Ensuring an enjoyable retirement
Ensuring an enjoyable retirement Credit: Janey Lee

Showing me around Engine 60 in Hyde Park, firefighter Jeff Wiley assures me that, contrary to popular belief, his job is not all tragedy and destruction—in fact, there have been some recent advancements in station safety.

Most stations in Chicago are now equipped with a long yellow snakelike apparatus that hangs from the ceiling. It has a vent that attaches to the truck when it backs into the station and acts as an exhaust-removal device to prevent carcinogenic gases from wafting through the station’s living quarters. “This is hopefully going to help us enjoy our retirement,” Wiley tells me.

In saying “us,” Wiley is of course referring to his community of fellow firefighters, many of whom he considers a second family. “You know who doesn’t pick up their ice cream bowl. You know who snores and who doesn’t. It’s like a bunch of brothers.”