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Archive for April, 2015

A to Z: Z is for Zachary Brooke


For the last post of this challenge, I was going to write about fire zones, but I changed my mind. For this one, we get a little glimpse of Kayla’s father(and James’ brother). Zachary Brooke never got his own story(though I wouldn’t be adverse to going back in time and playing with that idea). He met his wife, Angela, about the same time his older brother was getting married. Less than a year apart, James and Zachary did almost everything at the same time. They went to the fire academy at the same time, joined the department at the same time. He married within months of his brother, and found out his wife was pregnant right around the time his nephew was born.

Going into the fire service was about the only way they were similar, though. James was tall and dark, whereas Zachary was smaller and light. James had dark brown hair, nearly black, and green eyes. Zach has blond hair and blue eyes. James always referred to him as the golden boy, not just for those looks, but also because trouble never seemed to stick to him. Zachary was always a bit impulsive and reckless(which he seemed to pass on to his daughter) and ran into situations without thinking. James was always there to back him up, which was probably a good part of the reason trouble never seemed to find him.

And a little snippet(this is from near the end of James’ story, Flames of Renewal, so if you haven’t figured out that will end happily ever after, you might want to skip this):

She leaned down and pressed a kiss to his forehead. “You should get some rest. I know the others want to see you though. Do you want me to send Zach in?”
“That’s fine,” he murmured, his eyes refusing to stay open. “Will you stay with me?”
“The doctor only wants one person at a time in here, but I’ll be in the waiting room when you’re up for more company.”
He didn’t have the strength to tell her that wasn’t what he’d meant. He felt her press another kiss to his face then she was gone. He had drifted off again though before his brother came into the room. He was woken by his strong voice telling about the time he’d followed Zach to a rundown house, and Zach had kept him from falling through the second floor to-
“I remember that incident quite differently,” he interrupted, his mouth twisting into a wry smile.
Zachary chuckled. “I thought a lie might pull you out of it.”
He glanced toward the door. “Is Teresa still out there?”
Zachary nodded. “We’ve already done one circuit through here. She even brought Avery in to see you for a couple minutes. Then, her parents took the girl to their house for the night.”
James shifted on the bed. “How long was I out of it this time?”
“A couple hours. You lost quite a bit of blood. You need to rest up so you can get some strength back.”
He glanced toward the door again. At least this time he could keep his eyes open. He wanted to see Teresa again, but he needed to take care of something else first. “Is Dad out there?”
Zachary shook his head. “He was for a little bit, but he went home. Said he didn’t want to sit around here waiting for you to get your lazy ass up.”
James laughed. He doubted those had been his exact words. “Can you call him and ask if he remembers what he did with Mom’s ring?”
He saw his brother’s eyes narrow. “You said you didn’t want it. She left it to you, but you didn’t want it.”
It would have been Sarah’s if she’d lived long enough. He couldn’t feel the guilt for that. Not when so much love filled him now. “I didn’t want it then. I do now.”

Writing Wednesday: On Track

So, I started this week out ahead. On Monday, I finished everything on my to-do list by about 3:30 in the afternoon. So, I decided to get some extra words in on Flames of Restoration. Didn’t get a whole lot extra, but I was about 800 words into Tuesday’s goal by dinnertime, when I shut everything down. That’s probably a good thing because Tuesday didn’t go quite the same. I didn’t get all my words down as fast as I’d like. Going out for a walk/run cut out about 45 minutes of my writing time. And I started my second read-through of Flames of Renewal. This always seems to take longer than I plan on. Still, the only things I didn’t get done yesterday were folding a load of laundry and working on my crochet project. So, I’m still not too far behind.

Now, before I get into my progress on those goals, I have another snippet from Flames of Recompense to share. For today, 12 paragraphs(29-4+2+0-15). This is a little more than a week after the last snippet.

