AND JUSTICE FOR ALL

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Like most in the Philly region, I’ve been thinking a lot about the recent murders of four young men by a crazed drug dealer (I’m not going to use his name, may he rot in Hell). I’m also not going into the details of this horrific crime, you can click the link to read all about this shocking crime. Safe to say it’s one of the worst crimes I’ve ever seen in my 50 years of living in Philly and that says a lot. Philly is a pretty violent big city sometimes. This drama played out over the course of the last week. All of us have been hanging on every detail, scouring social media, waiting for the next press conference and watching morbid footage via the internet of investigators digging up a local farm in search of the victims. It’s ghastly, haunting. At the height of the drama, something unusual happened: The prime suspect confessed because the District Attorney offered him a deal that took the death penalty off the table. And like that everything changed.

Up to that point, this case was following the script- the breathless media accounts from the crime scene, the stoic press conferences, the endless speculation on local talk radio, the internet gossip, the police activity at various locations around the region, it was all bizarrely routine for a high-profile murder case. And then it all changed with the confession. Suddenly all the facts came out. The motive, the time line, the accomplice, the play by play account of a pair of stone cold killers murdering four young men for essentially no reason. None of it made any sense and it never will. But the confession changed everything.

Suddenly the main suspect was nonchalantly led away in handcuffs and a red prison jumpsuit looking as if his day was going as planned. Not a whiff of suffering, no remorse, no apparent inconvenience. The guards even took their time escorting him seeing he was wearing leg shackles. He didn’t LOOK like someone who at twenty years old was going off to spend the rest of his life in prison. Utterly anti-climatic. For those of us who were really disturbed by this case, it doesn’t compute. It’s tough to wrap our heads around this scenario. We all want closure, but we just weren’t ready for this. That’s part of our problem- we’re so civilized.

Our system of justice demands impassionate adherence to the rules and processes that are in place to protect all our rights and that usually takes time, often years. That demands painstaking, methodical and determined perseverance. It means detailed evidence collection and detailed statements. It means precise forensics and it means all of that will be challenged by the defense. Yes, we are so civilized we allow the accused to defend themselves even in the face of overwhelming facts. Without this confession, we wouldn’t be looking at a trial date within the next year. They may not have found all of the victims. Sometimes being so damn civilized really sucks.

I’d like nothing more than to take these two animals to the town square, tie them to cars and publicly rip them to pieces. But the District Attorney had a tough call to make- the authorities knew the victims were dead. The time and toll the investigation takes on everyone (law enforcement, families, friends, and public) the uncertainty of not knowing the details and the potential for the trail of evidence to get cold, lost or compromised the longer the process drags out, means time is against you. You must build a case that will get a conviction.

It’s also critical to return the victims to their families ASAP, they need closure from this nightmare if that will ever be possible. Making a deal that will put the accused in jail for life (the accomplice may still be vulnerable to the death penalty) is really locking down what will most likely happen to them anyway since Pennsylvania is so opposed to carrying out death sentences even for depraved maniacs like the two accused here.

This deal also gains information, the weapons, the entire story, the accomplice and motive all necessary for a conviction. This is now an open and shut case, without putting everyone through a lengthy and painful trial and accompanying media circus with an outcome that would have been essentially the same. There’s a real possibility the defense may have invoked an insanity defense and there is a lot of credence to the theory that it may have worked. The accused main suspect, in my opinion, is clearly a psychopath with previously documented mental health issues. That may or may not have been enough to somehow defer or lessen his penalty. You never know what a jury will decide even in a case like this.

This plea essentially begins the end of the case. In little more than a week these young men had their lives snuffed out. Those responsible were apprehended, confessed to their crimes and their penalty decided with the stroke of a pen. It’s all too neat and bewildering. We are just so civilized.

After a lot of consideration though, I’m not sure the DA couldn’t have overcome most of this. I’m pretty sure that fat bastard would have cracked sooner or later. It may have taken some time but he would have talked, him or his punk accomplice. The facts are so shocking a jury would have most likely convicted these animals and been home for lunch. The real consideration is the amount of pain the families would have had to endure. Maureen Faulkner’s pain immediately comes to mind. Had this case gone to trial they would have been subjected to endless court proceedings, relentless media stories, anniversary special reports and in twenty years a bunch of liberals making these killers grotesque, faux celebrities claiming they were really framed.

