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.