Megan opened her eyes and saw the ink-sleeved arm wrapped around her waist. She smiled as her fingers ran along it, tracing the colored designs there. The hair on his arm ran through her fingers and…wait, his arm hair was certainly not that long. Megan’s gaze shifted and she saw her daughter’s head resting against Callum’s stomach. Her breath caught, and she snagged her bottom lip between her teeth.
The girl’s eyes were closed, her soft breaths almost edging over into snores. Callum was supposed to leave the night before, leave before Kaelin woke up and found him here. Why hadn’t he left?
“I’m sorry,” his voice came from just above her head, and she wondered if she’d asked the question out loud. She tipped it back so she could see him. “I fell asleep, too. She climbed in here a few hours ago, said she’d had a bad dream. I didn’t know your rules about sleeping in your bed, but I figured-”
“It’s okay, Cal. She’s allowed to be here.”
“But, I’m not.”
She could hear the irritation, or more likely hurt, in his voice and closed her eyes. “I didn’t mean that, but I don’t know how to explain this to her.”
“She didn’t seem to find anything strange about me being here at two in the morning,” he said, keeping his voice at a whisper. She saw him glance down at their daughter then run one of her curls between his fingers. “She just curled up right there and went back to sleep.”
Megan tried to calm her racing heart. “It’s all right.” It would be all right. It had to be. She could do damage control.
“But, I can still hear your mind racing,” Callum said, lifting an arm and trailing his finger across her temple. “Slow it down. She’s not going to be scarred for life by seeing her parents in bed together.”
“Until she expects to wake up to you here then you’re not. That’s what I’m most afraid of.”
His eyes widened slightly, then he leaned forward and pressed his mouth to hers. Softly, and only briefly. “Then, you’re going to have some explaining to do to her. Because the only way I won’t be here is if you force me out. Please don’t force me out, Meg.”
Her breath caught at the plea in his voice, in his eyes. “I don’t want to,” she whispered.

Stop by and check out the other WiPPeTeers here or feel free to join the craziness fun! I definitely meant fun. 🙂

  • Flames of Restoration: Add 15000 words( ~42500 words total) – I’ve added 8592 words so far this week. Have just over 36000 total. On track.
  • Stained Blood: Add 5000 words(~40000 words total) – 2325 on this but haven’t gotten to it today. Sitting at 37445 on it. So, on track here, too.
  • Flames of Renewal: Second read through – about 25% through this. On track.
  • Jace’s Story(Hunter Family, Book 1): Outline – Plot summary & signpost scenes done. On track.
  • Into the Sun: Add at least 250 words – nothing yet this week.
  • Just Add Moonlight: Finish – nothing yet this week.
  • Blog: W-Z posts – these are all scheduled. The last one will go up tomorrow.
  • Crochet: Hooded Cowl – I have the cowl done, but haven’t started on the hood yet.

Definitely making some good progress. Hoping to keep the momentum up for the rest of the week.

A to Z: Y is for Wye


The “wye” is a connection that will split one hose into two different lines. These might be needed for long driveways where the fire engine can’t maneuver, houses set far back, or a multi-family structure with limited access. One type of these is referred to as a “water thief”, or a gated wye. This can be used to allow water to only go through one side of the connection or both at the same time. These usually have a 2 1/2 inch inlet and 2 1/2 inch outlets.

There is also the siamese coupling that will turn two smaller lines into one hose line. This is commonly used to avoid the loss of friction in long hose lays. It also adds additional lines on the fireground. These usually have 2 or 3 “female” connections coming into the appliance and one “male” connection for the discharge.

There’s also the Z-adapter, which is for connecting supplemental pumps into long hose lines. These are usually adapted from two gated wyes and a double female connection. Or a siamese may be connected to one outlet of the gated wye.

A to Z: X is for eXtrication


Extrication in the fire service most often means vehicle extrication. This is the means of removing a vehicle or part of a vehicle from around a person when conventional means of exiting are impossible or inadvisable. Or, rather, getting a person out of a vehicle when they can’t or shouldn’t open the door and step out.

‘ Einsatz des Spreizers, Schaffen einer Arbeitsöffnung am Türschloss ”’en:”’ ”’photographer:”’ Magnus Mertens ”’place:”’ Goettingen, Germany ”’date:”’ September 2005

After an accident scene has been marked off and protected from a potential fire situation(shutting off the ignition and such to keep from igniting any possible spilled fuel), the patient will need to be assessed to determine how to get them out. The vehicle needs to be secured as any movement could cause more trauma to a victim, not to mention posing a danger to the rescue workers. A window may be removed to allow a first responder to get inside to better assess the victim and also ease any pressure on the victim. Then, usually, a door or the roof will be cut or pulled away to safely remove the victim, and be able to protect the head, neck, and back.

Road accident in Belgium — casualty extraction with a long spine board Auteur/author : Olivier Goldberg, 24 février 2006 [http://www.anesthe-site.be/b

The main extrication tool used is the Hurst tool, or Jaws of Life. Some departments may only have this on hand, and after popping the door off, the rescue workers can get the patient out. Or they may have a more dedicated heavy rescue team who can come in with more equipment when it is needed. Extrication isn’t just the action of getting the door out, though. It starts with fire protection and isn’t finished until the patient is transferred to an ambulance, or at least away from the scene if they were merely trapped and not injured.


