Beloved community veteran firefighter David Dangerfield took his own life Saturday, October 15, 2016.
Below I have posted two conversations with him and photos I took during the time period of October 2013 through January 2014 for my short-run, out-of-print book My Adventure with Indian River County Fire Rescue...
"You can’t save everyone, but you darn sure try,” says David Dangerfield. “I have been on IRCFR for 24 years, and there are calls that happened 20 years ago - fatalities with children and drownings - that never leave you. Sometimes you get bad calls and that lives with you a long time. It’s almost like it happened ten minutes ago.”
David was born and raised in Vero Beach. Despite what he has seen throughout his career, he keeps a smile on his face and a great attitude.
“Well, that is the advice I give to rookies,” he says. “To have a great attitude. To keep your mouth closed and to open your ears. If you come in with an attitude that you know everything, you are not going to get the support of the veteran crew. Even if you do know something, it is good to just sit back and take in what they are teaching you. Education is everything. Get all you can.”
Looking back, David always wanted to serve in this capacity.
“Every kid loves seeing the fire trucks go by,” he says. “As a young child I thought ‘I would really love to do that.’ And it has just fallen into place.”
He talks about another early influence – the television show Emergency 51. “Their dinner plates would hit the table, they would start eating, then the alarms would go off and everyone was running out the door. I thought, ‘Now that is cool. I want to do that.' ”
Just like so many who serve in Fire Rescue, David’s motivation is to help people.
“I love my job,” he says. “I love helping people. After 24 years I look forward to coming to work. There’s been times we are coming back from a call and we see an elderly couple on the side of the road trying to change a tire and we will stop and help them,” he says. “We only do it because we care. I look back at my parents. The police department named my Dad the Animal Control Officer of the year for the state. There must be a correlation.”
One of the calls that stands out for David was just a few years back. A plane carrying three people had crashed into the swamp west of town. Being part of the Dive Team, David was sent in on the mission.
“The exciting part was being lowered from two hundred feet down into the swamp by a Coast Guard Black Hawk helicopter,” he explains. “Then comes the difficult part of locating and retrieving the three deceased victims. We were pulling the bodies through the marsh for three hours, and we were trying to pay respect the whole time. We were so tired when we brought the first gentleman out and we were overheated, dressed full-capsulated suits to keep out the body fluids and chemicals spilling from the plane. At one point it was so odd because we were sitting on the wing of the plane with the bodies on either side of us, and we were taking a rest and having a drink of water.”
David got through it the same way he helps victims he encounters on call to relax. “We use humor as a way to release stress. We lighten things up for each other.”
David says, “Listen, we care about people. When we come to your house for an emergency, while the crew is treating the patient, we pull one off the crew to comfort you and explain what we are doing. I always try to put myself in your situation.”
Jamie Coleman, Joe Earman and David Dangerfield were all raised in Vero Beach. David and Jamie knew each other well, and played football together in high school.
“Jamie was always my idol,” says David dramatically. There is a pause, then explosive laughter from all three men.
Jamie adds, “I grew up with the fire department. My grandparents, Hoke and Hazel Holmes, lived next to old Station 5.”
“Jamie’s grandfather is my great uncle,” says Joe. “Jamie and I are related.”
“Joe, you are related to everyone,” says David.
“Just about,” says Joe. “Jamie is 9 years younger. We would play football or basketball at old Station 5 in the afternoon.”
“As young kids, we would wait at the back door of the fire station for the guys to come out and play,” Jamie adds. “I basically grew up at my grandparents’ house. The house is still there. You could walk out the back door and be looking directly at the back of the station. I was at that station just about every day.”
“Jamie and I were hired by IRCFR at the same time,” says David. “We just completed 25 years.”
“My Grandmother and my Aunt cooked every Sunday and every holiday for old Station 5 without fail, – rain or shine, sleet and snow – it didn’t matter. They were there,” says Jamie.
