Sunday, November 14, 2010


I have mixed emotions about snow. It's tough to downhill ski without the white stuff, so I guess I like it, but . . . on the other hand, snow means cold, and cold means icy roads and crazy drivers and call outs . . . and eventually it gets really cold, which means frozen hose lines and pumps and SCBA masks . . . ugh. The firefighter side of me hates snow. I once tried cancelling all fires between November and March, but no one listened to me. You can read about that and other weather musings here.

Snow. It has to come eventually, unless you live in Honolulu or Tahiti. The kids can't be mad that it came later than usual, because last year it didn't come until the first of December. The adults can't be mad that it didn't wait until December this year, because it often comes in October, or even September, so we got off pretty easy this year. There's no point in even the firefighters being mad, because snow always comes eventually, unless you live in Honolulu or Tahiti. Come to think of it, if I lived in Honolulu or Tahiti and it snowed, I'd be pretty mad. But I live here, and the weather seems to be about on schedule.

I celebrated the first major snow today by nearly ditching the pumper. I turned off the highway after a call out, and realized that I only thought I was turning. If you live in Honolulu or Tahiti and have never attempted a turn on an icy road, the sensation is kind of like floating through the air with no steering or brakes. Fortunately, I was going slow, and when my front wheels hit the soft snow on the edge of the road, they bit in and turned in the direction that I was vehemently commanding them to turn. My back wheels still thought we were headed for the ditch though, and looped around in a quarter donut before they too hit the soft snow and got the message that, yes indeed were were going to the fire hall.

You'd think that we would get more vehicle collisions in the winter than the summer because of snow, but it's actually the opposite. Lots of people drive off the road in the winter, but unless they play tag with a rock cut or each other (like the folks today), they usually get a nice cushy landing and only need a tow truck. The summer terrain is not so forgiving.

Highway calls are dangerous summer or winter. If you're up to it, you can read
a sad story about a 23 year old firefighter in South Carolina who died on Saturday. He was fighting a brush fire . . . but he was killed by a car. It sounds like he and another firefighter were off the road, but a collision on the highway sent a vehicle into the ditch, killing one, and seriously injuring the other.

When my guys are out there doing jumping jacks with stop signs to attract the attention of drivers in auto pilot, I think about the things that can go wrong. Thinking and planning is good, but the best fix is to get done ASAP and retreat to the safety of the hall.

On a happier note, Paul Combs has done it again, and you can see his latest handiwork here. I am still working on my latest sketch, but no promises on when I'll get it posted.

Whether you live in Honolulu or Upsala, drive safe. Your local firefighters will appreciate it.

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