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Friday, June 30, 2006

Link Dump 2 - This and That

That is right, it is time for link dump 2. The concept is simple. Click the links that I have provided for you.

Virginia Sales Tax Holiday August 4-6, 2006
New age Pompier Ladder Race?
Roanoke Gamewell Fire Alarm Pull Box - Remember this one?
Does your Department Recruit Here?
Are you in touch with Reality?
South Carolina's Fire Classified Ads
Firefighters are never really "off-duty" are they?
Take a Ride through Chernobyl
Waterwatch - USGS Flood/Draught Patrol
The Worlds Healthiest Foods
Median Firefighter Pay across the Nation
Roanoke Valley Regional Fire-EMS Training Center - New look to the website
West Virginia Firefighters

Check out the sites. Be sure to let me know if you come across something interesting. I would like to incorporate a Link Dump once a week. I will need my readers to point out sites though. Email me if you got something good, bad, or ugly and they don't have to be related to fire necessarily.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Roanoke Fire-EMS Headquarters

originally uploaded by firefleitz.
I received some pictures of the new Roanoke Fire-EMS Headquarters at Elm and Franlkin. Check out the other pictures located on my Flickr Page. The new station is well underway, although I have not really heard any news about it in a long time. Not that I can blame anyone for not notifying me of the project timeline. I have begun to hear rumors of the plans with REMS though. It will be interesting to see what happens. I am not going to speculate, the best I can tell they are just rumors at this point. As far as Fire Station #1 goes, It will be interesting to see what happens. While you are at it, look around the Flickr site and see what you can find. There are millions of user submitted pictures on the site. I will be featuring more in the future. Thanks to Baron Gibson for this set of pictures.

Water Rescue

Here is some more information on the Water Rescue performed by Roanoke Fire-EMS.

Official release from the Fire-EMS Department:

The Roanoke Fire-EMS Department responded to a Swift Water Rescue on June 27, 2006 at the Roanoke River near Wiley Dr.

The call was received through the 9-1-1 Center at approximately 7:54 p.m. from Battalion One. Battalion One pulled up on the scene of two individuals placing a canoe into the swollen Roanoke River at Wiley Dr. He immediately notified the 9-1-1 Center for police assistance and he activated the Swift Water Rescue Team. Other crews arrived consisting of one engine, two ladder trucks, the Swift Water Rescue Team, two medic units, one EMS Captain and one Battalion Chief for a total of 19 personnel.

Soon after the canoe was placed into the water, it capsized, sending both men into the water. Fire-EMS crews immediately began the rescue mission. One individual was able to pull himself out of the water at Smith Park. The other man continued floating down the river. The Swift Water Rescue Team tossed him a throw bag which is used in conducting water rescues. The man held onto it for a moment, but then lost his grip. The Swift Water Rescue Team then tried another strategy by going into the river to save the man. They were successful and pulled him to safety below the Franklin Rd. bridge.

Both men were treated at the scene and released without any injuries. There were no injuries to other civilians or Fire-EMS Crews.

Roanoke Fire-EMS reminds citizens to never enter flooded areas. Debris and swift water make for a dangerous situation which can put you at risk for drowning. Also, never attempt to cross flooded roadways.

The Roanoke Fire-EMS Swift Water Rescue Team was developed in September of 2004. This team is based out of Fire-EMS Station #6 on Jamison Avenue and falls under the Special Operations Division with Heavy and Tactical Rescue. Twenty-three fire-EMS personnel completed the required Technician Level Swift Water Rescue training and Boat Operations.

WDBJ7 has the story including a video of the men capsizing. Check out what the men had to say after being rescued:
One of the men was able to get ashore on his own, but the rescuers pulled the other to safety. After coming ashore, Henegar said the rescue effort was not necessary: "I was swimming toward the trees the whole time, I was resting at the trees, and then I got tired."
But hey, what do the professionals know, these guys do it all the time. "It" being canoe in flood swollen rivers with rapids they are not accustomed to and capsize making them have to fight for their lives to get to shore. Piece of cake.

I wonder if that man would have said the same thing if the other had drowned?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Water for the Soul

I went SCUBA diving today at Lake Rawlings which is located south of Richmond. The lake is actually an old quarry which has been a film location for several movies including "The Replacements" starring Keanu Reaves and Gene Hackman. The lake is very clear and at times I wished I was fishing for the decent sized bass I saw instead of fishing with them. I am being certified through SCUBA Schools International (SSI) and being instructed by Chuck Swecker at Aquatrek, Chuck is also a 1st Lt. for Roanoke City. The course has been a lot of fun. I can definitely see myself diving for the rest of my life. If any of you locals want to get into it let me know and I will get you connected. After one more day of check out dives I will be a certified diver. Next week I plan on going diving while vacationing in Nags Head.

