Category Archives: Blog

Riverfront eight alarm fire in Philly

Developer J. Brian O’Neill dreamed of bringing people back to the banks of the Schuylkill in Conshohocken. And yesterday, they came by the thousands – to watch in horror as his vision went up in flames.

This morning, fire trucks were still on the scene as embers from the buildings smoldered. Firefighters napped on the sidwalks littered with debris and water bottles.

Six riverfront buildings that O’Neill developed, including the Riverwalk at Millennium, were ravaged by an eight-alarm blaze: Three were destroyed, three damaged.

More than 300 firefighters from all corners of Montgomery County battled the spectacular fire, which raged for about six hours before crews got the upper hand about 10:30 p.m. Even so, firefighters were to remain overnight to douse hot spots.

From emergency workers to newly homeless residents, few could grasp how swiftly the flames turned a redevelopment showpiece with a clubhouse and courtyard into a smoldering disaster zone. At least 125 apartment units, housing 375 people, were destroyed.

The blaze began in a five-story building under construction at 203 Washington St. called the Stables at Millennium and spread quickly across what one official called a “lumberyard.”

The description was apt. The building was in the framing stage, which involves putting together the bones of the structure out of kiln-dried two-by-fours, plywood and lumber, materials that can burn very quickly.

Montgomery County Sheriff John Durante, who is also a longtime volunteer firefighter, said he had arrived on the scene soon after the fire was reported. “I’ve never seen a fire this intense burn so fast,” he said last night.

He figured that the blaze began in the end of the building closest to the river and spread to the front – about 100 yards – in 15 minutes.

At the height of the fire, flames encompassed the entire structure and were as tall as the building itself. They radiated so much heat that the roofs of adjacent buildings caught.

The cause of the fire – which began about 4:30 p.m. – was unknown.

“Jobs like this just beat everyone up,” said Leo Costello, an assistant fire chief in Conshohocken who was catching his breath late last night. He had been on the scene since about 5.

Riverfront fires are among the most challenging because of the difficulty in routing enough water into the area, fire officials said.

Embers and flames jumped from the Stables to adjacent apartment buildings in the Riverwalk complex, said Tom Sullivan, Montgomery County public safety director. The attics of those buildings caught fire, which “enabled the fire to get around the fire walls,” he said.

One firefighter who suffered from smoke inhalation and a young woman who collapsed were taken to Chestnut Hill Hospital.

Because the buildings border the river and railroad track, “access is challenged,” Sullivan said. “They’re working through it, and have been cutting down fencing.”

Sullivan said the borough had a limited water supply, which it was trying to overcome with supplies from other fire companies and lots of hose. “They’re making very good progress,” he said.

He noted that the fire was in what used to be an industrial area with limited firefighting infrastructure.

Ten fire companies responded.

Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers, who could see the smoke from his home in Roxborough, said this type of riverfront fire was particularly difficult to tackle.

In Philadelphia, water mains dead-end at the river, and hydrants at waterfront locations tend to have lower water pressure, he said.

“It’s a very challenging firefighting moment,” Ayers said. “They’re up against the size of the fire . . . and getting water resources together to get in front of the fire.” The Philadelphia Fire Department was not called to the scene.

West Coast 911 firefighting news source – The Philadelphia Inquirer

Announcing the 13th Annual Craig Alder Charity Golf Tournament

Announcing the 13th Annual Craig Alder Charity Golf Tournament! Craig Alder, the son of retired LAFD (Los Angeles City) Fire Captain Rich Alder and brother of SBFD (San Bernardino City) Battalion Chief Mike Alder, was an SBFD firefighter whose career was cut short when he suffered serious brain injuries after being struck by a car while crossing the street in his home town of Temecula. Family and friends have put together this annual golf tournament for Craig and his family, wife Buffy and two sons Jake and Wyatt, to help ease the financial burden of living expenses plus his continuing care and rehabilitation. Last year’s tournament was a huge success and we sincerely appreciate the support of the LAFD, SBFD and many other fire departments, friends and families.

 Craig Alder - 1995

This year’s tournament will be held Monday, September 14, 2009 at the Temecula Creek Inn Golf Club in Temecula, Calif. The tournament will be a four person scramble format with a 9:00 AM shotgun start. Men and ladies are welcome and you may enter as a foursome or as individuals. The entry fee is $125.00, which includes golf, cart, banquet lunch and T-shirt.

Hole sponsors and tee sponsors are also needed. Entry blanks will be sent to past participants and you may get further information by contacting Mike Alder at (951) 972-7878 or by clicking on the attached documents below.

