Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone.

The Upland Christmas Star. A symbolic message of hope,
dedication and perseverance. A message much needed amid
the insanity that we have allowed Christmas to become.

I hope that somehow, each of you have been able to get past the chaos and have been able to spend Christmas with people you care about, reflecting on the season's true meaning - one of hope, grace and joy.

I chose the above photo because of it's symbolism and of the story of it's subject, the Upland Christmas Star. The Saint I Am Married To made the drive over to San Antonio Heights to photograph the star. 

I had seen several T.V. stories on the star and I vaguely remembered seeing it long ago. I knew the back story, one where the original star was destroyed in a firestorm back in 2003, when the Grand Prix Fire ravaged the community and took out over 250 structures. 

I had heard the story of the property owner, who lost his home in that fire, as well as the star and all of his belongings.

More importantly, I knew the story of how that star was rebuilt, through the efforts of the owner and of the community - despite the theft of the wiring and of other hurdles. 

The star remains to this day, providing a symbol of hope to wretches like me. The house where the star stands still has not been rebuilt, but the star shines on. It serves as a reminder that through the birth of Christ, there is hope for all of us.

Merry Christmas.

Thanks for Reading,


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Black Friday In The Land Of The Dirt People

I was up early, but did not get any shopping done. 

Do us both a favor and click to enlarge!
 The sun peeks out from below the horizon.

As soon as I stuck my head outside of our RV, I new it was going to be spectacular. I was able to drive out a little ways from camp and set up my camera before the sunrise began in earnest. By far the best sunrise that I have witnessed in a long time. 

This is not the most beautiful area that we visit, but if I take my time and look around, I can usually capture some beautiful moments. It was a great way to spend the week, exploring the desert and being with our friends.

 100 degrees to the right of the top photo, 13 minutes later. A
small rainbow is visible, a result of the sunrise and virga.

I hope your Thanksgiving was as joyous as ours was.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Great and Greatly Missed

I have told many people this before, both in the blogosphere and in person: In a perfect world, we would die, our pets would peacefully follow a few minutes later.

Sadly, it is not so and we as humans must endure the loss of our furred friends many times during our lives.

After 15 1/2 years, Molly, our faithful wiener dog became decrepit enough that she no longer could lead a misery free life and we had to put her down. She died as peaceful death as I have ever seen, in the arms of The Saint That I Am Married To. 

The Saint and I were both sniveling like bitches.  The vet was kind enough to leave us alone for a few minutes to get our act together before sneaking out of the front door.

We knew this was coming, Molly had been getting worse for quite some time. Her sight, her hearing, her situational awareness and her ability to be a dog were just not there any more. Two nights of illness closed the deal, it was time.

My original plan was to bury her in the back yard. Our smallish yard and the possibility of a future owner digging up a wiener dog skeleton while working on a landscaping project precluded that option. That and the illegality of the act.

The thought of her laying in a plastic garbage bag and being disposed of in a landfill, rendering plant or some other mass disposal facility was unacceptable as well. Thus, we opted to have her individually cremated.

A few days later, the vet called and said that Molly's remains were ready to be picked up. I had no idea that her ashes would be in a little cedar box and that we would receive a plaster cast of her little paw print. I had no desire for either, nut now that we have them, I am most grateful.

As I write this, I miss her. No so much the old decrepit Molly, or the destructive part of young Molly. Those times were what they were.

I miss the loyal, playful Molly, the faithful companion who kept my wife company while I was away at work or deployed to places far away. I miss the camping Molly and the good Jeepdog who was fun to have hanging around.

I don't know where dogs go after they die. It seems kind of presumptuous to think that we humans can be worthy of a heavenesque afterlife and that dogs cannot. I just hope that she is in a better place - she is most certainly worthy of it.

I miss you Molly

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

It's all good

Not dead. Not sick. On vacation. We are up north, near the Napa Valley in northern California. As my rarely used laptop is currently lacking security software, I am resorting to the hotel's business center's computer to peruse my favorite sites and drop a post.

