Saturday, April 30, 2011

Got Gloves?

I take a lot of photos, many fire service related. As I take a lot, I have to edit a lot. As I have mentioned before, I don't distribute photos of people not properly equipped. However, I am known to post them on my blog - after editing of course. Here is tonight's installment of "Got Gloves?"

A structure fire, single story duplex. The fire has been mostly knocked down, but overhaul has not yet begun. The firefighter is actually holding a pair of gloves in his/her right hand, but they are general purpose "work gloves", not ones approved for firefighting. The gloved hand you see holding the nozzle belongs to another firefighter.

I almost missed it, but when I reviewed the image after adjusting it I caught it. This one was getting distributed too! Good thing I really didn't need it.

I don't know what the deal was, maybe he grabbed the wrong gloves from his pocket and was switching them out. It doesn't really matter, I caught him/her in a picture, performing fire suppression activities with no gloves on. He/she wins this months "Got Gloves" award.

Hope your weekend is shaping up better than mine - moving sucks!!

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hey Pal!...

... Do you think you could help a buddy out with a bottle?

A scene played out on every working fire. Photo by Schmoe, dragon slaying courtesy of Local F.D.

Thanks for reading,


I watched it all day on the radar feed from NOAA. A string of severe thunderstorms running across the southeastern U.S, nearly a solid line running to the northeast. What was unusual about this is that instead of the cells being painted in the usual yellow and orange, there were a lot of them imaged in deep red and magenta. Also present was an unusually high number of tornado warnings, solidly spread across numerous radar zones.

Even areas where the warnings were limited to severe thunderstorms and flash flooding, it was obvious that a lot of people were getting their asses handed to them.

I knew lives were being changed, some irreparably, as I watched the weather data from my garage/den, safely located almost two thousand miles away. I thought about the first responders and how adverse weather always affects their operations and how it doesn't take a tornado to make their shift a nightmare.

Daylight revealed a death toll of over 200 across several states.That number will likely rise as areas are searched and victims are found. Some of you probably experienced it or a taste of it. To you my heartfelt respect and condolences, disasters truly suck. I know that Tuscaloosa AL was hit especially hard, I have a few readers from there - I hope they made it through O.K.'s "The Big Picture" posted 23 images of the devastation, the images captured the human side of natures fury.

It looks like most of the affected areas are getting a break today, the squall lines have moved east and have reduced in intensity.

Days like yesterday show mankind who really is in charge.

Thanks for reading, Schmoe

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I don't know how many of you have been to Texas, or better yet have driven through it. I'm talking about the whole state, not the skinny little part of the panhandle. It is freakin' huge. It probably should have been broken up into four states when it came into the union, but politics and pride made Texas the biggest state in the conterminous U.S.A. For the last few weeks, Texas has had the biggest wildfire problem as well.

According to The, wildfires over the last few weeks have burned over one million acres, destroyed hundreds of homes. I have read reports of at least two volunteer firefighters being killed while fighting wildfires in Texas this month.

A friend of mine forwarded me this link to the Atlantic, which has posted a photo series on the rash of wildfires in Texas. Some excellent photos of the fires, the effects and the aftermath.

Most of the photos appear to have been taken in rural areas, which might explain the lack of coverage by the mainstream media. Still, the loss of two firefighters should have garnered more attention.

Elias Jaquez, 49 was a volunteer firefighter from Cactus, Tx. passed away on April 20th after suffering burn injuries while battling a 35,000 acre wildfire on April 9th. The fire was reported to be in Moore County TX, about 40 miles north Of Amarillo. FF Jaquez was flown to the burn unit at UMC in Lubbock Texas, where he was treated until succumbing to his injuries. He was surrounded by family and friends at the time of his passing.

Gregory M. Simmons, 51 from the Eastland Volunteer Fire Dept. was killed on April 15th while fighting a fire near Gorman Texas. Simmons was initially though to have perished from burn injuries, but an autopsy revealed that he died from blunt force trauma, possibly from being struck by a vehicle during a burnover event. More about Simmons and the circumstances surrounding his passing can be found HERE.

Texas has had a bad month in regards to wildfires, extreme drought and adverse weather does not bode well for the near future either.

