Following the tragic events of Christmas Eve, the Fire Service is in shock. Having lost 2 Brothers in a senseless act of violence, it’s difficult for those of us on the job to be “merry” about anything. Our hearts are heavy while our thoughts and prayers are with the friends and families of our fallen and injured.
photo from democratandchronicle.com
Firefighters Michael Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczówka were killed by a sniper after arriving at a house fire in West Webster, NY yesterday.
Firefighters Theodore Scardino and Joseph Hofstetter were also shot in the incident and remain hospitalized.
An on-duty Greece police officer John Ritter, was injured by shrapnel in the attacks as well.
The Fire Critic and Statter 911 has full and continuing coverage of the incident, arrangements and more over on their sites…
The front says “Captain Wines” while the back says “IronFiremen.com”. The anti-sway strap even has “Buckaroo” stamped into it!
Wolfpak is the guys who made our custom suspenders as well. They also personalized those to include the Buckaroo’s name. These guys do GREAT work and it’s evident in their finished product. The fact that offer the option and that Rhett thought enough to include the extra stamping is AWESOME. It was the PERFECT gift!
In return, I got Rhett an APRON …. LOL..yea…. an APRON!
It turned out AWESOME! It was WELL ABOVE my expectations.
The material is actually PBI (the same stuff our Turnout Gear is made of).
It has the reflective stripping just like our gear. The same buckles, snaps and even has pockets!
As much as Rhett LOVES cooking, this should make a great gift.
I even had em put our patch in the center (in case he gets lost at the grocery store).
If nothing else, he’ll stand out in the kitchen.
We’ve already had several folks ask where and how to get one. Even though this was a custom job, Jamie and I discussed the possible demand for them once we got some pictures out.
If you’re interested, use the link above (or just CLICK HERE) and let Jamie know ….
So, I got off duty this morning and headed home.
As it turns out, I was better than I thought I had been and old Santa made a stop in Catawba!
This is where I received my best gifts of the season.
I arrived home to be surrounded by family.
The Buckaroo, my girls (Donna, Randi and Reba), my sister Marci (and Aaron) and even my mom and step father were in from North Carolina.
The stockings were hung and packages under the tree… it made for a peaceful morning.
The Buckaroo had a BLAST and that’s what it’s all about.
I hope that all of you had just a memorable Christmas as I did.
I hope that yours was spent with friends and family as well.
Thanks for all the well wishes, cards etc that we’ve received through the site, Face Book and even “snail mail” ….. it’s humbling.
For those of you who pulled a tour (or has to tomorrow) THANK YOU for the service. Thank you for covering the shift so that the rest of us can be at home, protected with our families.
We wrapped up the 2012 FireCritic / Ironfiremen 12 Days of Christmas Give-A-Way yesterday (we actually released the final winners this morning HERE). Congratulations to all of our winners and THANKS to our contributors!
The 2012 installments of the Ironfiremen.com’s Santa’s Sexy Helpers ends today. We worked our way up to see what ol Santa would find under the tree and I don’t think he was disappointed. Actually, I think Mrs Claus was also pretty happy.
Here is the final installment of Santa’s Sexy Helpers for 2012 … one for the guys and gals… ENJOY!
I haven’t talked about the murders here on IronFiremen.com yet. Like many, I’m still trying to understand this horrific event. I’m not even sure what to say yet … what can you say?
I’ve watched a lot of the news and read several of the articles / stories. I was glad to see that tonight, at least some of the media got it right. Tonight, they quit interviewing kids and parents. They quit with the unbearable questions.
For what I’m sure will be a short lived period, they turned the cameras off the survivors / mourners and listed the names of those murdered.
To me, this should have been done much earlier (with respect to the families etc). I say that because the name of their murderer was up quickly. Every station had it up in bold. His name and picture.
I could care less about him. He’s not important to me. We will never know his motive or reasoning and there’s no reason to speculate. We can’t ask or beat it out of him. He took the cowards way out and died a much too easy death.