It’s a sad, sick situation and I thank God, I’m not the guy who had to make that call. I won’t criticize this decision. Not today. Not from where I sit. So, justice will be swift in this case. The killers will remain in jail where they already are, removed from society. We will never see them free again. The young men will be buried by their families who will forever struggle with the senselessness of this nightmare, like some sort of bad dream they can’t wake up from.

And the next time I see an internet video of some third world village lynching a killer or child molester I’ll think twice before casting aspersions on them. I’ll just tell myself we are so damned civilized…

TESTING THE WATERS…

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          The fact of the matter is this: Free market capitalism combined with representative democracy has created the United States as we know it. This country has become without argument the greatest nation in human history as defined in ANY category. Our advances in every area- medicine, art, science, politics, technology, education, law, humanity and so on, have eclipsed every nation that has come before us. And we’ve done it in the shortest amount of time. Our Founding Fathers just a little over two hundred years ago unleashed the forces of human potential in ways that have transformed not only our country but the world. In that insignificantly short amount of time, we’ve gone from the Wright brothers learning to fly, to putting a man on the Moon. We’ve split the atom, fed the world, defeated the forces of evil, gave birth to the Internet and established the concepts of freedom and liberty around the Globe.

       Even the glory of ancient civilizations like Egypt and Greece pale in comparison when the sheer enormity of what America has accomplished is brought into perspective. Their societies took thousands of years to mature and thrive. America has become so integral to the human condition, so pervasive in our thinking that if it suddenly was to disappear like Atlantis, if America fell into the sea and was no more, the survivors would immediately set out to re-establish it from scratch. America has become more than a place. It’s an idea that will never be removed from humanity. As long as there’s one person left on Earth who dreams of freedom and the ability to strive unencumbered by artificial political or social restrictions, to be what they choose to be, to believe what they want to believe, to decide for themselves what is best for their life, to do with the products of their labor what they choose to do… then America will continue to exist. It is not Communism, Socialism or Fascism that propels people to the highest ranks of human achievement. No one is trying to re-create ancient Egypt. It’s democracy, free market capitalism, and America.

CNN’S DON LEMON: I FOUGHT THE LAW AND THE LAW WON!

THIS VIRAL FOOTAGE OF SHERIFF DAVID CLARK ABSOLUTELY CRUSHING CNN’S DON LEMON IS RIVETING

From the racist Republican file: As soon as the United States elected its first half black President, Barack Obama (not Bill Clinton) liberals have used racism to characterize any and all opposition to his catastrophic socialist policies. For example:

If you opposed Obamacare- you’re a racist.

If you oppose giving the terrorist state of Iran billions of dollars and a path to nuclear weapons- you’re a racist.

If you oppose no name, unelected, government bureaucrats controlling every aspect of your life from the school lunches your kids eat to where you can or can’t graze your cattle- you’re a racist.

If you oppose allowing millions of illegal aliens from Mexico and all points south or millions of Islamic “refugees” to freely flow into our country without the slightest vetting or regulation… well you guessed it by now- you’re a racist!

Any and all legitimate opposition from day one was and still is characterized as racist despite the millions of white Americans who voted to put Obama in the White House TWICE! You almost have to pity the left as this is such an ingrained part of their playbook they do it reflexively at this point. They can’t help themselves because to not play the race card forces them to consider the legitimate criticism that EVERY President gets. It’s sobering that the left cries out so strenuously for “equality” and “diversity” at the same time they caustically decry the most normalizing elements of our society, criticism of one’s point of view for example, that show we have truly moved past RACISM.

To criticize President Obama for HIS POLICIES makes him the most normal among us. It shows that his critics actually listened to his point of view, considered his policies and reacted to them, not his skin color. The left can’t reconcile this because Obama’s policies and programs from Obamacare to the Iran nuclear deal have proved to be outright catastrophes for America. Therefore they must use the race card as often as possible to try to render legitimate, political criticism inherently racist as often as possible. They have created a narrative that Congress only opposes Obama because he’s black. That’s just fodder for the intellectually deficient. By shielding Obama from legitimate criticism, they inadvertently diminish his stature as a leader.

