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frantically begging

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Those cool firemen from Williamsburg, spotted in Blissville, Queens.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator does like hisself a fire truck – and having never surrendered the childhood desire to run along the sidewalk screaming “firemen, firemen” when a fire truck goes by – when a Brooklyn based unit comes screaming out of a fire house in Blissville – it catches my eye. For some reason, 108 came out of the Ladder 128 house on Greenpoint Avenue – obviously on a call. My confusion is based on the fact that one normally expects Ladder 108 to deploy via Union Avenue in Brooklyn.

from nyfd.com

History: Ladder 108 Ladder Co. 108, now quartered at 187 Union Ave., Williamsburg, Brooklyn, began life as Hook & Ladder Co. 8 in the old City of Brooklyn Fire Department at 112 Siegel Street near Graham Avenue on November 30, 1887. During this time, to be distinctive, the Brooklyn Fire Department used two-tone green on their apparatus, while F.D.N.Y. apparatus was red. Green continued to be used until consolidation of the five bouroughs in 1898. On January 1, 1898, Ladder Company became part of the Fire Department of the City of New York. It was renumbered as Ladder Company 58 on October 1, 1899. It was not until January 1, 1913, that Ladder 58 was renumbered as Ladder Company 108. In the 110 years of Ladder 108’s existence, two members lost their lives in the line of duty. A fire in Queens on March 2, 1905, took the life of Lt. George McGeary and 27 years later on May 2, 1932, Firefighter Joseph LaGrange was killed when Ladder 108 and Engine 213 collided responding to a false alarm and Firefighter LaGrange was thrown to the street. Ladder 108’s tenure at 112 Siegel Street lasted 84 years and on August 9, 1971, 108 truck moved to a new firehouse at 187 Union Avenue and is still quartered there.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Of course, the ways and means and mores common to those “firemen, firemen” are many and complex, so no profit can be realized by analyzing their methods. Luckily, one had the opportunity to crack out a few shots of the hurtling ladder truck as it sped along past the walls of Calvary.

from wikipedia

FDNY Ladder Companies (also known as Truck Companies) are tasked with search and rescue, forcible entry, and ventilation at the scene of a fire. A Ladder Company can operate three types of Ladder Trucks: an Aerial Ladder Truck, equipped with a 100′ aerial ladder mounted at the rear of the apparatus; a Tower Ladder Truck, equipped with either a 75′ or 95′ telescoping boom and bucket mounted in the center of the apparatus; a Tractor Drawn Aerial Ladder Truck, or Tiller/Tractor Trailer, equipped with a 100′ aerial ladder. A Ladder Company carries various forcible entry, ventilation, and rescue tools to deal with an assortment of fires and emergencies, including motor vehicle accidents.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Can’t help but wonder where Ladder 128 was, maybe they loaded the truck up and drove to Florida for a vacation or something. I like the idea of a whole crew just taking off for a few days, pulling into 711 parking lots along I-95 for toilet breaks and microwave burritos. The random appearance of NYC vehicles in other parts of the country – a taxi or a police car for instance – would be positively dada.

from dnainfo.com

Police officers inside the 90th Precinct were in just the right spot for such an emergency — someone from the station house simply ran next door to report the fire to Battalion 35 Engine 216 and Ladder 108. The firehouse shares a city building on a Williamsburg block with the NYPD.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 25, 2014 at 11:00 am

unavoidable oversight

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What the end of the world will look like, as observed in Greenpoint USA.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Manhattan’s recyclable paper and plastic went up in flames in Greenpoint the other night, when a blaze began at the Rapid Processing Center on Humboldt St. and Greenpoint Ave. at around 7 p.m. on March 18th. The operation was in the Waste Transfer Station Recycling business, acting as a depot for the unloading of the DSNY’s white packer trucks which perform curbside pickup of paper and plastic materials.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

In the end, it took 200 firefighters and all of their arts to fight this four alarm fire.

Almost as soon as it started, social media sites like Facebook began to light up as well with comments and queries offered by community members about the fire and the possible hazards of being exposed to its smoke and effluents.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

It seems that the torrents of water used to combat the blaze also flooded the streets, and news reports described a lake of water on Greenpoint Avenue, which carried garbage off the site and allowed it to move around with the wind as flotsam. As you can see in the shot above, puddles of unusual size persist, and carry a sheen of something on their surface.

