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!
Yesterday ( January 10th. ), while on duty; I and several other members of the department (and City workers in general) attended a meeting on the proposed changes to our pension plan. It reminded me of a post I made 2 years and 1 day ago( to the date ) back on the “Melrose Misfit” Blog.
In that post, our Battalion Chief ( Bobbie Slayton ) had to pay us a visit and deliver the news that our Administration was busting the crew ( the order came from up high ..our Department is “micro-managed … the Battalion Chiefs can’t even run their own Battalions). I used a few ” visual aids ” to describe my/our feelings …. LMAO . The picture to right is one of those “visual aids”. I think I nailed it!
Like I said, today brought back memories of that post. The funny thing was that “Coon” (past Melrose Misfit aka Scott Boone) was thinking the same thing. He made his way over to me and says .. “hey, you remember that post from back when they busted us up”… LMAO.
So the meeting ended up ok. I think our members brought out some very valid points that the “bean counters” hadn’t considered (or at least that’s how they acted). Believe it or not, for a room full of firemen; it was a very civil meeting. I do find it amazing how uneducated the people responsible for our pension plan is when it comes to “Public Safety” workers.
It’s also funny how folks in those positions can “tweek” numbers and figures to reflect what they want. We have been shown reports where they compare our plan to that of two of our neighboring jurisdictions. Both of those localities are on the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) .
The bottom line is that they both currently enjoy a better pension than we do despite the fact that our “multiplier” is slightly higher. One of the proposed changes is to lower our multiplier so to be “in line” with these other 2 localities. They already draw more than we do yet lowering our multiplier will bridge that gap??? Yea… that’s what we think but they have the “numbers” to prove it. Of course they’re not counting or figuring in their “LEO” benefits (among other factors).
I’m not going to bore ya with all the details, I just wanted to point out how funny it is that they “tweek” the numbers how they want and think we can’t / wont figure it out! Most other city workers soon faded out. We were 2 hours in and all that was left was firefighters. YEA … a room full of firefighters, an Assistant City Manager and some pension fund administrators! (ding ding)
Several of our members REALLY impressed me. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen multiple members stand up and say what’s on their mind…. what’s on ALL OF OUR MINDS ! The second video in that above link to the Melrose Misfit was a toilet flushing … THAT’S OUR MORALE ! It been there for a while.
The Assistant City Manager heard about it …. loud and clear … nothing held back.
I wont list all the members names who stood up but I will call out one …. Captain Todd Stone.
Todd is 100% firefighter and he “gets it”.
Captain Stone pulled no punches … he put it all on the table. He even went as far as to speak out about the accommodations they had prepared for us ( we met in a “mezzanine” where 2/3 of the crowd had to stand).
Again, I wont go into detail but I do want to say THANKS to Captain Stone for all he does. President / coach of our football team, IAFF L-1132 A-shift VP, strong Captain, good friend and BROTHER. He set the example yesterday and we need more like him! ( I just wonder where Admin will transfer him to??? LOL )
I stole this picture from good friend and fellow Blogger Kelly Grayson . I LOVE IT.
It reminds me of “The Buckaroo” . I just wish I knew what the bull was thinking…LOL
Anyway, I showed the pic to the Buckaroo and he had a fit! He thinks it looks like him too …. hell, he thinks it IS him.
We had a little discussion about the pic and bull riding that I caught on video. I know how much you guys LOVE the Buckaroo videos so here he is sharing his thoughts on the picture …….
I have to wrap it up for now and get on the road. I’m heading out for the 1st IronFiremen.com “road trip” of 2012.
It’s not the 1st Ironfiremen / FireCritic.com road trip because Rhett is not going. Yep … I gotta go this one alone!
Rhett is so hen pecked errrrrr busy that he can’t get away for this one. It’s ok because it’s going to be a quick up and back to Ohio anyway.
I’m heading up to the Fox Fire World Headquarters in Wyoming, Ohio. Zach Green of MN8-FoxFire is working on some awesome projects for 2012. It’s going to be a GREAT and exciting year and the Fire Critic and Ironfiremen.com will be right in the middle of it… I CAN’T wait!
I’ll also get to see one of my favorite gals …. Mariah Leavitt from Fire Rescue TV. I can’t “spill the beans” or give out any details yet but you are going to want to pay VERY CLOSE attention to these two companies in 2012 and the very near future.
I’ll try to update ya from Ohio but in the mean time …
Ok, I’m on the road … may even swing into a station or two along the way…. I’m kinda hurting this morning ( we caught a little work last night ). I think I’ll be home late Friday night but I’ll try to update sometime before. Until then ….
I’ll get to that in a minute … first, I need to clarify yesterdays post. I received a comment from a good friend, fellow blogger and Brother whom I have a ton of respect for. The problem with me (one of them anyway) is that I type like I talk which is “southern” or “redneck”. Bill misunderstood what I was trying to say in yesterdays post ( or I didn’t word it correctly ) and I hope everyone didn’t interpret the post in the same way.
In the post I said “We are LUCKY these were just “close calls” and not Line of Duty Deaths. All 3 fires could have gone either way”.
I also said “ I say we were “lucky” because I’m glad these Brothers were injured and not killed. We’re lucky every time we return safely to quarters ”.
Bill took issue with my use of the word “LUCKY”. I’m not going to get into my beliefs … luck, fate, evolution vs creation etc. I will say that Bill made a good point and I could have chosen a better word.
Bill said ” To actually say, worse to even believe, that the fire service was lucky in recent events is to discredit the training and education of those involved and to discredit any lessons to be learned afterwards. I don’t believe you intentionally mean lucky in that way, but it’s important to understand context, and for many readers to comprehend maydays, rapid intervention, clear communications, disciplined members moving about through detailed SOPs as “luck” cheapens all of it “.
He’s RIGHT … it was the TRAINING, EXPERIENCE and HEART of Firefighters Wiedmann and Gersbeck that got them to the stairway and window. It was the same TRAINING, EXPERIENCE and DISCIPLINE of another Brother that had the aerial set to that window.
Maybe a better word would have been “fortunate” . We were FORTUNATE we didn’t loose 2 Brothers that day. We (and they) were FORTUNATE that they had received the training, education and experience that they possessed.
FORTUNATE is also a better choice of words for the rest of us returning to the station after each run. AGAIN, it’s our training, education and experience that allows us to return unharmed. I want to also clarify where I said ” I’m glad”. OBVIOUSLY, I was not happy to hear of this (or any ) CLOSE CALL. I was RELIEVED to hear it was injuries vs. deaths. I would have rathered it have been neither.
The point of that post was also NOT about the Brooklyn fire. I said I wasn’t going to “Monday morning quarterback” and I’m still not. In my mind, those men were where and doing what they should have been. Having occurred so recently, it made a good lead in for me to briefly touch on the abundance of flash overs we are seeing of late. The point of the post was supposed to be a brief mention of Risk Management and getting water on the fire.
SO, I apologize for using the wrong word and not making my point clear ( I’m BIG in Greenland for my grammar and writing abilities). I didn’t realize it read “that” way and did not intend for it to. In NO WAY did I mean any disrespect towards Brothers Wiedmann and Gersbeck their training, education, or experience. Nor did I intend to cheapen the efforts these men put forth that and every day or the sacrifices they have made.
OK.. moving on….
There are a lot of thing I can tolerate but FRETTING is not one of them!! ( LOL )
Most of the men I work with know and understand this…. or at least I thought so.
The picture to the left is a prime example. Rhett and I had been out of town. We were in New Jersey, presenting his Social Media in the Fire Service class and would have had to drive all night to get me back for my shift the following day. Fortunately, Georgie had the day off but covered for me until we got in.
We also had a fill in firefighter that day … Travis “Wheezy” Meador (know from our Melrose Misfit days). Well, I get to the station and find my bed freshly decorated. Of course, nobody knew when or how this happened…LOL I do have to admit that it was good … wonder who taught them boys to fret like that??? hummmm.
Don’t forget to hit the “LIKE” button while you’re there!
So anyway, I didn’t discuss the decorations with the Captains of the other two shifts … I guess I should have because the members of B-shift ( led by Captain Phil “Triple D” Dillon ) decided to do a little fretting with the remaining lights.
Yep …. THAT’S MY BED AGAIN ! LOL
She’s got more lights on her than on the runways at the Roanoke Regional Airport!
Apparently, the Brothers of B-shift have WAY too much time on their hands ..LOL
The good news is that Captain Dillon has his crew squared away …. they did a hell of a job!
I just wish I could rig em so they couldn’t turn em off …. they light the bedroom up NICE.
Here is a pic of the station and my bed in the dark ……
SEND YOUR FIREHOUSE CHRISTMAS PICS TO ME VIA E-MAIL OF FACE BOOK AND WE’LL POST EM HERE
By now, you should all be familiar with the Helmet band, Tool wrap, equipment bands and epoxy. Today, Fox Fire introduced their newest product …. ILLUMINATING HELMET TETRAHEDRONS !
You’re going to LOVE this product. A combination of advanced photoluminescence with high output reflective. THEY GLOW AND REFLECT (meeting NFPA standards)!
What makes these tetrahedrons any different from every other??? High reflectivity (Reflexite’s newest prismatic film), High heat durability (they are built on a Nomex type fire retardant cloth), Advanced photoluminescence afterglow, Strong surface bonding (3M’s adhesive) and aPatented design.
Fox Fire is also now offering their products directly from their web site. The link is on the top right of their web site under ” SHOP ” or you can CLICK HERE for a direct link to their on-line shopping!
Want even BETTER news??
Daily 911 Deals is offering the tetrahedrons at 40 % off !
The site is quick and EASY to use. If you haven’t been checking out the “DEALS” on this site, you’ve been missing out.
ALRIGHT …. on to what you’ve all been waiting for. It’s only4 days until Christmas and I’m sure Santa still has a lot of prep work to do. Guess I had better “double up” on the ol Santa’s Sexy Helpers tonight huh??? Here they are … Day 6 of Santa’s Sexy Helpers..ENJOY!
If they were only midgets…. LOL. Stay Safe and in House!
You all know by now that thigh highs are my weakness ( well… thigh highs and midgets ) so I figured why not do a Top Ten list for Stocking Stuffers?
I’d say the stockings pictured on the right are pretty well “stuffed” and yes, I know that those stockings are knee highs vs. thigh highs but what’s a couple of inches??
Anyway, obviously; these are not the type of stockings I’m talking about “stuffing”.
Tomorrow is “Black Friday” and the Christmas shopping frenzy will begin.
Rhett always does a Top Ten Christmas Gift list for the firefighter in your life so I figured to add to your choices by giving you some “smaller” options that fit a firefighter’s budget… STOCKING STUFFERS !!
