“From the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, “Charleston 9: The Ultimate Sacrifice”, looks at the dramatic changes made in the operations of South Carolina’s Charleston Fire Department following the deaths of nine firefighters on June 18, 2007. The video, produced by STATter911 Communications and Greg Guise Media, focuses on how the leadership of the late Chief Tom Carr helped the department recover after such a devastating loss”
I just returned from the Fire Expo in Harrisburg, Pa. It was another GREAT trip, full of BROTHERHOOD but not without it’s ups and downs. It was almost like a roller coaster ride … let me try to explain.
To begin with, although Harrisburg is a show Rhett and I have been wanting to attend for some time now, it was not on our schedule this year. As it turned out, Zach Green and our MN8 Fox Fire team really needed us so we began scrambling. I was able to work it out but Rhett wasn’t. Once again this year, I would be traveling without him.
The good news was that my wife was able to take some time off so she could go in his place. Donna has never traveled with us (or me) to one of these shows before so I was excited to get to show her what they are like and everything we do.
Donna and I loaded up the “Blog Mobile” and pointed her North….. we wouldn’t make it far though. About 15 miles into the trip, I stopped at the only stop light we would encounter between the house and Harrisburg. When I stopped, smoke was visible from under the hood, right at the windshield.
She says to me (as if I haven’t noticed it) … “I think the van is over heating”. My reply was simple… “nope”.
“We’re never gonna make it …. this thing is over heating already …. I’m telling ya” she says.
As the light turns green, I tell her … “Honey … it’s NOT over heating … IT’S ON FIRE”. You should have seen the look on her face…LOL. I pulled into the store parking lot just through the light and we get out. I popped the hood and she was rolling. Donna was about to panic and asked me “what are we going to do?”.
Calmly, I told her “calm down … I’m a fireman … look in the cooler and get me a beer” (I had a cooler packed for Expo). Then, her panic turned to anger …. “You’re NOT going to stand here and drink a beer while this van burns up!” LMAO. I didn’t pack or have any water (or an extinguisher) …. I need SOMETHING to put this thing out I quickly explained. Get me a beer and start emptying our luggage.
So there I am …. shaking and opening beers to extinguish the fire. You can imaging the look on Captain Week’s face as Roanoke County’s Wagon 10 rolled in!
Turns out, that while sitting in the driveway since FDIC; a bird had decided to use the engine compartment as a place for nesting. It was turning out to be a GREAT start of our trip!
We arranged for a tow truck and switched vehicles to get back on the road. We were running beside a gasoline tanker as it blew a trailer tire and sat for hours in bumper to bumper stopped traffic due to a crash just south of Harrisburg but we eventually made it to our hotel.
The next morning, the MN8 FoxFire Team would assemble on the exhibit hall floor for the first of three busy days.
Once again, we had Andrew Arnold and the Box Alarm LeatherTeam in the booth so it was almost like we were twice as busy.
Box Alarm and MN8 FoxFire have teamed up to deliver yet another GREAT product! With Box Alarm’s quality work (and a LIFETIME GAURANTEE), using 8-10 oz bridle leather (tanned in the USA), 3M’s flame resistant reflective fabric combined with MN8′s advanced illumination technology, these two “by firefighters, for firefighters” companies have delivered one of the best radio strap combination packages on the market! We debuted them at FDIC and SOLD OUT! They were just as popular in Harrisburg. To learn more about this new product, CLICK HERE or HERE.
I’m always VERY busy giving demos while in the booth but I also get to spend a few minutes talking with hundreds of Brother and Sister firefighters. I think that’s one of the things I like the most about working these shows … meeting and making new friends within the Fire Service.
After the show on Friday, I did just that … met and made some GREAT new friends.
Donna and I got to spend the evening and share a meal with the Brothers and Sisters of Colonial Park Fire Company.
I have to tell ya …. these Brothers and Sisters “get it”.
When Lt. Mike Rodkey invited us out, I wasn’t sure if we could pull it off. When “on the road” we (the MN8 FoxFire Team) usually travel as a team and it’s difficult to drop in and visit a company with a crew of 8-10. On top of that, we had about 4 separate invitations / obligations for that evening and we were already worn out from the long days work in the booth. All things considered, Zach and I decided to split the team and try to cover as many obligations as possible. I was glad I made it to Colonial Park!
My visit started off with a tour of their house and rigs. “Cheech”, a Colonial Park “live-in” member; rolled out the red carpet. You could see the PRIDE in the company and it’s members as he showed me every little detail. Everything was neat, clean and in order …. another example of PRIDE.
I also got to meet and talk with Sam Swartz.
Sam is like the 2nd or 3rd most ACTIVE Senior member of the Colonial Park Fire Company with 50 YEARS OF SERVICE!
Sam showed me around their trophy / display room where they housed one of their earlier pieces along with numerous trophies, photos etc.
He also shared some of their HISTORY and TRADITION with me. I could have listened to his stories all week! IT WAS AN HONOR meeting him and having the opportunity to hear his stories!
After the tour, it was time to eat and just like everything else I had seen from Colonial Park, they went all out.
London Broil on the grill …… and I mean MELT IN YOUR MOUTH London Broil!
There’s something very humbling to me to get to sit down at a table with a group of firefighters and their wives, husbands and family and share a meal. A meal that they paid for out of their pockets and yet decided to share with me. It’s humbling because I know the sacrifices they’ve made to be able to do this. I’ve shared in it. It’s like we’ve known each other all along even though we’ve never met. It’s BROTHERHOOD.
We took a few photos and I got the opportunity to shake each of their hands and thank them before Donna and I had to head out to our next meeting. I would like to say to them once again … THANK YOU!
Eventually, we made it back to our hotel room for a few hours sleep. Before we knew it, we were back on the floor at Expo. The 2nd day was as busy as the first. Once again I got to meet several GREAT Brothers and Sisters during and between my demos.
After Saturday’s show, we were off to the “Progress Bash”. Although it wasn’t a F.O.O.L.S Bash, it was very much like one.
This Bash was hosted by the Progress Fire Company … just down the road from Colonial Park.
These Brothers and Sisters know how to throw a party!
The place was PACKED and we had a BLAST!!
I wasn’t the only one wearing a kilt (BunkerKilt.com) but I was shocked to see that I was the only one wearing my helmet (Phenix Helmets) . I do have to admit that I wasn’t the best looking one there in a kilt. I can say that for certain because the Girls of Fire House Dolls were also on hand. We took a few pictures together and I even got to review their 2014 calendar … TRUST me … use the link I provided and look them up … yo’r gonna LOVE the new calendar!
Stan Jaworski was also on hand with his camera. Stan is well known for his photos and I’m personally a big fan. Check out some of his pictures from the 2013 Progress Bash HERE and find him on Face Book HERE .
There were also some Pipes and Drums in attendance. I never caught their name nor learned if they were like a “renegade” bunch or not but either way, they did a very nice job! Here’s some video…
So it was another late night to bed and an early rise for day #3 of Expo. Again we were shocked at just how busy we remained. Just like days 1 and 2, we got to meet so many dedicated Brothers and Sisters.
We also had a very special guest salesman in the booth.
Word got out to 14 year old Ian Swarr that our Team was a little overwhelmed at our first Harrisburg Expo so he came to the Rescue.
Zach and the crew actually got to have dinner with Ian the night before and I thankfully were able to convince him into helping out on Sunday.
Ian is a true inspiration and I’m honored to call him my friend. He even took Donna around the Expo floor to introduce her to all his friends and “show her the ropes”
I’m not sure exactly what they did but they both returned with a sack full of swag and smiles on their faces …lol. If you want to talk about “heart” and meet a GREAT young man… look no further.
There’s NO WAY I can mention everyone I got to see and spend some time with this weekend. I won’t even try because I know I will leave someone out. There are a few however that I want to give a “shout out” to and I think I know a way to encompass the rest.
Once again, we got to spend some time with the guys from Fire Cam. These guys are AWESOME (even Dave Statter hangs out in their booth). Rob Schield and Cris Burch are another example of guys who “get it”. If you’re not familiar with Fire Cam and their products, YOU SHOULD BE.
This is the ONLY Fire Helmet Camera designed by Firefighters. You can learn more and find them on the web by CLICKING HERE . Also find them on Face Book HERE.
Another name I want to drop is Clayton Murphy of Crosstitched. Clayton was also set up at Harrisburg and spent some time with us. For those of you who don’t know, Crosstitched is the designer and supplier of the IronFiremen / Fire Critic “Hey Brother” shirts. Crosstitched is another Firefighter owned company that needs (and deserves) our support. Clayton is a SUPER guys and ALL of his designs ROCK! Wait until you order some of his shirts … as soon as you see the box he ships in, you’ll know he’s a class act! He also does CUSTOM shirts !
Visit their Web site HERE or find them on Face Book HERE
I apologize for not listing everyone I met and spent time with. It is also nearly impossible to include all the pictures we took. I did put together a small photo album on Face Book. Take a look and feel free to TAG YOURSELF if included in one of the shots. Also, please share and / or tag me if you have a photo of us from Expo. Use the link below to view the album …
I have a few more stories to share with from Expo but I’ll catch them in a later post. There have been a couple LODD’s over the weekend and storms are tearing through the several states leaving huge paths of destruction and several dead. Please keep all those affected including the Brothers and Sisters responding to these incidents in your thoughts and prayers.
I’ve been using that saying for several years now and believe it to be true.
We are surrounded by the absolute best instructors this profession has to offer on a daily basis. They can teach most any subject … strategy and tactics, search and rescue, ventilation, water supply, pump / ladder ops, incident command, high rise firefighting, Mayday, RIC etc. The one thing they can’t teach is “HEART”. You either have it or you don’t.
I’m not sure I can exactly define what I mean by “heart” but it’s at least a passion for “the job” as well as the drive and determination to fulfill the duties expected of us (both on and off the fire ground). It’s the willingness and eagerness to “do the right thing” no matter the cost and to sacrifice for others.
I’ve always said that all I need is a month or two in the same station and/or one working fire to know whether or not a probie (or non-probationary firefighter for that matter) “gets it”. That quickly, I can determine if he or she has “heart”.
You can buy all the newest and latest gear. This gadget, that one and two more of these. You can put this sticker or that one on your helmet, this decal on the back window of your truck. Wear any tee-shirt you want with whatever logo or saying on it.
Give me one set of steps, leading to an attic where fire is rolling down on you while blowing out the eaves and/or dormer.
Push into the fire floor from the adjacent window or the floor above to search without a hose line. Try a little VES (Vent Enter Search) when the floor is rocking.
Crawl down a dark, black, smokey hallway. So dark you can’t see your nose or the lens of your mask. The heat so hot that every breath you take hurts. Reaching out … feeling for anything you can find…. a hole to fall into or a body…. who knows? It’s your first time in this situation …. you’ll wonder how close you’ll be to that body when you find it and what it will look like when you get there.
It’s already hot and getting hotter. Open the nozzle or not? Keep pushing or back out? Someone will understand …. the circumstances just weren’t where we needed them to be … right? Nobody will blame or question you. There are multiple reasons to quit and turn around but only two reasons to keep pushing…. 1.) Someone is (or may be) in there and 2.) this is what you took an oath and signed up for …. it’s your DUTY and job!
Do you have the HEART to push on or will you quit? It’s not easy … if it was, any and everyone would do it. If you don’t (have the heart), I’m sorry…. IT CAN’T BE TAUGHT.
How about the EMS call at 3am? The nausea and vomiting for 2 days. The abdominal pain or difficulty breathing despite the fact they smoke 3 packs a day.
Do you get up bitching? Complaining and cursing? Are you mad because you came to work, fully knowing your job was to staff the ambulance ; and they actually asked you to run a call? Did you think there was a call volume “limit” when you joined?
Or, do you realize that although this is your 15th call of the tour, it may be the caller’s 1st emergency. Do you even consider that the person you’r responding to may be a family member of mine. Maybe they are kin to someone you work with…. maybe they are related to you? If you knew that going in, would your outlook have changed? It shouldn’t …. every run should receive the same commitment.
To me, that’s a little bit about what “HEART” is on the job….. it’s doing our job and doing it with PRIDE, HONOR and RESPECT.
There is also “HEART” away from the job and I guess the better word there would be “off duty” because those of you who have “HEART” are never really “off the job”.
Rhett and I are fortunate in that we Know, meet and see a lot of Brothers and Sisters who “get it” … who have “HEART” and/or display, understand and promote “The Brotherhood”. We see examples of it on a daily basis because we know what we’re looking for. The sad part of what we see is that so many Brothers and Sisters look right past it never knowing what they saw.
I could give ya many, many examples but instead, I want to share just a few with ya from our experience at FDIC 2013 (this will by far not be ALL the examples we encountered).
Take the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb for example.
This is the first time FDIC has had 343 climbers. This year, they actually surpassed that number.
NONE of these climbs are easy. I often see folks in the staging areas and think to myself … “”they are going to have a hard time making 110 stories”. They HAVE to know that going into the climb themselves yet, they register and show up anyway. THEY CLIMB! That’s HEART!
During the climb, you’ll find many who, instead of making a “race” out of it; stay behind to assure every member completes their journey (climb). Anybody can pass the Brother or Sister in front of them and push on to “look good”. It takes HEART to hold back and assure nobody is left behind.
I’m surrounded by Founding and Committee Members of the Stair Climbs. You would think “that” sacrifice would be enough.
NOPE … Brothers like Rhett Fleitz, Brian Brush and Andrew Catron continue to climb. For them, this is their 6th or 7th climb (maybe even more for Brian).
Why? They’ve done their duty. By completing just one, they’ve accomplished more than most. For them (us) it’s not about that. It’s about HONOR. Honoring our fallen.
It’s about SUPPORT. Supporting the NFFF and our fallen’s families.
These Brothers “GET IT”. Not only that, they want YOU to get it as well! They promote the Climbs and sacrifice their time to serve on committees, organize events etc.
I’m not saying you have to “climb” to “get it” but these Brothers DO and that’s why they CLIMB!
I’ll give ya another example…. Kim Fitzsimmons.
Many of you may know Kim from her Face Book Page. Others may know her from her fire ground photography (or her drawings with red crayons…LOL)
Seems like a pretty full plate towards “the Brotherhood”, “getting it” and/or having “Heart” huh? Well, Kim learned of the “Meet-Up” Rhett and I were having at FDIC and she decided she just couldn’t miss it. She drove all the way up to FDIC just to attend our Meet-Up knowing it was sponsored in part by the NFE! She wasn’t “looking” for anything …. she wanted to support and promote the NFE while sharing and spreading The Brotherhood. She made the drive alone … she “gets it”. Kim has HEART!
Here’s another NFE Officer Club Member who “gets it” ….Jill Boden.
Jill attended FDIC all week. We first met her at the FOOLS Bash but have known her for some time now through her Face Book page as well as the Officer’s Club.
She attended the NFFF Stop Drop and Rock and Roll Event as well …. anywhere support for the Brother / Sisterhood was needed, Jill could be spotted.
She “worked the room” of our Meet-Up like a pro. Introducing herself and spreading the word about the NFE, the NFFF and more. Jill also “gets it” and she displayed it all week!
Not only does she look after us …. she’s devoting her time to take care of our spouses as well!
Her mission … “Strengthen, ignite and rescue Firefighter marriages. Nurture our fire wife community with encouragement, support and friendship. To Build up our fire wives in mind, body and spirit to be wise, strong and enduring. To bring an even deeper sense of community to the fire service family”.
Must I say more? OBVIOUSLY … Lori “GETS IT”. I hope you get it too! Use the links below to get a head start …..
