Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Closest To The Pin Update.

My "Big Ed" 4C is still up for grabs! Although there are several folks "on the green", no one has hit it in the cup and there is still room between the closest marker and the pin. I gotta tell ya, I'm having a good time reading the entries. I'm surprised that no one has guessed it yet, but I must say I did work pretty hard disguising my agency. Maybe it worked!

In case you missed it, details on the Closest to the Pin contest can be found here.. If you have an idea of where I worked, click on the link, read the details and submit an entry. You might just be right.

Thanks for reading,


Last night at about 1800 hrs, I walked out of the back door of the station, climbed in my ride and drove home. For the first time since 1981, I am no longer a firefighter. Trust me I'm OK with it, though it is a little weird.

Thanks to all of the people that helped make my last day a memorable one. Thanks to the members of my crew for putting up with the farewell tour, the phone calls and the chaos that my last cycle brought. Thanks to the members of my agency for the kind words, hugs, calls and visits during my last few days.

Thanks to my East coast brothers Willie "Iron Firemen" Wines, Rhett "The Fire Critic" Fleitz and Dave "Statter 911" Statter for their calls, kind words and advice.

A special thanks to Capt. Lussen from the R.F.D. for his kind offer, one that only "airplane geeks" like us can appreciate.

And finally, thanks to all of you readers for your kind words, support and your readership. You rock!


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pic O' the Week

A probationary firefighter performs a hose-lay evolution during his six-month practical exam. This guy performed very well, mainly because he is an animal. It was about 90 when this was taken, about two hours into his test. His performance did not taper off, despite the heat or the length of the exam. He was ready and it showed. Well done to him and his crew.
I chose this photo for pic o' the week for several reasons. Mainly, I kinda like the way it came out. Secondly, I took my six month exam on an August day 28 years ago, this shoot brought back a lot of memories. I may have to print this one up and put it on the training division wall.


Don't forget to enter the Closest to the Pin contest and win my Big Ed 4C flashlight, there are still a few days left to enter.

Thanks for reading,

Monday, August 29, 2011

Closest to the Pin contest

It's contest time here at Report on Conditions. In celebration of my retirement, I will be giving away my back-up Pelican Products "Big Ed" 4C flashlight. It is used, but only slightly so. It  has never seen fire, my primary Big Ed has never let me down so my back up has never been used at work.

It is an awesome light and comes completed with my true name and ID number scrawled on it with magic marker. True desert rat labeling!

The coveted Big Ed will go to the first reader who guesses what agency I actually work for. In the event that no one guesses correctly, the one who guesses the fire protection agency geographically closest to mine will be awarded the prize.

Each reader is allowed one guess and ALL ENTRIES MUST BE RECEIVED BY 1930 hrs Pacific time on Sept. 4 2011..

Entries must be submitted via the comments section for this post. The winner will be announced in the evening of Sept. 4 and will be announced by a post on this blog. Please include a valid e-mail address in your entry. YOUR E-MAIL ADDRESS WILL NOT BE PUBLISHED  OR USED IN ANY OTHER WAY THAN TO CONTACT YOU REGARDING SHIPMENT OF YOUR BIG ED. Other parts of your entry/comment may be published in this blog.

If your guess is the winner,  I will e-mail you a request for a shipping address. and the prize will go out in a few days.

Here it is folks, a chance to win a piece of Schmoe firefighting history. Use it at work, keep it in your car or keep it as a collectable.

I appreciate your readership and I wish you good luck.

PS Sorry Willie, I gotta exclude you, you know too much.You too Rhett. Statter, I don't know

Thanks for reading, Schmoe

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Thaere is No Free Lunch

Of course, karma (I don't believe in karma BTW) rears it's ugly head and makes me pay for the awesome day we had on the first shift.

Summer finally came to my corner of the desert and boy is she pissed! This summer has been abnormally cool. First July, then August have had cool nights followed by relatively cool days. There have been a few hot days here and there, but we really have skated through so far.

We knew it was going to be hot yesterday, so the plan was to get the outside stuff out of the way, then try and stay cool through the afternnon and into the evening. We accomplished the morning stuff ok, a repair to a disaster preparedness trailer was completed before it reached 90, outside maintenance was done shortly thereafter. I wanted to get an inspection done before lunch, but a visit from an insurance company rep spoiled that. Finally, we ate around 12:30 and I developed the plan for the afternoon.

