As I was looking through my 2011 posts, I found this video that I had posted back in March 2011. It ’s a GREAT video that offers a message for anytime but I thought it very appropriate for New Year’s Eve …. “Save the Shoes”
I started “blogging” back in December of 2008 while assigned to Station #9C (The “Melrose Misfits). I never imagined that it would grow into something as big as it has or that it would have been as rewarding as it is. When I was moved from Station #9, I decided to create the Wooden Ladders and Iron Firemen Blog. Later, with Rhett’s help; we shortened the name to Ironfiremen.com and moved over to the Fire/EMS Blog Network. It was the best move I ever made.
The site continues to grow. My views or “hits” have TRIPLED from 2010 to 2011! I’ve always kidded about having 2 readers but obviously, there is a lot more than that. I still don’t understand why …. I don’t even know where I “fit in” as far as the “network” or other sites go.
By that I mean that I’m not sure there is even a “category” for me or the Blog. I’m not a straight forward ”news” or “educational” type of site. I don’t know what folks are looking for when they “click on” or visit Ironfiremen.com but obviously, they’re finding it (or something that keeps em coming back anyway).
One of the things I’m most proud of is having been voted
The distinction of Blog of the Year and the sites growing popularity has opened many doors and propelled us in several directions. Those of you who follow regularly know that Rhett and I have been “on the road” a lot this year and each trip has been related in some way or another to our sites.
Our advertising, promotional, branding and networking efforts has allowed us to meet some amazing people and make many new friends. Not only that, we’ve also become involved with several outstanding organisations within the Fire/EMS industry along the way.
We’ve accomplished so much in 2011 that it would be difficult to pack into a single post. That said, I’ll just hit the month by month highlights for ya and TRY to keep it short …. see if you remember these and ENJOY the “look back” ….
January 2011 . Looking at the stats, my busiest day as far as ”hits” was the 17th. I had 2 posts up that day as Roanoke’s Bravest battled a Multi-Alarm Fire and stupid drivers at a local Days Inn.
You can re-visit those posts on Ironfiremen.com HERE and HERE .
For MORE on that incident from Fire Critic and RoanokeFirefighters.com (including more photos) click HERE and HERE
The 17th may have been the site’s busiest day in January but the fire was not what stands out in my mind as most memorable.
It was January that the Roanoke Fire Department suffered an ” The End of an Era” with the passing of Battalion Chief Bobbie Slayton.
Chief Slayton served the City of Roanoke for nearly 45 years. He had been a Chief longer than I had been on the job. My dad worked for Bobbie as his Chief’s Aid / Driver for many years. Towards the end of his career, he was shuffled from his beloved “B-Shift” to “C” where I had the honor of working for him. Bobbie’s death was a huge loss for our Department. He’s still missed but spoke and thought of often.
He had suffered a stroke on December 26, 2010 and remained hospitalized until his passing on January 8, 2011. He was such an icon to our Department that, in his final days; our Local (IAFF L-1132) had a member “posted” by his hospital room door 24/7. It was only fitting that Captain Craig Sellers was by his side (along with family) when he passed.
The posts following his death were some of the hardest I’ve written. For at least as long as I’m alive, Chief Slayton will never be forgotten.
There’s a GREAT picture of Bobbie and the members of Station #1B with the restored Bell from the tower at now “Historic” Station #1. We now only use the bell for funeral services. The irony is that the bell Chief Slayton worked so hard to refurbish sounded his Final Alarm.
See related posts and photos from VaFireNews.com and RoanokeFirefighters.comHERE and HERE
February 2011 : The post receiving the most hits for February was when we announced winning the Blog of the Year contest but the month was really about football, fires and “support systems”!
There was plenty of fire to go around all across the State. We caught our share and even took in a job with our County Brothers. See that post HERE .
It was also the month that I first introduced a “semi-regular” column here on Ironfireman.com that I call “Tricks of the Trade” .
March 2011 : Things got REALLY busy for me and Rhett in March. Among everything else that happened, we would travel to EMS Today in Baltimore, Md and FDIC in Indianapolis.
FDIC was a BLAST! Rhett presented his class “Social Media in the Fire Service” for the first time … what an HONOR. I filled in and covered his position with Firefighter Netcast where once again I found myself surrounded by some of the top leaders of today’s Fire Service.
Who would have ever figured to see me hanging around folks like Chief Billy Goldfeder or Chief Alan Brucini? (we also met Captain Dugan who gave the Keynote Address along with retired FDNY member Kevin Shea). We met many friends and followers of our sites and made twice as many new ones.
Back at home, I would meet one very special new friend … Father Webb.
Father Webb was just meeting and “feeling us out” back on St. Patty’s Day but now has become our “Official” Fire Department Chaplin.
Chief Adkins fixed up a mess of corned beef and cabbage and we had Father Webb out to share in the meal. This was the beginning of a GREAT relationship between our members and Father Webb. I was and remain excited to have him on and at our side. I hope the relationship continues to grow and can mimic the one shared by Father Judge and the FDNY. See my related post HERE
April was also the month where we had our biggest “Give Away” to date. After winning the Blog of the Year contest, I figured what better way to say “THANKS” to my readers than to give away a pair of Black Diamond X2 Boots? No “el-cheap-o, contesto’s” here baby … that was a high dollar pair of boots! Congratulations to loyal reader / follower Patrick Lynch of St. Michael’s College Fire & Rescue in Colchester, VT. on winning the boots. What was really cool was how we announced the winner …. watch this..
May 2011 : May would have me traveling the farther than I ever have. Thanks to the Roanoke Rampage Football Team, I would make my way out to California!
There were several highlights to this trip but the most notable would be getting to see my baby sister Jessi and meeting Captain Joe Schmoe of Report on Conditionsfor the first time.
Be sure to hit those links … it was a GREAT trip despite our loss on the field.
I continued to make new friends and meet readers and followers of the site. Casey Potter, wife of loyal follower and fan; Chris Potter invited me down for a surprise Birthday Party for Chris …. how could I not have attended?? See that post HERE .
The biggest news however would come on a GLOBAL level ….
We FINALLY KILLED THAT SON OF A BITCH!
I was on duty and glued to the TV. Emotion overtook me and I cried. I cried tears of joy and sorrow.
For me, it was like living the day of the attacks all over again. My mind was flooded with memories and emotion.
The tears of joy were of his death but the tears of sorrow were for the families of those he murdered. I knew that even then … at his death … he would cause pain to those left behind.
I hope our 343 fallen can now rest in peace. I hope his death brings some sort of comfort to the families left behind and like the Daily News so eloquently says .. I hope he ROTS IN HELL !
June 2011 : Big fires and more funerals.
We buried another member in June. Firefighter/Paramedic David “Dave” Palmer lost his battle with cancer. His was to be our 2nd LODD (Line Of Duty Death) since 2009.
“Big Dave” and I go WAY back. I made Captain in 2000 and was assigned to station #3 ( now considered “old” Station #3 and CLOSED which was located at 6th and Rorer) where we would work together.
Like Chief Slayton, Big Dave will not be forgotten either. I quite often find myself telling stories involving him in one way or another. Things were different back then .. it felt more like a “Fire Department” and we had a lot of fun while getting the job done.
The picture upper right is our crew standing in front of Engine and Medic #3 at the Station. Pictured from L-R is Dave Palmer, Mike Pruitt, Brad Creasy, Lt Richard “Patty” Patterson and myself.
See my related post HERE and coverage from Va Fire News HERE
June would also find me and Rhett together on the fire ground!
I was the Acting Battalion Chief while Rhett was riding the “seat” of of the 1st in Engine (#3) when we caught this 2nd alarm fire.
It was the first time in a while since Rhett and I had been together on a fire. This time however, it was me stuck out in the street and Rhett putting in the work.
I arrived 1st and upgraded the incident to a 2nd Alarm. I was able to catch some pretty good photos while doing my walk around and size up. This pic was taken just as Rhett and his crew were making entry. Some solid work put in on this one!
July 2011 : A new Rookie, Never Forgetting and Honoring our fallen!
July brought Firehouse Expo in Baltimore, Md. and our first 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb.
That climb (and the ones to follow) changed me forever. I’ve described the experience as beyond emotional and more near spiritual. I think I captured some of it in my postings because they remain my “most visited”
July as brought me a new “Rookie” Firefighter …. RANDY!
Randy Armbrister from Max Meadows, Va. The picture left was Randy on his 1st day out in the Company.
I wanted to make sure he knew and was comfortable in his SCBA so he started the morning with it on. He checked equipment, cleaned the station and even mowed the lawn with it on.
You’ve seen and read about Randy quite a bit here on the site and I have to admit that it’s been refreshing having a “Rookie” in the house.
It’s kept us busy and even allowed us “older” members to “pick up the pace” a little in an effort to assure Randy is well trained and ready for whatever is thrown at us. Randy has (and continues to ) met all expectations and challenges with a willingness to learn and a smile. He’s only disappointed me once but we corrected that problem QUICK. Read ” I had to PULL THE BOOK ” by clicking HERE .
August 2011 : What a month! Fire rescue International in Atlanta, Ga, our 2nd 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb, Randy’s 1st fire and a GAY BAR !
I cried a lot in Atlanta … I get choked up now even thinking about it. Rhett and I would make our 2nd 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb and this one would impact me even more than our first.
There were several things that happened in Atlanta that I will carry with me until I die
Before our climb, I remembered an e-mail I had received from my youngest daughter (Reba) back before our 1st climb in Baltimore. I had obviously saved it and opened and read it once again before our assent in Atlanta. I want to share that e-mail with you again …
“Dad , today after reading your most recent blog ” we are all climbing ” I wanted to tell you ….. Your the most amazing selfless person I know … You work so hard to save people you don’t even know and at the same time are working just hard to save all of us … You use your spare time to spread the word of your great profession that in my opinion (and yours) you can’t call a ” job” it’s just something you were meant to do …. There is no one else in this world like you !!!! ( well the buckaroo and I – but we are exceptions bc we are only a mold ) …. Good luck on your climb I know you can do it ESP bc of the cause but also because I’ve never seen ANYTHING you can’t do !!!! ( well you might not be able to carry Rhett lol unless u had to ) ….. Anywho …. Just wanted to let you know your amazing in everything you do and the buckaroo and I love and miss you very much …. Be safe have fun , Love .. Reba and YOUR buckaroo ”
How AWESOME is that?
I learned the same things listed in that e-mail about Rhett that day. I had “known” it but never really seen it until that climb.
Rhett and I are a lot alike, especially when it comes to Brotherhood and the job. We climb alike and for the same reasons… it’s a MEMORIAL.
