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April 29, 2007

Already Excited About Football


Photo AP Via Yahoo

My Forty Niners are poised for a playoff season and I can't wait for the season to begin. I like baseball but this year is tainted by Barry Bonds and his giant steroid head closing in on Hank Aaron's home run title. Lately baseball has become a league full of crybabies who head for the disabled list every time they get a hang nail. It's hardly worth drafting a fantasy team anymore. It's a crap shoot whether you can field a decent team day to day with all these injured players.

Along the lines of fantasy sports I will be putting together a football league with a live draft for the next season. I like Yahoo Fantasy Sports, points only settings. If anyone wants to be put on a list email me "mikeswebmail AT gmail . com"


April 28, 2007

Give A Seat To Junior Fire Personnel

Harry R. Carter while sitting in the lobby of the Washington Hilton pondered why more young people are not a part of events like the Congressional Fire Service Caucus Dinner, the function he is attending.
Mr. Carter and his friend Jack Peltier are troubled that fewer younger fire service personnel are seen at events like the CSFI Annual Dinner and other industry events. They admit attendance at these functions come as perks that years in service affords and entitlement that accompanies seniority.

"As a practical matter when people become more senior, they also become older. At least that is what I have seen as I have gained seniority in life. The older people hang on for so long, and fail to share so much, that the younger people who might have had an interest, lose that interest and move on to something else. We hold on for so long and we hog the spotlight for such an extended period of time that others who should have been trained as our replacements are ignored and lose interest. They then begin to fall by the wayside. Perhaps that is why Jack and I worry so much about sharing what we know.

This bothers us. We are worried that our fire service is losing the many fine hues and tones that have made it a colorful and productive part of American culture for the past three and one half centuries. I have to stress that I am making reference to every aspect of the fire service where a giving and participative spirit is needed."

He's right, and then he states what you would expect from leaders.

"Jack Peltier and I have decided the fact that we need to begin setting the tone for how this problem should be addressed. We have decided to become mentors for a number of younger people. I guess you might say that we have been doing this for a long time, but we want to formalize our approach to the delivery of mentoring."

I'm confident they will and this is what is needed. I'm sure there are formal mentoring programs in many departments, it could be argued mentoring on some level occurs in every firehouse on every shift. Everyone Shepard's the new recruit.
Mr. Carter and I may differ on the definition of mentoring. He cites an example of a young man at the dinner who was in attendance to witness his uncle accept an award. Mr. Carter and Mr. Peltier offered him tips on manners including saying please and thank you to "can I get you coffee?" and "do you take cream and sugar?"

I think I know where they are coming from but that's not the mentoring I'm thinking of. The way I would get younger fire service members involved is by asking who is interested. From that list rotate people into events like the one above. Build expenses for these events into the budget or hit up community organizations for donations. A seat at the table CSFI dinner is $275.00. Two nights in a hotel in Washington D.C. $400.00. Plane fare from the West Coast $350.00. Not much all considered.

The CSFI dinner is only one of dozens of events and special training seminars and annual tributes across the nation. Surely some are within one days driving distance to everyone's home. Bat. Chiefs and Fire Chiefs only need to think inclusively when planning for these trips.

Mr. Carter makes a great point and he is in a unique position to speak out. Firehouse.com is a great pulpit.


April 27, 2007

Warning: Latest High For Kids..."Dusting"


The story below came to me in a chain email and I decided to post it verbatim.

Latest Drug in Middle School - Dusting


"First, I'm going to tell you a little about me and my family. My name
is Jeff. I am a Police Officer for a city which is known nationwide for
it's crime rate. We have a lot of gangs and drugs. At one point we were # 2
in the nation in homicides per capita. I also have a police K-9 named Thor.
He was certified in drugs and general duty. He retired at 3 years old
because he was shot in the line of duty. He lives with us now and I still
train with him because he likes it. I always liked the fact that there was
no way to bring drugs into my house. Thor wouldn't allow it. He! would tell
on you. The reason I say this is so you understand that I know about drugs.

I have taught in schools about drugs. My wife asks all our kids at
least once a week if they used any drugs. Makes them promise they won't.

