Headline Animator

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Roanoke Firefighter Exibit at the Transportation Museum

This is the exhibit at the Transportation Museum downtown. It encompasses the history between 1892 and 1932. I suggest everyone visit the museum and see the pictures, artifacts, and all of the other exhibits.

Friday, May 27, 2005

In the Spirit of Memorial Day

In the spirit of Memorial Day I have attached this picture. This picture is taken in the bedroom of Fire Station #1 in 1942. The event was a gathering of the firefighters who were leaving to go into the Military for the War. I will attempt to look at the Firefighter Roster and name certain individuals that this could have been. I do not have any further information. Notice the clock in the background in the middle. I believe that is what it is. I have heard that all of the older stations used to have the same clock in them. I wonder what became of these clocks. Anyone?

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Golf Tournament July 14th, 2005

This is a reminder of the Golf Tournament on July 14th. I really need help with acquiring sponsors with this event. I would appreciate it if everyone would please contact any business's that you know of to see if they would like to sponsor our Golf Tournament to benefit the MDA. We are also in need of teams to play. If you are planning on playing or know of a team to play then have them contact me at You are welcome to give my phone/pager numbers out to any perspective sponsors and teams. We are trying really hard to make this the best tournament to date. We are also attempting to build this tournament into a well known local tournament in order to have the income to take it to different golf courses over the years. However at the state the tournament is at now we can only afford to play at a few courses. One of those courses is Countryside which will more than likely not be open next year. The tournament will be at Ole Monterey this year. Don't forget the reasons we have the tournament
1. To raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
2. To gather the firefighters of the Valley together with their friends and families as well as anyone else who would like to play and get to know the firefighters and support this great cause.
You can contact me on C-shift days at Station 8.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Roanoke Firefighters listed online with the Roanoke Times

I have finally arrived at This blog is listed under columns/blogs in the online site of The Roanoke Times. See list profile on the right side of the page. Check out some of the other bloggers in the community. Most of them focus their blogs on the political issues and their opinions, however some are very informative. Roanoke Found's blog and website can be located in the links on the right side of this site, this is a sited dedicated to uncovering the past of Roanoke that has been forgotten. So there you go. The department's history is coming to the front.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Fire at 416 McDowell Ave.

Roanoke, VA - The Roanoke Fire-EMS Department responded to an alarm for a structure fire on May 21, 2005 at 416 McDowell Avenue. The call was received through the 9-1-1 Center at approximately 8:36 a.m., and was quickly under control. The response of three engines,one ladder truck, two medic units, one EMS Captain, one Battalion Chief,and one investigative unit were involved in the fire. The cause is under investigation. No one was home at the time of the fire. There were no injuries to citizens or department personnel. The fire originated in the basement of the residence and spread to the first floor. Property loss was determined to be approximately $85,000.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Fire Station # 3

Here is a picture of Station #3. I believe this to be a Davis photo. The interesting thing about this picture is first of all notice the hose tower and second of all notice the ornamental piece on the roof line. Both of these are missing now. The hose tower was removed and the ornamental piece fell off in the 1950's I believe. Pete Smith brought this to my attention and said that he was there when it fell off. I thought that it was interesting.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Alert Fire Company #4 circa 1893

Here is the Sanborn Map of the Alert Fire Company #4 located at 1219 Wise Ave. S.E. across from the Virginia Brewery. It is a little hard to decipher in this picture but the station is located on the corner of an alley way between/below the words (WISE and AVE.) on the map.

Junior Hose Company #2 circa 1893

Here is the Sanborn Map for the Junior Hose Company #2 located at the Northeast corner of 3rd and Campbell. The Juniors were located in the "Old Rorrer Hall" however I am unclear as to whether this is the location of the "Old Rorrer Hall". I am still researching this.

Vigilant Fire Company #1 Circa 1889

Here is the Sanborn Map of Vigilant Fire Company #1 located at Jefferson and Kirk. This station was built in 1888 and later torn down on April 22, 1977. However it had not been used as a fire station since the new Station #1 was built and put into service in 1906-1907(I am still researching the exact date due to a discrepancy in dates used in the past).

