In another previous post (“Melt Down”) , I told ya about the “stages of grief” and how grief is as individual as the person suffering through it. We don’t necessarily go through the stages in order and by no means in the same way.
I’m currently working through the “depression” stage (and, I believe; suffering through PTSD).
I was expecting it but have never fully understood exactly what “depression” was. I’m learning the hard way.
My thoughts continue to wonder with every waking moment and it’s difficult for me to focus.
I still can’t eat. I just don’t have an appetite … I’m not hungry. When I try to force myself to eat, I throw it back up so I figure why bother.
I’m sleeping some at night now but I’m not REALLY “sleeping”. I’m tired all the time and can’t motivate myself to get out and do anything. I try to make myself go “somewhere” or do “something” but I don’t. I know I need to.
I haven’t even been able to write (evident in my recent lack of postings and absence from Face Book).
I’m not getting along well with others … I just want to be alone.
All these things seem so petty and easy to fix but they’re not.
That’s the hardest part for me. I know what’s happening and what I need to do ….. I just can’t muster the energy or motivation to get it done.
I have to start climbing my way out of this hole … I thought I have been but it doesn’t feel like I’m making much progress. I can’t stay here (like this) forever.
One of the folks I’ve been seeing offered a prescription for anti-depressants. It’s not for me. There’s a small part of me that almost took her up on it just so I could learn for myself (and share with you folks) if they (the pills) “really” work or not. Unfortunately, I’m not the “pill” taking kind ( I hardly even even take an aspirin) so I won’t be able to tell you “first hand” about anti-depressants. I can tell you that depression is REAL . It’s an illness that can be crippling.
I see a lot of it in the firehouse for one reason or another. Not just in situations like mine (the loss of a loved one) but also over financial issues, marital problems etc. If you want to learn more about depression and take your “Depression IQ quiz”, take a minute and CLICK HERE .
The best thing for me has been talking about it. Getting “it” out of my head and off my chest. I’ve wrote about them a lot here lately but once again, I want to share with you some folks who you CAN TALK TO. People who understand and that do MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
These folks are not just for you or me either. They are there for our Brothers and Sisters as well and it’s up to us to let them know that help is available. PAY ATTENTION … look around you. If someone in your company, your Battalion, Department or whatever is needing help, point them in this direction. You know … firefighter “so and so” whos wife just left him. Ol “what’s his name” from Engine whatever who just took a 3rd mortgage out because he lost his 2nd job. That S.O.B on the Ladder who we all know has been drinking too much …. all these Brothers have someone to turn to. Let them know before it’s too late. Here are the links ….
I had a bad day yesterday. Like most everyday, there’s always something that will remind me of Jackson.
I pulled a tour Saturday (we work 24hr shifts) and when I got home yesterday morning, the Buckaroo was waiting for me. It was 8am , he missed his “Paw-Paw” and wanted to play.
He got his motorcycle toy out. It’s like the old Evil Knievel wind up toy. If you’re a boy and anywhere near my age (44), I’d bet you had one.
I showed him how to use some books / magazines to make a ramp so we could make some jumps down the hallway. It was just how me and Jack did it when we were kids.
I could see us like it was just yesterday. Then the thought hit me (as it always does in situations like this) …. I wanted to call Jackson and tell him what we were doing. He would LOVE it! Knowing that me and the Buckaroo were doing exactly what he and I did as kids. I know he’d remember our ramps … our jumps…. fighting over who went next…. he’d understand and know EXACTLY what we were feeling / doing. He’d have that unforgettable smile on his face just thinking about it.
I’ll never get to make “those” calls again … not to Jackson and it’s killing me. This grief … the depression…. it keeps knocking me down but I won’t let it keep me here.
Like I said in the beginning of this post, I have to start climbing my way out of this hole.
“CLIMBING”…… Seems I wrote about that one time …. back in July of 2011 actually in a post titled “We are all Climbing” (Take the time to hit the link and read that post … I think you’ll find it worthwhile). Stairs, ladders or whatever obstacle, it seems we all are indeed “climbing”.
Me? I’m gonna find my way out …. I’m gonna find that “new normal” because I’m going to keep climbing …. it’s all I know to do.
I’m gonna start by getting out of town again. I’m going to head up north and spend a little time in NYC and out on Long Island.
I’m going to attend the Long Island Fire, Rescue and EMS Mega Show on Feb. 23rd / 24th. I’ll be working the booth with my MN8 FoxFire family but I’ll also be doing what I love best … meeting, spending time with and talking to all the Brothers and Sisters in attendance. I think it will be just what I need to get “moving” again …. to “re-engage” and get “back in the game”.
I’ll get ya more details in the next day or so …. until then, thanks again for all the support. Thanks too for allowing me to share all of this with you …. I LOVE YA ALL!
I started “blogging” back in December of 2008 while assigned to Station #9C (The “Melrose Misfits). I never imagined that it would grow into something as big as it has or that it would have been as rewarding as it is. When I was moved from Station #9, I decided to create the Wooden Ladders and Iron Firemen Blog. Later, with Rhett’s help; we shortened the name to Ironfiremen.com and moved over to the Fire/EMS Blog Network. It was the best move I ever made.
The site continues to grow. My views or “hits” have TRIPLED from 2010 to 2011! I’ve always kidded about having 2 readers but obviously, there is a lot more than that. I still don’t understand why …. I don’t even know where I “fit in” as far as the “network” or other sites go.
By that I mean that I’m not sure there is even a “category” for me or the Blog. I’m not a straight forward ”news” or “educational” type of site. I don’t know what folks are looking for when they “click on” or visit Ironfiremen.com but obviously, they’re finding it (or something that keeps em coming back anyway).
One of the things I’m most proud of is having been voted
The distinction of Blog of the Year and the sites growing popularity has opened many doors and propelled us in several directions. Those of you who follow regularly know that Rhett and I have been “on the road” a lot this year and each trip has been related in some way or another to our sites.
