All posts by Berdoo Beau

Grizzled veteran of San Berdoo. Flag waving, motorcycle riding, thought provoking student of life. See one - Do one - Teach one.

Remembering 9-11-01

So… what did you do last Thursday? Display your flag (hopefully the stars and stripes) at your home? Watch endless hours of documentary features of the tragic events of that day? Observe a moment or two of silence during the day in respect of those lost? Attend a memorial service? Talk about the events to friends and family? Spend quality time with loved ones? Excellent! Once again, you’ve set the example for others to follow. Me? I hung out with 500 friends and waved at all the people watching us. Yeah… it was another one of them motorcycle things.

We gathered at Station 231 and were surprised to see a much bigger participation from our local group than last year. Wives, girlfriends, friends of friends and two individuals that felt strongly enough to ride that one rented a bike (at about $110 a day) and one borrowed a bike from a captain that had to work. Both agreed at the end of the day that it was worth the effort. We cruised down to Elsinore and picked up two more riders from that area and then headed out on the Ortega Highway to Ladera Ranch for a lunch time BBQ. We were a total of 20 bikes including a crotch rocket with a rider that refused to use both wheels on the ground. Ah, youth….

After an outstanding lunch we made our way to Cook’s Corner in El Toro to meet up with several hundred other riders from around the Southland. I noticed a couple of bikes from Oregon and Nevada. Channels 2 and 7 news vans were there as well as a couple ofl older fire engines as escort. To explain further – Gary Biggerstaff is an Engineer from Long Beach FD and he started this little event about 4 or 5 years ago to commemorate the date and give back something for his extended FD family to simply “… remember and never forget”. It has grown exponentially ever since. This is my 3rd time participating and it just gets better every year. From Cook’s Corner the procession makes it’s way to PCH and follows the coast to Joe’s Crab Shack in Long Beach for a short break. The entire route is dotted here and there with on-duty fire engines and ladder trucks from the local agencies – some with crews dressed in Class A uniforms standing at attention and saluting. Police and Lifeguard units are waving as well. Citizens on the street and in their cars are waving and honking their horns. Business owners come out of their shops to see what the noise is all about and wave enthusiastically. Flags are held high and people seem to really get into the spirit, it seems, even more every year.

After a short break at Joe’s, we re-assemble and cruise for another 15 minutes to Gary’s house in Belmont Shore – a small street filled with bungalow style houses. TV helicopters are filming, news reporters are taking pictures and crowds are getting bigger as we drive down Bennett Ave. The bikes park along a 3 block section of the street and crowd around in front of Gary’s house that is marked with 343 small white crosses with the names and company assignments of the fallen brothers from FDNY. There are numerous antique pumpers in the driveways and parked on the street. Gary has a microphone set up on his front stoop and the guests are treated to patriotic songs, the Pledge of Allegiance, poems, thoughtful words from FDNY firefighters and the Mayor of Long Beach, and a final few words from Gary thanking everyone who participated and ending with a “see ya next year”.

If you haven’t been a part of this flag-waving, patriotic, lump-in-your-throat sort of Americana then you are truly missing out on an opportunity to connect with 9-11-01 on a visceral level. The mood and the emotions are a part of the very fabric of why we are Americans. The ability to ride a motorcycle on such a beautiful afternoon and to be part of something wholly larger than that infamous day while sharing it with your brothers and sisters is something that should be mandatory at least once in your life. September 11th, 2009 – you are hereby requested to attend a motorcycle ride (or come along in your car – all are welcome) with us to Gary’s house in Long Beach. He invited us. We shouldn’t let him down. Tell ya what – I’ll remind you next year. No worries.

http://remember911ride.com

Cheers!

Bill Beaumont

San Bernardino City Fire Department

Wind & Fire MC, #73

We once played together… as a family

Remember the days when we played together off-duty with our families? We’d go to the big parks or lakes or to the river and have picnics, play volleyball, softball and waterski. We’d share stories and re-live tough calls. We were closer because we lived closer to each other and within the cities we worked. But times have changed and we’ve moved out of our cities for various reasons and with those moves have come a more individual lifestyle. Many of us have kept the bonds close by still managing to hang out together in smaller groups but have had to schedule times to make trips work. Most of us have simply adapted to an off-duty type of mindset and made friends outside the department. The internet has added to the long distance existence but it has also provided an enhanced communication ability and capability to extend greetings and invitations to friends and groups well outside our immediate area. One of these opportunities has come in the form of transportation that doubles as entertainment… the motorcycle.

Although it can be more expensive than other forms of activity, it’s not necessarily always the case. Many have turned to it for their basic commute to work. There is a core group of us that have embraced the bike as a way of living beyond the more accepted methods of riding. It‘s known as the long distance trip. A multi-day adventure built around riding as far as possible and seeing as much as can be absorbed on two wheels. Some have been doing this for years – even decades. Some of us here on San Bernardino City Fire have been involved in this since 2000. We started out getting together with members of Pasadena Fire Department and embarking on a 4 day odyssey we ended up calling “Chrome on the Coast”, a name derived from the trip route up the coast of California to Monterey Bay. We’re now into our 7th year of COTC and have explored Northern California’s redwood forests, Napa Valley, the Russian River and an extensive exploration of the coastline from San Louis Obispo to the Point Arena Lighthouse. We do this ride every May.

