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Friday, December 29, 2006

Captain Gary Laprad Retires

Captain Gary Laprad has retired. Apparently he didn't opt for letting many people know before he left and I found out for sure after the fact. Gary Laprad, Bumpass as many call him, comes from a family of firefighters. Gary's father, Charlie E. Laprad Sr., and his two brothers Micheal "Mikey" and Charlie "Eddie" Jr. worked for the Roanoke Fire Department. There has been a Laprad, from this family, in the FD for the past 58 years. There were some other Laprads in the department but from what I understand they weren't all related.This picture was taken around 1994 by Maurice Wiseman in front of the Garden City Station 11. Gary was hired on February 3, 1986, his retire date will be February 1, 2007 giving him 21 years in the department. He worked his last day last week. From what I hear, he will be going to teach at a local school. Gary was most recently assigned as Captain at Station 3 on B Shift. I wish you a long and healthy retirement Gary.

Medic 7

I have been waiting to get some solid answers on exactly what is going on with Medic 7, the new ambulance in the City of Roanoke. Well actually it isn't new, it is replacing the part-time/volunteer Medic 1. Below is how it will be staffed:

Effective January 1, 2007 @ 07:00 Medic 7 will be placed in-service at Fire-EMS station 3, all part-time personnel will now report to station 3 for assigned shifts and will staff medic 7. The hours will remain 07:00 – 19:00 Monday through Friday; REMS will staff MU101, MU102, or MU103 when volunteer staffing is available. If no volunteer ALS staffing is available, on-duty personnel will relieve the part-time staff on medic 7 for the remainder of the shift and will staff the unit on weekends. If on-duty staffing is not available to staff medic 7 when REMS is not in-service then part-time staffing will be utilized on nights and weekends to supplement the on-duty personnel.

The ambulance is brand new and was just delivered to Roanoke. It will be in service ASAP, in the meantime Medic 7 will be a reserve ambulance.

2007 Guns N' Hoses 4

Guns N' Hoses 4 will be on January 13th at the Roanoke Civic Center. The annual event benefits the MDA and pits Roanoke Valley Firefighters against Roanoke Valley Police Officers in a friendly game of hockey. More information can be found here.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Star City FOOLS

I apologize, I did not have the correct URL when I posted the information on the Star City FOOLS. The correct URL is: It seems as though they meet at O'Malleys Downtown the second Wednesday of each Month.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Back from Christmas in Nashville

Ok, I am back from Christmas in Nashville. It took a little while to catch up on the emails. I have so many things to post and so many things that readers want posted. Let me go over the vacation real quick for you and a few Christmas presents worth mentioning. My lovely wife got me two huge presents this year. The first one is this compact Canon Power Shot digital camera. This will be perfect for getting more pictures.The second is this Paul Conway leather helmet. Mine being yellow, and still being shipped. Perfect for the new assignment at 13. It will be like the first day of work. Gone will be the long sleepy nights. Did you know that the Roanoke Valley has a chapter of FOOLS. The Chapter is called the Star City Fools and they have a website here. FOOLS stands for the Fraternal Order of Leatherheads Society, link here. In many localities, the FOOLS are very involved much like the IAFF locals or Volunteer Fire Department Associations.
On the trip down to Nashville, we stopped in Bristol for some authentic Mexican food. You know, Taco Bell. Bristol Engine 3 was parked nearby so I took some pics. Check out Bristol Fire here.
In Nashville, we came upon this "incident". Apparently this BMW went into the drink. The flatbed fished him out and hauled him off. The man with the vehicle did not look to happy. Thanks to my new camera, I was able to snap this picture.
I hope that everyone else had a great Christmas.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all the Roanoke Fire Blog readers. The Fleitz Family is in Nashville for Christmas this year. The Blog will be on a little bit of a break.

Below is the beginning of a post I was working on the other day. I did not have time to finish it, however I thought that posting the legislative link might afford you the opportunity to learn about the up coming legislation.

In January, representatives from Locals across Virginia will be meeting in Richmond to learn about legislation affecting our jobs and benefits. Once the legislation is understood, the firefighters head to the General Assembly to meet with their respective Congressman and Representatives and lobby for the bills we want and against the ones we don't. That is a brief synopsis of what goes on during the Legislative Conference. It is a learning experience each year. Luckily, for the Virginia Firefighters we have Art Lipscomb and Robbie Bragg III who head up our Legislative Committee. Click for Link

December 2006 Promotions

Here are the newly promoted officers of the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department. They are from left to right, 1st Lieutenant Toby Bedwell, Captain Matt Dewhirst, Lieutenant Scott Bradford, Lieutenant Breck Hudson, Lieutenant Chuck Sharp, 1st Lieutenant Doug Hurd, Lieutenant Tina O'Brien, Lieutenant Tom Gherman, Captain Mike Rose, Captain Tim Parry, 1st Lieutenant David Bocock, and 1st Lieutenant Brent Berry. The new officers will be assigned to their new stations in January. Thanks to Mike Overacker of for the picture.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Your Benefits

A couple of announcements:

Firefighter of the Year award and Company Award Nominations are due by January 1st. Currently there have only been 3 nominations. The Company Awards are similar in nature to the Firefighter of the Year awards, however these are reserved for incidents and events where you cannot narrow the nomination to one or two firefighters. If you have any questions about the Firefighter of the Year award, and to submit a nomination, contact Tim Parry. If you have questions or would like to submit a nomination for a Company Award contact Teddy Adkins. Please submit a description of what the incident/event was and why you feel the firefighter(s) deserve the award. These are due by January 1st.

If you have not sent in your RSVP for the Banquet, the price goes up after tomorrow. Please be sure that we know you are planning on going. We need to have these numbers in order to get the best possible pricing at the Hotel. Rooms are available and we have blocked off 40 rooms, contact the Holiday Inn (formerly the Clarion) to reserve your room.

The "Firefighting in Roanoke" books have been selling great. We have about 100 of the 400 left on hand, contact me if you need to get one. Barnes and Noble has sold out, and is ordering more which should be in at the end of this week. If you would like a signed copy and are unable to catch up to me, there are signed copies at the Roanoke Antique Mall on 460 and at Rams Head Books at Towers Mall.

Now for the real issue for this post. Someone told me today that they were not going to participate in the flex spending offered by the City. For those of you who do not know, the City just revamped the flex spending accounts offered for health care and dependant care. There are a couple of perks, actually three that come to mind. The new benefits will be available through WageWorks.
  1. The money comes out of your paycheck pretax.
  2. The City matches the funds up to $130 a year for the health care account.
  3. This City match is in effect a $130 a year raise.
That is the way I see it. I know that I will spend $260 this year on co-pays, prescriptions, and over-the-counter drugs. The program also covers glasses, contacts, and Lasik surgery among others. View the complete list here. You can use this account on yourself, your spouse, and your children whether or not they are on your insurance. I think you would have to be crazy not to enroll in this benefit. The only downside to the program is that you have to make sure you spend every penny before the year is up.

Fire at 1414 Gilford Avenue

Sorry, I am a little late on this one.

The Roanoke Fire-EMS Department responded to a structure fire on December 15, 2006 at 1414 Gilford Ave.