Our advertising, promotional, branding and networking efforts has allowed us to meet some amazing people and make many new friends. Not only that, we’ve also become involved with several outstanding organisations within the Fire/EMS industry along the way.
We’ve accomplished so much in 2011 that it would be difficult to pack into a single post. That said, I’ll just hit the month by month highlights for ya and TRY to keep it short …. see if you remember these and ENJOY the “look back” ….
January 2011 . Looking at the stats, my busiest day as far as ”hits” was the 17th. I had 2 posts up that day as Roanoke’s Bravest battled a Multi-Alarm Fire and stupid drivers at a local Days Inn.
You can re-visit those posts on Ironfiremen.com HERE and HERE .
For MORE on that incident from Fire Critic and RoanokeFirefighters.com (including more photos) click HERE and HERE
The 17th may have been the site’s busiest day in January but the fire was not what stands out in my mind as most memorable.
It was January that the Roanoke Fire Department suffered an ” The End of an Era” with the passing of Battalion Chief Bobbie Slayton.
Chief Slayton served the City of Roanoke for nearly 45 years. He had been a Chief longer than I had been on the job. My dad worked for Bobbie as his Chief’s Aid / Driver for many years. Towards the end of his career, he was shuffled from his beloved “B-Shift” to “C” where I had the honor of working for him. Bobbie’s death was a huge loss for our Department. He’s still missed but spoke and thought of often.
He had suffered a stroke on December 26, 2010 and remained hospitalized until his passing on January 8, 2011. He was such an icon to our Department that, in his final days; our Local (IAFF L-1132) had a member “posted” by his hospital room door 24/7. It was only fitting that Captain Craig Sellers was by his side (along with family) when he passed.
The posts following his death were some of the hardest I’ve written. For at least as long as I’m alive, Chief Slayton will never be forgotten.
There’s a GREAT picture of Bobbie and the members of Station #1B with the restored Bell from the tower at now “Historic” Station #1. We now only use the bell for funeral services. The irony is that the bell Chief Slayton worked so hard to refurbish sounded his Final Alarm.
See related posts and photos from VaFireNews.com and RoanokeFirefighters.comHERE and HERE
February 2011 : The post receiving the most hits for February was when we announced winning the Blog of the Year contest but the month was really about football, fires and “support systems”!
There was plenty of fire to go around all across the State. We caught our share and even took in a job with our County Brothers. See that post HERE .
It was also the month that I first introduced a “semi-regular” column here on Ironfireman.com that I call “Tricks of the Trade” .
March 2011 : Things got REALLY busy for me and Rhett in March. Among everything else that happened, we would travel to EMS Today in Baltimore, Md and FDIC in Indianapolis.
FDIC was a BLAST! Rhett presented his class “Social Media in the Fire Service” for the first time … what an HONOR. I filled in and covered his position with Firefighter Netcast where once again I found myself surrounded by some of the top leaders of today’s Fire Service.
Who would have ever figured to see me hanging around folks like Chief Billy Goldfeder or Chief Alan Brucini? (we also met Captain Dugan who gave the Keynote Address along with retired FDNY member Kevin Shea). We met many friends and followers of our sites and made twice as many new ones.
Back at home, I would meet one very special new friend … Father Webb.
Father Webb was just meeting and “feeling us out” back on St. Patty’s Day but now has become our “Official” Fire Department Chaplin.
Chief Adkins fixed up a mess of corned beef and cabbage and we had Father Webb out to share in the meal. This was the beginning of a GREAT relationship between our members and Father Webb. I was and remain excited to have him on and at our side. I hope the relationship continues to grow and can mimic the one shared by Father Judge and the FDNY. See my related post HERE
April was also the month where we had our biggest “Give Away” to date. After winning the Blog of the Year contest, I figured what better way to say “THANKS” to my readers than to give away a pair of Black Diamond X2 Boots? No “el-cheap-o, contesto’s” here baby … that was a high dollar pair of boots! Congratulations to loyal reader / follower Patrick Lynch of St. Michael’s College Fire & Rescue in Colchester, VT. on winning the boots. What was really cool was how we announced the winner …. watch this..
May 2011 : May would have me traveling the farther than I ever have. Thanks to the Roanoke Rampage Football Team, I would make my way out to California!
There were several highlights to this trip but the most notable would be getting to see my baby sister Jessi and meeting Captain Joe Schmoe of Report on Conditionsfor the first time.
Be sure to hit those links … it was a GREAT trip despite our loss on the field.
I continued to make new friends and meet readers and followers of the site. Casey Potter, wife of loyal follower and fan; Chris Potter invited me down for a surprise Birthday Party for Chris …. how could I not have attended?? See that post HERE .
The biggest news however would come on a GLOBAL level ….
We FINALLY KILLED THAT SON OF A BITCH!
I was on duty and glued to the TV. Emotion overtook me and I cried. I cried tears of joy and sorrow.
For me, it was like living the day of the attacks all over again. My mind was flooded with memories and emotion.
The tears of joy were of his death but the tears of sorrow were for the families of those he murdered. I knew that even then … at his death … he would cause pain to those left behind.
I hope our 343 fallen can now rest in peace. I hope his death brings some sort of comfort to the families left behind and like the Daily News so eloquently says .. I hope he ROTS IN HELL !
June 2011 : Big fires and more funerals.
We buried another member in June. Firefighter/Paramedic David “Dave” Palmer lost his battle with cancer. His was to be our 2nd LODD (Line Of Duty Death) since 2009.
“Big Dave” and I go WAY back. I made Captain in 2000 and was assigned to station #3 ( now considered “old” Station #3 and CLOSED which was located at 6th and Rorer) where we would work together.
Like Chief Slayton, Big Dave will not be forgotten either. I quite often find myself telling stories involving him in one way or another. Things were different back then .. it felt more like a “Fire Department” and we had a lot of fun while getting the job done.
The picture upper right is our crew standing in front of Engine and Medic #3 at the Station. Pictured from L-R is Dave Palmer, Mike Pruitt, Brad Creasy, Lt Richard “Patty” Patterson and myself.
