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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Revisiting a fire at 8th and Marshall SW

Here is a picture of an A-shift fire I was on a couple of years ago. I had traded time with Rob Humphreys. I was on Engine 8 as part of the second alarm on the house that is on the ground behind us. The house beside it had a lot of fire damage as well.

Pictured sitting Clockwise from front left is FF Mike Pruitt, Capt. Gary Conners (Ret.), Lt. Bill West, FF Danny (moose) Hughes, 1st Lt. Chad Riddleberger, Capt. Scott Mutter, Lt. Tracy Blevins, Lt. Tom Mougin, Lt. Jamie Brads, FF Greg Fulton, and Capt. Willy Wines.
Standing in the back L-R are FF Barry Kincer, Lt. Rhett Fleitz, Lt. Richard Patterson (Ret.), Bat. Chief Audie Ferris, In the very back looking the other way is Lt. Carl Jones (Ret.).

I recieved this picture from Capt. Wines. He let us borrow a couple of things to make copies for The Maurice Wiseman Project. If you all have anything you would like us to have to copy, etc. please let me know. Likewise if you would like to assist in the collection of Historical data drop me a line. We could use some help.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Lt. Randy Obenchain Retires

Photo taken January 8, 1991
Lieutenant Randy Obenchain will retire Monday, November 28th. Randy, the brother of Battalion Chief Billy Obenchain, will retire with 27 years of service. Randy came to work for the Roanoke Fire-Department on January 2, 1979. When he was hired he was stationed at Fire Station #3 for about 3 years. Randy spent 5 years at Fire Station #1 from 1984-1989. Later after he was promoted to Lieutenant in 1989 he returned to Fire Station #3 for 10 more years. Randy has been a reliable Lt. that numerous other pump operators have looked to for answers, training, and assistance. Randy is currently stationed at Fire Station #14 where he has been assigned for almost 7 years.

Randy, we hope you enjoy your retirement. You will not be forgotten when you are gone. I am sure there will be stories told for years about you and some of the things you got away with. God Bless you and your family.

If you would like to stop by #14 and wish Randy well, you can do so on Monday, November 28th. There will be light snacks and refreshments served from 1300 till 1600 hours.

There will be a Retirement Dinner on December 8th at 1830 hours at Jersey Lily's. Everyone is invited.

Photo circa 1982-1984, Engine 6
L-R FF Jimmy Poindexter, Capt. Maurice Wiseman, FF Randy Obenchain

Friday, November 25, 2005

Fire at Bishop's Used Auto Parts Unlimited

Special thanks to Captain A.P. Wallace for the Picture.

Tonight the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department responded to fire at Bishop's Used Auto Parts Unlimited located at 2012 Salem Ave. SW. Engine 3, Engine 9, Engine 5, Engine 7, Ladder 7, Ladder 1, Battalion Chief 1, Battalion Chief 2, Medic 9, Medic 3, RS-1, Chief 3, and Service Truck 2 responded for the fire. The Companies had problems obtaining decent water supply due to the poor hydrant quality in the area. An exposure was protected on side 3, 2/3 corner, as well as two vehicles on side 1 of the structure.

I arrived right behind Ladder 1 and when I got there most of the roof had already collapsed into the structure. Unfortunately I did not have my camera with me. I just happened to have stopped by the Union Hall on my way home, when the fire was toned out several blocks away. I did manage to take some photos with a camera from one of the Chiefs on scene. There were some other amateur photographers on scene as well. I hope to have some pictures posted tomorrow.

The Ladder Pipe on the reserve ladder truck (121') was used as well as numerous 2 1/2" handlines. The deck gun was used on Engine 7.

I will have more information to follow once I receive it.

Here is the link to the Roanoke Times article. You can check out the video from WSLS here.

More photos courtesy of Captain A.P. Wallace

An online education for Firefighters

Firefighters tell me all the time that what I do online with this blog and the RFFA website must take a lot of time. The answer is yes and no. This blog takes time to find interesting things to report on and write stories etc. Luckily I get a lot of help from sites like, the Firehouse Forums, Fire Engineering, The Roanoke Times, The Times-Dispatch, even other blogs like Firewhirl and the Firefighter Blog, and political/news blogs like Blog from on High or Brian However it does not take long to post this information. A lot of these posts only take a matter of minutes thanks to the Blog This button I use with Firefox. I made the switch over to Firefox instead of Internet Explorer due to the add-ons I can use with Firefox. Firefox, by the way, is free to download.

The RFFA website is a different story. This website began, for me, as a learning experience. I had never even thought of building a website. After all the blog is an easy to use interface that only requires a little bit of html knowledge to customize the look for what you want. Mike Rose had been the past webmaster of the RFFA website, and he had a good product. However with all of the work I was doing on the history and MDA, I wanted something more. So I began my first website. Those of you who checked it out early might have noticed that it changed look several times before I decided on the template we are using today. I do have to admit, I get a lot of help with the site using Macromedia's Dreamweaver, which I just now noticed that there is an upgrade to Dreamweaver 8, sounds interesting.

The websites have grown too. I add a little bit here and there to the RFFA website. The Maurice Wiseman Project just recently made it's debut. This project is a more in depth and focused project than the history, including timeline, which I had authored prior.

I continue to add daily to this blog. I am quickly reaching 300 posts and the blog is not even a year old. I constantly hear from local Firefighters who say the site is great and to keep up the good work. That is enough to keep me on track. I will continue to bring stories, photos, history, etc. to you.

I have been told it would be neat to get everyone's picture, like Wiseman did up until the mid 90's. I agree. If you see me at a station, ask. I usually have my camera. I don't mind taking a few pictures. That is what we need to continue the history of the Department.

If you know of news that you think should be on here let me know, send my pictures. If you run a fire, email me a brief synopsis.

A little more technology...

If you are like me you have a home computer with bookmarked pages, or a favorites list. However when you are using a remote computer, at the station or wherever, you don't have access to these favorites. Well now you do. Sign up for Delicious, an online bookmark site. You can add your bookmarks as you surf the internet. You can view my Delicious here. Although you should remember that it is public domain, so if you are into something kinda kinky, you might not want to add it to your Delicious.

If you would like to sign up for your own blog (FREE) or would like to set up an account (also FREE) so that you can post comments to this blog or others using a username then check out Blogger/Blogspot. It really is easy to use. There are all types of blogs out there like political/news blogs, family blogs, career blogs, personal blogs, Departmental blogs, City blogs, you name it, someone blogs it.

Some bloggers even make money off of their blogs through Google AdSense. Basically you get paid if your sight refers traffic to Google Ads. You can see the Adsense at the top of this blog. If you want you can check out certain Companies who place ads on Google relating to the Fire Service. At first I thought that this was a gimmick, but actually it works. It hasn't for me, but other blogs out there are actually making money off of the blogs. Pretty neat I think.

Google has offered a lot to the blog community. You can now specifically search blogs using Google Blog Search.You can also search blogs through Technorati, which is basically a dedicated search engine for blogs.

There are sites who will count your page hits for free also. The one I use mainly is StatCounter. I just recently signed up for Google Analytics which is proving to be a great source for checking my stat's. The one I use still and started with is SiteMeter. I found this to be a decent stat site, although I think that StatCounter has more to offer.

For picture hosting check out Flickr and Picasa (another product of Google).

I am sure that there are a lot of other things I use online that I just cannot think of right now. I have to say that thanks to the Just another Day in Roanoke Blog, I am kept up on the latest Technology. Keith, of Just another Day in Roanoke, also runs the Forgotten Roanoke website.