This trip is a combination of business and pleasure and as the business part is over, I am looking forward to relaxing and taking photos of a part of the state that I rarely visit. More when I get back.

Thanks for reading,


Friday, September 20, 2013

"Chalkie" Visits The Tower

I have been told that the old timey homicide detectives used the term "Chalkie" to describe the outline of a deceased person drawn in chalk around the body. Frankly, I don't know if any law enforcement agencies ever actually traced a chalk line around a dead body. I know I have never seen it done around here, and I been to a few fatal incidents since the early eighties. It might be just a movie thing, though we all know what the outline is for.

Apparently, either a crew or the training division knows what it means as well. There is a story behind the photo below, I just don't know what it is.

I spotted "Chalkie" at the tower a few days ago while taking some pictures of some crews who were drilling.

Although I don't know anything about while Chalkie was at the tower, there is quite a bit of info available in the photo and I can probably come up with an educated guess or two as to what this is all about.

Obviously, it involved a drill session. The F number in the 600's tells me that a boot-ass rookie was the victim. (I obscured the last two digits of the victims F number, no need to further embarrass the poor bastard. BTW, my F number was in the low 100's)

It happened last week.

A shortage of air and water was a major factor in the boot's demise.

Most likely, some rookie failed to follow proper procedure while participating in a search or RIC drill, causing his early demise. Or, perhaps the said rookie neglected to follow proper procedure regarding interior fire attack and PPE. Maybe the rookie didn't follow accountability procedures when making entry and became lost. Regardless, two distinct conclusions can be made from the above photo.

1. - Boot done screwed up.

2. - Boot is unlikely to make that exact same mistake again. Not sayin' he/she won't make others, but that exact same boo-boo probably isn't going to happen again.

I can also add a few other thoughts on the matter. Chalkie's visit was used as a learning tool, not an attempt to humiliate anybody. Firefighting is deadly serious business. A chalked outline now beats the hell out of the Chief knocking on some newly made widow's door in the middle of the night a few years down the road. Sometimes a little visual aid helps in the instruction process.

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Thieving Bastiches

I noticed one was missing last Friday. I assumed somebody had just kicked it off and then kicked it away where I couldn't see it. I made a mental note to replace it, either on Saturday morning or Sunday, when it was nice and cool.

Saturday morning, I went out to get the paper and discovered that the loss was not an accident, but was an exploratory strike before an all out assault.

The thieving bastiches stole a bunch of my sprinkler heads!

 They were the old timey Champion Brass ones, like the ones your pop put in his yard back in the '60s. The original owner of my house had installed them back in 1972 when my house was built.

Not very water-wise and rather antiquated, they had been keeping my front yard green for at least forty years. A few had been replaced, usually due to kids or edger-sprinkler contact, but most were period correct.

And now they are gone, most likely destined to a date with the metal recycler. Some  douchebag decided he needed booze or drugs more than I needed a green lawn.

It isn't the money really. It's just that some thieving bastich had the balls to walk into my front yard and kype them. I could have replaced them all for about 60 bucks. That, however, would have been a lesson in futility. They would have been gone again inside a week. Ruth, the neighbor lady on the next block, has replaced hers three times. I question her trainability. Instead, I opted for the cheapo plastic facsimiles which cost me $24 and have absolutely no scrap value.

I view the event as a temporary fix. I really need to redesign my irrigation system and install one more efficient and less wasteful. That is a bigger endeavor than I want to take on right now.  When I do get around to redoing my syatem, you can be assured that you will know about it. The net is a great place to spread whining and gnashing of teeth.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Reflections on Yesterday

Despite the importance of yesterday and the events which cause us to pause and remember the horrific events that occurred on Sept. 11 2001, I didn't post about it. It wasn't because I forgot or didn't think that it was that important. It wasn't even that I didn't want to remember or that I am tired of all of the negative impacts that the terrorist acts have had on countless numbers of lives since the event.