“All the guys used to fight to be at old Station 5,” says David.
“On Sundays, they would cook right after church and the guys would eat,” says Jamie. “Then at night they would go back to church and leave the door open and tell everyone to come in and get the food. For the holidays they would invite all the guys’ families and they would feed everybody. They would cook so much food all the time. Even during the week they would make pies and yell out the window for them to come get it.”
“It was true southern cooking,” says Joe. “They always had a vegetable garden too and the guys from old Station 5 would come over and help them snap peas.”
“My grandfather passed and then the 2004 hurricanes were hard on my grandmother,” says Jamie. “The house was damaged and she lived in a trailer until the house was rebuilt, so the cooking eventually slowed down.”
Slideshow from my ride-along experience:
What an HONOR for me to sing the National Anthem at the Tunnel to Towers run honoring 9/11 First Responders. After singing I got lots of photos of our hometown heroes (and thanks to Beth Casano for the ones of me singing). they are all posted below. And if you want to learn more about my music, go here.
Tommy Dupuis is a real hometown hero, homegrown right here in Vero Beach. Tommy spent 30 years at Indian River County Fire Rescue taking care of our emergencies and he has just retired.
I had to privilege of being part of his fire rescue crew back in 2013 when I spent numerous shifts as an embedded journalist over the course of 4 months gathering content for my book project "My Adventure with Indian River County Fire Rescue."
The book was a collection of my experiences riding along on the ambulance and fire engines intertwined with one-on-one interviews with individuals on the crew. I took this photo of him as he listened to Toby Turner be-brief the team after a drill. It turned out to be one of my most favorites portrait of my whole career! The Iconic Firefighter.
The book did turn out to be a time capsule, as one John O' Connor predicted. A big generation of people who came on together to serve for the past 25-30 years are all retiring and a new group is coming in. In a few more decades, the same thing will happen again.
It felt like a time of Camelot. It was about a year before the political atmosphere got pretty intense for everyone involved. Even the building is not the same anymore. It was gutted for mold and then re-configured. The kitchen where we all sat around the table, where I felt part of something so much bigger than myself for a higher purpose, is not even a kitchen anymore.
When my project ended and it was time for me to go, it was sad and also hopeful too, like the end of summer camp where you promise your friends you will always stay in touch. And you mean it! But time moves on and lives change.
What remains is all the good this man gave to serve his community, and the kind of hope for America and the world examples like Tommy Dupuis give to us all!
Here is the story on Tommy which ran in the book:
“Every day I look forward to coming to work,” says Tommy Dupuis. “You never know what is going to happen.”
Tommy is another of our IRC Fire Rescue heroes who was born and raised in Vero Beach. He started at Osceola Elementary, then Citrus Elementary, Middle 6, St. Helen’s and Vero Beach High School. He was hired by IRC Fire Rescue in 1986. Tommy tells the story of how he first became interested in the job.
“All of my friends used to hang out around Conn Beach,” he says. “One cold night, I was with one of my buddies from high school - Dan Mumford, who is now retired from here – and he didn’t have a jacket so he put on his fire department jacket. I thought, ‘Now that looks good.’ He told me he was a volunteer for the department. Then another buddy Brian Williamson told us he was about to go to fire school, and so we both went together. I couldn’t afford to take off from work so we were one of the first night classes.”
For six months, they attended Monday and Thursday nights from 6 pm until 10 pm, and all day Saturdays. After that, both guys volunteered for about a year and a half, and then were hired at the same time.
“They couldn’t get rid of me,” laughs Tommy. “I stayed here at the station on every C-shift when I was a volunteer. I always loved it.”
Tommy recalls seeing some of the other firemen’s children grow up to also serve with IRC Fire Rescue.