If there are any Firefighters or any body else out there who are thinking about starting a blog but just aren't sure of how to start. Let me know, I would be glad to help you out. You can email me at

St. Patrick's Day with St. Baldrick

I was reading a post over at the LAFD Blog about a true hero, the son of a firefighter, who recently lost his battle with cancer. This young boy was a big fan of Superman and has apparently earned the nickname of his hero.

I learned about a fundraiser for cancer patients throughout the World. It is called The St. Baldrick's Celebration. The celebration started in New York by some business men and has raised $7 million to date. The LAFD celebrates this each year and raises money for the great cause.

Basically money is raised by sponsoring an individual to shave his/her head, oh yes women do it too. The LAFD has been doing this for years apparently. I had not heard of this event until reading their post.

The reason why I bring this up is to challenge you, the Firefighters of Roanoke City to come up with an event for St. Baldrick's. That's right I am asking you to come up with an event. Some of you might ask why I don't just do it. Well I will tell you. I don't have the time. You see for the past several years I have organized most of the charity events within the RFFA. Now I am going to be the Sec./Tres. This will not stop me from helping with these events. I plan on being at every event I am able to get to. However there are plenty of you guys out there who sit by and let everyone else do everything. Why not grab a couple of buddies and make this happen.

You can rest assured that I will be the first person in line to have my head shaved. You heard me, big ears and all will be sticking out farther than ever without any hair to conceal it.

So there it is, a challenge to act. A challenge to help out.

Operation Turkey Drop

I had the pleasure of spending Thanksgiving at my house with my Family. In the past, if I had the day off, the family usually packed up and drove to Nashville or Richmond to be with either my family or my wife's family. So this year was a little different, hopefully beginning a tradition of at least every couple of years being able to have Thanksgiving at our house with our Family.

The same goes for Christmas, although I did not get so lucky this year, I will be working on Christmas Day.

Firefighters across the nation deal with this every year. They knew when they signed up for this rather thankless job, that they would be giving up Birthdays, Anniversaries, Holidays, Vacations, etc. because of the schedule.

This year the Firefighters were not forgotten on Thanksgiving. From what I understand Roanoke County, Salem, and Roanoke City Firefighters were all served a Thanksgiving meal by Volunteers this year. The meal was called Operation Turkey Drop.

I would like to say this to the Volunteers, who provided and served my Brothers and Sisters in the Roanoke Valley, it is you who we are Thankful for. People like you make our job worth doing. The gesture of feeding the Firefighters on Thanksgiving will last a long time. It truly shows a sense of community among the Firefighters and the public.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Hall of Flame Fire Museum

Hall of Flame Fire Museum:
The Hall of Flame Fire Museum and the National Firefighting Hall of Heroes, located in Phoenix, Arizona, has almost an acre of fire history exhibits, with over 90 fully restored pieces of fire apparatus on display, dating from 1725 to 1969. Most of the exhibits are American, but we also have pieces from England, France, Austria, Germany, and Japan. The Hall of Flame sponsors the National Firefighting Hall of Heroes, which honors firefighters who have died in the line of duty or who have been decorated for heroism.
The Hall of Flame is sponsored by the National Historical Fire Foundation, which was established in 1961 by George F. Getz, Jr. The Hall is in Phoenix, Arizona at 6101 East Van Buren St. It is open Monday through Saturday from 9 to 5, and Sundays from Noon to 4.

I spent about an hour navigating this site the other day. The site offers a lot of pictures of the artifacts that the Museum owns. I wonder if there is anything from Roanoke in the Museum. Sounds like a roadtrip. Although I am not sure the next time I will be in Pheonix. Anyways check out the site it is very interesting.

Feuerwehr Weblog

Feuerwehr Weblog:

Check out this site for some insight to Firefighting and training in Europe. There are some decent pictures explaining what is going on.

The ladders (italian ladder) are four ladders made of wood. we use it for raise up in places in which we cannot arrive with mechanical car ladders (for example, very small streets, or internal building places). We mount them using 4 firemen team: two put them bodies to support the base ladder, one give the other pieces and one raise up and mount the pieces. It is the best training exercise for italian firemen. During the fireman's school we arrive to mount and take apart it in less than 90 seconds. The Italian ladder is 12,5 meters high. Each piece weight is about 15-18 kilograms.

You have got to see this picture attached to this caption. This blog is from Denmark I believe. Either way, they do things differently there. Check it out. You might be able to translate the entire blog. I will have to check with my more Technologically Advanced buddy over at Roanoke Found.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue - Blog

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue - Blog:(click here to read the whole article)
More Than Just a Number

By Captain Jose A. Nochea

On the 4th of September of this year during my Sunday CR tour at station 29, a group of us, including some from the fishing trip were at it again. We decided to have a special dinner for a special someone, and the guest list quickly grew. The guest of honor turned out to be retired chief Indy Morgado and his wife, along with Bob Palestrant, Manny Morales, and Danny Cardeso who was OPS south that day. The planning of the menu was decided early in the day to be cooked by Cesar Perez Abreu and myself. Caldo Gallego (Galicean Bean Soup), pork shoulder, rice, and plantains. Once we sat for the meal, it was again another golden moment in the making as we listened to the old timers tell stories about the old days at station 7 involving Indy as a newly promoted Captain and later as a CFO at Battalion 5-A. Manny Morales was probably the most colorful one, and all of the stories started with the words “Remember The Day That”.

As you read this article, I am sure that you are probably thinking of a number too, your number, the number of your station, the station that you identify yourself with sooner or later in your career if you stay out in the field long enough because these are not just numbers, they are symbols that identify each station with its own character that help maintain traditions of brotherhood among others. Each fire station is an extension of the great family of the department and it is also a symbol of pride for many. Go to almost any fire station around the county and you will find stickers on the trucks, T-shirts, and baseball caps that represent the style of that station with the number right in the middle of it all. These numbers are the ones that inspire the bond that most of us maintain with each other as we work together and then play together on our days off. Our station numbers are the first ones to come out when starting any conversation as we often tell war stories about those calls that some may call “a good call”, but are usually the really bad ones.

I just happened upon this blog today. I found it interesting. The story, which I have posted part of above, tells a lot about the Firefighters who work for Miami-Dade.

This got me to thinking about a question that someone asked me the other day. They asked me why is the morale of the Firefighters low here in the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department. Ok, loaded question right. So I was thinking as I read this post from Miami. I thought wow, I think I can count on one hand the amount of guys in this department right now who have been where they are stationed for more than 10 years. I have been here almost 7 years and have already been stationed at 4 different stations on 2 different shifts. There are Firefighters who have seen a different station about every year.

I don't think I need to explain this for you all to understand what I am getting at. What I will say is this: There is a certain level of Pride, Brotherhood, Honor, and Respect when a Company is kept together longer than a couple of months.

Check out this blog for Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Found Roanoke Fire Trucks

Today I went out checking out some local junk yards. I had my camera on the second trip but not the first. What I found was interesting. There are several fire trucks her in Roanoke. For the most part they are from other jurisdictions, although some were definitely from right here in Roanoke City.

I saw trucks from North Carolina (C.F.D.) maybe Charlotte?, Henrico, Baltimore County, Newport ?, Asheville, and many others which I cannot remember. I will have to get out and take my picture next time to photograph all of them.

This is Engine 10, an Oren/International Pumper built in June 1961. This truck was R-903 just prior to being decommissioned. There have been 3 Engine 10's since this one. I will try to get a hold of a picture of this truck when it was in service. Guessing by the fact that it is a regular cab, this truck was used primarily when the Firefighters were riding tailboard, which means that the guys stood on the rear bumper and held on for dear life. Most departments in the U.S. do not allow their Firefighters to do this anymore due to the safety of the Firefighters. The Roanoke Fire-EMS Department does not allow its Firefighters to ride tailboard anymore.