10.) The FatIvan Door Chock
The world’s only fold up door chock!
The fat Ivan is only 4″ x 2″ x 1″ and weighs in at 5oz.
The past several weeks have been very emotional for me. It seems that everything has hit me at once and that has been a big reason for the lack of my posting …
I guess it kind of began back in late October when Rhett and I traveled to New York. Whenever we travel, Rhett and I always try to pack as much as possible into the days spent away from our families. The New York trip was no exception. Rhett had 2 teaching gigs in New Jersey plus we met up with Zach Green to do a little work for Fox Fire. It was a GREAT trip that left us worn out and overcome with emotion. Chief Billy Goldfeder set up a personal tour for us at the WTC Tribute Center with its founder Lee Ielpi. That tour alone changed my life and I haven’t been able to “collect” myself yet.
After returning home, I spent my time trying to absorb what we had done and seen in NY while also attempting to catch up on the farm. Then, I got an early morning phone call. It was my wife … her sister had passed away. She had been fighting cancer for the past few years but it was a bad fall at home that had her in the hospital this time. She was badly injured but her passing was unexpected.
It has been less than a year since my wife lost her father as well. Needless to say, the two deaths have been hard on her. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here but I do want to say that it has hit me harder than I expected. Although I lost a sister-in-law and friend of 25 years, what hurts the most for me is having to see my wife suffer. It’s difficult for me to handle. Yea … we see it all the time on the job but it’s different when it’s closer to home.
At work, I can manage, control, calm or fix any situation … some may even say that I’m actually good at it. But this, this I can’t fix. I’ve posted before on how ironic it is that we can provide services and take such great care of total strangers while on the job but can’t care for our families when they need us the most.
That said, Donna is doing fine and we will get through this. I (we) do want to take a moment ( knowing that many were unaware) to say THANK YOU for the flowers, cards, thoughts and prayers.
The world has kept turning and we’ve eased back into a semi-normal routine. Rhett and I had a few friends and fellow bloggers scheduled to come up from NC for a visit. I almost cancelled but now have to admit that the “change of pace” was good.
We took the fellas by a few stations and gave them the “nickel tour” of some of our history.
We spent the rest of the evening sharing some beer, pizza and great conversation. The next day, the boys would come out and ride along with me and the crew of Engine Company #13-C. Read their take on the visit HERE and HERE .
I’ve since had a few days off but as is the usual for me, they didn’t last long. This past Thursday, Rhett and I packed up and hit the road once again. This time, we were headed to Kentucky and Ohio … another AWESOME and emotional trip.
Like I told ya, we try to pack as much as possible into our trips. Rhett grew up in the Loveland area of Ohio and since we were gonna be that close, we had to make a stop. We rolled into Ohio earlier than we had expected and that worked out perfectly.
We made stops by two of the houses that Rhett lived in as a child. We visited his old school and drove by several places that he holds fond memories of. It was a “home coming” of sorts for him and his excitement was evident.
We also have a good friend who lives and works in the area so we figured we’d give him a call to say we were in town. The Loveland-Symmes Fire Department is where Chief Billy Goldfeder works and a simple “hello” over the phone would not be good enough for Chief Billy. If Rhett and I were in town, he was going to assure that we were taken care of. Within minutes, Chief picked us up and gave us a personal tour of their stations.
How AWESOME is that?? Chief Billy Goldfeder, The Fire Critic and me riding around in an unmarked command vehicle that has more lights on it than the White House Christmas tree ! Yea baby … the Chief’s ride is “decked out” and that’s how we roll !
It was a great tour … Loveland-Symmes has it together!
They put a ton of focus and emphasis on Incident Command, Accountability and Risk Assessment.
Pictured right, Chief Billy gave us a demo of how he utilizes the mobile command boards in the trunk of his vehicle.
I was glad to learn that we have and do something very similar here in my Department…. at least we’re doing something right!
I also noted and liked how they had “size-up” or “on-scene report” stickers on the dash of their rigs. I’ll throw in a pic of that, the Risk Assessment reminder and their Battalion’s Command Vehicle…
We also got an up close and personal look at Loveland-Symmes Engine #62.
You may have heard about this unique rig … it’s a rolling, working, firefighting Memorial that honors the National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation and our fallen brothers.
It is a BEAUTIFUL truck and looks as if it had just rolled off the show room floor ( it’s in service as a first-run piece).
Here’s a short video of their Chief talking about the truck … CLICK HERE .
I think the Chief enjoyed giving us the tour as much as we did getting it. We knew that he had an appointment later that evening but none of us wanted to end the visit.
Chief Billy was upset that he wasn’t able to take us by their Fallen Firefighter Memorial before he ran out of time. We told him not to worry about it …. just give us the address and we’d be sure to stop by and visit it. NOPE … that wouldn’t due. He didn’t want us to go to their memorial, he wanted to TAKE us ! THAT’S BROTHERHOOD .
The following evening, we would meet back up with Chief Billy for a fantastic Italian dinner at Pitrelli’s . Not only was this a great place to eat, we also had the honor of meeting and sharing the experience with the Chief’s family. Afterwards, the chief would take us by their Fallen Firefighter’s Memorial. It was a clear and cool moonlit night … BEAUTIFUL. The Memorial …. beyond emotional … spiritual. Another great honor that Rhett and I were able to share together … THANKS CHIEF !
So, to back up just a little bit, after our first night with Chief Billy; Rhett and I headed down to Covington, Ky. to check in to our hotel. Now, we are talking about me and Rhett here so obviously, we don’t stay at just any old hotel…. we’re talking the Radisson. A round hotel alongside the Ohio river with a revolving restaurant on top! The “360 Restaurant” … AN AWESOME VIEW … one of only 32 revolving restaurants in the world and Rhett and I have now eaten at 2 !
The next morning, we made the short drive to Edgewood, Ky where we presented Rhett’s ”Social Media in the Fire Service” class at the Kentucky Fire Chief’s Association’s Leadership Symposium.
A very professional group and great symposium ( Captain Bill Gustin presented on the 1st day).
Everything was going great until someone in the audience began talking about how great Dave Statter was.
Statter this … Statter that …. The Fire Critic ??? Never heard of it … KABOOOOOM !!!
I’ve never seen a guest speaker kick someone out of a class … I thought we were going to have to fight our way out of the place …
LOL … I’m just kidding.
The class went great! It was Rhett’s largest attendance. Dave Statter was actually mentioned outside of Rhett’s presentation though. Some of the folks had seen Statter’s video on how Rhett doesn’t really exist … LMAO! If you missed that 2 part video, check it out by clicking HERE .
It was after the class that we met Chief Goldfeder for dinner and Memorial tour. Following that, we made another short drive to Wyoming, Ky. That’s whereZach’s home and the Fox Fire headquarters are located. We stayed at Zach’s house that night … a BEAUTIFUL home.
Apparently, his son Brice thinks Rhett and I are celebrities …. he was waiting for us in the driveway when we arrived. Zach always treats us like kings and this trip would be no exception. His wife had been baking “goodies” all day … they had a camp fire, some great bottles of wines, plenty of cold beer and a few good friends to wind the evening down with …. very relaxing!
We needed the R&R …. not just Rhett and I either … Zach had been run just as thin. He had just flew in from California. He had been out there participating in a test / study for photoluminescent technology use within the fire service.
The rest didn’t last long … we stayed up late and was up and back at it early.
Zach had arranged for us to attend a training evolution with the Wyoming Fire-EMS Department . Like everything Zach does, this training was top of the line …. Cincinnati Fire department’s Flash Over Simulator !
Neither of us have ever been inside a Flash Over Simulator ….. AWESOME training !! Every Department should have one!
As I mentioned, this one is owned by the Cincinnati Fire Department and located on one of their training sites. I should also note that it is dedicated to Firefighter Oscar Armstrong III … a Cincinnati Firefighter killed in the line of duty back in March 2003 due to a flash over.
Hopefully, this invaluable training tool will prevent any future Cincinnati LODD’s due to Flash Over …. it’s definitely a step in the right direction. Every Cincinnati member has received training inside the Simulator and they allow surrounding Departments to come in and use it as well.
This is the closest that I’ve ever been able to get to a fire and these conditions for an extended period of time and feel (and actually be) safe.
The temperature inside (at places) reached in excess of 1800 degrees.
Not only did I find it valuable as a “Flash Over” simulator, I think it also has value for changing smoke conditions and roll over fires.
Here are 2 short videos …..
The training also proved to be a good test for the Fox Fire Helmet Band as well as for the brand new tetrahedrons … YEA … Fox Fire now has TETRAHEDRONS for your helmet!
They both held up GREAT !
Another successful day for Fox Fire, The Fire Critic and Ironfiremen.com
Special thanks to the Wyoming Fire-EMS Department for allowing us to tag along as well as to the instructors for a fantastic class!
Here are a few more pictures ….
Of course, this would not end our day … Zach had even more planned. After a quick clean up, we headed out to the University of Cincinnati vs West Virginia football game!
I’m not a big fan of either team but after seeing the Cincinnati cheer leaders in action … I was sold!
IT WAS A GREAT GAME !
It came down to the final 3 seconds where Cincinnati missed a short field goal to tie.
After the game, it was back to Zach’s for one of the best meals I’ve eaten in a long time. Unfortunately, after we ate; we had to pack, load up and start for home. I’m on vacation but Rhett had to be at work by 7 am Sunday. We made it safe and sound by around 2:30-3:00 am and I must admit that it was good to be back in my own bed.
I have a lot more to fill ya in on but will stop here for now. Sorry it was such a long one but I have been absent for a while (plus it was THAT good of a trip). I’ll catch ya again in the next day or so … until then, Stay Safe and in House ! Thanks for reading
Things around the Ironfiremen.com World Headquarters have been a little hectic to say the least here lately. I’ve had a full schedule and have been doing my best to try to stay “caught up”…. I haven’t been doing too good of a job.
Our latest adventure found me and Rhett smack dab in the middle of The Big Apple … oh yea .. New York City BABY!!
We met up with Zach Green inside the City for a few days before heading South to Jersey and teaching Rhett’s Social Media Class.
Reads Rhett’s thoughts on our trip HERE and Zach’s 2 part installment HERE and HERE .
It was a very emotional but successful trip for each of us. Rhett and I have had an unbelievable year and it looks like things are only getting better. We have some big things coming up and can’t wait to share them with you … stay tuned.
Rhett is holding one of our “Brotherhood Chips” in the above picture…. They have been a HUGE success. Special THANKS to The Chip Site for the great design and quality work.