The call was received through the 9-1-1 Center at approximately
6:45 p.m. The response consisted of four Engines, one Ladder truck, one Medic Unit, one EMS Captain, one Battalion Chief, and the Investigation Unit for a total of 22 personnel. The fire was under control at 7:30 p.m.

When crews arrived, they found a fire in the attic of the ranch style home. Crews gained access and extinguished the fire.

There was one person in the home when the fire started. The resident was transported to the hospital for smoke inhalation. One firefighter sustained minor injuries.

The fire started in the attic and was contained to the attic. The cause of the fire was due to improper discarding of smoking materials. Damage estimates are approximately $18,000.

Monday, December 18, 2006

NFA Command and General Staff Class

Here are pictures and the guys that attended the NFA Command and General Staff class which is 48 hours 6 days straight and goes over the IMS system and all of the different command functions. The Roanoke Fire-EMS employees who are attending are: T Collins, J Beckner, E Plaza, D Bocock, L Thompson, S Graham, A Austin, S Alford, C Trussler, C Martin,W VanDamme, B Conner, P Dillon, V Stover, R Perdue, T Adkins, D Barker. There are 13 others including 2 from Botetourt County FEMS, 2 from Salem, 2 from Martinsville, 2 from Henry County, 1 from RKE County, 1 from Lynchburg, 1 from Prince WIlliam County, 1 from Moneta, and 1 from Montgomery County.

Scott Graham, Clayton Martin, Brian Conner, Teddy Adkins, Werner VanDamme
and Vince Stover work through a problem in class. (above)
Chris Trussler, Dustin Campbell, Scott Alford, and Robert Perdue work as a team.(above)
Dale Barker, Phil Dillon, Alan Austin, Loren Thompson, Ellen Plaza,
and Jeff Beckner work as a team. (above)
Thanks to Travis Collins for the pictures.

Gonzalez speaks at the IAFF Redmond Symposium

This is an account of what firefighters were faced with in the hours during and following Hurricane Rita. I saw this guy speak at the IAFF Convention in Toronto. His account tells of the problems the firefighters had to cope with and the fact that they were all alone in dealing with the catastrophic event. This is well worth listening to.

The Worst Firefighter Ever

Check this out.

If you can't view the video, check out the direct link here.

Street Interviews on the scene of a Fire Call

Heather Flanagan offered this link to a video about Firefighters from Port Townsend, Washington. The link is to a post about a grocery store that burned down three years prior. The video is of an interviewer taping talking to the bystanders and firefighters on the scene. (Link)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Todd Reighley heads to Iraq

Todd Reighley, one of my brothers from recruit school, has decided to head out to the desert to fight fires and get paid 4 times our salary here during a war, in a hostile environment. Todd was hired in March of 1999 with recruit school 15. There aren't many of us left from that class, and Todd will be welcomed back at the end of his year long tour, providing he wants to come back. Todd has been the Lt. on Ladder 7 for the past 3-4 years. Todd runs a blog The Life of Reighley, I am not sure if he plans on keeping it updated or not while he is gone. We wish Todd the best, and a safe 365 nights under the Iraqi skies. God Bless.

Todd emailed this to the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department:

As most of you by now know, I am heading to Iraq as a civilian contract firefighter. I wanted to take the opportunity to say thank you and that it has been a pleasure working w/ each and everyone of you. My last day on duty with our department is today Dec. 16th. I will be around however through the Christmas Holidays. I deploy to Houston TX Jan. 8th, for a week and then fly to Dubi Saudi Arabia the following Monday the 15th. I do not know what military base I will be working on until I am in Iraq and will be stationed overseas for 1 year. For those who wish to keep in touch with me my yahoo email address will remain in use. Merry Christmas to you and your families.

Todd Reighley

"Firefighting in Roanoke" - The book signing

Yesterday was the first book signing. I did not have a clue what to expect, but it went very well. Perry Franks, Jerry's brother, set up the event at the Roanoke Antique Mall. We had the good fortune of the article in the paper mentioning the event. I showed up a little early and was pleasantly surprised to find that the Rocky Mount Fire Department had sent up their 1929 Seagrave. That truck is in excellent condition. I arrived around 1230 and there were already people waiting for a signed copy. Over the course of the next several hours I had the pleasure of talking to many relatives of retired firefighters. Several of which were related to firefighters from the teens. That was very interesting. Many of the names mentioned, I had heard of. I ended up searching the book many times to see if the relatives were in the book. The event was really fun. I met the grandson of Stephen C. Snead, the daughter of Bobby Geary, Hugh Waid - a firefighter who left to go to Fairfax around 1965 after working here 10 years, a relative of Alfred and Ott Britt, several retired firefighters as well.
I had a couple people ask about Maurice Wiseman. That was really neat. Unfortunately, I never met him, so I could only offer a little bit of information on him. I did get to meat Earl, one of his brothers. He is pictured in the picture above with his wife, both in blue jackets. They were very interested in the book and we talked about Maurice for a while.
The Chief of the Rocky Mount Fire Department brought their 1929 Seagrave Engine to show for the event. Thank you for helping out and showing off the truck.
Thanks for Perry Franks for taking the pictures

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Firefighter bridges time

Amanda Codispoti wrote a great article in today's paper on the book. The article is linked below. Thank you Amanda for the well written article and the awesome publicity. The book signing was today, and the book was very well received. I will have more on it later, I am waiting on some pictures.

Firefighter bridges time
A new book follows the evolution of services in Roanoke from an all-volunteer group in 1882 to the Fire-EMS department in 1995.

Amanda Codispoti

During the first few decades of firefighting services in Roanoke, firefighters such as Howard Dowdy drove and washed the horses that pulled fire wagons.

More than a century later, Dowdy's grandson, Bev Mitchell, would drive and wash the gray, and later red, fire engines.

"I imagine we respond a whole lot quicker now than we did then," Mitchell said, chuckling.

The evolution of the department, from an all-volunteer organization in 1882 to the Fire-EMS department in 1995, is documented in a new book, "Firefighting in Roanoke."

The book, compiled by Roanoke firefighter Lt. Rhett Fleitz, includes more than 200 pictures that illustrate the changes in Roanoke's firefighting services, which began almost 125 years ago. (Read More)

Firedog Across America

Hey Readers, I recently got this email in reference to Circuit City and its brand new service, firedog, which has inspired a new nationwide “firedog Across America” contest to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to America’s firefighters. Click on the following link to view the contest site, featuring Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani: We’d be thrilled if you could let VA Fire readers know about the contest so they can help raise money for America’s fire safety professionals and win great prizes.

Circuit City’s new service, firedog, is a one-stop shop for consumers’ technology needs: Circuit City’s firedog technicians install, optimize, repair, and make technology purchases simple so consumers don't have to waste time with piles of manuals and tricky cables.

To help commemorate and launch the new firedog service in a unique, cause-focused way, Circuit City developed the contest, “firedog Across America,” which will provide great donations and prizes to local firehouses and the consumers that nominate them!

The contest works like this:

1.) Tell firedog Your Story
Tell firedog your personal story about how a local firehouse has demonstrated service to your community. If your story is chosen as one of 10 finalists, you will receive a $10,000 home “techover” from firedog and your fire station will receive a $20,000 donation.