The picture to the right shows what happened to Engine 13 in a rollover accident. As you can see this is the same type of truck as Engine 10 above, although it is an Oren/American LaFrance instead. Luckily in this accident none of the Firefighters were killed.
The picture on the left shows Marvin Coleman who was riding tailboard on Engine 13 when it wrecked. He was thrown from the truck. I am not sure exactly of his injuries, although I do know that he retired in the past couple of years after a long career as a Firefighter.

Ok let me get back on course, after all we were talking about old fire trucks which I found today.
The only other Roanoke City Fire Truck which I saw today was this old Walter's ARFF Truck. Imagine me finding a darn ARFF truck. Big shock huh. Apparently I am haunted even on my days off. Anyways this thing looks bomb proof. I do have an older picture of this one as I have posted the current next to the older picture. The truck is packed in next to a tractor trailer.

Here is the ARFF truck to the left. I am unsure of when this truck was in service exactly, but I am sure someone out there will fill me in. The picture below shows the Walter's ARFF truck in action. I will be posting more pictures in the future, as you all know I enjoy bringing these photo's to you.

Check out the comments below for updates on information.

Monday, November 21, 2005

My current assignment - Airport Rescue Fire Fighting (ARFF)

These are some images below of the trucks which I drive. I was recently transferred to the ARFF crew at the Roanoke Regional Airport. The Roanoke Fire-EMS Department staffs the Airport with three shifts of one Captain and two Lieutenants, as well as one Battalion Chief. We have two ARFF Vehicles, one tanker, and one foam trailer. We respond to emergencies inside the fence of the Airport when they occur, it seems as though they do not occur though. That should give the travelers a breathe of relief. The ARFF Company is housed in Station #10 with Engine Company #10 and Medic #10. You can view those companies and pictures of the Station (here) and (here). To see the pictures/posting of the 1939 Cadillac Fire Truck look (here).
This is a picture of AR-3 tackling a pit fire. Don't worry this is a simulator, using propane to simulate a fuel spill.
This is my truck, AR-2. It has a snozzle attached to the top of it. At the tip of the snozzle there is a fog nozzle, a piercing nozzle, and a camera. The piercing nozzle is to pierce the shell of aircraft so that we can spray foam and/or water to put out fires.
Here is a picture of AR-2 and AR-3 at Roanoke Regional Airport.

digitaldecadenz: warning

digitaldecadenz: warning:
*********SPECIAL NOTE AT THE BOTTOM*********

This is an email that has been circulating the internet for several years now. If you have not heard about it, here it is.

I do not know if this a hoax or not but just incase one never knows ,sent to me through one of the yahoo groups i am on :

State Police Warning
PLEASE READ THIS: State Police Warning for Online
State police warning! for online: Please read this "very carefully"...then send it out to all the people online that you know.
Something like this is nothing to be taken casually; this is something you DO want to pay attention to. Think of it as a bit of advice too.
If a person with the screen-name of Monkeyman935 contacts you, do not reply.
DO not talk to this person; do not answer any of his/her instant Messages or e-mail.
Whoever this person may be, he/she is a suspect for murder in the death of 56 women (so far) contacted through the Internet.
Please send this to all the women on your buddy list and ask them to pass this on, as well. This screen-name was seen on Yahoo, AOL, AIM, and Excite so far.
This is not a joke! Please send this to men too...just in case! Send to everyone you know! Ladies, this is serious.
Jennifer S. Faulkner Education/Information Specialist Roanoke Fire-EMS
541 Luck Avenue, Suite 120 Roanoke, VA 24016
(540) 853-2257 (phone)
(540) 853-1172 (fax)

Just to let everyone know that this is not true, and it is an Urban Legend. The phone number now has a recording on it to tell everyone of the myth. I see this all the time searching the internet for "Roanoke Fire" and other search phrases. The Fire Department wishes that you do not forward this email as it is a hoax.


Today it is Lyle's turn to Blog:
Todd & Judith rented a car from the airport to explore the region beyond our immediate hotel. Most of us gathered in the lobby and walked to a colorful eclectic eatery called Macado's, which specializes in subs with cutsey names. On the way back Curt & I detoured for a brief visit to Roanoke's Fire Station #1, not much changed from its opening in 1906 (and beautifully maintained), except now there are modern fire engines and the grooved floor (for the traction of the horses) is not so necessary.

This is just a little excerpt I found on the internet about a family visiting Roanoke and commenting on Fire Station #1. It really is interesting if you pay attention to how many visitors this Historic Fire Station gets.

Northern Plains Fire: Firewhirl Weblog

Northern Plains Fire: Firewhirl Weblog:
Day Eight: What's Next?

Here is the link to day 8 on the LI firefighters. It deals with what is next for the entire firefighting system on Long Island.

Long Island is the last densely populated region in America served almost exclusively by volunteers, but the system here is showing signs of strain.

Though they are among the best-funded, best-trained and best-equipped in the nation, fire departments here are falling prey to many of the same problems that have plagued agencies nationwide.

Check out this 8+ day account on what is going on in Long Island with the Volunteer Fire Service. There are links to articles detailing what is going on with the whole debate.

Fire at 1016 Welton Ave.

The Roanoke Fire-EMS Department responded to a fire on November 19, 2005 at 1016 Welton Ave.

The call was received through the 9-1-1 Center at approximately 10:32 p.m. and was quickly under control. The response of two Engines, one Ladder truck, two Medic Units, one EMS Captain & one Battalion Chief, for a total of 15 personnel responded to the fire.

When crews arrived they found a two story brick house with smoke coming from the chimney. After further investigation, crews found a chimney fire. The fire was contained to the chimney and did not extend into the structure. Fire crews extinguished the fire with no damage to the structure. The fireplace insert was removed from the home.

When the fire started there were 3 people in the residence. They all escaped unharmed. There were no injuries to citizens or Fire-EMS personnel.

The fire started in the chimney and was contained to the chimney. The estimated cause was failure to clean the chimney. Preliminary damage estimates are approximately $1,000.

Technorati Profile

Soup to nuts, a la Bravest

Printer Friendly Version - Soup to nuts, a la Bravest:
New York Daily News -
Soup to nuts, a la Bravest

Monday, November 21st, 2005

Oh, to be invited to Thanksgiving dinner in one of the city's firehouses.

Known for their good cooking, firefighters will spend Thursday preparing and consuming sumptuous meals - in between fighting fires.

"There'll be everything from soup to nuts, just like you'd have at home," said Firefighter Carl Fargione of Engine 309 in Marine Park, who last year represented Brooklyn firefighters in the World Cares Center's Iron Skillet Cookoff.

Brooklyn Firefighter John Sierp of Ladder 168 in Brighton Beach won that annual contest. Sierp says he'll definitely be in the firehouse kitchen on Thursday, but he expects to have help. "We all do the dinner together," Sierp said. "I'll probably make my stuffed mushrooms."


"When I do recipes, they aren't exact. I do them by eye and taste as I go," Sierp explained.

# INGREDIENTS:Unflavored bread crumbs; roasted garlic oil; fresh parsley, chopped coarsely, with stems removed; freshly grated Romano cheese; large mushrooms, 3-4 per guest; mushroom stems; 1/2 to 1 pound canned jumbo crab meat; crushed black pepper to taste.

# DIRECTIONS: Prepare the roasted garlic oil by chopping 3-4 garlic cloves and adding them to 1 cup of olive oil. Cook in a saut�pan or small pot until the mixture boils. Reduce heat and let simmer for 45 minutes, making sure the garlic infuses the oil without burning.

