FEMA Fires Firefighter Volunteers Over T-Shirts!


Another firefighter lashes out at FEMA’s inability to do the job

Published Thursday, October 13, 2005

Jay Adams was fired for wearing a gray shirt.

His bosses wanted to see him in blue.

He said no, and their faces turned red.

He laughs about it now, but it’s really not funny.

Adams was among the 1,000 firefighters hired by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to go to the Gulf Coast and help victims of Hurricane Katrina. What could have been – and should have been – an attempt to use America’s finest to bring aid to people who really needed it has instead been shown for what it was – a not-so-veiled attempt to use firefighters to build up FEMA’s flagging reputation.

Adams is a proud firefighter from Charlotte, N.C. He speaks with a slow, Southern drawl that smacks of integrity and common sense. Like a college football coach from the region, when Adams talks, you can’t help but listen. That’s what I did as Adams talked about FEMA’s ridiculous attempt to use firefighters as public relations dummies. I listened to a man with pride talk about feeling used. Adams had come across my column from a week ago detailing a Missouri firefighter’s frustration with FEMA’s bureaucratic waste of important resources during our nation’s real time of need. He had a story that was even more compelling.

Adams and his fellow Charlotte firefighters were fired, not because they didn’t want to work, not because they couldn’t handle the job and not because they complained. They were fired for refusing to wear blue shirts flying FEMA’s flag.

“I am 33 years old,” Adams says. “I have been a career firefighter 14 years. I was a volunteer firefighter 15 years in addition to that. Without a doubt, this FEMA experience is the biggest disappointment in my life.”

Adams volunteered for the FEMA call-up before his department was even sent notice requesting firefighters. Two of his best friends in the world are New Orleans firefighters. After the hurricane hit, he couldn’t get them on the phone. “I was dying to do something,” he says.

Adams knew the job FEMA wanted the firefighters for was some sort of community relations. Still, he figured, firefighters in the field could do some good. He and several members of his department loaded up on the kind of gear they might need. They flew to Atlanta, and then, for a couple of days, they sat around waiting for somebody to tell them what to do. They had been called up for a week before they did anything.

For firefighters, men and women of action, it was anathema. The woman in charge of deployment, they said, quit one night. Their information wasn’t logged into the computer. Finally, they begged somebody to send them into the field. Eight members of the Charlotte team were sent to Mississippi. Their destination changed three times on the drive down. Finally, they ended up at Camp Barron Point, a center set up by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service in Forrest County.

The next morning, the overwhelmed FEMA employee sent to lead them gathered the seven eight-person teams together for another meeting in which he explained he was having a tough time figuring out a deployment strategy.

“Let’s see, seven teams, seven counties,” Adams says. “How in the world do we figure this one out? Get MIT on the phone.”

Needless to say, Adams and his team of experienced professional firefighters eventually got to work. Their first stop was the emergency management operations center in Forrest County. The director of the center, a veteran of many hurricanes, had a suggestion. Ditch the FEMA shirts. “I think his direct quote was, ‘I don’t have the security personnel available for eight people walking around in this county in FEMA shirts,’ ” Adams recalls. “He was serious. We took him at his word.”

The people of the county were dying for FEMA support, Adams says, and there was much animosity toward the federal department. Making it worse was the fact that the firefighters sent out on behalf of FEMA had no information to offer about disaster relief. They were given fliers with phone numbers to call in a county in which working phones were scarce.

“We were there purely for show,” he says.

After a second day of not accomplishing much – they checked in at a shelter as requested and passed out a few fliers – the firefighters from Charlotte decided to speak up. They had been separated from two of their fellow firefighters, who ended up going out on their own, and with other emergency workers helped set up a makeshift disaster relief center in Pearlington, Miss. They sent their team leader to talk to the FEMA folks at the camp.

She came back with the news they had been fired.

“We were relieved of duty for refusing to wear our blue FEMA shirts,” Adams says.

Frustrated, they packed up and left. They turned in their FEMA gear and went to Pearlington to check on their colleagues. And then they made the long trek back to Charlotte, chagrined they didn’t feel like they had helped one bit.

“I consider us to be ‘do-ers,’ ” Adams says, “and we didn’t even get a chance. The whole prevailing FEMA attitude was, ‘Don’t worry about it, you’re getting paid.’ That’s just not right.

“Firefighters in this nation have an unspoken bond with the people that need us,” Adams says.

“If you call, we will come as fast as we can to help make your problem better. FEMA needs to adopt this doctrine.”

Listen to your kids….

From Stella this past Saturday morning around 8 am ….

Daddy, wake up the fan is dripping

Huh? Well in 3 year old land that is how you tell your parents that the ceiling in their bedroom (with a ceiling fan) is starting to collapse from a roof leak.

And then later in the day (2 pm) ….

There’s a leak in the closet now too!

Fixing thoracic aneurysms

News 8 Austin | 24 Hour Local News | HEADLINES | Fixing thoracic aneurysms

Certain diseases can also weaken the aortic wall and increase one’s risk of developing an aneurysm. These diseases include Marfan syndrome, syphilis and tuberculosis. Thoracic aneurysms are more common in men than in women.

Doctors say, because of the high death rate when a rupture occurs, it is crucial to fix aneurysms before they burst. The standard fix is a major open surgery. The surgeon makes a large incision in the chest and replaces the weakened part of the aorta with a graft. The graft allows blood to pass through it and cuts off blood supply to the aneurysm. Without blood, the aneurysm disappears. The hospital stay is about a week for this surgery, and it can take months to recover.

Now, doctors are offering a safer, easier option for repairing aneurysms. Doctors can make a small incision in the groin and thread a catheter up to the aorta. Then, they advance a graft through the catheter and deploy it where the aneurysm is. The graft opens and seals the area. It eliminates blood from getting to the aneurysm, so the aneurysm shrinks. The procedure is much less invasive, requiring only the small incision in the groin where the catheter enters the artery.

Failure Defined

This is a real google.com search from this morning. Surprised? Not me. Guess even search engines are smart enough to see when the popular vote turns out to be not so popular a few years later. As an aside, “I told you so!”

Thanks to garrie keyman for this tip.

Go ahead and try it for yourself, visit google and type in FAILURE and see what you get.


Back from the bowels of repro hell


I came across this sucker about 6 weeks ago, but forgot I had the pic in my phone…. now you get to check it out. For those of you that have no idea what you are looking at, this is called a Vaccum Frame machine. It is basically a big glass table with lights underneath used to reproduce old “blue line” prints that were composed of multiple layers of tracing paper or mylar, the important part is that the vaccum sucked all the pages close together to prevent registration errors during reproduction. Whoah!

Even more significant is that any successful repro house or architectural/engineering practice had one of these behemoths until about 1995 and then they all died a silent death as inkjet and laser plotting coupled with affordable CAD software came on the scene full time.

Unless you’ve done it, it is pretty tough to explain and I’ve spent about 20 minutes at google to find a good description and nothing pops up. Maybe I’ll put up a description and some diagrams another time.

Amazing example of 1960’s reproduction tehcnology huh? And dig the fancy prop to hold open the lid, yes folks that is a log.

You can find this beast at CLR Design in Philly.