Gardening on a Shoestring

by Admin 22. May 2012 03:39

Echinacea grown from seedBy: Eliza Osborn

Gardening is a hobby that is time consuming and can get expensive. But it doesn’t have to cost a lot. There are many ways to have a beautiful garden without spending much money. Shoestring gardening can be done easily, following these simple tips and gardening how-to’s.

Most of my garden was created by shoestring gardening. I grew some perennials and biennials from seeds. All of our Purple Cone Flowers (Echinacea) were grown from one packet of seed, which took a little longer but I sure got a lot of plants for $1.89. The Foxglove (Digitalis) growing all through our garden came from one seed packet. Both of these plants reseed themselves, as do many other beautiful flowers.

Some of the other flowers I’ve grown from seeds are Delphiniums, Zinnias, Cosmos and Hollyhocks.

This is just one way to have plenty of flowers without spending a lot of money.

Growing fresh vegetables from seed is super easy and cheap, cheap, cheap. Check out more ways to garden on a shoestring and have a beautiful, productive garden.


Thank you and happy planting!

FireIce Academy Is Back In Session...

by Admin 3. May 2012 04:17

Hey FireIce bloggers!!

Undoubtedly the vast majority of rescue incidents are vehicle extrications. Performing a good scene size up is essential to accomplishing a safe and efficient extrication operation.

It is imperative to assess the condition of the vehicle and before any extrication activities begin, Stabilize the vehicles involved.

Inexperienced rescuers must be trained to resist the temptation of pulling or pushing a vehicle while on its side or roof as a means of determining if the vehicle is stable or not.

Whether its Pneumatic air bags, ropes, chains, jacks, cribbing or webbing rescuers should use whatever means are available to stabilize the vehicle.

When using any stabilization method, rescuers must take great care to avoid placing any part of their bodies under the vehicle while placing devices.

Once the vehicles are stable then rescue operations and gaining access to victims can be achieved safely. Stay Safe!

By Rob Rosovich, Fire Protection Engineer

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Categories: FireIce | GelTech Solutions

Cheap Gardening – Beautiful Flowers Don’t Have To Cost A Fortune

by Admin 3. May 2012 03:49

Cosmos grown from seed.By: Eliza Osborn

When we bought our house 2 years ago, we removed almost all of the lawn, leaving only the parking strip in the front and a small patch of lawn on each side of the front walkway. That left a lot of empty space to fill. Even allowing for the future deck, grape arbor, raised vegetable beds, fruit trees and garden paths, there were still a lot of empty flower beds.

Since plants cost so much, especially perennials and shrubs, we had to figure out the least expensive ways to get the plants we wanted.

We planted some of our perennials from seeds, like Purple Cone Flower (Echinacea), Foxglove (Digitalis), Canterbury Bells (Campanula) and Delphiniums. It takes longer to get mature plants and blooms, but you sure get a lot of plants for your money. All of these did really well and come back each year.

Most of our flower beds are filled with roses and perennials, the majority of which were bought this time of year (Sep. & Oct.) when they had been marked down 50-75% because it’s near the end of the growing season and merchants want to get rid of them.

Some of the ones we bought looked pretty sad after a long, hot summer in a pot, but because they were perennials, it didn’t matter. I knew that if we got them in the ground and took good care of them that next Spring they would come back out and be beautiful.

So check out the garden centers and nurseries, don’t forget to check grocery stores that carry plants. Online nurseries also have some great deals because they are also trying to get rid of their stock before winter. It doesn’t matter if the plant is a little ratty looking, as long as it’s alive. This only applies to perennials, not annuals, which will die at the end of the season anyway.

A good source of free plants is from friends who have mature plants that need dividing. This is such a good source of plants because if a plant needs to be divided then you know that it grows well in your area.

Taking cuttings from plants and rooting, then potting them, is another good source of free plants.

Have an idea of the size of the space you’re trying to fill and read the plant labels to see if it’s a good fit. Perennials look good in groups of 3, 5 or 7 plants.

Use markers with the plants’ names and stick them in the ground where you plant them, because when they die down in the winter it might be hard to remember what you planted and where.

Not doing that is why I have some mystery plants in my garden that I hope to learn the name of one day.

