Thursday, December 27, 2012


Unfinished Business - I received an e-mail this morning, I think from Jim in Albany Co. NY. The problem is that the delete button on my new phone is awfully close to the "home" button and I inadvertently deleted it. After realizing what I had done, I tried to get to the recycle bin and recover it. Mission Fail - it is gone for good. Jim, if it was in fact from you, I apologize for not replying. It's what happens when someone is not as smart as their phone. Thanks for the kind words.

My Little Rice Burner - I finished cleaning it up  just in time for the December Vintage Motorcycle meet-up. I didn't get it running, as I was waiting for a carb-kit to arrive. I didn't get it until the night before the meet up and I didn't feel like tearing into it on the day of the meet so it was all show and no go.

It's a 1979 Honda CT-90 Trail 90 and it is in original unrestored condition. The only parts on it that are not original are the tires, battery and an exhaust bushing. It has 1400 orig. miles and is complete.

It's funny, but I wouldn't have been caught dead on it when I was in high school - it wasn't fast nor cool enough. Now, I wouldn't part with it. It is the only vehicle I have ever owned which is worth more than I paid for it.

Why Billy's Helmet is Crispy - In my last post, I posted a picture of my friend Billy. A reader BG Miller commented that Billy had a seriously crispy helmet. Billy teaches a lot of structure fire control classes, I caught up with him again this morning.

In this sequence, Billy is holding the fire to a bedroom, while the "attack crew" manipulates a forcible entry prop before entering the structure and attacking the fire. Billy needs to keep it to that bedroom without reducing the heat or flame. He is applying water to the ceiling, cooling the gasses and hindering spread.

If you look close enough, you can see Billy laying on the floor, looking into the room of origin. He applied some water to the seat of the fire as working the ceiling wasn't effective.

 After knocking a little heat out of it, Billy goes back to the living room and awaits the fre attack crews, who he could hear finally making access. He was, I am sure, quite warm. The above process makes for quite crispy helmets when performed on a regular basis. Notice all of that and the thermal balance is still intact. I was less than 20 feet away, on room air and quite comfortable.

Funk Therapy - The Saint and I are headed up to Beatty NV early tomorrow. We are taking El Cheepo Jeepo and are meeting five other couples for five days of jeeping around the Death Valley area. It should make for some interesting photos and these people are really fun - they are the same group that we went to Darwin with in November. I don't know about internet access so it may be a while before I can post again. We should be back on the 2nd, looks like it's New Years in Beatty.

We are leaving the boys, I hope we still have a house when we get back.

Happy New Years to you all and Thanks for reading.


Sunday, December 23, 2012


Sorry for not posting recently, I have been in a bit of a funk. Nothing serious, but I just have not been inspired to write or blog. I have been taking pictures like crazy though.

Click to enlarge.

My friend BIlly.

Crawl low under the smoke

Or not

One on one


ABC (not real)


Gratuitous "Huddle" shot

The above photos were taken over a couple of days at a training burn in our city. A large public works project requires that a dozen or so houses be torn down, the RFD has been able to conduct training burns in several of them. The days of taking them to the ground are long gone, so they have to be intact, overhauled and secure when we are done with them. Just like real life.

Thanks for reading,

Friday, December 7, 2012

New Truck 2's First Job

Ok, it wasn't a big job. Maybe we should call it a task or perhaps a chore. Regardless, smoke, heat and flame were involved, just not in the quantity and volume that photographers and young firefighters like to do battle with.

The guys sawed up and went to the roof (that happened before I worked my way around to the charlie side of the building) but the order was rescinded before the holing commenced. As you can see, the stick did make it up and by all accounts the unit is working very well.

Sometimes, positive pressure produces the desired effect without all of the joy destruction that a hole provides. They don't call the truckies "fan bitches" for nothing.

Tiller trucks were made for this environment. Back in the day, our rear mounts would have made it in here, but it would have taken some work. I doubt that the crew from 2's had to think twice about working their way back into the complex and getting set up.

It's funny, but tiller trucks fell out of favor around this area in the late '70s and '80s. They never really went away, but the trend seemed to indicate that elevated platforms were going to be the truck of choice. Some thought they were going the way of the dinosaur. While the popularity of various types of units well ebb and flow, I think tillers will be around this department for a long time to come.

Even though this wasn't much of a job, the layout of the complex called for a bit of a hose lay to get into the unit and upstairs. From what I heard, a neighbor had done some decent work with a portable extinguisher, keeping things from getting out of hand and confined to an area within a room. While disappointing from a photography standpoint, it was a good thing for the occupant and for the crews.
I guess in this instance, size didn't matter. The hose still needed to be cleaned and loaded.

I'm quite sure that new Truck 2 will be confronted with lots of fire in the future. Some of it will challenge it and it's crews. When it does happen, I hope no one gets hurt, the loss is kept to a minimum and that I am there to capture it through the lens.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Burning Rice

They, them, those people say that men tend to collect things that they either owned in their youth or wanted to own but could not afford.  I think that here may be an element of truth to that, hence the popularity of collecting and restoring of classic and vintage vehicles.