We were HONORED to be in the 1st group up in Atlanta but quickly learned that we were attached to the “wrong” group. Lucky for us, they didn’t “get it” and soon left us behind. It was how it should have been … Rhett and I alone in that stairway … paying our respects. It was then that he brought me to tears and showed me what the words HONOR and RESPECT were all about.
Rhett was having a tough time with this climb. No breaks, no water, for whatever reason; he was struggling. Near the top, he stopped and turned around … I though he was quitting. ” I missed one” he said. He wasn’t quitting, he had missed a step, turned around and climbed that flight AGAIN! Nobody would have ever know right?? WRONG …. he would have. As bad as he was hurting, HE CLIMBED IT AGAIN ! BROTHERHOOD, HONOR,TRADITION,PRIDE and RESPECT … we live by it!
Kevin Totten and Tommy Warshaw joined us again while Bill Carey climbed with us for the 1st time. Rhett’s son Preston made it most of the way and Dad even carried the Buckaroo for one flight. Hit the link above .. it’s a good read.
October 2011 : The 30th Annual National Fallen Firefighter’s Memorial Weekend and an UNBELIEVABLE trip to New York City!
This would be my 2nd year attending the Memorial Weekend and I would find it just as emotional as the first.
Rhett and I were there fulfilling obligations with Firefighter Netcast. We had the honor of recording stories from the survivors. Once again, a lot of tears were shed as we listened to the families share their stories of our fallen Brothers and Sisters.
The Memorial Weekend is every October and if you’ve never attended .. MAKE PLANS NOW!
Rhett and I also made a trip up to the Big Apple. He was teaching Social Media in NJ and I was assisting Zach Green and Fox Fire in the City.
It was an AMAZING trip because neither Rhett nor I had been to the City since the attacks. It was a humbling experience.
While Rhett was teaching, Chief Billy Goldfeder had set Zach and I up with a personal tour of the Tribute Center. Co Founder Lee Ielpi would conduct the tour.
Lee is a retired member of FDNY’s Rescue 2 and lost his son, Jonathan; was on the job and assigned to FDNY Squad 288. Jonathan was murdered on September 11, 2001 in the attacks on the Trade Center and Lee would spend the next 3 months searching for his body. I don’t believe Lee has really EVER left that site since.
I can’t describe the tour he gave us … for whatever reason, there was a “bond” between us. Lee kept a hand on me the entire time, I can feel his touch even now as I reflect on our time together. It was a “father’s” touch and one I will cherish.
They recovered Jonathan’s body mostly in tact. They also were able to recover his turnout gear. That gear is on display at the Tribute Center. Lee wants us all to see that set of gear and to know the story behind it. Us .. me, you, him, her and our children. He suffers the pain of passing by that gear EVERYDAY hoping that we can all learn from this horrible act. If you’re ever in New York … GO!
December : Rhett and I returned to GROUND ZERO and made our 4th Memorial Stair Climb!
Not only was it our 4th climb, it was in New York City, at Ground Zero and in the shadows of The Freedom Tower ( 1 World Trade Center ) !
We were there helping out the National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation.
Founding members of some of the 1st organized Memorial Stair Climbs, Oren Bersagel-Briese, Scott Eckels, Josh Smith, Brian Bush and Shawn Dunston ( along with Dave Statter) were also there.
Even though it was not “Official”, there was no way that we were going to be this close to Ground Zero, with this group of Brothers and NOT make a climb in Memory and Honor of our 343 fallen Brothers. SO WE CLIMBED ! We finished on the roof top looking down on the site where our Brothers had fallen. Where so many lives were lost and Heroes remain.
Rhett and I have been climbing so long and hard that we never really knew where we were going … WE FOUND IT THERE !
I’m not sure what I’ve done to deserve the life I’ve been given this past year but I am truly THANKFUL. Together, Rhett and I have made the journey of a lifetime in just a few short years. I can only imagine what 2012 will bring us.
I want to say THANKS to my wife (Donna) and entire family for the love, support and for putting up with me all this time. Thanks to Rhett for the friendship, the BROTHERHOOD and for taking me along. THANKS as well to you .. our readers because it is your support that has allowed us these opportunities. I hope, that if even in the smallest of ways; that we’ve been able to give something back in return!
Stay SAFE and in House and I’ll see you next year!
I’m getting ready for my 2011 Year in Review and while looking and sorting through posts and videos, two names keep popping up … Rhett Fleitz and Dave Statter. It’s been an ongoing feud …. or has it?
Watch this video from one of my previous posts ….
SAD … it’s sad that it has all led to this. The funny thing is that a lot of readers between our 3 sites are not 100% sure where we all stand…mortal enemies or good friends having fun?
I’m not even sure where and how it all began. The most recent exchanges have came in video format. Dave started out saying that Rhett didn’t even exist…. Hell, he went as far as coming to Roanoke to prove it!
He followed up by having Hilary seduce and bribe me into confessing that The Fire Critic site was actually secretly run by me and that the “Rhett Fleitz” portrayed on the internet was actually just some random High School kid.
Then… THEN .. he came out at Thanksgiving to confess that not only did Rhett actually exist, he was also Dave’s illegitimate SON!
Which is the truth??? Who knew??? Then … THEN … Rhett comes out with a “rebuttal video”. In this episode, Rhett errrr excuse me .. “PRESTON” announces that it’s he who is actually the fingers behind the Fire Critic’s postings. YEA … from non existant, to a high schooler to a 9 year old!
Now, even I’m confused! OMG … we should be writing Soap Operas instead of blogs/web sites. LMAO !! 2011 has been a GREAT year for Ironfiremen.com, FireCritic.com and I’m sure Statter911.com as well. We’ve had a BLAST and hopefully kept you informed, educated and entertained along the way. I’m working on my Year in Review post … it should be a good one.
As much fun as we’ve had in 2011, I CAN’T WAIT to see what 2012 will bring! Maybe we will finally learn the TRUE identity of The Fire Critic.
I have several examples for ya tonight … I’ll start with one from right here in “The Noke”.
If you want to know how a Fire Department Budget should be allocated, look no further. For once, we did something right …. they hired RANDY.
LOL ….yep…. hiring my little “Rookie Randy” was some of the best money my Department has spent in a long time. This kid can do it all!
Just today, he single handedly extinguished an urban / wild land interface inferno and later played an active roll in a code save!
All kidding aside, we’ve had a good day. Days like today are why we come to work!
There wasn’t much to his “fire” earlier this morning. Leaves and rubbish burning in the back yard. It was a fairly windy morning and the fire had spread to under the deck and against the home. It had also blocked the only exit for a handicap resident.
The occupants were in a panic, fearing they were trapped; but Randy had it knocked down within seconds and with less than 500 gallons of water. Our County Brothers will be ecstatic to read that we even got the “brush rake” off the rig. Randy quickly got to the “head”, extinguished and began “cutting a line” …. LMAO … if we only had a ” PULASKI” tool.The picture above right is Randy assisting Lt. “Georgie” in topping off the tank.
Later, this evening; we received a call for someone “unresponsive”.
We arrived to find the subject not breathing and without a pulse ( “Code Blue” ). We are kinda like cowboys out here at Lucky #13 because we really don’t have any help close by. We were by ourselves for a few minutes.
Randy and George went right to work, attached the AED ( Automated External Defibrillator) began CPR and started to ventilate.
The caller had witnessed the arrest so the quicker and more efficiently we went to work, the better chances the patient would have.
We administered a couple rounds of CPR and defibrilations prior to the Medic’s arrival. Once they got there, the incident continued to run smoothly.
The ambulance assigned was Medic 4 and tonight’s crew performed flawlessly. A few quick ALS (Advanced Life Support) procedures and the patient was loaded for transport.
The good news here ??? The pt had a pulse at this point. Our Medic units are staffed with 2 so it’s normal for us to provide a member from the Engine to assist on critical incidents. Randy rode in (to the hospital) with the Medics. The even better news to this incident is that when they got to the Emergency room, the patient still had a pulse and a good blood pressure.
I hesitate to call it a “Code Save” because until they walk out of the hospital, you just never know. I will say that it was one of the smoothest run “codes” that I’ve worked in a while and that I’m DAMN PROUD of the members on scene ( Lt. George Perdue, Firefighter/EMT Randy Armbrister, Firefighter/Medic Rebecca Smith, Firefighter/Medic Brian Brooks and EMS Supervisor Captain David Bocock Jr.)
Unfortunately, Randy has responded to several “Codes” since his assignment to Engine #13 but, this is the best best outcome he’s seen yet. It was a great experience for me to be able to stand back and observe his expressions and mannerisms as he realized the difference he’s made today. He’s a part of our “team” and today, he realized how important his role is and that it “COUNTS”.
GOOD JOB BOYS (and Becky ..LOL)
Ok, more money well spent …. FDNY, Rescue 2.
By now, you all know of the December 19th Brookly fire that seriously injured Firefighters Wiedmann and Gersbeck of FDNY’s elite Rescue Company 2. Both brothers remain in the hospital facing long recoveries.
The image in the picture to the right shows Brother Wiedmann as he made his way through the inferno towards his escape out the front window. Brother Gersbeck made it down the interior stairway ( click on the picture, then again after it loads for a larger version ).
See Previous coverage with VIDEO and AUDIO from Fire Critic and STATTER 911 by clicking HERE and HERE
Several media outlets have spread the word of additional supplies of “Type O” blood needed for Brother Wiedmann.
We had some local members here in “The Noke” who were of the right “type”, willing and wanting to donate. We hit a few obstacles. Lt Rob “Bugg” Reid gave me a call. Who knew it would be so difficult to donate blood to a specific person in a specific location?
ANYWAY, I made a few calls. I ended up contacting Rescue 2′s Captain Liam Flaherty.
I have met Captain Flaherty on several occasions. I have even had the honor and privilege of sharing a couple cups of coffee with the men of Rescue 2 over some great conversation at their kitchen table.
Captain Flaherty explained that due to an “overwhelming response”, the blood supply for Brother Wiedmann “Rob” was more than adequate at this time. He went on to explain that there were other needs and ways to support Brothers Wiedmann, Gersbeck and their families.
Those of us “on the job” know and understand that these members worked a “2nd job” to make ends meet on a firefighter’s salary. For those of you who don’t know, most all of us are forced to paint, do carpentry work, mow grass or something to supplement our income… IT”S A SHAME but a FACT NONE THE LESS!
These Brothers are now unable to work that “2nd job” and provide that additional income for their families.
Their families (wives and children) are now facing commutes to and from the hospital as well as time away from their jobs as they sit with and comfort these brave men.
