Sunday, November 21, 2010

the barrage

This one goes with my October column in Canadian Fire and EMS Quarterly. Click on the picture for a bigger view.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

pretend cartoonist

This blog was originally intended to be a place to show my photos, but it ended up being too cumbersome for my computer-challenged mind. You can see photos of mine and others by going to .

Along with freelance writing, I like to pretend I'm a freelance cartoonist. I actually persuaded Firefighting in Canada to post some of these sketches with my articles in their Web Exclusive section. I will post them here as I have time, along with links to the articles that they accompanied (or were supposed to accompany).


I drew this one as a kind of therapy to get myself out of the dumps after a particularly long, cold, and depressing fire. You can read a little bit about it here.
The article that accompanied this drawing talks about responding to a call in no-man's land . . . with the underlying implication that if something happened at home while we were away, there would be no Mutual Aid reasonably close enough to help.

Volunteer firefighters take criticism - sometimes justified, sometimes not - about not being qualified. I wrote an article about this dilemma, and the fact that we have to do the job to the best of our ability, and try not to overstep our qualifications. Then I drew this cartoon to make fun of the situations we get ourselves into.

Recruitment is a perennial problem in Upsala. We never have enough people, a problem that is compounded by our lack of near neighbours to help out. Click here for my article on the topic.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

History in pictures

Here's 20 years of Upsala Fire Department history in four minutes.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Bureaucrat

Here's my latest attempt at cartoonery. I drew it to complement my January article for Fire and EMS Quarterly. I think it is fairly self explanatory . . .

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fire elves

I drew this guy for the 2004 kids Christmas card. I liked him well enough that he's made his way into every kids card since.

This is a modified version of the same elf. He was originally exhorting his viewers to test their smoke alarms.

I drew this card for fun and ended up using it as my 2003 card to firefighters and friends. It's a little goofy, but it fit my mood that year.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Firefighters can be a superstitious lot. I wrote an article about some of these traditions and superstitions, which you may have read already. This next cartoon was intended to go with the article, but never made it to the web site.

Customer service is important, even in the fire service. The concept that firefighters need to treat people as our customers was popularized by Alan Brunacini, former chief of Phoenix Fire Department. I had my say on the subject, then drew this cartoon to make fun of the folks out there that just want to make a buck.

I think all firefighters join the service because they want to help people, and the stereotypical way to do this is to save lives and property. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work out the way we'd like it to. The number of fatalities Upsala has responded to is roughly equal to the number of rescues, and the number of houses burned to the ground far exceeds the number that we've saved. It isn't because we're slow or unskilled - it's just the nature of the problem we face. I wrote an article about giving the public a dose of reality, then drew this cartoon to help us laugh at the dilemma.

Monday, November 9, 2009

training dilemmas

Training is a frequent theme of my columns. I drew this one after writing a bit of a whiny article on the lack of funding for volunteer firefighters compared to ambulance and police. You can read the article here. In case you can't read the small print, the firefighters in this cartoon mixed up a helium cylinder with an oxygen cylinder. I got the idea while taking a course on O2 administration . . . I guess I must have been daydreaming . . .

The most deadly phrase an instructor can hear is "you're boring." Especially in the volunteer fire service. Your students have given up the ball game or an evening walk or their favourite TV show to hear you blather about firefighting, and you'd better not waste their time. I wrote an article about this dilemma, then drew this cartoon to to make fun of it.