I like building computers occasionally and started bu ilding a new one
in February 2005. I also was working on some of my older computers.
They were full of dust so on one of my trips to the computer store I
bought a 3 pack of DUST OFF. Dust Off is a can of compressed air to blow
dust off a computer. A few weeks later when I went to use one of them they
were all used. I talked to my kids and my two sons both said they had used
them on their computer and messing around with them. I yelled at them for
wasting the 10 dollars I paid for them.

On February 28 I went back to the computer store. They didn't have the 3
pack which I had bought on sale so I bought a single jumbo can of Dust Off.
I went home and set it dow! n beside my com puter.

On March 1st, I left for work at 10 PM. Just before midnight my wife
went down and kissed Kyle goodnight. At 5:30 am the next morning Kathy went
downstairs to wake Kyle up for school, before she left for work. He was
propped up in bed with his legs crossed and his head leanin g over. She
called to him a few times t! o get up. He didn't move. He would sometimes
tease her like this and pretend he fell back asleep. He was never easy to
get up. She went in and shook his arm. He fell over. He was pale white and
had the straw from the Dust Off can coming out of his mouth. He had the new
can of Dust Off in his hands. Kyle was dead.

I am a police officer and I had never heard of this. My wife is a nurse
and she had never heard of this. We later found out from the coroner, after
the autopsy, that only the propellant from the can of Dust off was in his
system. No other drugs. Kyle had died between midn ight and 1 AM.

I found out that using Dust Off is being done mostly by kids ages 9
through 15. They even have a name for it. It's called dusting. A take
off from the Dust Off name. It gives them a slight high for about 10
seconds. It makes them dizzy. A boy who lives down the street from us
showed Kyle how to do this about a month before. Kyle showed his best
friend. Told him it was cool and it couldn't hurt you. It's just compressed
air. It can't hurt you. His best friend said so.

Kyle was wrong. It's not just compressed air .. It also contains a
propellant called R2. It's a refrigeran t like what is used in your
refrigerator. It is a heavy gas. Heavier than air. When you inhale it,
it fills your lungs and keeps the good air, with oxygen, out That's why
you feel dizzy, buzzed. It decreases the oxygen to your brain, to your
heart. Kyle was right. It can't hurt you. IT KILLS YOU.

The horrible part about this is there is no warning. There is no level
that kills you. It's not cumulative or an overdose; it can just go
randomly, terribly wrong. Roll the dice and if your number comes up you
die. IT'S NOT AN OVERDOSE . It's Russian Roulette. You don't die later. Or
not feel good and say I've had too much. You usually die as you're
breathing it in. If not you die within 2 seconds of finishing "the hit."
That's why the straw was still in Kyle's mouth when he died. Why his eyes
were still open. The experts want to call this huffing. The kids don't
believe its huffing. As adults we tend to lump many things together. But it
doe sn't fit here. And that's why its more accepted. There is no chemical
reaction, no strong odor. It doesn't follow the huffing signals. Kyle
complained a few days before he died of his tongue hurting. It! probably
did. T he propellant causes frostbite. If I had only known.

It's easy to say hey, it's my life and I'll do what I want . But it isn't.
Others are always affected. This has forever changed our family's
life. I have a hole in my heart and soul that can never be fixed. The
pain is so immense I can't describe it. There's nowhere to run from it. I
cry all the time and I don't ever cry. I do what I'm supposed to do but I
don't really care. My kids a! re messed up. One won't talk about it. The
other will only sleep in our room at night. And my wife, I can't even
describe how bad she is taking this. I thought we were safe because of
Thor. I thought we were safe because we knew about drugs and talked to our
kids about them.

Afte r Kyle died another story came out. A probation Officer went to the
school system next to ours to speak with a student. While there he found a
student using Dust Off in the bathroom. This student told him about another
student who also had some in his locker. This is a rather affluent school
system. They will tell you they don't have a drug problem there.
They don't even have a dare or plus program there. So rather than
tell everyone about this "new" way of getting high they fou nd, they hid
it. The probation officer told the media after Kyle's death and they, the
school, then admitted to it I know that if they would have told the media
and I had heard, it wouldn't have been in my h! ouse.