“Firefighter James Gersbeck had burns to his face , arm and back. At this time he is still recovering at Cornell and faces some extensive rehab. Jim has 3 children that depend on him. Firefighter Robert Weidmann has 2nd and 3rd degree burns over 54% of his body . He faces numerous skin grafts and operations“. Firefighter Wiedmann’s wife Cathy , son Ryan and daughter Erin have been making the trip from Long Island into Manhattan to be at his side.
The strain has to be near unbearable … emotionally, psychologically, and monetarily but …. WE CAN HELP!
Captain Flaherty and the members of Rescue 2 have set up a fund to help support the families of Brothers Wiedmann and Gersbeck. They want these men to concentrate on a full recovery rather than the additional hardships that injuries such as this can place on a family.
It’s EASY to donate and EVERY LITTLE BIT COUNTS ! You can donate by check or even through PAY PAL. The account is called ….
Click on the link above to visit the site directly or CLICK HERE to donate through PAY PAL. You can also send and make checks payable to: RESCUE COMPANY 2 F.D.N.Y. PO BOX 95 SAYVILLE, NY 11782 .
Ok … MORE money well spent but this one is gonna cost ya. The good news here is that it will only cost you 38 minutes of your time and it’s worth EVERY SECOND.
The Chicago Fire Department and the National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation’s “Everyone Goes Home Initiative” have gotten together to to produce a GREAT video. The video gives us all a look at how the Chicago Fire Department is dealing with Line Of Duty Deaths ( LODDs ) , Firefighter Close Calls, Firefighter Safety Initiatives and more.
Some of the topics covered include calling the MAYDAY, seat belt use, firefighter health/wellness and more.
Chief of Training Peter VanDorpe says “If you think you got some good reason for not wearing this or for not doing things the right way write it down. Because I need to read that to your widow. Cause I’m not going to know what to say. You say it for me”
PLEASE …. take the time to watch this video. WATCH it, then SHARE it. If you are following me on Face Book, hit the “SHARE” or “LIKE” button … we all need to see this!
If you’re not following me on Face Book, click HERE and HERE
Actually, it’s not a sale…. what I want to talk about is basically FREE.
It also doesn’t have to be around the Christmas season to get it ….when you’re with the right folks, it’s available 365 days a year.
I’m talking about Brotherhood, family, friendship and doing something for someone else without expecting something in return. I guarantee that if you make it a point to visit Ironfiremen and Fire Critic.com on a regular basis, we’ll show you plenty examples of each and all that it will cost you is the time you spend reading. I’ll go a step farther and ask you to “buy into” what we are selling … it’s no gimic.. WE PRACTICE WHAT WE PREACH and the return is invaluable!
THIS WAS THE BEST CHRISTMAS I’VE HAD IN YEARS (and Rhett was a big part of it)
This is a GREAT story ….
The Buckaroo is hard on furniture… HARD. Our coffee table was made of a thin medal frame with a glass top. I don’t know how it lasted as long as it did. Literally speaking, it was on it’s last leg.
I’m a fireman. I’m not a big spender, experienced shopper or even a good gift “picker outer”. My wife deserves 1,000 times more but she’s grown used to it …gifts have never been my strong point (good thing I’m so damn good looking). Anyway, I thought PERFECT… I’ll get her a new coffee table for Christmas .. she’s even mentioned it a time or two. I went out, found a store, picked one out and paid the man. I arranged to pick it up Saturday morning (Christmas Eve) when they opened at 9am.
For the first time in years, we worked off on Christmas Eve to a 4 day break. Then, at 7am; my phone rang.. it was Rhett. He invited me over to Station #3 for an egg sandwich before I headed home … this would be PERFECT.
I get over to station #3. The guys had the place looking GREAT. Stocking hung, a tree, THE WORKS.
Then Rhett took me to the bay ….. OMG!
Rhett had MADE me a coffee table!
It was beautifully hand crafted and left me speachless!
The table was better than anything I could have ever bought. A rustic and rough look yet quality built ( A lot like me huh??). Like with everything Rhett does, the attention was in the detail …. he even incorporated our “Brotherhood Chip” into one of the legs!
Everything about this table was PERFECT !
I liked the “style”. It would look GREAT in my living room and there is no way the Buckaroo will destroy this thing!
The best part about the table is the fact that Rhett made it… WITH HIS OWN TWO HANDS! This table took time … HIS TIME. Time away from family and other things.
Because it’s so perfect, it’s also representative of our friendship…. it shows how close we are and how well Rhett “knows” me . It was a perfect gift from a GREAT friend …. once again I found myself humbled and honored to call him MY BROTHER!
Donna had asked Rhett about making the table back at our Union Awards Banquet … once again, she beat me to the punch. The bad news about all of this is that now, I was screwed as far as getting Donna something for Christmas. We loaded the table and I headed over to the furniture store. I explained the whole story to the owner and he was very understanding. He returned my money with complete understanding. Now, all I had to do was find her something on Christmas Eve!
You can’t go wrong with “ling-a-ree” and jewelry so thanks to Victoria “Secretions” and a few other stops, I was able to grab a few last minute gifts.
From this point, Christmas at my house would only get better!
Both of my girls ( Randi-Jo and Reba) along with the Buckaroo would spend Christmas Eve at the house and wake up to see what Santa had delivered. For the first time ever, my mother-in law would also spend the Christmas Holiday at our house.
Christmas morning, my dad and step mother ( Pop and Robyn ) also came over early to watch the Buckaroo as he woke up to Santa.
Surrounded by friends and family, it was the BEST CHRISTMAS I’ve had in years!
The Buckaroo had a BLAST …. it looked like a bomb had went off in the living room. Trucks, tractors, trains, chain saws etc were scattered EVERYWHERE! Here a a few more shots of Christmas around my house ……
I guess we’ll have to get our good friend and brother Thomas “Tommy” Warshaw to come down and take some pics of the “B & P ” (Buckaroo and Pop) Rail Road Company …LOL
After opening packages and playing for a while, we had a very nice breakfast together. While saying the Blessing, I realized what a “BLESSING” it was …. I hope all of you are just as fortunate.
My mom and step father made their way up from Charlotte, NC a little later in the morning.
You all have seen the pictures of the Buckaroo with his “Firefighter” boots on ( he has even worn them to bed).
What you may not know is that he goes through a pair of those things about every 6 weeks and we can’t find em around here anymore.
Well, you can all rest easy and assured that the Buckaroo will continue to have warm and dry feet. Mom found a pair of the boots in Charlotte …. he hasn’t taken them off yet … LOL
There is a lot more that made this Christmas so special for me. Dad held his annual “oyster breakfast” on Thursday and family Dinner today…. I’ll share some pics with ya in the next post.
Thanks to each of you for the warm wishes and Holiday greetings …. I hope yours was as special as mine. MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR !
I spotted ol Santa’s sleigh last night and it look full …….
I hope you all are having a VERY Merry Christmas surrounded by friends and family. I will update you later on the day the Buckaroo and I have had! Thanks to all the members out there pulling a tour somewhere … EVERYONE please stay safe and in house! Ho Ho Ho.
Rhett’s link (above) also contains some audio. Early reports were of 3 firefighter injuries with one being critical.
The incident occurred in a 3 story occupied apartment building that displaced 13 residents. This is the 2nd LODD this month in Massachusetts. Firefighter J. Davies, of Worcester MA; was killed December 8, 2011 while operating at a fire at 44 Arlington Street.
Please keep the Rice family, the Peabody Fire Department as well as all of our Brothers and Sisters in Massachusetts in your thoughts and prayers. I will attempt to keep you updates as more information becomes available.
Here in Roanoke, we’ve been remembering two of our fallen as well.
Two years ago today, we lost our beloved Battalion Chief Billy Obenchain to his battle with Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma ( CTC ).
Chief Billy retired in 2006 after serving 33 years in the Fire Service. His last assignment was Battalion Chief, C-shift North. I was honored to have worked for him.
A portion of my title “If you want to be a clown..” is a quote from a poem he wrote. That poem now hangs in our Regional Training Center and is read to every class of new recruits.
Related posts and more pictures of Captain Brown HERE HERE and HERE
Both of these Brothers remain in our thoughts and will continue to be missed by many.
Lt. Rob “Bugg” Reid posted a pic tonight on Face Book of the Christmas tree at station #5. If you look on the wall, to the left of the tree; you’ll see a framed t-shirt. That shirt is in remembrance of Chief Obenchain and Captain Brown.
Every time I think of Chief Billy, 2 people automatically come to mind. His son Zach, who is on the job here; assigned to Station #2C and his best friend, Roanoke County Fire / Rescue Battalion Chief Gary Houff.
Chief Huff is now engaged with his own battle with cancer. These two men ( Chief Billy and Chief Houff) must have been from the same mold because Chief Houff is fighting just as hard and proving to be just as stubborn.
Chief Houff was the Battalion here on C-shift as well and even though he works for the County, we got to see each other a lot. Not just work either …. Chief Huff stayed by Billy’s side everyday of his fight. It was a true testament to BROTHERHOOD.
Well, Chief Houff crew (County Station #1) had him and his family out for Christmas dinner tonight. I got the call and had “Acting Battalion” Captain Clayton Martin come pick me up. Clayton and I rode out to sit with Chief Houff and his men of Station #1 tonight.
We had a BLAST!
Captain Witt and Chief Houff have a squared away crew and it was an honor to sit around the kitchen table with these Brothers tonight.
There were plenty of stories, laughing and even a swelled eye or two between me and the Chief.
Gary is doing and looking well … another one who encompasses the name of this blog… “Wooden Ladders and Iron Firemen”.
THANKS for the invite and allowing us to share in the BROTHERHOOD experienced around that table tonight men!
Real quick, I’ll mention 1 of 2 visitors to our station tonight ( I’ll catch the 2nd tomorrow).
Our department Chaplin, Father Sandy Webb dropped in for a visit and to wish us a Merry Christmas.
I LOVE Father Webb. We met back on St. Patty’s Day and really “clicked” ( yea.. me and a Priest)
I’m not sure if or how he knew I had a lot on my mind and was carrying a heavy heart today but it was comforting to have him in our house.
Father Webb has been a great addition to our family and I am thankful for his work.
Ok, out of respect for the topics and men I’ve mentioned tonight, I’m not going to add a Sexy Santa’s Helper to this post. I’m sure you all understand.
We start our 4 day in the morning but I’ll check back in before midnight.
I’ll get to that in a minute … first, I need to clarify yesterdays post. I received a comment from a good friend, fellow blogger and Brother whom I have a ton of respect for. The problem with me (one of them anyway) is that I type like I talk which is “southern” or “redneck”. Bill misunderstood what I was trying to say in yesterdays post ( or I didn’t word it correctly ) and I hope everyone didn’t interpret the post in the same way.
