Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Verdict

I entered the courtroom and took a seat in the right rear corner. The court was empty except for the D.A, the clerk, the recorder and a deputy.  I had passed the jurors on my way in, the looks of relief were evident on there faces, their stint of slavery almost done.

The courtroom was old school, dark wood paneling, an elaborate relief type ceiling and quotes about justice from the founding fathers embossed into the upper walls rounded out the decor. Some of the founding father's statements mentioned God,  indicating this courtroom was built in a far different era than the one we live in today.

After a short while, the defense attorney entered, a tall black man dressed in a tailored tan suit. He arrived alone, and made small talk with the DA, a slender white woman in her early thirties. They chatted about the trial as they waited for the defendant to show up.

The defendant arrived a short time later, along with his mother and a woman I assumed to be his girlfriend. The girlfriend was pretty, though the many gang-style tats were a blight on her dark brown skin. The defendant walked to the defense table and took a seat, glancing nervously over his shoulder at his mother in the spectator's gallery.

The judge entered shortly afterward and the clerk called the court to order. Some items from the previous proceedings were addressed by the judge, he then motioned to the deputy and the jury was brought in. None of the jurors appeared to look toward the defendant, most eyes were cast down or looked straight ahead. After some fumbling around, the jury was seated and the judge began.

"Members of the Jury, have you reached verdicts on all counts and allegations that the defendant was charged with?"

"We have your Honor"

"Please hand the jury packet to the deputy"

The jury  foreman stood up and handed a 9"x 12" manila envelope to the deputy, who in turn, carried it to to  the judge. The judge opened the envelope and sorted through the pages, making sure everything was in order. He then handed the papers ti the clerk.

"The clerk will now read the verdicts" the judge said.

The clerk rose and began to read. "In the matter of the people of the State of California versus I.M. Dirtbag find the following verdicts in the following counts:

"Count one: We the jury in the afore mentioned case find the defendant guilty of section 211(a) of the California Penal Code - armed robbery"

"Count two: We the jury in the afore mentioned case find the defendant guilty of section 459 of the California Penal Code - burglary of a vehicle"

"Count three: We the jury in the afore mentioned case find the defendant guilty of section 459 of the California Penal Code - burglary of a trailer"

Several more verdicts were read, all were guilty, all felonies. In addition, several findings were made, including the use of a firearm and discharge of a firearm in the commission of a robbery.

The defendant initially begged his attorney to explain how he could have possibly found guilty. Then he looked down before quietly crying into his hands. He is looking at a 30 year sentence and will be required to serve at least 80 per cent of it.

As the verdicts were read, the defendant's girlfriend began sobbing in the rear of the courtroom, his mother comforted her while she herself wept. A deputy brought them a box of tissues while the clerk read on. Finally, the deputy had to ask the defendant's girlfriend to step outside the courtroom as her sobbing was becoming disruptive. Rather than leave, the girlfriend instead quieted down, her sobs muffled in her hands.

After the verdicts were read, the judge and the attorneys discussed sentencing dates and the subject.of bail. The sentencing date was fairly easy, after some discussion a date was set. The subject of bail was even easier. The state said that the violent nature of the crimes warranted revocation of bail, the defense wanted the existing bail to be in effect until sentencing.

The judge said that state law required immediate remanding of the defendant into custody unless the defense could provide an extenuating circumstance why that should not occur. He then said that the defense had failed to do so and ordered the defendant into custody. The defendant stood up, placed his hands behind his back and was quickly placed in handcuffs. He then sat back down.

The sobbing from the rear of the courtroom began anew, the volume of which was loud enough for all to hear. The defendants mother asked the deputy if she could hug her son one more time, the deputy responded that she should wait outside the courtroom after the proceedings were over and they would discuss it.

I felt some compassion for the defendant's mother, there was a strong possibility that she would never see her son a free man again.

After the defendant sat back down, the judge profoundly thanked the jury, then dismissed them. They filed out of the courtroom, avoiding eye contact with the defendant and his family as they walked out.

 The judged left the bench and the court was closed. The defendant's mother left the courtroom, followed by the DA a few minutes later. The mother began making comments to the DA as she walked past, not threatening or insulting, but accusatory and rude. Any compassion that I had for the mother's plight was quickly erased. Her comments were more than from anger over her sons conviction, but a statement of philosophy, one of victimization and entitlement.