2.) America Votes
Once the 10 finalist firehouses have been chosen, the stories will be posted on and America will vote for their favorite.

3.) The Best Part, Everyone Wins
All of the finalist firehouses win. For every vote cast for a finalist firehouse, that finalist firehouse will receive a $1.00 donation (total donations based on voting for all 10 firehouses not to exceed $250,000). After 16 days, the station with the most votes will be the national grand-prize winner and receive an additional $100,000 donation!

The firedog Across America contest was launched last week. As part of the launch, Circuit City and firedog also presented $100,000 donations to both the FDNY Foundation, which supports New York City Fire Department initiatives, and the National Law Enforcement and Firefighters Children's Foundation for its efforts in helping children of law enforcement and firefighting personnel. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and New York City Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta were on hand to receive the donations.

I should really be getting paid for this advertising, but as always I am glad to spread the word.

Friday, December 15, 2006

More Retirees Breakfast Photos

Mike Overacker has posted some more photos of the breakfast on Check out the pictures here.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The December 2006 Retirees Breakfast

Yesterday, December 12th, was the second Retirees Breakfast at the Union Hall. Approximately 50 retirees attended who seemed to enjoy the camaraderie. It was really good to see all the guys enjoying each others company and able to get together in a large group to reminisce about “Back in the Day”. There were guys there who retired 20+ years ago up to our last retiree John Sweeney, who retired last month.

Willie Wines Jr. kicks off the breakfast and welcomes the Retirees

Willie Wines Sr., his buddy the Larry the “Governor”, Willie Wines Jr., Brent Berry, Wayne Hall, Stacy Boothe, and J.J. Price cooked up one hell of a spread for the guys. They should be commended for the breakfast they served to the group. We appreciate the job they have done for the second time now. Next time you see those guys be sure to say thanks.

Travis Collins, George Perdue, and Mike Overacker attended and were able to capture the event with photographs. Thanks to all the other guys who attended and helped out including R. T. Flora, Kenny Furrow, Rodney Jordan, and Jon Willdigg.

The Retirees seemed to really enjoy the event once again. I think that all the current firefighters really enjoyed seeing the “Old” guys have such a great time.

“Firefighting in Roanoke” the recently published pictorial history of the Fire Service in Roanoke was available for the guys to purchase and most of the guys got one. I think the best part of the event was that the guys were having their comrades sign the book like high school students signing a yearbook. I think that Gary Moorefield’s Wife started off the signing and she would not let anyone leave before they signed her book. There were enough stories told that day to write another book.

George Perdue signs "Big Daddy" Sullivan's Book

There were a couple more spouses than the last one present at the event. It was great to see the excitement that they shared in their husbands careers.

After it was all over with, it was fun to kick back with the guys who had helped with the event and chew the fat. It was good to open up the Union Hall for another event. It seems as though the building is being used more and more for events. If any of you firefighters have an event coming up let us know if you want to use it.

From what I understand, the “Billy Obenchain” T-Shirts sold pretty good after the event at station 2. If you want to get a hold of one of the shirts, stop by station 2 on any shift and they will have one for you. Here are some pictures of the event, I will have the rest up on the Local site tomorrow.

The Union Hall was a packed house

The guys look over the book "Firefighting in Roanoke"

Amanda Codospoti, a reporter with the Roanoke Times, was able to interview many retirees for an article she is working on for the paper. Look for something on Friday in the paper possibly.

New Station Assignments

The moves are out. There are many changes among the stations.

Luckily, for me it was good news. I will be rejoining the ranks of the Red Fire Trucks and working at 13 on C-Shift. Prior to being promoted I was working at 13 on B-Shift and I was on C-Shift prior to that.

It seems as though, from the new assignments, several people might be asking "What did I do to get moved". What do you think?

click to view the list

Retired Firefighter Mike Overacker on

Mike Overacker, a retired Roanoke Firefighter, was on The Roanoke Times Webcast on Monday December 11th. He was featured due to his role as the Roanoke Valley Astronomical Society President and his photograph which captured the Space Shuttle as it passed through the sky over Roanoke. Check it out.

Information about Scott Bailey currently serving with the Marines in Iraq

I was forwarded this email from Scott Bailey's Mother. Scott is doing well and currently serving in Iraq with the Marines. His address is included and he appreciates correspondence. The firefighters on B- Shift at Station 2 put together a care package for him. I think it weighed over 100 lbs. It was sent out yesterday and should reach him in about a week. I will try and get his email address and post that as well.

The email reads:
"I got a phone call from Scott today. He was also able to call Kira. Lines for the phone were long. He was well and seemed to be in good spirits. They are working long, hard hours.

He is currently working out of the Haditha dam area. Apparently they are going out for days/weeks at time on missions, then coming back to the dam. When at the dam, they are sleeping on cots in a workroom. This is a temporary assignment, then he will be moving further west toward the Syrian border. I think the outpost near that area is at Rawah. He has limited phone service and no computer service right now. He believes he will have some computer access when he gets to his next post.

He has been getting some cooked foods in addition to MRE's. In fact, he said they had been able to set up a grill of some sort and he and another Marine were the "grill masters" -- something he loves to do.

Things he can use include batteries (AAA and AA) - beef jerky, packets of tuna, chicken - protein sources. Protein bars would probably also be good. Individual serving sizes of snack foods like peanuts, cashews. Socks, hygiene products will also be needed. He left with a supply of things, but will have limited access to replenish.

He has not yet received any letters from home - -but I assured him that they would be coming soon.

I have attached a couple maps on powerpoint that show where Haditha and Rawah are located.

For those who still need the address:

Cpl Bailey, Scott D.
4th CEB DET HQ Support
Unit 41790
FPO AP 96426-1790

You can also send letters by going to and setting up an account. With motomail, you type in your letter and they print it out in country - then deliver it. I would not send "secure" information this way though. I usually type my letter in WORD, then paste over in motomail b/c if i get interrupted, it will time out.

I will let you know when I hear more. Thanks to everyone for their support and prayers.

-Carol "

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Catch Up

There are many posts which I have meant to upload. I have not had the time, so you will have to wait a little longer. There will be a post tomorrow on the Retirees Breakfast. I hope to incorporate pictures as well. The guys really had a great time.

The book has made it's rounds to most stations by now. If you have not had the chance to get a copy yet, let me know and I will get one to you. We have sold around 150 copies so far. We have plenty left. The response to the book has been great.

This is a big week (this year) for the Fire-EMS Department. The moves will be listed, letting many firefighters know where they will be working in January. Many of them want to move, many don't. Some have to due to promotions and the new recruits who might have been temporarily filling a hole until the new roster comes out.

Word has it that there are three internal applicants for the Chief's position with Roanoke Fire-EMS; Acting Chief Hoback, Battalion Chief Roger Manuel; and a Captain which has been unconfirmed. I heard today that Chief Birch, Roanoke County Fire-EMS Chief, has applied for the position as well. But don't hold me to it. The next year will certainly be interesting for the Department. Many changes are on the way.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Firefighting Turbine

Check out the video on this post about a firefighting turbine. This is pretty wild. (link)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The new features of the blog

OK, I have updated the blog. For the time being, this is the new look. I am not sure if I will be able to get the old look back due to the new interface of blogger beta. The new features include a categories (labels) tag that will be attached to the posts. You will be able to look at all the posts with the same labels. The other feature is an expanded archives list. You can now look at the blog by the year, month and post on the right hand side. There is also an "older" link at the bottom of the blog to take you to the next posts which drop off into the archives. If you enjoyed the google adsense buttons on the top of the old blog, they are now in the sidebar. I hope to move them back up, if I can ever figure it out.