This post originally was just going to be about the photo series, but digging on the matter revealed the details on the two fallen firefighters. Volunteers have a special place in my heart, so much is placed on the shoulders of so few. RIP brothers.

Thanks for reading,

Monday, April 25, 2011

Strategery and Tackticks

The objective was to soak one's opponent, preferably at a point in time when being wet would cause some form of physical discomfort. Multiple soakings during the course of an evening would cause one to run out of dry uniforms or undergarments and experience a period of time where chills, chafing and a clammy feeling were a harsh reality. 

One favorite tactic was for us squaddies to fill up a five gallon bucket with water, climb to the roof of the station, lie in wait for the engine to return, then bombard the firefighters as the engine entered the building. As E208 was a two person cab, the two firefighters rode on the tailboard, exposed to the elements. Helmets were usually removed as the engine pulled into the alley, leaving the targets even more exposed.

The trick was to aim slightly ahead of the firefighters, so that the distance the engine would travel during the flight of the water would bring the target to the water at the precisely the right time. Although it took practice, the results were spectacular and produced a thorough soaking.

An effective tactic, though if not part of a strategic plan, only a fleeting success.

You see, though soaked, the victims were in no way incapacitated. The attackers were vulnerable, isolated on the roof with only one way down. Retribution could be quick and equally effective.

 He who controls the ladder, wins the war!

Two hose bibs were located close enough to the roof access, so that the egress could not be accomplished without receiving a vicious counter attack. One of the bibs was actually fitted with a one inch connection and a two inch supply pipe. The attached one inch hose line made for a fearsome attack line which could be extended for several hundred feet if necessary. Also, as station #208 had old school tile flooring, the place was lousy with buckets.

The strategic plan called for a preemptive sweep of the area, disconnecting the hoses from the bibs and removing them from the area. Attention was paid to buckets, ice chests and any other container which could hold water - they were removed as well. Additional buckets were filled and placed at the top of the ladder so that the could be used to douse someone attempting to climb the stairs. On rare occasions, a 35' foot ladder was available to spot on the west side of the building for use as a secondary escape route.

Allies were an added bonus, though the truckies tended to be advanced in years and often acted far more mature than us juveniles.

No one ever got hurt on our shift, no doubt due to divine intervention. With all of the water flying onto the access ladder, it is a miracle no one fell off. I don't remember the captains getting after us on this issue, unless it was late at night and they wanted to sleep. We all slept in the same large dorm room back then. Battles tended to shift throughout the station and they were never silent.

There are big changes in store for station 208, a major renovation will remove existing the roof access and will replace it with an enclosed common stairwell. That really doesn't matter much any more, we are forbidden by policy to ride tailboard and fully enclosed cabs pretty much take all of the fun out of throwing water on the engine anyways.

I occasionally have to still climb that access ladder, I am working on a project that requires it. Each time I climb I can't help but think to myself, "he who controls the ladder, wins the war".

I likely will never forget that strategy.

Thanks for reading,

Sunday, April 24, 2011

"Hold It Against Me" - Interpretation by VMM-266, HMLA-169 U.S.M.C.

I have no use for Brittany Spears. I don't dislike her, it's just that I never have really cared for pop music and as a typical 50 year old white male, have never learned to dance or appreciate dance music.

That's why I surprised myself by liking this video:

It was made by some U.S. Marines over in "The Stan", by members of a V-22 Osprey squadron and an AH-1 Cobra squadron. I think they did a great job with it and I think it shows how young people can adapt to their situation and manage to create and have a good time despite their surroundings.

Knowing that Easter is a few hours away and that I will sitting down with my family to have dinner and to have a good time, while people like those in the video are stuck on the other side of the planet, fighting an increasingly unpopular war is extremely humbling to me.

Frankly, I take my ability to have a good time for granted, while they have to savor the moment and have a good time when and where they can. I guess it's their spirit that I admire.

For those of you who celebrate Easter, please say a prayer for those men and women overseas. Ask for their safety, ask for wisdom for their leaders and ask for mercy for all of us.

Thanks for reading, have a great Easter.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

It's Time

The ravages of time, teenage kids and weinerdogs have taken their toll on the Schmoe domicile. Deferred maintenance, procrastination and the desire to avoid having a project immediately destroyed by kids and dogs have led us to a point where major improvements must be made. While assessing the situation, it was determined that the removal of walls, moving of plumbing and the raising of ceilings should be performed at the same time.

