Fire and Rescue

~ Multi-Grip Valentine ~

I get the award for THE BEST Valentine’s gift to a hubby this year.  I don’t care if you gals got your hubbies season tickets to a private box at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.  I don’t care if you got your Beloveds a case of his favorite, over-priced microbrew and a booklet of homemade coupons for favors that you made out of candy sweethearts.   I WON this Valentine’s Day.  I’m the queen.  Put a Capital on that:  I’m the QUEEN of Valentine Wifey Gifts for 2016.

“WHAT???”  You beg, jumping up and down in excitement, “What makes you the Queen this year, Mama?”

I’m so glad you asked!

I thought about My Captain, and how difficult he is to give to during any holiday.  He’s impossible to shop for for Christmas, Birthdays, you name it.  It’s not that he’s high-maintenance, or overly particular.  It’s that he is exactly the opposite!  He is LOW-Maintenance.  He doesn’t want anyone spending time and money on him.  He ignores the argument that other people might enjoy giving as much as he does.  He refuses to be a receiver.

Santa gave up on him decades ago.

So I thought about him.  And I thought, and I thought, and I thought.  What makes this man happy?  What, within my realm, could I possibly give him to make him grin ear-to-ear, and feel absolutely taken care of, the way he makes me feel so supported?  What do you give such a  man???

Which led me to this stroke of genius:  HELLO!!  He’s a MAN!  The answer was suddenly so obvious, if it had been a snake, it would have bitten me.  Twice.

My friends, I bought him a TOOL. But not just ANY tool!  I bought him a genyouuuuuiiiine, original, one-and-only FIRE FALCON.

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I gave it to him today, in advance of Valentine’s Day, because I have NO ability to keep a secret, and I just CAN’T WAIT!!!!  Patience has never been my strong suit. Thank goodness My Captain finds it charming!

At least, I tell him he does.

What is the Fire Falcon?  I mentioned it in my last post: Stovetop Grease Fire, A Love Story.  This is the best, fanciest, hardest-core, extreme firefighting tool ever made, here, and around the world.

It’s not cheap, because it’s made of highest grade materials, like composite, steel and fiberglass.

It has advanced engineering, and was created by one of the oldest, saltiest firemen in the nation.

It is The Cadillac of fire-overhaul and battle weapons. This thing is THE BOMB, and every firefighter out there secretly covets one of these.  Believe me, it’s right up there with the lastest iPod, or iWatch, or gizmo gadget.   Anyone who uses this thing can’t HELP but channel a little bit of Batman when he’s working.

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What, exactly,  does the Fire Falcon do?

When a firefighter is in a fire, they have to COMPLETELY extinguish that fire, and they have to get it right the first time.  And if the fire has extended into areas that are hidden, ie: behind walls, or over ceilings, or under floors, they have to find it.  To do this they have to expose these areas…they have to open the walls or the ceilings, or the floors, to find a sinister little phenomenon that they call “Fire Extension.”   Using the right tool to expose this can mean the difference between life and death….No Joke.

See the three-pronged grapple talons, or, as I like to call them, ‘whosie-whatsies’ on the one end?  (Do NOT judge my kitchen rug…I’m not a photographer, people! I’m a Mama!)

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It’s closed, then with a twist of the multi-tool handle, the spring-loaded talons open.  It can be used to break through a ceiling or wall, and the talons will fold down as it passes through the drywall, then open to a grapple-hook of sorts… (Do NOT judge my poor camera skills!)

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…which then can grab more dry wall, or whatever they are trying to clear to get to fire extension.  It saves valuable time and muscle resource, and come on, it’s cool as all get out.

See the loop on each end?

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Those are for attaching rescue carabiners, in case of a need to bailout of a window, or off a roof, or some such calamity.  In other words, a firefighter in need of extreme escape can ram the grapple hook through a wall after attaching his rope to it, and then fling himself down and away from the inferno with a much greater chance of survival.  That’s a good thing!

And see this other end?

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It’s a hammer. It’s a Prying End. It’s a combo-grip.  This end is great for prying apart trim work, breaking doors,  ramming walls, and other forcible entry needs, and it’s also a mighty comfortable handle.

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And look at the grip.  THAT is a grip, baby! (I’m talking about the handle, not the hand!)

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OF COURSE I did my homework, and asked the company to send the right size for My Captain.  The Fire Falcon comes in many sizes to fit each firefighter!  My Beloved is a long, tall drink of water, and he needed a big one!

I think he liked it.  I KNOW he wasn’t expecting his Valentine’s present to be made of Steel and Fiberglass.  I definitely know he is the only one on his shift that is getting one for Valentine’s Day!  He’s special!  So yeah, I think he liked it.

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Wanna know how I know?

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I win!!

 

Love,

Valentine’s Queen, 2016

 

 

Categories: Family, Fire and Rescue | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

~ Are You Freaking Kidding Me??!! ~

“Lest We Ever Forget” has already been forgotten in many places across the nation.

“Are you freaking kidding me?”  You ask, having been watching several news clips about September 11th.

