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AFTERMATH: Excerpts From an Extinct Firehouse

Built for the Institute for Design and Experimental Art
Sacramento, California 1989

(Stenciled in Charcoal Pencil on 5 Wall Sections)


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A FIRE WILL START AND ITS IN THE GRASS AND MAYBE THE BRUSH AND IT WILL BUILD. THE HEAT RISES, PRE-HEATS THE TREE AND PRETTY SOON IT JUST ALMOST INSTANTLY FLASHES. IT'S A MATTER OF SECONDS AND A HUNDRED FOOT TREE JUST GOES WHOOSH! AND IT LOOKS LIKE A ROMAN CANDLE. THE NOISE OF THE COMBUSTION OF ALL THAT BURNING, HEATED GAS IS JUST UNBELIEVABLE LOUD. IT MAGNIFIES WITH EVERY TREE THAT YOU ADD TO IT. SOMETIMES YOU'LL HAVE 100 ACRES OF THOSE GO AT ONCE.

BRUCE TURBEVILLE
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF
FORESTRY AND FIRE PROTECTION
              
A LOT OF PEOPLE DON'T UNDERSTAND THE CHEMISTRY OF FIRE. THE WOOD IS NOT WHAT BURNS. YOU HEAT THE WOOD AND THE HOTTER YOU GET IT, IT GIVES OFF GAS AND THE GAS IS WHAT BURNS. IF THE WOOD BURNED, THERE'D BE NO CHARCOAL LEFT OR ASH. ESSENTIALLY, EVERYTHING THAT BURNS IS THE SAME THING.

BRUCE TURBEVILLE
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF
FORESTRY AND FIRE PROTECTION

PART OF OUR TRAINING IS A FRENCH WORD CALLED "TRIAGE". AND "TRIAGE" IS "TO SORT". AND THAT'S WHERE YOU HAVE TO LOOK AT THE PEOPLE AND SAY, "WELL, WE'RE GOING TO LET THAT ONE DIE, AND WE'RE GOING TO SAVE THAT ONE." THANK GOD IT DOESN'T COME UP VERY OFTEN. BUT EVEN IF IT DOESN'T COME UP, YOU HAVE TO BE TRAINED FOR IT. YOU HAVE TO THINK ABOUT IT, KNOW IT AND BE AWARE OF IT.

BILL BRYANT
SACRAMENTO FIRE DEPARTMENT

WE ALWAYS THINK BACK ON THE FATALITIES AND THINK , "WHAT IF?" BUT YOU CAN'T THINK "WHAT IF?"

BILL BRYANT
SACRAMENTO FIRE DEPARTMENT

YOU'D BE A BASKET CASE BECAUSE WE'D HAVE REMORSE AFTER EVERY INCIDENT. SUPPOSE WE'D DONE THIS, MAYBE THE PERSON WOULD HAVE LIVED. YOU DON'T KNOW. I IMAGINE THE YOUNG GUY WOULD WRESTLE WITH IT AND I IMAGINE WE DID WHEN WE WERE YOUNGER, TOO, WE WRESTLED WITH IT FOR A WHILE. BUT, YOU LEARN. MAYBE YOU GET HARDENED. MAYBE AN EMERGENCY YOU HAVE I THINK IS NOT AN EMERGENCY. I THINK SOMETIMES THIS REFLECTS AT HOME WHERE YOUR FAMILY MAY THINK YOU'RE NOT AS COMPASSIONATE AS YOU ARE BECAUSE UNLESS IT'S LIFE AND DEATH, REALLY WHAT OTHER PROBLEMS DO YOU HAVE?

DAVE KEENE
SACRAMENTO FIRE DEPARTMENT

A FIREMAN HAS TO BE A JACK OF ALL TRADES. HE HAS TO BE ABLE TO DISASSEMBLE A CAR TO GET IT AWAY FROM SOMEBODY THAT'S TRAPPED IN IT. HE HAS TO BE A HUMANITARIAN. HE HAS TO TELL SOMEBODY WITH DIPLOMACY THAT THEIR PARTNER JUST PASSED AWAY. HE HAS TO BE A STEEPLE JACK. HE MIGHT HAVE TO CLIMG A 150 FOOT TOWER TO GET A CRAZY DOWN.

DAVE KEENE
SACRAMENTO FIRE DEPARTMENT

YOU HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT WHEN YOU GO TO A FIRE, EVERYBODY'S RUNNING OUT OF THE BUILDING AND WE'RE RUNNING IN.

I CAN'T THINK OF A DISASTER THAT WOULD HAPPEN THAT THERE WOULDN'T BE FIREMEN AT. FLOOD, WRECK, EARTHQUAKE, OR ANY DISASTER, WE'RE GOING TO BE THERE.

BILL BRYANT
SACRAMENTO FIRE DEPARTMENT

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