A to Z: W is for Wildfire


I was going to talk about Working fire today, but I already went into that a bit on Friday. So, instead I decided to write about wildfires. A wildfire is an uncontrolled fire in an area with combustible vegetation. There are three types of wildfires: bushfire(in Australia), Forest fire, or a brush fire. Around here, we don’t have many forest fires, although that’s probably what most people think of when they hear wildfire. We do have a lot of calls for brush fires during the summer however. A lot of times, these can be put out quickly, but some departments do have a truck dedicated to these outside fires. These are mostly pickup trucks that may have had the bed refitted to haul hose and other equipment needed.

By Kern County Fire Department [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Forest fires can be the most dangerous. And the wildland firefighters have more to contend with than just the flames. Most of these fires occur during the hotter months, so there’s already heat added to that of the fire. So, they can face heat stress, fatigue(as these fires aren’t easily or quickly put out), and even animal bites. The protective gear is heavy and can lead to heat exhaustion. Also wildfire behavior can be unpredictable. It only takes a shift of wind for  the path of the fire to change. This can end up trapping firefighters who thought they were containing it.

By Bureau of Land Management [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

There are some different methods of suppressing these fires. One is by dropping water and fire retardants from planes and helicopters. Also firelines can be made by digging trenches, cutting back trees, and also backburning. This seems counterintuitive, as it means setting fires to suppress a fire. But, these fires are smaller, controlled burns. However, since these are controlled, they can often be extinguished quickly and then there is no more fuel for the main fire to burn. Sometimes the two fires meet, though, but once again with nothing left to fuel it, the main fire can be more easily suppressed.

By U.S. Department of Agriculture (Flickr: 20120628-F-JQ435-046) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Of course, once the fire is out, the danger isn’t over. These large fires often leaves areas smoldering, even if there aren’t flames and this poses a risk of re-ignition. So, the burn area needs to be completely cooled. And there’s still more work to be done after that. All the things done to put the fire out, along with the loss of vegetation, can cause soil erosion. Which can lead to more problems. To counteract this, waterbars can be built. Also, new plants and debris can be added to exposed soil to limit the damage.


Charred forest following a fire in the North Cascades, Washington. Ground vegetation is just beginning to return. Originally uploaded to the English Project by Bcasterline



Sunday Summary: Ahead of Schedule

After being behind, it feels really good to be ahead. In fact, I’m started to write this up on Saturday. And I even got through most of today’s goals yesterday. Even though it started snowing Wednesday, it was still a pretty good week. I’ve written over 21,000 words for the week and have just about everything crossed off the week’s to-do list.

This seems to be one of the rare weekends where we don’t have any plans. We did meet some of the people from the motorcycle group my husband belongs to(they’re all firefighters) Friday night for dinner. A lot of fun and laughing. Found out Saturday morning that my cousin’s 2nd baby girl was born Friday night too. And my best friend’s 2nd child is due like any day now.

As for this week’s progress:

  • Flames of Restoration: Add ~12500 words(total: 27500 words) – added 12427 this week. Total is at 12553. Moving right along on this. Will be raising this goal by another 500 words/day
  • Stained Blood: Add ~5000 words(total: 35000 words) – added 4844 words this week. Total is at 35120. Things are getting interesting here.
  • Flames of Renewal: Finish Round 1 Revisions – done. Will be reorganizing chapters then doing a second read through
  • Hunter Family series: Character Work – this is done too. Outlining this week. Planning to start writing this as soon as I finish Flames of Restoration
  • Into the Sun: Add at least 250 words – Added 324 words to this Saturday morning. May finally have a direction for this.
  • Just Add Moonlight: Add at least 250 words – added about 478 words to this Saturday morning. Have a direction for this, too. Now, my biggest challenge will be keeping it under 1000 words.
  • Blog: Q-V posts – I had all these drafted by Tuesday, and all went up as scheduled. I also got W & X drafted Saturday morning.
  • Read: Thankless in Death(J.D. Robb), The Girl of Fire and Thorns(Rae Carson), Fire in the Woods(Jennifer M. Eaton), & Sweet Southern Sorrow(Tessa Teevan) – Real all but Fire in the Woods. I started it, but just couldn’t get into it, so set it aside. Also read Where Their Hearts Collide(Zoe York). And read Against the Fire(Kat Martin) yesterday. Really enjoyed this one too. This is the last book on my list for the month, so now I’ll start working through my free books(both on kindle & ones MIL gave me). And I’ve finished listening to Shiver(Maggie Stiefvater) and Talon(Julie Kagawa). Loved both of these. Listening to A Thousand Pieces of You(Claudia Gray) now. Enjoying it so far.
  • Knit: Simple Cable Scarf – Finish – Finished this yesterday as well. It is very long, and the sides curl in, but it’s done. IMG_0543