I remember it all, as I am sure most of us do. I remember how I found out. I remember what I did that day and on the days following. I remember how I explained it to my kids. I remember how many of my colleagues flew on that night to assist in the search of the WTC debris. I also remember how emotionally impacted many of those people were when they returned home some time later.

I think the main reason that I didn't post yesterday was, that over the last four years of writing this blog, I have pretty much said everything that I have to say about it. I am not trying to be an asshole about it, but my position on the matter has not really changed in the last four years. I am pretty sure that most of you feel the same way about the tragedy as you did four years ago, perhaps the same way as in 2001.

We still remember, feel the same sense of loss,  the same anguish that we did when it happened. Perhaps our anger is a little less and the view of our response as a nation might have changed, but the core emotions and feelings are still pretty much the same.

If you want to go back and read some of my previous thoughts on the matter, they can be found at the following links:

The Envelope



I am sure that there are more, I just can't find them.

Don't think less of me for not posting about yesterday - believe me, I spent plenty of time thinking about that awful day - those who were lost, those who lost loved ones and those who have suffered in the aftermath.

Thanks for reading,


Monday, September 9, 2013

Pretty Big House Ka-Boom

Pretty big for us anyways. All of the house ka-booms that I have responded to over the years involved a wall or two pushed into the back yard accompanied by a small fire. This one was a little more spectacular. Two damaged exposures, one with an established attic fire added to the original mayhem.

Fortunately, no one was seriously injured. Unfortunately, I didn't bother to get up when my phone advised me of the incident so I didn't get down there until an hour into the incident.

What I saw when I first got there:
 click to enlarge

The remains of a single story, single family dwelling blown into the street, yards and neighbors yards. I'm just guesssin' two thirds of the house was blown into smaller pieces and displaced by a dozen feet or more. Some of it much more. What was left in the original footprint of the house had decisively burned. I was told that the flamage visible in the above image was from the destroyed/damaged gas meter. As it was in very near proximity to the bravo side exposure, the combustibles near it had to be kept cool. The boot spent a lot of time on that hoseline until the Gas Co. could get the supply shut down. 

Another guess is that it was a pretty impressive sight when Eng. 8 arrived on scene. Exposures were the priority, all of the stuff that needed to be done gobbled up a fair amount of resources. People were busy for quite a while.

It has been a while since I have been able to get out and shoot. In fact, this is the first real incident that I have shot since the first week of August. It took a while to get some things right, some things I didn't figure out until after I got home and viewed the images. Sorry, I am still learning I guess.

The two Eng 8 firefighters on the exposure line. You can see how close the gas fire is to the bravo exposure. Though the bravo exposure doesn't look it, it was heavily damaged by fire as well as the blast. The attic fire was well established and gobbled up pretty near a full alarm to get it under control.

Sunrise over the fire ground. From the morning of my first "all nighter" until this very day, I have always received energy from the sky slowly gaining light and color in the east. Part of it must be a natural reaction to the dawn, part of it must have been that a brightening sky meant shift change was only a few hours away.

Spaghetti for breakfast. Yummy.

The Dragon slayers from Arlanza. Arlanza is the 'hood where I grew up, my folks still live there. In a sense, these are the guys that watch over my peeps. I think they were the first engine in on the second alarm.

As the sky grew brighter, the devastation became more apparent. As destroyed as that house was, it couldn't overpower the beauty of the sky.

You have to admire the roof sheeting that was blown into the tree. Nice touch. BTW, all of that debris was blown into the back yard, none of it was moved there.

And still, the boot was on the hoseline.

The Gas Co. showed up with a crew to shut off the supply. They had to find the plastic supply pipe, gig it up and then pinch it off. It didn't take as long as you might think.

The Deputy Chief showed up (2nd from left), along with the relief Battalion Chief. The original BC got to go home.

It must have been a slow news day. Every L.A. channel showed up, both on the ground and in the air. I can't even begin to tell you how many people have told me that they saw me on the news that morning.

Our PIO had his hands full.