“I watched Tim Graul’s son Stevie grow up and now he is with IRC Fire Rescue,” he says. “I remember being at a brush fire and Tim showed up with his boys, and those kids jumped out of the truck and ran into the woods and he had to chase them and find them. I remember at the Fair the kids hiding behind the tent and Timmy chasing them and stuff. Next thing you know Stevie is a fireman here.” (Steve Graul is now stepping into a leadership role with the Fair. See page # for more on Steve).
I ask Tommy to think back on some of his more memorable calls.
“I can definitely say the worst calls have been going to accidents and seeing kids I grew up with killed at the scene,” he says. “You really have to hold your composure. And also in general just going to calls where young kids are hurt or killed. You see your own kids in their eyes and that is always the toughest part. Each time a call involves the death of little kids, I call my wife and break down and cry to her and then it is all better. You may think you have nerves of steel, but when it comes to kids – especially if you have kids of your own – then you are done.”
Thankfully, not all calls are traumatic.
“The ones you can save,” he says, “that just makes you feel so gratified. I did my job!”
Still, the job is not without danger. Recently when the crew was called to put out a fire in a house filled with exploding ammunition, Tommy actually walked right over what appeared to be a pipe bomb.
“I walked right over it,” he says in disbelief. “I came around through the garage and they were pulling the hose line through and Dave Johnson came right behind me and said ‘Hey, we have a pipe bomb in here.’ WHAT? I had just walked right across it.”
Despite the constant risk of the job, Tommy says, “I am going to miss it when I leave. I retire in 2 years and 5 months. I have enjoyed it very much. I am very proud of what I do.”
It's December, 29, 2015. A Tuesday. And those of us living in Indian River County for the past 25 years who have needed an ambulance are about to lose a valued friend.
I arrive at the fire station just after 6 pm. It's dinnertime for the crew of 5 at the Indian River County Fire Rescue Station #9 in Roseland. I have come to one of the IRC Fire Rescue stations to document someone's final shift and dinner with their crew, and it is not the first time. With this one, I have decided to call this my Last Supper Series. (Click each name to read the Last Supper of Toby Turner, Garry Hughes, and Joe Earman). These are all folks I have gotten to know and love from my time I spent with them as an embedded journalist for my book project.
Dinnertime is the best time to find yourself at a fire station, probably anywhere in the world I would bet. Here in Indian River County, dinnertime marks the halfway point of the 24-hour shift. The second half, the overnight, is where sleep is constantly interrupted for those paramedics assigned to ride the ambulances. People like Cindie Willey Brandt. This repeats every three days. Multiply that sleep schedule by the 25 years Cindie has served Indian River County and you start to get an idea of her sacrifice.
Just like trying to sleep through the night, it is rare for the paramedics to get all the way through dinner. Usually their plates are abandoned half-eaten until they can return.
So naturally I am here for only 5 minutes and the tones go off. Beeeeeeeeeeeeeee-doooooooooooo. Then the voice in the sky (read my 911 Command Center story here) calmly says 'MED 9' and gives the call details. Cindie and her partner Cesar Sanchez spring into action, leaving their plates behind.
"I will be back," she shouts over her shoulder as the door leading to the garage stall closes behind her.
Here is my chance to hear from the crew. I want to know what kind of impact Cindie has made on them and the department, and what she leaves as her legacy.
I sit with Julie Reiselbara, Cesar Sanchez, Dillon Roberts and Dan Brooks. Dan, who has worked with Cindie for many years, is first to speak up. "Cindie definitely wants to make a difference," he says. "She has that invaluable road experience and she is a very good teacher, so she gives these new kids a good start."
We talk about the fact that a big percentage of the department is currently retiring and is being replaced by a young department. The cycle will repeat in another 25 years or so. Something I hear time after time from everyone of all ages in the department is how much this retiring generation cares about the community and passing their experiential knowledge down to the new team coming up.
"We have a tremendous group of giving people who are natural teachers," continues Dan. "The young ones are, in turn, very eager to learn, are good-hearted and have a strong work ethic. They are green but good! And we are getting rid of all the dead wood, like myself, now," he says with a big laugh.