Get you Fire Critic / Iron Firemen “Brotherhood Chip” by clicking HERE .
I’ve also been busy here on the farm.
This is my busy time of year so the Buckaroo and I have been doing our best to sort all the cattle and finish up in the hay fields.
Of course, we have all of our “regular” chores to attend to as well …. mowing the lawn etc …
The good news is that The Buckaroo is a Top Hand here at the Rocking “W” Hay and Cattle Company .
LMAO … my 3 best workers in one photo …
If you ever meet me in person, ask me to empty my right front pocket …LOL. I have about 10 different keys in there….
His 4-wheeler, the tractors, mowers etc …. I have to take the keys out of every piece of equipment on the place or there’s no telling where he’d be.
That said, if you happen to pass a 3 year old and 2 dalmatians on a 4-wheeler, tractor, mower or 5500 Dodge flat bed, please tell him to get back home … his “Paw-Paw” is looking for him ! LMAO
Ok, to my title … A Huge “Let Down”. Because I’ve been so busy, I recently dropped the ball in helping out a couple good friends and Brother blogger / firefighters. I let them down.
Bill Carey over at Backstep Firefighter had asked me a very small favor a few weeks back. Bill runs a GREAT site that should be in your “favorites” and is a “MUST READ” for anyone “on the job”.
Bill and Dave LaBlanc had asked for readers to submit articles concerning running “short staffed” or with 3 (and even sometimes less) members. Bill is a good friend and knows that my company / Department typically runs with 3 and asked me to submit an article.
All of this was a “lead in” to Bill and Dave’s live pod cast over on Firefighter Netcast ( A View From The Front Seat ). I let em down and did not get an article in. Rhett and I were able to catch part of the live show while in NYC … they did a GREAT job !
Bill and Dave brought many valid points to light on a topic that affects many of us on a daily basis. Not just firefighters either … a short staffed Department / rig affects our citizens as well. We can NOT do our job as safe or efficiently while short staffed as we can when running with a minimum of 4. Running short places our lives and YOURS at risk!
There are 7 Tactical Functions that have to be completed on EVERY fire … running short directly affects how (and in what order) we accomplish / achieve these objectives.
Take a Department such as mine … 3 members on each piece ( Engine and Ladders) … 2 on a Medic. Take a typical 2 story, wood frame residential structure with fire showing from the 2nd floor, Alpha / Delta corner at 2am.
My rig carries 1,000 gallons of water so I go in … pull past and give my size up. I exit the truck and conduct a 360 while my lone firefighter stretches dry to the front door. My Lieutenant ( our Driver / operators ) assists the stretch from the rig and gets the pump set.
The 2nd in piece is the 2nd Engine. They stop at the hydrant, drop off their lone firefighter and lay in. The Officer establishes Command while the driver helps make the hydrant connection into my Engine.
Let’s say the next in is a Medic Unit. More often than not, we will assign these members as “2 Out” … NOW, my crew (me and my firefighter) can make entry. Of course, the only way this scenario works is IF there are no injured civilians in the yard upon arrival … otherwise, the Medic Unit would have Medical duties vs. their “2-out” assignment. You also have to consider that the members on that Medic Unit need to “dress out” when assigned “2-out” (another delay).
The next arriving is a 3 member Ladder. We’ll take forcible entry out of the equation ( I most likely did it from the Engine if needed / possible) and go to their main objective .. LIFE SAFETY. They will go right into a Primary Search. Here’s the thing there though … most likely, the Officer and firefighter will split and conduct their searches ALONE. The driver will set the rig, get the fan to the front door and throw some ground ladders for secondary egress ( again … ALONE ).
A 3rd engine arrives and will be assigned as RIC ( The “2-out” crew can now advance and act as the “stair” or “Back up” line).
A 2nd Medic Unit arrives and is assigned “Medical”.
The Chief gets in and assumes Command but holds the officer who established command to assist.
That’s a total of 17 members on scene … 2 members on the fire, 2 searching, 2 on a back up line and NO VERTICAL VENTILATION ( we use PPV). Every member on that scene is working their butt off!
There are a lot of other functions / decisions made in this scenario that place us (and our citizens) at risk. We are FORCED to take a 1 3/4″ hose line and stretch it dry. Ever tried to stretch and handle a 2 1/2″ alone?? To the 2nd floor of an occupied structure? How effective was that?
Does the first in go to the fire or attempt a search? Maybe both? ( so the crew is separated again ). A single firefighter fire attack crew? Train to work in pairs but operate alone right?
What will that firefighter(s) do once he / they get to the fire? Do you put it out or wait on the searches behind you? Ever heard of “Door Control”??
Maybe the first in should go straight to the search?? Who’s on the fire? How long will it be before someone gets on it? What’s killing the trapped occupants … smoke, heat etc??? Hummmmm WHAT DO WE DO?
My point here is that when we run with less than 4 members on a rig, we are faced with some very difficult decisions. Which of those 7 tactical functions would you perform first? Would you have waited for “2-out”?? Our members are doing “more with less” on a daily basis and it’s one big crap shoot!
Our strategies and tactics must change and adapt to the environments in which we are placed. I’m not so sure that our training methods and text books shouldn’t be changed as well. I mean we may as well be teaching single firefighter techniques right? Why teach and drill into a rookies head the “team concept” when in reality, they are gonna end up on the nozzle or searching alone? How about this … let’s put our Department, City and State Official’s feet to the fire ( no pun intended ) and honor NFPA 1710 and 1500 and get America’s staffing up to acceptable levels!
I could go on and on and on but I’ll spare you. Bill and Dave … sorry I let ya down Brothers … I would have LOVED to have gotten a post in for ya and to have thrown it back and forth on the netcast.
For all of you Brothers and Sisters out there running short … Stay SAFE and hopefully ..in house!
I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed nor am I a complete idiot. That said, I know that I am not nor have I ever been what most folks would call “normal”. I also know that “normal” is something I will never be.
Rhett, Zach Green and I have just returned from a trip up to New York City. Much like most of the journeys Rhett and I embark on ( ie; 9/11 Memorial Stair Climbs, NFFF Memorial Weekends, etc), this trip was life altering. I find myself back home and even on duty today but so far from the person who left Roanoke a mere 5 days ago.
For those of you who follow this site regularly, you know that of all the things my postings can be described as, “brief” is usually not on that list. I used the word “brief” in the above link because there is so much detail that I left out. I did this intentionally.
First, there are some parts / details about our trip that we just can’t talk about yet. You’ll understand why when we are allowed to release details. Secondly, I just didn’t have the time for a 10 page post describing everything we experienced. Third, I felt that the parts of this trip that affected me most deserved its own post. Now, I know that it will most likely take 2 or 3 installments.
I spoke in my follow up post about visiting some FDNY Houses … in particular, Rescue 1, Rescue 4 and Ten House. These visits alone were very emotional for me.
Early in my career, I was (and remain today) a huge FDNY “buff”. They are the “benchmark” for America’s Fire Service … the elite of the elite if you will. Good friend and Brother Captain Todd Stone and I made a trip up, spent the night and got to ride with Rescue 4 in the early 1990′s. I WAS HOOKED ! We returned each year following (together or alone) to do the same. In the years following, I had the honor of staying with Rescue 1 and later with 39 / 16 (Todd would spend many nights with Rescue 2).
I met the men of these houses. We talked and ate together. I was one of thousands that they meet yearly but they were the only NYC firefighters I knew. It was on one these rides where I met Joey Angelini of Rescue 1.
These men made an impression on me. One that I carry still today. I’ve returned only once since the September 11 attacks when I stayed with 39/16 and marched along side them in the 2002 St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Last week was the first time I’ve been back to Rescue 1 or 4 since before the attacks. Again I’ll say … it was very emotional.
Every FDNY House has plaques and memorials. The run boards from that fateful day have never been erased. We all have heard the names and seen the faces. In these houses, for me; it was more than a name or picture on a wall …. I knew these men.
Stepping into these houses, I concentrated hard to mask my emotion. I didn’t want my being upset / emotional to affect the men on duty. I think I did ok but “something” must have shown. Upon entering the House, I would ask to see the Officer. I never mentioned having been there “before”. As far as they knew, this was my first visit. That’s whats so amazing about our Brotherhood… I didn’t have to. After a brief introduction and eye contact, it was almost as if they knew. We were immediately accepted as one of their own and the House opened up to us.
This would be my first time meeting Rescue 1′s Lt. Tarabocchia …. what a great guy! We “clicked” from the get go. He wanted me to wear his Lt’s shirt because the Chief was due for a visit… it was a mustache thing. Before we could make the switch, the Chief arrived but it still made for a good laugh.
It was an AWESOME visit. Lt. Tarabocchia even gave me somewhat of a private tour of the house. He never pointed them out but I believe purposely took me past several “personal” memorials for the House. He even shared some personal stories and photographs.
Joey’s name or picture was everywhere and after all my climbs etc in honor and memory of him, it was almost peaceful to be seeing it in that House. I just can’t explain it. I guess if I was to sum it up in a single word, it word be the one found atop their rig and throughout the House … ” OUTSTANDING ” !
Even the “small” things on this trip triggered emotion…. a ride on the subway.
Our first night in the City, we left Times Square and headed down to Ground Zero. We took the subway. Little did we know we would emerge right between St. Paul’s Chapel and Ground Zero. It took my breath…. each of us knowing exactly where we were … unable to speak. I wish I could describe the sight. A clear city sky … a slight nip in the air … everything going on and moving around us yet it felt as if time had stopped. Rhett and I made eye contact and without saying knew… “THIS” has been our destination for the past 10 years.
I’ll fast forward to the following day. Rhett headed down to New Jersey to teach his Social Media in the Fire Service class. I would stay behind with Zach and work on a different project.
My various work with Rhett, Zach and Fox Fire has allowed me to travel to some fantastic places and meet some great people. One of those folks is Chief Billy Goldfeder. Chief Goldfeder is a true Fire Service Leader and I am honored and privileged to know him. We had reached out to Chief Billy for this trip and he came through in an unbelievable way. What he did for us was the most emotional part of this journey and I’m not sure if I will ever be able to repay the debt.
Chief Billy arranged a tour for us at the WTC Tribute Center . Chief didn’t arrange just any tour mind you … he set it up with the Center’s founder, Lee Ielpi.
At the times of the attacks, Lee was a retired member from Rescue 2 in Brooklyn. His son was on the job with Squad 288 of Queens. Jonathan ( Lee’s son) made his last phone call to his father that day. Squad 288 lost more members than any other company that day .. 19 .. Jonathan Ielpi was one of those members.
