FIRE BUFFS: UNQUE AID FOR FIREFIGHTERS

When the still of a Dallas night is broken by the wail of fire engines, 16 men who share a peculiar hobby cannot roll over and go back to sleep. The Box 4 Fire Buffs Associates, a tightknit group of Dallas professional men with a passion for firefight-ing, serve as a volunteer backup force to Dallas firemen. Working out of one supply truck called the Central Canteen, they set up camp at the scene of almost every multiple-alarm fire in Dallas -of which there are approximately 200 each year. Supplying food, water, Gatorade and restroom facilities, they help to keep the firefighters fighting. In winter, they furnish a portable heater. When difficult fires rage for several hours, the boys of Box 4 head out to Burger King and bring back provisions.

The Box 4 Fire Buffs are an affiliate of International Fire Buffs Associates and have been serving the Dallas Fire Department for 21 years. Several founding members still go out on runs.

Most major cities have Fire Buffs groups, but Dallas’ is one of the oldest and most successful. The members (who range in age from 25 to 60) include a doctor, an accountant and several engineers. They divide into groups that correspond with the three shifts of the fire department. When their own radio “tone alarms” go off, the two or three Fire Buffs on-call head out. Since most multiple-alarm fires occur between 1 and 6 a.m., lost sleep is inevitable.

Despite the need for new members, the Box 4 Fire Buffs maintain a low profile and carefully screen all applicants. “We don’t want to attract ’blue lighters’,” says Box 4 President Joe Nedley, referring to civilians who chase fire trucks and fires for sensationalism. “We have legitimate reasons for firefight-ing.” The fire department thinks so, too. Says Dallas Fire Chief Dodd Miller, “Those guys are super. They’re a very elite group to us.”

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