We need to get this out of our homes and school computer labs. Using
Dust Off isn't new and some "professionals" do know about. It just isn't
about much, except by the kids. They all seem to know about it. April 2 nd
was 1 month since Kyle died. April 5th would have been his 15th
birthday. And every weekday I catch myself sittin g on the living room
couch at 2:30 in the afternoon and waiting to see him get off the bus. I
know Kyle is in heaven but I can ' t help but wonder If I died and went to

April 24, 2007

ClustrMaps Widget

Regular readers may have noticed the ClustrMaps widget on the sidebar. It's kind of fun to see where people hit this blog from. I'm most surprised at visits from Eastern Europe. It all adds to making this blog effort fun. Nearly half the visitors to Firefighter Blog come from search results of indexed posts and the other half come from readers like MyYahoo and Google Reader. Google brings half of the search visitors with Yahoo! second. ASK.com, Dogpile and even Mamma.com send traffic to a much lessor extent.

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April 23, 2007

Okefenokee Burning, Where's The Media?

Wildfire has burned 55,000 acres of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. The acreage represents more than 10% of total land area of the refuge.

What I find interesting about the coverage is the lack of journalistic effort put forth by traditional media. Take a look at the news search results for the incident. On Google News there are 234 news articles on the fire but really nearly all are copies from one or two main distributors like Gannett and the AP.

Bloggers more often are providers of fire ground level information but for this incident the blog results mirror the web search news results.
I don't know the ground there, maybe it's just swamp but 18 homes were lost or scorched so you would think there are some human interest stories and stories from firefighters on the ground.


April 18, 2007

Firefighting Among Most Satisfying Professions

From Space.com via Yahoo!

Top 4 on the list of most satisfying jobs;
  • Clergy—87 percent percent
  • Firefighters—80 percent percent
  • Physical therapists—78 percent percent
  • Authors—74 percent
  • Special education teachers—70 percent


May 6th Will be Historic In A Sense

At Three minutes and Four seconds after 2 AM on the 6th of May This year, the time and date will be 02:03:04 05/06/07.

This will not happen again in our lifetime.

(for once a chain email brought me something interesting)


CDF Now Called Cal Fire...... WTF?

It's explained here. I don't get it and I don't care for it. Come to think of it I didn't like it when they changed from "California Department of Forestry" to "California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection".

I am 100% confident they did not consult permanent employees of the department before either was put into effect. It makes me wonder how these name changing brainstorming sessions come about. Who commissions these changes?
You don't go around changing the names of a professional fire department every few years. How often has the Boston Fire Department been changed? Never! FDNY? No one would ever suggest a change but put California bureaucrats on the job and you might end up with something like "New York Protectors From Fire".
NYPFF, what a joke!

Probably the worst reason given for the name change is to come in line with other state departments like Cal Trans and Cal Boat. I've never heard of Cal Boat, what do they do?

Cal Fire, I will never refer to CDF as Cal Fire.


Distinguished Career Ends Abruptly

On April 12 Chief Bryan Zellnor of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection lost his life in an on duty auto accident.
His career path was textbook CDF as his assignments spanned the State from North to South with stops in between.
  • Bryan started as a sleeper firefighter in Butte County
  • Seasonal firefighter CDF Butte Unit
  • Limited term FAE Butte
  • Permanent Firefighter II Santa Clara Ranger Unit
  • Promoted full time FAE, assigned to Ramona Air Attack Base San Diego
  • Promoted Fire Captain at Bautista Cons. Camp in the Riverside Unit of CDF
  • Promoted Battalion Chief and Chief of the Norco Conservation Camp.
  • Promoted Deputy Chief to public education office for CDF in Sacramento
  • Promoted Deputy Chief for Conservation Camp coordination and North Ops Operations
  • Assistant Chief Operations in Tehama Glenn Unit
  • Northern Region as Staff Chief for operations, Redding

Chief Zellnor worked on numerous Incident Command Teams for CDF as an Operations Section Chief, as a Plans Section Chief and was an Incident Commander.

Chief Zollner received the Medal of Valor in 1998 for an off-duty rescue of a child from a burning structure in Riverside.

His father and grandfather were firefighters.

He is survived by his wife, Pam; son, Ty; daughter, Alexia Moore; son-in-law, Charles Moore; two grandchildren; sister, Tracy Zollner; and parents Bob and Brenda Zollner.

