Monday, February 28, 2011

"Chief" complaint: Gluteal discomfort

E226 crew arrived on scene to find 50 yr old male, seated at a computer terminal in the office of a fire station. Pt. was conscious, oriented and alert, however appeared to be in a highly agitated emotional state. Pt. was yelling at inanimate objects, waving in the air with both middle fingers extended and vehemently complaining about "a major pain in my ass!"

Due to pt's agitated emotional state, E226 crew opted to stand in the doorway and laugh at the pt, while monitoring pt to ensure he didn't use the office scissors to harm himself. After several minutes or monitoring, pt. calmed down to the point where the crew felt pt. was in a happier place.

E226 crew then returned to watching their movie while pt. returned to complying with the new District Commander's request for yet another B.S. paperwork assignment.

No further action taken by E226 crew.


OK, I exaggerated a little and it's my issue, not the D.C.'s. As useless and inane as I feel this particular form/report is, the reality is that he is the boss and I will get it done. I will also try to limit the entertainment value of my tirades and insulate my crew from my position on the matter. They may, however, be subjected to the occasional burst of profanity from the office. Besides, it could always have been worse, we could have gotten stuck with BC Newby!

I would have written more, but I had to stay up and complete the above mentioned report.

Thanks for reading,

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Sentencing

It was a newer courtroom this time. One with painted walls, fluorescent lighting  and a minimum of wood. Though it lacked the elegance and warmth of the last one, it served it's purpose - providing a place for several motions and a sentencing.

The cast of players was nearly the SAME AS LAST TIME., however now the defendant was clad in an orange jump suit, rather than in the business suit that his attorney had previously provided for him; there was no jury and a different defense attorney was present..

The court worked it's way through a couple of motions, one of which was one for a new trial. The defendant's previous attorney was forced to testify, it appeared that he was as disgusted with the defendant as we were. I don't think he helped the defendant's case, the judge saw through the bullshit and denied the motion.

After some more business, the judge called for a break and announced that the sentencing would commence upon his return. When the court was reconvened, the judge made it clear that he had bought none of the defendant's words, either regarding his motions or his request for a light sentence.

The judge gave the sentences for each count, adding up the years to be served, consecutively rather than concurrently. After each group of years were added to the pile, the sobs from the newlywed defendant's wife grew louder, adding to the drama in the courtroom.

After all was said and done, the total exceeded 32 years and the defendant was ordered into state custody. The defendant's mother asked the judge if she could hug her son just one more time, he deferred the decision to the deputies, who standing near the now sentenced man.

The deputies denied the mother's request and the reaction was both instantaneous and extreme. A primeval scream, followed by a string of epithets directed at the deputy DA pierced the solemn atmosphere of the courtroom. The mother was restrained by her hoodlum family members and she was assisted from the courtroom, wailing all the while.

The DA staff, along with myself, were allowed to leave through the judges chambers and out a side entrance. Ever watchful deputies escorted the DDA and her staff to the DA's office, the fear of reprisal enough that they walked down the street in the drizzle.


32 years, with a requirement that at least 80% be actually served. By the time he gets out, half of his life will have been spent in prison as a result of this caper, this in addition to previous sentences from previous crimes. The irony in this case is that the co-defendant had plead guilty to his role in the crime and will soon be out.

Although I initially had some sympathy toward the defendant's mother, it became evident as I followed this case that some of her son's issues were a learned behavior, likely from her. As one of the numerous deputies commented as we were backstage "maybe she should have raised him better".

Although I am not gloating over the criminal's conviction and sentencing, I do feel some satisfaction ion knowing that justice was served and that another predator is off the streets. I am sure that my relief is nothing compared to that of the victims, they were truly terrified.

I must add to this that I had no actual involvement in this case, I was just there as a privileged observer, a role that I always appreciate. Thanks to my connection, your efforts are appreciated and admired by me.

Thanks to you, for reading my blog.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Criminal Investigation

The Hollywood Hills home where Los Angeles City fireifghter Glenn Allen was fatally injured last week has been declared a crime scene according to The Los Angeles Daily News.