Until your shrubs and perennials mature and reach their full size you’ll have room to plant annual seeds such as Zinnias, Cosmos, Bachelor Buttons and Marigolds. I’ve used these to fill in the spaces and they make great cutting flowers. Save the seeds from these and you’ll never have to buy seeds again.

You can have such a wonderful yard and not spend much money, just track down those bargains, don’t be afraid to plant seeds and make some good gardening friends who like to share.

Thank you and happy planting!

FireIce Academy is back in session FireIce Bloggers..

by Admin 11. April 2012 06:41

This fire has a huge head start on you and size up for this would be an ongoing process gathering current and expected weather conditions and observing the fire behavior as it occurs. Always know what the Watch Out Situations are and start implementing the protocols to prevent them. Classify the fire (What class of fire is it or how big is it) and get the additional support you need.

While life safety and protecting property is important to every firefighter as an officer it is YOUR responsibility to ensure the safety of your crew (Everyone Goes Home). Know and implement the Standard Fire Orders, if you don’t know what these are Google them… Also get out your copy of the Fireline Handbook by NWCG you’re going to need it as a reference. Always remember LCES (Lookouts, Communications, Escape Routes, and Safety Zones)…

Utilize the knowledge you have of the area to do a pre-incident size up, think and plan for expected life hazards, immediate water supply, and access/egress routes, etc. Locate a safe area to establish command and staging for arriving personnel and equipment. Don’t just keep these things in your head write them down and communicate these things to your crew and dispatch. Communications is an essential key! Make sure every member of your crew and dispatch clearly understands what you are saying and have them repeat it back to you if necessary. Once support personnel begins to arrive transfer command over to a more experienced officer that can continue to manage the situation.

Stay Safe!

By Rob Rosovich, Fire Protection Engineer

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Categories: FireIce | GelTech Solutions

Where to start? – How To Plan a Garden, How To Plant a Garden – How To Be a Gardener

by Admin 11. April 2012 05:01

Back yard in 2009, before garden planted, arbor and deck builtBy: Eliza Osborn

I’m trying to decide whether to begin at the end or the beginning of our garden. Maybe I’ll just jump back and forth.

In 2009 we’d bought a very old home in the Rocky Mountains (zone 5b-6a) and had taken up most of our lawn. I didn’t mention that we also took down four huge trees and many large, old shrubs. You can imagine what a mess our yard looked. But…we had a plan.

Here is a picture of our yard when we began laying it out. The big crater is where a large stump was ground out and where the Queen Elizabeth roses now stand beside the deck. You can see 2 of the 5 little peach trees planted early that spring. The small one on the end is stunted because deer ate the top out of it when it first put on leaves.

I think the neighbors were a little worried about the nut jobs that had moved in next door. It did look pretty bad but we did put up a privacy fence to protect their eyes. Of course the picket fence in the front yard didn’t hide very much and the front yard looked this bad too.

Thank you and happy planting!

Firefighter Safety Tips...

by Admin 4. April 2012 10:14

Protect those eyes!On average firefighters sustain approximately 660 eye injuries per year!!

Of which 535 are minor and 125 as classified as moderate to severe...

90% of eye injuries are Preventable... Stay Safe!

By Rob Rosovich, Fire Protection Engineer

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Categories: FireIce | GelTech Solutions

Growing Your Own Food Is Easy With a Vegetable Garden

by Admin 4. April 2012 09:59

Raised vegetable bed ready for plantingBy: Eliza Osborn

Vegetable gardens are popping up all over the place. Next summer, notice how many people are carving out a little portion of their yard to start a garden to grow some of their own food. I remember back in the 40′s and 50′s small kitchen gardens were the norm, along with a few fruit trees.

It really doesn’t take much space to grow a few vegetables, vegetables that tastes so much better than anything you can buy in the store. The good news is that it doesn’t take a lot of know how either. A little research on the things you want to grow, and you will be a gardener before you know it. If you happen to live where there really is no room for a garden, then grow some things in containers. The containers don’t have to be fancy, they just have to be big enough that the roots will have plenty of room and big enough that there is plenty of soil so that it doesn’t need watering every hour. Good drainage is a must. Boards nailed together to make grow boxes, or barrels cut in half and holes drilled in the bottom will work.

Growing your own vegetables can be a fun family project. Let the kids choose vegetables to plant and help them to learn how to take care of their own plants. I noticed that my children ate vegetables out of the garden so much better than ones from the freezer. I think it was because they had part in planting, weeding, watering and harvesting them.

