Author Topic: Thanks to Site Member "mack"  (Read 2938 times)

Offline nfd2004

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Thanks to Site Member "mack"
« on: April 28, 2013, 11:29:39 AM »
 A few of us recently made a trip down to Virginia, just outside of Washington, DC to visit this site member "mack". He had asked us to join him for a few days and he was making arrangements for us to visit a few places in the DC/Va area. Many of us here know that "mack" is a frequent contributor to this site, but he is also a volunteer firefighter with the Fairfax County Fire Dept assigned to Fire Station 10 (Bailey Heights, Va). One of the busiest in the County.

  For some on here, they might consider this as one of those Senior Citizens Outings/Trips, as I think the baby of the group was 57 years old. But those old guys can still party with the best of them. A few of them could replace some of those Downtown Manhattan Comedy acts. Laughs weren't really scheduled, but they came with the trip. As somebody said; "they missed their calling", referring to a few of these guys. As part of that group, it was really a Great time. So I'll tell you a little bit about it. This will probadly take some time, so grab yourself a coffee.

  "mack" earlier this year asked a few of us to come down to Virginia to visit and he would show us around. First thing he did for us is set us up in a really nice hotel. Every morning we started off with a Free Country Breakfast. It was all you wanted to eat, and for me, it sure beat the McDonalds Big Breakfast meal. After breakfast, 'mack" would come by and we would begin our tours.

  Actually the first day didn't really go so well for myself and one other member. We were supposed to get a personnel tour of the Pentagon. "mack" and a few other members got in. But myself and one other member were NOT allowed to get in because we did NOT have the required TWO PHOTO GOVERNMENT forms of ID. It is our guess that since the Boston Bombing, things there have gotten much tighter. Once we were refused admittance, we were asked to leave. We stepped outside and I went to call "mack" and the others that we were not able to get in. As I started to call, an armed guard carrying a machine gun told us to leave the property. We tried to joke a bit with this guard about it, but that's not really what this armed guard had in mind. Just leave. So for the next 2 hours or so, while the others toured the Pentagon, we roamed around a mall as two homeless individuals. Somebody else will have to tell you how that Pentagon tour actually went, because there was NO WAY we were getting in. They are NOT messing around there. But the truth is, as we know today, this MUST be done, and it's nice to know that these armed guards are there in an attempt to protect our national security.

  Next was a visit to Fort Myers Army Base. There "mack" showed us around many of those buildings including the house that Genreral Patton lived in. "mack" had spent some time there during his military career and knew the area very well. Then we spent quite awhile at the Fort Myers Fire Dept on Base. The rigs were out on a detail and one firefighter had remained in quarters. We were told by him that they also have another station that is in close proxmity to the Pentagon. These Federal Firefighters besides covering the Fort Myers base and Pentagon respond on automatic mutual aid outside their own response area to the surrounding cities, in some areas first due. This entire area is all completely covered by automatic responses regardless of boundary lines. Something that isn't quite done here in the northeast. In fact the closest unit is assigned if picked up by the computer as closer while on the street. Along the inside walls of the firehouse hallway are pictures from the Pentagon attack of 9/11. The Chief there, although he was pretty busy at the time, presented us all with a new Fort Myers Fire Dept patch.  An Asst Chief of Dept was able to talk to us for a long period of time, and when the first rig came back, we also talked to the members of that crew. We spent a lot of time there and for me, it was very interesting. Of course at one point, I got on a roll about buffing the FDNY WAR YEARS, and I think they were kind of impressed with that too.

  Thank You to the Chief, Asst Chief and to all the members of the Fort Myers Fire Dept who took the time with us on that Wednesday morning April 24th '13. We all appreciate you making our visit a very enjoyable one. We also ate lunch later on base. I believe in the Officers quarters. It was Excellent.

  The next day which was Thursday was Great too. We visited Fairfax Fire Station 10 and 18, and also the Fairfax County Dispatch Center for Fire/EMS, Police, and State Police. A very impressive day. And later that evening we went to Nationals vs the Cincinatti Reds ball game. So there's more to tell. But I have some chores to do now. The rest of the story I'll have to tell later.