Ok …for a final two (but not the only remaining) examples from FDIC, I’ll go back to our Meet-Up.
At the end of the night, a young (or at least “younger”) Brother came up to me. He wanted to buy me a beer (the event was over and the open bar changed to cash bar). He was in the group of members from Tennessee that included Shane Lester and William Banks.
Some wore helmets, others cowboy hats. They were ALL Brothers who obviously “get it”.
Anyway, I already had 2 full beers in my hand (I know…. what are the odds of that…LOL) and it was last call.
I told this young brother that instead of buying me a beer that I obviously didn’t need, to give the $5 he was going to spend to the Sons of the Flag Burn Foundation.
I watched as he walked over to Ryan, Zane, Nathan and Rob Wiedmann and handed them the money. HE HANDED THEM THE MONEY! I can’t tell you how good it felt to see a young member “GET IT”. I hope he understands what (and why) he did what he did. He summed up what our Meet-Up was all about!!
Some many other Brothers and Sisters in attendance that night kept thanking me and Rhett for hosting the event. They kept saying that we were what the Brotherhood was all about and how much they looked up to what we do for the fire service.
I explained to each of them …. Rhett, Shane (NFE), Andrew and I did nothing. We rented a room and bought a bunch of beer.
They …. EVERY Brother and Sister in attendance did so much more. They gave the true display of Brother.
Again I’ll say that I and many others can / could teach you / them to perform most any task required of us in the Fire Service. We CAN’T teach them to sacrifice their time and money to spend time promoting the Brotherhood and supporting organizations worthy of our attention.
Despite having to drive 8 hours in the pouring rain, we made it home safely. I hope everyone else did as well.
I’m worn out … mentally and physically. Spent some time with the Buckaroo and my beautiful bride before heading out to the hot tub for a little “unwind” time while thinking over everything we experienced this week.
Can you tell by the pic? You can take the fireman out of FDIC but you can’t take FDIC out of the fireman! LOL
What I mean by that is FDIC is so huge and all encompassing that there’s no way you can attend and not come away with something. A full week of training and Brotherhood shared by the absolute BEST in our business! I’ll share with ya a little of what I experienced and brought home …
Unfortunately, Rhett and I did not attend any of the training this year. Our schedule simply wouldn’t allow it.
This year, we represented 2 GREAT companies and friends of the Fire Service while working their booths on the exhibit floor.
Black Diamond Boots asked us to be in their booth this year and we couldn’t have been more pleased. Rhett and I are both big fans of Black Diamond and the X2 Boot. We wear them in our gear and have for years.
That’s what makes it easy for us to be in a booth like Black Diamonds (that and the “Booth Babes”) …. it’s a great product and we use it daily. We believe in it and can talk to potential buyers in an up front and honest manner.
When we’re standing there selling these boots, we are WEARING them. We wear them ALL DAY LONG … 3 days in a row! We work in them, we climb in them. We can do this because they are a great boot …. they fit well and they’re comfortable.
Would you trust a fire boot salesman wearing Nike tennis shoes? I didn’t think so. Anyway, we got to meet a lot of great Brothers and Sisters shopping for boots. We (Black Diamond) even gave a pair away each day. Thanks to everyone who stopped by to try on a pair. It was GREAT meeting you all. We know you’re gonna love this boot so be sure to visit their web site or find them on Face Book to locate your local dealer.
We only spent 4 hours with Black Diamond. The rest of our time on the floor was spent with Zach Green in the MN8 FoxFire booth.
Rhett and I have been part of the FoxFire Family for several years now. We’re a natural fit!
It’s another product that we use every day on the job. It’s a product geared toward firefighter safety and accountability …. AND IT WORKS!
By firefighters for firefighters … who understands us better?
This year was VERY exciting for Zach and our team as we unveiled several NEW PRODUCTS at the show. One of those products is a SCBA Identifier Tag. Another GREAT “Illuminating” product to aid us in visibility and accountability.
We also had our good friends from Box Alarm Leather in the booth to help promote our Illuminating Radio Straps.
That’s right …. made right here in the USA by Box Alarm Leather, they come with a lifetime warranty and THEY GLOW!
Rhett and I have been big fans of Box Alarm for years as well. GREAT quality with quick and reliable service. They are the company who made our custom fronts as well.
You can purchase the Radio Strap, a universal radio case and anti-sway strap as a complete kit or purchase them separately (they ALL “Illuminate”!!!). Be sure to visit these links to learn more and order yours today!
It’s a GREAT event! “Over the past ten years, Stop, Drop, Rock ‘n’ Roll has played an important part in helping us honor America’s fallen firefighters. It is a chance for firefighters to give back to the fire service and have fun at the same time. Through a small donation at the door you have all helped the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation honor and support the families of firefighters who have died in the line of duty.”
This years entertainment was none other than Darryl Worley and he did ONE HELL OF A JOB!
He played acoustic and sounded GREAT and even took the time to sign autographs and pose for pictures afterwards. He ended the show with one of his hits, “Have you forgotten?”
The only thing better than listening to Darryl sing was getting to dance to his music with the CEO of Phenix Helmets, Nicole Clesceri ! I’m not sure of the final numbers but I think the auction went ok as well this year. I do know that everyone in attendance had a good time and we can only hope we raised a LOT of money for the NFFF and our surviving families.
Another event we attended was the Fire Rescue, Fire / EMS Blog Network and Firefighter Nation “Meet Up”.
For those of you who don’t know, Rhett, Dave Statter and I (along with SEVERAL others) have our sites hosted by the Fire / EMS Blog Network. The Network is FULL of many great writers providing us all with a variety of resources related to the job.
Fire Rescue Magazine Editor in Chief, Tim Sendelbach recognized several of our writers for their contributions this year. I was honored to have been one of those recognized. It was totally unexpected … I was humbled and HONORED.
Afterwards, we headed over to dinner with our MN8 FoxFire family.
Every year at FDIC, Zach treats the team to dinner on Friday night.
It amazed me to think back over the past few years and realize just how much (and quickly) our team / family has grown.
Speaking of renting out an entire Building …. later that evening, Rhett and I also hosted our very own “Meet-Up” at the Hard Rock Cafe and it too was a HUGE success!
WOW! There were 100-150 people who came out to share a few drinks and some Brotherhood with us. We have always wanted to do something like this but for one reason or another haven’t been able to pull it off.
For me, beyond the attendance; there were several highlights of the evening. The first, was a special presentation made to me by Erin and Stephen Foster of Ayden’s Gifts .
“Our missions are to bring handmade memorials to those who are grieving the loss of their loved ones. Our goal is to paint something for you to cherish for years to come! Whether it is a plate, mug or figurine!”
This presentation was totally unexpected and caught me off guard. HONORED and HUMBLED doesn’t even begin to define what (or how) I felt. I’ve spoken here on the site many times of late about showing and sharing emotions (despite the outer appearance of being “tough” firefighters) …. Erin and Stephen brought me to tears that night and it happened in front of a huge crowd.
Im still not quite sure what to say.
The quote above is from their site and as far as I’m concerned, they have succeeded in accomplishing their mission! Just look at the detail here.
It’s in Carolina Blue … Jackson’s favorite team / color. It has the Carolina logo. The foot, to me; symbolizes all the “foot prints” Jackson left in my life and on my heart. The quote on the outer rim is from an Allison Krauss song that I posted about just a few weeks back in a post called “Positional Awareness … Where the Hell am I ??” .
PLEASE …. take the time to check out their site. Read the story of why they do what they do and look at some of their art work. Be sure to like and follow them as well.
Another highlight for the night was having FDNY’s Rescue 2 member Rob Wiedmann stop by.
You may remember Rob (and Firefighter Gersbeck) was seriously burned in a December 19, 2011 Crown Heights fire in Brooklyn, Ny. It was an unimaginable event that was caught on video. Dave Statter still has it up over on Statter911.com CLICK HERE for the video .
Rhett, Zach(MN8 FoxFire) and I teamed up to collect money for Rescue 2′s MayDay Fund which supported the families of Rob and James. Our reader support for the fund raiser was nothing short of amazing AMAZING and we soon hand delivered a check to Captain Flaherty and the members of rescue 2.
Rob actually dropped by our booth on the exhibit floor of FDIC. We said he simply wanted to stop by to say hello and thanks us once again for our efforts following his injury.
He also wanted to assure his gratitude was passed along to all of you who gave support (including thoughts, prayers etc).
Rob is a GREAT guy who for me, defines the meaning of HEART. I have a saying I use often … “You can’t teach heart” and Rob is a prime example.
His training and instinct played a huge role in getting him out of that building BUT … it was also “HEART”. Heart has kept him going throughout his healing process (28 months now with more surgeries scheduled). Heart drives him to continue to get out and promote the Fire Service and our Brotherhood. I’ll have more on “Heart” in an upcoming post ….
Rob was there with a few Brothers from Sons of the Flag Burn Foundation , Ryan “Birdman” Parrott, Zane, and Nathan.
You’re going to start hearing a lot about these guys and their efforts here on Ironfiremen.com in the future. We asked Ryan (the group’s founder) to say a few words at the Meet-Up and then we passed my boot around for their cause. We raised $730.00 in about 10 minutes! Be sure to check out the links below to learn more about these guys …
Again I’ll add that what really “made” the meet-up was everyone who attended. We got (and continue to get) so many comments about how much we (Rhett and I) are doing for the Brotherhood. I explained to several of the folks there that night …. we didn’t do anything. We rented a room and bought some beer. YOU GUYS … you Brothers and Sisters are the ones who showed up. You’re the ones who sacrificed your time and made the decision to attend. YOU are the the ones who “made” the event …. THAT Brothers and Sisters was the display of Brotherhood that night! Thanks again for attending!
Rhett did a little “name dropping” and shared his views on our Meet-Up and FDIC in general over on the Fire Critic. He also has links to some great pictures … read that post in the link below
There is so much more I want to share about our Meet-Up but I think I’m going to work it into one of my next posts. All in all, FDIC was a huge success for us and we can’t wait until our next event.
Thanks to EVERYONE who took the time to come up and speak to us. Be sure to follow us on Face Book to find more pictures and info on FDIC and more! Be sure to keep check back and THANKS for following …
Once again I have a lot of catching up to do but this time, it’s not entirely my fault. The server for our network has been up and down over the past several days so we haven’t been able to get a post up. Hopefully, the situation is corrected now and we can get back to business as normal.
So, to catch ya up … it’s been a long week.
We worked the Thursday, Saturday, Monday cycle this week (24hr tours).
Goerge (my Lt) is off on vacation and Boots is still out on sick leave (he’s recovering well). That left just me and our newest member, Jerry Thompson at the station. Instead of calling in OT for the entire shift, the Company was placed out of service and Jerry and I detailed out to fill other vacancies for the day.
Jerry went to “The Green House” … aka Station #3 and I went down to Station #5 and rode the Ladder.
Yea… an Engine Captain on a Ladder. Well, around here; you never know what you may end up doing. I’ve explained it a few times here on the site that due to our staffing etc. an Engine Company can easily be assigned “Truck work” and vice versa.
I’ve also talked about having been assigned to a Ladder a couple times during my career. The truth of the matter is … I LOVE truck work! Especially now that 2 of our Trucks have the added responsibility of performing vehicle extrication for the City (Ladder 5 being one of them).
It was a good day with the Brothers and Sisters at Station #5. That evening, I got an over time man and put Lucky #13 back into service.
Turned out our OT man was none other than Captain Chris Trussler from down at “The Deuce” on B-shift.
Captain Trussler and I go way back….way … way … WAY back actually.
I call him “Lucky”. 1.) Because he’s got a little leprechaun in him and 2.) Because he’s so damn “lucky”.
We were both assigned to Ladder #2 as Privates back in the day (on different shifts). Like many Crusty Old Jakes, there are hundreds of stories involving / surrounding Captain Trussler. I was even involved in a few of em.
I always remember the one about a working fire in the projects near the station. There were reports of people trapped on the second floor and “Lucky” was assigned the search. The Brothers are going to work and here comes Trussler falling /rolling down the interior steps and out the front door. He had a victim. A 350 pound lady wearing her nightgown and a pair of gorilla slippers. They end up in the front yard with the lady on top of him. So a couple of the boys run over to make sure he’s still alive and he tells them … “I got the little one, her sister is still up there!” … LMAO!
Lucky’s a “Good Jake” and we had a BLAST reminiscing over old stories. He’ll be testing for Battalion Chief in the next few weeks and I hope he does well …. I’ll work for him ANY day.
Our middle day turned out MUCH busier. Instead of overtime, they transferred a man from the South Side. Keith Snead from Station #1-A was trading time with a C-shift Brother and drew the short straw. He hadn’t been here 10 minutes before we caught a working fire. Nothing says thanks for working on a beautiful Saturday morning like catching work at 07:30am. Unfortunately, the runs kept coming all day long. The saddest incident we ran was a vehicle fire. Nothing breaks your heart like rolling in on a 1967 Camaro that’s on fire. Here’s some video ….
The car was obviously custom. A good training point from this video … something to keep in your mind is just how custom it was. Even the engine was customized…. so much so that it had Nitrous aka Nitrous Oxide system. Yea …NOS… a 20lb bottle mounted beside the driver’s seat! Good thing Snead got a good knock on the fire.
I’ll let ya know how our Monday tour goes a little later but until then, I have plenty more to share.
To begin with … set your clocks, DVRs, VCR’s and whatever else you have. The Fire Critic, Rhett Fleitz; and I will be on Prime Time TV Sunday night at 7pm (April 28th)! That’s right … Rhett and I will appear on MSNBC’s 100th Episode of “Extreme Caught on Camera”. Check your local listings and be sure to check us out! Here’s the trailer …..
I don’t have many details yet but, apparently; the Wytheville Fire Departmentand Chief Ron King have abandoned their recently discovered “new firefighting technique” and resorted to fighting fire like the rest of America … by putting water on the fire.
Chief King, and the Wytheville Department made the local news back in November when he opted to conduct salvage operations vs extinguishing a fire in the Crocketts Cove section of Wythe County, Va. Chief King took full credit for this “new technique” saying that he had never studied the technique in his “thousands and thousands of hours of training”. He also said, “we plan on using it again”. Find the entire article in a previous post below…
My post on the issue resulted in several comments and e-mails (use the link above for that post).
My favorite comment was posted to my Face Book Fan Page by Jacob. He never came right out and asked but I think he wanted to marry me. Yea… out of the blue, this kid wanted my address so he could send me some rope and a vibrator! Yea … a vibrator LMAO! Read that post below.
Well, I never received the vibrator or the rope and, judging by the pictures of the most recent fire, Chief King has changed his mind as well. At least they are flowing water and the local news even said they were using an elevated master stream.
I raised several valid questions out of the previous Wytheville issues and have yet to receive a valid response / argument. I even requested the audio files of the fire ground audio from the Crocketts Cove fire through the Freedom of Information Act and never received them.
I gave them the benifit of the doubt thinking that maybe they didn’t know what the Freedom of Information Act was. With that in mind, I posted a portion of the Act for them.
“Any public body that is subject to this chapter and that is the custodian of the requested records shall promptly, but in all cases within five working days of receiving a request, provide the requested records to the requester or make one of the following responses in writing:”
It also says “Failure to respond to a request for records shall be deemed a denial of the request and shall constitute a violation of this chapter”
I guess I should have also included portions of the Act that discuss the violations or failure to disclose requested information.