Times are tough for a lot of families right  now and buying a few packets of seeds might be a really good investment. As the winter months drag on and we plan for the spring and summer, consider giving the vegetable garden a shot.

Raised beds in in front of grape vines on fence in August
Even though I’ve been gardening for so many years, it still amazes me that we can take a little seed, put it in the dirt, and it will make food for us. Isn’t that just amazing?

Thank you and happy planting!

Five questions to sharpen your firefighting skills...

by Admin 28. March 2012 09:53

Hey FireIce Bloggers! FireIce Academy is back in session…

Safe firefighting practices are passed down from Ole Salty Dog Veterans to the Rookies by setting good examples on the fire ground, talking about scenes and scenarios, and explaining to the Rookie the Do’s and Don’ts.

Firefighting techniques are universal and are the same regardless where you fight fires. SOP’s may vary, but technique, safety, and safe operating procedures on the fire ground are the same.

Here are 5 questions that may help sharpen your skills!

Answers follow at the bottom…

1) Which one of the following is an incorrect answer?

A) When stretching a hose line to an upper floor of a building, do not pass a floor on fire unless a charged hoseline is in position on that floor.

B) Notify your officer when going above a fire to search for victims or vertical extension.

C) When climbing or descending a stairway between the fire floor and the floor above stay close to and face the stairwell. Heat, smoke, and flame rise vertically up the stairwell.

D) If you enter a smoke- and heat-filled room, hallway, or apartment above a fire and suspect flashover conditions behind you, locate a second exit, a window leading to a fire escape or portable ladder, before initiating the search.

2) Which one of the following is an incorrect answer?

A) At any collapse, stretch a hoseline and charge it to protect possible victims and rescuers from sudden explosion and flash fire.

B) Shut off all utilities-gas, electric, and water-immediately upon arrival at a building collapse. Do not wait for the utility company.

C) Heavy mechanical equipment, such as cranes and bulldozers, should be used to remove collapsed portions of a building while hand digging is being done nearby.

D) Parts of a structure that are in danger of collapsing during a rescue operation should be shored up, remove with a crane but never pulled down by firefighters below.

3) Which one of the following is the correct answer?

A. The firefighter's best protection against injury and death by a fall during overhaul is a properly charged flash-light.

B) The most potentially, dangerous area of local floor collapse inside a burned out residence building is the bathroom. The weight of a firefighter is enough to trigger the collapse of a fire damaged bathroom floor.

C) If flames are discovered still burning at a gas meter or broken pipe after a fire has been knocked down, extinguish the flame.

D) Full protective clothing-including mask face piece must be in place before a firefighter approaches a 20-pound propane cylinder to shut off the control valve when a small flame is burning at an outlet. There is a danger of the relief valve suddenly activating, creating a fireball that could engulf the firefighter.

4) True or False? When the wind frequently changes direction during a brushfire operation, the safest area from which to attack the fire is outside the blackened, burned-out area.

5) Arrange the priorities for removing a victim from a burning building, from best to least desired.

A) Fire Escape

B. Smoke Proof Tower

C) Aerial Platform

D) Aerial Ladder

E) Interior Enclosed Stairway
 
1) C – Is not a correct answer and will get you hurt or killed.

The correct answer is “When climbing or descending a stairway between the fire floor and the floor above, stay close to and face the WALL. Heat, smoke, and flame rise vertically up the stairwell.

2) C – Is not a correct answer and will get you hurt or killed.

The correct answer is ”Heavy mechanical equipment, such as cranes and bulldozers, should NOT be used to remove collapsed portions of a building while hand digging is being done nearby. Parts of a structure that are in danger of collapsing during a rescue operation should be shored up, remove with a crane but never pulled down by firefighters below or firefighters operating in the area.”

3) A – Is a correct answer a firefighter's best protection against injury and death by a fall during overhauling is a properly charged flash-light. No firefighter should respond to a fire without a personal light.

B - Is a correct answer the most potentially, dangerous area of local floor collapse inside a burned out residence building is the bathroom. The weight of a firefighter is enough to trigger the collapse of a fire damaged bathroom floor.

C – Is not a correct answer and will get you hurt or killed.

