In another previous post (“Melt Down”) , I told ya about the “stages of grief” and how grief is as individual as the person suffering through it. We don’t necessarily go through the stages in order and by no means in the same way.
I’m currently working through the “depression” stage (and, I believe; suffering through PTSD).
I was expecting it but have never fully understood exactly what “depression” was. I’m learning the hard way.
My thoughts continue to wonder with every waking moment and it’s difficult for me to focus.
I still can’t eat. I just don’t have an appetite … I’m not hungry. When I try to force myself to eat, I throw it back up so I figure why bother.
I’m sleeping some at night now but I’m not REALLY “sleeping”. I’m tired all the time and can’t motivate myself to get out and do anything. I try to make myself go “somewhere” or do “something” but I don’t. I know I need to.
I haven’t even been able to write (evident in my recent lack of postings and absence from Face Book).
I’m not getting along well with others … I just want to be alone.
All these things seem so petty and easy to fix but they’re not.
That’s the hardest part for me. I know what’s happening and what I need to do ….. I just can’t muster the energy or motivation to get it done.
I have to start climbing my way out of this hole … I thought I have been but it doesn’t feel like I’m making much progress. I can’t stay here (like this) forever.
One of the folks I’ve been seeing offered a prescription for anti-depressants. It’s not for me. There’s a small part of me that almost took her up on it just so I could learn for myself (and share with you folks) if they (the pills) “really” work or not. Unfortunately, I’m not the “pill” taking kind ( I hardly even even take an aspirin) so I won’t be able to tell you “first hand” about anti-depressants. I can tell you that depression is REAL . It’s an illness that can be crippling.
I see a lot of it in the firehouse for one reason or another. Not just in situations like mine (the loss of a loved one) but also over financial issues, marital problems etc. If you want to learn more about depression and take your “Depression IQ quiz”, take a minute and CLICK HERE .
The best thing for me has been talking about it. Getting “it” out of my head and off my chest. I’ve wrote about them a lot here lately but once again, I want to share with you some folks who you CAN TALK TO. People who understand and that do MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
These folks are not just for you or me either. They are there for our Brothers and Sisters as well and it’s up to us to let them know that help is available. PAY ATTENTION … look around you. If someone in your company, your Battalion, Department or whatever is needing help, point them in this direction. You know … firefighter “so and so” whos wife just left him. Ol “what’s his name” from Engine whatever who just took a 3rd mortgage out because he lost his 2nd job. That S.O.B on the Ladder who we all know has been drinking too much …. all these Brothers have someone to turn to. Let them know before it’s too late. Here are the links ….
I had a bad day yesterday. Like most everyday, there’s always something that will remind me of Jackson.
I pulled a tour Saturday (we work 24hr shifts) and when I got home yesterday morning, the Buckaroo was waiting for me. It was 8am , he missed his “Paw-Paw” and wanted to play.
He got his motorcycle toy out. It’s like the old Evil Knievel wind up toy. If you’re a boy and anywhere near my age (44), I’d bet you had one.
I showed him how to use some books / magazines to make a ramp so we could make some jumps down the hallway. It was just how me and Jack did it when we were kids.
I could see us like it was just yesterday. Then the thought hit me (as it always does in situations like this) …. I wanted to call Jackson and tell him what we were doing. He would LOVE it! Knowing that me and the Buckaroo were doing exactly what he and I did as kids. I know he’d remember our ramps … our jumps…. fighting over who went next…. he’d understand and know EXACTLY what we were feeling / doing. He’d have that unforgettable smile on his face just thinking about it.
I’ll never get to make “those” calls again … not to Jackson and it’s killing me. This grief … the depression…. it keeps knocking me down but I won’t let it keep me here.
Like I said in the beginning of this post, I have to start climbing my way out of this hole.
“CLIMBING”…… Seems I wrote about that one time …. back in July of 2011 actually in a post titled “We are all Climbing” (Take the time to hit the link and read that post … I think you’ll find it worthwhile). Stairs, ladders or whatever obstacle, it seems we all are indeed “climbing”.
Me? I’m gonna find my way out …. I’m gonna find that “new normal” because I’m going to keep climbing …. it’s all I know to do.
I’m gonna start by getting out of town again. I’m going to head up north and spend a little time in NYC and out on Long Island.
I’m going to attend the Long Island Fire, Rescue and EMS Mega Show on Feb. 23rd / 24th. I’ll be working the booth with my MN8 FoxFire family but I’ll also be doing what I love best … meeting, spending time with and talking to all the Brothers and Sisters in attendance. I think it will be just what I need to get “moving” again …. to “re-engage” and get “back in the game”.