“ 2.2-3713 for a violation of § 2.2-3704, 2.2-3705.1 through 2.2-3705.8, 2.2-3706, 2.2-3707, 2.2- 3708, 2.2-3708.1, 2.2-3710, 2.2-3711 or 2.2-3712, the court, if it finds that a violation was willfully and knowingly made, shall impose upon such officer, employee, or member in his individual capacity, whether a writ of mandamus or injunctive relief is awarded or not, a civil penalty of not less than $500 nor more than $2,000, which amount shall be paid into the State Literary Fund. For a second or subsequent violation, such civil penalty shall be not less than $2,000 nor more than $5,000.”
More and more details are being brought to my attention every day. The Virginia Department of Fire Programs was apparently brought in several years back to preform a “study” of Wytheville’s operations. Obviously, the findings from that study have been totally ignored.
It also seems that there could be some “conflicts of interest” involved with the person whom I requested the information from in the first place (involving an ex-wife and her current relationship).
It now seems the problems in Wytheville reach deeper than first suspected. Again I’ll say that I can’t understand why the Board of Supervisors accepts this liability. I’ll keep ya posted as more details surface.
So, I trust and hope you all had a VERY Merry Christmas and I wish you all a prosperous, healthy and SAFE New Year.
My Christmas couldn’t have been better. It was spent surrounded by family and friends and I even managed to get a few awesome gifts.
Pictured right is the gift Rhett (FireCritic.com) gave me. It’s a custom leather radio strap made by Wolfpak Leather Works .
This strap is AWESOME. The detail and craftsmanship are second to none. It not only has my name on it, it also includes the Buckaroo and Ironfiremen.com THANKS Brothers!
I still haven’t got a good picture of it yet but, I had Rhett a custom apron made.
I have to admit that it too was a pretty awesome gift.
It’s made of PBI (just like our turnout gear) has striping, pockets d-ring snaps and his name. He LOVED it.
We’ve already received several comments and e-mails asking where the aprons can be purchased. So far, this is a “one of” but if they receive enough interest, more will be made. Use the link above (or just CLICK HERE)to contact Blue Ridge Rescue Suppliers and inquire about the aprons. Actually, check them out for any and all of your equipment needs. Call or e-mail and be sure to tell em we sent ya!
Tonight, I’m covering a shift for Rhett.
I’m working at Station #3-A. His Captain, Mac Craft; is on duty and we decided he’d make the better driver / operator so I’m riding the seat and Mac is driving.
It’s been a while since I’ve been behind the wheel so I’m sure everyone is safer this way….LOL
Thanks to Captain Mac for letting me have his seat today.
Rhett’s down in Nashville with family but will be home in time for the New Year. 2013 is shaping up to be our busiest year yet and I’m sure it will also be our best!
Be sure to keep checking back for our 2012 Year in Review posts …. if you haven’t been following along, you’ll never believe where we’ve been and what we’ve gotten ourselves into!
Do you guys remember little Hunter Moseley?
I first introduced you to him through a post back in November (linked below)
Well Trained Firefighter … and I hope that’s how our little “Rookie Randy” is leaving station #13… well trained.
It’s been a good ride and I’m gonna miss him. Yesterday was Randy’s last tour assigned to Station #13C. Next day, he’ll report to Station #5C.
I hate to see him go, but it will be a good move for him.
I never agreed with a “rookie” being assigned to our house in the first place. We are not the busiest company in the Battalion nor do we have a Medic Truck (ambulance). All new hires are required to become ALS providers within 3 years so assigning them to a station with an ambulance only makes sense.
Anyway, on July 10, 2011 Randy Armbrister was assigned to Station #13 C.
Even though he had just completed our 16 week Rookie School (Class #14), we still hit the streets on day 1 to assure he had the “basics” down.
We spent that first day catching hydrants (snap and screw), stretching and advancing lines and learning to stick with the Captain.
We also worked a lot with SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus). Some of my readers / followers of the site thought I had gone crazy.
I had Randy sweeping, mopping and even mowing the grass while wearing his air pack.
It may have looked crazy from the outside looking in but I wanted to be sure he was familiar and comfortable with his SCBA … he life depends on it.
He did well with it … VERY WELL. Come to find out, Randy actually received an award from his Recruit Class related to SCBA. It didn’t matter to me because we were going to go over it again and again and again anyway.
We tried to teach him everything he’d need to know for a 30 year career.
We covered everything from making his bed, brushing his teeth, washing cloths, showers, cooking etc. We even talked about girls … yea … GIRLS.
Ya see, Randy is not from around here and one day I caught him in a “stare” .. “transfixed” even so I had pull the book.
Of course safety was our TOP priority as is evident in this picture. There had been heavy rains with a good chance of flooding so we had Randy wear his PFD (Personal Flotation Device) all day … the Chief was VERY impressed! LMAO
All kidding aside, we worked very hard with Randy of things such as ROAM (Rules Of Air Management), MAYDAY, RIT (Rapid Intervention Team), self rescue and more.
It’s a good thing because before too long, Randy caught his first job.
We were 2nd due but got the nozzle. A 2nd floor bed room, well off extending into the attic.
I got to the top of the steps and closed the bedroom door until Randy was in position. When I opened her back up, the fight was on and Randy had it darkened down in no time!
We also got to do a little salvage and overhaul operations. A good learning experience for a Rookie Firefighter. Randy put in some SOLID WORK.
Of course there was a lot more of burning up the books than our customers homes around Station #13.
Don’t get me wrong, Randy has seen some work over the last year and a half but we’ve kept him in the books more than anything.
It takes a lot of discipline for a young firefighter to keep his nose in the books.
If you don’t have an assignment from the Officer, you should be studying or looking over something.
Mouth shut, ears open is a good rule of thumb for the Rookie firefighter.
Randy did a good job at that. Of course he always had that Max Meadows smile on his face and knew to ask questions whenever he had em (other than on the scene).
I’d say he learned a good bit just by watching and listening. I hope he did anyway.
We made a lot of progress over the last 17 months and logged some valuable training.
Hands on, on the job, book, computer, simulators and more.
We trained just about any and every way I could think of and Randy passed every test.
Of course sometimes it took more than one try …LOL
Just look at the windshield of the driving simulator …. LOL
I wish we had just a little more time with Randy because we were just starting to work on pump operations and driving the Engine. That may have him a little behind the others in his class but I felt as if there were more important things to focus on. Im not 100% sure that a 1 yr man should be driving anyway. Let em learn the job of being a firefighter before worrying about friction loss and all that.
So you can tell that we stayed busy but we also have had a lot of fun along the way.
Our Company is more than a group of firefighters … we’re a family and we’ve watched Randy grow into Well Trained Firefighter.
We’ve watched him grow into a husband, having married the love of his life… Mrs Dana.
And even watched him grow into a mustache! If you can call that think on his lip a mustache ….LMAO
Our Lieutenant, George Perdue and Senior Firefighter Todd Harris have both worked equally as hard to ensure Randy received the training he needs.
We’ve done our part and now he’s “leaving the nest”.
He’s not excited about going but we’ve told him that in no time, he’ll realize that there’s more out there than Station #13.
It’s a chance to learn, to grow and to become a better firefighter. We told him to hold his head high and maintain the work ethic etc that we taught him. I’m sure he’ll make us proud because he already has!
GOOD LUCK and best wishes to Randy from his family at Station #13…. represent us well. Always remember the 3 things NEVER to fool with …. ( snakes, electricity and hookers with adams apples) and NEVER FORGET where ya came from.
The Brothers and Sisters of B-shift had another busy night.
Lucky #13, led by Captain Phil “Triple D” Dillon was first in on a well involved 2 story residential structure fire.
It took firefighters about 40 minutes to get the fire “under control”. All searches were found to be “all clear” as the house was unoccupied and under renovation. The cause remains under investigation while damages are estimated at $80,000.00 Captain Dillon and his crew made a quick knock down and stretched inside while the 2nd due companies protected the exposure and performed other vital tasks.
You can tell by the photo above right that these Brothers and Sisters faced a pretty substantial amount of fire. The photo (above right) is actually a screen shot from video footage captured on the cell phone of a WDBJ 7 news reporter. The picture to the left is what they managed to save.
It’s obvious that the Brothers and Sisters of B-Shift, North Battalion put in some solid work. Nobody, civilian or firefighter; was injured in the blaze although Captain Dillon (#13-C … left in the photo right from 2007) said at shift break this morning that he hasn’t faced that much heat in quite a while.
Captain Dillon is an “aggressive” firefighter who has seen more than his fair share of work. When he says it was a “hot” one, what he means is that it would have melted the paint off the gates of hell …LOL.
When I say he’s “aggressive”, I should add that it’s a calculated aggression. An educated aggression …a cautious aggressiveness even though the two words contradict themselves (if that makes sense). How do you define aggressive? My good friend and Brother Bill Carey has a great post on that exact topic over on Backstep Firefighter. Click the title below to view that post …
So anyway, I know that Captain Dillon follows my site and what I can’t figure out is why he didn’t deploy the newest firefighting technique recently discovered in Wytheville, Va by Chief Ronnie King. If you haven’t heard of this revolutionary technique, don’t worry. I covered it’s discovery right here in the pages of Ironfiremen.com. Read that post by CLICKING HERE .
I don’t know what Captain Dillon was thinking when he decided to put WATER on the fire! Maybe if he had “thousands and thousands of hours of training” his strategies and tactics would have been different? Anyway, you can see the entire video from WDBJ7 (where the screen shot, top, right photo came from) in the link below. I’ll also add the video from WSLS and the story from the local paper.
We even got to do a little work with our Brothers from Roanoke County.
We’re kind of “out on the border” here at #13. We are right at the line for Roanoke County on one side and the City of Salem on the other.
We have both mutual and automatic-aid agreements with both agencies and it goes both ways. We run into the County and City of Salem and they in turn respond into the City when needed.
Today, we caught a small fire contained in a very confined space above an entrance way.
The job took more overhaul than extinguishment but the members (City and County) did a good job of getting to it.
The location was actually a fairly large church.
Had this fire gone undetected, it could have resulted in a huge loss.
We were first in on this one.
Well, we were the first piece of fire “apparatus” on scene anyway.
Little Brandon Sheppard was actually first on scene and established command.
Yea … Brandon had command and ordered me to work! LOL
My long time followers may remember Brandon from back in our “Melrose Misfits” days. The “powers to be” worked it out where Brandon was allowed to spend a tour with us in the City. He was actually “assigned” to the City as a Roanoke County Firefighter. I’m not sure it had ever been done before.
It was actually an awesome idea and proved to be a great experience for Brandon. Take a moment and read my post (and the comments) from January 25, 2009
I have a lot more to share with ya but I’ll stop here for now. Just for a teaser, I’ll tell that I received some AWESOME upgrades for my Phenix TL2 Leather Helmet. Tomorrow night is our Union’s Annual Banquet (IAFF Local-1132) so I should have some good pics for the next post. Saturday, we sign up for vacation and Father Sandy is scheduled for a visit. Lastly, I have some BIG news concerning our beloved “Rookie Randy” … you’re not going to want to miss it.
We’re also trying to boost my Face book presence. If you haven’t done so already, please visit and like my “Fan Page” Let’s see if I can get to 5,000 by Christmas … I promise to keep ya entertained.
Where else, other than Ironfiremen.com can you find a title like that? LMAO Ok, first off, let me update ya on the roll over accident involving Bedford Engine 1 yesterday. The accident happened as the Engine was responding to a brush fire on Peaks Road. There were 4 members on board and all were transported to local hospitals (at least 1 was air lifted). Initial reports were of 2 members having serious injuries. The good news is that none of the injuries sustained were serious and all 4 members were released from the hospital by late yesterday evening. Bedford’s Engine 1 is a 2007 Seagrave Marauder II. Rhett broke the story yesterday over on FireCritic.com you can read his post HERE . Read some local news coverage HERE and HERE.
For some odd reason, it seems as if arson is on the rise in Roanoke lately.
Earlier in the week, Roanoke Police arrested a man for ransacking a local Church. 21 year old Nathaniel Alan Lutz has been charged with breaking and entering as well as arson. It’s reported that several items inside had been set on fire. Church members became aware of the break in the following morning and called police. The fires had apparently burned themselves out and the Fire Department did not respond. Read some local coverage HERE .
Here’s a pretty cool video for all our animal lovers out there ( Smurf should REALLY love this one). One of my readers, Pat sent it in for us to take a look at. The video was loaded to YouTube by Jack Hillmann. His description says that while driving, he hit 2 falcons. One was killed and the other trapped under his vehicle. Apparently, Jack stopped at a local firehouse for assistance. I can see “Moline Fire Department” on the side of the rig and will assume it’s Moline IL. If you guys know who these Brothers are, please let me know so I can give them credit. I’m sure their efforts made a lasting and positive impression on Mr Hillmann … a positive public image. WELL DONE Brothers!
Apparently, you guys jumped into action and the cards etc have been rolling in to make little Nathan Norman’s Christmas wish come true.
Nathan is 6yrs old and lives in Rustburg, Va. He is battling terminal cancer and had a special request / wish for Christmas. He’s a huge fan of Firefighters, Police, EMS, and Hospital workers. He wanted (hoped) to receive some Christmas cards / pictures from those of us serving in those positions. Rhett and I sent a shirt, Challenge Coin and card …. apparently a lot of you did as well! THANKS! Here’s a post / update his mom recently posted to Face Book …
“We want to once again just thank everyone for your love and support!!!!! There have been so many cards/gifts/emails/visits from police, fire, ems, border patrol, secret service, etc from all over the country. The entire family is so grateful and humbled by the response of everyone. Just to update: Nathan is still on chemotherapy for hopefully up to 18 months. He is doing well on the chemo and as of last month the tumors were stable (cancer was there just not growing). He is still fighting strong while we pray for a cure!”
Another previous post of mine has drawn a lot of attention as well. If you missed “New Firefighting technique developed in Wytheville, Va?” you need to take a minute and read it. Be sure to also read the article from SW Va Today as well …. you’ll LOVE the quotes from Chief King and it’s also what prompted me to write the post (find that article HERE). I did a follow up on the original post and that article can be found HERE. I did the follow up because a few comments I had been receiving. They were obviously from people within or close to the Wytheville Fire Department (or their Auxiliary) and were attempting to defend Chief King and the actions of the WFD.
What still amazes me is that in all of their comments, nobody has offered a rebuttal. They simply continue to question my training, credentials, character and more (including my mustache). They rant about how my information / facts are incorrect yet they fail to offer “their side” of the story.
They still fail to see the seriousness of the issues that were raised and the effects they could have on their Department and community … everything from liability to insurance, ISO ratings and more. Their silence and/or lack of a rebuttal also somewhat implies my information is correct. I also trust my sources to be accurate (one of which being the SW Va Today article where Chief King was quoted). I have spoken directly to at least one of their members over the phone. I even requested a transcript (and/or audio recording) of the incident from their 911 center under the Virginia Freedom Of Information Act . I made the request through Mr Davidson who is listed as “Emergency Mangager/911 Coordinator/Haz-Mat Coordinator” on the County’s web site under the Department of Emergency Management. I believe he is also a member of the Wytheville Fire Department.
My request was made November 21st and on the 26th Mr Davidson responded saying that the incident in question was actually a “Town” call and that he had forwarded the request to the necessary people (their PIO, Chief Dispatcher and Director of Public Safety for the Town). I haven’t received a response from either of these folks as of this post. I added a link to the FOIA a few paragraphs above. To save you the hassle of reading it all, page 5 is where it talks about requesting information and the time frame a Public Body has to respond to a request. Here’s an excerpt .. “Any public body that is subject to this chapter and that is the custodian of the requested records shall promptly, but in all cases within five working days of receiving a request, provide the requested records to the requester or make one of the following responses in writing:” It also says “Failure to respond to a request for records shall be deemed a denial of the request and shall constitute a violation of this chapter”.