Here’s the thing … he will be remembered. His name and face was imprinted into our heads before we knew the victims. It’s still happening. They (mainstream media) are already posting his picture and making comparisons with other recent mass murderers ( Virginia Tech, Denver etc). His name could (and likely will) become more recognizable than his victims and that’s sad.
THAT’S WHO WE SHOULD BE REMEMBERING … THE VICTIMS.
Here are the names (and ages) of those we should remember. Don’t forget or lose them in the ensuing media circus ….
Mary Sherlach, 56; Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, 47; Lauren Rousseau, 30; Victoria Soto, 27; Olivia Engel, 6; Emilie Parker, 6; Rachel Davino, 29; Anne Marie Murphy, 25; Charlotte Bacon, 6; Daniel Barden, 7; Josephine Gay, 7; Ana Marquez-Greene, 6; Dylan Hockley, 6; Madeleine Hsu, 6; Catherine Hubbard, 6; Chase Kowalski, 7; Jesse Lewis, 6; James Mattioli, 6; Grace McDonnell, 7; Anne Marie Murphy, 52; Jack Pinto, 6; Noah Pozner, 6; Caroline Previdi, 6; Jessica Rekos, 6; Avielle Richman, 6; Benjamin Wheeler, 6; Allison Wyatt, 6.
I also hope the first responders are not lost or forgotten in the media’s search for “who” and “why”.
The Police, Fire and Rescue members who responded to the scene.
I don’t even want to imagine what they encountered. I can’t. Dave Statter had Police and Fire radio traffic up early. I’ll add the link …
Please keep these Brothers and Sisters in your thoughts and prayers as well. I would imagine that the population of Sandy Hook and Newtown has tripled with the sudden influx of media etc. That means that the possibility exists for the call volume of Fire, Rescue and Police to increase as well. They could be busier now than ever before and at a time when they can least afford it.
While I’m on the subject, let me say that this season (Thanksgiving / Christmas) is typically the worst for us on the job.
For whatever reason, we seem to see a lot of fire in these months and we tend to see an increase in suicides as well.
It’s supposed to be a time for family. A time of peace and joy but that’s not always the reality we see out here in the streets.
We never get called out because something “good” is happening but, at this time of year; it’s maybe a little more difficult see and deal with.
FireChief.com is reporting that Firefighting is the second most stressful job in the Nation and I think this is our most stressful season.
As Company Officers, it’s our responsibility to take care of our members and that includes AFTER the call. Make sure you understand and recognize the signs of stress. Also make sure your members know that they have a place to “go” … someone to confide in and “talk” to.
My last post drew a lot of attention….. both positive and negative. I knew it would and it’s why I choose the title I did. I asked our Network (Fire/EMS Blog Network) to push it to some of our bigger audiences. I was putting my neck out there but that’s what I do. I was asking a question, posting some of my observations and asking for comments / debate. If you haven’t read it yet, please take the time and use the link below (but you can’t read JUST the title)…
Judging from some of the comments, I am a condescending, egotistical, CLOWN who knows nothing about Emergency Medical Services and should retire (WOW … somebody actually knows me …LOL). By some accounts, I am actually the root of the problem I was attempting to expose (me and “my kind” anyway).
I’ve never claimed to be a great writer. I know that I’m not and, quite frankly; I’ve never understood the popularity that this site (and my writings) attracts and enjoy. With that said, obviously; I must be doing something right.
I’m not the most articulate person. I write too much like I talk and I’m about as Southern redneck / cowboy as they come. I’m also a 2nd generation firefighter who speaks just that … “firefighter”. I walk, talk and breath “firefighter” but for many, that definition in itself my vary.
You see, for me; the term “firefighter” is a “catch all”, “do it all” phrase if you will. To me, for example; the term “firefighter” should automatically encompass Emergency Medical Services. When someone encounters an emergency, they call the Fire Department. ANY EMERGENCY. House fire, stroke, vehicle accident, wires down, grass fire, chest pain or subject unresponsive, the Fire Department is expected to respond and mitigate the situation. I take PRIDE in that.
