Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Training Officer Was a Little Pissed

Quite frankly, I don't blame him. Upon entering the saw maintenance area, he found this:

Two of the department's "training saws" in various states of disassembly, left strewn about the workbench. Rags, fuel and other various bits accompanying. No note, e-mail or phone call left to explain the reason for the mess.

I know it seems like a minor thing, but stuff like this is what can drive the training division personnel nuts.

Our training division (like most) is under staffed. One of the remedies for this situation has been to make it easier for us to train ourselves, especially on common manipulative skills such as ventilation, forcible entry and ladders. This enables the training division to focus on new skills or those which require a higher degree of oversight.

One of the ways they facilitate us in our endeavors is to provide and maintain tools and equipment (such as the saws) for the explicit purpose of training. Back in the day, if you wanted to train with the saw, you would have to make arrangements with a truck company and have them come to the training tower to use their saw. Not a very efficient use of a truck.

At some point, the training division obtained some saws, 28' and 35' ground ladders and some other equipment, and maintained them at the tower. Thus, it became no longer necessary to drag a truck down to the tower to train on some of their equipment. The also created a saw maintenance area to make it easier for us  to maintain the training equipment. All of this stuff is there to make OUR lives easier - a good thing.

That's what makes acts like this even more frustrating. It hurts ourselves.

Me, being the closeted optimist that I am, believe that this was an act of oversight or poor communication skills rather than a deliberate act. Maybe a boot was interrupted in the middle of cleaning the saws and then forgot to go back and finish them up. Maybe a unit was called back into service in the middle of a drill and had to leave the saws in pieces, then failed to return to finish up. Maybe, an engine company intended to return on the following shift to complete maintenance on the saws, but the captain forgot to leave a note or send an e-mail telling the training division of their intentions. Regardless, there is really no valid excuse for  leaving the saws in this condition.

Hopefully, another boot or another crew will step up and restore the saws to working condition. The training guys are swamped right now and it will take them a while to get it done. Either way, I have little doubt that that the situation will be remedied quickly - that's how we roll.

Again, this is all a minor thing. It's just one that has to be frustrating to the training division. It's so unnecessary.

Thanks for reading,


Friday, February 22, 2013

The Joshua Tree Project - Solo in the Mojave

A class project due, very little progress made despite several attempts. Disappointment expressed by my instructor (though in a polite fashion) in my previous submission. Obviously, my existing strategy of shooting while on various recreational excursions is not a sound one. It's time to get serious and go on a mission focused trek, one without spouse, friends, a dog, beer or any other distraction.

I plan on a 10 to 12 hour exercise, including 4 hours of travel time. I figure that I will need to allow time for scouting locations and that peanut butter sandos, bottled water  and fruit will suffice for subsistence.

My initial efforts are a disappointment. The harsh mid-day lighting makes broad landscape photographs unappealing. As landscape shots are my assignment, I realize that I have to move away from them until conditions improve and instead do some supportive detail work. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities for that.

Despite the photographs not being exactly what I need, I am somewhat encouraged by the results. It would appear that the day will not be a total waste.

The desert in winter is a vibrant place, greener than one expects, a prelude to the wildflowers which will follow in a month or so. Despite this, there is also plenty of starkness that remains - a reminder of the harshness that the desert is known for.

The flora of this place makes interesting subjects. The limbs appear to move much as a flaccid arm might, one missing bones and joints and blowing in the wind.

And the sky. Always the sky. One can never disregard it, despite its constant presence and its utility. When it is beautiful, one must take pause and relish its aesthetic qualities.

As they day moves along, the sun drops lower in the sky and the light becomes more cooperative in me completing my assignment.

Although there are people around, I mostly avoid them. I do not want the distraction and I do not want them to disrupt my enjoyment of the solitude - nor do I want to disrupt their enjoyment, whatever it might be. The person in the photo below probably never saw me, I barely saw him.
I think it's safe to say that at that moment, we were both enjoying that place though for different reasons and from a different perspective. (click to enlarge) We were both swallowed by the vastness of this hidden valley, its scale forgotten to me until I saw the climber in the photo.

As the sun continues to descend the, light becomes warmer though the temperature does not.

 The shadows grow longer and in some cases the change from a horizontal state to one more vertical - one that I can use to my advantage.

