Sunday, December 20, 2009

Santa 2009

Every year, starting clear back before I joined the Redway fire department, (Joined in 1973) Santa has been hauled around town on the old American LaFrance fire engine. Nobody is sure when the tradition started, but I remember when I was a kid the Old Lafrance and Santa would make the rounds in Redway.

In all of the years that I have been one of Santa's helpers we have never been rained out. We have had rain before and after, and some days we've had light rain, several times we've had freezing cold, or windy weather, but we've never been rained out. Several years we had large beach umbrellas up to stave off the mist, but nope... never been rained out!

The Photo card at the top is By Kim Sallaway. The pretty woman at Santa's side is Yvonne, Kim's helper.

This is how you back up the LaFrance. You set the hand throttle, shift into reverse, then let the clutch out. When the truck starts to move backwards, you step out on the running-board and steer the truck backwards. The truck moves at about one-mile per hour.
Photo of me, Ernie, driving. By Pete Genolio.

There are so many kids at the Orchard Street Apartments that Santa got off the truck to talk to them and ask what they wanted for Christmas. The speaker system on the escort truck was playing loud Christmas music. The kids found it to be very amusing when Santa broke out dancing to Jingle Bell Rock. It broke the ice for the little True-Santa-Believers, and instead of being so painfully shy, they were willing to ask him for what they wanted for Christmas.
Photo by Ernie's cell phone

Photo by Pete Genolio's cell phone.

After all of the candy canes were passed out, we sent Santa Back to the North Pole, and parked the LaFrance. We all went home and put on our best clothes and met back at the Redway Fire Hall for a Christmas dinner and party. We ate, made speeches, past out awards, did Karaoke, and danced until the new day was upon us.
Merry Christmas!

Post by Ernie, Redway Firefighter.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Willits pays their respect for Fire Chief Jeff Smith

Photo by Elaine, Willits Daily photo blog. Click on photo to enlarge.

The best thing that you can say about Jeff Smith is that, he was a Fire Chief.

Jeff Smith obituary

According to Elaine of the Willits Daily photo blog, ." When I positioned myself to catch the action near the Willits Arch, I had no idea how moved I would be by the sight of the black cross, pulled by three draft horses. Then, even more, by the long line of silent, flashing fire trucks, knowing how respected he was by so many who knew him so long."

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Willits firefighter training facility

Please click on photo to enlarge.
Photo by Elaine; from Willits Daily Photo blog.

Willits firefighter training facility
This is a photo of the Willits California Little Lake Fire Department training tower. It is made up of five modified cargo containers. The containers are perfect for tower construction, they are already made to stack and lock together. The possibilities are endless as far as training scenarios go. Furniture and smoke can be added, and training for five story rescue can be implemented. The stairway on the outside is for training officers to view the students progress and an escape as an mechanism.

I called the Little Lake Fire Department and asked the training officer, Carl Magann, about the 6000 lb blocks. I had guessed correctly, but I didn’t want to commit to my opinion of what they are used for. The blocks are used for urban rescue training exercises. They move the blocks around with their equipment to get the firefighters used to using moving large objects safely.

They place the blocks for a training situation and the firefighters have to move them to a different place safely, without harming anyone or anything. The trick is redundancy. Nothing is moved without back-up. Firefighters use jacks, air bag lifts, hydraulic rams and jacks, but they always back up what they do with cribbing so nothing can slip. A back-up system is always in place.Anyone that has looked in a newspaper has seen the large blocks of concrete that are scattered about after a building or bridge collapse. Remember the Cypress Structure Bridge in Oakland after the Loma Prieta earthquake? The firefighters are using those blocks for that kind of training.

The town of Willits is very lucky to have such high quality training facilities, and such well trained personnel. The town has state of the art firefighter training. As a firefighter I am envious!

Ernie Branscomb

More recent news on area fire departments:
Cresent City Ca fire dept.
Eureka Ca fire dept.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Photo and card by, Kim Sallway.
The Redway Fire Department with Santa, Saturday before Chistmas. Santa was making a list and Checking it twice. That's me On the lower left. Pete Genolio, and Aroura Studebaker. The mystery answer is Mark Martin. Fun was had by all. we saw more kids this year than we have in years.

The photo of Aroura looks like she may have gotten her share of candy canes also. I wondered why we almost ran out!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Our nieghbors to the south.

