Category: From the Editor


Hoopie World Editor’s Blog


Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all the Hoopies out there.  Sorry its been a while since anything has been added to the site.  Things got busy and just snowballed from there during the late fall, and time was just not available to put towards the site.  I thought I’d give a little update on things.

First, lets do a quick year in review.  The site started slow last year and got rolling again.  At the peak, the site hit an Alexa ranking of around 374,000 in September.  For those of you unfamiliar with Alexa rankings, it is a site that ranks websites for popularity.  The 374,000 indicated that Hoopie World was the 374,000th most popular site in the whole world, which isn’t too bad if you compare that to other firefighting related sites.  We are currently around 600,000, which is expected due to the lack of updates to the site.

Hoopie World is also now on Facebook and has a Twitter account.  Spread the word to your Facebook friends to become a fan and we’ll see how many we can get.  The Twitter account allows us to “Tweet” our news stories and updates to those who follow us on Twitter.

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PA Volunteer Departments – Please Take Notice

Here on the eve of the G20 Summit, its certainly busy times for fire departments in western PA as plans are being put in place.  However, I would like to bring the following state budget news to everyone’s attention, in case you missed the news at first like I did myself.

The state has announced they may have a budget agreement after the latest changes.  One of those changes is to levy a 20% tax on small games of chance income.  Guess what that means fellow volunteers?  For every $10 you make at bingos, cash bashes, lottery ticket sales, etc the state is going to take $2 from you.  How is that for “supporting” you local fire department?

There is no mention of the state grant program for fire and ambulance services, but it sounds like that will stay in place. I’m guessing they didn’t want to touch that because the public would hear “cutting funds to fire/ems” and there would be an outcry.  If they tax small games of chance, the general public may not realize who that is really impacting.

Per the Tribune-Review

A new 20 percent tax would be levied on the profits of small games of chance, which include punch boards, pull tabs and raffle tickets. The tax will be paid by the licensee, said Andrew Crompton, a lawyer for Scarnati. It will not include bingo.

The tax is applicable to nonprofits with liquor licenses. It does not extend to church raffles, he said.

Prize limits will likely increase from the current $5,000 per week to $20,000 per week per club, Crompton said.

Looks to me just another step in getting volunteer fire departments to close their doors.  I agree, in some counties there are too many departments, and some consolidation is needed.  However, at the rate they are changing things, its almost like certain government leaders have agenda’s to close them quickly.

I recommend discussing this new proposal of the budget with your state representative.  Let them know us volunteers only have so much time in a day, and that working 20% more for fundraising is not something that the state should be making us do.  Do the state leaders really think we make that much from Night at the Races and lottery tickets?

They are back in session on Wednesday to discuss the details of this new proposal, so there is still time to make your feelings known.  Pennsylvania is still the only state without a current budget.

Bird’s Eye View Game – Round 3

Its back by popular demand!  Round 3 of Bird’s Eye View.  For those of you that missed the first 2 rounds, I post aerial photos of stations from around the region and you guess which stations they are.  I have them broken down by county to help you out.  Good luck and we’ll see how good you guys are this round! (Click on pictures for larger size)

1) Allegheny County

ac-rd3

2) Beaver County

beavercounty-rd3

3) Butler County

butlercounty-rd3

4) Fayette County

fayetteco-rd3

7) Washington County

washcounty-rd3

8 ) Westmoreland County

westcounty-rd3

Be sure to leave your guesses in the comments below.

Further Twitter Explanation

For those of you that still don’t use or understand Twitter, FireCritic.com helps further explain what it is and how it is useful.

I see a lot of firefighters and EMT’s ask “What the heck is Twitter”. Or better yet “What the hell is A Twitter”?

I have heard firefighters in my own department, in my own station ask what it is. Some of them don’t know what email is…so it is not worth too much of a detailed explanation.Let me explain what twitter is and why it benefits firefighters and EMT’s.

