A quiet weekend in the City

Some boats in the bay…

America’s World Cup

More boats…
Fleet Week

Air traffic ticks up a smidge…

Blue Angels


Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

A bit of sport…
Cincinatti Reds at SF Giants MLB Playoff Game

Buffalo Bills at SF 49ers NFL Game


Should only triple to population for a few days, all 33,000+ hotel rooms are booked, and I wish my weekend cars luck.

“Daddy, did you win this hat?” A Daughter Learns of 9/11

My 6 year old is a quick learner.

She was dusting the shelves in our living room as a chore when she moved a few books as she always does.  But this time she noticed something on one of them.

“Your buddy looks sad.  Daddy, did you win this hat?”

She was pointing to the cover of one of the two September 11th books I keep on that shelf.  On the cover is a firefighter holding an American flag with a leather helmet on it, not unlike the one they see I wear (wore) at work.  The shield says 343.
We stopped the chore and sat down to look through the books.  She had heard the term “twin towers” and had seen the “343” before, but I began telling her about the bad men in the airplanes and how daddy’s buddies (their term for firefighters and paramedics) went to put the fires out.

The images of the towers collapsing had an impact on both of us and she asked how many buddies got hurt.


I was starting to get emotional.

“Tell me about them?” she asked.

I flipped to the page with an ambulance in the rubble and shared the story of Paramedic Carlos Lillo on Medic 49 Victor.  Then I turned to Chaplain Mychal Judge and showed her the picture burned into my soul.  We looked through another book with photographs of all the firehouses who lost members soon after and saw Ten House.  I told her I had been there and seen Carlos and Mychal’s names on a beautiful sculpture.

The impact of that day was not completely understood, I imagine much the same way Pearl Harbor is lost on recent generations. But her questions and my being able to relate on a personal level to the photos from that day will help her understand the human toll when it finally clicks exactly what happened that morning.

And because we take the time to learn their stories and share their stories they will not be forgotten.  Their names shall be spoken long after they, and we, pass from this earth.

Forget the bumper stickers and memorial T-shirts and learn a story, any story, there are hundreds to choose from.  Learn it, learn from it and share it.

Only then have you never forgotten.

CalFire Air Ops up close – VIDEO

Our good pal Dylan, noted BlogStalker, childhood Explorer Scout friend and Chief Programmer at GasdaSoftware got a surprise while out back the other day:


CalFire was responding to a slow moving fire that proved difficult to access on Sept 3rd.  It was on site of the Concord Naval Weapons Station, a deactivated WWII munitions depot primed for development if anyone can figure out how to remove all the ordinance. While we could smell the smoke at HMHQ Dylan, from Gasda Software, had a far better vantage point.  I’d be curious to hear the pilot’s thoughts about all the kids at the edge of the pond.


And yes, that’s a separate helicopter.


Thanks for the video Dylan!

10 House “Still Standing”

Each year I choose 1 story to share in an effort to keep alive the memory of those who died. Buying a sticker or a T-shirt that says “Never Forget” isn’t enough, heck it’s nothing. Learning about the lives of those who went into that morning not knowing if they would be coming out and sharing their stories with others is the only way to remember and keep them alive in our hearts.
I used to think the ancient Egyptians were foolish for claiming they were going to live forever, yet we still speak their names and honor their traditions in our museums and textbooks. They truly did accomplish living forever and if we want these men to be remembered in the same way we must continue to share their stories and speak their names aloud.
In my search for a story to share about those who died on September 11th, I kept coming back to a number: 10.  10 years, 10 Engine, Ladder 10…10 House…

A firehouse is much like a family and when a member of a family dies it can have an impact on the survivors. But what if more than 1 dies? Or 2. What about 6?

This year I share the memories of 10 House and the day she lost 6 of her children.