The correct answer is if flames are discovered still burning at a gas meter or broken pipe after a fire has been knocked down, do not extinguish the flame. Let the fire burn, protect the exposures with a hose stream, and alert command that the gas has to be shut off at a street control valve.

D – Is a correct answer and full protective clothing-including mask face piece must be in place before a firefighter approaches a 20-pound propane cylinder to shut off the control valve when a small flame is burning at an outlet. There is a danger of the relief valve suddenly activating, creating a fireball that could engulf the firefighter.

4) Is False and the correct answer is when the wind frequently changes direction during a brushfire operation, the safest area from which to attack the fire is the blackened, burned-out area.

When moving through brush during a fire, the firefighter should raise a tool or arm in front of his face as he moves forward to avoid injury by shrubbery, pointed needles, sharp leaves, or abrasive vines. Firefighters walking behind the lead firefighter should space themselves several feet apart to avoid whipping branches or leaves.

You should never enter cattails or brush that is over your head and reduces your vision. If the wind changes, you are in danger of being engulfed by fire in the brush.

Studies show that firefighters are most often killed and injured at small brushfires in isolated portions of larger fires. They are not killed by large timberland forest fires.

Firefighters are burned to death trying to outrun brush fires, or they are engulfed in flames when a brushfire suddenly flares up around them. Firefighters should attack a brushfire from the flanks-the sides of the fire area between the head, the edge along which the fire is advancing, and the rear.

The three most common injuries to firefighters during brush firefighting are eye injuries, falls, and heat exhaustion. Eye shields must be worn. Firefighters should walk on roads or well-traveled paths when possible.

5) The priorities for removing a victim from a burning building are, from highest to lowest, smoke proof tower, interior enclosed stairway, safe fire escape, aerial platform, aerial ladder or B-E-A-C-E.
We started off FireIce Academy by saying “Safe firefighting practices are passed down from Ole Salty Dog Veterans to the Rookies by setting good examples on the fire ground.”

By Rob Rosovich, Fire Protection Engineer

Photo Courtesy of Paul Combs: http://www.artstudioseven.com/index.htm

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Categories: FireIce | GelTech Solutions

Spring Clean Up Of Perennial Beds Underway…At Last!

by Admin 28. March 2012 09:44

Flower bed by south gate all cleaned outBy: Eliza Osborn

Underneath all of that old, dead debris from the winter, green life is pushing its way up. It’s amazing how much growth has taken place. It won’t be long before everything is getting big and setting buds for spring and summer blooms.

I cleared the asparagus bed and was amazed to see asparagus spears already appearing. It must be this mild season we’re having. Bad timing for us since we’re about to leave on vacation, I guess I can get someone to harvest the spears for me so they will keep coming. Since this is the fourth year on the plants, maybe we can get a few weeks of cuttings when we return home.


Flower bed by south gate all cleaned out
The peonies are coming up and the roses and many other perennials are leafing out. The apricot, peach and aprium trees are in bloom. Even though I have only a few hyacinths, they are in full bloom, as are the daffodils.

I lost a lot of tulip blooms to the deer last year and so this year I’m trying to protect them with some mesh. I noticed today that they have chomped down the tulips in the front flower bed that I hadn’t covered, but the covered ones are still looking good.

Once I’ve finished with all this not-so-fun clean up, then maybe I’ll get to sit back and enjoy watching the garden come to life.

Thank you and happy planting!

Switching To A Higher Gear

by Admin 22. March 2012 07:03

I have covered the major fire suppression agents in previous articles and have tried to be as neutral as possible in those presentations. However, I have to admit that I am quite partial to gel agents (particularly FireIce). Now, what I will not do is tell you that other products are terrible or ineffective. They have purpose and a place/time to be used. There is no disputing that fact. I do believe that there are some rather shoddy products out there that I would prefer not utilize (and frankly would rather use straight water than to waste time on those products). Will I tell you what they are? NO. I’m not here to bash anyone else’s product. What I am here to do is to educate Firefighters on how to properly deploy a gel agent and make it work for you.

Utilizing FireIce as a suppression agent is quite easy. Do you have to change how you fight fire? Absolutely not! Can you change how you fight fire? YES you can! As this article progresses, we will discuss how we can change what we are doing, when utilizing FireIce.

We have all been taught the infamous T, Z and O patterns for nozzle operation. Many have learned how to be effective with a solid stream, while others may not have had that opportunity. These methods do not necessarily have to change when adding FireIce to the operation. However, there are a few nuances that can be employed.