First of all, Twitter (Twitter.com) is a social networking tool. Users can type whatever the heck they want as long as it is shorter than 140 characters.

Read the full article here

Props to Eric Godard From the Penguins

Eric Godard, of the Pittsburgh Penguins, just went up a notch in my book as I found out that during his day with the Stanley Cup he visited the Vernon, British Columbia Fire and Police Departments.

Photo by HHOF.com

Photo by HHOF.com

You can read the article covering the visit at http://www.hhof.com/html/exSCJ09_20.shtml.   Judging by this act, it sounds like Godard is just like most other NHL’s and very down to earth.  His day with the Cup was August 23rd, and also made sure he visited the local Boys & Girls Club.

Thanks Eric for remembering the police officers and firefighters, and I know its not your hometown, but if you are ever in Lincoln Boro . . .

Web Design Tip – Please Keep the Music Silent

Ask anyone that knows me, and they will tell you I’m on the computer and internet all the time.  I swear my laptop is attached as a third arm of mine sometimes.  I know many of the visitors to Hoopie World run their own firefighting or departmental sites, so I thought I’d start giving some web design tips from time to time.

My first tip, is half tip – half rant.  I know many feel very strongly on this topic and it can really harm your site and chances of people sticking around and checking it out if you don’t follow my advice.  My advice is to NOT have embedded music on your site.  Embedded music is the music that starts playing as soon as the visitor goes to your site.  There is nothing more annoying, or more likely to cause visitors to click away from your site than to have music start blaring out you once a visitor lands on your site.

One reason its a bad idea is that if the visitor doesn’t like the particular song, it already puts a bad taste in their mouth, or ears in this case, while thinking and visiting your site.  Another reason is that the music player usually slows down the pages loading, which in turn frustrates the visitor.  Yes, with broadband connections pretty standard this days, its less of a concern, but it still causes a site to lag a little bit.  Lastly, its an old fad that isn’t necessary anymore.  It was neat back in the late 90’s to see what you can do with your web sites, but its really not necessary now.  People are listening to their own mp3s or Ipods, watching streaming shows and sporting events, and watching tv in the background while surfing (I could name about 12 other things that I’m usually doing while surfing) and they really don’t need to be bothered with music that in all likelihood they aren’t going to like.

Now, if you are running a band site, or have audio that you would like to share with the visitors (like our fire dispatch audio section), link to the files and let the visitors stream them or download them ON THEIR TERMS.  None of this force fed automatic stuff.  Please do not say, well all they have to do is hit the stop or pause button to stop it.  Most visitors are not on the site long enough to find the button if music starts playing.

So please, for a lot of people’s sanity, and to make your site better,  remove the automatic music from your web site.

Is Fire Buffing In Western Pa Dead?

Canon 40DI have been seeing a definite decline in fire buffing over the last few months in our western Pennsylvania region that Hoopie World covers.  When I refer to fire buffing, I’m talking the traditional going to a fire/rescue incident and taking pictures or video and making a report about it.  I’m not including going onto the forums and discussing incidents and strategies as part of that fire buffing definition. I thought I’d share some of my thoughts about this situation, and throw out why I think this may be occurring.

Its getting to a point now if I’m wondering if there are any fire buffs out there any longer.  I haven’t received a picture or incident report in over 4 months related to a working fire or incident.  Its been over 5 months since someone that isn’t directly tied to the site has sent in an incident report.  Yes, I have received fundraising event notifications, parade pictures, apparatus pictures, and other general information, but any featured working incidents as of late have been reported by myself and shot by myself.  In prior years, Hoopie World would average around 10 submitted incidents a month.  Some months there would be less, but many months there were more than that.  There have been over 135 individuals that have sent incident pictures in since the site’s beginning.  Where did everyone go?

I’ve been putting a lot of thought into this lately and have some suspected reasons why the incidents have stopped coming in.  However, I’ve also come up with reasons why the submissions shouldn’t have stopped. Hopefully some buffs will read this  and give some feedback as well.

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