Sunday Fun – Dinner, dinner, dinner

Three of my favorite words in the firehouse are:

Jumped – You are relieved, I’ll jump a call if you get one.
Box – A reported fire.
Dinner – No explanation needed.

Stuck for a recipe for tonight? Try this site, FireHouse Chef dot com. Each recipe gives the member who submitted it and there are a large number.

Even something for my bacon loving friends:

Border Bullets – For Those Who Like it “HOT”

  • 12 large jalapenos or how ever many you want to make.
  • Cut the tip or small end off of the jalapenos leaving the stem on the other end.
  • hollow the jalapenos. ( we use a potato peeler )
  • Fill jalapenos with cream cheese.
  • wrap jalapenos with bacon holding bacon in place with toothpicks.
  • Broil in oven until bacon is to your liking.
  • remove, let cool and eat.

Recipe by Firefighter: Phil Burrow – Alva Fire Department, Alva Oklahoma

Do you have a favorite recipe? Post it in the comments and you’ll have another place to look for recipes.
And don’t forget to stop by our friend Mrs Fuzz over on Fuzz Food for other ideas.

Sunday Fun – For the Firegeezer

When I got my phone I didn’t care if it had a camera. When I bought my camera I didn’t want it to have a phone. Now that I’ve found myself in a few places wishing I had my camera only to have my phone, I will pay more attention.

While sitting fire watch on a large industrial fire from a few days earlier, our engine company was doing the obligatory orientation to entrance, egress and safety issues when I peaked into one of the warehouses and saw a sad sight. The sight captured by my sad little camera phone.

In the middle of the picture is a kitchenette with a two pot Bunn-o-Matic which completely melted down the front of the cabinets. The unit itself survived, but the bottom pot seems to now be stuck to the lower cabinet. The excessive light is from a section of collapsed roof, hence my inability to get closer for a better shot.

But I saw this and thought of Firegeezer’s nice clean 4 pot Bunn on his Facebook avatar and I shed a tiny tear for this coffee maker.

Poor thing never had a chance.

Sunday Fun – Your first

They say you always remember your first.

No matter how many came after, regardless of shape, size or ability, that first one will always have a special place in your heart.

My first was this 1976 International 10 speed double clutch 1000 gallon water tender. We shared some great experiences together and at times was my only friend out in the middle of nowhere on an abandoned car fire or running as fast as we could (mid 40s) to a freeway accident.

I learned from her that if you take care of your equipment, there is still no assurance it will work when you arrive on scene.
Aside from the water, she carried 8 pieces of assorted cribbing, 50 feet of supply line, two preconnects and a shovel. That was it.
Every time we went to the gas station on the other side of town she would backfire…loud enough to make folks duck. She had no primer motor and the light bar gave out from time to time, but it was experiences like that that taught me to expect the unexpected and adapt to ever changing situations.

Do you remember your first?

Sunday Fun – Take me out…

I’m not a baseball fan, but when I hear Station 13 has a bet with the Station 13 of the other team in the game, it really makes it interesting. What is the bet you ask? T-shirts. Loser sends the winner one shirt for each guy signed up. On today’s schedule:

1:05 PM

4:05 PM

Finding this info is challenging, I need your help gentle readers. If you know what house is first due at a local pro stadium, send me an email with a pic or a link to a pic and let’s start a database. Football, Baseball, Hockey…just list the city, stadium, company and sport. Then I’ll post it up and more folks can get into the T-shirt collecting business.

Play Ball!

Sunday Fun – Ladders

I was reading a book to one of the little ones the other night and had to answer some pretty tough operational questions from a 3 year old. The book was Richard Scarry’s Busiest Firefighters Ever! and the cover is just hilarious. Aside from the engine operator wearing a cooking pot for a helmet (with Company number) and the Officer wearing a colander and playing trombone, one of the firefighters is clinging to a pompier ladder as they drive along.

My little one commented that he was not sitting safely and that the ladder looked funny. She will one day make a great Truck boss.

But it got me thinking about the wide variety of ladders both in our past and in our present.

Looking through the IFSTA manuals we see all manner of ladder raises and techniques. The 3 man 35′. The 4 man 35′. The 1 man 24′ etc etc. So what are we running with?

Most engines are wandering town with the standard 10′ attic, 12-14 foot straight and the go to 24′.

Ladder and Truck Companies, however, seem to produce odd ladders at odd times.

The pompier ladder was a center beam rung ladder with a 2-3 foot barbed arm on the end. This ladder allowed a firefighter to scale the exterior of the building without placing a ground ladder. In the days of having an escape route, it is impractical for sure. If you have one of these it needs to be adorning your wall, not your ladder tray.

In my opinion your fire escape ladder and your 6′ A frame ladder are your most important ladders for quick deployment. The fire escape ladder for obvious reasons and the 6′ A frame to get in quick and plug those pesky fire sprinklers.