 The sun lowers further, opening new opportunities. I become happy, realizing that this trip is going to be productive, that my goals and needs are going to be met. The best part is that I will have experienced this time of beauty and that I will have captured it.

And, as it always is for me, it continues to be about the sky. Always the sky.

When the sun sets the visual experience changes from what is occurring where you are, to what is occurring many miles away.

There is always light, it's a matter of capturing it and supplementing it.

A Coleman lantern allows me to see what I am doing and it adds some light where I need it., a flashlight helps too. It is the stars however, that are what I want to show. The stars need no light, they speak for themselves.

The stones, the trees, the stars and the sky. Always the sky. All combine to make this place as special as it is. I'm just glad I was there to enjoy it.


Please excuse my episode of artsy-fartsiness. Sometimes ya just gotta let go.

Thanks for reading,

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Case Closed

It didn't take very long. Thanks to Joe Lowry and a Fire Service Bulletin Board that he is a member of, old Truck #3 has been found. It took a little over 24 hours. Needless to say, I am impressed.

I came out of the desert last night to find a series of emails/post comments informing me that what used to be RIV Truck #3 is now Tower 61 from the Kimberton Fire Company, in Chester County PA.

Tower 61 - Photo by Warren W. Jenkins 5/2007

RIV Truck3 Ca. 1997 RFD photo

I gotta say, I think it looks better now than it did when it was with us. It appears that the KFC has made a few changes. Obviously, it has been repainted. I like the "Z" trim, it is a definite improvement over the original trim. There has been a little trim added to the cab and the mirrors have been replaced, they nust not have cared for the "bus" mirrors that it originally came with. There seems to be an additional compressed air cylinder mounted to the boom and the lighting seems to have been upgraded.

I rang up the KFC and spoke with a member of the department. He said that they are very happy with the unit, and that it has been relatively problem free. It's kind of funny, when speaking with one of our mechanics last week, he mentioned that "we had just worked out all of the bugs with it" when we traded it in. I guess all of the shop's efforts paid off, just not for us!

Tower 61 runs a little over 600 times a year and is the second out unit for the station, behind a rescue pumper.

Much like selling a puppy, it's always good to know when a piece of equipment finds a good home. It appears that Old Truck Three is thriving in it's current rol and. it sounds like Kimberton plans on keeping Tower 61 for a while. That news that makes me happy as well.

Although the fire service has a bajillion members throughout the country, I  knew that this rig would be found once I posted about it. Thanks to Joe Lowry for his help with this and thanks to you for reading.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Have You Seen Me?

NAME: 1997 Simon-LTI 85' Quint/Elevated Platform. AKA "The Beast"; AKA "Old Truck #3"

LAST SEEN: Riverside, CA - 2001 or 2002

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Red apparatus with white reflective stripe running down the middle of each side. Unit is equipped with a 1250 or 1500 GPM pump. It is powered by a Detroit Series 60 engine and an Allison Automatic Transmission. Unit is also equipped with a floating "Tag Axle" on the rear axle.

DISTINGUISHING MARKS: Serial # 96-04986 or #96-040986.  Unit may have a small injury to a left rear compartment door where the knuckleheads on "A" shift cut it a little close.

CIRCUMSTANCES OF DISAPPEARANCE: Unit would likely have been purchased from an American LaFrance dealer in 2001 or 2002. Deal might have been set up through Joe Verrill, an ALF representative from ALF Los Angeles.

IF LOCATED CONTACT: Capt. Joseph R. Schmoe at


We purchased the above truck in 1997 along with a 100' tillered aerial. Frankly, the quint just didn't work out for us, so we worked a deal where ALF took it in trade for a 2001(I think) 100' tillered aerial. None of us have ever heard of it again.

I am just curious as to what ever happened to it, how it worked out and where it is now. Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance,


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Thank God it's Over

It appears that the suspect perished in the burning cabin, it will likely be a day or so before it's verified. The body is still in the burned out remains of the cabin, I'm just guessin' that thay are going to process the exterior of the scene first, then work there way into the cabin. I'm also just guessin' that they will wait until daylight until gettin' serious about it. There should be plenty left to ID, ask me how I know.