Lee grabbed his gear and headed to Ground Zero … HE HASN’T LEFT YET ! His story should touch each of you. Before I get to it, PLEASE take a moment and watch the videos below …
Meeting Lee was much like meeting the members that we had back in the Houses … as soon as we made eye contact, “something” was understood and a bond made. Lee would keep hold of my arm or his hand on my shoulder throughout our tour. It was a comforting feeling …
Lee had a meeting to attend and at first told us he regretted the tour would be brief. Within moments, we both knew that he would be late for that meeting.
The tour he gave us was nothing short of AMAZING. Words can not describe it. It was beyond personal. He was there. Lee gave detail of each exhibit that very few know. Lee and I cried together several times that day ….
He told us the story of the 8 dads. Eight fathers searching through the rubble for their sons. Exactly 3 months to the day from the attacks, Jonathan was found. Lee was the only father of the eight to get his son back and the amazing thing was that his body was in tact. Later, they would find parts of his gear (also mostly in tact). Jonathan’s turnout coat and helmet are one of the exhibits at the Tribute Center.
Lee told us the story then turned away as we approached Jonathan’s gear … I followed, both crying once again. I thought of Lee and Jonathan as well as of me and my dad. It’s a powerful story and exhibit. It also speaks of the kind of man Lee is to have that exhibit in the Tribute Center.
I didn’t take any pictures inside the Tribute Center. It is allowed and welcomed but for me, it didn’t feel right. Beyond that, I didn’t want to interrupt Lee’s conversation / stories nor did I want to be released from his touch. I hesitate even to add the picture to the right … it’s Lee by the actual exhibit. I add it only in hopes that it will “speak” to you as the entire experience did for me.
Beyond the exhibits, Lee told a bigger story … a story he wants everyone to know. He needs our help!
The center is staffed mostly with volunteers. Not just any volunteer either. Most of the folks giving tours etc are survivors of the attack in one way or another. People who escaped the collapse, who lost loved ones, who were outside watching as the towers fell, etc. The story is being told through so many perspectives yet through the same focus … from the ones who were there.
The thing is, the only way to hear this story is to go to the tribute Center. Do you know that the details and events of that day (as well as those preceding and following) are not in our children’s history books? Ten years later and it’s not mentioned in school !!!
Who will teach our children? What will they teach them? I think about the Buckaroo … what will he learn of that day?? As it stands now… NOTHING. Nothing other than what I will teach him. It needs to be in our children’s history books! The entire story … the TRUTH.
The Tribute Center has several classroom resource kits that teach the important lessons of 9/11. “Eight videos reveal personal stories from people who were directly impacted by September 11, 2001 and who in response developed projects to make this world a more peaceful, tolerant place. Each story is accompanied by discussion questions, historical context, research links and projects.”
I will post more on Lee, The Tribute Center and their mission in the future. A LOT more. If interested, you can find the resource kits HERE .
It’s been a ton of work and a hectic schedule but we are also having a blast. This is basically a work trip for us. I will be assisting Rhett while he teaches his “Social Media” class in New Jersey. He is teaching through Kean University for the 2nd time …. a great class if you ever get the chance to catch it.
We are also doing a little leg work for Zach and Fox Fire. This has allowed us to visit a few of the elite companies of the FDNY.
Back in “the day”, I (and good friend / brother Captain Todd Stone) would go up and ride at R4. That was an awesome experience. I haven’t been to or rode a rig in New York since 2002. It felt great to be back in a FDNY house.
The Brothers of R4 were very welcoming. They opened the house and treated us very well. This was Rhett and Zach’s first visit to a Rescue Company in FDNY. They were very impressed.
After leaving our Brothers in Queens, we headed into Manhattan. Our first stop was Times Square and then down to Ground Zero and the Freedom Tower . It was unbelievable to see at night!
We ended up at FDNY’s Ten House ….Engine 10 / Truck 10 … this was another AWESOME visit. For those of you who don’t know, 10 House is located right at Ground Zero.
I’d say Truck 10 is one of the most recognizable post - 9/11 Ladders in the City ( in my opinion ). I’d say most of you have seen the American flag and 9/11 photo on the side. Their previous rig was destroyed during the attacks. They were able to recover one of the doors and now have it displayed in a memorial inside the house…. a VERY emotional display!
You also have to understand that due to their location, this House is FLOODED with visitors / guest. I’m sure the last thing these guys wanted to see was the 3 of us rolling in. We would have never known that by their reactions. Just like at Rescue 4, we were welcomed with open arms.
These Brothers opened their doors and made us feel right at home. It’s an awesome feeling to know that you can walk into a firehouse anywhere in the Country and be taken care of …. BROTHERHOOD !
After our visit at Ten House, we had to choose between eating or catching a Broadway show. Remember now that Rhett and I have been on the road since 5 am that morning and had only stopped long enough for a pack of nabs and a cold beer. I was about to STARVE.
That said, we decided to eat. Now remember, when we travel with Zach Green; WE EAT WELL !
Nothing says “a good time” like sharing 10lbs of beef and a bottle of good wine with friends.
I gotta say … it’s nice to sit down at a fancy restaurant every now and again. This place was way out of my league ( that’s why I was drinking wine .. they didn’t have Old Milwaukee ..LOL ) but I don’t think anyone noticed. Bottom line, it was a great cap off to our first day in NYC.
Oh wait…. that wasn’t the end of our night…
We also found time to hang out with that Occupy Wall Street thing ..?!?
Yea.. while out walking we stumbled upon a tent city full of …. ummmm …errrrrrr …. well, it was crowded.
Come to find out, we were smack in the middle of the occupy Wall Street thing…
Next thing we know, there is a mob marching down the street, riot police and helicopter hovering above our heads.
Rhett and Zach fit right in … before I knew it, they were holding hands with some long haired dude singing Kumbaya! LOL
So, after that; we headed to our hotel for a quick night cap before I tucked Rhett in for the night. We would have another long day Thursday.
Rhett was on the road at 5am heading down to Jersey for his first class. I would hang in the City with Zach while we finished up a little work and some more networking. We started our day out back at Ten House before heading up to Rescue 1 .
It was very emotional for me to be back in that house.
I have posted here numerous times on doing the NFFF 9/11 Memorial Stair Climbs. I have always climbed in honor and memory of Joseph Angelini (Sr). “Joey” was assigned to Rescue 1 and I am lucky (and honored) to have not only met and knew him … I RODE WITH HIM ON RESCUE 1 !!
See a previous posts on Joey Angelini HERE and HERE .
Of course every firehouse in the FDNY has some type of memorial, but Rescue 1 had Joey everywhere. If you double click the picture left, you’ll notice him in the upper / left row of pictures. Anyway, it was difficult for me, but I kept my composure. We were once again welcomed with open arms!
I REALLY enjoyed this vist. We were met by Lt. Tarabocchia …
A GREAT GUY …. we hit it off right from the start! ( it’s a mustache thing ).
It was almost like we were part of the company and we never even spoke of my previous year’s rides with Rescue 1. They had a visit from a Chief, a tour with a couple of kids and even conducted a in house drill. I had told the Lt. that if things got too busy or crowded, we could slip away somewhere and return later …. He wouldn’t hear of it.
So, we got to hang out through it all.” The Lou” even gave me a special tour of the house and shared some personal pictures / stories … I was HONORED.
I didn’t think we would be able to top that visit … the day only got better. We had reached out to good friend, Brother and Fire Service Leader Chief Billy Goldfeder (that’s another mustache thing). Chief Billy set us up in a way that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to repay.
He sat us up for a tour of the WTC Tribute Center . Not just any tour mind you … this was set up by Chief Billy Goldfeder … we had a PRIVATE tour. Think that sounds cool ??? What would you think if I told you that the founder himself gave us the tour? Yea … Lee Ielpi himself gave us a personal tour!
I had heard the name but it never really registered until I met him. Lee was retired from Rescue 2 (Brooklyn) at the time of the attacks. His son however was on the job. Lee’s son was murdered that day along with 342 more of our brothers. Lee headed straight down to Ground Zero that day and hasn’t left yet. Here’s a short video..
Words can’t describe the emotions of this tour. For whatever reason, Lee and I seemed to “connect” from the beginning. We cried together that day and I will never forget the time we spent together. I will post a TON more on Lee and the WTC Tribute Center in the very near future. He made a huge impression and has motivated me to become a part of his battle.
The Tribute Center is a MUST SEE for everyone.
It’s located within it’s own building and tells the story of 9/11 through several perspectives. They have some remarkable displays and do a fantastic job of telling the story.
The tour continues outside (across the street) to the site of the Reflecting Pools and Freedom Tower.
The site is still under construction (obviously) but is also a MUST SEE . We were there in the pouring rain yet found it difficult to leave knowing that we hadn’t see it all … another emotional visit.
Needless to say, the next few hours were spent quietly … reflecting.
SPECIAL THANKS TO CHIEF BILLY GOLDFEDER FOR GIVING ME THIS EXPERIENCE!
We did have more work to do so, we collected ourselves and headed out to Brooklyn for a visit with Rescue 2.
Captain Liam Flaherty and his crew also opened their house to make us feel at home.
We shared some great conversation around their kitchen table while watching the Rangers game. I had been to R2 before but have never ridden. I had also meet Captain Flaherty before while at Firehouse Expo in Baltimore, Md. earlier this year ( see that post and pictures again by clicking HERE )
We were all beat by this time and once again headed back to our hotel for a few hours sleep.
This morning, Rhett and I loaded up and headed back down to Jersey for a 2nd day of teaching Social Media. Zach will catch a flight back to Ohio around mid day. I have a lot more info to share with you about our trip but I’ll save that for posts later this week.
As soon as we finish up class, Rhett and I will be back on the road and headed home. Rhett works tomorrow and I’ll return to duty on Sunday. Special thanks as well to Roanoke Brothers Lt. Barry Ferguson, Lt Chuck Sharp and Captain Craig Sellers for covering my shifts Wednesday and Friday.
I’ll give ya more in the next day or so … until I get back, Stay Safe and in House!
I’m talking about the fact that we ( C-shift ) returned to duty yesterday for the first time since FRI 2011. We had a busy day … a VERY busy day.
The title of the post refers to our con-ed training … trauma … “PENETRATING TRAUMA”.
Sorry I haven’t posted since my Atlanta “update” but I’ve been playing a little bit of “catch up”. Catching up here on the farm and while back on duty yesterday. I’ll start with the farm and things at home …
I have to tell ya … as much fun as I have traveling with Rhett, Jeff and Zach …. there is nothing that makes me as happy as seeing my wife, daughters and the Buckaroo waiting for me on the front porch when I get back to the house…. It’s good to be home!