10 House is the quarters of Engine 10 and Ladder 10 who, in 1984, adopted the logo of a firefighter straddling the tops of the twin towers on fire reading “First due at the big one.” And they were.  Reports from survivors say that even as they rolled out the door there were already bodies in the street.
The firehouse is on Liberty Street directly across the street from the World Trade Center. The house survived the collapse and was re-opened after getting fixed up, but her family is still healing.
Both companies were established in 1865, later moving to the same house.  It is one of the few houses where the engine and ladder companies happen to have the same numbers. For almost 150 years she saw only 3 deaths in the line of duty, on that September morning the number would triple.

Lt. Gregg Arthur Atlas – Aged 44 years, Lieutenant Engine 10

Firefighter Paul Pansini – Father of 3 children, Firefighter Engine 10

Lt. Stephen Gary Harrell – Age 44, Member of 10 House assigned to Battalion 7

Sean Patrick Tallon – 26, Marine Reservist and only weeks away from completing Probationary status on Ladder 10.

Jeffrey James Olsen – Age 31, Firefighter Ladder 10

James J. Corrigan – Retired Captain from 10 House, oversaw Fire and Safety Operation for the WTC complex


The house was a gathering point for those wishing to visit the FDNY to offer their condolences.  Like many houses it was covered with patches and shirts from visiting firefighters, letting the members know they were in others’ thoughts.  A beautiful memorial was erected inside dedicated to the 6 members who died and included was a newer plaque honoring the 3 that had fallen between 1867 and 2000.

10 House became the site of a 56 foot bronze relief sculpture donated by Holland & Knight , a Law Office, who lost  employee Glenn J. Winuk, also a volunteer firefighter, when 10 House lost her children.  The relief was dedicated in 2006 and is the only 9/11 related site on my list of things to see when I visit New York later in the month.

I don’t want to see where 10 House lost, I want to see where she lives on.

You can learn more about 10 House on their excellent website.

2009’s memory

2010’s memory

Can’t or Won’t? The South Fulton Fire

By now everyone in the Fire Service should be aware of the events of late September in Obion County, just outside of South Fulton in northwestern Tennessee.
If not, here is the short version:

Gene Cranick, a resident of the rural area outside the City of South Fulton, TN, reported a structural fire at his home on Buddy Jones Road. This call for aid was declined by the City of South Fulton because the home owner had not been current on the $75 annual subscription fee required by the City Fire Department to respond to fires. They “CAN’T” respond. After repeated calls from neighbors the City did send engines to the fire with orders from the Chief, David Wilds, and the Mayor of South Fulton, David Crocker, not to extinguish the fire.
When interviewed on MSNBC, the homeowner stated that in recent years the fee has been waived, fires extinguished and the homeowner had 30 days to become current on the fee, but was told at the scene that practice was no longer allowed.
When the fire spread to a neighbor’s fence, firefighters deployed hoselines to protect…the fence of the paying neighbor. When that neighbor told firefighters to train their lines onto the burning home they refused.

As a result the home burnt to the ground. No one was injured, thankfully, but this event has sparked a controversy on dozens of topics on a number of levels.
Why didn’t he just pay the fee?
Why is there a fee?
Where was the local FD?
Can’t they just put out the fire and worry about it later?
Pay to play?

and so on and so on.

The most surprising thing I heard, however, were political commentators claiming this was a success of the system, that now residents will surely pay their fees for the fire department.
“Fees for the fire department?” Are we now going for Government ala cart? I for one would subscribe to that, I’ll pay for roads, schools, police, fire and healthcare, but not the Army or Navy. But if we get invaded can I hide in my neighbor’s house? What if he pays for the Army and I pay for the rest, can we share? Can we be neighborly?

Can we be neighborly?

City of South Fulton is not a metropolitan fire department sporting 43 houses, with 3 engines and 2 trucks on every report of smoke in a building. From what I can gather, they have 19 volunteer personnel and one Chief, plus explorers and are protecting an area roughly 10 square miles. This is no easy task, and with budgets shrinking, small departments like this have to put off training, new equipment, radio upgrades, etc until funds return. It is simple to point the finger at them and demand they respond to the rural area of Obion County.
The fire in question occurred approximately 2 miles from their station, a drive of 6-8 minutes. They likely saw the smoke.
Asking this Department to suddenly cover all the rural areas without an increase in funding is ridiculous.

