He Loves DC: Alex Capece

Studio shot

You know how there are people whose enthusiasm for things is contagious? Alex Capece is one of those people. We Love DC’s Editor man, Tom, stumbled across Alex’s blog, Raising Ladders, a detailed account of his experience as an EMT/firefighter in the DC Fire Department. His eye for photography, paired with his knack for great storytelling makes for a compelling blog read, but also exposes a side of DC that most are unfamiliar with. We sat down at Commonwealth recently, and I grilled him all about his job, his love of DC, and his favorite places to take photographs.

Katie: What’s your favorite place in DC?

Alex: The National Portrait Gallery. The first time I went, I was lost for six hours – it was the first time I had been out on my own exploring the city.

What would you change about DC if you could? Don’t say traffic. Everyone says traffic.

Traffic. No, the humidity. There are days here where you feel like you’re stuck to the sidewalk.

So you write all about your experiences as a rookie firefighter. What do you enjoy about blogging?

When I first started Raising Ladders, I was writing it for friends and family, just so I could tell them about what I was doing. Now it’s more of a challenge to come up with interesting things. I try to write a post for every shift. I never really thought it would be so popular, now I try and think of what people would want to read. It’s like my dad says, if you do good work, someone will notice. I’m always impressed when people email me now, mostly asking about the DCFD.

Favorite 1

As an EMT and firefighter, what is the craziest call you’ve ever been on?

In DC, it was probably my experience with the crackhead, which I wrote about on RL. (Katie: and just for you dear reader, I copy/pasted from the original post, ’cause it’s just that funny) The members of Engine 15 and a truck company were standing around the scene of a gas leak; we had just shut the supply off when our attention was drawn to the shirtless man quickly walking up to us. “You know why? You know why? Because I’m about to go smoke this rock right here.” He thrust his clenched left hand proudly in the air, pumping his fist like he had just won the lottery. “…and if I smoke too much, and I need y’all… Imm’a call you on my phone right here.” In mirror image, he reached deep into his pocket and switched his dramatic pose; now wildly brandishing a cell phone with his right arm, he stared and waited for some reaction. Indifferent to the man’s statements (and probably growing bored), one of the guys from the truck company turned to our newfound friend and extended a pudgy finger in my direction. “Well, I’ll tell you what. The man you need to talk to… is right there.” Dammit. (“Probationary Manual, Chapter Eight: Talking to Excited Crack Heads for the Laughter and Enjoyment of Older Firefighters.”) Mr. Rock Addict began sauntering over to me, when he stopped short. His eyes looked me up and down for only a second, but it was enough to make him spin in place and hightail it back the way he came. “Naw, f*** that guy. He a rookie… I ain’t talkin’ to no rookie.” Great. Even the southeast crackheads know I’m the new guy.

Conversely, what is your typical call?

Chest pain, strokes, trouble breathing. You would not believe the amount of people who call us for “trouble breathing”.

What’s the thing that nobody ever asks you about your job that you like talking about?

Nothing. When people find out what I do, they wanna know everything. It’s not common, how many DC firefighters do you know?

What are some of the codes that the fire department use to describe situations?

There are no ten codes. We just call it as it is. If there’s a fire, we’ll say there’s a fire.

If you could work in any house in the District, where would you work?

We are assigned locations, and I’d be happy to work anywhere in the city. But given a choice, I’d probably work in South East. It’s nice, you feel a bit removed by the river, and it’s interesting to the point where I could never make up the stuff that happens there.


How do you spend your days off in the city?

Reading, blogging, taking pictures in random parts of the city. Right now I like taking pictures of Adams Morgan at night, lots of motion, good lights. I’m also starting to attend more theater shows, and I’ve been taking pictures of my friend who is a local comedian. It’s a challenge for me, shooting in a small space with poor lighting.

Your pictures are great, have you taken classes?

Nope, no formal training, I’m self-taught. I’d take classes if I had the money and a reliable schedule, but my shifts rotate.

For more of Alex, and all his adventures as a DC firefighter and EMT, head over to Raising Ladders. Also, the photos you see here are just a taste of the great pictures Alex has taken on the job. See more on smugmug. A large percentage of the proceeds of photograph portions will be donated to the Burn Foundation.

Katie moved to DC in 2007, and has since embarked upon a love affair with the city. She’s an education reform advocate and communications professional during the day; at night and on the weekends, she’s an owner here at We Love DC. Katie has high goals to eat herself through the entire city, with only her running shoes to save her from herself. For up-to-the-minute news and reviews (among other musings), follow her on Twitter!

6 thoughts on “He Loves DC: Alex Capece

  1. This is my new favorite local blog! Now it is even better because I learned that is being written by a smoking hot firefighter (swoon!) But his “About Me” page says he wants to remain anonymous. Won’t that be hard after you have published his name and photo?

  2. right? but alas – taken. i also had the pleasure of meeting his totally adorable, funny and lovable girlfriend. i’m now in the process of convincing him i need to meet all of his hot single firefighter friends. you can come. and re: identity – i’ll let him speak for himself when he sees the comments here, but his blog/identity was outed to the DCFD way before i got to him.

  3. Well, the original idea of the blog was to remain anonymous, yes (thus the “About Me” page that I set up long ago and simply forgot to ever change… oops!) However, it didn’t take readers in the Department very long at all to figure out who I was, by virtue of some simple detective work. I continue to keep everyone I write about anonymous, but I suppose it was only a matter of time before a bunch of people knew anyways.

    Side note: I’m actually a firefighter/paramedic, not a firefighter/EMT. The certifications are different in that mine allows me to perform more advanced medical procedures.

    Thanks for the awesome interview!

  4. RE: sidenote – thanks to the paramedic part we spend most of the day and night running all over! Seriously, the blog and pics are great. keep up the good work.

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