As far as the links go, I have culled the bad links and blogs which haven't been updated in a while. If there is a link missing which you want back up, let me know. If your blog was removed, let me know and I will add it back. If you find a bad link which I missed, let me know and I will add it. Otherwise enjoy the new features.

I will try my best to go back and add tags to most of the posts. However, going through 750+ posts might take some time.

New blog features

Please bear with me while I add some new features to the blog. I am attempting to add the features and keep the same look. This will take a little while and the blog may look different for a short while. Let us see what happens.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Roanoke Fire-EMS Promotes 13 to new positions

Congratulations to the newly promoted Captains, 1st Lieutenants, and Lieutenants. The following firefighters were promoted today.

Tim Parry
Mike Rose
Matt Dewhirst

1st Lieutenant
Toby Bedwell
Doug Hurd
David Bocock
Brent Berry

Chuck Sharp
Tom Gherman
Tina O'Brien
Scott Bradford
Breck Hudson
Kevin Bradbury

"Firefighting in Roanoke"; the book has arrived, get yours today

The books are in. Get your hands on a copy while supplies last. The RFFA has ordered 400 copies. Contact me to get your copy asap. You can stop by the Credit Union today, or stop by station 10 tomorrow for your copy. They will also be available at the Retirees Breakfast at the Union Hall on Tuesday December 12th starting at 9am. My pager number is 201-4667 if you want to get a hold of me, otherwise email me.

Promotions and moves

From what I understand, today they are going to figure out promotions. The moves will follow next week and be effective the first week of January. I guess the waiting game will soon be over for many who are waiting to hear if they have been promoted and/or moved from their current assignment. I will post the news as it comes in over the next few days. Good luck to all of those who are promoted.

Retirement Party

Roanoke Fire-EMS is hosting a retirement party for Battalion Chief Billy Obenchain today at 11am at the Jefferson Center Atrium.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

This artifact is one of the oldest in Roanoke relating to fire. This is a water bucket from the ages of bucket brigades. We have photos of this style bucket hanging on one of our hook and ladder trucks. Really, all that was on the truck was ground ladders, pompier ladders, water buckets, axes, and maybe lanterns. I would share the picture of the hook and ladder showing the water bucket hanging from it, but it is a centerpiece of the book. Which might I add, will be available in mere days.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Firefighter Wayne's last post

Firefighter Wayne, a retired Detroit firefighter recently added his last post numbered 435. He has blogged about historic firefighting related to Detroit and beyond for 435 posts. His information has been gathered across the internet and from personal experience. His information will be available online, however he has discontinued posting. Visit his blog at

On a related note, Joe over at Firewhirl has recently began posting again. Firewhirl is a great resource for Fire related information and news. You can visit his blog at

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Golf Tournament

The Golf Tournament for next year is in the planning process. It looks as though the tournament will be held at Hanging Rock. Contact Tina O'Brien if you would like to help.

I need to know what year we had the first tournament. If you know, please let me know.


Magnesium Explosion

A small MPEG camera on the engine films fires kinda like COPS. This was a stolen pick-up truck that someone dumped and set fire to. Watch when water hits under the steering column and a magnesium explosion occurs.

If you cannot view the video on a station computer, it is because the video is hosted at

Friday, December 01, 2006

What the heck is going on downtown?

Warning, Rant ahead!!

Tonight I took my family to the Circus. When we arrived, an hour and fifteen minutes early, we were told that we had to park downtown and take the shuttle unless we were handicap or had a preferred parking pass. I wanted to strangle the guy who was working the parking lot, but it wasn't his fault. Did I miss a memo? What the heck is going on here? There was another event going on at the auditorium of the Civic Center and another event downtown. Apparently, this created the need for Police Officers at every stoplight near downtown and the Civic Center. We ended up parking near the Civic Center and walking. Now imagine my amazement when I got inside and realized that there was a Roanoke Express size attendance ( just under 1000 probably). Just imagine if the place was packed. The Circus was decent, only one ring and not exactly how I remember the circus as a child. But never the less enjoyable for the kids.

My suggestion is before you sink millions of dollars on another venue at the Civic Center (the exhibition hall), taking away hundreds of parking spaces, why don't we make sure we have enough parking for events. Maybe they should take that big vast expanse that was going to be an amphitheatre and pave it. Then create a walking path or raised walkway over 460 to the Civic Center. Maybe parking is the reason why the place wasn't packed.

Since I am in rant mode, I have another no-brainer. Valley View Mall is constantly adding stores, and currently following the City's lead by taking away parking, creating more tax revenue for the City. Why not go ahead and finish the entrance/exit at Best Buy? What the heck is going on here? That place is a mess. I like visiting the Valley View area, but I don't understand why that project never got finished.

It seems to me that the City needs to prioritize it's needs and start working on the traffic problem which exists in many places in Roanoke. I can think of many areas which are very congested; Colonial near Towers mall, 460 from 581 to the County line, Valley View Mall, Hershberger and Williamson, Several spots on Brandon Avenue, Avenham and Franklin, to name a few.

I am glad I had time to cool down since the parking incident. I know I don't hit on stuff like this much, but I just couldn't help myself. If you were wondering if the Circus was worth it, the answer is yes. The kids loved it.

Brotherhood - Helping a Brother out

There are many things that can be said about the Brotherhood of the Roanoke Firefighters. One thing about us is that we are always there to help a brother save a little money, or lend them an extra hand. Many firefighters moonlight as plumbers, carpenters, painters, electricians, landscapers, etc. This comes in handy when one of us is in need of a professional, or someone who has experience in a trade. This also comes in handy when a firefighter experiences a life changing event, or a death in the family and needs a little help around the house.

Not all of us can help everyone all the time, but usually you can find someone to help. For instance, Jeremy Bennington is building a house. Now when I say he is building it, I don't mean he is overseeing subcontractors as they work and lining up the next subcontractor. I mean he is building it by himself, with the help of his brothers. Side note: if you want to help him, and yes he is always looking for some help, please contact him.

Today, I spent a mere two hours helping a brother install carpeting in his family room. No, I am not a skilled professional, but I have done it before. I felt confident that we could get it completed and looking good. We installed it, it looks great, and best of all it only took two and a half hours. Money saved = $250. I walked away with a sixer of Sam Adams Boston Ale. What more could you ask for.

Here are a few tips on getting people to help.
1. Only get them to help if they will know what they are doing.
2. Get them some beer or feed them lunch if they help out. If they don't drink, just leave out the beer.
3. Don't give them the beer until the job is done, unless they are merely there for the camaraderie and moral support. I think that is self explanatory.
4. Always remember that they helped if you need help later on down the road.

