Some Fire Fighters Got Covered in Shit
A helitack can draw 350 gallons of water into a tank and dump it on a bushfire. It can also dump the same amount of raw sewage on a team of 29 firefighters as they battle a blaze some 19 miles south of Port Macquarie on Australia’s east coast. The operation can then be repeated for three hours until everyone on the ground gets a good taste and two of the boys have to go to the hospital. This isn’t some weird hypothetical, it happened last Tuesday. To get the details, I caught up with a firefighter who was there. He wanted his name kept under wraps because he’s been getting enough shit from his friends already.
VICE: How are you feeling?
Fireman: Pissed off. I mean, we got cleaned up, but I still can’t believe it happened.
Can you describe the situation?
Yeah, we got a call that there was a fire burning out near Kew, just off the Pacific Highway. The crew got there just after 6:30 AM. It wasn’t a big fire, but it was dropping spot fires along the highway and that was obviously a problem for traffic. We started getting a fire line together while they brought in two mid-size helicopters to do water dumps on the actual front.
And when did you notice they weren’t dumping water?
Well I didn’t notice anything. I was fighting a fire and that kept me occupied, but some of the other guys said the water was all discoloured and it had a real smelly back-spray. Then around 10 AM—which was three and half hours later, by the way—a council engineer called the commanders and said they’d been pumping water from the wrong pond. They thought they were using treated water but it was raw sewage.
How did they get the ponds mixed up?
I don’t know. The idea is that they pump water from the nearest source, and in this case it was a sewage treatment plant. Apparently someone said that the pond was secondary water and it was safe, but it wasn’t. It was just a mistake is what I heard.
Did you get hit?
Oh yeah, all over. You know, you’re working under the helicopters as they come over and they don’t have pinpoint accuracy. Every time they do a drop you get all this mist that blows everywhere. Plus you’re out there working, you’re not covering up and it gets all in your eyes and mouth, all up your nose. It’s fucked.
So what was the reaction among the crew when you guys found out it was sewage?
We thought it was kind of funny. Or at least I did. But then they sent in the paramedics and they explained the health risks, like you can get Hep A and everyone was like fuck that. We had to wash in this chemical stuff and wear biohazard suits, and by then everyone was pissed off at being placed so unnecessarily at risk. One of the guys called the workers union and now they’re helping us settle it. We just work too hard for this kind of shit. And that’s not even a pun.
Haha, no, I guess not.
Yeah, not when two of the guys were taken up to Port Macquarie hospital because they had open cuts that could have gotten infected. I’m not a doctor, but I know raw sewage in an open cut is bad news. The rest of us were just instructed to visit our doctors if we got sick.
Did you get sick?
No, thankfully. I got home and had a really, really long shower and told my girlfriend about it. She was just as pissed off as we were. None of us got sick though… at least to my knowledge.
And what did your friends say about it?
Most of them have been good. A few of them thought it was funny. I’ve got one buddy who thought it wasreally funny, but he’s nearly 30 and works at KFC.
So you still view some jobs as being worse?
Oh yeah, fighting fires is usually great. This was a low point though.
For more shit, read these:
Toxic: America’s Water Crisis, Part 1
Every time it rains in New York City, billions of gallons of raw sewage are piped directly into the Hudson River. Superstorms like Hurricane Sandy only magnify the issue by flooding New York’s waterways with even more human feces. It’s a direct effect of the way New York City’s wastewater pipes were built, and it’s the same basic infrastructure problem facing over 40 million people in 700 American cities.
In the first part of a three-part series on freshwater in America, Emerson Rosenthal takes a dip in the grand Hudson River to find out just how far we’ve swum up shit’s creek.
To celebrate the last shitty day of yet another crappy working week, here’s a collection of some of the most shitacular stories we’ve ever heard.
Illustrations by Sam Taylor —> follow him on Twitter @sptsam!
WHAT A SHITTY DATE
My Danish ex-boyfriend knew this sweet, chubby guy (let’s call him “Mads”) who had a crush on this girl they both knew for ages. She was super-hot, but had a long-term boyfriend, so Mads had reconciled with the idea of keeping his crush secret and his penis in the friend zone.
But when the girl called him one day in tears, saying she had been dumped, Mads instantly saw his chance, and smiled all the way to her tiny student flat where he cooked her dinner in his best clothes and aftershave. The dinner went well and they really connected on a whole different level now that the asshole boyfriend was no longer in the picture.
But shit happens. Before dessert, Mads’s nervous tummy decided it didn’t really agree with the food and he had to make a run for it. The toilet in the girl’s tiny studio flat was right next to the kitchen table and there was no door, only a curtain. To avoid any embarrassing sounds, he figured it’d be a good idea to shit into some toilet paper, gently plop it into the toilet bowl. Unfortunately, on the last push, he lost his balance and tried to steady himself against the door with his free hand. Only, the door was a curtain.
He fell straight through it and landed on the floor, presenting his long-time crush with a fresh shit on a bed of toilet paper. Anyone who’s experienced something similar will know that it’s not really worth trying to explain, so Mads pulled his pants up and left the flat with his tail between his legs.
TORRENTS OF HORSESHIT
A horse produces 15 to 35 pounds of road apples a day. Before automobiles, cities like New York had more than 100,000 horses hauling people and cargo from place to place, which equates to at least 750 tons of feces dropped every 24 hours. According to the 1997 book The Making of Urban America, “The manure was everywhere, along the roadway, heaped in piles or next to stables, or ground up by the traffic and blown about by the wind.” New York dealt with these unseemly piles by licensing “dirt carters” to haul the shit to designated dumps, which would attract flies and odors for months and sometimes years. After it rained, the filth would pool in rivulets and puddles throughout the streets. Even worse, the city had to deal with a surplus of horse corpses in addition to their shit and often dumped the bodies in nearby rivers. What’s more, thousands of people died from feces-related diseases every year. So the next time someone bitches about the “evil of oil,” remind him or her of yesteryear and that the internal combustion engine was one of humanity’s greatest victories in the Great Excreta War.
As you read these words, millions of people are purging fecal matter into or onto toilets, holes, ditches, bogs, quicksand, oceans, Honda Civics, sinks, urinals, troughs, wooded areas, grass, dumpsters, trash cans, statues of the Virgin Mary, nostrils, mouths, armpits, feet, vaginas, penises, someone else’s butthole, pets, cheese, and whatever else you could think of. Add animal dung into the mix, and it’s obvious that we are in the throes of a serious excrement epidemic that you may not be aware of.
So allow me to inform you: One day—and it could very well be someday soon—we will experience a global sewage backup so severe that a turd tsunami will devastate the world over, literally laying waste to every village and metropolis in its path. Rivers of poop will submerge islands and rise up hundreds of feet, eventually cracking the windows of the penthouse apartments of the last survivors until they slowly drown in a foyer full of diarrhea.
Don’t believe it? Well, brothers and sisters, have I got news for you. Crap has already declared war, and it’s winning. Behold just a few of the innumerable examples of how shit can kill.