Even though the house was supposed to be vacant, one can't be sure these days. An HRD dog (Human Remains Deceased) from our USAR team was called in to check for any bodies that might have been in the rubble. Dublin is one of three dogs that this handler owns. He also owns Hunter, also an HRD dog and Blue a live rescue dog. 

Thankfully, no hits were made.

Everybody loves the Dog. I love the dog, even Gigi Graciette loves the dog.

 After Dublin failed to detect any bodies buried in the rubble, it was time for the Fire Investigation team to move in and sort things out.

A gas leak was suspected as the cause of the blast, the home was being renovated at the time. When I left, the scene was still being investigated. As of yet, the cause has not been determined pending further investigation.

The debris field extended in excess of 100 feet in all directions. The neighboring houses absorbed most of the debris on the sides, but the street to the front was covered in roofing tiles, glass and other items. The photo below is of some glass that was blasted into a wooden fence over 100 feet from the house.

Thankfully, no one was hurt. Someone walking in front of the house at the time of the explosion would likely have been seriously injured if not killed.

After shooting combined with standing by for over four hours, I was tired and hungry so I opted to leave. I am guessing there was personnel out there for most of the day. That's what perfect about my role, when I am done, I leave.

Well done to A shift, they did a good job making some sense of order from intense chaos. Thanks to them for letting me shoot. Thanks to you for reading.


Saturday, September 7, 2013

I Used To Dream Of Doing This!

As have most firefighters, I am sure.

It would be a last resort type of thing, after all the boss would have to be convinced that it was necessary. But, if it was the only reasonable option, sorry Charlie - I'm a gonna stretch through your whip!

We've all seen cars parked in front of a hydrant, but fortune has seen fit not to cause a fire nearby while the offending car was there. This time, the car owners luck ran out and the engineer got to do what most of us have dreamed of.

Stay in school. Don't do drugs. Don't park in front of hydrants.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Out of the Nest

We took a little road trip over the weekend. Saturday, we left the crib and drove to the San Fransisco bay area. We took two trucks - one containing The Saint That I Am Married To and myself, the other containing my oldest son. Both trucks also contained my son's meager possessions. After 22 2/3 years of living with us, my son has decided to follow his heart and his girlfriend and move away.

The trip itself was uneventful. Despite four stops to move around, we made it in less than 7 hours. No cargo or vehicle issues were noted. I guess the vehicle maintenance done on his truck before leaving paid off.

There wasn't a lot of sightseeing or recreation on the trip, it was pretty much all business. We arrived in the East bay and unloaded the trucks, then drove to a neighboring city where we checked into our hotel. After a bit, my son and his girlfriend drove up and we all had dinner together. We chatted for a while after dinner, then returned to our hotel while the "kids" returned to their apartment. We were all pretty thrashed.

The morning was basically the same, only in reverse. The kid's girlfriend had to be at work at 0800, so we drove down and met at a diner that they like to eat at. Scottie's Diner is in Vallejo and it puts on a great breakfast. We ate and talked, then the girlfriend left for work. We stayed around in the parking lot for a bit talking with my son, then it was time for the Saint and to head back south. Hugs and tears (even from the hard-ass kid) followed, it all ended with a wave as he headed out of the parking lot.

The drive home was uneventful, traffic was fairly light. I-5 through central California is one of the ugliest, boring drives that I make. Light traffic is better - the least amount of time spent on it the better. Our good progress validated the decision to come home on Sunday, the long weekend guaranteed a traffic mess on Monday, one that we wanted to avoid.

The path that my kid has chosen is not one that we would have chosen for him. We would have preferred moving him into a dorm at a State University rather that an apartment with his girlfriend. He, like I, is very independent and has determined what he feels is the best path for him. Though I disagree, I have to respect his choices.

He starts a new gig on Monday, one with full benefits and a fair wage. As he is a big boy now, one that can live with his squeeze 350 mile away from home, he is kind of on his own. I signed the truck over to him, ensured that it was in sound condition and moved him up there. The rest is on him.

