WheresDaFire.com – The Blog

WheresDaFire.com – The Blog

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Hello Everyone Again,

In the wake of our devastating loss in Boston, I have a couple of pictures, courtesy of the North Las Vegas Fire Department, taken from TV.

Truck 52 had responded to a building fire in a fourplex. On arrival they were assigned to ventilation. Firefighters Adams and Harris went onto the roof to do vertical roof ventilation. Shortly after starting the roof gave way and Adams dropped down onto the trusses, and Harris fell part way into the hole. Harris was able to crawl back onto the roof and get to Adams. Adams said he told Harris “Get me out of here. Grab my air pack. “ Harris grabbed the top of the air pack and with one hand pulled Adams up onto the roof. Both firefighters were taken to the hospital and checked, and returned to work the next shift.

I guess my point is, that the two of them were working together and were fortunate to be able to react quickly, and lived to take another call.

Our two brothers in Boston were trapped and made the ultimate sacrifice, as did their families.

Each day as we leave home, tell our loved ones goodbye, we pray that in the morning we will return to them. May I again remind us all, to be cautious, stay in contact with each other, and don’t take anymore foolish chances than are necessary. Heaven knows they happen more often than we like.

My heartfelt love and sympathy for the Boston Massachusetts Fire Department and the families of our fallen brothers. May you find the comfort of a Loving God’s arms around you.

Please take care,

Captain Jep

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

Firefighting Report Writing

Welcome back.

It’s been a while.  A lot of water under the bridge, down the road, out the hose or whatever.  My editor son and his family are back from their world travels, and settled back in their home south of Houston.  Kids in school, and both he and the wife are back to work.  So time permitting, we will try and get this blog going again.

I was wondering what to write about this time when my son, the one that lives in the big house in front of us, we live in the house in the back house, brought an email to me.  It seems that an investigator with the DA’s Office, was trying to find me.  Since my son is also a fire captain, with the same first name, he received the email.  When I called the investigator, this morning, he stated that they had finally arrested a person from a homicide case in 1986.

Back at that time, all reports were hand written and brief.  Usually they were way too brief to jog the memory and be of much help.  When I first started with the Clark County Coroner/Medical Examiner’s Office, the investigators were mostly untrained and on their own.  The reports were seldom used in court due to their lack of details.

Example: Police involved shooting with a well known, alleged, hit man.  “The detectives approached the decedent’s car and identified themselves.  The decedent reached his hand into his coat and that’s all she wrote.”  Total report.

Can you imagine trying to defend the shooting or anything else, in court?  Oh My….

Now the other side.

7 am and we get a rescue call for a sick four year old.  The apartment was only three blocks from the station, so we were on the scene very quickly.  We entered the apartment to find some twenty adults, in the living room, fully clothed. I asked where the child was, and was directed to the bedroom.   No one was in the bedroom where the “sick” child was laying in bed.  I checked the child, found her non-responsive, and in full rigor mortis.  That means she had been dead for at least 12 hours.  I immediately secured the bedroom and used the phone to call PD.  Didn’t want it to go over the airwaves for the media to pick-up.  PD arrived and I turned the scene over to them.

I took the time to write a lengthy report documenting everything that I had seen.

The step-father was convicted of her murder and received the death penalty.  The determining factors in the trial, was the fact that there was so many people in the apartment at 7am, fully clothed, no one was in the bedroom with a sick four year old, and I was constantly lied to.

At the time these seemed like small details, but as time slowly passed, and the trial dragged on, the small details in the report became the critical evidence.  Would I have remembered these details a year or two later?  Maybe not, but the fact that they were in the original report not only helped me on the stand, but gave credibility to my statements.

It only takes a few minutes to document things while they are fresh on your mind, and you never know when you will be asked about it.  Even 27 years later….

Please take care, write good reports, and it will always pay off.

May God grant peace and comfort to the friends and families of all who gave their all on 9/11/2001.

Captain Jep

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Out of the Frying Pan…Where’s the Fire

(Photo: Source)

Sorry for the extended absence. Been a busy few months. Like so many others, my computer fried and I lost everything except my pictures. Well most of them anyway. My kids and grandkids kept asking… Have you backed up your documents. Well, no, I have done the pictures, but I will try and do it in the morning.  It’s not like I don’t have space, since I bought a 1 T external hard drive.  My family says that is a lot, so I will take their word for it.

Anyway, when it crashed, even the Geek Squad said “Oh My.” I guess that’s
not good…  So I’m going to back up everything first thing tomorrow…

The site director and creator is currently on an extended tour of the world. Thus the pictures from Argentina.  Maybe he will send others from New Zealand and Australia.

Any of you New Zealanders or Australians see a 6’6″ man with his 5’6″ wife and three daughters, tell them hi for us will you please?

Now back to the things at hand.  Hope you don’t mind my using personal experiences for the training.  This time is about frying pan fires.  I know that in my life time there have been many remedies for frying pan fire extinguishment.  One of the early ones was flour. Of course this can have a little side effect of flour explosion.