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Thanks to Site Member "mack"
« on: April 28, 2013, 11:29:39 AM »

Offline mikeindabronx

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Re: Thanks to Site Member "mack"
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2013, 01:56:04 PM »
Sounds like you all had a great time, looking forward to the 2nd installment

Offline fdce54

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Re: Thanks to Site Member "mack"
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2013, 07:11:27 PM »
A great time was had by all. A big thanks to Mr. and Mrs. "Mack". I was the other "terrorist" as we called ourselves, who could not get into the Pentagon. When that troublemaker "Slick Willie" took out his cell phone to call Mack, we found ourselves staring at the business end of an M4. I told the guard she didn't have to shoot us and that even if she gave us a 10 block head start, she would catch us within a half block. That got the weapon lowered and off D & D  (dumb and dumber) went to see the Pentagon memorial and the mall across the street. After the ballgame on Thursday night two comedians showed up on the ride home and terrorized "Slick Willie" all the way back to the hotel. Yes a great time was had by all.

Online mack

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Re: Thanks to Site Member "mack"
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2013, 12:41:53 AM »
Pentagon is one of the most secure buildings in US.  There are some "die in place" war rooms as well as the Secretary of Defense, the heads of all the military services, many 2/3/4 star generals and admirals and 28,000 Service members and Defense Dept employees.  We had tour with the Pentagon Fire Marshal who directs a full staff responsible for fire prevention, fire alarms, internal fire investigations.  Staff composed of former FFs and fire engineers - all federal employees.  Arlington County Fire Department has supression responsibilities.  EMS calls inside the Pentagon are responded to by clinic staff - 9 responders (2 "runners" w/aid bags, and doctor and emts on golf cart with backboards and med equipment).  Arliington County FD responds into Pentagon with ALS engine and medic.  Ft Myer FD staffs engine companies outside on Pentagon grounds for helecopter flights.  We saw Pentagon staged fire equipment and carts.  Also saw how Pentagon handles internal 911 calls.  All systems developed after Pentagon was attacked 9/11. 

Online mack

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Re: Thanks to Site Member "mack"
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2013, 12:49:40 AM »
Ft Myer FD is very active department - 3 fire stations - provides protection to Ft Myer (Army), Henderson Hall (Marine Corps), Ft McNair (Army - Washington DC), Pentagon and boxes in Arlington County (as 1st due units).  FMFD is paid federal department (US Army).  Department has same tone dispatch system as surrounding counties and operates on local radio frequencies.   

All departments in area have mutual aid agreement - computer selects and dispatches the closest units regardless of department.  Structure fire in Arlington County, for example, may have Ft Myer, Reagan Airport FD, Alexandria and/or Fairfax County responding and working together.  Chief of incident location owns the fire or incident.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2013, 12:54:25 AM by mack »

Offline IRISH

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Re: Thanks to Site Member "mack"
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2013, 12:00:13 PM »

Sounds like a great trip had by all. Hopefully if all goes well ill take MACK up on his offer and stop by his Dept.

Still laughing at Willie D being told to Beat It with a gun pointed "near" him lol

I think theres a pattern forming here Willie as regards yourself. The day we went to The Rock in Jan we couldn't get in because the Feds were training there. I think the US Government are keeping tabs on you lol
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Offline nfd2004

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Re: Thanks to Site Member "mack"
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2013, 09:56:06 AM »
 "Irish", I had forgotten how we were denied entry to the Rock as the Feds were training. You're right. It's doesn't look too good when two individuals are refused entry because they are with the same individual. But if you ever do get back to the US, hook up with "mack". I think you'd be pretty impressed with the area. You're a gentleman, and he'd probadly like to meet you.

  Now it's time to tell about the next day. We visited two Fairfax County Fire Stations, also the Fairfax County 911 Building, and later attended the Nationals vs Cincinatti Reds game.

  First stop was Fairfax Station 410. All of Fairfax County Units are assigned the 400 series numbers. This is to better coordinate automatic mutual aid which routinely crosses various countys. Station 410 is where "mack" is a volunteer firefighter. When he goes in for duty, he reports to the Captain and is then assigned a position to ride. He is there as a supplement to the regular manning of that station. He is not there as a replacement for the career firefighters. I believe there are about 1,000 career firefighters supplemented by about 300 volunteer firefighters. All the volunteer firefighters must meet the same requirements as the career firefighters. In addition, the Volunteer Firefighters often have fund raisers, and through those fund raisers, they often buy equipment that is then donated to the county. I noticed that some equipment has the word "Volunteer" on it. That is because the Volunteers have purchased and donated that for the county. I think it is excellent what these dedicated group of people do.