I mentioned in my update post that the Wythe County Board of Supervisors has earned faith in being able to make the right vs popular decision on issues such as this. I maintain that faith and hope they work quickly to resolve some of these issues before someone gets seriously injured (or worse). Ok, so back to the comments. I’ve actually stopped replying to many of them. Trying to debate the issues with some of these folks is just a wast of time. It’s like playing cards with my brothers kids or something. Some of them are quite interesting though … like this one posted to my Face Book page from “Jacob” (I’ll need to censor some of it …you’ll understand)
“Wow I am very sorry to say that all your info on Wytheville FD is false. I have 2 presents for you so if you could send me your address you will kindly recieve a rope and a vibrator. GO F**K YOURSELF AND HANG YOUR ASS WHEN DONE. Ron King is a great man and the 2 houses that are now a loss is not his fault. One was a fully involved structure fire when they arrived NOT “room and contents fire” like you mentioned. I do not hear the family complaining about the house being gone to the county or even the town. The fd did what they needed to do and thats it. Chief King was smart not to send them inside with hoses and yes you are correct about ONE thing. they used small diameter hoses….. DUH did you really think they were going to drag the 5″ out and carry it into the house. Your eyes must be in your mouth and that mustache is affecting your vision. You also said that you have not heard from the 911 dispatchers or the department.. HMMMMM So where are you getting your information on repsonse time and the fact that they had to call for a tanker. Maybe you should get all your facts together before you start running your damn mouth. OR in this case your fingers. If you are going to bash a fd do it to one that actually has problems like ******* Springs FD in NC or ******* cnty FDs since they dont let women in the departments and that ******* Springs has someone in the dpt just a year after he sexually assulted a female in training there. You are a disgrace. Iron firemen my ass. You panzy ass looking shit. Remind me to never live in your departments area. It would take you even longer to get to my house fire because you mustache would slow your asses down”
Rope and a vibrator?? …. WOW! This guy is going all out. He must be rich!
I wonder how he knows about my back ache? I’ve always heard that vibrators can do wonders for a sore back but I’ve never tried one.
I’m so excited in anticipation of these gifts that I researched them on the internet… who knew there were so many options? Different colors even! Decisions …decisions!
I actually though they were called massagers and I would have never guessed that you don’t have to plug them into an outlet anymore? You gotta love the power of batteries.
Anyway, I just wanted to thank Jacob for his comment (and gift offer). It was obviously very well thought out, to the point and very articulate. By simply pointing out that the family is not complaining about their house burning down, or that the WFD members didn’t stretch 5″ in for an attack, he has already educated me beyond my expectations on the issues surrounding these incidents. Maybe I should offer him a “guest post” here on Ironfiremen.com so others can share in his knowledge and experience. Of course, some of the other comments I’ve received are just as good as Jacob’s so I may have to allow for more than one.
I’ll think that one over and meanwhile, you folks stay SAFE and in house!
The comments etc are heating up following my last post surrounding several issues in Wythe County Va. … more specifically, the Wytheville Fire Department.
Some are even trying to make me out as the “bad guy” here.
It’s been suggested that I am untrained and lack the intellect to publish my opinion or comments on Fire/EMS related issues pertaining to communities that I don’t live in (For some unknown reason, apparently; my mustache is also partly to blame …lol).
There are several issues here and, if you’ll stick with me; we’ll go over them.
First off, this is MY site. The views and opinions published here are MINE. They are in no way connected to, approved by or endorsed by my employer. With that said, I would hope that my 25+ years in Fire/EMS (paid and volunteer) along with my certifications, experience etc does allow for me to form an educated, valid opinion on such issues. This site is merely an outlet for me to voice them. With all due respect, if you don’t like the stories I publish … don’t read them. I value your opinion and your right to disagree with mine. My comment policy is open as long as it’s kept civil. There are a few words / phrases that will cause your comment not to be “approved” but it has nothing to do with whether or not you agree with or speak positive of me or this site (very few comments have NOT been approved … none pertaining to the Wytheville post).
I’ve been asked … why “pick on” Wytheville, their Fire Department and the Chief?
I’m not “picking on” any of them. I’m publishing information related to issues that I see as problematic for the Fire Service and the communities we serve.
They are not small issues either …. there are some very serious problems exposed in my post and many more questions left unanswered.
I see myself as an advocate for the Fire Service. Like my father, I too am a firefighter and I take a lot of PRIDE in that. I have that same PRIDE for the Brothers and Sisters who came before us … the ones who helped build the American Fire Service and bring us to the level at which we are today … the best in the world! That’s why I titled this site as I did … a reflection back to the days of “Wooden Ladders and Iron Firemen”.
I’m an advocate for firefighters, paid and volunteer alike. “Everyone Goes Home” is not just a “catch phrase” for me. I work extensively with multiple organizations to directly support Departments and their members in need. I am fortunate enough to be able to do so on a level greater than just the community I serve.
I’m also an advocate for those we protect …our citizens … our communities …. large and small. Part of our duty as firefighters is public education and I believe it goes deeper than fire prevention. I think we also need to educate our customers on acceptable levels of service. What SHOULD they expect from their Fire Department? They also need education on what’s needed to meet those standards as far as funding, staffing, training, equipment etc. In some communities, our firefighters need that same education.
So, back to Wytheville. I’ve been posting about Wythe County for some time now. It all started back when I posted about the issues in Botetourt County and convicted felons serving on Fire/EMS agencies. Several months back, Wythe County made a bold and smart decision (in my opinion) in not allowing felons to actively serve. They also faced issues within the Speedwell VFD and were forced to make another bold decision that closed the doors “in the interest of Public Safety”.
The Wythe County Board of Supervisors has earned my faith in being able to make the right vs popular decision. I think they acted appropriately in both of the previous situations. Find Wythe County’s web site HERE.
Now, they’re facing issues within the Wytheville Fire Department and I believe they can all be traced back to poor leadership / management. These issues are not new, nor were they “made up” by me. Where is the first place to look within a Department when you have issues such as these??? The Chief. In this case, The Wytheville Fire Department’s Chief is Ronnie “Ron” King ( find his Firefighter Nation Bio HERE )
I don’t know Chief King personally, nor do I have anything “against” him. This is NOT a personal attack. For all I know, Chief King is a great person and an upstanding member of his community.
I’ll just add that it takes more than that to be the Chief of a Department. Among other things, it takes responsibility. Responsibility for his members and the community they’re sworn to serve and protect.
Most recently, the Wytheville Fire Department has had 2 fires within a week. The fires were just miles apart and approx 5.8 miles from their station. Both homes were a total loss. Now don’t get me wrong … houses burn down … urban and rural. I’ve made plenty of vacant and parking lots over my career. What troubles me is some of the details involved in these fires.
A secure, well established water supply seems to be at least one of the issues on both incidents. Was the Wytheville Fire Department not aware that water is an issue in this area? Have they not Pre-Planned this area and made preparations for water? Why are neighboring jurisdictions not automatically dispatched to these areas to assist with tankers? Do they not have automatic and mutual aid agreements within their own County? Is this a Department or County issue?
Are all the tankers in the County outfitted the same? Do they have the same diameter hose, type of couplings etc? Are they compatible with each other? If not, are the members aware and do they carry the necessary adapters? All this information should be worked out well in advance of a fire.
It’s been said that there were “issues” with a dry hydrant on one of the fires. Was this a training issue, equipment failure or something else? What exactly was that problem and who is working to correct it?
The Chief was quoted in an article talking about the “new technique” he deployed on the Crockett’s Cove Road fire. They basically preformed salvage efforts as opposed to extinguishing the fire (members did enter the Chase Lane fire for interior attack and searches). It made no sense. I’m not alone in my thoughts here … watch the video (just for a good laugh) and then read the article and the comments from SW Va Today in the link below….
(Also read comments from my Face Book pages HERE and HERE)
I’d love to know more details and the thought process here. If the house was too well involved to enter for suppression efforts, then what made it safe enough for salvage operations? I’m pretty well versed on strategy and tactics yet I still can’t make sense of this operation ( “new technique”). Maybe instead of cutting the exterior walls, they could have cut a hole in the roof for ventilation? Knocked it down from the exterior before pushing in (transitional attack)? I don’t want to “Monday morning quarterback” this one to death but there just seems to have been so many more options. BASIC options that may have resulted in the saving of more than a few guns, some cloths and an x-box.
I’m sure there were factors on scene that I’m not aware of … after all, I wasn’t there. I’m curious as to the minimum level of training within their Department. How many of their members are “certified” for interior operations? How many of those were on scene of the Crockett’s Cove fire?
How often to they train? What are the topics and who are the instructors? Do they have a Training Chief (Officer)? Do they ever train with their neighboring Departments?
How many members do they have on the roster? How many were on scene and in what time frame? Do they use the Incident Management System and if so, how are they accountable for those members? What is their policy on responding in personal vehicles?
I believe the town staffs a single paid member at the station who acts as a Driver / Operator (engineer). Do they allow this member to leave the station with a staffing of only one?
So many of these questions/factors could have fatal consequences if not answered / addressed. Do they have the “it will never happen here” mentality? I hope not…. the results can be devastating…FATAL.
Can you imagine the NIOSH report should something ever happen when tactics like these are being deployed on a regular basis? Who would they hold accountable? The County? The Town? The Department? The Chief? The Training Officer? It doesn’t matter because it wont bring back the dead. Death is not an “illusion” … it’s VERY REAL and never pretty.
Again, more and more questions arise. Minimum staffing. Just how effective is a single member responding on a piece of apparatus? Did you watch that video above … YOU NEED TO. Yea.. but our members live close and can get there quick. Really? How quick? How fast will they have to drive to do so? There have been 73 Line of Duty Deaths so far this year. 46.6% of them were volunteers. 15.1% of those were while responding (find the entire report and more details HERE).
Again, I think I’ve raised some legitimate questions and concerns. If the members of the Wytheville Fire Department have become complacent, they need to WAKE UP. Firefighting is NOT a hobby!Maybe the residents of Wythe County don’t expect more .. if they don’t, they’re being cheated and the Wytheville Fire Department is doing their community a disservice. From what I’ve seen, the money spent on turnout gear and suppression equipment could be better spent somewhere else. They could run a salvage crew (related links HERE and HERE) and do the same as what they appear to be accomplishing now.
I should add here that I’m certain the Wytheville Fire Department, as well as Wythe County; has some GREAT firefighters. These Brothers and Sisters have a response area that includes 2 major Interstates (I-81 and I-77), urban / wild land interface, industrial complexes etc. I hope they have a Chief capable of leading them in the right direction … Im not sure they do and if I’m right, I hope they find one. Their lives (and those of their community) depend on it.
I hope that by shedding light on these issues, the Wytheville Fire Department will emerge a better trained, safer and more efficient Department. That’s up to them and their leadership. I’ll extend an offer to these Brothers and Sisters to help in any way possible … all they have to do is ask.
I’ll remind those who commented stating that my facts in the original post were wrong that I attempted to contact the parties involved before publishing. I even requested transcripts from their 911 coordinator (who I believe is also a volunteer with the Wytheville Fire Department) through the Freedom Of Information Act so I could assure my timelines were accurate and read the communications first hand. So far, I have only been contacted by the Auxiliary and a member of the WFD who was pictured in the post.
Instead of following my site, maybe these folks should keep up with our good friend Dave Statter (Statter911.com) …. ok … they should follow us both.
Dave would have told them to reply to my requests and “get out in front” of the “issues”. That’s always better than playing “catch up” in these type of incidents .
Had they have replied, I would have been able to publish their “side” of the story. The side that despite all the comments etc, I still haven’t heard. Some of the comments are saying I have it all wrong but nobody is telling me what’s right.
As always, the comment section remains open. I’ll be back on duty tomorrow and check back in with ya as soon as possible. Until I do … stay SAFE and in House!
I’ve heard a lot of troubling news out of Wytheville, Va lately. The latest reports just shine more light on how bad the situation in Wythe County, Va really is.
You may remember back in August 2012 when I posted about the County (Wythe) closing the doors of the Speedwell Volunteer Fire Department. They cited ”a lack of formal training” as just one of the reasons for the closure.
I later learned that they also had some trouble surrounding the former Speedwell Chief, Michael Hale; who had been convicted of felony embezzlement.
Apparently, the County’s Chief Officer problem is not isolated to Speedwell.
In less than a week, the Wytheville Fire Department has had 2 house fires less than 4 miles apart in the Crockett’s Cove section of the County. Both homes were a total loss … burnt to the ground. The incidents happened just 5.8 miles from their station.
A lot of the reports I’m getting seem to point to poor leadership / management within the Department. In my opinion, some of the stories even border negligence.
Before I go further, let me say that I attempted to contact many of the parties involved. I even requested a transcript of the latest incident from the Counties E911 director, Mr Davidson. I explained that I was working on a story surrounding these incidents and wanted to assure the information I have is as accurate as possible. I have yet to receive a reply from any of the people / agencies I contacted.
The latest fire occurred at 214 Crockett’s Cove Road on Friday, November 16, 2012 @ 2:15 pm (5.8 miles from the Wytheville Fire Department).
The home was a “TOTAL LOSS” with damages estimated at $75,000.
One of the sad things surrounding this incident is that they (the Wytheville Fire Department) are almost bragging about it!
The Chief, Ronnie King ??? He’s taking FULL CREDIT.
A local paper, SW Va Today; even used the headline ”Firefighters try out new technique in fire“.
“King, who thought of the idea, said he had never studied the technique in all of his years as a firefighter. I’d never heard of such a thing in all my hours of training, and I’ve had thousands and thousands of hours of training,” he said. “We plan on using it again.”
Chief King boasts 24 years in Fire / EMS. Read his Firefighter Nation Profile HERE
My first question is why Chief King didn’t name or title this new, revolutionary technique? He could have easily dubbed it something simple … maybe the “watch us let your house burn down technique”.
You see, instead of fighting the fire, which started in the living room and was “room and content” upon arrival; King directed his members to go straight to salvage operations.
Yes … SALVAGE. I don’t know how Chief King never learned that term in his “thousands and thousands of hours of training”. It’s such a simple term .. SALVAGE.
They cut a hole in an exterior wall on the opposite side of the home from the room of origin. They then formed a human chain to pass out firearms, clothing and even an X-Box. (click on the picture to enlarge it and you’ll see the members operating at the “hole”)
I need to get on the phone to Bobby Halton, Ray McCormick and a few other Brothers because apparently we’re going to have to change the technique of VES (Vent Enter Search) to Vent Enter Salvage.
When the Chief finally decided to try the technique the rest of American Firefighters use, putting water on the fire; he pulled small diameter hoses, attempted an exterior attack and quickly ran out of water…. IMAGINE THAT.
It’s my understanding that the Chief (Department) has a strict policy on interior firefighting. It’s very seldom attempted and then only at the discretion and orders of the Chief. The same policy applies to calling for mutual aid or additional resources such as a TANKER (Reports are that it was 45 minutes into the incident before mutual aid tankers were requested).
Egos, power struggles and a lack of training all seem to be prominent issues within the Wytheville Fire Department. The “good ol boy” system at work again as the Chief is elected by the members.
Here are some questions for the Chief …. Why did you not enter the house and attempt to extinguish the fire? Why did you not enter to “search”?
His reply is going to be that it was more than “room and content” upon arrival (it wasn’t). That the fire was too heavily involved.
Why then did you enter for salvage operations? Why did the members performing this “new technique” not have on proper PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) such as SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus)?
