An open letter.

An open letter to the members of the Washington, D.C. Fire and EMS Department, as well as all readers/fans of RaisingLadders:

Every single
day, I’m damn proud to polish my boots and walk into the Academy with our patch
on my sleeve. Some don’t understand why it’s so important—all the lint-rolling,
the posture adjustments, and shoe-shining can become annoying, for sure—but
it’s necessary. It’s necessary because these actions are the outward
representations of my place within something so much larger than myself. This
fire department has garnered so much respect from those who have walked through
these halls before me, and will inevitably continue to do so for years after
I’ve been forgotten.

This is it,
This is the show. It’s where we all strive to be; nay, it’s the very reason
we’ve trained and waited for countless years—and I’m here now. That’s a pretty
monumental achievement, and I think it would behoove every recruit (as well as
all potential recruits) to keep that in mind.

That being
said, there are a few things I’d like to state for the record regarding RaisingLadders.
Call it a disclaimer if you wish, but I feel that it’s time to clarify a few
items before they become larger issues.
was created out of a desire to chronicle my adventures through the D.C. Fire
Department. Being accepted into the Training Academy was one of the most
pivotal moments of my life thus far, and it will forever affect me regardless
of where I end up. I had always planned to write about my time with DCFD (as I
greatly enjoy writing whether I have a readership or not), but it wasn’t until
about a month before I started that I began toying with the idea of publishing
a blog.

Perhaps it was
set in motion because I wanted to let my friends/family know why I was getting
up at 4 a.m. every day; perhaps I just wanted a way to write stories and not
have an editor breathing down my neck (
who would really read it anyways?”).

I’ve received
emails from people all over the country who have asked me about my experiences
as a recruit. Most are DCFD applicants themselves; others have asked if I
wanted to be featured as a guest writer in their own blogs. I’ve shared with
them as much as I know, with no opinions or negative influences. Again, I’m
extremely proud to be a part of D.C.’s bravest, and I expressed as such to

I do not write
this blog with any slanderous motives; nor do I write with an intention to
“blow this whole thing wide open”—RL is
no means
a journalistic expose.

I’m simply
writing about some of the best years of my life, spent performing one of the
most exciting jobs in the world. I love to write, and I love my career—the two
couldn’t be paired more perfectly.

I write to
share the new emotions I experience, as well as to discuss my excitement at
becoming a firefighter (something I’ve wanted to do since I was fifteen years
old). I write to share what I’ve learned each day, in the hopes that maybe
someone else will be inspired to do the same. At the very least, I hope a few
armchair adventurers out there can live vicariously through me.

If any
person(s) involved with DCFD (which includes, but is not limited to: IAFF 36,
administrative members, firefighters, instructors, recruits) has any problems
or questions regarding my writings,
invite you to contact me directly ( and/or leave
comments on the blog.
I welcome your ideas, and would love to know what you

I will continue
to uphold my anonymity, despite the fact that it’s
really not that hard to figure out who I am; I feel that I should
respect those around me by keeping their personal information private (I, on
the other hand, have pretty much passed the point of plausible deniability).

I will do my
best to properly present the Department in an honest light; so far, it has been
an exceptional experience and I simply cannot wait to see what the next day

I thank all of
you for taking the time to read; I pen it with sheer pride,
and I can only hope you have as much fun reading it as I do writing it.



P.S. – In case
anyone was wondering, the name “Raising Ladders” came to me in a bolt of
inspiration one day. Yes, I know that if I’m assigned to an engine, it won’t
make much sense (seeing as the truck companies are the ones throwing ladders);
however, it struck me as a very apropos phrase. Ostensibly, it refers to
firefighting operations; but I found it well-suited to describe the many steps
I’ll have to take in order to become a working member of the D.C. Fire

Where I am now
in life is like climbing a ladder; I take it one day at a time, and I try and
learn something every step of the way. 

1 Comment

  • BC JY says:

    Well said RL.
    I have just passed 20 years this month and the time FLEW by. I applaud you reflections and attempt to capture the rapture of the academy. I have had some fun rethinking those days in light of my recent milestone. I hope those that are not in the fire service read your blog, I hope those in the fire service read your blog. Keep it coming and good luck, keep focused, and stay safe.

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