Humans of Wrigleyville: Engine Co. 78

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There's a lot to take in on a game day in Wrigleyville. Sounds of the crack of a bat, the vendors hawking peanuts. The marquee lit up as dusk falls upon the city. But beyond these typical ballpark scenes, just beyond the left field wall, is Chicago Fire Department Engine Company 78 and the fire house with its own World Series ring.

"It's nice to have the doors open, people coming in and out," said Lieutenant John Sampson, whose been a part of this neighborhood institution for 38 years.

"It's a destination for people from around the world," he added, then pointing to a collection of first responders' patches including ones from "Poland, Beijing," and other cities.

Celebrities and Cubs fans alike often explore this fire house, which was built in 1915.

"This is cool, this is really nice," remarked Dan Miller, visiting from Sabula, Iowa.

"I love them," said eight-year-old Garett Burgin of the firefighters.

"We want people to know that we have a lot of pride in this house," said Sampson.

They have faith in the Cubs, too-on the walls and on the fire engine itself.
"It's the mystique that Wrigley has, that they have their own fire department," said Paul Ashack who sells paintings down the block.

The firefighters are doing a lot more than watching Cubs games in there.

"I'm the guy making all that noise when we go down the street," said Sampson with a smile.

He estimated the company averages about 15 calls a day in an area serving roughly 900,000 people. The lieutenant has also answered Cubs emergencies.

"The equipment manager came over looking for a black belt for Ernie Banks, they were playing an old timer's game. I go 'I'm not giving anybody my belt unless Ernie Banks comes over here.' Brought Ernie Banks over here, I took my belt off, gave it to him and that's the last I saw of it," he recalled, going on to say "Not one day's been work and every day's been something different."

"The whole neighborhood's kind of like a family," cheering together, hoping the Cubs will play red hot.

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