On another note, I heard that Ladder 1 had a pick off at the low water dam today. For those of you not in Roanoke, we have been experiencing a lot of rain and the accustomed localized flooding from that rain. From what I hear, some idiots decided to put a canoe in the water at Wasena Park. Soon after their journey began Battalion 1 happened to notice them in the water. Then, like it was scripted, the canoe overturned (big shock huh). But the guys at 1 along with Battalion 1 and RS-1 got the job done. I am sorry if I left out any other units on scene, this is just from the report I got.

Which is a good segue into the next story I would like to hit on. Why doesn't the City force Ssunny Shah at the Ramada Inn on Franklin to post signs indicating that if we get rain their cars will float away. I have noticed that for the past several seasons of heavy rain the patrons of the Ramada Inn have lost their cars to flood damage. If you didn't know, most insurance plans do not cover flooding.

Finally to rap up, Victory Stadium is being torn down. As if to reiterate the point that the Stadium is susceptible to flooding the flood waters once again nearly covered the playing field at Victory Stadium. Meanwhile the wrecking ball continues to devour the old icon.

Monday, June 26, 2006

What? It couldn't be. Could it?

I will be damned. I just posted a cartoon by Paul Combs. Then I took the time to look at his website. You will never believe the first thing that came to my mind when I saw this picture. It was like 150 years of firefighting right here in Roanoke flashed before my eyes (notice how the years grow exponentially). That is right. Apparently when Ole Leatherneck, Captain Willie Wines Jr., told everyone that he was going to Texas to buy a farm he actually went to pose for this here cartoon. Apparently there is a new Sheriff in town.

In honor of using an image from Paul Combs website, you can purchase this print and others here.

'Stand Down' Rolls Across the Country - News

Firefighters across the Nation and Canada have been participating in the Second "Stand Down" which is designed to trim all the fat out of a firefighters normal workday down to the bare bones necessity of running emergency calls and replace it with a focus on Safety. The IAFC and IAFF have partnered again this year in the "Stand Down" as a way of waking firefighters up to the common and most often accidents that have claimed their lives in the past. Read the article below, there is a nice compilation of events from many departments across North America.

'Stand Down' Rolls Across the Country - News:
"ATTITUDE and BEHAVIOR are the driving forces behind policies, regulations, and safety mandates," said Virginia's Richmond Fire Department Fire Chief Robert Creecy as he addressed his personnel. "Without the right attitude and true accountability for consistent safe behavior, the rest is just words on paper."

Richmond Fire and Emergency Medical Services are observing a six-week Stand Down. "Some people are sick, some are out on leave, you can't reach everyone in one day. Everyone in my department will be taught. This is not something you accomplish overnight," Creecy explained.

Creecy's teaching methods must be effective. There was a 50 percent drop in Richmond Fire Department injuries and illnesses in 2005 over 2004, and motor-vehicle collisions were reduced by about one-third. (Read More)

History? We don't need no stinking history.

Check out the LaserFiche City Council Minutes that Roanoke City has been scanning and uploading. The minutes date back to 1884. When I get some spare time, I will check them out and see what historical goodness is inside. Thanks to Forgotten Roanoke for the link, they have already deciphered some of the information.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Take a Peek - Link Dump 1

Being on vacation gave me a lot of time to think about a lot of things. Some of what came to mind was ways to keep this site going strong, to inform the Roanoke Firefighters, but more importantly to keep increasing my readership among outsiders. Mostly this occurs when the blog shows up during searches, but word of mouth works too. I find it interesting the more and more hits I get from email messages.

What came to mind mostly was interesting stories, viewpoints, and issues that I would like to hit on. More and more of the issues affecting my department are coming to the surface in other departments. Some issues are more of a priority in different parts of the Nation. The main keywords that continue to surface are pay, morale, pension, benefits, insurance, retirement, and hiring. I will continue to find and uncover articles of what other firefighters, departments, and localities are going through (the good and the bad).

Here are some stories summarized. Click on the bold links for the stories.

Chesapeake Fire has gold leafed certain donors names on the back end of Squad 15. The donors helped properly equip the truck to handle emergencies.

Remember when you got hired on at the FD, well so does Sean Brooks. Unfortunately, Sean was laid off only 3 months after being hired. I just hope that the budget cuts that cost Sean his job don't come at the cost of someone's life. is a new site dedicated to the importance of proper rehab at the fire scene and in other situations. Check it out, you might learn something.

I don't know how many fire photographers there are out there, but FireRescue has a wildland firefighter photo contest. The deadline is August 18th.

The NFPA has come out with an interesting study pointing to the increase in firefighter deaths during training.

Will Roanoke City Council Meetings reach this point? God I hope not.

