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Friday, April 29, 2005

RE: Copyright Infringement

Just to clarify things, I was not sought after for copyright infringement. I contacted the Roanoke Times to feature the blog since they are looking for blogs to feature on their website. In doing so I knew there was a possibility that they might have a problem with me copying and pasting some of the articles pertaining to the firefighters. After all I did not get permission to reproduce these articles. I do not know if I would have gotten permission or not. I have communicated with the online editor about this issue and he stated that I could ask for permission to reprint the articles. My whole issue with this is that after 3 days they archive the articles which are printed online, and offline possibly. He was thankful that I was honest and sincere about the issue. I will inquire about reprint permission. Until then I guess I will just write what I will about the incidents that I feel have purpose in being posted. I will link to any articles and then I will seek reprint permission.
So all in all he was very understanding about the whole deal and was not threatening about any of it.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

MVA on I-581

There was a six vehicle wreck on 581 today at exit 3B near Valley View Mall. E-2 marked in command on scene with multiple vehicles and entrapment. E-5 arrived and began extrication on a pick-up truck. L-1 was called for and dispatched to assist with the extrication. Three people were transported to the hospital. Other units which responded were BC-2, BC-3, Engine 9, Medic 2, Medic 6, Medic 9, and RS-1.

Due to copyright infringement I cannot copy and paste as I have done before. So I am now following the rules and posting the link to the Roanoke Times story. It includes a picture. I will however try to acquire reprint permission in the future.

Here is the story:

I will post the new link if it changes since I think I have more information printed than they do at this point. The archive articles after 3 days I think which means you have to pay to read them online.
Here is WDBJ7's story:

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Firefighter Roster part II

So I have just about completed the roster. I just have to fill in some blanks from 1985 to present and then go back and add in the guys from pre 1900. I should be able to make a complete seniority list for the entire life of the department. I have to say that this has been most interesting. I have seen so many surnames repeated. I think I was a little off on my estimate of 3000+ names and will admit now that it will be around 1600 once I cut out the repeated names. I will have this list and keep it. So if you would like to see it or inquire about it then shoot me an email. My next goal is to begin the history of the fire departments before the City took over in 1903 I believe. Man that Captain Wiseman was one hell of a historian. He has made my tasks easier, and I (we) owe him a lot of gratitude for the hours he spent on this tremendous and tedious task. I hope that I will be able to bring his work to life someday instead of keeping it buried in the boxes where it lays now.
As for a tidbit of history I will give you this. I have heard this story passed on by Captain Banks.
It is said that at station #2 located at East Ave. and Fourth St. S.E. the Firehouse had a dog that would meet the firefighters at the the boxes when an alarm would come in. I am not sure if the dog would beat them there or catch up to them. However the dog always new when the bells hit where the box was. However one day the dog and the horse drawn fire truck left the same time when a box alarm came in. The firefighters went one direction and the dog went the opposite direction and crossed paths. The dog got run over by the horse drawn fire truck and the dog was killed. Apparently the dog was going the right direction when it left the station to go to the correct box alarm but the firefighters went in the wrong direction and ran it over.
I wish to say that obviously this story was passed down and there is always a possibility that the story got twisted around a bit. However I am not disputing the story as this is how I heard it. If anyone can collaborate the story or wishes to tell it the way they heard it please email me or leave a comment.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Firefighter Roster

Well I have embarked on making a Roster of every Firefighter who has ever worked in the City of Roanoke. I have to say thanks to my predecessor Capt. Maurice Wiseman for putting most of it together before me. He hand wrote it and I am putting it into Excel format. He did a lot of work that some of you know of and a lot of you have no idea about. I am awed at the time he spent on the history of the department. We will always owe the preservation of our history to him. I only wish that I could have met him and shared in the stories that he took to his grave.
I currently have about 1100 names in the roster and I would assume that there will be about 3-4 thousand names when I am finished. It is interesting to see how many surnames are repeated, some are brothers, nephew, uncles, fathers, sons, and some aren't related at all. If you have a relative in the past let me know. I would love to include the link in ancestry. Some of the surnames I have seen that replicate are: Ferguson, Crouch, Duncan, Simmons, Poindexter, and Barker to name a few off the top of my head.
It is also interesting to see how many firefighters only stayed a couple of days or years. Many firefighters left and returned up to four times before staying for the long haul.
I will be able to fabricate a seniority list of all of the firefighters also.
This just gets more and more interesting as I go along.
Maybe someday I will be able to finish what I believe Capt. Wiseman set out to accomplish. And deliver to you a complete history of the Roanoke Fire Service. There are so many stories that need to be told, many that I am sure I haven't even heard before.
So on I go, I am currently on 1925 in the roster. I have entered most from 1975 on but I still need to fill the 50 year gap. Luckily Capt. Wiseman has most of that compiled for me. Oh and then I need to do pre 1900, which I have a lot of but will need to search to make sure not to leave anyone out.
Once I have finished the roster I will begin the history in part from what Capt. Wiseman left for us and fill in the blanks with whatever I can drum up.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Well I think I have struck Gold

