I’m a Washington, D.C. firefighter and paramedic who graduated from the DC Fire Academy in June of 2009. This blog originally began as a way to tell my friends and family what my job was like without having to call everyone I knew every couple of days, but it has since grown in ways I couldn’t imagine when I first conceived of the idea. I know I’m not the first to do something like this, but I hope that my writings are enjoyable for all.

I began my career as a volunteer EMT with the Sterling Volunteer Rescue Squad when I was 16 years old; I wanted to be a firefighter, but the process to become one where I grew up was so long that I would have moved away to college before I could do anything significant. So, my career in EMS began, and spanned through my time at the University of Pittsburgh, where I worked as an Emergency Room Technician in one of the city’s biggest trauma centers as I studied to become a paramedic.

However, I never forgot my original dream—finally, seven years later, I find myself a firefighter in a major city that I now call home.

I’m an avid photographer in my free time, and that skill came in quite handy during the Academy (there was, after all, no shortage of interesting things to photograph when we were learning how to fight fires).

I appreciate all comments, questions, or rants, so don’t hesitate to send them my way! You can email me at raisingladders@gmail.com.


  • Joe Ellis says:

    I was a member of Sterling Rescue too. Please email me with your name – I didn’t see it posted anywhere. GERMS is near and dear to my heart. Hope to hear from you soon!
    Joe Ellis, a.k.a. Geezer 15

  • I voted for you. Will you vote for me? I’ll ask all the people who voted for me to vote for you also. Pleas do the same for me. The race in the southeast is too close for comfort, so i coukd use the help.

  • Betsy Lusby says:

    I'm doing research on my Family Tree, and my 2nd great grandfather worked with the DC fire department back in the late 1800s.  The earliest reference I can find is the 1887 City Director for Washington City, District of Columbia.
    Frank W. Raitz, Residence: 1012-1/2 I Street SE, Occupation: Fireman
    Also, on the 1900 – 1920 federal censuses, he's listed as a fireman.  There was also a snippet in the Washington Times in 1908 in July about a cut in pensions, and he was listed as his pension being reduced to $32/month.  Also in the Washington Post in July 1908, it mentions that his $50/month pension is being reduced to $32/month because he was now an inmate at the Government Hospital for the Insane, which was later called St. Elizabeth's, and the District was paying $15/month for his maintenance there.
    Do you know if any records were kept of men working for the department, and where I'd be able to get a copy?  I'd love to find out what company he was working for.  According to all his addresses in the various City Directors and the 3 census I've found him on, have him living in SE Washington.

    • raisingladders says:

      I’ll do some digging. Sounds like a fascinating project, and I’d love to help out—I’m not exactly sure where to begin, but I’ll ask around and see if I can find a starting point for you. /RL

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Alex Capece

Washington, D.C. Firefighter and Paramedic

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Farewell, brother.
So very well said Brother. Mike was such an awesome guy. Sure am gonna miss him and his stories. Mike touch so many people on and off the job. Mike will continue to live on in so many of us. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful tribute with us about Mike. 
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"For anyone who ever wanted to grow up and become a firefighter... from someone who did just that."
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