See my related post HERE and coverage from Va Fire News HERE
June would also find me and Rhett together on the fire ground!
I was the Acting Battalion Chief while Rhett was riding the “seat” of of the 1st in Engine (#3) when we caught this 2nd alarm fire.
It was the first time in a while since Rhett and I had been together on a fire. This time however, it was me stuck out in the street and Rhett putting in the work.
I arrived 1st and upgraded the incident to a 2nd Alarm. I was able to catch some pretty good photos while doing my walk around and size up. This pic was taken just as Rhett and his crew were making entry. Some solid work put in on this one!
July 2011 : A new Rookie, Never Forgetting and Honoring our fallen!
July brought Firehouse Expo in Baltimore, Md. and our first 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb.
That climb (and the ones to follow) changed me forever. I’ve described the experience as beyond emotional and more near spiritual. I think I captured some of it in my postings because they remain my “most visited”
July as brought me a new “Rookie” Firefighter …. RANDY!
Randy Armbrister from Max Meadows, Va. The picture left was Randy on his 1st day out in the Company.
I wanted to make sure he knew and was comfortable in his SCBA so he started the morning with it on. He checked equipment, cleaned the station and even mowed the lawn with it on.
You’ve seen and read about Randy quite a bit here on the site and I have to admit that it’s been refreshing having a “Rookie” in the house.
It’s kept us busy and even allowed us “older” members to “pick up the pace” a little in an effort to assure Randy is well trained and ready for whatever is thrown at us. Randy has (and continues to ) met all expectations and challenges with a willingness to learn and a smile. He’s only disappointed me once but we corrected that problem QUICK. Read ” I had to PULL THE BOOK ” by clicking HERE .
August 2011 : What a month! Fire rescue International in Atlanta, Ga, our 2nd 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb, Randy’s 1st fire and a GAY BAR !
I cried a lot in Atlanta … I get choked up now even thinking about it. Rhett and I would make our 2nd 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb and this one would impact me even more than our first.
There were several things that happened in Atlanta that I will carry with me until I die
Before our climb, I remembered an e-mail I had received from my youngest daughter (Reba) back before our 1st climb in Baltimore. I had obviously saved it and opened and read it once again before our assent in Atlanta. I want to share that e-mail with you again …
“Dad , today after reading your most recent blog ” we are all climbing ” I wanted to tell you ….. Your the most amazing selfless person I know … You work so hard to save people you don’t even know and at the same time are working just hard to save all of us … You use your spare time to spread the word of your great profession that in my opinion (and yours) you can’t call a ” job” it’s just something you were meant to do …. There is no one else in this world like you !!!! ( well the buckaroo and I – but we are exceptions bc we are only a mold ) …. Good luck on your climb I know you can do it ESP bc of the cause but also because I’ve never seen ANYTHING you can’t do !!!! ( well you might not be able to carry Rhett lol unless u had to ) ….. Anywho …. Just wanted to let you know your amazing in everything you do and the buckaroo and I love and miss you very much …. Be safe have fun , Love .. Reba and YOUR buckaroo ”
How AWESOME is that?
I learned the same things listed in that e-mail about Rhett that day. I had “known” it but never really seen it until that climb.
Rhett and I are a lot alike, especially when it comes to Brotherhood and the job. We climb alike and for the same reasons… it’s a MEMORIAL.
We were HONORED to be in the 1st group up in Atlanta but quickly learned that we were attached to the “wrong” group. Lucky for us, they didn’t “get it” and soon left us behind. It was how it should have been … Rhett and I alone in that stairway … paying our respects. It was then that he brought me to tears and showed me what the words HONOR and RESPECT were all about.
Rhett was having a tough time with this climb. No breaks, no water, for whatever reason; he was struggling. Near the top, he stopped and turned around … I though he was quitting. ” I missed one” he said. He wasn’t quitting, he had missed a step, turned around and climbed that flight AGAIN! Nobody would have ever know right?? WRONG …. he would have. As bad as he was hurting, HE CLIMBED IT AGAIN ! BROTHERHOOD, HONOR,TRADITION,PRIDE and RESPECT … we live by it!
Kevin Totten and Tommy Warshaw joined us again while Bill Carey climbed with us for the 1st time. Rhett’s son Preston made it most of the way and Dad even carried the Buckaroo for one flight. Hit the link above .. it’s a good read.
October 2011 : The 30th Annual National Fallen Firefighter’s Memorial Weekend and an UNBELIEVABLE trip to New York City!
This would be my 2nd year attending the Memorial Weekend and I would find it just as emotional as the first.
Rhett and I were there fulfilling obligations with Firefighter Netcast. We had the honor of recording stories from the survivors. Once again, a lot of tears were shed as we listened to the families share their stories of our fallen Brothers and Sisters.
The Memorial Weekend is every October and if you’ve never attended .. MAKE PLANS NOW!
Rhett and I also made a trip up to the Big Apple. He was teaching Social Media in NJ and I was assisting Zach Green and Fox Fire in the City.
It was an AMAZING trip because neither Rhett nor I had been to the City since the attacks. It was a humbling experience.
While Rhett was teaching, Chief Billy Goldfeder had set Zach and I up with a personal tour of the Tribute Center. Co Founder Lee Ielpi would conduct the tour.
Lee is a retired member of FDNY’s Rescue 2 and lost his son, Jonathan; was on the job and assigned to FDNY Squad 288. Jonathan was murdered on September 11, 2001 in the attacks on the Trade Center and Lee would spend the next 3 months searching for his body. I don’t believe Lee has really EVER left that site since.
I can’t describe the tour he gave us … for whatever reason, there was a “bond” between us. Lee kept a hand on me the entire time, I can feel his touch even now as I reflect on our time together. It was a “father’s” touch and one I will cherish.
They recovered Jonathan’s body mostly in tact. They also were able to recover his turnout gear. That gear is on display at the Tribute Center. Lee wants us all to see that set of gear and to know the story behind it. Us .. me, you, him, her and our children. He suffers the pain of passing by that gear EVERYDAY hoping that we can all learn from this horrible act. If you’re ever in New York … GO!
