Sunday, May 29, 2016

Another overseas house-Grand Cayman

This past week I was able to get shots of another firehouse in Grand Cayman, this one is closest to the airport. These photos were done on the fly, as of course there isn't really any space to pull over in to get shots of it. 

Unfortunately, no trucks outside on the day we traveled by this house, but sadly, I got to take a few  shots of a firehouse at work at our resort this past week. A newlywed husband and wife had gone snorkeling, with tragic results. I learned today that the wife passed away, even after heroic efforts on the part of the resort guests and the firehouse rescue squads to revive her. A sad day on the East End. I chose not to publish any photos of the rescue efforts out of respect for the families, but instead photographed the trucks at the resort, and helped to distract other children on the beach by taking them to go look at the firetrucks. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Training Day

Keeping cool

I was lucky enough to spend part of an afternoon and early evening with crews this month from two area firehouses during a training exercise. Departments from the towns of Hadley and Leverett met on the site of an abandoned property along Route 9 to conduct some search and vent training with the help of a smoke machine in a house slated to be torn down in the coming months. It was a humid day and the focus was also on keeping hydrated during the exercises.

Directions being given from Hadley Chief-Mike Spankenbel

Giving last minute reminders to the Leverett crews

Small teams from each department alternated entering the structure and venting through a second floor window. Department chiefs observed both in and outside the structure, and gave feedback to the teams once their run-through was completed. The opportunity to watch this training session was fascinating to me,  I happily stood and watched for the duration of the training, swatting away bugs and dripping with the heat. (Remember bug spray for another session!) Thanks to Chief Mike Spankenbel for the opportunity to watch these teams in action. It was really difficult to pick photos from the over 200 that I shot that day for this post. My favorite ones are of course the ones that show the faces of the firefighters themselves- their intensity and focus on the training. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Firehouses Abroad

Hi blog followers! It's been awhile but you know how it is-life moves pretty fast and sometimes it is hard to keep up with things. I recently was able to enjoy a family vacation abroad in Grand Cayman, somehow with all of the sun and beautiful views I found a few moments to stop and visit briefly one of the three firehouses that are located on the island. 
This particular firehouse is the Frank Sound Fire Station, and happily the trucks were out when I stopped by.

Left side view of the station below. I think we parked illegally on the side of the road here to get this shot. 

Below a closeup of one of the trucks, here is Rescue 2

Loved walking inside the bays to spot this.

The crew on duty inside were welcoming, and as they didn't have a patch on hand, they very generously gave me one of their older firehouse shirts to take home with me. Thank you to the guys there-it was nice of you and I was thrilled to have it (by the way, it fits perfectly!) 

Smiling firehouse crew-who wouldn't be happy to work on one of the most beautiful islands in Cayman?

A fantastic quick visit-I only wish I had more time to stop at the other two firehouses while I was on the island. 

But, the sun and sand was calling us to head north to Rum Point.

One of the most photographed docks on Grand Cayman-it is easy to see why everyone loves to take photos here.

Monday, October 6, 2014

At the End.....Or Not???

This past weekend I got to the last town in Western Mass on my list, my home town of Northampton. I had wanted to save it for last mainly because I reasoned it would have been the easiest one to do, and would be a good ending to this project. Unfortunately, I am still getting the runaround from the base at Barnes in Westfield, so this post isn't really the end. Thanks to the great Asst Chief Wood at Westover, I was able to contact the Chief at Barnes directly, who said "no problem". However, it has to be approved by the Public Affairs office at the base first. Two emails and one phone message later and I still haven't heard back from the base. Never fear, I'm not giving up, and am still trying. I have one friend who can go to the PX there, so I'm hoping to bribe her into taking me along so I can do a drive-by shoot(sorry bad phrasing here) of the firehouse. If that fails, a relative has a friend who is married to a Colonel there, (not quite six degrees of separation but pretty close!) that I might be able to beg for assistance. So it is a waiting game to see how it all shakes out at this point. Regardless, on to the firehouses in Northampton. The first stop was at the Florence station, located on Maple Street. Florence is a section of Northampton, and the locals call it the Village of Florence-hey it has its own zip code after all right? I used to live in the center, and after a few months didn't even jump when the engines came racing down the street blaring their sirens on route to a call. 

