Thursday, July 26, 2007

Fire and Politics

So there was a ripping Major Emergency Structure Fire in the Jefferson Park area on Tuesday night (7/24). Cheyane Caldwell, the A/O of Truck 26 fell through the roof while doing truck work on the vacant building. Luckily, he was quickly rescued by fellow firefighters. The roof was cleared and the firefighters then went defensive.

Caldwell was initially transported to Cedars and then moved to the burn unit down in Torrance, according to a fairly comprehensive post on the LAFD Blog by Pat Marek--a new name in the spokesman world of the LAFD. (Might mean that longtime PSO Ron Meyers is retiring as d'Lisa Davies recently replaced longtime fixture Jim Wells on the "C" shift. Of course "B" Shift stalwart and star blogger Brian Humphrey ain't goin nowhere!).

Anyway, there are some really high quality pictures taken on scene of the West Adams Boulevard fire by John Conkle hosted over on the LAFD Flickr site.

So I wasn't that surprised when I checked the LAFD blog this morning to see Humphrey's open letter to the California Parole Board asking that they deny release of one Mario Catanio who set the fire that killed another Apparatus Operator who fell through the roof in during a North Hollywood blaze in 1981.

First time I've seen Humphrey (presumably with the full blessing of Department brass) take such a public stance on an issue such as this. Usually, Public Information-y things like "change the smoke alarm batteries when you change your clocks" or "Don't play with fireworks," are the message of the day on the Blog.

My brain's a little fried right now, so I don't know what the greater significance of Humphrey's post today means, if there's greater significance at all. Clearly, the close call experienced by A/O Caldwell two days ago brought the issue to the fore today.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Close But... Greater Alarm. LAFD Rescue 827 rolled up to the rear of the CBS studios and called in some fire showing from the rear on the second floor. OCD filled out the assignment and once Batt. 5 got on scene he reported heavy fire venting from the rear of the complex at the crowded Hollywood intersection of Sunset Boulevard and El Centro Avenue.

Batt. 5 pushed the "Greater Alarm" button and OCD sent a nice big assignment with USAR rigs, and plenty of Light Forces, including LF89 all the way from North Hollywood, and Task Force 3 from its quarters Downtown! Sounded like it was shaping up to be a gnarly Major Emergency, that I would have caught from the very, very beginning!!! A true rarity these days.

Alas, it was not to be. Batt. 5 quickly tucked his tail between his legs and told OCD that it was an exterior fire only and it was knocked down. Boooooo! Station 27 and 82 handled the overhaul. Everyone else went home.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

LAFD Station 36

I must be a tad slow on my LAFD station updates but the new Station 36 appears to have finally opened down in San Pedro on July 8. Just heard them on the scanner going available from some EMS call.

Take a look at the pic...looks like a classic "retirement house" to me...not a rookie in the bunch. Also notice the classic 1990 vintage Seagrave holding down 36's fort. Quiet enough house that they're probably way down on the list for a new rig. What's funny is that I'm sure they were on tonight's shooting down in Pedro, but I didn't hear them go out because I was locked in on the LAPD Harbor frequency.

What I did hear about two minutes ago was Rescue 112 telling OCD that 36's was closer on a call they got dispatched on. One of the familiar female voices working OCD 4 tonight came back and told the medic on 112's that "the computer still says we should send 112 to this call." Medic's reply: "We're enroute." Old habits die hard, boys.

Nothing like hoping to get out of a Sunday night call by trying to beat the system and sacrifice the "new" boys on the block. My advice to the boys on Rescue 112: For every call you're on, there are two others that they can't dispatch you to.


Couple a' interesting calls on a muggy (for L.A., at least) Sunday night:

-- LAPD Wilshire units sent for a man-with-a-gun call at the 99 Cents Only store on Wilshire just west of Fairfax. I work about a hop, skip and a jump from there and was just telling the wife that we should check it out for the brand-name items under a buck--after reading a profile of the company in the Southwest Airlines magazine earlier this week. Turns out, that store is the chain's most profitable, but not such a great PR move when some old guy in an Aloha shirt and a gray beard is waving a gun around and chasing customers.

First unit on scene was an LAPD "William" detective unit, which effectively cased the joint while 7Adam21 was responding Code 3 from Wilshire station. A few more units were requested and they took the guy down just up the street on Wilshire. Never actually found out what he was doing in the store, but the primary unit told another that there were two "victims" in the parking lot. No RA's requested though so it wasn't a shooting.

-- Few minutes later heard the "ambulance shooting" call go out down in Harbor Division, which brought at least six black & whites screaming down to Gaffey Street and Paseo del Mar where they amazingly and quickly apprehended the suspect; quite improbably--for that neighborhood--a white female in a yellow sun dress who had apparently just shot a white male of 45 years square in the chest.

That one might actually make the 11 o'clock news.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Angry Mood Out There

Driving around Beverly Hills at lunch time and drivers and peds seemed unusually pissy. Saw BHFD and BHPD racing all around town Code 3. Anger in the air.