The Daily News quotes Los Angeles P.D. officer Diana Figueroa of the department's Media Relations Office as saying "It has been declared a crime scene, and the Robbery Homicide Division is handling the investigation"

According to the Daily News, investigators from the police department, the fire department and building officials were trying to determine if the recently remodeled home was up to building and safety codes. 


Interesting. Though it has probably happened in the past, I can't remember a property owner being investigated or prosecuted for the death of a firefighter from an accidental fire. I am guessing that the investigators are going to look at whether any remodeling done to the structure was up to code and if so, were the plans approved by the building department, inspections performed and signed off. 

If all of the requirements were met, does the city building department have any liability in the matter? It will be interesting to see the outcome of this investigation, I'd bet that the investigators already have a good idea what went on with the structure if they are turning it over to the PD, they have their own investigation unit.


A candlelight vigil for FF Allen will be held tonight at LAFD Station 78 in Studio City, with the funeral tomorrow at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the FF Allen's family and to the LAFD.

Thanks for reading,

Christchurch II

I woke up this morning to the following comment on yesterday's post regarding the earthquake in Christchurch New Zealand:

Sitting in Christchurch now, power is back on in our part of the city. Initial rescues were civilian, but the brigades were not far behind, with army presence within hours. My son (New Brighton brigade) spent afternoon then most of night in town, home here (He had and still does not have power, water or sewerage) for a shower and a few hours sleep, then back into it. The work now is over to the specialised urban rescue squads, and the (sadly) DVI (Disaster Victim Identification) teams.
This is our second big shake, much worse this time.
Have a look ... and pray it doesn't happen to any of you.

The comment was posted by Garry Collins, a retired Senior Firefighter whose ISP number visits my blog regularly. I am glad to hear that Garry appears to be doing OK, as is his son, who is a member of the New Brighton Fire Brigade. The link to  provides some great news on the disaster including photos and video.

From all of the photos that I have seen, it appears that New Zealand has done well in it's preparation for and response to this event. There are several things which I have noticed in the various photos and videos.

1. - Order appears to be maintained, with only a dozen or so cases of looting reported as of yesterday evening. Considering the magnitude of the event and the number of people involved, I find this remarkable.

2. - A wide variety of responders appear to be at work including police, fire, USAR military and community response teams. All appear to be properly equipped, working under some form of command/control.

3. - Widespread conflagration does not appear to be occurring. Conflagration is our #1 concern in post shake scenarios. Conflagration is historically the #1 cause of death in the post shake period of large earthquakes.

4. - Although there have been some collapses of major modern buildings, the majority of collapses seem to have been to masonry buildings, many appearing to be rather historic in appearance.

5. - There have been a lot of things accomplished within the first 72 hours after the quake. We tell our customers to plan on being on their own for 72 hours after the "big one". While I am sure that some in the disaster zone were without emergency response resources for that long, it appears that the majority were not.

All of my impressions are based on a lightly trained eye looking at a few hundred images. Without knowing how representative the images are of the entire disaster, all of my impressions are only slightly better than a guess. The collection and interpretation of hard data will take some time, but should provide a wealth of information for those of us who share the risk levels that New Zealanders face.

I wish Garry, his family and his countrymen well and hope that New Zealand has a speedy recovery from this disaster. The first responders and people of Zew Zealand are in our thoughts and prayers.

Thanks to Garry for the info, thanks to you for reading.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Christchurch's Big Picture just posted a series on the Christchurch earthquake. As usual, striking photographs.

The proximity of the quake's epicenter to Christchurch, a large population center, caused a great deal of damage, though not as much as could have happened in an area with less stringent building codes. It appears that at least some streets are passable and that a great deal of infrastructure remains more or less intact.

It must also be noted that in the photos, much of the rescue efforts appear to be civilian in nature. That is what is likely to happen in most large earthquake scenarios. Keep those shovels and wrecking bars handy. For those of us who live in earthquake country, this series of photos is a glimpse into our future. Crap!

Thanks for reading,


I was forced to drive into the big city today,  I needed to buy some things that only Costco can provide. As I was getting low on fuel, I thought I'd top off El Cheepo Jeepo at the gas island while I was there. I changed my mind when I saw the lines.

