Headline Animator

Sunday, October 30, 2005

News from The Roanoke Times -Roanoke's new defenses give earlier warning, better responses

News from The Roanoke Times -Roanoke's new defenses give earlier warning, better responses:
Sunday, October 30, 2005

Roanoke's new defenses give earlier warning, better responses

Officials say a 1985-like storm would still be dangerous, but they wouldn't be caught by surprise. Could the Great Flood of '85 happen again? | view photos, audio gallery from the flood

By Laurence Hammack
The Roanoke Times

Twenty years ago, David Hoback had a bird's-eye view of the chaos and devastation wrought by the Roanoke Valley's worst flooding on record.

A volunteer firefighter at the time, Hoback spent the afternoon of Nov. 4, 1985, aboard a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter, rescuing people from the rooftops where they had been trapped by raging floodwaters.

"Nobody had a clue this was coming," Hoback said.

Today, as the acting chief of the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department and the beneficiary of 20 years of hindsight, Hoback has a different view of how the Roanoke Valley's first responders would handle a flood like the one in 1985, which caused more than $100 million in damage and killed 10 people.

"We can't stop the water from rising and falling," he said. "But we certainly can make preparations to prevent property loss and the loss of life."

I am sure that the Firefighters here in Roanoke City are more prepared for disasters such as this mentioned. It seems as though we have seen increased localized flooding in the past couple of years. Check out the link above for more information from today's paper including pictures of the rescues and clean up during the flood of '85.

MS- 13 Mara Salvatrucha

MS-13 initiation poses a threat to First Responders across the nation.

This information I have heard for the past few hours now. I have researched it online to insure that I am spreading credible information and not some urban legend. MS 13 stands for the gang Mara Salvatrucha. Bio information here. The gang is comprised of mostly hispanics, although there are reports of all different races being involved.

Most of the Salvadorian refugees settled in the established Hispanic neighborhoods of the "Rampart" area of Los Angeles. However, Salvadorians were not readily accepted into the Los Angeles Hispanic community, and were frequently targeted by local Hispanic gangs. As a result, in the late 1980s, some refugees and refugee members of La Mara and FMNL (Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front) formed what is now known as the Mara Salvatrucha (MS) street gang in Los Angeles. Like many other street gangs, MS initially formed for protection, but quickly developed a reputation for being organized and extremely violent. MS membership continues to be fed by refugees from groups like FMNL.
From what I understand the gang is possibly here in Roanoke. Word has been passed on from the Richmond PD to the Roanoke PD about this gang activity. The gangs are actively "ranking" the new members. This is believed to be an initiation type activity. This poses many issues to the First Responders in the area. First of all, there is a possibility of more violence in the area. Secondly and more importantly it is reported that one activity during "ranking" is to harm a Police Officer, Firefighter, and/or EMT. It is also reported to me that you should be on alert if around these suspected gang members if they take off their hats, unbutton their shirts, and/or speak of fighting. This threat is reported to be in effect for the next three nights. Hopefully the Firefighters/EMT's in the area will not be effected by these activities. Although I thought it warranted a mention to the readership of the blog. Knowledge is power, and as long as we are informed we can respond safely, do our jobs, and go home in the morning.

If you have anything to add to assist in understanding this threat please let me know.

Habitat For Humanity - Operation Home Delivery

Habitat For Humanity - Operation Home Delivery

This is an update to the guys who have offered to help out with building the Habitat for Humanity "Operation Home Delivery". I was called the other day by HFHRV and informed that due to the outpouring of support through donations, the HFHRV is going to be building a 4th house for the residents of Slidell, Lousiana. This fourth house will be built on Friday, Nov. 4th. This is the day that the Firefighters will be out building. I know that if there is anyone out there who can build a house in a day, it is us. We hope to see you out there. We also need help out there with cooking and feeding all of the volunteers.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Firefighters in the Community

Photo by webmaster. L-R Lt. Brent Berry, FF John Burroughs, FF Tom Gehrman, FF Jarrod Fuhrman, FF Jon Vandam, Lt. Rodney Jordan.

Community event at Community Hospital including Ladder 1 and Medic 3 B-Shift, the Fire Safety House, Jon Vandam, PIO Tiffany Bradbury, Kevin Bradbury, and myself. Much thanks to everyone involved. Roanoke City Police, Roanoke sheriffs Office, as well as Carilion and many others were there for the children. This will be posted on the RFFA website on the RFFA/Fire Safety House page. (Here)

Friday, October 28, 2005

Roanoke Firefighters: News from The Roanoke Times -Team helps Rita's victims

Roanoke Firefighters: News from The Roanoke Times -Team helps Rita's victims


If you all would direct your attention to the link above. There is a message/comment to the Firefighters who went to Johnson's Bayou and also to the Firefighters who remained here.

Technorati tags:

Mike Pruitt's last shift

This excellent photography is that of Capt. Willie Wines. Thanks for sending in the picture. This is Mike Pruitt handing off his coat to Lt. Kelcey Branch. Mike's Captain, Doug Rorrer, is in Florida restoring the EOC with some other FF's. I apologize for not stopping by, I tried. Good luck to you in your new post in Franklin County. Many guys stopped by to wish Mike well including Chief Hoback and the Acting Battalion 1, Captain Willie Wines. Following tradition, Mike was relieved at 5 pm and fed a steak dinner. Many thanks to FF Gary Fisher for coming in to cover for Mike and allow tradition to continue.

The first Black Firefighter in the Roanoke Fire Department

Early on, in the beginning of this blog, I talked about a Firefighter Roster. This roster is still incomplete, and might never be complete. How is it that I could stamp a "complete" on the roster when there is no one here to verify Firefighters who were here in the beginning. Captain Wiseman did an excellent job collecting information. He has probably 10 incomplete rosters. I have taken them and formed one roster. I would like to expand the roster some day, but at this point I have it in this format; last name, first name, position (highest obtained), hire date, retire/leave date, nickname, additional information, station assignment. In the past firefighters stayed at a station for their entire career or at least 3/4 of it. Nowadays, for several reasons, firefighters are moved around from station to station, shift to shift. Currently we only have a couple of firefighters who have been at a single station for any length of time. Good or bad, that is how it is.

