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Fire and Ice

Opening a new chapter in life’s book is usually filled with excitement and joy. There can be pain and disappointment as well. Summer brings activity and the ability to be outside. Sometimes in the rush to get the gusto of life we rush passed some of the best moments of our lives. Savoring the moments and making a few new ones are what Life is all about! This summer has been about changing and living with the pain and enjoyment.
I had some great vacations and work has been steady and gratifying. I have seen my 2 sons, Jim and Paul ,turn from the children of their youth to Men ready to take on this world. We have had magnificent weather and with our Scout training have not really let the weather impact our lives. We actually embrace the daily conditions. I follow several WX Geeks on twitter and am a pretty good Amateur meteorologist myself.
Summer camp at Camp Raven Knob had a first this year. No ceremonies rained out! Wow all Wed. night and Brotherhood were completed for all 7 weeks of camp. Cool weather and low humidity was in place many weeks and our Thunderstorm chances were low. That all changed this week the middle of August.
I had felt a need to do more physical activity to control my weight and diet. I walked but not regularly and the opportunity to workout with Jay Harmel at my Vienna Fire Dept. came to me the week before we went to summer camp at CRK in July. We set a daily program of mornings at 7 and evening at 7 depending on the day or night work schedule of Jays Job as Water plant Operator.
WE got started and began a program of health maintenance and toning using walking, stretching and lifting weights. Having done little lifting over the years (NONE) I was introduced gently to weight lifting. We have a Smith Free weight machine and have tailored a workout that tones and strengthens many areas that have gone unused… These were what I call New Muscles!!!
With an old rotator cuff injury in my left shoulder I had been favoring that side of my body, left knee was also weak and needed help. Jay helped me stretch and work the muscle groups around both shoulder and knee. We targeted the large muscles and began to tone and actually improve the amount of movement I have in my knee. The fun began when we pushed the muscles to their limits and beyond.. Fire!
Vienna FD started a new season of outdoor training with July focus on Driving and Pumping. Short indoor information sessions and practical instruction coupled with the put it into practice practicals lead by our Lt.s and Capt.s have built our teams and communications as well as the muscle memory needed to retain the exercise.
August has been all Extrication with a Focus on our alternative fueled vehicles. Instructors and crew leaders learn as much as the students making the scenarios and evolutions as real and fun as possible. WE have been blessed to have great tools and techniques as well as many years of practical experience. Members from busier Departments and those with a 4 lane were able to impart their experience with more velocity and multiple accidents. August will finish with a guest instructor and scenarios designed to test our crews.
Putting it all into practice and keeping cool under Fire and Stress is Ice.. We are not there yet but are freezing little by little!

We Deliver

I live!
I can say I am truely living with great enthusiasm and effort. I am exercising and working and volunteering and really enjoying life. I am so proud of our little but Mighty Fire Department. Our Board and Corporation made the decision to be a full service Fire Department in 1974. A Rescue Squad was formed and the building expanded and modified and Vienna got an Advanced First aid class together. Couples and a few individuals joined. We were off and running calls. The call volume has increased and many of the couples have since stopped running calls. All firemen are now EMTs and we have a paid staff that helps us take care of our community.” Neighbors Helping Neighbors” is borrowed from the Old Richmond FD. We are there for all the pain and joys of needing help. Fire, Rescue , or EMS assistance, Vienna can do it all and if we cannot any of our neighbor departments will jump at the chance to come assist.
Politics, Regulations, Standards, and the complications of staying current, certified, and up to date give us a fit. We have found a way to work with our youth and make the job better and more appealing than the bad juju we sometimes have to see and experience.
That bad juju is what caused most of our couples to transition out of the rescue squad. That and the need to continue to improve and attain the EMT. We have looked death and terror in the eyes and for the most part stared it down. I have looked at fear in my patients eyes and seen death there too. I have held hands while loved ones past-on. I have given what almost all Fire Departments do everyday- Give Compassion. Been there Done that. I am proud of Vienna because when we look you in the Eye and say we can help…. WE DELIVER

