Archive | August 2011

Red Light district

Ah yes, we’ve all seen them…. Perky young volunteer firefighters whizzing down the road at incredible speed. Trying their absolute best to shave off as many seconds as possible to get to that .0025 acre spot fire, a.k.a. Natural Catastrophe!!!! We’ve seen old women yank that Lincoln Continental off the road. Old men in their 1892 model Ford Pickup truck shake their fists at that young whipper snapper barely an ass hair’s width off their bumper. Frightened citizens all, coming to a screeching dead stop, right in front of that 27 and a half foot set of Goodyear All Terrain Eagle Pro Grip come Hell or High Water rubber streaks in the middle of a four lane highway (that will stay there as a reminder for three months). You know exactly what im talkin’ bout’ Willis! I’m talking about those wonderful Vollies and their awe-inspiring $2,100.95 set of pretty red twinklies!

One follower of ELAFF has brought up the subject, and I whole heartedly approved of throwing my hat into the ring, and giving my own personal ideas and thoughts behind the issue! Now, Be advised, this is not gonna be a bash on the little volunteers and get on my little high horse and wag my finger session. Quite the contrary, I intend to look at this from a neutral perspective. Are they, or are they not a useful presence in the fire service? If you ask a volunteer, of course they are! You aint no real fire man without em! If you ask a professional, its absolutely re-dunkulous and a totally silly excuse to drive like a demon off its ridilin. Without trying to make a 12 page essay on the topic, I’ll shorten it down to a few points.

One question you must ask yourself before you invest yourself into the red light stereotype, is about its practicality. What is the intended use? Well it has from what I can see, two useful purposes. 1: To attempt to save some time by letting people know in front of you to make an attempt to move safely over and allow the first responder the right of way. Anyone who has ever driven emergency traffic knows this is N E V E R the case. See the light, pull to the right is, at least right now, a fantasy. A wishful dream of emergency responders and police. Reality is more along the lines of: See the light, panic, jerk the wheel in both directions at once while simultaneously slamming on the break and let “Jesus take the wheel”. Not very practical, being as were here to HELP people, not cause them to take their own lives by way of accidental vehicular manslaughter. Yeah, live with that on your conscience. Useful purpose #2: Arriving first on scene, the lights allow passing motorists a chance to slow down, and see whats going on ahead of them so they may make a better decision on whether or not to continue going 55 mph in a 45 zone. Now this seems to be a little more practical. However, real life experience suggests that while some may do this, others will see it as a chance to see something awesome, speed up, and even be so mesmerized by the beautiful lights they actually veer toward them like a moth to a flame. So, here we have our practical uses for having red lights. There are some more variables though, you must consider.

One such variable is your ability to use something that unfortunately ALOT of people lack when it comes to red light usage: Commonsense. It’s a dying thing these days, commonsense. Some people have it, some don’t. Some people get it over time, some…. will never, ever possess it….. ever. One example is to go balls to the wall, red lights a shinin’ to, oh lets say a breathing difficulty. Your 3 miles out, but luckily the call is about 2 blocks from the station…. the currently staffed with some paid guys station. Time to let your engine loose and let the lights pave the way? Commonsense says: “no”. Dumbass firefighter behind the wheel says: “Well hell yeah!” I’ll give you yet another subtle example, this one from real life, personal experience. I hear my station get a stand-by 10-70 while I was monitoring one day at home. Of course this is go time, im in my truck and headed to the station before the actual tones go out. Were the red lights on? Yes. Page came out, 10-70 ( fire, to those who are fortunate enough not to be forced to listen to silly codes) and communications advised that this will be behind the residence, neighbors see someone behind their house through the woods, burning something and was worried their house might catch on fire due to embers floating in the air. (click) Red light off. What do I see when I get to the station? There goes the truck, balls to the wall, down the road and incoming firefighters with their lights a flashin’ as hard as they can go! This is what im talking about… commonsense. The neighbors were worried that embers from burning trash/rubbish were going to all band into a fiery flotilla of screaming death and march straight through the pine thicket to raze their home to the ground like a Roman army? Emergency traffic worthy? I think not. Yes, I have mentioned this through the Chain, and yes it still happens because nothing is said or done about it. Not my call.