In the post I said “We are LUCKY these were just “close calls” and not Line of Duty Deaths. All 3 fires could have gone either way”.
I also said “ I say we were “lucky” because I’m glad these Brothers were injured and not killed. We’re lucky every time we return safely to quarters ”.
Bill took issue with my use of the word “LUCKY”. I’m not going to get into my beliefs … luck, fate, evolution vs creation etc. I will say that Bill made a good point and I could have chosen a better word.
Bill said ” To actually say, worse to even believe, that the fire service was lucky in recent events is to discredit the training and education of those involved and to discredit any lessons to be learned afterwards. I don’t believe you intentionally mean lucky in that way, but it’s important to understand context, and for many readers to comprehend maydays, rapid intervention, clear communications, disciplined members moving about through detailed SOPs as “luck” cheapens all of it “.
He’s RIGHT … it was the TRAINING, EXPERIENCE and HEART of Firefighters Wiedmann and Gersbeck that got them to the stairway and window. It was the same TRAINING, EXPERIENCE and DISCIPLINE of another Brother that had the aerial set to that window.
Maybe a better word would have been “fortunate” . We were FORTUNATE we didn’t loose 2 Brothers that day. We (and they) were FORTUNATE that they had received the training, education and experience that they possessed.
FORTUNATE is also a better choice of words for the rest of us returning to the station after each run. AGAIN, it’s our training, education and experience that allows us to return unharmed. I want to also clarify where I said ” I’m glad”. OBVIOUSLY, I was not happy to hear of this (or any ) CLOSE CALL. I was RELIEVED to hear it was injuries vs. deaths. I would have rathered it have been neither.
The point of that post was also NOT about the Brooklyn fire. I said I wasn’t going to “Monday morning quarterback” and I’m still not. In my mind, those men were where and doing what they should have been. Having occurred so recently, it made a good lead in for me to briefly touch on the abundance of flash overs we are seeing of late. The point of the post was supposed to be a brief mention of Risk Management and getting water on the fire.
SO, I apologize for using the wrong word and not making my point clear ( I’m BIG in Greenland for my grammar and writing abilities). I didn’t realize it read “that” way and did not intend for it to. In NO WAY did I mean any disrespect towards Brothers Wiedmann and Gersbeck their training, education, or experience. Nor did I intend to cheapen the efforts these men put forth that and every day or the sacrifices they have made.
OK.. moving on….
There are a lot of thing I can tolerate but FRETTING is not one of them!! ( LOL )
Most of the men I work with know and understand this…. or at least I thought so.
The picture to the left is a prime example. Rhett and I had been out of town. We were in New Jersey, presenting his Social Media in the Fire Service class and would have had to drive all night to get me back for my shift the following day. Fortunately, Georgie had the day off but covered for me until we got in.
We also had a fill in firefighter that day … Travis “Wheezy” Meador (know from our Melrose Misfit days). Well, I get to the station and find my bed freshly decorated. Of course, nobody knew when or how this happened…LOL I do have to admit that it was good … wonder who taught them boys to fret like that??? hummmm.
Don’t forget to hit the “LIKE” button while you’re there!
So anyway, I didn’t discuss the decorations with the Captains of the other two shifts … I guess I should have because the members of B-shift ( led by Captain Phil “Triple D” Dillon ) decided to do a little fretting with the remaining lights.
Yep …. THAT’S MY BED AGAIN ! LOL
She’s got more lights on her than on the runways at the Roanoke Regional Airport!
Apparently, the Brothers of B-shift have WAY too much time on their hands ..LOL
The good news is that Captain Dillon has his crew squared away …. they did a hell of a job!
I just wish I could rig em so they couldn’t turn em off …. they light the bedroom up NICE.
Here is a pic of the station and my bed in the dark ……
SEND YOUR FIREHOUSE CHRISTMAS PICS TO ME VIA E-MAIL OF FACE BOOK AND WE’LL POST EM HERE
By now, you should all be familiar with the Helmet band, Tool wrap, equipment bands and epoxy. Today, Fox Fire introduced their newest product …. ILLUMINATING HELMET TETRAHEDRONS !
You’re going to LOVE this product. A combination of advanced photoluminescence with high output reflective. THEY GLOW AND REFLECT (meeting NFPA standards)!
What makes these tetrahedrons any different from every other??? High reflectivity (Reflexite’s newest prismatic film), High heat durability (they are built on a Nomex type fire retardant cloth), Advanced photoluminescence afterglow, Strong surface bonding (3M’s adhesive) and aPatented design.
Fox Fire is also now offering their products directly from their web site. The link is on the top right of their web site under ” SHOP ” or you can CLICK HERE for a direct link to their on-line shopping!
Want even BETTER news??
Daily 911 Deals is offering the tetrahedrons at 40 % off !
The site is quick and EASY to use. If you haven’t been checking out the “DEALS” on this site, you’ve been missing out.
ALRIGHT …. on to what you’ve all been waiting for. It’s only4 days until Christmas and I’m sure Santa still has a lot of prep work to do. Guess I had better “double up” on the ol Santa’s Sexy Helpers tonight huh??? Here they are … Day 6 of Santa’s Sexy Helpers..ENJOY!
If they were only midgets…. LOL. Stay Safe and in House!
There were 3 fires where a MAYDAY was transmitted and at least 6 firefighters injured. Five (5) of those injuries were from the FDNY blaze at 1102 Prospect Place in Crown Heights. Two of those members ( Brothers Wiedmann and Gersbeck ) are assigned to Rescue Company 2 and are listed as stable but in critical condition. Both members were forced to bail from the upper level when the floor flashed.
I’m not going to “Monday morning quarterback” or critique these fires … I wasn’t there. I say we were “lucky” because I’m glad these Brothers were injured and not killed. We’re lucky every time we return safely to quarters . Even after hours upon hours of training and years and years of experience … the “odds” are still stacked against us.
This is a dangerous profession and, with every response; there is RISK. There is a ton of debate out there as to what is or isn’t “acceptable” risk and I’m not going there tonight either. I will however mention an interesting post from Teague Kenny over on “The Tailboard”. Teague says the Fire Service motto of “RISK a lot to SAVE a lot is BS” …. as in bullshit. See that post HERE .
What I will say is that I know a pretty good way of decreasing this risk …… PUT THE FIRE OUT!
Yea… remember that??? Firemen have been saying it for YEARS.
Chief Bill Goldfeder himself preaches it. Chief Billy is a good friend of mine. He gave me and Rhett a personal tour of Loveland and their fire stations just last month ( see that post HERE ).
We even dropped by his office. He was VERY proud of his desk. Not how neat, clean and clutter free it was but of the open and highlighted book in it’s center.
The highlighted section talked about the importance of getting water on the seat of a fire in the quickest and most efficient way possible….
“More lives are saved by a properly positioned hoseline than any other method”.
( Note: the “Risk Management Plan” pictured above / left is also from Chief Goldfeder)
If we put the fire out, there will be nothing to “flash”. If the fire is extinguished, it can not weaken or burn through lightweight trusses / construction. When a fire is no longer burning, it can no longer produce the toxic gas and fumes that kill trapped occupants.
It just seems simple to me. The FIRE is what’s hurting and killing us …so PUT IT OUT!
A simple strategy that employs a multitude of possible tactics that will allow us to hit our benchmarks and achieve our goal …. the saving of life and property.
My Department is pretty good at it…. have been for over 100 years. I’ve built my career on it. Even “Rookie Randy” is catching on … just look at him (pictured left) “DOING IT” yesterday.
In a long ago “Melrose Misfit” post, my own members once bragged about my ability to do so …“One of the things all of us here are impressed by is his knowledge in strategy and tactics and his uncanny ability to locate the seat of the fire and the fastest way to get to it”.
So that’s my 2 cents worth … my “rant” for the night. GET WATER ON THESE FIRES before they can injure or ( God forbid) kill any more of our Brothers or Sisters … take it for what it’s worth. My advise and $2.00 just may get ya a cup of coffee.
Ok, to wrap up … Christmas is just 5 days away ! I hope you’re ready because we can’t stop it …LOL. With only 5 days remaining, that means we are up to Day 5 of my 2011 edition of Santa’s Sexy Helpers … and here she is … ENJOY
Tonight’s post is going to have to be a “quickie”. I’m on duty and it’s getting late.
I did manage to get another short post up a little earlier tonight. The subject matter of the post is Charlotte NC’s Engine Company #15 … The Shamrock Express. Not too long ago, their PIO sent a video reporter out to the station for a ride-a-long. The result was a 3 minute video that in my opinion didn’t due justice to the men and women of Station #15.
The latest coverage of The Shamrock Express covers the members making a daring rescue at a house fire last week. Brother Josh Johnston and the members of B-shift put in some SOLID WORK! Hopefully, their PIO will review these two videos side by side and realize the kind of exposure / coverage these Brothers (and the Fire Service as a whole) deserve. WELL DONE men.
Today has NOT been a good day. I had a bull that needed to be hauled off and our local stock yard is only open on Mondays. I called Captain Phil “Triple D” Dillon of B-shift and told him that I may be “right at the bell” or maybe even a minute or two late getting in this morning. He didn’t have much planned and said it would be no problem … he would hold over if needed. THANKS CAPT.
The Buckaroo and I made it down to where we had this bull pinned up at about 6am. It was obviously still dark. The reason I needed to get rid of this bull was because he wasn’t very polite. I’m 134 lbs and, needless to say; was well out weighed. LOL … I always say that I’m “tougher than I look” and the end result was the bull going to the stock yard but it was NOT how I intended to begin my morning.
I made it to work before “the bell” and the morning became worse. Bill Carey from Back Step Firefighter and many other Brothers out there often use the phrase “Expect Fire” . They say this with a meaning for those of us “one the job” to be prepared to “do our job”. Physically, mentally, psychologically … through training, information sharing etc. I agree with them 100% but would rather they say “EXPECT WORK” .
It’s not always “fire” that we’re facing but we are “working” none the less. This morning was a good example of that. After I received a turn over from Captain Dillon, I headed back and jumped into the shower. Of course, as soon as I got good and lathered up; the tones hit. It was an EMS call. Dispatch advised of a language “barrier” and of a person “down”.
It was around 8am so no real “alarms” went off in my head. We were thinking someone fell or, at worst; possibly an early morning diabetic emergency. We were dispatched single engine with a Medic truck. We arrived at the residential address to find a subject not only “down” but pinned beneath a vehicle in the driveway!
My heart rate went from 60 to 180 …. I wasn’t expecting to “work” … I SHOULD HAVE BEEN!