San Francisco, California still operates wooden ground ladders on account of the numerous above ground electrical supplies still common in most neighborhoods. Each of their Trucks carry a 50′ wooden extension ladder weighing in at 350 lbs and requiring 6 people to raise. Then they brace that with a 24′ straight ladder. It looks VERY heavy.

At the 100th anniversary of the Great Earthquake and Fire, they brought out the last of the 65′ wooden ladders, only used for demonstration.
From the SFFD Historical Society:
“The 65 foot ladder was the principal means of rescue before the advent of the aerial ladder and was also used in locations were the aerial ladder trucks could not operate. The ladder can, when fully extended, reach a five story roof or a sixth floor window.”

The Mumbai Fire Brigade, when dealing with a stressful situation and heavy fire with hundreds trapped, tried a new way to raise a ladder with poles, pull them. Check out they guy in the bottom center of the photo. Apparently it worked and they made many a rescue.

And on a lighter note, who can tell me what is wrong with this ladder placement?

Sunday Fun – What are you looking at?

What do we see when we look at each other on the fire ground? We tend to all look alike. If you’re not careful it can be easy to get confused, misdirected and find yourself working with the wrong team.

I keep coming across this photo and will now use it to illustrate some points about fire ground recognition.
Now, before we get started, get your chuckles out about the hood and the way the SCBA hose goes under the hood into the open coat. Done? Good.
Imagine you encounter this person in a half dark hallway in a fire.

Who is this? What is their company assignment? Are they from the truck? Squad? Engine? Have the medics wandered to the roof again?

Luckily the reflective markings are clean so we saw him(her?) coming, that is point number one. Clean your Gorram gear, especially your reflective. The last thing I want to do is be sent in to find you and you look just like all the debris. Dirty gear is not the sign of an experienced firefighter, only a lazy one.

As far as company marking go, it depends on the style of gear you are wearing, most notably your helmet.

There are 3 main types of helmets making the rounds these days with minor variations. Believe me when I say that just figuring out which type of shield to buy can be confusing enough. There is a good chance you are wearing a helmet like our friend up there.
Less common today are the “LA Style” and the “Old Fashioned.” I’ll try to avoid using manufacturer names.

The LA style is perfect for the application of proper markings to avoid confusion.
This photo shows a group of teams working in the “LA Style” helmets. Firefighters and Officers have different color helmets so they can be identified from any direction. The company number is visible from 3 sides and engines have white numbers, while trucks have red numbers. Done. Simple as that.

In addition, each member has their name clearly visible in 1″ letters on the rear brim of the helmet. No more shouting “Hey you on the ladder, get down!” You can call the person by name, on the radio even, and know who you are talking to.

On the other coast the common helmet is an “Old Fashioned” style, similar to the helmet we use at HMHQ for our Tip of the Helmet series. It is simple enough, wide brim and longer tail to keep water out of your neck, but the design leaves little chance to mark it effectively. Most common the leather shield will tell you who and where the wearer is assigned, but that can help little if you are chasing them down a hallway. I believe Boston, MA marks the rear of their helmets with their company numbers. The shields can vary in color depending on rank, but most common the numbers will tell you about the company.

In the FDNY for example A black passport shield with white number is an engine company. Yellow passport or yellow number is a squad and a red passport belongs to the truck.

Most often, however, the members mark their helmets on the under side of the rear, so you can only see their name when they place chin to chest. And even then, it is upside down. But, they have their names on their coats.

What I’m getting at here is that we need to be not only visible, but recognizable on the fire ground. In Happy’s perfect world helmets are color coded by rank, marked with your name on the back, company numbers on three sides and your level of medical training indicated by the color of reflective tape on the helmet. Yellow EMT, Orange EMT-I, Blue Paramedic, White MD. Your turnout coat will also have your name on the back, below the airpack. The airpack itself will have a large reflective number showing where it came from.
All this is simple enough to do from the onset, but a lot of guys here where I work have gone through a lot of trouble to make sure that helmet is as black as night and laugh when they see me cleaning mine after a fire.

If I can see you I can rescue you. Simple as that. Now go wash and mark your gear.

Sunday Fun – What Makes a Chief?

We dove into why we wear a bugle to signify rank a few weeks back, but some of our readers are wondering “How many bugles signify a Chief?” We get at least 5 hits a day from google with just that question, so here goes:

It depends.

Allow me to explain.

The Chief Officer of a Fire Company or Department is most often signified by five overlapping bugles pointing in all directions, signifying that that person is in charge of all aspects of the Company. From this rank down we remove bugles, but they always remain crossed, signifying that the person is a Chief Officer.

A Deputy Chief or Administrative Chief such as the EMS Section Chief or Deputy Chief of Operations will likely have 4 crossed Bugles, all pointing down. This signifies that the wearer is below only the Chief Officer and can serve in that capacity should it be necessary.