All this boils down to, to me, is pretty simple. Should vols have the ability to have the red light in their car? That depends on the department. Do you have a crew and several trucks out the door within a min. and a half or so after the page? If so, then running lights in POV’s probably isnt necessary. Do POV’s often arrive on scene first, before the trucks? Lights, maybe useful. Do you have roads in your district that offer motorists the ability to get out-of-the-way safely?It all boils down to your ability to listen to a situation, and correctly assess whether or not driving a POV emergency traffic is WORTH the risk of plowing gammy and peepop off the road in order to get on scene. I know you love it, because I love it. Its awesome. We have the best job in the world! But my goodness, please be careful! You don’t want to live with the guilt of harming someone so you can be the one to put out that spot fire! Commonsense… the ELAFF word of the day!

Stay safe out there Brothers and Sisters!

-Captain Chaos

Weekend Update 8/28/11

Hey, Leather-freaks!

Hopefully all of you East Coasters survived the earthquake/hurricane combo. Here is a quick update on what’s new at ELAFF HQ.

-Lt. Lemon posted an article regarding Radio Traffic Redundancy. It is a fun read, and if you haven’t checked it out…a Sunday afternoon would be a great time to do so. In other words, go read it.

-Lt.Lemon ALSO joined the world of Twitter with the official ELAFF Twitter account, @ELAFFHQ. Captain Chaos is also on “the Twitter”; find him as @CaptainChaos001. Follow both accounts for exclusive ELAFF content and discussions. You can now read the five most recent tweets, right here on the blog. Look in the right sidebar, just under the “Links” section.

-The dynamic duo at Daily 911 Deals introduced their first “deal”, and have since announced their second one. So far they have had some great deals. I suggest you check out the site and subscribe. They recently secured some more deals at FRI, and many will be limited in quantity, so you’ll want to know as soon as they go live.

-Twitter led Lt. Lemon to stumble across a great public education venture in the making. The Firefighter Dan Show, or Dan’s Firehouse, is a kid-oriented animated series that will offer educational safety tips in a fun format. They are still seeking funding, so check out their site and give if you can. Donations start at $1.

-Finally, we are in the preliminary stage of designing a line of ELAFF Gear. We want to develop our product line beyond the ever-successful “Lemon Wedge”. We have created a poll on Facebook to find out what gear you’d like to see. There is also a poll below. You can answer either poll, or both if you wish. 

That’s all for today. Lt. Lemon’s working on a series of articles explaining the origins of ELAFF, and his own story of struggles and perseverance. Look for that soon!

Stay safe, and keep spreading the word about ELAFF!

Radio Traffic Redundancy

Finally, I’ve gotten it together. Over three weeks ago, I announced that I was working on a new post. Unfortunately, I became side tracked by, what I have dubbed, “parasitic blogging”. Rather than express my views through an article on THIS site, I’ve been leaving a multitude of comments on various other blogs. Among those are Statter911, the Raleigh/Wake Fire Blog by Mike Legeros, and the Fire Critic. The added benefit of this is that my comments usually link back to this site. Free advertising…cha-ching! There are links in the right sidebar to the blogs which I read most frequently. So, if I stop posting for a while, you can most likely find me (and join the discussion) on one of those sites.

Moving on, this post is a light-hearted take on a most controversial topic…radio traffic. More specifically, the redundant phrases which infect agencies nationwide, wasting airtime and precious oxygen. I will begin by stating that I do not like “ten codes”. Period. They are useless and often confusing. If you would like to argue that, feel free to leave a comment below. You’ll still be wrong, but feel free to comment.

The first viral phrase of futility is a favorite of Mike Legeros. “Be advised…” is often heard preceding any important radio transmission. It sounds like an interjection designed to grab one’s attention before the announcement of pertinent data. In reality, it is usually utilized as a “filler” phrase, much like saying “uh” or “ah” when you aren’t sure what to say next. It gives the speaker an extra second (or two in the slow-speaking south) to gather their thoughts before speaking further. If it were necessary, then one should ignore any transmissions not preceded by “be advised”. If they don’t tell you to listen, then don’t. The fact is, listeners naturally know to listen and “be advised”, whether or not they are told to.

