Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Drove past BHFD headquarters today and saw LAFD's shiny new Battalion 14 suburban parked in front for a visit. Also saw an EMS captain cruising by the other day (maybe EMS 2, but don't hold me to it) in a Suburban. Guess the EMS Crown Victoria's are getting phased out. The LAFD is also rolling out its new Ford E-450 ambulances around the city with the new LED lightbar packages. Pretty cool-looking beasts.

Pursuits Reality

So after the rash of highly publicized pursuits in the past month or so, the LA Times tasked a reporter to investigate this trend. Reporter Carol J. Williams comes up with a jumbled, rambling and slightly confusing story.

The upshot: Pursuits in L.A. (and statewide via the CHP) are actually down year-over-year. Go figure.

Monday, February 16, 2009

So Long Capt. Myers**

One of the LAFD's three Public Service Officers (PSO) who sit in the bowels of City Hall East (until the new OCD is fitted out at the new FS 4) has been promoted to Captain I. The indefatigable Brian Humphrey posted the news on the LAFD blog that his colleague Ron Myers on the "A" Shift is going to see daylight again as a Captain at FS 90 out by the Van Nuys Airport.

So that leaves Brian ("B" shift) and d'Lisa Davies ("C" shift) as the permanent PSO's as they look for someone to fill the vacant spot. The LAFD is unique in that they have a permanently assigned PSO attached to the dispatch center 24-7. The LAFD staffs its dispatch center entirely with sworn personnel and they work on the same 24-hour modified Kelly platoon schedule as the field units. The dispatchers work, sleep and eat four stories underground for 24 hours at a go (there's even a cook* who makes fire station-worthy meals).

Not only do the PSOs field routine calls from the public and the media, but they maintain the LAFD blog and for the past few years have been sending out increasingly more helpful and useful incident alert email/pager notifications. Mr. Humphrey, who has basically become known throughout the country, if not the world, as the "voice of the LAFD," has been at it the longest and Ms. Davies replaced longtime PSO Jim Wells** after he retired a couple years back. It's quite a good gig they've got going and Mr. Myers was an excellent part of the team.

Code6Charles wishes him luck at 90's.

* As a commenter pointed out, the cook rotates as part of the daily dispatch crew in the same way they do at typical LAFD stations, so there's no extra personnel assigned as a so-called "permanent cook."

** Jim Wells retired as the former LAFD PSO. Jim Hill is a local, longtime sportscaster for KCBS. Total brain melt on my part.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Airplane Threes

So, if you believe things come in threes, then maybe we're done with the February aviation drama--all within 24 hours. First, of course, was the Colgan Air tragedy in Buffalo last night that claimed 50 lives. The aircraft in question, believed to be N200WQ (sn 4200) can be seen in the pic. Taken at Port Columbus International (KCMH) on June 1 of last year.

This is the plane--operating as Continental Express 3407--that iced up on final approach to KBUF and departed controlled flight shortly after the approach flaps were extended. Plane dove directly into a home just inside the Outer Marker on approach to Rwy 23 and killed everyone aboard and one man in the home (his wife and daughter escaped the wrecked home with injuries).

The crash has re-ignited the old debate about de-icing boots vs. electric de-icing systems. First indications are that the de-ice system was in the "on" position, but it's unclear whether the boots were working and/or what phase of the cycle they were in at the time of the crash.

Incident number two happened a few hours later and would have been a MAJOR tragedy if it led to a crash. Air Pacific's nightly B744 KLAX to Nadi, Fiji run departed the Southland last night sometime after midnight and about an hour outbound the pilots discovered some sort of fuel transfer issue. They wisely returned to KLAX without incident and the 441 souls aboard were likely highly inconvenienced, but escaped unscathed. Buried in the garbled news reports about the incident was the idea that the plane itself may have been overweight. That leads the mind to spin all sorts of terrible scenarios about a runway overrun or some other horrible outcome of an overloaded 747-400.

The third incident occurred on Friday evening at London City airport as a British Airways commuter BAE-146 had a nosewheel collapse on the landing rollout. Passengers deplaned via slides and only a few minor injuries resulted.

So that's three in quick succession. January had Captain Sully and US Airways 1549, which in itself was at least three plane crashes wrapped into one.

photo: richillini via

Wet N' Wild in Beverly Hills

So the latest rainstorm (first of three, says the NWS) has created a mess of things in Beverly Hills. I guess because it started pissing rain midday everyone got all confused. A bunch of signal lights up on both Santa Monica Boulevards shorted out around 2 p.m., snarling things. Then the accidents started.

Seems there was a major smash-up at Sunset and Alpine that requires all sorts of crime scene unit callouts and other shenanigans.* Apparently it's not going to be a major crime, per the Sgt. on scene, but clearly there was a head-on crash with fire and significant injuries; a crash on Olympic and Clark in the south end and some other bang-up at Rexford and Lexington. A second head-on wreck just went down on the nasty S-curve just west of Whittier on Sunset and traffic is backed up for miles.

