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September 30, 2005

Topanga Fire, Marine Air to Help Today

 
The official name of the Chatsworth fire now Topanga Fire. New figures put the acreage at 21,000 with 20% containment. 15 miles of open line exists however cooler marine air is expected today which will help.

Yesterday I watched the fire all day. I never felt more proud of the fire service. One home was lost early on but 2,200 homes were saved. I've never seen more brilliant coordination of ground and air support. A lot of credit goes to local municipalities and homeowners themselves for having built in defensible positions for firefighters. Dry vegetation, brush and trees were cleared of dwellings in most cases.
This is the way it is supposed to be but more often isn't.

I am also proud to see the different agencies work so well together. I will try to get a link to a 209 report later today and get a list of all the agencies represented. Los Angeles County and City fire Departments, Ventura County Fire and the California Department of Forestry must be credited up front.

One thing this near disaster showed everyone is government agencies can work together with proper planning.


September 29, 2005

Chatsworth Fire 17,000 Acres, Growing

 
The Los Angeles Fire Department blog is providing some sound advice for affected citizens in the San Fernando Valley.

It's fascinating watching the engine crews and air attack working the flanks via television. L.A news crews do a great job of covering local wildfires. No less than three TV stations have helicopters reporting nearly around the clock.
Watching some textbook firing operations taking place by Ventura County crews. Whether forecasts seem to be in favor of supression efforts.

*One structure taken in Chatsworth, one firefighter hurt by a falling boulder, 5 helicopters and 5 fixed wing aircraft on the lines this morning.
3,000 fire and support personnel assigned to the fire!


September 26, 2005

Call For Volunteers In Missouri Counties

 
I ran across this article while scanning for firefighting news today;

""Recruiting and retention in volunteer fire service is continually a challenge," Signal Hill Fire Department Chief Greg Render said. "We are putting out awareness to the community that there are volunteer opportunities right now in their own backyards. They don't have to wait for Katrina."

Of the 43 fire departments in St. Clair County, only Belleville, East St. Louis, Sauget and MidAmerica Airport are paid, said Northwest Fire District Chief Dennis Oaks.

Nearly 75 percent of the firefighters in the country are volunteers, according to the National Volunteer Fire Council.

The chiefs said volunteers are driven by a desire to give back to the community, the adrenaline rush of fighting fires and the opportunity for training and experience that can lead to a position with a paid department."

It's hard to find direct link to these fire districts but I found this one.


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September 24, 2005

Impressed with Geraldo Rivera

 
I have been somewhat transfixed by news coverage of Hurricane Rita and of Hurricane Katrina. I've been mostly dedicated to Fox News and their on-scene reporters like Rick Leventhal, Shephard Smith, Adam Housely and in particular Geraldo Rivera.

Last night Geraldo chose to stay in Port Arthor where he knew the storm was tracking instead of high-tailing it to safer ground in Beaumont 25 miles away. His reporting from a Holiday Inn hotel lobby was the last thing I heard before I went to bed at midnight in California. I awakened at 5 am and tuned in to see if Geraldo made it through the night unharmed. He did, why did I have a doubt?

I have followed this man's career but he really impressed me for the first time with his war coverage in Afghanistan and later as he joined the troops as an embed in Iraq. As most embeds do he always showed the ultimate respect for the soldier or Marine.

His Hurricane Katrina coverage was worthy of journalism's highest award. Like most I watched with horror as the poor of New Orleans waited under intolerable conditions for someone to come to their assistance. No heroes emerged, not the inept mayor or the even more inept governor..... no one.
I kept commenting to my wife that a hero was needed, someone to take the case of these poor folks to the masses. Enter Geraldo, TV journalist. I watched Geraldo take his microphone and camera crew inside the New Orleans Convention Center where no camera's had bothered to enter for almost a week. Inside he found how desperate the plight of the people inside was.
I guess the sight of innocent children caught up in the danger and squalor short circuited his emotional button. The moment he shed tears for the kids the New Orleans hero was found. He pleaded for help for the kids. His plea was so forceful and emotional Fox News did not replay the tape when the show was replayed. The chicken sh-t producers must have decided it was too real. It was real and that is what was needed at that time in that situation. Geraldo knew it, viewers knew it.