One of those new recruits is Cesar Sanchez who is out with Cindie right now. Cesar started only three months before.
"Cesar is one of her newest rookies that she is working with regularly," says Julie.
"He’s got a great head start, working with Cindie,” adds Dan.
Julie looks like she has something to say.
"My first year, we were partnered together (on the ambulance)," she remembers. "But then as I continued, I began to have rookies coming up under me needing to learn. Through the years though we have always seemed to work in tandem in the north end of the county and have stayed really close and in contact. She is a good person."
Julie commutes from Melbourne! Julie has made a special Ambulance cake for Cindie's final shift. The photos are at the end of the story.
“Cindie cares about the employees," Julie adds. "She cares about making sure that the next generation is ready to take care of the patients as if they are our own family members. She has always been really good about teaching that and passing that along."
Julie and Dan reminisce about the many great times they have shared with Cindie over the years.
"Lots of stories that can't be recorded," says Julie, motioning to my reporter's digital recorder. I turn it off for now!
Later, recorder back on, I ask Dillon to tell me about Cindie. He explains, "I am on overtime today so I am not usually up in this area or even on this shift, so I happy I got the opportunity to come and work her today, you know?"
Overtime means he is working a 48 hour shift! I find out Dillon was born and raised in Fort Pierce and started with IRCFR only 7 months earlier.
"Being new, I am trying to learn as much as I can from Cindie and all of the other older people,” says Dillon.
"OLD PEOPLE," exclaims Julie.
Dillon turns red and I come to his rescue. "He said OLDER, he said OLDER," I insist.
"You want to learn something from the geriatric crowd," Julie taunts him playfully.
"The OLD GUYS," interjects Dan.
We all laugh and I remember this is the feeling I love most about being with a fire rescue team around a table.
Just then Cindie and Cesar get back. She sits back at her spot and resumes eating her dinner, now cold.
Julie doesn't miss a beat. "Dillon was just saying he likes learning from all us OLDER people.”
Cindie laughs, but her thoughts are still on the call, and she changes the subject sharply.
"OK, so I need some air bag edu-ma-cation," she says with her usual combination of playful joking and stern seriousness. She then describes the call they just came back from - a car accident.
“Car number one, lady with broken finger," begins Cindie. I turn off the recorder again. They all listen and discuss the details.
The conversation then turns to Cesar. I learn he also grew up in Florida, just to the south in the Lake Worth – Palm Beach area. This is his first job in Fire Rescue and he commutes. I ask what he has learned from this group of people. He looks at all of them.
"SO MUCH," he says very sincerely.
Dan chimes in, "Don’t lie! Don’t lie! Well, you can lie a little."
"No pressure," says Julie.
Cesar gathers his thoughts and says, “The best part is having on-the-job experience with Cindie, because she is one of the BEST teachers. I got so lucky to be teamed with her especially because I am the last one she is going to teach in this setting.”
"So she probably really put ALL her energy into it,” I say, laughing.
"It hurt sometimes," says Cesar.
"He is the next generation for this department, the new generation, as is Dillon," says Cindie with commanding authority. She looks at me. “YOU live in this county. Dan lives in this county. You guys want the best in your fire rescue service. This is my last day and we are still talking about how to do things better.”
A brief but heavy silence comes over the room.
"Like, EAT CAKE,” she says, as she dives into the cake Julie made for her.
I offer, "Yes, for sure – that is one of things you learn in life – remember to eat the cake! Literally and also figuratively!”
Cindie nods in agreement. “Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.”
What will she miss?
"The interaction. I will miss THIS," she gestures around. "The family dinner table interaction at night."
She shakes her head. "I WON'T miss getting up at O-Dark-30 in the morning to drive down from Palm Bay! But I sure will miss the teamwork. The pranks. I will miss a lot of it. This has been a very odd day."