The Buckaroo was wound tight! He had a weeks worth of stories to tell. What went right …. and what went wrong. He and his “Nana” did a little bush hogging while I was away. The result was a flat tire so that was the Buckaroo and my 1st chore of the day Monday morning! Here’s a short video for all of you Buckaroo fans …
The little fella is famous I guess. Once again I was honored and humbled to have several people approach me at FRI and introduce themselves as readers / fan of the site. Of all of the folks who came up to me like that, I’d say that 90% of them asked where the Buckaroo was and how he was doing. HOW COOL IS THAT.
Captain Wines and the Buckaroo load gravel
Well, rest assured the little fella got along just fine without me.
Of course we’ve been making up for lost time since I’ve been home.
Mowing and making hay. Cleaning and repairing.
We even had the chance to load a few hundred ton of gravel.
If it’s got wheels, hooves or will move, the Buckaroo can ride or drive it!
So, like I said … we’ve been busy but ok.
It’s difficult to go back to work after 13 days off but I had to do it yesterday. The good news is that I think Randy missed me as much or more than the Buckaroo.
1st Lt Mougin, Lt Rob Reid and Firefighter Travis Meador taking up on Ladder 5-C
Our Brothers from B-shift took a beating the night before and we started the day off running as well. The first of the month is always busy in our line of work.
Our first one out the door was a MVC that required Ladder 5 for a “door pop”.
Ladder #5 runs as the extrication company for the North side of the city .. Ladder #1 covers the South.
Nothing big or spectacular and thankfully, only minor injuries.
It was almost like old times with me, Lt. Bugg ( Rob Reid) and Wheezy ( Travis Meador ) on scene. This time however, they were under the command of 1st Lt. Thomas “Sanchez” Mougin.
The fellas made quick work of the task at hand. I’m proud of the work the “Melrose Misfits” have done since our split. I wouldn’t expect less !
It was a good run for Randy as well.
After assuring the vehicle was stable, he was assigned to enter, make patient contact and take c-spine control.
Later, he assisted in applying the KED and removing the pt from the vehicle.
Being a non-critical incident, it made for a good learning situation …. OJT or experience. The more he gets, the better.
Randy’s coming along just fine …. he just may turn out to be a good fireman!
Afterwards, we took in another run or two before lunch and then headed out for Department scheduled training. EMS con-ed .. WooooHoooo! Trauma. Head and chest injuries.
As soon as class ended, the storms hit !
We need the rain around here but not that much that quick.
Thunder, lightning, dime sized hail and rain so hard you couldn’t see 50 foot ahead. Of course you know what that means … “wires down” calls!
We had one to beat all others.
I’m still too upset to write about it without getting myself in trouble but TRUST ME … I’ll tell ya about it soon enough.
We ran most of the night. Our shift started with a MVC and ended with another.
This time, it looked bad.
A 4 door on its top with debris everywhere. The incident happened in a short straight stretch, near a traffic light in what should have been a low speed area (obviously, this vehicle wasn’t traveling at a low speed).
Dispatch called back to advise possible occupant ejection was we arrived.
The lone occupant had been ejected but survived with only a scratch … and a minor scratch at that. He was walking, talking, awake and oriented. It looked like a fatality or at least a serious injury on arrival. I guess some folks are just “living right”.
I’m not sure which one it is but either Boots or Randy aint living right because we didn’t get much rest last night. It’s gotta be one of them because I’m living at the foot of the cross ..LOL All kidding aside, I hope we have a better Sunday.
That makes it obvious that we’re back tomorrow and Tuesday. I hope all you folks have a safe and enjoyable Labor Day weekend. I have a lot of exciting news to pass along over the next few days and posts. Ironfiremen.com, FoxFire and The Fire Critic.com have some exciting news coming up.
Keep yer britches on … I’ll tell ya all about it soon enough. Until then, you folks Stay Safe and in House!
Rhett’s driving …. well, let’s just say it works on your nerves. Riding with Rhett will drive you to drinking LOL.
WE HAD A GREAT WEEK IN ATLANTA !!
Rhett and I headed down last Tuesday and got to spend a night withhis sister her husband and his new baby nephew. It was the perfect start to our week. Special THANKS to Valicia for the hospitality.
Wednesday morning, we got out early and headed to the Westin Peach Tree Hotel in down town Atlanta to participate in our 2nd 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb.
Once again, we found something special within that stairwell while trying to pay tribute, honor and respect to our fallen 343 Brothers from the FDNY. You can read my post following the climb HERE and Rhett’s HERE .
As mentioned in the links above, Rhett and I were HONORED to climb within the 1st group up. We were with a group of Chief Officers, most notably; our good friend Matt Tobia from Anne Arundel, Md. This was our hardest climb yet.
Another cool note from this climb is the fact that Victor Stagnaro (Director of Fire Service Programs for the National Fallen Firefighter’sFoundation) made the climb as well. Victor does a TON of work behind the scenes for these climbs and decided to pull “double duty” in Atlanta. AWESOME! Rhett and I are always happy to see and talk withVictor. He is a great friendwho can always be found working diligently for the NFFF. It was an added bonus and honor to have climbed with him! Here’s a video from the climb …
Rhett and I are planning to make our 3rd climb on the 10th anniversary of the attacks next month on September 11th in Greenbelt, Md. If you have never climbed, YOU NEED TO ! If you are worried about about whether or not you can make the 110 stories, DON’T. Rhett and I will climb with you, at whatever pace; and assure we reach the top.
After the climb, we unwound a bit and then headed out to John’s Creek Fire Station #63.
Johns Creek has a GREAT Department and 63 represents them well! A-Shift Captain Mark Akins had contacted me earlier after reading that Rhett and I would be heading to Atlanta for FRI. He invited us out for a tour and dinner with his crew … how could we refuse?
See my post on the vist HERE and read why the Fire Critic describes them as ” Firemen’s firemen“ HERE .
Ironfiremen and FireCritic.com visiting with Captain Mark Akins and the crew from Johns Creek Ga Station #63
Later in the week, while on the floor of FRI; I had the honor and privilege of meeting their Chief. Our talk was brief because he caught me busy at work. I hope I was able to convey to him how professional the guys from 63 are ( although I’m sure he already knew).
Their actions were a true testament to the word Brotherhood.
Talk about customer service and positive public perception !
Special thanks to Captain Akins and the brothers from #63 A-shift for an awesome meal and a fantastic visit. The members in attendance were Lt. Eddie Lee, FAO Phil Pirkle, FAO Kevin Castleberry, Sgt Tom Johnson, FF Jost Cater, FF Brandon Kingrey, and FF Grant Eckard.
Thursday, we started the morning out by joining Dave Statter and the NFFF at Atlanta Fire Station #11. We were there for a very special press release.
The Motorola Solutions Foundation awarded the NFFF $1 MILLION DOLLARS towards their Scholarships for survivors and Safety Training Initiatives ! See the official press release HERE .
We had a quick lunch and then headed out to check in for FRI and begin to set up the booth. Later that evening, Captain Akins from 63 met us at the hotel.
We had a great visit the day before but wanted some time with the Capt. and his crew where we could share a beer together.
We shared a little time together at the hotel before heading out for dinner. It was another very cool visit. The 3 of us seem to share a lot of the same views and are of the same opinion on many issues.
Firemen are all alike and share the same problems no matter where they are from. Thanks again to Captain Akins for taking the time to not only spend with us but for making us feel at home.
The next morning was going to be busy and we were already tired.
Although classes had been going on, tomorrow; was opening day for the exhibit floor.
Jeff Harkey (Daily911Deals) had arrived and would be staying with us for the remainder of our trip.
Jeff is another GREAT friend but when you get him and Rhett together, it’s hard to keep pace with them. They tackle EVERYTHING they do at 110%!
It was my mistake to enlist them in the search for a “Booth Babe” . They quickly began to take over and manage eveyaspect of our search. Interviews, auditions, background searches etc. When I wake up the next morning, our fold out hide-a-way sofa bed is in PIECES. LMAO that musta been one hell of an audition!
I didn’t even want to know so I got cleaned up, dressed and headed out to meet Zach Green from Fox Fire. This was my purpose for attending FRI.
I have posted many times on Zach and the Fox Fire Illuminating Product Line. I had helped work the booth and Firehouse Expo, and would do the same in Atlanta for FRI.
I hope you folks don’t get tired of hearing it because I say it all the time but THIS IS A GREAT PRODUCT !
This technology is going to change the way we fight fire!
It actually sells itself after you see it work, all I have to do is explain how and why.
Our booth stayed PACKED!
I’d dare say that we were the busiest booth on the floor.
Often times, we would have folks lined up out into the aisles waiting to see the product and receive a personal demo.
I think the show was another HUGE success for Zach and the Foxfire line. I guess I should say that I KNOW IT WAS A SUCCESS because we actually sold out of the helmet bands while there. That means that at least that many brothers and sisters will be able to preform their duties more efficiently and SAFER.
So, we worked the floor non-stop for the next 2 days! At 4 pm on Saturday, we broke down the booth and Zach and the Foxfire crew were on their way home. Rhett, Jeff and I would stay for another day.
After packing up Foxfire and seeing them safely on the road, we had the honor of packing and loading another unbelievable exhibit. The 9/11 Better Angels exhibit by Dawn Siebel.
This is a HUGE exhibit that has hundreds of pieces. Most of the pieces are fragile and must be individually wrapped and packaged.
It was an HONOR to have been entrusted with this task.
If you haven’t seen the exhibit yet, you need to do so. Im not sure where it will be on display next but at the very least, hit the link I provided above to read about it and view a video of the display.
Thanks to the NFFF for all they do in getting this enormous exhibit out for public display!
( I’m reasonably sure that the exhibit will be on display somewhere on the grounds duringthe Memorial Weekend coming up in October in Emmitsburg, Md. If you haven’t done so yet, MAKE PLANS TO ATTEND NOW … here’s the link with all the details Fire Hero.org )
So, we headed back to the hotel for some much needed rest before heading out to dinner. I should have went to bed hungry! If you haven’t heard or read it yet, we ended up at a very “exclusive” restaurant for dinner that night. Special thanks to Jeff’s “GUY” for the recommendation. HAD I ONLY KNOWN HE WAS A COP! LMAO .. anyway if you missed it, CLICK HERE for details.
Sunday morning, we were up and at it early again. This time, we were packing for our journey home.
Home is about an 8 hour drive for Rhett and me but we had some stops to make along the way. Jeff was going to tag along as far as Charlotte due to his plane / train ride back to Raleigh NC being cancelled due to Irene. I rode in the back so I could keep an eye (and my pistol) on the two of em after their escapades the night before.
