Huge bell at The Big House fire station!

Have you ever walked or driven past Fire Station 1 near the center of downtown San Diego and seen a gigantic bell out front? Have you wondered about it?

A few days ago I walked down the sidewalk past “The Big House” fire station and paused to snap some photos!

Words on the bell read:

W.T.GARRATT & Co SF CAL 1885
PRESENTED TO
SAN DIEGO ENGINE CO NO 1
BY BRYANT HOWARD
SAN DIEGO

A plaque above the huge bell reads:

THIS BELL WAS PRESENTED TO THE SAN DIEGO FIRE DEPT. ENGINE COMPANY NO. 1. IT WAS CAST IN SAN FRANCISCO IN 1885 AND HUNG IN A 50 FOOT TOWER ON FIFTH AVENUE, BETWEEN BROADWAY AND C STREET, WHERE JESSOPS JEWELRY STORE NOW STANDS.

(Jessops moved from that location many, many years ago.)

According to the City of San Diego website: Fire Station 1 was originally opened at 865 Second Avenue in 1904. That station was closed and relocated to the current building (at 1222 First Avenue) in January 1971.

I’d love to hear that bell ring! (Without a fire, of course.)

Thank you to all firefighter heroes!

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How homeless people can get help in San Diego.

Are you homeless?

During a period of my life, many years ago, I was also homeless.

When I was young I suffered from terrible depression. For reasons I’ll keep to myself, my life was incredibly painful. I threw everything away. I just about gave up.

Fortunately, there was a part inside me that never surrendered to the darkness. As I grew older, I found positive ways to overcome my depression.

I know there are many who are homeless and hurting in San Diego. If you happen to be homeless, for whatever reason, and you’d like a helping hand, I’ve learned about a great way to get help.

There’s a phone number that you can call confidentially to get lots of information. That phone number is 211.

Call 211 any time of the day or night and a friendly person will answer who can help you in different ways. The people at 211 are hooked up with over 6,000 community resources, and can assist callers in over 200 languages.

They know all about the shelters around San Diego and what you can do to get off the street. They know where to get medical help, help for emergencies, places to get food, legal help, help to overcome addiction, help for runaways, help for those who’ve been victims of violence, help for veterans who are experiencing a rough time . . . help for all sorts of difficulties that many people face in life. Call 211 and someone will assist you. It’s completely confidential.

If you don’t want to talk to anyone, you can also visit the 211 website by clicking here. Check it out and give the possibilities some thought.

I can say from personal experience that you should never give up hope. Even if your life seems completely hopeless, a path is always there to a brighter, better future. Always.

Firefighter heroes in a drill downtown.

During my walk this morning through downtown San Diego I saw numerous firefighters and fire engines participating in a Sunday fire drill. It was a simulation of an emergency in a high-rise.

I thought you might enjoy a few photos of these true heroes in action!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Photos of San Diego River, after three storms.

The swollen San Diego River after three winter storms in six days. A gauge beside the water shows the river has subsided to about the 8 foot mark, after reaching a high level--I believe--of around 11 feet.
The swollen San Diego River after three winter storms in six days. A gauge beside the water shows the river has subsided to about the 8 foot mark, after reaching a high level–I believe–of around 11 feet.

I did some walking in a drizzle this morning before work.

I got off the trolley at the Fashion Valley station and proceeded to investigate the San Diego River in a section of Mission Valley that is often hit with flooding. Three very rainy winter storms were finally coming to an end. What did I see?

Palm trees surrounded by river water. Photo taken between the Fashion Valley Transit Center and the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center.
Palm trees surrounded by flowing river water. Photo taken from the pedestrian bridge between the Fashion Valley Transit Center and the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center.

A tall eucalyptus tree knocked over by the gusty winter storms. A common sight around San Diego.
A tall, shallow-rooted eucalyptus tree knocked over by the gusty winter storms. A common sight around San Diego.

Fashion Valley Road this morning was still blocked off from traffic, even though the San Diego River's water had subsided to street level.
Fashion Valley Road this morning was still blocked off from traffic, even though the San Diego River’s water had subsided to street level.

A friendly San Diego Lifeguard makes the rounds to make sure nobody needs a swift water rescue. My photo just missed his wave!
A friendly San Diego Lifeguard makes the rounds to make sure nobody needs a swift water rescue. My photo just missed his wave!

The parking structures at Fashion Valley Mall that are susceptible to flooding were definitely well underwater. Thank goodness, I saw no submerged cars.
The parking structures at Fashion Valley Mall that are susceptible to flooding were definitely well underwater. Thank goodness, I saw no submerged cars.