In my case, I am not really a car guy, but I do enjoy the nostalgia and beauty of old cars. If I were to collect old vehicles, it would probably be '60s and '70s vintage Japanese motorcycles. The above cliche would apply to me on both sides, I rode small, ratty Japanese bikes - they were cheap and reliable transportation.

I also lusted after Japanese bikes, ones that I couldn't afford. While I was buzzing around on my Honda MT125, I really wanted to be riding a Honda 750. After moving up to a Yamaha RD350, my lustful desires moved up as well. I wanted to be straddling a Kawasaki KZ1000 Z1R or maybe a used Kawi 900Z1.

Jap Bikes, Rice Burners, Suisaki's -  all of my friends rode bikes born in the land of the rising sun. None of us would be caught dead on a Harley.  Harley was a dying brand, an American turd well on it's way to becoming extinct.

I did have one friend who rode a '60 something BMW. He rode it because his dad sold it to him cheap. I know he really wanted a KZ, but the economics of high school kept him on the Beemer.

I have owned and rode 11 motorcycles over the years, 10 of them were of Japanese origin. They ranged from a Honda Trail 90 (the only one that I still own) to a Harley Davidson Road King, the most beautiful bike I've ever owned.

Through a friend, I heard about Bill, a guy who has a small collection of vintage Japanese bikes. He also puts on a small show/meet/gathering of vintage bikes every month or so, held at a burger joint not too far from the crib. After running into Bill a couple of times and telling him that I would attend a meet, I finally went.

Do us both a favor - click on the photo to enlarge.

It was a small event, but it had some cool stuff. Bill had quite a few bikes on display, several others had bikes there as well.

I really liked this Honda CB350 Four. They were pretty fast for a 350, though my RD would blow it off of the line. This one is in great shape, I wouldn't mind having it in the garage.

Most of the bikes were in great shape - either restored or in original condition. The bike below is a '69 Honda 750. It is highly collectable even though Honda made a bajillion 750s over the years. The '69 is the most collectable year because it was the first year of production for the 750 and the engine cases were cast in sand rather than dies. Honda was in a giant hurry to get the bike into production and did what it took to get it done. This one is one of the nicer ones around.

This yellow tank is on a '76 Honda CB750 F. It is a later version of the bike above and was in the later years of that particular engine. Motorcycle engine technology was advancing at a spectacular rate and in a span of 9 years, it was way obsolete. That didn't stop me from drooling all over it when I was a teenager and stopped by the local Honda store.

Can you tell that I have a soft spot for Hondas? The model below is an early70's CB 450. Another nice bike. I never rode one of these, but I remember a guy from high school had one that he rode to school. I think that they were pretty  fast, though I believe my RD would take one pretty easy.

This was my favorite bike at the show, a '60s Honda 50 with a factory accessory appearance kit. The kit changed the appearance of the diminutive bike, from a step through frame to a more traditional bike look.

I had never seen a 50 equipped with the appearance kit so I had to let Bill educate me on them. Apparently, they are very hard to find and adds to the value of this bike considerably.

I enjoyed seeing all of the old bikes and I look forward to attending the next one in a few weeks. The old bikes brought back memories though they made me feel a little old.

They were also a little inspiring. Who knows, maybe there will be another old Honda on display at the next meet?

Thanks for reading,


Monday, December 3, 2012

In Service

Back in September, I posted about my agency picking up a used ladder truck from another department in our county. After a trip to the lettering shop, installation of radios and an MDC and a little maintenance, the truck is back and is now in service. I happened to be at the tower on it's second day in service, which also happened to be the on-duty shift's first day on it.

Wisely, the department left the basic paint alone, making it the only deep red two-tone apparatus in our fleet. Frankly, it came out beautiful.

I like it so much, that I told the Chief in charge of specing-out our apparatus, that his last act before retiring should be to change the paint spec to this paint scheme.

As it was the crew's first day on it, they were putting it through the paces, learning the nuances of the unit in a training environment rather than an emergency situation. Although all of our units are similar, each one is just a little different. This one is more so, it is newer and is equipped with some technology that our other ladder trucks are not.

Things like learning  what the unit is doing when the jackknife alarm begins to sound, what the high and low points are, what sticks out the farthest etc. is best done in the field - though carefully. No one wants to be the first person to put a ding in it.

The use of spotters during this process is prudent, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Or, as I like to say - boots on the ground beats letters in your file.

Event the ladders themselves can act a little different. The amount of dip when loaded can be different, the control valves may have a different feel or a unit may have a different system or two - all things you need to know.

So far, everyone I have talked to is happy with the unit, it seems to be a quality piece. While only time will reveal whether this purchase was a bargain, a fair deal or we "got took", it appears to have gotten off to a great start.

I look forward to catching it in action.

Thanks for reading,