It was also determined that the completion of the above tasks would be far easier if we vacated the residence for a period of several months while the destruction and construction is taking place. Thus, I have moved the accouterments of my posting from the comfort of my den to a portion of my garage. This is only the first step of a move from our house to another, then returning in a few months.

If it were up to me, I would likely piddle at the project piece by piece for several decades, until my heirs completed it or the Smithsonian took it on as a historical project. Seriously, wasn't the eighties an architecturally significant period?

  Unfortunately Fortunately for me, The Saint That I Am Married To has determined that our situation warrants an extreme home makeover and the drastic course of action is more appropriate than my proposal. I suppose that she is right, we will suffer greatly for a few months, then be done with it.

Although internet access is likely to be spotty for a while, I should be able to post on a regular basis. I just hope this is all worth it, I am going to miss the old look.

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, April 21, 2011

If I had not taken this job...

...I would not have been standing on that hill, on that evening.

As the sun set into the west, it was hard to grasp that there was no human beings standing on land between us and Asia.

Although the windmills interrupted the stillness of the moment, it somehow seemed that they belonged here, a blend of technology and nature.

To the west, the last vestiges of light, to the east a rising moon. The windmills were not reacting to either, just to the 20 knot wind, blowing in from the sea.

Who is to say what sights I would have been looking at that evening, had I not chosen my career. Maybe I would have been looking over the skyline of London or Toledo. All I know for sure, is at the moment that I took the above photo, I was in the perfect place for me to be.

I looked at the Chief as he snapped a photo of this scene and I knew he felt the same way. As we both came on the job in the same year, we are both looking at retirement. I will go before he does, we have discussed it and each have our own reasons for leaving when we do. One thing we both agreed on, it's stuff like this that we will both miss - things that most people don't get to see or do.

Thanks for reading,

Monday, April 18, 2011

Airplane P0rn and a Fox for Wines

As promised, I am delivering on my promise of airplane porn. Airplane p0rn is much, much safer than the other kind, wives and bosses don't mind nearly as much. It is, however, a gateway drug as it can lead to pursuing a pilot's license which in turn can cause all sorts of marital discord.

I digress. As posted Friday night, I have been gone for a few days. I am sure some of your saw the photo of the big city skyline and thought the Saint and I were headed off to a romantic getaway. As much fun as that might be, this was more of a business trip.

 The business end of an Air Force C-17. The huge cargo door, and the aircraft's ability to carry what fits in it, is the reason the aircraft exists. Not my favorite aircraft, but an amazing one none the less.

Old time jet pilots used to have a saying "Kick the tires, then light the fire". That was a catchy phrase referring to the pre-flight walk around. Well, this was the "kick the tires" phase of our flight.

The C-17 can take off at a weight of nearly 300 tons. Moving that kind of weight around calls for power and lots of it. Each of the four engines on this beast produce 40,000 pounds of thrust.

This tractor-trailer was no challenge for this C-17. It was only part of the cargo, yet the whole load came nowhere close to matching the capacity of the aircraft. I thought backing a pick-up truck into one of these was a lot of responsibility, think of how the driver of this truck must feel.

Climbing out of our departure airfield in a right hand turn. Both pilots looking for other traffic, as was I.  I was involved in a near miss back in the day, it was not a pleasant experience.

Right at touchdown. We are traveling at 130 knots and are slightly nose up. The center-line of the runway is pointing between our knees. My favorite part of any landing.

One on the ground, the aircraft are directed where to park by marshallers,  who also assist the pilot in making sure the aircraft is clear of obstacles. This marshaller is guiding a C-130, which is much smaller than a C-17 but is equally amazing. The C-130 has been in production since the late '50s and will be in service for many years to come.

A C-17 departing our destination. I flew home on this aircraft the following day, it was a bit newer than our departure aircraft.

My buddy Capt. Wines over at Iron Firemen, got all exited when I promised p0rn in my last post. I am betting he thought it was the "other" kind, not the airplane kind. I thought I would bait him further by promising a photo of a fox in this post.

For those of you born after 1970 or so, the term fox used to denote an attractive young woman. There were very few women at our location, those that were there were all very busy and were all business. This fox apparently had nothing going on and consented to having her photo taken. She was napping next to the mess hall and couldn't care less that I was there taking her picture.

