I’ve had a good week. A lot better then the past few.
In a recent post, I wrote about having a huge set back in my recovery / coping efforts with stress, depression and PTSD. Rhett and I have a friend who decided to tell us he was about to hang himself. In the end, we made sure he got to the people he needed to… to the people who could help him. Understandably, it was a very difficult experience for me and all of us involved.
It was actually more than “difficult” and it took me back to day #1 of my recovery. Because of my dreams (nightmares), returning to work has always been a huge decision / obstacle for me. After starting treatment, the dreams somewhat subsided and it became easier for me. I was just getting to the point of settling back in to the job before this set back.
Well, like I said; the past few weeks have had me back to square one and been difficult to cope with at home and on the job. This past cycle however has put me back on the path I need to be on.
We’ve had the right amount and “kind” of work. We’ve been busy but not TOO busy and the calls haven’t been (too) traumatic. Monday night, we had “night training” and I have to admit that it was refreshing.
Despite having a “fill-in” (which has been the normal for the past couple weeks), we’ve put in some solid work and it feels good.
Our training was comprised of “night training”, “vehicle fires”, “extrication”, and “foam”.
It was a good scenario and we owe a ton of thanks to our training division’s, Captain Tim Cady and Lt Rob Reid for putting it together.
Starting at 6pm made for a long night but it was worth it. Thankfully, we had a quiet night afterwards and were allowed to get some rest.
I needed it because Rhett picked me up at shift break to head to Nashville, Tn. I was tired but also very much excited …. we were heading out to attend the CMA’s !
The purpose of us goingis to cover / promote some very special (important) events, programs and companies for the Fire Service.
Kidde (link), is the worlds largest manufacturer of Fire Safety Products. Their goal is to provide solutions that protect people and property from the effects of fire and its related hazards. Kidde provides smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, fire extinguishersand many other fire safety products.
On Wednesday, before the CMA’s; they will unveil their “Be a Safety Hero”program with the assistance of Country Music talents Craig Morgan, and Kix Brooks. Click HERE for more info (link).
Chief Ron Siarnicki of the NFFF will also be on hand to speak about and share the Foundation’s Alarm pledge program – step #5 to “Be a Safety Hero.”
The pledge asks families to commit to being fire safe, which in turn helps firefighters who would enter burning homes to rescue trapped residents.
We (Rhett and I) are invited to these events as well as a special luncheon hosted by Kix Brooks, Pre-show parties, Dinner, the CMA’s and a VIP after party. We will have complete and full coverage for you on our web sites, Face Book Pages, Twitter accounts and any other Social Media outlet that you receive our posts / updates!
The main event, the CMA’s; will be aired LIVE on ABC Wednesday night at 8pm.
T.J. Giles invited us to stop in for lunch and a tour. These Brothers obviously “get it” and IT WAS AN AWESOME STOP!
Their city is known as the “Atomic City” because it’s where the Atomic bomb was constructed. We learned a ton of history about the Department / City and got to hear some pretty cool stories.
Their Chief, Darryl Kerley; treated us (and several of their members) to lunch.
We were able to spend an hour or so with these Brothers before having to get back on the road and again, had some great conversations as well as the opportunity to discuss the video they recently produced about the importance of Fire Safety and Exit Drills In The Home (EDITH). I’ll share it again below….take the time to watch it …. it’s a GREAT story.
Our second stop was in Mt Juliet, Tn. We had met up with Rhett’s parents (who live in the area) and his dad wanted to show us their newest Department.
When I say newest “department”, I mean just that .. their “NEWEST DEPARTMENT”. The Department (not just the station) was only a month old.
These Brothers have a lot going for them and they seem to be on the path to success.
The members will tell you point blank that one of the main reasons for that is their Chief, Erron Kinney.
Again we found a pretty cool “back story” because Chief Kinney is (among other things), a former NFL football player for the Titans.
Just like with Oak Ridge, we had a GREAT visit!
So after that, we got to spend a little time with Rhett’s folks before heading in to the hotel. I got to hear some good stories and even seen some childhood photos that you wouldn’t believe.
I will do my best to keep ya updated throughout the day and night on Wednesday as we have a very full and exciting schedule. I will at least try to throw some pics etc up on Face Book.
They created a Kick Starter campaign and have appealed to the fire service to help raise the needed funds to get the project off the ground.
Through their Face Book page, they started a mustache contest. They asked everyone to send in a picture of their favorite ”effingstache”. Then they asked everyone to vote for their favorite. The winner receives a spot in the movie as an “extra”!
The deadline was at midnight last night and believe it or not, I was in the running to win. There were 40 photos to choose from and everyone of them had an awesome “effingstache”! I knew the competition was going to be tough.
In the final stretch, it was between me and two Brothers from Pennsylvania …Pete DeMarco and Jason Greer.
Although I didn’t stay up until midnight to watch the results, I believe the winner is Jason.
It was fun watching the contest. It was inspiring. I say that because you could see the Brothers and Sisters from Pennsylvania rally around Jason.
Of course I wouldn’t expect less out of Pennsylvania because I’ve been there and seen the Pa Brotherhood first hand!
You may remember back in May of this year, I attended the Harrisburg, Pa Fire Expo. Now THAT was an “effing” good time!
Lt. Mike Rodkey invited me and Donna out to the Colonial Park Fire Company for a great Meal. I got to meet members such as Sam Swartz and learn about the Traditions and History of the Colonial Park Fire Company.
We also attended a Brotherhood Bash at the Progress Fire Company #32. Talk about another “effing” good time …. Firehouse Dolls, Pipes and Drums, cold beverages, a packed house of Brothers and Sisters … how could it not have been!
You can read about that whole trip / experience in the previous post linked below …
Jason is a member of IAFF L-319 and a Lt. on Engine 3-A in Lancaster, Pa. He is also listed as staff on the web site, Central Pa Bravest (link). Congratulations to Jason and all the Brothers and Sisters in Pa who represented him (and the Brotherhood) so well!
The only thing I regret is that the contest didn’t generate more money for the movie. In the final 24hrs, we generated well over 700 new “likes” for the Hosed Face Book page but seen very little increase in the Kick Starter campaign.
Everyone who voted SHOULD have donated something. You can donate as little as $1. Think of it this way …. if they don’t reach their pre-production goal of $200,000, there may not even be a movie for the winner to appear in.
The good news is that it’s not too “effing” late …. DONATE and help assure Jason makes it to the big screen!
Kidde is honored to also welcome special guest Kix Brooks, this year’s CMA “National Broadcast Personality of the Year” winner, which follows more than 75 major industry awards as part of music duo, Brooks & Dunn. Brooks serves as the radio voice for public service announcements on the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation’s alarm pledge program – step #5 to “Be a Safety Hero.” The pledge asks families to commit to being fire safe, which in turn helps firefighters who would enter burning homes to rescue trapped residents.
The first thing I have to do is buy Rhett a cowboy hat and some boots. He’s wearing one of mine in the picture to the right and those high dollar fancy smancy pointed shoes he wears just aint gonna cut it in Nashville …. LOL.
Then, I guess we have to decide what to wear.
I don’t know if we should rent a tux, wear our Class A’s or just be our normal selves and rock our kilts on the red carpet!
LMAO … can you imagine the looks we’d get walking in to the CMA’s in cowboy hats and kilts! The funniest thing is that I think we can pull it off!
Be sure to keep a close eye on our web sites, Face Book and Twitter pages to see what we wear, who we meet and exactly what we manage to get ourselves into.
It’s only fitting that Kidde picked Tennessee for this announcement / kick off.
While there, Kidde, Brooks and Morgan will recognize the proactive and industry-leading fire prevention actions of the State of Tennessee.
According to the state, 39 lives have been saved since January 2013 thanks to 10-year sealed-in battery smoke alarms installed by the state’s Division of Fire Prevention.
Kidde will donate 500 of its Worry-Free smoke alarms to help Tennessee continue its life-saving efforts!
On our way down, Rhett and I will get to meet some Brothers and Sisters from Tennessee and see first hand how their efforts help save lives.