Life’s Transitions

The events of the last few months have been leading up to and culminating in our Beach Vacation. Working was a means to an end and even the fun stuff I do was to move us forward to Vacation. I will have 2 very different weeks off. The family beach vacation and Camp at Raven Knob.
No pampering for this crowd, We prepared every meal and cleaned the cooking area and each morning and afternoon we schlepped down to the beach and played in the ocean and chilled. We fought the intense sun and then the stupid tropical depression that became the Hurricane Arthur.
Family, Good times, Great food and of course “not at work” made this trip memorable… And Jim asking our girl Victoria Reid to marry him… Memories and a Transition
My second Vacation involved going to my Beloved Camp Raven Knob. I prepared with the T919 scouts and adults and loaded the trailers and made the 52 mile journey to Camp via Golden Corral. We got duly health checked and setup and made the 1 mile trek to the dining hall.
I had made the mistake {or had the good fortune} to start a morning workout regimen with Jay Harmel. I was sore and so was Jay… We thought we would work it out while at camp . Work we did- projects for the Ranger Dave and assist Chris with camp fires for Wednesday and oversee the youth Vigil enthusiasm. All was great and we had success in lighting the Happy Trail and building fires and getting enough wood split for the fires for the rest of the summer.
Those daily mile walks helped relieve some soreness and replaced some with new aches and pains. I realized I had almost walked out of my shoes. I was actually looking forward to the coming work weeks and Working out with Jay.
Life is about choices and not without some very intense pain. I am working off some extra food and lazy so I am excited to see what the next few months bring- More fire stuff and teach too… Looking for great stuff… See Yall

Fighting Back with The Smile…

Accusations, mistrust, expectations, and jealousy, coupled with envy are some powerful words and actions. The joy of a life lived and the good life I live is occasionally interrupted by issues. I am saying issues from stuff, people, and the interactive life I lead. I am a polarizing leader. Love or hate usually is the way folks react to my style and person as I have chosen to take a stand in life and how I live that life. I love to smile away most stuff hurled at me with words or deeds. I am not a real fighter. I can if pressed go on the offensive.
Accuse me, imply, trick, or undermine me and I will persevere. I may give just enough rope to hang. I may continue on the correct path knowing my faith and love will overcome. I may use the good and right to be my defense. However I can be offensive and will use the intelligence I possess to look to the future and put events and traps in place to catch and bring those not involved in the good and correct into line or out.
Wise men have told me and still tell me reputation is all we have. Organizations work everyday to put best practices into place to prevent any occurrences or implied suggestion of misjudgment or wrongdoing. Highly moral organizations and those individuals involved have a long way to fall if just accused of impropriety. That being said… Leadership of these groups need to stress the good life, great communications, and a very transparent structure. We cannot hide behind mirrors or walls. Transparency should be the direction and operating principals. Great communication and a clear direction compliments the operating principals. All working together for the same goal cuts down on issues and petty jealousy and envy. Trust in those being lead is also very important.
Accuse me, imply, or Lie, and I will deal with it in a clear and direct manner. Accuse my family and those I lead and I will defend and place my full backing of the individual or organization because we operate on the principals of trust, character, honesty and I have been shown that trust is valued and nurtured over time. I will also deal with personnel issues within the group.
Being prepared is how I live my life. I am prepared with knowledge, wisdom, and equipment for life’s challenges. I am also prepared in my eternal life through the peace and trust in God. I am prepared to Die and live eternally. My question is: Are You prepared to fight the battles of life for good and right? Are you ready for the dirt and filth that can be hurled at you and those you love? Can you smile knowing you can outlast the mean, unjust, and just plain stupid? Will you Fight for Right? Live your life in the upright and transparency required and avoid the pitfalls of greed, jealousy, and lust. I can and Do… Bring it if you dare!

Ridin the Tractor

Having the best friends in the world is amazing. Wayne and Doug are those kind of friends. If it needs digging or piped or concreted they can do it. We had a job to do involving digging and saving 1500 to 2000 dollars. Roberta’s mom had water standing over the septic system every time it rained. We changed the complete slope of the field behind the house and sloped the backyard out to the waterway we dug parially in the field and around the yard. .
I have some practical experience in the Ag Engineering field of my education. I have had to regrade almost every piece of land that I have owned. My little tractor is called Mighty mouse by Wayne… It is a 2530 John Deere with a front loader and belly mower and I have a box scrape that works miracles. I learned from my classes that a wide flat bottom waterway will handle most storm runoff and I have a 100 yr and 24 hr design I keep in my head.
We had to handle the drainage issue first and got finished up and had lots of dirt to move. Wayne had cut a ditch during the winter and I started working flat bottom and sides so we could mow it easily. I was moving dirt to the low spots and filling in the holes while the backhoe helped me out. Doug had used the transit and laser and we identified the high and low spots in the yard. A challenge was to keep the water from the field travelling around the house and not backing up and infiltrating the Septic field.
I got the waterway where I wanted it and started working on the back yard. I had a swale to contend with before I could get the water out of the yard into the new waterway.While I was doing this I was working the dirt left over from repairing the drainage issues. I was able to fill the box scrape and ride around smoothing and resurfacing . Wayne and Doug finished up and took off. I continued to work pulling the scrape and pushing and then walking the ditch-line and eyeing the line.
We had had some storms forecast and it boomed just north and we hurried before lunch. I was content to ride around and smooth and tweak waiting on the rain. I wanted to see enough rain and see what it did. Would it run off the backyard instead of standing and infiltrating the field? Would the waterway work? I finally got the rain and had to race the tractor to the shed. I ran to the garage and got the umbrella. I would check the ditch and backyard while it was raining. Worked Whoop Whoop

How Many Times?

