Thursday, April 6, 2017


It started out as a medical aid request and ended up as a large animal rescue call-out. Except for the plane crash last month, it also ended up being one of the biggest media stories for our agency in the past year. Apparently, animal interest stories "have more legs" than human interest stories.

It started with a paramedic squad being dispatched for a medical aid request on a major street in town. When they arrived, they found no injured humans, but a horse trapped in a subsurface utility vault containing the pipes that supplied a nearby apartment complex. The vault was located at least partially in the sidewalk and was covered by some sort of boilerplate metal panels. The panels or supporting structure failed under the weight of the horse and it's rider. The rider was not injured in the mishap, but the horse ended up stuck in the vault. He was not happy about it.

The engine company that shares the station with the squad arrived and requested the Horse - Animal Rescue Team (H.A.R.T.)  The HART team is stationed at our USAR station and is staffed by USAR team members with additional, specialized, training. It was at about this time when I decided to respond and take some photos.

 Though not deep, the large piping in the vault kept the horse from gaining foothold. As time passed, he became more agitated. The HART guys decided that the best course of action would be to use a small crane or boom-truck as a high anchor point, then hoist and pivot the horse away from the vault. Once the plan was developed, the appropriate requests were made. There was a 45 minute eta on the crane and about a 30 minute eta on a veterinarian. The vet is needed to sedate the horse, which prevents further injury to it and reduces risk of injury to the rescuers.

The vet arrived and assessed the horse, the crane was on it's way. The horse appeared to be in significant distress. Every time it began to thrash, it's torso and limbs impacted the piping and other sharp metal objects in the vault. Honestly, it was awful to watch.

While waiting for the crane, the HART guys were able to remove the boilerplate covers from the vault and place straps around the horse. The vet returned to her truck to get medication and a helmet.

About this time, the horse decided that it had had enough. Somehow, it was able to gain enough footing to get close to getting out. The added pulling from guys on the straps and the rider on the halter provided enough energy to get the horse out of the vault.

The vet examined the horse and said that it appeared to be in pretty good shape, other than some lacerations that would need suturing.

I was amazed, I was thinking that things were not going to end well - I wasn't the only one to have that opinion BTW.  I am glad that I was wrong in my assessment, everybody left the scene pretty good about the way things ended up.

The PIO that night said his phone was ringing all night from the media wanting info. I received calls/messages from Fox News and the Associated Press wanting permission to use my photos.

You just never know what stories "have legs".

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Fun With a New Lens

I am going to Alaska and Canada later on in the year and I wanted to get a  long lens to capture images of nature that my existing lens collection cannot. Due to the almost 10% sales tax that is collected in my city, I ordered one from B&H photo in N.Y. City and waited for the U.P.S. guy. A few days later, the lens, a case of toilet paper and some K-Cup coffee show up on the porch. was having free shipping on the t.p. and the coffee - I can't drive to Costco without spending a ton, so on-line works for us. What a country.

I hadn't a chance to use the new lens until Fri. evening, after I got off from my part-time retirement gig. As nothing was burning ( a good thing) I headed out to the airport, Things were being set up for today's airshow, which presented some photo opportunities not usually available.

 WWII era SNJ Navy version of the AT-6

Another SNJ retracts the gear after lifting off.

Flight of three AT-6s/SNJs overhead. 400mm focal length.

Riverside P.D. Air 1 sneaks away from the P.D. hangar. Taken 
from across the field. This was cropped a little to add zoom.

Loadmaster on this C-17 shows some
folks around. I have flown on this same 
aircraft, an experience I will never forget.

A P-51 flew did a few low passes while I was there.

I am very happy with the lens, though I need to read the manual and practice with it to improve efficiency. You-tube may help with this as well. I am amazed at the level of sharpness it seems capable of, how fast it can focus I hope it works equally well shooting bears, moose and icebergs.

Thanks for reading,

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Suburban Craziness

The information shared below was taken from local media reports and some anecdotal knowledge heard around the time of the incident. The pics are mine, they are the only part of the story that I can vouch for their accuracy. 

This went down a few weeks ago, a couple of miles from my house. It all started around 11 PM, with the cops stopping to check out a car that was parked on the street and occupied by several people. Somehow, it ended up with a dead guy and a house being burned to the ground. 

I didn't hear the original call, but apparently, when the cop made contact with the occupants of the car, one guy took off.  At some point during the foot chase, the suspect reportedly produced a gun and popped a round or two off at the officer. The cop returned fire and supposedly hit the suspect in the foot.

At that point, it apparently became easier to track the suspect, as he left a trail of bloody footprints to the house where he opted to hole up. Once the cops determined where the suspect was, they attempted to contact the occupants of the house, who were reported to be uncooperative. A stand-off ensued. I read somewhere that the occupants of the house eventually came out, leaving the suspect as the only one left inside. 
The suspects girlfriend said that the suspect had called her during the standoff and had admitted to carrying a gun, but denied pulling or shooting it.

A fire department unit was dispatched to stand-by during the barricade event. An engine was there all night, a BC may have been there as well. There were reports of shots being heard during this time, coming from the house. The cops deployed a robot into the house, it is unknown what it saw. They also deployed some type of projectiles into the house, whether they were a noxious gas or a distraction devices, I do not know. 
I do know that shortly after I got up at around 0645 or so, the house was on fire and a full structure response was requested. I knew the cops were all over the place and that the fire dept. would not be able to get anything done for a while, so I wisely decided to avoid the place. 
After I was made aware that the situation had stabilized somewhat, I drove down and took some pics. These were taken after 0830, the roof had fallen in on most of the house. I was a little surprised at the PPE that the firefighters were wearing, it was yet another thing that I thought I'd never see.