Fire at 918 Howbert Avenue

The Roanoke Fire-EMS Department responded to a structure fire on December 1, 2006 at 918 Howbert Ave.

The call was received through the 9-1-1 Center at approximately
5:35 a.m. The response consisted of three Engines, one Ladder truck, two Medic Units, one EMS Captain, one Battalion Chief, one Administrative Chief, and the investigative unit for a total of 25 personnel.

When crews arrived, they found a two story apartment building with smoke and coming from the first floor of one of the units. Crews immediately gained entrance and made an aggressive attack to extinguish the fire. A primary search was conducted and was ruled all clear.

There Were Three people in the home when the fire started. They escaped without any injuries. There was one resident displaced and assistance is being rendered by the Red Cross. There were no injuries to Fire-EMS personnel or civilians.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. There was $30,000 damage to the structure and contents.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

John T. Sweeney Retires after 31 Years of Service

Captain John Sweeney is retiring from the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department after 31 years of service in the Department. John spent more than half of his time in the department at Station #2. John was hired by the Roanoke Fire Department on February 23, 1976 and is retiring with almost 31 years on the job. John is retiring from Station 11 C-Shift, where he has been stationed for the past several years. John has been a Haz Mat Specialist on the Regional Haz Mat team since it's inception in 1985. He is a wealth of knowledge and will be missed. The Roanoke Firefighters wish him well in his retirement. John's sons Benjamin and Brad recently graduated from the Roanoke Regional Recruit School, hired by Roanoke City. Photo left - John is seen working a fire on Ladder 2.

(above) Chuck Wells, Ronnie Renick, Brent Berry, John Sweeney,
Ricky Trout, and Kevin Bell on Ladder 2 A Shift in the early 1990's.
Picture from Maurice Wiseman

John Dubose and John Sweeney pack up hose after a fire.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Did you know that...

Over the years some things have changed. Here are some of those things in no particular order.

In Roanoke the Firefighters used to...

Wear black helmets. Now Firefighters and Lieutenants wear yellow, 1st Lieutenants and Captains wear a dark red, and Battalion Chiefs and Chiefs wear white.

Use trumpets to give commands on the fire scene

Have all red fire trucks, now they are white over red
The trucks were lime green for several years as well
And don't forget the grey ghosts

Fire Station 5 used to be lime green (So I hear, although I do not have a picture)

Ride tailboard, holding onto each other as they dressed, now considered unsafe.

The gold leaf on the fire trucks is reminent from an era where looks were almost important as performance. Gold leaf has been replaced by gold paint or gold striping. Some has vanished for ever.

The District Chiefs, Battalion Chiefs now, used to have their own drivers.

The 1st Lt. rank used to be a Captain's position. In an effort to save money, the ladder captains became 1st Lt. which equated to a lesser pay grade.

The Roanoke Fire Department (now Roanoke Fire-EMS) has been fully paid since 1907, except for a short while after the Garden City area was annexed around 1970 (don't quote me on the year).

While the engines have always been numbered by the station they were housed, the ladder trucks were originally labeled as 1-4 and with the exception of Ladder 1 were not numbered by the station where they were housed.

Prior to 1936 there was only one shift, up until 1972 there were only 2 shifts. In 1972, the third shift was added creating shifts A, B, and C which are still used today.

Roanoke Fire-EMS consists of stations 1-14 with the exception of 12 which was closed when the new station 4 was built across the street from the old one. Rumor has it that the new fire station proposed on Williamson Rd. to replace the Airport station will be numbered 12 due to the fact that the Airport station 10 will remain open with the ARFF company in it.

Engine 3 is the oldest unit in the department, originally being a chemical and hose company. Engine 1 would have beat it, but that unit was taken out of service when they opened station 14 and the positions were used to staff engine 14. Ladder 1 is the oldest ladder company.

The Battalion Chief's bedroom at station 1, the halfway house at station 1, the raised concrete area in the bay at station 1, and the kitchen at station 3 have all served as communications for the Roanoke Fire Department. Currently communications are handled by dispatch at the Municipal building downtown.

The original station 4, 5, and 6 were the same and opened the same day. Station 5 is all that remains open, 6 is a police substation, and 4 was torn down.

The fire stations used to have stores in them where the firefighters would sell candy and other stuff.

Firefighters used to have numbered badges much like the police department.

Just thought I would share a few tidbits. Feel free to leave other factoids in the comments.

Come on out and Vote

As many of you Roanoke Firefighters know, there is an election tonight and tomorrow night at the Union Hall. If you need to see who is running for which positions check out the Local 1132 site. I am running against Richard Lipes, and I appreciate your vote. The voting will be tonight from 7-10 pm and again tomorrow night at the business meeting at 7 pm.

Sorry I haven't posted much recently. I have been busy. It was interesting when someone asked me that if I lost the Secretary/Treasurer election, would I still do the RoanokeFire blog. The answer is yes. This blog has nothing to do with me being the Sec/Tres, and furthermore it is unofficial to the RFFA.

I have been busy with all sorts of things. Recently, as some of you know by now, I started The website is growing still, and I have enjoyed the fact that the Roanoke Fire Blog is regional, mostly regarding Roanoke City. is Statewide. It has gained a lot of interest across the state and is continuing to receive more and more local articles from firefighters and freelance writers.

I am getting to the point now, where I can juggle the two sites and I hope to revamp the posts on the blog soon. But fear not, the blog is still alive and kicking.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Roanoke Firefighters Flag Football

The Roanoke Firefighters have established a flag football team. Headed up by the guys at 2 C Shift, the team has practiced several times and played one game. The team consists of somewhere around 20 firefighters. Roanoke County has also established a team and they were our opponent for the first game. Unfortunately we lost. I am not sure of the score, but I do understand that all of the guys really had a good time. I also heard that there was a pretty decent crowd on hand to watch the first game.

Why flag football, you might ask. Because if it were tackle football it would more than likely turn into a bloodbath, and because we are not able to work if we are injured.

I was able to practice with the team at one of the practices although I could not make it to the game. It is always good when the guys get some time away from the job and their part time jobs and get together for some good clean fun.

If anyone has pictures of the event, send them in so I can post them.

Look for the Roanoke Firefighters flag football team to play again sometime soon. I think that Salem is planning on getting a team together.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Shooting in Roanoke on Thanksgiving Day

Yesterday, the crew at Station 10 had a great Thanksgiving Feast prepared by Fellowship Community Church. We ran two calls on the engine. One was an oven fire, which was out by the time we got there. The other was for a drive-by shooting on Edinburgh. It wasn't very exciting though, luckily for the victim. The victim was shot twice in the lower back (according to the paper * I don't want to cross the line with the HIPPAA laws that exist).

Let me tell you though, for someone who hasn't run many EMS calls or any other calls for a long time, you learn really quick what you have forgotten. I don't mean you remember all the stuff you forgot, you just remember you forgot it.

It has been a while since I have run a shooting, since we don't have many in Roanoke, luckily. I do remember the days of the quadruple shootings in the "not so upstanding" places in Richmond. Those will keep you on your toes.

That is all I got. Some of the rookies have already got to see some fire. It seems as though it is becoming the busy time of the year. It resembles the first three months of the year with all the fires occurring.