We are all wire differently (thank goodness) and I got the caring and compassionate gene. I have been putting this part of my repertoire to work since the late 80’s. EMT required some caring and people skills… Funny huh. I got the Deputy Chief job and Rick was our Assistant Chief and we started conducting and attending funerals.
Our Original membership was aging to the point of leaving us slowly. A tight knit family even with some members retired from the service 10-15-or 20 years. A Brotherhood both literally and figuratively. We named our death benefit fund “The Brotherhood”. Members could join and if served 20 years we kept paying the assessments. A huge benefit was the cash money available to the spouse when all assets were frozen.
After a few Vienna Deaths I, Walt, or Rick became the contact person with the family. We made contact and paid the Brotherhood check in the 1st 24 hrs. We also used this time to offer Vienna FD presence at the Funeral or Memorial. Rick, Walt or Myself made the arrangements with the Funeral home and Church and Family and the amount and level of presence we had.
We merged with another Fire Department and I got a whole new Brotherhood list. This was harder because we Key 3 may have not seen or spoken to this group in years or ever. I took the Chief job in 2004 and between Vienna and Mt. Tabor we had 12 funerals that year. Vienna was Incorporated in 1954 Mt. Tabor the Same Year. That put many members in the 70+ age bracket during the 2000’s.
I have had to attend LODD in other Departments and after experiencing 911 in 2001 and the memorials I am proud of the Honor we attach to our Veterans and Members. The tradition and meaning is magnificent.
I guess the answer to my question is “As many as it takes” as long as I am Able.
We bought a Bell to Honor all past members and those we lost each Year and I almost hate to get it out. I am so proud after we Ring that bell for Last Alarm it gets me over each time.
Thanks for the ears and Eyes to those that read and the untold amount of support over the Years. I give a piece of myself each time I help someone else. Thanks for helping me stay Whole!!

FF Worldwide

I have been blessed to enter a large number of Fire Stations and Departments over the years. I have arrived as a visitor, assisting FF and as an Instructor. I have enjoyed my time as a NCDOI DCC Certified Instructor since 1986, I have taught at Vienna and in Forsyth Co, since the formation of our FF1 n 2 Classes.
I followed through to Specialty classes and became an adjunct Instructor for the National Fire Academy in ICS. The basic classes allowed me to be very personal with FF of all ages. Youth and Skill and the ability to bounce back from stressed muscles really kept me on my toes. Teaching what I knew and what I could get from magazines, Books by Leaders, and training series starting with Overhead and slides was my goal. I learned along with the rest of the class when I took on some evolutions I had not experienced.
The FF and their friends , cohorts and families have been a blessing along the way. I am a list making kind of guy. I also give nicknames to help my memory with names. Every Fire Department I enter has a common mix of individuals and I like to classify them as well as wonder Who are the Book, paper, and tough as nails FF.
In my department (Which is the Best By the Way) we have our fair share of individuals and characters. We range from the very experienced and very competent to the very young and naive. Competence and experience do not always go together. We all have the ability to have bright shining moments and those less than stellar. We have individuals that can walk through walls and lift and move just about anything. We have FF that will hang in there and go through Fire to get the job done. Tested and hardened by fire is tempered. Steel heated and folded upon itself and heated and molded becomes changed and many times hardened.
We have the core group and each member knows who can be counted on for each of the different situations we may encounter. Great interior FF may not like heights, Great Rescue members may not enjoy the confines of the SCBA and Black, Hot, and unknown. Great Extrication techs and Engineers may not like to swim. We have all kinds and my mentor used to say not everyone needs to visualize the whole plan,”We need ditch diggers too”.
It takes a large number of individuals to accomplish the goals of any Fire Department. Safety of the Community and Ourselves is our Goal. Achievement of the Goal is based on Talent, Risk accepted, timing, and most important the People (Individuals or Characters) coming together to achieve that goal. MORE TO COME
#Besafe, #LeadingfromtheFront, #myfrontporchtotheFireService


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