I for one am glad her thug son is off of the street, he is one less dirt bag that I have to worry about sticking a gun into my face and taking my property.


Off topic I know. There is no way I can portray the drama that occurred in that courtroom today. I do not have the skill to do it. Lives ruined by bad choices, others ruined by the fear and harm that the defendant caused.

Thanks to the law enforcement officers and to the DA's office for doing their jobs and keeping them away from us.

Thanks to you for reading.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fill the Boot

It's that time of year again!

The annual "Fill The Boot" drive for Muscular Dystrophy.

Each year, the IAFF does the Fill the Boot drive to raise money for research to find a cure for Muscular Dystrophy. Our local has participated for quite a while, we usually raise around 15 to 20 thousand dollars. I think we were a little light this year, not surprising because a lot of people are out of work.

Some of our people hate doing it, they feel like beggars standing on the corner. I view it as  a PR opportunity, especially when you see smiles on the faces of the people who are giving. I also view it as a photo op.

The district supports the drive and lets us do it on duty. I'd bet that admin has received a few complaints, but so far they haven't caved. Let's hope it stays that way.

I went out twice, once to take pictures, once to collect money. I enjoyed both days.

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

BDF E57 - Four Years

It's been four years. It seems like a million years ago, it seems like yesterday. Regardless, I and many others will not forget.

Rest in peace my green clad brothers.

Please keep the families of the BDF E57 crew in your thoughts and prayers as you go about your day today.


If you are unfamiliar with BDF E57 and the Esperanza Burnover, you van read about it here and here.

It might also help you understand my intense hatred of arsonists and why I think they should be shot as soon as the trial is over.

Thanks for reading,

Monday, October 25, 2010

Off Topic

It started with a mysterious text to The Saint I Am Married To - Mom have dad make reservations at a nice restaurant I have some exciting news.

A pretty dramatic message from a 19 yr old kid. "What the hell is he up to now?" I asked myself when The Saint forwarded it to me. As usual, this all went down while I was at work and unable to face to face with anyone involved.

I called The Saint and we discuss the message. The subject of our conversation was Number One Son who is in his second year of J.C. with a promise of us funding an additional two years at state college or university once he decides what he wants to be when he grows up. He works three days a week in a warehouse and likes to hang out with his friends. He lives at home for free, I have a truck that I let him use exclusively and we pay the insurance. Until his GPA dropped below a "B", we bought his gas. He buys his clothes and provides his own spending money. Since he has been buying gas, his money has been a little tight.

Like his father, #1 Son doesn't take school real seriously and has some authority issues. In so many ways, we are very much alike. I know his boss real well, he thinks highly of #1 Son, as do many of the adults that know him.

It was with the above observations that we tried to figure out what possible news that this could be. Marriage? Not likely, no serious girlfriend for quite a while. Fatherhood? Maybe exciting, but not in a good way. Definitely not news worth celebrating. Business venture? New Job? Again not likely.

After hanging up with The Saint, I texted #1 son, she went to work on #2 son. Neither one of us were entirely successful. #1 son wasn't talking until the dinner, #2 wouldn't say either but told us that the news was good. Apparently #2 was sworn to secrecy under punishment of a severe ass-whuppin'.

The Saint and I had a few theories but we had to wait until we all met for dinner a day later.

I didn't sleep real well that night, the next evening took forever to roll around.  #1 son stayed pretty scarce throughout the day, until we all drove to the restaurant.

We got seated and ordered drinks. I ordered a tall ale and then asked the kid what his news was.

#1 Son told us that he is joining the Army and that he is going down to finalize his enlistment at the end of this week. I could tell by his demeanor that he was resolute in his decision and there is nothing that we could do to get him to change his mind.

The Saint and I immediately bombarded him with questions about his choice of MOS (military occupational specialty) how long he will be in, how far he is in the process - all of the usual questions.

I leveled with him, I told him I am proud of his decision and I support it but that I have some concerns, after all he is my son and there is a war on. I also told him that it will take a few days for me to digest his revelation to us and that ultimately it his decision. I added that our enthusiasm for his decision will likely increase as we absorb his choice and the ramifications of it.

