Wednesday, July 25, 2012

E-Bay Wars

A few posts ago, I mentioned that some items from my beloved agency were available on E-Bay. Cool ones, a series of badges from the 60s - 70s. Fireman, Engineer, Captain, Gold Captain (Day position, likely Asst. Fire Marshal) and retired Battalion Chief. All from the same era and all in pretty good shape. There were some other things too, including a fireman's hat badge that I was interested in. The prime piece was a Fireman's badge with the number 1 on it and maybe the hat badge, as it had #1 on it as well.

Alone, the hat badge was not worth much, they are not quite as collectable as a regular badge. As this one was numbered "1", it would make a nice pairing with the #1 fireman's badge.

Back in the day, the badges were numbered on the front, senior members got the lowest number. If you were the most senior fireman, you were issued badge #1. From what I have been told, badges were reassigned once a year and there were some guys who stuck around a little longer just to get that #1 badge. I think this practice stopped in the late sixties, or early seventies when the department went to a three platoon system. It probably just became too big of a pain to deal with.

My first instinct was to just buy one of them and add it to my collection of badges, ones that I have worn, which currently number 11. After thinking about it for a while, I set aside my narcissistic tendencies and decided to contact our Union President to encourage the association to purchase all of them for display in our new museum.

Of course when I called him, it went to voice mail. He promptly returned my call, something that he didn't always do when I was still on the job. I never had any problem calling him, either to kill rumors, offer him advice or yell at him if I felt he or the board was making a dumb move on behalf of the membership. As we usually got along well, we always ended the conversation on a positive note. I appreciated the job that he did as I had served on the board and knew how tough it could be. I guess he figured I wasn't calling him to yell at him, so he called back right away.

I told the president about the badges, he was supportive and agreed to talk with some board members about the items. I figured the badges would go for around $200 apiece, the hat badge for less. Maybe a grand for the whole lot.

The goal was to just get the board members to commit to the idea, they wouldn't have to vote on it till the next meeting. As I have an E-Bay account, I was willing to buy the badges, then sell them to the union for what I paid for them.

I followed up with calls to one of the board members and the guy who is putting the museum together as well. Both were supportive, but it was going to take some work - work that was made harder because the president, treasurer and some of the board members were in Philly for a convention. This wasn't going to be a priority for them.

A few days later, one of the board members texts me and tells me that the board doesn't want to jump until the next meeting, where it can be discussed and on the record.

I get it, this policy is a result of people spending money without adequate, documented discussion in the past. They really are doing the right thing, but I know that this opportunity isn't going to wait until the next meeting. One thing for sure, I am not going to drop a grand or so, then have the board decide that they don't want to get involved.

It's back to plan #1, I'm just going to pick one item, pick the most that I am willing to pay for it and bid.

The various auctions of the badges ended about 6 P.M. today. First up was a silver captain's badge, numbered "10" I think. It wasn't my first pick, but my second. As I hadn't bought anything off of E-Bay for a few years, I wanted a test run to make sure that the system still worked like it did a few years back.

For those of you who haven't bought anything on an E-Bay auction, the game is won or lost in the last few seconds of the auction. All bids that are shown before that time are irrelevant and usually only serve the purpose of driving up the price. Sometimes, those bids are actually those of the seller, who uses them to drive up the price of the item they are selling. That's fraudulent, and E-Bay does not allow the practice. However some people who use E-Bay to make a living know ways around it and do it. That's why setting your absofreakinglute highest bid, then not submitting it until two seconds are left on the auction is so important.

Lets say an item is listed with an opening bid of $50. I want it, and am willing to pay $120 for it. When I enter that maximum bid of $120, my bid will show up on the auction as a bid of $52.50. If someone else spots the item and decides to bid on it, they have to bid at least $2.50  higher than the highest visible bid. So say they decide to bid $70. E-Bay knows that I have entered a maximum bid of $120, but it will only show on the auction that I have bid $72.50, two and a half bucks over the next lowest maximum bid. That will continue until no one else bids or someone else exceeds my maximum bid of $120. If my maximum bid is surpassed several days before the auction ends, I may think about it and raise my maximum bid.