But the crown jewel of long distance riding is “The Fortnight Ride” or “5000”. This is a well planned tour that usually takes about two weeks and covers over 5000 miles, hence the name. Daily averages range from 325 to 450 miles and can span 12 hours of riding. The sights, sounds and smells of this kind of riding can only be experienced – no amount of writing or explanation can express the complete immersion you feel as the miles click by. To give you a brief example – one does not simply ride through an area… you are part of the environment and all of its exposures. You are part of the landscape. You are the weather, the wind and the aromas. There are no glass windshields, no A or B pillars, no roof and no floors to block the views. Everything is taken in all around you all at once. Imagine Banff National Park in Canada and the Columbia Icefields. Imagine the Juan de Fuco Straight and Vancouver Island. Imagine Glacier National Forest and the Going-To-The-Sun Road. Imagine Yellowstone Park and the Yellowstone Grand Canyon. Now imagine all this with no obstructions, no time limits and sharing it with friends. That is the essence of long distance riding and is the pinnacle of the riding experience. It’s an opportunity to get the full measure of why you bought that expensive toy in the first place. It doesn’t matter if it’s American or Metric. It’s not important if it’s an 800cc V-Twin or a 2000cc 6 cylinder motor. It makes no difference if you like day trips for coffee and pie or the occasional overnighter trip to San Diego. The only thing that matters is that IF you bought it and are licensed to ride it and can do so safely… then why not ride it? So many of the bikes purchased in the last 5 years are barely ridden with less than 5000 miles on the odometer. Imagine the opportunities that have passed you by or will pass you by again.

We used to hang out together and do family activities. Some still do. We used to go to the lake or river and waterski till our arms fell off. Some still do. We used to have an “Auxillary” that promoted family time and department get-togethers. Some departments still do. We used to live within 20 miles of each other and spontaneously visit each other – “check in” – as it used to be known. Some still do. But most of us… don’t. The past is the past and life moves on. Rookies become veterans and familiar faces eventually retire. In between that period of time is the place called “The Dash”. It’s the written place marker on your tombstone that is in between the year you were born and the year you died. It’s the dash. This is the time that life is lived and careers are made. This is the moment for living and experiencing the opportunities that you create. How are you living your dash? Are you satisfied with what it represents? Could you do more? See more? Experience more?

Mike Alder, Mike Clark and I decided to finish what we had started over a year ago. We had planned on a two week trip up the coast and into Canada. Plans were made and then put on hold. The decision was made early in ’08 to follow through and complete our 5000+ mile trip. On Sunday, July 13th, 2008, we started at the Mobil Gas Station on 4th Street at the Ontario Mills Mall and finished late Monday evening, July 28th. All of the sights I wrote about above are just some of the sights we saw plus hundreds more. On top of that we met some amazing people and rode with some of them on a spur-of-the-moment suggestion. We were invited to a steak dinner in Hinton, Alberta, Canada and made gifts of our department patches to some of the people that we met. We helped a few poor souls that needed assistance and had our picture taken by several people that didn’t speak a word of English. We rode through some interesting weather and spent some time realizing that we were doing the right thing at the right time. We were riding to improve our skills and at the same time we were ambassadors of our department and the fire service as a whole. We answered endless questions and thanked them for their kind words of support and praise for those that were currently on the fire line. We saw some amazing sights and managed to complete our trip without even one negative comment or personality issue – an accomplishment that has us all baffled.

The reality is this – If you have a motorcycle, ride it. Our time together as a fire service family has become more complex and not easily shared anymore due to schedules, distance, age and personal tastes. The purpose of this little article was to reminisce, share, offer and support. Our trip was truly a lifetime experience and one that all three of us have decided to repeat in the very near future. Our Chrome on the Coast ride is an annual affair and is open to everyone. There are numerous opportunities for day rides and special events throughout the Southern California area all year long. I / We simply wanted to show you all what a great time we had and extend an open invitation to anyone reading this if you have a motorcycle, you’re invited. The choice is yours on how you want to live your dash.

Cheers!

Bill Beaumont

Mike Alder

Mike Clark

San Bernardino City Fire Department

Thinking Out Loud…

Another brother is tragically cut down by an explosion in downtown LA.  The flags go to half-staff and the black bands go on the badge.     Again.    As I watch the news and listen to  the commentaries and read the web sites, I’m left with the feeling that creeps up on you about one’s own mortality and the risks we take.  I know I don’t have to write about whether it’s worth it or if the benefits outweigh the risks or any of the other platitudes regarding our profession.  What strikes me is the self-imposed vulnerability we all occasionally get when the calls become routine and the repetitive nature of certain situations lulls us into a state of lesser caution than what is appropriately called for.