“I wish from the day I started in July of 1980 that I had kept a journal every day,” says Captain Joe Earman. “I wish I could remember everything I have seen or done in my 35 years on the department. We see so many calls and we put it all in the back of our mind until somebody asks ‘hey remember this call we went on a year ago?’ ”
Joe is a 4th generation Floridian, and third generation Vero Beach native. His wife is Liz, and their sons Ben and Sam were born here. He retired today, November 6, 2015 after 35 years of service to Indian River County Fire Rescue.
In describing the job, Joe explains, “We don’t have emergencies. We are there to solve problems. That’s our philosophy. If we have an emergency, that’s a bad thing. That means one of us got hurt or possibly killed. We are supposed to go out there and save lives. I try to teach all my young people so that hopefully they will keep their focus. They will keep calm and clear heads.”
I stopped by Station 3 last night to have dinner with Joe and his crew on his final shift. I asked a few of them to speak about Joe.
"I have known Joe over 25 years," says Bruce Anderson. "We played softball together all the way back when I was hired in 1988. I know his wife Liz and his kids. I watched them grow up from babies into young men. Joe has always been a great officer. He has held every office in the professional firefighters associations. He has been president of Vero Beach Firefighters Association, the Fair. He started our Honor Guard. He has always brought tradition to the department. In my opinion he is the best Battalion Chief we never had. I love him like a brother and I always will. He will be sorely missed. Very, very much so. He is the definition of tradition. My hope is that a lot of it rubbed off on us. Especially the younger ones, because I am only a couple years behind him!"
Speaking of younger ones, Luke Oliver as hired less than a month ago. "I was a volunteer first though so I knew him a little bit. Very nice and very experienced. I know as new guys as a whole we are trying to soak up everything - take all the advice he can give us while he is still here. I am happy to have met him."
Rob Young says, "I have known Joe all my life. I have worked 28 years with him. We have fought a lot of fires together. I have probably fought more fires with him and learned more from him than anybody. He is an excellent leader. I was stationed with him most of my career. We have seen a lot of things together. He asked me and Keith to come down and be with him on his last couple shifts. So he drove the engine a while ago instead of sitting in the other seat. Tomorrow morning when the tones go off, it is going to be tough. He is a good man. There is nothing you can say bad about him."
Chris Matherly says, "He was my first officer when I was a probationary firefighter in October 2008. He spent my first shift with me and it is an honor to spend his last shift with him. He taught me the ways of..."
"Get your feet down," Joe interrupts, scolding him for having his feet up on the desk.
"He may be a short timer now, but not that short," I joke.
Chris continues, "He has always been there for me and he takes care of all of us. When my son was in intensive care, he took care of my time-offs so I could focus on my family. That is the kind of man he is. I also learned the hard way - don't let him beat you to the truck on a call! He does not like waiting on you! Seriously though, I have learned everything from him. You always feel safe going out on a call with him because you know he has got everything under control. And if he gets excited, then you better get excited too because something is fixing to go wrong! He doesn't ever get excited! I am going to miss him."
Ryan Cappelen says, "My family and his family have been friends for a long time. Our grandfathers knew each other real well. I knew of him before I met him."
"The legend," I say. We laugh.
"Yes," he confirms. "Then three years ago when I got hired, he took me in like his son. Showed me the ropes and made me what I am today - ha I don't know how great that is! - but I can never repay him for what he has taught me as far as firefighting goes and being a paramedic and doing your job well and taking pride in it. And life lessons as well. Being a good husband, a good father. I just got married so that is a big thing! We are going to miss him. It is like losing our dad here."
Joe tells me how it is fitting he ended up at Station 3 for his final shift.
"I worked out here at Station 3 as a fireman, and in my career as a Lt., I was mainly at this station so I spent many years here. When you are a Lt. you take ownership of it - you are responsible for it so it becomes your house. So it was kind of unique and fitting that I ended up back here for my last shift."