A great trip, but now I have to go through hundreds of photos and process the good ones. That should keep me busy for a while.

Thanks for reading,

Friday, April 15, 2011

Schmotographs, Present and Future

I am going to be away for a few days. I really can't say what I am up to, but I can promise you two things:
  1. There will airplane porn in the next post.
  2. I will post as soon as I can.
Until then, here is a shot I took a few minutes ago:

As usual, the pic doesn't do it justice. Have a great weekend.

Thanks for reading,


She didn't seem too upset when she was placed into custody, it was if she knew it was a possibility - though remote, and was ok with it. Apparently, she felt her man needed protecting as he wasn't going to be much good to her if he was in jail and she wasn't.

The deal had been struck, her testimony in exchange for charges not being filed against her.When it came to do her part, she got cold feet and reneged on the deal. Needless to say, the prosecutor was not amused.

This was not the prosecutor's first trial, nor his first dealings with total flake. He had made sure that this deal was one from a position of strength, not desperation. He was ready in case things went south. Her role in the whole matter, though minor, was significant and well documented. Intent was not an issue, nor was involvement. She was in handcuffs almost immediately.

As mentioned above, she didn't seem too upset. The prosecutor explained the situation and gave her another chance, one that she declined. The cuffs stayed on and she was escorted away. As she left, the prosecutor motioned for the marshal to stop and she spoke to the woman.

"Now that you are in custody and he is custody, the safety and welfare of your child is in question. We have been in contact with Juvenile Protective Services and it looks like they are going to place the twins into the system."

That is when she  lost it.

I hope he is worth it.

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, April 14, 2011

We Might Call the Truckies Fan Bitches...

...but they call us can bitches.

The pressurized water fire extinguisher, also known as a PW or a "can". Gods little gift to the fire service. These are relatively new to us, we started carrying them about ten years ago. We used to carry CO2 and a dry chemical extinguisher, but as the CO2 was only used on mailbox fires, it was decided to drop the CO2 and carry the PW.

I was so impressed, I bought a couple for use at home. I use it to put out the campfire when camping and to break up fighting wiener dogs when necessary. It also comes in handy to squirt down spouses and kids when they become a little too lippy for their own good - especially on hot summer days. The best part is that all it takes is an air compressor and a garden hose to recharge them (do not recharge at home unless properly trained and equipped to recharge PW fire extinguishers;)

Here, a crew is using a can to do what it is designed for - attack a small rubbish fire. Some crews will grab a can when arriving on scene and going into investigation mode. A fully charged extinguisher will give you about 2.5 gallons of water. It doesn't sound like much, but a PW will put out a surprising amount of fire when used properly.

Although a PW does not take the place of a charged hose line, it will enable a crew to put something out while its small, and maybe hold something larger in check until a hose line gets deployed.

Obtaining PWs was a change for the good at the K.B.F.P.D. Besides, it gives the truckies something to call us when their superiority complex kicks in.

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Some Call Them Heroes

 We call them fan bitches.

No disrespect intended, we just do a lot of positive pressure ventilation, so that fan gets used a lot. The truckies like to throw their weight around and tell us how great they are, so they have to expect a little love in return. Fan bitches is a pretty descriptive term, don't you think?

I am told the Big City F.D. spends a little extra time on the roof during a big fire so that the news helicopters can get a little extra footage. I am also told this practice is called "air time". I don't really believe it  to be a standard practice, probably a casual comment someone made one time and both the term and concept stuck.

Well, we are trained to spend no more time on the roof than necessary, so I guess this could be called our "air time".

Move air bitches!

Thanks for reading,

Monday, April 11, 2011

What a District Commander Loves to See

Field-hands toiling in the field on a warm Sunday morning.

The healing place is absolutely the best designed fire station that I have ever seen, much less worked at. The upside is that I get to enjoy the benefits of an architect who accepted input from the agency and from the members.

The downside is that I have to tolerate the folly of a landscape architect whom I suspect has never performed maintenance on any landscape, much less anything that he/she designed. Our little piece of paradise has a relatively large lot, with allegedly drought tolerant, low maintenance landscaping. I don't know about the drought tolerant component, but I can tell you that we spend a lot of time each week doing yard work and that low maintenance isn't a term that comes to mind when bending over pulling weeds.  Low maintenance is a relative term, I guess.