Bright green grass and dark clouds. I was sheltered from raindrops by the trolley tracks overhead.
Bright green grass and dark clouds. I was sheltered from raindrops by the trolley tracks overhead.

As usual, the San Diego River was flooding Avenida del Rio south of the mall. The short street is appropriately named!
As usual, the San Diego River was flooding Avenida del Rio just south of the mall. The short, dipping street is appropriately named!

Yesterday someone foolishly trying to walk through this powerful moving water had to be rescued. They got washed away. A helicopter was even brought in.
Yesterday someone foolishly trying to walk through this powerful moving water had to be rescued. They got washed away. A helicopter was even brought in.

No worries about flooding for the trolley--at least right here!
No worries about flooding for the trolley–at least right here!

The Highway 163 underpass was flooded and muddy. I had to walk another way around to work. Good thing I got an early start!
The Highway 163 underpass was flooded and muddy. I had to walk another way around to reach work. Good thing I got an early start!

Sign by the San Diego River. The low rainfall and the geologic composition historically allowed the river to run below ground much of the year, hence the nickname--the Upside Down River.
Sign by the San Diego River. The low rainfall and the geologic composition historically allowed the river to run below ground much of the year, hence the nickname: the Upside Down River.

The beautiful river this morning through leaves.
The beautiful river this morning through leaves.

Morning sky and clouds through bare winter river trees.
Morning sky and clouds through bare winter trees.

The San Diego River is unusually wide in its swollen state after the storms. It looks like an honest-to-goodness actual river!
The San Diego River is unusually wide in its swollen state after the storms. It looks like an honest-to-goodness actual river!

Walking along Mission Center Road in the rain by the San Diego River.
Walking along Mission Center Road in the rain by the San Diego River.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Firefighting helicopters suck water from San Diego River!

One of the San Diego Fire Department's two firefighting helicopters fills it water tank using a hose lowered into the San Diego River in Mission Valley.
One of the San Diego Fire Department’s two firefighting helicopters fills its water tank using a hose lowered into the San Diego River in Mission Valley.

I was lucky late this afternoon to capture some cool action pics! After work, I was eating at Jack in the Box in Hazard Center when I saw a helicopter swooping rapidly down toward the nearby San Diego River. A hose was dangling underneath, so I knew it was a firefighting helicopter arriving to suck up some river water!

I hurried down to the center of the action to watch and snap a few photographs. It’s the first time I’ve witnessed this activity up close.

Someone on the river path said there was a fire to the northwest in Linda Vista, but I couldn’t see any smoke. I watched five different instances of helicopters filling their tanks, then the action ceased. The fire must’ve been quickly contained.

A wildfire must be nearby because here comes a firefighting helicopter swooping rapidly down over Mission Center Road toward a wide spot in the San Diego River!
A wildfire must be nearby because here comes a firefighting helicopter swooping rapidly down over Mission Center Road and the raised trolley tracks toward a wide spot in the San Diego River!

The chopper slows and carefully makes its descent in order to suck water into its belly tank to eventually drop on a wildfire.
The chopper slows and carefully makes its descent in order to suck water into its belly tank to eventually drop on a wildfire.

The air from the rotor blades causes spray to fly up from the surface of the San Diego River. Several joggers and walkers on the nearby paths stopped to watch.
The air from the rotor blades causes spray to fly up from the surface of the San Diego River. Several joggers and walkers on the nearby paths stopped to watch.

The long hose quickly sucks a good quantity of water from the river. The pilot is highly skilled, hovering the helicopter above the water, steady as a rock.
The long hose quickly sucks a good quantity of water from the river. The pilot is highly skilled, hovering the helicopter close above the water, steady as a rock.

A couple minutes later one of the San Diego County Sheriff's three firefighting helicopters arrives! You can see the external belly tank underneath the chopper's body!
A couple minutes later one of the San Diego County Sheriff’s three firefighting helicopters arrives! You can see the external belly tank underneath the chopper’s body!

This firefighting helicopter got so close to the water I had to hold my breath. These brave hero pilots are amazingly precise.
This firefighting helicopter got so close to the water I had to hold my breath. These brave hero pilots are amazingly precise.

ASTREA is the Sheriff’s Department aviation unit. Up this aircraft goes, quickly swinging overhead and heading to the northwest. Someone thought there was a fire in Linda Vista, but I didn't see any smoke in any direction.
ASTREA is the Sheriff’s Department aviation unit. Up their aircraft goes, quickly swinging overhead and heading to the northwest. Someone thought there was a fire in Linda Vista, but I didn’t see smoke from the bottom of Mission Valley in any direction.