Ukiah Valley Fire District gets new fees approved
By ROB BURGESS The Daily Journal
Article Last Updated: 07/23/2008 12:04:37 AM PDT

Based on new development

Larger-scale development in the Ukiah Valley Fire District will come with a new cost thanks to an action of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
A 39-cent per square foot fire protection mitigation fee was approved unanimously during the board's regular board meeting.
Dan Grebil, UVFD chief, said the responsibilities of the district are continuing to grow.
"The district provides protection to about 80 square miles outside of Ukiah," he said. "We received 1,020 calls for service last year. We are a single-purpose district -- fire protection."
Grebil said every square foot added in the district was another square foot the district was responsible for.
"Whether your position is no growth, slow growth or pro growth, it is fair that new development pay for this fire protection," he said. "We looked at various potential fees for growth. We've lumped it into one rate. Any new added square footage is an incremental impact to the district."
Grebil said smaller-scale buildings would be spared from the new fee structure.
"We exempted accessory buildings to the fees," he said. "Each parcel is exempt up to 500 square feet of addition. We won't even see permits for repair and maintenance. We will see remodeling and additions to structures permits."
Third District Supervisor John Pinches said he was concerned about other fire districts in the county being left out of potential new sources of income that could spring from new fees.
"If this is good for Ukiah Valley (Fire District) why isn't this good for the rest of the fire districts in the county?" he asked.
Jeanine Nadel, county counsel, said the cost of hiring a consultant to bring the issue forward is too much for most districts.
"Every fire district has the ability to do what UVFD has done," she said. "They're all aware that they can do this."
Grebil said other fire districts in the county would greatly appreciate the funds, but didn't have the capital to make the initial investment.
"It will take us 625,000 square feet of new development to recoup consultant fees," he said. "The amount of the money to do the study is not worth it for some districts. They're all entitled to it. Ask them if they're flush with money they'll say no' with some expletives added on the end."
Before the item was passed unanimously, Board Chair and 2nd District Supervisor Jim Wattenburger said he supported the proposal and urged his fellow board members to vote likewise.
"Every fire district, if they had the ability, would have to come forward and ask for approval," he said. "Some will never be able to do that. Some will and others will follow in quick succession after this district. I am not a great believer in fees, but I would vote for this fee every day of the week compared with some of the others that are being shoved down our throats by the state. It was conducted and conceived on a local, autonomous basis. I think this a correct direction for the board to be moving in."
Rob Burgess can be reached at

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Now it begins!

I'm going to just keep adding to this post as the barbecue progresses. So don't think you've seen it all until I tell you. Or 'til the fat lady sings!

This is the kitchen crew simmering down the thirty-two gallons of sauce. From the back left is Jim Hoeffer, Pete Genolio with the canoe padle stirring the sauce. In the middle row left is Jayce Snodgrass and Aurora Studebaker. In the front row demoing the can opener is Kayla, she belongs to Aurora. She is a real sweety and a real handful, but she is actually a lot of help. The Kitchen crew also made three gallons of the chilli dry-rub that goes on the Buffalo and the beef.

Not shown is yours truly, Ernie. I was taking the picture. The rest of the crew was out back unloading the silt that we use to cover the pits. Tomorrow night I will be more responsible and take more pictures... that is if I can get people to stand still long enough.

The meat wrapping crew

The man in Burgundy shirt shirt in front is our former fire chief, Ed Brady, who now travels the world anywhere that he doesn't have to fly on a plane. The man with the spicy fingers is our current Fire Chief, Brian Anderson. The man standing beside him is Tom Willis. The man with the antique wrist watch is Jim Hoeffer. The man just beside him is Pete Genolio. The man with the tan hat is Patrick Dowd, of the world famous Dowd family. The man way in back with his hands in the victory vee is Vern Snodgrass. To the left of him in back is Scott Trombola. And last is the assistant chief, putting the final tie on a package of meat, Roger Ralsten.

Carnitas just dropped in the pan to sizzle!

The Chief's truck, and Our newest truck across the street Utility 5841

This is me, Ernie Branscomb, last Christmas. I'm the one in the middle. I just wanted to have my picture with the rest of the group.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Redway responds to sewage/fuel spill.

The Redway Fire department responded to the scene of a sewage spill at hooker creek. The truck went off the freeway, over the bank, and landed sideways on Hooker Creek Road, broke in two behind the cab, spun around and slid down the riprap. It stopped with the drivers side front wheel in the water. The driver climbed out the passenger window, and was uninjured except for a cut on his left hand.

About two thousand gallons of sewage, plus fifty gallons diesel fuel went in the river.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Redway Fire Department Gave Santa a ride.