The First Black Firefighter in Roanoke City:
For a while now I have been asking around as to who exactly was the first black firefighter here in the City. Everybody knew that Rawleigh Quarles was hired in December 1, 1963. Quarles, who became Chief on July 13, 1989, was thought to be the first one. However if you ask around there was another. But who was it. Who was the man who broke the racial barrier in the Roanoke Fire Department. His name was Joseph C. Crutchfield. He was also hired on December 1, 1963. So who gets the credit for breaking the racial barrier. Well being that both of the men mentioned came on the same day they both do. However Crutchfield actually signed the papers first. That indeed is a formality which exists today. If you look at the Seniority list you will see many firefighters hired on the same day. The order they are in is not random or alphabetically it is indeed the order in which the new employees signed the list on the first day of work. So indeed the case of who gets the credit is kind of like twins. They both were hired on the same day, but one signed the paper first.

Other firsts in the Department:

1st Black Female hired: Lt. Nichole Wade April 21, 1997, who recently left the dept. to work for the Railroad.
1st Female: Lt. Helen Bender, FF/PM Tonya Meeks, FF/PM Karen Ash, and FF/PM Gracie Humbert all came to the Fire Department in the merge in late 1995. So they are all credited with breaking the gender barrier her in Roanoke. Of these four, I believe that Lt. Helen Bender had been with the EMS Department the longest.

If you have a request of information on certain statistics or other firsts let me know and I would be happy to research the information. Email FireFleitz

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Roanoke Fire-EMS Department Promotional Ceremony

On Thursday, October 27, 2005 the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department held a Promotion Ceremony in City Council Chambers. The ceremony was to recognize individuals being promoted to Lieutenant, 1st Lieutenant and Captain.

Chief David Hoback officiated the badge ceremony. The Honorable Mayor Nelson Harris and Chief Jim Grigsby also addressed the promotees.

Please join the department in congratulating: Lt. Jamey Brads, Lt. Tim Cady, Lt. William Humbert, Lt. Scott Weaver, Lt. Brian Wray, 1st Lt. Chad Riddleberger, 1st Lt. Sam Stump, Capt. Kevin Bell, Capt. Dennis Croft, Capt. R.T. Flora & Assistant Fire Marshal Daniel Rakes. All of these individuals put forth alot of time and effort to be promoted. The department wishes them the best in their new duties and future endeavors.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Mike Pruitt leaves us for Franklin County

Pictured above: LtoR Captain Mutter, Lt. Kelcey Branch, FF Eric Mulford, Captain Willy Wines, FF Rob Bolton, FF Chip Johnston, Sitting are: FF Mike Pruitt, Captain Doug Rorrer as well as spouses.
Firefighter Mike Pruitt has left the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department to work for Franklin County. From what I understand he will be a Capt. in Training for the growing County. Franklin County currently has about a dozen Volunteer Fire departments who are supplemented during the day with paid FF/Paramedics. Mike has been with the RFEMS Dept. for around 4-5 years and has been stationed at Station #3 for most or all of his time . His presence will be missed, although I am sure we will be seeing him around. | Fighting fires and flat notes | Fighting fires and flat notes:

Fighting fires and flat notes

Dionne Waugh
August 7, 2005

They say it’s like wrestling an octopus.

For the past 10 months, Lynchburg firefighters endured torments from their colleagues, and sometimes even their dogs, and daily and weekly

practices to learn to play the bagpipes.

And that’s not even mentioning the kilts.

The Lynchburg Pipes and Drums offered to play at the 9/11 Memorial this year, although due to the RFFA not having a dedicated event planner for this event we were unable to accept. I believe that you will be hearing them very soon.

HTR response today for a vehicle into a house

The Roanoke Fire-EMS HTR team responded with Engine 11 to a single vehicle accident - vehicle into a house. The pictures below show the route the vehicle took to attain "Dukes of Hazzard" style points. Apparently the driver stated that her foot got caught on the gas pedal.
Above: You can see the point of entry on the obstacle course. Through the driveway the picture was taken from, brushing against the FORD on the left, between the two bushes pictured on the right, over the 5 foot retainment wall, onto the next driveway.
Above: Here you can see that she side swiped the house on the right knocking the meter off of the house, running over the gas grill (which you can see laying in the yard), over a 3 step drop, into the yard (you can see the tracks where she landed).
Above: Here the car rests neatly tucked into the basement of the house, not her house I might add).
Here you can see the vehicle nicely tucked away inside the house. I don't think this is what they were looking for when they opened the door.
The Roanoke County HTR team was called in as well to supply Roanoke City with enough lumber to shore up the damage and insure no structural collapse. Engine 11 was Command, while HTR was Operations sector. I am not sure how many other units responded. The driver refused treatment and transport, although she apparently appeared a little shaken up.

This is what Roanoke Fire-EMS put out about the wreck:

ical Rescue Truck for a total of 12 personnel responded to the scene.

Fire crews responded to a car that had left a home on Gillette Ave., went through the back yard and hit the house on Craig Robertson Rd. The house had to be stabilized before the car could be removed. Both the City of Roanoke Heavy Tactical Rescue (HTR) Truck and Roanoke County's Heavy Tactical Rescue (HTR) Truck were used to remove the car from the foundation of the home on Craig Robertson Rd.

There were no injuries to citizens or Fire-EMS personnel. Damage estimates to the home on Gillette Ave. are approximately $15,000. Damage estimates to the home on Craig Robertson Rd. are approximately $20,000.