Plan "A":: Start packaging up my uniforms, spare PPE and other issued equipment and get it ready to turn in. I don't want to have to count and inventory that stuff on Tuesday.  I also wanted to finish clearing out my desk, work on my locker and start giving away stuff that I will no longer need. The plan was in place and I had found a home for my strike team bag when I heard the tones hit for the next two stations down from us.

Vegetation fire, numerous calls received. Did I mention that it was hot? It was 106 when that call went out, light west wind with 21% humidity. I knew the location, it used to be part of our district until they opened up 14's. Eric (my engineer and recipient of my strike team bag) wandered in. I told him to get his boots on, we were going to get involved with this.

The chief saw smoke from a ways away and called for a second. Our tones hit 2 minutes later.We arrived on scene and were eventually assigned to protect a structure that was out in front of the fire.

 Schmoe, hoping the fire gets pinched off before backing down 
the hill and coming out of the draw. If you look close, you can
crews from Cal-Fire working around the rocks. Due to our
combinedefforts, the fire was pinched off. Eric took this
shot with my camera.

We were lucky in that the fire was going to have to burn back down the hill before it got to us and that the property owner had done a reasonably good job in clearing the brush. When the fire slowed down after cresting the hill, it gave the two hose lays time to pinch it off and the fire never got to us. Several water drops from the State helicopter didn't hurt either.

Still, the process took several hours and it was dinner time by the time we were released.  Naturally, being "the cover bitches" we were sent to another station rather than the healing place. We decided to get dinner at a locally famous sandwich shop and take it to the cover station. While waiting for our food I came up with a plan to salvage the day.

Plan"B" - return to the barn, help the guys wash down the engine and roll some hose. Package the items from above toss some unneeded crap and write a quick post. Plan "B" was in affect for less than five minutes. As we were getting on the engine with our food, we were sent to a structure fire at an apartment complex.

Did I mention that it was hot? I took a weather reading at 1800, it was 102.

As it turned out, the apartment itself was not on fire, but an underground transformer had catastrophically failed. The transformer was located next to the building and as a result, it was decided to evacuate to buildings. Some of us have seen these go, it is quite spectacular when they do.

 We got everybody out, but I had to post my crew at various locations around the building as the occupants kept trying to re-enter the structure.

As the city was blowing up with electrical issues, we had to wait for quite a while before the utilities dept. could make it out and secure the transformer. We finally got released around 2100, rolled into our station around 21:20. I looked at the mess, realized how beat I was and developed another plan.

Plan "C": Shower, hit the sack. Get up a 0500 or so and get as much done as I can before shift change. That lasted until 0130, when a drunk decided to rear-end a SUV, causing it to turn into a bowling ball. Three injures, all minor, AMAs all around. It could have been a quick mission, but as the location of the call was at a bad spot on the freeway, the troopers asked if we could continue to block the scene for them. I agreed, I was fearful for them as well as us. We stood by while the scene was cleared. Sorry, no pictures of this, an arrest and possible litigation is involved, I don't want my stuff subpenaed.

We got back about 0245, it was 0330 by the time I turned out the light. I woke up at 0630 and developed plan "D".

Plan "D": Screw it. Stuff everything into a closet and deal with it next shift. Don't be so anal with a count and all of that, the uniforms are going to be made into rags anyways. The safety gear will be processed by the equipment manager - just stuff it in a bag. Let the chief worry about the rest. Stuff I want to keep, just throw into a box and dump it into the garage. I will probably toss that stuff in a few months anyways.

Plan "D" is the one that will succeed. Whoever said that adaptability is the key to success in the fire service was absolutely right.

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Best Damn Shift Ever

Today starts my last cycle as a firefighter. We hit the ground running with a quick T/C on the freeway and a sheared off hydrant at a large warehouse. Both of those occurred with our first hour of duty time. The T/C was no big, the next station down arrived first and took care of business before we arrived.

Moments after returning to the station, we get punched out for a ringing alarm at a large furniture warehouse, which is located just down the street from the station. The warehouse has an ESFR sprinkler system, which requires a large flow, plus the fire load itself mandates a large amount of water. One thing we have plenty of around here is water supply.

