Monday, February 4, 2008

"Fireman's Flame"

Fireman’s Flame

You, my love, are the one
My one and my only
You make me feel that I’m loved
Never letting me feel lonely

You make me feel feelings
I’ve never felt before
Feelings that you make me
So eager to explore

I now feel that I can share
All my hopes and my dreams
I’ve finally found my soul-mate
And in some ways it seems... we’ve always been together
Though we’ve only just begun
From the moment I first saw you
I knew you were the one

You started a fire in me, Nancy
I’ll never learn to tame
You’re my dream, my fantasy
You’re this fireman’s flame

Tom Kenney - 2005

What She Means To Me

Somethin’ about the way she looks
Puts me under her spell
Somethin’ about the way she speaks
Puts me in a trance

She may not be a perfect person
But she’s plenty perfect to me
She may not always trust me
But I trust my heart to her

‘Cause there’s somethin’ about her
That oozes beauty through and through
From her funny feet and crooked smile
To her velvety curly hair

When she turned her gaze upon me
And I lost all my control
I knew I had to keep her with me
Or I’d never love again

She’s that special combination
Of beauty, love and soul
That comes along so seldom
You just need to hold on tight
For to lose this special feeling
Would haunt my every breath

So I have to stop pretending
That I’m an independent man
‘Cause I’m so dependent on her love
I’m just not whole without her near

I’d give up everything I have
My heart, my soul, my life
‘Though she doesn’t understand it
She’s the reason I inhale

If I were granted one free wish
It would have to be
That she finally gets to understand
Just what she means to me

Tom Kenney - 2006


To love another
Even more than oneself
Is quite a claim, it’s true
But this is the way
In the depths of my heart
I’ll always feel about you

I love myself
I think I’m a good man
It’s not that I’m undeserving
But you, my love,
Inspire my passion
Make me excited about living

To begin my day
In the glow of your smile
Makes me a happy man
For without your love
And without your presence
I don’t know if I can…

If I can face the world outside…
If I can hold it together…
If I can go on living my life…
If I can face forever…

Tom Kenney - 2006

Sneak Attack

I could never love a person who is this
I could never love a person who is that
I could never date a guy who has tattoos
I could never date a girl who is fat

It never ceases to amaze me that
People think they can control their hearts
But after a number of trials and errors
They come to realize that they cannot

Love seldom comes at you directly
It’s more likely to be a sneak attack
But once love finds its target
There’s never any going back

People who put too many restrictions
On the type of person they’ll accept
Are doomed to failure and disappointment
And at the art of romance, seem inept

But it’s not that they’re unable to love
They’re just loving the wrong person
Once you set your sights on specifics
Your judgment seems to worsen

Love will come when you least expect it
For that’s the way of romance
Just when you feel alone and afraid
Someone asks you to dance

I do not believe in love at first sight
Though I admit it seems to exist
It’s more of an infatuation than love
But sometimes these feelings persist

It’s only when your heart’s fully open
That true love can come your way
And when it does you may be surprised
At the type of person be they

So keep your eyes and your heart open
For true love could be near
And if you’re not receptive to it
Your one chance could disappear

Tom Kenney - 2007



Scared to death

Under informed

Largely understaffed

Extremely flexible

All beaten up

Extreme loyalty

That’s what makes a fireman…
…a fireman

Tom Kenney - 2004


I’ve journeyed through Limbo far too many times
That place between life and death
The air ripe with pressure as we battle with fate
Difficult to take even a breath

As we race against time to save someone’s life
Death lingers, but we do not fear it
But as the heat of the fire robs my physical strength
So this stress saps my spirit

No matter how often I play out this scene
It never is a good one
Even when we manage to cheat the Grim Reaper
The act is never done

We stabilize and extricate and tend to their wounds
And transport them to the ER
It’s then that we think the play’s finally concluded
But it’s never really over

Most times we lose track of the ‘faceless’ victim
Once he’s out of our care
Most times we never know if he lives or he dies
Check on him (?) – we don’t dare

