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Engine 32 was the first on the scene of a wildfire I reported this morning [View All]

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DemoTex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-17-09 10:05 PM
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Engine 32 was the first on the scene of a wildfire I reported this morning
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I saw the smoke pop up at about 10:30 AM. I watched it and plotted it for about 10 minutes. When I was sure that it was smoke and when I had a position solution that I was relatively comfortable with, I called it in on the USFS radio net to Central Oregon Dispatch. The smoke was about eight miles north of the lookout in an area known as the "Potholes," which is infamous among firefighters for getting accurate positions because of the flat terrain.

I gave them a "dirty" position, and then fine-tuned it five minutes later: Township 21, Range 14, Section 11, NE quarter of the NE quarter section .. just off the 100 FS road spur. Dispatch assigned engine 32 to the fire. They called in about an hour later, at the scene (sometimes engines have to drive many miles and search for the fire location). Since engine 32 was the first on the scene, the engine crew leader became the fire commander.

The first thing the fire commander does is assess the situation and pinpoint the location of the fire (usually GPS) and radio in a report to the dispatcher. This is where I get nervous. How far off was my position fix? I knew that my boss was already on his way to the fire. But I also knew that engine 32 had not transmitted any radio messages about having trouble finding the fire.

The fire commander normally reports the exact position of the fire in either LAT/LON or TRS (or both) formats. When engine 32 called in his report, before they even started fighting the fire, he gave the fire details: "wildfire, in sage and Ponderosa pine, less than one-tenth acre, winds calm." Then the position: "exactly where the lookout said it was."

That doesn't happen often, and I'll probably be off a mile on the next fire, but my cap sure looks swell with its new plume!

On a lighter note: You usually get what you pay for ..

You get what you pay for, generally speaking. To support that statement, I offer two examples.

Example 1: I should know by now not to buy cheap kitchen gadgets in the grocery store or Target ("Good Grips" brand products excepted, but the Target in Bend does not carry "Good Grips"). Perhaps the shabby merchandise in Target's kitchen gadget section should be branded "Good Gripes." It was there I bought a funky, el-cheapo garlic press (which I use primarily to press ginger root). My first attempt at gaining mechanical advantage over a small cube of ginger root with the machine resulted in a fracture of the handle. Six bucks down the drain. Yesterday I went to the upscale kitchen store on Powerhouse Drive and bought a hefty, well-tuned garlic press .. fifteen bucks. The Porsche of garlic presses!

Example 2: In 1994 (or so) I bought a pair of Mephisto hiking boots at Nordstrom in Pentagon City. These were $450 boots on sale for $125. There was only one pair, and it was my size. They were the most comfortable boots I have ever worn. Well, maybe not as comfortable as my original issue all-leather US Army combat boots (those were great boots). Fifteen years later the Mephisto boots were a little too worn to bring out to Oregon. I studied buying another pair of Mephisto boots. The best deal I could find was $475 at

During that research I happened across the website of NuShoe in San Diego. NuShoe specializes in totally reconditioning Mephisto shoes and boots. They offered a major boot overhaul for $95. I sent my boots off the NuShoe in early May. My buds on fire engine 34 brought the package with my re-conditioned boots out to the lookout on Monday.

It's amazing. They look like new boots. They have new Mephisto soles, shiny uppers, new inside liners, and new laces. These boots are good to go for another fifteen years. Let's see .. $220/30 years = $7.33/year for boots. Even if I lose them tomorrow, I have less than $15/year for that period of ownership invested in these boots.

My old boots even smell new.

These boots are made for walking:

The lookout is a little brighter today, thanks to a sale at Pier-1 Imports:

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