Initially this was blamed on the fire and the grease, but eventually analyzed and   for the most part, stopped.  Also during that period, was the salt . Good theory if you have five pounds.  It smothers the fire really good, and somewhat absorbs the grease.  One effective fire extinguishing method, is
smothering, or depriving the fire of oxygen.  Of course, the first thing they tried was a salt shaker, thinking it was the salt, not the volume that was the fire fighting tool. Burned hair and hands were usually a result. Now you can buy extinguishers, and specific kitchen extinguishers.

No, I have not forgotten the two most important stove fire fighting tools.

Now for the what happened part.

We received a fire call, smoke showing.  So we respond to the call. It was only a couple of blocks away, so we arrived very quickly. There was still some smoke coming from the kitchen area, but the occupant met us at the door and said there was no problem and her nosy neighbors had called in a false alarm.

Since the smoke was starting to get heavier, we decided to have a look anyway. We went into the kitchen to find the stove on, the burner red hot, a burning towel in a sink behind the stove, a towel in the frying pan starting on fire, burn areas on wall behind the stove extending into the hood, and a
“flung” burn area. (definition: you take the burning towel out of the frying pan and fling it into the sink behind you spreading grease fire in the full arc of the swing.)

We turned off the stove, extinguished both burning towels and the arc of the flung burn, and then checked the hood for extension.  We were fortunate, as there was none. I asked the lady occupant if she was okay, and if she was burned any place.  I looked at her blouse and it was clean with no grease, smudges, or anything on it.  She was also constantly tugging at the bottom of the blouse.

I again asked her if she was okay and where was the blouse she had been wearing at the time of the fire.  She finally admitted she was burned a little and showed me her blouse. The front was pretty badly burned, so I had her show me the burns.  She was burned from the waist almost to her neck.  Second and third degree burns.  Seems she was leaning over the frying pan,
checking the hood when the second fire flashed.  I called for an ambulance and had her transported to UMC Burn Center. When I called later, she was not expected to live.

Unfortunately, I did not get the opportunity to check her after that, so I never found out what the final outcome was.

Just remember, when you cook in a fry pan, always keep a lid handy whether you need or not, and remember:


2 – Cover the pan with the lid.

Please take care,

Captain Jep

Friday, August 27th, 2010

Fire Stations in Argentina

These photos were taken by our WheresDaFire.com staff as they travel the world in search of interesting firefighter news and information.

Here is Buenos Aires, Argentina:

A Buenos Aires ambulance.

and Fire Station in La Boca District of Buenos Aires

and Fire Engines

Here is the voluntary Fire Department in Puerto Iguazu, Argentina:

and Fire Engine

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

How Secure are Security Bars?

(Photo: Source)

We are all familiar with what security bars are? Right? Well, they are the bars that are put over windows and doors to keep out intruders. The principle is good, but the situation can be bad. We had a few areas where the security were in high usage. I’m sure you have all seen them, but are you familiar with them? For example, do you know how they are installed? Are they attached to the studs? Are they attached only to the stucco? Are they attached to a block wall by drilling through the block with wing nuts on the inside. No, not the people, the actual bars. How they are mounted makes all the difference in escape for the occupants or access for the fire department.

If they are attached to the studs, chances are there is no release and the only way through is a sledge handle, axe, or power cutter AMKUS, Jaws of Life, etc. Usually, you only access these as a last resort. If they are only in the stucco, they usually break out with one or two sledge hits. Now, through concrete blocks is a whole different story. They are usually bolted solid on the top and have wing nuts on the bottom two bolts. The problem with this, is that in the smoke, you have a hard time finding them and sometimes up to two minutes to unscrew the wing nut. Most of the time, either the smoke or the heat gets you long before you get the wing nuts off. At least in all of my career that was my experience.

You really need to familiarize yourselves with all of the areas and buildings that have security bars and doors on them. Both commercial and residential. This information can save lives. Yours and theirs. If at all possible, see how they are installed and if there is a quick release.

One of my last fires, prior to retirement, was a particularly bad one. I was at Station 53, talking to the crew, I happened to be Acting Battalion Chief that day, when a car stopped and told us there was a fire down the street. We went outside to see a house with smoke coming from everywhere, or so it seemed. I jumped into the Suburban and headed to the fire, even as dispatch was sounding the alarm. On my arrival I found a single story house with the front living area and front entrance fully involved. To my right was a bedroom window with security bars. The window was open with flames and smoke coming out, which set the cypress trees on fire that were next to the window. There was no way to safely enter the house and the first in unit was the snorkel with no water or hoses. The snorkel Captain wanted to run through the flames and try to save the man in the bedroom. One of the hardest decisions you will ever make is to make your crews wait and do everything safely and properly so they can be the solution to the fire situation, not add to it, and add to the casualties. Once the first engine was on the scene, we had water and knock down in minutes, and was able to get to the back bedroom, the occupant was already dead. When did the occupant die, well that could be anyone’s guess. One thing I do know, there were no firefighters hurt, and the property damage was less than it could have been if we had tried an unsupported rescue.

Upon investigation of the fire, it seems that while dad was asleep in the bedroom, the two young children had found matches and had started the livingroom and the hallway on fire, trapping the father in the back bedroom. We also discovered that entrance into the back bedroom area, would have been impossible without knocking down the fire first. Another valuable lesson learned where common sense and training paid off with big dividends.

Again, I stress to be totally familiar with your response area.

Please be safe,

Captain Jep