In June 1971, I went on a visit to Warren, Ohio. I was 11 at the time. My grandmother's American-Finnish cousin Reino "Ray" Niemi lived there. He was the Assistant Fire Chief. Every third day, Reino was on duty at the station on a 24-hour shift, and so was I. I slept in the firemen's dormitory and when an alarm went off, my place was with Reino in the front truck. Although no dramatic fires occurred, that month at the fire station remains in my mind clearer than any other month in my life.
The visual material in the display case is based on photos from that journey. I was given a simple Kodak Instamatic camera, which I used to take photos of the firemen and fire engines. The collection includes also a few photos sent by Reino to his relatives in Finland, such as the one where he and Labaugh, Chief of the Warren Fire Department, are greeting President Richard Nixon, and a picture from the 1960s in which Reino shakes hands with John F. Kennedy. Most of the other black-and-white photos are taken either by Reino or the fireman serving as Fire Investigation Photographer.
Nixon, Reino "Ray" Niemi and Chief Labaugh
2 instamatic Portraits of fireman Bob Patchen " The Red Spider"
Reino shakes hands with John F. Kennedy
"These pictures was taken by a firefighter who worked as the fire departments photographer, with the task of photographing the scenes of fire to suppor investigations into to causes of fire. I am 11 years old and have been ordered to pose (which I didn't like very much). A few years later I censored myself out of this pictures and some others, either by scratching or with orange paint.
Warren emergency truck #1
Reserve pumper (#2)
Burnt car, next day
Crashed car, next monday
Snorkel drill behind the fire station
Used hoses are collected after testing of pumps, fireman Futchko on left, me on the right
Chief of Champion TWP. Volunteer Fire Dept at their
pumping drills on sunday
Reino in front of the Champion Twp. fire station
Visiting Warren Twp. Volunteer fire department station # 1
Showcase B, Ray's old filter smoke mask from
1950´s in the middle
Reino in my Fire Museum in Helsinki on his last visit to Finland in 2001.