December : Rhett and I returned to GROUND ZERO and made our 4th Memorial Stair Climb!
Not only was it our 4th climb, it was in New York City, at Ground Zero and in the shadows of The Freedom Tower ( 1 World Trade Center ) !
We were there helping out the National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation.
Founding members of some of the 1st organized Memorial Stair Climbs, Oren Bersagel-Briese, Scott Eckels, Josh Smith, Brian Bush and Shawn Dunston ( along with Dave Statter) were also there.
Even though it was not “Official”, there was no way that we were going to be this close to Ground Zero, with this group of Brothers and NOT make a climb in Memory and Honor of our 343 fallen Brothers. SO WE CLIMBED ! We finished on the roof top looking down on the site where our Brothers had fallen. Where so many lives were lost and Heroes remain.
Rhett and I have been climbing so long and hard that we never really knew where we were going … WE FOUND IT THERE !
I’m not sure what I’ve done to deserve the life I’ve been given this past year but I am truly THANKFUL. Together, Rhett and I have made the journey of a lifetime in just a few short years. I can only imagine what 2012 will bring us.
I want to say THANKS to my wife (Donna) and entire family for the love, support and for putting up with me all this time. Thanks to Rhett for the friendship, the BROTHERHOOD and for taking me along. THANKS as well to you .. our readers because it is your support that has allowed us these opportunities. I hope, that if even in the smallest of ways; that we’ve been able to give something back in return!
Stay SAFE and in House and I’ll see you next year!
That said, not all of the news from last week was “negative” in nature.
Thursday, was a near record day for the Fire / EMS Blog Network . Obviously, Ironfiremen.com is part of the Fire/EMS Blog Network and I recently received an e-mail from the “Boss” Dave Iannone . Here are a couple excerpts …..”With the multiple national events yesterday, it would seem at first glance yesterday was one of the busiest days in the history of EPS web traffic wise amongst all sites”
He went on to say … “FireEMSBlogs.com (led by Statter, Geezer and Iron Fireman), had XXXXX page views and XXXXX unique visitors –its second biggest day ever as a network”
I mention this for a couple of reasons. First, because I am proud to be part of the Network and of the work we do. Believe it or not, running these sites takes a LOT of work. I am equally as proud of the fact that we did our ”job” this past Thursday. Obviously, folks visit and read our sites. The reasons vary. Some sites are informative, training type sites while others are more focused on news events etc around the fire / EMS world ( Me??? I’m not real sure what category I fall into ).
Anyway, as difficult as it is for us to talk about events such as what transpired on Thursday, several of our sites reported the information in a factual and professional manner. People look to our sites to find out what’s happening. The Fire Geezer (Bill Schumm) was on the Worcester incident early. A Fire Geezer contributor Mike Ward (Fossil Medic) even posted a detailed time line of “Tweets” as they were posted (tweeted) by a Boston Firefighter from L29 ( see that post / timeline HERE ).
I posted on the Va. Tech shooting ( HERE) and followed up a bit later with the Mount Vernon, NY LODD ( HERE ). There were several other posts, tweets and Face Book updates by multiple / various members throughout the day.
These were “TRUE” Line Of Duty Deaths (Back Step Firefighter Bill Carey will know what I mean). Firefighter Davies ( Worcester) killed in a collapse while searching for a victim on the scene of a 3 story (triple decker) working apartment fire. Firefighter Townes (Mount Vernon) died of an apparent heart attack while dressing out on the scene of a working basement fire. Officer Crouse, murdered in his Police cruiser while performing his duties.
We here at the Fire / EMS Blog Network went to work……It’s the best way I know to honor the fallen. There was a part in the Movie Ladder 49 that really sums it up for me… I couldn’t find just the small clip so here’s about 10 minutes worth…. all you need to see is the first minute and 3 seconds.
Blogging is one thing but members all across this Country are honoring these men in the same way…. by getting back on the truck! Police Officers are on duty tonight on the Va. Tech Campus. Brothers of IAFF L-1009 are staffing the rigs in Worcester, Ma. and the Mount Vernon (NY) Fire department stands ready to take in the next call.
Just this morning, Dave Statter posted a video of our Brothers in Wilmington, Delaware rescuing 2 children from a house fire….
Solid work brothers! I just wanted to take the time to thank each and every one of you. Thanks for following this site … again, I don’t know why you do but obviously, you’re finding whatever it is you’re looking for and that really makes all my time and effort worth while. Secondly, THANKS for doing the job you do! For manning the rigs and pulling the tour. I can say that with complete understanding of the sacrifices you and your families make so again … THANKS!
Ok.. moving on. I’m CALLING ALL JAKES! I want you pictures. Pictures of Christmas around your station. Santa on the rig, Parade pics, Christmas lights on or around the station. Your Christmas tree, members in a Santa’s hat etc. ANYTHING “Christmas” around the firehouse. I will make an album and post them on Face Book as well as here on Ironfiremen.com.
I think it’s a GREAT way of showing PRIDE in your company, equipment and Department and I can’t wait to help some of you folks show off that PRIDE.
Our West Coast Brothers already have a jump on us. Now retired Captain Joe Schmoe ( Report on Conditions) has already posted pics of ol Santa riding on Riverside California’s Engine #14.
That Damn Schmoe! He’s ALWAYS got the pic. A little ball breaker this Schmoe is too.
We spoke on the phone last night (night here .. afternoon there) and he was able to “rub in” that he had just finished setting up camp. By the lake in 80 some degree weather. He also happened to mention that he had just “popped a top” on an ice cold adult beverage.
Grrrrrrrrrrr ! Lucky son of a gun! LOL See his post on that conversation HERE
At least Captain Schmoe is doing what he’s supposed to ( and what I told him to do) … ENJOYING RETIREMENT! Have fun and relax Brother … miss ya and will be seeing you soon.
Our Brothers here in “The Noke” have also started to show the Christmas Spirit.