That brings us to Sheriff David Clark. Sheriff Clark like Colonel Alan West is among the most prominent and influential black conservatives around today. In ever increasing numbers black Americans are finding their way to the Conservative movement because of the likes of these great men. Conservatives heartily accept and embrace these great Americans because of their views not the color of their skin, thus destroying the MSM narrative of white, Conservative / Republican racism.

However in the racist halls of the MSM the monolithic liberal view of events still reigns supreme. In this interview Sheriff Clark tears into CNN’s Don Lemon with a blistering vengeance so strong, Lemon retreats to a commercial rather than deal with the substance of Sheriff Clark’s point of view. Lemon deflects and stammers when the Sheriff takes him down paths he’d rather not go for obvious reasons. Sheriff Clark stands up for American law enforcement while Lemon stands up for the racist, hateful, terroristic, Black Lives Matter movement. It’s simply too much for Lemon to take. If Don Lemon was a real journalist, if he understood the depth of the material or scope of events like Sheriff Clark does he would have stood his ground and debated on substance. But a man without facts, character, or integrity will always retreat in the face of confrontation. Lemon’s job is to push a narrative not deal with facts. That’s why when the Sheriff shows up… the guilty flee.

TODAY’S COLLEGE LEFTISTS: MALIGNANT, GROTESQUE, DANGEROUS.

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This is how the left responds to thought or speech they don’t agree with. This poorly constructed, grotesque and profane tirade was posted in response to a well thought out, articulate, respectful statement, delivered in the proper context and forum at one of our most esteemed institutions of higher learning. This profanity laced invective unleashed against a student speaker at the University of Pennsylvania (University Council Meeting) reflects poorly not only on the individual who wrote it but on the broad spectrum of  left wing ideology it represents. What’s more, this ideology infects today’s American college campuses and is actively oppressing students, guest speakers and anyone else who dares hold opposing views .

Unfortunately this is part and parcel of the intimidation and harassment (both verbal and physical) conservative students face almost daily. What’s more this retaliation is tacitly condoned by university officials by virtue of the fact that a clear and forceful message, condemning this type of political oppression on campus has not been articulated by the administration in the form of a written policy. Nor have steps been taken to provide safe spaces for students holding diverse opinions to express them. Today it’s all too common for speaking engagements to be cancelled of otherwise disrupted because the speakers or topics run afoul of the dominant leftist orthodoxy. For all the left’s whining about diversity, there is none when it comes to political thought especially at the one place it should be most cherished- college . College campuses are among the most politically repressive places in the world any more. This was the central theme expressed so well in the statement to the University Council.

The original statement was delivered by Michael Moroz, representing the College Republicans. Michael is an extremely intelligent, passionate young man from a modest background. Michael was raised in a good home, instilled with good morals, decency and virtue. His mother escaped the horrors of Communism and oppression and emigrated to America where her son faces a new kind of oppression: the intolerance, oppression and hatred of the political left. This isn’t the first time Michael has faced this kind of backlash for simply speaking his mind. He endured threats, harassment and intimidation in Philadelphia’s Central High School as well for daring to express an opinion contrary to the left wing dogma that today seems to infect institutions of learning at every level.

There’s an upside to this story however. It’s this- despite this being a generation of self absorbed, spoiled, whiny, listless, everybody get’s a trophy, unhinged cry babies there are young men like Michael Moroz out there. Future leaders with the courage to stand up, be respectful, be intelligent and mature and say what they believe DESPITE knowing they will suffer bitter resentment, be ostracized, be threatened, harassed and intimidated. That’s true courage and character and it comes from the belief in the justness of one’s convictions. Hat’s off to Michael Moroz, a giant among the irrelevant.

TRUMP THE RACIST…

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Funny thing – 700 murders a year in Chicago under Obama. He did nothing about it even though it was his adopted home town. 700 minority lives gone. In the first week of Trumps administration he’s already put the Chicago administration of (Rahm Emmanuel the Obama / Clinton crony) on notice: If they can’t / won’t stop the killing he will. Trump will send in the Justice Department to stop the killing of HUNDREDS of minorities a year, saving thousands of families eternal grief and breaking the cycle of violence.Obama never used the Justice Department like that. Pretty uncharacteristic thing to do for a racist. You would think if Trump was a racist he could just do what Obama did… nothing and sit back and gleefully ignore the killing of minorities.

