21,483 calls in 36 years

2 December 2008

It’s been more than a week, and I still am saddened when I think of the loss of Phil Rounds. Ben Fleagle already did a better job than I did talking about it, and was closer to the loss. Right now, I feel pretty close, though. My thoughts go out to all in the Great White North.

And there are many who also appreciate the efforts of those who show how he was missed. Staff at the News-Miner did an excellent job with a several articles and an obituary. While I’m at it, I’d like to thank Todd Shechter for several email forwards, Josh Zwart for the thirty second version of A-shift history and pumpkin pie, and my wife for her diligence on Facebook.

But I think the most impressive is this video. Taken by Carol Falcetta, it shows the procession down University Avenue in Fairbanks towards Phil’s memorial service. The music is very nice, and the video itself shows some small measure of the respect this man held. First of all, remember that every engine pictured represents an entire department that committed to sending a crew for this. Also, for those of you fire service folks out there, wait until the end and count the number of law enforcement. Try to imagine another firefighter getting that kind of help from cops.

We’ll miss you, Phil.


The Parting Glass

24 November 2008

I was always the awkward kid. The one who read too much and played too little; not strong, not brave, not confident. I was that kid well into my teens and if you watch me now, you’ll still see it occasionally. I don’t quite know how, therefore, I decided to be a firefighter: full-time for a few years, a volly for a few more, and now getting lost in the woods on a regular basis.

Maybe blame my roommate Myles, who talked me into taking an EMT class, or the instructor of that class, the incomparable Deena Thomas (nee Stout). Maybe blame Bud Rotroff, who made clear from the first Fire Science class I took with him that this was where serious people lived. But certainly, a great share of the blame can be laid on Battalion Chief Phil Rounds, who commanded respect for the University Fire Department from the first moment he entered a room. Ben Fleagle has written it already, all I want to do is lend my own voice to talking about a great guy I knew, who passed away a few days ago.
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Numbers in context

4 December 2007

I am well accustomed to having difficulty finding a sense of scale for certain things (e.g., low temperatures, travel distances, the price of gasoline) as a result of living in The Other Two for twelve years. I was surprised to hear this morning, however, that I-5 is closed in Southern Washington today due to flooding. My surprise originates not from the closure itself, but from the descriptions of the storm that caused it:

A severe storm smacked the region Monday with hurricane-force winds and several inches of rain, and was blamed for four deaths.” (Yahoo News),

Rescue boats were used to grab flood-stranded residents, and GPS-equipped helicopters were used at night. ” (CNN, but from later in the same AP story)


My point in all of this was that the total amount of rainfall was somewhere between four and ten inches in something like twenty-four hours. Hilo barely even opens its collective umbrellas when that happens. I guess I’ll be adding ‘twenty-four hour rainfall’ to my list of ungrounded comparisons.

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Well, no tsunami yesterday, completing the trifecta of non-disasters. The potential here was anulled rather quickly, but it took a while longer to clear things in Chile. We did, however, have another earthquake last night. This one was centered, as nearly as I can tell, just a few miles northwest of our house. Also, again last night the clouds were at just the right elevation to be spectactularly illuminated by the 21 July fissure.

And another thing. . .

15 August 2007

Oddly enough, while I was writing the last post about earthquakes, a m7.5 occurred off the coast of Peru, prompting a potential tsunami message. Then two more near-m6 earthquakes in Peru.

Here we go again.

Fire behavior

7 August 2007

One of those things that you can learn a lot about and still not know all you need to. And now, according to a New Scientist article (behind the paywall), added to the list of ‘phenomena long classed as scientifically impossible despite robust observations by roughnecks.‘ Since I didn’t pay either, I don’t know how the rest of the article describes these incidents, but any experience involving a fully involved safety zone certainly sounds like something important to find out about.

Given the number of firefighters prone to confusing flashover and rollover, though, it is safe to say that there could be better study and education on the whole kit and kaboodle. I guess spending about twelve hours in the last two days inside a forty foot shipping container in high heat made me nostalgic for the times when finding myself in that environment meant there was live fire training going on.

Where I want to be

30 June 2007

I can only handle so much coolness at once. I ran across these conference proceedings about the confluence of chaos theory and disaster response a while ago, but didn’t have time to read. Nor do I now, and not least of all because I just found these conference proceedings about the uses of digital globe applications in environmental (and other) science outreach.

That’s a lot of reading.