The bunk on the second floor of the old station was cavernous and open. High ceilings, no dividers, about 12 steel framed springy beds lined up against the walls. My partner had taken the rig back to headquarters at the end of our shift at 11 p.m., and I had opted to sleep at the station until our next shift at 11 a.m. rather than drive the three-hour round trip back home.
I read until about 2 a.m. and decided to call it a night. Although the station had been officially placed in reserve status in 1996 when Rescue 12 was taken out of service—two years after Engine Company 12 was disbanded—it’s still used as a home for the Fire Buffs, Medic 27 and a bunkhouse for various special classes and events.
But tonight, there was only me. I got my PJs on and slipped beneath the covers. Unfortunately, it was then that I started to remember the stories.
Station 12 was built in 1915 and housed a horse-drawn steam engine and hose wagon. You can still see the outlines of the horse stalls on the ground floor in the concrete, and if you look up, you can see a trap door to the hay loft. Outside, a crane arm protrudes from the north side of the station, which was once used for hauling hay up to the loft. In 1920, the company got its first motorized engine, a 1921 Stutz 600 GPM pumper.
So far, so good—the good vibes of a century of firefighting. But there were other stories too. “Have you checked out the basement yet?” is one of the first questions a newbie to Station 12 is asked. “Have you seen the cell down there?”
Well, there’s no longer a cell, but there’s an alcove. That alcove, according to legend, was a cell. So the story I was told was that in the old days, if someone was arrested in the area, which is about 3–4 miles from downtown, the cops would lock him up in the cell in the basement of the station until the paddy wagon could take him downtown in the morning. Oh, and by the way, the place is haunted.
I never got the full story—who is haunting the station, what happened to them, etc., but I have been told of phantom voices and noises and touchings and other ghostly stuff. I was also told that the best way to get rid of the ghosts is to simply confront them and tell them to leave you alone. I was even given a name to use.
Of course, I am an enlightened, rational man and believe none of this stuff. Nevertheless, when lying there in the large, echoing bunk room, I began to feel, let’s say, uneasy and vulnerable. I flipped over, pulled up the covers and attempted to ignore the unusual sensations.
After flipping around for a while, I tried telling the spirits off, but it apparently didn’t have the desired effect. I was clearly too exposed in the big bunkroom, so I took my blankie and pillow and hid in the smaller, cozier day room and lay down on the couch—after shutting and locking the door of course. Cradled by the dilapidated Naugahyde of the couch, in the small, locked room, with the fan on high to drown out the, well, sounds, I felt defended against the, um, well, whatever, and fell asleep.
Thankfully for my family, I woke the next day intact, having been neither abducted nor mutilated.
Since then, Medic 27’s hours have been extended from 12 to 24. I wonder what effect that has had on the nocturnal residents of this wonderful bit of fire-service history.
For more information on the Fire Buffs and their home, visit http://www.indianapolisfirebuffs.org/station12.html