Frankly, the investment in time was a little more than I was willing to make. (Funny though, I didn't mind taking the time to stop and snap a few pictures!) The gas island at Costco is usually busy, though not at 13:30. Commuters usually stock up early in the morning or late in the afternoon, on their way to/from work.

I asked the attendant how much per gallon Costco was getting for regular, the answer was $3.41. Though I thought it steep, I knew it was cheaper than surrounding stations. Again, not being a fan of long lines and the poor behavior that they generate, I opted to drive on to another station.

One block away, I found this sign:

$3.49. Not bad, especially when the pumping environment looked like this:

$3.49 a gallon, .08 more than Costco. As my vehicle required 15 gallons to fill it on this occasion, it cost me $1.20 more to avoid the line and rude people over at Costco.

To me, it is worth it. To others, maybe not so much. Is $1.20 worth 15 minutes of time? I don't think the answer is clear, it is too subjective.

What I am curious about, is whether the people who stood in line for 15 minutes actually did the math and figured out exactly how much money they saved. Did the driver of that Toyota Corolla who took 12 gallons of gas (96 cents saved) feel it was worth a buck to sit in line? How many times a month do they top off?

If they did the math and know what they saved, was their decision based on a need to save that dollar? Or, was it the perception that fuel prices are skyrocketing and they had better fill up and save while they can?
Honestly, as a person who remembers the fuel shortages of the '70s, I hope it was the former and not the latter. Obviously, supply is not an issue right now, there were three other stations within a quarter mile of Costco, each was nearly empty. The psychology of fuel pricing and supply probably has more of an impact on us than the actual supply does.

The first tremor in the economy that we felt a few years back, was a steep hike in fuel prices. There did not really appear to be a good reason for the increase back then, but it really altered the way many of us spent money.
Today, with all of the unrest in the Middle East, there does appear to be some legitimate reason for the unease in the world oil markets. I just hope that things calm down over there before it has a long term effect on our already slow economy.

I also hope that the lines at Costco don't become the norm at all stations. I remember what that is like, I don't want to put up with that again.

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rumor Has It

Rumor has it that FEMA USAR California Task Force 2  has been activated to deploy to Christchurch, New Zealand in response to the 6.3 earthquake that occurred there on Monday. California Task Force 2 is staffed by members of the Los Angeles County Fire Dept. and when deployed out of the country, is part of the USAID program.

The last I heard, the team is preparing for immediate deployment, pending aircraft availability.

Good luck to the USAR team from L.A. County, work hard and work safe.

If I hear any further news, I will post it.

Dog Days of February

As we were driving by the dog park we this spotted this weimaraner playing catch with his owner.

I asked William to pull the rig over and I grabbed my camera out of the compartment. I snapped a few shots, spoke with the dog's owner and found out that this dog is considered silver in color, as opposed to" blue", another common weimaraner color.

This dog had a great deal of energy, was very agile and played well with the other dogs. That's more than I can say about some fire captains.

As it was past lunch time, I bid the dog and his owner farewell and we continued toward the station. A little consideration to the crew goes a long way.

Thanks for reading,

Sunday, February 20, 2011


"David Wanette. Why does that name sound so familiar?" I asked William as we pulled away from the curb.

We had just cleared a call, a medical aid of no consequence. David Wanette was the name of the medic on the private ambulance that had transported our patient to the hospital.

"You're kidding, right?" was William's question in reply.

"Why would I be kidding?"

"You really don't remember that guy?"

"Dude, If I remembered who David Wanette was, I wouldn't be asking why his name sounds familiar."

"He used to work for us, two maybe three years ago. He washed out on his six months test. I think he worked for Bulldog."

Now I know why the name sounded familiar, why couldn't I recognize the face?

I started playing the numbers game. Two years ago, hmmm. Bulldog was at 224's with... let's see, Pina I think. Yeah that's right Pina and Clardy. Bulldog, Pina, Clardy and... Wait a minute.Pina and Clardy are on my shift, Bulldog was too back then.

