The past several weeks have been very emotional for me. It seems that everything has hit me at once and that has been a big reason for the lack of my posting …

I guess it kind of began back in late October when Rhett and I traveled to New York. Whenever we travel, Rhett and I always try to pack as much as possible into the days spent away from our families. The New York trip was no exception. Rhett had 2 teaching gigs in New Jersey plus we met up with Zach Green to do a little work for Fox Fire. It was a GREAT trip that left us worn out and overcome with emotion. Chief Billy Goldfeder set up a personal tour  for us at the WTC Tribute Center with its founder Lee Ielpi. That tour alone changed my life and I haven’t been able to “collect” myself yet.

Read my post trip post ” Re-adjusting” by clicking HERE

After returning home, I spent my time trying to absorb what we had done and seen in NY while also attempting to catch up on the farm.  Then, I got an early morning phone call. It was my wife … her sister had passed away. She had been fighting cancer for the past few years but it was a bad fall at home that had her in the hospital this time. She was badly injured but her passing was unexpected.

It has been less than a year since my wife lost her father as well. Needless to say, the two deaths have been  hard on her. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here but I do want to say that it has hit me harder than I expected. Although I lost a sister-in-law and friend of 25 years, what hurts the most for me is having to see my wife suffer. It’s difficult for me to handle. Yea … we see it all the time on the job but it’s different when it’s closer to home.

At work, I can manage, control, calm or fix any situation … some may even say that I’m actually good at it. But this,  this I can’t fix. I’ve posted before on how ironic it is that we can provide services and take such great care of total strangers while on the job but can’t care for our families when they need us the most.

That said, Donna is doing fine and we will get through this. I (we) do want to take a moment ( knowing that many were unaware) to say THANK YOU for the flowers, cards, thoughts and prayers.

The world has kept turning and we’ve eased back into a semi-normal routine. Rhett and I had a few friends and fellow bloggers scheduled to come up from NC for a visit. I almost cancelled but now have to admit that the “change of pace” was good.

Captain Chaos and Lt. Lemon from Excessive Leather Accessories For Firefighters were a BLAST to hang out with.

We took the fellas by a few stations and gave them the “nickel tour” of some of our history.

We spent the rest of the evening sharing some beer, pizza and great conversation. The next day, the boys would come out and ride along with me and the crew of Engine Company #13-C. Read their take on the visit   HERE   and   HERE  .

I’ve since had a few days off but as is the usual for me, they didn’t last long. This past Thursday, Rhett and I packed up and hit the road once again. This time, we were headed to Kentucky and Ohio … another AWESOME and emotional trip.

Like I told ya, we try to pack as much as possible into our trips. Rhett grew up in the Loveland area of Ohio and since we were gonna be that  close, we had to make a stop. We rolled into Ohio earlier than we had expected and that worked out perfectly.

We made stops by two of the houses that Rhett lived in as a child. We visited his old school and drove by several places that he holds fond memories of. It was a “home coming” of sorts for him and his excitement was evident.

We also have a good friend who lives and works in the area so we figured we’d give him a call to say we were in town. The  Loveland-Symmes Fire Department  is where Chief Billy Goldfeder works and a simple “hello” over the phone would not be good enough for Chief Billy. If Rhett and I were in town, he was going to assure that we were taken care of. Within minutes, Chief picked us up and gave us a personal tour of their stations.

How AWESOME is that?? Chief Billy Goldfeder, The Fire Critic and me riding around in an unmarked command vehicle that has more lights on it than the White House Christmas tree ! Yea baby … the Chief’s ride is “decked out” and that’s how we roll !


It was a great tour … Loveland-Symmes has it together!

They put a ton of focus and emphasis on Incident Command,  Accountability and Risk Assessment.

Pictured right, Chief Billy gave us a demo of how he utilizes the mobile command boards in the trunk of his vehicle.

I was glad to learn that we have and do something very similar here in my Department…. at least we’re doing something right!

I also noted and liked how they had “size-up” or “on-scene report” stickers on the dash of their rigs. I’ll throw in a pic of that, the Risk Assessment reminder and their Battalion’s Command Vehicle…


We also got an up close and personal look at Loveland-Symmes Engine #62.

You may have heard about this unique rig … it’s a rolling, working, firefighting Memorial that honors the National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation and our fallen brothers.

It is a BEAUTIFUL truck and looks as if it had just rolled off the show room floor ( it’s in service as a first-run piece).

Here’s a short video of their Chief talking about the truck … CLICK HERE .

I think the Chief enjoyed giving us the tour as much as we did getting it. We knew that he had an appointment later that evening but none of us wanted to end the visit.

Chief Billy was upset that he wasn’t able to take us by their Fallen Firefighter Memorial before he ran out of time. We told him not to worry about it …. just give us the address and we’d be sure to stop by and visit it. NOPE … that wouldn’t due. He didn’t want us to go to their memorial, he wanted to TAKE us !    THAT’S  BROTHERHOOD .

The following evening, we would meet back up with Chief Billy for a fantastic Italian dinner at Pitrelli’s . Not only was this a great place to eat, we also had the honor of meeting and sharing the experience with the Chief’s family. Afterwards, the chief would take us by their Fallen Firefighter’s Memorial. It was a clear and cool moonlit night … BEAUTIFUL. The Memorial …. beyond emotional … spiritual.  Another great honor that Rhett and I were able to share together … THANKS CHIEF !