This is a private hydrant and is connected to the fire pump for the building. Thus, when the water started moving, the pump kicked in and the alarm went off. Hence, our response.

I felt kind of bad for the driver of the truck, he didn't go to work today thinking that he was going to kill a hydrant. We called the BC up and he ran a hydrant key out to us. We pulled the cap to the valve and started closing it off. About that time, a couple of guys from the water district showed up and as they had a better, faster key, we let them finish closing the valve. The half hour or so that the water was flowing probably works out to about 100,000 gallons of water, all of it metered. That will be an exiting water bill next month.

Lunch time rolled around and I had lunch with the Chief of the Department, the Deputy Chief, Fire Marshal, Special Ops Chief, my boss and the BC from battalion 2. We met at a local restaurant and the Chief picked up my tab. The lunch that's free is the lunch for me! It was a great time, with much reminiscing and remembering, especially of brothers no longer with us. I got a little choked up as we have been through a lot over the years, it starts to hit home when you realize that it's nearly over.

After lunch, my boss and I returned to the station and B.S.ed for another hour or so. As we were talking, the doorbell rang and the two guys from the water district were there with a brand new hydrant key, one of the fancy ones. The talked their boss into giving it to us. Talk about Christmas in August! 

I gotta be honest, we haven't been real productive around the healing place the past few shifts. Some of the stuff that I usually worry about just doesn't seem as important right now. We gave a tour to the water district guys, did a little maintenance then kind of goofed off this afternoon.

About 5 PM, I walked past the day room and heard voices that sounded familiar, yet I knew that they didn't belong to the crew. I looked in and saw my kid standing there, talking to my medic. A nice surprise to be sure, made even nicer by my other son and his girlfriend sitting in the recliners. I figured out something was up. One kid stopping by is a surprise, both of them showing up is a conspiracy.

Wouldn't ya know it, before I can grill them as to what is up, we get a TC on the freeway, this one in the construction zone. This time, we are first in. It's a rollover, the driver may be a little borracho muchacho, but does not appear to be hurt too bad. He doesn't want to go, but we convince him that we may be a better option than the po-po.

We hang out till the carcass of the car is removed, then head back to the barn. As we pull up, I see my wife's truck in the lot and the chief's buggy is parked behind the apparatus floor. Party time at the healing place!

My engineer had bought some amazing steaks, big porterhouses - like the ones on the Flintstones. He mashed some taters and cooked some squash and sauteed onions and mushrooms. He is a great cook and outdid himself on this one! The Chief bought my favorite pie, a perfect ending to an amazing feast.

The meal was great, good food combined with great people, all of whom I care for greatly. Just as we started the dishes, the tones hit again, this time for another ringing alarm at a nationally known soft drink bottling plant. It takes us awhile, but we find the problem. A broken sprinkler head, likely damaged by a ceiling fan which was in close proximity. It took nearly an hour to resolve the issue and issue the paperwork.

When we returned to the station, everyone was gone and the dishes were done. A couple of hours of paperwork and here we are.

What a great freaking day. They should all be as good as this.

Sorry for the hack editing of the images and the jagged paragraphs. It's almost 0200 and my quality control is not up to snuff.

Thanks for reading,
A grateful Schmoe

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I Have a Dream

I have a dream. I dream of a blog where I don't have to airbrush the name of my agency out of photographs before publishing them. I dream of writing about the good things that the people in my agency are doing, without having to alter names, ages genders and assignments. I dream of people from my community, my agency and from the fire service all being able to read about what's going on and see images of us in action. I have a dream of publishing photos that have not been cropped in order to eliminate clues as to where they originate.

I have a dream of being able to promote my blog to people I know and not having to keep what I do a secret. I have a dream of being able to have guests posts (besides my idiot brother) that will present material that shows others point of view. I have a dream of showcasing other agencies in my area and the good things that they do.

Is it possible, or is it just a dream?

Wish me luck.

Thanks for reading,

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Deal O' the Day

Firefighters are the cheapest guys I know. Well, maybe the second cheapest. Cops are probably the cheapest, they don't get as much OT and they are too used to getting a little "love" from the local restaurants. Firefighters usually are cheap in order to save a few bucks, amass their savings and then spend the money on toys or on their four days and six days.