We will be stopping in for a brief visit with T.J. Giles and members of IAFF L-1346 in Oak Ridge Tennessee. Their actions and dedication to fire prevention, safety and education helped save an entire family back on Feb 26, 2012. Take a minute and watch the video below…
Like I told ya … it’s going to be an “effing” good time / trip. Be sure to keep checking in and follow along.
I’ve had an unbelievable last couple of weeks. I’m still fighting my day to day struggles with depression and PTSD but I’m making progress and I’m doing it day by day.
Still yet, writing has been a huge obstacle for me. The medication has helped me become more focused vs. wondering or lost but whenever I sit down in front of the computer, my mind seems to race in a thousand directions. That, plus I’m not sure exactly what I want to say or even more than that, how I’m going to say it. I have some strong and powerful messages to share with you and I don’t want to screw it up …. it’s that important that I tell it correctly.
We (Donna, the Buckaroo and I ) took the weekend off to do a little camping and it’s currently raining so I figured I’d try to tell ya a story or two …. follow along because there just may be a message or two hidden inside.
In a recent post titled “A Variation of OJT” (link) I wrote about catching some work and it being almost ”therapeutic” for me. Again, I say that with all due respect to the home owners and family of the house involved … we never want or find happiness in someone loosing their house / possessions.
You see, in my healing process; I’m still “searching”. I’m still looking for answers. Actually, I’m looking for (or any signs of) my brother … Jackson.
I’m still struggling with his fate and need to know that he’s somewhere at peace.
I’ve looked everywhere. Our old fort, his favorite hunting spot, fishing holes, different places we’ve been throughout our lives and even the cemetery. He hasn’t been at any of those places.
Due to my PTSD, I have reoccurring nightmares. Jackson is there and we visit a lot of my past fire scenes. All of them involve fatalities. In my mind, I figured he must be trying to tell me something through my dreams … maybe he’s somewhere on a fire scene?
Well, he wasn’t. At least he wasn’t on that last one and although I still haven’t found “what” Im looking for, I’ve maybe ruled out another possibility but my search will continue.
So, that’s why I say that fire was “therapeutic” … it was part of my “search” for answers. What I’m also finding therapeutic is talking about my struggles / experiences. I’m humbled (and HONORED) everyday to learn just how many people my postings have affected in a positive way. Rhett and I seen it first hand a few weeks ago in Albany, New York.
It was a GREAT Seminar and OUR BEST YET! The event featured talks about Professional Wellness (physical and mental), Social Media for the Fire Service,Motivating Firefighters and Improving Morale.
We opened with Professional Wellness. Rhett spoke alone at first and worked his way into his view of the problems I have been facing.
He talked about his struggle in watching me spiral out of control and his battle in not knowing how to deal with, stop or correct it. He knew I needed help but wasn’t sure how to get it for me (or get me to it). It took eight months but he finally figured it out.
If we can’t save our own, how can we be expected to save those we’re sworn to protect?
Illustration by Paul Combs
He talked about not being ashamed in reaching out to get me the help I needed. He spoke about everyone not having the luxury of 8 months to figure it out or “get it right”. Most importantly, it was a life saving decision and he had the courage to make it. ( Read “When Firefighters Need Rescue” )
Then he introduced me … a SURVIVOR.
I shared my story with some detail. I have to admit, that I didn’t share 100% of my feelings / details etc but I went deep. I had to …. it was the only way to be HONEST with the story and ensure everyone in attendance understood what I was going through. What others are going through.
My part wasn’t “scripted” and I “shot from the hip”. I spoke “from the heart” and from deep within my gut. It was brutally HONEST and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room … including mine.
It was how theses stories NEED to be told. From “one of us” …. someone “believable” … someone who “KNOWS” … who has “been there” and understands.
In the end, 5 Brothers and Sisters came up to us. They shared how my postings or that day’s seminar personally touched or affected them. They shared (with tears in their eyes) how they too had (or was) experienced the same signs, symptoms, feelings etc.
That was 5 out of 40 … imagine how many Brothers and Sisters in the Fire Service as a whole are out there suffering! Wondering … lost …. feeling hopelessness and not knowing where or having the strength to reach out for help.
OUR MESSAGE IS THE RIGHT ONE AND WE’RE MAKING A DIFFERENCE!
If we can only reach one Brother or Sister out there needing help / direction HOW CAN WE FAIL?
It’s important to remember that ”NOT ALL WOUNDS ARE VISIBLE” and the odds are that someone you work with is affected by stress, depression and/or PTSD. You need to know the signs and symptoms as well as where and how to reach for help before you can save them and TRUST ME …. THEY NEED YOUR HELP!
So after Albany, we had a couple of days off before packing up and heading out for Emmitsburg, Md and the 2013 National Fallen firefighters Memorial Weekend.
Every year presents it’s challenges due to the mere size of the event but this year, due to the Government “shutdown”; our obstacles would be even greater.
Our Memorial is located on the grounds of The National Emergency Training Center (home of The National Fire Academy) which is, obviously; a Federal facility and one of the many affected by the “shut down”.
This basically meant that the grounds, and Memorial; were closed and off limits to anyone!
Preparations were underway early and arrangements made for the planned events to be moved to other locations / facilities in Emmitsburg, Md.
The Command Post (IC) was located on the grounds of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Daughters of Charity in Emmitsburg which sits right next to the NETC. Memorial Weekend is run just like a large scale “incident” because it’s just that. It takes well over 1000 volunteers to pull off all the scheduled events.
Typically, all the volunteers are housed and fed on the grounds of the NETC but, again; due to the “shut down” this was impossible. Thankfully, there were several local Departments / Organizations who stepped up to help.
There is no way that I’m going to attempt to mention them all because I would surely miss some. With that said, there are a few that I’d like to talk about. Take Howard County (Maryland) Public Safety for example. They opened, equipped and staffed their James N. Robey, Howard County Public Safety Training Center to house many of the volunteers for Memorial Weekend (pictured above right).
Nearby Hanover County also provided a Command Bus (vehicle) which both the Production and Social Media Teams were able to utilize. Several of their members were also on hand each day to assist with the daily operations of the Weekend.
In Emmitsburg, The local Volunteer Fire Department, The Vigilant Hose Company #6 opened their doors as well.
These folks prepared and served food to an army of hungry volunteers all weekend.
The Emmitsburg Volunteer Ambulance Company also opened their doors and accommodated the NFFF Offices. More than that, they hosted the IronFiremen / Fire Critic Mobile Headquarters.
Rhett and I pulled my camper down in an effort to be closer to the IC and to have a comfortable place to work out of (this was before we knew we would be getting the Howard County Command Unit).
Anyway, the camper worked out great for a comfortable place to stay as the Ambulance Company allowed us to set up next to their building in the parking lot. We had Bingo and Hot Wings on Friday night and even had a few “big names” drop by for a visit (Tiger Schmittendorf, Mike Legeros and Bill Carey just to mention a few).
During Memorial Weekend, Rhett heads up the Social Media team and coordinates everything posted via Social Media (Face Book, Twitter etc) beginning with the Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery (Thursday) and ending with the Memorial Service on Sunday.
I assist Dave Statter and the Production Team during Memorial Weekend. It’s AMAZING to me to see just how much work goes into pulling it all off (speaking of the entire weekend).
One of the coolest things for me is attending the Incident Command meetings / briefings. Once again, Chief John McGrath (link)was our Incident Commander. I can only hope to some day, LEAD as this man does.
When asked how he thought we could ever “pull it off”, he said …. “With the group of Brothers and Sisters we have assembled here, HOW CAN WE FAIL?”
You should have seen it and I hope you did… either “behind the scenes” or from the front. We did EXACTLY what we were supposed to do …. We HONORED our fallen while doing the same and caring for their survivors!
There were 81 names placed on the Memorial plagues this year and thanks to the hard work and cooperation of many of our National, State and Local leaders, those families DID get to visit the Memorial!
Though for only a two hour period, the gates WERE opened and the weekend more complete.
Not everyone (meaning many of the volunteers) was able to make it onto the grounds as we had very strict guidelines to follow for this brief opening. The important thing was that the surviving families WERE able to enter and that’s what it’s all about and why those who do volunteer.