We headed straight to Charlotte’s downtown fire station #1.
We were greeted by Captain Blake Redden. Another great fireman who understands the meaning of “Brotherhood”. I had actually met Captain Redden on the floor of FRI. He knew Jeff ( Fire News.net ) and they had met up somewhere on the floor. Jeff brought him by the Fox Fire booth for a quick intro. Next thing you know, we’re invited to drop by for a tour on our way home!
L-R Charlotte Fire Captain Blake Redden, Ironfiremen.com's Captain Wines, Charlotte Dispatch Supervisor Jeff Williams and The Fire Critic Rhett Fleitz
It was a very cool visit.
They even have their dispatch center on the top floor of the station. We got the COMPLETE tour.
Captain Redden took up upstairs where he introduced us to lead dispatcher Jeff Williams. Jeff fit like a glove! We could have sat and talked with these two guys for hours!
Unfortunately, we were still on a tight schedule and had to get back on the road.
Special thanks to Captain Redden and Jeff Williams for their time. Rhett and I both know and understand what it’s like to have visitors roll in on a Sunday.
We left Jeff Harkey in Charlotte and Rhett and I got back on the road. We had one more stop yet.
Ryan Monteith, The Fire Critic Rhett Fleitz, Captain Wines of Ironfiremen.com and Bill Shick
You may remember back to an early July (2011) post where I posted on a visitor to Lucky #13. CLICK HERE FOR THAT POST . Brother Bill Shick described himself as an avid reader of the site and was passing through. He said he just HAD to stop.
Bill and I had a great visit back in July and he told me that if I was ever in or around Charlotte to be sure and look him up.
Ironically, Bill works at Charlotte’s Station #1 but he was off duty on Sunday. The good news was that we was working his 2nd job as a firefighter in Davidson, NC. It was on our way home and just a few short miles.
Rhett and I had a great visit will Bill, Julia ( Bill’s girlfriend) and Ryan. Of course, they gave us the tour and showed us the rigs but the best part of firemen visiting firemen is sitting on the tailboard and telling stories. We did a lot of that.
I knew back when Bill walked into Lucky #13 that he was a good guy. Our visit with him on Sunday proved it. Thanks to Bill, Julia and Ryan for their time and brotherhood.
Ok, to wrap things up, I need to say a special THANKS to Rhett. He has been a great friend and a TRUE BROTHER. We have traveled a lot together and each trip gets better and better.
Thanks too to Jeff Harkey. I have just recently meet Jeff and knew I had made another great friend from the first moment. Three men living together in a hotel room for a week takes a lot of tolerance. When 1 of those 3 men is me, the tolerance level multiplies. LMAO
I also need to THANK Rhett’s other sister Vanessa. Vanessa works for Westin and has always been the one behind the scenes setting us up in hotel rooms as we travel across the country.
I’m glad she doesn’t work for the Econo Lodge or Super 8 because every hotel we have ever stayed in is FIRST CLASS!
I mentioned that for our stay in Atlanta, we had a two room suite! IT WAS AWESOME. We had room to work and play.
When our guests would come in, they couldn’t believe the view! There were helicopters landing on buildings BELOW us !
So, it was indeed ANOTHER great trip for The Fire Critic and Ironfiremen.com Better than that, it was even better for Rhett Fleitz and Willie Wines. Our next stop will be Greenbelt, Md for our 3rd 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb on September 11th! We hope to see you there. Until we see ya again, Stay Safe and in House!
Most of you know by now that Rhett ( Fire Critic ) and I are in Atlanta, Ga. We are here for Fire Rescue International ( FRI ) 2011. Atlanta is an AWESOME city and we are HAVING A BLAST!!
We participated in our 2nd 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb yesterday morning. You can see my post on the climb HERE and Rhett’s HERE .
As I always do, I got a little emotional while making that post and cut it short. I stopped without adding some much needed thanks. I like to take this chance to say “THANK YOU” to The National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation for sponsoring these climbs and for everything else that they do. We also need to say thanks to The City of Atlanta and the Atlanta Fire Department for hosting the event. Thanks as well to the Westin Peachtree Hotel for providing the facilities and allowing approx. 187 firefighters to take over their hotel.
Again, I’ll add that if you’re on the job and haven’t yet participated in a Memorial Stair Climb … YOU SHOULD. It’s something you’ll have to do to fully understand. I hope you come away with something close to what Rhett and I have taken from these events. I can’t explain how proud I am of our accomplishments. We get our drive and inspiration from our families. Our families on the job and our families at home. I want to share with you an e-mail I received from my youngest daughter (Reba) the morning of our 1st climb in Baltimore, Md (July 2011).
“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 feel like I could climb 500 stories every time I read that. I read it before we climbed yesterday. I will read it again on September 11th because Rhett and I will be in Greenbelt, Md to make our 3rd climb. WE HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!
Moving on …. we are having a BLAST here in Atlanta. After the climb, we crawled across the street, toasted the 343 and shared a beer… ok a pitcher of beer.
We have met folks already and made some great new friends! Rhett is the type of person who has never met a stranger.
Me?? I’m the chick magnet….. LOL. It’s the mustache … they can’t help themselves.
Rhett sometimes get a little jealous but loves taking the pictures
You may be seeing more of Miss Samara in the near future here on Ironfiremen.com I think we just may hire her as one of our “Booth Babes” for the exhibit floor this weekend. We will be holding interviews and auditions later this evening in our hotel suite …I know .. I know .. it’s a dirty job! LMAO ( just kidding Donna … no interviews)
I’ll be working booth # 2853 for Zach Green and Fox Fire . Rhett and I have both done Product Reviews on Fox Fire’s Illuminating products and now both use them on the job. This stuff REALLY WORKS ! It will make your job safer and easier. If it didn’t, I’d be the first to tell ya nor would we put our name / face / reputation behind it. If you’re in Atlanta (FRI) be sure to drop by booth #2853 to meet us and get a personal demo of the Fox Fire product line …. you’ll thanks us for it!
Dinner at John's Creek Fire Department Station #63 A-Shift
So, after a few beers, a hot tub and a little rest, Rhett and I headed out to John’s Creek Fire Department for dinner with the Brothers from House #63.
WHAT AN AWESOME GROUP OF FIREMEN!
Captain Mark Akins contacted me a few weeks back. He described himself as a regular reader of the site. We seen that we would be headed to Atlanta this week and sent an invite to drop in for dinner. We are 450 miles apart, have never met and he opened his house to us … that’s BROTHERHOOD!
Sgt. Tom Johnson prepared some mouth watering steaks, baked potatoes and a salad and rolls. COOKED TO PERFECTION !
It was an AWESOME visit! I knew as soon as we pulled up that it was gonna be a good. Rhett knew right away that they had to be “A-shift”. He said they looked like good firemen. I agreed because had they have looked like “great” firemen, they would have been on “C-shift” … LMAO
Ironfiremen.com andFire Critic.com with Captain Mark Akins and crew from John's Creek Fire Department Station #63-A
All kidding aside, these guys made us feel at home.
A great meal, shirts, hats and even Challenge Coins!
Statterwas invited as well but had to cancel due to obligations with the NFFF. Being the class act that Captain Akins and his crew are, they sent Dave a coin anyway!
Captain Akins runs a great crew. Every member took the time to talk to us. We ate, shared a couple cups of coffee, got a tour and shared some great stories. They didn’t say hello and then run off to their own special corner of the station.
They hung out … with us … together. They are and acted like a COMPANY and Captain Akins should be proud of the impression they made. Thanks to Captain Akins, Lt. Eddie Lee, FAO Phil Pirkle, FAO Kevin Castleberry, Sgt Tom Johnson, FF Jost Cater, FF Brandon Kingrey, and FF Grant Eckard for the hospitality and Brotherhood!
We had a late night with good friend Jeff Harkey from Fire News. net and Daily 911 Deals.com . If you haven’t checked out the Daily 911 Deals site yet DO IT NOW ! They have a great deal on job shirts that is about to expire … you wont find them any cheaper! We wound the evening out in the hotel bar which is on the 73 floor. The ride up there is in a glass elevator and the bar actually rotates. Yea .. as in it spins around (no I hadn’t had too much to drink). Our hotel is round and the top 2 floors rotate … it’s AWESOME.
Chief Siarincki of the NFFF and Matt Blakely of The Motorola Solutions Foundation
This morning, we helped out Dave Statter and the National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation with a huge press release. We gathered at Atlanta Fire Station #11 where Motorola announced the award of a $ 1 million dollar grant to the NFFF ! ONE MILLION !
Another GREAT event that was an honor to have been invited to. One million to the NFFF will make such an impact on their scholarship programs was well as to their ability to continue to help and support the survivors of our fallen.
If you’ve never visited the Fallen Firefighter’s Memorial in Emmitsburg, Md you need to! Make plans now to attendthis October during the Memorial weekend … you’ll never forget the experience.
Ok, so we’re heading out again to set up our boothfor the weekendexhibits. We’re gonna hook back up with Captain Akins and some of the guys from #63 for a night on the town where we can share an adult beverage or two. I’m buying and I sure hope the boys are thirsty! LMAO
Captain Wines hijacks an Evan Williams truck for the boys from John's Creek #63-A
I’ll check back a bit later … until then, Stay Safe and in House!
Well, I’m not actually going on “vacation” but I will be off for 13 days if I can only make it to 07:00am tomorrow morning!
On Tuesday, Rhett Fleitz ( Fire Critic) and I will head out for Atlanta, Ga. and Fire Rescue International ( FRI ) 2011 ! We have a GREAT week planned and hope to see you there. While at FRI, Rhett will be facilitating a 90 minute discussion on Social Media and Incorporating Technology in the Workplace on Friday, August 26, 11:00 am-12:30 pm in the Firehouse Café. If you are reading this and will be at FRI then you should make plans to attend this discussion!
Rhett will also be working the floor of FRI for the new company he and partner Jeff Harkey just launched … Daily 911 Deals! You have GOT TO check these guys and the new site out. Their 1st “DEAL” is scheduled to go live tonight! Basically, they will provide various Fire, Rescue and Police products for a limited time, in limited numbers at GREAT savings! I know what the 1st deal is but don’t want to spoil their unveil. TRUST ME…. it’s is something you will want / need and the price is UNBELIEVABLE! If you haven’t registered yet hit the link above and do so NOW. Also, don’t forget to follow and like them on Face Book and Twitter.
On Wednesday morning, Rhett and I will participate in our 2nd 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb !You may remember that we, along with Salem Fire / EMS Captain Kevin Tottin; just completed our 1st climb while in Baltimore, Md. for Firehouse Expo. See related post HEREHERE and HERE . If you’re going to be in Atlanta and haven’t registered yet, you can do so HERE .