Just as I realized where Wanettes was during his brief stay with us, a voice from one of the the rear seats offers his two cents worth. "Shit Schmoe, that goofball worked in your district, on your shift, one station away from yours and you don't remember him? You need to get out more."

Much discussion ensued, primarily on the subject of Wanette's failure to meet probationary standards. The consensus was, at least of those who actually remembered Wanette, that he was a substandard employee and that we were good to be rid of him.

Still, it bothered me that I didn't remember him He must think I am a real ass in that I didn't  give any indication that I knew him or even knew of him. I know we met and that we must have worked a few calls together. How awkward must it be for him when he has to run calls with us?

Has the list of former K.B.F.P.D. employees become so long that ones presence on that list is grounds for
immediate dismissal from the memories of senior fire captains?

Or do I just need to get out more?

Thanks for reading,

Friday, February 18, 2011

L.A. City Firefighter Passes

Local news is reporting that Glenn Allen, a 38 yr.  veteran of the Los Angeles City Fire Dept. passed away today from injuries he suffered while fighting a structure fire on Thursday. He was 61 years old.

Allen was trapped when the structure he was working in collapsed, pinning him in the debris. Power tools wee used to extricate Allen, who was in full arrest at the time of his rescue.According to local media, he was planning on retiring in a year or so and was looking forward to the birth of his first grandchild, due this month.

R.I.P. brother Allen,  your family, friends and co-workers will be in our thoughts and prayers.


I never met Glenn Allen, he looks like a tough old bastard, one of those guys who could work a boot into the dirt. Godspeed brother Allen.


L.A.Timed story can be found HERE

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ask Capt. Schmoe, Eppisode #2

Rob, a reader from down under asks:
Something I have always wondered about you Americans. In Australia it has always been that the fire brigades handled fires and the ambulance service sick people. Recently in Melbourne the government has trained a number of the fire brigades to be able to responded to 000 calls (and ambulance will be sent as well) with the idea that the fire fighters may be able to get there sooner and that can make a difference.

What do you think are the advantages or disadvantages of both systems? This is coming about in Australia because theres a lack of ambos was this the case in the US or did it come about for more noble reasons? 

A good question, Rob. Anon. gave a good answer, one well thought out and accurate as did  CBEMT.

Here is the Schmoe point of view: It is sure to offend EVERYONE.

The fire service wants the call volume from EMS to justify staffing. In some cases, there is income from 911 transport, but in most urban areas, this is a money pit. Illegal aliens and the working poor often do not have insurance and medi-care only pays 30 or 40 % of the bill.

Private ambulance providers (including a few huge corporations) are in it for the cash, primarily that earned doing inter- facility transfers and non-emergrncy transports.For them, 911 transports are often a necessary evil, required by the licensing authority who requires it before they will issue a license to do inter-facility transports.

Non-fire, publicly provided EMS systems, such as county or Emergency Medical Authority run systems are a rarity around where I live/work. I believe they will become rarer as budget constraints become more severe. From a budgetary standpoint, it doesn't make any sense to have two separate bureaucracies to screw up administer an EMS delivery system when one can screw it up just as well.

EMS regulatory agencies try to keep the various providers in line by issuing restrictive protocols, ridiculous documentation policies and CYA edicts which enables them to create powerful fiefdoms, wreaking fear and havoc on the actual providers.

What is the solution? Here is the Schmoe solution. Hint: don't vote for me when I run for King of America. It won't be pretty.

The EMS delivery system would consist of two parts, both run under the management of the local fire/ems provider.

First responders with AEDs would respond on the closest fire unit. ALS/transport would be provided by single function medics riding on CCT ambulances. The medics would be public employees, with the same benefits and same type of career path that the fire service enjoys.

All EMS units would carry a black leather bag, filled with quarters, taxi tokens and bus passes. Non emergent 911 callers would, after evaluation, be provided a quarter to call a taxi and a token to pay for it. That should ease a good portion of the burden that is placed on EMS delivery systems in today's world.