These shots were captured yesterday, March 23rd, and the mound of material was still smoldering.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The structure is a total loss, obviously, and I did observe air quality monitoring equipment at work. Directly following the fire, FDNY announced that there was nothing, air quality wise, for the community to fret about.

Of course, there was reportedly NO air quality monitoring going on during the fire when a plume of (probably) dioxin laced smoke was infiltrating into the neighborhood.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There was talk following the flooding of Hurricane Sandy about prepositioning environmental sampling kits around Greenpoint, so that actual “time of event” samples could be captured, but that seems to have been forgotten.

Green Infrastructure, instead, is the buzzword of the present day.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

During the fire your humble narrator was safe and sound and upwind in Astoria, but a point was made of interjecting myself into their lively debate to adjure the Greenpointers to call 311 and complain of the smoke, as this would have compelled DEP to set up air monitors DURING the event. No one listened, and no monitors were set up, so everything is fine and nobody was exposed to anything bad.

If you smell something, say something, and call 311.

New York City would not acknowledge the presence of an elephant in the City Council chamber room unless a statistically relevant number of 311 calls were received about it.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 24, 2014 at 11:00 am

hewed way

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The pipes, the pipes are calling.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s just something about that sound. For people of certain ancestries, Bagpipes sound pretty good (I’m one of them) and they stir the emotions. To others, and this has nothing to do with the modern concept of “nationality” so get over that one, this instrument creates a wave of revulsion that shakes them to their core. Your humble narrator used to keep a disc of bagpipe music handy to break up teenager parties in our last apartment building. The kids would scatter as soon as the drone started, acting as if chlorine gas had been released into the air.

from wikipedia

Bagpipes are a class of musical instrument, aerophones, using enclosed reeds fed from a constant reservoir of air in the form of a bag. Though the Scottish Great Highland Bagpipe and Irish uilleann pipes have the greatest international visibility, bagpipes have been played for centuries throughout large parts of Europe, the Caucasus, around the Persian Gulf and in Northern Africa. The term bagpipe is equally correct in the singular or plural, although in the English language, pipers most commonly talk of “the pipes”, “a set of pipes” or “a stand of pipes”.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Famously, the Irish and Scots considered (one of the hundreds of variations on the bagpipe) this instrument a weapon of war. The Spartans marched behind a sort of bagpipe, accompanied by drums, all the way back in ancient Greece. The legend of Emperor Nero playing his fiddle while Rome burned is apparently a bastardization of Emperor Nero playing the Tibia Utricularis, Roman bagpipes, while the inferno roared.

from a very cool site, with lots of historic representations of bagpipes, going all the way back to the Roman Tibia Utricularis, billhaneman.ie

All throughout the centuries when warpipes were used by the Irish as a part ot their military equipment. Little Irish history was made in their absence, though their participation in the activities of warfare was not specifically mentioned. In forays and battles the pipers took literally a foremost part. Being always in the lead, and heroically remaining to encourage their troops with spirited war tunes, until death or defeat silenced their strains.

The Irish advanced to the charge at the famous battle of Bel-an-atha-buidhe, or the Yellow Ford, in 1598 to the stirring strains of the warpipes, and many instances are cited by Grattan Flood where the warpipes were used effectively. In the language of Standish O’Grady: “They were brave men those pipers. The modern military band retires as its regiment goes into action. But the piper went on -before his men and piped them into the thick of the battle. He advanced sounding his battle pibroch, and stood in the ranks of war, while men fell all around him.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Acoustic weaponry or not, like those teenage partiers at my last apartment, the sound of bagpipes is generally enough to upset those who don’t have a predisposition to their particular sonic wavelengths. They’re hardly an LRAD, of course, but these things – when played in concert and syncopation with other pipers – set up a standing wave of sound which can penetrate the din of battle and shake the confidence of an enemy force, who know instantly that the men of the north are approaching with serious intent. Happy St. Pat’s, ya’all.

from theguardian.com

As anyone who has walked along Princes Street in Edinburgh will know, the sound of bagpipes is enough to make any stroller beat a hasty retreat, which is why the Scots have historically used them to repel their enemies. And long before the Scots had discovered how to make a horrible noise, Joshua was using trumpets to make the walls of Jericho come tumbling down. Throughout history noise has been a powerful weapon but can it really curdle your insides, or make buildings crumble?