It’s better for us to leave well-enough alone
And just know we did our best
It’s our job to make sure he gets to the hospital
The doctors there do the rest

Every journey to Limbo weighs heavy on my heart
Especially when tending to children
For there’s no place on earth we mortals fear more
It’s like entering the lion’s den

So after an encounter battling death on the street
We retreat quietly to the station
We pretend it doesn’t get to us and just shake it off
But to believe that is a miscalculation

2007 - Tom Kenney

Little Girl I Remember

I remember the night like it was hours ago
Though I know in my head it’s been years
She was one of the rare ones to get to me
One of the few to reduce me to tears

We had been at a fire in an old warehouse
Just packing up hose, getting ready to leave
When the call came over my portable radio
The way it was dispatched was hard to believe

A report of a five-year-old shot in the chest
Down on the sidewalk, with police on the way
They were sending EMS from another District
And an Engine Company from even further away

The scene where this shooting had taken place
Was in our District and not far from our location
We were much closer than anyone already enroute
So I told my driver that that was our destination

I radioed to dispatch that we would take the call
And we headed to the scene, no time to spare
We seemed to fly that night, but not fast enough
We pulled up to chaos but the police weren’t there

A five-year-old girl was lying in a pool of blood
On the sidewalk right outside a candy store
An innocent victim of a drive by shooting
When she and her father walked out the door

Sometimes I think it would’ve been easier
To throw a sheet over her and just leave
To work a life-and-death call on a child
Is always a difficult scene to perceive

As that fleeting thought is quickly tossed aside
We see that she’s breathing and she has a pulse
We franticly begin to check for her wounds
As we rip open her shirt she begins to convulse

We hold her down gently until she stops shaking
Then we spot a small hole just above her belly
It’s oozing blood with the rhythm of her heartbeat
I slowly roll her over as my hands turn to jelly

No exit wound means the bullet is still inside her
But there’s no telling how much damage was done
We’ve no time to waste in getting her to a hospital
As the Rescue pulls up we’ve already begun

A collar and backboard to keep her from moving
We clean up her wound and cover with a dressing
As long as we’re moving and continue to keep busy
We can’t think about her age, and that is a blessing

She lies still as we work to save her young life
We control the bleeding and monitor her breaths
While she lies there unmoving and still unconscious
She’s trapped in that space between life and death

We wheel her into the Rescue and head to the ER
To hand off her care to the trauma team there
For the quicker she’s in their hands the better
So we pass her to them and say a silent prayer

This whole ordeal, for us, was barely 30 minutes
But the nightmares it left us will last a lifetime
I heard later on the news this little girl survived
But she still carries the bullet next to her spine

Tom Kenney - 2006

Good Times Too

Much has been said of the tragedies we see
Yes, there are many and they’ve affected me
But if that’s all there was to this business I’d be…
…an emotional cripple

Much of being a firefighter can tug at your heart
Things begin to affect you right from the start
Thankfully it’s rewarding things that stand apart…
…from all the despair

Every so often a fuckin’ miracle occurs
Sometimes it’s right away, and sometimes it takes years
But when it happens to you, you’re reduced to tears…
…the saving of a life

I’ve held a newborn, cradled her snug in my arms
Heard her desperate whimpers as I kept her safe from harm
I couldn’t keep from melting from her heavenly charms
This is my reward

Though there are days when it seems I’m surrounded by death
I have comforted an old lady as she drew her last breath
But there are also the times when I help to cheat death
That’s what keeps me going

For a life is as precious a gift as anyone is given
And to protecting this life with my own, I am driven
In this way, perhaps, my own sins be forgiven…
…finding my salvation

In my life as a fireman I wouldn’t change a thing
There were many defeats that were emotionally wrenching
There were also many victories to ease the suffering and bring…
…good times too

Tom Kenney - 2005



You Can’t See

You watch me get off the truck and think
He’s overweight; out of shape
And too old to do this job

