Around 9 p.m. on Saturday, Ian Yaffe '09 received a call from the Sagadahoc County Communications Center (SCCC), an emergency response center used primarily by fire and police departments. The dispatcher told him that Randy Nichols, director of Bowdoin safety and security, was on the line, though according to Yaffe, the dispatcher was skeptical.

"They didn't believe it was actually the director of security from Bowdoin," Yaffe said.

Yaffe believed it was a prank call at first, but upon realizing that Nichols actually was trying to reach him, became concerned that there was a serious problem.

It turned out that Nichols was after Yaffe, a firefighter in Topsham, because the burn permit for the Homecoming bonfire had been rescinded due to high winds, and only the presence of a firefighter and a fire truck would allow the fire to go on. Nichols wanted to know if Yaffe could borrow a Topsham fire truck and supervise the bonfire.

According to Yaffe, the SCCC dispatcher was skeptical.

"Obviously, they are not familiar with the legend that is Randy Nichols," Yaffe said.

Earlier in the evening, Nichols and Peter Wagner, associate director of alumni relations, had called the Brunswick fire department requesting a truck, but learned that the Brunswick Fireman's Ball was being held that evening and that therefore no firefighters were available to supervise the bonfire. Aware that Yaffe was a firefighter in Topsham, they called him next.

Yaffe called his deputy chief and asked for permission to borrow a brush truck, a small fire engine not normally used by the fire department. Yaffe said that the request was unusual because Topsham does not normally supervise bonfires in Brunswick. The deputy chief rejected the request, leaving Bowdoin's security and alumni affairs offices to inform disappointed Bowdoin fire-goers that the event was cancelled.

Yaffe, Wagner, and Nichols all agreed that the bonfire fiasco was a result of a communication breakdown between the Brunswick fire department and relevant officials at Bowdoin.

"If we collectively had gotten the word earlier in the day, we would've had the time to hunt down Ian Yaffe," Wagner said.

Trying to secure a fire permit is, "not something that you want to scramble to," said Yaffe.

To avoid a bonfire debacle next year, Yaffe would like to see the College involve him and the four other members of the Bowdoin community who are firefighters in the bonfire process.

Yaffe said he was disappointed that he did not get to attend or supervise the fire this year.

"I was definitely hoping to come in with a big red fire truck and save the bonfire," he said.

Nichols agreed, and was disappointed that Yaffe was denied an opportunity for greatness.

"He could've been a hero."