I assume it was the location change but for some reason this year, my thoughts kept turning towards Jack.
The Service is mostly music as it sets the mood for reflection and meditation. The song selections and performers this year couldn’t have been more aptly chosen.
Again I found myself amazed at the “journeys” I’ve embarked on without even knowing at times. In the midst of work, surrounded by strangers, friends and family alike, I’m finding purpose and reasoning without even searching.
On Sunday, the Memorial Service was once again held in the arena at Mount St. Mary’s University (it has been held there is previous years, including 2012 due to bad weather).
As Chief McGrath said from the beginning …. HOW COULD WE FAIL?!
Each name was read and each surviving family (or representative) received a folded American Flag (which had flown over both the White House and the National Memorial) and a rose.
TRADITION, PRIDE, HONOR and RESPECT … they all add up to BROTHERHOOD!
If you’d like to view the Memorial Video, it will be available at the following link for about 30 days …
I’d like to personally THANK everyone who volunteered their time and effort to make the 2013 Memorial Weekend happen. I’d also like to say how PROUD and HONORED I am to be a part of this group.
From the Command Staff, to the Honor Guard, The Pipes and Drums, the Family Escorts, Counselors, Logistics, Transportation, Communications, Production, Social Media etc …. YOU HAVE, ONCE AGAIN; ALL MADE US PROUD!
I mentioned that I had returned to duty and that decision or “step” in my healing process was as huge and difficult as any of the others I’ve made. It turned out like many of the other steps I’ve taken in this journey and I’m glad I took it.
We work a 24 hr shift. We are on duty 7am-7am every other day until we’ve worked 3 days, then we get a “4 day break” (ie: we work Mon, Wed, Fri. then off Sat, Sun, Mon, Tue…. go back for Wed, Fri, Sun and start another 4-day break).
Believe it or not, I didn’t want to go back. Returning to the job had become a huge source of stress, anxiety and fear for me. Here’s a quote from my previous post “I actually didn’t want to return to work. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do but I did know that I didn’t want to see another dead body. I was tired of death. I was tired of seeing people at their worst. Tired of seeing people suffer. That and I wasn’t sure how I’d be received by the members.”.
Wouldn’t you know that my very first run after returning to duty was an EMS call where I had to signal D.O.A (Dead On Arrival). I was face to face with exactly I had hoped to avoid.
I was also worried about my performance (among MANY other things). I worried if my mind could be focused enough to make the decisions an Officer often times has to make. Would I have the same decision making skills as I had before my illness?
Well, on the last day of our cycle (Sunday 22nd) we caught some Mutual-Aid work with our Brothers and Sisters in Salem.
Photo by Don Altice
Salem requested a 2nd Alarm which brought 2 Engines, a Truck and Battalion from my City.
I was the first of our units to arrive and to be honest, I’m not even sure what I said. What my “size up” was or what channel I even gave it on (we have to operate using 2 radios … ours and a hand held from Salem).
Obviously, the fire was well off when Salem requested the 2nd alarm.
When I arrived, both the first and 2nd floors had heavy fire showing from the Bravo, Alpha and Delta sides. The Brothers and Sisters from Salem were hard at work and fighting to get ahead of the fire’s progress.
It was obvious that the fire had extended into the attic and was working front to back. Salem command assigned us to the rear.
Photo by Don Altice
Upon reaching the Charlie side (rear), I made the decision to push in. The first and second floor doors were open and the rear (charlie side) of the interior clear enough to give us a chance at getting a knock on the fire and holding it to the front of the structure.
I took the 2nd floor with members from Engine 4 and Ladder 5. Other City members made the push below us on the first floor.
I even had the nozzle for the first few minutes inside until I realized that I needed to be up directing the attack. Lt. Weaver (Engine 4) took over on “the knob” and did one hell of a job.
Several factors hindered us along the way and in the end, we didn’t save much. Looking back, I’m not sure we ever really had a chance but the effort (fight) did turn out to be good therapy for me.
I say that with all due respect to the occupants / home owners. We (I) NEVER want to see someone’s home and possessions burn. These people lost everything they had and there’s nothing to celebrate about that.
For me though, it was another step forward in my healing process and just like dealing with the dead body on my first day back, I made it past this obstacle.
I still have a long way to go but it feels good to be moving forward for a change. I owe a lot of my progress to my therapist. Although I still leave her office every morning in tears, she’s helping me take those steps toward recovery. She’s helping and teaching me how to cope with the obstacles. She’s encouraging and getting me back to the things I used to enjoy.
Just writing this post is an example. I’ve enjoyed writing this blog and sharing my thoughts, views and stories with you folks for many years now. After Jack’s death, I just didn’t feel like writing anymore. I had “clammed up” and was holding all my thoughts / emotions inside. I didn’t realize how much of a “release” writing was for me. I didn’t realize how much weight I lifted from my mind and soul by sharing my thoughts and feelings. She got me back to the computer. Thank you for waiting for my return.
Rhett and I are going to discuss Mental / Professional Health and Wellness, Motivating firefighters, Improving morale and Social Media.
In our discussion on Mental / Professional Health and Wellness, I am going to share a lot of my story. It’s going to be open, raw and full of emotion. We’re going to talk about one of the most important things we can do as Firefighters … PROTECTING OUR OWN.
The rest of the seminar will be just as educational and beneficial. If you are ANYWHERE in the area …. MAKE PLANS TO ATTEND! (here’s the link again )
Rhett and I speak / teach on various topics and can cater a presentation to meet your needs. Think about us for your next training seminar, banquet, Holiday party etc. Find out more in the link below ….
So, little by little … step by step, I’m making my way toward my “new normal”. THANKS AGAIN to all of you for the thoughts, prayers, e-mails, comments, etc.
I’ll add here that I have been contacted by several Brothers and Sisters facing the same battles as I have been. I’m humbled and honored to think that they trust me enough to reach out ( I can say that because I know how hard it is to make that first call for help).
I’ll add some of the links that I trust at the end of this post. I’ve posted these links several times and will say again … YOU CAN TRUST THEM.
If you need help or simply someone to talk to, THESE FOLKS WILL LISTEN. Not only will they listen, THEY WILL UNDERSTAND.
They are confidential and THEY CAN HELP.
What they can and will NOT do is judge or make the call for you.
For the past 7 months, my life has been a living hell.
I haven’t recovered from Jack’s death and don’t think I ever will.
Since that night, my life has taken a downhill turn. It seems as though nothing has gone “right”. Every time I try to pick myself up, something (or someone) pushes me right back down.
At times, I’m not even sure why I keep trying to get back up but I do. I told someone just this morning that it’s like swimming in peanut butter or trying to keep your head above water while tied to a cinder block. Everyday seems to be a struggle but I’m also tougher than I look …lol.
With all that said, I also know that I have MANY blessings in my life as well… some more obvious than others.
Without a doubt, one of those blessings has been our Fire Department Chaplain, Reverend Sandy Webb (aka Father Sandy or Father Webb).
I met Father Sandy for the first time while on duty back on St. Patrick’s Day 2011. I’m on duty again tonight and seen him for what may be the last time (in this world anyway).
In addition to our Department, Father Sandy serves the St. John’s Episcopal Church here in Roanoke. He announced recently that he will be moving on to Memphis, Tn. to a new church and family. Tonight was his last here in town.
They held a reception for him following the 5pm service. Many of us from the Department attended.
We even had a surprise special gift for him …. a custom painted helmet.
Battalion Chief Teddy Adkins had called a few weeks back to inform me that Father Sandy was leaving. He also explained that he wanted to do something “special” for him.
We discussed having a “custom” helmet painted for him and knew it would make the perfect gift.
Now all we had to do was arrange the details… Captain Bedwell from Station #1 B had the front shield made and I apologize for not knowing where from.
I told John I was looking for a composite helmet that I could afford. I explained to him that we were going to custom paint it and present it to Father Sandy before he left. John jumped on board right away.
Within 2 days, a brand new Morning Pride Ben 2 fire helmet was sitting on my front steps! More than that …. there was NO CHARGE! John wanted to donate the helmet due to it’s purpose.
