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