Team will help restore emergency operations in Florida

Team will help restore emergency operations in Florida

Here is a short article on the team from Roanoke Fire-EMS leaving for Hurricane Wilma Relief in Florida. The team consists of Asst. Chief Ralph Tartaglia, Captain Daniel Rakes, Captain Teddy Adkins, Captain Doug Rorrer, and Captain Robert Perdue.

Are Firefighters Overrated?: Editorial & Features at

Are Firefighters Overrated?: Editorial & Features at

I found this at VPFF Online

Monday, October 24, 2005 - Think Global. Blog Local. For all the Roanoke Bloggers out there. - Think Global. Blog Local.:
We're looking for committed, active bloggers from all over the world.

If you are in one of the cities listed below and are interested in blogging regularly with us, please sign up.

If your city isn't on this list that's because no one has applied from there yet. You can be the first! We need 10 bloggers to launch a city, so if you can help us track down others in your area, please let us know about that as well.

(At this time we are not accepting applications from people who do not currently maintain their own blogs)

Hey there fellow Roanoke Bloggers. You guys should check this out. Also to all of you wanna be's. You might have an opportunity here. Just let them know and let me know that you let them know you are interested. We will have to see what comes of this. Thanks.
Technorati tags: , , ,

From On High

From On High:

The alarm sounds. Conversation abruptly ceases. A scramble ensues. Controlled mayhem. Followed closely on by disciplined, practiced, unhesitating, focused preparation.

Preparing to do what they do best. What they're trained to do. What's expected of them. What they demand of themselves. Roanoke's finest.

Lives are at stake. In every case. On every run. Civilians' lives most importantly. Firefighters' lives always.

Not to mention exhaustion. Dehydration. The potential for smoke inhalation. Injury. Worse.

Every day.(MORE)

News from The Roanoke Times -Firefighters return from aiding La. town

News from The Roanoke Times -Firefighters return from aiding La. town:

Firefighters return from aiding La. town

By Christina Rogers
The Roanoke Times

Wearing navy cargo pants, black rubber boots and ear-to-ear grins shaded with beards or stubble, six Roanoke firefighters returned to the Roanoke Valley on Sunday afternoon after a 20-day stint in the hurricane-ravaged town of Johnson's
Bayou, La.

About 4:30 p.m., the team's two trucks rolled into the parking lot of the Roanoke Valley Regional Fire-EMS Training Center in Salem after a 16-hour drive home. They were greeted by relatives, friends and colleagues, and the team hurried into the embraces of loved ones.(MORE)
Welcome back Guys. We appreciate the work that you all did as much as the people you did it for. Thank you for giving your time and being away from your loved ones. You cannot put a price on the work you did for that community.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Local 3194 | Roanoke County Professional Firefighters and Paramedics

Local 3194 | Roanoke County Professional Firefighters and Paramedics

Check out Local 3194's new website. Looks good. Welcome back to the information age. Keep up the hard work.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Google Search added to Roanoke Firefighters

I have added a Google Search window in the sidebar. You can search the Web, This site (Roanoke Firefighters Blog), or Local 1132 ( Hopefully this will assist you in finding exactly what you are looking for in the archives and on the RFFA website. So check it out. Although the search for this site is still being cached so there might be a delay on using it for this site. However now you can search Google directly from the site.

Local 1132 News Wire

Local 1132 News Wire:
Dalmation Rescue of Southwest Virginia
The Dalmation Rescue of Southwest Virginia will be taking photographs for their upcoming Calendar. We are not sure exactly how many calendars they are doing, however we think it will be several different ones. The following dates and times are when you can show up to be in a picture to be used in the Calendar. You will have to talk to them about the details. All we know is to show up with your turnout gear to be in a picture. Everyone is welcome.
Technorati tags: , , ,

Check out this post on the Local 1132 News Wire about the local photo shoot for the DRSV Firefighter/Dalmation Calendar.

News from The Roanoke Times -Team helps Rita's victims

Photo courtesy of Captain Kent Mclhany.

News from The Roanoke Times -Team helps Rita's victims:
Team helps Rita's victims

The paper in Johnson's Bayou, La., described the team as "tougher than a coffin nail with hearts of solid gold."

By Todd Jackson
The Roanoke Times

A team of Roanoke firefighters is finishing up a wild, weird and weary hurricane relief stint in Johnson's Bayou, La.

They've killed snakes, avoided alligators, and trudged through muck to do whatever the small Louisiana enclave needs them to do -- and the Roanoke team has been accepted by the locals there like a brigade of reinforcements that arrived just in ti

Johnson's Bayou was ravaged by Hurricane Rita and running water and uninterrupted power has yet to be restored.

Several days ago, the local paper in Johnson's Bayou described the Roanoke team as "tougher than a coffin nail with hearts of solid gold."

"This is like a movie," said Jeff Beckner, a Roanoke battalion chief commanding the team.
Technorati tags: , , ,

It is good to see that our boys are finally getting some recognition. It seems as though they have done a lot of good down there. I hope to post some pictures when they return.

Fire at Old Spanish Trail

Check out the article from the Roanoke Times (HERE)

The Roanoke Fire-EMS Department responded to a residential fire on October 19, 2005 at 4306 Old Spanish Trail. The call was received through the 9-1-1 Center at approximately 9:04pm and was quickly under control. The response of three Engines, two Ladder trucks, two Medic Units, one Investigative Unit, one Battalion Chief & one Administrative Chief for a total of 28 personnel responded to the fire.

Upon arrival fire crews found fire in an apartment. Fire crews quickly & aggressively extinguished the fire. The fire started in the living room area of the apartment and was contained to the living room.

The apartment building was occupied at the time of the fire. Everyone escaped unharmed. There were no injuries to civilians or Fire-EMS personnel.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Damage estimates are approximately $10,000.

News from The Roanoke Times -Prayers for protection mingle with gratitude for public safety

News from The Roanoke Times -Prayers for protection mingle with gratitude for public safety:
Prayers for protection mingle with gratitude for public safety

Roanoke police Sgt. David Boyer said he'd heard of cities holding similar Masses and decided to organize one.

