Saturday, June 19, 2010

A tale of two fire departments...

Lake County Firefighters vs. Lake County Police
The 2nd annual Guns n' Hoses baseball game against the Lake County Police and Firefighters happened today at Classic Park.  I have come to notice, firefighters play really excellent softball against the Lake County Police Department.  The Firefighters had a constant lead against the Police the whole time.  The game ended at the 10th inning 9-3.  Firefighters won.  My assignment was to photograph this part of the event and the part after the event.  Fire trucks, cop cars, bomb squads, and Metropark horse posse all showed up to meet people before the Captains game at 7 later that night.  Unfortunately, I couldn't photograph this part of the event because a breaking news event came to my attention through the Willoughby fire department.  A gas tanker spilled in Geauga county and the News Herald was covering it. I explain my situation down below after the pictures.

Chris Langer/
Justin Meister, #13 on the Lake County Firefighters team, slides into home during the 7th inning.  Lake County Firefighters beat the Lake County Police, 9-3, at the 2nd Annual Guns n' Hoses Baseball game.

Chris Langer/
Members from the Lake County Fire Department and Police Department shake hands at the end of the 2nd annual Guns n' Hoses baseball game.  Firefighters beat the Police 9-3.  

Gas Tanker Accident
This accident taught me one thing.  Access is key to getting good pictures.  And it also taught me Geauga County's Fire Departments are very hard to work with.  The beginning started with rushing to this scene tonight with a gas tanker rolled over and was spewing gasoline everywhere.  I and the News Herald thought this was a pretty big story since Punderson Lake, a state park, was nearby and could be majorly affected by this gas spill.  I arrive on the scene, eager to get out and shoot.  I heard in advance Geauga is a bit hard to work with and does not have the media's priority of telling the whole story at hand but I had my doubts.  So I get on site and get yelled at to stay far away and shoot with a telephoto lens.  Alright that is fine and I shot some images of people standing around and firetrucks, not really exciting.  Then I started to think to myself, hey, this is just a gasoline spill.  What is dangerous about it?  No one is wearing gas masks or haz-mat suits.  Just the smell of gasoline right?  My interest to get closer kept itching in me and I did just that, get closer.  As I was walking closer, I got yelled at by 3 random firefighters from Concord.  Guess I don't understand the meaning of staying back and how dangerous the situation is.  Long story short, I gave up and wasn't going to fight a losing battle.  I wasn't satisfied with my images so I thought of going into Punderson Lake and photographing the fire trucks in the background with the lake in the foreground.  Try to relate the whole situation to Punderson, since the accident happened so close to Punderson Lake and could affect it.  I went to the campsites first because I thought I could get close enough but couldn't get a nice shot (that shot is listed below).  My next spot was going to be a beach a tad bit closer to the scene so I could get in tighter.  I drive around to the other side of the park and came across police lines and an evacuated area.  To my surprise, I was greeted with the same opposing force I was greeted with back on I-44 where the tanker spilled.  I gave up after that and cut my losses.

My lesson learned today.  Access is a huge part of what makes great photographs.  When I photograph in Lake County, I am greeted with open arms by Fire and Police.  Lake County is more accepting of media presence on scene and I really appreciate that now.  I hope over time I can learn my way with Geauga and talk to people at the fire stations to gain access.  I think they overreacted a bit tonight but no one told me the whole situation, so I could be uneducated.  It wasn't a pleasant experience and I hope I do not have to deal with this same situation again this summer.

Enough ranting.  Here are my images I got for today.  I think the story could have been really important and the images, if I could get closer, would be awesome.  A tanker spewing gasoline into nearby woods and rivers towards Punderson Lake seems like an important image and story to tell to our viewers.  

Chris Langer/
The scene from I-44 in Chardon where a gas tanker tipped over and gas is spilling into the road and the surrounding area.  The nearby state park Punderson evacuated it's cabin area near the spill shortly after the accident.  Firefighters are trying to contain the spill before it runs into nearby creeks and Punderson Lake.  

Chris Langer/
The view from inside Punderson Lake State Park.

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