Meanwhile, someone else decides they want it bad (like me today) and waits until two seconds before the auction ends before entering their maximum bid, that leaves very little time for anyone else to raise their maximum bid.

The act of waiting until the last few seconds is called sniping, and there are programs that will do it for you. They usually charge about 1 % to automatically do this for this service, I know people who use this and like it. I like doing it myself, it's kind of fun.

The silver Captain's badge comes up and I get on the trigger a little early. I maximum bid it at what I thought was a fair price, around $150, with five seconds to go. I went a little early and someone else won it for $2.50 over my highest bid. I'm sure they sniped it too, they just wanted it more.

 Next up is the #1 fireman's hat badge. I decided that I would bid on it, then pair it with the #1 Fireman's badge. I came up with a number that I though it was worth alone, then doubled it. As a pairing with the Fireman's badge it was worth what I bid on it, as a lone piece it was not.

I waited until there was three seconds left and pulled the trigger. Crap, out bid again, by the same person that won the Captain's badge. Now I'm 0 for 2.

Then the #1 Fireman's badge comes up, which I feel is the best piece of the lot. It has the word "fireman" on it, which reeks of old timey and it has that coveted #1 on it. I'm a little bummed that I can't pair it with the hat badge, but it's still the best piece of the lot. 

I figured what it was worth, added 20% because I figured the person who won the #1 hat badge would be willing to pay more for this and then added a little more just because I wanted it. I waited until there was two seconds left on the auction and fired.

BAM! HIT! I won it, and got it for $20 less than I was willing to pay. I ended up getting it for a little more than two bills, but for that badge it is a fair price, at least in my mind.

I have to think that the person who won the hat badge is bummed that he didn't get this one, I know they bid on it. The price they paid for the hat badge is pretty high for a stand alone piece - oh well.

I'm a little bummed that the board wasn't able to find a way to get all of the items, they would have made a nice addition to the museum.

The reality is that the museum will likely end up with the badge that I bought tonight, I will probably donate to them at a later date. If I don't do that, I will make sure that my heirs give it to them, after I've gone to the healing place in the sky. Hopefully, that badge will be really really old by then.

Thanks for reading,

Friday, July 20, 2012

I Can't Say

I can't say whether his mind was full of hatred or whether life had screwed him over repeatedly until he snapped. I can't say that he has always wanted to kill, but finally ran out of self control and succumbed to his desire. I can't say that he is a sociopath and just wanted to know what it would feel like to open fire and kill as many people as he could in a very short period of time. I can't say for sure that he is just evil.

I can't say what his reasons actually were or whether he feels that he succeeded on his mission. I can't say whether he feels that he was a success before this happened or whether he views himself as a failure.

I can say is that he screwed a lot of people's lives up this morning. Obviously the people he killed and wounded, and their families and friends as well. There are a whole slew of cops, firefighters, medics, docs and nurses who will never forget today, a few of them will likely be a little screwed up for a while, maybe a long while. A bunch of the  people who chose the wrong theater last night and were lucky enough not to be shot are going to be screwed up, hopefully for not too long.

I can say it only took a few hours to see the effect that his actions were going to have on the rest of the nation, on people that weren't any where near the incident, but were just witnesses through TV or other instantaneous media.

I can say that it was painfully obvious the various news networks had only a few minutes of facts that they needed to stretch into hours of continuous coverage.  I can say "experts" began appearing on the networks in short order, some spewing inaccuracies and speculation. 

I can say that the term "what steps can we take to ensure that something like this never happens again" was heard before I finished my breakfast, as was "it's too easy for people like him to get  their hands on guns".

I can say with some degree of certainty, that right now, some disenfranchised individual is watching the extraordinary amount of attention being paid to some wacko's actions and is wondering if that is a way that he can be heard.


Glad I wasn't there. Deepest condolences to the victims, their families, friends and other all of the other affected people.

Finally, a tip of the lid to the men and women who responded to the scene, Schmoes who just wanna keep the wolves from the door.