David Harrison
The Roanoke Times

Trooper Dave Purcell left his radio in the car and his dog at home but wore his crisp Virginia State Police canine unit uniform to St. Andrew's Roman Catholic Church Wednesday evening.

He was not alone.

The church held a special service -- known as a "Blue Mass" -- Wednesday to thank police, fire and rescue workers for their work and to pray for their continued safety, as well as to honor those emergency workers who have died in the line of duty. It was the first such service to be held in the Roanoke Valley but many of those present said they hoped it would become an annual tradition.

"It's nice to know that you are still appreciated. Sometimes it feels lonely," said Purcell, who had kept his pager with him but had switched it to vibrate, even though, he added, "I wasn't going to go anywhere."
Technorati tags: , , , ,

I was fortunate enough to have gone to the Blue Mass. It was a great opportunity for Police Officers, Firefighters, and Emergency Services Personnel to be praised for the job we do. Monsignor Thomas Miller delivered an excellent Homily talking of why we do what we do and that it is a calling as opposed to a job. I think he hit the nail on the head. Most of us would not do what we do if we did not have that calling, that need to help people, that sense of family while we are at work.

If you are able to see the printed Roanoke Times you will see a picture of sergeant David Boyer and myself. Sgt. Boyer was the Mass coordinator, as a member of the Knights of Columbus at St. Andrews, as well as reading the First Reading. I read the Second Reading, and I thought I did a pretty good job. You all would have been proud. Unfortunately there were not too many Firefighters there. I would give you an exact count but it is kind of embarrassing.

If you weren't there then you missed Warpipe, Roanoke's Premier pipes and drum band, they were amazing. It was great to here the pipes and drums resounding inside of the Cathedral ceilings of St. Andrews Catholic Church. If you have a chance to hear them play I would make every attempt to be there.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Reminder - Blue Mass for Public Safety

The Blue Mass being held by the Knights of Columbus will be tomorrow Wednesday October 19th at St. Andrews Catholic Church. The Mass will be at 7pm and everyone is welcome. There will be a reception to follow. The Firefighters are asked to dress in Class A uniform. Any questions page me at 201-4667.

Habitat For Humanity House Build

Habitat For Humanity House Build
I have finalized the plans. We will be providing food for the workers on Friday November 4th. There will be a need for Firefighters to be out to help with the food as well as assisting with the build. Unless they are delayed by rain the plan of action for Friday is to package the houses for delivery. If they are behind then there will still be building going on. If you are on A-shift as several of you are who have contacted me, then get a group of 2-5 of you together and I will call to fit you into building on one of the other days.
We will need Firefighters to assist us with feeding the Volunteers on Friday November 4th from 7am til 6 pm.
We also need about 25 Firefighters to assist with packaging the houses for delivery during the day. The shifts for that are 8-11, 11-3, and 3-6. You could help with both if you like and make a day of it.
Please contact me to sign up and help out. My pager # is 201-4667. My email is Or you can contact me at Station 8-C until the moves are in effect and then I will be on the ARFF crew at Station 10-C.
I apologize for leaving A-shift out of the rotation on this day. It was not my intention since you all are the ones I have heard from the most. Like I said if you would like to help on one of the other days let me know and I will call to fit you in. They are only 3 hour shifts.

Kenneth Robert Sharp - Former Lieutenant Dies

I got news of Kenneth Sharps passing this morning. Unfortunately I do not have much information on him.
This is the information I found online:
The Roanoke Times:

SHARP, Kenneth Robert
Kenneth (Ken) Robert Sharp, 60, of Elon, N.C., died Sunday, October 16, 2005. Funeral service 2 p.m. Wednesday, October 19, 2005 at the Lowe Funeral Home Chapel, Burlington, N.C., 336-228-8366.
I have found that Kenneth Sharp was hired on November 9, 1976 and left the department as a Lieutenant on November 18, 1986. If I find out more I will let you all know. If you have anything to add please let me know.
I have heard from several of you on Kenneth Sharp. Kenneth was also a Fire Marshal in Roanoke County. Kenneth then went on to be the Elected Director Virginia Department of Fire Programs. Thanks for the information guys.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Recruit School #7 Final Burn

Today I had the opprotunity of seeing Recruit School #7 in action during their live burn at the Roanoke Valley Regional Training Center. I took a few photos for your enjoyment and have posted them on the Local 1132 website. The recruits will be graduating on November 1st. I wish them the best in their careers and welcome to our family.
You can view the Photo Album Here.

Roanoke City keeps losing Firefighters

What happened to the days of Firefighters staying in Roanoke City for 30 plus years? In the past the Firefighters who have worked for the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department have stayed for their entire Career, sure there have been a few here and there who have left, but nothing like today. I have now been here for almost 7 years. I moved here for the job and began a family here. Most of the Firefighters in the City have lived here (Southwest Virginia) their entire lives. This is the area they love and they would not move away. So why does it seem as though there is a growing trend for Firefighters to stay a few years and move on to something "bigger and better"? Sure this Department is not perfect, but as anyone will tell you, other departments have the same problems. We have seen Firefighters move out of town, change careers, change departments. Why?
I do not fault anyone for leaving. That is their prerogative. I just hope that no one is leaving for the wrong reasons. This is the best profession in the World. It may also be the most thankless job in the World. But that isn't why we do what we do. We do it because we love it. I hate to see anyone throw it all away just to make a little more money. Just because they think things won't get better. Just because it seems like nobody is listening.
The Department is not totally at fault, but the same reasons that guys used to stay are not holding true today. Back in the day when there was an issue the firefighters got together, all of them, and tried their best to correct the problem. This day in age the newer Firefighters are afraid of retaliation, worried about promotions, scared of retribution for speaking out. Why? Don't they know that the only way that anyone is going to know something is wrong is to point out the problem. No one is going to come to you and ask you what is wrong. So we need to speak up, right? Well it isn't that easy. We need to unite and speak as one. All day long I listen to Firefighters talk about "what about this" and "what about that". Well why not stop asking and get involved. Do a little research and ask more questions. Pose a solution. Roanoke City doesn't want to hear you complain. However, if you indeed have a complaint, then tell them the problem and offer a solution. Case and Point = the Diesel Exhaust Systems in the Stations. The Firefighters have been talking about this for years, way before my time. The City isn't going to spend money on anything unless they have to. So finally we got our shot to make it political. And it worked. Although the Systems are not installed yet, hopefully they will be within the next year. That is a win for the Firefighters. That is how it works.
I understand that one of our Chiefs has stated that he would like to see the members of the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department use the City as a stepping stone. That is admirable. If indeed you are able to take full advantage of the Tuition Reimbursement program, available training, and possibly get promoted, then you might very well be able to use this Dept. as a stepping stone. However, I have to ask how many of us really want to move away? Maybe time will tell. I have only seen one (1) individual, maybe two (2) use this Dept. as a true stepping stone. Moving to another department because of pay and other benefits also applies because he did not have to go through Recruit school.
Maybe we will see a trend of Firefighters moving to other Departments to become Chiefs someday. I know we have some who qualify. Until then I hope we can hold onto the Firefighters we have.