I’ll get ya more details in the next day or so …. until then, thanks again for all the support. Thanks too for allowing me to share all of this with you …. I LOVE YA ALL!
I started “blogging” back in December of 2008 while assigned to Station #9C (The “Melrose Misfits). I never imagined that it would grow into something as big as it has or that it would have been as rewarding as it is. When I was moved from Station #9, I decided to create the Wooden Ladders and Iron Firemen Blog. Later, with Rhett’s help; we shortened the name to Ironfiremen.com and moved over to the Fire/EMS Blog Network. It was the best move I ever made.
The site continues to grow. My views or “hits” have TRIPLED from 2010 to 2011! I’ve always kidded about having 2 readers but obviously, there is a lot more than that. I still don’t understand why …. I don’t even know where I “fit in” as far as the “network” or other sites go.
By that I mean that I’m not sure there is even a “category” for me or the Blog. I’m not a straight forward ”news” or “educational” type of site. I don’t know what folks are looking for when they “click on” or visit Ironfiremen.com but obviously, they’re finding it (or something that keeps em coming back anyway).
One of the things I’m most proud of is having been voted
The distinction of Blog of the Year and the sites growing popularity has opened many doors and propelled us in several directions. Those of you who follow regularly know that Rhett and I have been “on the road” a lot this year and each trip has been related in some way or another to our sites.
Our advertising, promotional, branding and networking efforts has allowed us to meet some amazing people and make many new friends. Not only that, we’ve also become involved with several outstanding organisations within the Fire/EMS industry along the way.
We’ve accomplished so much in 2011 that it would be difficult to pack into a single post. That said, I’ll just hit the month by month highlights for ya and TRY to keep it short …. see if you remember these and ENJOY the “look back” ….
January 2011 . Looking at the stats, my busiest day as far as ”hits” was the 17th. I had 2 posts up that day as Roanoke’s Bravest battled a Multi-Alarm Fire and stupid drivers at a local Days Inn.
You can re-visit those posts on Ironfiremen.com HERE and HERE .
For MORE on that incident from Fire Critic and RoanokeFirefighters.com (including more photos) click HERE and HERE
The 17th may have been the site’s busiest day in January but the fire was not what stands out in my mind as most memorable.
It was January that the Roanoke Fire Department suffered an ” The End of an Era” with the passing of Battalion Chief Bobbie Slayton.
Chief Slayton served the City of Roanoke for nearly 45 years. He had been a Chief longer than I had been on the job. My dad worked for Bobbie as his Chief’s Aid / Driver for many years. Towards the end of his career, he was shuffled from his beloved “B-Shift” to “C” where I had the honor of working for him. Bobbie’s death was a huge loss for our Department. He’s still missed but spoke and thought of often.
He had suffered a stroke on December 26, 2010 and remained hospitalized until his passing on January 8, 2011. He was such an icon to our Department that, in his final days; our Local (IAFF L-1132) had a member “posted” by his hospital room door 24/7. It was only fitting that Captain Craig Sellers was by his side (along with family) when he passed.
The posts following his death were some of the hardest I’ve written. For at least as long as I’m alive, Chief Slayton will never be forgotten.
There’s a GREAT picture of Bobbie and the members of Station #1B with the restored Bell from the tower at now “Historic” Station #1. We now only use the bell for funeral services. The irony is that the bell Chief Slayton worked so hard to refurbish sounded his Final Alarm.
See related posts and photos from VaFireNews.com and RoanokeFirefighters.comHERE and HERE
February 2011 : The post receiving the most hits for February was when we announced winning the Blog of the Year contest but the month was really about football, fires and “support systems”!
There was plenty of fire to go around all across the State. We caught our share and even took in a job with our County Brothers. See that post HERE .
It was also the month that I first introduced a “semi-regular” column here on Ironfireman.com that I call “Tricks of the Trade” .
March 2011 : Things got REALLY busy for me and Rhett in March. Among everything else that happened, we would travel to EMS Today in Baltimore, Md and FDIC in Indianapolis.
FDIC was a BLAST! Rhett presented his class “Social Media in the Fire Service” for the first time … what an HONOR. I filled in and covered his position with Firefighter Netcast where once again I found myself surrounded by some of the top leaders of today’s Fire Service.
Who would have ever figured to see me hanging around folks like Chief Billy Goldfeder or Chief Alan Brucini? (we also met Captain Dugan who gave the Keynote Address along with retired FDNY member Kevin Shea). We met many friends and followers of our sites and made twice as many new ones.
Back at home, I would meet one very special new friend … Father Webb.