That’s the kind of person John is and the type of Company Second Alarm Fire Equipment is… FIRST CLASS! I can’t thank him enough. If you guys haven’t heard of or used John and Second Alarm Fire Equipment, YOU NEED TO.
I say “slain” bacause Father Judge was murdered on 9/11 in the the attacks on the World Trade Center.
Father Judge was somewhat of a “connection” for me and Father Sandy. As I mentioned above, I met Father Sandy for the first time on St. Patrick’s day in a firehouse.
On St. Patrick’s Day, I always think of the FDNY and my visits to attend the parade. With that on my mind and a Priest in the house, my thoughts naturally turned to Father Judge.
I told Father Sandy the story and he knew exactly who I was talking about. I think he may have even met him before. From that moment on, Father Sandy and I had a bond that only strengthened and grew from that point.
I can’t explain the bond we shared but I do know that nobody expected it.
Me and a Priest …. it actually made some of our members nervous. They kept a distance whenever the two of us were together for fear of lightning strikes … LOL.
All kidding aside, I think a lot of Father Webb. Back on February 4, 2012 I even asked him to Bless my new Phenix Helmet before I placed it into service.
It’s a tradition I’ve kept with all my helmets but this time was different. I knelt before him in my office as he placed a hand on my forehead and held the helmet in his other. I was honored to learn that it was the first time he had been asked to perform such as task. I will never forget it. Read the related previous posts in the links below …
Beyond everything “on the job”, I called Father Sandy the night Jackson died. He came straight over to the house.
I hope he knows what a comfort that was for me and my family. To this day, he remains one of very few that I’ve been able to “open up” to. We never got to finish our last conversation that night but I know that one day … somewhere … we will.
I’ve asked him to other member’s homes as well. In times of need, facing major surgeries etc. Again, he was right there beside us.
I hope he knows what a difference he’s made in so many of our lives. I hope he is able to do the same in Memphis …. I’m sure that he will.
Words aren’t enough but THANKS Father Sandy. THANKS FOR EVERYTHING. May PEACE be with you along your continued journey … we will miss ya!
This will be the first installment of several detailing my trip to Oklahoma. There is simply too much story to tell in a single post.
I’ve spent the last 4 days in the Moore, and Oklahoma City area less than 2 months after a deadly EF5 tornado laid a 17 mile path of death and destruction in it’s wake.
I’m emotionally exhausted and ashamed to admit it. I’m ashamed because I’ve meet people here who have been through so much more yet they continue to survive. They continue to rebuild and push forward with a determination and strength that’s humbling to witness.
There’s a deep and powerful story in every conversation here. I hope I can share a few of those with you. These are the types of stories that need to be told.
I’m here with Shane Parkins who is the President of The National Firefighters Endowment. Our purpose was to deliver some much needed relief to the firefighters in this area. There were over 70 of them who were affected by the tornado, 24 lost everything they had.
On our first day, we visited the site of Plaza Towers Elementary School. I call it “the site of” because the school is no longer there.
I was overwhelmed with emotion. One minute we were driving through “any town” USA and the seconds later it seemed like we were in the middle of a war zone. I had seen the footage on TV but nothing had prepared me to be standing in the middle of it.
No words can capture what we experienced. No photo can fully tell this story.
The tornado killed 23 people and injured over 370 more. There were 7 children killed at Plaza Towers Elementary School and the reminders were everywhere I looked.
A chain link fence surrounded the site. It was covered with memorials, with messages of hope and remembrance. Shane and I walked that fence and read almost every one.
Then we came upon a cross. A small cross with something written in marker. It was surrounded by small teddy bears almost as if they were holding it up.
Through the rain and tears, the writing came into focus. It was seven names to accompany the seven little bears. Name of the 7 children killed there that day.
Sydney Angle -9 years old. Antonia Candelaria -9, Emily Conatzer -9, Kyle Davis -8, Ja’Nae Hornsby -9, Christopher Legg -9 and Nicolas McCabe -9, were their names. I wept as I read them and thought of my “Buckaroo” back in Va.
Inside the fence stood yet another memorial to these children. Seven crosses each bearing a name.
Beside each of them sat a small school chair and an assortment of toys that I’ll assume was each of their favorites. Again I was suffocated with emotion.
At first we were alone. Standing together but alone in our thoughts, not speaking, looking for “something” but not even sure what it was. Then, the signs began to appear. Signs of hope, strength and courage. Signs of life.
Someone had hung a bird feeder on what was once a tree in front of the school. The sign attached said “Please feed the birds” and there were plenty of them to feed. Someone or something could and DOES live in this place. For me, it was a sign of hope. There were American flags flying everywhere we looked. Clean-up efforts had begun. There was “something” here.
Still unable to absorb my surroundings, my thoughts kept turning to the first responders. To the Fire, Rescue and Police Officers who responded here that day.
I don’t want to imagine what they must have seen that day. What they must have been thinking. Where did they even start and how did they know to do it?
I’m from Va…. this was their homes. Their kids were in these schools.
What I didn’t tell you was that it wasn’t a single tornado that touched down here. This wasn’t their first and it wont be their last. Oklahoma got hit on June 19th and the 20th followed by yet another tornado and flooding less than 2 weeks later. Another 20+ people died that day. I’ve said that I’m “emotionally drained” after just 4 days here, imagine or think what the Brothers and Sisters on the job here must be feeling.
I’ve thought about it a lot. How do they do it?
In other recent natural disasters, we heard stories of first responders “leaving their post”. Members leaving the stations, abandoning rigs to rush home and check on their families and belongings. That didn’t happen here and it’s one of the stories that needs to be told.
Tornados have no discretion. They demolish one home to it’s foundation while leaving the adjoining one standing. They rip homes in half while clothes remain hanging in the closets. They hit the young, the elderly, the rich, the poor.
Many of the Brothers and Sisters on duty that day knew their homes and families were “in the path” of the tornado. They KNEW that personally, they were going to get “hit” but yet they stayed. Once again, they put others above themselves and did their job.
We brought a film crew with us and were able to capture two of those stories. We spent the next few days with Oklahoma City Firefighters (IAFF Local-157) Jon Cook and Brandon Whitehose. These are two AMAZING men with equally amazing families.
Both of these Brothers were on duty that night and lost EVERYTHING. Being at home wouldn’t have changed that fact for them but how were they to have known that? The story of what they were thinking, how they reacted, what and why they did what they did that evening should be an inspiration to each of us on the job. I’ll save the details until we release the video because I’m confident that our film maker, Jeycob Carlson captured the story. Along with the National Firefighters Endowment, I’m excited that we will be able to share it with you.
With your help, the NFE teamed up with The IAFF Charitable Foundation to contribute funds directly to the Oklahoma members in need. We were able to by-pass all the “red tape” and get this money into the hands of IAFF Local 157 President, Phil Sipe for quick disbursement.
I know it wasn’t enough but I know too that every little bit helps. I also know it was appreciated. I talked about it on camera with Brother Jon Cook. Firefighters often find it difficult to ask for help. We’re the ones who are supposed to be providing it.
Because of the Brotherhood, and groups such as the National Firefighters Endowment (and many others); you don’t HAVE to ask for help. We stand ready, and are ever prepared to provide for and meet your needs in time of crisis.
I board a plane for home in just a few hours and, as much as I miss my family; I don’t want to leave.
There is so much left to do here.
The only consultation is that I’m certain those who remain are prepared for the battles ahead.
I’ve seen first hand Departments who are properly equipped, well trained and disciplined. I’ve met members who are united, dedicated and strong.
From all this devastation, out of all this rubble I’ve found and seen the Brotherhood. I see dedication, determination …. I see HOPE!
I can only imagine the things this man has seen and done. Maybe he’ll take the time to sit down and write a book…. I hope so. I wanted to take a moment to congratulate and wish him well in retirement. He’s EARNED it! Related links and video below ….
There is another FDNY members retiring this week as well. The most Senior Fireman on the Job, Kenny Ruane is also “aging out” after 43 years of service.
Also serving in Manhattan, Fireman Ruane is retiring from Truck 16.
I’ve also had the honor of meeting Kenny.
Back in “the day” I often stayed at the Quarters of 39/16 and even had the privilege of marching with them in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade following 9/11.