But they do cover the areas, so long as you’ve paid your fee. They “WON’T” respond unless you have.

The $75 subscription fee DOES NOT go towards covering Fire Suppression services for the rural areas of Obion County, but into the general fund of South Fulton, allowing them to build a new County Law Enforcement Complex. It does look nice. Quite a contrast to Mr Cranick’s burnt out home, but shiny.

Even worse, is that the City of South Fulton spends time and money to collect the fees using mail and phone calls, likely cutting into that $75 by half just to collect. And not even to support actual fire fighting efforts.

This is a fee designed by politicians to increase general funds to cover other projects, plain and simple. I don’t believe a person should pay County taxes and a separate Fire fee in order to have a new law enforcement complex. The County has law enforcement, why not a County Fire Department?

The “S Fulton” Fire, as it is being called is not the result of lazy firefighters or an insensitive Fire Chief, but a corrupted political system that saw a chance to scare people into donating into their piggy banks and took it.
Along with it they took the home of a tax paying citizen of Obion County. Did Mr Cranick break the “rules” by not paying the $75 fee? Absolutely. Did the Mayor break the rules by letting the house burn down? No, as he reminds us, he is only doing what the system says he has to do.

The Mayor even made the analogy that we would not expect an insurance company to pay out after an accident if they let their coverage lapse. Of course not. But this is not fire insurance Mr Mayor, this is fire PROTECTION. We tried Fire Service for profit in the late 18th century, it ended badly. Look it up.

Better yet, how about diverting that $75 a year to the South Fulton Fire Department and not your pet projects Mr Mayor? Maybe after a couple of years the Dept will have the personnel and equipment to offer services County Wide.

All sides are at fault, but let’s not get crazy with claims that the pay to play system is the way to go. Far from it. Basic services should be made available to all residents. Period.

Maybe the County will let the Cranick family live in the Law Enforcement Complex.

Seat at the Table Ep15 – San Bruno Cont’d

Our discussion with Dan Gerrard, Bobby Halton and Jow Telles continues in our special look at building relationships in Emergency Response.

Whether a Chief Officer or Probationary Member, all can learn from this discussion, have a look.

Seat at the Table Success

We had a great day of filming yesterday in San Jose with disaster experts gathered to attend the Tak-Response conference which ends today.

Even though we have not yet found a sponsor to cover the expenses, this opportunity was too important to let pass.

The conference has been a lot of fun, with Thaddeus, Natalie, Jeremiah and Sam Bradley begin_of_the_skype_highlighting     end_of_the_skype_highlighting, the extended Chronicles family, all except Mark.
For a new conference in a new place with a new concept I think it did very well.

I think Kelly Greyson would have enjoyed the shooting simulator side by side with some of the SWAT folks on hand at the show.
And the law enforcement members we did meet were interested not only in what we were doing, but marveling at the wide array of equipment EMS carries, not just a bag and a cot.

Just the show floor was working to break down barriers and let disciplines mingle, imagine what the speakers are inspiring.

The audio difficulties in the filming of the Seat at the Table are well known, but finding a solution we can afford on a negative budget is difficult. We’re trying, I promise.

Today it’s back to the conference with the meetup tonight at Gordon Beirsch Brewery. See you there?

Medic 49 Victor responding

FDNY*EMS Ambulance 485 was the first EMS unit assigned to what Battalion 1 reported as “An aircraft into the Twin Towers.”

This unit, on air as Medic 49 Victor,  was staffed by Battalion 49 Paramedics Carlos Lillo and Roberto Abril.

Roberto chronicled the events of that day in a notebook in his own hand.  The notes can be seen at the website of his partner, who died in the collapse, Carlos Lillo.com

He is one of the EMS Division casualties included in the “343 Firefighters” killed that morning.