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minute glimpses

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One last stop at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, this time with FDNY.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Over the years, there have been plenty of shots offered at this – your Newtown Pentacle – of the Marine 1 unit (and their boats) here at the Navy Yard, but all of those photos have been shot from the deck of a boat. For today’s post, here’s what you can see from the landward side.

from marine1fdny.com

Marine 1 was the first Marine Company formed in the City of New York. We have moved several times over the years (find out more on our history page). We are on call and respond to 560 miles of waterfront surrounding the City of New York. These waterways are among the busiest in the world, used for both shipping and enjoyment. Along with the other two fireboats and a total of four small rapid response boats, we protect the people of New York as well as those visitors who are just passing through.

Marine 1 is manned by a crew of seven; an officer, a pilot, two engineers, and two firefighters.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Like all boat yards, the winter is a great time to see what their “rolling stock” looks like, as a significant number of their boats are up on blocks awaiting the attention and repairs of ship wrights and mechanics. The large steel structure at the right of the shot is a boat crane, used for lifting vessels in and out of the water. Notice the fact that it’s in Fire Department red, and you’ll know who owns the thing.

from wikipedia

On the eve of World War II, the yard contained more than five miles (8 km) of paved streets, four drydocks ranging in length from 326 to 700 feet (99 to 213 meters), two steel shipways, and six pontoons and cylindrical floats for salvage work, barracks for marines, a power plant, a large radio station, and a railroad spur, as well as the expected foundries, machine shops, and warehouses. In 1937 the battleship North Carolina was laid down. In 1938, the yard employed about ten thousand men, of whom one-third were Works Progress Administration (WPA) workers. The battleship Iowa was completed in 1942 followed by the Missouri which became the site of the Surrender of Japan 2 September 1945. On 12 January 1953, test operations began on Antietam, which emerged in December 1952 from the yard as America’s first angled-deck aircraft carrier.

The US Navy took possession of PT 109 on 10 July 1942, and the boat was delivered to the Brooklyn Navy Yard for fitting.

This boat was sunk in the Pacific in August 1943 and became famous years later when its young commander, Lt. John F. Kennedy, entered politics.

At its peak, during World War II, the yard employed 70,000 people, 24 hours a day.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There was more than one SAFE boat on display at the pier, and these are vessels that I am just fascinated by. Every one of the “services” (Coast Guard, NYPD, even Park Police) has a version of this boat. It adheres to the modern procurement system followed by Federal authorities which describes individual vehicles as all purpose “weapons platforms” that can modified or customized, on a task specific basis, for a particular agency or entity. The Coast Guard has an M60 machine gun mount on theirs, NYPD has a towing system, the FDNY a water monitor (a fire hose).

from uscg.mil

Developed in a direct response to the need for additional Homeland Security assets in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks, the Defender Class boats were procured under an emergency acquisition authority. With a contract for up to 700 standard response boats, the Defender Class acquisition is one of the largest boat buys of its type in the world. The 100 boat Defender A Class (RB-HS) fleet began arriving at units in MAY 2002 and continued through AUG 2003. After several configuration changes, most notably a longer cabin and shock mitigating rear seats, the Defender B Class (RB-S) boats were born. This fleet was first delivered to the field in OCT 2003, and there are currently 357 RB-S boats in operation.

The 457 Defender Class boats currently in operation are assigned to the Coast Guards Maritime Safety and Security Teams (MSST), Maritime Security Response Team (MSRT), Marine Safety Units (MSU), and Small Boat Stations throughout the Coast Guard. With an overall length of 25 feet, two 225 horsepower outboard engines, unique turning radius, and gun mounts boat forward and aft, the Defender Class boats are the ultimate waterborne assets for conducting fast and high speed maneuvering tactics in a small deployable package. This is evidenced in the fact that several Defender Class boats are already in operation by other Homeland Security Department agencies as well as foreign military services for their homeland security missions.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Apologies are offered for the late posting today, for it seems that the heavy snowfall has affected the Time Warner Cable infrastructure which allows them to deliver Internet access to Newtown Pentacle HQ. The signal has been fading in and out for the last twelve hours or so, which I guess is kind of understandable given conditions here in the frozen zone.