A San Diego Fire Department chopper has sucked up more water from the river and flies again toward the northwest! The fire must have been small, because the action above the river didn't seem to last for more than 15 minutes.
A San Diego Fire Department chopper has sucked up more water from the river and flies in a big hurry again toward the northwest! The fire must have been small, because the action above the river didn’t seem to last for more than 15 minutes.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! Sometimes I randomly stumble upon fascinating, newsworthy events! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Bronze lifeguard watches the surf in Ocean Beach.

A bronze hero stands guard on the sand in Ocean Beach. The long OB pier stretches out into the Pacific Ocean in the background of this photo.
A bronze hero stands guard on the sand in Ocean Beach. The long OB pier stretches out into the Pacific Ocean in the background of this photo.

Not far from Ocean Beach’s main lifeguard station, a hero stands day and night with unblinking eyes focused on the nearby water. This noble hero is made of bronze.

The bronze lifeguard statue, created by artist Richard Arnold, was installed in 2013. It commemorates the creation of the San Diego Lifeguard Service after 13 people tragically drowned in dangerous rip currents off Ocean Beach in 1918.

The sculpture represents a typical lifeguard, with head up scanning the Pacific Ocean surf. It’s a very fine addition to a very cool beach neighborhood.

Colorado sculptor Richard Arnold, who grew up in OB, at one time was a junior lifeguard.

The muscular bronze lifeguard statue holds a rescue tube and a pair of swim fins
The muscular bronze lifeguard statue holds a rescue tube and a pair of swim fins

Colorado artist Richard Arnold created this bronze sculpture. It memorializes 13 tragic drownings in 1918, and the subsequent creation of San Diego's lifeguard service.
Colorado artist Richard Arnold created this bronze sculpture. It memorializes 13 tragic drownings in 1918, and the subsequent creation of San Diego’s lifeguard service.

Beachgoer with two boogie boards passes between the bronze sculpture and the main Ocean Beach lifeguard station.
Beachgoer with two boogie boards passes between the bronze sculpture and the main Ocean Beach lifeguard station.

A couple of surfer dudes carrying surfboards approach the memorial plaque, a few feet from the lifeguard tribute statue.
A couple of surfer dudes carrying surfboards approach the memorial plaque, a few feet from the lifeguard tribute statue.

Today, lifeguards in San Diego rescue between 4000 and 6000 people every year. They are real-life heroes.
Today, lifeguards in San Diego rescue between 4000 and 6000 people every year. They are real-life heroes.

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The Salvation Army celebrates service in San Diego.

The Salvation Army marching band parades around County of San Diego Waterfront Park.
The Salvation Army marching band parades around County of San Diego Waterfront Park.

Almost everyone recognizes their red shield. Most have walked past their holiday season bell ringers. Many have been helped by their programs and services. The Salvation Army, an important part of our community, is 150 years old.

The local branch of the worldwide organization celebrated that history today in the County of San Diego Waterfront Park. I walked there this morning to see what was going on.

What does the Salvation Army do? In San Diego, their Sierra Del Mar Division provides transitional living for homeless mothers and children. They help the unemployed homeless return to a normal, stable, working life. They have disaster response programs, providing emergency food and help. They provide seniors with nutritional assistance. They help people recover from drug and alcohol addiction. They operate the expansive Ray and Joan Kroc Community Corps Center, which features education, recreation and family support programs. They do a whole lot of good. While The Salvation Army is a Christian organization, everybody is welcome. None are turned away.

As I approached the park, I was surprised and pleased to see a dignified parade coming down the sidewalk…

150 years of community service is being celebrated by The Salvation Army.
150 years of community service is being celebrated by The Salvation Army.

Drums, banners, uniforms and kids stepping proudly down the San Diego sidewalk.
Drums, banners, uniforms and kids stepping proudly down the San Diego sidewalk.

The modest parade ends at the waterfront park, where music, fun and fellowship begin.
The modest parade ends in the waterfront park, where music, fun and fellowship begin.

A speech kicks off the event. The Salvation Army helps the homeless, the poor, the suffering around the world.
A speech kicks off the event. The Salvation Army helps the homeless, the poor, the suffering around the world.

Coffee is served from rear of an emergency disaster services vehicle.
Coffee is served from rear of an emergency disaster services vehicle.

This friendly lady provided some info about the popular Christian charitable organization.
This friendly lady provided some info about the popular Christian charitable organization.

A gathering in the park celebrates 150 years of doing the most good.
A gathering in the park celebrates 150 years of doing the most good.

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