It's been a few days now and both my enthusiasm and apprehension have grown. I feel all of the same positive things that I have said to others when their kids have enlisted but as this is my kid, there is a different feeling of uncertainty that is difficult for me to explain.

I have always been supportive of the military and thought that I would be proud of my kids if they chose that path. Although I am proud, I have come to the realization that I don't want my kid to feel fear. I don't want him to be afraid for the safety of his team members or be shocked by the brutality of man. I have witnessed all three and I had hoped that my kids would be spared from it.

We will know Friday evening what MOS #1 kid will have and when he will leave us. I still hope that he will have a safe MOS, but that is out of our hands.

I will be addressing this in future posts, though I may start a new blog that will chronicle his journey over the next few years.

If you made it to this part of the post, I appreciate your perseverance. If you skipped to the end, I still appreciate your readership.

Thanks again,

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fresh Meat

I had the privilege of attending a Paramedic Graduation Ceremony at a community college last week. Some former crew members and I decided to attend, as the son of a member of the KBFPD was graduating along with about twenty five classmates.

The ceremony was fairly typical, with the presentation of colors, a few speeches, a slide show and the presentation of  helmets, shields and certificates. It was well done and it was a far more elaborate ceremony than I remember them being "back in the day". The cadets wore a dress uniform with hats, marched in step and had paramedic badges on their uniforms.

It was fairly obvious that the class was far more structured than when most of my friends went through medic school 25 years ago. Apparently, shorts, flippy - flops and t-shirts don't pass for appropriate classroom attire any more.

As we had arrived late, we were standing in the back row, near the entrance. We were in class "B" uniforms, as we were on duty and subject to recall.

After each graduate received their awards, they crossed the stage, went down the stairs and proceeded to the back of the room. They then walked across the back of the room, up the side and returned to their seats. During this journey, the graduates were required to walk directly in front of us. Two noteworthy items occurred as they passed in front of us. 

First, of the twenty five graduates, only one acknowledged our presence as they walked by. He did so by shaking our hands as he passed us, and thanking us for coming to the ceremony. Now, he is either the biggest kiss-ass in the class, or he is a highly motivated young man who would like to work for the K.B.F.P.D. maybe a little of both. either way, he did leave a most favorable impression.

The second event of note was our recognizing one of the graduates as a former EMT student ride-along from several years ago, Stephan  Gomez.

Some of you regular readers may recall that we always ask our EMT ride-alongs what the initials C.P.R. stand for. It is alarming how many can't correctly answer that question. Gomez was remarkable as he was the only EMT student ride-along out of the three or four that we had that year, that knew what they stood for.

He also stood out, as his career goal was different than many of his classmates. Gomez' ultimate goal was to become a PA. His plan was to become an EMT, put in the required year as an EMT, then apply to medic school. After medic school, Gomez wanted to get a job as a part time medic and then work his way through PA school. The kid seemed pretty sharp and I remember thinking that he stood a good chance of attaining his goal.

Frankly, kids his age usually aren't the best at setting goals and developing plans. The fact that Gomez had a plan with goals and a time line, put him in front of a lot of kids.

We didn't get a chance to speak with Gomez after the ceremony, the crowd and our need to get back to work did not allow it. It would appear that he is well on his way to attaining his goal. He seems to be right on schedule, hopefully he can find the right part time gig and get moving on the next step. Who knows, maybe I'll be seeing Mr. Gomez someday (hopefully in the far far future) when I need to get a scrip for viagra or something like that.

Congratulations to the K.B. C.C. Paramedic School class #144 for their hard work, toughness and perseverance. Strong work, hopefully I will start seeing some of them while running calls.

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Who Doesn't?

I know what the bracelet means, you know what the bracelet means, but does that 63 year old woman laying on the gurney know what the bracelet means?

I saw one of these bracelets on the wrist of an EMT the other day as he was loading a patient into the ambulance.

A - I heart boobies too!
B - October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
C - These bracelets are being sold by several organizations to raise money for breast cancer research

I think it may be a little unnerving for a patient, especially one who does not know about the fund raising aspect of the bracelet, to see "I Heart Boobies" on the wrist of a guy that she is cooped up in the back of an ambulance with.