It was evident that Kenny was the “go to guy” for the younger members. It was said that he never aspired for promotion because he LOVED being a fireman.
Combined, these two Brothers (including Captain Morris) equate to 83 years of service to the FDNY and the people of New York. The good news is that they feel as if they’re leaving the job “in good hands”. Congratulations and best wishes to Fireman Kenny Ruane as well…. he too has EARNED it!
A little closer to home, I had the honor of presenting a retirement axe to Lt. Baron “Smurf” Gibson last week.
Smurf retired from the Roanoke Fire/EMS Department (Va) on June 20, 2012 with 28 years of service.
He didn’t attend the Union Banquet to receive his axe and asked if I would get it for him. I wanted to do something a little more formal or fancy but it didn’t work out.
Smurf has and always will be a close friend of mine. He was a “good Jake”.
He was instrumental in helping to spec a fleet of 1991 Gruman rigs the Department purchased. Many still say that they were the best rigs to work off of in the Department’s history (a couple are still in service as reserve pieces today).
For years, Smurf was the Department’s SCBA technician and he carried out that duty with a lot of PRIDE. He also helped to bring PPV and the triple lay hose load to the Department.
He worked for years as my dad’s Lt. out of station #6 on the Southside of town. I grew up in that house. When I made Lieutenant, I was assigned to #6 on C-shift, working opposite of Smurf. What I will remember him most for is trading shifts with me so dad and I could work the same shift while my step mother fought cancer.
His career didn’t have the “story book ending” I’m sure he hoped for. He retired early but has become a better man because of it.
I was honored to have been able to hand him that axe … like the men mentioned above, he too EARNED it. Congratulations and best wishes Smurf …. I love ya Brother!
Photo by Nate Camfiord
OK …. so FREE HELMETS! Yea…. how cool is that?
Most of you know that Rhett and I wear Phenix helmets. We think they are the best helmet on the market and we prove it almost on a daily basis. Not only is the Helmet good, the company is made up of GREAT people as well.
The folks at Phenix have a genuine concern for firefighters and our safety. They truly understand words like TRADITION, PRIDE, HONOR and RESPECT.
Don’t believe me?? Get this…. To celebrate 40 years in business, Phenix teamed up with ESS and The Nation Firefighters Endowment to give away 40 helmets to a Department in need. They ran a photo / video contest on Face Book and narrowed their selection down to ten Departments. At FDIC this year, they announced the winner.
Wait…. they didn’t announce “a” winner, they announced 2 winners! Yea … there were two very deserving Departments in the finals and Phenix decided to outfit them both!
What’s even better is that they will be delivering them in person. On Saturday, July 13th Phenix will be at Wears Valley Fire Department in Sevierville, Tn. Then on Tuesday, July 16th, they will be at the Ozark fire Protection Districts Station #1 in Ozark, Mo.
The times and addresses are in the press release to the right (Click it to enlarge).
What other helmet company does this? NONE! I’d like to personally say “THANK YOU” to Phenix for their continued support of the Fire Service. If you’re not wearing a Phenix…. YOU SHOULD BE! I’ll add all the links you need … check em out.
Speaking of The National Firefighters Endowment, I will be heading out to Moore, Oklahoma in the morning on their behalf.
I’ll be meeting up with NFE President Shane Parkins and we will be delivering some much needed relief to our Brother and Sister firefighters down there who were affected by the EF5 Tornado that tore through Moore back on May 20, 2013.
24 firefighters lost EVERYTHING and another 72 suffered significant loss.
The NFE has teamed up with the IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighters) to establish a fund dedicated to paying the insurance deductibles for these members. This was the best way we found to assure we could help as many firefighters (and their families) as possible and be assured the money was going where it needed to go.
We will be on the ground for 4 days and have a camera / video crew with us. We will tour the damage and visit with some of those affected. I will try to keep you updated as much as possible.
If you don’t know about or support the NFE(National firefighters Endowment) you SHOULD. It’s YOUR support that makes all our work possible.
It’s been almost 12 years now since 2,750 people, including 343 of our Brothers; were murdered at the World Trade Center during the September 11, 2001 attacks.
That in itself is hard for me to believe because it’s still so fresh in my mind.
It’s also hard for me to believe that they are still identifying remains but this past Friday, they did just that.
The announcement was made that the remains of Lieutenant Jeffrey Patrick Walz were positively identified.
Lt. Walz was 37 years old at the time of his death and was promoted promoted posthumously. He was assigned to Ladder Company 9 in downtown Manhattan. He had a wife, Rani; and a 3 year old son Bradley.
The Medical Examiner’s office has been retesting remains found from the original recovery efforts which was prior to May 2002.
I said it’s “good news” but I guess for the family, it’s bitter sweet.
His sister, Karen Ciaccio says there hasn’t been a day in the nearly 4,000 that have passed since his death that they haven’t thought about Jeffrey. I’m sure this latest development will cause all the emotion and memories to resurface but also hope it brings some sort of peace to their lives.
His Brother, Raymond; said “We’re just very relieved, in some respects, to be finally bringing him home to where he grew up and to put him to rest there,” (quote from NBC New York.com).
I hope they are able to find peace through this. I say “peace” vs. “closure” because I don’t think there’s ever “closure” when you loose a loved one. I also hope the Medical Examiner’s office is able to identify even more victims through their retesting process.
Finding Lt. Walz was the “good news” from my title. The pain and disgust comes from Bravo’s reality television show “The Princesses: Long Island”.
Last week, Chief Goldfeder alerted us of the disgraceful event that took place at a 9/11 Memorial in Great Neck, Long Island.
Cast from the show was doing some sort of photo shoot in front of the memorial. There were 6 FDNY members from Great Neck who were murdered in the September 11th attacks. Their names are memorialized on the wall behind the life sized statue of Jonathan Ielpi whom the park is named after … Jon’s Park”.
The cast was undressing and changing cloths in front of the memorial and even enacted giving Jonathan a drink of beer.
IT WAS NOT ONLY DISTASTEFUL, IT WAS ALSO VERY DISRESPECTFUL!
Family interviews, more video and links HERE and HERE
This story hits close to home for me because I’ve met Jonathan’s Father and Brother (Lee and Brendan). I’ve written about them several times here on Ironfiremen.com.
Back in October of 2011 I met Jonathan’s father, Lee Ielpi; and it remains one of the most memorial days of my life.
I was in New York with Rhett and Zach Green (of MN8 FoxFire). Chief Goldfeder arranged a tour of the 9/11 Tribute Center for us. It’s located next to Ground Zero.
“9/11 Tribute Center offers visitors to the World Trade Center site a place where they can connect with people from the September 11th community. Through walking tours, exhibits and programs, the 9/11 Tribute Center offers “Person to Person History,” linking visitors who want to understand and appreciate these historic events with those who experienced them.”
Lee is a retired Captain from FDNY’s Rescue 2 and is the Founder of the 9/11 Tribute Center. Lee gave us the tour personally!
Chief Goldfeder called in a huge favor on this one as his assistants made it very clear that Lee had a VERY busy schedule and would only be able to spend about 10 minutes with us.
Within minutes of our introduction, we both knew we’d be spending more than 10 minutes together. I still can’t describe it but remember it as if it was just this morning. When we shook hands and made eye contact, there was an instant bond.
Like a father would a son, Lee NEVER took his hand off me for more than 30 seconds until the end of our visit. Whether it was his hand on my shoulder or back, holding my elbow etc, he hardly ever broke contact. It was VERY personal for me.
Actually, he said that he tries to avoid that display most days but wanted to share it with us.
He wanted me to see it and for him to be the one to show me. I cry still today thinking about what we shared there that morning.
Jonathan was assigned to Squad 288 out of Queens. They lost 19 members that day, more than any other company.
Lee searched “the pile” every day with who he called the “eight dads”. They found Jonathan’s body 3 months from the day of the attacks.
I don’t think Lee has left the pile yet. I don’t think he ever will.
I can’t say enough about either of these two GREAT men. Their poise and strength is amazing to me, especially now that I know the pain of having lost a brother myself.