Hopefully he will make sound decisions and continue to improve himself and his lot in life. The Saint and I spent 22 years trying to produce a self sufficient productive citizen, we'll see if we succeeded.

I miss him but I have to be honest, some of the petty little B.S. like a messy room and glasses left on the counter I will not.

We are headed back up there in October for a few days and I am looking forward to it. I am also looking forward to leaving a mess in his kitchen.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

If I Were A Crook

If I were a crook, I'd get into the credit card / debit card thievery business. It appears that it is incredibly easy, very lucrative and extremely easy to get away with. Other than the morality issue, there really doesn't seem to be any reason NOT to get into the electronic fraud business.

We had dinner with five other couples last night. Each one had been victimized by card fraud, most several times. Out of the six couples, only one of the six knew that the fraudster had been caught. One couple had fake credit cards opened in their name, another had their bank account hacked and also had a SSN used, resulting in tax issues.

It appears that no one is investigating any of the crimes. Of the one case where someone was caught, it was because the suspect had been caught doing another crime and had been in possession of a stack of credit cards when apprehended.

We found out yesterday that we had an issue. The Saint That I Am Married To was begged and cajoled into had offered to buy me lunch. When she attempted to pay with her debit card, the card was denied, with the EDC machine giving an "Invalid Acct Number" error message.

When she returned to the office, she learned that someone had managed to obtain her account number and pin and had used the card three times in the amount of $1500.00. A thousand of it was obtained at a casino in Vegas, the rest from two different merchants across the state.  The bank had figured out something was amiss and had shut the account down, causing ME to buy lunch.

This comes on the heels of my AMEX card being skimmed at a gas station and the number being used to by $200 of gas in L.A. last year. It is a rapidly growing problem, and again, the odds of getting caught are pretty small.

The good news is that my wife will likely not lose any money over the deal.

The bad news is that she will be short $1500 until the bank verifies her story and credits her account the stolen money. Also, as her account was closed by the bank, it will take a few days for her new account to come on line and for new cards to arrive and be activated. It looks like until that occurs, I will be on the hook for all of our expenditures. It's a pain in our ass to be sure.

I wish I had a solution for this, but until we start shooting identity thieves, I think the problem is going to get worse. Obviously the system is going to place a higher priority on violent crime, but this is costing our economy billions of dollars per year.

Oh, I forgot to mention that I received a letter yesterday from another one of my financial institutions. It advised me that personal information, including account numbers, SSNs date of births and other personal information from thousands of accounts was hacked and that we should be extra vigilant regarding our accounts. Great.

Maybe the low investigation / prosecution rate is by design, sort of another welfare program - a redistribution of wealth.  Regardless, I'm getting tired of it.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Another Ex-R.F.D. Truck

I often peruse Craigslist and E-Bay for items from my department(s). I have found some good stuff including badges, documents and photographs. Imagine my surprise a few weeks ago when I found this former R.F.D. apparatus:

 1957 American La France Fire Truck (Local truck and In Movie) - $3000

image 1image 2image 3
1957 American La France Fire Truck. Was a ladder truck but the ladder has been separated. Engine starts to turn over, we are working on it slowly as we have time, but probably won't take much to get it running again. Historic Vehicle plates, clean title, and was actually in the movie Born in East LA :) The last picture is the truck in it's prime in a clip from the movie.

Have all the original owners manuals and service records all the way back to original 1957 records from the Riverside Fire Dept.

It made its way up to Bakersfield over the years, which is where it is now. We have the trailer to move it if we wanted to work a separate deal for delivery.

3000 cash. Call 661-428-2534 or 805-704-0030 and ask for Steve
  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
Posting ID: 3986858467
Posted: 2013-08-07, 11:28AM PDT
Updated: 2013-08-23, 4:45PM PDT

Saturday, August 31, 2013

It's Never Good When....

...You return from a call to find water coming out from under the front door of the station!

(click to enlarge)

This was my room for a few years. It never had an inch of water in it while I was there!

Squeegee duty - almost as much fun... squeegee duty.