The worst thing that could happen is that no remains are found. Very unlikely, but still, everybody needs to do their job and do it properly. Crazy stuff happens, this whole episode tells us that.


A Death Too Good?

A reporter on the phone with KCAL TV is reporting that tear gas has been fired into the cabin where the murder suspect is holed up. He is also reporting that the cabin has ignited and is burning freely.

I have seen  this before, on incidents that I have been involved with. It has been my experience that the suspects rarely come out and if they are in the structure, they usually shoot themselves rather than burn to death.

A large plume of black smoke is visible from a news helicopter that is hovering many miles away.

Burning to death might be an appropriate death for the suspect, suicide is not.

Again, until they recover a body, nothing is certain.


The San Bernardino County Sheriff has just confirmed that a S.B. Co. deputy has died as a result of the gun battle that occurred earlier today. He also said that the wounded deputy is in surgery and is expected to recover.

Thoughts and prayers to everyone involved, especially to the friends and family of the fallen and to the wounded officers.

Updates as available



Fox news is reporting that one of the two officers wounded in a gun battle with an armed murder suspect has passed.

Un-f*&^ing believable.

If true, that makes two LE officers killed, two civilians killed and two additional LE officers wounded since superbowl Sunday.

Right now, one of the Fox 11 news reporters on scene at Loma Linda hospital is on the air, in tears, stating that she knows the deceased deputy. Apparently, her husband is a retired LE officer and knew the fallen officer quite well. It's a tragic, small world.

 LE officials are pretty sure that the suspect is holed up in a vacant cabin near Seven Oaks, a remote mountain community in the San Bernardino National Forest.

Updates as they become available.


The Chaos Continues

As I write this, it appears that the suspect in RPD officer Michael Crain's murder has poked his head out and has initiated a gun battle with law enforcement officials. Two officers from an unnamed law enforcement agency are reported to have been wounded in the exchange.

The news stream on this is chaotic at best. Numerous reports from numerous sources are giving conflicting reports in this afternoons episode.

Apparently, a person matching the description of  the murder suspect had broken into an occupied cabin and had taken at least one person hostage. At some point, a hostage managed to escape and alert authorities. As a result, a pursuit and at least two separate exchanges of gunfire occurred with two LE officers being shot.

The suspect is reported to be holed up in another cabin. I am not sure of any of the above info, but that is what is believed to be going on. I just want it to be over and I want the wounded officers to be ok. After that, I want the suspect to be taken alive, I want the piece of shit to answer for what he did.

I'll keep you posted.

UPDATE: CNN and Fox news are carrying this live.


Monday, February 11, 2013

His Name Was Michael,

Michael Crain. RPD opted to release his name to the public yesterday, despite his murderer not yet being apprehended.

Officer Michael Crain
 EOW 2/7/2013
RPD Photo

Michael Crain was  34 yrs. old at the time of his death and leaves behind his wife and his two children, ages 10 and 4. 

He had a pretty full career during his eleven years with the RPD, serving as a patrol officer, a FTO, an observer with the department's aviation unit, a member of the SWAT team, and a firearms instructor.

Prior to becoming a cop, he served in the Marine Corps, including deployments to Kuwait and time as an instructor in Military Operations in the Urban Environment.

Michael's funeral is to be held on Wednesday morning at Grove Community Church and will be interred at Riverside National Cemetery.  

What a tragic freaking loss. 


A vigil honoring Michael was held at city hall late last week. It was arranged by the Mayor's office, reportedly after numerous requests to do so by city employees. The Saint I Am Married To and I both attended, we both felt the need to show support to Crain's family and to RPD.

The media got wind of the vigil and showed up in force. Sadly, when you see a fleet of little blue news vans, it usually isn't good news.

 The mayor kind of led things, along with an RPD chaplain (who is also our chaplain and a retired RFD captain)

 Chaplain Steve Ballinger (left) and Mayor Rusty Bailey.

The vigil was well attended, with a broad spectrum of the community in attendance. In addition to showing support, I think a lot of us were just struggling to wrap our heads around the enormity of the tragedy.

After the vigil had broken down into smaller groups, the Police Chief and the Mayor were in high demand for on camera interviews.

City of Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz

   City of Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey (left)

Though it was a somber gathering, it was good to see the support for Michael Crain and the department. Hopefully, it was an important step in the healing process, for Michael's family, friends and coworkers and for the city as a whole.