Port Arthur News

Guiseppe Barranco- The News staff writer

JOHNSONS BAYOU - Tougher than a coffin nail with hearts of solid gold, six firefighters from Roanoke, Va. are challenging the effects of Hurricane Rita and working hard to mend the lives of several victims in Johnsons Bayou, La.

Just like millions of other citizens, all but one of the Johnsons Bayou volunteer firefighters evacuated their homes when Rita approached the coast.

With families to tend to and no homes to return to, the volunteer firefighters continued to remain evacuated well after the storm with only one tool to prevent a fire from burning their town - hope.

That was until Oct. 5, when hope delivered a highly specialized team from across the Eastern U.S. to assist the weather beaten town.

Originally intended for fire suppression, the team traveled cross country to fight fires, but ultimately found themselves caring enough to kick start the future of the community by helping to restore municipality buildings and resident's homes.

"These guys are a God send," Eli M. Broussard, said as the Virginians hauled ruined belongings out of his home to a trash pile down the road.

Lead by Battalion Chief, Jeff Beckner, of Virginia, the six man crew began helping Broussard after cleaning out the city's firehouse, school cafeteria, EMS station and blue-roofed several homes.(HERE)

It is good to see our Brothers in the news. They are slated to be back the end of this week as I understand. Check out the article for a picture of 1st Lt. Phillip Dillon. | Firefighters keep kid from getting lost

Chris Ferguson wants to be a firefighter. Simple as that.

Ever since he was 2, it's been his dream job. His mom figured it was just a phase and he would outgrow it. His mom was wrong.

"That's all he talks about," said Pat Ferguson of her son. "Every year, I think he's going to forget about it. Then he learns a little bit more and then a little bit more, and now there's no way to convince him otherwise."

Some kids hang out at the mall; Chris hangs out at Chesterfield Fire Station No. 7. He listens to the scanner squawk. He talks to the firefighters on Shift B. He eats dinner at their table. The lasagne and steak have been particularly tasty, he said.

What's he like best about a firefighter's life?

"Everything," he said, a faded firefighter's cap shadowing his smiling, freckled face.

This is from my home town, where I was this past weekend for my 10 year high school reunion. It was fun, seeing so many classmates with children and spread out over the United States. Seems as though I am not the only one who moved away. I was however the only Career Firefighter there.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Firefighters to help with Habitat for Humanity

Ok first of all I have been asked who is getting this thing together Roanoke Fire-EMS or Roanoke Fire Fighters Association. The answer is you are. You the Firefighter. I am merely a contact between us and Habitat for Humanity. We are going as Firefighters. If you want to wear a Department T-Shirt I am sure that would be fine (although I will check) and if you want to wear an RFFA or IAFF T-Shirt that would be fine. The point is that you all come out to help.
This is the deal. I spoke with Karen Mason of Habitat for Humanity last night. I told her that the Firefighters were interested with helping with the build. She stated that she has had almost too many calls of people wanting to swing a hammer. So I bargained with her, knowing that you all would surely like to swing a hammer. So here is the deal. We will be providing food for an entire day (Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner) for all of the Volunteers. Any day besides Nov. 1st is available. We will in turn be given at least 1 shift (three hours, max 25 people) to build. They also need help with security overnight.
So I am looking for Firefighters to assist with feeding the volunteers on Wednesday November 2nd, date subject to change. I will work on getting food donations and funding, if you can help let me know.
I am also looking for 25 to 50 Firefighters to help with the build. No experience necessary. We will be filling 1 or 2 shifts. If we cannot fill the entire 25 member team, then they will be able to fill in.
I am also looking for 2+ member teams to do security overnight at the site.
I encourage the Captains to talk to their crews and get them out as a team. The event will be held at the Roanoke Civic Center.
So let me know if you want to help. I will be out of town from today until Sunday. Send me an email or give me a call or page. Thanks in advance for the assistance.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

200 Posts and Counting

So here we are at 200 posts. What exactly have been posted in those 200 posts (the old ones can can be viewed in the archives---->)? Well we have hit on fires, wrecks, firefighters in the news, history, a ton of photos, the reincarnation of the RFFA's website, Keeping Fire Station #1 open, Current Events within the Department and Organization, Traditions, etc. I hope that you all enjoy reading the posts. I think that I have a loyal reading audience including FireFighters, Citizens, Council Members, Administrators, Out of towners, Former Roanokers, etc.