I know guys that will spend a week researching something, just to safe a buck or two on a minor purchase. The amazing thing is, that when they are sitting around the kitchen table, bragging about what a great deal they got on something, there is ALWAYS another guy who will have topped it and gotten an even better deal.

I found something that just might make it harder for that other guy at the kitchen table to beat your deal. Daily 911 Deals is a web site that offers  fire, police and ems stuff at a deep discount. They make deals with manufacturers and suppliers to obtain large quantities of merchandise at a deep discount, then pass the savings on to us.

They just went live a few hours ago, and posted the first "deal". It's for one of those fleece "job" shirts, one with canvas elbow patches and a canvas collar. It's from Game Sportswear and it's made in the U.S. We call 'em extreme winter parkas where I come from, we can wear them any time it gets really cold and the temperature drops below 65 degrees.

They are blowing 50 of them out at 1/2 off regular price for only a few days. I think it works out to $34. I already have three of them, or I'd be jumping all over this deal. Well, that and the fact that I only have a few shifts left.

Actually, as I paid for two of them (a helluva a lot more than $34 I might add) and I'm kyping a third from the special team that I am on, I plan on keeping them and wearing them this winter when I am out shootong pics for Hometown, Local and the Kinda big Fire protection District. I will be warm and fashionable!

Stop by the site and check out the deal. I don't think it can be topped.

Thanks for reading,

I've been wating my life! Control+f keys save time and effort!

How many times have you searched for a topic and been led to a bajillion page document that had the info you needed, but it took for ever to find it? It happens to me all of the time, especially when doing research on historical or technical subjects.

I, like most people, scan the document looking for the key words that pertain to what I am looking for. Sometimes, the reference is so hidden that I give up and move to the next recommendation. I have wasted hours and hours scanning for the elusive information.

Apparently, my efforts were unnecessary. Google has had a solution to my problem all along, but wasn't very good at letting people know about it. All you have to do is hit "control+f" and a small bar comes up at the bottom of the page. Enter a key word and the document will be searched for that word. When found, it will be highlighted.

Many of you probably knew this, but according to Google's research, 90% of us don't! Google has researchers who study how we search for things on the web. They determined that 90% of us will manually read the document or the index, scanning for the info, when control+f would have done the same thing in a second or two.

Who knew?

The article that I found on the matter can be found here:

I tried it and found that it works.

I hope this helps some of you out in your quest for knowledge. I am, after all. here to help!

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sweat Equity

I ordered a new lens for my camera. As my residential status is still in limbo, I had it shipped to the training division, where someone would be there to sign for it and I wouldn't have to worry about it sitting on my porch.

I have been wanting this lens for a while, so when it arrived, I couldn't wait to try it out. I unboxed it inside the classroom, then walked ouside and scanned the horizon. Damn, no giant columns of smoke were visible, I guess no fire action today.

I then walked out to the drill grounds. As it was about 100 degrees and nearing lunchtime, there were no units present, pulling hose or throwing ladders. I did see some activity over by some old conexes, so I wandered over there and found one of our newer captains hard at work.

Rich is toiling away on building us a flash-over training prop. The prop is being constructed from two used conexes, steel stock, cement blocks and cement board. The training division looked into having a flash-over simulator built and found  the $80,000 price tag a little out of reach. Rich is building this one for $10,000.

Rich consulted with another agency that had built their own flash-over simulator and decided to get to work. Depending on the training schedule, he tries to get down to the tower in the morning and work until noon, then return to his station. He hopes to be done with it by December.

A couple of other guys are working on a vertical ventilation prop and a smoke maze. All are constructed out of old conexes and will provide needed props at a reasonable cost. If it weren't for the initiative and extra effort from these guys, we wouldn't be getting these props.

We are rapidly becoming a "young" agency. Most of the old bastards like me will be gone in the next few years and a batch of youngsters will be taking our place. These props will be helping to bring these youngsters up to speed, providing realistic training environment in a cost effective manner.

Rich sweats (remember it was 100 degrees when I snapped this pic) and the K.B.F.P.D. wins. Through his efforts, we are saving close to 70 grand. Sweat equity indeed.