I just got back from a little expedition downtown. No I wasn't taking pictures, or even taking full advantage of Roanoke's main Library. I was researching the Roanoke Fire Department at the Library without getting into all of the microfiche that they have. I skirted around the microfiche mainly because I did not know where to begin and I did not have a full day to put in doing the research. So after I finished I figured I would swing by the Union Hall and see what exactly was in Captain Maurice Wiseman's stash that he left the RFFA when he passed away. Now I have looked through some of the pictures, even scanned some of them into the computer, but I hadn't dug like I dug today. First off let me say wow. That man did a lot of work on the history of the department. He saved every newspaper clipping for years and has them all in order in huge binders. He has correspondence with other historians and information, data, articles from them. He has all of the stuff that I did not want to get into at the Library. This man got it all together, so much information, articles, pictures, stories all handwritten, photocopied, or typed on a type writer.

So what do we do with all of this information? We take it and run with it. No I don't mean steal it. We simply pick up the pieces that he left (and he left most of them) and we finish the puzzle.

Case and point: I have asked around about the Alert Fire company. I have asked everyone I have come in contact with. I hadn't gotten an answer from anyone. Well I found it today. On an earlier post I listed past Fire Stations including Volunteer Fire Departments in Roanoke from the past. Well I found a couple more. The Alert Fire Company No. 4 was chartered November 7, 1892 and disbanded February 28, 1903 and yes Capt. Wiseman left the whole roster also. So that answered that question but I answered some other questions that I didn't even know there was a question for. The Alert company was located near the Brewery.

The Friendship Fire Company #3 was originally named the Union Fire Company #3 (1890).

The Vigilant Steam Fire Company #1 was organized January 17, 1884 and disbanded December 31, 1893.

The Junior Hose Company #2 was chartered February 29, 1888 and was located in the basement of the Old Rorrer Hall on the Corner of Campbell and Roanoke St.

There was also

Roanoke Fire Company #1.

Roanoke Machine Works Hose Company #1 organized 1882 for protection of the Railway and the Hotel Roanoke.

Roanoke Machine Works Hose Company #2.

Hotel Roanoke Hose Company #2 organized Feb. 4, 1884 and disbanded prior to July 4, 1884.

Salem Fire Company

So that is a taste of what I have found. I will probably begin writing chapters on the history to be included in this blog to better serve the process and outcome of my findings and that of Captain Maurice Wiseman before me. If you have any questions email me

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Firefighters are demonstrating Roanoke City's first Hook and Ladder Truck (pulled by horses). This photo was taken in 1894 in front of the Bridgewater Carriage Factory Building located at the corner of Church Ave. and Henry St. (1st St.). Part of the second floor of this building was rented as a High School Annex 1893-1894. The photo comes from the Roanoke Firefighthers Association Captain Maurice Wiseman Collection. It is unclear if the Carraige company had anything to do with the fabrication of the horse drawn Hook and Ladder truck shown. I can only hope to find some more information on this. Of course there is a lot of Captain Wiseman's Collection that I have not even looked at yet.

