Category: fire

A walk in the woods. . .

Spring is here. With my impending hike of Mount Washington, I have felt the urge to get out on the trails and warm up a bit.  Yesterday I had an hour to spare, so I took a brief trek to the fire tower at Pawtuckaway State Park.

Best laid plans. . .

I took a wrong turn and explored a few extra miles of fire roads and Jeep trails with Mrs. Mack505’s truck.  Her 7000lb, 2500 series, 4-door GMC Denali Diesel truck.  I made it to the trailhead without a scratch somehow.

The trail is a short jaunt measuring 0.4 miles from parking lot to tower.  It’s a popular and highly recommended hike to a good lunch spot.  I found the tower manned with a ranger straight out of a 1960’s Disney film.  He had gray hair, wire rimmed glasses, a red and black checked flannel shirt, and a pleasant demeanor.

The day was dry and windy, a Class 4 in ranger-speak.  The radio crackled with conversation among the fire towers.

Before I could say hello the radio reported heavy black smoke in our vicinity.  We both looked out and saw nothing; then I moved slightly to one side and this popped out of the blind spot of the tower:


That would be a barn fire just down the road from our farm.  Fire units were delayed because many of them had to respond from another neighboring fire. The radio traffic was interesting.

I would have gone to ‘buff’ it.  Alas I did not have time to spare.  I bid the ranger ‘good day’ and hiked onward to my next appointment.

Week 25 – Split Roll

Roll #25 was split between 2 events. First, my FD took delivery of a new Ladder truck.


Changing of the guard
The Great White Fleet

I’m very proud of this fleet, as I’ve been involved with the design of all 3 rigs.  They have worked out very well for us and our citizens.

Later the same week, I attended a microcar meet at the Lars Anderson Auto Museum with the Greater Boston Film Photography meetup group.


Minis, of course
An actual functioning Trabant
Renault 4
Of course. . .
Deux "Deux Cheveaux"
Citroen Mehari - a sport/utility version of the 2CV
Beautifully restored
Rat scooters!

Camera: Nikon FG
Lens: Nikon 28-90mm zoom
Film: Fuji Velvia 100

Developed by Old School Photo Lab and scanned on my Epson v700.


This past week we had a bit of a tragedy in the yard. A storm brought down a large pine which grazed the 1963 Ford/ALF. It was a freak thing; 2 feet one way would have been a complete miss, 2 feet the other would have crushed the cab.

The body isn't totalled, but it needs serious repair. I won't show it here as it's heartbreaking. It needed some serious work beforehand. We mourned, and then we began to think of options and possibilities.

The chassis is still in good shape. Flatbed? Mobile hot tub? The ultimate tailgating machine? Hay truck? Then Mrs. Mack505 found this:


I want one!


Nostalgia again

The tones drop, just like they have for the majority of my life. I've reached the point where I've been a firefighter for more of my life than not. (Scary thought, that.) A box alarm; routine. At least it's not another medical aid.

Circumstances conspire: maintenance, a detail. The first engine responds as usual, but the second piece will be the Reserve. As I dress I have a clear view across the empty ladder bay to where she gleams in the corner, the last red engine in our slowly whitening fleet. I confess a soft spot for her, as she's been around only slightly longer than I. We were rookies together.

The Captain and the Deputy are both riding tonight and they outrank me in terms of both bugles and service. I climb up into the canopy and take my seat, facing rearwards. A recruit fills the final seat, and I wonder if he fully appreciates this treat. The Captain flips a switch and bells (real genuine BELLS) fill the air warning of Low Oil Pressure!!! and other malfunctions. The Detroit diesel shudders to life in a cacophony of sound garnished with a puff of black smoke. The Deputy flips a switch; a solid THUNK announces that three monster relays have engaged three banks of spinning and blinking halogen lights. Cap drops the shift lever (a lever!) into Drive, and our faithful steed strains against her parking brakes. With a whoosh of escaping air, we flow down the ramp into the night.

I am transported, across town and across a career.



My company stresses appearances.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. I drive a large ambulance with bright stripes, lots of flashing lights, and a two-foot high corporate logo on the side. It’s a rolling billboard. Everything I do in it reflects on me and my coworkers. No matter how pure our motives, if we look like idiots while doing our job there will be trouble. At best there may be a complaint; at worst we could be the next YouTube sensation and star in our own Firegeezer post.