The next day I tuned in to see Geraldo yelling into the microphone that the 82nd Airborne had arrived. He told us that this was a unit he ran with in Iraq. He assured the viewers that help had finally arrived. It had arrived.
A part of me wants to believe Geraldo knew his buddies were enroute and he pre-positioned himself just to do what he did. I don't care if that was the case. No matter how he got there or if there was a ratings scheme behind the scenes it got the job done.

In Port Arthur Texas today Geraldo praised the firefighters and police in the city. I love to see firefighters get their due and these guys deserve recognition. One guy they talked to is on duty and confessed he doesn't know if his home is OK. I pray it is.
Geraldo can ride shotgun on my (metaphoric) rig into any disaster. Some guys you know would have your back in any situation. Maybe that is the basis of a hero.


September 20, 2005

Australia Says Let People Defend Homes From Fire

 
I picked this up from FireWhirl, a great firefighter blog/site. Check them out.

ABC.net.au gives us this;
"The ACT Volunteer Fire Brigades Association says healthy, well-prepared people should be allowed to stay and defend their homes from bushfires.

The Government has rejected a call by Civil Liberties Australia to change laws that make it an offence for people to stay and defend their homes when ordered by police to leave.

The association's Pat Barling says many houses were saved during the 2003 bushfires by home owners who stayed behind.

He says people should not be arrested for wanting to protect their house, but it is a difficult judgement call to make.

"One thing that seems to be the rule, if you're going to leave, you leave early, otherwise you stay," he said.

"The problem seems to be if people change their mind right at the last minute and that's when they get into trouble."

Mr Barling says national guidelines say healthy people who are prepared should stay and protect their property.

"If you make the law too inflexible then it just defeats the purpose," he said.

"I think people should have some say in what they do, but it's a judgement call from each person if they get it wrong, well then there's problems, but as I said I can only go from what I saw in January the 18th, that a lot of houses were saved by people staying behind."

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I have mixed emotions on this one. Sure a resident can be helpful in some situations as long as they don't get in the way and their property has some defensible space. In general I agree with the initiative, the homeowner knows his/her property and has a vested interest in protecting what is theirs. On the other hand there are situations that demand the attention of professionals only.


Tunica Mississippi Firefighter's story

 
" In the utter devastation left by Hurricane Katrina, somebody had to begin searching for the hundreds of people feared dead. And in Gulfport's hardest-hit area, Steve Jackson got to work within hours, and found a man living in a tree. "We walked up to the house, this guy comes out of a tree that's lying on his house, and of course he scared us and said he's been there the whole time, and half his house was gone. He said he was waiting for his wife to come get him," said North Tunica firefighter Steve Jackson. He and others have come back home from the Coast with even more amazing stories to tell. "One house we went into, the whole house was probably two feet in mud. You could see the water line up around the top of the door, and there was a dog trapped under the couch still alive....." More, News3 Memphis


Pipe Down Fellas

 
This article points to some ugly behavior by some less than honorable members of the Brockton FF Local 144. I debated posting this but sometimes you read things that cross the line. They may have some very compelling reasons to be upset at the pace of their contract talks but some remarks are better never spoken.


September 14, 2005

FDNY Aiding Hurricane Victims

 

From the JournalNews.com

"....FDNY Battalion Chief Frank Naglieri and Capt. Steve Lonergan, both of Stony Point, and Lt. Bob Jackson of Nanuet are among the dozen or so county residents who have been in New Orleans since Sept. 5.

The men, along with 297 other FDNY members, volunteered to go to the Big Easy to bring needed relief to New Orleans' firefighters. Another 51 members have since joined the effort, Naglieri said.

They have been supplementing the 800 members of New Orleans' force, Naglieri said.

"We basically are the New Orleans Fire Department for a while, until they get up and running," Naglieri said.

The FDNY members not only have fought fires, but they also have worked to aid New Orleans firefighters whose homes were lost or damaged.