Golf Tournament Revisited

The MDA Golf Tournament is coming up on July 14th and I could use all of the help I can get. The tournament benefits the MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Association) and we would like to make this the best one yet. Do you know how long this MDA golf tournament has been going on? I don't but I am looking into it. I think it has been since the mid 80's. Did you know that it was held in honor of Vernon Barnard for several years. Vernon Barnard was a Firefighter who most can remember, although he died before I joined the Fire Department. Vernon Barnard died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) which is also commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease. I am still not sure why we stopped doing that, and if prompted by the RFFA or any of you I would be glad to rekindle that honor (I would like to get permission from the family also). If anyone can point me in the direction of his family I would very much appreciate it.

We are in need of sponsors, teams, door prizes, etc. For the golf tournament so if you know of any businesses interested you can contact me at and I will contact them or get you the info. I would appreciate any assistance I can get.

Here is a little quiz about the history of the Roanoke Fire Department/Roanoke Fire-EMS to test your knowledge:

1. Who was the first Chief of the department?

2. When did the Hotel Roanoke burn? How many times did it burn?

3. When did the department get it's first motorized fire truck and where was it located?

4. When did the department get rid of Engine #1?

5. Where has the Chief's office been located in the past?

6. How many Firefighters have died in the line of duty in the department's history? What are their names?

7. What is the biggest fire in the department's history?

8. When was the third battalion (shift) added?

9. How many Fire Chiefs has the department had?

10. Are there currently any Fire Brigade's in the City of Roanoke?

So there it is, and no I do not claim to know all of the answers. I do have some thoughts, ideas, facts that have been passed on to me. I will post answers as they come in. Feel free to comment and give answers or thoughts.

Monday, April 18, 2005

A little taste of the past UPDATED!!!4-21-05

So I found an up and coming website about he history of Roanoke and it seems to have an emphasis on Roanoke City. You can visit the site at Also check out his blog at Hopefully through research we can assist each other in uncovering some history and tradition to bring to you.

Of course you can always bring the history and tradition to me, since my time in the department is relatively short still. So email me at with any questions, information, or leads on the past, present, or future.

I wish to thank all of the Crusty Old Jakes and the Senior members of this deparment in the persuit of the history and unearthing the traditions of this department. As I learn more I will begin to talk of my findings as well as posting the current happenings in the department.

Here is a list of all of the stations that I currently know of ever in Roanoke City.

#1 Vigilant Fire Station at Jefferson and Kirk (this was a volunteer station)(torn down)
#1 Fire station at 13 East Church Avenue
#2 Alert Fire Company ( I believe the number of the Alert Fire station to be either #2 or #4, however I do not have any data on this station other than the picture I posted earlier. ( unclear of exact location)
#2 Junior Fire Company located in the basement of the old Rorer Hall, on the corner of Campbell and Rorer Avenue.
(this was a volunteer company)
#2 Fire Station located at the corner of East Ave. and Fourth St. N.E.
#2 Fire Station at 55 Noble Ave.
#3 Friendship Fire Station (this was a volunteer station that was located near the site of station #2 at East Ave. and Fourth St. S.E.)(torn down)
#3 Fire station at 301 6th street SW
#4 Fire station at 323 Highland Ave. SW (torn down)
#4 Fire Station on Peters Creek Rd. (across the street from the new one)(now a business)
#4 Fire Station at 3763 Peters Creek Rd.
#5 Fire Station at 216 12 St. NW
#6 Fire Station at 1015 Jamison Ave. SE (still standing and currently a police sub-station and community meeting hall)
#6 Fire Station at 1333 Jamison Ave. SE
#7 Fire Station at 1724 Memorial Ave. SW
#8 Fire Station at 2328 Crystal Spring Ave.
#9 Fire Station at 514 24th St. NW

#10 Fire Station at 55 Noble Ave. ( This station was #10 from about 1962 until the mid 70's when the new station #10 was built.)
#10 Fire Station at 5202 Aviation Dr. NW
#11 Fire Station at 1502 Riverland Rd.
#12 Fire Station at 4810 Salem Tpk. (closed, currently a business)
#13 Fire Station at 4330 Appleton Ave. NW
#14 Fire Station at 1061 Mecca St. NE

I will correct any errors as I become aware of them or as I find out more information on the stations above.

The three stations listed above as volunteer stations were built and utilized as seperate volunteer companies that were privately maintained. The Vigilant Fire Company was the first one formed. The City took over the Fire Department regularly on March 1st, 1903 and a paid force was put in charge.