What if the room you opened up was the bathroom? What would you have salvaged then? Did you know it was a bedroom in advance? Did you use a chain saw or rotary saw? Was the power company on scene, did you pull the meter or cut cut through the live wires?
Why waste water on a pile of rubble? If you let the house burn down, why not just let it burn itself out (note the small diameter hose line still in use in the picture above left)?
Did your members run out of pizza? Yea … PIZZA. Apparently, the Wytheville Fire Department has a VERY supportive Auxiliary. Several pizzas were delivered to the scene and consumed while the home continued to burn. Yea .. a house burning party in celebration of Chief King’s new X-box saving technique and it all happened in front of the residents!
Now, I’m all for salvage operations and firefighter rehab but COME ON…. pizza! Salvage is a vital part of our job but the best way to perform salvage is to extinguish the fire! Maybe then, these residents would have a TV to play their X-box on. Maybe they would have a home to put it in?
Apparently, Chief King is not a quick learner because he faced similar problems on the fire at 193 Chase Lane just a few days earlier on November 12th.
Once again, members ran out of water and there was a delay in requesting mutual aid tankers.
The use of small diameter hose lines was also reported.
The fire was said to have started “in the chimney” and the results were a total loss with damages estimated at over $70,000.
Smoke detectors alerted the residents of this home who all were able to escape without injury.
The Wytheville Fire Department protects approx. 13,400 residents.
They cover a response area of 91.14 square miles.
Their claim an average response time of 3-7 minutes to their approximately 200 calls per year.
The Town of Wytheville has an ISO rating of 6 while the County’s rating is 9.
Here are some of the members giving a “thumbs up” at the Chase Lane fire. I guess they’re thankful to be alive.
Note the clean dry gear, the lack of SCBA and the small diameter hose line.
We can only hope Wythe County Administrators get a quick handle on this situation before there is a LODD (Line Of Duty Death) or the loss of civilians.
They seemed to have handled their Felon problem as well as the Speedwell issues rather swiftly. I believe that some of the Council members are actually volunteers themselves (hopefully that gives them a better understanding of the severity of these issues). They should at least start by dispatching additional tankers (or more) on all reported structure fires.
I’ll keep ya updated on the situation as best possible. I hope everyone enjoyed the Thanksgiving Holiday and remembered to think about our Brothers and Sisters out there pulling a tour away from their families.
Not to confuse the two, Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving.
Veterans day’s origins reach all the way back to 1918 with the German’s signing of the armistice, on the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month; ending World War I.
Right or wrong, I look at Veteran’s Day in a little different light. I say that because in my thoughts and reflections of this day, I include Fire, Rescue and Police members. I do that because in a way, we too are Veterans. Meaning no disrespect to those who have served in our armed forces, we too have stood on the “front lines” here at home. We are often the first to respond and first on scene when terrorism strikes here at home. In each and every City and Town, we are the first line of defense.
The photo to the right is the Header from a web site I happened across.
“The goal of this effort is to create and strengthen the connection between those who serve in the military and those who serve in the fire service as a means of bolstering both their ranks, their morale and their respect for each other’s work. We have plenty in common.”
“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.” -Elmer Davis
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” -John Fitzgerald Kennedy
THANKS YOU … to all our Veterans. THANKS to all who have served, over seas or at home. May God bless and protect each and every one you. May he also comfort and watch over your families while you’re away.
(Use the link above for more Veteran’s Day quotes from the Huffington Post.)
Back on the job, it’s been BUSY, BUSY here in “the Noke”. Today is the last of the cycle for C-Shift and many have earned our upcoming 4-day break.
Last day, Friday; the Brothers and Sisters of the North Side were facing a series of suspected arsons. Actually, the South Side was affected as well seeing as how Engine #6 took in a fire in North East and ended up on the nozzle.
The incidents began around 11pm and lasted well into the morning.
There were several vehicle fires, one with extension to a structure; and a house fire (unoccupied).
I love the media coverage of these incidents (what little there was). If you didn’t know better, it sounds like PD handled the incidents. That could be really good news for Roanoke’s Bravest because if the Police Officers are going to handled the fires, maybe the firefighters will get guns !?! LMAO … who do ya think that would work out?
Speaking of Engine #6, I got to work on the SouthEast Express with the Brothers and Sisters of A-Shift yesterday.
I was paying back some time I owed to Brad Creasy ..aka “Bedford” (pronounced BED FUD).. LOL
I had the boys a bit worried. I had been off sick the day before and wasn’t 100%. I was uncharacteristically quiet and it had em on their toes.
We had a good shift and even got to get out and enjoy the day with the community.
I love working that section of town and out of that House. Dad spent the majority of his career there and it’s where I made Lieutenant. I have a ton of GREAT memories from my days there, working and/or visiting dad.
Away from the station, it’s been just as busy. So busy in fact, that Rhett even had to make a post on IronFiremen on my behalf.
Well, that’s kind of the truth. You see, a previous Volunteer Fire Chief from our area is back in the news. The charges against him keep getting worse and worse. This time, it’s RAPE.
It was recommended by a Judge that I refrain from posting on this upstanding citizen and I did. Rhett, however; was able to get the story out and keep you all updated on the latest.
There are several issues from this story that need attention. Several lessons to be learned. I think I can talk about them without making “Mr innocent” the center of attention. I’ll try to get those posts up soon. Meanwhile, check out the Fire Critic’s quest post on Ironfiremen.com by clicking the link below.
I think he did a good job with the article and I can’t wait to see how the rest of this story unfolds. Thanks for taking the time Brother!
I say thanks for taking the time because Rhett is just as busy, if not more; as I am lately.
He’s been slamming the posts out over on the Fire Critic web site.
This is his busiest time of year posting wise.
To begin with, this is the time of year when he announces his picks for the Top Ten Firefighter Calendars. He does the list for both Male and Female Firefighter Calendars. If ya missed that post, use the links below ….
The 2013 Top Ten Calendars as chosen by The Fire Critic…
This is also the time of year when Rhett puts out his Top Ten list for “Christmas Gifts for Firefighters”
This is my favorite list that he puts out all year. It’s always FULL of great gift ideas for the firefighter in your life. As much as I hate to mention it, Christmas is just a little over a month away. Get that shopping done early and allow for shipping time. He changed his format just a little this year and actually has several items in various categories. It’s a GREAT list … check it out below …
We’ve also been busy over on another one of our sites that you may find helpful here at Christmas.
Of course, this site is a good one for firefighters year round … not just at Christmas.
The site is unique in that we allow you … the reader and consumer to “rate” the product as well. This way, you’re not just getting our opinion … you’re getting those of Brothers and Sisters from all across the world.
We have several new reviews up and several more awaiting posting. If you have a product you’d like us to review, CLICK HERE . Check out our reviews through the link below …
I guess I should catch ya up seeing as how I haven’t posted since Halloween.
Not only was Halloween a busy shift, it was a busy cycle. We worked Monday, Wednesday and Friday last week. I HATE that cycle. This time, I even managed to squeeze in Hurricane Sandy, her aftermath and Halloween into the mix. You can read my Halloween post HERE .
My “black cloud” followed me the entire cycle, Friday was no better than Monday or Wednesday.
We had two small fires, one on the North Side, the other South Side.
The common denominator with the two seemed to be Engine Company #4, They were first in on both incidents (Smoke and More … running 4 !).
The first was a report of smoke inside and apartment. Members arrived to find a moderate smoke condition inside a second floor apartment.
The trouble was, there was no fire. Their investigation continued to the floor below where they located the source of the smoke. With the assistance of Ladder 5, the fire was quickly knocked down and the structure ventilated. Nobody was displaced and damages were minimal.
Later in the evening, Engine 4 would arrive to a single story ranch, residential structure to find a chimney fire in progress.
It’s funny how at this time of year we always see something like this incident. October is Fire Safety Month and our Department does an excellent job of educating / reminding our citizens about smoke detectors, batteries, chimney inspections, E.D.I.T.H (Exit Drills In The Home), Having 2 ways out, Meeting places, Stop, Drop and Roll etc.
All this work and effort yet we still see fires / incidents that could have been avoided.
Anyway, once again; the members on scene did a great job. Engine 4 was assisted by Ladder 7, Engine 1, Engine 8 and Medic 4, Battalion 1 and RS1. They got the fire out of the box (stove), used a dry chem, chimney bombs, PPV and chains to clear the flue. The better news is that they performed these operations without causing damage to the home (smoke etc) so once again, nobody was displaced.
While we’re talking about fires, I’ll back up to the small one I had Halloween evening. I managed to be first in with the Chief’s buggy and established command. All members on scene, as always; did a GREAT job. I have some of the audio from the fire and will share it with you. It’s nothing spectacular. I’m not sure it sounds as smooth as it ran because a lot of my orders etc were done face to face. Everyone seemed to arrive at the same time (which is a good thing). Again I’ll remind you that, in my Department; our Incident Command model works toward 3 Bench Marks … “All Clear” on Primary and Secondary Searches, “Under Control” and “Loss Stopped”. You hear use make all three in the audio below…
Again, the good news was that we had no major incidents over the cycle (Monday’s post found HERE). With that said, the calls seemed to keep coming in … one after the other. I managed to throw my helmet up on the dash and turn on my FD Cam during one of our runs, If you’re not familiar with FD Cams, check them out by CLICKING HERE.
It’s a GREAT camera! Rhett and I both have one and should have a review up very soon over at Fire Product Review.com . Take a short ride with me while responding in the Battalion buggy by watching the video below ….
So that was some of the work that went on last cycle but, there was also some fun squeezed in as well.
The North Battalion runs out of Station #5 and C-shift has a great crew, Three of the members were adopted from The Melrose Misfits so it’s almost like being home again when I work out of that house… ALMOST.
They’re a strong crew. They work and train hard but they also play hard. You never have trouble finding a good laugh around this bunch!
Since it was Halloween, the boys figured to get some candy for the Trick or Treaters. Of course, they had to get some of those super sour tarts for themselves as well.
It wasn’t long until the shenanigans began.
Who could eat the most of em at one time?
Who could tolerate them the longest?
Who would be the first to give in?
Of course the only thing funnier than watching Wheezy suffer through a mouth full of em was watching him convince Carlie that it wasn’t “that bad”…
LMAO … yep … She tried it!
Poor gal. Actually, the pictures don’t do it justice… you had to be there.
I do have to say that she took it like a Champ. Had I have been the Judge, Carlie would have been crowned the winner. She’s tougher than she looks … that is until the “Boogie Man Mask” comes out. Then she screams like a… well…. she SCREAMED! LMAO
The boys caught her heading to the bunk room. The put the Boogie Man Mask on and met her (unexpectedly) at the door. I think they took about 10 years off her life! LMAO … I know … they used to get me ALL THE TIME with that damn mask! Check it out…
Ok, the wind everything up, I’ll just add that between chores, the Buckaroo and I did get out and vote .
I’m not going to say which way I went, nor will I bitch or gloat about the results. I will say that I’m honored to live in a Country where I have that choice. My voice was heard, regardless of the results.
With that said, I hope to now be part of the solution … not the problem. I will support our government anyway I can in hopes of improving our way of life.
I hope you can find a way to do the same.
In closing, please continue to keep our Brothers and Sisters on the Northeastern Coast in your thoughts and prayers and they continue to recover and rebuild.
Stay SAFE and in House … I’ll check back in as soon as possible.
Yesterday was Halloween and I jinxed myself with my last post. I had hoped that like with Hurricane Sandy, we may be spared.
It wasn’t too bad (as bad as it could have been or as bad as others had it) but in our line of work, even one call is too many.
I’m riding “the car” as the acting Battalion for the North side and, that’s never good news for our Brothers and Sisters of C-Shift.
It was a typical tour until around 5pm…. then it started.
Our first notable call was for a possible house fire. I was first in with the Chief’s buggy to find smoke showing from the attic (sides Delta and Bravo) of a single story, wood framed, family dwelling. I gave the size up, marked it a working fire and established Command.
Engine #2 was close behind, pulled past and was assigned Division 1 (offensive attack).
I had been met by the occupants, stating that the fire was in the kitchen but extending through the walls / ceiling. I relayed that info to Captain Graham (E2) as his crew made the stretch and I made a 360 degree walk around. My initial size-up held.
Engine #5 was next in and would lay a line from E2 to our closest hydrant just a block away. Ladder #2 took the address and was assigned “search” and “ventilation” and set portable ladders to sides Delta and Bravo at the gable vents.
Next in was E3 who made the stretch into the attic for extension, while Medic 2 established RIC (Rapid Intervention Crew). Medic Unit 101 was assigned as the Medical Division and Medic #5 was attached to interior crews.
Our EMS supervisor, RS1; was assigned Safety and took position on side Charlie. Engine #1 was held in staging while the South Battalion assisted me. All members on scene did a great job of bringing the fire under control very quickly.
In our system, Command (and the members) are working towards three bench marks. “All Clear” on the searches, Primary and Secondary. “Fire Under Control” and “Loss Stopped”.
This fire was small but had gotten into the walls and made its way to the attic.
The boys did a great job of getting above it, cutting it off and extinguishing it.
Walls had to be pulled both interior and exterior as well as some ceiling. Everything was wet down, checked and double checked with the TIC (Thermal Imaging Camera).
Crews had 3 lines off (all 1 3/4″). One on the first floor, another to the attic and the third on the exterior where they had to pull siding etc near the point of origin / extension.
Again, quick work and a job well done by all members on scene!
After this job, the calls continued to roll in. Just as we sat down for dinner, we were toned out for a commercial alarm a nursing home. This is one of our “regular” runs, 99% of the time a false alarm or system malfunction.
Dispatch called radioed me while en route to advise that employees had called 911 to confirm smoke from one of the rooms….. GEESH!
I marked another “working fire” before the first unit even arrived. I’d rather have em on the road and not need them than need them and have to wait. Especially at a nursing home.
As it turned out, most of the “smoke” was from where employees had discharged several dry chemical extinguishers. The incident was easily handled by 2 Engines and a Ladder so the assignment was downgraded.
The evening continued with MVAs (Motor Vehicle Accidents), Automated Alarms and Medical runs. Thankfully, we had no major losses and all our members went home this morning. All considered it was a good night.
There were plenty of Brothers and Sisters all across the Country who were not as fortunate.
There was both good and bad news out of Detroit.
The good news is that they didn’t see an increase in fires this year. The bad news is that they still had 93 fires over the 3 days they consider Halloween.
Rhett also has some raw video of fires in Detroit over on Fire Critic.com … CLICK HERE .
Follow this site on Face Book. Click HERE and “Like” the page!
There were also Brothers and Sisters up and down the Eastern seaboard still working in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Members in New York, New Jersey and many other States were still going door to door today looking for folks in need of assistance.
They found more than that. The death toll from Hurricane Sandy has now grown to over 80 across 9 states… 38 of those were in New York.
Gas mains are broken and burning, buildings are unstable and collapsing. Raw sewage is draining into water systems (the few remaining anyway). Electrical systems remain under water and cluttered with debris. Like I’ve said before, the situation my look better for the public, simply because the winds have died and the water receded; but for us the conditions are just as hazardous.
Fire stations were flooded and much of their equipment lost.
Members were working to save people they’ve never met while their own families and possessions were in danger.
Several members ended up fighting fires in their own homes and neighborhoods. Sandy was DEVASTATING to say the least.
These Brothers and Sisters represented our profession well. A true display of Tradition, Pride, Honor and Respect.
Now, they need our help … a show of BROTHERHOOD. How will these Departments rebuild? How long will it take? Where will the money come from? I want you to consider donating through the National Firefighters Endowment (NFE).