I’ve never understood why so many Departments these days call themselves “Fire and EMS” or Fire and Rescue”. The two terms should go hand in hand but instead, the name alone indicates two separate functions and it shouldn’t be that way.
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In my previous post, I guess I also didn’t give enough of my personal background. Typically, I don’t write about in detail or mention the name of the Department I work in. I still wont but I will say that I am an IAFF (International Association of Firefighters) member. I work for a career, urban Department in SW Virginia. I was hired into a “Fire Department” in 1991 who then merged with an “EMS Department” in 1995. I have held the rank of Firefighter, Lieutenant, 1st Lieutenant and made Captain in 2000. I’ve tested and been ranked 1st on the Battalion Chief’s promotional list. I am currently an EMT-B but have also held certifications as Shock Trauma, Cardiac Tech and as a Nationally Registered Paramedic. As an EMS provider, I’ve worked in both the public and private sector, paid and volunteer.
It’s been my experience that most of these “mergers” I spoke about were not well thought out. They came up with the idea from the results of some study and then simply threw the two very different groups together (Fire and EMS). As far as I can tell, many never even considered the differences in cultures / mentalities of the two groups they were about to combine. They never thought about the effects such a merger would have on the members. I say this from personal experience and/or from e-mails, comments and conversations with friends, fans and readers. It’s my observation and I’m sure its not the case with every merger or with every Fire based EMS Department in the Country.
For those of you who presume to know me or think that I’m anti-EMS, you couldn’t be more wrong. Despite my youth, I was one of the more outspoken members in favor of the merger involving my Department back in the 90′s. It was an unpopular position at the time. I was a young cocky firefighter assigned to the busiest Engine in the City. Although the City (my Department) didn’t recognize it, I was also a Paramedic at the time. My favorable feelings toward the merger had nothing to do with my certifications though. To me, it was all about our “customers” .. the citizens we were sworn to protect and serve.
Ok, back to the previous post. In that post, and the earlier one ( How to kill a Fire Department ); I was attempting to make a point about poor leadership. Poor leadership often results in low morale (among other things) which could equate to a lower work ethic and ultimately to poor customer service. Although I didn’t point them out specifically, many of the examples I was drawing from had Chief Officers who came from a strictly EMS background. I wanted to point out how Medics (or EMS personnel) are trained and conditioned (for the most part) to work alone. How I thought it was difficult (not impossible) for those same people to now lead a group of Firefighters who are trained / conditioned in a totally different manner. The exact opposite is also true. It would be equally as difficult for a Fire Chief with no EMS experience to effectively lead a group of EMS personnel.
My plans were to talk more in depth about Fire based EMS in a future post (kinda of tying all these together). I personally think that it’s an unfinished “project” here in the United States. I also think it’s one we need to complete. In many cases, our Medics are treated as 2nd class employees. Some of the comments were dead on … sitting in the truck for 12 hours. Assigned to a street corner rather than a house. Eating off your lap or out of a bag rather than at the table. Sleeping sitting up or on a stretcher. Poor working conditions and it’s all UNACCEPTABLE in my mind.
What kind of customer service do you think these folks provide? Good I hope but how much better could it be if they were treated differently? If they were in a better, more comfortable situation / work place environment. What kind of leadership places them in that situation in the first place? What “numbers game” are they playing? It’s obvious that they don’t realize that their employee is their greatest asset.
I think Fire based EMS offers a positive alternative and can be successful when instituted properly. Now I understand that there are firefighters who want nothing to do with EMS and there are Medics who want nothing to do with fighting fires etc. Can we change that mentality in the future? I don’t know. Why aren’t we working toward doing that right now?
A merger or Fire based EMS system also has to be done for the right reasons and it’s NOT money. EMS does not generate funds for a Fire Department …. not in the public sector anyway and I will debate that with ya all day long. The reason for such an undertaking should be CUSTOMER SERVICE and /or SERVICE DELIVERY.