Station #5 has lights and a tree up!
This picture is the pole which is mounted against the wall of the day room (looking from the kitchen). The pole obviously goes nowhere but came out of either “old” Station #5 or Station #9 ….. both of which were shut down to open this new combined station.
I’m pretty sure that the pole is out of Station #9 while the chalk board behind it is out of “old” #5. It’s our way of holding on to a little piece of our history. Pride … No matter which house the pole came from, if I had a dollar for every time I slid it, I could retire early ( I spent a lot of time in both houses).
I’m glad to see it in the new station and happy to see the Brothers and Sisters showing some pride and decorating the station. It was very nice!
They even had little fire helmet lights. I’ll throw in a shot of those and one of our Battalion Chief, Teddy Adkins sitting by their tree…
We were at Station #5 this evening for a very important assignment …. to EAT …LOL. Chief Adkins has made a “tradition” out of buying a meal for his Battalion around the Christmas Holiday ( Actually, Teddy does this for his Battalion twice a year).
Usually, he will buy steaks and deliver them to the stations. This year, he went all out.
The Chief bought a pig and, with the help of Firefighter Brady McDonald ( and the entire crew of #5-C ); cooked it right there at the station!
These guys came in early and started cooking at around 4:30 this morning!
We headed over around 4:30 this evening for a GREAT meal. Pork, slaw, beans and fries …. DELICIOUS !!!
Special THANKS to Chief Adkins for the thought. Thanks also to the Brothers and Sister of Station #5-C for putting in the time and effort to prepare it for us ( not just Lucky #13 … the whole North side Battalion) .
On a local note, our IAFF Local (L-1132) will be hosting another “Retiree’s Breakfast” on Tuesday morning ( December 13, 2011). Any and all members available to help should report to the Union Hall as early as possible. This is a great event where you have the chance to give back to the men and women who helped build our department and it’s rich history / tradition. It’s especially great for the newer / younger members because they get to mingle / meet a lot of our retirees (don’t worry rookies … the retirees will introduce themselves and ask who the hell you are..LOL).
Usually, I kind of head up the breakfast and spend the morning cooking with my dad, Rhett, Brent Berry and several others. Unfortunately, this time I will NOT be in attendance. Instead, Rhett and I will be in a meeting in NYC. I was asked not to disclose the details or purpose of our meeting at this time but assure you it’s worthy of missing the breakfast. Brother JJ Price will take over cooking duties … please make every effort to show up early and lend a hand … I guarantee you wont regret it.
DON’T FORGET TO SEND IN THOSE PICS!!!! Thanks again for following. Keep our fallen and those on duty in your thoughts and prayers this Christmas Season and each day after. I’ll check back in from New York or while on the way (it’s Rhett’s turn to drive again .. say a little extra prayer for me..LOL). Until I do, Stay Safe and in House!
He will only work half of his tour. He will only work half because it is his last. Today Captain Schmoe will retire.
He has pulled his time and done his duty. He has survived to return home to his sons and the “Saint” that he is married to. I foresee many days of desert exploring and fire buffing in the old “el cheap-o jeep-o” … LUCKY BASTARD!
Anyway, I just wanted to tell the Capt congratulations, WELL DONE, good luck and enjoy. I also wanted to remind him of the twelve words he will need to remember for his 1/2 shift tomorrow …
” Dispatch … send NEXT DUE. We’re out of service due to mechanical issues”
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!
I was headed home as the Brothers from LA County were hard at work.
My sister took me to the airport this morning and we passed this fire. I wasn’t close enough to get a pic or see any of the action but you could tell by the smoke that they were on a good one.
I grabbed the photo from FireGeezer.com follow his link for more details etc on the multi-alarm fire.
So, we had a long hard weekend in California. Most of ya know that we ( The Roanoke Rampage) made the trip to play the Orange County Lawmen in their 34th annual Cop Bowl.
We got our butts kicked a couple ways this weekend. First, the time change SUCKS! California is 3 hours behind us on the clock and all of our bodies were “outta wack”. I also now know andunderstand what “jet lag” is. Geesh.
Our 2nd butt kicking came from the OC Lawmen. All in all, it was a good game but the Rampage couldn’t seem to move the ball. The upside was that the Lawmen as good at hosting as they are at playing football. They took really good care of us and made the trip very enjoyable.
After the game, the home team always hosts a dinner / party for the traveling team. The Lawmen threw out a great spread at a local restaurant … “Dick and Bobs” .. Dave and Busters or something like that…LOL
Good food, cold beverages and great company.
We were all a bit sore and tired but the after party gave us a little of a 2ndwind.
Special thanks to OC Lawmen President Chris Tatar (pictured above left and on the left of Rampage President / player Todd Stone).
Here are a few more pictures from game day ….
We split the night between the after party … some LA clubs and the hospitality room back at the hotel. Several of us had to get up to head home Sunday while others were staying an extra day or two to do a little site seeing. Once again, my baby sister Jessica took really good care of us as far as taking guys to the airport, putting us up etc. (That’s my little “Jessi – Rea” pictured above on the far right).
After dropping a few car loads off at LAX on Sunday, she took me and Todd (Captain Todd Stone) to Hollywoodto meet up with the rest of our crew.
Yea … I was on Sunset and Hollywood Blvd! …Talk about Beverly Hillbillys … LMAO
We did a little walking around .. up and down the strip. It wasn’t exactly what I had expected but it’s definitely different from anywhere I’ve been before.
We seen all the “stars” in the side walk, all the dressed up characters and several famous buildings etc. Kinda cool.
Todd and I also took in a few LA fire stations. That was VERY cool
As with any house in this Country, after we introduced ourselves (and apologized for dropping in on a Sunday) the men opened there arms and station to us.
Conversation showed us that much like we suspected (and have known) we are NOT that different from one another. We are all fighting the same battles, facing the same problems etc … there are just different names and companies attached to the story.
The Captain there on Sunday was filling in due to a “brown out” and one of the firemen was working OT because a member from the Engine had to fill a spot on the Medic truck due to a sick call .
