Happy New Year to everyone—I'm glad to see that our little blue planet has made it another year without something truly awful happening, and for that I'm thankful.
Like I said back in March, I'm still a firm believer in "the best camera is the one that's with you." What good is $3,000 worth of camera gear if it's in your closet? It's been a good year, and I've definitely captured some moments. I present to you now my favorite images and photos of 2011 (don't forget about the most recent photo collection I posted just a short while ago!)
Here's to one hell of a 2012.
I started off the year with some cool research (my welcome-to-2011 post from last year). It was pretty cool to find old maps of what DC looked like back when Engine 15 was founded, and seeing that some street names stuck around from 1898. The full post is available here, if you want more maps.
There were a couple of fires this year, too. This one was right around the corner… gotta love a first-due house fire to kick the year off. (As it turns out, I'm at work as I write this, and one of my good friends found himself up to his ass in this Northeast rowhouse just a few hours ago. Lucky bastard.)
It was a damn shame I was on an ambulance when this one came out around 3am one night. At least I was able to show up, help flake some hose, and snap a few pictures. The guys from Squad 3 told me that they had a good time on this one. Sheesh.
I helped out a few of the guys at the firehouse fix their bikes…
One of the darker moments of last year came when several guys from my house got burned up in one of the bigger fires of the year. Thankfully, they've all recovered wonderfully, and the firefighter who got it the worst is back to full duty.
The Andy Fredericks Training Days in Virginia was truly an eye-opener, and there were some stellar instructors who were gracious enough to pass on their (combined) 100+ years of knowledge about the fire service. So, who's signing up for this year? Registration opens January 8th.
One of the coolest things about working in a firehouse that has some serious history behind it is digging up that history. This commendation was in the back of the storage closet, stacked with a whole host of other similar items. Come to think of it, would our chief even give these out anymore?
One shift was spent at Reagan National Airport with what felt like damn near every company from Virginia and a whole bunch of us from DC. Huge inter-agency Mass-Casualty drill sponsored by the airport? Yup, it was as cool as it sounds. Very neat to see the simulated plane crash and our resulting "response."
"The Marina's on fire! The Marina's on fire!" We lost a lot of good boats that day. I mean, when you fill a vessel up with water, and it's already in the water… hey, can't save 'em all. The fireboat damn near sprayed me right off the deck, too.
I took some time off and went to England. It was a much-needed vacation, so I unfortunately didn't do any exploration of the British fire service (unlike my 2010 trip to Europe, when I spent a good bit of time in an Irish firehouse).
Did I mention that I adopted a dog?
I survived the great earthquake of 2011, too. It locked up the city for damn near a day, too—much to the fire department's chagrin, since communications was overrun with calls and the guys working that day were ridiculously busy resetting fire alarms and investigating possible collapsed structures.
Every so often we have to take a little trip down to the Training Academy while we're on shift. It's good to see that the old wagon we tagged is still alive and kicking… and our class numbers are undisturbed.
I know it's an old photo, but the previous shot made me feel a little nostalgic. The blog officially turned three this year… and it all started with the Academy. (God, remember when I still called it "Recruit Class 994?" Haha, anonymity is overrated.)
My Battalion Chief celebrated his thirtieth (yes, thirtieth) year on the job. Also monumental this year, our wagon driver hit twenty years—and every one of them was at 15 Engine. Here's a bit more about him, and someone else's photos.
I've been experiencing more and more firehouses this year, what with being detailed to EMS units all over the city. Also, trading with people at different houses is interesting, to see a different side of the city than my usual "Southeast experience." Working uptown or over in Georgetown isn't half bad, every once in a while… it's a very welcome respite, in terms of call volume. I even got to work with the Naked Chef on one trade! (Thankfully, there were no repeats of his, *ahem*, transgressions.)
On a more personal note, I got married! Right here in the city, to boot. 2011 was a great year if for no other reason
(We honeymooned in Barcelona. It was awesome.)
Back stateside, Engine 15 responded to assist Santa (and Toys for Tots) with distribution of presents on Christmas Eve.
Unfortunately, a sadder ongoing of 2011 that will certainly continue into 2012 is what I've witnessed first-hand amongst the members. Dissention in the ranks, reduction in morale, and new rumors every day can make work a bit… edgy. Ultimately, however, our dedication to the job and the pride that we hold for our profession cannot be quashed. We may falter, we may stumble—but we will stay strong. Our union (IAFF Local 36) president penned a very poignant opinion piece for the Washington Post two days ago; do us a favor and have a read.
Despite the problems, the arguments, the scare tactics, or the generally uncoordinated efforts of the administration, one thing remains the same—my crew is an amazing group of guys who have my back, just like I have theirs. It's a great feeling, whether we're getting the knock on a fire, running a medical call, or just plain bullshitting around the firehouse. It's one of the main reasons I still love coming to the same job for the past three years, and I hope to feel that way for years to come. We put out some fires, and we saved some lives—here's to a great 2011, and thanks for everything you guys have taught me thusfar.
…oh yeah, and one more thing: SuperSafety Rocco says: "stay safe out there!"
Thanks to my friends and family, everyone at FireEMSBlogs.com along with all of my fellow bloggers, and most importantly: my readers. You've made it the best year yet for RaisingLadders, and it looks like it's only getting better!