From the website:

On September 11, 2001 we lost our beloved FDNY Paramedic Carlos Lillo from Battalion 49, doing what he did best, Saving Lives. Carlos was one of the most admired paramedics in New York City. Carlos showed his courage, dedication, and unwavering commitment to the people of our city, state, and nation with the ultimate sacrifice.

Carlos began his career as a volunteer at Astoria Volunteer Ambulance Corp. in the early eighties, where he went to EMT school. He worked for Associated Ambulance while awaiting his dream and passion to work for NYC EMS. This dream came true in 1984 and it took very little time before Carlos flourished as an EMT, working on a tactical unit in some of the toughest neighborhoods in the Bronx in some of the busiest times the EMS system has ever seen. He then realized another dream: becoming a paramedic. He spoke so passionately about not just being a medic but being the best paramedic, that one couldn’t help but be inspired by his attitude even the old time medics.  Carlos worked for many services within the 911 system where he was loved and respected by all for his professionalism and passion for what he did.

There is a grief that can’t be spoken when you lose someone like Carlos. It is our duty to carry on the tradition of excellence that Carlos lived and to keep his memory alive. Carlos leaves behind the love of his life wife Cecilia, mother Ilia, sisters Iliana and Olga , his brother Cesar and half-brother Alex.

It is in honor of this great paramedic and person that we formed “The Carlos Lillo Memorial Scholarship Fund” to benefit underprivileged students.  Every year we come together to celebrate Carlos during The Carlos Lillo Memorial Golf Outing which was formed to support the scholarship fund with the purpose to help those that want to be and do what he did for us.

Carlos was laid to rest September 14th, 2002.

Hidden in all the “Never Forget”and “343″ stickers and T-shirts are thousands of tales of heroism and bravery, brotherhood and citizenship. Learn one. Pass it along to others.

Please visit the site and learn more about Carlos and how you can help keep his dreams alive.

2009’s story to remember

Explosion hits close to home

As you all know by now a community in the Bay Area City of San Bruno was rocked by a pipeline explosion around 6:45 PM local time.

I first learned about it via twitter, of all things, and immediately went to the news.  There was no coverage yet, so we listened to our radios and heard early reports of an explosion.

Then the tweets started to mention a plane crash and word spread quickly.  As the news began to show aerial shots it was clear from first glance there had not been a plane crash, nor a gas station on fire, as some residents were reporting.  Clearly one of the methods of coping with the complete destruction of your neighborhood by fire is to think of something you saw in a movie.

As we watched on TV from the firehouse, the SFFD responded an entire alarm assignment to assist in what was going to be a full night of firefighting.

Many communities came together as one force for good today.  City, Town, State and Federal teams, as well as private contractors from the local utilities, ambulance companies and certainly law enforcement and highway patrol all had their own duties, but to see how quickly resources were being mobilized made my head spin.

On twitter, I’m suddenly being RT’d (Retweeted) by folks from outside the area trying to get news.

I was asked what kind of plane crashed and if the gas station was still burning.

As fast as resources gathered to confront the gas pipeline explosion and aftermath, rumors and RTs of RTs were spreading half truths and guesses from all over the world.

Indeed the first images and descriptions came via social media, but we must remember to take into account who is giving us the information and where they may have come by it.

It is easy to hit that retweet button when you see something neat, but when it includes information that can not be confirmed or does not cite a reference, confusion can mount.

As I’m writing this at the firehouse, we still have 3 engines, 2 trucks and a Battalion Chief at the scene.  We were listening to the channel for awhile and even heard the crash truck from the nearby airport report they were full with 4500 gallons and ready to help.

I’ll be passing along what information I have, but am very interested to meet some of the responders at next week’s Tak Response Conference.  Imagine a conference specifically about inter-agency co-operation and training happening so close to such an event.  The information fresh in the minds of all persons involved will be an amazing learning opportunity for us all.

If I can, I want to get some of them a Seat at the Table on Wednesday the 15th and get their side of what happened.

Stay safe,