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

FE Talk: Humpday Hangout

Two Attitudes. | Raising Ladders
“Social Media Policy” How does it affect the bloggers?
[…] I know, I’ve held off on posting for a long time due to the social media policy our administration was holding people to. It was a difficult road to navigate—but I realized […]
2015-04-10 20:21:15
Phil Hayes
Gear Review: Blauer’s new tactical boots
Boa doesn't make the boots, they designed and license the lacing system. The Boa system has been around for a while now, it's pretty common on snowboard boots and some other sporting footwear. The boots are from Blauer, which is based in Boston.
2015-01-19 22:22:59
Captain Scott Hetrick
Gear Review: Blauer’s new tactical boots
Interesting that BOA is from my home town of Steamboat Springs, and they didn't approach our Fire Department to do a field test or even let us know that they were working on a duty boot. Small towns are funny sometimes. Captain Scott Hetrick Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue
2014-11-29 21:26:03
stephen miller
St. Baldrick’ Support a Fellow Brother Fighting Pediatric Cancer!
Great job, brethren ... be bald (bold) even off the fire ground.
2014-02-22 09:33:24
John Struve
St. Baldrick’ Support a Fellow Brother Fighting Pediatric Cancer!
As I read all the above I wondered "How does it work?" Are fire personnel asking for pledges from the public to be paid to this charity when the personnel have their heads shaved? The ad above was not clear to me. I will read it again. The charity is certainly a very worthwhile cause.…
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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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