Just to make sure I wasn't overreacting on this, I called a friend of mine who works for us in the prevention bureau. This woman is no prude, but is the consummate professional and I trust her judgement in these matters.

She agreed with me.

I'm not going to make an issue of it, the EMT doesn't work for us, he works for a private ambulance company. It's not a big deal really, I just don't think the EMT was thinking about how his customers might react when seeing the bracelet.

I don't think anyone from the corporate office of the Great Big Private Ambulance Company reads this, but if they do, they might want to think about getting a memo out. Then they should write a big fat check to a breast cancer research organization. I'm just sayin'.

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Seasonal Changes

I had just laid down on my bunk, my tootsies just starting to get warm under the dry covers. The tones hit, sending us to a gas station located on the border with next town. The RP was reported to be at the payphone, right away we knew this is likely a call involving a homeless person. As it is cool and rainy, we know that these types of calls are going to increase. We speculate on who it might be as we near the scene.

 Not Lloyd. Not today. File Schmotograph

Someone guessed correctly, it was Lloyd. Lloyd is new to the area, but we have gone on him twice in the last 10 days. I think the other two shifts have gone on him as well. Tonight, just as last week, Lloyd felt like he might be getting ready to have a heart attack.

We asked Lloyd about his last trip to the hospital, he told us that his last episode ended up being an anxiety issue and that he ended up over in the ECU (Emotional Crisis Unit) for a few days. We asked him how tonight's event compared with last week's episode. He replied that it was the same, he felt that a heart attack was imminent.

We opened up the toy box and hooked up all of the gadgets to Lloyd. We obtained his history,meds and allergies. Oddly enough, all were psych meds,both the ones he was taking and the ones he was allergic to. His only history was bi-polar disorder and anxiety issues.

The ambulance arrived quickly and Lloyd was soon on his way to the ER. It is likely that Lloyd will evaluated and will be shipped over to ECU again, which what I think what Lloyd wants.

I usually get annoyed with homeless people who game us, but Lloyd really doesn't bug me. First of all he tells us the truth about his history and meds. Second, I believe he gets a little cold and wet and starts to truly believe that he is going to have a heart attack. The more he thinks abou it, the more anxious he gets. I don't think that he is gaming us, I just think his issues are gaming him.

The other factor at play here is that Lloyd does not do a good job taking his meds. As he is homeless, it is pretty difficult for him to get his scrip filled, so he goes without.

It appears that Lloyd will be calling us on a regular basis, probably when he is cold and uncomfortable. Sooner or later, he will die or he will move on. Until then, If I could just get him to use the payphone across the street, then he would be the Next Town Fire Dept's customer.

It's a good night to have a home.

Thanks for reading,
A toasty Schmoe

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Day of Remberance

Images from the California Fallen Firefighter's Memorial Ceremony held on Saturday.

Large flags hung from ladder trucks marked both entrances to
the ceremony.

 The media was well represented, the fact that the governor was
scheduled to speak probably helped.

 A choir from the Sacramento are opened the ceremony. They
performed extremely well and sounded beautiful.

The procession of flags that were to be presented to the families
of the fallen marched past the crowd. Recognize the man in the
dark gray suit?

California Professional Firefighters President Lou Paulson spoke.

As did International Association of Firefighters President Harold

Rumor has it that Governor Swartzenegger cut short a European
business trip to attend. Although I am not a big fan, he did give a 
good speech.

One of the Honor Guard on post during the

The thirty flag presentations were done one at a time, with a group
of four standing in front of the crowd. After the four flags were
presented, another group of four would march in and four more
flags would be presented.

As each name was called, the bell was struck once. At the
close of the ceremony, the final alarm was struck. Three bells 
struck three times. Sniff.

CPF President Emeritus Dan Terry closed the ceremony. His
efforts were instrumental in getting the memorial built.

Due to where I was seated and the fact that I was required to stand at attention for a few parts of the ceremony, I didn't get to photograph some parts of the ceremony. I was lucky to get what I did.