 Ballistic body armor, Kevlar helmets and 1 1/2s. Quite the outfit. I knew the units had upgraded their body armor in response to active shooter events, but I never considered that they might be used during a fire.

The PD metro unit maintained a good perimeter around the house while I was there. At this point, the FD crews were just containing the fire to the structure of origin. The PD had originally been on these hose lines, but as the risk level appeared to lower, they were taken over by the FD. That the PD was initially on the nozzles caused some heartburn in some of the FD administration. I am sure it will be discussed at a future staff meeting.

Before allowing our crews to make entry and extinguish the fire, the PD along with a rep from the FD checked the perimeter of the house to ensure the suspect was no longer a threat. Once this was determined, the FD was allowed to go to work.

Units were there for quite a while, overhauling the fire. The FD investigators worked on cause and origin, the PD homicide detectives did their crime scene processing.

The suspect was found deceased in the rear of the house. To my knowledge, the cause of death has not been released. The cause of the fire hasn't been released, nor have the results of the initial investigation. By the time all of that becomes public, interest in the incident will have abated and it will likely not make the news.

As a side-note, I had been in that house several times over the years. My wife's uncle built it and lived in it for around fifty years. His passing and his wife's declining health forced it's sale a few years ago. My wife's aunt has not been told of it's demise. My wife and my brother-in-law were more than a little bummed, as were the cousins who were raised in it.

Crazy shit in crazy times.

Thanks for reading,


Monday, March 6, 2017

Close to Home

It is rare that I am able to photograph a fire scene while the suppression activity is in it's early phase. So rare, that most of my photos are of the overhaul phase of operations. That's OK, overhaul can be interesting as well, if shot properly. Yesterday, a structure fire broke out pretty close to my house. As a result, I actually arrived before any of the units. 

I parked around the corner, as I didn't want to:
A - park the Schmoemobile in the way of arriving units.
B - get blocked in by the multitude of apparatus that were soon to be on scene.

I actually took a few actions before I started shooting, so my first shots were taken about the time the first line was pulled off of the rig. Things moved pretty fast from there.

Single story, single family dwelling with the attached garage heavily involved. A good hydrant located directly across the street. E2, E10, T2, T3, S2 and Batt2 are the initial units dispatched. A crusty/rusty retired fire captain/photog arrives first and advises the BC of initial size-up. E12 is requested by the BC as an additional resource. 

E2 arrives and begins to deploy lines

A couple of cars in the driveway added to the mix
Something you don't see every day.

Two metro packs on the ground, both off of E2
Two of the cars were heavily damaged

This was just as water was being applied.

Water on, visibility off for me.

Meanwhile, back at the hydrant.

Truckies being truckies.

The flames are gone, but the work is not.

I like this shot, good balance of people and apparatus.

The investigators arrive and begin their work.
A family was displaced, at least four people, including at least one child. Though the fire was held mainly to the garage,  I'm guessing that some damage occurred to the living space. When the rush of combat is withheld from the equation, fires do suck - especially for the victims.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Tragedy in Riverside

A twin engine Cessna 310 crashed shortly after take-off from our local airport a few days ago. It
struck two houses before coming to rest in a third home. Five people were on board, three were killed and two were critically injured.  Miraculously, no one on the ground was hurt, though two houses were destroyed.
As usual, I got there after the main fire was knocked down. Knockdown was no easy feat, as the plane appeared to be well fueled at the time of the crash. Speaking with friends who were on the first alarm, it was utter chaos when they arrived. Two fully involved homes, huge traffic issues and live rescues presented themselves to the first-in engine. 
There's plenty of video of it out there, some of it is spectacular. I spent two or three hours there and shot about 200 photos. I kept about 75 or so and submitted them to the department. They selected 15 and posted them on Facebook. The photos below are those. To get the best viewing experience, click on the image to enlarge.

The IC and the first-in Captain.

The Fire Chief, Police Chief, Rep from 
AMRand one of our BCs having a
 con-fab. This was a big deal.

A couple of guys working on a car that was in one
of the demolished homes. It, too had a bit of fuel in it.

They ended up using a rotary saw to cut away some
of the steel garage door keeping them from getting
to the car. Sparks were not an issue, the fuel was 
already on fire.

More fun with the car.

A couple of hours in, this guy needed
a quick break. He is a friend of mine
and is no slacker. I'll bet he had gone 
through five bottles or so by then.

There was bad ugliness in that room.
I am grateful I didn't have to see

He had to see it.

Boy, did they go through bottles.

The ICP. The guy in the white hat is the other BC,
My brother without a lid is the IC. The poor bastard
in the blue shirt is on light duty and is basically
the BC's errand boy until he heals up.

What goes down, must be loaded
up. There was a mile of hose on the
ground, a lot of it off of E5 - the
first-in engine.
Ray-Ray, our lead investigator. I remember when
he was new. It makes me feel old.

The huddle. Always a must-shoot for me.

Three hours in, eating subs. I think 
these were the guys who pulled one
of the victims out of the bedroom.
I'll say it, heroes in my book.

God bless these guys. CERT team
members who brought out some
Chief's being chiefly.

Chief's being even more chiefly.

After a bit, it was determined that
any further disruption of the crash 
would be detrimental to the invest-
igation, so the hose-lines were pulled 

The department had units out there for another day at least, along with the media, FAA, NTSB, and several other agencies. I stayed home and mowed my lawn. I was real proud of the actions taken by the "Kinda Big FPD" on this day, they did a great job under trying circumstances.

Thanks for reading,