Thanks for reading, lets hope for better days.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sentiment for Sale

I habitually search E-Bay for items that are connected to the fire department of my career and also other organizations that I have been associated with. Rarely do I find anything of note, however upon occasion, I do find something worth bidding on. 

I was quite surprised the other day to find a series of artifacts from the sixties and seventies that originated from my agency, items that were likely of great importance to those to whom they were issued. I recognized the name associated with some of those items, a man who I never met, but one who was known by some of the older guys I used to work with.

This man was a Battalion Chief, one of the old-old school. I had heard stories of this guy, some good, some not. Understand that some of the practices of the old-old school would not stand up to the ethical standards of today. Battalion Chiefs were almost god, their decisions were usually final. Politics helped some promote, helped some keep their job, and frankly, allowed some of the old old school guys get away with murder.

Even though that's the way it was, it doesn't mean that's the way that it should have been. The guys, not unlike the proverbial elephant, never forget.

I don't know the particulars of this man's career. I suspect that like many officers, this man would likely get mixed reviews. Some probably liked him, some were likely ambivalent. Some probably harbored an intense dislike of this man, either from deeds done directly to them, or deeds done to others.

Of the items on E-Bay, I have no doubt that some of them were issued to the former Battalion Chief. Some of them I am not so sure, the numbers don't quite add up.  Frankly, it would not surprise me if some of the items were pilfered from the department, after it was mandated that they be turned in. Turned in by people who really cared about them, people with an emotional attachment to them. Sadly, this appears to have been a not too uncommon practice back in the day. Force the troops to turn something in, then cherry-pick the items for ones own use.

Regardless, the former Battalion Chief had enough attachment to all of the items to keep them for a long, long time. I believe him to be dead now, probably for at least ten years. Now, what he held onto for sentimental reasons, are merely collectables for sale on E-Bay. 

I am very lucky, I have almost every badge that I have been issued. I paid for every one, well almost every one. When I croak, my kids will probably divide them up and hold on to them for a while. When my kids croak or get tired of looking at them, my badges will end up in an antiques store or on E-Bay. When they do, I hope they bring top-dollar, I worked my ass off to get them. Though they mean a lot to me, to others their only value is what they bring at auction.

So, if any of you young pups are browsing E-Bay in 40 or so years and you come across some badges from the K.B.F.P.D, check to see if the name "Schmoe" is engraved on them. If so, bid high, my heirs will appreciate it.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Room Full Of Distinguished Gentlemen

I have to be honest, I was a little nervous. Not first day of kindergarten nervous nor first day on the job nervous, but more like seeing cousins that you haven't seen in 20 years nervous.

I was told the event started at 0800 but to get there a little early. Foolishly, I thought 0745 would be early enough. When I walked through the door, the room was nearly full, all of the seats at the big tables were taken. A few empty small tables were available at the back of the room, but the thought of eating alone did not appeal to me. Fortunately, an alert waiter saw the situation and moved one of the small tables to the end of a big one. Problem solved.

As the waiter was moving furniture, a few of the guys who had seen me walk in hollered and waved. I started by walking up to the guy sitting closest to the door, then worked through both large tables. Some of these guys, I hadn't seen in more than ten years. A few asked me what had taken me so long to show up, what could I say?. Yet again, I underestimated the amount of emotion that I felt, seeing guys with whom I had shared so much over the years.

Almost all remembered me. I did heard Bob ask his son Mike who I was, though after Bob heard my name he remembered. I had worked for both of them at one time another. A third generation is getting ready to take his years probationary test next month. I hear he is doing well, as did his father and grandfather before him.

I saw guys who had taught me many things over the years. Many good things, some bad. I saw a guy who taught me the hard way how not to cut a dead body down from his noose. It's funny how laying underneath 200 lbs of dead weight can leave an impression on someone. I saw a guy who used the "instruction through intimidation" method of training. He taught me that I should avoid that method of instruction, both when teaching and when learning.