Thank You in advance for your support,

Michael Alder

13th Annual CA Golf Cover

13th_Annual CA Golf_Flyer[1]

 Mike & Craig Alder 1995


The SBFD “Apparatus Committee” was recently back in Appleton, Wisconsin at the Pierce Factory working with Sales Rep Kevin Newell. Currently, the San Bernardino City Fire Department is in the process of purchasing seven fire engines and two aerial ladder trucks from Pierce Manufacturing, Inc.. The SBFD is purchasing seven PUC’s with the Arrow XT chassis and two tractor drawn aerial ladder trucks, also with the Arrow XT

The SBFD and it’s current fleet, which is almost entirely Pierce is looking to replace seven of the twelve front line engines that were last purchased in 1999. The SBFD is a very busy fire department and four of the seven engines, currently have over a 100,000 miles on them. Battalion Chief Mike Alder and Denis Moon head up the committee, which consists of two Captains (Kevin Bathgate & Dan Harker), two Engineers (Jim Davis & Pat Burton), and one Fire Mechanic (Tony Zamora). Mike and Denis have been involved in the apparatus specification process for the SBFD since 1990 and have learned a lot over the years and have seen quite a few technological changes. The SBFD apparatus committee is really looking forward to taking delivery of the seven engines and two trucks. For the first time, they have been able to build an engine that will have the type of compartmentation that they need for their firefighting and ALS demands as well as a 178″ wheel base that they need for maneuverability”.

SBFD Apparatus Committee SBFD Apparatus Committee Pierce Sales Rep SBFD Apparatus Committee SBFD Apparatus Committee

Some of the other issues that they were dealing with had to do with firefighting efficiency and safety. As popular as the SCBA seats are in the fire service they had observed problems with seat belt use while responding to fires. The committee along with the fire department staff felt that it is very difficult to wear the seat belt and the bottle at the same time. They removed the bottles and placed them in a compartment and attempted to give their personnel more leg room and comfort. At the same time it, they will eliminate the problem of the Captain trying to get his/her bottle on quickly and catch up with two other firefighters that are more than ready to get inside the building.

Another big change was the elimination of pre-connected attack lines and replaced with a manifold system that allows for very simple hose deployment and a more systematic and efficient charging of the attack lines. The PUC also has pump and roll capability.

The two tractor drawn aerial ladders have a medium duty 250 lb tip load Pierce aerial ladder and they eliminated the use of a pre-plumbed waterway. The apparatus committee felt that the vast majority of their aerial ladder use was to access the roof of a building for ventilation and the pre-plumbed waterway made it more difficult to quickly ladder buildings, always having to be aware of the pinnable waterway location. In the rare event that the SBFD has to resort to a “Ladder-Pipe” operation, the deployment of the 3″ hose may be a little slower but at that point what is the big hurry?

The SBFD should be taking delivery of four engines and one truck at the end of May and the delivery of the other three engines and the other truck at the end of June. If you have any questions regarding the apparatus specs and the thought process behind the decisions that were made for the development of the PUC and the Tractor Drawn Aerials please feel free to contact Battalion Chief’s Mike Alder or Denis Moon at 909-384-5279 or you can also contact the Pierce Sales Rep Kevin Newell (South Coast Fire Equipment) at 909-673-9900.

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.




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.


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.


Bill Beaumont

San Bernardino City Fire Department

Midtown Madness

firestorm-2.jpg I worked a trade at Station 4 on the 4th of January. Needless to say, we got hammered. I thought Station 10 was busy…Let’s see, we did rookie testing from 9:30am to 6pm. During that time, the rest of the city had 2 structure fires. Imagine that.

Oh yeah, safety tip of the day, don’t refuel your pocket motorcycle in your living room and then place the open gas can in the kitchen where the fumes could ignite from the oven pilot light.

Got back to the Station where we quickly inhaled some pizza before the storm hit, and I’m not talking about the rain, even though that contributed to some of the madness. Let’s see, we assisted Engine 1 on a double shooting then as soon as we cleared that call, went to a stabbing 2 blocks away. It was pretty much non-stop after that. We ended up with about 10 calls from about 7pm to 5am. Gotta love the ‘Midwtown Madness’.

Stay tuned for a recap of some of last years best rescue calls.

Cheese from Berdoo

Las Vegas Fire and Rescue – Recap for 2007

I know that it is already 5 days into the New Year, but I wanted to represent the LVFD for a year end recap. We had a ton of crazy calls, and I’ve intentionally forgotten about more 911 drama than I can remember. Having a new baby this year and being assigned at one of the busiest stations in the country hasn’t helped the bags under my eyes, but I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. I feel so fortunate to have two great families. You gotta be one screwed up dude not to love this job. Just in case you ever want to check, you can see up to the minute calls we are responding to at the “Alarm Office”.

x-mr-1.jpg lg2z0574.jpg lg2z1009.jpg sonios-hr44.jpg lg2z0693.jpg upstairs-condo-fully-involved.jpg

I’d have to say it was a great year for our department. We continue to expand with both stations and staffing. By the way, in case you haven’t heard, we’re starting of the year with a new Fire Chief. Greg Gammon has been named to succeed retired chief David Washington. Gammon is a 23-year veteran of the department, and he’s the Las Vegas representative on the state’s homeland security commission. I hear that the final word is going to be given on January 9. I can’t believe that we’re doing another recruitment for Las Vegas firefighters this month. I’m starting to feel like an old guy. Operationally, things are going well, and I’d like to consider ourselves pretty progressive in our fire-ground operations and training. This is a never ending learning experience for all of us in the fire service world……..So to all my brethren out there……. Work hard, train hard and have a great 2008! Enjoy these pics from a few 2007 incidents here in “sin city”. LVFD logo

The “Caz” – Las Vegas Fire and Rescue