You know who else stopped the killing of minorities? Rudy Giuliani that’s who. NYC was unlivable for over two decades until Giuliani restored law and order. Now we don’t have nearly the numbers of dead minorities or other citizens in the Big Apple although under DeBlasio New York is starting to teeter. Imagine that. The left is having a complete psychotic episode because they didn’t get their way much like a spoiled child has a tantrum and acts out when told no. It’s pathetic but at the end of the day those families who are able to resume a normal life without fear of being murdered in their own neighborhood will thank him. But hey keep wearing your stupid pussy hats while the adults clean up Obama’s mess.

WHY THE FIGHT OVER CROWD SIZE? BECAUSE SIZE AND LIES MATTER.

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The actual crowd at the time of the swearing in was much different than the one CNN used from hours earlier.

The debate about the inaugural attendance has raged all weekend. Some of our wise elders of conservative punditry have been hard on the administration for taking CNN to task over their lies. Most have opined along the lines that there was no good reason to engage in this skirmish that turned into an all out battle. Let me remind you that Gettysburg started out as a series of skirmishes leading to a decisive battle that helped the North win the Civil War.

There was a VERY GOOD REASON to fight this battle. The Trump administration started from DAY ONE putting the MSM on notice that there’s a new administration in town and they won’t tolerate their lies and bias any more. It’s already widely known the MSM hates this administration and have lied about them from day one of the campaign, so the Trump team had nothing to lose. Once again President Trump has shown his near total mastery of media. This controversy completely drowned out coverage of the left wing hate march on the Sunday news shows.

Most Americans believe the MSM is corrupt and bias often inventing FAKE NEWS. By calling the MSM out on the very first day, the Trump administration is sent a clear message that their lies will be confronted and exposed and the public will understand that CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS are all in collusion against the right. This was actually a BRILLIANT move. CNN lied about the MLK bust being removed and the crowd size and got burned for it. The public now has that seared into their collective memory. The next time they do it they’ll get burned again. This is simple- the best defense is a good offense. You confront lies immediately, not after they become “facts”.

Normally Republicans are too terrified to confront the media because they’re scared of being labeled (INSERT PHOBIC HERE). Not any more. At the press briefing today the normal pecking order was upended when the New York Post and the Christian Broadcasting Network got called on first not the AP! You could hear the collective media sniveling all across the Twitterverse! The MSM was just put on notice. Do your damn job or get exposed.

LIBERAL FEMINISM: BANKRUPT IDEOLOGY

When you can’t win popular support for your leftist ideology violence is often not far behind. What’s even more horrifying is this violence against another women, caught on tape at a WOMEN’S RIGHTS MARCH is tacitly approved and condoned by the other “concerned” women who stood by and DID NOTHING except shield the MALE ATTACKER! I would have had SO MUCH MORE RESPECT for the “women’s rights” crowd if they jumped on that guy and beat him senseless. I don’t know maybe he’s on his way to a re-education camp right now.

A BLIZZARD HITS CAPITOL HILL

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Dear Congressman (INSERT NAME OF YOU ELECTED SNOWFLAKE) : As an elected Representative of this District and as an American citizen you have a DUTY to this Republic and to the Constitution you SWORE to defend and uphold, to stand together on this Inauguration Day and welcome the PEOPLE’S chosen President. Win, lose or draw that’s YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. By acting like a child who didn’t get their way, you’re setting a disgraceful precedent to the younger generation of would be future representatives who look at you to be a guiding example. You say you disagree with the result of the election… but what does that mean? The PEOPLE have spoken and Mr. trump is the duly elected President elect just as Mr. Obama was when he won. There’ll be plenty of time to express your disagreement with the President elect soon enough and you should do that in the most vigorous and respectful way possible. That’s also your duty and prerogative. But on THIS day you owe it to all Americans and as an example to the WORLD to engage in the PEACEFUL transition of power, in good faith and to be a good sport, something we teach our children to do in little league. I’m a firefighter. What if I decided to act like a politician and only attend the alarms of those whom I agree with? What’s the difference sir? We BOTH work for the people, ALL the people. Except while I’m prepared to put my life on the line to help people who I may vehemently disagree with, people I don’t even know, you can’t manage to put on a diplomatic face and put our Country ahead of your personal feelings for one day. I strongly urge you to reconsider this childish, partisan display of immaturity, show some class, decorum and dignity and do the right thing. Stand up for America.