Thanks for reading,

PS - think of the photo ops a flash-over prop will bring! Yee Haw!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

short timin'

The last few weeks have just been dragging. Once the barrier of making the decision was broken and the process started, time, especially while at work, has slowed to a crawl. I have started the process of thinning out the locker full of crap that I have accumulated during my time here. Much will be given away, some tossed, some used and some kept.

A photographic project that I have been working on has required that I visit many of the stations and facilities that we operate. As a result, I have seen some people that I have not seen for quite a while. Many have heard that I was leaving, some not. Some I will not likely see professionally again, maybe a few never at all. I have also met a few people for the first time - at least I don't remember meeting them before.

I am trying to finish a few assignments up before I leave, mainly our assigned fire prevention inspections. I want to have that mess cleaned up before my replacement arrives. I am going to leave him one though, a Jack in the Box restaurant located up the street from the station. It should be in compliance, a piece of cake, and I want to leave it for Turrow as a parting gift.

My boss called the other day. He was visiting the big house and the guys there told him they had heard I was getting cold feet and was thinking of changing my mind. He, being a bull by the horns kind of guy, called my station and got me on the line. He asked if he could put me on speaker phone, a request which I consented to. He then asked me if the cold feet rumor was true. I laughed then asked how that one got started. I could hear the crew of the big house in the background, but no one wanted to answer that one. I assured them that barring some apocalyptic event, I was indeed out at the end of the month. That my friends, is how one dispels rumors!

I have a meeting with the Chief of the department at the end of next week, I need to nail down some details on a new project and clarify my role as dept. photographer after my separation. I anticipate that it will go well, wish me luck  - it is a trying time at the K.B.F.P.D. right now.

As write this, the smell of fresh coffee is drifting under the dorm door - a reminder that I need to finish this up and get ready to turn things over to the C shift. I'm starting days off and am burning a vacation day, I would like to start getting ready to move back into my house over the weekend. We'll see.

Thanks as always for reading,

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Unusual Rescue

I have been to water rescues. I have been to elevator rescues. I have never been to an elevator water rescue and I bet that most of you haven't either. Well, the crew of FDNY ladder 86 have and I'm sure that they were talking about it for at least the rest of the shift.

The New York Times ran a story about the incident, it can be found here.

In a nutshell, two construction workers rode an elevator down into a flooded basement and were unable to egress the elevator or get it to return to the ground floor. The men used a cell-phone to call the fire dept, but did not know the address of the building that they were in.

After about an hour, the crews finally found the men, who by that time were standing on top of a service cart inside the elevator, with water up to their necks. The firefighters used a small ladder and placed it through the top hatch of the car, allowing  the trapped men to escape into the hoist-way. The men escaped uninjured.

It never fails to amaze me what kind of jams we can get ourselves into. Job security I guess.

Thanks for reading,

Schmoe the Turd

I don't mean to be a turd, I just sometimes am. I really try and get done what I say I am going to get done, it's just that sometimes something else rears it's ugly head and I fail to follow through. Then, when I have resolved the new issue, I sometimes forget to get back on what I started.

I have no excuse, other than it's a character flaw - I am sometimes a turd.

One of the things that I have been going to do for quite a while is add Rambling Chief to my blogroll. Rambling Chief is a Chief Officer for a Wildland Firefighting organization (one of the big ones I believe) and has a website with links, resources and the blog. There is also an association with a site called that posts videos related to wildfires and other disasters.

Both sites are well done, I have enjoyed them both for quite a while and should have linked to them a long time ago except for the fact that I am, quite frankly, a turd. Check 'em out.

Thanks for reading,

Friday, August 12, 2011

"Dammit," the boot thought.... the foam sprayed him in the face.

 "I guess I should have tightened the nozzle just a little more."

If that was the biggest mistake that he made at drill today, it was a pretty darn good drill. I hear good things about this guy, I wish him well.

Hope you all have a great weekend, thanks for reading.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Old Iron

I attended a car show last weekend. I made a point of attending this one, as it was held in a neighborhood rather than at a business and I knew that quite a few members of the Home Town F.D. were going to be there along with their cars.