Frankly, I prefer turf. It's easy to maintain - just mow, blow and go. While we have a lot of turf, we have even more bedding areas, some of which are planted with various grasses and plants from another planet.

If you don't keep up on it, it will get away from you and you will spend an entire week trying to get things back under control. As long as each shift makes a little extra effort, it's not too bad. I don't think Sloven's crew is doing anything other than mowing and edging and it shows.

Some stations have divided the lawn areas up into zones, with each shift responsible for a certain area. We have avoided doing that in the past, all the shifts have kept all of the areas in pretty good shape. Since Sloven doesn't really seem to care about the lawn, we may have to revisit this issue. The downside of that arrangement is that two zones will look great, but another will look terrible. The upside is that there is no doubt who is slacking in regards to lawn work. My guess is that Sloven busies himself on lawn days, doing desk work, and doesn't even look at the lawns, much less pick up a rake or a hoe.

Photo by Mr. Bill, lurking in the grass with my camera. Bastard, that is
my job.

I guess as long as the D.C. lets me wear my non-regulation hat while weeding, I can live with the landscaping. At least for another five months anyway.

Thanks for reading,

Saturday, April 9, 2011

She Is Still Fu#*ing Dead

The bystander tried CPR to no avail. She was still fu#*ing dead.

You lost control and attacked the RV, trying to get at the driver. She was still fu#*ing dead.

We arrived and ran an EKG. The strip said that she was still fu#*ing dead.

We were afraid the blanket would set you off again, so we delayed covering her up. She was still fu#*ing dead.

You went to war with the troopers, dragging us into the fray. She was still fu#*ing dead.

We all rolled around in the mud until you submitted. She was still fu#*ing dead.

She laid there under the blanket, her blood pooled on the wet pavement. She was still fu#*ing dead.

You sat in the back of the cruiser, handcuffs digging into your wrists. She was still fu#*ing dead.

We all wrote very detailed narratives while the troopers waited for the coroner. She was still fu#*ing dead.

All of that and she is still fu#*ing dead.

Sorry you had to read this,

Friday, April 8, 2011

Thanks, Citizens

El Vallejo is a small community surrounded by a much larger one. The citizens can be an unruly lot at times, but when the ka ka hits the ventilador, most are extremely helpful. Sometimes a little too helpful.

"Engine 234, truck 228 DC2, respond to a reported overturned vehicle with persons trapped. This will be in the parking lot of Bader's market, 23877 Vultee ave. with a cross of Mitchell. E234 acknowledge. Multiple calls received."

"E234 Copied the call and is responding."

"Dispatch E234 is on scene, we have a single car TC, it does not appear to be a rollover. We will be checking for injuries. Other responding units continue in and stand by until assigned."

"Truck 228 copies."

"DC 2 copies."

"Truck 228, E234. We have two injuries, both Moderate. Respond in and assist with popping the front passenger door and treating that patient. E234 will handle the driver. Dispatch E234, did you copy?"

"Truck 228, dispatch copies. DC 2, respond at your discretion."

The two patients were quickly freed from the vehicle, packaged and transported. It was after then that the damage down the driver's side was noted as well as the lack of a second vehicle or damage to one of the many fixed, immovable objects located in the area. The captain on the truck asked one of the fifty or so bystanders who had watched the incident unfold if they knew what had happened.

The bystander replied that he in fact had witnessed the accident and that he was then one of the 15 or so participants who had pushed the car over from it's side back onto it's wheels. With the two passengers still inside.


When the Captain from Truck 228 related this story to me, I laughed. I then reminded him that although the bystanders actions were really bad for the patients, it had made his job much easier. Rather than stabilizing the car on its side, then remove the roof, all they had to do was pop a door and package the patient. We will never know of the rapid, violent up-righting of the car caused additional injuries or whether they got lucky and no further damage to the patients was caused.

We did, however learn a valuable lesson. Good intentions paired with a lack of knowledge and leadership can definitely cause problems. Especially in El Vallejo.

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Killing Cones

Another season opens around this time of year besides baseball. It's not deer season, nor is it trout season. It's a much easier prey, one that does not move. It's open season on traffic cones.