Station #2 at Fourth and East Ave. Circa 1903

Here is the home of Station #2 at 4th St. and East Ave. Former home of Friendship Fire Company #3.

Friendship Fire Company #3 Circa 1893

Here is the snapshot of the Sanborn Map locating the Friendship Fire station #3 in 1893. The station is situated in the Northwest corner of 4th St. and East Ave. It is unsure when this building was built, However it was sometime between 1889 (not present in maps), and 1893 as you can see here. The station was joined to a market building next door. This station was utilized by the Volunteers until the City took over the Fire Department in 1903 and the Friendship Fire Company #3 became Station #2.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

1884 Leather Helmet

So today as I sift through the numerous articles that Captain Wiseman has left us I notice something, something unique, something I doubted, something I have in my possession. I acquired a leather helmet a couple of years ago from a Captain who was getting rid of some of his fire memorabilia. The Captain stated that the helmet was from 1884 he thought and that it was from Roanoke. He said he got it from a retired District Chief. I doubted the whole 1884 date. I mean how could this thing have made it that long. After all this helmet is not in the best shape. It is green, the leather is old, and the eagle on top is coming off. The helmet looks like it might fit a little child. I thought maybe it shrunk, maybe they were form fitted to the head instead of having any protection in them other than the leather. After all the original reason for the helmets was to shed water.

So here I find an article from August 19, 1972. The article is about, get this, the Roanoke Historical Society trying to acquire Station #1. Even back then they thought that it would only be a couple of years. They speak of an Eric Miller who was or maybe still is a Salem Firefighter. He is also a fire buff and let the Society use some of his memorabilia for a display at 17 East Kirk Ave. The picture is what caught my attention. There it was, the helmet, in the picture. My helmet, or at least the one that I received from that Captain along with a scale model of a steam engine. The caption under the picture reads "Model steam engine stands beside fire helmet worn by the late Joseph T. Engleby as assistant fire chief for Roanoke. The eagle topped helmet is on loan to the historical society from J.T. Engleby III, and dates to around 1884. WOW.

So the information passed on to me was correct. However I wonder how in the heck did that helmet end up in my hands. I mean this is a very historical piece of the fire department. I guess it is fitting that I ended up with it now that I have undertaken the history of the department.

Now I realize that someone out there might be missing this helmet. Maybe the Engleby family, maybe the historical society. I am not saying it was stolen. Maybe it was just passed along, rightfully so in the department. If anyone else has information on this helmet please let me know. I will attach a picture as soon as I get the helmet out of storage.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Fallen Retired Firefighter

Jackson T. Dews passed away on Thursday May, 12, 2005. Jackson Dews was a retired Captain of the Roanoke Fire department, he was 77 years old. Many of us know Richard Thomas Dews (Tommy) his son who is also a retired Captain. Captain Jackson Dews was hired May 1, 1949 and retired June 15, 1982 with 33 years of service. He also retired from APB Whiting. He is survived by his wife of 57 years Faye Glass Dews; son, Richard Thomas Dews; daughter, Kathryn Singletary and husband David; and grandson, Geoffrey Singletary.

The Original Station #2

Latest news on the old Station #2 that has eluded Captain Wiseman and myself. After talking to Pete Smith who lives down the street from station #8 (1942-1974) he easily picked out a picture and said that it was station #2. However I told him that it was actually a picture of the Friendship Fire Company #3, which was originally the Union Fire Company both former Volunteer Companies. He said that it was indeed station #2 located at East and 4th, where the main post office is today. So I did a little digging and saw that the information was right under my nose. The location that I have documented for the Friendship fire station #3 and the old Station #2 is the same. So there you have it. The best I can tell is that the City used it as a paid fire station and renumbered it after the Volunteers disbanded and the City took over the fire department. So here is a picture of it as the paid station #2. The Friendship fire company would not have had motorized equipment. If anyone has anything to add please leave comments or contact me at By the way this picture can be viewed at the Virginia Room of the Downtown Roanoke Library.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Pay Parity