IT’S TIME TO END THE VETERAN’S MEDICAL SYSTEM ONCE AND FOR ALL

obamaveterans-777x437A 76-year-old veteran committed suicide on Sunday in the parking lot of the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center on Long Island, where he had been a patient, according to the Suffolk County Police Department.”

It’s time. As a matter of fact it’s long past time. It’s time the Veterans Administration (VA) “Health Care” system ceases to exist. It’s time to disband the system.

It’s time to realize that the VA Medical System is beyond repair, is hopelessly corrupt and utterly unable to fulfill its mission of taking care of our honored Veterans medical needs… no matter who is appointed to run it.

He went to the E.R. and was denied service,” one of the people, who currently works at the hospital, said. “And then he went to his car and shot himself.”

It’s time. It’s time to admit failure. It’s time to admit the bureaucracy has grown too large, too ponderous, too unmanageable, too self-interested, too desensitized, too unresponsive, and too corrupt to ever have a chance of being reformed or redeemed.

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It’s time to pull the plug on the VA. I was “treated” in a Veteran’s medical center here in Philadelphia for my hearing loss and Tinnitus when I first got out of the Army. It was a disaster and I never went back. I know first-hand about what I am talking about.

Admit failure and move on

Admitting failure is probably one of the hardest things for us to do especially as Americans. Americans don’t fail. We conquer. We adapt and overcome. We fight on against all odds and always eek out final victory in the end.

That’s our mythos, our psychology our identity. It’s who we are and what we are as a people. We’re not failures, we’re winners. But sometimes…

Politics is in the way

Sometimes politics gets in the way of those hallowed national characteristics. Sometimes greed, incompetence, vanity, arrogance, indifference, and old fashioned callousness creep in.

They creep in and take hold, grow deep roots and like weeds in your garden spread all over until finally it becomes impossible to see where the grass ends and the weeds begin. That’s when you break out the weed killer. It’s time for weed killer.

 

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The VA is in disarray. That fact alone would be an enormous problem except that it’s been this way for GENERATIONS. The Veterans Administration Health Service has been failing our service members for generations:

            “In secret chemical weapons experiments conducted during World War II, the U.S. military exposed thousands of American troops to mustard gas.

When those experiments were formally declassified in the 1990s, the Department of Veterans Affairs made two promises: to locate about 4,000 men who were used in the most extreme tests, and to compensate those who had permanent injuries.

But the VA didn’t uphold those promises, an NPR investigation has found”.

This is a story that began in 1945. The military exposed these sailors to Mustard Gas then never gave them the follow up treatment they needed and deserved, despite promises to do so.

It’s not a new story.

Business as usual?

In fact I say it’s actually business as usual for the corrupt bureaucrats at the Veterans Administration. This is a pattern of failure that’s deeply ingrained at one of our governments biggest, most labyrinthine, ineffective and political bureaucracies.

After this failure, the cycle repeated itself during the 1950’s with military experimentation on service members with psychoactive drugs like LSD right through the Vietnam era.

We all remember the national disgrace of the horrific suffering and treatment our Veterans endured for years at the hands of the VA. This is but one example:

            “Ending years of wait, the government agreed Thursday to provide millions of dollars in disability benefits to as many as 2,100 Air Force reservists and active-duty forces exposed to Agent Orange residue on airplanes used in the Vietnam War.”

 

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Again the story predictably repeated itself again after thousands of Veterans were exposed to chemical weapons during the first Gulf War:

            “After their service in the Gulf War conflict from 1990-1991, hundreds of thousands of our country’s veterans began suffering from multiple and diverse debilitating symptoms including neurological and respiratory disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, psychological problems, skin conditions and gastrointestinal issues.”