Information in part from Oroville Mercury Review
Memorial Information


April 05, 2007

Bird Flu Resource Pages From IAFF


I see bird flu mentioned on occassion on Internet based and TV news now and then but the threat has taken a backseat to politics and the life and times of drugged out Anna Nicole Smith. Thankfully it has not gone off the radar of the IAFF. I received this email today.

From IAFF email bulletin:

Many scientists anticipate that the next pandemic flu is imminent and are carefully monitoring the Avian flu virus as a potential source. Pandemic Flu Resources for First Responders, a new IAFF online resource, is designed to assist IAFF members in preparing for a mass flu outbreak.

The online program includes essential resources for responding to and protecting against a flu pandemic, including a downloadable workshop that can be taught in the fire station. The Shift Based Training Program: Preparing for the Pandemic Flu stresses the importance of preparing for a major emergency. Because IAFF members are the first to respond, and remain on duty throughout any disaster even without knowing the dangers, it's crucial to have a disaster plan in place for work, school and home.

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April 04, 2007

Firefighters And Equipment Of World War ll


It's a great subject and thanks to the Internet we get a peek into the past with sites like Firefighters In Fatigues, a project by James G. Davis. Another site, Army Fire Trucks offers a great collection of fire equipment from the era. It's great to see the work of enthusiasts and know it is now indelible. The threat to the homeland is evidenced by the period poster here. Citizen firefighters were pressed to alert in preparation for possible attacks within our borders.

This same homeland threat exists today but not from the air. It's no secret a couple of dozen setters could unleash untold damage on our Western States.

(Photo from Maui.net)

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April 03, 2007

Firehouse Pranks; Add Yours

Firefighters Forums "pranks thread offers some very original firehouse pranks. I don't endorse the chainsaw prank but some of the pranks are funny. The cricket prank is hilarious.

I was on the receiving end of a very good one. Upon my promotion to captain from engineer I was moved from the San Luis Obispo area to the Santa Cruz Mountains. As my crew was watching me leave I had a feeling something was up. In my time with them I was the instigator/creator of numerous pranks. These guys had been too quiet leading up to my final day on my final shift with them.
I drove off and after about 100 miles I started smelling some kind of burning animal. 20 miles later I pulled over and opened the hood and saw nothing. Another 10 miles down Highway 101 and a closer inspection produced two whole chickens (previously frozen) wedged under the exhaust manifold. Yeah they got me good because the smell did not go away for more than a week.
Months later I ran into the architect of the prank at the CDF Fire Academy and he denied everything, brutal.

Head over to the thread linked above and add yours. It's a great subject.


April 02, 2007

Mark Cuban To Me, "Are You A Communist?"

Is Mark Cuban coming unglued? Is the stress from reactions to his financial backing of the 9/11 conspiracy theory movie "Loose Change" getting to him? In response to a comment I posted on his blog I received an email from Mark;

"In this country we let people make up their own minds. In china and

russia they tell you what to think
Are you a communist ? Because you certainly seem to be like them and
have an interest in telliong people what they can think, say and do ?
In a democracy that shouldn't happen.
Its unfortunate some in the media like taking on the role of mao and

My comment (since removed {as predicted}) basically mimicked my post from a few days ago where I asked Mark why he threw in with the Hollywood crowd on this project and if he worried what this could do to his reputation.

The email exchange continued when I suggested the film serves to embolden the enemy. Mark replies;

"Embolden the enemy ?
Do you think the new offer in mosques is 70 virgins and a new dvd.
Get real."

Stubborn, intransigent, doesn't get it or maybe he's consciously entering a new phase in his life. Maybe the sedate down home lifestyle of Dallas is no longer enough. The Hollywood parties are more alluring than the average Texas BBQ (to some) and L.A. is definitely more exciting.

Maybe he thinks ingratiating himself to that crowd gets him an Al Gore moment at the Oscars? It won't happen, only the extreme fringe buy the idea of the government somehow orchestrated Sept.11.
Mark's moment of clarity will come the day he is invited to the Sheen family complex. He'll be sitting poolside with Marty and Charlie and as the two are yammering on and on how the U.S. is always on the wrong side and how forward thinking the Venezuelan dictator is it will hit him.