The NFE has set up a Relief Fund to provide immediate assistance. They have already received requests for an Engine and Ambulance and the NFE is close to filling the order.
If you can donate .. anything, use the link below. If your Department was affected by Sandy and needs immediate assistance for equipment replacement, use the link below. If you’re a company or business that would like to partner with us in our efforts, also use the link below.
Share and Post it to Face Book, Twitter and whatever Social Media you may use. Help get the word out and these Brothers and Sisters the equipment they need. ANYTHING you can do … ANYTHING you can send, we’ll take. If you’re not sure how to help or what you can do, call Shane Parkins, President of NFE @ (916) 572-1502.
TOGETHER, we can and will make a difference. BROTHERHOOD will prevail !
Hummmmm…… decisions, decisions… I’m kinda thinking the “trick” may not be so bad.. LOL
Everyone thinks I’ve been a little hard on the Medics here lately so, this picture is just for them. You’re welcome.
HAPPY HALLOWEEN from ironfiremen.com.
I say that with some hesitation because there are many on (and near) the East Coast who I’m sure are not in the celebrating mood.
Thanks to hurricane Sandy, many are living in Emergency Shelters. An unknown, but high; loss of houses and businesses. Millions without power. A death toll of at least 48 including Lt. Russ Neary of Easton, Connecticut’s Line Of Duty Death (Details found by clicking HERE) .
I put some links, including video; in my previous post. Click the title below…
If you’re out celebrating Halloween tonight, please take a moment to remember those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Better yet, send more than a thought their way … DONATE directly to Hurricane Sandy Relief through The National Firefighters Endowment by clicking the link below…
So it’s Halloween and other than the Hurricane, my thoughts turn to the Detroit Fire Department. There, tonight is known as “Devils Night” due to the large number of fires they face.
Many plans are put into place in efforts to curb the mischief but their resources are still overwhelmed. Last year, they seen a 44% reduction in fires (from 169 to 94). Fire Engineering has more HERE . Let’s hope the trend continues. More on Detroit Firefighters (including a link to live dispatch) HERE .
My thoughts then turn to here because I’m riding as the Acting Battalion for the North Side this cycle.
Typically, that’s not good news for the Brothers and Sisters of C-shift.
Like I stated in my previous post, we were fortunate to have only faced high winds and cold temperatures from Hurricane Sandy. I hope my luck holds out for tonight as well. We’ll see.
To all the Chauffeurs pulling a tour tonight, keep an extra eye out for all those “trick or treaters” out there.
My Halloween actually started a little early. I worked an extra shift and covered for the Fire Critic (Lt Rhett Fleitz) this past Saturday.
The Company was assigned 2 Pub-Ed events that day, the second of which was a “Trunk or Treat” event at a nearby school.
With an estimated 2,700 kids, the place was PACKED and a huge success.
We seen some GREAT costumes, both home made and purchased. I included this one because of the little guy in the Hulk Costume (Station #3 uses the Hulk as their mascot)
I had several favorites in the crowd.
This little fella was Super Mario.
I’m not sure if he was just smiling that big or if he had his mustache on upside down.
Either way, the little guy looked good. He LOVES fire trucks and was just as fascinated with my stache …lol
Hopefully, the Buckaroo will get by the Station tonight (and more hopeful that I’ll be here) so I can see him in his costume. I’ll get some pictures up if he does.
I’d also love to see some pics of your “Trick or Treaters”.
Does your station even have Trick or Treaters stop by?
Do you carve a pumpkin (jack-o-lantern) for your station?
Send me some pics and I’ll run em here on Ironfiremen.com. I will also create a photo album on Face Book to share them (or I’ll trick Rhett into doing it over at FireCritic.com)
Like with so many of the “little” things we do, I think this is a GREAT way to show PRIDE and HONOR in your Department, Company and the JOB. It’s also a great way to interact with your community / customers.
Face Book is making it more difficult these days so in addition, hold your cursor over the “message” tab (upper right of the page). When the drop down box appears, click “add to interest” and you should start getting IronFiremen.com feeds.
I’ll try to get another post up Halloween night but it will all depend on how busy we stay. Again I’ll ask you to keep those affected by Hurricane Sandy in your thoughts and prayers. If able, use the link in this post to donate directly to the relief efforts through The National Firefighters Endowment First Responder Relief Fund.
Also keep the First Responders in your thoughts as they continue with recovery efforts. This time is often as hazardous as the initial event.
Lastly, show some firehouse PRIDE tonight. Carve a pumpkin. Open the house doors and pass out some candy. Make a kid smile … they’ll remember you for it!
Hurricane Sandy didn’t hit S.W. Virginia as hard as expected. We were fortunate. Not all of the East coast was.
I would not have bet on her missing us. Like the hurricane, everything was in place for “the perfect storm”. You see, I’m riding as the acting Battalion for the North Side this cycle. The last time I rode was back on June 29th when a “Derecho” blew through town.
At the time, I didn’t even know what a “Derecho” was. Now, I’ll never forget. We were right smack in the middle of it …. a living HELL. Read my post about that night by clicking the title below.
I say we were fortunate yesterday because as bad as I thought we had it back in June, it was NOTHING compared to what our Brothers and Sisters on the North Eastern Coast (and inland) faced last night.
Sandy made landfall in New Jersey but caused havoc from South Carolina to Maine. She was devastating to say the least. Reports are of at least 48 dead (including a LODD) and millions without power. In New York City, entire blocks burned. Houses were washed away in New Jersey, businesses destroyed and more, much more and worse.
The damages and rebuilding costs are sure to be overwhelming. The loss of life, 10 fold.
Lt. Russ Neary of Easton, Connecticut has been identified as the Firefighter who died in the Line Of Duty. More details in the links below …
For many of the millions in the path of (and affected by) hurricane Sandy, those hours she devoured the East Coast may have very well been the worst of their life.
On the other hand, I feel as if it may have been “our finest hour” for first responders (I say that with all due respect to the affected …. allow me to explain).
You see, those Firefighters, Police Officers, Medics, National Guard, Coast Guard members etc. pulling a tour also lived in Sandy’s path. They knew all to well that their personal lives / property would be affected yet they “stood their post”. It’s what we do !
They stood their post and performed BEAUTIFULLY!
I’ve read reports of members swimming to burning building to make searches / rescues.
Fire trucks loaded onto tractor trailers to better handle the high and rising water in the streets.
Rigs drafting flood water to knock down heavily involved buildings.
Swift Water teams making countless rescues.
Much like those members guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the actions of our Brothers and Sisters in response to hurricane Sandy scream of PRIDE and HONOR.
I should also mention the dispatchers (telecommunicators) on duty during the storm. WOW ! There’s no way we could do what we do without them.
I tried to listen to FDNY’s live dispatch between our runs and they continue to amaze me with their proficiency.
If you’ve never listened in, you should. You’ll be shocked. Take a listen and see what I mean, thanks to our Brothers over at The Bravest.com
There were several individuals (on the larger scale) who stood out in my mind as well.
Folks like Mike Brooks of HLN, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, NYC Mayor Bloomburg and a few more.
I know Mike Brooks personally and he had one hell of a segment on HLN yesterday. I haven’t been able to find it yet so I’ll wait until tomorrow to tell ya why these folks stand out in my mind.
I’ll also give a tip of the hat to my administration. Although we weren’t hit as hard as most (or as expected), we were prepared.
Unlike when the Derecho hit, we were not caught off guard. We were kept informed, given up to date projections / information and provided the necessary resources.
Fortunately, we only faced high winds and cold temps. Apparently the clean up from June’s Derecho was effective because we didn’t see near the number of downed power lines.
The Brothers from Stations #6, #11 and #1 made quick work of a residential fire over in South East. Other than that, we were spared any major incidents.
Just a quick post to say WELL DONE to everyone who pulled a tour during hurricane Sandy. STRONG WORK ! As power is restored and the water recedes, our duties will be just as hazardous. Situational and Positional Awareness !
Stay SAFE and in House … I’ll check back in tomorrow night.
A Dooms, Va. boy is dead following a fatal house fire early Sunday morning (September 30, 2012). Dustyn Fitzgerald was 11 years old and had just started attending Wilson Middle School.
The family was awakened by their 5 year old son’s screams for them to wake up. His room was on fire. The parents and 5 year old’s bedroom were both located on the first floor. Dustyn’s room was on the second.
The home reportedly had smoke detectors in place. The mother stated that they had been recently checked but they were not operating at the time of the fire.
The husband, wife and 5 year old were able to make it safely outside, despite the rapidly deteriorating conditions. The mother, Michelle Gibson; then made several attempts to alert and reach her elder son still trapped on the second floor.
“We were yelling for him and all he kept saying was, mama, mama, I can’t breathe, mama.”
“I kept hollering for him. I thought I heard him coming down the steps but he never came down.”
Meanwhile, a neighbor heard breaking glass and noticed the blaze next door. Flames were shooting from every window as he called 911.
The call was received at 08:31 and the first unit arrived at 08:37.
The picture to the left was taken just moments after their arrival.
A good friend and well respected Chief from Augusta County sent me this photo and a description of the valiant effort and heroics the Brothers and Sisters of Augusta County Fire / Rescue performed that morning.
Volunteer agencies Dooms, Wilson and New Hope along with career units from Augusta County Fire-Rescue Engine 111 and Waynesboro Fire Dept. were assigned to the alarm.
Waynesboro’s crew quickly stretched a line to the Alpha side in a effort to make a knock on the fire and protect the members from Augusta’s E-111 who were entering from the Delta side to perform a primary search. Dooms quickly established Command while Augusta’s Duty Officer had “Operations”.
Despite heavy fire conditions, extreme heat and extension to the floor above, two members from E111, who were described as two of the youngest; pushed to make the 2nd floor where they were able to locate the downed victim. The child was quickly removed from the structure and turned over to awaiting EMS personnel where he was pronounced dead.
Approximately 30 minutes later, the fire was reported under control.
THIS IS WHY WE TRAIN. It is why we are here. Why we do what we do. Although the outcome was tragic, these Brothers and Sisters did everything within their power to change it. They were obviously “Battle Ready”. They were prepared and responded quickly. They were well trained, properly equipped, and disciplined.
Take another look at the picture above left (taken moments after arrival). What would your size up have been? With “confirmed entrapment” reported, would you have taken time for a walk around? What about the Rules of Engagement? How about Survivability Profiling? With only seconds to sum it up and decide, and that much fire showing upon arrival; would you have made the push ?
It was refreshing to read the Chief’s e-mail. The PRIDE he holds for his men, for his Department and the job was evident in his writing. Like him, I too commend the efforts of all members involved. WELL DONE Brothers … keep up the good work!
It’s like scoring the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl. Like hitting the home run with bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, game 7 of the World Series. The play of all plays if you will. If only we were playing a game.
In our line of work, the consequences are much more severe. Here, in the real world; people die. We never want to see these tragedies happen but if and when they do, we want to be there. We want to be the one to find the victim, “make the grab” and save a life. It’s what we train for and why we’re here.
Many of us will work our entire career and never have the opportunity. These are the “lucky” ones. There are a lot more of us who will see more than our fair share of these types of incidents … house fires with entrapment, severe burns, fatal fires, arson / murder etc…. the kind of calls you never forget.
There’s a difference in the calls you never forget and the ones you can’t shake…. I have them both.
I hadn’t been on the job no time when I caught my first fire with Ladder 2 (I believe it was actually less than a month). The Captain had knocked on the window and yelled back to tell us (me and Scott Mutter) that we were going “work”….a “10-71″. Once there, we got off the rig, grabbed our tools and headed to the house to make our searches.
We were met in the front yard by a man pleading for help. He was burned. BAD. His skin was hanging off his body. He was almost “zombie like” in his movement and sounds… arms outward, walking stiff legged. I almost didn’t realize what I was seeing. I want to say “erie” but it was so much more than that … it was scary.
I had never seen a burnt person before much less one walking around pleading for help. We were already masked up and luckily, the Medics were right behind us to render aid. Because it was a “first” for me, this call is one that I will never forget but, in all honesty; it’s not one that I think about or remember often… I have those too.
I also remember my first “grab”. It was January 13, 1994 and I was driving the Battalion Chief.
We got there with smoke showing from a single story brick ranch and people screaming “he’s in the basement”. The Chief (Patton) took the basement door and I went in. I remember hearing him before seeing him. It wasn’t words I heard, it was his struggle for breath. A sound I hadn’t heard before.
Still, I found him quickly. At only about 110lbs, I grabbed him by the wrists and pulled with everything I had. I degloved him in an instant. I then got under his arms and around the chest to place him in a fireman’s drag. I made it back to the basement door where the Chief and others helped get him up the steps and to the yard for medical treatment. He lived for a few days before passing in the burn unit at UVA.
Not too long afterwards, I would move to Engine Company #5 and share the bucket with Scott Mutter ( one of the best firemen I know). At the time, #5 was arguably the busiest house in the City. We seen a ton of work. One year in particular, I believe we had 13 burn victims or fatalities. I remember one night, we were on our 2nd or 3rd fire of the shift. After locating a body in a 2 story, wood frame house fire, one of the guys from Engine #7 asked us about it. He wanted to know how we were always the ones finding the victims or bodies. How were we able to do it so quickly. I think he even surmised that we must have been setting the fires ourselves. Without missing a beat, Scott simply told him “we’ve never found one out here in the front yard” (That statement would not hold true for very long). Having already changed our bottles, we headed back inside the house to finish the job while leaving the inquisitive fireman in the yard to ponder our reply.
I made the 2nd “grab” of my career while assigned to #5, it may have even been the year that we had so many fatalities ….I’m not sure. This one was much like the first in that I heard her first, only time; I knew what the sound was and located her quickly back in the kitchen (1st floor).
I managed to drag her to a front room where other companies had took a window. I passed her out to the boys from Engine #3 and the awaiting Medics. I later learned that she was somehow related to one of our EMS supervisors and that she had lived. Although I’ve never seen or spoken to her since, I will never forget that night and the pride I felt in not only ”doing the job” but “doing it right”.
Again, there are so many things we see and do but will never forget, so many experiences…. good and bad
Of course, like in the link above; even the “good ones” have a dark side. At the other end of the spectrum, try crawling through pitch black darkness reaching out for a sign of life and fearing what it may look like when you’re all of the sudden mask to face with it. The smell of burnt flesh. How severely burnt flesh contorts a body as it shrinks…. drawn lips and melted ears.
As bad as all that sounds, it gets even worse. Although we never forget calls like the ones above, others almost haunt you. Not only do you not forget them, you think about them often … even dream about them. Well, it’s more like a nightmare than a dream and I have those too.
I guess it’s kinda like PTSD . Mine had actually gone away for awhile until triggered by a recent event. Now don’t panic here folks … I’M FINE but the topic etc has been on my mind for a few weeks now (thus my lack in postings) and I figured what better therapy than sharing it with ya.
Scott and I had both made Captain. I was at Station #3 and he was back home at #5 (neighboring houses). We were both on the same shift. The early morning call came in as a house fire in the “projects” just between our two stations. It was May 5, 2002.
I got there first with smoke showing in the street but due to the weather, it was hanging low to the ground and spreading. We were going to have to look for this one.
Both crews scrambled for the source and finally we found the apartment. It was only a minute but seemed like an eternity. My firefighter had the line and made a knock on some fire on the 1st floor while I took Scott’s firefighter to the 2nd floor for a search ( Captain Mutter had established Command).
Because of the apartment layout, I did a left hand search and stuck to it. That meant I passed some doors thinking I’d get back to them on our way out. The fireman with me was fairly new and I didn’t want to separate us.