To see and learn more about the Loveland-Symmes Fallen Firefighter Memorial, click HERE .

So, to back up just a little bit, after our first night with Chief Billy; Rhett and I headed down to Covington, Ky. to check in to our hotel. Now, we are talking about me and Rhett here so obviously, we don’t stay at just any old hotel…. we’re talking the Radisson. A round hotel alongside the Ohio river with a revolving restaurant on top! The “360 Restaurant” … AN AWESOME VIEW … one of only 32 revolving restaurants in the world and Rhett and I have now eaten at 2 !

The next morning, we made the short drive to Edgewood, Ky where we presented Rhett’s  “Social Media in the Fire Service”  class at  the Kentucky Fire Chief’s Association’s Leadership Symposium.

A very professional group and great symposium ( Captain Bill Gustin presented on the 1st day).

Everything was going great until someone in the audience began talking about how great Dave Statter was.

Statter this … Statter that …. The Fire Critic ??? Never heard of it … KABOOOOOM !!!

I’ve never seen a guest speaker kick someone out of a class … I thought we were going to have to fight our way out of the place …

LOL … I’m just kidding.

The class went great!  It was Rhett’s largest attendance.  Dave Statter was actually mentioned outside of Rhett’s presentation though. Some of the folks had seen Statter’s video on how Rhett doesn’t really exist … LMAO! If you missed that 2 part video, check it out by clicking  HERE .

We also got to meet Cynthia … aka “Ms. May” of the 2012 America’s Female Firefighter Calendar .

She even signed a copy for us ! If you’re not familiar with this calendar, you should be….. it ranked #1 on The Fire Critic’s 2011 Top Ten Hot & Sexy Firefighter Calendars.

It was after the class that we met Chief Goldfeder for dinner and Memorial tour. Following that, we made another short drive to Wyoming, Ky. That’s whereZach’s home and  the Fox Fire headquarters are located. We stayed at Zach’s house that night … a BEAUTIFUL home.

Apparently, his son Brice thinks Rhett and I are celebrities …. he was waiting for us in the driveway when we arrived. Zach always treats us like kings and this trip would be no exception. His wife had been baking “goodies” all day … they had a camp fire, some great bottles of wines, plenty of cold beer and a few good friends to wind the evening down with …. very relaxing!

We needed the R&R …. not just Rhett and I either … Zach had been run just as thin. He had just flew in from California. He had been out there participating in a test / study for photoluminescent technology use within the fire service.

Rhett has the story over on Fire Critic … click HERE 

More plus video HERE

The rest didn’t last long … we stayed up late and was up and back at it early.

Zach had arranged for us to attend a training evolution with the Wyoming Fire-EMS Department . Like everything Zach does, this training was top of the line …. Cincinnati Fire department’s Flash Over Simulator !

Neither of us have ever been inside a Flash Over Simulator ….. AWESOME training !! Every Department should have one!

As I mentioned, this one is owned by the Cincinnati Fire Department and located on one of their training sites. I should also note that it is dedicated to Firefighter Oscar Armstrong III … a Cincinnati Firefighter killed in the line of duty back in March 2003 due to a flash over.

Click HERE to Learn more about Firefighter Oscar Armstrong III


Hopefully, this invaluable training tool will prevent any future Cincinnati LODD’s due to Flash Over …. it’s definitely a step in the right direction. Every Cincinnati member has received training inside the Simulator and they  allow surrounding Departments to come in and use it as well.

This is the closest that I’ve ever been able to get to a fire and these conditions for an extended period of time and feel (and actually be) safe.

The temperature inside (at places) reached in excess of 1800 degrees.

Not only did I find it valuable as a “Flash Over” simulator, I think it also has value for changing smoke conditions and roll over fires.

Here are 2 short videos …..

The training also proved to be a good test for the Fox Fire Helmet Band as well as for the brand new tetrahedrons … YEA … Fox Fire now has TETRAHEDRONS for your helmet!

They both held up GREAT !

Another successful day for Fox Fire, The Fire Critic and

Special thanks to the Wyoming Fire-EMS Department for allowing us to tag along as well as to the instructors for a fantastic class!

Here are a few more pictures ….



Of course, this would not end our day … Zach had even more planned. After a quick clean up, we headed out to the University of Cincinnati vs West Virginia football game!

I’m not a big fan of either team but after seeing the Cincinnati cheer leaders in action … I was sold!


It came down to the final 3 seconds where Cincinnati missed a short field goal to tie.

After the game, it was back to Zach’s for one of the best meals I’ve eaten in a long time. Unfortunately, after we ate; we had to pack, load up and start for home.  I’m on vacation but Rhett had to be at work by 7 am Sunday.  We made it safe and sound by around 2:30-3:00 am and I must admit that it was good to be back in my own bed.

I have a lot more to fill ya in on but will stop here for now. Sorry it was such a long one but I have been absent for a while (plus it was THAT good of a trip). I’ll catch ya again in the next day or so … until then, Stay Safe and in House ! Thanks for reading

Captain Wines