I spoke with some family members whose loved one's name was added to the memorial wall this year. They felt that this ceremony was a very intimate and appropriate tribute to their loved one, with just the right amount of emotion. I would have to agree.

If you get to California next October, try and attend. It is a touching experience.

Thanks for reading,

Friday, October 15, 2010

Practice Baby, Practice

Ever wonder how honor guards from all over the state can get together and perform a ceremony without any errors?

Just like any other manipulative skill, it's all about practice.

 Members of Honor Guard teams from throughout California practice for Saturdays Fallen Fighters Memorial Ceremony. It was in the high 80's in Sacramento today and these people were out practicing for several hours.

On Saturday, these people will be decked out in their Class 'A's and their hands will be filled with chrome axes.

I don't know who the guy with the bullhorn is, but he is definitely in charge. That looked good folks, but we need to work on marching - let's do it again!

Of course, the purpose of the memorial is not only to honor the fallen, but for families and friends to remember their lost loved ones.

A family uses a crayon and a sheet of paper to capture an image of the name of a lost loved one. Their loved one will be honored in the ceremony on Saturday, along with 30 others.

The governor will speak, as will several union officials. Thousands will attend and the fallen will be honored. Hopefully, the grieving families will begin to put their lives back together, not forgetting their loss, but healing the pain and restoring some level of hope to their lives.

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sorry but justified

Tomorrow, the Saint and I will be heading up to Sacramento for Saturday's California Fallen Firefighter's Memorial ceremony.

I have never attended one of these memorial events, so it will be a new experience for me. It is my understanding that approx. 80 names will be added to the memorial wall this year, I am quite sure that this will be a sombering yet poignant ceremony.

I think it would be in bad form to take photographs while marching in the parade, but I plan to use my camera before and after the ceremony. I will try to post some while I am up there if time allows.

Maybe I can kype some shots of the ceremony off of the union web site.. If I can, I will.

I wish I had more to write about today, but I needed to get some stuff done before we left.

Take care and as always, thanks for reading.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

All I wanted...

...was a good night's sleep. It was not to be. Between this rodent-

and this one -

nobody slept well.

OK, OK I know neither are really rodents, but calling them such makes it easier for me to drown them.

Although Sydney is an indoor dog, she and her minions somehow knew that opossum was on the fence and raised hell about it. She was also impervious to my scolding, thrown objects and a spray bottle.

Was it too much to ask for a good night's sleep?

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Longest Day

It is a day that some firefighters dread, others look forward to and most just accept for what it is. Every firefighter in the Kinda Big Fire Protection District has gone through it, many others who don't work here have gone through part of it. Few ever want to go through it again.

The day will start early, the sharp ones will get to work an hour before shift change. They will go through the rig, making sure everything is set up perfectly. The ice chest will be stocked, as will the snack bag. The snacks will come in handy, not only for the candidate but for the rest of the crew as well. As soon as the entire crew arrives, the unit will head up the hill to the training center where the test will be held.

The test starts with a briefing, including a safety message. The expectations and performance standards will be laid out for the candidate and the captain. Once the briefing is complete, it is game-on and a single goal becomes the focus of the candidates life.

For the next four or five hours, the candidate will be tested to determine his suitability to be a firefighter for the K.B.F.P.D. They key is to hustle, but pace oneself so that enough energy is left toward the end to complete the test. It is a test of technical knowledge, manipulative skills, strength, stamina and perseverance. Performance under pressure, the ability to work as a team and the effects of exhaustion are evaluated during all phases of the test.

Most make it, but a percentage do not.. The result of failure is an almost instant transition to unemployment. The  pressure on the candidate is enormous, that upon the Captain is nearly as much. Pressure is what this test is about, it starts when the candidate walks through the door on his first day and ends a year later when he successfully completes his years test.

Today, five minutes after shift change,I heard Engine 209 go out of service and head to the tower for a probation test. I recognized the captain's voice on the radio, he used to drive for me when he was a new engineer. I looked on the roster to see the name of his probationary firefighter. Although I recognized the name, I know I have never met him.

I haven't heard if the candidate passed or not, though had he not been successful, news would have traveled fast. The master scheduling computer shows him still on duty, these are both  good signs.