This site is intended to express to the readers what the Roanoke City Firefighters are about, what they stand for, and why they stand for what they do. I have seen the readership rise and certain comments posted. Moreso I have heard from a lot of you all on a regular basis by phone, email, or when we bump into each other. You all have given me ideas, criticism, feedback, and encouragement. Mostly I hear from you all about how this is such a great idea and that it should have been started years ago. I have heard from the IAFF and how they think it is a great idea. They wondered if there were many other sites like this one. To my knowledge, and I search often, I would not say that there are any other sites quite like this one. Sure there are other Firefighters blogs out there (I have posted about them in the past and several are located on my blogroll in the sidebar), but I have not found one which shows such a diverse interaction between the Firefighters and everyone else. Sure when opinion is shared it is that of my own unless otherwise noted. But that has been changing. I am getting more interaction with those of you who want to show your side of the story, your comments, your thoughts. I think this is great. I feel like I am providing the looking glass for the Firefighters to look into the history, the pictures, the ideas; as well as showing everyone else what we are about, and why we are who we are.
There have been great strides made by the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department and the Roanoke Fire Fighters Association. I hope to see more advancements in the future, and to document them here. I hope that the morale of the Firefighters continues to strengthen. I have been hearing of certain possibilities in the works currently and in the future which should help continue this advancement.
I hope that I can continue to keep this site up to date on the current events locally as well as branch out to topics of interest nationally. Keep the information pouring in.
One last thing, I have been working on this post for two days now. I ran out of time yesterday due to the influx of phone calls about my move back to the ARFF crew. It sounded like some of you guys were consoling me because I had died. I thank you all for your thoughts, although I know you guys are happy as hell that it wasn't you. Oh yeah I know how this works. Anyways it is good to see that some of you all care.
This site started March 9, 2005 there have been approximately 155 days since its inception. So I have been posting about 1.25 votes each day. I look to continue this trend. Let me know if you would like to see something on here. By the way Kate, I will be posting what you wanted to see early next week. I have had to do a little research.

Roanoke Firefighters Poll now online

Well here it is, an interactive poll for you guys to vote on. I hope to bring different questions each week or so. The poll is located on the right side of the page ----->. You may vote if you want to and check the poll stats to see what the other Firefighters are thinking. Of course if you are a reader of the blog but not a Firefighter you are more than welcome to vote. If you need any clarification on the question please contact me. If you have an idea for a question let me know, I am sure we can come up with some good ones. I got this idea from FireWhirl. Oh and by the way there is no way of tracking the voters.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Local 1132 News Wire

I don't think that I have posted this before, however the RFFA has started a website in addition to RFFA Online. The new website is the Local 1132 News Wire. If you would like to be a contributor to the new site there are instructions on the site. We would like to get several different administrators for this new site. The information contained on the new site will be news, events, and communications pertaining to the RFFA and it's members.

Blue Mass for the Public Servants

This is an email from David Boyer (Roanoke City Police) concerning the Blue Mass on October 19th at St. Andrews Church 7pm. Everyone is welcome and unless someone else would like to do one of the Readings, yours truly will be up there Reading. Don't get me wrong, I love talking especially when I have a captive audience.

Hello Everyone,
The Knights of Columbus, Roanoke Council 562 wants to recognize Catholic first responders(Police, Fire and Rescue) with a " Blue Mass". This tradition started back in the 30's to honor primarily police officers and fire fighters, but now has grown to include sheriff's deputies,federal and state agents and rescue workers. This invitation to specifically honor the Catholic public safety officers in the Valley is open to all departmental members and their families of all faiths. This is the first year that a "Blue Mass" will be celebrated and we hope that it will become a tradition for years to come. Please help me to spread the word, I don't know a lot of the younger officers and there may be more Catholics that I'm forgetting about, so we can have a large turn out. The KofC wants to recognize public safety officers with a small token of their appreciation, so RSVP me or the Grand Knight, Brian Ripple by Oct. 10th to get a head count. His email is or work number 563-6410. There will be a reception following Mass and special music by the awesome Irish pipe band "Warpipe".If you have questions, feel free to contact me. Office 853-2607 or cell 537-6830.

When: October 19 @ 7:00pm
Where: St. Andrew's Church
I look forward to hearing from you all,
Dave Boyer

Tuesday, October 11, 2005 | habitat for humanity project homes

Let me know if you Firefighters out there would like to get a team together to help out. I think it would be great if we could get a bunch of us together to help build these houses. That includes all you firefighters out there - Roanoke City, Roanoke County, Salem, and Vinton. Just let me know. | habitat for humanity project homes:
Newschannel 10 and Habitat for Humanity are teaming up to build three homes for GulfCoast hurricane victims.

And we need your help! You can donate your time, skills, or money to help people who've lost their homes.

To donate money: Call Habitat for Humanity in the Roanoke Valley at 540-344-0747 to make a donation by credit card. Or, mail your donations to:

Habitat for Humanity of the Roanoke ValleyHabitat for Humanity in the Roanoke Valley, Inc.
403 Salem Avenue
Roanoke, VA 24016
Please make checks payable to "HFH in the Roanoke Valley" and note "Operation Home Delivery" on the memo line.

Melissa Martin spoke with Karen Mason, executive director of Habitat for Humanity in the Roanoke Valley.

October History of the Roanoke Fire Service

Fire Station #9 was opened on October 2, 1929 at 0700 hours. The station located at 514 24th Street NW cost $10,800 to build. 8 men were assigned to the station. This picture was taken on July 21, 1932. Fire Station #9 is still open today and houses Engine 9 and Medic 9. The station has only been modified a little over the years. This is the station where I was assigned when I got out of Recruit School #15. The crew was Lt. Mark Ingvaldsen (acting Captain), FF/PM Keith "Oh God" Blankenship, FF/CT Kevin Akers, FF/PM Dennis Hayes, FF Jeremy "Bedsore" Bennington, and FF Rhett Fleitz (me). On October 7, 1972 Assistant Fire Chief Carl A. Cox died of a heart attack on the scene of a house fire at 332 Patton Ave. Cox was a 37 year veteran of the Department and was scheduled to retire on November 10, 1972. It is believed that the night that Chief Cox died was his last night on duty and that the rest of his days before Nov. 10th were vacation days. Since that fateful night each time someone retires they are sent home at 5 pm after one last hearty meal with their crew, usually a steak dinner. For more information see the RFFA historical timeline.