I saw guys that I had worked for and guys that had worked for me. I saw Chiefs whose mere presence used to scare the crap out of me, who once I got to know them. turned out to be pretty good chiefs. I saw living legends, guys that are still talked about, even though they have been retired for many years.

I also saw some guys who were just like me, just Schmoe's who went to work just wanting to do a good job, helping folks out and not hurting anybody in the process.

There were nearly 40 men in that room this morning. They meet once a month to see old friends, to remember and to share a meal. Rank has no place there, that is not what the gathering is about. It's about brotherhood, history and fellowship.

What I really saw there this morning, was an elite group, a gathering of men who once wore the badge of the City of Riverside Fire Dept, a room full of distinguished gentlemen.

Thanks for reading,
A sappy Schmoe

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Ya Gotta Be Freakin" Killin' Me

That Los Angeles Times ran a story today about a lifeguard who was fired for saving a life. Apparently the incident has to do with private contractors, boundaries and liability.

Tomas Lopez, age 21, was at his assigned post on Monday July 2nd, on the beach in Hallandale Beach, Fl.when a bystander alerted him to a swimmer in distress about 500 yards away from his lifeguard tower. Lopez could not see the swimmer and proceeded to the area where the witness directed him. The area just happened to be outside of the area that Lopez was assigned to protect and was in a "swim at your own risk" zone, one not protected by any lifeguards.

Lopez disregarded the boundary signs and spotted the stricken swimmer. He then rescued the swimmer, who was later reported to have been hospitalized in good condition.

Lopez was later fired by his employer, Jeff Ellis Management, a private contractor, who provides lifeguard services to the City of Hallandale.

Apparently, the resultant uproar was instantaneous and loud. Several other lifeguards employed by Jeff Ellis Management were either fired for publicly supporting Tomas, or resigned in support of him. Several national news networks picked up the story as did print media across the country.

The uproar became loud enough that Jeff Ellis, head of the company, told the Sun-Sentinel "I am of the opinion that the supervisors acted hastily" and that "it was not the appropriate course of action to take". He reportedly then offered Lopez and the other former lifeguards their jobs back.

Tomas Lopez declined the offer on a taped Sun-Sentinel interview, as did several other lifeguards.

Susan Ellis, a supervisor for Jeff Ellis Management (any relation?) told the Sun-Sentinel  on Tuesday that "We have liability issues and can't go out of the protected area," she said "What he did was his own decision. He knew the company rules and did what he thought he needed to do."

The city of Hallandale Beach released a statement saying that  the incident remained under review, even as it suggested that Lopez did the right thing: "We do not have all the facts in this case. We take the safety of all visitors to our beaches very seriously. Whether they are in a protected area or unprotected area, we believe aid must be rendered." according to the L.A. Times

Apparently the City of Hallandale Beach has been outsourcing lifeguard services since 2003 as a cost cutting measure. Lopez was reportedly making $8.25 an hour.

Quite a change of heart from Jeff Ellis Management don't you think? I am struggling with Mr. Ellis' statement on Thursday,  that he felt the termination was not the appropriate action to take, especially when a company spokesman with the same last name made a public statement justifying the firings two days before. Actually, I'm calling BS.

I'm speculating that the decision to terminate Mr. Lopez was at least known by and likely approved by the top management of the company. Jeff Ellis Management does not appear to be that big, they don't even have a physical address listed on their web page.

Apparently, the City of Hallandale Beach's contract with Jeff Ellis Management expires at the end of this year. It might be worth their while to get some more bids or take back their responsibility for lifeguard services.

I'm not sure the city can accept their current level of risk. Their contactor appears to be a liability.

Just my opinion

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day

Independence day has always been one of my favorite holidays. Even more so during my 30 years in the fire service. The concept of a holiday where minimal commercially conceived demands are placed on the celebrants is a grand one in my eyes.

No cards, gifts, dress up, linen tablecloths etc, just a simple grilled meal, frosty cold beverages and a rousing fireworks display. That works for me.