Thousands of sick veterans and the typical VA reaction:

Yet for nearly two decades, the official word from the Veterans Administration (VA), the Department of Defense (DoD), and the White House was that Gulf War syndrome did not exist. The result? Countless returning military personnel struggled for years to have their physical illnesses recognized as something other than psychological.

It’s time to admit the failures of the past and do the right thing: end the Veterans Administration health system, sell its hospitals and allow veterans to seek private medical care, reimbursed by the Federal Government. If that sounds like an extreme solution, think again. This is why you will never reform the VA:

Goss says he thinks the VA never delivered on its promises because this issue has been disappearing on its own for years. About 500 World War II veterans die each day, according to data maintained by the VA. “I do think there is a little bit of that attitude of: ‘This is today’s problem, it will be gone by tomorrow.”

 

There you have it. This one line gives you all the insight you’ll ever need in order to understand why the VA health care system will NEVER, EVER, EVER be fixed.

The bureaucrats are under pressure to keep costs down and by doing so collect fat bonuses. They achieve this by denying care through incompetence, mismanagement, misrepresentation, fraud and when need be outright deceit.

For them, the existence of the VA is necessary for their livelihoods, power and prestige. The treatment and care provided to sick and injured Veterans is simply incidental.

I’m not going to go back and document every single instance of the VA’s epic failures. That’s already been done a hundred times over. It’s time for Vets nationwide to organize and demand an end to the abuse.

I am calling on our national Veterans organizations to come together, to hold a summit for the purpose of putting political pressure on Congress for the sake of disbanding the Veterans Administration health care services once and for all.

It’s time for Vets to show up at town halls and community meetings by the dozen, just like a certain “Social Justice” movement does and make their voices heard.

It’s time… before one more Veteran commits suicide in a parking lot.

Disposable Heroes: A Firefighter Reflects

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Recently I read an article by some Canadian “columnist” griping about firefighters. It was the usual litany of how we’re overpaid; we don’t fight fires, sit around the station washing the trucks, sleep, eat and go shopping all the time. As a firefighter I expect and dismiss criticism from tragic figures like the author who are so unhappy with their life’s work they have to denigrate others. What was shocking though is how many others jumped in and not only complained, but outright insulted the very people who swore an oath to not only protect their lives and property, but sacrifice their own if need be in the performance of that duty. It was sad to see people insulting the one group of public servants that routinely stop whatever they’re doing to answer their call for help. Try getting service like that at the DMV. It didn’t take long for the unprovoked insults to start flying- uneducated was one of the kinder things we were called. It seems like they want to start treating firefighters like they already treat police officers. It’s not only sad it’s pathetic.

I could sit here and get angry but I’m not that person anymore. After nearly a quarter century on the streets I gave up on anger. Instead I’ll just outline some of the ups and downs of my career.

I was a young kid when I came into the fire service. Like many I’m a veteran. I served my country when it wasn’t very popular, during the Cold War. Remember that? Remember when the thought of nuclear annihilation was a real thing? I was there on the front lines in Europe, a nervous kid not knowing if and when I may have to re-fight a war that ended generations earlier.

When I got home I competed with 15,000 people for a spot in the next class at fire school. I learned advanced first aid, firefighting strategy and tactics, and an entire list of skills I needed to take me into my new career. Young an idealistic I never thought that at least ten of my classmates would die before retirement. Some would die in the line of duty. Others to suicide a little talked about epidemic in the emergency services. Still others would die from rare and ugly forms of Cancer or Hepatitis- other epidemics we live with. I never gave it a second thought because that’s the price we pay for a “cushy” job right?

Over the years there were injuries, lots of them. Sprains, strains, neck, back; the usual that comes with wearing 80lbs of gear. Luckily nothing too serious like the guy from Engine XX who had to jump for his life from a third floor window after trying to rescue a wheelchair bound senior. He’s out of the job now but hey he’s alive right? Or the woman from the same company who nearly had her hands burned off holding the hose. I was lucky not to be trapped in a flashover that time when another firefighter fell coming down a ladder after searching for some trapped kids. The kids and their grandmother all died leaving many firefighters on scene traumatized to this day.