The second phrase up for discussion is similar. Have you ever heard command declare that the fire is under control, “at this time”? This phrase is used over and over, following almost any type of transmission. The question here is, would you ever transmit information which is not presently accurate? Would one ever advise that the fire was under control “five minutes ago”, or that the fire will be under control “in ten minutes”? Listeners automatically assume that your information is current, so it is ridiculous and redundant to state this. Taking this deeper, we can void this phrase using basic rules of grammar. When stating that “the fire is under control”, the word “is” signifies present tense, thus leaving no need for the additional “at this time”. Why waste the air time?

My final radio pet peeve runs rampant throughout the fire service. “Engine 50 on scene; two-story, ordinary construction, nothing showing from the exterior“. When is the last time anyone gave an initial size-up from the interior? The fact that you are describing the scene upon arrival clearly communicates that you are outside. So, why say it? Captain Chaos and I have often joked about giving a second size-up declaring, “Nothing visible from the interior, either”. We have yet to execute this, but  I have not ruled out the idea. Don’t get me started on size-ups. Just for your information, “masonry” and “block” are NOT building types…there are five (and ONLY five) of those. You should have learned them in a basic building construction class. No other construction types should be used in a size-up. End of story.

I believe this is enough kindling to start a good fire of discussion. I’ll leave the redundancy of “RIT Team” alone. Actually, that one speaks for itself. I’ve always wanted to reply to command as the “Rapid Intervention Team Team” after hearing that. The same goes for “IC Command”…I’ve heard that one, too. They are ACRONYMS, people! I digress; leave your comments below and tell your friends to check this out. Use the buttons below to share via Facebook, Twitter, email, and now…Google +. You can also print a copy and post it at the firehouse.

– Lt. Lemon

Lessons Learned…..

The fire service has taken a few hits over the past couple weeks. Asheville Fire Department lost a veteran captain and brother to a fire in a medical building. Dallas Fire lost a brother as well when the roof collapsed below him as he was making the roof in an apartment blaze. Lt. Krodle, and Capt. Bowen along with their families, both blood and fire, are in our hearts and minds. Love you guys. I titled this blog as lessons learned, but the lesson has yet to be taught. I’m not talking about the lesson to be learned from the tragic loss of two brothers in the service we all love. I’m talking about the lesson that needs to be learned from pointing fingers, naming names, and playing the blame game ( or monday morning quarterbacking as I like to call it ). Its time for some hard words my friends. Theres nothing more infuriating to me, when I read other blogs, and listen to other firefighters when they sit back in their chairs and give their  assessment on exactly what they feel was the cause of a tragic LODD. How can you sit there and play the blame game? Who the hell do you think you are? I PROMISE you that you’re not all that and a bag of potato chips when it comes to the fire service. Go ahead and listen to the Mayday from Asheville on youtube. Read some of the awful things some of our own brothers are saying about the situation. Can something be learned out of the ashes that we must sift through in order to try to make sense of what and how and why something went wrong? Yes. Can something be learned from pointing your dirty little fat sausage fingers at the men and women who worked that scene and took charge of that scene? Actually yes….. I’ve learned that there are a bunch of sorry ass firefighters out there that need to learn a lesson in humility, or maybe just a lesson in being a decent human being. You know NOTHING of what happened, how it looked, how it felt, smelled, or tasted. The ONLY piece of information you have, is excerpts of radio traffic you listened to over the internet. Its one thing to sit at the kitchen table, or in the watch room or out in the bays and talk about what MIGHT have happened, and what MIGHT we possibly do to adjust our own tactics and strategies incase something like this happened today. Knowing what we now know, what little that might be, what can we take away from this today to make sure that we go back to our home and families tomorrow? To me…. that’s how we make sure that someones tragedy does not go in vain. When you get online and spout ridiculous rhetoric out of your un-educated mouth ( well, typed from your un-educated fingers) for all to see, including im sure from those who actually were THERE, all you’re doing is spitting on the memories of ALL those loved and lost. Imagine the impact of your words on the people who were there. Walk a mile in THEIR bunkers for a while. You Dishonor yourself, and your profession with your filth. You should absolutely be ashamed of yourself, because im ashamed for you. Ashamed to call you brother or sister, and that you’re a member of MY family. Take a lesson from me right here, and right now. Keep your ridiculous assumptions to yourself, hang your head in shame, and get your ass on the rig when the tones go off. This is an honorable service you are being privileged to be a part of, so start acting like it.

R.I.P. Brother Bowen and Brother Krodle

Fraternally, and in Solidarity


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