Father Webb was just meeting and “feeling us out” back on St. Patty’s Day but now has become our “Official” Fire Department Chaplin.
Chief Adkins fixed up a mess of corned beef and cabbage and we had Father Webb out to share in the meal. This was the beginning of a GREAT relationship between our members and Father Webb. I was and remain excited to have him on and at our side. I hope the relationship continues to grow and can mimic the one shared by Father Judge and the FDNY. See my related post HERE
April was also the month where we had our biggest “Give Away” to date. After winning the Blog of the Year contest, I figured what better way to say “THANKS” to my readers than to give away a pair of Black Diamond X2 Boots? No “el-cheap-o, contesto’s” here baby … that was a high dollar pair of boots! Congratulations to loyal reader / follower Patrick Lynch of St. Michael’s College Fire & Rescue in Colchester, VT. on winning the boots. What was really cool was how we announced the winner …. watch this..
May 2011 : May would have me traveling the farther than I ever have. Thanks to the Roanoke Rampage Football Team, I would make my way out to California!
There were several highlights to this trip but the most notable would be getting to see my baby sister Jessi and meeting Captain Joe Schmoe of Report on Conditionsfor the first time.
Be sure to hit those links … it was a GREAT trip despite our loss on the field.
I continued to make new friends and meet readers and followers of the site. Casey Potter, wife of loyal follower and fan; Chris Potter invited me down for a surprise Birthday Party for Chris …. how could I not have attended?? See that post HERE .
The biggest news however would come on a GLOBAL level ….
We FINALLY KILLED THAT SON OF A BITCH!
I was on duty and glued to the TV. Emotion overtook me and I cried. I cried tears of joy and sorrow.
For me, it was like living the day of the attacks all over again. My mind was flooded with memories and emotion.
The tears of joy were of his death but the tears of sorrow were for the families of those he murdered. I knew that even then … at his death … he would cause pain to those left behind.
I hope our 343 fallen can now rest in peace. I hope his death brings some sort of comfort to the families left behind and like the Daily News so eloquently says .. I hope he ROTS IN HELL !
June 2011 : Big fires and more funerals.
We buried another member in June. Firefighter/Paramedic David “Dave” Palmer lost his battle with cancer. His was to be our 2nd LODD (Line Of Duty Death) since 2009.
“Big Dave” and I go WAY back. I made Captain in 2000 and was assigned to station #3 ( now considered “old” Station #3 and CLOSED which was located at 6th and Rorer) where we would work together.
Like Chief Slayton, Big Dave will not be forgotten either. I quite often find myself telling stories involving him in one way or another. Things were different back then .. it felt more like a “Fire Department” and we had a lot of fun while getting the job done.
The picture upper right is our crew standing in front of Engine and Medic #3 at the Station. Pictured from L-R is Dave Palmer, Mike Pruitt, Brad Creasy, Lt Richard “Patty” Patterson and myself.
See my related post HERE and coverage from Va Fire News HERE
June would also find me and Rhett together on the fire ground!
I was the Acting Battalion Chief while Rhett was riding the “seat” of of the 1st in Engine (#3) when we caught this 2nd alarm fire.
It was the first time in a while since Rhett and I had been together on a fire. This time however, it was me stuck out in the street and Rhett putting in the work.
I arrived 1st and upgraded the incident to a 2nd Alarm. I was able to catch some pretty good photos while doing my walk around and size up. This pic was taken just as Rhett and his crew were making entry. Some solid work put in on this one!
July 2011 : A new Rookie, Never Forgetting and Honoring our fallen!
July brought Firehouse Expo in Baltimore, Md. and our first 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb.
That climb (and the ones to follow) changed me forever. I’ve described the experience as beyond emotional and more near spiritual. I think I captured some of it in my postings because they remain my “most visited”
July as brought me a new “Rookie” Firefighter …. RANDY!
Randy Armbrister from Max Meadows, Va. The picture left was Randy on his 1st day out in the Company.
I wanted to make sure he knew and was comfortable in his SCBA so he started the morning with it on. He checked equipment, cleaned the station and even mowed the lawn with it on.
You’ve seen and read about Randy quite a bit here on the site and I have to admit that it’s been refreshing having a “Rookie” in the house.
It’s kept us busy and even allowed us “older” members to “pick up the pace” a little in an effort to assure Randy is well trained and ready for whatever is thrown at us. Randy has (and continues to ) met all expectations and challenges with a willingness to learn and a smile. He’s only disappointed me once but we corrected that problem QUICK. Read ” I had to PULL THE BOOK ” by clicking HERE .