So here we are, a couple of months in on this blog, website, historical archive, whatever you would like to call it and whether or not you enjoy reading it or not, and I have not really voiced my opinion about anything. As those of you who know me I do have an opinion right or wrong, whether you are in agreement or not. Others of you who know me call me to find out the scoop on rumors, lies, and the like. Yet most of the guys/gals who I come into contact with on a regular basis see me as their Union contact. They ask me what the Union is doing about this or what the Union is doing about that. So I have tried to make it a point to know what is going on in the Union, which can easily be achieved by going to the meetings.
Ok so I have laid out the reason why I am writing about the Pay parity.
The article in the Roanoke Times today by Todd Jackson spoke of the City Council's final decision on when pay raises would be dispersed and what the pay raises consisted of. There was talk of 4% across the board in Jan '06. This outraged most city workers because they thought, for good reason, that the delay was due to funding the sheriff's and Firefighters getting an additional 4% to match the 4% the Police Officers got in January. So City Council decided after many talks with various city workers and city organizations to give 3% in July.
The extra 4% that the sheriff's and Firefighters are getting is outraging many city workers. These other city workers do not know why they should not be getting the same money's, and wonder what separates them from the Sworn Public Safety Workers. Brenda Hamilton seems to think that every city worker is in a potential line of fire because they work in the public setting. BLAH. Brenda Hamilton is the elected Clerk of Circuit Court. Sheriff George McMillan responded to Hamilton's remark by saying that his department would be glad to work with her on security issues. I think that Hamilton's office should be outfitted with turnout gear, a ladder truck, and proper training. However I think that when a call comes in she should be told that only 3 people can leave on the truck and that they must perform search, rescue, ventilation, CO monitoring, forcible entry, and whatever anyone else asks of them.
Let me also state that I am very grateful in getting the 4% that the Police Officers got. I know that I received it because of the work of our Chief and Union President. I also know that if the Officers hadn't received it then we wouldn't have had a chance at getting it. The reason they got it in the first place is because the turnover rate is high and they were working about 30-50 people short. So it was used as a recruitment/retention tool. I think it is great.
So I just had to comment on this. Before you ask me what the Union is doing for you why don't you ask yourself what you are doing for the Union. The RFFA is only as strong as it's members and it's members are only as strong as the RFFA.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Horses in the fire department

Horses of the Roanoke City Fire Department now Roanoke Fire-EMS Department. These are the horse's names that have been extracted from historical documents by Captain Wiseman. It is very possible that there were other horses. I will be looking at other documents to see of this possibility.

Big John
Big John #2
Billy April 19,1904
Billy #2 – Raised by J.B. Bean May 16, 1904
Bob #2
Dewey – May 8,1904
Jack – April 19,1904
Jack Cook
Jack Cook #2
Prince #2
Sandy – April 1904
Virgie - The First Horse


1.There were 10 horses in the department in 1905.

2.There were 10 horses in the department in 1906.

3.The last fire alarm answered by horse drawn fire equipment was to box # 52 at Franklin Rd. and 3rd ST. S.W. May 18,1918.

4.You can still see the areas on the interior walls of station #1 downtown where the horses would gnaw on the bricks.

5.The horses would begin stirring and kicking when the alarm went off.