Monday, July 16, 2007

LAPD Air Unit Gets Sick

Mellow Monday night, until Air 18 comes over the HOTSHOT frequency to broadcast a "Help" call and announcing a precautionary landing in the old K-Mart parking lot in Northeast Division. Pilot puts the bird down and the black and whites swarm the scene (as well as seven plainclothes guys in the area who fruitlessly tried to shut down traffic while the helo's blades were still spinning.

LAFD sent a full "aircraft down" response, but Task Force 50 arrived on scene and alerted the cavalry that it was a medical call only--seems the helo pilot had a medical emergency of unknown type. The LAFD RA arrived on scene to transport the cop.

A little bit of spice to start the week!

Watching the Vollies!

Spent a nice weekend in the "Finger Lakes Region" of upstate New York. Never been up there before, and it's really pretty country, though I know that it's probably a bit chilly for most of the year. Hung out in the charming town of Skaneateles and stayed at a little B&B about 300 yards from the central volunteer fire station. It's been too long since I've been around a vollie town but over the course of two days, we heard the big air-raid siren go off four times.

We'd watch the various pickup trucks with flashing blue lights race into the town center from all directions before mounting up and heading out to the call, sirens screaming. Of course, it was at least 10 minutes from first air-raid siren to actual fire engine siren, so I'd hate to be on the receiving end of that "emergency response"--but, of course, better than no response at all. Almost makes me wish I lived in a small town again and had my old 1995 Honda Accord with the red and white mounted dash strobe!

Saturday, July 07, 2007


Caught the LAFD working a physical rescue traffic accident late night on Thursday on a particularly nasty stretch of Sunset Boulevard out in the Pacific Palisades. When I was in high school back in the 20th Century, a boneheaded classmate totaled his car in the exact same spot when he head-on'd some unsuspecting baby boomer going the opposite direction. Miraculously, he wasn't killed, or even badly hurt.

Not the case for the 17-year-old kid driving his Honda a few days ago. He wrapped it around a tree on the curvy road and died. I heard Battalion 9 rolling out there getting an update from Task Force 69 on the scene. You know it's bad when they have Heavy Rescue 56 responding from their quarters in Los Feliz (probably a 25 minute Code 3 response with no traffic, at the bare minimum). You know it's even worse when they don't cancel them....means the driver's really stuck and very likely really dead.

I Scanned....

...myself! An emergent basement flooding situation late last week forced me to wake the fine men of BHFD Station 3 well after midnight. I heard the dispatch go down over the scanner (we only warranted a "Minor Flooding" incident type!!!)

They brought the engine screaming Code 3 down Olympic Boulevard and promptly shut off some water and gas lines in the basement before trudging back to their engine--and back to bed.

Thanks guys!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Griffith Park Burns....

....Internet survives. This is a long-winded post by a woman named Donna Barstow. Check it out. If you don't have time, just read below.


She lives near Griffith Park. She loves animals. She loves her Griffith Park. She doesn't understand fire. She doesn't really understand fighting fires. She admits this. She blames the LAFD for letting the recent Griffith Park brusher burn too long and too bright. She is happy no one died. I think.

She is happy no one lost their homes. Sort of. She is unhappy lots of plants and animals died. She doesn't like that they may have suffered. She doesn't like that no one is taking responsibility. She doesn't like her City Councilman's, the cops' or the fire department's reasoning or explanation about why there was a fire that burned so long and so bright. She senses conspiracy. She loves animals. She doesn't like that the media ignored the story of how many animals died; in what gruesome fashion and why they weren't saved. Same goes for the plants.

I love animals. My wife loves animals. We have an animal. I would be sad if my animal (or my wife) died in a brush fire.

Donna Barstow, however, doesn't really give much thought or credence to the idea that there are forest and brush fires all over the world every day--far from the reaches of people--where plants and animals die horrible deaths. Where is the media, the LAFD, the LAPD or the City of Los Angeles then? Donna Barstow clearly does not care for all of the majestic creatures big and small that probably perished in the forest fire in South Lake Tahoe last week. She makes no mention of the hundreds of acres of charred pine forest during that blaze, or the ash that fell into the gorgeous lake.

Nor does Donna seem to understand (as has been ably pointed out in her blog's comments section) that nature takes care of nature. That undergrowth and chaparral needs to burn every generation or two. That this is a natural process. Donna seems to take a misguided view of nature in her backyard. Her view is one of coddling and cuddling, not the reality that life is nasty, brutish and short...and that's often the case with a large portion of the world's humans, let alone animals. Survival of the fittest, etc. Where is her outcry for all of the helpless creatures that have certainly died in three or four brush fires currently raging in Southern California?

Donna loves her park. Donna doesn't really want to understand much beyond the fact that the fire hurt plants and animals. But that fire is one of the best things to happen to the park since the last big brusher there about 80 years ago. It cleared out vast sections that needed a good burn. And one other benefit--yet unmentioned--is that it also burned out the tons of garbage that has been collecting unchecked in Griffith Park for decades. Donna's City of Los Angeles (or her park) wasn't in any hurry to clean up a cluttered urban garbage dump. Luckily, nature did it for her.