For firefighting is a physical business
Requiring agility; as well as ability
To protect life and property

But you’re not able to see inside of me
Unable to chart, what’s in my heart
And that is the key

Because of physical strength and stamina
A man is strong; able to prolong
That which he endeavors

But no amount of physical qualities
Can make you do, what scares you
Like the power of a courageous heart

The strongest of men can be stopped in their tracks
As danger nears; overcome by fears
When facing their own mortality

Firefighters know their most important quality
Is strength of heart; to do their part
Despite their natural fears

When we’re called upon, we’ll risk our lives
We’ll dare to go; although we know
This time we may not return

The inner strength and the inner courage
That it requires; to fight these fires
Is something you can’t see

Tom Kenney - 2008

“Walk The Walk”

In this business
It’s very easy
To talk the talk…
But it’s not as simple
To have the courage
To walk the walk

It takes somebody
A little bit different
To do this work…
Someone with heart
Somebody with balls
And a little berserk

As people run out
We’re running in
For that’s our way…
Into the unknown
It’s difficult to do
Even if easy to say

No other profession
Is quite the same
As being a firefighter…
Risking your life
For the sake of others
No job could shine brighter

When the fire’s over
And the danger’s done
You can take pride…
In the fact that you
Have done your job and
Not tried to hide

Only other firefighters
Really know who
Walks the walk…
And which ones are
Only capable of
Talking the talk

For inside the building
Is where you prove
Of what you’re made…
Experience or brawn
We each make our own
Contribution to the fray

When I find my body’s
No longer able
To walk the walk…
I’ll have to face the fact
That it’s my time to
Walk the walk – away

Copyright 2005 - Tom Kenney

What People Think…

Some people think we don’t have fear
Crawling through a door to disappear
Into the smoke, because someone’s there
We have it, but don’t show it

Some people think we don’t feel pain
That there’s a magical power we attain
To keep us from breaking under the strain
We feel it, but control it

Some people think we don’t understand
When all the dreams they had planned
Go up in smoke by an arsonist’s hand
We understand, they just don’t know it

Some people think we don’t know how
To feel compassion, and not allow
Our hardened hearts to feel the sorrow
We know how, but won’t let it

Some people think we can’t express
Our inner feelings with tenderness
And show our frailties and our weakness
We can, but we won’t do it

What firemen think…

Firemen say that we don’t care
What people think about us
The truth be told, we’re well aware
But don’t like to make a fuss

This hero thing is overblown
And makes us ill at ease
We’d rather that we be known
As the men who heed their pleas

So we stand tall, and force ourselves
To fight another fight
Never showing that this living hell
Leaves us wondering if we’re right

For is it right to share our burdens
Transferring the sadness to others
Or should we simply hold them in
And keep them among our brothers

Tom Kenney - 2005

I Never Signed Up For This

From the day I swore to serve and protect
I knew the day might arrive
When I would be put to the ultimate test
Not sure if I’d come out alive

I accepted this fact as part of the job
The job I was born to do
I hoped against hope that I’d never be tested
But deep inside, I knew

I knew that it would only be a matter of time
Before I’d choose my path
Just as I knew that I would be honor-bound
To face the fiery wrath

Although I never wanted to have to die on this job
I was prepared to, just the same
And every time that I felt I cheated death
I was the winner of that game

How could I have imagined that one day soon
It would come to this
The man so used to helping others would be
In need of an assist

I once walked around with my head held high
So able-bodied and strong
And now I can’t even fend for myself
I need help to just get along

My wife and my family are now put to the test
Each and every day
Though they’re always willing and up to the task
I can’t bear to live life this way

I always thought I could handle whatever was dealt
But I’m lost in an endless abyss
I pray every day God will take me away
‘Cause I never signed up for this

Tom Kenney - 2007

Our Chaotic Dance

Viewed from above
A dance in motion
Graceful and peaceful
As waves on the ocean

Light from the fire
Flickers in the dark
Ebbing and flowing
Spitting out sparks

Smoke fills the air
Softening the scene
Riding the wind
Calm and serene

Too far away
To hear any sound
Just blurs of colors
Moving on the ground

The orange of the flames
And red strobes of light
Reflect off the pond
And disappear in the night