Stay safe.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all. If you are a turkey hunter and are working today, you might want to try and improve your skills with this game. As for the Roanoke Firefighters who are working todya, this is what you have to look forward to:

The volunteers from Fellowship Community Church (located on Red Ln. in Salem), will be dropping off your meal on Thanksgiving morning before 11am!

The meal will consist of:
  • Turkey
  • Mashed Potatos & Gravy
  • Sweet Potatos
  • Vegetables
  • Stuffing
  • Bread & Butter
  • Cranberries
  • Dessert
  • Cool Whip
Thanks to the kind volunteers who are cooking for us. I think I can speak on behalf of all the firefighters working today by saying THANK YOU and have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Pics were added to the Clarendon Fire post below. Check them out.

Fire at 702 Harrison Avenue

On November 23, 2006, Roanoke Fire-EMS responded to a structure fire at 702 Harrison Ave. The call came into the 9-1-1 Center at approximately 7:32 a.m. The response of three engines, one ladder truck, three medic units, one EMS Captain, one Battalion Chief and the Investigation Unit for a total of 22 personnel.

When crews arrived they found a single family dwelling with fire and smoke coming from an upstairs window. Crews assisted a person from the home and quickly began to extinguish the blaze. They also conducted a search to make sure that no one else was inside of the home.

One person was inside of the home when the fire started and escaped without injuries. There were no injuries to civilians or Fire-EMS personnel.

The cause and origin of the fire is under investigation. Damage estimates at this time are approximately $40,000.

Fire at 1428 Campbell Avenue

The Roanoke Times has an article: Fire destroys Roanoke home Wednesday night

On November 22, 2006, Roanoke Fire-EMS responded to a structure fire at 1428 Campbell Ave. The call came into the 9-1-1 Center at approximately 7:35 p.m. The response of three engines, two ladder trucks, three medic units, one EMS Captain, one Battalion Chief and the Investigation Unit for a total of 23 personnel responded to the scene. The fire was ruled under control at 8:30 p.m.

When crews arrived, they found a 2 story structure fully involved from the ground floor to the top of the residence. Crews extinguished the blaze and protected exposures that were beside the residence. Two additional homes were damaged due to the immense heat.

The home that was fully involved was under renovation and no one was living inside. Three residents from one of the exposures were displaced from their home. There were no injuries to citizens or Fire-EMS Personnel.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Damage estimates are approximately $80,000.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Update on the Clarendon Avenue fire

The Roanoke Fire-EMS Department responded to a structure fire on November 20, 2006 at 2921 Clarendon Ave.

The call was received through the 9-1-1 Center at approximately
9:26 a.m. The response of three Engines, one Ladder truck, two Medic Units, one EMS Captain, one Battalion Chief, and the Education/Information Specialist for a total of 24 personnel responded to the scene.

When crews arrived, they found a two story apartment building with smoke and flames coming from the second floor of one of the units.
Crews immediately gained entrance and began to extinguish the fire. A primary search was conducted and was ruled all clear.

There was one person in the home when the fire started. She escaped without any injuries. The resident is being assisted by the Red Cross. There were no injuries to Fire-EMS personnel.

The fire started in the upstairs bedroom and was contained to the bedroom. The fire was caused by improper disposal of a cigarette.
Damage estimates are approximately $10,500.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Fire on Clarendon Ave.

Roanoke Fire-EMS responded to a fire on Clarendon Avenue this morning. There were no reported injuries and at least one person was displaced by the fire. E10, E2, L2, E14, M10, M2, RS-1, BC-2 responded to the fire. More information to follow.

Roanoke Fire-EMS Release the cause of Lafayette fire

The Roanoke Fire-EMS Department responded to a structure fire on November 19, 2006 at 1529 Lafayette Blvd.

The fire started in the bedroom and was contained to the bedroom.
The fire was caused by a child playing with a lighter.
Damage estimates are approximately $20,000.

Roanoke Fire-EMS Release Fire Victims Name

The Roanoke Fire-EMS Department has an update to the fire that occurred on November 19, 2006 at 927 5th St.

71 year old Carolyn Perry died from injuries sustained in the fire.
The cause and origin of the fire are still under investigation.

Fire at 1529 Lafayette Blvd.

The Roanoke Fire-EMS Department responded to a structure fire on November 19, 2006 at 1529 Lafayette Blvd.

The call was received through the 9-1-1 Center at approximately
5:49 p.m. The response of three Engines, one Ladder truck, two Medic Units, one EMS Captain, one Battalion Chief, and the Investigation Unit for a total of 20 personnel responded to the scene.

When crews arrived, they found smoke and flames coming from the structure. Crews immediately gained entrance to the home and began to extinguish the fire. A primary search was conducted and was ruled all clear.

There were five people in the home when the fire started. They escaped without any injuries. The residents are being assisted by the Red Cross. One firefighter was transported to the hospital and is doing fine.

The cause and origin of the fire are under investigation. Damage estimates are approximately $20,000.

Fire at 927 5th Street

The Roanoke Fire-EMS Department responded to a structure fire on November 19, 2006 at 927 5th St.

The call was received through the 9-1-1 Center at approximately
7:07 a.m. The response of three Engines, one Ladder truck, two Medic Units, one EMS Captain, one Battalion Chief, the Fire Marshal and the Investigation Unit for a total of 23 personnel responded to the scene. The fire was ruled under control at 7:50 a.m.

When crews arrived, they found smoke coming from the structure.
Crews immediately gained entrance to the home and began to extinguish the fire. A primary search was conducted and one victim was found inside of the residence. The victim was taken out of the structure and transported to the hospital. The victim later died. The name and age of the victim is not being released at this time pending notification of the family. There were no injuries to Fire-EMS personnel.

The cause and origin of the fire are under investigation. Damage estimates are approximately $35,000.

Fire at 602 Elm Ave.

The Roanoke Fire-EMS Department responded to a structure fire on November 15, 2006 at 602 Elm Ave. Apartment 2.

The call was received through the 9-1-1 Center at approximately
12:25 a.m. The response of three Engines, one Ladder truck, two Medic Units, one EMS Captain, one Battalion Chief, and the Investigation Unit for a total of 21 personnel responded to the scene. The fire was under control at 12:47 a.m.

When crews arrived, they found fire showing from the side of the two and half story woodframe residence. Crews immediately gained entrance and searched the structure which was ruled all clear.
Firefighters aggressively extinguished the blaze.

There were two people inside of the structure when the fire started.
They escaped without any injuries. There were no injuries to Fire-EMS Personnel.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Damage estimates are approximately $22,000.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Suzanne Hanks

Suzanne Hanks, 57, of Hardy, died Friday morning November 17, 2006 as the result of injuries received in an automobile accident. Suzanne was a paralegal with Woods, Rogers. She loved life and bluegrass music, and gardening. She is survived by her husband, Michael Hanks; son, Joshua Hanks of Blacksburg; daughter and son-in-law, Shannon and Adam Waldron of Roanoke; grandchildren, Destiny and Rusty; parents, Russell and Virginia Yingst of Lebanon, Pa.; brothers, David Yingst of Lebanon, Pa. and Rusty Yingst of Jonestown, Pa. The family suggests memorial donations be made to the Red Valley Rescue Squad, 3017 Burnt Chimney Rd., Wirtz, Va. 24184. A memorial service will be conducted from Flora Funeral Chapel 4 p.m. Sunday. Her family will be receiving friends 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday at Flora Funeral Service, 665 S. Main St., Rocky Mount.
Published in the Roanoke Times from 11/18/2006 - 11/19/2006.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Our Sympathy goes out to...