There is an engineer's test coming up in the next few months, so potential candidates are out practicing their skills on the various types of apparatus that we operate. The exercise depicted above is two lines of traffic cones that are slowly converging until the last pair are exactly 2 inches wider than the track width of the apparatus. In other words, the operator is squeezing the unit into a space exactly 2 inches wider than the unit.

In addition, the unit is driven into the convergent lane at a speed of approximately 15 mph and must stop at within 12 inches of a cone placed 25 feet from the end of the lane. It's not that difficult if you are able to practice, however it is sometimes hard for candidates to be able to practice on all of the numerous makes/models of  engines that our agency uses.

The front pair of cones are worth 5 points each, the second 10, the third 15 etc. If you hit the stopping cone, it's automatic failure, 5 points are subtracted for each 6 inches you are away from the stopping cone. In the picture above, a candidate would be gigged five points on cones. An 80 is required to pass the task.

As I rarely drive, I was happy with the consistent 90 average that I pulled all morning.

Another task for the candidates to perform is parallel parking. Cone spacing measurements are based on the size of the unit. Other than that it's just  like the old DMV test.

 Each cone snagged is a 10 point deduction and the rig must be within 12 inches of the curb, but not touching it. I didn't do this today, I donated my time to some guys that are getting ready for the test. Still, it was fun to watch.

As you can see, traffic cones are pretty much treated like crap during traffic cone season. If we are lucky, we can borrow some off of a cop car or a road dept. truck parked at the county maintenance yard. We always take them back after the drill, they just might be a little bent or marked up.

Good luck to all the people studying for the engineer's test, I hope you get all of the practice time you need. From the looks of the above pictures, you just might need it.

Thanks for reading,

Monday, April 4, 2011

Just A Freakin' Game

Baseball season has finally arrived. The grasp of winter has loosened and the grand game is being played again across the country. Many major league teams had their opening days last Thursday, Many minor league teams open this Thursday.

Last Thursday, Bryan Stow a paramedic for AMR up in Santa Clara county Ca, and two companions decided to travel down to L.A. and catch the opening day ceremonies as the L.A. Dodgers played the San Fransisco Giants. Being Giant fans, Bryan and his friends were wearing Giants apparel in support of their team.  While leaving the stadium, they ran into some stereotypical Dodger fans and an altercation ensued.

 Photo Courtesy of AMR Santa Clara County

According to news reports, verbal sparring escalated into Bryan and his companions being assaulted. Bryan's friends escaped with minor injuries, Bryan was not so lucky. He was struck in the head and fell to the ground, smacking his head on the pavement. He was then repeatedly kicked while laying there, unconscious. The two assailants fled the scene, Bryan is now laying comatose in a Los Angeles area hospital.

Bryan suffered a major brain injury, is in an induced coma and on a ventilator. All because some thugs were angry about some fans wearing Giants Jerseys. When this first story first broke, other Dodger fans were interviewed regarding the attack. One fan said something along the lines of "this is L.A, you have to expect this." Brilliant words from yet another thug Dodger Fan.

Come on you turdballs, is your loyalty to a sports team worth killing someone for? Apparently, in your warped world, it is.

I grew up a Dodger fan and attended games as a kid. At some point, the Dodgers became the team of choice for the L.A. thug sub-culture. While alcohol and some rowdiness has always been an issue at Dodger games, the fan base has shifted and many of the cheaper seating sections have taken on a less gentile atmosphere. It is like there are two separate stadiums, the one where the celebrities and the business people sit and the one where the thugs sit. As I can't afford to sit or park with the celebrities, I don't go to Dodger Stadium.

Yeah, I know most of the fans sitting in the seats at Dodger Stadium are not a threat to anyone and just want to have a good time. However, the presence of an ever increasing number of people who have no regard for others are becoming more of an issue as time rolls on. As the "thugification" of  our culture continues, incidents as this will become more common and people like Bryan, and us, will be the victims.

What happened to Bryan, shouldn't happen to anyone. Bryan and his family are in for a hard time as he recovers from his injuries. You can help out by visiting this link to find out how to donate to a fund that has been set up for them.

Despite this unnecessary tragedy, I am glad the season has started, though I fear this may not be the Cub's year. So what else is new? Through it all, I will do my best and keep in mind that it is just a freakin' game.

