten.

A large, elderly man was sat astride another thinner one, even older than himself, who was trapped underneath the former’s corpulent body weight! The heavily-built man on top was dressed in nothing more than a stringy, white vest, traditional Y-front underpants – this was long before the advent of modern, trendy boxer shorts – and an old pair of scraggy, unwashed, grey ankle socks.

In effect, the weighty man on top had trapped the other man’s arms underneath his elbows, pinning him down firmly to the ground by placing his crotch under the other man’s chin and then thrusting both thighs forwards – thereby spreading his entire body weight across his helpless victim’s chest! As a result, the man underneath was unable to move, as the male on top continued staring down at his face, mumbling obscenities at his submissive ‘captive’. Quite clearly, both had been drinking heavily and were very much ‘worse for wear’!

Then, to add to the bizarre feel about the entire spectacle, there was also a small, frail lady sitting on the sofa opposite who had a cloudy wine glass in her shaking hand and was staring out vacantly into space, totally silent and seemingly oblivious to everything going on around her! She appeared to be suffering from a combination of shock, sedation and excessive alcohol consumption! And, as we couldn’t seem to get any sense out of her, nor, indeed, the half-naked old man sitting astride of his hapless victim, Terry knelt down and asked the chap, pinned to the floor, where the hell the fire was, as – given the circumstances – we didn’t ‘bloody well have time to waste on this type of domestic’ incident’ when there could be flames engulfing the immediate vicinity!

At that, the elderly man still pinned to the ground confessed that there’d been no fire in the first place, as, in fact, he’d been stuck there for an hour or so with the other man’s wedding tackle and underpants nestled neatly underneath his chin! They’d been drinking all afternoon and then into the evening, and he’d been accused of ‘trying it on’ with the corpulent man’s lady friend – who, of course, turned out to be the drunken, elderly woman completely sloshed on the sofa! Subsequently, and as a last resort, he’d begged the frail old lady to stumble out into the corridor and smash a ‘Break Glass’, so that we, the Brigade, could finally come out to his rescue!

Needless to say the OIC’s face was an absolute picture while putting back a ‘Stop’ to Control stating that we were no longer required and to refer the matter to the Police – now needed urgently – in order to resolve an ‘amorous dispute’ between two old-age pensioners ‘duelling’ for the hand of their fair lady, who, in all honesty, must have been fast approaching her late-seventies, if a day!      


For similar accounts from JD Morgan’s true-life experiences as a community firefighter, please go to Firefighting Stories or return to JD’s Home Page. Left-click on any title for a free introduction – many more stories about a whole range of topics are available in ‘SHOP’



It was the early 1990s, and I’d been called out to my first ‘cat stuck up a tree’!

Having been brought up on Trumpton as a child (an animated television series produced in the UK around 1967), I knew the roll call of that town’s firemen ‘off by heart’, ‘Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grub’ – followed by a loud whistle sound! I am not sure if I can ever remember their having to attend any major fires or car accidents, but, when it came to a-cat-stuck-up-a-tree rescue, they always seemed to use an aerial platform, as their grateful and admiring public looked on in appreciation and awe of their exploits. 

Therefore, when I responded to my alerter one sunny Saturday afternoon and the ‘tip out’ sheet read, ‘Distressed cat stuck up a tree!’, I was relieved to find that it was an experienced Sub Officer (Sub-O) who was going out in charge of our ‘pump’ as I felt sure that he’d know how to deal with such a potentially delicate situation, especially as the call to Control would have almost certainly originated from the cat’s anxious owner or a distressed and worried neighbour.

I was slightly puzzled, however, that Control had only mobilised one ‘pump’ and no ‘sky ladder’, so to speak, as I imagined that one would be required to reach the dizzy heights where the cat would be situated or was the ‘Sub-O’ waiting until we booked in attendance, so as to determine if, in fact, it was a legitimate call and not a hoax or ‘malicious’?

We arrived in good time as a crew of six, and there were, indeed, a few members of the public waiting around to wave us down, as we approached, telling us it had been there for hours and was simply too terrified to budge!

The tree wasn’t too large, to be honest, and didn’t have that many leaves to obscure our view or camouflage a cat – so, its black fur was clearly visible against the backdrop of the tree’s brown-coloured branches and leafy, green foliage.

And, when the ‘Sub-O’ got out of our ‘pump’, I jumped off with him to lend a hand and, as he was looking up at the tiny cat clinging on to a large branch, I asked if he would like me to request the attendance of an ‘aerial’. ‘No need!’, he replied dismissively, and, as I walked away towards the back of the ‘pump’ to start preparations for a crew of four to slip and pitch the 13.5 ladder, he shouted out in my direction, “What the bloody hell d’you think you’re doing, JD?”

I turned around and looked back at him, replying “Just about to get the lads to slip and pitch the 13.5 ladder, ‘Sub’!” ‘No need for that!’, he said, in a sort-of sarcastic, know-it-all way, which made me think that he’d already formed in his head a solid, fail-safe plan. ‘Just get me the hose reel jet!’, he ordered, “That’ll do the trick!”

So, I handed him our high-pressure hose reel jet and, having given the order ‘Water on!’, in no time, he had 26 Bar flowing through to form a formidable firefighting jet!

And, as the ‘Sub-O’ opened up the hose reel branch, he gradually began to raise the jet up the centre of the tree’s trunk, then to the right a little and into its low-lying branches, slowly elevating the water flow as he did so. Although not yet near enough for the cat to realise what was going on, I did notice that it was becoming increasingly aware of the increased noise levels and activity going on below, as it continued digging its claws deep into the bark of the branch upon which it was still clinging.

Then, all of a sudden, it appeared to dawn upon the forlorn feline that something involving huge quantities of cold water was fast approaching, and, as such, within the space of a few, short seconds it had raised itself up from its crouching position, dis-embedded its claws and, before a single drop of water had made contact with its fur, re-gained the courage to race down the trunk at break-neck speed and, believe it or not, was back down on the ground in a flash!

‘That did the trick!’, stated the ‘Sub-O’, triumphantly, as he gave the signal to turn off the water, as the cat was now safely back on terra firma and would soon be returned to the welcoming arms of its grateful owner!

I have since attended numerous animal rescues, where other far more sophisticated methods have been used  – some not nearly as successful, it has to be said – but, on that occasion, almost thirty years ago, as blunt as the ‘Sub-O’ was in adopting his unorthodox approach, it all ended happily with the minimum of fuss – and, of course, resources! 


For similar accounts from JD Morgan’s true-life experiences as a community firefighter, please go to Firefighting Stories or return to JD’s Home Page. Left-click on any title for a free introduction – many more stories about a whole range of topics are available in ‘SHOP’


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