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Firefighter Bassists unite - paramedics also welcome!

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Engine207, Dec 19, 2011.

  1. Engine207

    Engine207 Losing faith in humanity...one call at a time.

    Jul 10, 2008
    Higley, AZ
    The closest I could find to this thread was this one: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f34/any-bass-playing-firefighters-here-664905/ in "Off-Topic". I think this forum is probably a better place for more of us low-end smoke-eaters.

    I don't really do the "club thing", so if you guys are into numbers, someone else needs to hand 'em out. Shouldn't be that busy in here.

    I've been a firefighter for almost 19 years, a paramedic for 15 of them and a captain for 6. I've thrown my bunkers in the cab of...wait for it...Engine 207 since 1999. Our house runs about 3,200 calls a year, mostly medical...if you want to call them that. :rolleyes:

    I started playing bass in junior high, after some kid had La Villa Strangiato playing an 8-track on the school bus. I ran right over to Record City after I got home and bought Hemispheres. A month later I got a Peavey T-40, which was the closest I could get to copping a Ric sound. After a summer of mowing lawns and a winter of shoveling snow, I got my Ric 4001, which I still play often.

    So, if you have bunkers and a bass...let's hear about ya!
  2. GreggBummer

    GreggBummer Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2008
    Southern New Jersey
    I'm volunteer firefighter. I work as an EMT for a private company and I'm a paramedic student.

    After nearly 14 years in the Army with two tours in Iraq, I took off my desert BDU's and put on bunkers. Went to the Fire Academy about two years ago... I was one of the oldest guys in my class.

    I am mostly a truckie. I enjoy ladder work, but will do some engine and hose work if the opportunity presents itself. I'm an EMT for a living and I am developing a real love for paramedicine.

    I play bass in a blues/rock band. We play very jammy kind of music that heavy on improvisation. Like Engine, I am also a T-40 lover and owner.

    If you are giving out numbers, I'll take one.
  3. DONZI97


    Dec 24, 2008
    Algonac Michigan
    I'm a full time FF/Paramedic for the City of Royal Oak Michigan, been there 8 years, got hired when I was 24, and had 5 years part/paid experience before that. Been a medic for 11 years, spent 2 working at a private ambulance company before getting hired in RO.

    Royal Oak is two miles north of the war zone they call Detroit(whole city blocks are abandoned and burnt out houses), we are a densely populated area with about 60k residents in a 12 sq mile area, with two major freeways running through, a major hospital, some high-rises, and a very vibrant downtown and nightlife(makes for some interesting runs on Friday and Saturday nights).

    We are union, have 3 stations, with 14 man minimum daily staffing, and do about 5600 runs a year(80% EMS). Our schedule is 24 on 48 off.

    I picked up the bass only 3 years ago, but have a lifetime interest of music, I play in a working rock cover band, and really want to get into playing jazz, and R&B. I run a Pbass, and Ken Smith 5 through a Carvin BX1500 into a couple of fEARfuls I built.

    With a couple of young kids at home, I get a lot of my quality practice time at work, after dinner in between runs, with my Macbook, and Apogee Jam.

    I would also like to hear from other full timers on how you relationship is with your municipalities, and concessions. We have been fighting for our jobs for a while, 2 years ago I was given 5 layoff notices, but it never happened, then we got a federal Safer Grant to pay for 10 positions. We also are under the constant threat of PSO. Our state legislature has passed a lot of anti union bills that affect us, police, and teachers. Our last contract we settled with concessions, and we are looking at about 12-15% concessions in the contract we are working on now.
  4. Engine207

    Engine207 Losing faith in humanity...one call at a time.

    Jul 10, 2008
    Higley, AZ
    Wow...I guess my OP was a bit lacking in detail.

    I'm in Mesa, AZ, and came on when I was 27. Mesa is the 38-largest city in America, kinda like a little brother to Phoenix, which is 15 miles to the west. Mesa covers 132 square miles and is home to about a half-million people in the summer, then swells during the winter with "snowbirds".