These two men, Jonathan, the remaining 342 and all of their survivors deserve our RESPECT … not the disrespect shown by Bravo and the Princesses:Long Island cast.
PLEASE, take the time to use the links I’ve provided so you’ll understand their story. Then, contact Bravo and let them know how upset you are with the actions of and disrespect shown by the cast of Princesses: Long Island.
If you’re on the job, have you ever thought about it that way? It’s a powerful statement.
What exactly IS worth dying for? A building? If so, at what value does it become “worth it”? How about the people in your 1st due? Are THEY worth dying for? Do you even know them? Do you know their morals… their ethics? Do they share the same views and beliefs as you or your family? How about the folks over in the “lower income” section of town … are they worth dying for?
What about the Brothers and Sisters next to you? Are they “worth it”? I’m struggling today with the word “worth”. Who gives me (us) the right to decide …. to choose?
It’s on my mind tonight because of a piece I watched on this mornings news. I’ll add the video below …. TAKE THE TIME TO WATCH IT and you’ll understand where I’m going with the rest of this post.
Pretty powerful huh? After having met these women, that solider felt as if he had met somebody “worth” dying for. With no disrespect intended, I wonder who he thought he was fighting for before he met these ladies. He certainly didn’t think that all Americans where like her.
I say that because somewhere, deep inside him; he was willing to give his life for another not even knowing who that other may be. He made that decision when he enlisted or at least I hope he knew that’s what he did.
We’ve made that same decision (The Fire Service) but on another “front”. Our battles are here on the streets of every small town and big city in America. I remember the look on “Rookie Randy’s” face when I had that talk with him. I told him that I would do everything within my power to keep him safe but further explained that our job is inherently dangerous and that if need be, I would place him directly in harms way.
I’ve thought about it every day I’ve reported for duty. I think we have to. Leaving the house in the mornings knowing you may not return is what hopefully keeps us on our game.
Everyday I work I meet people “worth” dying for. It’s the people in my territory …. the people I’m sworn to protect. It’s also the Brothers and Sisters I work with … for me, they’re all “worth it” but I don’t think about it that way. For me, it’s doing my job …. it’s doing “the job” (fully understanding that part of our job is making sure everyone goes home).
Kids like the little fella I wrote about back in October 2005. Although his incident wasn’t “fire related”, there are many other kids just like him in my territory.
Is he “worth it”? What about his grandmother? For me, she is too. I don’t have the luxury of being able to pick and choose.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have made a few “grabs” in my career. I never thought about who it was I was going in after. Not about how they lived, what they believed or what they’ve done with their lives etc. Is that necessarily fair to my wife and kids back home??? Maybe not but it’s the life I choose. It’s what we do.
The point I’m getting to here is the 19 members killed in the Yarnell Hill fire this past Sunday. Do you think they thought about the “worth” or “value” of the people or property they sat out to protect?
I think these Brothers were focused on the task at hand. I’d bet they were focused on doing their job in hopes of protecting the lives and property of the residents of Yarnell Hill as well as the Brothers and Sisters battling beside them.
CBS reporter Carter Evans wants to know more.
I can’t believe this reporter got this close to one of the surviving wives this soon and asked the questions he did.
CBS aired an interview Evans did with Andrew Ashcraft’s widow Juliann.
Andrew was 29 years old, a husband and father of 4.
He wanted to know “What do you tell your kids?”(1 min 48 second mark). He also asked her (at the 2 minute 15 second mark) “What do you think was going through his mind?” !!! Did he mean before he deployed his shelter or afterwards while laying there waiting for it to hit? Why would he even ask her such questions? It’s obvious that Juliann Ashcroft is a firefighter’s wife because she handled the interview well. She shouldn’t have had to endure it. The interview video is below ….
Again, the word “worth” comes back to my mind and the question of who applies that “worth”. Juliann said she wants the world to know that Andrew and the other 18 Hotshots killed that day are “HEROES”. I TOO BELIEVE THEY WERE! I believe we all are.
There is no “illusion” to death. It’s real and there’s nothing “easy” about it. Unfortunately, we in the fire service see it from all sides and directions. I wrote about it in a previous post linked below….
I don’t have the answers to “worth” “death” or any of it…. nor will I pretend to. All of us are hurting in one way or another following this monumental and tragic loss and each will deal with it in our own ways.
Some, on the other hand; are praising these deaths and not in a positive way.
Chief Billy Goldfeder alerted us of the plan of the Westboro Baptist Church to “picket” the funerals!
Their web site boasts statements such as “Praise God for the Arizona Wild Fire that killed 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots!”, “Thank God for the fires” and “Firefighters in Hell”!!!!
Just click the picture to the right or HERE to view the full page newsletter.
It makes me SICK TO MY STOMACH and has me wondering if it’s “worth it” for me to fly out and explain it to them face to face. The sad news is that this will not be the first time Westboro has (planned or actually) picketed a firefighter funeral.
Fortunately, a “Sea of Blue” (a large line of Firefighters in their dress blue uniforms) has always shielded the families of the fallen from having to see the display.
How many other people in the world think this way? How many others think this way about us and the job we do? About the sacrifices we and our families make on a day to day basis? Looking at it that way …. now do you think it’s all “worth it”? Or, are you like me and could give a shit what the Westboro Baptist Church or those like them think of what or why we do what we do.
I’m on the job today. I’ve been here for 22 years, my dad and many like him for hundreds of years before that. I’ll be here until I can’t be anymore and there are thousands like me…. standing vigilant. We are making a difference everyday in some form or another. Those 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots did and that’s all the “worth” I need.
The 19 members killed in the Yarnell Hill fire were part of the Granite Mountain Hot Shot Crew from the Prescott Fire Department in Arizona. Here are their names and age ….
Christopher Mackenzie (30), Andrew Ashcraft (29), Kevin Woyjeck ( 21), Anthony Rose ( 23), Eric Marsh ( 43), Robert Caldwell ( 23), Clayton Whitted ( 28), Scott Norris ( 28), Dustin Deford ( 24), Sean Misner ( 26), Garret Zuppiger ( 27), Travis Carter ( 31), Grant McKee ( 21), Travis Turbyfill ( 27), Jesse Steed ( 36), Wade Parker (22), Joe Thurston (32), William Warneke ( 25), John Percin(24)
Please continue to keep these Brothers, their families, co-workers and friends in your thoughts and prayers as I know you have.
If you’d like to do more, the National Fallen firefighters Foundation has established a fund to allow you to securely do so….
From their site …
“In light of the tragic event in Yarnell, Arizona and in cooperation with local support efforts, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation has established a national fund to accept monetary donations to assist the survivors and coworkers of the firefighters who died in the line of duty while battling the Yarnell Hill Fire”
They are in Houston and West, Texas. They are on the ground in Moore, Oklahoma. They are still in Charleston, SC, New York City and many, many other places across the country providing various means of support.
Whenever I talk about the NFFF and the support they give, I always have to mention the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climbs.
Rhett and I have been honored to be able to work behind the scenes with this group and see first hand how their efforts directly affect the FDNY’s Counseling Unit.
We watched, humbled and honored; as the FDNY Commissioner himself explained that without the NFFF and the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climbs, the FDNY Counseling Unit would have been SHUT DOWN due to lack of funding.
NUTS!!!! As in Peanuts … like the Charlie Brown and Lucy peanuts.
That’s exactly who I feel like today … Charlie Brown.
The scene of Lucy pulling the ball away from him time after time as he’s trying to kick it keeps playing over and over in my mind.
I’m beginning to wonder if Charles Shultz wasn’t writing about my career. How did he know me anyway?
I’ve had the ball pulled out from in front of me once again today. I did not get the promotion to Battalion Chief that I was hoping for. It’s not the first time.
I feel like an idiot. Actually, I’m not sure how I feel. I thought I was smarter than this…. getting all worked up and excited after so many attempts. I guess I’m disappointed in myself more than anything else.
Everyone told me … “they’ll never promote you” … “they’ll just skip you again”… but they didn’t have to tell me … I knew it before I even signed up for the test. I just thought maybe this time would be different.
