Mickey Mouse – Watching over Detroit Fire Stations

In Detroit fire stations 24 hour clocks hang near the watch desk. They look similar to the ones in elementary school classrooms. Remember how the school clocks would taunt us, ticking slower and slower as it got closer to recess time? Such good memories. These clocks make me particularly nostalgic when it’s time to “fall back” an hour.

When I first joined the department almost every clock had a Mickey Mouse sticker placed in the center of the glass dome that protects it’s face and hands. Department folklore says that when a certain firefighter was detailed he would add Mickey to that station’s clock. I’ve been told it was Gary Lincoln, but it never has been confirmed.


For those of you who are non-DFD: Each member of Detroit Fire is assigned to (or runs at) a particular company. On days that manpower is high at one company and low at another you may be reassigned to work at another company, just for that shift. We call this being detailed.


Typically details are to companies near your assigned area, but every now and then they are further away. If you run at a company on the far west side of the city it could be years before you’re detailed to a company on the east side. Many of Detroit’s firehouses were designed and built during the same time periods. It’s often hard to remember if you’ve been detailed to a particular station before.


For this guy, Mickey became a way of remembering. Later it became a goal to place one on every firehouse clock in the city. It’s not clear if he actually achieved the goal of “mousing” every clock. From what I’ve seen, he sure came close.


My station (E54 / L26) no longer has a Mickey. A few years ago the clock was dropped while being reset for daylight savings time. The glass shattered and that was the end of our Mickey. It made me sad.


Tonight we “fall back”. Department clocks will be taken off the wall and set to their new times. In some stations Mickey will be returned to his place of honor, watching over us, and I will be nostalgic about my “childhood” days, when I was learning so many valuable lessons, both in school and in the fire service.

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