All of the dancers
Seem lost in the haze
There’s a magic in the night
That’s missing in the days

Although it looks to the eye
That chaos abounds
There’s an order to the scene
As the players dance around

Each movement has a purpose
Though it’s not clear to you
These men know one another
They know just what to do

A fireground can seem confusing
To those who watch us toil
Not seeing the order in our tasks
They get lost in all the turmoil

We’ve trained for this many hours
We leave nothing to chance
That’s how the chief orchestrates
Our chaotic dance

July 17, 2007 - Tom Kenney

This Life’s Blues

This life’s been gettin’ to me lately
I feel like it’s bringin’ me down
This life’s been gettin’ to me lately
I feel like it’s knockin’ me down
Been givin’ all I have to give
Still no one wants me around

I’m suckin’ in more shit every day
And it ain’t gettin’ any better
I’m suckin’ in more shit every day
And it ain’t gettin’ any better
‘Cause no matter what else we breathe in
There’s just no way to kill us any deader

I just wanna go home at the end of my shift
And I care ever less about the on-duty shit
I can’t keep givin’ my heart and soul
To those not worthy of it – not worthy of it

This life’s been gettin’ to me lately
I’ve taken the good as far as it’ll go
This life’s been gettin’ to me lately
I’ve taken the good as far as it’ll go
And that’s the very saddest part of all
I used to know that I knew what I know

Lately I wonder if my effort’s in vain
For the streets seem so full of hate
Lately I wonder if my effort’s in vain
For the streets seem so full of hate
I’m beginnin’ to think no matter my deed
We’re all headin’ for a horrible fate

I just wanna go home at the end of my shift
And I care ever less about the on-duty shit
I can’t keep givin’ my heart and soul
To those not worthy of it – not worthy of it

It used to be clear who were the bad guys
And who wore the white hats
It used to be clear who were the bad guys
And who wore the white hats
But these days there’s nothin’ that’s clear
Even some white hats are rats

The mean city streets are no place to be
Not even to try to lend a hand
The mean city streets are no place to be
Not even to try to lend a hand
For the city streets – take no prisoners
And they’re no place to take a stand

I just wanna go home at the end of my shift
And I care ever less about the on-duty shit
I can’t keep givin’ my heart and soul
To those not worthy of it – not worthy of it

Once upon a time my job was rewardin’
A fireman could make a difference
Yeah, once upon a time my job was rewardin’
And a fireman could make a difference
But now it seems that no one really cares
It takes more than mere perseverance

I’ve been abused by the politicians so much
My compassion’s all but gone
I’ve been worn down by the violence that I see
My compassion’s all but gone
But I still feel the urge to make things right
I guess that’s what keeps me goin’ on

I just wanna go home at the end of my shift
To my kids and to my wife
I’ll keep on givin’ my heart and soul
For this is my chosen life

Tom Kenney - 2006



Choose to Live

Living daily with the stresses, of life and death situations
You quickly develop a sense of strength, and inner determination
To face your fears, your inner demons, and your limitations
Otherwise you’ll end up breaking, a victim of frustration

A firefighter who lives his life, willing to take a chance
Likes to play by his own rules, not play victim to circumstance
Enter that building, crawl through that smoke, take that hose, advance
When you risk your life for a living, you’re not afraid to take a stance

When faced with the choice of pushing forward, or giving in to fear
You have to consider your decisions, that have already put you here
Being a firefighter and saving others, is a very noble idea
But sentiment alone will save no one, unless the performance is there

A fireman’s not judged by what’s in his head, but rather in his heart
Anyone can dream heroic thoughts, it takes one to take part
In actions that may cause his death, in order to save a tot
His performance never differs, whether he knows this child or not