A little side note to this is that Station #14 in Nashville Tenn. is designed from the design of Roanoke City's Station #5. I have a picture of Nashville's Station #14 I will have to scan in the computer and post here. I think that I gave a copy of it to Station #5, although I am not sure if it is hanging there or not. Station 5 is identical to the old station 4 and 6. I do not know what the old station #2 looked like that was at East Avenue and Fourth St. N.E.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Those Crusty Old Jakes

The lessons of the Crusty Old Jakes.

I would like to let you all know that if you haven't sat down with one of those old crusty firefighters from yesteryear then you are missing out. You thought you knew something about firefighting, it's traditions and the lifestyle as it was meant to be well guess again. I am not only writing this because of my last encounter, rather due to the magnitude of the conversations, history lessons, and memories that I have had the pleasure of listening to.

Warren Hawley became a firefighter in 1952 and retired in 1982. This 30 year career took him to station 8,10, and the old airport facilities, among others I am sure. He still makes time to stop by a couple of stations every once in a while to chat as well as make it to the monthly breakfast of the Retirees (I will refer to them as the Crusty old Jakes out of reverence). The stories that Warren shared with me over the hour and a half that he was at the station were priceless. I have several photos of the past that I keep with me at the station and at home, which I got out for him. It was neat to see his face light up when I showed him a picture of him and his old crew. Captain Robert Lee Mutter, Captain Daniel Ralph Sink, Lt. Blenkey W. Greer, Lt. Everett Ray Walters, FF William W. Kopcial, FF. Lawrence E. Hylton (Bones), "that is me right there" he stated , and last FF Donald Ray Barbour. He went right down the list not missing a beat. He spoke of the guys as though he was still working with them. I had to continually ask him the guys real names as he simply referred to guys as Bones, Foots, Jake, Ann, Lightning, Brigham. I will let it be known that Warrens nicknames were Calhoun (sp) and Floor Board.

Warren spoke of different experiences and then talked of his time in WWII though not in depth. He said he was in the Air Force and he was sure to have me search the internet for his listing on the WWII memorial website, There you will find Warren Hawley as well as his brother Albert L. Hawley both of Roanoke with their pictures. He was very proud of everything.

Warren didn't mind me taking notes during the conversation. I could show him a picture that to me was a 50's era engine. He would tell me the make, engine size, GPM capacity, where it was stationed and any interesting story he could think of about the engine or some of it's drivers. I was able to add about 40 names to my list of the Roanoke City Fire Department Roster. I will continue to add until I am finished. I will post the roster on the site soon so you all can give input on who I am missing.

Speaking to Firefighter Warren Hawley was very interesting and I thought I would pass on to you the information you can find out. I have not put everything on here of course. There are things that you will just have to ask him yourself. What I am getting at is the next time you are in the station and a Crusty Old Jake shows up to say hey, why don't you ask him about the good ole days. What are you so busy? Unlikely. You guys aren't going to know what you have missed until it is gone. The links to the past, traditions, history.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Roanoke Women Trapped by Boulders

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Woman trapped overnight by boulders

She had crawled into the opening on the Roanoke River's bank to retrieve her keys and got stuck.

By Hattie Brown 981-3349

The Roanoke Times

A Roanoke woman was trapped between several boulders for at least 12 hours before being rescued Friday morning, Roanoke Fire-EMS Department officials said.
The 44-year-old woman, whose name wasn't released, suffered a few scratches and bruises, said Roanoke rescue supervisor Scott Alford. She was taken to Carilion
Roanoke Memorial Hospital. Alford said he did not know whether the woman had been released from the hospital as of Friday night.
Rescue workers found the woman a little before 10 a.m. stuck between several boulders on the bank of the Roanoke River near the 1300 block of Riverland Road, Capt. Chris Brown said. She was lying on her back looking up at them when workers arrived, Brown said.
Workers stabilized the rocks above her head and moved a 500- to 600-pound boulder, Brown said. Five people were needed to pull the woman out of the tight space. The rescue took about 15 minutes.
"I don't even see how she got in there," Brown said of the space, which he compared to a "small cavern."
After being freed from the boulders, the woman was oriented and walked up the bank on her own, Alford said. She did not appear to have any problems with exposure or dehydration.
The woman told officials she had been walking along the bank of the river when she dropped her keys in between the boulders, Brown said. She decided to crawl into the opening to retrieve her keys and got stuck. She had just enough room to turn around.
She told rescue workers she wasn't sure at what time she got stuck but that it was some time Thursday afternoon, Brown said. A man who was walking nearby heard her screaming Friday morning and alerted officials, Alford said.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

More Roanoke Fire-EMS in the News

Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Can police find your house?