Roanoke Virginia Firemen Federal Credit Union

The Roanoke Virginia Firemen Federal Credit Union (RVFFCU) is operated for the Firefighters of Roanoke City, Virginia. The RVFFCU was started because the firefighters could not afford the uniforms they were required to wear on duty. On March 1st, 1935 the RVFFCU (charter #183) was formed by members of the department. The charter was signed on March 9, 1935 by Governor Myers of the Farm Credit Administration. "The par value of the shares of this credit union shall be $5.00" (article 4) which still holds true to today. When you open a savings account you have to put at least $5 into it and that $5 cannot be withdrawn until you close your account. So that is a little tradition/policy that still holds true and has not faltered. I do not know if the Charter Members who started the RVFFCU realized how big that it would grow. The membership continues to grow as well as assets held by the RVFFCU for the members. The RVFFCU is located upstairs of the Crystal Springs Firehouse #8. It serves the "Firemen of the City of Roanoke, Va., members of their immediate families, and any association of such Firemen."
The Charter Members are listed below:
(there had to be at least 7 names)
Last Name/ First Name / # of Shares
Daniel Ralph R. 1
Huff Page M. 1
Light Leroy 1
Via Chas J. 1
Barker W.B. 1
Mullins E.F. 1
Klinger E.H. 1
Adkins R.O. 1
Mills D.H. 1
Woodford M.D. 1
I have a copy of a note made on July 6, 1936 for $50. It is to be paid off in 10 monthly installments of $5 each at 1% interest. The collateral listed for this loan is "Character"Loan"".
You can access the RVFFCU's website at

Monday, May 09, 2005

Salem Fire Department History

If you all are interested in the history of the Salem Fire Department then check out this site It contains an article by Amber Rhinehart about the history from the mid 1800's to present.
It is titled:
Firefighters Had Heartaches, Triumphs
Department Started With Bucket Brigades
By Amber Rhinehart
This is a good read and a very good synopsis of the department over the last 150 years.

2005 Virginia Fallen Firefighter Memorial Service

2005 Virginia Fallen Firefighter Memorial Service

The 2005 Virginia Fallen Firefighter Memorial Service will be held at 12:00 PM on Saturday, June 4, 2005 at the Richmond Raceway Complex Horticulture Garden and Pavilion Building. Directions to the Memorial Service can be found at the link below.

If you are interested in being a member of the Honor Guard or bringing apparatus to the service please visit the VDFP website at for updates.
If you are interested in being part of this please let me know at or call me at 8-C. We would like to get about 6 members to go. Everyone is welcome, and any firefighter can be part of the HonorGuard. Do not miss out on this event.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

MVA on I-581

Photo Courtesy of Kent Mcilhany. This is a picture of the MVA on I-581. Crews worked the multiple vehicle accident that closed portions of I-581 north and south bound for several hours. This is a Nissan Xterra in the foreground and an S-10 in the background. M-2 is pictured here with E-5 in the background.

MVA on I-581

Photo courtesy of Kent Mcilhany. This is a picture from the MVA on I-581 on April 28, 2005. Several crews worked to extricate the patient in this Chevy S-10.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The next Chapter

Ok so now I have finalized the first draft of the roster which includes every firefighter ever employed with the City of Roanoke. This also includes the brothers who served before the City took over the fire departments and formed a paid workforce. There were numerous firefighters who served only a day or a couple of weeks. Then there were the firefighters who were hired and left only to come back two, three, and even four times. Interesting differences in the way things are today. It is also interesting how back in the day firefighters were hired any day of the week all month long, of course this was possible since the only training of the day was on the job. Now firefighters are hired for formal recruit schools once or twice a year and the turnover rate is very low. Another interesting dissimilarity is the fact that years ago firefighters did not retire until 35-40+ years. Nowadays most firefighters leave at around 25-30, and I think that in the future we will see more and more firefighters leaving right at 25 years. It will be interesting to see the hiring that will occur 20-25 years from now. I guess the hiring surges from the addition of the 3rd battalion will continue.

The next Chapter

I think that I will begin focusing on historical events in the fire departments past. This will include the big fires, incidents, and any thing else that I might dig up. I might also begin documenting the apparatus of the department. So there you have it, I have mapped it all out.
I hope that the readers of this site find it interesting and informative. I am always open to feedback, ideas, concerns, or your own bit of history to add. If you have pictures you would like to see on the site I would love to add them. If you have pictures of an incident recent or not email them to me and I will see about adding them. If you ran an incident in the city and would like to write something about it then let me know.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Station #1 taken 1957, Left to right are 1918 Seagrave ladder truck 100' (Ladder 1), 1941 Chevrolet , and a 1950 Oren (Squad 1). I thought I would throw this picture in the mix because we often see the older pictures with horse and wagon.