Silly water, holes are for poles!

Another victim of Thursday's storm. If I had to guess, I would say that the buildings scuppers were either overwhelmed or at least partially obstructed. Possibly a combination of both. Regardless, vast quantities of water entered the building through through the roof and flooded about half of the second floor and about a third of the first floor.

There was significant damage to the building and furnishings despite a significant salvage effort. Most of our units were busy responding to calls while this was occurring, efforts to control this event didn't really get going until after the storm had moved on. The city's Building Services called in a professional restoration contractor in order to minimize further damage. Wise move.

The downtown crews are supposed to move into the new house in a month or so, this event may speed up the process.

I'm just glad this didn't happen while I was stationed there.

Thanks for reading,


Friday, August 30, 2013

Inclimate Weather

See the pretty white cloud. See the cloud grow and get very tall. See the cloud slow and the sky get dark.

See it rain. See the wind blow and the trees bend.

See the city fall apart.

Power line down calls were stacked 10 deep in dispatch. 

The dept. PIO wades to a stuck vehicle to check for possible
subjects trapped. This one was empty. He happened to be on
phone with the media while doing it. Talk about dual - role!

Street flooding occurred at numerous locations. The cell slowed
 as it passed over the North end of the city, pumps and storm 
drains couldn't keep up. 

The head sticking out of the side of the engine belongs to a kid
on his way home. The flooding would cause him to walk a mile 
or so out of his way, so E6 offered him a lift as they were passing
by. It's all about customer service.

  Flooding occurred in several residential neighborhoods. Too 
much water, too little time.

Crews work to shore up an irrigation canal that had overflowed.

Sand bags. 'Nuff said.

The cell parked over the city for about an hour or so. It doesn't take a lot of adverse weather to send us dirt people into crisis mode, a storm such as this jams the city up very nicely.

I spoke with one captain who told me his unit ran 17 calls in 90 minutes. Most were self resolving or were able to be stabilized until utilities or public works could come and handle it, still 17 in 90 - that's busy.

The organization displayed some creativity in handling the situation. Day captains were used to staff a reserve unit, several staff officers were assigned to respond to calls, investigate and advise if an engine response was required. These actions freed up units for other calls. Well played.

We just don't get much rain, 10.22 inches per year at fire sta. #3 to be exact. According to the local rag, we received around .16 of an inch yesterday afternoon. I don't know where that reporting station was, likely at Sta. #3 or at the airport. Neither of those reporting stations are where the brunt of the storm hit, so I suspect we received much more. 

Regardless, it was chaotic for a while in the North-end. My peeps were busy indeed.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, August 29, 2013

More Tanker P@rn

California continues to bake and burn. The Rim Fire up near Yosemite is rapidly approaching (and will definitely surpass) 200,000 acres in size. Due to the size and terrain, aerial firefighting has been a major part of the control effort.

Back on August 5th, the Falls Fire started in the foothills, just above the city of Lake Elsinore, CA. Lake Elsinore is located in my county, about 30 miles from my home. As the fuel involved hadn't burned in a long time and the terrain and local weather patterns are known for producing extreme fire behavior, the Forest Service and Cal-Fire jumped on it with both feet. Many local agencies (including my own) assisted by providing mutual aid.

Tanker 910 a very large air tanker, (VLAT) was assigned to the fire during the first evening. Tanker 910 is a converted DC-10 airliner that holds up to 11,600 gallons of fire retardant. At airliner approach speeds with 11,600 capacity and a rapid discharge rate, it can lay down a tremendous line of retardant.

A tremendous line of retardant is exactly what was needed to protect the community of Lakeland Village from the Falls fire. That and Riverside Fire Department Eng. #3.

Tanker 910 makes a pass on the Falls Fire in Lakeland Village, CA.
City of Riverside Engine #3 providing structure protection.
Photo courtesy Riverside FD Unknown photographer

  What a great photo, I really, really wish that I could take credit for it. Maybe next time. It had to have been something to see, one doesn't usually see airliners flying down low, next to a mountain and dropping pink/orange stuff onto a fire.

