Excerpt from Hazardous Material by Kurt Kamm... Excerpt from
Hazardous Material by Kurt Kamm
"Next step, biker revenge," Bucky uttered aloud as he descended from Chief Vlasic's office.
At the bottom of the stairs, he saw AJ's motorcycle parked behind the pickups and SUVs belonging to the other men. AJ was on Bucky's shift, and wasn't supposed to be on duty today. Bucky went into the apparatus bay to find him. AJ was the perfect choice for what Bucky had in mind. He had grown up on the mean streets of Los Angeles, in the part of the city the LAPD referred to as the Ramparts Division. You had to be tough to survive there, and AJ was tough. He was a big man with a broad chest, thick arms and big biceps. He had a thick black mustache that hung over the sides of his mouth. He shaved his head but left a tiny strip of hair in the center, like a Mohawk, but cut close to the skin. He could be very intimidating, liked to mix it up and never backed away from a physical confrontation. AJ was someone who actually liked physical combat. Bucky had often thought that if AJ hadn't become a firefighter, he would have been a one-percenter.
Bucky found him on the far side of the bay, wiping down one of the engines. "Hey, AJ."
"What's up, brother?"
"I've got something going on tonight. Are you on duty?"
"No. I'm on holdover for another two hours. Richards had an accident at home."
"Want to have some fun later?"
"Sure." AJ's eyes narrowed and he grinned. "What do you have planned?"
"I'm going on a mission and I need backup."
"Cool. I'm always game for a little excitement. What have you got planned? A punch-up?" He held up his oversize hand and made a fist.
"I'm going to even the score with some one-percenters."
"That's not a punch-up, that's a war. How are you gonna pull that off with injured fingers and stitches in your head? Am I gonna have to be your representative?"
"Actually, it's more like a HazMat exercise, but I need your help."
"A HazMat exercise?"
"That's right. Can you bring five or six buddies from your club? On your bikes?"
"I could probably arrange that. You gonna tell me what we're up to?"
"I'll tell you about it tonight. You'll have some fun, I promise."
"Midnight. I'll meet you out on 90th Street, about a quarter of a mile this side of Mach 2. You know where that old house is? The one that burned down?"
"You're on. I'll see how many guys I can get." AJ returned to cleaning the engine.
Bucky went back out to the pickup and wrote up a list of the things he needed. The most important items were a Kappler 300 Level B protective suit, designed for chemical splash resistance, and a breathing apparatus with a full tank of air. Smaller things included a headlamp, his night vision glasses, the outer HazMat gloves to wear over the ones that were part of the Kappler, and adhesive and duct tape. Wearing any gloves was going to be a problem with two fingers splinted and taped together. Bucky also needed Vaseline. He would have to remove the tape and splint, grease his injured fingers and try to slide them into the protective gloves. If he could accomplish that, he could slip on the second set of outer gloves and tape his fingers together from the outside to immobilize them.
Bucky drove the pickup around the side of the station and picked up an SCBA harness and a full bottle of air. The Kapplers were in the supply cache, which was never locked. The suits were disposable, and recordkeeping was so-so. Bucky "borrowed" one.
Firefighters- Painkiller addiction - Drones - Meth labs - the Mojave.
The website link, which also clicks through to Amazon is www.kurtkamm.com
HAZARDOUS MATERIAL recently won a Best Novel award in a literary contest, and was listed as a finalist in another.
At the dawn of the 20th Century, the United States Forest Service (USFS) began organizing wildland firefighting efforts. Up until then, fighting forest fires had been a local affair, with towns’ people taking on blazes with the same shovels, rakes, hoes, and axes they used on their farms and gardens.
All these ungainly garden tools had to be packed in on horseback. In the early 1900s two USFS Rangers, Edward Pulaski and Malcolm McLeod started thinking of ways to combine, and improve the tools of the day.
The Pulaski and McLeod tools have come down to us through years unchanged, but as a result of forestry policy, today’s wildfires burn hotter and travel faster than traditional forest fires, and the tools we use to fight them have evolved as well.
Today, we employ a wide array of equipment: Helicopters drop loads of water on spot fires with precision, single engine tankers paint lines of fire retardant to slow the progress of a fire and protect structures, and heavy air tankers drop tons of retardant to stop a fire in its tracks. Specially designed engines and tenders with off-road capability claw their way across the landscape, and massive bulldozers cut fire-brakes through the forests. But, when you hear that five hundred or a thousand firefighters have been deployed to fight a fire, know that almost to a person, they’re doing it the old fashioned way, with basic hand tools. Digging miles of fire line, hacking through roots and scraping away vegetation to create of line of raw earth between what has burnt and what has not. This backbreaking work is the basic tactic in every wildland fire attack.
The tools we use to cut these lines haven’t changed since the 1900s. McLeod and Pulaski are still the names we rely on, but a small company in Cedar Ridge, California is working to improve upon the designs of the past. The J.R. Fire Tools Company is the brainchild of Fire Captain John Russell. John applies 20-years of wildland experience to the design and manufacture of his line of firefighting tools. One way Mr. Russell insures that he’s getting it right, is by putting his tools in the hands of the pros. Folks like the hotshot crews of the USFS and Cal Fire. And now Elk Creek Fire Department is honored to join the list of departments deemed professional enough that their opinions matter.
On June 2012, Elk Creek Fire Department received samples of the J.R. Fire Tool
line: a Pounder, Big Foot, Scalper, and a Chingadera. The tools arrived with
specially made 40-inch S-shaped Hickory and 48-inch straight Ash handles. All
J.R. Fire Tool heads and handles are interchangeable, so you can customize the
tool to fit your needs. The first thing we noted was the quality of the heavy,
heat-treated, oxidized steel blades, sharpened on three sides, and the precision
of the welds and overall construction of the tools.
The JR Fire Tools saw service with Elk Creek crews on several Colorado wildfires, as well as on local trail building projects. Everyone who used the tools was impressed with their design and quality.
“These are top quality, American made tools. I’ve never seen a better-made wildland tool,” said Elk Creek Firefighter Ryan Tinkey.
Elk Creek Wildland Coordinator Jacob Ware said the Pounder was his favorite. He said he liked the way it felt in his hands, and that the weight and size of the blade were ideal for cutting line. He was also impressed by how durable the steel blade was. “ You can pound rocks with it all day, and this tool will still hold an edge.”
My personal favorite was the Big Foot. Its 12-inch wide cupped head pulls a lot
of dirt with every stroke. I found that I used the point of the sharpened right
side of the blade to break up vegetation, much like I’d use a Pulaski, and I
saved the sharpened left side of the blade for hacking through roots. Everyone
was drawn to the 40-inch S-curve Hickory handles, but I’m a bit taller than
average, so I stuck with the 48-inch strait Ash handle.
For more information visit J.R. Fire Tools online at JRFireTools.com, or contact John Russell at 530-272-1444 or email at:
Michael Davis is a Firefighter and Public Information Officer with the Elk Creek Fire Protection District in Conifer, Colorado.
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