About two blocks south of Florence, you drive by a small little park, Trinity Park to be precise, and if you take a moment to stop and walk through it, you will spot the memorial for firefighters there on the corner.

The new firehouse in town is located down on King Street, and is a much larger location than the old firehouse previously located downtown. The complex is pretty immense, so I shot both from the front and side views.

Front view-from King Street

Side View of Firehouse
Just inside the firehouse, you will see one of the older apparatus that once was used in town. 

Just outside of the firehouse,
one of the old bells can be located on the side near the entrance.

Being so close to the Connecticut River, the department also has a fire boat used for water rescues, stored here at the King Street location. 

New flags on the grills were a treat to see, the only other town I have seen during my travels that has a grill like this one was in Dalton. Northampton has two, but this is the more impressive grill with more of a full flag motif.

The vehicle below is owned by the state, and currently housed here in town, used for large or long term fire emergencies.There are a few on staff at the department here who are trained for this vehicle in particular.

Seal on the floor inside firehouse

To the left, you will see the portable units for refilling air tanks built right into the emergency vehicles.

Within the firehouse,
visitors can also see the department patch board as well as the fire pole. The flaps(so no accidental drops!) open when weight is placed on the pole. And in case anyone is wondering, no I did not slide down it.(Although I probably should have asked to!)

Huge thank you to Jared Kajka for the visit here at the King Street firehouse!

I will still update this blog if I can get to Barnes and do the firehouse there, but after I breathed a sigh of relief that this project was finally finished, I realized it really isn't over at this point. I have met so many people and talked with them about this project, that I realize that I need to keep working on and widen its range more. Plans for a book of all of the photographs are at the top of the list, along with expanding to include the rest of the state and potentially all of New England are in the works. People are really enthusiastic and excited(incredibly some even more than I am!) about this project, and have given me many suggestions and much encouragement to continue on with it. For me, this project started with a desire to see more of the area that I have lived my entire life in, and the admiration I have for the crews who go out every day to answer a call. I certainly experienced more dirt roads in the past few months than I think I ever have before! This area has an incredible amount of history, and much more wide open spaces than I ever thought it did, as well as many areas I had never traveled to. The thrill of discovering new places played a big part in this project, as well as discovering how similar and different firehouses across the region can be. One added bonus, if I ever run into problems while traveling in the area and need emergency assistance, I know exactly where each and every firehouse is in every town here! While I don't know specifically each and every person that has taken the time to discover and read this blog, I do know that it has been read by individuals in countries near and far, so a huge thank you to the readers from the following areas who have explored it as of this writing:

Bermuda, France, Germany, Ireland, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and of course, the United States.

Not too bad for a little blog that isn't promoted hmm?

Regardless, keep checking back to the blog and I promise to update followers on the next phase of this project as it unfolds.

Thanks to my "big brother" Bill, for pushing and encouraging me with this project, and helping me to scream at the GPS when it was telling us to be in the wrong place from where we wanted to be. One of the best road trip pals ever, except when you were laughing at me about my "damn dirt road" phobias. I still will detour miles out of the way in order to avoid driving on them. My car is still trying to recover from the traumas I inflicted.

And now for something completely different........

One of my friends took the time on his vacation to photograph and send me photos of firehouses when he wasn't getting drunk on wine in France or taking "selfies" at the Eiffel Tower. Thanks Paul for sending them to me so that I could share them here!

First- a truck-in traffic of course!

You can just see part of the engine bays from this shot

A fuller view of the firehouse bays in this shot

Pretty neat to view this through the alleyway

It wouldn't be right for me not to include Paul and his "selfie" at the Eiffel Tower after the photos he took for me. Thanks Paul! <grin>

And I leave you now with one incredibly important message-if you hear or see an emergency truck-PULL OVER and let them get past you-that extra minute of trying to maneuver around your vehicle could make a difference to someone. 
Stay safe and enjoy life readers!