Our pattern took us to the master bedroom where we found a female victim. I don’t know the legalities involved so I wont give too much detail. I will say that very soon after finding her, there was no doubt that she was dead and that something much worse was going on.
By now, the acting Battalion had arrived and assumed command from Scott. I radioed that I had located a victim but was not bringing them out. Captain Mutter then made his way to us to see what we had found. In the room, I was focused on nothing other than the body and the circumstances in front of me. We were trying to “figure it out” …. what we were looking at…. what was going on. I told Scott and the boys that I was going to do a face to face with the Chief and explain why we were leaving the body. I didn’t know how to nor did I want to say it over the radio.
Scott realized that this was where our (my) search had ended and began making his own (and completing mine/ours). Soon after, he located 2 children, both without a pulse and neither breathing. They were down between the mattress and wall, inside the first room to the right at the top of the steps. It would have been the 1st room I searched had I have done a right hand pattern vs. the left.
They were babies …. just babies. So small that Scott carried (ran) them both out to the ambulance at the same time. The 3-year-old Jaide and 2-year-old Marcasite, were later pronounced dead due to smoke inhalation.
He made the “15 Most Wanted” list and evaded police for months after. His father and brother, Anthony Duane Poindexter, 29, and Robin Leon Smith, 50, both pleaded guilty to one count of being an accessory to arson after the fact.
That’s one of the calls that haunts me still today ( I have another ). I see their faces. They often wake me from my sleep. I see her body. The look on her face and what he did to her. I remember trying to figure out what I was looking at. I see the lifeless bodies of those two children in Scott’s arms. The look on his face as he rushed them to the ambulance. I still feel the hurt of knowing I failed those two children.
I often wonder “what if”. What if I had went right instead of left? What if I had finished my search instead of staying with the adult body and what I was sure was a crime scene? What if we had gotten there quicker? What if Scott and Engine #5 had been 1st in? Would any of it have changed anything?? I’m not sure but at least they may have had a better chance… I’ll never know.
I haven’t had those dreams or woken up in a panic for a couple years now. That is until a few weeks ago anyway. I had a similar incident (not involving children) just a few weeks back and apparently it has rekindled all these old memories. Once again, I find myself unable to sleep or awake in the middle of the night checking to make sure the Buckaroo is not between his mattress and the wall.
I missed another one. I entered the structure as “search group 3″. The initial searches were negitive but the IC was almost sure someone was still inside the home.
I sent George left while I went right. Because of the previous story, I always go right now . The house was full of clutter and visibility was near zero. We entered the basement. In the middle of a back room, I moved off the wall to investigate something my tool encountered in the center of the room. Unbeknownst to me, when I went back for the wall; I had moved forward enough to completely bypass the bathroom door. I missed it completely.
We searched our way to the 1st floor and found nothing. We were then reassigned while yet another crew (Ladder 5) began their search as Search Group 4. Ventilation was beginning to taking affect and allowed the Brothers from #5 found the body.
There are a TON of lessons here in my ramblings and again that’s why I’m sharing it with you. We’ve been put into a position where Engine Companies are doing Truck work while the Truck Company is doing Engine work. That’s not an excuse. We have to know each others job and we have to know it well. I don’t care what your assigned to or riding. You never know what task may be assigned to you or your company any more. Practice your searches because YOU NEVER KNOW. Then … PRACTICE em some more. It’s all about technique …. even with my experience, we sometimes miss something.
Like Ladder 5 did with me, back your Brothers and Sisters up. Double check that they double checked. Expect the unexpected and do it right the first time.
Remember the jobs that will help you. Move past the ones that wont. We have so many outlets in today’s Fire Service to help us through these issues … USE THEM! Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), Department Chaplains, your Brother and Sister Firefighters, your wife (or husband), write a blog, keep a diary …. whatever or whoever …. utilize the resources available to you. Also remember that Rhett and I are always available. You can vent to us or we can point you in the right direction for the assistance you need.
That said, THANKS for letting me vent! I’m back on duty tomorrow and will try to get back on a regular posting schedule. Thanks as always for reading and following. Don’t forget to “Friend request” Share and ”Like” us on Face Book and Twitter. As soon as we hit 5,000 “likes” we’re going to do a HUGE give-a-way!
Roanoke’s Bravest faced yet another heavily involved house fire at approx 1am Wednesday morning (8/15/2012).
The Brothers and Sisters of A-shift arrived at 832 Staunton Ave NW to find heavy smoke and fire conditions from side “Charlie” (the rear of the structure).
The residents were home at the time of the fire but were able escape on their own.
Reports are that there were smoke detectors in the home but they were not working.
The were 5 residents who were displaced by the fire and will either stay with friends / family or be assisted by the Red Cross. The home sustained heavy damages estimated in the $80,000 range.
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There were also 4 firefighters injured in the fire.
All of the injuries were described as “minor” with 3 having been treated at the scene while the fourth was transported to a local hospital.
The photo to the left is the right ear of Drew Abel, one of the firefighters operating on the 2nd floor.
Drew was on the nozzle and making a knock on the fire when he received steam burns to both his ears (the right more severe). He was wearing all of his PPE (including hood and helmet ear flaps) and wearing it correctly.
Roanoke carries both smooth bore and fog nozzles on their attack lines but I am unaware of which Drew deployed. Roanoke has a long history and reputation of aggressive, interior fire attacks. Most often, Roanoke’s firefighters will make their way to the seat of the fire before applying water. This tactic allows us to keep a large percentage of our fires contained to the room of origin. The “trick” to this tactic is that ventilation MUST be coordinated with the attack. If not, and the fog nozzle was deployed; these types of injuries can occur. Heres some local news coverage …
I have spoken with Drew and he is doing well. He will be placed on “light duty” for the next week or so until he is healed and should make a full recovery. GET WELL SOON Brother!
Rhett is still in the middle of his “16 Days of Swag” over on Fire Critic.com. In appreciation for reaching 5,000 Face Book “Likes”, he’s giving away a bunch of free stuff ”SWAG”. You can enter every day … check it out and sign up below …
Speaking of “Give A Ways” … The National Firefighters Endowment is also doing a give – a – way but in a BIG WAY! They are giving away a new truck!
Vote & Enter to win your choice of a new Ford or Chevy truck. 50% of your donation will go directly to support the fire department you vote for. The department with the most votes will win an additional $5,000 equipment grant from National Firefighters Endowment.
Don’t forget to “like” and “Share” this post on Face Book. I’ll check back in with ya in a day or so. The Buckaroo and I have school orientation tomorrow evening so it may be Friday before I get back. Yea … he starts pre-K next Tuesday … this ought to be interesting! LOL
Until I do get back, you Brothers and Sisters stay SAFE and in House!
It’s been a busy day for Fire / Rescue and Police members of C-shift in the Roanoke Valley (Va).
My tour started with a fatal house fire.
We were assigned to provide mutual-aid to Salem by filling one of their stations. Very soon after, we were redirected and ordered to report to the scene of the fire.
Knowing I was heading for “work” (and unsure of the resources Salem had on scene), my Battalion added and additional Engine and Truck (Engine 4, Ladder 5) to the Mutual-Aid assignment.
We arrived to find the Brothers and Sisters of Salem Fire & EMS hard at work. They had made a great knock down on the fire and searches were underway.
Crews were able to locate one person dead inside the home. Further details of the fire, the name, age etc of the victim can not be released at this time. Notification of family members of the deceased are still pending and the investigation into the cause of the fire continues.
I will comment further on what stood out in my mind and that is how well our Mutual-Aid system worked (especially considering everything else happening in the Valley this morning …more on that in a moment).
Like I stated, at first; we were dispatched (as a single Engine) to fill a station for Salem. They have 3 stations (use the link above for more about Salem Fire & EMS) and all of them were assigned to the fire. When they realized they still needed more resources, we were redirected into the fire.
The location of the incident was just a block from the City / Salem line. My Battalion added an Engine and Truck to the incident so Roanoke County Fire & Rescue then stepped up to provid the coverage for Salem’s station. That’s 3 jurisdictions working together and it was executed flawlessly. We don’t do a lot of mutual-aid for working fires ( it’s mostly for EMS runs and goes both ways between all 3 jurisdictions) so it’s not like we get a lot of practice / training on it.
I’ve got to say that it felt good knowing that all 3 localities were working so well together to get the job done. Different radios, different dispatch centers, protocols etc …. a job well done by everyone involved.
Here’s the other part …. all of this happened while a MOCK disaster was going on at a local Community College. Reports are that 350 Fire, Police and EMS personnel were on hand for this training exercise. There were 150 school employees and volunteers playing the role of victims.
The scenario was multiple shooters on campus with several fatalities and many more wounded. It was an obvious test of our skills and resources. Reports are that the event went well although I’m sure (and hope) there will be some “lessons learned”.
You’ll also want to make sure to get a chance at winning a custom 9/11 Commemorative Leather Helmet. It’s a Phenix helmet and it looks GREAT! Each $10 donation will receive 1 entry into the drawing. The helmet is 1st prize, 2nd prize is $300 and 3rd prize is $100. Find more info and ENTER to win HERE
Rhett and I will not only be there, we will also be touring across the State with Spartan ERV. Yea… me and Rhett touring South Dakota in a fire truck! We’ve got several stops along the way to Sioux Falls and will have plenty of “swag” to pass out as well. Once in Sioux Falls, we will be the keynote speakers for the benefit … if you’re anywhere close … you’ll definitely want to BE THERE.
Learn more and register for the South Dakota Firefighters Benefit HERE
I’m gonna stop here for tonight … got another long day ahead of me tomorrow. I’ll be heading down to Wake County’s 2nd Annual Brotherhood Bash !
I may end up making this trip alone …. Rhett has run into a few logistical problems but either way, IT’S GONNA BE A BLAST! If you’re planning on being there, look for me and come say hello. If you weren’t planning on being there .. PLAN ON IT…lol. More details in the link below …
Sooner or later, it’s gonna catch up with em …. the ole “do more with less” approach to Public Safety…. “playing the numbers” … I hate to see who’s gonna have to “pay the price”.
The sad thing is that it’s almost become an “accepted” practice and, a lot of the blame lies on us … the members. Soon after 9/11, after everyone forgot what we are asked to do on a daily basis; our bosses boss asked them to save some money somewhere…. anywhere … everybody had to share the cuts they said. Public Safety wise, trucks, equipment etc wasn’t going to change so the only place left to look was staffing.
They came to us … hat in hand, talking “hard times” that would soon get better. They needed us to do just a little bit more … a little more with less. Of course we stuck our chests out and said if it needed done, we’d do it …We’re FIREMEN …. it’s what we do. Now, the hole we’ve dug has only gotten deeper and deeper and I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to climb out.
It used to be that Departments running 3 and 3 ( 3 members on an Engine and 3 on a Ladder… counting the driver and Officer) was a joke… now, that’s good staffing. I know of Departments running with 2 and some even sending out a rig with just a driver! How did we let them convince us that these numbers are ok? Why do we continue to allow them to tell the citizens we protect that these same numbers are adequate when we all know THEY’RE NOT?!?
It’s happening everywhere …. closer to home than you may think!
The picture to the left is a fire in Roanoke, Va that occurred just last week. This single incident depleted City Fire/EMS resources. I’m hearing reports of a single City Engine remaining in service but, the local news reported every City Unit was called to the scene. ”We pretty much had all our resources at that fire,” Bradbury said.”
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All additional calls for assistance were handled by Mutual-Aid companies from surrounding Jurisdictions …. some even volunteer. I wonder how many calls “deep” the City was before the system could be put into place and take affect. I wonder what the time delay was and if anyone suffered undue harm because of it. Is this simply the “cost of doing business”?
This is the 2nd fire in as many months that has depleted City resources. The first occurred on June 29th when severe storms tore through the area. Read my post from that night by clicking HERE.
It used to be that the “it only happens once every so often” excuse held water…. or somewhat anyway. Now, Departments across the country are facing large scale events that are happening much more frequent. If “playing the numbers” has been an acceptable “planning model”, I wonder what kind of plans these Departments now have in place to handle the next resource depleting event (for some, the next event is due to hit in less than 30 days…we ARE running the “numbers” right?).
I wonder if the “powers to be” thought their resources would become so “taxed” when they approved all the cut backs. The station consolidations and closures.
I wonder if they REALLY think that projects such as a $27 MILLIONdollar renovation to a downtown building is worth more than Public Safety?
Well, at least it has a “living wall”, a “Koi pond” and a “Butterfly habitat”! Click HERE.
Ok, maybe a butterfly “habitat” is important for City development … at least they’re not messing with their pay or pensions …right?? WRONG …click HERE.
How about a $66 MILLIONArt Museum? Money well spent?? Hummm CLICK HEREHERE and HERE.
Hey, it’s not just Virginia either … take Texas for example.
What make this situation so bad is several items hot in the National news of late.
The first in my mind would be all the wild land fires they’ve been faced with recently. Acres upon acres, house after house burned. I bet the Brothers and Sisters in Texas could talk a while on staffing.
Why Leslie Alexander and just who is he??? Well, he’s the guy who owns the Houston Rockets. The NBA team that just paid this guy $25.1 MILLION dollars to play basketball! CLICK HERE
YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!! $25 MILLIONDOLLARS for one person … ONE PERSON to play basketball in Houston while just 200 miles away (and in many more areas of Texas) firefighters are putting their lives on the line understaffed and poorly equipped ?!?
Again, I’ll say a lot of the blame lies within ourselves. First, we buy the tickets to see this guy play. We buy the NASCAR tickets where drivers make millions per race weekend. The baseball tickets and $10 stadium beers. We are supporting them but getting none in return.
Why?? Because nobody knows what we do. Maybe it’s as simple as Republican vs Democrat.
I doubt that. The “general public” has no idea what we see and do on a daily basis. You’d be surprised at how many people that see a Fire Company shopping for groceries, think that the City (or Department) that those members work for are paying the bill. How many people in your first due know your schedule? If it’s a 24 hour shift like mine, do you think your everyday “customer” understands what working that kind of shift entails?
How about EMS runs? Do you ever hear “I called for an ambulance..not a fire truck”? Do your citizens understand the types of responses you’re faced with every day? Do they know and understand the levels of training your members are required to have and maintain?
Do they know the additional services your Department provides? Smoke detector installs, chimney inspections, child safety seat installations, school / church safety demonstrations etc.
Do they know your staffing? Do they understand what running with 3 and 3 means? Has someone sat them down and explained what happens when the first unit arrives on a working fire?
One guy driving … the Officer giving a size up, establishing command and setting the stage for incoming companies. That leaves ONE member. Now explain “2 in 2 out”.
The 2nd Engine stops at the hydrant. One firefighter gets out and hooks up. On scene, the driver gets out and assists connecting to the first rig. That leaves the Officer. (we now have 2 available members to fight fire etc).
The Ladder arrives and command needs a search. Don’t forget to ventilate and get some ladders set to the roof and 2nd floor. Which task should they preform first? The driver doesn’t have on gear yet. The Officer and lone firefighter can’t (shouldn’t) split up right … remember 2 in , 2 out … working in pairs.
Now, the Chief shows up along with a Medic unit and Safety Officer. That’s 13 members (6 pieces of apparatus) on scene and and only 4 available to get inside. It almost seems IMPOSSIBLE to accomplish huh?
Again I’ll ask if you’r citizens are educated as to all the services your members provide and exactly what it takes to do so. How do you educate them? Is the only time your “customers” hear from you during a fund drive? Maybe just at election time or if you you happen to make the paper for whatever reason.
