Fire Station # 70, Northridge, CA
CERT lady volunteers at Election Primary, 6-5-2012
photos and collage © Joy Krauthammer
- Joy Krauthammer
This day of my birthday is ending in a few minutes. Of course on the East Coast it is already ended. Birthday calls from East Coast began last night midnight their time, so that was 27 hours ago.
This has been a wonderful birthday for me, and big # also, thinks the US government.
Enjoy the photo collage that I created tonight. As a CERT* trained volunteer, I arrived at L.A.F.D. Fire Station # 70 before 7 AM to begin my self-chosen morning shift for the Primary Elections. I was happy to photograph the Station clock at 7:07 am because I was visiting Battalion 707! (I love giving workshops on G*d's Holiest #7.) I choose to be present at the early hours so I could leave early in order to celebrate my birthday with my sister at the Getty Museum. We didn't get to the Getty, but we did have dinner together tonight and it was lovely that the eatery treated me to my meal and dessert brownie as I'm a regular customer for the past decade. In Spanish I told the chefs about my birthday and the restaurant staff also sang me Happy Birthday through the speaker system. I turned bright red and felt special.
It was a blesSing in disguise not to get to the Getty, because at home for hours the phone rang overlapping and back to back with wonderful birthday calls from friends and family. I truly felt loved and received songs and cards and joy. Before dinner I went to friend Edith's home and as we had planned for a month, I made blesSings as I planted a much appreciated and used couple years old Basil plant in Edith's garden by the tomatoes where the soil is from her own compost. I have a feeling that my personal individualized house watering is more frequent, and the little vulnerable plant may not do so well outside in our hot heat. A month ago Edith presented me with a new Basil plant because when 'plant sitting' she saw that my loved straggly plant was elderly and mostly leafless. I even cooked with it yesterday!
In bright yellow wrapping, Edith gifted me with her yummy hand-made passion fruit and persimmon marmalade!!!! It reminded me of when Edith wears yellow, I call her Miss Buttercup. My time with Edith was also spent photographing her fuscia colored cosmos and red poppy flowers, all fluttering, dancing and swaying in the breeze while hummingbirds ate nearby, and dog, Lola, played with her slimy green ball.
I loved serving at the Fire Station. Even when only standing around looking useless, I was observing this new environment for me. The Firefighters greeted me and wished me Happy Birthday. I had proudly introduced myself as being a birthday girl. I thought it was cool to do this on my birthday in my new CERT vest, in this, my very first CERT gig/event. I left my hard helmet at home.
Very few people showed up early to vote, but I greatly enjoyed the presence of those voters who came. I either was on duty inside the warmly heated Station where the voting booths were being set up, or I wandered outside for fresh air to the Staff parking lot and to the busy street where I assisted Election staff in hanging voting posters in many languages. It was very windy, so a challenge to post posters. Each voting person who entered the Station had a greeting and a smile for me. Men and women commented on the weather, thanked me (for what?) and were cheery, generous in their sociability. The irony is that I was wearing a NY t-shirt under my brand new green CERT vest. (I was clearly not a fashion statement with my blue jeans, new t-shirt, long-sleeved blue sun shirt, and purple sneakers with red laces. Since it was my birthday, I did adorn myself with pretty dangly earrings.) New Yorkers on a work day, I don't think would have been so friendly, but that is their/our stereotype.
In the parking lot I discovered the "Zen" raised box garden filled with cilantro and tomatoes and a nearby fruit-filled Kumquat tree.
Fire personnel took pride in showing me the station's personalized stripes design on the bright shiny red engines. A fire person showed me the map of the streets they cover. My street is in the far uppermost corner of their Northridge territory. I'm the same distance from 70 as I am to the Porter Ranch Station.
I was shown the charity box hanging on the wall, in the form of a copper fire extinguisher; The "Extinguisher Fund for Widows and Orphans". Not just words, sadly this is fact for the fire people and their families. It took a minute to sink in that the Fire people take care "of their own" because there is a need, as I was told. I asked a senior Firefighter what he loved about his job. He humbly responded it was making a difference and saving a life. Of course, this is what our Fire people do, risking (and sometimes losing) their own lives to save ours. For years, whenever I dialed 911, they quickly came to save the life of my ill husband, z'l. They still arrive for my neighbors' health emergencies.
The physically fit, cute men swirled down the famous fire poles to get quickly to the engine ground level. They jumped into their prepared on-duty uniforms and sped off with racing sirens when the loud speakers advised them to leave. Big doors raised open; The trucks were gone in a flash to contend with a Valley fire. I hope the little bird escaped that was flying around inside the Station.
I was the only CERT volunteer. One of my roles as CERT volunteer was to guard the fire station while the people were away. I guess I was also there in case someone needed assistance. Sounds silly because all the professional fire people, the paramedics, were there. Although for two months, I had hours of training, I hope we never have an emergency where I nor anyone need to assist, but there are emergencies locally and all over the world. We are told "it is when, not "IF". Northridge had ours in 1994, and other tragic big accidents.
At times during my shift I walked to the street where we had posted a handicap-voting poster. I thought if a car pulled up, I could be of assistance although there was a number to call on the poster. That thick poster was not wind blown, as were others.
I asked permission to take photographs of the fire engines and have created a photo collage. I've sent it to the CERT leader people and hope they forward the collage to the Fire People because I hope they can enjoy it. True this is City property, but I was a guest in their home. I didn't take personal shots of the fire pole (which excited me), nor the waiting uniforms (which intrigued me), nor the firefighters, nor their exercise equipment, nor of their belongings high on a long shelf, the length of the fire house. Those were intimate objects that I think make more interesting photos, but felt I didn't have the right to photo them, and refrained from asking. The objects for saving lives made an impression on me and remain clearly in my mind. One Firefighter offered to 'shoot' another "handsome fireman" and myself. He said he could tell I wanted that but I didn't ask. I smiled for the camera and was happy. After all it was the start of my birthday, a day filled with joy.
"If you save one life, it is as if you have saved the entire world."
* CERT, Community Emergency Response Team
My CERT Certificate:
* CERT, Community Emergency Response Team
My CERT Certificate:
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