By Lindsey Nair 981-3334

Officials say missing or poorly displayed house numbers waste precious moments in what could be life-threatening situations.
Roanoke County Detective Dale Clark was responding to a volatile domestic fight recently when he found himself looking at five houses on a private drive, only two of which were numbered.
Neither number was the one he was looking for.
Fortunately for the victim, Clark randomly chose the correct house and verified ownership by running vehicle tags through his data terminal, but it is not always that easy. Officials say missing or poorly displayed house numbers waste precious moments in what could be life-threatening situations.
"It's a real significant issue, and it's getting worse. It's not getting better," said
Roanoke Fire-EMS Assistant Chief Ralph Tartaglia.
When police officers, firefighters and medics have trouble finding a house, it compromises the safety of citizens. Roanoke police Sgt. R.S. Kahl says it can also endanger police officers who aren't sure which house to approach with caution.
Local ordinances in Roanoke and Roanoke County do provide instructions regarding house number display, including the required size of such numbers and the location where they must be posted. Regardless of the codes, however, some homeowners pay attention to the visibility of their numbers and some do not.
"It's not really a thing of negligence on people's part," Tartaglia said. "They just don't think about it."
Homes with no number at all are part of the problem, but responders also dislike house numbers that are poorly positioned or not well maintained, because they are hard to see from the street.
Sometimes numbers are on a lamppost in the yard, other times on a porch railing, the front steps or the curb by the street. In more rural areas, numbers might be painted on a rock, nailed on a tree or displayed on a decorative sign in a flower bed.
Even more difficult to find are numbers that are black on brown, white on white or hidden behind a bush.
Roanoke Fire-EMS Lt. Richard Alley, who recently responded to a carbon monoxide alarm at a house with no number, suggests that city residents affix their house number close to the front door and as close to a porch light as possible. A number on a porch railing is sometimes invisible in the dark because the porch light is behind it, he said.
Residents should always turn on their porch lights at night, especially when they've made a 911 call, Tartaglia said. If they cannot turn on the light, it helps if the house numbers are made of reflective material. That way, the floodlights on fire engines will easily light the numbers.
"If it is bad weather, it is really hard to see if it is not reflective," said Roanoke County Fire and Rescue Division Chief Steve Poff.
Roanoke rescuers say poorly marked apartment buildings are a big issue. In the county, Clark said, his pet peeve is private drives with a cluster of several mailboxes at the end. If the houses themselves aren't numbered, responders are left wondering which mailbox goes with which house.
Clark said houses with only one numbered mailbox at the end of the driveway are suitable, but Tartaglia warns that citizens should number both sides of the mailbox instead of just one.
"I don't know that my trucks are going to come from the same direction the mailman comes," he said.
Emergency responders say that at the very least, residents should take a moment to survey their home the next time they drive up in their vehicle. If they cannot easily see their house number, it might be time for a trip to the hardware store.
Said Tartaglia: "Anything that the citizens can do to help us with the visibility has the potential to be a life-saving measure."

(C)2005 The Roanoke Times

Fire at 600 block of Elmcrest Street NE

From the Roanoke Times

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

House fire causes $10,000 in damage

A Roanoke home was damaged by fire early Tuesday, but no residents were hurt, officials said.
Firefighters were called to the 600 block of Elmcrest Street Northeast about 6:45 a.m. and found heavy smoke coming from a single-family house, said
Roanoke Fire-EMS spokeswoman Jennifer Faulkner. The person who was home at the time escaped without injury. Faulkner said that the fire started in a basement bedroom. Fire damage was contained to that room, but the rest of the house sustained significant smoke damage. Damage was estimated at $10,000.
No cause has been determined.
-Lindsey Nair

(C)2005 The Roanoke Times