As far as some of the comments in the last post, THANK YOU. At least you took the time to write down and share your thoughts. It’s what I asked for. As far as the criticism, I can take it but I’d ask you to step back and take a look at what just happened. We have a saying around here … I threw a rock and you barked! In a way, you almost validated my point. It seems like some of you actually drew the “line” that I said once existed. Again, maybe I didn’t do the best job of getting my point across. I don’t expect everyone to agree with my opinions and I’m thankful to have this platform to voice them.
Strong leadership is what will build the next generation of firefighters and that’s no easy task. It’s important to remember that leadership begins from the ground level up. Without the respect and support of the members, a leader may very well become ineffective. There are many changes on the horizon for the Fire Service and I’m excited to see what direction they may lead us in. We are fortunate to have a vast array of great leaders already in place within our profession with many more in the waiting. What kind of leaders do you have?
I have several examples for ya tonight … I’ll start with one from right here in “The Noke”.
If you want to know how a Fire Department Budget should be allocated, look no further. For once, we did something right …. they hired RANDY.
LOL ….yep…. hiring my little “Rookie Randy” was some of the best money my Department has spent in a long time. This kid can do it all!
Just today, he single handedly extinguished an urban / wild land interface inferno and later played an active roll in a code save!
All kidding aside, we’ve had a good day. Days like today are why we come to work!
There wasn’t much to his “fire” earlier this morning. Leaves and rubbish burning in the back yard. It was a fairly windy morning and the fire had spread to under the deck and against the home. It had also blocked the only exit for a handicap resident.
The occupants were in a panic, fearing they were trapped; but Randy had it knocked down within seconds and with less than 500 gallons of water. Our County Brothers will be ecstatic to read that we even got the “brush rake” off the rig. Randy quickly got to the “head”, extinguished and began “cutting a line” …. LMAO … if we only had a ” PULASKI” tool.The picture above right is Randy assisting Lt. “Georgie” in topping off the tank.
Later, this evening; we received a call for someone “unresponsive”.
We arrived to find the subject not breathing and without a pulse ( “Code Blue” ). We are kinda like cowboys out here at Lucky #13 because we really don’t have any help close by. We were by ourselves for a few minutes.
Randy and George went right to work, attached the AED ( Automated External Defibrillator) began CPR and started to ventilate.
The caller had witnessed the arrest so the quicker and more efficiently we went to work, the better chances the patient would have.
We administered a couple rounds of CPR and defibrilations prior to the Medic’s arrival. Once they got there, the incident continued to run smoothly.
The ambulance assigned was Medic 4 and tonight’s crew performed flawlessly. A few quick ALS (Advanced Life Support) procedures and the patient was loaded for transport.
The good news here ??? The pt had a pulse at this point. Our Medic units are staffed with 2 so it’s normal for us to provide a member from the Engine to assist on critical incidents. Randy rode in (to the hospital) with the Medics. The even better news to this incident is that when they got to the Emergency room, the patient still had a pulse and a good blood pressure.
I hesitate to call it a “Code Save” because until they walk out of the hospital, you just never know. I will say that it was one of the smoothest run “codes” that I’ve worked in a while and that I’m DAMN PROUD of the members on scene ( Lt. George Perdue, Firefighter/EMT Randy Armbrister, Firefighter/Medic Rebecca Smith, Firefighter/Medic Brian Brooks and EMS Supervisor Captain David Bocock Jr.)
Unfortunately, Randy has responded to several “Codes” since his assignment to Engine #13 but, this is the best best outcome he’s seen yet. It was a great experience for me to be able to stand back and observe his expressions and mannerisms as he realized the difference he’s made today. He’s a part of our “team” and today, he realized how important his role is and that it “COUNTS”.
GOOD JOB BOYS (and Becky ..LOL)
Ok, more money well spent …. FDNY, Rescue 2.
