Wayne “The Flame” Pyro

If it had lights & sirens, Wayne was on it--maybe a little too much ...

By Dave Grossi  |   Oct 13, 2017

[Publisher’s Note: Humor in Blue is a new column by Calibre Press alum Dave Grossi. Similar in style to his hilarious eight-part Lawyers I’ve Known series, these eight stories have been gleaned from the warped mind of Dave himself. The names of the players have been changed, the locations masked (somewhat), a few embellishments added here and there, and some of the characters, while real people, combined and/or merged for brevity’s sake. Also, the Statute of Limitations on crude, lewd, lascivious and sometimes downright improper, albeit side-splitting, behavior has expired. Enjoy.]

Wayne Pyro is a legend in law enforcement history. Indeed, his legend extends into the emergency services annals. Wayne was not only a cop, he was also a volunteer firefighter, and an EMT in the city’s ambulance corps. If it involved lights and sirens, Wayne was on it.

Wayne was also prone to hyperbole. A traffic violator who took more than a block to pull over, in Wayne’s mind, was fleeing. “I got a chase, dispatch!” was not an uncommon broadcast. More often than not, it was followed by the plate number, make and model of vehicle within 3 seconds of the “chase” transmission. But everyone on the shift had to agree that one Wayne Pyro accomplished more in one 8-hour shift than seven other uni’s all together.

Most often, Wayne never took a meal break or even a 5 minute stop for a cup of Joe. It was not uncommon to hear “roll a hook” (i.e., send a tow truck) and “roll a bus” (i.e., start an ambulance) when he was dispatched to a two-car MVA, only to find a minor fender bender where the vehicle could have been rolled into a parking lot to await AAA, and where one driver had a complaint of pain …

Such was the case one early morning in late December. “4-Charlie-10, 4-Charlie-10, got a call of a minor 10-50, on I-490 near Central Blvd. Check for injuries.”

“10-4, dispatch, on the way.”

Unfortunately, a second call came into dispatch at the same location. This second call stated that “people” were “standing out side one of the cars.”

Now, I-490 is a major thoroughfare that eventually leads to Interstate 90, the New York State Thruway. It can be a very busy highway during both morning and evening rush hours. So, Sgt. Rickie Graham, the night shift road boss, decided to head that way in the event additional units might be needed for traffic control. About 6 minutes later, a guttural transmission came over the air with “get me the Jaws of Life down here. I got bodies all over the road.”

That broadcast escalated the response mode of Sgt. Graham and he radioed that he was heading to assist, but now asking for a neighboring sector car to head that way, too. Diverting neighboring sector cars is not an unusual tactic, but it does leave that neighboring sector short of a patrol unit for what can be a considerable amount of time if the MVA involved shutting down traffic. Sgt. Graham advised the dispatcher to start a Delta car over to I-490 to assist the Charlie unit based on Wayne’s “bodies all over the road” transmission.

As the sergeant was flying east down Central Boulevard toward I-490, he approached a slight incline in the road grade. As he crested the grade, he observed what could only be described as a huge heavenly rose-colored glow in the sky, reminiscent of an Easter Sunday morning church service complete with a “He Is Risen” chorus. For a split second, Sgt. Graham could have sworn he’d heard a choir of angels singing “Alleluia.”

As he rolled up to this incredible scene of bright rose-orange flames, he observed Wayne Pyro decked out in his orange Day-Glo vest, standing in the middle of the intersection that was completely closed off with at least 15 burning highway flares and waving eight others (four in each hand) high in the air. Indeed, any incoming aircraft would have started vectoring in Wayne’s direction mistaking this traffic accident scene for an airport approach. “Holy crap! Wayne, what are you doing here? What aren’t you at the MVA scene?”

“No problem, Sarge. They’re just exchanging names and insurance info. Both cars are off the road. I’ll be back in service in a minute.” After negotiating the Checkpoint Charlie-like road block of flares, Sgt. Graham indeed saw that both cars were in fact off the road, and the FD rig, the EMS bus (both manned by a few firefighters and a couple of paramedics), the tow truck and its operator, and both back-up units all enjoying hot coffee and the FD’s ready supply of Krispy Kremes. And every now and then, old Wayne could be seen glancing in the direction of the minor two-car fender bender, popping another road flare to replace one that had almost gone out.

And if you looked real hard, you might have detected a lusty gleam of pure ecstasy burning in his eye.

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Dave Grossi
Dave Grossi is a retired police lieutenant from upstate NY now residing in southwest FL. He was the Lead Instructor for the Calibre Press, Inc. Street Survival Seminars from 1988 through 2000.