For every man must die someday, there’s no getting around it
Accept this fact and live your life, with gusto and with spirit
You can’t choose how you will die, or do anything to avoid it
But you can choose how you will live, and not cage yourself with limits

Tom Kenney - 2005

Flicker Of A Matches’ Flame

Like a flicker of a matches’ flame
The years seem to fast-forward
Retirement, once long in the future
I’m now steadily moving toward

Eyes once wide with excitement
Now weigh heavy with the strain
Of many years of seeing too much
And enduring too much pain

The bounce and purpose in my step
Has been replaced with a nagging limp
Once strong and able-bodied
I’m now looking more like a gimp

Too many nights of interrupted sleep
Have left me haggard and tired
Sirens have stolen my ability to hear
And in this endless drone, I’m mired

This business, though rewarding as hell
Has surely beaten me down
Proclaiming “it’s the best job in the world”
While in the despair I drown

I know my actions have been sincere
Every time I’ve answered the call
But day after day, night after night
I bang my head against the wall

Nothing gets better, stays just the same
On these tough city streets
I can’t seem to remember the victories
Only the bitter defeats

The time has come to blow out the flame
And let the room go dim
And open a new chapter in my life
One that’s not as grim

Tom Kenney - 2007

Chasing After a Hero

I ’ve been chasing after a hero
For what seems my whole life
I can remember back to my childhood
When the fear cut me like a knife

I witnessed my father risk his life
By running into a fire
And through the eyes of a scared little boy
I watched as the flames grew higher

I have never been able to forget that day
And no matter what I’ve done
I felt I could never live up to that act
In fact, nor could anyone

As a firefighter, as well as a man
He left me big boots to fill
Though physically I’ve grown into the par
In some ways, I fear I never will

His steady hand has served him well
As a firefighter - and family man
His loving ways, throughout his days
Has helped him raise his clan

For no man is truly a hero
Based solely on his profession
My dad has dedicated his entire life
To his family - his obsession

Though we have our differences, him & I
I admire and love this man
For he’s the man I always wanted to be
Because of him, I’m where I am

I would like to think that I’m a good son
Despite what some might say
But I attempt to live my life in a manner
That will make him proud each day

I have stumbled and faltered along the way
As I’m certain my father has, too
I ask myself if it’s the mistakes we make
That inspire us to start anew

His bravery, integrity, and his moral fiber
Are attributes to which I aspire
His leadership, shown through his example
Continues to encourage me higher

Thank you, Dad

Tom Kenney - 2005

The Man Inside

I’m on a quest of some significance, at least it is to me
Searching for that elusive creature, the man inside of me
The hunt began, as I recall, to prove my inner worth
To recover the man I’d lost within, much like a rebirth

It dawned on me one insightful day, that men often have two sides
The outer shell which they display, but there’s also the man inside
I’m not too proud of the outer me, with all my flaws and warts
So I’m hoping the search for the inner me, is not all for naught

I’ve heard it said many times, it’s what’s inside that counts
I hope there’s truth in that old adage, no matter in what amount
Because a good man is a good man, no matter to what degree
And there are no saints among us, at least not that we can see

To recognize the difference, between what’s outside and in
Is a quality I admire in a person, not judging from his skin
Though I beat myself up for past mistakes, I hope that I can prove
That the man inside of me is one, of whom I can approve

It’s said that we all see ourselves, different than we are
But when we’re put to the test of stress, we find if we’re up to par
For it’s always the man inside of you, who’s hidden away from view
That responds during these arduous times, and he’s the real you

If this is true, then I’m okay, for this has always been my strength
My ‘inside man’ always goes the distance, no matter what the length
‘He’ has integrity, ‘he’ has courage, ‘he’ has compassion too
Whatever be the challenge, ‘he’ can see it through

So judge me not on who I am, but rather on who I can be
For though I often fall flat on my face, there’s a man inside of me
Who knows just how to face a crisis, without letting others down
‘He’, you see, is a fire-fighter, ‘his’ feet planted firmly on the ground

Tom Kenney - 2006

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