Ugly start to a wet weekend. Slow down on the drive home, idiots. Slow down.

photo: Wilshire and Rodeo, courtesy of

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Whole Lotta Everything

Sometimes there seems to be a whole lotta shit going on in Scannerland, but none of it seems that interesting. That's a high-class problem that comes with listening to the constant patter of emergencies in a major U.S. city. Lots of scannermonkeys would give their left (and right) nut to catch a few shootings, structure fires, extrication and rollover traffic collisions, possible plane crashes and a major gas leak within a six hour period, if not an entire month.

Yes, between the LAFD, LAPD and Santa Monica FD, all of the above went down at some point this evening. But it all felt sorta blah. Like I said, a high-class problem. For the past year or so, I've listened exclusively to the LAFD, LAPD, BHPD/FD, SMFD (with short bursts of Santa Monica and El Segundo PD's mixed in for specific reasons). I've stayed far away from LA County Fire and the LA County Sheriff's. As rewarding as some of the LA County FD calls can be (the sheriff system is way too painful for prolonged listening), I just can't take the constant tones and simulcast dispatches. They interfere way too much with the controlled flow of the LAFD. Even LAPD Hotshots gets on my nerves, but I've decided that it's worth keeping on to catch the good LAPD capers, which go down like clockwork.

That is all.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I had noticed an uptick in pursuits even before the LA Times pointed it out this morning. Last night, I caught about 10 minutes of the slow-speed Bentley chase that dragged on for hours. Went to bed at about 2300 while it was still going. Heard CHP call for LAPD backup about 30 minutes later once the dude exited the 101 Freeway at Lankershim (apparently a block or so from where the whole thing started hours before as the result of some sort of domestic).

By the time I awoke this morning, Mustafa Mustafa (really) had shot and killed himself. The folks over at LAist took it upon themselves to live-blog the whole thing, which is slightly more interesting than the paint-drying spectacle that was this lame pursuit. Rumors were flying that the driver was either Chris Brown--the 19-year-old music star who beat up on his girlfriend Rhianna two nights ago--or some random DJ of Palestinian-descent who appeared to resemble screen captures of the Bentley driver.

Must be something in the air as it's officially pursuit season.

photo: MashGet via Flickr

Monday, February 02, 2009

Odds, Ends

-- A few nights ago, LAPD caught the rare West LA division shooting. Call went out around 11 p.m. for a shots fired with a possible victim screaming for help in the far western and southern fringes of Brentwood. A bunch of units bought the call as two other "vicinity calls" went out in short order. Pretty soon, it was upgraded to an Ambulance Shooting with Engine and Rescue 37 (Westwood) attached. Since the LAPD has a bad habit of not trying to sort out vicinity calls until after units arrive, they had three separate primary units going Code 3 to a 2-block area and a bunch of other backup units bought in, as well. That included the basic car from way out in the Palisades, which was responding code from deep Sunset Boulevard.

So the first unit went Code 6 at San Vicente and Wilshire and unsurprisingly didn't find anything, while another primary car went out at an address on Barry Avenue right around the corner and found some dude shot in the stomach. The two white guys who were the alleged shooters had fled in a beat up Buick to parts unknown. Sounds like a shady drug deal gone bad.

--Meantime, across town in Beverly Hills, a "suspicious circs" call went down on an otherwise silent night. The dispatch was at a building on Wilshire that basically straddles the L.A./Beverly Hills city line on the southeastern end of the city at a joint called Sparkle Networks. Spark Networks--a quick Interwebs search reveals--is the parent company of such online dating sites as JDate, and Well, it seems that some chick called the 877 customer service line around 11 p.m. and whoever answered the phone--likely in some town in central India or the Philippine archipelago--told the caller she was being stabbed and then hung up.

So Susie Good Samaritan must have been online or subsequently went online and found a biz address for Spark Networks that put the headquarters on Wilshire Boulevard in BH. So the 911 call was that someone in the office was being stabbed. Fair enough (leaps of logic aside, at least the dispatcher didn't hang up on her).

Basically every on-duty patrol unit in BH bought into the call and one of the field sergeants rousted himself from HQ to respond on down to Wilshire and San Vicente. The dispatcher (one of BH's most competent) tried a number of times to call back the 877 number and kept getting hung up on after it picked up--though she said there were voices in the background. At this point, I'm giving it a 20% chance of being legit and a heavily 80% chance of being total bullshit. But BHPD went through the whole fire drill: Units posted on all sides of the big office building; four coppers and the Sgt. rallied up in the lobby; Engine 3 and Rescue 1 staging a block out; K9 unit in the rear parking lot obtained master keys from the cleaning crew; confirmed no one was supposed to be up there at 2300 hours; perimeter set.

So entry team then requests the shield from the trunk of one of the patrol units in case of a crazy stabber awaiting them on the 8th floor. So...once entry was made via janitor keys the office was swept and no sign of a victim and definitely no suspect. It was Code 4 and everyone went home. Another solid exercise for the BHPD.

--A small barelysortascratched traffic accident outside my office building last week brought a visit from an LAPD West Traffic unit and shortly thereafter, Rescue 102 rolled up for some bullshitneckbackneckandback pain. Nice to see South Van Nuys' finest playing way over in Carthay Circle.