For many years, my department has O.T. staffed two type III engines (brush), a patrol unit and occasionally, an additional Type I engine for the fourth. As I always enjoyed the fourth with my family, either here or in Nebraska, I went to great measures to ensure that I was not force hired to work it. Although I failed a few times, for the most part I was successful.

The reason that we staffed the extra units on the fourth, is that the city's fireworks show is launched from atop Mt. Rubidoux, a brush covered hill/park in our city. More often than not, small brush fires are ignited on the hill by the commercial fireworks display. Occasionally, when conditions are right, these small fires get out of hand and the fire becomes larger. Sometimes large enough that the fireworks show has to be stopped until the fire(s) are extinguished.

Delays of over an hour are not unheard of. Patience rewards those who stick around, the fireworks company is not taking any of these home - they will be launched, no matter how long it takes.

Part of my enjoyment of the holiday was getting out of working it, whether dodging the force hire or finding an OT whore to cover my regular shift on the fourth. Many captains would rather take a full shift of OT from me, rather than getting force hired for a few hours in the evening.  That worked to my advantage.

On the few occasions that I did get stuck on the hill, it sucked. Mt. Rubidoux is covered in grass and brush, with patches of cactus thrown in for chuckles. It is slippery and treacherous, especially in the dark. The last year I worked it, 3 or 4 years ago, I was in charge of one fire when another Captain slipped, fell and fractured his tailbone.

Ten or so years ago, my engineer was on the hill for the fourth, when he fell and injured his shoulder. He was off for several months and required surgery to repair the damage. That episode cost the city over 60 grand between medical bills and OT to cover his spot while he healed. That's more than the fireworks show cost.

The real burr under my saddle comes not from the fire itself, but the multitude of partiers that are attending soirees at the bottom of the hill. The residents who live at the base of the hill often have large Fourth of July parties. Many of the attendees will admit that they like to watch the fires as much as they do the fireworks display. Those people are disappointed when the mountain does not burn. When infused with large amounts of alcohol, the actually cheer and provide commentary as the flames grow. Often, their verbal revelry can be heard by the crews as they put in a hose-lay or overhaul the fire.

Hearing the cheers as I watched my co-worker loaded in the utility for a ride to the hospital did not inspire positive thoughts in me. I understand that cheerers and jeerers likely did not know that someone was injured, but it still pissed me off.

Other than on top of a half empty gasoline bulk storage tank, I can't think of a dumber place to launch fireworks from. As a lifelong city resident, I understand the tradition of it and that politics and tradition will never allow the launch site to be moved. No one wants to incur the wrath of the residents over this.

So tonight, as you enjoy whatever fireworks display you watch, please keep my brothers from the KBFPD in mind. I'm betting that they are not having as good of a time as you. (or me for that matter)

My fourth will be spent with family coming over to the crib, BBQ and a trip to watch the fireworks. We usually go to a church parking lot around 7:30 or so and hang out till the show starts at 9:00. The church charges a few bucks for parking, the monet goes to the youth group. It's a mellow crowd and it is what we have always done when in town.

I hope you all have a great holiday. Though a little flawed, this is a great country where we live.

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sniif, Sigh

The North Carolina Air Nation Guard announced today that four crew members of a MAFFS equipped C-130 were killed and two others seriously injured in a crash that occurred on Sunday.The crash occurred while the aircraft was conducting firefighting operations near Edgemont S.D.

The fallen were reported as Lt. Col. Paul K. Mikeal, 42, of Mooresville, N.C.; Maj. Joseph M. McCormick, 36, of Belmont, N.C.; Maj. Ryan S. David, 35, of Boone, N.C.; Senior Master Sgt. Robert S. Cannon, 50, of Charlotte, N.C.

The names of the injured were not released, nor were details of their injuries. Both remain hospitalized in S.D.

All were experienced aircrew members, their loss will be felt both in the 145th MAW and in their communities. Their commitment to the firefighting mission should be recognized as well, in essence we all suffered a loss.


