My Adventursome Career

My amazing career with Cal-Fire
This was the sholder patch in use at the time I was first hired in 1969. My first job with CDF/Cal-Fire. (l to r) Jim Stone, Tom Stein, Me, Marty Kosar, Danny King. Ryan Field Air-tanker Base Circa 1969 These are old WWII TBM Torpedo Bombers
B-17 taking off from Ryan Field on the way to a fire. Not my photo but typical action of the day. I think this was taken in the Beaumont, CA. The on shift crew at the Orange County Airport. There was a minimum staffing of 14 firefighters daily. This is a brand new engine, a Crown FIrecoach that I took for its first "Code III" run.
We still were using open cab fire engines. This one was I think a 1250 gpm. After 6 months as a Firefighter, I was promoted to Fire Apparatus Engineer and this is the first day of my new rank. This was "Crash 1" which was my assigned unit for the first shift. Not long after promoting, I attended the CDF Ione Fire Academy for Fire Apparatus Engineer training. I am the one in the back row just left of center, with nice black hair. Some training we were doing at the Orange County Airport.
A bit of a time-lapse of Eng-27 coming out of the house. Small scale firefighting with a fire on the wash rack and George Lind attacking with a pump can of Light Water. A fire in a propane delivery vehicle, yours truly is backing up the nozzle man. Where are are our turnouts? After working in Orange County for 2 years, I transfered to Riverside County and after a while, I transfered to the Temecula Station which is now Rancho California, CA. The two wild-land engines were very dirty from a recent fire. Both of them would be "spic and span" including underneath before the end of the day.
On scene a hay fire inside a barn. A photo I took in 1974 which got me some degree of notoriety as a photographer. To this day it stands as the best photo I ever took. After promoting to Captain and finishing probation, I resigned and moved my family to Oregon, a much too long a story for here. After starving out in Oregon, I sought reinstatement and was hired back as a Fire Apparatus Engineer in Butte County. My body was not used to all the pollen from the walnuts and almonds in the area, so, I had awful hay-fever as you can see from how puffy my face was. Around this time, our shoulder patch design changed twice.
In about 1979, I was reinstated back to Fire Captain at Transfer Point Station which was "off the grid" as they say. After about a year, I was transferred to Harts Mill Station which had this cool pond, a small waterfall and trout. Burning off the face of the Oroville Dam in the new 2183. Steve Nelson and Chuck Knectall in the photo. Another design change, the word "FIRE" was added. In 1986, I was "drafted" into the ECC - Emergency Communications Center which in common terms is "dispatch." I had a lot of interesting experiences while assigned here. Here I am with Nancy D. at the Ione Dispatchers School.
Yet another design change. In 1988 - I transferred to the Chico Air Attack Base where I would stay for the next 13 years. Paul and I even had our own trading card. For 11 of those fire seasons, this was my firefighting airplane. It was an X-Air Force O2-A. Which during the Vietnam War performed the job as forward air controm and target marking. Our plane even had a bullet hole.
We saw a lot of vintage aircraft come through the area. One winter, I got to fly from Chico to Chandler AR in Charlie 30. On airplane we got to tour aboard with the Martin Mars water-bomber. It was brought down from BC to fight a series of fires and here it was staying at Lake Oroville for a few days. For the last two years, this was our air attack aircraft - an OV-10 Bronco. What a remarkable machine and so well suited for the job of Air Attack Group Supervisor. Ensconced in the rear seat, I was "on the job."
The typical view of a fire from the Air Attack aircraft. Canal Fire - SE Oroville 1990? A close up of the previous shot. 4 homes burned during this fire. A fire taking off in Paradise. Held at 12 acres with no homes lost. In about 2001, I transfered to Salt Creek Camp which is west of Chico about 60 miles.
These are some of the great people I worked with during my time at the camp. This pile of gear is what I would take with me each day during the fire season. Our ECT's Emergency Crew Transports - lined up for a big inspection. On the way to the Harris Fire, passing this fire because it is not ours.
Harris Fire On the Harris fire in San Diego County - the faces have been changed to protect the guilty. Oh, BTW, we saved Santa from the fire. Pre burn clean-up around a home. On a burning project. The "Cap" with his multi tool and a big smile.
Mopping up in NE California. Taking a break on a fire near Susanville, CA. Middle of the night warming fire near Paradise, CA. After 32 years, I decided to retire and this is my wife and retirement clock. On the wall hangs a rug that my mother made me. I donated it to the Salt Creek Training room.
After being retired, there were good reasons to go back to work so I was hired back at the same camp, Salt Creek. Yet another patch change, I really like the retro design of this one. Back on the job, on a fire near South Lake Tahoe in 2007. Burning out on the Harris Fire after being up all night.
Fire East of Chico A bit of saw training near Salt Creek. On a fire near the coast, yep, that is the ocean out there. 2008 Year of the big snow - Salt Creek
We went over to Valley View Camp to help them get rid of snow. There had been so much, there was no space left to get it off the roof. Lots of snow - Valley View Camp. Storm damage cleanup at the Chico Air Attack Base. Thanksgiving day 2007, on a beach near Malibu where we are on standby for fire weather.
On a fire near Malibu, CA. Cutting hand-line near Malibu, CA. USFS fire near Paskenta, CA. It went to several thousand acres. The fire near Paskenta, I was assigned the "camp engine" with a few inmates to help out.
Paskenta Fire. It looked bad, and it was. FIre near Watsonville, CA. Lightning moved through the area during the mop-up of this fire and started over 1600 fires in northern California. Cutting line on the "Rim" fire in Butte County. This line did not hold. This was my last day on the line and the next to the last day of my career. The following day, I turned in my gear and wrapped up some computer projects and that was it.
I would give my 34 year career with CDF/Cal-Fire two thumbs up. I cannot comprehend any career that would be so filled with adventure and excitement and I thank the good Lord for His protection and help during my career.