August 2011 : What a month! Fire rescue International in Atlanta, Ga, our 2nd 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb, Randy’s 1st fire and a GAY BAR !
I cried a lot in Atlanta … I get choked up now even thinking about it. Rhett and I would make our 2nd 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb and this one would impact me even more than our first.
There were several things that happened in Atlanta that I will carry with me until I die
Before our climb, I remembered an e-mail I had received from my youngest daughter (Reba) back before our 1st climb in Baltimore. I had obviously saved it and opened and read it once again before our assent in Atlanta. I want to share that e-mail with you again …
“Dad , today after reading your most recent blog ” we are all climbing ” I wanted to tell you ….. Your the most amazing selfless person I know … You work so hard to save people you don’t even know and at the same time are working just hard to save all of us … You use your spare time to spread the word of your great profession that in my opinion (and yours) you can’t call a ” job” it’s just something you were meant to do …. There is no one else in this world like you !!!! ( well the buckaroo and I – but we are exceptions bc we are only a mold ) …. Good luck on your climb I know you can do it ESP bc of the cause but also because I’ve never seen ANYTHING you can’t do !!!! ( well you might not be able to carry Rhett lol unless u had to ) ….. Anywho …. Just wanted to let you know your amazing in everything you do and the buckaroo and I love and miss you very much …. Be safe have fun , Love .. Reba and YOUR buckaroo ”
How AWESOME is that?
I learned the same things listed in that e-mail about Rhett that day. I had “known” it but never really seen it until that climb.
Rhett and I are a lot alike, especially when it comes to Brotherhood and the job. We climb alike and for the same reasons… it’s a MEMORIAL.
We were HONORED to be in the 1st group up in Atlanta but quickly learned that we were attached to the “wrong” group. Lucky for us, they didn’t “get it” and soon left us behind. It was how it should have been … Rhett and I alone in that stairway … paying our respects. It was then that he brought me to tears and showed me what the words HONOR and RESPECT were all about.
Rhett was having a tough time with this climb. No breaks, no water, for whatever reason; he was struggling. Near the top, he stopped and turned around … I though he was quitting. ” I missed one” he said. He wasn’t quitting, he had missed a step, turned around and climbed that flight AGAIN! Nobody would have ever know right?? WRONG …. he would have. As bad as he was hurting, HE CLIMBED IT AGAIN ! BROTHERHOOD, HONOR,TRADITION,PRIDE and RESPECT … we live by it!
Kevin Totten and Tommy Warshaw joined us again while Bill Carey climbed with us for the 1st time. Rhett’s son Preston made it most of the way and Dad even carried the Buckaroo for one flight. Hit the link above .. it’s a good read.
October 2011 : The 30th Annual National Fallen Firefighter’s Memorial Weekend and an UNBELIEVABLE trip to New York City!
This would be my 2nd year attending the Memorial Weekend and I would find it just as emotional as the first.
Rhett and I were there fulfilling obligations with Firefighter Netcast. We had the honor of recording stories from the survivors. Once again, a lot of tears were shed as we listened to the families share their stories of our fallen Brothers and Sisters.
The Memorial Weekend is every October and if you’ve never attended .. MAKE PLANS NOW!
Rhett and I also made a trip up to the Big Apple. He was teaching Social Media in NJ and I was assisting Zach Green and Fox Fire in the City.
It was an AMAZING trip because neither Rhett nor I had been to the City since the attacks. It was a humbling experience.
While Rhett was teaching, Chief Billy Goldfeder had set Zach and I up with a personal tour of the Tribute Center. Co Founder Lee Ielpi would conduct the tour.
Lee is a retired member of FDNY’s Rescue 2 and lost his son, Jonathan; was on the job and assigned to FDNY Squad 288. Jonathan was murdered on September 11, 2001 in the attacks on the Trade Center and Lee would spend the next 3 months searching for his body. I don’t believe Lee has really EVER left that site since.
I can’t describe the tour he gave us … for whatever reason, there was a “bond” between us. Lee kept a hand on me the entire time, I can feel his touch even now as I reflect on our time together. It was a “father’s” touch and one I will cherish.
They recovered Jonathan’s body mostly in tact. They also were able to recover his turnout gear. That gear is on display at the Tribute Center. Lee wants us all to see that set of gear and to know the story behind it. Us .. me, you, him, her and our children. He suffers the pain of passing by that gear EVERYDAY hoping that we can all learn from this horrible act. If you’re ever in New York … GO!
December : Rhett and I returned to GROUND ZERO and made our 4th Memorial Stair Climb!
Not only was it our 4th climb, it was in New York City, at Ground Zero and in the shadows of The Freedom Tower ( 1 World Trade Center ) !