Every time that rig hits the street brothers … Fire or EMS … EXPECT TO WORK. December has historically not been a good month for firefighters … don’t get caught with you’r guard down.
By now, you’ve all heard of the 5 FDNY members who were injured in a morning fire in Brooklyn. Apparently, these Brothers were EXPECTING WORK because they had all of their PPE on and they had it on CORRECTLY.
It’s believed that the form seen inside the right window is one of the members from Rescue 2 before the ladder is re-positioned and the member bails out onto the aerial (on fire).
I wasn’t sure if the final version of the media’s video from that day would be positive or negative for for the members of Station #15, The Charlotte Fire Department and the Fire Service in General.
The post received a ton of hits, several comments and even a few phone calls.
This wasn’t a negative post about The Charlotte Fire Department or the members of Engine 15. In fact, I’m a big fan of The Shamrock Express … here’s a quote from the previous post ..
“As I said, I know the men of Station #15 (some personally, others by profession). They’re good firemen … the best of the best in Charlotte. I have family in the Charlotte area and I can tell ya that if they had to call 911, I’d want 15 on the run.”
Well, last week; the members of The Shamrock Express lived up to their reputation. The incident made the local news tonight and this time, without a doubt; the publicity is ALL GOOD.
Firefighter Josh Johnston (and his crew) made a daring rescue! He crawled past the fire to locate a trapped occupant and was able to bring him out to safety just seconds before the conditions worsened to a point where they would have been unsustainable for the victim. ”Josh put himself in peril crawling under the fire to get to the man. It was amazing, said Captain Hildreth”
Here’s the Video from their local News station …. WELL DONE BROTHERS …SOLID WORK !
Christmas arrived early for The Fire Critic and Ironfiremen.com
Hopefully, you folks are already following Rhett and his Fire Critic Fan Page on Face Book. If not, hit the links, send a friend request and hit the “Like” button. If you scroll down his page, you’ll see that he just got a brand new Phenix Leather Helmet ! Talk about an early Christmas!!!
He finished off the job with a Fox Fire Illuminating Helmet Band ( after seeing Chris Collier’s mom wearing one while conducting tanker operations… we KNEW we had to have one! LOL)
The “style” and look of the Phenix is a little different from his now retired Sam Houston Helmet but I’m sure he’s gonna love it.
Want some even better news??? MINE IS ON ORDER !!!! Yea BABY … I’m getting one too!
OMG …. I’m so excited!
I’m a little harder on helmets than Rhett. His job as a Lieutenant is primarily as the driver / operator. Unfortunately, that means he’s in the street more often.
I put my latest helmet in service back in 2009 while assigned at Station #9. That’s a pic of her and the one I retired on the right.
The new one (from the picture ..back then) now looks a lot like the old one in that picture. She’s still got some life in her and has had one HELL of a tour.
Most notable, I’ve worn this helmet on all 4 of the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climbs that Rhett and I have participated in. Shes EARNED an early retirement!
Of course, now I have to find / decide on a front / shield. Actually, I think I want to have 2 shields made. One I can wear in the City while on duty and a 2nd custom to Ironfiremen.com to wear when Rhett and I are out on the road. How AWESOME would that be??? A custom Ironfiremen leather shield!
This is where I need your help. Obviously, Box Alarm Leather does an awesome job. Do you folks know of any other good places to shop for custom fronts? Do you have a “custom” front or something off the shelf from someone like Paul Conway?
I’ll keep ya updated on the production process of the helmet and my hunt for the perfect front.
SPECIAL THANKS to our “secret Santa” for outfitting The Fire Critic and Ironfiremen.com with Phenix Fire Helmets! Oh… and speaking of Santa …. here’s tonights installment of Santa’s Sexy Helpers 2011 … day 3 … 7 days until Christmas!
I’m back on duty tomorrow and will check back in as soon as possible. Until I get back, thanks for following, stay SAFE and in HOUSE!
The good news is that nobody went to jail ! LOL … the members of Lucky #13 C-shift hit the town last night to celebrate the Holiday season.
We had a BLAST!
I treated the fellas to a good meal and several adult beverages at one of our local steak houses.
I mention that I “treated” to bring out a couple quick points…..
They EARNED that dinner and night out. That one and many more in my opinion. I ask a lot of my companies and these men give 100% every day. No bitching, no complaining.
They also take good care of me along the way. A Captain is only as strong as his crew and mine is TOP NOTCH.
I’m PROUD of my men and the job they do. A night out on the town is the least I can do to say thanks for all their hard work and efforts … For the record, my members are Lt George Perdue, Senior Firefighter Todd “Boots” Harris and Rookie Randy Armbrister …. THANKS again guys!
I have a lot more to say on this topic but will have to save it for another post. After I fed and checked cows / calves this morning, I packed a bag, grabbed my beautiful bride and headed out of town. Much like the boys of Lucky #13, Donna deserves much more than a night out but it’s a start.
So, here I am in the mountains of Tennessee with my computer out… I couldn’t miss a day of Santa’s Sexy Helpers now could I ?? Christmas is just 8 days away and I’m sure the big guy needs all the help he can get. If this little “helper” can stuff stockings like she does …ummmm ..errrrrr… well …let’s just say that she looks like she knows how to “stuff” …. I hope she’s assigned to your stocking.
Those of you who follow my ramblings regularly know that Rhett and I just got back from another trip up to New York City. It was an AWESOME trip! I say that, yet every single trip that we have taken this year has made an impact on who we are and what we do.
We get a lot of “flack” around home here. Some folks just don’t “get it”. We hear the whispers of how we think we are “too big for our britches” or that we have a “me, me , me” attitude. Either of these couldn’t be farther from the truth. Those of you who know us (and the work we do) understand. It’s a shame that those with whom we work the closest are the one who haven’t a clue.
You will very seldom see Rhett and I away from town (and our families) that we’re not working in some way, shape or form for the betterment of the Fire Service. We don’t always say exactly WHY we are going here or there, nor do we give a lot of details about what was actually accomplished. It’s NOT about us … it’s about the other “us” .. ALL of us …the Fire Service.
We don’t do it for the honor or glory. We damn sure don’t do it for the pay. We do it because we’re fireman .. it’s what we know ..what we do. BROTHERHOOD, HONOR, PRIDE, TRADITION and RESPECT .
photo by Lt. Mike Overacker (Retired) of Roanokefirefighters.com
Our latest trip to NYC forced me to make a difficult decision. Several years back, Rhett and I decided to honor or Department’s retirees by hosting a breakfast at out Union Hall. Our retirees have been meeting for years at a local restaurant on the first Tuesday of each month but that meal was out of their own pockest. We came up with the idea to buy em breakfast and while we were at it, decided to prepare and serve it ourselves. Our way of giving back a little something to the men who had built the Department we all wanted so badly to work for. It was a HUGE hit and we’ve been doing them sporadically since.
For whatever reason, most folks have thought of me as being “in charge” of these breakfasts. I’m not. It just started out as our idea and we ended up being the ones who would show up at 6am and cook. ANYWAY, we had decided to have another one on December 13th, sent out invitations and made arrangements. That’s when we were asked to go to NYC.
Long story short, I passed the cooking duties etc over to another C-shift Brother. He had a majority of the food donated and brought in his big gas cooker. Plenty of help arrived, 80-100 retirees showed up and the event was another success! Thanks to all the members who made it happen.
I shouldn’t have to explain why I wasn’t in attendance at the breakfast. Rest assured, I was working on behalf of current and future retirees as well as for our Brothers who have fallen in the line of duty. I know that every retiree in attendance that morning will understand where I was and why I was there and their opinions are all that matter to me!
So, Rhett and I were in New York City. I posted on the trip HERE but didn’t give a lot of detail. Allow me to now ….
We were on the road early and headed straight to the Bronx. Brother firefighter and good friend Nate DeMarse works at Engine 68 / Ladder 49 ( The House on the Hill ) just up the street from Yankee Stadium.
Nate knew we were coming up and invited us to drop in for a visit. We didn’t want to leave!
Nate gave us a first rate tour! The Brothers and sisters of the FDNY are overrun with visitors and I’m sure that being so close to Yankee Stadium makes 68/49 a popular destination. I’d dare say not many folks get the tour we did.
Not just the tour … the stories as well. It’s funny how a Department as big as the FDNY is so similar to one as small as ours. The stories are always the same (no matter where we go) … there are just different names associated. Everything for members not covering a shift (the “mailman” story) to cuts in staffing (loosing their “door man”). I didn’t get to thank Nate enough in my first post and wanted make sure he knows how much we enjoyed and appreciated the visit/tour…. THANKS BROTHER !
After our visit, we rushed to the hotel. We stayed at the Club Quarters, World Trade Center and had no idea of the view that was awaiting us.
I’m not sure any of the pictures do it justice. These two doors opened up to an unbelievable view of Ground Zero.
To see the site at night left me in awe. From our 17th floor vantage, we were looking into the Reflection Polls with the Freedom Tower / 1 World Trade Center rising just behind.
What you also must understand is that “this” was the place Rhett and I have been traveling to all this time. We knew the direction we were headed but not the destination. We had arrived without even knowing until we pulled that curtain back.
The trip would get even better. Oren Bersagel-Briese, Scott Eckels, Josh Smith, Brian Bush and Shawn Dunston were also there. These are a few of the Brothers who actually started the idea of 9/11 Memorial Stair Climbs!
Rhett and I had participated in 3 Climbs this year ( Baltimore, Atlanta and Maryland) and here we were in New York City, AT GROUND ZERO; with these guys.
Understandably, New York City has yet to host a 9/11 Memorial Climb. That said, there was NO WAY that this group was going to be that close to where 343 of our Brothers were murdered and not pay homage. Official or unofficial, we were going to climb.
AND CLIMB WE DID!! 110 stories at 6am in honor and memory of our fallen Brothers! There were a lot of tears shed in that stairwell and many more just 35 minutes later, having completed our climb; while standing on the roof top looking over Ground Zero. I’m crying now, just thinking about it.
Why me? Why was I given this opportunity? If you don’t understand how much of an HONOR it was for me to have made THAT climb, with THOSE men at THAT site then I know I can never explain it to you.
I hope that each and every one of you on the job will participate in a Memorial Climb sometime in your career.
This is no HERO RUSH or TOUGH MUDDER … These climbs are so much more than an “obstacle course” … THEY ARE A TRIBUTE … and they’re harder. It’s without a doubt the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It is also one of the most rewarding. Learn more about the climbs and schedule one in your city for 2012 by clicking HERE .