The accident will be heavily investigated to determine what caused this incident and what steps are needed to reduce the chances of it happening again. Typically, when a civilian aircraft crashes on an incident, an investigation is conducted by the NTSB, FAA and other agencies. A preliminary report is published within a short time and the full report shows up within a year or so. Information can be gleaned from the report and often, items are noted which can be changed in order to reduce risk.

As this was a military aircraft, I am unsure how (or if) the details of the crash will be disseminated. I am pretty sure the Air Force does not publish accident reports, though they do release some basic cause information.

What role the USFS or other firefighting organization will play in the investigation is unknown to me as well. As there has never been a crash of a MAFFS aircraft while assigned to a fire, I am betting all of the inter-agency agreements are being pulled out of file cabinets and being reviewed. Hopefully the issue of investigations and the dissemination of findings were addressed.


The other MAFFS aircraft were returned to flight status today, with the exception of the second aircraft from the NC ANG.


If any further information on this becomes available I'll let you know. Till then, keep the families of the fallen in your thoughts and prayers and pray for a full and speedy recovery for the two survivors.

 Thanks for reading,

Monday, July 2, 2012


Latest reports are saying that the C-130 that crashed in SD yesterday was carrying six crew members when it crashed. An INITIAL ACCIDENT INFORMATION and NOTIFICATION FORM on the incident was published on a wild land firefighting message board stating that there were four fatalities and two injured survivors in the incident.

According to numerous news outlets, the family of Lt. Col. Paul Mikeal of Mooresville, NC identified him as one of the aircrew members who was killed in the crash. Lt. Col Mikeal was 42 yrs old, was married and a father of two. He was also a veteran of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The aircraft was identified as belonging to the 145th Airlift Wing of the NC Air National Guard and based in Charolette NC.

The initial accident Information form also said that another aircraft which had been flying lead for the doomed tanker had experienced a severe downdraft as it approached the intended retardant drop zone. It is unknown if this was a factor in the accident.


When I first read about this accident on an aviation message board this morning, I was hopeful that there had only been three crew members on the plane when it crashed and that they had somehow survived. While I am very grateful that two survived, (though injured) the loss of the other four is truly a tragic event.

Although the use of aircraft for fighting wildfires has been occurring for years, it remains a dangerous endeavor. This is the second fatal crash of an air tanker this year and we still have a lot of fire season left to go.

My deepest condolences go out to the families, colleagues and friends of the fallen, mere words cannot express the respects that they deserve.


MAFFS Stand down

According to a U.S. Northern Command press release, all MAFFS operation have been suspended today.

The press release stated: The fleet will spend the day to get the MAFFS crews together to “reflect, reset and review,” said Col. Jerry Champlin, 153rd Air Expeditionary Group commander. "We all need to make sure our crews and planes will be ready to re-engage in the mission safely," he added.

The press release also stated that the aircraft was from the 145th Airlift Wing of the North Carolina Air National Guard.

Chief Tom Tidwell, head of the U.S. Forest Service said that ""The agency fully supports the decision by the military to stand-down its MAFFS operation to address the needs of personnel and families and ensure the safety of the mission when it resumes. The agency will continue to allocate available firefighting assets according to the prioritization of incidents."

If anything further information becomes available on this I will let you know.

Thanks for reading,

Tanker Crash in South Dakota

Details are sketchy, but a military C-130 transport aircraft equipped for fighting wildfires, crashed yesterday near Edgemont SD. Local officals are reporting that three crew members survived the crash and were transported to Custer SD by helicopter for treatment.

MAFFS Equipped C-130, similar to the one that crashed 
yesterday. Air National Guard photo

The C-130 reportedly was assigned to the White Draw fire, which has consumed about 3000 acres near Edgemont SD. Details as to whether anyone else was on the plane or the circumstances of the crash have not been released. The condition of the survivors was withheld as well.

One local report stated that the crash occurred several miles from the fire.

Calls to the Northern Command Public Affairs Officer produced no further information, or any estimate on when further details would be released was given.

