The Redskins Journal in the Oct. 17 Metro section incorrectly described a scoring pass by the Washington Redskins against the Kansas City Chiefs the previous day. The touchdown came early in the second quarter, not midway through the third quarter, and the pass itself was not thrown 78 yards, though it was part of a 78-yard play. (Published 10/18/2005) ----- An Oct. 18 correction incorrectly described a scoring pass by the Washington Redskins against the Kansas City Chiefs on Oct. 16. The Redskins scored in the second quarter on a 4-yard pass from Mark Brunell to a sliding Santana Moss in the end zone; it was not a 78-yard scoring play that included a 4-yard pass to Moss, as the correction said. (Published 10/19/2005)
It was the middle of the third quarter of yesterday's game, the Redskins were driving and a half-dozen D.C. firefighters were sprawled around the long, brown table in the day room of Engine Company 15 in Anacostia. Their eyes were focused on the TV screen at one end of the table while ears were cocked to the dispatcher who, at any moment, could be calling their number.
Firefighter Mike Montgomery was fuming. "Go ahead and run, sissy," he yelled at quarterback Mark Brunell, who was rolling to his left on second down and looking, looking, looking for a receiver. "What a punk!" Montgomery mumbled, his blond, close-cut flattop bristling.
Third down, and again the Redskins southpaw was rolling to his left, only this time he found wily little Santana Moss, who slid on his knees as he caught the ball 78 yards away in the end zone. Montgomery, shouting, shoved a fist into the air.
For Montgomery and his Rescue Squad 3 and Engine Company 15 buddies, Redskins game days are a ritual. The dozen or so firefighters arrive at work at 7 in the morning for their shift -- on 24 hours, off 36 -- clean up the yellow-brick, one-story building and go through drills, training and equipment checks. Then, after lunch, they gather around the table in their bare-bones cinder-block day room.
They root for the Redskins -- everybody, that is, except Cliff Thornton, aide to Battalion Chief Al Jeffery. Thornton is a die-hard Philadelphia Eagles fan.
Deeper into the third quarter, conversation during commercials turned to a segment that Robert "Basic Bob" Hottinger had seen on television a couple of nights earlier, something about the cleanliness -- or lack thereof -- of public restrooms.
"The toilet seat and the doorknob are the cleanest," Hottinger announced. "The floor is the dirtiest."
His buddies around the table were digesting that tidbit of information when the scratchy voice of the dispatcher announced a car fire nearby. The revolving red light above the day room door flashed, and Joe Bright, the "wagon driver" and firehouse cook extraordinaire, emerged from the kitchen and walked quickly to the fire engine. The other members of the engine company -- Lt. Terry Reynolds and firefighters Sean Beheler and Scott Hudson -- clambered into their gear and onto the engine. It was the seventh run of the day, fairly average for the firehouse.
One call had been to help a man who was choking on food he'd eaten at a nearby church social. "We had to stop his sister from doing CPR," Hudson said. "She was doing more harm than good."
The car fire turned out to be an overheated Cadillac on the side of the road. Bright pulled up beside the car, and the firefighters unreeled a small-gauge hose and refilled the radiator for the elderly driver, who was about an hour's drive from his Calvert County home.
"Usually we're putting fires out, not filling radiators," Reynolds said to the driver, who was grateful for the assistance.
Reynolds, 42, got his start as a Montgomery County firefighter, then transferred to the District for the action. "There's a saying: You can talk about it out there, or you can come down here and do it," he said.
Reynolds is a pro, said Hudson, 27, who's called Fatboy Slim by some of his colleagues because he's so slight. Three weeks ago, Hudson recalled, the engine company was fighting a fire on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE inside three old, vacant rowhouses. Reynolds, who's been with the department 19 years, noticed something no one else had seen and quickly pulled his firefighters out of the building. "A minute later, the whole floor came down," Hudson said.
The engine company returned to the firehouse in time to see Redskins tight end Chris Cooley catch Brunell's third touchdown pass of the game.
Bright, a 39-year-old District native and 14-year fire department veteran, headed to the kitchen, where he resumed mixing a huge bowl of potato salad. "Once you've mastered potato salad, that's a pretty good determination of your skill level," he said.
The potato salad would accompany barbecued ribs and baked beans. For lunch, he had prepared his patented Buffalo wings. "I learned to prep and cook watching my grandmother and my mom," he said. "That, and trial and error."
District firefighters consider Engine Company 15 a good firehouse. It's well run, the guys get along and it's busy enough to combat boredom. "It pretty much runs itself," Reynolds said.
One sign that it's a good firehouse, Hudson said, is Bright's cooking and the mealtime camaraderie. "The places you go to where they don't eat together, normally they don't get along," the young firefighter noted.
Strangely enough, a Redskins game tends to give Chef Bright time in the kitchen. "If you listen, you'll realize the whole city's quiet right now," Reynolds said. Once the game is over, people come out of their houses, head to parties, get out on the streets -- all of which contribute to more calls to the fire department.
Rescue squad Lt. Shelly Nickelson, a 20-year veteran and the only woman at 14th and D streets SE, wandered in and sat down at the table. Tissue box on the table before her, she was nursing a cold, as were several of her colleagues. "Did you make your wife sick?" she asked Hottinger solicitously.
The response was instantaneous: "Every day!" his buddies shouted gleefully.
In the closing minutes of the game, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Trent Green, a former Redskin, connected with running back Priest Holmes for a go-ahead touchdown: Chiefs 28, Redskins 21. The firefighters grumbled. Assistant Head Coach "Gregg Williams was saying LaVar Arrington don't fit in the scheme," Mike Jones remarked. "I think they better readjust the scheme."
Fourth-and-2 for the Redskins, 14 seconds on the clock. Brunell threw into the end zone, his target the speedy Moss. But Chiefs safety Sammy Knight knocked the ball away at the last second.
From the kitchen, Bright's barbecued ribs were smelling really good.
Redskins Journal is an occasional feature about the game-day activities of the NFL team's faithful.