Also shot on that horrible night was a Riverside police officer trainee. The department is still not releasing his name as there is still concern for his safety as long as the suspect remains at large. He is reported to be in stable condition after being shot numerous times. Apparently, Officer Crain was acting as the wounded officer's FTO when both were ambushed as they were stopped at a traffic signal.  The wounded officer underwent emergency surgery immediately after being wounded and will require additional surgeries as he recovers. Godspeed to him as he recovers from his injuries.


The suspect in all of this mess has vanished into thin air. His burned-out pick-up truck up truck was found on Thursday afternoon on a fire road in the San Bernardino National Forest, near Big Bear Ca. An extensive man hunt has been going on in the area since then to no avail. Law enforcement throughout SoCal are nervous as a cat on this, who can blame them. Police facilities throughout the area have increased security as a result. Downtown Riverside looked like an armed camp on Friday as officers equipped with long guns were posted around the courthouse, RPD headquarters and the District Attorney's  office. I hope they get this guy quickly, before anybody else gets hurt.


The services are on Thursday. I have not yet determined whether I will drag out the Class-A an attend as a mourner, or whether I will drag out the Canon and attend as a photographer. Either way, my heart, as well as several thousand other attendees will be heavy with loss.

As the suspect is still out there, security at this funeral will be very tight, maybe even oppressive. It's too bad that the Michael Crain's family and friends  will be forced to mourn under the blanket of fear., they have enough on their minds.

Thanks for reading,

Saturday, February 9, 2013

In quisquiliarum de mahemium

Mayhem always leaves a trail of garbage.

Sometimes, it's the belongings of the injured, sometimes it's the debris from the treatment. Usually it's both.

Sometimes, it's another deposit in ones "death bank", another episode of trying to attain order from chaos or just another event in a shift full of absurdity.

As always, things get resolved and some degree of order is restored. Sometimes the outcome is exactly what we desire, sometimes we have to settle. Either way we have to move on.

Our clients may not ever fully recover, the debris from the mayhem is just too much to recover from. I feel for those people, I know what lurks behind the doors of their wounded souls.

We on the other hand, just try to do what it takes to the job done and hope that the next one has a better outcome. Maybe we are the ultimate optimists.

I'm just glad I don't have to deal with it anymore.

Thanks for reading,



Well done to the crews from the South End, they did a great job on this. I got there kind of late, honestly I'm glad. As always, it was great to see these people, I feel honored to have worked with them and to document the great job that they do.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Again - Riverside Mourns After Officer Murdered

A city mourns - again.  The scabs from the last time are torn off and tragically, the blood flows -  again. Three officers shot, one fatally in two separate yet connected incidents.  Shit from Los Angeles has flowed uphill into my hometown and destroyed lives here.

Two officers from the Riverside Police Dept. were ambushed this morning as they sat in their patrol car, waiting for a red light to change. Both were transported to the hospital, one perished, one is reported to be in critical condition. This event occurred shortly before or after another shooting, one where a Los Angeles police officer received minor wounds after being fired at in Corona, a city located just west of Riverside.

The suspect is not a career criminal, nor is he a foreign born terrorist or a red-necked bunker building militia member. He is a disgraced former Los Angeles cop who is also wanted for murdering two people in Orange County on superbowl Sunday. As of this writing, he is still at large.

Apparently, the suspect in this was fired from LAPD several years ago for lying against a fellow LAPD officer during an official matter. The suspect who is/was also an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserves, was not happy about the termination and has vowed to kill officers who were involved in his termination and their families. He actually posted a lengthy manifesto outlining his desire to wreak mayhem on Facebook.

One of the two murder victims in Orange County was the daughter of an attorney involved in the case against the suspect. Needless to say, LAPD is on high alert and has officers throughout southern California, watching the homes of people involved in the rogue officer's dismissal. The shooting in Corona involved LAPD officers who were assigned to protect someone named involved in the original case.

A spokesman from RPD said that the two officers who were shot in Riverside, were stopped at a light in a marked police dept. vehicle when they were ambushed. The spokesman said that the officers were not looking for the suspect at the time and had no indication that they were being targeted.