Just another reason to always have a camera with you, even if it is a point and shoot or a camera phone.


Thanks to R, a reader of mine, who sent me a link to an article regarding an engine issue on Tanker 910 a few weeks ago. It is rarely a good thing when a jet engine belches balls of flame. It's not always really bad, but it's never good. Rumor is that the engine was replaced soon after the photos of the flaming engine were taken.

Double thanks to R, as I was unfamiliar with the blog, the place where the above article was posted. How I was not aware of the site is beyond me. As soon as I get around to updating my blogroll, I am going to be adding a link. Its a very informative site for those of us who like aviation and firefighting.


Thanks for the kind words regarding my recent illness. I'm feeling a lot better and am monitoring the radio again. I probably won't be humping hills following hoselays for a while, but I feel good enough to cover most everything else. It's getting better every day.

Thanks for reading,



Monday, August 26, 2013

Fuego Grande and airplanes. It doesn't get any better.

Ok, it could have been better, better if I had been shooting the video.

As most of you have probably heard by now, The Rim fire has been burning on the western side of the Sierra Nevada mountains since August 17th. It has burned through almost 144,000 acres of woodland and timber, some of which has been in Yosemite National Park. The main part of Yosemite and numerous small towns are threatened by this fire. Over $20,000,000 has been spent in fighting it, the end is not in sight.

One of the tools being used to fight this fire is the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) equipped C-130 cargo aircraft, supplied by either Air National Guard or Air Force Reserve units. Basically, MAFFS allows Lockheed C-130 transport aircraft to be easily converted into firefighting aerial tankers and then converted back into their original configuration as the mission requirements change. It can drop up to 3400 gallons of retardant onto a wildfire either all in one pass of smaller amounts in several passes. It shows how adaptable our Air Guard and Reserve units can be.

This video was shot from MAFFS 6, a C-130 from the California Air National Guard based at Port Hueneme CA, as it made a drop on the Rim fire last week. This video gives a decent perspective as to the immensity of the Rim fire, though it is only of a small portion of it. The video also gives you an idea of the precision required for the drop to be effective and the amount of coordination needed to keep the various firefighting aircraft safely separated while conducting operations.

Many people deride the C-130 as an ugly, slow trash hauler that no testosterone equipped air warrior would want to fly. I gotta tell ya, I think that the C-130 is the world's most beautiful "ugly" airplane and is a terrific flying machine that I would love to fly. Fighting fire with it would be a bonus.

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Bullet Dodged

This was supposed to have been posted last week, but for whatever reason it did not. The most likely cause was that I was still pretty sick when I came home and I simply screwed it up. As I still am just getting to the point where I feel like messing with my camera and the blog, I'm just going to go ahead and publish the following. Keep in mind that it was written on Aug 13.


I'm not going to get creative with this, I'm just going to spill it. For the last seven days, I have been in the hospital, suffering from bilateral pulmonary embolisms.

It sucked, plain and simple. Friends who saw me in the initial stages of the event were shocked at how bad it screwed me up. It hurt like nothing else that I have ever felt and it scared the living shit out of my family. It was a bad time to be me.

Though not completely out of the woods, I am doing well enough to be released. For that and many other things I am grateful. I am surprised at the level of support that I received from my friends and from the department, it is truly humbling and it brings tears to my eyes.

I have plenty to say about this, but much of it would bore you and frankly, I just want to kick back for a little while. Thanks for your continued reading, I'll have more in a few days.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013


My kids are pretty much grown. As a result, I don't see too many kids movies any more. Apparently, there is one out now titled Despicable Me 2. I haven't seen it, nor have I seen Despicable Me. (though it would be an appropriate title for my auto-biography)

Despicable Me is an animated movie and contain a set of characters known as minions. I have no idea what they do or what they are about other than they are minions.

 Photo kyped from

 Hitler had his minions,  Stalin had his. Apparently, someone in Despicable Me 2 has minions as well.