Rhett and I also had the honor of meeting (and having dinner with) FDNY’s Commissioner Salvatore Cassano as well as Chief of Department Edward Kilduff. There were also several members of their “Counseling Unit” at this dinner. Another UNBELIEVABLE experience! To sit across from and talk face to face with the folks who provided the services with in part enabled the FDNY to rebuild was once again awe inspiring.
The Commissioner showed his “true colors” the following day. We were at a meeting with the NFFF on Randall’s Island (The Rock) and he showed up. This is the COMMISSIONER of the FDNY … he has to have a full schedule. He could have sent “someone” but he choose to take the time out of his day to personally address our group again.
He also gave us a Challenge Coin … PERSONALLY (Rhett and I had given him one of our “Brotherhood Chips” at Dinner the previous evening).
HOW COOL IS THAT????
Take all the “politics” out … The Commissioner banked mega points with me through his actions. Actually, he was pretty cool.
We arrived at the Training Academy at about the same time. Rhett and I were in the “Blog Mobile” … aka Rhett’s mini-van.
We pulled up to the curb at the front door to unload and was deciding where (looking for a place) to park. The Commissioner says … leave it there. I asked if he though it’d be ok there.. or maybe in the way. He says that if anybody says anything … tell em he said it was ok and to call him if there was ANY problem with that!
Oh yea baby… one look at the “Blog Mobile” and he KNEW we were REPRESENTING!
LOL … all kidding aside, this was another huge honor .. to meet and interact with the Commissioner of the FDNY.
So, the point of this post was to maybe give a little more insight to our most recent trip. Believe me folks …when we are on the road, we have you in mind. We hope that if even in a small way, we are making a difference (we think that we are).
As rewarding as these trips are, the best part about them is returning home. The job has us away from our families enough so these trips just add to that time apart. I was glad to get back to my girls (wife and 2 adult daughters) and the Buckaroo. Me and him had some catching up on the farm to do and I captured a small part of it on video.
Everybody seems to enjoy the Buckaroo videos and one of his most popular of late was of him pushing a round bale out to feed. See that video in a previous post HERE . Captain Lynn Flora from Lucky #13 A-shift LOVED it so I figured I capture a little more footage of him feeding…. this time from the tractor… driving! LOL … enjoy
OK..that’s gonna wrap it up for today … what? HUH?? Ohhh…Yeaaaa. Santa’s Sexy Helper … I almost forgot. LOL
Last year, we here at Ironfiremen.com did a countdown to Christmas where we posted an image of one of ”Santa’s Sexy Helpers” right down until Christmas Day. Last year, we did 19 days worth. This year, we decided to narrow it down to 10. That’s right .. 10 days until Christmas! So, here is our 1st installment of the “2011 Ironfiremen.com’s 10 Days of Santa’s Sexy Helpers”
I know … it’s the least I could do…LOL The good news is that they get better! Oh yea..I almost forgot. One of my female readers /followers (Jena Champion) suggested that I add some MALE sexy “helpers” .. ask and ye shall receive…..
LMAO … how’s that Jena???? Aint he cute? Just look at his little hammer … and those elf shoes.. OMG … I gotta have a pair! OK..OK .. here ya go gals …. try to control yourselves…
I’ll have a new “Sexy Helper” up every day so be sure to keep checking in. I’m gonna stop here for today and get ready for our Company (Lucky #13-C ) Christmas Dinner. I’ll tell ya how it went sometime tomorrow….
MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY HOLIDAYS …. stay Safe and in House…
WOW ! Once again I find myself humbled and unsure if I will be able to tell this story and due it justice. The Fire Critic (Lt. Rhett Fleitz) and I have been in the Big Apple for the past couple days. We’ve traveled a lot together this year and each trip gets better and better.
We headed straight to the Bronx and the quarters of FDNY’s Engine 68 / Ladder 49. Two of our good friends and Brothers ( Nate DeMarseand Chris Collier) are stationed there. Nate knew we were heading up and told us to drop by for a visit. We are glad we did!
Nate was on duty and gave us an AWESOME tour of their house and rigs. I love being in FDNY firehouses, they are each full of exactly what Rhett and I stand for Brotherhood, Honor, Tradition and PRIDE !
They were getting ready for their annual Christmas party where all the members and their families come to the house to celebrate the Holiday Season together. They had Christmas decorations up everywhere … even on the Engine and Ladder.
We left 68/49 and made our way back to the hotel. We were cutting our time close and had a dinner to attend. Rhett was taking care of parking the van while I got the bags up to the room. I was on the phone with dad letting him know that we had arrived safe and sound when I walked over and opened the curtains…..
We had a perfect view of the Freedom Tower and Reflection Pools!
I can’t explain the emotions that came over me …. I had no idea that this would be the view when I pulled the curtains back. I was speechless.
I felt as if I couldn’t catch my breath. I had to end the call with dad while I stood there in silence trying to take in everything in front of me. I was overcome with emotion and wept.
Me, Rhett and Zach Green had been to New York not too long ago. We got an unbelievable personal tour of the Tribute Center by Co-founder Lee Ielpi. We also got to tour the Memorial but only from ground level. Seeing it from the 17th floor gave a whole different perspective.
View my previous post from / about New York HERE and HERE
When Rhett made it up to the room, he had a very similar reaction. The view alone had made this trip “worth it ” … we could have went home right then and been completely satisfied. I’m glad we didn’t because the trip continued on this great pace!
We changed quickly and headed out to dinner with Dave Statter and several other very good friends. It’s very humbling to travel and hang out with this group. Without saying who they are, I’ll simply say that this group of folks have dedicated their lives to helping / supporting Firefighters and they do a DAMN FINE job of it!
When you’re with a group of this caliber, we often find ourselves around some of the “big names” of the Fire Service. This dinner would be no exception.
Rhett and I found ourselves eating dinner with none other than the Commissioner and Chief of Department for the FDNY!
The Commissioner even said that he loved my mustache! We slipped him one of our “Brotherhood Chips” and he returned the gesture by giving us a FDNY Challenge Coin!
Dinner was GREAT and the conversation even better. Afterwards, we would hit a familiar “watering hole” of ours next door to FDNY’s 10/10. Once again, we bumped into some big names within the Fire Service.
They climb very much like Rhett and I … in silence, reflecting on why we are there … doing what we are doing.
It’s not about us … it’s about honoring those 343 men who were robbed of their opportunity to complete their climb back on September 11, 2001.
MURDERED … and I will never forget that. I carry that thought and memory with me every day .. on duty or not.
The climb was yet another experience and part of this trip that makes it unforgetable.
Rhett and I have often talked about how blessed we are to have been given all of these life altering experiences. I say that with all seriousness.
If you’re a fireman … a “TRUE” fireman (and I’m not talking about putting out fires or saving cats) and have never participated in a 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb, YOU SHOULD! Only then will you understand.
It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done yet somewhere deep down, somewhere deep down in your soul and out of that stairwell, you find the strength the keep climbing. It transforms you. I was in that stairwell climbing but I was also somewhere far away. Sweating, out of breath and burning with pain yet at peace.
THANKS BROTHERS for inviting and allowing me and Rhett to share this “unofficial” 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb with you … IT WAS AN HONOR and like the 343 fallen, will be carried with me until I die!
Retired FDNY R3 member Dan McDona jumped behind the wheel of the van and gave us one hell of a ridde out to the Academy.
Dan was a HOOT!
With that deep New York Accent he told stories the entire way out…. AMAZING!
He knew we had climbed that morning but had no idea who I had climbed in memory and honor of. He got to telling stories about a past member from Rescue 1 who they called “sub-cellar”.
Turns out, he was talking about Joey Angelini. They called him “sub-cellar” because of the 2 and 3 story deep basements in his 1st due. Joey was always right down there in the middle of it … deeper than and below everyone else.
Dan told some great stories and left me and Rhett with yet another experience that we will not soon forget.
Out on the Island, the Commissioner paid us another visit. He wanted to come out and personally thank us for what we do.
He also brought those Challenge Coins I mentioned.
He didn’t just bring em …. he handed em out … PERSONALLY!
A CLASS ACT !
He could have had his aid do it but HE wanted to. He even took the time to pose for another picture.
While on the Island, we got another personal tour…
WHAT A FACILITY !!!
These guys have a complete city built INSIDE a huge garage / barn / building…. INSIDE !!!
The tour was nothing short of amazing!
A great way to wind up our trip….
I have a ton more details and pictures to share but they’ll have to wait until tomorrow. It’s time for “Fire Boy” and me to get our butts back home.
I’m back on duty tomorrow so I’m sure I’ll get another post up … I’ll try to anyway. Special thanks to Dave Statter and Rhett for letting me “tag along ” … Thanks to everyone who took care of us while we were on the road … Brotherhood IS still alive and Rhett and I have no trouble finding it! We were HONORED to be in the presence of such amazing people once again.
Thanks for reading / following. I’ll add more pics etc to Face Book. Be sure to check em out and click the “LIKE” button while your there. Stay Safe and in House!
That said, not all of the news from last week was “negative” in nature.
Thursday, was a near record day for the Fire / EMS Blog Network . Obviously, Ironfiremen.com is part of the Fire/EMS Blog Network and I recently received an e-mail from the “Boss” Dave Iannone . Here are a couple excerpts …..”With the multiple national events yesterday, it would seem at first glance yesterday was one of the busiest days in the history of EPS web traffic wise amongst all sites”
He went on to say … “FireEMSBlogs.com (led by Statter, Geezer and Iron Fireman), had XXXXX page views and XXXXX unique visitors –its second biggest day ever as a network”
I mention this for a couple of reasons. First, because I am proud to be part of the Network and of the work we do. Believe it or not, running these sites takes a LOT of work. I am equally as proud of the fact that we did our ”job” this past Thursday. Obviously, folks visit and read our sites. The reasons vary. Some sites are informative, training type sites while others are more focused on news events etc around the fire / EMS world ( Me??? I’m not real sure what category I fall into ).
Anyway, as difficult as it is for us to talk about events such as what transpired on Thursday, several of our sites reported the information in a factual and professional manner. People look to our sites to find out what’s happening. The Fire Geezer (Bill Schumm) was on the Worcester incident early. A Fire Geezer contributor Mike Ward (Fossil Medic) even posted a detailed time line of “Tweets” as they were posted (tweeted) by a Boston Firefighter from L29 ( see that post / timeline HERE ).
I posted on the Va. Tech shooting ( HERE) and followed up a bit later with the Mount Vernon, NY LODD ( HERE ). There were several other posts, tweets and Face Book updates by multiple / various members throughout the day.
