Sunday, February 20, 2011

Venezuela

Barquisimeto


The wife and I are heading to Venezuela this summer to participate in a mission trip
with our church. The trip is focused on a home for troubled boys in Barquisimeto, Venezuela that a partner church - Good News Church (Las Buenas Nuevas del Este) supports there. Most of the boys chose to enter the home after living on the street and running into all sorts of street life trouble. They range from age 7 to age 16. The workers in the home give the boys a disciplined life style, provide positive role models, and are actively helping them reshape their lives.

While there, we will be working on renovations on the home that they all live in and working with the leaders in the home as well as the boys.

I invite you to partner with us in this journey. We covet your prayers for the team going down, the leadership of the home, and for the boys themselves.

If you care to support the team with a contribution, you may contribute by going to the Globalx website:

GOglobalX.org

click on GIVE on the top right side of the page

Enter your contact info

Under the globalX trip info:
select Venezuela in the Country drop down
select Venezuela Partner Development: Construction 1 in the Trip drop down
Type my name in the individual field

Enter your credit card info (Visa and Mastercard accepted)

Click Review Donation Information and finalize your transaction

A confirmation email will be sent to you and will serve as your receipt for tax purposes.

Thanks for your support.

-Peace

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Crash Course in Firefighting



Several years ago, I was living on a small 11-acre piece of land in rural South Georgia. I had went out on my own consulting on Novell networks and performing PC repair. The first few years I worked out of an office at the house and spent the majority of my time around the house.

We lived 15 miles from the county seat, the Sheriff's office, the hospital, and EMS. The county did not have a paid fire service but depended on volunteers. Every time I stopped in at the local country store, the owner would mention that they had a volunteer fire department right next door and would invite me to their weekly meeting.

For month's I declined the offer. Finally, I decided to drop in one night. I got introduced to the regulars, was given the tour of all the trucks and equipment. Many of the our neighbors worked 20 miles away during the day time, so someone in the area during the day was beneficial. Before I left the meeting that night, I was issued a radio and given a call sign. The chief told me if I heard my number called on the radio, answer it quick and be headed to the station to get a truck rolling. "But don't worry", he added, "the regulars will be right behind you."

The next afternoon, I was sitting at the house working on some client work, when I heard some chatter on the radio. Apparently one of the neighboring fire departments in our county was working a garage fire. Suddenly, I heard my number being called. I answered and the dispatcher quickly instructed me to get one of our trucks rolling to back them up.

I pulled on my boots and flew out the door to make the drive to the fire station. As I pulled up, I noticed no one else seemed to be converging on the fire house. The fire chief's wife was walking over from the country store to give me directions to where the fire was in a neighboring community. As I started up one of the fire engines, a younger guy came running up and jumped in the passenger side of the cab. Off we went.

As we made the drive to the fire scene, we monitored the radio activity of the other department. One of the conversations has always stuck in my mind. The Sheriff's office had called them to inquire if they needed additional units for backup. The fireman on scene answered in a panicky voice, "10-4. It's a big, BIG fire." We then heard him tell the dispatcher that he had run out of water and was having to go to the nearest hydrant to refill.

A few minutes later, we rolled up on the scene. Fire was shooting out the roof of an unattached garage/shop building. A Sheriff's Deputy was standing in the front yard watching the scene. Two firefighters were actively fighting the fire and about a dozen neighbors were standing less than ten feet away watching.

I opened a compartment on the truck, pulled out bunker gear and a helmet and suited up. One of our department's veterans drove up in his pickup and got suited up as well. We pulled 1 1/2" hose, fired up our pump, and began to make attack. Suddenly I heard a BOOM and something whizzed about my head. I quickly ducked and turned to see what it was. A gallon paint can had built up enough pressure in the fire to shoot the lid off. It was just enough to make your heart skip a beat. Before I could get settled down from that shock, an air compressor in the shop built up a great deal of pressure in the fire and the pressure relief "pop off" valve released and made a sudden noise followed by wild hissing. It took me a minute to recognize what it was and I began to calm.

I looked around and noticed that prior to the two surprises, the spectators and the Deputy had all been standing practically shoulder to shoulder with me as we were attacking the fire. Now, they were all gone. In fact, I could not even determine where they had all run off to, but they were now out of harms way for sure.

As we moved around the building spraying water on the flames, I suddenly got a little tingle in my hands. The veteran that was on the nozzle quickly shut the nozzle off and tossed the hose and ordered me to not touch the house. We began carefully walking along the hose back to the truck. Halfway back we found a downed power line lying partially submerged in the yard directly below our hose. As we were working around the building, we had unknowingly pulled the hose across this down power line which apparently was live. the outside of the hose sweats a bit of water, just enough to conduct electricity accounting for the tingle we had felt.

So the veteran got on the radio and requested the local power company be dispatched to kill the downed power line. In the meantime, he stated the scene was not safe and we could not proceed until it was.

So we set back away from the power line and the hose and waited. It took around 15 minutes for the power company showed up and killed the power to the down wires. Once they completed their work, we finished putting the wet stuff on the red stuff. Several minutes were then consumed with loading up wet hose, loading up all the hand tools and storing our gear.

We returned to the station, filled the truck with fuel, refilled the water tank, hung the wet hose on the hose drying rack, and loaded dry hose back on the truck.

I had survived my first fire scene with the volunteer fire department and had been given a crash course in what to expect at a live fire scene. For the years since, I can still remember all of the hazards that presented themselves that day. And never to date have I ever encountered that many hazards at one fire scene since. It was definitely a good learning experience and an eye opener.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again

The title for those of you too young to recognize it is from the song by the same name by Gene Autry. If you need more info: Gene Autry.

After deciding that I had somehow been relocated to the great white north, the mercury started creeping to the upward side of 40F this past weekend and that caught my attention. So, I checked my handy dandy 10 day forecast on the weather guessers website and noted that lows for the week would be high 30s/low 40s and the highs for the week would be in the mid 60s and clear. I then declared I would be riding to work all week.

Monday I awoke to 37F clear and dark. I bundled up including a half mask under the full face helmet and a fleece scarf and set off on my roughly one hour commute. By the time I reached downtown and the motorcycle designated parking at the office, I was energized and glad I had ridden. I had been missing riding the bike for the commute and about tired of winter as it were.

The ride home was even more enjoyable despite the typical aggravation of the afternoon commute. It was 63F sunny and clear. I almost felt like I had snuck a one hour motorcycle ride in.

This morning was almost a repeat of Monday morning, temps and conditions were almost exactly the same. This afternoon's commute was again warm and clear - perfect for enjoying a motorcycle ride. The ride home from my night class was a little chillier but still quite enjoyable.

These unseasonably enjoyable days are supposed to stick around through the end of the week, so I am going to get as much riding packed in while I can before it all goes south again.

Here is hoping you are managing to get a few days of riding in where ever you are.

-Peace