Tomorrow, we go to the edge of the known world, see you then.

from wikipedia

The Yard has three piers and a total of 10 berths ranging from 350 to 890 feet (270 m) long, with ten-foot deck height and 25 to 40 feet (7 to 12 meters) of depth alongside. The drydocks are now operated by GMD Shipyard Corp. A federal project maintains a channel depth of 35 feet (10 m) from Throggs Neck to the yard, about two miles (3 km) from the western entrance, and thence 40 feet (12 m) of depth to the deep water in the Upper Bay. Currents in the East River can be strong, and congestion heavy. Access to the piers requires passage under the Manhattan Bridge (a suspension span with a clearance of 134 feet (41 m) and the Brooklyn Bridge (a suspension span with a clearance of 127 feet (39 m).

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 22, 2014 at 12:16 pm

uneasy voices

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Quite the hullabaloo over in Astoria last Friday.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Rainy, last Friday evening, a sudden explosion of sirens and a characteristic strobing of red and white light announced that members of the Fire Department had arrived to pursue their occupation. I grew interested when Rescue 4 showed up, which I understand to be a sort of mobile command post and which I’ve only seen when the situation is truly serious.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There were two crewed trucks, a hook and ladder unit and an engine unit. In addition, the Rescue 4 truck and this “Haz Tac” unit arrived on scene along with a couple of ambulances. The setting is Broadway in Astoria, by the way, between 43rd and 44th streets.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There were enough FDNY personnel down there to start a soccer team, but they all seemed to be milling about, rather than the rushing around and “crash bang” action which normally describes the pursuit of their occupation.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

NYPD sent an ESU (Emergency Services Unit) truck as well as a highway patrol and several ordinary unit cars, and being the nosey sort, this motivated me to throw the filthy black raincoat on and find out what was going on.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The municipal employees were tight lipped, as usual, but my network of local Croatians had already created a cogent narrative. The whole thing revolved around this van.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As transmitted to me by the Istrian witnesses, there was an accident. A typical fender bender with no injuries, the driver of the van nevertheless fled the scene and abandoned the vehicle.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Some unknown municipal threshold must have been achieved, in terms of ascertaining the threat posed by the vehicle, and the FDNY began to pack up and leave. NYPD got busy with traffic cones and redirecting traffic. One wonders, however, what triggered this massive response to an abandoned van.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 9, 2013 at 9:20 am

breathing body

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

Before leaving Manhattan to transit back to the blessed soils of ancient Astoria, while walking down West 59th street (or Central Park South, as the well off would prefer) the other night, one was was suddenly confronted with a corruption of the ordinary scene when the FDNY showed up in no small numbers.

From what I could surmise, one of the many hotels along the edge of Central Park was in the midst of an emergency which demanded their presence.

from wikipedia

Central Park South is the portion of 59th Street that forms the southern border of Central Park in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. It runs from Columbus Circle at Eighth Avenue on the west to Grand Army Plaza at Fifth Avenue on the east. Entry into Central Park is provided at Scholars Gate at Fifth Avenue, Artists Gate at Sixth, Artisans Gate at Seventh, and Merchants Gate at Eighth Avenue.

Central Park South contains four famous upscale hotels: the Plaza Hotel, the Ritz-Carlton (Central Park), which is the flagship of the Ritz-Carlton chain, the Park Lane, and JW Marriott Essex House. Central Park South is one of the most cosmopolitan streets in the world, and is located steps away from Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue shopping, the Time Warner Center, and Carnegie Hall. Some of the most expensive apartments in the United States are found here.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

No concern whatsoever possessed me for the actual emergency, of course. Normal human empathy is an under developed organ in my emotional quiver, and the fate of Manhattan’s upper class visitors is well beyond any threshold at which my meager talents and abilities would be measurably effective. Like one of the anonymous ghouls that populate popular cinematic fiction, flesh eating and mindless, I was attracted by the tumult of flashing lights and sirens and stumbled forward.

from wikipedia

The flesh-hungry undead have been a fixture of world mythology dating at least since The Epic of Gilgamesh, in which the goddess Ishtar promises:

I will knock down the Gates of the Netherworld, I will smash the door posts, and leave the doors flat down, and will let the dead go up to eat the living! And the dead will outnumber the living!