We got the complete tour and was even invited for lunch. Here are a few pics … note the fire curtain in the rig, the brackets for their funny helmets and yes .. the wooden ladders!
We had a great tour andsome even better conversation with the brothers from LA 41. These guys were there when we lost brother Glenn Allen back in February2011. Find more details and coverage HEREHERE and HERE … Rest in Peace Brother!
We seen a few “odd” things if you will. I don’t know if they were odd or just different from what we know / do.
The pic above of the bucket (back seat of Engine 41) has something different. Did ya notice the SCBA?
It’s NOT mounted in the seat. They are mounted upright on the floor in front of the fireman’s seat. They DON’T pack up enroute. They throw em on coat style after they arrive.
I think that thing is a hydrant … LMAO
We seen a lot or weird stuff in Hollywood …. this was just one of many.
Here are a few more pics from Hollywood ….
We kinda split up a bit Sunday evening / night. Some of the guys headed back to the beach while others went back to the hotel to rest up before the flight home.
Taking off work to travel all the way down to the beach just to play a silly game.
I have to admit that I don’t fully understand the fascination. I’ve voiced my concerns in previous posts but they are worth mentioning again.
Golf is a waste of good pasture! Think of how many cows I could run on any given course with minimal fencing.
photo by Matthias Claimer from ESPN
There also has to be some hidden health issues that the PGA and government aren’t releasing. I mean why else would they put “ball washers” at every stop? What EXACTLY is on the seats of those funny little golf cars?
Of course Boots is a little older and more experienced at the game than young Opie was.
Boots most likely has a cart full of beach babes or little golf goddesses handing him his clubs
Yea… I’m sure of it…. I know how he operates.
I bet he has one of em covered in his balls right now!
I just hope he used one of them ball washer things …
LOL … I’m just kidding … I’m sure Boots and the gang are behaving themselves.
This is a regular trip for these fellas. A couple Brothers from the Department own a condo in Myrtle Beach and every so often a group of head down for a week of relaxation and golf.
It looks like they’ve had good weather and nobody has called for bail money … YET.
I actually wish I was with em..
I have a little “traveling” of my own coming up.
Friday, I head out to California to play a little football!
I’m pretty excited about the trip for a couple of reasons….
I’ve never been to California but have always wanted to go. My baby sister actually lives in Orange County so I’ll have the chance to see and visit her while I’m there.
A couple of the guys and I are planning on staying an extra day or so to see some of the sites. We plan to take in a few firehouses in LA and who knows …. I might even bump into Captain Joe Schmoe from REPORT ON CONDITIONS while I’m out there (I’ve got him narrowed down to living somewhere on the West coast near a desert). What are the odds???
Anyway, it’s gonna be a good trip and I’m excited.
So, I know I have a lot of catching up to do but there has been a TON of good stuff here on the Fire/EMS Blog Network all week and I want to make sure you haven’t missed it …
Rhett posted a couple videos of John Stewart from The Daily Show. Rhett found the videos after Mike Ward posted them over on Fire Geezer. If you haven’t seen em … take the time! Here they are …
Dave Statter had several good articles up this week as well (as usual). We had one where a volunteer Chief may have withheld a water supply from the paid staff while operating at a working fire. The story is out of Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania (Bucks County). Check it out HERE. And since I have California on my mind, Dave also has some cool helmet cam footage of the brothers from East Palo Alto going to work HERE .
Chris Naum has come out with several more FANTASTIC articles that are ”MUST READS” for every member.
He also has his hands on the findings from the UL (Underwriters Laboratories) studies conducted on fire service ventilation practices as well as the impact of changes in modern house geometries. Some of their findings may shock you and should affect the way you work. The UL also developed an online interactive training module that is worth a visit. Check out Chris’ entire artile HERE .
Any from the Network, Isaac Frazier asks about when to “mask up” on his Face Book page “First Due Questions” . Isaac puts up some GREAT questions that make for outstanding company discussions / training. If you haven’t checked him out yet .. take the time.
Hydrant Gal is loving life. She seems to be settling into her new job North of the boarder just fine.
Apparently she got a raise with her new position. Yea .. she just bought a new horse trailer …. a 3 horse slant with a dressing room! Of course she just HAD to drop me an e-mail and brag rub it in a bit…LOL
I’ve followed Hydrant Gal for some time now and am glad to see things going her way. She even took the time to send me something from a recent trip she took to Punta Cana (where ever THAT is).
It was a post card. The picture was from the back of a gal wearing one of those “almost non-existent” bathing suits. She said she seen it and immediately thought of me. Hummmmm I don’t think she’s EVER seen me in a g-string …LMAO.
OK, so that should catch ya up on what I’ve been reading this week. I have a couple good posts scheduled for this week so keep checking back. I’ll leave with a short clip of the Buckaroo talking about his 4 wheeler yesterday. He was up and waiting for me when I got home … we cant feed or check cows before he rides a little. You can see his excitement in the video … check him out.
I’ll check back in soon. Off tomorrow, back on Tuesday and then 13 days off! Until I get back to ya … Stay Safe and in House!
I just got a call from a buddy who is down in Florida. The Temp is in the upper 60′s and he’s walking the beach in shorts. Another good friend, Captain Joe Schmoe; over at Report on Conditions titled his last post ”Heat Wave. The temp there yesterday was 78. He even has pics but he’s NOT gloating. Grrrrrrrrrrr! It’s not even officially Winter here yet and our temps can’t get much above freezing. Factor in the wind chill and I don’t even want to talk about it! I used to love this time of year. Now, all I can think about is the beach … the Outter Banks … OBX.
Boots kicked off at the beach’s edge ….
The peaceful, WARM feeling you get from the sound of the waves crashing onto shore ..
Lazy days by the pool or out fishing ….