So, goals for next week(and to finish off April):

  • Flames of Restoration: Add 15000 words( ~42500 words total)
  • Stained Blood: Add 5000 words(~40000 words total)
  • Flames of Renewal: Second read through
  • Jace’s Story(Hunter Family, Book 1): Outline
  • Into the Sun: Add at least 250 words
  • Just Add Moonlight: Finish
  • Blog: W-Z posts
  • Crochet: Hooded Cowl

Hoping to finish this month on a high note.

A to Z: V is for Volunteers


A volunteer firefighter is one who is not a career firefighter. Apparently in some places, they may even be paid. Not here. In our area, we depend on volunteers. In the city, and some of the larger towns, there are paid departments. But, here in the northwestern corner of Pennsylvania, there are a lot of small, rural towns. Places that can’t afford to pay a department.

As I mentioned in my theme reveal post, my husband is a volunteer firefighter. He’s also the Chief Safety Officer for our department, is certified at Firefighter I, and has many other certifications. He’s one of the few in our department who is also a certified rescue diver. He’s done a lot of training, aside from the twice a month drills at the department. A lot of weekends of him gone most of the day. Dinners where the pager goes off, and he’s up and gone. Every Wednesday night with him gone for either a meeting or drill night. And now he’s started helping out with the department’s Explorer program, which means Tuesday nights with him gone as well.

My husband with his Firefight of the Year Award(this is the traveling trophy. He got a plaque the next year).

My husband with his Firefight of the Year Award(this is the traveling trophy. He got a plaque the next year).

Unfortunately, recently there’s been a volunteer slump. We have an awards banquet each Spring. And the Chief always has the firefighters stand by years of service. This past year, there were just a few standing for the 5-10 years and even less in the 0-5 year group. Less and less join up each year. This is becoming more of a problem as the older firefighters step back or down. Like I said, we depend on these volunteers around here. Without them, a lot more buildings would burn to the ground.

I know I’ve mentioned my Flames series a few times through this month. That one is based on a paid department set in a small fictional city in our corner of the state. But, while sitting at this year’s awards banquet, I got the sudden idea that I wanted to write something that focused more on these volunteers. At the time I was just starting to plot out a different story, so I let that simmer in my mind for a couple weeks. Once I finished plotting the other one(a western, actually), I had a few ideas for this new series. Or really, a spin-off from the Flames series. In fact, the first story will star Jace Hunter, Nolan Hunter’s little brother. Right now, it’s going to focus on this family, as they are just about all involved in the volunteer department. I’m really excited to get this one started, but I have to finish Nolan’s first, as the events in Jace’s story kind of springboard off what happens during Nolan’s.

My future firefighter(this is from 2013, but he still has that coat & helmet)

My future firefighter(this is from 2013, but he still has that coat & helmet)

A to Z: U is for Under Control


When a fire is said to be “under control”, it means it’s no longer spreading and is currently contained. It does not mean that the fire is out yet. This is just one evaluation, or size-up, that can be made of a fire. Once it’s under control, that’s when they would move on to overhaul operations.

Some other stages a fire may be in during size-up include:

Incipient Stage: This is the beginning of a fire. It’s still small and may simply be put out with a handheld extinguisher.

“Smoke Showing”: Maybe not an “official” size-up term, but this means smoke can be seen from outside the structure. The fire may still be small, but it’s likely on the way to growing into more.

Working Fire: This has moved past the incipient stage and may be considered a “real fire”. It is considered “working” when it’s in the process of being suppressed. It will probably not be able to be put out by a single fire company. Instead, departments that are usually part of a pre-planned mutual aid may be called in, either to bring more engines or trucks, or to stand by in case they are needed.

Well Involved/Fully Involved: Fire, heat, and smoke are so wide-spread that interior access may be delayed until fire streams can be applied.