These were “TRUE” Line Of Duty Deaths (Back Step Firefighter Bill Carey will know what I mean). Firefighter Davies ( Worcester) killed in a collapse while searching for a victim on the scene of a 3 story (triple decker) working apartment fire. Firefighter Townes (Mount Vernon) died of an apparent heart attack while dressing out on the scene of a working basement fire. Officer Crouse, murdered in his Police cruiser while performing his duties.
We here at the Fire / EMS Blog Network went to work……It’s the best way I know to honor the fallen. There was a part in the Movie Ladder 49 that really sums it up for me… I couldn’t find just the small clip so here’s about 10 minutes worth…. all you need to see is the first minute and 3 seconds.
Blogging is one thing but members all across this Country are honoring these men in the same way…. by getting back on the truck! Police Officers are on duty tonight on the Va. Tech Campus. Brothers of IAFF L-1009 are staffing the rigs in Worcester, Ma. and the Mount Vernon (NY) Fire department stands ready to take in the next call.
Just this morning, Dave Statter posted a video of our Brothers in Wilmington, Delaware rescuing 2 children from a house fire….
Solid work brothers! I just wanted to take the time to thank each and every one of you. Thanks for following this site … again, I don’t know why you do but obviously, you’re finding whatever it is you’re looking for and that really makes all my time and effort worth while. Secondly, THANKS for doing the job you do! For manning the rigs and pulling the tour. I can say that with complete understanding of the sacrifices you and your families make so again … THANKS!
Ok.. moving on. I’m CALLING ALL JAKES! I want you pictures. Pictures of Christmas around your station. Santa on the rig, Parade pics, Christmas lights on or around the station. Your Christmas tree, members in a Santa’s hat etc. ANYTHING “Christmas” around the firehouse. I will make an album and post them on Face Book as well as here on Ironfiremen.com.
I think it’s a GREAT way of showing PRIDE in your company, equipment and Department and I can’t wait to help some of you folks show off that PRIDE.
Our West Coast Brothers already have a jump on us. Now retired Captain Joe Schmoe ( Report on Conditions) has already posted pics of ol Santa riding on Riverside California’s Engine #14.
That Damn Schmoe! He’s ALWAYS got the pic. A little ball breaker this Schmoe is too.
We spoke on the phone last night (night here .. afternoon there) and he was able to “rub in” that he had just finished setting up camp. By the lake in 80 some degree weather. He also happened to mention that he had just “popped a top” on an ice cold adult beverage.
Grrrrrrrrrrr ! Lucky son of a gun! LOL See his post on that conversation HERE
At least Captain Schmoe is doing what he’s supposed to ( and what I told him to do) … ENJOYING RETIREMENT! Have fun and relax Brother … miss ya and will be seeing you soon.
Our Brothers here in “The Noke” have also started to show the Christmas Spirit.
Station #5 has lights and a tree up!
This picture is the pole which is mounted against the wall of the day room (looking from the kitchen). The pole obviously goes nowhere but came out of either “old” Station #5 or Station #9 ….. both of which were shut down to open this new combined station.
I’m pretty sure that the pole is out of Station #9 while the chalk board behind it is out of “old” #5. It’s our way of holding on to a little piece of our history. Pride … No matter which house the pole came from, if I had a dollar for every time I slid it, I could retire early ( I spent a lot of time in both houses).
I’m glad to see it in the new station and happy to see the Brothers and Sisters showing some pride and decorating the station. It was very nice!
They even had little fire helmet lights. I’ll throw in a shot of those and one of our Battalion Chief, Teddy Adkins sitting by their tree…
We were at Station #5 this evening for a very important assignment …. to EAT …LOL. Chief Adkins has made a “tradition” out of buying a meal for his Battalion around the Christmas Holiday ( Actually, Teddy does this for his Battalion twice a year).
Usually, he will buy steaks and deliver them to the stations. This year, he went all out.
The Chief bought a pig and, with the help of Firefighter Brady McDonald ( and the entire crew of #5-C ); cooked it right there at the station!
These guys came in early and started cooking at around 4:30 this morning!
We headed over around 4:30 this evening for a GREAT meal. Pork, slaw, beans and fries …. DELICIOUS !!!
Special THANKS to Chief Adkins for the thought. Thanks also to the Brothers and Sister of Station #5-C for putting in the time and effort to prepare it for us ( not just Lucky #13 … the whole North side Battalion) .
On a local note, our IAFF Local (L-1132) will be hosting another “Retiree’s Breakfast” on Tuesday morning ( December 13, 2011). Any and all members available to help should report to the Union Hall as early as possible. This is a great event where you have the chance to give back to the men and women who helped build our department and it’s rich history / tradition. It’s especially great for the newer / younger members because they get to mingle / meet a lot of our retirees (don’t worry rookies … the retirees will introduce themselves and ask who the hell you are..LOL).
Usually, I kind of head up the breakfast and spend the morning cooking with my dad, Rhett, Brent Berry and several others. Unfortunately, this time I will NOT be in attendance. Instead, Rhett and I will be in a meeting in NYC. I was asked not to disclose the details or purpose of our meeting at this time but assure you it’s worthy of missing the breakfast. Brother JJ Price will take over cooking duties … please make every effort to show up early and lend a hand … I guarantee you wont regret it.
DON’T FORGET TO SEND IN THOSE PICS!!!! Thanks again for following. Keep our fallen and those on duty in your thoughts and prayers this Christmas Season and each day after. I’ll check back in from New York or while on the way (it’s Rhett’s turn to drive again .. say a little extra prayer for me..LOL). Until I do, Stay Safe and in House!
**Note time change on Services for Brother Davies … correct time is 10am (post edited to reflect the correct time)***
It’s been a terrible and horrific week for Public Safety. Please continue to keep the Departments, family and friends of our fallen in your thoughts and prayers. Also remember that all across this country, members are pulling a tour…. today, tonight, tomorrow and everyday day / hour after. That’s how we honor the fallen … by putting our boots on, getting back on the rig and doing our job!
Here are the funeral arrangements for last weeks LODDs…
Officer Deriek Wayne Crouse, Va. Tech Police Department.
Horne Funeral Home in Christiansburg is serving the needs of the Crouse Family.
Visitation will be on Sunday December 11, 2011 from 3:00pm until 8:00pm at the Horne Funeral Home (1300 North Franklin Street Christiansburg, VA 24073-1416 (540) 382-2612.
Funeral Services will be held on Monday December 12, 2011 at Cassell Coliseum on the campus of Virginia Tech located at the corner of Washington Street and Spring Road beginning at 2:00pm
Like I said earlier, it’s difficult to get into the “Christmas Spirit” following today’s events. Rhett called me early this morning to make sure I was aware of what was happening in Worcester Massachusetts.
My phone was abuzz with messages and texts throughout the morning as we learned of the Line Of Duty Death of Brother Davies.
Our Brothers from Worcester responded to 44 Arlington Street around 4 am. Cold temperatures and high winds were already on scene. The Brothers arrived to find a working fire in a 3 story (“triple decker”) apartment and went to work.
A total of 12 people were rescued / evacuated from the structure before one of those occupants reported someone missing. Two crews re-entered the building for a secondary search in hopes of locating this missing occupant. Firefighters Davies and Carroll were one of those teams. The occupant was reported to have been in a upper, rear bedroom. About the time the members reached the area, a collapse of the rear of the structure occurred.
The result killed firefighter Davies and seriously injured Firefighter Carroll, trapping him for nearly an hour.
Firefighter Davies was a 17 year veteran of the Worcester Fire Department. He was also the father of 3 sons. I will keep you posted as more details and arrangements are released. Please keep the family and friends of Brother Davies in your thoughts and prayers. Hold a special place in your hearts and mind for the Brothers and Sisters of the Worcester Fire Department as well as prayers, hopes and wishes for a full and speedy recovery for Brother Carroll.
I’m sure the Arlington Street fire was a sort of ”mini- deja vu” for the people of Worcester Massachusetts because we had something very similar right here in “small town” Virginia today.
There was another shooting on the campus of Va Tech today leaving two people, one of which was a Va Tech Police Officer; dead. The name of the officer (nor the 2nd deceased) has not been released at this time . It is believed ( but unconfirmed ) that the incident is a possible murder / suicide.
There were 2 active crime scenes (both on campus) following the shootings. Va State Police were also conducting operations at an I-81 rest stop in nearby Radford, Va.
The Va Tech campus was on “lock down” as was several nearby grade schools. Fire, Rescue and Police from several adjoining jurisdictions responded to the incident.
Much like with the Worcester LODD, this incident opens old wounds and brings back unwanted memories. It was just back on April 16th, 2007 that Seung-Hui Cho murdered 32 people and wounded 25 on the VT campus before taking his own life. That incident is now often referred to as the “VT Massacre”.
I can only imagine the feelings and thoughts going through the minds of the members on either of these scenes today … Worcester or Va Tech. I would guess several (and I actually know of some ) of these members were on scene of the first incidents. I would also say and think that several folks (both civilian and on the job) relived those past feelings / emotions as today’s events unfolded.
I can remember the details of the Cold Storage fire coming out bit by bit. I also remember exactly where I was on the day of the VT Massacre. I was on duty. My daughter was in class … at Va Tech!
Today, many of those emotions returned for me. Following the news from Worcester, I thought … “oh no … not again!”. I also wondered how much more the brothers of Worcester can take? When I got the news of the on campus shooting, my thoughts went back to 2007 and how thankful I was that my daughter was safe and unharmed that day. My thoughts then turned to the murdered officer and the others who would be responding today.
You see, we are a small enough community down here that we still help each other out in times of need and know each other by name. I have several friends and Brothers on Police forces all around us. Dallas Leamon of the VT Police Department .. long time and good friend. George Jackson and James McClain also members of the VT Police Department as well as players for The Roanoke Rampage. Nathan Odell, Ben Machingo, and Sedrick Hayes also play for the Rampage while working for the Blacksburg PD. Travis Harvey is another player and works for the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Dept. We also have several players who work for the Va State Police .. William Monteith, Richard Conley and Corbin Brown.
These Brothers are safe and will return home at the end of their shift. They, as well as the slain Officer (who’s name has yet to be released) have my gratitude, sympathy and shall remain in my thoughts and prayers as well.
I wish it ended here but it doesn’t. There was another LODD this morning.
Firefighter Kevin Townes of the Mt. Vernon City (NY) Fire Department died on the scene of a working fire at about 2:45am this morning.
Members responded to 124 Lorraine Ave where they found a working fire in the basement. Brother Townes was on the 3rd in and collapsed of an apparent heart attack while donning his gear. Reports say treatment was quickly initiated by members on scene but their efforts would not save Brother Townes.
Brother Townes leaves behind his mother, wife, three daughters and a son (children ranging in age from 12-24). He was a 25 year veteran of the Mt. Vernon Fire Department and the 1st LODD in the Department since 1995.