I think I need a vacation! AXE just sent me a package of “Travel Size” product .. maybe (in order to give it a fair review /trial) I should have them send me to a beach somewhere to try it out. What good is “travel size” bottles if you don’t travel? Hummmm? No need to send the Company jet Jill … just plain ol “coach” tickets will do ( I’ve been needing one of those NSA ”pat downs” anyway). LOL … who am I kidding … the closest I’ll come to a beach before spring would be a litter box by the fireplace!
Alright .. moving on. Extrication. Today, we had a very good class on Vehicle Extrication “awareness”. I haven’t been assigned to an “extrication truck” since I was a Private. We cut a lot of cars back then but that was long ago. Today, everything has changed. I have tried to keep up with the advancements and new technologies but, nothing compares to hands on. Here on the Fire/EMS Blog Network, we have a great site (resource) dedicated to extrication. Check out Boron Extrication . If you cut cars, it’s a good MUST read.
Here in the “Noke”, we have 2 companies to cover our extrications (pin jobs). Ladder #5 covers the North Side while Ladder #1 handles the South. Our class today was with L5. Here’s a pic of her set up…
Our Department (and committee) did a great job of designing this truck. Her entire right side is dedicated to extrication and each tool / piece of equipment has a spot. Well equipped, very organized and easily accessible. Here’s a shot of Lt. Brown giving us “the tour”…
I did have to ride Engine #5 for a few hours last week. While I was there, we caught a MVC involving a school bus. School was out by this time and the kids had all been dropped off. Luckily for everyone involved, there were no injuries. Lucky! This is what it looks like when the “A-post” of a Pontiac Sunfire meets the bumper of a school bus while traveling in opposite directions ….
Add a Jag to the mix and the picture doesn’t look any better ….
Do ya recognize the member on the left? Yep … that’s Paramedic wanna be “Doctor” Travis “Wheezy” Meador. Rumor has it he asked Santa for one of those fancy Littmann Stethoscopes for Christmas … hope he’s been a “good boy” LOL.
Speaking of asking for Christmas… I’ve figured out what I’m gonna get (of course I’ll have to buy it myself). I’m gonna get one of those fancy, big screen Robot telephones.
Oh yea! Then, I’ll be able to approve comments for the site, check stats, update my status, check and post to “picture book” etc. all from my phone, regardless of where I’m at. I could also then show off some of my “robot” dance moves …
What?? Don’t like the “moves” ? Check out these “Robot” moves…
Those guys look more like “Androids” than “Robots”…. Maybe that’s why they call the “Robot Phone” a “Droid”? Hummm.
Ok, enough with the cheesy videos… let’s get to why you are all here (well, why all the guys are here anyway). Here’s tonight’s installment of Santa’s Sexy Helper .. Day 17
I’m gonna wrap it up for tonight. I have a long day scheduled for tomorrow so I had better try to get some rest … that hasn’t been working so well around here lately. Even our Brothers and Sisters on B-shift caught some work yesterday. Heavy fire from a single story, residential structure. Another quick and aggressive attack held damages to a minimum with no injuries. Well done fellas.
Last thing, don’t forget to tune in to Tiger Schmittendorf’s show tonight on Firefighter Netcast. Tiger is the host of Firefighter Story Tellers. Tonight’s guest is Retired Buffalo Lt. Patrick Coghlan. The direct link to the show is HERE.
Ok, until next post, keep warm and dry. Stay safe and in house!
While Captain Schmoe is somewhere out west basking in the desert warmth, those of us stranded in the mid-West or East coast are battling extreme cold. Now, “extreme” may not be the right word but, record lows have been broken and the bottom line is …. IT’S COLD! Not the best weather conditions for our line of work …..
Talk about “Iron Firemen” … geesh that looks cold! The bad news is that it’s cold no matter what you’re doing. Even though I’m not at the station today, I still have work to get done. Most firefighters work 2nd and 3rd jobs to “make ends meet”. Fortunately for me, my second job is farming. Texas Long Horn cattle and hay. Hard work with little to no pay but also rewarding in unique ways..(sounds just like firefighting huh?)
Cowboy or firefighter, cold is cold. I mentioned in this morning’s post that we were up and working last night. I’m not sure if it’s the cold or old age but either way, I was tired. I had a short stop at the barn before driving out to check the cows. I rushed to get back to the house so I could 1.) see the Buckaroo 2.) thaw out and 3.) get a little rest. How great is it that I can tie all 3 together ….
Well, there’s 2 outta 3 … the Buckaroo and a blanket. What about the “rest” or relaxation?? That’s easy … a “pap-pap” and tottie..
He has the “pap-pap’ .. I have the “tottie” and yes Statter … we’re working from bed again! I’ll get ya a shot of the Buckaroo’s executive offices soon enough .. until then, don’t knock “Cold Casual Tuesdays” LOL. Ok, moving on ….
I hope the Brothers and Sisters from Baltimore found a warm bed and tottie this morning. I linked to Statter’s story on the 5 Alarm fire on “The Block” yesterday. Come to find out, they had a 2nd 5 Alarm fire yesterday as well … BACK to BACK! OUCH! See Statter’s coverage of the 2nd fire HERE. Talk about taking a toll. I wonder if Baltimore FD thought ahead enough to relieve their members following the 1st fire. After a 5 Alarmer in these conditions, they HAD to be spent. How effective would / could they have been on a “bread and butter” fire afterwards? What condition could they have been in to handle another 5 banger? Is it smart to leave em on duty after the 1st one? Is it safe? I’m just throwing thoughts around here .. I have no idea how Baltimore Fire operates .. I just hate to think of the beating the Brothers and Sisters up there took if they had to work em both.
Speaking of a “beating” and taking a toll, I hope everyone took a moment to remember the sacrifice so many men and women made 69 years ago today. If you didn’t or don’t know, today is Pearl Harbor Day.
Thanks to all of our men and women of the United States Armed forces … past or present … THANK YOU!
On a lighter note, I received another package from AXE today. In my Product Review, I mentioned how I’d like to see a smaller or “travel size” bottle. Whatda ya know … THEY HAVE IT …
How cool is that? That Jill from AXE is some kinda gal! I get home to find a package from Chicago and my day automatically gets better. Some say it’s just good “PR” on AXE’s part .. I think she has a thing for skinny firemen with big mustaches LOL. All kidding aside THANKS to Jill and AXE .. we’ll put the product to good use.
