Sunday, October 4, 2009

Casper News

One of the great things about my job, is it gives me great opportunities to meet interesting people and see interesting things. This blog has expanded this even further.

Recently, I met John and Kathy Casper down in Southern California.(Kathy, I hope you spell your name with a K, not a C. if not I apologize) They operate Casper News Service, which provides video to television stations in the greater Los Angeles area. They work together, with Kathy driving and John shooting.

The beauty of modern television distribution allows me to receive Los Angeles stations. I see Casper News Service video all of the time, especially during fire season when major fires are pretty common.

I admire Casper News Service for a couple of reasons. First, I think they get the best shots. Second, I think that any couple who can work together (especially under stressful conditions) without killing each other deserve some props.

Casper News Service has edited some of their footage and put it on You Tube. I thought enough of it to share with you.

Several things impress me about this video. First, there is a lot going on. Second, it shows an entire process, not just a portion of an event and third, this is real drama folks, not network TV.

The video starts with crews arriving and starting a hose lay to pick up the fire, which has crossed a road. Note the wind, and the smoke, which is being blown horizontally.

00:42 - The crew stops to add a length of hose. This entails shutting off the water, clamping off the water supply, removing the nozze from the hose, adding a 100' roll of hose, reattaching the nozzle and restoring the water flow. These wildland crews practice this constantly and do it very well. It is hard to do this under pressure, speed is essential. Wind, flames and topography compound the difficulty

00:48 - Someone does a risk vs. gain analysis, realizes that he fire is not catchable and that the risk factors are increasing. The order to pull out is given and communicated up the line. Notice that they leave the hose. Hose is cheap, firefighters are not.

1:01 - Someone - I presume the supervisor, asks "is that everybody?"

1:18 - You can see the water tender crew (that's a tanker for you east coast readers) loading hose onto thier unit. They appear to be in a hurry.

The urgency of the situation is apparent as you watch the various units pulling out.

2:32 - Kathy calmly drives out as the world begins to turn orange. I like how she feels the window with the palm of her hand. I'll bet it was a little warm.

2:40 - John continues to shoot out the back window as they drive down the road.

Great footage on this one. It gives you a sence of how a day at the office can be for both firefighters and news crews.

The title for this pretty much says it all for me. These are some of the points that I related to you an earlier post: "Should I Stay or Should I go?"

This video opens with some great shots of an officer running to size up the situation, of a USFS Chief Officer evacuating a woman who for whatever reason was still at the house and of a retardant drop near the structure.

00:31 - A resident leaves in his motorhome. Time is now an issue, time issues cause people to make poor decisions.

00:41 - As a Redlands F.D.Battalion Chief talks with a resident, several other residents can be seen running around in shorts, at least one of whom is using a garden hose to combat the fire. Again folks, if you're gonna stay, be prepared and dressed appropriately. Shorts and/or flippy-flops are not gonna cut it!!.

1:25 - A SEAT (Single Engine Air Tanker) streaks by. Don't blink, youll miss it!!

1:30 - Horses are being evacuated. Large animals present a problem for us, again, be ready and have a plan for getting them out.

3:20 - As this car prepares to leave, note the decreasing visibility. It gets much worse than this at times.

3:58- The best lines of the video. A kid asks "Mom! Where do I go?" Her reply- "I don't know!" 'Nuff said about that..

Another great video from Casper News.

And lastly, this excellent shot of a retardant drop:

I have been dropped on before, this video captures the experience perfectly. The noise of the tanker, the sound absorbing qualities of the retardant as it falls through the air and the sound that it makes as it rains down onto the ground. I could almost feel the coolness of the retardant as it hits your skin

I am sure there was a car washing party at the Caspers that night!

Thanks to the Caspers for letting me post their videos and thanks to you for reading.



  1. When I saw the open door on the vehicle, I wondered if the retardant was going to be a mess to clean off of the upholstery. Is it difficult to clean off of your gear when you get showered? Does it have an odor? Does it taste like orange Tang if you just add sugar?

  2. The sooner you get the stuff off, the easier it is. Fortunately, the time I was dropped on, I was away from the rig. I had to wash my brush gear when I got back to the station anyway, it came right out.

    My boss came back after spending a week or so at a fire one time. He had a mild case of pink rash on his white car. The crews had to vigorously scrub the car, then use a cleansing polish on it to get it back to normal. I don't remember how long it had been on there.

    It smells like, well, phos-chek. I don't really find it unpleasant, but I don't think sugar would make it taste good.

    Supposedly, cattle can eat grass that has it on it without too much ill effect. Ill bet there would be some pink cow patties if they ate it fresh!!

    Thanks for commenting.

  3. Oh man, great videos! Reminds me why I like my end of the job better than yours! Stay safe!