Chop parsley. Grate cheese. Mince mushroom stems. Add crab meat and bread crumbs. Place the ingredients in a bowl with the garlic oil.

"The consistency should be a bit wet, but not oily," Sierp said, "well mixed, but not gooey or runny. You shouldn't see the oil."

Stuff mushroom caps until a little of the mixture comes out of the top.

In a flat baking pan or on a sheet sprayed with cooking spray or oil, bake the mushrooms for 25 minutes at 375 degrees. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Check out this and more recipes that the NYDaily News published by Firefighters (here).

Michigan town elects teen mayor - Nightly News with Brian Williams -

Michigan town elects teen mayor - Nightly News with Brian Williams -

I waited for the recount to comment on this, however this shows on a small level how the Firefighters get what they want. The Hillsdale Fire department wanted something new and they decided to endorse Michael Sessions. Michael, now that he has clearly won, has stated that Fire and Police are on the top of his list for things to take care of. This is exactly what the Firefighters in Roanoke strive for, electing officials who will fight for them.

The job pays only $3,000 a year, but the young political junkie says his motivation was bringing new ideas to a troubled town. Hillsdale, near Detroit, has lost jobs to outsourcing, including his own father's.

“Your parent will come home, and say you don't have a job, and you start thinking, we have to cut back,” says Michael.

Already, he says he owes the victory to his “base” — his friends at the fire department who endorsed him.

“I don't think his age was an issue,” says Hillsdale Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Pauken. “They were impressed with his enthusiasm.”

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Maurice Wiseman Project 1928 Police Review

The Maurice Wiseman Project 1928 Police Review:

1928 Roanoke City Police Department Review

These pages are taken from the Review of the Roanoke City Police Department Review. L.E. Lookabill was the President of the Junior Fire Company in 1888 as well as a Fireman. Lookabill is seen on page 71 in a picture. He is pictured next to his Leather Fire Helmet, wearing his Leather Belt and a pin in the shape of a traditional Fire Helmet. These three items have been acquired by the History Museum of Western Virginia. They are in exceptional shape and remain to be some of the best kept historical artifacts related to the Fire Service in Roanoke, Virginia. In the article Lookabill speaks of the department from its Volunteer days to the current year 1928.

Check out the new addition to the Roanoke Fire Fighters Association's "Maurice Wiseman Project". Good article from 1928. Explains a lot.

Friday, November 18, 2005

1939 Cadillac Airport Crash Truck

I do not know much about this truck other than what I heard today at the Virginia Museum of Transportation and from Captain Peters. Captain said that the truck was in service when he came here in 1974. The truck was an Airport Crash Truck and stationed at Station 2 on Noble Ave. The responded the truck from #2 if there was a call. The front end was removed to get the engine out. The Museum is currently working on the engine to get the truck running again. If you want to see what the 1939 Caddy looks like new as a passenger vehicle look (here), the site offers all the stats on the Cadillac.

1955 Oren/Willys Overland Pumper

I was at the Virginia Museum of Transportation today and stumbled upon this truck. It was in service at the GE plant in Salem, Virginia. It now lies in the storage at the museum getting ready for a comeback in an upcoming exhibit. View more information about the truck (here).

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The RFFA to Document Firefighters License Plates

The RFFA to Document Firefighters License Plates

The Roanoke Firefighters have begun a project to document Firefighter's License Plates in an picture gallery.

This is a project we have begun to document Firefighters personalized license plates. If you would like to submit a picture of your license plates email Your picture will be processed and added. We ask that the picture be of your license plate, and a jpg or gif file. If you would like to incorporate your vehicle in the picture please make sure that the license plate is legible. The license plate must be related to the Fire Service and/or EMS. Pass this on to your friends as well.
Check it out, although it is in the beginning stages. If you help get the word out, the gallery is sure to take off. Email your fellow firefighters, departments and organizations. Post it on your websites and blogs.

Virginia Chief Died From Extensive Burns - In The Line Of Duty

Virginia Chief Died From Extensive Burns - In The Line Of Duty:
Virginia Chief Died From Extensive Burns

Updated: 11-17-2005 11:01:57 AM

By Rex Bowman

The state medical examiner's office in Roanoke concluded yesterday that a volunteer fire chief killed while fighting a blaze in Buchanan County this weekend was burned to death.

The body of Max Willard, the 69-year-old chief of the Oakwood Volunteer Fire Department, was found at 8 a.m. Sunday in the woods in the Shortt Gap area. Willard, a 30-year veteran of the department and chief for the past 12 years, had become separated from the other firefighters while battling the blaze.

Local authorities had been unsure if Willard died from smoke inhalation or from burning. Yesterday, Dr. William Massello of the state medical examiner's office said an autopsy determined Willard died from extensive burns. (Read More)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Funeral and Visitation set for Fallen Brother Max Willard

Virginia Community Mourns Loss of Fire Chief - In The Line Of Duty:

“We all looked to Max as a father figure. He was always willing to help out,” the assistant chief said. “We’re all just devastated by the loss.”

Smith said people looked up to Willard because of his attitude and his genuine concern for the community.

On Tuesday afternoon, a man who answered the phone at the fire house said he just stopped by to see what he could do, and tidy up. He said he wasn’t a member, but just wanted to help.

On Friday, Willard’s accounting office will be closed to allow his co-workers to attend his funeral, set for 11 a.m. at Buchanan Funeral Chapel in Keen Mountain.

Visitation will be held from 6-9 p.m. Thursday

So there it is boys, let me know if you want to take a trip down there to be with our Fallen Brother. I will be calling in tomorrow to make sure it is ok if we all show up. Until then page me or call me or email me at to let me know if you wanna go. I am able to go to the Funeral on Friday, although I am working on Thursday. You guys let me know and we will head on down South to bury our Fallen Brother. | Community mourns fire chief | Community mourns fire chief:
Community mourns fire chief
Nov 15, 12:31 AM EST

RAVEN – Darrell Cochran was the first to spot Max Willard’s body early Sunday.

The body of the 69-year-old chief of the Oakwood Volunteer Fire Department lay on the side of a hill ravaged by wildfire.

Willard and Cochran had been friends for more than 30 years.

"When you find someone you’ve known all your life like that, it’s hard to think about anything," he said.

Cochran was one of about 15 searching for Willard, who set off by himself the day before. The fire chief was one of about 70 firefighters from across the area battling a 350-acre wildfire in the Shortt Gap section of Buchanan County. All Willard had was a fire rake.

He didn’t return.(Read More)

I contacted the Buchanan County Sheriff's Office and was told that they do not know of any arrangements as of yet. They told me to call back in the morning, as I will do and then report to you all. Special thanks to Shawn Roark for his assistance in locating information. Shawn works as a Firefighter in Bristol, he worked for Roanoke Fire-EMS for about a year.

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Monday, November 14, 2005

LODD Close to Home: Oakwood Volunteer Fire Chief Found Dead at Fire

RAVEN, Va. (AP) -- The burned remains of a volunteer fire department chief were found in the woods after he went to battle a brush fire alone.

A search party found the body of Max Willard, 68, chief of the Oakwood Volunteer Fire Department, on Sunday morning.

Willard went into the woods with a fire rake about an hour after the blaze started Saturday and never came out, said Randall Ashby, Buchanan County Sheriff's chief deputy.

Ashby said it was not immediately clear whether the fire, smoke inhalation or something else caused Willard's death.

"His body had been burned by the fire," Ashby said. (here)

Ok I have searched for information online for the Oakwood Volunteer Fire Department and I have not been able to find anything. Just as well, is not responding, must be working on the website.

