16 July 2006

Your tax dollars at work. The right way.

Yesterday we went for a drive. It was going to be in the 112-115 degree level at home, so we decided to get closer to the coast. We by way of the Ortega's. Stopping at the view point above Lake Elsinore we shot a few pics and some video. As you can easily see the picture is filled with smoke. Smoke from the Yucaa Valley and Millard Canyon fires.

It was a smoke filled day, and will be for the next week most likely, in the Inland Empire. My nephew is working the fires. I live in a city that has a base for the arial bombers that work fires. It is as glamorous a job as it appears in the movie Always. It's hot, dirty work. Work that you must be trained to do. That you must be willing to be part of a team to do. There are no soloists on this team of brave people. Everyone knows that their job is as important as everyone elses. That the job you do is integral to the success of saving lives or puttin gout fires. Even if you stay on the ground and at the airport all day and never see a flame. Not one of them leaves work without knowing they made a huge contribution. What a great way to do a job.

I am posting a few of the pictures I shot at the airport last evening. There are a lot more on flickr.

air strike.JPG

This is the most famous view from the sky in our area. Hemet Ryan Air Attack has been around
forever. Our valley is well known for our fire fighting pilots and ground team.

calif fire season.JPG

Coming in to land. A good shot between the palms.

on approach.JPG

Turning base. When a plane comes in on appraoch they circle the valey and then turn base to land.

taxi-ing in.JPG

He's landed and taxi-ing toward the fill area. This is just one of many planes that will repeat the process throughout the day.

fill 'er up.JPG

The plane has now manuevered himself into position to be filled with fire retardant.

ready to pump.JPG

The ground tech fills the plane with Phos-chek. It is a liquid protein used to retard fires.

off to fight fire.JPG

Filled and ready to go in five minutes. That is the most incredible thing about the operation. If you go to flickr and review all the photos, you'll see #83 on approach, landing, being filled and taking off again in the span of 10 minutes. There is no wasted time in fire fighting. These guys do their jobs well and with accuracy.

On another note, the planes came in and went out in about an hour's time. Possibly shorter than that while I was there. Not one of the planes took on fuel. The hold is filled with retardant, the wings are filled with fuel. Incredible.

Where we're fighting.JPG

This is the team plan. There is a map of the fire. Where each plane will need to fly in, drop the retardant and get out, safely and as quickly as possible. There was a group of people in the observation area watching the planes land, fill and take off. It was a beautiful dance to some. These are the heros of the valley. Every one of them. Because of them, my nephew's job gets done. The firefighters on the ground work in conjunction with them to get the fire out as quickly as they possibly can.

It puts my day at the beach in stark contrast.