Rhett Fleitz has announced to the world he will be at the JEMS & FireEMSBlogs.com Meetup (sponsored by Physio Control) tonight at Uno Chicago Grill – Harborplace Pratt Street Pavilion, 201 East Pratt Street, 2nd floor in Baltimore from 8:00 until 11:00. Captain Willie Wines, his chaperone, body guard and driver, is on the way to Baltimore with this true fire and EMS celebrity as I write this.
Please line up early for the self-proclaimed King of Fire & EMS blogs to sign your FireCritic.com paraphenalia. Be orderly. We don’t want Willie the Moustache to have to break bad on you. And please, please, don’t speak to the King until he speaks to you first. And whatever you do, don’t touch him (that’s protocol with royalty and he’s also very fragile). I have been assured that Willie has the fake ID so King Rhett can get in the place and won’t have to sit outside like last time.
I believe there will be some other bloggers there (including me). But we know that’s not important when the King is around.
Despite this rare and important event for his loyal subjects, STATter911.com has learned all may not be well in the Kingdom. This little video above will give you a preview of what to expect in Baltimore.
Our friends at FireEMSblogs.com including Backstep Firefighter Bill Carey and Fire Critic Rhett Fleitz have been running something called a blog carnival for a while. Looking at some of the silliness that has been going on in the fire blogosphere of late, a three-ring circus might be a better description. The idea is for a bunch of us write about the same topic and it is all posted together. This is my first carnival but not my first rodeo.
ChiefReasonArt.com lowers its standards. Click the image to lower yours.
This time the goal is for us to come up with a social media policy for our departments. Obviously I don’t have a department to write a policy for. When I did have a department, more than 30-years-ago, we didn’t have social media, just social diseases. Now we have both. I guess it’s progress that you can blog about your social disease and how you caught it.
I gave the project of coming up with this policy to my crack staff here at STATter911.com’s World Headquarters. The video above is what they came up with.
If you can sit through latest in the back and forth that has taken place between Iron Firemen’s Willie Wines and Rhett (more on that in a second) there are actually some nuggets of useful information (seriously). My top ten suggestions for firefighters using social media are buried somewhere in the video.
You will also find that in many ways the video itself is a good example of why you need to have good social media practices.
Now, for the few who have been following the three-way blog/video conversation that Willie, Rhett and I have been entertaining ourselves with, there is bad news. It has grown. It is now a foursome.
Seriously, what does this guy Fleitz have against me that he would publish these old photos? Have I done something to him?
Art Goodrich has added his mighty pen to this battle of nitwits (you would think he would be smarter than to get involved with us). Art may be the only one who has any real talent. He can actually write.
Please view ChiefReasonArt.com’s I-Team investigation (did you know there is no “you” in I-Team?) on my running battle with The Fire Cricket (AKA Fireboy from Roanoke, King of the Fire Blogs, Cotton Candy & Willie’s Little Buddy). Art somehow penetrated the security at the STATter911.com World Headquarters Building. You can read what he found at CSI – Roanoke; Special Blogs Unit.
I have prepared an official response to this absolutely scurrilous report. Here is my statement:
It has come to our attention that a blogger who goes by the name Chief Reason Art has made some allegations about our operation. We are distressed that a former fire chief and respected member of the fire service community would print what amount to lies and innuendo. At the advice of legal counsel we will not be able to provide specifics about any of these allegations and will have no further comment on this matter.
These assaults on me are coming from many different directions (including my own people). The video below (from IronFiremen.com’s Willie Wines) was apparently shot in an emergency department in Roanoke. It includes someone they claim is me standing over a gurney carrying an apparently unconscious fire blogger. You will have to view it to get the full context.
And finally The Fire Cricket checks in from Roanoke. He has uncovered two pictures from my past that I am sure my enemies (and there are many) will enjoy seeing. I really don’t understand why this guy Fleitz is after me. Seriously, what have I done to tick him off?
Early this morning in Rochester: Lots of fire on Wadsworth Street in this Guy Zampatori video. Pictures and fireground audio can be found at Monroe County Fire Wire.
The regeneration blues coming to a firehouse near you: Read how one fire chief finds the time-outs for regeneration on his department’s newer diesel engines quite maddening and potentially dangerous. A guest column from Boca Raton Fire Rescue’s Tom Wood. Click here.
