September 23, 2012

Six years. Thank you all for coming along for the ride.



May 18, 2012

Call Philadelphia City Council and demand an end to fire station brownouts.

As you all know it’s been a difficult month or so (to say the least) since we lost Danny and Bob. The emotional toll it has taken on the Neary and Sweeny families, our collective Fire Department family, my brother (& sister) firefighters and paramedics, me personally, as well as my family has been enormous. Even though this tragedy is gradually receding from the headlines, it continues to be an everyday reality for those of us close to it. Add to that an administration that continues to play politics with the lives and safety of our members and the citizens of this city at every turn and you have a department left crushed and bewildered. I have finally begun to feel the effects both physically and mentally. It’s not fair to those who read First In  for me to keep writing when my head’s not in it.

While attending to the needs of the Neary family during their time of unimaginable sorrow, I experienced some serious family and personal issues of my own, not the least of which was my father’s (successful) cancer surgery. All this stress has combined to knock me down, but I am by no means out. I just need to take some time to decompress. My family comes first in my life, so that’s where I am starting. Work is second and I will get back there when I am ready. As for the blog, it has always been an outlet, a way for me to vent on some of the things that tend to build up inside. However, for the time being I am putting it on the back burner. It’s not that I don’t feel like writing; I do. But right now I don’t need the self-induced stress of writing posts for public consumption. There is so much going on around me it’s hard to keep events straight.

So I’m taking a break from First In. Rest assured it won’t be permanent. I have started work on my master’s degree and until I get into the swing of things, that will be my focus outside the family and work. It will leave precious little time for blogging. But these things have a way of working out. Hopefully in a short time I’ll be back at it. In the meantime my good buddy Wyatt will throw up an occasional post (as will I). It just won’t be a regular occurrence. I’ll let you know when I feel like I can get back at it. Until then, keep checking in. Of course, if something big hits the department or nationally I’ll make the effort. Thanks for your patience and continued support for First In. It’s much appreciated.

Captain America


May 15, 2012


Have a great week!


April 30, 2012

I spoke to Fran yesterday and as you can imagine he’s tired and emotionally drained but relieved to get back to the firehouse. He’s a personal friend and it’s difficult to see anyone go through what he has. Welcome back Fran.
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April 18, 2012

Firefighter Patrick Nalley who was badly injured in last weeks fatal building fire / collapse went home late yesterday. I wanted to post this earlier but have been away from the computer and exhausted. We got to see Pat in the hospital just before he was released and I think it helped pick up his spirit a bit. To give you a sense of how close we are as firefighters, my cousin works at Ladder 16 with him. Last week it was my cousin who came over from Ladder 16 to work with Lt. Neary and our “C” platoon. It’s a matter of fate that Pat was working that night and not my cousin. I don’t even try to make sense or understand it. Get well soon Pat.
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April 16, 2012

An entire family wiped out.

A West Philadelphia row house fire left four people dead, including two children. A neighbor says the father was just coming home from work when he found he had lost almost his entire family — his two children, two-year-old Jaden and four-year-old Cynsere; their mother, 23-year-old Rishya Jenkins; and their grandfather, Senaca (Charles) McClenden.

The two children were taken to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where they were pronounced dead. The grandfather was also pronounced dead at a local hospital. The mother was found dead inside the home.

Philadelphia fire commissioner Lloyd Ayers says they did not find any working smoke detectors in the home. (LINK)

The city’s fire death toll is now at 14.


April 14, 2012

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PHILADELPHIA – April 13, 2012 (WPVI) — Philadelphia Fire crews battled a two alarm fire in Port Richmond. Fire broke out around 7:30pm Friday night at a vacant warehouse in the 2100 block of East Allegheny Avenue in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia. First responders arrived to heavy fire on the first floor.  A second alarm was struck around 7:45pm. 

Ladder 10 was one of the companies responding.  While most of the members memorialized one of their own at funeral services Friday night, other crew members worked to extinguish the fire, helping to bring it under control within 30 minutes. There have been no reports of injuries. Fire officials confirm that there was a 3-alarm fire in the same building last year. The fire is currently under investigation.               


March 22, 2012

Work has taken a rough turn lately. There’s been a lot of activity now that the warm weather has set in and winter is finally over. It seems like we are constantly moving. If we aren’t responding to our own calls, we are out covering other stations while they are fighting fires. Add to the mix the problems we’ve had with our truck lately and the multiple apparatus change overs and you have some pretty beat firefighters. We are either flat-out busy or insanely slow. Feast or famine.

Last night was a tough one. This is some good footage of a dwelling fire we responded to right after the start of our shift. The heavy black smoke was visible from our station so we knew it was on when we pulled out. What makes the first video interesting is that it captures the time before our arrival. This illustrates why firefighters always talk about how seconds count. Imagine you are waiting for us to arrive as you watch your house, your possessions and possibly your loved ones go up in smoke. When you have an administration that gambles with fire protection like the Nutter administration does, this is what we are talking about.

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March 12, 2012

A fire in a rowhouse without a smoke detector spread to four neighboring dwellings in North Philadelphia early and injured six people, including four children, officials said. One child was reported in critical condition. Deputy Chief Michael Wahl said that when the first unit arrived at 3:46 a.m., firefighters found heavy fire on the ground floor of a 2-story rowhouse at 219 W. Albanus St. in the Olney section. “They made an aggressive interior attack,” he said.

The blaze spread along the porches to three houses on the west side of the home at 219 and one to the west, Wahl said. He said four children were taken to St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, including a 5-year-old boy who suffered critical burns. Two adults, including a woman who jumped to escape the flames from one of the neighboring homes, were in on stable condition at Albert Einstein Medical Center, he said. Firefighters did not find a smoke detector inside 219, Wahl said. It took firefighters a half-hour to bring the blaze under control. LINK

This story is both typical and frustrating for me as a city firefighter. It is typical because of the circumstances. We have a very intense row-house fire that quickly spreads while people are at their most vulnerable, early in the morning when everyone is sleeping. The firefighters who responded had their hands full from the outset and did an incredible job as usual.

I know what these jobs are like. Brutal is the only word that comes to mind. At 3 am your body is suddenly propelled into warp drive, 100 miles an hour in under a minute. Then your are instantly working at full capacity, expending every ounce of energy trying to get the upper hand. It’s a race against time. The first arriving companies have to get the fire knocked down before it grows beyond their immediate capacity to do so. In plain words the firefighters are fighting to keep the fire from growing so big that they can’t contain it without massive reinforcements. Time is in short supply. While the engine companies attack the fire, ladder companies are opening the buildings up and searching for trapped or injured residents and victims. When it’s over you’re spent. In hockey they change lines every two minutes. In firefighting it’s a minimum of twenty. We have about twenty minutes for the initial attack to succeed or fail. After that we have to begin re-assessment of the overall situation. At twenty minutes structural integrity becomes a big factor. That’s the typical part of this story.

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March 9, 2012

Some Lindenwold residents are lucky to be alive this morning.

Flames broke out just before 7:30 a.m. at the Stonington Court Apartments at 1800 Laurel Road in Lindenwold, N.J. The fire quickly spread to two alarms as thick smoke continued to plume out of the apartments.

The blaze left a police officer suffering from injuries but the extent of those injuries were unknown, according to Lindenwold firefighters on the scene.

Sixteen of the 24 units in the building were damaged, fire officials said. All residents were accounted for, according to authorities. (LINK)

Hopefully, the officer’s injuries are not severe. With so many apartments and so many residents, this fire could have been a lot worse.