I will also be working the floor ( or a booth anyway ) with my good friend Zach Green for MN8 Products / Fox Fire ! We were a HUGE success at Firehouse Expo last month and I hope to improve on our sales while in Atlanta.
If you haven’t seen these products yet PLEASE take a minute to hit the link above. This stuff REALLY WORKS and will make your job safer! Drop by our booth and I’ll give you a personal demo. We have a completely darkened tent and when we get you inside where you can see the illuminating quality of these products, you’ll be amazed. I love the look on firefighter’s faces when they step inside.
If that’s not incentive enough for you to drop by, I think we will also have a couple of ”booth babes” on duty. They’ll be pretty enough to get ya to stop long enough for Zach and me to rope ya in and show you the product.
Like I said, take the time and stop by …. you’ll thank me for it!
We have a ton of other stuff on schedule for FRI as well. One of the events Im most excited about is that we were invited to a firehouse for dinner. I mentioned several posts back on the fact that we were planning to attend FRI. Next thing I know, I get an e-mail from Brother Mark Akins of the John’s Creek Fire Department. Captain Akins wrote of how he and his crew are huge fans of Ironfiremen.com ( of course, they had never heard of Rhett or Fire Critic…LOL ) Captain Akins extended several offers of good ol “southern hospitality”….. how could we refuse?
Rhett and I will be eating dinner at Station #63 on Wednesday night following the Stair Climb. I’m a little nervous because, as I understand it; Sergeant Tom Johnson (from the Rescue) will be the cook that night. Rumor has it that he’s a “box and can” cook. I received an anonymous note saying to pray that the can opener remains in good working condition or we may starve! LMAO …. I’m just kidding Sarge. Rhett and I are humbled and honored that you guys will share your table and break bread with us. TRUE BROTHERHOOD! We look forward to meeting you guys and can’t wait to sample some of your famous Hamburger Helper.
I’ll post more on our trip and plans in the next day or so …. I missed last days post because I had too much other stuff going on. Last day really wasn’t that exciting anyway, so you really didn’t miss much. I even had to ship little Randy out so the new “star” of the blog wasn’t here.
We shipped him out to Station #14 under the leadership and direction of Captain Robert Perdue. On a side note, Captain Perdue is off for a while due to having surgery today. Get well soon Capt and call if ya need ANYTHING. Any way, Captain Perdue is known as a slave driver who trains ALL DAY LONG. He was even assigned to the Training Division at one time.
Well, the Captain must have been in rare form on Wednesday because he wore my poor little Randy out!
They sent me this pic and and I blew a gasket!
Here I am trying to mold Randy into a fine tuned firefighting machine and Captain Perdue wears him down to a frazzle in ONE DAY! LMAO. They actually had a decent day of work. I asked Randy this morning what he learned while at the one, four. Now remember … he’s from Max Meadows, Va. His reply was that he learned that here in “town”, some men actually dress up like a woman! LMAO … I guess he has never seen that down in good ol Max Meadows.
Today, we got him right back into his groove. We started the morning with multiple runs back to back. He was assigned to cook again today and was actually spotted in the kitchen several times. Of course lunch was late but that was because of all the runs. We do need to have a class on how to drain the grease from ground beef! LOL … I though he fixed hamburger soup.
He did a little better at supper time with a little assistance.
Some kind of “chicken smack” in gravy, mashed potatoes, brocoli and home made mac and cheese … UMMM UMMMM !
Awwww.. his Moma is gona be so proud!
Today’s training was a little easier to stomach than Monday’s CPR training ( I still can’t get the images of him french kissing the manikins out of my head ..LOL ).
He worked on exposure problems and deploying a 2 1/2″ line vs. 1 3/4.
We got to talk nozzle selection, available GPM’s (gallons per minute) and effective stream application.
Another effective tool we carry here on Lucky #13 is a 500 gpm Mercury Monitor. With minimal reaction force, these bad boys are a dream to operate. That said, I hope it stays on the rig tonight!
We also had a few special Guests today. Not just special ….. VERY SPECIAL. Hillary and Sam are driving South for vacation. Against her better judgement, she decided to allow husband Dave Statter to tag along and figured they’d just drop him off in Atlanta along the way.
She said he’s been very excited to get out of Statter 911 Headquarters and that he LOVES riding with his window down. He’s made several request for “stops” along the way as he’s spotted items / locations of interest.
On today’s leg of the trip, he kept talking about firehouses and how he’d really love to see inside one. Well, Hillary knew her route would bring them through “The Noke” so she planned a stop here at Lucky #13.
Dave was like a kid in a candy store. It was all Sam could do to keep him under control ! LMAO
No Rhett … it’s NOT an optical illusion … that actually IS Dave Statter in a fire truck!
Hillary and Sam got to ride as well. Just a quick cut around the block but pretty cool all the same.
Despite Dave’s rich history within the Fire Service, Hillary and Sam have never rode on a rig of any sort.
They say you always “remember your first” and I had the honor of giving Hillary hers! LMAO just kidding Dave.
It was very cool that Dave and his family took the time to stop by for a visit. Despite what you read on our sites, Dave (and Hillary) is a GREAT friend and has always taken care of me and Rhett.
Hillary will be dropping Dave off in Atlanta to attend FRI. Rhett and I will hook up with Dave Wednesday morning at the Stair Climb. You’ll see a lot more of us and our escapades from Atlanta throughout next week. Dave also has a very special report coming to Statter911.com very soon…. check it often …. you wont want to miss this one.
OK, I have to get some reports completed. I’m gonna stop here for tonight but will check back in as soon as I can. Until I get back…. Thanks for reading! Stay Safe and In House!
We’re winding down a fairly busy cycle. It’s been a good week but I’m ready for our 4-day break!
I think Randy is looking forward to it as well.
This week’s training centered around “calling the MAYDAY”, “Search and Rescue” and “Vent Enter Search”.
Of course, we caught our normal run load and had some cleaning to do in between…
Well, LOTS of cleaning!
Like I said …. Randy’s moma would be so proud!
He’s scrubbed his little fingers to the bone and next week he will even get to COOK !
LOL … you shoulda seen the look on his face when we told him he would be cooking next cycle.
He went from scared to disappointed when we gave him the rules … 1.) No TV dinners 2.) No hamburger helper 3.) No instant potaotes 4.) MEAT and POTATOES are a “staple” 5.) No pre-made meals from Moma 6.) we eat at noon and 6pm. (unless we caught a run)
LMAO … this is gonna be good. Like all of us were, he’s nervious already. Cooking at the firehouse can be VERY stressful but it’s also somewhat of a life lesson. I’d dare say Randy hasn’t had to prepare many meals for himself at this point in his life, much less for himself and 3 fretting firemen.
If he tackles this challenge like he has every other to this point, he’ll do just fine.
So far, I’m happy with his performance. He must be happy as well because he is still walking around with an ear to ear grin.
He’s caught some decent runs over the past few weeks but has yet to catch anything really “bad” or serious.
He hasn’t caught his first fire yet and as we all know, that will be his first “TRUE” test. We did catch a small compactor fire today with our Brothers and Sisters from Stations #5 and #3.
Last cycle we caught a roll over MVA out on I-581 with our brothers from #3 and County Station #1.
The vehicle contained a lone female occupant who escaped with only minor injuries despite the high M.O.I ( Mechanism Of Injury ).
This is a very busy Interstate so the incident could have been a lot worse than it was.
The other good news is that there were several “lessons” for Randy…. He got to work with one of our Mutual Aid Departments. That means he was tested on his knowledge of his radio ( we were operating on a “County” tac channel ). He got to see first hand the importance of stabilizing a vehicle involved in an accident. He also got to see the dangers of working an incident along the Interstate.
The highlight of the incident was that he got to meet the County’s 2nd best pump operator…. Brandon Sheppard
I say he’s the “second best” because Brandon just completed a DPO … “pump operator” class and the facts are facts.
Unlike his typical performance, Brandon did NOT finish at the top of the class.
I’m not sure of HER name but I know that at least one other firefighter finished ahead of Brandon.
LOL …. OK, OK … I’m doing a little “fretting” there.
Brandon is a great pump operator despite where he finished in the class or who finished ahead of him. A good fireman, great friend and top hand around the farm!
Their whole company is wearing them (that’s Brandon’s Captain Brian Witt pictured left) ! Back when I first did a Product Review of Fox Fire, we painted one of County 1′s axes.
I trust and value Captain Witt’s opinion and thought it was a great opportunity to spread the product around through some diverse companies / response areas.
Apparently, Captain Witt and his crew were so impressed with the illuminating epoxy that they decided to buy the helmet bands as well. LOOKING GOOD GUYS!
Oh yea …. here’s another lesson Randy has learned since being on the job here at “Lucky #13″
When it says “NO PARKING ..FIRE LANE” DONT PARK THERE !
PEOPLE …. these lanes are marked for a REASON and YES … the “no parking” part means YOU!
Of course, the owner of the grey vehicle was in a much bigger hurry than we were. Their business was also twice as important as the job we were called to do.
The sad thing is that our business had us on the upper floors of this building so we were away from our rigs for some time. We musta parked a little too close to the passenger vehicle making it impossible for the driver to manuver out of the prime parking spot. Hope we didn’t make em too late
OK, to wrap up tonight, Captain Jeffrey Bowen of the Asheville, NC Fire Department will be laid to rest tomorrow.
Jeff Harkey, over at FireNews.net has all the details of the service as well as for the “Fallen Firefighter Fund” which has been established as an education fund for Captain Bowen’s children.
North Carolina is close to home and I really wanted to attend this service. I had even intended on taking Randy along with me. I think that attending a LODD funeral early in his career could make an impact on how he views firefighter safety as well as the reality and dangers of our job. Something good out of something so tragic maybe. Anyway, Ashville is 4 1/2 hrs away. The service begins at 11am and we’re on duty until 7am. There’s no way we would / could make it in time. At the least, I will be there in spirit. I will stop whatever Im doing tomorrow morning at 11am, hold a thought and say a few words for Captain Bowen, his and the Asheville NC Fire Department family. If you can’t make the service, I hope you’ll do the same.
Gonna wrap it up for tonight and start looking for 07:00 am. I’ll check back in as soon as I can …
I haven’t met her yet but Im sure Randy’s moma is proud … if not, she should be. Me? … I’m undecided as of yet.
Now, don’t get me wrong … I like him. He’s eager to learn. Open to new ideas and challenges. He has adapted well to change and is a genuine good person.