He remembers one stretch of time at Station 3 where he had 6 working structure fires, 6 shifts in a row.
“But the biggest memories I will leave with is the camaraderie we have here,” he says. “The things we do here, the things we say and the things we talk about. Not necessarily the calls, but what we do together. We are a real family. I will probably miss that most.”
Here is a slideshow of about 46 photos I took last night and this morning:
I came back to the fire house this morning around 6:30 am to videotape his big send-off. The tradition when one retires is for dispatch to sound all of the tones of each fire house in the county. Then each station pays their tribute one by one over the radio. Here Captain Joe Earman is honored at the end of his last shift with Indian River County Fire Rescue at 7 am on Friday November 6, 2015.
Thank you Captain for your service and your good, good heart!
Back when I did the Fire Rescue book, I nearly missed my first fire because I was home letting my cat out. "Once you come on duty, you CANNOT LEAVE," Toby Turner would say to me. So when I came back from my quick trip home and all the fire trucks were gone, I knew I had blown my chance. Until, that is, Ed Kuvlesky showed up and brought me to the fire just in the nick of time. Forever he will be my HERO for doing that. And just like then, I can still count on him now to point me in the right direction of a fire! He let me know IRC Fire Rescue was having Airport Disaster Training at the Vero Beach Airport, and so I showed up with my cameras.
I had the honor and pleasure of meeting and speaking with Mark Lee, the Aircraft Rescue Firefighting Specialist from the University of Missouri Extension Fire and Rescue Training Institute who was there in charge of the training. He explained the equipment they brought in all the way from Missouri to train our local firefighters.
"The University of Missouri Extension Fire and Rescue Training Institute operates the unit, which consists of a large 'airplane' with 400 gallons of propane on it that is pulled by a tractor, and a pickup truck which pulls a trailer for the spill pans for the fire on the ground. It's one big barbeque," he says with a laugh. "In fact, one time I wanted to set it up so we could grill burgers on it for the University of Missouri's Homecoming, but the Dean didn’t like that idea." He laughs again. I am always gullible when it comes to jokes and he is very convincing, so I don't know if he is kidding or not, but I appreciate his sense of humor and for indulging me with the interview!
"Missouri Department of Transportation owns it and the FAA helped pay for it with grant money," he adds.
He explains how they travel all over the country with the unit to train various fire departments. "We travel out of the FAA central region so we can make money to keep the unit operational since the whole unit is 1.6 million dollars."
"So we go out with three people and we all have commercial driver licenses for it with hazmat status. We came into Vero Beach yesterday, set up, now we are training today, and tomorrow we head back to Missouri and then on to Watertown, South Dakota."
The traveling is extensive. He tells me they just spent 9 days training in Kansas City and then lists cities in Kansas, Arkansas, Iowa, and Nebraska on their upcoming agenda.
So naturally I want to know more about him and his team.
"I am from Philipsburg, Montana," he says. "My uncle was in the Air Force and always was working with fire, and so right out of high school in 1975 I joined the Air Force and did 21 years in firefighting." He emphasizes '1975' like he is really old or something. I think, well I am not that far behind you!
"Then I wound up at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. I decided to look for a job and got an interview with University of Missouri and have been with them since 1996 doing this work. I like it. There are some places that are tougher than others. Indian River County is great. This group is good! Some places they don’t pay enough attention to safety but this group does."
He brings me over to meet team member Mark Briskow, who is directing the firetrucks to the burning aircraft. When we have a break, I ask him about his background.
"I retired from Central Jackson County Fire Department in Kansas City and so I have experience with aircraft and propane, and now that I am retired I have the flexibility and availability to go out with this unit."
As I watch the drills, Mark is right there in the middle of it, directing teams of firefighters to the correct spots, and making sure the training is done safely. Later on he gets into a all-silver suit which looks alot like a spacesuit.