I do not know the area exactly where this happened, although it is in Southwest Virginia. I have not been there I do not think.

You can see info (here) from the United States Fire Administration (USFA) website.

Fire Chief magazine online has an article on how to handle LODD's. (here)

I have already been asked if we are going to do anything for the memorial service and/or funeral. We could send down an Honor Guard. However I do not know of the plans for the services. If anyone can help, please let me know. I certainly hope there will be something in the paper tomorrow.

Thanks to Blog from on High for the heads up on this. I was waiting to get an email update from so I could post some more information. I still have not received an email from them.

May God open his arms wide for another one of our Fallen Brothers. Unfortunately the United States Fire Service is on a tragic pace of our Brothers and Sisters dying in the Line of Duty.

UPDATE: does not offer any more information on the incident. I hope to have some more information for you soon.

Lynchburg Fire Chief Buddy Martinette has resigned effective Dec. 31 2005

That is right, Chief Buddy Martinette of Lynchburg, Virginia is stepping down to become the Assistant County Administrator with Hanover County, Virginia. Chief Martinette has been with Lynchburg since 2000 when the then City Manager Charles Church appointed him Fire Chief. Chief Martinette is educated in Fire Administration holding a Bachelor of Science Degree as well as a Masters Degree in Public Administration.

Deputy Fire Chief Brad Ferguson has been appointed as the Acting Fire Chief until a permanent replacement is made. Chief Ferguson has been with the Lynchburg Fire Department for over 29 years.



Ok I have waited long enough (click the link above for the site). I believe that this site had it's debut at a recent IAFF Convention in California. The IAFF has been working on this site for the past few months. I have contributed several photos to the project and they used some of them. Good for Roanoke. I just happened to find the site the other day. I had not been told of its online existence, at least I wasn't sure if it had been uploaded quite yet. So I poked around and found it. The design is great, so check it out. You can see several pictures from Roanoke, I think they are in the years '41 and 62. Let me know what you think.

Chief Hoback Recieves the 2005 Governor's Award for Outstanding EMS Administrator

Roanoke Fire-EMS is proud to announce that Acting Chief David Hoback has been awarded the 2005 Governor's Award for Outstanding EMS Administrator. This prestigious award was presented to Chief Hoback on Saturday night at the 2005 EMS Symposium in Norfolk, VA.

Chief Hoback has significantly contributed to the strategic planning for EMS delivery in Roanoke. He was a founding member of the Virginia Association of Governmental EMS Administrators and has served two terms as President. He is a life member of Read Mountain Volunteer Fire-Rescue. Chief Hoback has contributed to the delivery of EMS for over 25 years.

He was cited for his dedication as a provider, instructor, manager, rescue squad volunteer and Acting Chief.

Please join Roanoke Fire-EMS in congratulating Chief Hoback on this much deserved award.

Fire at 1717 Westover Ave.

The Roanoke Fire-EMS Department responded to a fire on November 11, 2005 at 1717 Westover Ave.

The call was received through the 9-1-1 Center at approximately 9:17 p.m. and was quickly under control by 9:50 p.m. The response of three Engines, one Ladder truck, three Medic Units, one Investigative Unit, one EMS Captain & one Battalion Chief, for a total of 22 personnel responded to the fire.

Upon arrival fire crews found fire in a two story frame house. The structure contained three apartments. The fire was in Apartment #1. Crews quickly and aggressively extinguished the fire that spread to the hall and an adjoining bedroom. There was heavy fire damage upstairs and moderate water damage downstairs. There was no damage to Apartment #2 and only light smoke damage to Apartment #3. Residents of Apartments #2 & #3 were allowed to return to their homes. Residents of Apartment #1 were displaced from their home. The Red Cross was notified and responded to the scene.

When the fire broke out there were 9 people in the building. They all escaped unharmed. There were no injuries to citizens or Fire-EMS personnel.

The fire started in the bedroom of Apartment #1 and was contained to Apartment #1. The cause was accidental and appeared to be electrical. Preliminary damage estimates are approximately $40,000.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Firefighter Blog

Firefighter Blog:
Fire Resources; Hong Kong

Hong Kong fire services utilize an impressive array of emergency equipment. Hong Kong is home to 7 million people. Neighborhoods are densely populated and mostly vertical.

Take a look at this link which provides a comprehensive photo display of the equipment they use.
So I read this post and it got me thinking. They have two trucks right there on the pages that are 52 and 53 meters tall. How tall is that. I figured that a meter is about the same as a yard and that a yard is 3 feet so we are talking a little over 150 feet tall. But I had to be sure so I checked out this link for the exact conversion. The answer is 53 meter = 173.8845144 feet.

Now on to my next question. If it is possible to get a 170 ft. Straight stick ladder, which is rear mounted and looks to be 5 fly sections. That puts the truck at about 35-40 ft. long. You can see this truck here.

Of course if you can have a 170 ft. Straight stick, what would be better? Well your answer is a 173 ft. telescoping boom with a platform attached to an articulating arm. Wow. Now I have seen Ladder trucks and the only thing I have seen close in the states is the Bronto Skylift. So I checked out the Bronto Skylift website and found out that Bronto actually has an 88 meter truck. Now don't be fooled, these trucks are for Rescue purposes mainly and not for Aerial waterway. In case you were wondering how tall 88 meters = 288 ft. Wow right. You can see this truck here. The site touts

"With a cage slewing of 90 degrees, rescue proceeds quickly: five persons can be safely brought down from a height of 33 floors. The aerial platform can be completely controlled both from the cage in the air and from the officerÂ’s position on the ground."
So my question to you all is how many Cities do you know of that actually have a Ladder truck taller than say 121', after all Roanoke City has a truck which is 121' tall. I really wonder why more Cities do not have trucks like this. I think I might know the answer. Because the Cities who do not have them, have not had a need for them yet. Citizens, Administrators, City Councils, City Managers, and Boards of Supervisors do not see a need for purchases like this. And most Cities have never had a need for a truck like this. But you better believe that when people die on the upper floors of a building because the Firefighters could not get to them from the interior, they will realize there is a need for it.

Oh and by the way, Roanoke City could reach to the tallest point of any structure in the City with one of these units. Do you hear what I am saying. The Firefighters in Roanoke City could reach the very tip of every building in Roanoke City with one of these trucks. Now that is power. That is ability. That is using your head. Of course we would hope that we would never have a true need for this truck.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

ODHFS Owners Pride - Page 4

ODHFS Owners Pride - Page 4:

1952 Oren Custom Squad Wagon
Ex-Roanoke, VA Fire Dept.

Delivered to the Roanoke, VA Fire Dept. in November 1952 bearing
Oren Roanoke Corp. Serial #CD1311. Chassis built by the Corbitt Co.
of Henderson, NC with a 427 cu. in. Continental 6 cyl. The Squad has
been repowered with a 1975 - 400 hp) Reo Gold Comet 6 cyl.
It is one of many squads built by Oren but the only one of its kind.
A True Custom Built Truck !
It has seating for five and compartments are original. Squad 1 was originally a command/communications rig and was later used as
heavy rescue/lighting unit. Retired in 1995 and auctioned.

Check out this site for Pictures of Squad 1 as well as many other old Orens and other Fire Apparatus.

Roanoke Fire Stations: New and Old

Roanoke Fire Stations: New and Old

A new page has been added to the Local 1132 website. The page documents all of the Fire Stations in the past and present of the Roanoke Fire Department, Roanoke Fire-EMS Department, and the Volunteer Companies from the late 1800's. This is part of The Maurice Wiseman Project. The project is ongoing and this is the latest installment. Some of the pictures are missing. Most will be incorporated in the near future, and some we are in need of pictures for. If you have any pictures to incorporate let us know, we will scan them and return them.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Fire at 1358 Clarke Ave.