This carries over into my personal life. I’m proud of who I am and what I do, but I don’t feel the need to broadcast it 24/7/365. Sometimes it’s good to be just another guy in the crowd. I have become very conscious of when and where I wear department apparel. My cars are subtle; while I do have red lights in my truck, they are hidden when not in use. I don’t drive around sporting a light bar or a bunch of extra antennas. The car wears a W6 decal and that’s it.

This all comes about because you never know who might be watching.

So if you are going to have a $4,000 light bar and 3 antennas on your personal vehicle, please don’t drive like an idiot on the way to your next call. What would ever possess you to add a distinctive vanity license plate like PARAGD, MEDIC9, ENGN51, or (God forbid) your unique county radio ID?!

I say again: if you insist on standing out from the crowd, be on your best behavior. DON’T BE AN IDIOT!!!

Because, you know, that guy in the non-descript gray pickup that you just cut off might know a thing or two about the right way to do your job. He might even know your chief.


As mentioned previously, I’ve been shooting a bit on real film. I learned photography on a manual 35mm camera, shooting and developing my own film. Sometimes it’s fun to go back.


January 12 – At the firehouse. You don’t see folding controls very often, but even when folded these barely clear the doors.


January 13 – ALS

Shot on a Nikon FM2 with 50mm manual lens. Thanks to for developing and scanning for me. Not many folks can handle Tmax 400 any more.

Fire and ice, and a dog. (Project 366)

January 21 – Home alone for the evening, lounging in front of the pellet stove.

January 22 – Cold day at work.  This grew throughout the day.  I kept waiting for the rig to hit it on the way out the door.


January 23 – My family says the dog is a good luck charm and she has to wear the shirt through the Superbowl.  Cricket is not impressed.

January 24 – The Howe is finally safe at home.  The trip was much longer and more expensive than planned.  Details to follow.


 That’s her older sister, Engine 2, in the background.

 I sure wish I had those ladders.

Reunion IV

 This is part four of a multi-part series.  We took a brief detour, but when last we saw our heroes, they were grinding southward out of northern NH at about 25 MPH. . .


The first long hill was interesting. I’d forgotten how underpowered these old trucks were.  I was remembering quickly.  We would get up this hill, but we’d do it in our own time.

The first few descents were interesting as well as I got the feel of her brakes and steering again.  A big old truck demands defensive driving of the highest order, as you never want to trust that they will stop or turn as quickly as you expect.

Eventually we hit a good pace.  The weather began to thicken into fog and drizzle, and I discovered the leak in the windshield.  A gap in the rubber at the base meant that each left turn brought a spray of water on my face.

The previous owner had warned me that he ‘wasn’t too sure’ about the alternator.  Neither was I. The voltmeter hovered just below 12 volts, and the ammeter was showing a slight draw.  I couldn’t be sure if she wasn’t charging, or if the meters were just off slightly.  I resolved to use the wipers and lights as little as possible and see how far we could go.  I did have a spare battery after all.

The trip through Franconia Notch was surreal.  I was driving a piece of personal and department history through some of God’s most beautiful country, yet I could barely see beyond the end of the hood.

At the foot of the Notch we stopped for food and fuel.  As the gas gauge hasn’t worked in 25 years, this allowed me to calibrate for our trip.  We were doing 6 MPG.  One more gas stop should leave plenty to get home.

Back up on the highway we settled in at a comfortable 55 MPH.  Climbing the hills wasn’t too bad.  Oil pressure and temperature were holding fine, and voltage remained steadily just below 12.  Vacuum reserves would drop on the long hill climbs but immediately come back as soon as I lifted the throttle slightly.  Things seemed to be going well.

Then came the first thump.  It sounded like I’d hit a piece of road debris.  I hadn’t noticed any road debris. . . All the gauges still looked OK.  Nothing looked wrong in the mirrors, and the chase truck wasn’t flashing its lights.  Onward.

Just north of Tilton it all began to come apart, both figuratively and literally.  Three things occurred almost simultaneously:  I felt another thump accompanied this time by vibration, I saw something fly off behind me in the mirrors, and a motorist pulled up next to me honking and waving frantically.  Thank you, sir, I can feel and see it.

Paradoxically as I slowed the vibration worsened.  I couldn’t have blown a tire.  The sound wasn’t loud enough, and the ride was still too smooth.  I found that one of the rear tires had begun to disintegrate.  It was still holding air, but it was throwing off large chunks of tread.  This would not do.

We limped into a Walmart parking lot at the next exit, two hours from home and one hour from dusk.