We were there helping out the National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation.
Founding members of some of the 1st organized Memorial Stair Climbs, Oren Bersagel-Briese, Scott Eckels, Josh Smith, Brian Bush and Shawn Dunston ( along with Dave Statter) were also there.
Even though it was not “Official”, there was no way that we were going to be this close to Ground Zero, with this group of Brothers and NOT make a climb in Memory and Honor of our 343 fallen Brothers. SO WE CLIMBED ! We finished on the roof top looking down on the site where our Brothers had fallen. Where so many lives were lost and Heroes remain.
Rhett and I have been climbing so long and hard that we never really knew where we were going … WE FOUND IT THERE !
I’m not sure what I’ve done to deserve the life I’ve been given this past year but I am truly THANKFUL. Together, Rhett and I have made the journey of a lifetime in just a few short years. I can only imagine what 2012 will bring us.
I want to say THANKS to my wife (Donna) and entire family for the love, support and for putting up with me all this time. Thanks to Rhett for the friendship, the BROTHERHOOD and for taking me along. THANKS as well to you .. our readers because it is your support that has allowed us these opportunities. I hope, that if even in the smallest of ways; that we’ve been able to give something back in return!
Stay SAFE and in House and I’ll see you next year!
Tomorrow, Rhett (The Fire Critic), Kevin Tottin ( Salem Fire / EMS ) and I will arrive in Baltimore, Md for Firehouse Expo 2011.
We have a very busy work schedule through Sunday. We will be there working with Firefighter Netcast and will be set up in Booth #743 with the likes of Bill Schum ( Fire Geezer) and Dave Statter ( Statter 911 ) … Stop by for a visit!
We also have several meetings to attend and people to meet with. You will of course find us with the crew from the Fire/EMS Blog Network, Go Forward Media and Go Forward Fire. Bosses Dave Iannone and Chris ” hey buuuuuddy” Herbert always take pretty good care of us. Bill Carey, Paul Andrews and Mary Velline are another 3 folks from the Go Forward team who have always made me feel right at home. You may also find us hanging out with Zach Green and his crew from MN8 Products / Fox Fire. Despite all the work, we’re gonna have a good time!
We (Rhett, Kevin and I) will also be participating in the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb on Thursday at 2pm. We will climb 110 stories of stairs in full turn out gear (I’ll be the skinny guy with a big mustache carrying Rhett).
Someone asked me the other day why in the world would I want to do that?
That’s easy … because my brothers of the FDNY couldn’t ! They weren’t allowed the time. The towers came down before they could complete their job and maybe, in some small way; this will allow me to finish it for them.
343 members of the FDNY were climbing those stairs for the people pictured above right …. now, I’ll climb for those 343!
At the sign up, we were asked if we’d like to climb in honor or memory of a particular Firefighter. I choose Joseph “Joey” Angelini.
That’s Joey pictured to the left. Years ago, I used to go to the city for St. Patty’s Day. I’d always stay at a firehouse and catch a ride. One of my first rides was with Rescue 1. Joey was on that tour and went out of his way to spend time and talk with me. He made a lasting impression.
He was the oldest member of the FDNY still in company and he was on one of the busiest rigs ! Talk about Wooden Ladders and Iron Firemen!
His love for the job was evident in his every word …. the pride and honor. It doesn’t seem like we see a lot of that any more.
Like my dad, Joey must have passed his passion on to his son. Joseph Angelini Jr. followed his father’s footsteps but, regretfully; was also killed in the towers that September day ( assigned to Ladder Company 4).
My climb wont be easy. Their’s was worse!
I haven’t been to the gym nor have I practiced for the event. They didn’t have that luxury. The alarm sounded and they went.
This climb has been on my mind a lot lately. I feel honored to have the opportunity.
As I was thinking, it hit me … I’ve been climbing stairs all my life. Most of us on the job have.
Not necessarily stairs like I’ll climb on Thursday, or the ones they climbed that day; but stairs none the less.
Give me a minute or 20 to explain.
Rhett had a post up last week about the final season of Rescue Me. See that post HERE . In it, he says …
“I think that many may agree that Rescue Me was a decent show in the beginning, but as the seasons progressed dysfunctional lives and too often nearly impossible heroics in conditions which are not indicative of normal firefighting lost real firefighters along the way.”
I have to disagree. I LOVE the show. I can relate to the character Tommy Gavin. The show hasn’t “lost” me and, despite what others may think; I consider myself to be a “real firefighter”.
I’m as dysfunctional as Gavin. Hell, maybe more so! Most of the old or “real” firefighters I know are as well. WE HAVE TO BE! Is that a good thing? Healthy? Probably not but that doesn’t change the facts.