Did I leave anyone unoffended? Oh yeah, attorneys. Attorneys would be banned from advertising on daytime television. During the first year of my reign, one half of the licensed civil attorneys in my state would be required to forfeit their license or be shot. Year two , 25% of the remaining civil attorneys would have to make the same choice, find another line of work or be shot. By year three, the numbers of practicing civil attorneys should be at a more manageable level.

The reality is that the overwhelming majority of 911 requests for emergency medical service do not require the services of EMS providers. We have created a world where people believe that dialing the magic numbers will cause their problems to be solved. It is our fault, it is what we have created. Like many other well intentioned social programs, it has grown out of control and is unsustainable.

The myriad of EMS delivery models are often driven by budgets, politics and power. Nobility rarely has anything to do with it. Now that the money is running out, these less than noble influences will have an even greater role.

I told you it wouldn't be pretty.

Thanks for reading,

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Kind of a slow day at work, getting caught up on some paper/computer work. I had to edit some images that I took for the district and was previewing them on my camera. My camera keeps track of the number of exposures that it has made and can display the number of them starting from the first and ending at the last.

It was while previewing the images that I noticed I was looking at the 10,007th image that my camera had taken. Sadly, I had already deleted the 10,000th, but it was taken 1.7 seconds before this one, #10,007 and was almost the same shot.

This helicopter was taking photos of the King of the Hammers event last week. As it had been parked on Means dry lake bed on the day before this photo was taken, I had spoken with the pilot (maybe the owner) who told me that this helicopter was a Bell UH-1B and was built in 1967. It had served with the Norwegian military and had performed primarily search and rescue duties.

For a ship of it's years, it has relatively few hours and has led a pretty good life. I am guessing many of it's sister ships spent their lives in southeast Asia, getting holes punched in their sides and bellies.

10,000 images in seven months. Of those, only 100 or so have been printed, less than half are worth saving. The shutter in my camera is supposed to last 100,000 images. At this rate, I will have to send it in for a re-build in May of 2016. That will probably cost me a few hundred bucks, if parts are available that is.

Of course by then, Canon will have the EOS 1D mark 6 out that will be 35 megapixel and will shoot 25 frames per second. I will have to look into one of  those and will discover that all of my existing lenses won't work and I will have to think about replacing those as well. See where this is going?

Still, 10,000 images is a significant number, especially when I realize that I am still as happy with this camera as the day I bought it Santa brought it.

Thanks for reading,

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ask Capt. Schmoe

Occasionally, I get e-mails asking for some sort of advice. Usually, they are questions about how to become a firefighter or how to ace that all-important Chief's interview. Sometime, I receive questions that pertain to difficult issues common to the fire service. Here are a few that I found memorable and my responses to them:

Dear Capt. Schmoe,

I am a firefighter on a busy engine company. Occasionally, we may have a series of calls, or even a long call that causes us to miss a meal. I advise my Lt. that I am hungry and that it has been more than seven hours since my last eating period. He either ignores my complaint or tells me to "suck it up". 

How do I convince my Lt. that I really am hungry and that it hurts my feelings when he disregards my concerns?

Thanks in advance for your advice,

Hungry in Hanford

Dear Hungry,

Quit being such a whiny sissy. Buy some granola bars and some Monster energy drink and keep them on the rig. When duty calls and prevents you from scarfing down a burger, use the granola bar to provide some nutrition and the Monster to provide a "jolt".

As far as your Lt. goes, follow his advice. SUCK IT UP. I don't think that homeowner who is watching his house burn to the ground is concerned about you missing a meal.

Lose my e-mail address, find a new job. I hear Wal-Mart is hiring, maybe you could land a position in the Sniveling Bitch Dept.

Thanks for asking,


Dear Capt. Schmoe,

I am a Captain in a medium sized municipal fire dept. located in northern Illinois. My girlfriend and I are growing weary of the severe winters here and are thinking of moving to either Florida, Arizona or California. I was recently offered a position in the Los Angeles County Fire Dept. but I turned it down because I heard they make all of their new firefighters go to medic school after they complete probation.

Is there any way you could help me get a job with the Kinda Big Fire Protection District? It sounds like a great place to work and I think that I would fit in, as I like to eat Mexican food and I like to play in the dirt.