Fire at 2345 Memorial Ave.

The Roanoke Fire-EMS Department responded to a residential fire on October 10, 2005 at 2345 Memorial Ave., Apartment 44.

The call was received through the 9-1-1 Center at approximately 9:27 p.m. and was quickly under control at 9:38 p.m. The response of five Engines, three Ladder trucks, four Medic units, one EMS Captain,two Battalion Chiefs, two Administrative Chiefs and one Investigative Unit for a total of 37 personnel were involved in the fire. A second alarm was called due to occupancy and size of the building.

Upon arrival fire crews found fire and smoke. Fire crews quickly and aggressively extinguished the blaze.

The apartment building was occupied at the time of the fire. One resident had to be assisted from the building by fire crews. There were no injuries to civilians or Fire-EMS personnel.

The fire started in the apartment bedroom and was contained to the apartment. The cause is under investigation. Damage estimates are approximately $75,000.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Communication from the Brothers down South

This is the email I received. Apparently the guys are getting dirty down there. It is good to see that they are representing the rest of us well. The next batch of Firefighters will ship out on the 18th from what I here.

"Here are some pics to post...we are helping to restore an elementary school and the fire station in Johnsons Bayou. They are ground zero for Rita and have 80-90% total destruction. Very bad conditions...snakes, alligators, and mosquitos as big as joke...we are working from 7a-7p..eating MRE's for lunch and Red Cross meals at night....we are sleeping in a community center in Hackberry(30 min from Johnsons Bayou). It is in the 90's every day and 100% humidity. Both the school and the fire station are going to be stripped to the shell and redone completely. We are working very hard. The entire fire department members lost their homes...we truly feel like we are making a difference for these people. It is very humbling to see the conditions and know we will be coming home to a normal life when the people here will be rebuilding their lives for years.
Email ya later,
Roanoke Va Fire-EMS Task Force 1"

I will add more as I receive it.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

HTR 6 runs it first call in the new truck today!!

HTR 6 ran its first call in the new truck. The team responded to assist PD searching the river for evidence for an incident that the Police Department is investigating. HTR 6 took the paddle boat and were in swift water mode. The team was asked to float the Roanoke River between the 9th Street and 13th Street bridges.
The HTR truck is now in full service. The truck returned earlier this week from a short trip to North Carolina to have a light tower installed on the top of the truck.
Some of the tasks the team assists with are swift water rescue, structural collapse, trench rescue, confined space rescue, rope rescue, etc.
The team responds throughout the region as part of a Regional HTR team. The Firefighters and Paramedics at Station #6 are certified in most if not all of the Technical Rescue disciplines. There are specific team rosters for each of the disciplines as well. These members are subject to call back if the team needs more members than are available on any given shift. Each incident might require different manpower levels.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Preston won the competition

That is right. Preston won the Carlin Chronicles Annual Fishing Picture Competition. He would like to thank everyone who voted especially his big brothers in the Fire Department. Thanks to all for voting. Preston won a $100 gift certificate for Dick's Sporting Goods along with a WSLS Prize Pack.

Automatic Aid? No. Why Not?

Roanoke City, Town of Vinton, and Roanoke County Firefighters converged on a house located at 7th and Dale in the Town of Vinton Yesterday.
This account was emailed to me:

"Roanoke City fire companies were dispatched Monday evening to a reported structure fire in the area of 7th and Dale SE. At the same time Engine 14 and Medic 6 were on the scene of a minor 10-50 at 13th and Baldwin.{ right beside the Vinton Town limits} The 10-50 was turned over to city PD and medic 6 headed toward the possible fire in SE and Engine 14 headed back to quarters. Finding nothing at 7th and Dale, city fire units were soon cleared and placed back in service. Soon after, it was relayed that Vinton units were on scene battling a house fire at 7th and Dale in Vinton. While returning to quarters, Engine 14 was flagged down by numerous civilians reporting the house fire at 7th and Dale-Vinton. {which is also called Glade street NE in Roanoke City} Engine 14 checked with city dispatch as to whether they needed to head that way and again dispatch said Vinton units were already on scene fighting the fire. Engine 14 approached the scene and discovered their were no units on scene except for a Vinton police officer. Engine 14 gave an initial size-up and began an interior attack due to reports of the house being occupied. Vinton units began arriving shortly after and then additional city units were requested by E-14. City Engine 6, Ladder 1, and BC-1 responded.

Interior efforts were later halted due to the large amount of debris piled up throughout the entire structure. All doors were completely blocked. It was later learned that the occupants accessed the house by climbing through the windows. At one point, there were {2} 1 3/4 inch attack lines, {1} 2 1/5" attack line {exterior}, and later E-14's aerial device were deployed to battle the blaze. Once the fire was knocked down, city units cleared and Vinton units remained on scene to perform overhaul operations with the aid of a back hoe. Due to the large amount of debris encountered, this structure was dubbed the meanest 1 1/2 story house fire we have seen in a while. This was a prime example of the need for automatic aid with Vinton and Roanoke County!
Political boundaries should not stand in the way of service to citizens in need of help."

It was brought to my attention that Medic 6 was on scene fighting fire also.
I got an email explaining a little bit of the County Side: "... something else you prolly didn't know Read Mountain scratched the call and they are the 3rd due company or maybe 2nd to that location. No Engine No Medic truck from them not sure where the next in companies came from. "

My question is this. If Read Mountain did indeed scratch the call and Vinton Engine 2 was on scene, who would have come to help them and when would they have gotten there?

