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Smell vs. Odor

Todd, a firefighter in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, wonders about the difference between the words smell and odor. Also, which verb is the better choice: orient or orientate? This is part of a complete episode.

Firefighter Attire

Firefighters don and doff their equipment, words that derive from “do on” and “do off.” New York City firefighters’ buff-colored uniforms apparently inspired our word buff, as in a fan — a reference to fire...

brown out

brown out  v. phr.— «The Redwood City Fire Department can stave off “browning out” one engine by cutting one fire firefighter per truck on all companies—a move that significantly limits the ability to respond to emergencies but will...


spiking  n.— «The proposed firefighter contract also would have ended a practice known as spiking, where firefighters can inflate their pension payouts. The contract was designed to limit how much overtime and compensatory time pay could...