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Friday, April 27, 2012

Mystery Solved: The Story Behind Fire Rig's "145=529" Decal

Posted By on Fri, Apr 27, 2012 at 3:39 PM

click to enlarge The eagle we get. The Giants logo we get. But "145=529"? That's a head-scratcher. - JIM HERD
  • Jim Herd
  • The eagle we get. The Giants logo we get. But "145=529"? That's a head-scratcher.

One tends not to notice all the ephemera pasted onto a fire truck. The noise overpowers questions about bumper stickers. And, in the event it's your house or car -- or you -- that's on fire, the sporting allegiances of the guys with the water suddenly seem a bit trivial.

But if you've got an inquiring mind and are handy with a camera -- as they are at -- you spot weird things.

Specifically, you see a cryptic "145=529" decal on a fire rig. It's not mathematical -- so is it some kind of insider talk. Does "145" really mean "one-for-five"? Is "529" actually "five-to-nine"? If I obtain one of something in exchange for five, is that the equivalent of giving five to nine? Who is nine in this scenario? Did I sleep through this part of the movie Pi?

Perhaps -- but firefighter Tom O'Connor has a more solid explanation.

O'Connor, now the president of the firefighters union, worked for several years at Station Two in Chinatown, where this engine is housed. And his explanation is sadly devoid of codes or mathematical conspiracies. It's simply the rig number, just like those four-digit numbers on Muni vehicles are bus numbers.

This rig number appears somewhat grandiose, however, because "an old guy, a fire buff, came by and embossed in gold," O'Connor recalls. "I think he also put that eagle on the front. And there's probably a brass bell on that rig, too."

Isn't it always the way? Do someone a good turn and you induce paranoid conspiracy theory-mongering. At least that's what nine told us.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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