Grief


Every time a fire has technical details in any of my books, you can thank one man… Bill Pittman. He was a firefighter and arson investigator for more than thirty years Kansas City. In 1981 two skywalks of the Hyatt Regency in Kansas City collapsed and fell into the hotel’s lobby in the middle of a party. Bill’s company was among the first emergency responders on scene. He and I had talked a handful of years ago about how everyone in his company had already gotten lung cancer and most of them had passed. So, last year when he told J and I he had lung cancer, I knew the prognosis was bad. However, while I knew what to expect, it was still a gut punch when he passed away.

When I needed to figure out how to burn down Sebastian’s house in a hurry, it was Bill that suggested jet fuel and he explained to me how it could be stolen from an airport and ignited. He was also the one that told me modern furniture and house building construction materials were more flammable than older furnishings and older housing materials. He spent hours helping me decide on an accelerant to use in Anonymous Dreams.

But Bill was more than just the guy I went to when I needed questions about fires and arsons answered. He was my friend. He always had a big hug for me when I saw him accompanied by a smile and a kiss. He encouraged my dart throwing, even when I sucked. He encouraged J’s throwing. He gave J barbecue tips. He told great stories from his life that I listened to enraptured. Bill encouraged me to marry J, he told me I was good for J and J was much different being with me than he’d been with any of his other girlfriends. For starters, J didn’t take his other girlfriends to darts with him like he did me. Bill didn’t know any of J’s exes, but he knew me and that was proof enough for him that J and I had a future in front of us.

Like a lot of first responders Bill was haunted by ghosts, we discussed it a few times, not in depth, because I wouldn’t push him on a subject I could tell made him uncomfortable. But I could see it sometimes. He told me 9-11 syndrome existed before 9-11 and all firefighters knew it. The PTSD and the damage done to lungs when responding to a building collapse is a firefighters worst nightmare.

I’ve decided to make some major changes to Dysfunctional Dreams in Bill’s memory. He gave me so much help on The Dysfunctional Chronicles and the Dreams and Reality series, I will be putting that information to use in Dysfunctional Dreams. My condolences to his family. We have the St. Pat’s Dart Tournament in 2 weeks and it just won’t be the same.

3 thoughts on “Grief

  1. I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. My grandfather was in the fire service for over 40 years. Started out as a police officer but also worked as a volunteer firefighter. He became one of the first two paid firefighters in the town and was chief for over 25 yrs. You have to have a true calling and passion to be a firefighter. It takes unimaginable courage to run into a burning building when others are running out of it. The selflessness and bravery of a firefighter is so under sung. No one really thinks about the mental and physical toll the job inflicts. Firefighters know, yet they do it anyway. Thank you Bill, for your service and your sacrifice.
    Hugs, love, and prayers for you, J, and Bill’s family.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorry about the loss of your friend.

    Did he talk about changes to construction and fire codes recently? My parents lived in a 3 wing U shaped apartment complex. The building code had been relaxed so new construction no longer required firewalls in the attic – saves the builder a few dollars. Needless to say, a fire in the center wing went to the attic and spread across all 3 wings. The centre collapsed and the stresses on the other wings caused the building to be a total loss.

    Sounds like something out of an arson thriller novel.

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