I was the 2nd senior man on the “Short list” (the Top 7 were interviewed for 2 open Battalion positions) but had more “time in grade” than any other candidate. Actually, I have been an Officer in our Department as long or longer than most of the others on that list have been on the job. I had hoped my experience held value. It obviously wasn’t enough.
My resume is ”run of the mill” and fairly standard. I lack the formal education many younger firefighters have these days. I’ve never been to college and actually dropped out of high school after the 11th grade (which was STUPID). The best part of my resume was the letters of recommendation included within.
I’m not going to list the names of those who submitted a letter for me but trust me … they were GREAT letters from some of the biggest names of the fire service. I don’t say that boastfully but again, letters of recommendation from men such as these, speaking to my leadership, motivation and communication skills / abilities should have carried some weight. A LOT OF WEIGHT.
I’ll add that it wasn’t easy to ask these Brothers for a letter in the first place. It’s just not my “style” if you know what I mean. You know … hey so and so … would you mind writing a letter to my Chief telling him how good I am? I was HUMBLED to read what these Brothers wrote …I even wondered who a couple of them were talking about in the first place…lol. I wish I could share them with you but it wouldn’t be fair to the authors. They were GREAT letters.
I included my work with The National Firefighters Endowment and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation in my resume as well. It’s been a huge HONOR for me to have been able to serve my fellow firefighters (and the Fire Service) through these GREAT organizations. I added some information about my teaching and motivational speaking all across the countryas well (along with the Fire Critic, Rhett Fleitz). I feel as if I’ve represented myself, the Fire Service and my Department in a very positive and professional manner .
We had oral interviews yesterday and that’s when I really started to feel good about the whole process. It went well … or at least I thought so. I walked out of that room knowing I would get “the nod” this time. I got to mention all the above information and tie it all together for the panel. I feel like I have started to “prove” myself on a National level and asked for the opportunity to do the same on a local level while continuing to move our Department forward. A well respected Chief that I’ve looked up to for years once told me that a firefighter like myself needs a very good briefcase and time to travel because we are only appreciated 50 miles or greater from our home Department…. LOL.
The Department I work for is already a GREAT Department, being Internationally Accredited and having an ISO rating of 2; but we are also at a “cross roads” if you will. We just made a lot of promotions. We just promoted a new Deputy Chief of Operations which makes up 1/3 of our Executive Staff. The promotion of 2 new Battalions equates to nearly 30% of our Command Staff plus we made 7 new Captains and 6 Lieutenants. I think that may be a first in our Department’s rich history. I’m excited to see the direction our new leaders will take us.
This post is not a “bitch”, “rant” or a “woe is me” post at all. I simply wanted to make sure you understand where I’m coming from and to share with you what I’m feeling today. When I got the phone call this morning, I felt as if I’d been kicked in the gut! I’m sure it happens everyday to Brothers and Sisters all across the country and it’s a shame. I know there’s a better way.
I have all the confidence in our Chiefs and I’m sure they made their choices for the right reasons…. for the “greater good” of our Department. I’ll add my congratulations to all of our new Officers and wish them the best of luck. I say that with all sincerity and offer my assistance if any of them should need it.
Anything less would make me a hypocrite. I may be broke but I’m not broken. Isn’t this exactly what Rhett and I travel so much to speak about? “Owning the job” …. Tradition, Pride, Honor, Respect and the Brotherhood. Isn’t circumstances like this what has made me such a well respected Captain?
It’s NOT about me and some promotion … it’s about the job … about the Brothers and Sisters I work with. It’s about moving our Department and the Fire Service forward and making sure everyone goes home. My passion for the job makes me feel bigger than any promotion they could have given me. I can (and will) walk into the station on Saturday morning with my head held high. I’ll walk in with Pride…. I gave it my best shot. I hope that my doing so will serve as a lesson to any of you out there facing the same circumstances. Pick yourself up …. never give up …. and “keep fire in your life”. I’m as motivated and passionate today as I was yesterday and the day before that.
I’ll finish by saying THANKS to everyone who helped me prepare for the testing process and to those who wrote my letters of recommendation. I’ll also apologize for missing the mark and possibly wasting the time and efforts of so many great people. I hope you all know it was greatly appreciated and not taken lightly…. because you were behind me, I was able to do my best.
I’m going to head in several directions with the title because it seems as if I’ve been surrounded by “Class A’s” a lot this week.
One I’d like to share was when West McBride dropped by the station with his family on Thursday.
I’ve known West for some time now but we’ve never met in person until his visit. I’ve always though he was a “class act” and meeting him confirmed my suspicions.
West and his family were heading home from the Hershey, Pa area and thought there was no way he could pass through without stopping in for a visit. I was glad he did … we LOVE visitors here at Lucky #13.
West runs another very popular web site down in North Carolina. Be sure to check him out at the link below ….
Visiting a firehouse can be hit or miss depending on the crew on duty. Rhett and I always look at it as a chance to share some of the history, tradition and pride of our Department / stations. I hope West and his family enjoyed their stop and left with a positive impression of Station #13 and our Department.
Rhett wrote some very good articles over at FireCritic.com on this exact topic in a series he called “Owning the Job”. Use the link below to see what he had to say…
Another type of “Class A” I’ll mention is our uniform. Our “Class A’s” are what others may call our “dress uniform”. I’ve had mine on a lot here lately and will have to put em back on Tuesday.
I’m thankful that I’m not wearing them due to a funeral. Having said that, I do want to mention the passing of Chief John Sachen. Chief Billy Goldfeder described him as “one of the best, most active and senior Fire Instructors in North America”. You can read about Chief Sachen’s passing HERE .
I’ve been wearing my Class A’s due to our promotional process. A few weeks ago, I took the written / practical test for promotion to Battalion Chief. The test consisted of an IMS scenario, a “problem” employee and an in/out basket. I learned on Wednesday that I scored high enough to get an oral interview. We currently have 2 Battalion Chief positions open so the top 7 on the list will be considered / interviewed.
I believe there were 15 Captains in all who tested for the position and every one of them would make a good Chief in my opinion.
Of the top 7, I am the most senior when it comes to “time in grade” and years spent as a Company Officer (counting my years as a Lieutenant and 1st Lieutenant). We don’t get “points” for seniority or time in grade but I hope the Chiefs considering it when making their selections.
Anyway, Tuesday afternoon I will put my class A’s on once again and try to convince the Chief to give me the chance to help continue to move our Department forward. WISH ME LUCK! (I know Bill Carey … “luck” has nothing to do with it…LOL).
(Do you really want to wish me luck or leave a comment on this or any of my postings? If so, it’s easy … just “like” and follow me on my Face Book Fan Page. Use the link below)
So the next “Class A” I’ll talk about is burn buildings. A “Class A” building is one where we are able to actually have “live fire” inside burning “class A” combustibles such as pallets and straw. The other type of burn building is “Class B” of gas-fueled buildings. Either one can be constructed of concrete (block) or metal.
In our City, we are part of a Regional Training Center. The RTC was built by the 3 major jurisdictions in our area but is also used by many departments outside our valley. It’s a great facility.
We had a Class A building made of concrete block. It was a GREAT building in it’s time but all the fires took a toll on her. The building still stands on our training grounds but is no longer suitable for live fire training.
We replaced our Class A with a gas-fueled metal building about 3 or 4 years ago (I believe).
I’ve heard both good and bad comments since switching from the old to the new.
Obviously, the conditions are much different when burning in one vs. the other.
Those in favor argue that the gas-fueled buildings are safer for recruits and training in general. They continue with they burn cleaner, and are cheaper to build and maintain.
Those who oppose the gas-fueled over a Class-A say that the training is not “realistic” enough. They argue it’s difficult to produce smoke and heat. The arguments for and against each go deeper but that’s the basics that I hear anyway.
To get to my point, we’ve been having some trouble with our new building lately. Usually not a big deal but we also have a Recruit Academy in progress. Recruit Class #16 is actually about to graduate and needed to get their “final burn” in to meet state requirements.
Because of the closing deadline, and the need to get this burn completed, the Officers and staff of the RTC arranged for us to use a building in a neighboring jurisdiction.
Yesterday, we headed down to Pulaski, Va. to utilize their Class A burn building.