Are we all as messed up as Gavin? No…. it’s TV. They just rolled all (or most of) our problems into one character.
You can’t see what we’ve seen and do what we’ve done and think yourself normal. Do dead people talk to me from inside my locker? NO. But there are faces I see often and will never forget. Memories I can’t loose. I would bet that true statistics within our profession for alcohol and spousal abuse would amaze you. Whats the divorce rate in your Department? The stress of this job can be overwhelming. Wonder why heart attacks are so prevalent?
Talk about stairs to climb …. try working a 24 hour shift away from your family. Get off tomorrow morning and go to you’r 2nd job. Screen a few calls from the wife about where you have to be when to pick up the kid or kids for this or that. Fire Officer class is tonight 6- 8pm … that promotion test is just weeks away and Firefighter “Joe” from the truck could use a hand building his deck for the company cookout next week.
Don’t forget to stop by so and so and drop off a check for whatever lesson or sports club and we’re out of milk.
By the way, the dishwasher quit working, the grass needs mowed and my car is making a “funny noise”.
Do you have enough hours in the day? Enough days in the week? Are you making enough money? Yea… all the firemen I know are filthy RICH! How about your runs? Seeing anything that bothers you? Hungry, low income children. Do ya see people you want to help and cant?
Get closer to home How many games have you missed due to pulling a tour? How many birthdays, holidays etc? How many times have you been pulled between you’re “firehouse family” and your family at home?
It’s an up hill battle…. “stairs to climb” and it comes with the job. Over worked, under paid, seeing people in the worst conditions, sacrificing ourselves and our families for complete strangers . .. why? Because it’s a calling … It’s OUR CALLING!
The bad news is that there are plenty of steps. They keep going up and up. My good friend and West Coast Brother Joe Schmoe must feel like he’s on an escalator. He called last week and I knew something was heavy on his mind. He didn’t get the chance to tell me but I know what it is. Cold feet. Schmoe is nearing retirement (as in about a month away). He’s been climbing those stairs so long, he doesn’t know how to stop. He’s not sure if he wants to. I hope he finds a peaceful landing to catch his breath. I know he will but I also know that his heart and soul is in that stairway. The same one we are all climbing. Not unlike the ones that collapsed on our brothers back in 2001.
That’s why I’m climbing Thursday. Because of firemen before me like my dad and Captain Joe Schmoe who have made their climb. I’m climbing because if any of those 343 Brothers lost on September 11, 2001 were here today, I’d guarantee they’d miss or sacrifice whatever to be right there in those stairways again.
Thursday, they will be. They will be in a stairway in Baltimore Md. They will be in my mind and I WONT MISS A SINGLE STEP !!
I’ll update ya from the road… until then, stay safe and in house!
We had a Captain’s meeting today and our Chief updated us on a briefing that he had recently given our City Council.
Kind of a “State of the Department” if you will. Our “numbers aren’t that bad. In my mind, there were 2 “stand out” categories… “Dollar Loss” … in 2010, we had around 3.6 Million Dollars in fire damages. I know … you’re thinking 3.6 mil doesn’t sound so good to me right? Well, there were 2 more factors thrown in there. We had 2 Major fires in the City last year .. that took a BIG chunk of that 3.6 The other factor was the “Pre-incident dollar value”…. what it was worth before it burned. That number was over $185 Million. All the fires were valued at over 185 million and we held damages to 3.6 That means we saved 181.4 MILLION in property!
The other “number” that hit me is our percentage of holding our fires to “the floor of origin“. We dropped off in this category falling to only 62%. Now generally, we do a GREAT job of holding our jobs to the “room of origin” (we are on a fire in 4 minutes or less 90% of the time) so I was shocked to learn that our numbers had fallen as to the floor of origin. Why the drop? ARSON
Our Arson numbers are higher than ever (38%) and climbing. Our Chief explained to Council that it’s even a “different” arson than what you might expect. We are not seeing “arson for hire” (where an arsonist is paid to burn down a building so the owner might collect on insurance) we are seeing intentionally set fires out of vengeance. The story even made the front page of today’s paper .. here’s their “on line” abbreviated article.
The fire from the story (where the fire was out on arrival) is not the only example of “arson for vengeance” here in the City. We had an employee of a local Pet Smart set a fire during business hours, in broad daylight causing over a million in damages. See that post from the “Melrose Misfit” days HERE .
Anyway, I thought that was an interesting fact ….. moving on
I wanted to share a few more shots from Baltimore and EMS Today.