A to Z: T is for Turnout Gear


Turnout gear, also referred to as bunker gear, is the protective clothing firefighters wear. These include coats, pants, helmets, gloves, and footwear. This gear must have three components: an outer shell, a moisture barrier, and a thermal barrier. Pockets of air between these layers add to the protection from the extreme environments of fires. The materials for these items often use a Nomex(a flame resistant material)/Kevlar combination.

Taken by me

Taken by me

The pants often have suspenders attached. These are typically of a heavy duty construction to stand up against heavy weights and rigorous activity. When removed, the pants are often left around the boots, with the suspenders to the OUTSIDE! Very important, because otherwise they would be between your legs when you step into your boots. This makes it quicker to gear up.

Embed from Getty Images

The coat has oversized pockets in order to carry various tools and equipment and reflective stripes line the coat. These usually have velcro or zippers to quickly don the coat. There’s also a flap that covers the closure area, adding extra protection from fire and heat. They also have wristlets made of Nomex at the end of sleeves to prevent burns between the end of the sleeve and the gloves.

Embed from Getty Images

Boots are often made of rubber or leather with steel toe inserts. The boots are worn inside the pants to offer another layer of protection. They also have a puncture resistant midsole plate as they will come in contact with all sorts of surfaces in emergency situation.

Often a hood is worn under the helmet. This is also made of Nomex. This is for when a helmet does not provide built-in protection around ears and neck. The hood is tucked into the collar, then the SCBA mask is donned, then the hood is pulled up over the head to the seal of the mask to cover any exposed skin.

By Sherurcij at en.wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia) [Attribution or CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

Originally the fire helmet was meant to shed water. Today, it’s purpose is more to protect the firefighter from falling debris or other injuries to the head. A secondary consideration is protection from heat and burns to the head. The hard shell protects from electrical, heat, and steam burns. There are four basic components to a helmet: the outer shell, impact ring, helmet liner, and chin strap. The shell is lightweight & well-balanced. It is designed to provide maximum protection with a front brim, rear brim, and raised top. The impact ring is a 3/8″ sponge rubber ring that absorbs impact energy. The helmet liner is made of fire retardant cotton and Nomex.

By Bill Koplitz (This image is from the FEMA Photo Library.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

There are a couple different types of gloves firefighters wear. Mostly work gloves and structural firefighting gloves. The work gloves allow better mobility but are not rated for fire-fighting though. One type of work glove is the extrication glove. These are similar to an auto-mechanic’s glove but are made of a heavier rip-proof and puncture resistant material such as Kevlar. However, they are still lightweight enough to maintain dexterity and operate rescue tools or even take a victim’s pulse. For a working fire, structural firefighting gloves have to be worn. These are designed to protect from extreme heat and penetrating objects and still retain some dexterity, though this may be sacrificed as the heat protection is more important. This is often the last item to be donned when gearing up, as that dexterity is needed to perform other tasks, such as putting on the SCBA and tightening straps, particularly for the helmet. The cuff of the glove sits between the wristlet and the end of the coat to offer the most protection.

By Gila National Forest (DSC_7211 Uploaded by AlbertHerring) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

A to Z: S is for SCBA


SCBA, or Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus is a device worn by rescue workers and firefighters when entering a hazardous environment(or IDLH). This has three main components: a high-pressure air tank, a pressure regulator, and a mouthpiece or face mask(as an inhalation connection). This is all connected together on a carrying frame or harness.

Joshua Sherurcij [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons

There are closed and open-circuit SCBAs. However, the closed-circuit ones are mostly used for longer-duration needs, such as a mine rescue. It’s the open-circuit ones most firefighters would use. These have a fullface mask, regulator, air cylinder(with a pressure gauge), and a harness allowing it to be worn on the firefighter’s back.

air tanks(picture taken by me)

air tanks(picture taken by me)

The air cylinders usually come in three sizes: 4 liter, 6 liter, and 6.8 liters. The 6 liter generally has a working duration of just over 35 minutes(subtracting 10 for safety margin). Of course, the relative fitness and exertion of the worker causes this time to vary. So, it’s important to pay attention to how much air is left in it. These also usually have a PASS device incorporated into the design, to alert a RIT crew of a firefighter in distress.

When I first started writing Flames of Redemption, I was a little worried about what terminology I used. Originally I had used ‘SCBA’ but then I worried people wouldn’t know what that meant(and realize not everyone likes looking stuff up as much as I do), as not everyone is involved or knows someone who is in the fire service. I imagine if I wasn’t married to a firefighter, I wouldn’t know it either(and didn’t before I knew him). I believe I did end up going with face mask, as I was sure pretty much everyone would understand what that was.

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