Any help that you provide would be greatly appreciated, 

Yours truly,
Chilly in Chicago 

Dear Chilly,


Are you stupid? Have all those cold winters turned your brain into perma-frost? You turned down LAC because you didn't want to go to medic school?

I don't think that you are smart enough to make it in the K.B.F.P.D. LAC is one of the best departments to work for in So Cal, anyone dumb enough to turn that gig down isn't going to make it here. Besides, any moron can eat Mexican food, we need people who can COOK Mexican food.

Also, playing in the dirt and living in the dirt are two different things. Look it up.

Just be thankful you don't work/live in Fargo ND. I hear it's really cold up there.

Thanks for asking, you idiot,


Dear Capt. Schmoe,

I am a brand new Chief  Officer for a mid-sized fire department. I am enjoying my new position very much and I find the challenges that it presents very stimulating. Taking this job is the best career move that I have ever made.

The lone thorn in my shoe is one of my senior captains. He is nearing retirement age (as am I) and he doesn't always have the same priorities as the management team or even myself. Although he takes his job seriously, he doesn't seem to think that certain administrative tasks are all that important and he sometimes places them at the bottom of his priority list when they should be near the top.

What am I to do?

Mystified in the Mojave

Dear Mystified,

At last, an easy question. Although the psychological and emotional needs of the senior fire captain are quite complex, the answer to your dilemma is very simple indeed.

Except for life safety issues, the emotional needs of the captain have to be the number one priority. He is preparing to enter a potentially chaotic period of his life, one that will change his status in society and his image of himself. It is imperative that he enter this life phase with the highest level of self esteem possible.

Therefore, my advice to you is to simply let it go. The senior captain is very likely correct, when he states that the minutiae is low priority in the grand scale of things. Recognize that it is all about him and that what the Fire Chief  or the Board of Commissioners think is important, might not be so.

Remember always that "old guys"  should get their way when ever possible. That you took the effort to ask this question tells me that you are a caring and sensitive leader. Keep up the good work.

Thanks for the question,


Good questions and even better responses. The questions should be good, I wrote them myself. Should any of you have questions about life, work or the fire service, feel free to drop me a line. My responses will be equally as well thought out as the ones above., after all I am full of advice and full of myself.

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, February 10, 2011


It is 2200 on Thursday night. I am sitting in an RV in the middle of the Mojave Desert, typing this by flashlight. I am at a temporary "city" called Hammertown. Hammertown is created once a year for an off-road racing event called King of the Hammers. It combines open desert racing with rock crawling and is a blast to watch. I was invited to attend by The Saint I Am Married To's brother and I am having a blast.

Qualifying for the event finished up yesterday, so all that was going on today was press stuff and tech inspection. That leaves the various runs open for the amateurs. What a blast to watch, especially if beer has been involved.

This is what happens when someone misjudges the obstacle, they end up on their side. It is usually low speed so no one gets hurt.

You see all of the nuckleheads standing around with a beer in ther hand, watching the action? Well, I am one of those, except that I am juggling a beer and a camera as I am walking around on the rocks.  If I fall, I am going to have to decide which I am going to save, my camera or my beer. As the camera is a little more costly, I guess I'll have to sacrifice the beer.

I'll post more on this later, It's late and I am tired. Have a great weekend and thanks for reading.

A dusty Schmoe

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


"Engine 226, Dispatch.."

"Go ahead for Engine 226."

"Engine 226, RP called back and said that her mother is not breathing."

"Engine 226 copies, we're bumping up to code three."

"Engine 226, Dispatch."

"Go ahead for 226."

"226, RP's daughter is performing CPR."

"E226 copies, go ahead and put us on scene."

We went up the walkway, through a gate and found a closed door. We knocked and opened it and could hear someone yelling from the back of the house. Down the hallway to an open bathroom door. There, we could see a sixty year old woman moving up and down over the chest of her mother, like a pile driver, 80 times a second.

Her mother lay on the floor in her own mess, pale pulseless and apneic. The crew dragged the pt. out of the bathroom and into the hallway. The daughter was still pleading with her lifeless mother, sobbing ,  pleading with her to live.

