Tag Archives: department

Just so good.

20140404_202918Sometimes life affords you opportunities and it’s your job to hear the knocking.  Last night the opportunity to go and listen to Los Lobos presented itself and I answered the door.  While I am entrenched in this world of music  booking,los lobos shirt rehearsing, writing, scheduling, etc (Then spend the last two week in school learning a whole new position on the fire department).   You forget why you make music.  Then you go see a band perform with such fluidity and excellence that even when one member makes an unexpected change… they all jump back in line. It’s a reminder of why you do it.  It’s about the music and the joy and the shared experience of the audience and band.   Where  music makes you forget all the worries and problems and there is just the band and you.   It doesn’t have to be a big name band.  I go and see bands like Electric Dirt, Expo 76, Great Moments in Vinyl, etc.  It’s about excellence and happiness whether your on stage or in the audience. So thanks Los Lobos for that moment where life paused momentarily and I got to catch my breath.  Reality becomes a bit easier after a show like last night.20140404_225915

Fire Engineer… A whole new world.

Airport Crashrig. Yet another type of engine!

Airport Crashrig. Yet another type of engine!

We have nearly completed half of Fire Engineer school here in Chicago and it’s been a lot to learn for me and my fellow students.  Everyday we are learning new terms, math and everything it takes to do the job.  As a firefighter you take the Engineer for granted when your at a fire because all he has to do is drive you there, send the water and be first in the food line for meals.  Easy peasy.  Well maybe not always.  Seems the engineer has a few things to do before he sends the water. If your relieving (Assigned to a district instead of a specific firehouse.  Lot’s of travel.) like I’ll be doing for a while the first thing he’ll need to do is know what kind of rig your on and what kind of hoses, pipes and other stuff that particular engine company carries. Then when the bell rings…  What’s the best route to  to the fire?  After arriving on scene does he has a fire hydrant or is he sending tank water?  If sending tank water he only has 500 gallons so how long will that last on a hose spewing out 150 gallons per minute?  Where can he acquire a water source while he is on tank water?  Is the fire hydrant frozen (a very common occurrence this winter) is another engine gonna need to feed him water and so on…  Some of these things he’ll have the officers help with but once the officer heads into the fire he is on his own.  Gives one a new appreciation for what they do. Hopefully I learn me a thing or two before the class is through.  Because without water at a fire things can turn bad quickly.

RIP Boston Brothers Ed Walsh and Mike Kennedy

boston fdThe tragedy in Boston has struck home as two firefighters made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty yesterday.  If you are up to it I’d suggest giving a listen to the tape of the radio traffic at the incident at 298 Beacon St.  It is chilling.  My prayers go out to the families of those men and the firefighters who now bear the weight of this tragedy.  If you’d like to help please click on the link below and send a few dollars. Please remember when politicians and others yell about how the fireman pensions cost to much that some never get to collect because of the job they do. God Bless Boston FD.


A new chapter for this writer.

View form the basketMany of you regular readers know that while I’m not rocking out as a Poochamungas or performing my stay at home dad duties I am a full time firefighter for the City of Chicago. Well nearly 18 years of service I managed to get myself promoted to Fire Engineer.  What does this mean? Well I used to be assigned to a Truck Company known as Tower Ladder 21. A Tower Ladder is a truck company with a big ladder on the truck with an additional basket hanging over the front of the rig. This is especially used to put water on bigger fires along with the usual truck duties of search and rescue, ventilation and overhaul.  Different from the Engine Tower LadderCompany who carries the hose and puts water on the fire. There is a lot of friendly rivalry between these two entities in the firehouse but it takes both working in tandem to get the job done.  After finishing training I shall become the driver of that Engine sending water through that hose to the firefighters putting out the blaze.  It’s one of the most critical jobs on any fire department because without water you ain’t putting out the fire.  To get the job the department sends you back to school for a few weeks, 8 hours a day, forty hours a week. Who knew an 8 hour day couldEngines in the shop. be longer than a 24 hour shift?  I write this because the blog may be a bit quieter in the next few weeks as I shift my attention to learning again after a long hiatus from schooling. We shall still  be here a couple times a week talking about the kindie world, music and other things that peak my interest. I have a few more songs to discuss and maybe a thing or to about Engineer school.  Thanks for reading and see you here next week.  I’ve included our song Big Red if you have anymore questions about the Engine or Truck.

Big Red

Memories of 9/11

I wrote this on the tenth anniversary.

My memories of 9/11 are indelibly marked with certain events of the day on which I was working at the firehouse.  When I first saw tower number one on fire on the TV in the kitchen that morning I said a quick prayer for all those firefighters and people inside. The magnitude of such a fire at that height left me awestruck and we didn’t know a plane crash had caused it yet.   I was out of the kitchen when the guys gasped in horror as the second plane hit.  I ran in to watch as remnants of the explosion trailed out the back of the second tower.   It took a moment but fellow firefighter AJ said a second plane had just crashed.    I remember heading out to shop in the morning  so as to get us our food for the day before they had a department lockdown or what not. As I drove though the south loop I ran into rush hour traffic leaving downtown at 9:00 am as everyone had been sent home.    I was listening to the car radio as the first tower fell and have no recollection of the second tower falling except  I’ve seen it on video later.  Then on my return there were no cars or people to be found on the streets of an abandoned downtown Chicago.  Later in the early evening, standing on the runway of then Meigs Field  I viewed an empty sky except for one lone fighter jet high in the stratosphere.  What I remember most is the emptiness, sadness and frustration felt for my brothers in New York and all the victims of the cowardly attack.  The worry that a similar thing could happen here in Chicago at anytime and thankfully never did.

While I have visited ground zero twice I was not there for the recovery on the pile. My respects to those that did and especially to those who are sick or dead because of that service.   I drove by once when I went to New York in November of 2001 to pay my respects to my fallen brothers by attending wakes and funerals (which is a story unto itself). Then again in 2002 when Chicago Firefighters bicycled there raising money for FDNY Widows and Orphans.  I worked the support van (I was the cook).  I still have trouble grasping what happened to cause such a big whole in the middle of New York City.

I will never forget.  My children will never forget and hopefully one day my grandchildren will never forget.   Those who think that their beliefs trump all others and suppress the views of others will always be wrong.  If you live with hate in your heart for others know that you will never know the true beauty of  life.   Kiss your daughter, hug your dad and remember to appreciate those that love you.  That’s what I’ll be doing tomorrow.

One of those days

smokinAt work yesterday morning  the fire trucks brakes didn’t work.  Not enough air pressure in the rear breaks so they don’t release properly.  Nomally you head to the shops to get them fixed.  Nope.  We changed quarters to another company as ordered and arrived there with the brakes-a-smokin’.  Then they tell us we are out of service and we headed to the  shops.  A passing car informs us the rig is on fire.  We pull over and sure enough there are flames.  Using our hand pumps we extinguish the flaming brakes.  We extinguish the brakes again at the shops truck yard. Then we change rigs in 95 degree heat and miss a fire where we are first due.  If anything it’s been an interesting day and then night.

truck on fire Well it seems the day wasn’t going to be complete unless we went to a fire of our own.  At approximately  3 in the morning Wrigleyville had their second fire in 24 hours. 3 hours after I originally posted this.  We went to a still in box and fought a pretty good fire to end the shift.  One of those days indeed.