It just doesn’t feel like the Christmas season with all this happening….
2 people are reported dead on the campus of Va. Tech following another shooting incident. There are at least 2 crime scenes being worked while a search for the gunman continues. Va Tech is currently on “lock down” and there are also report of one of the two dead being a police officer (unconfirmed at this time).
There was also a LODD early this morning in Worcester Mass. following a collapse that trapped multiple firefighters. Members were conducting a secondary search (following a report of an unaccounted for occupant) when the collapse occurred. A second firefighter remains in critical condition. This tragic event happens just days after the 12th anniversary of the December 3, 1999 fire that claimed the lives of 6 Worcester Firefighters.
In our profession, we can never afford to have “our head up our ass” …. you can’t see anything and don’t know what you’re doing. This time of the year, we need to be even a little more diligent.
In my last post, I talked very briefly about SITUATIONAL AWARENESS and DISCIPLINE . Tonight, I want to quickly explain and expand on those two terms a bit.
It’s Christmas (If you don’t believe me, just ask Tiger Schmittendorf to tell ya “The Christmas Story ..LOL). In most homes, stockings are hung and Christmas trees are lit. Some are even surrounded by gifts.
The bad part about December is that it’s also a heavy fire month( Click HERE … see page #14 ). Yea … Santa is not the only one putting in overtime in December.
The Fire Critic (Rhett Fleitz) and Dave Statter have been covering the most recent “cluster” out of Obien County Tenn. A lot of you have apparently been following the story and if you’ve taken the time to read the comments, you’ve noticed a common theme …. our “duty”.
Our “duty”. That’s yet another post of its own and I’m not going down that road tonight. I will however talk just a little about protecting life and property and YES …. THAT’S OUR DUTY.
Now I want you to look back up at that picture top / right. That’s my family tree from 2009. Easy to spot right? If you responded to my home, you could have spotted and recognized what it was pretty easily.
Take a look at this picture ….
How many of you would have knocked, kicked or tossed this stuff out of the way to get back to the seat of the fire or to make your search?
Do ya see it? Click the picture (then, after it comes up; click it a 2nd time for a larger view)
I assume the “child” or “children” of this house are the ones who drew the picture of their tree. Do you see it now? That is this family’s Christmas tree and presents.
How about this picture ….
Their tree and presents are on top of the table.
Would you have noticed or detected this one???
My point here is this …. not everyone is as fortunate as me, you or the next guy. Their tree my be as simple as a picture colored in school by their children. They may only have one or two gifts under it.
We all work in the same neighborhood (just different cities)… protect the same people. For many of these folks, THIS IS ALL THEY HAVE and it is as valuable or more to them than the big lavish trees and gifts that are so easily found in the “higher” rent district.
We can’t let economic or social status (race, creed, color etc) affect how we do our job…. tunnel vision. The same care and service needs to be delivered no matter what “district” or “part of town” we are responding to.
SITUATIONAL AWARENESS ! Aware of what a Christmas tree and presents may look like in my (or your) house vs. what it may look like in the home of a family less fortunate.
Maybe the only gift those parents were able to buy is not wrapped and out yet. Where would they hide it until Christmas morning? Under the bed? In the closet?
How much care will you take when searching or overhauling these areas? The house was most likely dirty and thinly furnished anyway right? Who cares?? They shouldn’t be living like this in the first place….. right?
If you are there, it’s already bad enough for this family. Slow down just a second .. keep your head out of your ass and pay attention to your surroundings. SITUATIONAL AWARENESS. Want to know another duty of ours???? SALVAGE. Not just the “good stuff” or what YOU think is of value … salvage what is valuable to them. Know what that is??? ALL OF IT !
How about if you’re on the knob (nozzle)?? Are you going to push in a throw water everywhere? I hope not. I spoke in my last posting of my Department’s pride in quickly and efficiently getting water on the fire. Not just on the fire …. on the seat of the fire. We don’t spray smoke, nor do we wet darkness. STREAM DISCIPLINE . Know where you’re putting your stream and make it count.
With budget cuts, under staffing, station closures, brown outs etc, the Fire Service is struggling enough. The sad thing here is that most of those whom we serve are in worse shape than we are. DO NOT TAKE AWAY FROM THESE FOLKS ….don’t make their situation worse …. most have nothing else to give / loose. Keep your head on your shoulders, take a deep breath and look around … THINK. Maintain your SITUATIONAL AWARENESS and fire ground DISCIPLINE. Do the job that I know we are all capable of and that our customers deserve and expect … Protect their lives AND property.
Just a friendly reminder and “food for thought”. Thanks for following … I’ll have more for ya soon … until then, stay Safe and in House!
Our Brothers of B-shift caught some work over the weekend … a LOT of work.
Here in “The Noke”, we take a lot on pride in holding a majority of our fires to “room and content”. Despite older homes and balloon construction, we do a good job at getting water on the fire quickly and efficiently.
This job just had too much of a jump. What makes this fire odd is how it got such a jump …. it’s only a few blocks from Station #5 and it was occupied (up and down stairs).
The call was received around 01:43am with reports of people trapped. Heavy flames (above the roof line) made the fire visible to the 1st due companies from near their station.
Upon their arrival, the crews quickly learned that the two occupants from the upstairs apartment had jumped from the 2nd floor and lay injured on the ground. With all occupants now accounted for, operations became defensive. Read brief local news coverage HERE.
The members of stations #5, 13 and 2 of B-shift did a GREAT job on this one … SOLID WORK! What I’d also like to share with you is part of the reason that I believe it got such a “jump” on em.
The picture shown is of the front of the house. It’s believed that the fire may have started on the 1st floor, right front bedroom (Division 1, Alpha / Delta … but remains “under investigation” at this time). It’s reported that the occupants of the first floor escaped through the front door and left it open. One of those occupants then went to the rear of the structure and opened the back door to gain access to the stairs leading up to the 2nd floor apartment.
Having both the front and rear doors open allowed the heat, smoke and gases (Fire) to rapidly spread front to back ( Alpha to Charlie ). When the 2nd floor occupants opened the door at the top of the steps, they were pushed back and forced to jump.
HERE’S THE LESSON …. YOU’VE GOT TO DO THAT 360 WALK AROUND.
As bad as the front looks, the rear sustained even heavier damage. You can’t get “tunnel vision”, focus only on the fire you can see and push into jobs like this…. SITUATIONAL AWARENESS … have it or die! If you’re on the job and don’t know what that means, you’re lucky to be reading this. That’s a post in itself but nobody teaches / preaches it better than my good friend and Brother Chris Naum from over at Fire Safety.com . If you haven’t been to his site before, HIT THAT LINK …. it’s worth your time!
I’ll also say that I (and many others) consider our Department to be “AGGRESSIVE” ( I like to think “cautiously” aggressive). We are an interior Department who, like I mentioned above; take pride in getting water on the fire quickly and efficiently. We not only get water on the fire, we get it on the seat and do so from inside.
That said, it takes DISCIPLINE for an “aggressive” Captain / Chief ( Company Officer ) to go defensive. It’s like you’re giving up without a fight. Well, sometimes; it’s what has to be done and my hat is off to my brothers on B-shift for having the discipline to do so. IT’S NOT AN EASY CALL (although it should be). We could have got several brothers hurt or killed on this one. I wish I had more pics for ya … it’s amazing that it’s still standing at all.
Do YOU have that “Situational Awareness” and “Discipline” ?
I hope so. Again, WELL DONE to my B-Shift Brothers … solid work and sound decisions!
Ok, moving on …. “Jacked up on Mt. Dew” ! LOL …. well that fits both me and the Buckaroo here lately.
We’ve been very busy and the result has been sporadic postings here at Ironfiremen.com. Obviously, the farm has kept the Buckaroo and I on the road but, beyond that; I’ll try to catch ya up on some Fire Department happenings of late …
This past Saturday was VERY busy. I was scheduled for duty and it was our “Vacation Sign Up Day” . For those that may not know, we have to sign up for our days off a full year in advance. It’s a long story that I’ll explain in a future post but will tease you with the fact that Rhett ( The Fire Critic ) and I already have a lot of trips scheduled for 2012 and I got all the days off I needed.
Saturday was also our Union’s Banquet ( IAFF Local-1132) . The Banquet is ALWAYS a good time and this year was no exception!
One of the best things about the Banquet is that you get to see so many of the Brothers and Sisters that you normally don’t get to because they’re on opposite shifts.
A lot of the retirees also return on Banquet night. The picture to the right is 2 of my favorite retirees … my dad ( aka “Pop” ) and Jimmy Jennings.
Firemen… good friends, cold beer, good looking gals and a live band all in the same room….. WooooHooooo!
Attendance was up this year and everyone seemed to have a good time. Mike Hank’s tie ended up tied around his head and someone’s pants hit the dance floor! LMAO … here are a few pics from the festivities ….
Rhett and I even had dates! Yea …. girls … REAL ones … and pretty too!
I found this one hanging out with a real “Grinch” and convinced her to trade him on a taller model …. ME …LOL
I don’t talk about her much and don’t think I’ve ever posted a pic but that’s actually my beautiful bride of 25 years Donna.
I think the gals have as much fun at the banquet as the guys do … and WHY NOT. Married to and putting up with all us firemen …. they deserve the night out as much or more as we do.
Donna is a fairly active member in our Women’s Auxiliary . These ladies do a FANTASTIC job of supporting our members and play a HUGE roll in pulling off our Banquet.
We have remained in touch and became good friends … Chris is a GREAT guy! He was in town shopping for his wife’s birthday and dropped by with a bag full of hand cut steaks for me and the crew! They were FANTASTIC brother!!! Steak and eggs for breakfast on the morning of and during vacation sign ups …. BEAUTIFUL !!! Thanks again Brother!
I also got to meet another avid follower / fan of the site this week.
We always enjoy meeting and making new friends … Chris was no exception. We had the chance to sit down for a few minutes and swap a few stories etc. I enjoyed the visit and hope he finds the time to drop by again for a cup of coffee and more story telling.
OK, so to wrap it up tonight; I’ll give ya another “tease” in that I will soon be kicking off my “2011 Santa’s Sexy Helper” postings. Those of you who have been following me for a while may remember that we counted down “19 Days” in 2010
This year, I think I’m going to narrow it down to a 10 day count down so STAY TUNED … you’re NOT going to want to miss it!
As always, thanks for reading and following along. Don’t forget to follow, like and recommend us on Face Book / Twitter as well. We start 4 day break in the morning but I’ll check back in with another post in a day or so. Until I get back, stay SAFE and in House!