I always feel old when we terminate people whom I have never met. The older I get and the bigger we get, the more often this occurs. A candidate was terminated a few weeks ago, I hadn't even heard his name. He was performing so poorly, he was terminated before taking his test. This is a practice that happens occasionally, the performance documentation has to be perfect for it to occur.

I hate it when we terminate people, though I know that, occasionally, it needs to be done. We have a group of candidates that will be going through testing over the next few weeks, I wish them all well.

A new group of firefighters will be coming on board after the first of the year. I hope that they will be committed to their completion of the probationary process so we don't have to go through the trauma of cutting them loose. It's a task no one enjoys.

Thanks for reading,

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Farewell Tour

When one of the members from our agency retires, it is somewhat customary for the retiring member to take a tour around the district and visit the various stations. Usually, this occurs on or near the persons last shift and it is usually done when that person is on duty so that he/she sees the people that they have been working with.

Often, the district commander drives them around or the unit will take a 10-7 training slot and spend a few hours driving them around..

As The K.B.F.P.D. is kind of big, it is sometimes necessary for the retiring member to prioritize his visits as there won't be enough time available to visit all of the stations. The healing place is set down the hill and far away from the rest of the district, so we don't always get a visit from retiring members.

I was sitting at my desk yesterday, gazing out the window, when I noticed a district sedan pull up the driveway and drive into the rear of the station. I didn't recognize the sedan, so I figured it was a Division Chief or somebody coming down to catch me taking the crew to lunch at Nevada Moosey's.

Thus, I was pleasantly surprised when Capt. Geniac limped through the door. Geniac has been on light duty for about six months or so. He partially fell through a hole in the floor and damaged a knee. He had surgery, therapy and all of that and his condition has improved about as much as it can. He is still unable to return to the floor, so yesterday was his last day and he is now retired. Geniac was on his farewell tour.

Geniac came on about two years after I did. As he is five years older than I, the numbers work out OK for him and he will be in pretty good shape financially. We have never socialized, his interests and hobbies are far different than mine.

We competed against each other during several captain's promotional exams and for several years, we finished in the top five. He would place ahead of me one year, I ahead of him the next.  Those were dry times for promotions, for a couple of years only one or two promotions were made. I got lucky one year and made it, he made it a few years later.

Where I really got to know Geniac, was in the trenches when we were at war with the Chief of the K.B.F.P.D. We were both on the Board of Directors of the K.B.F.F.A. and we had picked a bad time to serve.

I have said this before and I will say it again. Going to war is an action of last resort and I would not recommend it unless there is no other option. I won't go into the reason why we went to war, but I feel that it was justified to this day. We were fortunate in that we had a good war-time president, one not unlike Winston Churchill. We were at war for a couple of years and it was the worst time of my career.

It was a crazy time. Fear, paranoia, anger and animosity were the predominate emotions within the leadership of both our agency and that of the labor unit.

Picture if you will, two young engineers meeting in secret with the leadership of the Fire District Management Group, trying to persuade the Chief Officers to sign a Letter of No Confidence. The meeting occurred at a station, one that we had asked the crew to leave prior, so that there would not be any witnesses. We were unsuccessful in our efforts, the Chiefs refused our request. Most of them were forced out within a year anyway, they should have signed. As you may have guessed, the two engineers were Geniac and myself.

The absurdity of this event exemplifies numerous others that occurred during this period of time. Quite often, Geniac and myself were there to assist the president with the battles. I could count on him, he could count on me. I respected Geniac's intellect, judgment and his analytical nature. He rarely let emotion cloud his judgment and always thought every action out.

As we visited with Geniac, some of these war stories came up, events that I have not thought of for many years. The newer members of my crew were incredulous, they have never known anything but the harmonious relationship that we currently enjoy with management.  I hope that the kids realize that the peace and harmony we enjoy is largely due to Capt. Geniac's efforts.

I am glad that Geniac included us in his farewell tour, it was good to see him and rehash some of the events that have made our careers interesting. I wish him well and I hope that his leg does not deteriorate further. He has been an asset to our organization and he will be missed.

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I cannot know what happened before we got here or the circumstances that led up to our being called. I can, however, assure you that your father is not suffering a stroke, though if his blood pressure is not controlled soon, there is a high likelihood of one occurring.