The event was held in a cul-de-sac. Every house on the street participated, most with show cars in their driveways and on their yard. This picture was taken from the top of an old '70s era Seagrave, early in the show. As it gets freakin' hot here in the desert, they didn't start the show until 1700. Good planning. The Seagrave was purchased  from a Volunteer Dept. in Missouri, I don't know if was used somewhere else before that. I do know that it had an unusual lay-out, one that I have never seen before.

This beauty showed up, the driver claimed it was a 1919 American LaFrance. I know nothing about old ALF's but I know that this one looks a lot like a 1927 that I see occasionally. This one is more ornate and is in great condition. A lovely rig.

I was really impressed with the gold leafing on this rig. Once common decor for fire apparatus, it has been replaced by vinyl decals. I'm afraid that someday, no one will remember how to apply gold leaf. Truly a disappearing art form.

Gold, red and chrome. A natural combination.

This was a fun hot rod. A T-Bucket with a hose bed, ladders and maltese-cross tail lights. It belonged to a guy from Home Town, I believe.

I spotted this tank on a Harley Davidson Road King. Flames, a skull and a helmet. Not one of those "funny plastic helmets like we wear either, but a leather lid. I'm just guessin' that this bike was firefighter owned.

The evening was topped by a band called the Cash Kings, a Johnny Cash tribute band out of So. Cal. I enjoy Johnny Cash's music so was very pleased when these guys took the stage.

This was a great event in a great venue. It was more like attending a block party than attending a car show. Good food, great iron and great entertainment. The proceeds went to an organization that provides support to brain injured patients.

The Saint I Am Married to says that we could both use the services of this organization. Me because, well I seem brain injured. Her because she must have been brain injured when she agreed to marry me.

Hmm. Should I be offended?

We had a great time, it was good seeing some old friends. Wish you all could have been there.

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Today, brothers and sisters from a fire department hundreds of miles miles away are healing from the carnage that they witnessed yesterday, one that will likely be the worst MVA that they have or ever will see again. They will try to reconcile how innocents can die such a horrible death and they will hope that at least a few of the victims died instantly, sparing them from moments of agony before the end.

Those same brothers and sisters will marvel at the efforts a parent will go to in an attempt to save their offspring from peril and they will will grieve, knowing the emotional devastation that the parents must be feeling as their efforts were in vain.

Today, brothers and sisters much closer to home are grieving, knowing that one who cared for them is likely going through the toughest time in his life. Those same brothers and sisters will ponder the cruelty of it all and will question whether it was karma, fate, divine intervention or merely a random event that caused so much pain and strife.

The cruelty of it sickens me.

Heal fast Tio Atrozo, our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Friday, August 5, 2011


A private fire investigator made a startling discovery in Pasadena CA on Tuesday morning, as he probed for the cause of a structure fire that had occurred two days prior. The unnamed investigator was inside a detached garage that had been converted into an apartment, when he discovered a human body. The body had apparently been inside the structure since 02:20 Sunday, when Pasadena firefighters had extinguished the fire. Officials later determined that the body was that of a female but had not yet been able to identify her.

 Photo by Pasadena Fire Dept.

Pasadena fire chief Dennis Downs said that firefighters had not found a body despite searching the dwelling twice. All of the occupants that lived in the main house were accounted for and reportedly said that the detached apartment was vacant.

According to the Pasadena Star News, Chief Downs was also reluctant to concede that the firefighters may have missed finding the body stating "it has not been determined that the body was there at the time of the fire".

An official from the Los Angeles County Coroner's office described the body as being "burned" and "charred" but also said that the cause of death had not been determined. the case is being handled as a homicide.

A press release from the Pasadena Fire Dept. said that the fire was under control with 10 minutes after units arrived on scene and estimated that there was approximately $30,000 of damage to the building. The cause of the fire has been determined to be "suspicious".

The Pasadena Star News is also reporting that the dwelling has a history of code violations and of criminal activity occurring at the house.


I know EXACTLY how that private investigator feels. I once found a body in a mini-storage unit, after standing on it's feet for 10 minutes or so. I looked at various parts of that poor bastard, not realizing what it was until I noticed the exposed throat structure and how it looked like a human larynx. It was then that the rest of the picture came into focus and realized what i was standing on. We determined that the fire was accidental, and that the body was that of a homeless man who lived in the storage unit. (kids - don't do drugs!)