By now, you all know of the December 19th Brookly fire that seriously injured Firefighters Wiedmann and Gersbeck of FDNY’s elite Rescue Company 2. Both brothers remain in the hospital facing long recoveries.
The image in the picture to the right shows Brother Wiedmann as he made his way through the inferno towards his escape out the front window. Brother Gersbeck made it down the interior stairway ( click on the picture, then again after it loads for a larger version ).
See Previous coverage with VIDEO and AUDIO from Fire Critic and STATTER 911 by clicking HERE and HERE
Several media outlets have spread the word of additional supplies of “Type O” blood needed for Brother Wiedmann.
We had some local members here in “The Noke” who were of the right “type”, willing and wanting to donate. We hit a few obstacles. Lt Rob “Bugg” Reid gave me a call. Who knew it would be so difficult to donate blood to a specific person in a specific location?
ANYWAY, I made a few calls. I ended up contacting Rescue 2′s Captain Liam Flaherty.
I have met Captain Flaherty on several occasions. I have even had the honor and privilege of sharing a couple cups of coffee with the men of Rescue 2 over some great conversation at their kitchen table.
Captain Flaherty explained that due to an “overwhelming response”, the blood supply for Brother Wiedmann “Rob” was more than adequate at this time. He went on to explain that there were other needs and ways to support Brothers Wiedmann, Gersbeck and their families.
Those of us “on the job” know and understand that these members worked a “2nd job” to make ends meet on a firefighter’s salary. For those of you who don’t know, most all of us are forced to paint, do carpentry work, mow grass or something to supplement our income… IT”S A SHAME but a FACT NONE THE LESS!
These Brothers are now unable to work that “2nd job” and provide that additional income for their families.
Their families (wives and children) are now facing commutes to and from the hospital as well as time away from their jobs as they sit with and comfort these brave men.
“Firefighter James Gersbeck had burns to his face , arm and back. At this time he is still recovering at Cornell and faces some extensive rehab. Jim has 3 children that depend on him. Firefighter Robert Weidmann has 2nd and 3rd degree burns over 54% of his body . He faces numerous skin grafts and operations“. Firefighter Wiedmann’s wife Cathy , son Ryan and daughter Erin have been making the trip from Long Island into Manhattan to be at his side.
The strain has to be near unbearable … emotionally, psychologically, and monetarily but …. WE CAN HELP!
Captain Flaherty and the members of Rescue 2 have set up a fund to help support the families of Brothers Wiedmann and Gersbeck. They want these men to concentrate on a full recovery rather than the additional hardships that injuries such as this can place on a family.
It’s EASY to donate and EVERY LITTLE BIT COUNTS ! You can donate by check or even through PAY PAL. The account is called ….
Click on the link above to visit the site directly or CLICK HERE to donate through PAY PAL. You can also send and make checks payable to: RESCUE COMPANY 2 F.D.N.Y. PO BOX 95 SAYVILLE, NY 11782 .
Ok … MORE money well spent but this one is gonna cost ya. The good news here is that it will only cost you 38 minutes of your time and it’s worth EVERY SECOND.
The Chicago Fire Department and the National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation’s “Everyone Goes Home Initiative” have gotten together to to produce a GREAT video. The video gives us all a look at how the Chicago Fire Department is dealing with Line Of Duty Deaths ( LODDs ) , Firefighter Close Calls, Firefighter Safety Initiatives and more.
Some of the topics covered include calling the MAYDAY, seat belt use, firefighter health/wellness and more.
Chief of Training Peter VanDorpe says “If you think you got some good reason for not wearing this or for not doing things the right way write it down. Because I need to read that to your widow. Cause I’m not going to know what to say. You say it for me”
PLEASE …. take the time to watch this video. WATCH it, then SHARE it. If you are following me on Face Book, hit the “SHARE” or “LIKE” button … we all need to see this!
If you’re not following me on Face Book, click HERE and HERE