UPDATED Houston’s Draycott scheduled to return to is back at work today: “I want to be treated like everybody else. I want to be able to go to work and not be harassed, not be retaliated against.” That’s what Firefighter Jane Draycott told the Houston Chronicle’s Terri Langford yesterday, a day before her scheduled return to HFD’s Station 54 at Bush Intercontinental Airport. Draycott attempted a return in January and found herself in the middle of a “team building” exercise with her fellow firefighters. That four-hour session resulted in a lot of transfers and the resignation of the fire chief. It has been nine-months since Draycott made the news after racist and sexual graffiti were found on Draycott’s belongings in the women’s bunk room at the firehouse. Watch as Firefighter Draycott arrives at Station 54 this morning.
Car smashes into ladder truck … inside the firehouse: Click here to read how police say the driver of a car that crashed through the bay door of a firehouse in Wisconsin may not be at fault.
Driver jailed after crashing into fire truck: Police say two motorcyclists racing near Missoula, Montana led one of them into the back of a fire truck injuring a firefighter. Here’s the story.
A busy weekend in Flint: A dozen fires, including one in a vacant warehouse Saturday that spread to another building. Officials believe 10 of them were intentionally set. So far in April there have been 107 fires compared to 37 last year. This latest arson spree began the day before layoffs were initiated at the end of March. Read and watch the story.
Erosion of political influence: That’s the title of FossilMedic Mike Ward’s latest entry on Firegeezer. Mike is wondering if these budget battles, where firefighter overtime and pensions are targeted, are taking a toll on firefighters who might otherwise enjoy the backing of the public and the politicians. Check it out.
If you would like to tell Mike Ward you agree with him or that he is full of it: You can do so in person this week at FDIC during the big Meetup at Indy on Friday at the Rock Bottom Brewery. Lots of bloggers from FireEMSBlogs.com and elsewhere will be on hand, along with their many groupies. You can even get a free drink ticket for the event by stopping by these booths-
FireRescue Magazine, FirefighterNation.com and FireEMSBlogs.com: Booth #3755
I had hoped to be there, but recent knee surgery is keeping me very close to home. My doctor didn’t think I could handle the trauma of the procedure and at the same time deal with the sharp barbs from Rhett Fleitz, The Fire Critic. But you can listen to the latest Indy news from Rhett and his partner John Mitchell (Fire Daily) on their live Firefighter Netcast (or is it Nutcast with that crew?) out of Booth 3755 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Read more.
Two-alarm fire in Fairfax County, Virginia: 9NEWS NOW’s Greg Guise shot these pictures from the fire Thursday night at an abandoned Chi Chi’s at Springfield Mall.
That was the week that was: I hope we don’t see another like this one soon. As you may have noticed the output from STATter911.com was greatly reduced this week. There are a number of reasons. Most all of them had to do with the close to 40-inches of snow dumped on and around our World Headquarters in two storms this week. Rather than bore you with all of the details (some of them are rather personal about the blog’s editor feeling rather old trying to recover from a spill he took early in the week), the key factor over the last two days has been the restringing of the FIOS cable we mentioned earlier in the week that had been sitting in the middle of the street working just fine from Saturday until Thursday. Putting it in its proper position put us out of business. But hard working Verizon crews finished stringing a new cable at 10:30 Friday night and everything is working just fine waiting for next week’s storm. Cell service is almost non-existent here at headquarters, so my computer’s air card, when it does work inside, is slower than dial-up.
This New York Post photo by Austin Riggs on Firegeezer's site sure caught my eye. There is another picture, video and details of the underground fire that went way above ground in Manhattan. Click the image to take you to Geezer Land.
Virginia’s Bermuda Triangle: That is what I am starting to call the street in front of the headquarters building. We are located at the top of what is like a long semicircle. Coming from either direction, it is downhill to reach my driveway. The angle of descent on the curved roadway, with a gully on each side, has been a challenge for those unfamiliar with these features (and even those familiar). Starting over the weekend, and continuing through Thursday night, a long list of vehicles seemed to be magnetically pulled into one of the ditches. The first vehicle was a pickup truck on Saturday at the height of the storm (just before the utility pole came crashing down a few feet away). Since then we have had a neighbor’s Jeep, two of the large power company bucket trucks and a smaller Cox Cable company bucket truck run off the road and get stuck. Thursday night it was a Virginia State contracted snow plow that failed to navigate these troubled frozen waters. The reason I know this is that it too was sitting in the ditch with its yellow flashing light shining into the STATter911.com complex.
