Monday, February 4, 2008

Attitude & Action



I’ve heard it said many times before
Firemen are brave, but humble men
Although I agree that this sounds great
It’s not the way it’s ever been

Firefighters are not humble men
We think we’re pretty special
We push ourselves beyond our limits
Although it’s often stressful

We make no claim of wealth or power
Or influence of any kind
But in our hearts we know damn well
Men like us are hard to find

We take a back seat only to God
And even then we challenge
The so-called “acts of God” He deals
To make sure it’s what He meant

We think our companies and departments
Are the “best of the best”
We pride ourselves in having no equal
No matter what the test

There’s no room for humble in us
We need to wield the power
Our enemies are death and destruction
And we can’t afford to cower

Your property and your very life
May someday depend on me
And you won’t look for a humble man
But one who’s all he can be

Copyright 2007 - Tom Kenney

Working Class Hero
(aka - I Ain't No Fuckin' Hero)

They call me a working class hero
But that’s not the way I feel
I ain’t no fuckin’ hero
I can’t live to that ideal

When I was a young man
I dreamed of glory and of fame
But now I’m just so tired
Of all the hurt and pain

When we arrived
There was madness in the air
Smoke and flames
Seemed to be everywhere.
The cries and the pleading
Cut through the dark
And guided our movements
As we strapped on our gear

It was a scene no different
Than a hundred before
A building consumed by fire
As we crawled through its door
“My baby’s in there”
A mother screamed
Suddenly all of our senses
Were heightened all the more

They call me a working class hero
But that’s not the way I feel
I ain’t no fuckin’ hero
I can’t live to that ideal

When I was a young man
I dreamed of glory and of fame
But now I’m just so tired
Of all the hurt and pain

We fought our way
Through the gates of hell
Pushing forward
Straining every cell
For a life is in the balance
Depending on us
Failure is not an option
When we answer the bell

But try as we may
Failure does come too often
And knowing we tried
Can never soften
The hurt or the sorrow
That will always stay with us
Or help us to fight
The gloom we seem lost in

On this day
We prevailed
But it still can’t make up for
The times that we failed

Those faces haunt us
In all of our dreams
The ones that we didn’t save
Despite all their screams

They call me a working class
But that’s not the way I feel
I ain’t no fuckin’ hero
I just want time to heal

When I was a young boy
Dreaming of glory and fame
I never dreamed a single life
Could witness so much pain
But now I’m just so tired…

Copyright 2004 - Tom Kenney


I need a place where I can go
And still feel productive
I need to feel I’m still important
With a lot still to give

Firefighting is a young man’s job
On that I can agree
But it also takes experienced men
To help the young ones to see

When I began on my long journey
With body strong and lean
I could push my muscles to the brink
Like a well-oiled machine

But now my body’s had enough
Of the suffering and the pain
So I leave it to the younger guys
To shoulder the physical strain

I now have other ways to help
In the battle that we wage
My experience has taught me well
Some things improve with age

So now I lead instead of follow
In getting the job done
‘Cause it doesn’t matter in the end
We all work as one

I also contribute my tales of history
Of how it used to be
For now that I’m an old timer
The men look up to me

I try to inspire the newer men
To be the best they can
No matter how you judge a company
We’re still measured man by man

I’ve found that I can make a difference
Merely with my words
To think there’s only a single way
To be an asset is absurd

So I push myself to write these days
As I pushed my body in a fire
And I’ll continue to push and push and push
And it won’t stop when I retire

Copyright 2006 - Tom Kenney


Consumed is the only word I know
That adequately describes my state
Consumed by my personal mission
Ridding the world of hate

I’ve seen too much of what hate can do
On the streets of my own city
Kids don’t see how their hatred spreads
And this is just a pity

All they know are the lives they’ve led
And they feel the need to be tough
But their violence begets more violence
And it’s never quite enough

He shoots him, so you shoot he
It’s called gang retaliation
Now I’m supposed to take you down
In another confrontation

Realistically you have to know
That it’s only a matter of time
Before you get a bullet in your ass
Because revenge will be mine

Some would say, leave them alone
They’re only killing each other
But I contend they’re worth the effort
Not wanting to give up on another

They’re human beings, and mostly kids
Who’ve somehow lost their way
We can’t give up, and just let them be
This is not a game they play