Of course there were many deaths. Too many. I still see the faces of people I knew personally, lived and ate dinner with… that will never get that fat pension check we all dream about. To most citizens they’re just names in the paper. To us they are crushing stories of lost friends and colleagues, memories we carry with us every day.

Hell for laughs we were cooking breakfast the other day and we all were trying to remember how many of our co-workers died in the last ten years. Turned out the number is ten! Can you imagine that? That’s one a year on average. Oh how we laughed and laughed. Then we all went into the gym and worked out. Good times. Of course there’s nothing like washing the ambulance out right after a gunshot victim bleeds out all over the back of it. Clean vehicles are overrated anyway. We like to keep the station clean for when kids stop by, why should they see the bloody side of this cushy job? We try to tell them things that can save their lives like stop, drop and roll but they’re kids and easily bored. So we give them coloring books to help them remember their visit. Nothing will make a grown man cry like the sight of a burned kid.

We just got new pillows in our station. They’re the same kind they issue the prisoners in the city jails, the mattresses too. Nothing like fiscal discipline I always say. Good to know you may get a few hours down time on a prison mattress over the course of a twenty four hour shift. After all it’s child’s play driving a large emergency truck anywhere in the city on a minutes notice when you’ve been up for twenty hours. Pretty much anyone can do it… in a blizzard, ice storm, flood, heat wave, electrical storm. Funny thing about storms… there always seems to be more room on the roads to get the trucks around to the constant emergency calls. It’s ok though. You only need a couple hours of sleep to coach little league or basketball or Boy Scouts. The kids don’t mind if you are bleary eyed. All they care about is that you’re there since their banker dad is too busy. Like most charities and volunteer work firefighters engage in, good people only care that we show up.

When I worked near family court I used to catch up with my old colleagues I lost track of over the years. I would see them going to and from their divorce hearings. The ones who smiled got custody of their kids. You know things like shift work, overtime, stress, low pay can put a strain on the best of marriages. Lots of my friends have battled substance abuse because of the job. Some never beat their addictions. How many dead friends does it take to fuck you up for life? Does it matter if it’s an elderly person dead in their bed or a little kid ejected from a car wreck or your ambulance partner for ten years who committed suicide? I never could get a straight answer for that one. Soldiers have it lucky. They may be in combat for a year maybe two. The average firefighter or paramedic will spend thirty years on the street. That’s a lot of trauma. Soldiers have beds and pillows too. I was a soldier once.

I guess you can criticize firefighters for being dumb. True I earned my master’s degree a little later in life than most. Blame that on my life choices. My four years of military service only earned me an honorable discharge. I guess I could frame that. It’s at least equal to four years of partying at any state college. I mean spending four years studying “Social Justice” is on par with four years of national defense right? And then there was time off to help raise the kids… when I wasn’t working overtime. School just wasn’t that important. The blame is all mine.

It’s easy to criticize firefighters for having less than valuable skills. Who needs an encyclopedic knowledge of every street, building, every fire hydrant, address, hospital, school, chemical plant, power plant, water main, electric sub-station, nursing home, day care center in a grid square on a map? Who cares about operating hydraulic rescue tools or how to dismantle a car in under 5 minutes? Or passing the Emergency Medical Technician or Paramedic test? I mean climbing onto the roof of a burning building or into a raging basement is so simple anyone could really do it. I mean anyone can re-start your mother’s stopped heart right? Maybe the next time you see a group of firefighters shopping for supplies for the day or week you’ll cut them some slack. There are times they don’t make it too the register without a call. They are eating together to save money. Hell it may be their last meal some shift.

In the end we will always do our best. As in the case of Hurricane Floyd, or the recent AMTRAC disaster, or something “smaller” like cutting a high school girl out of a car that was wrapped around a pole on the way home from prom while he dead date bled out all over her. We’ll try to save your house with all your irreplaceable worldly possessions before it burns to the ground. Because this world still needs hero’s and firefighters are it. If your city or town is broke it isn’t because of overfunded emergency services I’ll bet. If you’re complaining about your local fire department maybe you should examine your own motives and attitudes or better yet- sign up or volunteer.

I guess this “columnist” was right. We should cut back on the emergency services. I wonder what her next column would be like after we responded to HER call for help. I’m sure we would hear all about it if we were too slow…