Let me point out that during the two fire calls on my street since last week (the burning power lines and a neighbor’s CO detector activating) the crews from both Engine 418 and Engine 428 (Fairfax County) knew the area well enough to park at the top of the street and walk in. I think for the next blizzard, I will set up a camera just like the guy at the Gregson Guillotine in Durham.
The truth shall set you free: One of the newer blogs in the FireEMSBlogs group we are a part of is called The Fire PIO. It is written by Jeff Bressler, the PIO for the Smithtown Fire Department on Long Island. I have been reading it with a great deal of interest. There is a lot of useful information and Jeff gives his perspective on some of the topics we have long been interested in, like the role of social media and citizen’s armed with cameras. I also liked his look at the Los Angeles County PIO response vehicle.
But there is one posting where I think Jeff left out something extremely important. It is titled, Nothing to Say Says Volumes. Jeff is no doubt right that a no comment when the news is bad probably doesn’t serve you well. But Jeff goes on to give various ways to say no comment or to avoid answering the question the reporter is asking. This is advice I have seen given out in many PIO training classes and it is used by numerous public officials and their spokes people (and in private industry too). My question for Jeff and all of the others who believe this is the way to deal with the press and the public is this: Do you really think you are fooling anyone with evasive answers to direct questions? What happened to the truth? Isn’t that what you owe the public and isn’t it the very best way to handle the crisis created by bad news? It isn’t my job to teach newsmakers how to deal with the press, but from my experience the most effective handlers of crisis communications get the facts out quickly and clearly in an effort to get the story behind them and move on. The ones who blow it let the story drag on in the news for days or weeks. Jeff talks about disarming reporters. You want to disarm a reporter, tell them the truth when the news is bad.
Here is an example from this past week. Last Sunday there was a fire in Arlington where the house started burning when Dominion Virginia Power restored electricity to the neighborhood. That night a Dominion spokesperson said they had no details on the fire but to call them later in the week. I figured I would have to get the truth from the Arlington County Fire Department. I was wrong. Arlington County still hasn’t provided me with details on the cause and I have no idea why. But guess what, a follow-up call to the power company brought me the answer within about two hours. That answer was pretty plain and simple. It basically said it was a rare occurrence, but a crew on the scene screwed up and set that woman’s house on fire. Spokesperson LeHa Anderson explained how it happened and told me how the company was working with the victims to correct the situation. I certainly can’t speak for Ms. Anderson but I imagine she knew this was the only way to get this story behind them.
It has happened again in Memphis: A Memphis firefighter is being questioned about the shooting of his former girlfriend and it isn’t the first time Frank Graham has dealt with this type of issue. Here are the details.
Is it just me, or are we seeing a pattern here?: Click here for some new damage pictures from Wednesday’s devastating fire at Baltimore County Station 6. We have also added a couple of interesting details connected to the history of the firehouse. I count four fire stations in Maryland, Virginia and Delaware pretty much destroyed (though at last word Sykesville’s apparatus bay is usable) and the loss of three engines, a ladder truck, four ambulances, a brush truck, a boat and various other equipment. Pretty soon we are going to be talking big money. In our comments section on the Station 6 fire some point to the hypocrisy of the fire service preaching sprinklers for others, but not leading the way by insisting on them in their own buildings even when they aren’t required. Others wonder about how they are constructing fire stations. Isn’t the local fire station one of the key buildings in your community that you want to survive a natural disaster? One person wrote in a comment, “It should be built stronger than your average retail mega-store”. Are too many corners being cut to save money or is this just a run of bad luck? . Here’s our run down of the lost fire stations.
Snow advice from Wyoming: After writing about the Frederick County, Maryland firefighters whose rig was stuck in a 12-foot snow drift (they were rescued by snowmobile), we received an interesting comment. It comes from a Wyoming firefighter who doubles as a snow plow driver (and isn’t getting much work this season). Click here and scroll to the bottom.
More DC Metro problems: This time is was a derailment that sent the DC Fire & EMS Department to the Red Line. There were three minor injuries at the Farragut North station. Click here for the coverage.