It is with deepest regret that I am informing you of the death of Suzanne (Sue) Hanks, Wife of Captain Mike Hanks (retired). Sue was killed in a single vehicle accident this morning around 7 am on the way to work. Sue will be missed by her firefighting family and our thoughts and prayers will be with Mike and the rest of the Hanks family in this time of sorrow.

For those of you who are newer to the department, Mike Hanks retired as a Captain in 2002 and was the Secretary/Treasurer for Local 1132 for 10 years. He is currently the Secretary/Treasurer for the Virginia Professional Fire Fighters Association. Mike has been a strong voice for Firefighters across the State for many years.

Mike and Sue were a team. He would not have had time for half the stuff he accomplished without the strong support and help of his wife Sue.

Recently, I got to spend time with both Mike and Sue in Toronto during the IAFF Convention. We all had a great time, and it was neat to get to know Sue after knowing Mike for many years.

I will update as more information is announced.

WDBJ7 story on Suzanne Hanks

"Firefighting in Roanoke" the advanced copy arrives

Guess what I have in my hands. That is right, I received the first copy of the book "Firefighting in Roanoke" today. Becky, my wife, brought it to the station. I have to admit that it is pretty darn cool to see the book finally. The rest of the books will arrive in about 3 weeks. I will be sure to let you all know when they get here.

Becky brought our children with her and we all sat down and watched the movie Cars with the rest of the crew. If you haven't seen that movie, it is pretty cool.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


This is an open letter to the Recruit Class which have joined their Brother and Sister Firefighters of Roanoke Fire-EMS this week. First of all, I would like to welcome you to one of the best Departments in the United States. I hope that you enjoy a safe and healthy career.

You are about to embark on one of the most honorable professions in the World. While you may not experience a Hollywood “Firefighter” career, I can assure you that the script is empty. None of us know what will be asked of us at any given moment.

You need to be quite sure by this point that you are willing to reach as far into the grey area of risking it all to save life. You may never be put into this situation, but if you are, you will not likely have the opportunity to ponder the situation long.

Running into burning buildings is only a small part of the job these days. Gone are the days in the 70’s and 80’s when America was burning. The decrease in fires has been replaced with a different kind of structure fire. Now we have fires that burn hotter, buildings that crumble faster, and older buildings which have been cut-up for uses they weren’t designed for. However, technology has been our advantage the past quarter Century. We have been equipped with better turnout gear, SCBA, Thermal Imaging Cameras, and directives on saving our own.

This day in age we are more often tasked with making crucial decisions at the scene of EMS calls. The legal responsibilities of being an EMT, EMT-Intermediate, or EMT-Paramedic are not to be taken lightly. You will have to find the ability to perform at your best all hours of the day even after running the “nonsense” calls in the wee hours of the morning. You will have to be able to perform at your best, while the people you are caring for are experiencing their worst. You have to be unbiased to everyone, including criminals, as much as we would love to be the jury. We have to walk away from our worst calls intact, both mentally and physically, so that we can answer the next.

Do not expect a thank you, a job well done, or an at-a-boy. They are few and far between. Rest easy in knowing you did the job to the best of your ability and always learn from your mistakes, experiences, and triumphs.

Always strive to learn more, and be willing to listen when someone is teaching you. Some of the best knowledge I have learned has come from someone telling me of their experiences. You haven’t done everything, you don’t know everything, and you never will. Once you realize this, you will understand firefighting.

Honor your brother/sister firefighters as family. Do not take someone else’s opinion as your own, take the time to form your own opinions. Develop your own style, and learn the better things from your acquaintances. You will meet others you don’t get along with, or don’t agree with. There is still something to learn, everyone has a story.

Remember that when you come across a firefighter at the end of their career and they are not as gung ho as you, they were your age once. They did their time. They have been there and done that, hell they might even have the t-shirt still. They have a lot to teach you. You have a lot to learn.

I wish you well in your career and I look forward to working with you all.


- Rhett Fleitz

Roanoke Valley Regional Recruit Academy 8

Please join Roanoke Fire-EMS in congratulating the graduates of the Roanoke Valley Regional Fire-EMS Recruit Academy #8.
29 Recruits graduated from the academy today at the Roanoke Performing Arts Theatre. These recruits had attended the academy which started on July 31st at the Roanoke Valley Regional Fire-EMS Training Center on Kessler Mill Rd. in Salem, VA.

19 candidates from Roanoke Fire-EMS, 5 candidates from Lynchburg Fire-EMS, 1 candidate from Salem Fire-EMS and 5 candidates from Roanoke County Fire & Rescue went through the 16 week long academy.
During their training, these candidates learned firefighting skills such as Firefighter 1, Ropes, Vehicle Extrication and Heavy Technical Rescue. Candidates also earned their Emergency Medical Technician Basic Certification (EMT-B).

The following is a list of all of the graduates:
Roanoke Fire-EMS: Joseph Boswell, Aaron Brooks, Bobby Caughey, Josh Compton, Jeffery East, Lynwood English, Bradley Glidden, Collin Humphries, Todd Inserra, Aaron Murray, Jacob Palmer, Roland Reynolds, Jr., Benjamin Sweeney, Brad Sweeney, Michael Upham, Brandon Vaughan, Brad Wheeler, James Williamson

Roanoke County Fire & Rescue: Jared Butts, Brandon Carroll, Ryan Crush, Russell Hurt, Ronald Kovar

Salem Fire-EMS: Ernest Haynes, IV

Lynchburg Fire-EMS: Alan Briceland, Joy Byrnes, Jason Frederick, Joshua Morton, Christopher Spencer

Monday, November 13, 2006


I began reading a second book by Stephanie Schorow "Boston on Fire". I finished the first one "The Cocoanut Grove Fire" recently. Stephanie contacted me about a book that Charles Kenney is writing titled "Rescue Men" and it's a memoir by Charles Kenney whose father was a Boston firefighter and grandfather was a Boston firefighter (who fought at the 1942 Cocoanut Grove fire) and whose brother Tom was a firefighter and a FEMA team member sent to NYC on Sept. 12 to help with rescue/recovery efforts. The book also tells the stories of many other Boston "rescue men" and firefighters.

The point of this post is something that I thought of when I read the introduction and forward of "Boston on Fire". A firefighter wrote that he thought some of the traditions that Boston Fire has were rumored and possibly just hear say until he read the book and believed them after Stephanie's careful research of the topics.

Which brings me to my point. Roanoke Fire-EMS has traditions. We have things that we do everyday, some make sense, some don't. We know why we do some of them, and others we have to ask older firefighters for reasons why we do them. These traditions give us a sense of ownership among our department. Ownership of our job. Others lose the meaning of these traditions in the translation when escalating the ladder of promotions, or moving from department to department, or being unwilling to learn about the department where they work. I believe some of these simple traditions keep the morale upbeat in the department. I also feel that these traditions keep the firefighters with a feeling of uniqueness in relation to other departments.