Yup. Case and point: My Captain spoke all day at our local middle school to 7th graders who were not even born when the attacks occurred, who had no real knowledge of the why’s and how’s of it all going down, and who really, to be honest, in their lack of understanding, did not care about it.  Apparently the 60 second news bits they had seen didn’t quite bring it to life for them.

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But after My Captain spoke to them, and showed them the timeline, and his experiences there with Urban Search and Rescue, they all got VERY sober.

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The whole room was bathed in quiet contemplation of a world that was different before terrorism came to our soil.  They listened respectfully about how so many innocent people died during our nation’s introduction to the new reality of domestic terrorism.

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My Captain grows increasingly frustrated that “Lest We Ever Forget” is, in reality, being forgotten.  Being there is one thing, trying to bring children to that place with mere words and pictures is quite another.  You can tell them that the fire at the World Trade Center burned around 1500 degrees…and that we know this because it takes that much to bend steel…and you can try to explain why the people above the 77th floor or the 93th floor would rather jump than burn and suffocate….but it is just another story to them.  It could be another “Terminator” movie in its surreality.

How do you take those children back to that awful day?

On Facebook, I saw firefighters in other states lamenting that their children heard nothing but a passing paragraph in a history book of the tragic, life-changing, country-changing events of that hateful day.

And I realized that at some point, we have to do something to stop the growing apathy…because that will lead to ignorance…and that will lead to history repeating itself.

I’d like to find someone we could work with to videotape next year’s school visit for My Captain, so that when he can no longer share these experiences with the kids in person, his video could.   A video of his story could also be something that could be shared county-wide or further, because I don’t think our whole national school system is talking about this to the generations who were not there!

But until then, he feels his efforts aren’t enough.  He knows he’s swimming against the tide of apathy and ignorance of that fateful day.  He still tries his best, though.

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And in the end, all you can do is have lunch with the kids after your lecture,

…and allow them to have their childhood back.

But Beloved, please know that, inadequate as it may seem to you, every time you go to that school and do your best to impart the history of that horrible, horrible day, you ARE honoring those firemen, and policemen, and innocent people who were murdered.  You honor their memories and their sacrifice.  You DO.

YOU have never forgotten, and those souls will always know that.

And to you, Dear Reader, if you agree that we mustn’t let this slip into sound bites and relative oblivion…if this moves you at all, or speaks to you on some level, will you please help spread the awareness and share this post?  No pressure.

Okay maybe a little pressure.

But not an uncomfortable amount.  Just enough to make you want to share.

Continue reading

Categories: Fire and Rescue, Urban Search and Rescue | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

~ Tough Love Competition ~

It is the eve of September 11th.  A sober night for our country, and particularly poignant for My Captain, since he was deployed with Maryland Task Force One to join the collapse rescue effort that morning at the Pentagon.

untitledCCHe would spend the next 7 gruesome days on the ground of the disaster as the Task Force Leader of Maryland Task Force One, leading their effort to find any viable survivors.

They found none.  Not a single one.  Plenty of burning jet fuel and rubble, but no survivors.

One “holy cow” story that came out of his experience that deployment actually happened on 9/12.  A man in a military uniform was brought to My Captain during the rescue efforts because he had a NEED to get to a desk on the exact spot the plane hit.  It turned out that there was a file on that desk about the very man they knew they had to find:  Osama Bin Laden.   The military man needed to get to that desk and find that file.  My Captain feared there was no way the file or probably even the desk had survived.  But they got that man up the treacherously unstable rubble pile, and UNBELIEVABLY the desk was sitting right next to where the building collapsed, and the file was still sitting on it…unscathed.  UN-FREAKING-SCATHED.

No one could believe it.

There are other 9/11 deployment stories My Captain shares.  We’ll save them for another time.  He does share some of them every year with our local middle school on 9/11.

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In fact, he’ll be there all day tomorrow, as he has for the past several years, telling the kids about a day they were not even born to experience.  It’s crazy that those kids never knew the Pre-terrorist America as we did, growing up.

These thoughts were rattling around in my head as I was methodically doing the dishes this evening.   I thought about all of the families that were forever changed in that brief morning, and how all of those people never knew it was coming.  They never got one final goodbye.  One final hug or kiss.  They weren’t ready.

My eyes drifted to this:

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and I smiled.  Several months ago, I came down one morning and saw a note from My Captain that merely read: “I love you dearly.”

I left that note up there because every time I saw it, well, I felt warm, and tingly, and loved.

And then sometime this summer, I noticed that Varmint had added to it: “I love you more!”

And then sometime later, My Captain wrote: “I love you both the most!”

And then my Varmint wrote: “I call loving you guys infinity!”

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It was absolutely juvenile, and disturbing that we can’t even love each other without some kind of competition.

But truly, it makes me smile even bigger than before because, unlike so many of the victims of 9/11, we treat every day in this house as if we will never get the chance to say we love each other again.  Partly because My Captain’s profession is one of risk and danger.  And partly because of the lesson that was that horrible day.

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One we will never forget in our household.