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The whole event was very exciting, with strangely attired people carrying esoteric equipment about. A great sense of urgency, along with an omnipresent flow of vehicular traffic which snaked along the street negotiating the narrows formed by the gargantuan service trucks employed by fire fighting personnel. Multiple vehicles all were flashing their lights, and I counted at least one ladder and two other units as well as a couple of Ambulances. That’s a lot of light on a fairly dark street.

The German tourists were positively agog.

from wikipedia

Most of the engines in FDNY’s fleet are Seagrave Commander II’s and Seagrave Marauder II’s and include 500 gallon water tanks and either 1000 or 2000 gallon per minute pumps. The 2000gpm pumps are primarily located in the high-rise districts and are considered high pressure pumpers. With the loss of apparatus which occurred as a result of the September 11 attacks, FDNY began to use engines made by other companies including Ferrara and E-One. The FDNY is making the move from a fixed cab to a “Split-Tilt” cab, so the Seagrave Marauder II Pumper will fill the FDNY’s new order for 69 new pumpers.

Truck companies are generally equipped with Seagrave aerials. Ladder length varies and often depends on the geographic area to which the unit is assigned. Those in the older sections of the city often use tiller trucks to allow for greater maneuverability. Before Seagrave was the predominant builder, Mack CF’s built with Baker tower ladders were popular. Most FDNY aerials are built with 75’, 95′ or 100′ ladders. Tiller ladders, rear mount ladders and mid-mount tower ladders are the types of trucks used. In 2010, a new contract was issued for 10–100′ rear-mount ladder trucks to Ferrara Fire Apparatus, using a chassis and stainless steel cab custom-designed to FDNY specifications. Delivery of the first of these new trucks is anticipated in the 1st quarter of 2011.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Then the cops showed up.

I’ve always obeyed a singular rule in the Shining City of Manhattan, which is to depart and quit any location currently occupied once the cops show up. Following this dictum has kept your humble narrator from experiencing several unpleasant moments over the years, and kept my relations with the Police at an absolute minimum.

Accordingly, one spun upon his well worn heels and headed east toward the subway, which would carry me away from the Shining City towards the rolling hills of raven haired Astoria via its deeply buried tunnels.

from wikipedia

The FDNY, the largest municipal fire department in the United States, and the second largest in the world after the Tokyo Fire Department, has approximately 11,080 uniformed officers and firefighters and over 3,300 uniformed EMTs and paramedics. It faces extraordinarily varied firefighting challenges in many ways unique to New York. In addition to responding to building types that range from wood-frame single family homes to high-rise structures, there are many secluded bridges and tunnels, as well as large parks and wooded areas that can give rise to major brush fires. New York is also home to one of the largest subway systems in the world, consisting of hundreds of miles of tunnel with electrified track. The multifaceted challenges they face add yet another level of firefighting complexity and have led to the FDNY’s motto, New York’s Bravest.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 3, 2013 at 12:15 am

Project Firebox 65

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

Always on the look out for friendly neighborhood Fireboxes which have eluded my notice, this sturdy specimen was encountered on Astoria Blvd. at 42nd street. Unfortunately malfunctioning, it bears familiar signage adjuring the reader to rely on telephone contact with the Fire Department instead of using the alarm system.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

“Engine 263 and Ladder 117’s station house happens to be on the block” thought a humble narrator. “Why would there actually be a firebox on the same corner as a fire house” entered my mind next, but then I remembered that this was, after all, Queens. Logic and Queens are often exclusive of each other.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

No sign of the crews inside, so one imagines that this sign, advising one to use the broken firebox on the corner would need updating. Shame, as it is lovely typography.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A seeming memorial, this firebox like device ornaments a prominent spot on the building’s facade. The “343” is a reference to the number of FDNY personnel who perished at the World Trade Center at the turn of the century.

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 30, 2013 at 2:15 am

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