The monitor told us that mother wasn't going to comply with her daughters request. 91 birthdays had been enough. The crew was on it, I worked on getting the daughter out of the hallway. Her emotional state was not doing anybody any good, I wanted her out of the hallway so my crew could focus on their work.  I shepherded the daughter into the kitchen and obtained the necessary patient information.

The ambulance arrived at about the same time as the patients son, he ran to check on his mother, then to comfort his sister. I could hear the daughter down the hall, blaming herself, begging her mother to forgive her. The brother appeared to be a little more rational and was telling his sister not to blame herself. Apparently, both offspring had been trying to make their mother happy in her final years, both without success.

What had started out as a call to help someone back into bed has ended up as a lesson to me. One that involved a parent, her children and guilt. Though I hope my children will mourn when I am gone, I don't want them to feel any guilt. I have felt enough of that for us all.

Thanks for reading,

For my Pilot Readers, for my Photographer Readers, my Geek Readers and my Curious Readers

O.K. THIS LINK is for just about anybody but not for everybody. I stumbled on it over at Anne Althouse's blog, god knows how she found it.

360 Cities is a website that posts 360 degree views of places and objects. The recently posted fourteenl high resolution, spherical views of cockpits from various aircraft. If you click on an image, you can navigate it up and down, all around. The horizontal navigation is 360 degrees, the vertical is probably 180. It is a lot of fun.

As an ex-pilot and an airplane geek, I attempted to guess the model of aircraft by the image. Most of them are vintage eastern bloc aircraft, of which I am no expert. I still manged to guess about half. The lone modern era aircraft I missed, but I know at least one pilot who reads this blog flies this particular model and should get it right away.

I really enjoyed this post, I hope you will too.

Thanks for reading,
a wistful Schmoe

Monday, February 7, 2011

Editing II

Shot after shot, the chief appeared in my viewfinder. I didn't notice him too much at the time, I was too busy focusing on the subject of the image, not the background. It wasn't as if I could do much about the background anyway.

I have known him for years, we came on the job within a few years of each other. He has always been a warm and caring person, happy and content.  Although we are not close, I know he has been going through some tough times lately. Tragedies from within his agency and from without has made this year the worst of his career, if not his life.

I didn't realize how this year had affected him until I edited some images from a function that he and I both attended. The chief I know as a warm, happy person was not present that night I don't know if I will ever see him again. The man in the chief's uniform who did show up was a man filled with pain, pain that appears to be taking it's toll on him. He will never share with us the extent of his turmoil, but we all know it must be tremendous. When we think about our own situations and compare ours with his, none of us can begin to imagine how bad his must be.

The shutter of a camera remains open for only a fraction of a second. During that brief moment in time, the world as we see it is captured, frozen as it was at that particular instant in that particular place. Sometimes, that instant is one of beauty, sometimes it is of terror, or shock or even serenity. That day every instant my camera captured, was one that contained sadness and fatigue. Fortunately the chief was not the focus of photos, otherwise my images would be ruined. I cropped him out of many of the pictures, blurred him out of others.

For those who will see the finished project, the chief will be in the background, his demeanor will not be noticed and the joy of the occasion will shine through. But as I saw every image before it was processed, I could see how the chief was hurting. What others suspect, I know. I just hope he can recover.

Thanks for reading,

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Sincere Thank You

To the citizenry of the Oak Flats community, Kinda Big Fire Protection district:

My deepest gratitude to you fine citizens of this great community. Thank you for your fine behavior during this years Super Bowl big game. Your efforts allowed us to watch the entire game without interruption.

Despite excessive  alcohol consumption, overcrowded parties and inebriated driving practices you all managed to hold things together and leave us alone as we watched the Green Bay Packers defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Although my co-workers would have rather not witnessed Pittsburgh's defeat, I thoroughly enjoyed the game; both in the outcome and the playing of it. I firmly believe the right team prevailed.

Again, kudos to all of you and your exemplary behavior. If it is not too much trouble, could you maintain this high standard until 0800 tomorrow morning. We would be equally as appreciative as we prepare to go on days off.