I have to admit …. I was excited. It felt like old times!
Despite not getting any sleep the night before (thanks Nate Camfiord for the jinx) and being dead tired, I was not disappointed after I got there. Pulaski has a GREAT facility. The building was well designed and in great shape.
It was one of the best moves we could have made for our recruits.
It was something “new” for them. For one, they really haven’t seen “live fire” while in the academy. Second, they had never been in this building. They have been in our building so much that it should be becoming second nature to them. Using Pulaski’s building was something new and fresh for them.
Several of the recruits made comments as to what an “eye opener” the experience was. I think it was a GREAT learning experience for all of them.
They were fortunate to have such a great group of instructors as well.
Salem’s Training Officer, Captain Kevin Totten was the Incident Commander for the burn.
He and his staff chose instructors that know how to take their time with the recruits. How to slow it down and talk and TEACH while inside rather than pushing in, knocking it down and racing back out for high fives.
On this burn, the recruits did both engine and truck work in all types of scenarios. The instructors worked with EACH recruit to assure that each got their hands on each position.
The building held good heat and our “stokers” were able to generate not only some good fires but smoke as well. This was as close as the recruits will get to a “real” fire before they graduate in 2 weeks.
It was hot, the work is not easy and it made for a long day but it was all worth it.
I explained that to the recruits after the burn during our “critique”.
I hope they appreciate what the instructors did for them. I’m sure each of them had other places to be. Something else to do, family to be with etc. Instead, they CHOSE to be there …. with the recruits teaching them our profession.
The stokers TOOK A BEATING. They took it for the recruits. All of us did. In return, we expect to be paid back.
They can pay us back by doing a good job. By always doing “the right thing”. By “HONORING” the job and those who served before them. I talk about it all the time .. TRADITION, PRIDE, HONOR and RESPECT. It’s what the fire Service was build on.
I expect them to learn something everyday. They may graduate in two weeks but they should never stop learning. I hope they never loose that hunger to learn or the excitement for the job that I seen yesterday. I wish each of them luck and long, SAFE careers.
So, I’ll be in the hay field and down by the creek all day tomorrow. I’m back at the station for 24hrs on Monday and then 4-day break (not including my interview on Tuesday). I’ll try to get back with another post as soon as possible.
It’s a VERY fancy place and sure to be a great show! You should have seen the look on their faces when I walked into the hotel with my cowboy hat and boots last night. When I asked “How yall doin” you could have heard a pin drop ….. LMAO (they’re gonna LOVE me here!).
We will be set up in booth #2125 so if you’re at the show, be sure to stop by for a personal demo of the MN8 FoxFire product line.
If you’re already using FoxFire, stop by anyway to tell us how it’s working for ya or just to say hello.
I’m not sure of our full schedule yet but I do know that tonight, I will be at the Capitol Region F.O.O.L.S meet-up. If you want to attend, you can find more details HERE . These are a GREAT bunch of Brothers and Sisters and actually, Rhett and I will be back up here in September to speak at one of their events …. I can’t wait!
I’m not sure who all was on duty yesterday or who was first in but I do know that the Officers and members of B-shift are all “dialed in” and good at what we do. Most likely, it would have been Engine #2 (Captain Trussler), Engine #3 (Captain Kesterson) or Engine #13 (Captain Dillon) first in. Either way, it looks like the boys did a great job of handling the incident. STRONG WORK Brothers….. STRONG WORK.
So, It’s time for me to iron my Bunker Kilt and get ready for today’s events. Rhett stayed behind this trip as he’s at the Virginia Fire Officer’s Academy in Richmond ( “getting his learn on” …LOL). He says it’s a GREAT class and that he’s taking a lot away from it. I can’t wait til he gets a post up about it over on FireCritic…. be sure to keep an eye out for it.
So there ya have it. Short and sweet for now. I’ll try to get ya more tonight … depending on how late those F.O.O.L.S keep me out.
LOL …. those are 3 basic things I try my best to avoid fooling with because you never know what’s going to happen!
I guess I should add natural gas to the list as well. I’ve always hated those “odor of gas” calls, especially when you can’t find the source. Well today, that wasn’t a problem.
First thing this morning, we were dispatched, single engine no doubt; for a truck that had hit a gas line. Something didn’t “feel” right so, while still en route; I requested a Ladder be added to the assignment.
We were more than a block away from the address when we ran into what seemed like a wall of gas. A truck working in an alley way had taken a commercial gas meter completely off a building and natural gas was free flowing through the 1 inch supply line.
What made it more interesting was the location. On one side of the alley is all commercial buildings. On the other side however is all residential.
A quick investigation found the meter completely broken off below the shut off and there was no cut off box in the alley or street side…. in other words … I couldn’t stop the flow! I established “command” and quickly upgraded to a full assignment.
My first assignment was directed toward evacuation. We evacuated an entire block (20+ adults, 4 children and 4 pets) before the gas company arrived and was able to plug the leak. Lines were laid, staging areas established, streets closed etc. We were VERY busy taking care of everything that needed taken care of.
Here’s the thing …. it all went as smooth as silk and I LOVE IT!!! I know it’s supposed to happen like that on every incident but we all know it usually doesn’t. This incident got big quick and covered a large area. It had all the potential to turn into a real cluster but it didn’t and that’s because of the companies assigned.
I don’t brag enough about the Battalion I work in. Rhett (FireCritic.com) and I don’t get to “publicize” or talk about the Department we work for because we (or our sites) are not endorsed or supported by our Department. It’s probably (and honestly) closer to the exact opposite of support and that’s a shame. As much as I’d like to be able to tell ya what a GREAT job our Department does on a daily basis, I can’t.
What I will say is what a GREAT job C-shift and the North Battalion of my Department does. Today’s incident would not have ran so smoothly without the well trained and disciplined Officers and members we have on shift. We could have very easily made Fire Geezer’s headlines today with another big “Ka Boom”. Thankfully, we didn’t. It’s always a good feeling when you leave a scene knowing that everything went exactly the way it should have. I had that feeling this morning and it’s all because of the 21 members assembled on scene (and our AWESOME dispatchers).
So, what I wanted to say is THANK YOU for a job well done to each and every member assigned to that incident this morning. Your professionalism and dedication to duty make our job much easier and it’s an honor to work beside you all.
Moving on … I hope everyone had a great Memorial weekend. I hope more so that you took the time to remember the reason why we have Memorial Day in the first place.
I took a moment to reflect on our fallen and what Memorial Day means to me.
I thought not only of our soldiers but also of the 343 murdered in the towers back in 2001. They too were on the “front lines” of the war on terror.
My thoughts also lingered on a family member taken too early. The picture to the left is in memory of my cousin, Chase Prasnicki who was Killed In Action on June 27, 2012 just 5 days after his deployment. I wrote about Chase and others in a 2012 post….
It was kind of a difficult and emotional day for me. Thoughts and memories of my brother Jackson weighed heavy on my mind and heart.
Being surrounded by family helped get me through the day. My youngest daughter, Reba; was working but my eldest, Randi-Jo; my wife Donna, the Buckaroo and Kevin all spent the day with me.
Like everything I do, it was quite the adventure. I came across a fairly big snapping turtle on my way home yesterday morning. I don’t know how he got where he was but I decided to give him a ride up to the house and introduce him to our little creek.
Of course the Buckaroo had to check him out first. I took some video of him trying to put the turtle back in the truck …. here it is …
LOL…. don’t worry. No turtles or the Buckaroo were harmed in the making of that video. The day got better.
After a little farm work, we all loaded up on the 4-wheelers (quads for those of you above the Mason-Dixon…lol) and headed to our fishing hole.
The Buckaroo was pulling em out right and left! Here’s another short video of that …
After some fishing, we took a nice ride on the mountain. It was very relaxing and just what I needed. If only it could have lasted longer!
Well, we start our 4 day break in the morning and Kevin and I will be starting our first cut of hay. As funny as it sounds, I’m a little excited about getting back to spending all day in the tractor. That too is a peaceful place for me…
I’ll try to keep ya updated on our progress as well as cover a few more topics that I’ve been wanting to visit. Until I get back, stay SAFE and in House!
“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.