And, speaking of mustaches … Dave Statter wrote me in on the ballot for the “Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year Award”. Find the headline HERE under Statter’s “quick takes”…. Here’s the winner …
You gotta be kidding me!! THAT guy was the winner? The Buckaroo’s Halloween mustache was better than that one. The contest must be rigged … Chief Goldfedder, Chris Naum or myself could top that stache with 5 O’clock shadow LOL.
Ok, I’m gonna wrap it up for tonight. Don’t forget to check back in tomorrow for Day 17 of ”Santa’s Sexy Helper”. Thanks again for reading and following along with my ramblings. Until the next time, stay WARM, DRY, SAFE and IN HOUSE.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Report on Conditions. The site is run by a Brother Firefighter and friend Captain Joe Schmoe. In many ways, I think the two of us are very similar. It’s amazing how two men from oppisite sides of the Country can share so many views and opinions.
There are several “old sayings” in the firehouse and one of them suggests that firefighting, and firefighters, as well as all of our problems; are the same wherever you go. There are just different names and faces attached to the stories. The more brothers I meet from far away, or the more articles I read, the more true that saying seems to be.
Captain Schmoe published a post Sunday morning titled SCARS. As with all his postings, it is well written and touching. He somewhat “opens up” in the post. That’s something most Firemen have a difficult time doing. He showed personal feelings. He showed he cares. He is passionate about our profession and strong in his beliefs. Something in this post upset him and it showed… he cursed…
“Inside, I was screaming to myself. “Are you fucking kidding me? Is this what we do to the people that are being maimed while serving our country? We fix them up, best as we can – then cut them loose? Can’t we do any better for him?” ”
WOW! Raw emotion from a fireman. You may remember a few posts of mine. One concerning a young boy whose welfare I was concerned for (for whatever reason). See the 2 posts Ramblings and Update. Much earlier in my “blogging career”, I wrote an article entitled Time for a Mayday? Do you see a connection to these 4 postings?
Those of us who live this job know that often times, we too are or become the “wounded”. We see and face the tragedy and adversities our “customers” are subjected to on a daily basis. We are expected to “fix” the problem (or at least make it better) but are all too often not given the resources or authority to do so. They tell us to “fix” something and then tie our hands. Even the word “customer” bothers me. It’s like the people we serve are cattle or something. Our Departments don’t want a name or face attached. They are customers … give them what they want (or pay for) and move on.
Whos “customers are we?
Who looks after those looking after everyone else? Does you Department take a proactive or reactive approach? The incident I wrote of involving the young boy bothered me (for whatever reason). Do you think my Commanding Officers approached me about it? Should they have? Was I offered someone to “talk to” or was it just assumed that this site and my postings are my “EAP” (Employee Assistance Program). Wouldn’t you hope that my (or anyone else for that matter) having the courage to tell the story and share my feelings in a public forum would have sparked some Departmental action? Maybe better relations / communications between the Fire Department and governmental agencies such as Social Services?
Is my friend and Brother Schmoe now in the same boat? Do you think his posting will open the door for new policies or procedures? Could it open the door for better relations between his Department and groups such as “Wounded Warriors” or the Veteran’s Affairs? It should.
It is apparent (to those of us who understand anyway) that the incident has weighed heavy on Schmoe’s mind. He feels both anger and helplessness. He wants to “fix” it but can’t. The system is flawed. Will he be able to function and move on??? YES. It’s what we do. Should we have to? Can just “anybody” do it? I don’t know. What I do know is that folks have to begin to realize that often times … we too suffer. We too are a sort of “wounded warrior”. We all carry a certain or several “incidents” in our minds. The ones we relive in our sleep. Post Traumatic Stress??? In the Fire Department??? Don’t be a puss!
Worry, suffering and sacrifice…. for people we don’t even know! That’s our job! Often times, even our families pay for the work we do. Away for 24 hrs. Missing school plays, ball games etc. Working 2nd and 3rd jobs on the days we’re not at the Firehouse. I’ve done it …. we all have.
There was a time when I drove a charter bus for a private company. I had a regular trip to Atlantic City. They would have no other driver and they tipped well. A good gig. One particular trip, it was snowing … so hard I could barely see the road. We were headed home but at a snails pace. My youngest daughter had a dog… a dalmatian.. Sandy. They were best friends.. we’d had her from a pup. She was now old. They slept together .. in the bed .. every night. Sandy had to be under the covers and even had her own pillow. They did everything together. That night, on a snow covered Rt. 66; I got a call. Sandy had died. Peacefully but in the Bed with my daughter. She was, understandably; very upset.
It was snowing even harder at home and the girls didn’t know what to do. What could they do with 2 foot of snow on the ground and more coming? They needed me there and they needed me right then. I wnated to be there…more than anything. Impossible. A life spent giving to strangers and now my own family needs me and I can’t be there! They couldn’t make it to the barn and there was NO WAY Sandy would be laid out in the snow and cold.
Luckily for me, a brother Firefighter lives just a mile or so away. I stopped the bus… full of passengers and made a call. Keith Blankinship was there to take it! He made tracks to my house. He comforted my family, then carefully wrapped Sandy and somehow made it down to the barn where he found a safe resting place for her (away from Natures critters and the freezing cold) until I could make it home and bury her. That’s a BROTHER!
I know I’m rambling here but this is the point I want to make… I think of Captain Schmoe as a friend and brother even though we have never met in person. I know (as only we can) how his most recent incident bothered him… and why. Much like Keith did for me, in taking that call; I at least want Schmoe to know that “I know” … and that I’m here for him (whatever value that may have). Someone to shoot the sh#* with. An understanding ear to vent in. Someone who will not only listen to a rant but relate and understand as well.
Hey Schmoe… Thanks for caring and for doing the job you do. Again, I stand proud to share my profession with men such as you!