I suspect that the Pasadena case might have some similarities to mine. If the occupants of the front house are telling the truth, it is quite possible that a homeless person could have been staying there without their knowledge when the fire broke out. Depending on the condition of the body, the condition of the area where the body was located and the amount of lighting available, it is very possible that firefighters could have looked at and/or touched the body without realizing what it was. It is also possible that the body was simply in a place where it was hard to pick out.

I was lucky (or unlucky depending on your perspective) that I was at my scene to determine the cause of the fire and therefore spent a great deal of time examining the area where the body was found. Had the body not been in the area of origin, I could have easily missed it and some knucklehead would be blogging about how I had missed a 6' human being while working a fire scene.

The Pasadena Fire Department is likely take a little heat over this, but I can understand how this could have happened. My advice to you is to always take a few minutes and look for anything out of the ordinary. You never know what you might find.

Links to the story:

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Here is living proof that not all geeks become FF/paramedics. Click to enlarge if you need to.

We were down at the beach last month and saw this guy performing geek tricks among other things:

A guy, driving a nail up his nose. Not that unusual, after all this is California.

A little drama for his mama!

Voila! An instant iron supplement delivered nasally.

Nails up the nose are so yesterday. Lets move on to swords!

But wait! I almost forgot to remove the nail!

Make ready one sword. Insert pointy end into mouth and apply steady even pressure in a downward motion. Thumbs up.

Caution! Avoid large meals prior to this evolution, especially if you have a sensitive gag reflex. I really like the facial expression on the young lady in the back. It reminds me of the look on the Saint's face when she met me.

Ta Da! He throated that sword in no time. It was about now that we left. I only had twenties in my wallet and though I was entertained for a few minutes, I wasn't $20 entertained - so I stiffed him. From the looks of the hat laying on the ground, the geek/sword swallower business isn't all that it was cracked up to be. I'm betting he takes our next test. With those skills, I'm sure he'll get picked up and make chief in no time. I wish him well.

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

National Night Out

This evening, fire crews all across the country participated in National Night Out, a nationally coordinated effort to reduce crime by increasing community involvement. Although the area I work in has little in the way of crime compared to others, community activists in our area opted to participate and as a result, so did we.

The event we attended was held at a local park and was fairly well attended. The community action group (CAG) supplied hot dogs, ice cream and soda as well as a local magician.

 We supplied a big red firetruck and junior firefighter badges.

 The kids supplied the smiles.

 Nature supplied this bad-ass sunset.

After the event was over, we spent thirty minutes or so talking with a Lt. and a Sgt. from the County Sheriff's office, administrative division. The LT and I had worked the same area back in the day when it was the wild wild west. We were reminiscing about the gunfights/MCIs that we ran together in the late eighties and early nineties. Those OGs really knew how to inflict them some mayhem! The LT has four years to go, the poor bastard. I think he is envious of me, though he has a pretty easy assignment.

All in all a nice way to spend the evening.

Thanks for reading,

Monday, August 1, 2011

Nailed It

I received 9 responses to the photograph is the previous post, 7 of which were dead on. I suspect that the seven all had some fire service or first responder background. The other two responses were really close, figuring that the image was that of a trampoline.

The photo was that of a life net, one that hangs on the wall of a fire station. From some of your comments, it appears that firehouse walls seem to be a common location to find them. From condition of the few that I have seen, they must not have been used a whole lot. This one is in great shape, other than the leather straps beginning to show signs of rot.

I don't know anyone that has ever used one, even in drill. To me the concept seems high risk, especially for civilians. Hitting the center appears to be critical, as does landing properly. I've been told that three or four story jumps were possible. No thanks, I'll take the stairs!

I did ask the owners of this life net if they would demonstrate it for me, I had no takers on that one. I did manage to scrounge up the following video, It appears to have shot in the '60s and features the Detroit F.D.

I noticed that the life net that appeared in the video had metal springs where the canvas connected to the frame. It appears that the springs would provide a little more "give" than the leather straps and might be a bit more durable as well.

If you know of any agency that still uses one of these things, let me know - it might be worth a follow up.

Thanks for the comments and of course, thanks for reading,