I can also tell you that your shouting at your father, your shouting at us and your hostile attitude is doing nothing to help his situation. In fact, it is detrimental to his condition.  Your actions have already caused me to question your credibility and your ability to care for your father.

You claim that you were assaulted by your nephew and by your father, events which may or may not have occurred. Your recanting of your nephew's involvement and the fact that your father is quite frail and needs a walker to get around further decays your credibility. Regardless, your claims mandate sheriff involvement, involvement which I am more than happy to initiate.

You stated that you do not need our "attitude". Sister, let me clearly state that we have had quite enough of yours. Frankly, we are amazed at what a bitch you seem to be. I am sure that you spread joy and love throughout your family, yet I wonder how many members of your family are looking for a bridge to jump off of when thanksgiving dinner rolls around and they find out you will be there.

My inner evil twin was wondering which buttons of yours I could push to send you over the edge and take a swing at me. Then, I would have had the pleasure of restraining you and seeing you taken into custody. Somehow, I don't believe it would have taken more than a few buttons being lightly pressed.

Luckily for you, I have a great deal of self control, a trait which you apparently do not posses. As such, I suppressed my inner evil twin and you were dealt with in a mostly professional manner.

The guys on the other shift remember you from another call at your house. Not surprisingly, their impression of you was very similar to mine. I am sure we will meet again, hopefully your behavior will be better and we can focus on the task at hand.

Until then,. please see your doctor about getting your medication adjusted. I firmly believe that we will all be better off as a result.


Thanks for suffering through yet another rant,

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

'Bout Effin' Time


Click to enlarge

Of course my shift starts days off so it will still be a few days, but still it will be nice to get back to work. Mostly.

Wish me luck.

Thanks for reading,

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Like many fire departments, the K.B.F.P.D. has a Fire Explorer program. For those of unfamiliar with the explorer concept, Exploring is a program that exposes young people, ages 14-20, to various career fields and allows them to do some hands on training with people and organizations in that given field.

Exploring used to be a part of Scouting before being spun off some time ago. It is now administered through Learning for Life , a non-profit organization based in Irving, Texas. Exploring has areas of study that include the fire service, law enforcement, aviation, the legal system, business, communications, the arts and engineering to name a few. They also work on building character and good citizenship.

My agency sponsors a post and several members of the district have volunteered to serve as advisers. They meet once a week at a station and take field trips to the tower and to off site areas to drill. After an explorer has completed a specified amount of training, they are allowed to ride along with a unit for a 12 hour shift each quarter. They live for the ride-a-longs.

Here, a couple of explorers practice cutting ventilation holes on the roof of a building. How many 15-16 year olds can say they got to go up on a roof and cut holes in it with an axe?

Like any organization, you can tell that some kids are really into it and will likely succeed in obtaining a career in the fire service. Others not so much. The latter group are steered towards the Police Explorer Program. (just kidding)

Other kids might not think firefighting is for them now, but the exposure will plant a seed that can be nurtured later.

This young lady is receiving guidance on hose stream handling from one of our engineers. Again, this is something that not many people will ever get to do.

Our agency has numerous members that participated in Fire Explorer programs in their youth and received a good foundation for their future careers. There are also fire departments who use the Explorer program as a recruiting tool and to develop future firefighters for their department.

I support the program as I feel that it is a way to expose kids to a career who normally might not consider one in the fire service. It allows them to see the gig, the culture involved and the requirements to succeed. Frankly, I feel it is a far batter path to diversity than court mandates and quotas.

Thanks goodness the Explorer program costs the district little if anything, so it should be spared from the budget axe. I hope that it is continued for a long, long time. 

Thanks for reading,

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Places I'd Like To Work a Shift or Two

This station has a nice look about it -

The Saint and I found this station while touring the San Bernardino Mountains. It protects the community of Forest Falls, a community within the San Bernardino National Forest. It does not appear that High Rise responses, railroads or freeways are a community threat; nor did there appear to be a large homeless population. This works for me. The station looked very well maintained and has that rustic mountain feel.