Thanks for reading,

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Asked For and Already Recieved

I pulled an overtime last week, a rarity for me. Even more rare, was that it was up in District #2, well outside the golden triangle, which is where I try to spend my time. I spent a lot of time at this particular station back in the day, in fact it is where I spent my fist year with the K.B.F.P.D. This station also serve's as District 3's HQ.

I hadn't been in the station five minutes when I was paged to the District Commander's office. "Schmoe, I need you to take the engine over to this address up in Hilldale," the D.C. said, "Arturo Villegas is coming home from the hospital this morning and we need to be there. Leave the squad here, I got 237 covering with an engine until we get back."

There was time for a quick shower, a cup of coffee and off to Hilldale we went.

Arturo is a firefighter/medic with the Hilldale fire dept. He lives just inside the Hilldale city limits, which also happens to be two blocks outside K.B.F.P.D.  jurisdiction. Arturo was grievously injured in an auto accident two months ago and had been recovering in a rehabilitation hospital for the last six weeks. The accident occurred within our jurisdiction and our people had rolled on the call. As Arturo lived so close, worked so close and had gone to classes with many of our people, he is widely known with the K.B.F.P.D. crews in District #2. I know Arturo, but not very well. I had heard about the accident and knew it was bad. Very bad. I had also heard through the grapevine that Arturo had made tremendous strides in his recovery, progressing from a semi-vegetative state to being able to walk (with assistance) and regaining some limited verbal abilities. Apparently, he was doing well enough to go come home.

We followed the D.C. up into Hilldale and found Arturo's house with no problem. It was the one with a Hilldale ladder truck, engine and ambulance parked in front. A Hilldale Chief's buggy was in the driveway and a "Welcome home Arturo" banner was draped across the front of the house.

As we had gotten a late start, Arturo was already home and seated in his favorite chair when we arrived. He looked good and was smiling as we came in. We greeted Arturo and met his family, then shook hands with the Hilldale crews. It was good to see Arturo home, petting his dog and laughing, as the K.B.F.P.D. guys and the Hilldale guys took turns busting each others chops.

After a while, we could tell Arturo was getting tired and that it was time to head back to the barn. As we were getting ready to leave, one of the Hilldale Captains asked that we join in prayer. Arturo, his family and the crews from both departments all joined hands and bowed our heads.

The Captain from Hilldale is a guy who I only see a few times a year. He seems like a thoughtful sort, one perfectly suited to lead this prayer. He thanked God for the opportunity to be together, members of Arturo's actual family and his professional one. He also thanked him for Arturo's recovery and asked that his mercy be shown to Arturo as he continues to recover. The prayer was closed with a request for our safety and then an Amen.

I was touched. I am not a real spiritual guy, yet I realized that to see Arturo sitting in his living room, laughing and playing catch with his beagle, was a miracle of sorts. His survival was evidence of prayers being answered even as they are asked.

Miracles are everywhere, we just have to recognize them.

Thanks for reading,

Friday, April 1, 2011


I was at the right place at the right time with the right equipment. By some miracle, the multitude of dials, settings and doohickeys on my camera were in the right position and they synced with the dials, settings and doohickeys on the flash.

I knew the IC, we had attended an officer development program together back in the day, so access wasn't a problem. A spot was located where I could shoot and not be in the way. Most of the photos came out OK, a few came out pretty well, one came out great.

There's just one problem. I can't really use the best one for anything.

One of the firefighters had removed his helmet for a few moments and set it on the rear deck of the car. Although it wasn't really a dangerous act, if the picture were to be published or distributed, it would cause him a little grief. If not from the agency Safety Officer, then from his peers. Sometimes the unofficial grief is worse than the official grief.

If firefighters start getting jammed up over photos, they will start to become aware of my presence and wary of my actions. My welcome will be short lived and I will end up on  the wrong side of the yellow tape, a place that I am unaccustomed to.

Thus, I am extremely careful of what gets submitted to Admin, regardless of the agency. In this instance, I was able to crop a small section of it and share it with you. While I would have rather have printed it up to a 24" x 36"  and presented it to the Local F.D, this will have to do. At least I was able to use it for something.

Oh yeah, keep your lid on. You never know when there is a camera lurking nearby.

Thanks for reading,