    The Mesa Fire Department was organized in 1897. It has grown to 19 stations that house 20 Engines, 5 Ladders, 2 Utility Trucks, a HazMat Unit, a Tecnical Rescue Unit, and 4 Airport Units at two airports. The fire companies and stations are divided into 3 battalions. All Engine and Ladder companies are constant staffed with Captain, Engineer (Operator/Driver), and 2 firefighters, 2 are Paramedics and the other 2 are EMT’s. Our schedule is 3-4 (24on/24off/24on/24off/24on/96off). We are also union, IAFF Local 2260.

    Our relationship with the City is pretty cooperative, as 2260 is treated more like a partner than an adversary. We had some pretty significant cuts (including a 2% pay cut and subsequent 3-year freeze), but most of it was through attrition, and we didn't lose any sworn on-shift firefighters. We took a pension hit when they made some big changes to our DROP system and the retirement was upped to 25 years for new hires. Fortunately, we get our 2% back on January 1, and the newer guys are back on track for merit increases, too.

    My three boys (15/13/10) are all musical (bass/drums/piano). I practice at work (also between runs) so I can jam with them at home. I keep a MIM P-Bass at the firehouse with a Fender B-DEC, and my collection includes a Ric 4001, Fenders (J, fretless PJ, 5er), Lakland P, and my beloved Peavey T-40. I play through a Marshall MB450 head and an Ampeg SVT810 cab.

    Here's a photo of my office:

    and my crew:
  5. DONZI97


    Dec 24, 2008
    Algonac Michigan
    Well, you topped my detailed post......how about some fire pictures......

    This a typical bungalow fire for us, except it got a head start, and was in knee walls before we arrived, its tough to chase at that point. Thats me masking up in the second picture, getting ready to make entry and go upstairs.




  6. Mike in Chicago

    Mike in Chicago Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2011
  7. GreggBummer

    GreggBummer Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2008
    Southern New Jersey
    Does Illinois have a volunteer tradition? I understand that volleys are something seen more on the East Coast.
  8. Engine207

    Engine207 Losing faith in humanity...one call at a time.

    Jul 10, 2008
    Higley, AZ
    Pretty cool photos. Welcome, Mike! Are you a truckie, or on an engine? Man...I wish we had more fire. Everything is sprinklered here because it's mostly new lightweight construction.

    We just saw the CFD video about the LODD reduction program. Pretty powerful presentation. I shared it with my crew and we're making a commitment to each other to follow its recommendations.
  9. section8_medic


    Feb 18, 2012
    Yup. I am one of "them" lol. I was a geologist for 8 years and at age 33 quit and decided to become a firemedic. I sold everything I owned, quit my job,filed bankruptcy and started basic then medic, volunteered and finally got a paying gig in July of last year. It was soooo worth it!
  10. Engine207

    Engine207 Losing faith in humanity...one call at a time.

    Jul 10, 2008
    Higley, AZ
    Sounds familiar, section8!

    My parents always wanted me to be a yuppie, so after I got my degree, I worked as a landscape architect for four years. I hated every day, so I did some soul-searching and returned to my first love - being a fireman. I haven worked a day since.

    Tell us about your department and your music!
  11. DONZI97


    Dec 24, 2008
    Algonac Michigan
    Any other bass playing firefighters out there?
  12. Staredge


    Aug 7, 2010
    Germantown, MD
    Used to be. Got out of it about 15 years ago. I was a paid EMT in Tucson at the age of 18. Spent almost 2 years doing that, then moved to Maryland. Everything was volunteer out here, so I did that for 8 or 9. Got out of EMS and moved into fire. I was with Citizen's Truck Co. in Frederick MD for most of that time. This is a picture of my favorite truck from that time. '52 LaFrance that was rehabbed in 87. They got rid of it a little after I left.