Here’s one of me and PJ Cane. PJ follows the site regularly and was the first guy to come up to Rhett and I when we arrived. PJ not only follows my site, he often takes the time to post comments. I have been wanting to meet him for some time now and was glad to have the chance.
He was there with his soon to be wife and that in itself is a whole other story… I’ll post more on that and PJ soon.
Here’s another shot of me and Dave Statter.
I always enjoy getting up with Dave on these out of town trips because it gives me a little help busting Rhett’s balls…LOL
It is a little embarrassing that everyone else is eating steak and lobster and drinking beer while Dave orders all that fancy / smancy “organic pod of split pea” soup and white wine … LMAO
The good news is that he really is a great guy who’s fun to be around … OK..OK .. the honest answer is that he bribes us to hang around him with wallet photos of his wife…LMAO (just kidding Hillary)
Here’s another of me and my new found “Aussie Medic” buddies and then some fellow bloggers / friends..
We had a really good trip and only met one person who I wish I hadn’t. I don’t know this guys name but he was hanging outside our window Friday morning. Hanging … literally.
Now, we stayed at the Sheraton which by most standards is a fairly fancy joint. The rooms were comfortable and spacious. They had hot water. The heat and AC worked. We had a fridge and the drink / ice machine was on our floor and near by.
I just figured that they would have had a better “wake up call” system in place.
I don’t know “what” this guy was grinding on all morning but what ever it was sounded like finger nails across a chalkboard …. YEA … that’ll get ya out of bed in the morning!
Ok, my post on Snowbird’s custom made Fire Truck Bar was a huge hit. The bad news is that I didn’t even show ya all there is to see. There are so many things, big and little; that he did that I couldn’t cover em all in one post.
One part I didn’t talk much about was the back bar.
If ya look closely in the pic to the right, you notice how the bar top looks like broken glass. It is.
I don’t know how he even came up with half the stuff he did! For the back bar, he used 3 sheets of glass … 2 tempered, 1 laminated (he could NOT use the actual windshield from the truck because it was curved and not flat).
Anyway, through trial and error (it took him a few trys) he figured out to lay down a sheet of tempered first. Then he placed the sheet of laminated glass on top of that. He added the 2nd tempered piece (after placing decals on both the top and bottom sides to give it a 3 dimensional look) on top of that.
His outside framing allowed for room to pour a 1/8″ coat of bar top to seal and protect the glass. THEN, he drilled a hole and hit the laminated piece with a window punch. It “spidered” perfectly and looks super cool! Check out the video of him making the punch..
COOL huh??? Anyway, I talked to Snowbird earlier today and we’re gonna do something here @ Ironfiremen to add a complete slide show or something so you guys and gals can see the entire process .. start to finish.
That’s gonna about do it for tonight … they are calling for heavy rains again tomorrow so I had better try to get a little rest. I’ll check back in as soon as possible. Until then, stay safe and in house!
Well, 4 day is over and it’s back to the ol grind stone at Lucky #13. This last break BLEW by and I mean that literally. The winds have been between 40-50 mph this week! I’ve already lost one barn to the winds this winter and I’m shocked I didn’t loose another.
The Buckaroo and I have managed to keep ourselves busy around the farm. Cattle prices are high so we cut out a load of calves and went to market.
We’ve also been “on the hunt”. I guess it’s due to the “new moon” but the coyotes have been running thick! This is also our calving season and as you can imagine, coyotes and new born calves don’t mix. I keep a riffle in the truck and tractor but when I know the chance of killing is high, I also strap on my pistol.
Of course that means the Buckaroo has to carry his pistol as well ….
You can’t see it well in the picture above (his cammo jacket is doing its job..LOL) but trust me …. the little fella is packing heat.
I think I’m gonna need to find yet another job to keep the little guy in caps… LOL
The good news is that despite the high winds, the temperatures have been above normal. That makes it a little easier for me and the Buckaroo to do some outside work. I’m pretty proud to say that so far, the little guy would rather be outside working or playing with me rather than sitting inside and watching TV or something. He just may turn out ok…LOL.
Since I’m on the gun subject, don’t forget to buy a ticket for the ROANOKE RAMPAGE gun raffle. I talk about our team on here often but in case you’ve missed it, we are a group of Fire, Rescue and Police members who play semi-pro, full contact football for charity in the National Public Safety Football League. Our charity is fighting (CTCL) Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma in the name of a fallen Battalion Chief from Roanoke, Billy Obenchain Steps4Billy.
In order to raise funds, we are holding a GUN RAFFLE. Tickets are only $10 each! You must be 21 yrs old to enter and the winner will be drawn during half time at our 2nd home game vs. The South Carolina Commanders on April 2, 2011. We NEED to sell these tickets!