I’ve stood above their dead bodies
And held their dying hands
They play for keeps on these city streets
They don’t seem to understand

The permanence of their actions
As something they can’t take back
And the foreverness of a death
Is a comprehension they seem to lack

We need to teach them tolerance
For others not the same
‘Cause it’s only through this means
That things can truly change

Often it’s the outer things
Like the color of our skin
That seems to set us far apart
Ignoring what’s within

For all our obvious differences
A child’s still conceived in love
And though hatred is an ugly beast
It’s a beast they can rise above

It’s the children who hold the key
To their own salvation
And we, as parents, have the power
To stop their condemnation

In all my years I’ve never seen
A child who’s been born evil
But we pass on our own anxieties
Our fears, our hatred, our will

We need a fresh new perspective
From the youthful generation
Free from all their parents biases
To alter our direction

I’ll dedicate my time and effort
To turn this trend around
By educating our younger minds
That we all share common ground

It’s our similarities, not disparities
Which will ultimately unite us
And unless this idea has taken hold
We’ll never learn to trust

No longer pitting group versus group
We will then be working together
With hopes of living side by side
With peace and love forever

Tom Kenney - 2006

Blood, Sweat & Tears

I’ve left my own personal trail
Of blood, sweat and tears
On the streets of Providence
Throughout the last few years

I find some comfort for the blood and sweat
With a healthy dose of cheer
But relief from tears is never achieved
With any amount of beers

While pain relievers and alcohol
Can lessen my wear and tare
These things can only do more harm
By disguising my deepest fears

It’s an endless trap, this coward’s crutch
This macho mask I wear
Pretending that the depression’s not real
By acting as if it’s not there

For PTSD has crept up on me
From seemingly nowhere
But it’s laid itself a strong foundation
During the course of my career

Now that I’ve come to realize
That it’s effects can be severe
I need to begin to help myself
And my course is crystal clear

I need to find a way to cope
I need to bend someone’s ear
I’ve kept things bottled up too long
Not wanting anyone to hear

For delving into personal doubts
And feelings just seems queer
Sharing these things with a stranger
Is not something I’d volunteer

This is the way I’ll finally save myself
But the words need to be sincere
This is the way I’ll purge my demons
Though they’ll never disappear

Tom Kenney - 2007

The Glow

Most people have misconceptions
About our toughest fires
Big mill buildings burn like the devil
Flames growing ever higher
And if I said these fires didn’t pump me up
I would be a liar

Watching flames shoot from every window
May be spectacular to see
But burning as they may, all through the night
Makes for a long job, I agree
This spectacle might seem exciting to some
But not anymore, to me

It’s the smaller buildings, with cramped quarters
That present our toughest foes
Inching up a debris-laden stairway
Clearing them as we go
Crawling down a dark and smoky hallway
Searching for the glow

For the fire burns slowly while giving off smoke
That banks down to the floor
Black as coal and as thick as a blanket
Oozing out the door
This smoke is super-heated like a locomotive’s furnace
‘til it can’t heat up any more

When things get this hot the room flashes over
Flames consuming all
For the fire has now gotten the oxygen to breathe
And the glow is no longer small
If a firefighter is caught in this deadly explosion
He might not escape the hall

This is why it’s imperative we seek out the glow
Before it begins to grow
And fighting our way to the seat of the fire
Is the only way we know
To fend off disaster by dousing the flames
Before the heated gases blow

Tom Kenney - 2007

Total Calls

Tonight I finally did the math
And it shocked the hell out of me
I added all the calls I’ve had
Just so I could see

I’ve often wondered how many times
That I have answered the bell
During the course of twenty-six years
It seemed impossible to tell

So I went down the line year by year
For some years there were more
Took the total yearly runs of each
And divided that by four

Five different companies over that time
To which I was assigned
Some were busier trucks than others
But when they were combined

I found that I had slid the pole
More often than I had thought
It seems I must have been having fun
When there was a fire to be fought

Some only lasted a minute or two
But some have dragged on all day
No two runs to which I’ve responded
Have ever been the same

The runs have piled up one at a time
To twenty thousand calls
That number surprises me even now
I can’t believe I’ve been on them all

Tom Kenney - 2007