The MAFFS is a modular, self contained aerial retardant/water application system that can be loaded onto C-130 transport aircraft, essentially converting it into a firefighting tanker. Certain USAF and Air National Guard squadrons receive special training and equipment to allow them to perform the firefighting mission. MAFFS equipped resources are used when contract and other aerial resources are spread thin, especially during periods of heavy fire activity.

ANG footage of MAFFS equipped C-130 during recent firfighting
operations in CO.

As soon as further details become available, I will post it. Until then, our thoughts and prayers go out to the affect crew and their families.

Thanks for reading,

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Red Box Dash

I paid the lady, picked up my two gallons of milk, my loaf of bread and headed toward the door. As I passed the customer service counter, I was passed by a fireplug wearing bunker pants, a navy blue T-shirt and a ball cap.  The ensemble was accessorized by a Motorola HT sticking out of his back pocket and a speaker-mike clipped to his department issue red suspenders.

We made eye contact, then paused to chat. Although I only worked with him a few shifts,  I still knew him well enough to converse. The route of his travel and the speed of his gait told me that he was there for one of two purposes, maybe both. We chatted for a few minutes swapped a few rumors and exchanged pleasantries.

Due to the attire of my former colleague, I wondered if they were on their way back from a call or maybe coming home from the drill tower. I glanced at my watch. 1900 on a Sunday evening, that pretty much ruled out the tower.

"Been busy?" I asked.

"Not since lunchtime" was the reply. That ruled out coming back from a call. This was a purpose generated trip. Not that it matters to me, (or ever mattered to me personally) but old thought processes die hard.

The fireplug asked me about a FIRE THAT I HAD SHOT a few weeks back and if the photos were available. He may or may not be in a few of them, it's funny how much we like to see ourselves action. I told him that they were ready, that I just had to drop by a station and put them on the network. Maybe Monday.

We said our good-byes, then he went to the Red Box and I proceeded to my car. I spotted the rig as I crossed the driveway. It was parked a couple of rows up from the Jeep, taking up a couple of spaces.  I almost made it to the Jeep before the captain spotted me and hailed me over.

The captain KNEW he was in a couple of the photos from the fire and he was curious how they came out. I gave him the same response and told him I would send out an E-Mail letting everybody know when the pics were available. It was good to see him, we had worked together way, way back in the day, when I was assigned to the big house of pain. We chatted for a few more minutes, then the fireplug returned to the rig.

Handshakes were exchanged and we both returned to our respective barns. Aside from me hearing that I need to get my inefficient ass down to a station and upload some pics, it was really nice to see the guys. Yet, I couldn't help but note that the fireplug had taken the risk of not being in a "B" uniform while in the store - especially when it was a purpose generated trip.

Like I said, I couldn't care less what guys wear to the store. However, there are those who wear crossed bugles who care very much. About five years ago, I had a chief tell me that if I or any my crew was caught out in the wrong uniform, I would get a day off. Not the nice kind of day off either.

Now, the reality is that there is no way a day off would stick for something as trivial as not having a class "B" shirt on, but who needs the grief of fighting the disciplinary action for several months, just to swap a day off for a written reprimand? Call me crazy, I would rather spend the minute or two an put on my "B" shirt.
It's just not worth the risk, especially when it's important to the management team and we live in an environment where one call to admin can and will produce a large dose of strife.

Of the ten chief officers in my agency, only one lives in town and there are two on duty at 1900 hrs. on a Sunday night. The one who resides in the city lives up in silk stocking acres, not near the poverty pocket where I live. One of the two on-duty chiefs should be holed up in his office in the other end of town, the other chained to his desk as well - both drowning in paper. Theoretically, the odds are slim that one would run into a chief while renting a video in bunker pants. But with every newspaper and radio talk show host in the area crying about compensation costs, people are dropping the dime on crews at an unprecedented rate. 

Now that everyone carries a phone, the odds begin to shift. I'm not dissing the plug, nor his captain. I'm just saying that as a player of odds, I don't like the risk benefit analysis. The numbers just don't add up.
Thanks for reading,

PS - see y'all are not the only ones who are victims of my procrastination, my brothers and sisters of the KBFPD have to wait for the shots as well!