FireIce can be utilized with ANY stream pattern (fog, straight, or solid). We have found, in our own testing, that the straight or solid stream is the stream of choice. Fortunately, the fire service has begun its movement away from wide fog patterns within enclosed areas, opting for the decreased steam production of a tight stream. Wide-angle streams break down very rapidly in high-heat environments and create a LOT of steam (which generally tends to displace firefighters more than anything else). The formulation of FireIce allows us to use a narrow- angle fog pattern without creating the steam-bath that straight water or even foam streams produce. So, no matter what you are used to using (stream-wise), FireIce is just as effective.

How about those flow-rates?

Well, guess what? That doesn’t change either! You can utilize the nozzle, hose, and normal GPM, pump and nozzle pressures that you already utilize. That makes implementation of the product that much easier! We are not re-inventing the wheel. We’re just enhancing its performance!

We discussed in the last article (Changing Gears, part IV), how a gel product works, so I won’t duplicate that information here. What I will attempt to do is introduce you to the tactics of using FireIce gel and help you understand how it is slightly different than the norm.

I know what you are thinking: “You said we don’t have to change anything.” Well, you really

don’t have to. It’s a choice. However, if you want to get the “full” benefit of a gel, your tactics will have to change slightly.

Your stream application will be the same. The difference is…..you won’t have to use as much water to accomplish the same end result.

Now….hold on a minute…don’t get the lynching mob together just yet! I know that you have had EVERY salesman of EVERY new product you have seen tell you the exact same thing. Right? Yeah, I’ve gotten those sales pitches too! Some of them are true…some…..not so much.

You have to remember how a gel works. Rather than the molecules of water being separated, decreasing the surface tension, as with a foam product (which means you will still have water rapidly evaporate into steam or just run off the burning material), FireIce binds the water molecules together into a gel form, making them stick to the burning material and absorb the heat. FireIce will “coat” the burning materials, as well as the other surfaces that are off- gassing and preparing to ignite. This action allows the product to absorb the heat at the source AND prevent further off-gassing of nearby materials (which will eventually lead to flashover). Therefore, once the agent has been applied to the burning area, you can shut off the nozzle!

The application/tactic is very simple. When advancing to the fire, if you encounter rolling flames, at the ceiling, simply coat the ceiling and upper walls. You will prevent them from off- gassing, as well as cool the overhead. Continue advancing to the seat of the fire. Once the seat is in stream-range, utilize whatever pattern you like on the burning materials in short burst. Look at it this way. Do a quick knock-down of the fire, shut off the nozzle, wait a second for your visibility to return and if you see more flames, re-apply the product in another short burst.

This is not an extreme change of tactics, however, it is slightly different than going in and discharging 125-150GPM like a wild-man and hoping for the best. I have seen that tactic used on hundreds of fires. Water will evaporate, run off or just never make it to the actual “seat” of the fire. Foam products will do the same thing (for the most part). Foam is slightly better than straight water but only slightly. FireIce actually enhances the properties that water inherently possesses, rather than break it down.

Generally speaking, we call this tactic “painting”. If you think of it in those terms, it may make more sense. If you are painting something, do you just go crazy with the paint? No. You “coat” the object you are painting with short, sweeping burst! Otherwise, you will have a mess on your hands and paint running everywhere. FireIce is utilized in the same fashion. We want to make short “painting” strokes with the stream and “coat” the materials that are burning. It’s just that simple.

You CAN use FireIce the same way you have always used water/foam but taking a different approach will actually save you time, effort AND water! That is the ultimate goal. This product does not take away the fun of the interior attack (as some folks have worried it will). But let’s face facts. The “fun” at a fire only last for about 10-15minutes. After that….it’s all just plain

WORK! None of us want to spend hours upon hours mopping up after a fire. We are tired, wet, sore and hungry. We want to get back to the house, clean up the rigs and tools, and call it a good day! Right? We can keep doing things the way we always have but…..we will never get more effective than we already are and we will continue to bust our humps doing the laborious task of overhaul for hours after a fire is declared out.

There is an old adage that goes: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got!”

Change is hard to take sometimes but when it makes sense, you have to go with it. Don’t let the future of firefighting pass you buy.

Be safe out there. Till next time………