See previous posts on “Rookie Randy” HERE and HERE
Cooking … Cleaning…. he’s had his fair share since being assigned to ”Lucky #13″ and I’m sure his moma would be amazed at just how well he preforms.
He’s done everything asked of him and more … well ALMOST.
If you remember, or hit the link above to the earlier post “I had to pull the book” you’ll know that before I went off on vacation I assigned Randy 1 task….. 1 !
For reasons I wont get into, he was assigned to memorize paragraph 4 of page 121 from Effective Company Command. I knew he would. He had completed every other assigned task above expectations. I had even told my wife that I bet he would be waiting for me when I arrived back to work on Thursday. I went as far to tell her that if he wasn’t there early and waiting on me, that once he did arrive; he’d come straight to me and recite the paragraph.
Well, he wasn’t at the station at 06:30 am nor did he come straight to me once he arrived at 07:00. It was almost like he avoided me. I gave him a bit to settle in then I asked him . LMAO … you shoulda seen the look on his face! He stuttered and stammered. It was almost painful to watch. But then, as I helped him word for word it became funny … comical. It reminded me of an old Andy Griffith episode …
LMAO !! That’s EXACTLY how his recital went … EXACTLY! Needless to say, I was disappointed but I can also assure you that Randy will have that paragraph DOWN PAT in no time!
Last day we worked on MAYDAY and today is SEARCH / RESCUE. I should have some good pics and an update for ya later tonight.
So, moving on; I have several things to update you on.
I got a comment / e-mail asking about our trip to Baltimore and Firehouse Expo 2011. Specifically, it related to the post “Looking Back on Baltimore …”
The comment basically was asking why I had not posted any pictures of Chief Billy Goldfeder and myself … if we had even seen one another there.
Well yes, I did get to see Chief Billy at Expo. Regretfully, I didn’t have the chance to buy him a beer but we did get to speak. The Chief spotted me on the floor and took the time to stop and say hello. Having the “mustache envy” I do, I took the opportunity to grab a pic. Yea … he has me!
I also didn’t get to post on much of the “fun” side of the trip.
Yea … Rhett and I always manage to have a good time even when on “business”.
We found a new “favorite” hang out …. ok a new favorite bar.
I think we dropped in almost every night for cold refreshments and a good time.
For some reason or another, I was kinda popular in the joint …
I think it was my hat … everybody wanted to try it on..
Even “Fire Boy” had to try it on ….
I think he thought it made him look taller ..LOL
I hope they have one in Atlanta … we had a blast!
You can see in the pic with me and Rhett that they even have a mechanical bull!
Yea .. we rode it!
Well, some of us “rode it” … I rode it in STYLE … with a waitress!
And, While I’m back to Baltimore … I wanted to share a little more about one of our fellow climbers….Tommy Warshaw.
Rhett has known Tommy for sometime through Face and Twitter but they have never actually met.
I knew Tommy through the same means but not as well as Rhett.
Anyway, Tommy had contacted us to say that he would be at the climb and would love the chance to met us in person.
Obviously, we were thrilled and offered to buy him a beverage following the event. He made the climb so we bought the beer!
Tommy was one of the first ones up .. he climbed in group #3 (we were #19).
Tommy is “top notch” in my book … a GREAT guy!
He is the kind of brother who wears 2 hats for your safety and freedom. I say that meaning that he is also in the military. Tommy serves in the 34th Intelligence Squad out of Fort Mead, Md. while volunteering in the Fire Service. WOW !
Tommy thought enough of us (me and Rhett) to bring us a Challenge Coin from his unit.
Brought em and presented them to us before the climb!
Like I said … TOP NOTCH !
And like the coin says … “ONE TOUGH DUCK”!
It was and honor and privilege Tommy … THANKS!
Baltimore kinda followed me home. Well, it (or ”the Climb” anyway) will stay with me forever. What I meant by following me home was the fact that we received a special package here at Station #13 on Thursday.
I posted on how grateful Zach was in the “Looking Back on Baltimore..” post.
The fancy dinner, Champagne, bottles of Wine etc.
Well, I get back to the firehouse and the box arrives from Cincinnati, OH.
It took me a minute but then I put two and two together … yea … SIX! LOL
No, Zach is from Cincinnati.
We were like kids at Christmas!
Tore the box to pieces! Randy thought is was his birthday or something.
We got out the Irons, had a forcible entry drill and just lookie what we found…
ICE CREAM !!!
Not just ANY ice cream mind you … GRAETER’S ice cream!
OMG ! As Wheezy would say … “deleeeeshious” Thanks Zach..YOU ARE THE MAN!
So, that should about wrap up the Baltimore trip …. I know, I know … about time .. right? It’s been just as busy here around home. We’ve had 2 multiple alarm fires in as many days here in “The Noke”. If you missed them check out a previous post HERE .
We also had a retirement.
Our last day (Thursday July 28, 2011) was Firefighter / EMT Kenny Hurt’s last day in company.
Kenny was hired in the same group of 21 members that I was back in 1991. He was able to retire because we have what we call a “Rule of 70″. Although you will not draw your max pension, when your age and years of service add up to 70, you are eligible to retire.
Congratulations and good luck to Kenny!
Ok.. I’m gonna wrap things up for now …I’ll check back in a little later on. Until then, Stay Safe and In House!
You should all know by now that Rhett (Fire Critic), Kevin Totten (Salem Fire/EMS) and I spent the better part of last week in Baltimore, Md at Firehouse Expo 2011.
We had a GREAT time surrounded by friends, fans and Brother and Sister firefighters from across the Country.
Rhett and travel a lot together but this trip in particular had several objectives.
I think our main objective was to participate in and complete the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb. WE DID !
It was one of the proudest moments of my life. A highlight of my career. I’m still emotional about the experience and will never forget what I found in that stairway. If you haven’t, read my post following the climb HERE . Rhett also posted of his feelings following the climb. I think it’s his best post ever. If you’re on the job and can read it with dry eyes, you’re tougher than me. Read that post over on Fire Critic HERE .
I have been working with / helping Rhett and John Mitchel for some time now. We always have a good time and get to hear some great discussions / interviews.
Turns out, I didn’t get to do much work for Firefighter Netcast this go round. Our good friend Zach Green from Fox Fire / MN 8 Products found himself in a tight spot.
At the last minute, his ”Illuminating Goddess” and sales gal couldn’t make the trip. Rhett and John had things well under control in our booth so I moved across the isle to lend Zach a hand. WOW ! We were non-stop every day of Expo. I’m not sure how much we sold over the 3 days of exhibits but we did well. Someone said that I could sell ice cream to an Eskimo. I’m not so sure about that but I will say that selling Fox Fire is easy … it sells itself. All good products do.
It also helps that I use and believe in the Fox Fire products. I wear the helmet band and have the tools on our rig pained or wrapped. I didn’t have a ”sales pitch” … it was a testimonial from a fireman who uses the product. See my previous FOX FIRE PRODUCT REVIEW .
We (Zach, Rhett and I) always hang out together on these trips but this time, he took it up a notch!
He wanted to celebrate our success over dinner. Not just any dinner mind you … he wanted the best steak in town and a bottle of champagne.
Mortons Steakhouse! Talk about classy … WOW. It was one of those places where you had 4 or five forks to choose from. It must be one of those ADA things because our first course was seafood and Rhett used the little baby fork. I seen a big dude across the way using the big fork so I just went middle of the road.
I ate things I cant even pronounce. The appitizers were more than a meal but the food kept comming. The steak ??? UNBELIVABLE !! I think they may have been a little worried about their wine storage because they wanted you to smell it before you drank it but anyway, it was a GREAT meal even better company … THANKS Zach!
A 3rd objective on our trip involved Rhett and partner Jeff Harkey unveiling their new company .. Daily 911 Deals.com
This is going to be HUGE !
It’s basically a collective purchasing site for Fire, EMS and Police!
Rhett has the full details over on the Fire Critic … CLICK HERE .
So, as you can tell; there is a ton of work to be done while we’re on these trips. We spend all day on our feet (concrete floors) selling, talking and networking with folks.
Like Zach, Rhett and Jeff left Baltimore with a smile on their face.
We had a good week on the floor. And yea … they’re my friends but I also now a good deal when I see it. Be sure to hit the link above and register for the Daily 911 Deals … it will save ya money on some great products!
So, that was a look at the work end of the trip but with me and Rhett, you know there was a little play involved as well. Play on the side and some fun rolled into the work as well.
Obviously, we met and spoke with hundreds if not thousands of people this week. The really cool thing is that several of them actually came up to us in the booth and introduced themselves as readers / fans of the site! WOW ! I always joke and say “so you’re the one” but, in all honesty; I’m honored and humbled every time it happens. I was so busy in the booth that I didn’t have the chance to get a shot with every one of them but here are a few …..
I know you hear people saying it all the time but you guys .. the readers / fans REALLY are the ones who make this site a success. Thanks to all of you for the following and continued support. Special thanks to all the readers who took the time to drop by the booth to say hello and offer a hand shake … it was MY honor.
Beyond the fans, I also had the privilege of meeting a few folks I have wanted to for some time as well as the chance to get together with old friends that I truly respect and admire. Here are a few shots ….
If ya didn’t hit the pics for descriptions etc. the top photo his of me and Captain Liam Flaherty of FDNY’s Rescue 2. The center pic is me with Fire Geezer .. we had never actually met until this show. The last pic is me with the author of the book They Come In Threes Dave Houseal. As soon as I’m done with the read .. I’ll have a review of the book for ya.
We also caught up with some old friends and fans at the Fire / EMS Blog Network “Meet-up” at Uno’s restaurant. Big Nick, Little Nick, Mike Ward, Bill Carey and many others were in attendance.
Thanks to Dave Iannone, Chris Herbert, their crew from Go Forward Media and Wall Shields for sponsoring the event .. I’m the one in the cowboy hat … Statter is the one taller than Rhett..LOL
Firefighter Netcast was actually set up in the Statter and Fire Geezer booth.
Rhett, Firefighter Netcast and I try to help Dave as much and often as possible. We spend a lot of time together on these trips. Despite all the fun back and forth on our sites, we are actually all good friends and always have a blast.
Dave teamed up with Go Forward Media and invited a group of us out for dinner Saturday night following the Expo…. Maryland Blue Crab and cold beer! Afterwards, Dave treated us all to an Orioles game … here are a few shots …
YEA … That’s the Fire Critic and Dave Statter in bibs !
I have several more pictures and a few good stories to share but they’ll have to wait until tomorrow. The best news about the trip was that we all made it home safe and the Buckaroo was on the porch waiting for me when I pulled in. Today has been busy catching up on the farm … we have a busy day tomorrow as well but I’ll try to check back in.
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!