Below is a slideshow of 22 photos of this part of the training:
Mark then takes me over to the 'cab' where Rick (drat I did not get his last name - I hope Mark will read this and tell me). Rick is busy running the equipment as the drills go on around us and it is loud in there, so Mark does the talking for him.
"Rick retired from the Springfield Missouri Fire Department where he was a Battalion Chief," says Mark. "His experience and the fact he is retired makes it possible for him to do this type of work and all the traveling. Also it's good we can get these retirees because they work cheap."
A pause, then a big laugh from both men.
"But seriously, we are gone for long stretches of time so this is the only way to have guys with this level of experience who are available to get up and go," says Mark.
It's time for them to suit up and get serious and for me to hang back and take photos of our IRC Fire Rescue guys (no gals there at that particular stretch of time I am there).
Below is a slideshow of 35 photos of the drill and of people watching:
On my run late this afternoon, I passed the spot where the car had been on fire at 1:30 am this morning. (AMAZINGLY, NO ONE WAS HURT. DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE, KIDS !!!!). There was no obvious sign of it, except to those who knew. I could clearly notice the oil slick, the bent street sign, the place where the car burned. I am honored to be an official volunteer of Indian River County Sheriff's Office, to have experienced a late night ride along last night with Sgt. Milo Thornton, to talk with the night shift deputies - including Mike A Ruiz, Andrew Sebris, and learn about what they do to keep us safe while we are sleeping. To cross paths with firefighter friends Jamie Coleman and Will Smith. What an experience! Below are the photos and please be sure to read about the experience under "SHERIFF" page, April 6 entry "Night Ride part 1".
1. a position or situation from which there is no escape; deadlock.
2. a road or way that has no outlet; cul-de-sac.
Synonyms - stalemate, standstill, standoff, dead end.
Look, I try to stay as far away from politics as possible. I quite possibly LIVE in rose-colored glasses, and I like to focus my reporting on the very best people have to offer. But after spending so much time with IRC Fire Rescue in 2013, and making lasting friendships, I wanted to come to the much-anticipated County Commission-Firefighters Impasse Hearing last week.
The highlight was seeing the many friends I made while doing the Fire Rescue book! I am grateful I decided back in 2013 to act on my desire to ride with them, learn about them, photograph them, and put it all into a book. I slipped in at exactly the right time to do a book, and I had the blessing of all parties. It was like a time of CAMELOT there, with Toby Turner in his last year, and many others who have since retired. Had I waited a year, I would not have been able to do the project! Hard to believe this time last year I was sitting at the Firefighters Fair selling the books. Since I funded the project out of my own pocket, I only had a small amount of books printed, and happily most sold and I was also able to give some to the community, schools, and the Little Free Library. I pretty much broke even, but the treasure I gained from the experience is limitless and priceless!
That time in my life for me was also certainly a CAMELOT time I will never forget. What remains is a nagging feeling that I rushed through it - I didn't realize how precious and fleeting it proved to be. I was scared and breaking out of my box and trying something MAJORLY NEW. I used to feel so nervous when it was time to report to Station 1 (I stayed where some of the mold is) and the freak-out feeling I had every single time I parked my car and walked through the garage and was alone with the fire engines and ambulance ... And as as soon as I walked in the fire house I was welcomed. Hindsight I really also needed that feeling of extended family and safety and goodness. I thank god for the opportunity. I am grateful.
Here is a slideshow of 61 photos:
The Vero Beach Volunteer Fire Department did an excellent job supporting local law enforcement with the recent STEP UP AMERICA HEROES APPRECIATION FESTIVAL starring the BAND PERRY.
From November 2013 to January 2014, I had the rare chance to become 'part of the crew' as a photographer and journalist with IRC Fire Rescue over the course of four months, and I put a book together about it called MY ADVENTURE WITH INDIAN RIVER FIRE RESCUE.