The Roanoke Fire-EMS Department responded to a fire on November 11, 2005 at 1358 Clarke Ave.

The call was received through the 9-1-1 Center at approximately 12:14 a.m. and was quickly under control by 12:40 a.m. The response of three Engines, one Ladder truck, three Medic Units, one Investigative Unit, one EMS Captain and one Battalion Chief for a total of 22 personnel responded to the fire. This was a residential structure which served as a five unit apartment building.

Upon arrival fire crews found heavy fire coming from the structure and that there was one occupant on the roof. The ladder truck successfully rescued the occupant from the roof and took them to safety. Crews quickly and aggressively put the fire out that was found in the second floor bedroom and did a thorough search of the building to make sure that no other residents were trapped inside. The fire was contained to the attic and bedroom and no victims were found in the structure. There were no injuries to citizens or Fire-EMS personnel.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Preliminary damage estimates are approximately $75,000.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Maurice Wiseman Project

The Maurice Wiseman Project:
The Maurice Wiseman Project

The Roanoke Fire Fighters Association has embarked on a project to document the history of the Roanoke Fire Department, Roanoke Fire-EMS Department, and the Roanoke Fire Fighters Association. This includes the Volunteer Fire Companies which began the Fire Service in Roanoke City. The now deceased Captain Maurice Wiseman spent his entire career collecting artifacts, researching the history, documenting incidents, collecting newspaper clippings. Through his dedication he was able to preserve much of the history and tradition in this great Department. His family graciously left his collection to the Roanoke Fire Fighters Association for us to continue his work. It is through this work that we have been able to bring this online project to you. This project will be added to regularly. The project has begun at the beginning in 1877. We are in the process of documenting newspaper articles from that era as well as incorporating the data which Maurice left for us. Included in his collection is numerous photos.

Check out the new project the Local 1132 has embarked on. The Maurice Wiseman Project is an ongoing historical project which has just begun.

Firefighter Mortgage Assistance

I have found some information on mortgage programs which help Firefighters, as well as teachers and police officers, purchase houses in the jurisdiction in which they work. I have listed some of the companies I have found below. If you want more information contact them.
IAFF Financial Corporation - Home Mortgage/ Refinance Program- This IAFF FC is a valuable asset, you should check it out if you are an IAFF member. Hopefully in the future the City will allow the IAFF FC Retirement program as an option instead of the ICMA program.

Firefighter - Emergency Medical Technician Next Door HUD Program - This program offers a 50% discount on buying homes. I followed the listing's link and it seems as though there are not any properties available in Virginia at this time. Check it out, I could be wrong.
These are just a few, I am sure there are more out there. Let me know if you find something new.

Fire at 3203 Oakland Blvd.

A fire broke out at 0838 hours this morning at 3203 Oakland Blvd. NW. E2, E10, L2, E14, E5, BC2, RS1, M10, M3, Inv.1 responded for a single family dwelling fire. 1st Lt. Phillip Dillon and 1st Lt. Chad Riddleberger from Ladder 2 rescued a victim from the dwelling, who refused treatment and transport. The fire was contained in the kitchen. The fire was quickly brought under control. Investigators are on scene investigating the cause of the fire.
Additional from the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department:
The Roanoke Fire-EMS Department responded to a fire on November 10, 2005 at 3203 Oakland Blvd.

The call was received through the 9-1-1 Center at approximately 8:38 a.m. and was quickly under control by 8:54 a.m. The response of three Engines, one Ladder truck, two Medic Units, one Investigative Unit, one EMS Captain, two Battalion Chiefs, one Administrative Chief and one Education Information Specialist for a total of 24 personnel responded to the fire.

Upon arrival fire crews found smoke coming from the eaves of the structure. This was a residential structure. Crews quickly and aggressively put the fire out that was found in the kitchen area. There was alot of smoke in the home. Crews did a thorough search and did find a resident in the home. Fire crews quickly got the victim out of the structure. The victim did not require medical attention. There were no injuries to citizens or Fire-EMS personnel.

The fire started in the kitchen and was contained to the kitchen. The cause is under investigation. Preliminary damage estimates are approximately $10,000.

Roanoke Fire-EMS responded to a residential fire at 3203 Oakland Blvd. on November 10th. Investigators have determined that the cause of this fire was accidental.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Roanoke Fire Fighters Local 1132

Roanoke Fire Fighters Local 1132:
From the Roanoke Leader:

Fire Department

We are glad to learn that this organization has been perfected. The meeting held last Monday night in Rorer Hall was for the purpose of consolidating the tow parties striving after the same end here, and was successful in that respect. It is hoped and expected by the organization that the City Council will give a lot near Rorer Hall and erect upon it a house suitable for the protection of the fire apparatus.

It seemed to be the prevailing sentiment of the meeting that a hook and ladder company was as much as the means in hand and in prospect would justify at present, but this point has not yet been fully determined. The constitution and by-laws will be considered for amendment etc., at the meeting next Monday.

When the nomination for the office of 2d lieutenant was made, the gentleman named stated he was a stranger, and on that account wished to decline the honor; whereupon Mr. Rush Darr, remarked that strangers in this town were always welcome, and heartily received, which sentiment elicited much applause.

Check out the additions to the Roanoke Firefighters Association Timeline. There will continue to be additions to the page. I have been archiving articles starting at the beginning 1882. Look for more information to come, and check out the updates now, including the beginning of the Roanoke Fire Company No. 1.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

First Annual Fire Prevention Week Art Contest

News from the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department via MyRoanoke.

And we have 12 winners! On Wednesday, November 3rd, a panel of judges selected 12 winners of the first annual Fire Prevention Week Art Contest. This contest was held in all Roanoke City Public Schools during Fire Prevention Week in grades K-12. 44 students submitted their original works of art for judging. A committee consisting of Acting Assistant City Manager for Operations Jim Grigsby; Vickie Green, Marketing and Information Specialist for Roanoke's Parks and Recreation Department; Tiffany Bradbury, Education Information Specialist for Roanoke Fire-EMS; Kris Pedelty, host of Collage, a local arts show on WCOX-9; Shawn Thorpe, M.Ed., RCPS's Coordinator of Fine Arts Prek-12; & Vickie McCormick, RCPS's Director for Communications judged the masterpieces using various categories. The winners were treated to a reception on Monday, November 7th at Fire Station #10. Winning artwork will also be put on display at a spot to be determined.

The winners are:
1st Place: Dakota Hale, 5th Grade - Fallon Park Elementary
Taylor Dosh, 7th Grade - William Ruffner
Spencer Borthen, 12th Grade - Patrick Henry

2nd Place: Rowan Cai, 1st Grade - Grandin Court Elementary
Evelyn Knezovich, 7th Grade - William Ruffner
Devon Ray, 10th Grade - Patrick Henry

3rd Place: Kayla Berkey, 4th Grade - Fallon Park
Jon Lovern, 8th Grade - James Madison
Philipp Schmitt, 12th Grade - Patrick Henry

Honorable Mentions: Kimani Daley, 2nd Grade - Westside Elementary
Keviajalen Engram, Kindergarten - Lincoln Terrace
Na'arja Jones, 1st Grade - Forest Park Elementary

The reception was attended by the Superintendent from Roanoke City Public Schools, Mr. Marvin Thompson and the Associate Superintendent For Instruction, August Bullock. Representatives from the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department were also in attendance consisting of Chief David Hoback, Chief Ralph Tartaglia, Chief Billy Altman, Chief Marlan Morris, Chief Bobby Slayton and the Crew at Fire Station #10. There were also many Principals, Art Specialists, Teachers and family in attendance. Please join Roanoke Fire-EMS and Roanoke City Public Schools in congratulating these students. They deserve it!