  In Station 410, which I understand is the busiest in the County, there is an Engine (Eng 410), a Ladder Co (Truck 410), and two Medic Units (Medic 410 and Medic 410 Bravo). I was there last year and one Medic Unit was a BLS (Basic Life Support Unit), today it is now a Paramedic Unit. Last year, the fitrehouse they operated in had its roof collapse from a heavy snowstorm. They are now operating out of a portable fire station which in my opinion is really quite the set up. It seems like a group of mobile trailers, with a large apparatus area attached. They are waiting for their new fire station to be completed. I also learned that there is also another new fire station being built. This will become Fire Station 42 in this growing County outside of Washington, DC.

  The Medics are also firefighters. I was told that each one spends two shifts (tours) on a medic unit and one shift on the engine. the Engines also carry paramedic equipment and respond as a Paramedic Engine. The medic units also have SCBA etc and are also assigned on fire calls. A medic recieves a nice incentive pay for their extra skills.

  Ladder 410 is a rearmount aerial truck. It is manned by and officer and two firefighters (right "mack" ?). The Engine is manned by an officer and three firefighters. Each medic unit has an officer and one FF. I forgot to mention that each Fire Station in Fairfax County has at least One Medic Unit.

  I would like to thank those firefighters that were on duty on Thursday April 25th for taking the time to explain the entire operation to us. we spent a long time at that firehouse. Special Thanks to the Captain in charge for allowing us to spend the time there.

  Next stop was Fire Station 418. In that station is a medic unit (Medic 418), a Heavy Rescue (Rescue 418), and an Engine Co (Engine 418). We wanted to visit the Rescue but that unit had just left for a detail. Station 418 is one of the Collapse station where all the members assigned there have special training in Collapse Rescue operations in addition to their regular duties. At the time we stopped by, the other members were involved in their physical fitness program so during our visit, we spent that time talking to him. I wish I could remember his name. what a great Guy. He answered all our questions. I think we are all very thankful to him. He was really into the job. As we were just leaving that firehouse the Rescue was just coming back. But we were running a little late so we decided to get something to eat.

  After lunch our plan was to go visit the Fairfax County 911 Dispatch Center. What a place that was ! I have never seen a Dispatch Center so well equiped and so organized. That's a story in itself. I'll tell that in Part 3 of this series later.

  And I would also like to thank Mr and Mrs "mack" for their hospility while we were there visiting. Both have strong military backgrounds. They went out of their way providing food etc for us. THANK YOU very much. I know we all greatly appreciated it.

 

Offline nfd2004

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Re: Thanks to Site Member "mack"
« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2013, 11:15:35 PM »
  On Thursday April 25, '13, after our visit to Fairfax County Fire Station 18 which housed Engine 418, Rescue 418, Medic 418 and EMS 418 it was off to lunch before visiting the Fairfax County 911 Dispatch Building and later we had tickets to see the Nationals and Reds Game.

  I may have forgotten to explain that each Battalion District also has an EMS Supervisor. This is a Fire Captains position who responds to serious EMS incidents. He also responds to building fires and I believe he becomes the Chiefs Aide position or the Safety Officer. Maybe 'mack' can help me on this.

  Our visit to the Fairfax County 911 Dispatch Building was probadly the most impressive dispatch center that I have ever been to. This is certainly at the very top of the best. The most modern and high tech operation I have ever seen. Just don't get me wrong. I'll NEVER forget my first visit to the Brooklyn Fire Communications Office one summer evening in 1976. They were so busy with fire activity that after watching for about two solid hours, the supervising dispatcher finally came up to apoligize to me for not being able to show me around. Everybody was just too busy. This wasn't the old Brooklyn C.O. but I left just as impressed.