Jackson said the practice was to load two pickups with men and equipment, then head to a New Orleans firefighter's home...
" To story


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September 10, 2005

Phoenix Firefighters Home From Katrina Deployment

 

From AzCentral.com (link below)

"The team was deployed Aug. 30, driving 36 hours in buses to Louisiana. They started work Sept. 2, waking daily at 5 a.m. and pulling 12-hour shifts in stifling heat and water that stank of sewage. They used freeway on-ramps as boat ramps.

"You went up and down the streets," Deputy Chief Kevin Kalkbrenner said. "The water level was constantly changing. Your boat motor would bump on the roofs of cars."

Before Phoenix's firefighters entered an area, police made sure it was safe. The firefighters worked constantly under armed guard. They cut the roofs of homes to check for survivors inside. Bodies were wrapped up and secured so they didn't float away. People who refused to leave were given military "meals ready to eat" and water.

One day, firefighters looked up to see a woman standing in knee-deep water in her doorway. The woman said the door had been swollen shut for five days. But when she heard the boats, she knew she had to force it open.

On the second floor of another home, firefighters found a paraplegic, and they lowered him to safety with ropes.

When a man approached their boat to say he had finally reached his elderly father on a cellphone, firefighters pulled out maps to find the house where the man lived. When they got to him, he said he had initially planned to stay. When he finally decided to leave, he didn't hear a boat for days. Then he heard the firefighters calling his name.

The man was reunited with his son.
" Complete story, AzCentral.com


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Remembering September 11

 

The New York Times offer a collection of oral histories of the attack on our nation on September 11, 2001. Not being a fan of their editorial positions I set that aside to recognize their coverage of the human side of the tragedy is without peer as seen here.


September 06, 2005

Firefighters Needed For Non-Fire Assignment (FEMA)

 
USA.FEMA.gov

"The U.S. Fire Administration has received several emails regarding our recent memo soliciting firefighters to work as Disaster Employees. First and foremost, this is not a part of the National Response Plan, the Urban Search and Rescue Program, Emergency Management Assistance Compact or Mutual Aid.

This is simply the hiring of firefighters to work as federal disaster employees of FEMA through existing financial instruments. There is no attempt to “back door” existing NRP/EMAC/USAR or mutual aid systems.

The hiring of Community Relations disaster employees occurs at every disaster. This time, due to the constraints of doing background investigations when we hire private citizens, we made the decision to hire firefighters that already have gone through a criminal background investigation. We desperately needed 2000 people who could be hired as federal employees and deployed quickly.

These people will not be performing firefighter duties. They will become temporary FEMA Community Relations personnel, doing a job we do in every disaster.

We understand that some people may have been upset – this was never our intent. We are trying to respond to a desperate situation with the most talented people we know – firefighters.

The USFA, FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security will continue to remain true to the tenets of the NRP, ICS, USAR, EMAC and mutual aid.

We simply ask that you understand how desperate the situation is and how badly we need skilled people."


FEMA explanation of fire help







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September 03, 2005

Blogging Katrina from Downtown New Orleans

 
Directnic, an internet domain name registrar company based in New Orleans has stayed in place. The company is housed on the 27th floor of a building on Poydras St. in downtown New Orleans. They are living off a diesel fueled generator. Their weblog and accompanying photos are a powerful combination. Check out Interdictor blog.

WebCam


Tag; More blogs about hurricane+katrina.
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September 02, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Blog

 
The best Katrina Blog I have read. Wwltv.com New Orleans is hosting a very complete blog with hourly posts and updates.

Excerpt;

"12:09 pm (AP)
The stench from backed-up toilets inside the Superdome is unbearable and people are afraid to go into the unlighted bathrooms. Sandra Jones says she and her family use a box to relieve themselves instead of using restrooms because "The stink is so bad you can't go in there anyway."
Even though she's hungry, one hurricane refugee in the dome says she's not eating. Michele Boyle says eating would mean she'd have to use the dark, dangerous and filthy restrooms in the dome. So she's going without."






September 01, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Images (link)

 
NOAA offers these images. Note the link on the page to 350 additional images.




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