We have many traditions, most have been brought up in posts in the past. What are some of the traditions you know of? If you are from a different department, what traditions do you have?

Friday, November 10, 2006

A Retirement Dinner for a Heroes Hero - A Retirement Dinner for a Heroes Hero

Last night, over 100 firefighters, friends, and family members of Retiring Battalion Chief Billy Obenchain packed the Roanoke Fire Fighters Association Union Hall to celebrate the career of their Brother. (Read the entire article with pictures at

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Bristol Virginia Fire "C" Shift

Bristol Virginia Fire "C" Shift

The Bristol, Virginia Firefighters on "C" Shift created a blog to showcase their Department and Shift. Shawn Roark, who worked for Roanoke briefly, is the "webmaster" and sent the link in. It looks as though they are off to a great start. It is good to see all more and more Firefighter "Blogs" entering the WORLD WIDE WEB.

Technorati tags:

Monday, November 06, 2006

Update on the new Fire Station

Above - View from Elm Avenue - 3 bays
Above - View from Franklin Road
Here is the new Fire Station. From what I hear, the exterior should be nearing completion soon, so they can keep going on the interior for a Spring 2007 opening. Just thought I would show some pictures for those of you who don't frequent that area. From what I hear, the station will incorporate poles which is not very common in newly constructed fire stations.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Southwest Virginia Blog Search

One of Roanoke's Bloggers has created the Southwest Virginia Blog Search. This useful tool gives you the opportunity to search the blogs of SW Virginia for content. The search is powered by Google. You can use this tool to search for content in this site as well as the many other blogs in the area. I will add a link in the sidebar for you to use. If you are a local blogger and would like to be included, there is an email link to ask to be incorporated.

International Firefighting Weblog

Check this out. I was asked to join bloggers from around the World in writing for the International Firefighting Weblog. This is a unique opprotunity for me in getting the word out about Roanoke across the Globe. If you have any suggestions for articles or if you want to write an article for the blog, let me know. I can post it, giving proper credit to the author. Check back often to see what is blogged from around the Globe. I will have a link to the site on the sidebar soon.

International Firefighting Weblog:
A brief introduction
Rhett Fleitz on November 6th, 2006

Hello to all the firefighters (and other readers) of this brand new blog. It is great to see the World of Fire/EMS Service collaborate with the Blogoshpere once again. I am honored to be incorporated in this blog and to offer the view from Roanoke, Virginia and across the U.S. I look forward to reading what other authors on this site have to offer and I hope that I can live up to your expectations. (Read More)

E10 runs a Car Fire at Best Buy

Engine 10 ran a call for a car fire at Best Buy at Valley View today. Lt. Dean Russell and FF Gary Fisher are shown attacking the fire in the engine compartment. FF Travis Collins was pumping the fire.

Main Street Newspapers: Kaine appoints county fire chief to board

Main Street Newspapers:
Kaine appoints county fire chief to board
By Gene Marrano
Fire and Rescue Chief Rick Burch

Gov. Tim Kaine announced his appointment of Chief Richard E. Burch Jr. to the Virginia Fire Services Board.

Burch is the fire chief for Roanoke County Fire and Rescue and will be representing the Virginia Fire Services Council, of which he is a board member. Burch will serve a four year term that began July 1. (Read More)

Saturday, November 04, 2006 - Virginia's Premiere Fire and EMS News Site

There are two stories including pictures featured on today about Roanoke Fire-EMS. Check them out. Thanks to Travis Collins for writing up the events. - Virginia's Premiere Fire and EMS News Site:
Roanoke - Roanoke Fire-EMS Responds to Regional Haz Mat Call. On Monday October 30 2006 the Roanoke Fire EMS Haz Mat Team was called upon to response for a tractor trailer wreck on Rt 220 Southbound just south of Rocky Mount Virginia in Franklin County.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Roanoke City Employee Benefits Survey

Do you like your benefits?
Would you like to give your input on your benefits?
Have you complained about your benefits?

Fill out the Roanoke City Employee Benefits Survey
Click to go directly to the site
The deadline is tomorrow

Tell everyone in your station and all of your coworkers
pass the word along.

"Firefighting in Roanoke"

I am about to show you something, but don't get too excited just yet. Check out what Powell's bookstore has for sale. Amazon has it for sale and Amazon (Canadian) also has it for sale. However, these sales are for preorder. The book still won't be available until December 11th. I haven't even gotten my advanced copy yet. As a matter of fact, I haven't even heard from them in a while. Obviously they are working though. If you want to keep track of the book on the internet, I googled "Firefighting in Roanoke".

It is getting exciting that it is almost here.

Some people might say...

Reminder, Union meeting tonight at 7pm.

Enjoy, and thanks to the guys at 3A for telling me about this hilarious video.
I give you Fireman Ross.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Lt. Charles M. Fields (Ret.) Passes Away

This picture of Charlie was taken around 1994 by Maurice Wiseman
It is with deepest regret that I bring sad news to the Roanoke Firefighters. Lt. Charles M. Fields, who went by Charlie, passed away due to lung cancer. Charlie was hired by the Roanoke Fire Department on January 1, 1965 and retired on January 1, 1999 with 34 years of service. Charlie was stationed at fire station 13 when he retired, although most of the stories I have heard of were of when he was a Lt. on Ladder 2 at station 2.

The arrangements for Charlie's funeral are as follows:

Visitation Sunday (tomorrow) 2-4pm and 7-9pm at Oakeys South (Brambleton Ave).

Funeral Services will be monday at Oakeys South and the burial will be at Blue Ridge Memorial Gardens.

If you would like to help with the Honor Guard, please contact Todd Reighley at station 7 today 853-2414.

Sunday, you can contact me at station 10, 853-2598.

Charles Maxwell Fields obituary from the Roanoke Times:

Charles Maxwell Fields, 65, of Roanoke, went to be with the Lord on Friday, October 27, 2006. He was a member of Hiram Baptist Church and retired from the Roanoke City Fire Department with the rank of Lieutenant after 34 years of service. Charles was an avid fisherman and hunter, and dearly loved his family. He was preceded in death by his parents, Charles Leo and Bertha Jane Fields, and is survived by his loving wife of 44 years, Loretta Sowder Fields; two sons, Barry Eugene Fields and his wife, Fran Fields of Danville, Charles Brian Fields and his wife, Kandy Fields of Vinton; four grandchildren, David Fields, Kevin Fields, Shayne Fields and Leah Roberts; one brother and sister-in-law, Earl and Carolyn Fields of Salem; one sister and four brothers-in-law, Arlene and Jim Hanson of Va. Beach, Kenneth Sowder and his wife, Linda, Robert Sowder and his wife, Barbara, and Wayne Sowder and his wife, Sandy. A funeral service will be held at 12 Noon Monday, October 30, 2006 at Oakey's South Chapel with Dr. Don R. Pegram and the Rev. Bob Sowder officiating. Interment will follow in Blue Ridge Memorial Gardens. The family will receive friends on Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at Oakey's South Chapel, 989-3131.
Published in the Roanoke Times from 10/29/2006 - 10/30/2006.