The highest rank in the field, responding to calls, should be your Division Chief. Division Chiefs cover a geographic area and supervise Battalion Chiefs. This rank is signified by 3 crossed bugles, again all pointing down. You can see that as you get more bugles you are in charge of more people.

A front line supervisor of multiple Companies is the Battalion Commander, or Battalion Chief. This person supervises multiple companies in multiple specializations. A Battalion Chief covers a geographic area and often serves as the Incident Commander at most incidents.

(All these insignia available at Chiefs Supply)

In most jurisdictions gold bugles signify a Chief Officer, but pay close attention to how many are present to see who you are addressing. When on duty, the Chief Officer should be addressed by rank, given full attention including you standing and facing them, a smart salute (when appropriate) and an offer of a hand shake introducing yourself. You should then stay in their presence until excused or given an order. It sounds overly formal, but when respect is given your workplace becomes a more respectful and professional place. And saluting the Chief in shorts and tennis shoes is just silly.

In addition to collar insignia, Chief Officers should be wearing a white helmet with a gold shield. This differentiates them from line personnel with a simple glance.

A white turnout coat should be reserved only for the Chief of Department. In a major emergency or MCI this Chief can be easily spotted in the sea of white helmets at the command post.

Next week we’ll talk about the rest of the Department and how we should be dressed, marked and labeled.

Until then, *snaps to attention* “Thank you, Chief”

Sunday Fun – Television

There is a lot of buzz on the interwebs about a new TV show on NBC this fall. I have remained neutral as to what I think about the show, since I have not seen it, but judging from the previews, I don’t think we’ll see anything too new when it comes to the way our profession is viewed by the TV audience and those in the business.

Then I thought more about the impact TV medicine has had on my ability to treat patients in the field. I tried to get mad about folks calling for the new medicine they saw in commercials or that they have a condition seen on last night’s episode of House or ER.

But I realized that the way EMS and EMS patients are portrayed actually plays into our favor. Follow me on this. There are a few conditions I classify with the prefix “TV” as in “TV-Seizures.”

TV-Seizures have a person, often in their 20s to 30s, flopping around on the floor, holding their eyes shut tight while the friends panic and run around looking for something to put into their mouth. I often lean down into the patient’s ear, introduce myself as a Paramedic and explain that I know what a seizure looks like and that they can stop faking it now.

TV-Overdose has a number of subsets but my favorite is the ice in the crotch for the heroin OD. Whether this is an old herbal remedy minus the herbs or what, it certainly is a perfect way to let me know he was using heroin. You can deny it all you want but when you try to explain the ice in the crotch and pits is where a drink spilled, now you look silly.

TV-Medics are always on their way to another career. “I’m going to medical school,” is my favorite, but they rarely portray EMTs and Medics who want to be just that. The one exception I found was the short lived show “Saved” that featured a laid back medic who’s family kept trying to get him into medical school, but he declined. His partner was, alas, studying to go back to school. I like the trendy T-shirt with “bus driver jacket” uniform he wore. So relaxed. I will one day put a Ferrari patch on my jacket ala Mother. I’ll post a pic.

But in the end, they always have someone kicking in the door to the trauma room and shouting vitals to attentive ER staff. HA!….sorry….that always gives me a good belly laugh. More than once I’ve had to block the nurses station to get a spot. That’s not good TV.

TV has a lot to offer our struggling profession, little of it can be good because when you get down to it, our job is boring. There are no smoke creatures on a tropical island, no bikini clad co-eds romping in strange stunts (not all the time anyway) and no cash prize at the end. The reason TV shows about EMS never do well is because they follow the characters home. Remember when Rescue Me was a cool firefighter show? Then they followed Tommy home, the family got weird and now it’s a circus soap opera set in a firehouse.

Come on TV Producers, give us a show about EMS that show the public the truth! Show them the countless hours of training and recertification, standby, paper work, stocking and dealing with 911 abusers, finding a clean bathroom on post, not just the “You’re not dying on my watch!” cliche. I’ve tried it, it doesn’t work at all.

Sunday Fun – Playing with Matches

We tell kids not to do it all the time, but there is a time when playing with matches is OK. Since you’ve visited our Purchasing Division partners, Tanga, you know HMHQ is fond of brain teasers, riddles and word puzzles.
No surprise then that the lost art of bar challenges rates high in our training here. We’ll get into details of how to get a drink for a dollar and pick up a cherry without touching it in another post, but for today, we’re playing with matches.

In most bars you can ask for a match book and, if properly prepared, entertain a group of friends for at least 2 rounds. For example: Can you make the fish in the picture here swim the other way moving only 3 matches?

Have fun with this link to Match Puzzles. I wanted to bring them over, but the folks did such a nice job, why ruin it? Each puzzle has a link to the solution so you can’t accidentally cheat.