The town of Vinton lacks an effective fully staffed Department. Yet when Vinton needs assistance, which is common on structure fires, they call for the county. Why? If they truly want the best for there citizens then call the City. The City's fire stations are closer, housing staffed fire engines. Heck Station #14 is right next to Vinton and has one of those watchamacallits on top of it (you know the telesquirt thing that is costing the City millions of dollars because we have to build brand new stations so that it will fit in them).

The City is missing a huge opportunity here. They could offer supplemental fire protection for the County, Salem, and Vinton all the time and make money. That money could be used for more staffing (which would be needed to maintain response times) , better equipment, better benefits for the Firefighters. Wait a minute though, the localities would be spending money on fire protection for their citizens then. Scratch that, they don't do that now, why would they go for that.

Oh and by the way. That fire, you know the one in Vinton that we are talking about. Yeah the fire which wasn't even in the City. The way I see it, that fire cost the City almost $300,000. Why you ask. Well you know those telesquirt things that THE CITY JUST HAD TO HAVE, you know the ones on top of Engine 4, 10, and 14. Well putting those incidentals on top of a fire engine cost the City approximately $300,000 more than what three custom fire engines would have cost. That being said, the fire in Vinton was the first fire that one of those telesquirts was used. HOORAY!! Let's celebrate. Oh yeah and by the way, the Check is in the Mail.

The point that I was trying to make is basically this; The localities involved around Roanoke City should be using Automatic Aid as a last resort. Before Automatic Aid, the localities should have hired a fully staffed Career Department which operates at all the stations 24/7. Supplementation by Volunteers is perfectly acceptable and would benefit the Citizens. Once this staffing level has been achieved then you can fine tune Mutual Aid agreements. Automatic Aid should occur only as a temporary solution to the problem or as the end all, if all other options are considered. This is because of liability, for missing calls, of the Aiding Department (in their own jurisdiction).

I might add that Mutual aid as I have posted before is merely an agreement between localities that if one has an incident and needs more resources then the other may be called. See this post for more information on this subject.

Stay informed with "MyRoanoke"

So you want to be informed?
You want to know what the City is up to. More importantly you want to be up to date on the Fire-EMS Department. Then listen up.
You can get email communication from Roanoke City. All you have to do is visit this
site and sign up. It is as easy as that. Pick the topics you would like to be informed about and kick back. Roanoke City will send you an email about your chosen topics.

MyRoanoke: "Tired of spam? With MyRoanoke, you can receive the information you want, when you want it. Just tell us a little bit about you and let us know what sorts of things you like. We'll send you only the e-mail that interests you.

You can enter a conventional e-mail address to receive regular messages. If your pager or cell phone provider offers a text messaging service, you can also use that e-mail address*. If you want to receive some messages with your regular e-mail account and some with your pager or cell phone, sign up each address separately."

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Fire union dumps O'Connor, backs Republican for mayor

This is for all the guys out there who say that Unions, more specifically our Union, doesn't or won't support a Republican. Check out the link for the rest of the article.

Fire union dumps O'Connor, backs Republican for mayor

Monday, September 26, 2005
By Rich Lord, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The union representing Pittsburgh firefighters has endorsed Republican Joe Weinroth's bid for mayor.

International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1 President Joe King said the decision of the union's political committee was unanimous, and was made late Friday. "It's probably the first time, that I remember, that the fire union has backed a Republican candidate for mayor," said King.

The local supported Democrat Bob O'Connor in the May primary. But O'Connor refused to meet with them until after the Nov. 8 general election, King said.

"After is too late," King said.

Who are you? Why are we here?

Check out this blog I found, I have not had time to read up on all the past posts, however the fire related posts seem to have some good content thus far. I suggest you check him out. He is located down in A-R-I-Z-O-N-A, and no that is not in M-E-X-I-C-O...
Who are you? Why are we here?: “I just spent 30 minutes trying to start a fire. We are "bbqing" tonite, and yes I am at work the firemen cannot start a fire. No one had matches or a lighter so someone (someone = me) got the bright idea of lighting paper on fire via the toaster well we did make smoke, but that was about it. We tried a car ciggarette lighter (note: some newer cars do not have ciggarette lighters) but the car thing doesn't matter cause, yup you got it just more smoke. We then saw what appeared to be people laughing and a big fire in the bbq. So it seems they found some matches. It was appearantly more fun to watch us then just give us the matches. I got my revenge when it came to dishes time. Ha now whos a sucker Wade and Dustin you beeshes. So now we are watching the biggest loser, I just gotta say "these people are fat and all thers problems are they eat to much and don't exercise" That is it, sooooooooo I find the show funny especially when they cry and expect us to feel bad as they explain there problems with food. Now 2 of the fatties are going to the hospital after running. I am sorry but that is funny to me.”

Portsmouth Fire Rescue & EMS offers Katrina Victims Careers

Check out this post on the IAFC website. It is good to see departments helping the brothers and sisters out in any way possible.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Roanoke Fire-EMS deploys to New Orleans, Louisiana

6 members of the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department are deploying to New Orleans, LA tomorrow (Sunday) for the first of 2 15 day deployments to that area. As I understand the members will be going down to help administratively in the Hurricane damaged City. The exact activities that the members will be doing are unclear at this time. The team will be self sufficient and will be assisting Firefighters and FEMA workers from all over the nation. The members deploying with in the first team are Battalion Chief Jeff Beckner, Captain Todd Stone, Captain Kent Mclhany, Captain Werner VanDamme, 1st Lieutenant Phillip Dillon, and Lieutenant Chad Riddleberger. There will be a second 15 day deployment following the return of the first team. The second team's members have not been decided at this time. I will add details as I am informed.
The Firefighters here in Roanoke are proud of our brothers who are heading south. We wish them well and hope that they are able to assist the area with recovering from the two Hurricanes which have caused destruction in the area.

Here is a bonus picture of HTR 6 courtesy of Firefighter Brad Creasy. This is obviously a better picture than I was able to grab, however I would like to say that the placement of the truck when I shot it was not the best. Thanks for the picture Brad. I always appreciate comments and
email from the readers.