I thought the prepared bear guarding the front of the station was a nice touch. He kept an eye on me and made sure that I didn't apply any K.B.F.P.D. stickers to the station or equipment.

I didn't see any cars around, so this might be a paid-call station. Regardless, it presented very well. Strong work by the Forest Falls team.

Thanks for reading,

Friday, October 1, 2010

On Leadership

Some time ago, I was asked to write a few words on leadership as it applies to the fire service. I must admit that I had some reservations about taking this on, as there are many excellent blogs out there that address this topic on a regular basis and I don't want to fall short.

My reservations were appeased somewhat this afternoon, when I ran into a friend of mine who is next up on the District Commander's list. He is actually performing as acting District Commander and has tested for the job several times. He really loves the position and if he has any reservations about accepting a permanent slot, he has shown no sign of it.

We were addressing several personnel issues that are plaguing our agency and the importance of properly handling them to instill and ensure confidence in the institution that is the Kinda Big Fire Protection District. Like any good manager, he would not directly discuss personnel issues with me, something that I as a flawed human  find reassuring. However, we were able to discuss how poor behavior affects the organization as a whole and how we thought some of things should be handled.

It was during this discussion that I realized I don't need to write a book on this, I just need to share a few things. Thus, here are a few observations on leadership and leadership skills that I have noticed over the years.

Observation #1 - Some elements of great leadership cannot taught or obtained. Either you already have them when you show up here or you do not. I call these leadership qualities of the soul. No amount of education, training or experience can truly instill compassion, honesty, fairness, bravery, integrity or the ability to think in a logical fashion. Those traits can be taught to those who do not possess them, but they cannot be embedded into ones soul, the location where they need to be.

It might also be added that the ability to excel under extreme pressure and other traits such as command presence are very difficult for someone to obtain if they already do not possess at least some quantity of the desired trait.

To those of you that were not born with all of the above traits, do not despair. I am not saying that if you were not born with all of the above traits you cannot become a competent or effective leader. I am just saying that the great ones possessed many of the essential traits long before we got our hands on them.

Observation #2 - Great leaders are true to themselves and do not try to pass themselves off as something they are not. Nobody likes a phony. When District Commander Newby calls and starts the conversation off with chatty inquiries about my wife and kids, I know there is unpleasantness on the way.  It's not that he doesn't care about my wife and kids, it's just that I know he is using  pleasantries as a tool to soften the real purpose of his call. Pleasantries are not a part of who he is, they are just another tool for him to use. I know this as do most of the company officers in our organization.

Conversely, District Commander Policy is a black and white kind of guy. He is a task oriented leader and  makes no excuses or apologies for it. Everyone knows that if you follow policy and procedures, you will have no issues with him. He is fair, honest and competent. While I would not consider him a great leader as his management style precludes a few important people handling skills, I do consider him a good leader because of his competency and his straight forward management style.

Observation #3 - Great leaders are trusted. This cannot be overemphasized. The biggest leadership failure that I have ever witnessed occurred when the Chief of the District was caught lying to the membership and to the District Board of Commissioners. Once his dishonesty became known, everything he tried to accomplish was viewed with skepticism and scorn.

We ended up going to war with this chief and ultimately won, however the negative long term effects of this battle plague the district to this day. All of the positive things he was able to accomplish were overshadowed
by our distrust of him, the old timers still spit on the sidewalk when his name is mentioned. It's too bad but he did it to himself.

Tying This Together - The friend I mentioned in the opening paragraphs of this post was told at one of his promotional interviews that he was too direct and that his task oriented management style might be an issue when and if he is promoted. Much like D.C. Policy he will have to be aware of this, and keep it in mind when dealing with people. His ability to balance awareness of the issue with remaining true to himself will determine whether he maintains the trust of his personnel and will help define the quality of his leadership.

His technical ability, command presence, ability to excel under pressure and logical thinking are first rate. Most of the leadership qualities of the soul are present as well. His compassion and ability to treat people fairly will be the deciding factors as to whether he will be a good leader or a great one.

Thanks for rea....

Oh wait -

A reflection of the sunset in the hood of the District Commander's buggy. Ya didn't think that you would get through this without an artsy-fartsy Schmotograph did  ya?

Thanks for reading,