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That’s My Captain in the white officer’s shirt at the far right of this picture.  If you are wondering why they were smiling, it was because they’d been deployed for 7 straight days and they were being relieved to go home…they were about to see their loved ones.  And they knew they were given the great gift to live another day to see those dear ones.

And love them.

Even if it was in an oddly competitive manner.

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~ Icing On The Cake ~

Yesterday, on My Captain’s 50th birthday, the entire Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Operations Staff were out pounding the pavement for their annual Muscular Dystrophy Association Fundraising Drive.

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In other words, they were trading in their good looks and charming dispositions for the loose change in the ashtray of every vehicle that stopped at the intersection they held up.

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It was a hot, humid day, as always.  Actually, it was a hot and humid 3 days, as all three shifts in the county get to participate.  They actually compete against each other to see who can raise the most donations.  In years past, My Captain’s shift has fared really well on that contest.  I don’t know what they were doing to win…maybe going shirtless and just wearing their running gear pants and suspenders or something.  (Obviously, the female firefighters could seriously pull in the moola with that maneuver).

One year, I offered to stand out there with them. It was hotter than this year, and I, in all of my soft and squishy mama-ness got overheated and nearly passed out.  It was rawwwwthar embarrassing, took time for the guys to get me out of the street and into the shade, and basically was a big pain in the butt for people trying to accomplish something other than dealing with me!

This year I was like, “Hey Hon, do you want me to come hold a boot for a while?” and he was like, “Er…don’t you have a birthday cake to make or something?”

But fortunately, they didn’t really need me and my begging talents.   All the fire stations’ shifts were already out.  This is Engine 732’s crew.  They are the next station over from My Captain’s station.  Their station is shiny and new and big and has professionals to clean the place unlike My Captain’s aging firehouse.  Those things don’t make 32 a better fire shift, but it is something I like to bring up over and over again, just to stir the pot.

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And here is Station 8’s Captain, none other than My Captain’s best friend, (since 3rd grade when his father forced him to play with My Captain,) Ty.

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Ty lets his wife hold the boot.

Well, he kind of has to, since she is a firefighter:

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paramedic/badass:

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at Fire Station 34, who probably doesn’t fall out in a little heat during the MDA drive.

But the point is, she gets to play.

And I don’t.  I mean, geez, you fall out one time and they never let you come play in the traffic again.

Where was I?

Oh yeah, Captain Ty was out in the traffic, too.

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I think we can all agree that Ty is hot.  No, I mean HOT, like, it was stinkin HOT, and humid out.

That, and he’s really good looking and virile.  If you like that sort of thing.

Which Maggie does.

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And she’s no slouch herself.

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I want to be her when I grow up.   I also want to be a Moose.   Like a real Montana Moose.  But that is for an entirely different counseling session, altogether.

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Back to My Captain’s shift.  So they were out playing in the traffic, raising quite a bit of  money for Jerry’s Kids.

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And nobody got hit this year.

Which is nice.

Last year, My Captain had a few near misses.  We won’t elaborate on why people with ADD shouldn’t play in traffic, I don’t care what their rank is.

At the end of the day, the guys counted up all the donations.  I think My Captain’s shift pulled in something like $8,000.  THAT is a LOT of pennies, folks.  Some of them, Canadian.

I think they also received a few Hershey’s Park play tokens, and a few ladies’ phone numbers, but MDA let them keep those.

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But NONE of this is the point to this post. The POINT is that last year, for My Captain’s birthday, I had the time to bake him his favorite Boston Cream Pie.

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It was a real Beaut!

THIS year, however, my kitchen is all torn up, I’m not sure where all of my baking pans are, and I didn’t have time.   It’s his 50th birthday, and I couldn’t even bake him a ding-dang cake, even though he was working all day in the heat for MDA during his shift, AND running emergency calls, AND trying to get administration stuff done.   And I couldn’t even give him a homemade cake.

I suck, is what I’m saying.

But I DID go buy a cake that the shift could share after they got off of the roads last night.  And since I suck, I didn’t order it decorated ahead of time, so I had to write the birthday wishes on it myself.

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I had a little trouble with the icing.

Ahem.

My Captain sent me a photo after they cut into it, to show me how well the icing fared, as it sat in the fire house, for hours, waiting for the guys to finish the MDA  street walking……2015-09-03 15.52.09

Eeeesh.

It’s a damn good thing that My Captain has low expectations in a mate.

Don’t judge.

Categories: Family, Fire and Rescue | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

~ Getting Old In A Firehouse ~

A half-century.

Fifty stinkin’ years.

Most of those fighting fires as a Captain, and saving lives as a Paramedic.

Most of those getting up ridiculously early.

Most of those having sleep interrupted, often several times a night, to respond to 911 calls.

Most of those mentoring younger firefighters and paramedics.

Most of those training and supporting Special Ops men and women in the art of collapse rescue.

Most of those in the front, right side “Officer’s Seat” of the fire engine.

And today, being his 50th birthday, as he came onto his shift at the butt-crack of dawn, he was reminded so very well of exactly how much respect he has earned.

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Firehouse style.

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Happy Birthday, My Beloved Old Fart!  May you have many, many more.

(And may you have an opportunity to get them back!)

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