  13. DethByDoom


    Sep 23, 2012
  14. el_tee


    Jan 18, 2013
    Well I'm proud to say I finally got a paid fire job (even if it is only part time, its better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick) with Jersey Village Fire Department! :hyper: It sits on a little island, if you will, surround by the Cy-Fair Fire Department, Northwest of Houston. I've been a volunteer Lieutenant with Cy-Fair for the past four years and I'm also a part time 911 dispatcher for them.

    I don't know much about Jersey Village just yet, but the Cy-Fair Fire Department is the largest VFD in Texas, perhaps the nation, covering 400,000 residents in 180,000 homes. We cover 156 square miles out of 12 fire stations and also run full-time EMS. I'm told that if Cypress was incorporated, it would be the 7th largest city in the state (Texas is a pretty big state if you aren't aware :smug:).

    Anywho, on to the bass stuff. I've been playing bass for about 8 years now, starting in high school, but I just recentley picked it back up after finishing the fire academy and paramedic school. I play an MIM jazz bass through an Ampeg SVT-7 pro, and an 810e cab. I play with an original country band called the Timothy Hall Band, out of North Houston.

    Glad to see theres more firefighters on TB! :p
  15. Great thread for us life saving bass players. Im also a Paramedic / Firefighter, been at it 22 years but I rarely fight fires, medicine is where its at for me! I work on 3 Medic Units part time and full time in a very busy local E.R. Ive been playing bass about 24 years but only very seriously the last 5-6 years. Im in my second band, we just started playing out several weeks ago, things are going slower than Id like, but were getting there. My favorite player is my Fender Jazz active thru either my Peavey TNT or Fender Bassman 150. My biggest influence (there are many) is JPJ of Led Zeppelin. Its good to see other life savers "saving the music". Rock on my Brothers!
  16. bassthumpersf


    May 30, 2010
    17 years as a Paramedic until being laid off in 2011.
  17. Engine207

    Engine207 Losing faith in humanity...one call at a time.

    Jul 10, 2008
    Higley, AZ
    Laid off? What fire service is pink-slippin? We took a pay cut and the state trashed our pension, but nobody's looking for a job!

    Sorry to hear that bro. Try AZ. We're hiring two recruit classes this year. 20 guys apiece. I guess they're prepping for guys like me to retire.
  18. DONZI97


    Dec 24, 2008
    Algonac Michigan
    Quite a few fire layoffs in Michigan.
  19. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    I was a volunteer firefighter for 20 years until 2002, a charter member with a small rural Vermont outfit that only started up in 1982. It was quite an adventure, building a whole department from scratch, and slowly gaining credibility with the existing local companies in the area and developing the mutual aid routines.

    Vermont is almost all volunteer, and few towns pay anything at all. It keeps things a bit simpler than at the large depts., but is equally a challenge. Being small and many members being at work out of town during the day, most members do almost everything from directing traffic to driving trucks to search and rescue and hose work. We averaged only 50 calls/yr. No paramedics though; that's a whole separate infrastructure in our area.

    I did if for 20 years before I moved out of that town; every kind of call from 10-50's to chimney fires to fully involved structures. It was a great experience and a comeraderie I'll always cherish.

    Modern firefighting standards and insurance requirements have strained that volunteer model to the max, and I don't miss it at this point. At age 60 I'm glad now I don't have to don any more air packs. That's a young person's line of work!

    Do any of you have fire call / gig stories to relate? Have you ever had to strip out of turn-out gear to run to make a downbeat?
  20. Ive had to strip out of "uniform" many times to make a gig or rehearsal....911 isnt a 9-5 job. I also wear baby blue scrubs in the E.R. where I work, and once had to play a show wearing them since I didnt make arrangements for a change of clothes. Not a problem though, everybody knows how crazy busy my carer is....and they rarely ever see me wearing anything else. A good laugh.