This is a very dynamic situation, the names of the involved officers have not been released. A very active manhunt is underway from the Mexican border up into Ventura county. Officers at the various crime scenes have brought out the rifles and shotguns as the suspect has vowed to target command posts.

The thought of an armed murderer running about the southland, targeting cops is frightening. He is reported to be armed with a military rifle and dressed in a military type uniform. It would appear that he as at war with law enforcement, hopefully he can be stopped before he ruins any more lives. It is said that when evil meets crazy bad things happen. Trained, evil and crazy is a recipe for disaster.

My thoughts an prayers go out to the family, friends and fellow officers of the fallen officer. Sadly, Riverside has a long history of losing cops, I can tell you most of their names and the circumstances under which they were lost. All were tragedies, all symptoms of a screwed up society.

I didn't name the suspect, the piece of shit does not deserve the ink/pixels. If you want to view his manifesto, it can be found here. I didn't read it, the rantings of a crazy, violent murderer do not interest me. Maybe after he is caught or after he is dead I'll take a look at it. At least we'll know why he did it.

I'll keep you posted.


Monday, February 4, 2013

Precious Metal (Balls of Copper and Brass Part II)

A few weeks ago, I related to you the sordid tale of metal theft from the station where I closed out my career. As I had some business to take care of in the area and I felt kind of bad my original post had not been accompanied by any photos, I felt a side trip was in order. One of my objectives was to show you the scene of the crime, the other was to get a pulse on how bad the problem of metal theft had become since my departure seventeen months ago. I didn't have to look very hard or very far.

Open or closed?

 These OS&Y control valves are located 390 yards from the front door of the Station. They supply the domestic water and fire sprinklers to a pallet washing facility. At first glance, they appear to be in the closed position. The valve stems are not visibly protruding above the control wheel, therefore they must be closed. It's not until a closer examination that the reality of the situation is revealed.

 A battery operated saws-all, a minute or two and a little elbow grease. Done, a couple pounds of brass gone, a several thousand dollar repair bill in store for the property owner.

This is a similar assembly at the DMV, which is located right next door to the valve assembly pictured above.

I'm just guessin' that these red valve stem protection devices were kind of like shutting the barn door after the horse ran off.  The shiny brass valve stems indicate that they were recently replaced, likely after the original ones were stolen. The stem protectors and shiny stems are a common sight in the area.

These back-flow prevention device covers are extremely common as well.

The theft of back-flow prevention valves has been a common occurrence for quite a while. We have had people knock on the door of the station, advising us that one had been stolen, allowing mass quantities of water to shoot into the air. We would jump on the rig and go to the reported location, shutting down the water supply if we could. We would then try to track down an RP and tell them of the situation. A few times, we on-sited similar situations, just missing the thieves by a few minutes.

In the case of Metal Thief vs. Fire Station 13, the act was a little more intimate.

The victim in this abhorrent act is clearly visible in the above photo. As obtrusive and ugly as it is, it didn't deserve to be so violently removed from the station. The perpetrator likely backed his vehicle to this point, then hooked up to the manifold and took  off. I am told the handicapped parking sign was collateral damage, it was traumatically removed as well.

The small arched window to the left of the  manifold is in the captain's head, the dorm is just off-frame to the left of that. I'm sure the on-duty captain thought the world was coming to an end when he heard the manifold being amputated.

Fortunately, though the manifold was removed, it was not retained. Though a few pieces had to be replaced, the majority of it was able to be reinstalled and it has been restored to it's place of glory on the front wall of station #13. I am told that Eddie, the building services supervisor, has been told to figure out a way to discourage further theft attempts. I am sure he will come up with something.

Frankly, I was always surprised the thing was in front of the station anyways. It is ugly as a mud fence and it kind of spoils the beauty of the station. As relocation would be a costly endeavor, I'm guessing that the anti-theft remedy will either be camouflage or some type of enclosure. Personally, I'm for hiding it.

It appears that despite recent laws and regulation regarding the sale and purchase of scrap metal, the theft of it continues unabated. This particular time, it kind of close to home. Until metal thieves are strung up from trees or at least caned, it's probably going to continue to be a problem. I'd like to write more on this subject, but I've got to go hide my trash can full of empty beer cans. I can't afford to lose them.

Thanks for reading,