I will add that that one piece of Art is a Firefighter kneeling in front of a teddy bear. What a piece of work. I will try to get a copy for the site.

Monday, November 07, 2005

California Firefighter Dies At Structure Fire - In The Line Of Duty

California Firefighter Dies At Structure Fire - In The Line Of Duty:

California Firefighter Dies At Structure Fire

Firehouse.Com News

A veteran California firefighter died in the line of duty Saturday on the scene of a structure fire.

Eduardo Teran, 43, a 17-year veteran with the Riverside Fire Department, collapsed and went into cardiac arrest while performing firefighting activities. The department is waiting on autopsy results.

Firefighters saw Teran fall near a parked engine as they were doing cleanup work. Riverside Fire Department paramedics performed advanced life support before transporting Teran to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead less than two hours later.

“This event deeply saddens all the members of the firefighting community and city,” Chief Tedd Laycock said in a department release.

Teran is survived by his wife, Nanci, and daughter, Lauren, 13.

I recieve the LODD notification from Firehouse .com is the single greatest online tool for firefighters throughout the World. I posted this LODD notification because I recieved two today. You can sign up for the LODD notification on the website. Remember be safe, healthy, and smart when on the job.

This day in History 1892

On this day in History 1892 the Alert Fire Company #4 was formed. This Fire Company was located across from the Virginia Brewery at 1219 Wise Ave. and was formed by workers from the Brewery. From the stories I have read, the guys drank a lot of beer during the meetings. The Alert Fire Company disbanded on February 4, 1903. The picture below is the only known photo of the Alert Fire Company and was actually cropped from a bigger picture with other Companies in it. If you know of another picture please contact me.

This is the Sanborn Fire Map of the Alert Fire Company in 1893. The station is just below the (AVE.).
Below is the Sanborn Fire Map of the Alert Fire Company in 1898. The station is just below the (WISE).

Breaking news from The Roanoke Times -
Breaking News
Statewide campaigns stop in Roanoke

Breaking news from The Roanoke Times -

Statewide campaigns stop in Roanoke:
Breaking News
Statewide campaigns stop in Roanoke

Updated: 11:41 AM
Kaine, Kilgore campaigns both visiting Roanoke today in final push to Election Day.

By Mason Adams
The Roanoke Times

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tim Kaine and his two statewide running mates continued their final push to Election Day this morning by coming full circle to Roanoke.

The Republican ticket will tout their message this afternoon when they appear with former governor and current U.S. Sen. George Allen at 1 at Roanoke Regional Airport.

Kaine appeared with lieutenant governor candidate Leslie Byrne, attorney general candidate Creigh Deeds and Gov. Mark Warner and former governor Linwood Holton at Fire Station No. 1, where Kaine officially announced his candidacy back in March. Before a crowd of about 250, Kaine pledged to govern in the same vein as Warner.

Several Roanoke Firefighters including Roanoke County and Salem were out to support the Kaine, Byrne, and Deeds Campaign Rally. Do not forget to vote tomorrow November 8th. The VPFF has endorsed these candidates. To see a complete listing of endorsed candidates please visit

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Salem Firefighters release new website

Salem Professional Firefighters Association:

The Salem Professional Firefighters Association Local 3478 have created a new website. Check it out. The site requires a new flash player, you should be promted to download it if your computer does not have it.

The Brotherhood makes an appearance at Operation Home Delivery

The Habitat for Humanity/WSLS Operation: Home Delivery was a huge success yesterday. There were 25 firefighters building and dismantling the houses for delivery. Two of the women who were receiving the houses were present most of the day. They were grateful for all of the hard work that went into the operation.
I tried my best to explain what type of guys these Firefighters were and that they would build until they couldn't build anymore. Apparently the Team Leaders did not understand what I was telling them and within about 5 minutes the Team Leaders (from Habitat for Humanity) were freaking out because we were moving too fast and they needed to spread out the work over the whole day. That situation was cleared up after lunch when the HFH realized they might not have the same amount of guys out the next day to tear everything down and load it up. It was good to see so many guys out there all working together to get the job done.
Here Dennis Duncan, Jeff Beckner, Toby Bedwell, Dave Ploch, Gary Fisher, and Todd Harris await the next order. In the beginning the building was slow. After lunch they turned us loose and no one was standing around.
John Sweeney, Lynn Flora, and George Purdue do a final check on a previously built house.

Mark Kesterson, Todd Harris, Mark Brown, Toby Bedwell, and Lynn Flora take a break while WSLS is live for the presentation ceremony. Mark Brown contacted and set up all of the guys who came out to help with the help of Gary Fisher. This would not have been as successful an event without their involvement.
Front Row - Kevin Akers, Richard Lipes, Matt Dewhirst, Dave Ploch, Gary Fisher. Back Row - Brian Conner, Brent Barry, Shawn Sikes, Clayton Fowler(very back), John Sweeney, David Lucas, Allen Austin, and Ben O'Baugh.

One of the guys told me how this was the largest Union turnout for an activity other than the Christmas Banquet since he had been here (7 years). I wasn't really thinking about it in those terms. However after he said it, I thought about it. He was right. Maybe a Union meeting here and there brought 25 members, but not regularly. The Golf Tournament brings out more, but that is a little different.

In my time in the department I can tell you this; this is a proud moment. This is what it is all about. Helping out the Community. Helping others. Helping ourselves. I manage to get to most RFFA events as well as Fire Department events. So thank you to all for coming out and helping. Here is a list of the guys who came out. If I forgot anyone let me know and I will add them.

Clayton Fowler, Jeff Beckner, Brent Berry, Mark Brown, Matt Dewhirst, Richard Lipes, Shawn Sikes, David Lucas, Kevin Akers, Allen Austin, John Sweeney, Lynn Flora, Ben O'Baugh, Dave Ploch, Toby Bedwell, John Willdigg, Mark Kesterson, Dennis Duncan, Gary Fisher, Todd Harris, Brian Conner, Dave Bishop, George Perdue, R.T. Flora, Hank Pfister, and Rhett Fleitz. Johnnie Price and Chris Price cooked the Barbeque, which was excellent. Also thanks to Jerry Franks for helping out and Salem Firefighters Jimmy Poindexter and Tony Rickman.

As for those naysayers out there, the Brotherhood is alive and well here in Roanoke.

Look for an update on the Local1132 website early this week. If you have any pictures you would like to add send them to

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Incidents- Fires, Wrecks, and Mutual Aid

Last night and today were busy here in Roanoke City. I will begin with last night. There was a fire on Buena Vista Blvd. Roanoke Fire-EMS released this:

The Roanoke Fire-EMS Department responded to a residential fire on November 3, 2005 at 1302 Buena Vista Blvd. The call was received through the 9-1-1 Center at approximately 1:05 a.m. and was quickly under control at 1:30 a.m. The response of three Engines, one Ladder truck, one Medic Unit, one Investigative Unit, one EMS Captain and one Battalion Chief for a total of 18 personnel responded to the fire.

Upon arrival fire crews found fire in a 2 level storage building at the rear of the address. Fire crews quickly & aggressively extinguished the fire. There were no injuries to civilians or Fire-EMS personnel.

The cause of the fire and origin of the fire are under investigation. Damage estimates are approximately $500.