Don’t let every time they hear about or from you be shown in a negative light. Create a positive image of you and your Department and make sure as many people as possible see it! Take PRIDE in the job we do and share it with whomever will listen.
Social Media is a great tool to make it happen ….. you’re reading this aren’t ya? Web sites, Blogs, Face Book, Twitter etc … utilize these tools to get your message out. How about a Citizens Fire Academy?
Volunteer or paid, it doesn’t matter … we all need to do a better job of educating the public. STAFFING MATTERS!
Rhett and I are safely home from Firehouse Expo 2012 …. it was another GREAT trip!
I don’t know how it continues to happen or if and when it will ever “level off” but, so far; every trip we make ends up being better than the last … both personally and professionally. Once again, we were traveling with Zach Green and the MN8-FoxFireteam.
Zach, the owner and President of the company; said something to me the other day that caught me off guard. He reminded me that this trip would be our 1 year Anniversary. I had never thought of it that way. Actually, I almost didn’t believe it. It seems like we’ve been together much longer than that.
Turns out, Zach was right; it’s only been a year. Back at FDIC 2011, Zach was stalking me and Rhett for a “product review” of MN8-FoxFire. I’m glad he found us! Fast forward to Firehouse Expo 2011 and Zach found himself in a bind. He needed some help in the booth and I just so happened to be there and available.
I went to work in the booth the next day and we haven’t slowed down since! It’s been an amazing journey.
Our conversation and the success of this trip has got me thinking of how far we’ve come over the last year … me / Rhett and MN8-FoxFire.
2011 was my first time ever to Firehouse Expo ( Read my review HERE ). It was also the place where Rhett and I would make our 1st 911 Memorial Stair Climb (see that post HERE ). We’ve since completed 5 climbs and have even made one in the shadows of the new Freedom Tower with founding members of the Stair Climb committee (click HERE for that post! )
News coverage of this year’s 9-11 Memorial Stair Climb in Baltimore by clicking HERE.
Last year, the MN8-FoxFire booth was busy … this year, it was PACKED! Once again, the MN8-FoxFire booth was the focus of attention on the exhibit floor.
It’s apparent that “the word” is getting out about MN8-FoxFire and their amazing products. We sold more in day #1 of Expo 2012 than we did in all 3 days of the 2011 show.
Learn how to join Team MN8-FoxFire by clicking “HERE” .
Of course, Rhett and I draw plenty of attention by ourselves. It’s hard not to when we’re walking around in kilts, structural boots and leather helmets.
We stand out in the crowd…. and WE WANT TO. It’s who we are and what we do. For us, it’s a great marketing / networking tool. Folks stop us in the isles (and out in the street for that matter) just to talk and take photos. They invite us into their booths or stop us to question our purpose.
It’s that image, the exposure or “popularity” (if you will) that’s helped us create a new site / venture over this past year as well ….
Click HERE to check out Firefighter Product Review
It’s a great site (even if it is ours). Not only do we give “our” review of the products up for review, we also give the “user” or readers the chance to “score” or rate the product themselves.
Last year, we blended into the crowd. Nobody noticed what we had on or who we were working for. Nobody gave us a 2nd look. This year … totally opposite.
Take our Custom Fronts (helmet shields) for example. EVERYBODY wanted to know where we got em. It was a GREAT opportunity to tell them about Andrew and Mary Arnold from over at Box Alarm Leather LLC (see their review HERE ).
Our Custom Kilts were also a HUGE hit and point of conversation. When we needed a kilt and wanted it “our” way … there was only one company out there that was willing to work with us … ALT Kilt . We love telling the story of how all the bigger companies turned us down yet ALT Kilt was willing to go the extra mile.
Here’s another example of the difference a year can make. In 2011, one of my fans / followers; Daniel Lawson came to the booth. For whatever reason, Daniel wanted to meet me, more importantly; he wanted me to meet his new born son … talk about humbling! He explained how he loved reading Ironfiremen.com and following along with the “Buckaroo’s” growth / adventures when he’s included in a post.
This year, Daniel and his son returned to the booth for a follow up photo/visit … man has that little fella grown! I was also excited to learn that Daniel and his wife are expecting their 2nd child …CONGRATULATIONS! I guess my camera lens will have to grow along with his family lol.
In the end, THAT’S what it’s all about … making new friendships …lasting friendships …. sharing and promoting BROTHERHOOD… it’s what keeps us going! Thanks for stopping by Daniel … looking forward to next year’s photo.
The best example of “the difference a year can make” that we found while at Firehouse Expo 2012 came out of New York City. You see, FDNY’s Rescue 2 had a booth set up. That in itself is not a big deal. What was a big deal was who was in the booth …. Rescue 2′s Firefighter Robert Weidmann!
You may remember Firefighter Weidmann’s name from a fire in Brooklyn, NY back on December 19, 2011. That blaze injured 5 members of the FDNY (two out of Rescue 2 Weidmann and Gersbeck). Weidmann was the most seriously injured of the five. He received burns over 40% of his body, including his face, head and hands. His escape was captured on video! The arrow in the picture left is believed to be Weidmann making his way to the window.
He suffered and fought through months of grueling rehab and recovery. In true Firefighter fashion, he showed the same heart and determination after the fire as he did while engulfed in flame. HE SURVIVED!
He survived and he made it to Firehouse Expo where Rhett, Zach and I had the HONOR of shaking his hand!
It was a HUGE honor for us and the highlight of my trip! Brother Weidmann is a TRUE firefighter … an IRONFIREMAN. Even in the middle of that fire, he was teaching the rest of us valuable lessons. He had on his gear … ALL OF IT and, he was wearing it correctly. He was physically fit and in the shape / condition to make that escape. He had the situational and positional awareness to find his way out. Captain Flaherty said he fought with the strength of 10 men during his recovery and on Friday, July 20th he was standing in Baltimore, Md…. YOU CAN’T TEACH HEART!
Back in February, Rhett, Zach and I solicited your help in raising money for Brother Weidmann and Rescue 2′s “MayDay Fund”. The fund is designed to help support injured members and their families. Your support was overwhelming and the 3 of us (Rhett, Zach and I) then had the honor of hand delivering the check in your name. READ THAT POST HERE .
During our visit in Baltimore, Brother Weidmann asked us to pass along his heart felt appreciation for all the support he, his family and the members of Rescue 2 received. You’re efforts were NOT in vane! As soon as he returns to duty, Rhett, Zach and I will head back to Brooklyn for a follow up visit and a full report on his recovery…. the difference a year makes!
Rhett has made some “strides” over the past year as well ….not in the same manner as Brother Weidmann but, he too; is showing some heart.
Last year, I was the only one in the group who would ride the mechanical bull at PBR Baltimore. This year, “Fire Boy” decided he’d give it a try.
I didn’t have the heart to tell him that you don’t ride bulls while wearing a kilt. I also failed to mention riding while wearing your wife’s socks may not be the best idea either.
Although I don’t believe in protective head wear for professional bull riders, I did think it was kind of cool that Rhett wore his leather helmet while riding. Of course I still don’t think he topped my ride. I didn’t do it in a kilt nor did I wear my leather. What I did do was ride WITH a PBR girl!! See that post and watch the VIDEO HERE !
It seems he’s also softened up his feelings for his true internet father, Dave Statter.
Last year at Expo, it seemed as if they couldn’t get along.
Bickering and arguing over who the TRUE ”King of Blogs” is.
They even argued about the true identity of the Fire Critic and if he actually even existed at all.
Once again, I had to step in and, apparently; my tactics worked ….Just look at em now…. arm in arm. Embracing in public. You should have seen em holding hands and skipping up to the PBR bar …LMAO
In the end, Firehouse Expo 2012 was a HUGE success for us and …. we had a BLAST! The best part was meeting so many friends … old and new. Thanks to everyone who dropped by the booth for a FoxFire demo or to just say hello. Thanks as well to the Northern Va FOOLS as associate sponsors for hosting the Brotherhood Bash … it lived up to it’s name despite the rain!
If you’ve never attended Firehouse Expo, make your plans for 2013 NOW … Rhett and I will be there and I CAN’T WAIT! Check out what Rhett and Zach had to say about the trip and then I’ll leave ya with a few more pics from our Baltimore adventures …
Last night’s fire would empty every firehouse in the city causing the Department to “call back” members for duty. Typically, those members “called back” will staff “reserve” apparatus and place stations back in service.
Roanoke Fire/EMS operates with 11 Engine Companies, 4 Ladders, 8 Medic Units, 2 Battalion Chiefs and an EMS Supervisor which would have put 64 members on scene.
Local news sources report that over 200 residents were without power at one point and the blaze caused backups and delays on Interstate 581.
Two firefighters received what is being described as “minor” injuries while others were treated for heat related injuries.
We caught a small job at shift break this morning… we were coming on, B-Shift was going off.
It’s a hell of a way to start the day.
Engine 5 was first due with us on their heels.
There wasn’t a lot of work and “little miss Carlie” made quick work of what there was anyway. It’s hard to believe she’s been on the job a couple years now … I can remember her first fire 0r the first time she was on the nozzle anyway..
I’m sure Bugg did the work on the picture above … he’s done some awesome mixed black / white and color shots.
This pic to the left is one of my favorites ….
That’s the ole “War Wagon” from our “Melrose Misfit” days back at Station #9.
She brings back a lot of good memories plus it’s a very cool shot!
I also like the one he did of the new Station #5 shown below…. I’m gonna have to get him to teach me how he does that.
Cool pics huh? One other neat thing goes back to the first picture (top right). Because the fire was at shift break, several of the members hadn’t had the time to change into their uniform yet. They just threw their gear on over their civi’s.
Did ya notice the shirt Wheezy has on? Apparently, I’m the only one on the planet who didn’t know what The Chive is. Apparently, it’s a web site that’s even more popular than that Fire Cricket site. A lot of cool pics, videos etc. They even have a section dedicated to firefighters … check it out HERE .
So, like a started out saying … it’s been busy around here lately. Storms, fires, extrications etc…
The pic right is a MVC we caught last day.
We were first in with reports of “possible injury”…. ya think??
We arrived to find 3 vehicles involved and this Caddy with heavy damage.
We got an additional Engine, 2 Medics and Ladder #5 for extrication.
As usual, the boys did a great job and made quick work of the incident.
Don’t worry, we’re not hogging all the excitement …we’re actually going to take it on the road ….
Be sure to stop by Booth #123 to say hello and get a personal demo of the FoxFire Products from Rhett or myself. Also hit us up on Face Book to see exactly where we are and what we’re doing … we’d love to meet up and grab a few beers.
We’re back on duty for the middle day of our cycle. We returned from our 4 day break to work the 4th of July.
Our day was fairly quiet but the pace picked a little just after dark.
I was still “riding the car” as acting Battalion last day. That’s why the night was busy (I’m a black cloud).
I also had a ride a long with me for 1/2 the shift … and that’s why the day was quiet.
Nate Camfiord has lived in the area before, but has spent the last several years up in Northern Va. He’s looking to relocate back to our area and decided to look me and Rhett up while here.
I had never meet Nate before but we are “friends” on Face Book. He posts a lot of fire related pictures and they’ve always caught my attention…. he’s caught some GREAT shots. I gave him a tour of the City and our stations and he was able to snag a few shots along the way.
They’re not like “buff” pictures … Nate’s shots seem to “tell a story”. If you haven’t seen his work, check em out on his FB page by clicking HERE .
My pictures are nowhere near the caliber of Nate’s but I did think this was a pretty neat shot.
I also have a CRAP camera.
Several years back, the Melrose Misfits bought me a Cannon Power shot. I LOVED it! That baby took a beating. I carried it in my gear, on the rig or where ever.
Finally, I she had all she could take a month or so back and it was replaced with Kodak something or another. I don’t like this one at all. From what I can tell, the Cannon is discontinued so I’m going to have to find a suitable replacement. If you have any suggestions …. send em my way.
So anyway, the picture was taken from atop Engine 5. As soon as Nate left the station from his ride a long, we caught this run for a kitchen fire…. LOL that’s always how it works.
I also found a video that was shot while we were working an extrication. Engine #13 responded for a hit and run. We arrive to find moderate damage and the front doors jammed. I established command and called in the boys from Ladder 5. They got all 4 doors and the roof making for GREAT patient access. Also on scene were Medics #5 and #4.
So, I’ve gotten a few comments / questions about The Fire Critic (Rhett Fleitz) and his lack of postings of late. Well, rest assured, my little buddy is alive and well.
He’s taken a little bit of “family time” (which is very contagious) and he’s been without power since the big storm last week.
Well, it’s been all that plus this “workout kick” he’s been on.
Yea … Rhett’s on a workout kick. He’s EAT UP with it actually.
Now, I don’t care what he does at the station but his new fascination is even affecting our personal lives.
On our last road trip, he was sipping on some kind of health shakes that his wife mixed up for him before we left… yea Statter … it was like putting bottles in the diaper bag before heading out.
THEN at the hotel, I get out of the shower to find this –>
Can you guess who packed which bottle??? LMAO … it’s almost embarrassing. I mean my little buddy on steroids … all JUICED up!
That stuff ain’t good for ya.
It’s already started to mess with his brain. This stuff has got him so screwed up that he went out and bought a used tire to “play with” at the Station.
He calls it his “toy” and says he spends all day out on the pool just flipping it around. Why didn’t he just grab a tin can out of their recycle bin and go out and kick that around?
That’s what I used to do as a kid and I turned out fine. AND .. I’m in good shape….. hell, I’m in my PRIME ..LOL
Well, I’ve done a little digging and think that Rhett my be using some of his old “camera tricks” on us … yep this photo may have been staged.
My investigation found that they actually have 2 “workout tires” at Station #3.
One for Big Dave Lucas and a “special” one for Rhett
Aint it cute Dave Statter???? And just his size too …LOL
Ahhhh … the things little Rhett can do with photo shop. I think he even doctored those arms in the pic above…
LOL … all kidding aside, Rhett has been working our very regular and it’s paying off. I wish I had his drive and dedication. He even managed to squeeze a post out about it… Read “A New Toy at the Firehouse”
In other news, Rookie Randy is home from his Honeymoon and Back to duty.
I’ve been worried SICK since he’s been gone.
Off somewhere, shacked up in some hotel room doing Lord knows what.
Now he’s home, all tired and dirty. I’m not sure what he got into but it’s bad.
He’s got something on his lip that wont wash off.
I’ve scrubbed and scrubbed. I even did the ol Granny trick … you know … lick your thumb and scrub. LMAO … Randy says it’s a “mustache” … he CAN’T be serious. With a peach fuzz, dirt smudge on his upper lip, he’s going to talk to ME about mustaches???
I also need to pass along a PSA.
If your riding around in the Catawba area and see my Dodge 5500 (the “Cowboy Cadillac”) , any of my tractors, a fork lift, 4 wheeler or a pedal car fire truck coming … yeild and move to the right.
The Buckaroo, at 4 years old; now has his driver’s license …LOL
I don’t know where or why he got the idea but he’s been on a mission to get/have a driver’s license.
Well, all he had to do (and he knew it) was to tell his Granny. She promised to make him one and mail it to him straight away.
I couldn’t drive past the mail box without stopping for a week. Well, it arrived and he was tickled to death!
Just the fact that there was a letter in there addressed to him had him excited.
I’m going to stop here for tonight and try to get a little rest.
I’ve got a long day of storm clean up and hay to make tomorrow. If any of ya feel like chucking some square bales in 100 degree heat tomorrow, just give me a call…LOL
We’ll be back on duty Sunday to finish up the cycle.
I’ll check back in with ya then but, until I do …. stay SAFE and in House!