We will be raffling off 3 guns…. 1st Prize is a BUSHMASTER MOE M4 223, 2nd Prize will be a GLOCK 19 9mm. and the 3rd Prize will be a WALTHER P22 LR!
Use the “CONTACT” link at the top of this site to get my e-mail. Drop me a note if you’d like to buy a ticket and we’ll work out the arrangements.
I also want to remind you to make plan to be in Baltimore, Md for EMS TODAY March 1st-5th.
Don’t just plan to attend the conference, be sure to attend the “Meet Up” ( JEMS Connect) on Thursday, March 3rd from 8-11pm.
Rhett Fleitz (Fire Critic) and I will both be in attendance as well as many other of your favorite bloggers … here’s an excerpt ..
“Connect with hundreds of EMS professionals at the Meetup, Thursday night during EMS Today
Stop by Uno Chicago Grill at Harborplace in the Inner Harbor from 8pm-11pm. Enjoy beer, wine, soda, appetizers and tons of connections. Plus, meet your favorite Fire & EMS bloggers from the FireEMSBlogs.com community, contributors from JEMS, our Facebook Fans and more!
Pick up your invitation to the event at one of these booths in the exhibit hall on Thursday, March 3rd (5:00-7:30pm)
Ok … moving on. At the request of one of my readers, I started posting a little segment I call “TRICKS OF THE TRADE”. You can catch my first “installment” HERE. I mentioned that I would try to make it kind of a “regular” posting or at least try to hit it once a week. That said, tonight; I bring you the 2nd installment.
Tonight, I want to talk about AIR PACKS or SCBA (self contained breathing apparatus). I’m not going to give an air pack class nor will I go into details of how they work. I want to briefly talk about wearing them … well wearing them correctly.
One thing that sets good firemen apart from bad (in our minds anyway) is being able to last. I’m not talking about how long you can go on a 30 minute bottle … I’m talking about how long and hard you work on the scene.
You see so many young or probie firefighters these days out in the yard giving high fives, smacks on the ass and telling stories of how they were in there “doing it”. All smiles … proud … air packs on the ground with the bottle empty.
What they don’t realize is that the real firemen are still inside working. Overhauling, mopping up etc. Us older Jakes last longer for a couple reasons but the easiest is because we wear our pack correctly. How many times do you see the “old guys” on a 2nd bottle while the younger members are sprawled in the yard? We may be tired but it’s NOT because our gear put added strain, stress etc on us (I talked about proper fitting PPE in the 1st installment). How you wear you SCBA makes all the difference.
Now, I know how cool it looks when you see a crusty old Jake walking around with the waist belt unbuckled. It’s the “Tommy Gavin” or FDNY look.
Notice, in this pic; my waist strap in unbuckled. Looks cool but puts undue stress on our bodies and increases fatigue. It makes you work harder. Work SMART…. not hard!
The Scott AP50 is designed to ride on our hips. Scott paid people good money to study, design and build em this way. When worn correctly, all the weight of the pack rides on your hips… NOT your shoulders. The key (or “trick”) is to fasten the belt!
In my department, I think I know why some members don’t fasten the strap. We transitioned to Scott from MSA several years ago. Back then, we wore the MSA Ultralite II. Those packs were designed to ride on our shoulder. The regulator was on the waist belt but it didn’t need to be fastened or worn tightly. Maybe the reason is simply out of old habits? I don’t know
What I do know is that when worn correctly, the Scott air pack is an asset and not a burdon.
It offers great mobility and allows me to work without getting tired too quickly.
Now, don’t just buckle it … wear it right. Just like you used to see us tugging on our shoulder straps with the MSA pack, the waist belt needs to be tight on the Scott.
The tighter, the better. Also notice (in the pic to the right) the belts location. High on my hips … across the Iliac Crest (thats medic talk for ”hip bone” ..LOL)
For those of you not using Scott, know your equipment. Each pack is designed to be worn a certain way in order to cause less stress, exertion and fatigue to the firefighter.
When you younger members see an older guy walking around with the straps swinging… don’t imitate it. Wear yours right and odds are you’ll have enough gas left in your tank to be in there beside that old Jake pulling a little ceiling.
I know that was simple … but trust me. I hope it helps.
I got a few reports to finish up and then gonna try to catch a little shut eye. I’m not sure who wore who out the most over 4 day break … me the Buckaroo or him wearing me out. I just hope I get the chance to and can sleep as sound as he does … LOL
We’re back on Friday and Sunday but I’ll try to check in before that.