Thank's To Pete and Niki Genolio we've got some great pictures for our blogsite. For those of you who are old enough to read between the lines, It was Garberville Firefighter Shawn Studebaker. The person usually chosen to do the job is the first one to join the fire department that hasn't done it yet. Which would have been Shawn's wife, Aurora, who is a Redway firefighter. Somehow she talked Shawn into taking her place. As it turned out it was good that she was able to get a replacement, because she was off helping a girlfriend deliver a baby. One of the things that I like about fire departments, is they get to be around a lot of "real life" situations. It doesn't get anymore real than having a baby! For more photos of Shawn and his new bride, see the posting below this one.
We ran into a lot of true-believers...
And some make-believers... She only wanted a Corvette, that seems reasonable!
It seemed like there were way more kids in town this year, which is great for the Fire Department, because taking Santa around is one of the happiest things that we do, for the town and us!
Fred, Carolyn, and Ernie share a cup of tea.
There were a lot of kids came up out of the new Orchard street apartments, we were there for a while.
Chief Anderson, Ernie and Tom develop a pre-plan.
This little girl was not going to go anywhere near Santa unless momma was there, then she developed a pretty long list of "necessities"
Melanie, Santa,and a true-believer. "Uhh, Mom... I left my list at home, can you go get it""
Chief Brian Anderson, Passenger; Assistant Chief Roger Ralsten Driver. "Rudolf" and "Blitzen" guide the old '37 LaFrance, it takes two people to steer it.
Santa did a great job! We had very few kids that he couldn't charm!
I think that these two were in it for the candy canes, this is about their third trip!

Taking Santa around Redway on the Fire truck is a tradition that goes back to sometime in the fifties, where a man by the name of J.P. Rusk started it. He was one of the original framers of the Redway fire department , and he was big on Santa. The tradition stuck, and as far as anyone knows, we've never missed a year. It is one of the most special things that can ever be witnessed. Some kids are terrified, and some others run toward him with their arms open like he was their favorite person in the world. Maybe He is! Anyway, it is one of the most rewarding things that we do in the town of Redway. That is, other than a nice stop on what might have been a tragic fire.

By the time we got back to the Firehall it was pouring down rain and dark. But what a great day!!!

It seemed like we had about twice as many kids this year, and I don't know why, but it sure made it fun. We had people chasing us down the street and one person even went to Garberville to pick up her kids to see Santa!

Later that night we had our annual Christmas Party. We parked all of the fire-trucks in a local garage. We decorated the fire hall so it was quite festive, complete with fireplace and Christmas Tree. I had a cut of prime-rib that must have weighted a pound, complete with all the trimming's. Then we danced to the "Roadmasters" until midnight. My wife hasn't been up that late for years. She even danced to "Night-Riders in the Sky", and she used to say that she doesn't like County and Western music. They are a great band and can please any crowd. J.P. Rusk's widow, Evelyn, who will soon be one-hundred, was up dancing to the Music. She attends our party every year as one of the founders of the Redway Fire Department.

The some of the rest of the firefighters were in the following support vehicle. And there were some back decorating the fire-hall. There Is a hint of another truck with us in one of the photo's. Everyone was it complete turn-outs, and ready for a fire, except one noticeable exception, apparently he didn't now it was going to rain.

If you want to make a comment, Click on this line. then click "anonymous" because its easier, then click "publish your comment". Do it!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Redway firefighter marries Garberville firefighter

Redway firefighter Aurora Van Doorn married Garberville Firefighter Shawn Studebaker at the Kieth and Trudy Bowman park on the Humboldt Mendocino county line.

The photographs that are on this page are all by Janis Branscomb who is very proud of her new camera. She said that Shawn and Aurora are such a handsome couple that she couldn’t go wrong. The photographs turned out better than we expected. And I have put a few up here for all to enjoy. The wedding was well attended and the couple have many friends that wished them well and shared their celebration.

The Redway fire fighters that delivered the bride to the wedding site on the 1937 American LaFrance fire engine were, Redway Fire Chief Brian Anderson, Assistant Chief Roger Ralsten, and firefighters Pat Dowd and Ernie Branscomb. The bagpipe music was beautiful and it sounded right at home in the forrest location.

I will be writing more but I wanted to get the photo’s up for all to see.

PLEASE CLICK ON ANY PHOTO AND IT WILL BECOME FULL SIZE, Janis wanted me to be sure to tell you that.