  A lady by the name of Tracy was going to be our tour guide. But before the tour, it was necessary for each of us to have our drivers license scanned and answer some questions on a computer. Confirming who we are, our address, date of birth etc. Apparently "mack" had prearranged this tour because we were told they expected us. Our tour guide Tracy, gave us some brief information about the building and we were told this center had been operating for three years. She also had mentioned about the Director of this operation. How he led in the design of this building and planning for the future. His name was Steve Souder and I believe she said his nickname was "Mr 911". Just as the tour was about to begin, Mr Souder walked in and he along with Tracy started to give us this tour.

  The first room we walked into was a large conferance room. This is where all the dispatchers meet for the oncoming shift. The day shift meets at 0630 hours and the night shift meets at 1830 hrs. At that time each dispatcher is briefed on what might be planned for the shift or any important facts they should know. Part of the briefing of those day shift dispatchers was that they knew we were visiting. We were told that each dispatcher works a 12 hour shift. They are rotated between duties every four hours. The duties include 911 calltakers and EMD (Emergency Medical Dispatching), State police dispatching, County Police dispatching and Fire/Ems dispatching. Plus the callers for routine duties such as wrecker request, alarm information, license info etc. As our tour moved along we were able to look down on a very large room where these duties were grouped together.

  In addition there is a large room with seating for representives from all the various agencies that may be needed during a diseaster. We were told that during one of last years serious snow storms the room was fully occupied. We were brought into another room where new dispatchers recieve their training. The new dispatchers recieve a basic 10 weeks of training to become a 911 call taker which includes EMD. As a beginning dispatcher your job is a 911 calltaker. In order to work on the fire, police, or state police positions, that requires additional training and for each there is an incentive pay as a form of promotion. We did get to spend some time in the area of the fire dispatching. There was a Fire Lt acting Captain who would oversee the fire operations. We were told that a Fire Captain is normally in charge of each shift. My guess is there were approximately five civilians working in the fire/ems dispatching area. The County Police had what appeared the largest group of civilian dispatchers and they were located more into the center of this room. I'm sure a high ranking police officer was also in charge of that area. And somebody in charge of the state police dispatchers and 911 call takers.

  We were brought out to what appeared to be a large outdoor area with tables and chairs. The dispatchers now use that area as an outside lounge area for their lunch breaks etc. What we were told was that this area is actually designed for future growth. It could easily be converted into an additional area for dispatching. This building was designed for future growth of maybe 25 years. It is also explosion proof.

  Anything and Everything that could possibility be considered when this building was built three years ago was put in. We were told the told cost of this was 127 million dollars. We were told by our tour guide Tracy, that as far as she knows, there is NOT another dispatch center in the Country like it.

  Our thanks to "mack" for setting up this tour. And Thank You to Mr Souder, the director of this entire operation, and to our tour guide, Tracy S., for taking the time to explain all the details of this huge operation and answering our questions. Anybody who is, or ever was a dispatcher, would certainly appreciate seeing something like this. And lets not forget the people who are the backbone of that operation. The people sitting at those phones and consoles. In times of life or death, they are the first one that every citizen of that County depends on. We are Thankful for the Great job they do in protecting the many citizens of Fairfax County, Va.

  I believe the Fairfax County Dispatch Center has a web site. It is     www.fairfaxcounty.gov/911

  Later that evening was a trip to see the Washington Nationals play the Cincinnatti Reds. "mack" once again was able to get us Great seats which included a burger, fries and a drink. I think the highlight of the game was when Washington Nationals Danny Espinoza hit a two run homer during the third inning. Final score was Nationals won 8 - 1 over the Reds.

   It was about a half hour ride back to the hotel. I drove, and the two riders had me laughing so hard, I couldn't breathe. The two I'm referring to were; "fdce54", that Con Ed worker who was once described by NYPD Anti Crime cops on Hunts Point Ave. as the "F##king Craziest" and the other rider in my car "CFDMarshall". That "Redneck" from the State of Tennessee. After riding with him and hearing what he had to say, I now refer to him as "The Most Reverend - CFDMarshall". He led us in prayer on the way home.

  We were also joined by FDNY War Years Retired Fire Captain "JBendick" and his wife.

  I had to leave on Friday morning for the drive back to Connecticut. The rest of the group had planned to stay for Friday and were heading out on Saturday. It was a great trip. With some Great People. If you know them, you will certainly agree.