Your indebted public servants,
Engine 226-A platoon.

A good game, with plenty of good grub. William took care of us with a multitude of unhealthy, high fat, high sodium processed food products. Although I missed out on some good parties, our evening here was quite pleasant. However, I must admit the commercials are probably more humorous with a few beers on board.

Still, not a bad way to see the game.

Thanks for reading,
an elated Schmoe

Saturday, February 5, 2011


At one time, I knew every member of the K.B.F.P.D. I worked like a dog, taking every O.T. that came my way and I worked in a desirable house that always had someone working O.T. for one reason or another. As a result, I met everyone and everyone met me.

As I rarely work O.T. anymore and we tend to keep our time trades in-house, I don't get out much. I realized this while editing photos that I had taken at a recent department function. In a group shot of a bunch of captains, there were several whose name I couldn't recall.

The engineer's group shot was even worse. There were several whose name escaped me and a few whom I don't remember meeting.

I don't want to talk about the firefighters. While tagging the pictures, I didn't know half of them. I will have to take the file to work and have my medic I.D. the firefighters. That will lead to some tasteless humor at my expense, comments about me being reclusive and senile. No respect in today's culture toward grumpy old fire captains, that's for sure.

Not that there ever was. I used to tease a few of my early captains, they would ask me who someone was and I would tell them. Of course I would add a humorous line or two with the answer. Every once in a while, I would give them the wrong name and then listen with suppressed laughter as the captain called the visitor by the wrong name all shift.

The ultimate payback will occur in a few years when retired me will return to a station that I had worked at previously and no one on duty will know me. That day will come, it is inevitable.

I just hope it doesn't jack me up too bad.

Thanks for reading,


Go Packers!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A River Runs From Him

When I ventilate
His blood spatters from his ear
Onto the backboard

The crimson river
Continues to grow in size
Despite our efforts

The blood does not stop
It flows off of the gurney
Pouring to the floor

When the ambu stops
A puddle of red expands
Under the unit

His death is pronounced
The doctor knows it's futile
We gave it our best


Quite a mess, not only the Haiku, but the call itself. Massive, multi-system trauma along with a crushed melon. It would appear that the helmet was not up to what it was asked to do.

The truck driver, who was stopped at the time, said that the impact shook his truck. It appears that the motorcyclist was traveling at a high rate of speed at the time of impact, the witnesses said that he was flying.

Not any more.

Thanks for reading,

(insert crime here)

Someone hears something. A friend tells a friend who tells someone's wife, who in turn tells one of us. So and so got picked up for (insert crime here). A phone call is made or a text is sent. Eventually, someone will get on line and access the county courts website. They will do a case search using the rumored offenders name and if the rumor is true (or mostly true) a hit will be made. Then the rumor is no longer a rumor and is now a matter of public record. The sordid details are there for anyone with a computer and a little savvy to see.

Usually, it has something to do with alcohol and cars. Occasionally, alcohol plays a role in a more serious crime, one that involves physical violence. Very rarely, one of our members kills or tries to kill someone or commits some form of sex crime.

Almost always, the district knows about the event long before the membership does. The arresting agency will give the district a heads up about an arrest or the errant member will notify his superior officer as soon as he is able to do so. Sometimes, the accused will opt to resign before the trial. We appreciate that, as the headlines always look better when they say "Former firefighter arrested, accused of (insert crime here).

Depending on where the crime occurred, it may even escape the attention of the local media. We like that even better, no one enjoys seeing dirty laundry flapping in the breeze - especially when it is their own. We have been lucky in that aspect, our good named has only been muddied a few times during my career.

Rest easy, all of these events are very rare, the really bad ones are extremely rare. But, as we are human, we are susceptible to many of the same trials and tribulations as the rest of society. I believe that background checks and psychological testing helps reduce the number of problem children in our employ. However, someone's secrets, if properly kept, allow them to slip through the cracks and remain undetected until crisis erupts. Then it can be ugly for everyone.

No one likes to see their comrades in jail, even if that's where they need to be.. 

Thanks for reading,