Today we have seen 2 fires thus far as well as an accident with entrapment on 460.

First fire was a garage fire in the 4400 block of Melrose, just before the Roanoke/Salem line. The units dispatched (E13, L13, E9, M9) were able to handle. No injuries reported. I have not received much else.

Second fire just about an hour ago. Fire at 3102 Willow Rd. NW. E9, E5, L13, M9, M10, E13, BC2, and Service Truck 1 were dispatched for a structure fire. E9 marked on scene with with a detached garage fully involved. The fire was quickly brought under control. No injuries reported.

There was an accident on 460 today. E14, E5, and M2? were dispatched for an accident with injury possible entrapment. Soon after the initial dispatch, dispatch advised that the wreck was possibly on Challenger. Challenger is the name for 460 in Roanoke County, meaning that the accident was actually in the County. Chief 2, David Hoback, marked on scene with a MVA with entrapment and advised City units to continue their response. County units were enroute also. E14 arrived and E5 behind them. 2 victims were trapped. Another Medic truck was dispatched from the City. Units on scene were able to handle. I do not know of the Counties involvement in the response.

On another note, it seems as though the Mutual aid agreements have been getting a work out recently. The other day there were 3 City Medic Units on calls outside the City. There have been a couple today, including the usual mutual aid responses with City Fire Engines. Like I have said before, and I think this is the general sentiment of most City Firefighters. We don't mind running calls, even mutual aid, however these departments we are running mutual aid for need to correct the problem at hand. The problem is that these departments do not have enough firefighters to handle there call volume. The answer is to hire more firefighters. The County just hired several firefighters to staff Hollins #5 with more firefighters. This is a big step in the right direction. I hope that the County will continue this trend of hiring more firefighters. Hopefully the taxpayers and voters in Roanoke County know the need of more firefighters.

On another note, I have been sent back to the ARFF Company at Roanoke Regional Airport. The ARFF Company is stationed in Station #10. I love it. I have never been happier. To think that I will only have to run about (50 calls a year divided by 3 shifts) 16 calls a year. Not bad is it.

Ok to clarify, I did not ask to be put on the ARFF Company. The guys who are assigned here are good at it and understand it. Most of them have put in numerous years in busy companies and enjoy the slower pace. I however am not one of those firefighters, at least not yet. I enjoy the adrenaline rush, running calls, helping people. I am young, 28 years old with almost 7 years in the dept. and recently promoted to Lieutenant. In our department a Lt. is a driver who has acting ability. Which means the I can ride as the Officer if the Captain is off. I would rather be at stationed at an Engine or Ladder Company. I was recently moved from Engine 8 (Crystal Springs Fire Station) to the ARFF Company which I had been moved off of after being at the ARFF for only several months. I guess I will just have to wait it out until I can move back onto a Red Fire Truck (the ARFF trucks are yellow). Until then I won't have too many stories to tell of my own, but I will try to report on the others. If indeed I have an incident, I will probably be the last place you will be looking for information, it will be more likely covered on the local or national news. I certainly hope nothing like that happens, wouldn't be pretty at all. As they say, flying is safer than driving.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Firefighters solve the worlds problems

There is a secret about Firefighters that most non-firefighters do not know and I am going to spill the beans. Firefighters can solve any problem in about 1 hour and 1 pot of coffee, coffee optional. When I say any problem, I mean problems like World peace, The War on Terror, Hurricane Relief, even local politics like Victory Stadium, The Art Museum of Western Virginia, The Flood Control Plan, etc. That is right anything, we have a solution. You would be amazed at how quickly Firefighters work through problems. You might not even know there is a problem yet, we have solved it.

Leave the "what if's", "what will they say","what will they do", "what about this", "what about that" at home. We don't use that type of give and take. We see a problem, discuss it, come up with the best solution, the end. There is not time for second guessing, that isn't how we work. Therefore people have to live with the decision and move on. More Firefighters should be in the consulting business.

Believe me when I say, I have heard just about every possibility for most of the Big unanswered Projects/Plans/Issues which Plague the City of Roanoke. As most of you all know I work part time the RVFFCU, the Roanoke Firefighters very own Credit Union. I am involved in the RFFA, I have been elected Secretary/Treasurer for next year, as well as being involved in several committee's for the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department. What I am getting at is that I am around the Fire Station a lot. Not just at #10 where I work or #8 which houses the RVFFCU, but I get around to many of the other Fire Stations for what ever reason.

You can walk into any Fire Station in the City, probably anywhere, and usually catch at least a couple of Firefighters discussing certain issues. These are not boring discussions either. We are talking very excitable Firefighters standing up for their beliefs, while other Firefighters are just trying to get under their skin by debating the other side of the issue. Hilarity usually ensues while the passionate Firefighter is undermine by the others. It really gets good when you have several points of view being discussed.

So why exactly am I writing this, I don't know. I just got through a conversation, actually I just was spoken to for a solid half-hour about World Issues. I was not asked one question, nor was I given a chance to speak. I was held captive by my desk and chair here at the RVFFCU, I could not get up and leave, and I tried to change the subject. But this isn't the first time. I am held captive while I hear all sorts of stories, stories about wives, children, co-workers, bosses, the RFFA, anything really.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy talking. Those of you who know me can vouch for that. So don't stop with the stories. Just don't talk to me like you are talking to an inanimate object. We can have a productive intellectual conversation about whatever, just don't lecture.

One more thing for the members of the RFFA. If you truly want to know what the RFFA is going to do about this and that, come to the meetings and ask. I am not the walking cliffnotes of every meeting, issue, or problem that the RFFA discusses at its meetings.

This just in:

There will be a Campaign Rally for Tim Kaine, Creigh Deeds, and Leslie Byrne at Fire Station #1 on Monday November 7th, 8:30am.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A dark day in the History of the Roanoke Fire Department

This was a dark day in the history of the Roanoke Fire Department. A dark day that has luckily not been seen since that day. On this day 20 years ago 2 firefighters lost their lives doing their job. Captain Robert Gale Cassell and Firefighter Harvey H. Helm of Engine Company #12 were killed by a hit and run driver. The men were on scene of an automobile fire on Shenandoah Avenue. the woman who's car was on fire was also killed in the accident.

The driver of the car who murdered these three people was found later charged and convicted. He was driving under the influence.

These firefighters were doing their jobs. At the time they weren't doing anything heroic, exceptional, or out of the ordinary. Most people would think that what they were doing was not dangerous at all. That just isn't the case. Operating at the scene of MVA's (motor vehicle accidents) is very dangerous. Drivers attention is taken away from the task of driving when they see an accident and they focus on seeing what happened. This often causes rubbernecking. My point is two fold; 1) For you firefighters out there - you need to remain aware of what is going on around you and take every precaution in making the scene as safe as possible, and 2) For you drivers out there - pay attention to what you are doing, you wouldn't believe how many firefighters and EMT's are killed on the scene of accidents where they are doing their jobs.
Harvey Helm

These two Line of Duty Deaths (LODD) are the last in the history of the Roanoke Fire Service. Hopefully this trend will continue. Every day Fire Departments across the Nation are arming themselves with more training, better equipment, better SOP's to make our jobs safer. The Roanoke Fire-EMS Department should be commended for its history of keeping its firefighters safe and doing the most important job of all, making sure we all go home in the morning.

There is a Fallen Firefighter Memorial for Roanoke City Firefighters located at the Transportation Museum. The online history which contains information on this LODD as well as the others can be found here.

So here is to you Captain Cassell and Firefighter Helm. We admire the lives you led and the ultimate sacrifice you gave. We will never forget you or any of the Fallen Firefighters.