Now, the City of Yucaipa CA has been invaded by minions.

Photo by Rick Sforza, San Bernardino Sun Times

Some unknown artist has noticed that the physique of a minion is not unlike that of a fire hydrant and has dressed several hydrants in Yucaipa accordingly. Even I, uncreative and unobservant creature that I am, can see a resemblance.

According to The San Bernardino Sun, the reaction in the community has been mostly positive. Residents, the Po-Po and at least one fire captain were interviewed and all responded more or less the same - cute, as long as it doesn't interfere with operation during a fire.

A rep from the water district was a little more concerned, stating that the clothing used to turn the hydrants into minions might conceal the color coding painted on the hydrant to denote available water pressure.

I find that to be an odd statement, as none of the hydrants pictured in the Sun appeared to be color coded at all. Also, I would have though the rep from the water would have known that color coding on hydrants denotes flow (gpm) not pressure.

Personally, I think it is kind of cool, but I don't think the practice of placing anything on a hydrant is an especially good idea -it kind of sets a bad precedent.

Many agencies have a policy regarding the customization of hydrants, but there is usually a procedure to follow ensuring that the hydrant remains functional and properly marked. I'm just guessin' that gloves cable tied to the stems and caps wouldn't be within most policies.

For the full S.B. Sun article on the matter, CLICK HERE.

Now, I just want to find out how to get an army of my own minions. Of course they would only be used for good and not evil. Well, maybe for a little evil.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Images Of...

...sorrow, honor, respect and brotherhood. The images below are from the Ramp Ceremony for fallen Granite Mountain Hotshots Christopher MacKenzie and Kevin Woyjeck.

The two hotshots were returned to Southern California on July 10, 2013 via a California Air National Guard C-130J aircraft. MacKenzie and Woyjeck were two of nineteen Granite Mountain Hotshots who were killed while fighting the Yarnell Fire in central Arizona on June 30, 2013.

The Ramp Ceremony was held at Los Alamitios Joint Forces Training Base in Southern California. It was attended by the families of the fallen, firefighters, police officers and EMS personnel from throughout California and by a grateful and grieving public.

Click on the images for higher quality photos.

Members of the City of Corona CA Fire Dept. Honor Guard prepare for the
Ramp Ceremony.

Honor Guard members from Fire Depts. throughout CA prepare for the
Ramp Ceremony.

 Honor Guard members from Fire Depts. throughout CA prepare for the
Ramp Ceremony.

 Honor Guard members from Fire Depts. throughout CA prepare for the
Ramp Ceremony.

 Lone Cub Scout In A Sea Of Blue

Firefighters, members of the Armed Forces and Honor Guards stand by to
receive the bodies of Christopher MacKenzie and Kevin Woyjeck.

 Honor Guard Members carry the casket of Christopher MacKenzie off of
the aircraft, past saluting aircrew members.
 Honor Guard members escort the casket of Christopher MacKenzie past the 
"Sea of Blue" during the Ramp Ceremony.

 Honor Guard Members carry the casket of Kevin Woyjeck off of
the aircraft, past saluting aircrew members.

  Honor Guard members escort the casket of Kevin Woyjeck past the 
"Sea of Blue" during the Ramp Ceremony.

Honor Guard members escort the casket of Kevin Woyjeck past members
of the Armed Forces during the Ramp Ceremony.

Patriot Guard Riders and other motorcycle organizations salute as the hearses
prepare to depart the Los Alamitos Joint Training Base.

Honor Guard member surveys the scene as the hearses prepare to depart the
Ramp Ceremony.


The Ramp Ceremony. It's not about politicians, speeches or proselytizing. It's about honoring the fallen, showing respect to the families of the fallen and honoring the traditions and sacrifices of those who have gone before us. Primarily a military ceremony, it was adapted for this occasion. The efforts of the military, the organizations involved and of honor guard members from throughout the state all came together to pull this off. It was a solemn ceremony that honored the two fallen firefighters perfectly.

I am honored just to have attended. 

Thanks for reading,