Before you jump to conclusions on these thought fragments – be advised that what just occurred in LA is under investigation and ANY loss of a brother or sister is a tragic event.  It is too early to make assumptions or draw conclusions surrounding the death of Brother Lovrien so let’s not go down that road.  What we should do right now is grieve for his loss, learn from this incident and re-evaluate our own actions and procedures in order to “adopt, adapt and improve” – to quote Shakespeare.

To clarify – it is up to each one of us to self-evaluate and constantly improve our situational awareness.  The adage of LACES is invaluable in almost anything we do on a daily basis.    Have you noticed that it’s referred to lately as “LCES”?   Why did “they” remove the “A” in LACES?  Doesn’t it stand for “AWARENESS”?   Is this NOT a good thing to practice?  I, for one, think it is.   I don’t know nor will I even hesitate a guess as to whether it may or may not have applied to Brother Lovrien or Brother Guzman.  What I DO know is that situational awareness is one of the cardinal skills that we practice and one of the easiest to forget.   I say these things because this recent loss brings to mind our vulnerability on the line and our ability to prevent MOST accidents by being “on guard” more often.   I write these things because I teach these things and practice these things and advocate these things.

When Brother Lovrien is laid to rest, we will mourn him and remember him.   Then we will do what we have always done – close ranks and carry on.  Let’s talk about it.  Learn from it.  Improve upon it’s lessons and pass them on.  It’s our responsibility.  It’s our legacy.  It’s our duty.

Respectfully,

Bill

Insensitivity

I read the “Voice of the People” section in The Sun yesterday (March 13th) and was incensed by the disrespectful comment made by Ken Johnson, a regular contributor to the Voice of the People (along with that knucklehead Henry Rios) with his insensitive and vitriolic crap regarding the recent funeral procession for Captain Tomeselli from SB County Fire. Capt. Tomeselli had a stroke while responding to a fire in the Jenks Lake area of Angelus Oaks. He managed to make it to the scene while driving before he collapsed.

He passed away at the hospital and THEN – while the funeral procession was escorting him to his final resting place – his home in Angelus Oaks is broken into!! THEN this a**hole Johnson writes a letter to The Sun complaining about the “arrogance of public officials with their strong-arm bullying” by using front line equipment and all those “well paid” firefighters delaying traffic and causing delays to the citizens just for “one more dead guy”. AFTER I cooled down I wrote a reply to this incredible moron. I reprinted it below. If you can, read the original comments made by this guy and then read my reply. Your thoughts on this would be appreciated.

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RE: “Official Arrogance” by Ken Johnson (printed Thursday March 13th, 2008

In response to Mr. Johnson’s Voice of the People comment about the arrogance of public safety officials as they mourn the passing of one of their own – on behalf of all of the firefighters in the greater Inland Empire area, I apologize for using front line equipment and on-duty personnel to honor the fallen of those that serve to keep you safe. It was not our intention to delay or obstruct the daily business of those that we are paid to protect. It was simply our duty to escort a brother firefighter, in this case a Captain, to his last resting place after he was struck down by a stroke while responding to a fire in the Angelus Oaks area. It is true that those fire engines are expensive and that the employees from all the different agencies in and around the area including some from quite a distance away get paid to operate them but I was not aware that it is narcissism that compels us to put our lives on the line for the citizens that pay our salaries. I have been in the fire service for 25 years and I hope I make it to retirement. Captain Tomaselli was 60 years old and served for 28 years and he will not be forgotten or ignored. To add insult to your already insulting view of our tribute to a member of the fire service that will NEVER see his retirement, the home of the “dead guy” (to use your term) in Angelus Oaks had it’s back door kicked in and was robbed of several items. We’d like to thank the cowards that pre-meditated that act.

To fully explain OUR actions, it is the duty of the fire service to render honors that were earned well before the death of a fellow firefighter occurs. If the family agrees, it is our obligation to pay tribute to those that went before. It is said that the BEST we can do is the LEAST we can do when a funeral detail is called for and staffed. In this case a Level 1 “Full Honors” funeral detail is the appropriate response to a member of the fire service that committed his entire life to serving the public. This response includes cleaning the engines and dressing in our Class A uniforms. It is unconscionable to think that a citizen would view this type of tribute as arrogance or hero worship or strong-arm government bullying. Is this the way you view a soldier or a police officer who falls in the line of duty?

A funeral provides closure to the immediate family as well as the fire department family and gives us comfort knowing that our comrade is not DIS-honored after such a tragic death.

Mr. Johnson, I know that you will probably receive some negative responses to your comments besides this one. Be comforted in the knowledge that the Fire Service forgives you for your insulting viewpoints and disrespectful comments. We will continue to answer the calls for help and will ALWAYS honor our fallen. If our funeral procession caused some minor delays in the daily life of the good citizens we are sworn to protect and serve then we sincerely apologize for our actions.

Respectfully,

Bill Beaumont

San Bernardino City Fire Department