Thanks to Local 29 for the link.
Remember the Station Night Club Fire? How could you forget it. Possibly one of the worst fires in the past 100 years. I found a blog related to it. It might not be up to date, but check it out.

I think that I might do this type of thing more often. Consider it a link dump. If you see anything catchy, funny, or interesting and would like to see me post it just send it to me.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Vacation in Folly Beach

Vacation in Folly Beach, SC was awesome. I was able to tune everything out as you can see from the fact that I didn't even check in to see what was going on. Unfortunately nothing was going on. I thought maybe some of you would have opened my eyes to a website, story, or article that I would find interesting and share with the readers. Either way, nothing to lose.

Folly Beach is a very small beach located Southeast of Charleston, SC. I was able to enjoy downtown Charleston all the while living at the beach. I got in some much needed fishing, my best catch was about a 10 lb. Sea Trout. We did not go out on a boat, I will be doing that in Nags Head next week hopefully.

Unfortunately someone might have drowned right down the beach from where we were staying. They flew him out by helicopter. I have been unable to locate any information on the incident.

I noticed a house that had been gutted by fire on Folly Beach and now that I have gotten a minute to read up on the news I have found that it was the house of Rick Huff. The story is here.

Last night we were driving back to the house and passed a vehicle accident with one of the vehicles on fire. Police were on scene, but Fire had not arrived yet. I was driving, so I didn't get any pictures. We also passed this incident, which looked like it had the police busy.

All in all we had a great vacation. It is interesting to read the similarities between Roanoke and Charleston although Charleston is such a bigger City with so many other things to offer. We toured the USS Yorktown while we were in the City and I might have some pictures to share once I download them.

That is the Vacation summary for you.

The Post and Courier | | News | Charleston, SC

Charleston Fire is going through the same type of issues which are hampering the morale of the Firefighters in Roanoke. Most firefighters who bring up pay issues with me have stated that while starting pay is not the best, it is competitive with the Valley. Yet if you look at the pay of the officers and the guys who have been in the department a long time, the pay is not that great at all.

The Post and Courier | | News | Charleston, SC:
City fire pay in spotlight
Officials, group differ on issue of compensation

An association representing nearly half of Charleston's firefighters says morale is suffering because of pay disparities, but its demand that the city conduct an independent salary study has been ignored by officials who say they think the firefighters are fairly compensated.

"Chief Rusty (Thomas) will say we don't do it for the money, and he's right," said Roger L. Yow Sr., president of the Charleston Firefighters Association. "But morale is down in the fire department because of it."

South Carolina law prohibits municipalities from collectively bargaining with employees, so the association has little clout with which to press its complaint about pay. Thomas made it clear Thursday how concerned he is with the association's demands...

Yow said the department does offer competitive wages for entry-level firefighters, but he added that those who have been with the department for decades or hold higher-ranking positions should be earning more than they do now. In some cases, he said, captains are earning little more than the firefighters they supervise.

"You shouldn't be making as much as your boss," said Yow, a retired Charleston Fire Department captain. (Read More)

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Friday, June 16, 2006


I will be out of town this week in Charleston, SC. Actually I will be in Folly Beach, SC. I might make an attempt at posting something during the week, but don't get your hopes up. I had planned on drafting up at least 7 posts and just posting one each day, but I didn't. I should be available by email if anyone gets a good idea to post, then I will try and get somewhere to post it. If I get a moment I would actually set out some posts that get everyone talking. It seems as though most of my returning readers who are Firefighters here in the Valley don't mind posting a comment to a controversial issue, however when someone retires or there is some other form of congratulatory comments you guys clam up.

Either way, I know that you guys are reading the posts due to the comments here and there. I check the visitor stats regularly. The blog just surpassed 50,000 hits.

Here is an idea, or an assignment if you will. Find a unique website related or even unrelated to firefighting, but something others will find interesting and post it in the comments. There are plenty of great websites out there. This is your turn to provide the information. You can point to the websites homepage or a specific page or article. Just copy the address out of the address bar and paste it in the comments. If you have a website of your own, put it in there. This is a great opportunity at getting some readers since this post might be up an entire week.

As for my assignment - I will be relaxing on the beach drinking beer and then..... drinking another.

Early morning fire displaces residents of Roanoke apartment complex

Roanoke Firefighters were out early this morning fighting a fire at the Whitney House Apartments. Engine 10 was still on the call when I got to work this morning. I have not gotten too many tidbits of information so I will report what I have seen on the news and what has reported. The news footage shows that it was an impressive fire. It seems as though the firefighters had their work cut out for them when they got on scene. No lives lost, no firefighters injured, the rest of the building was saved. What more could you ask for. article here.

Early morning fire displaces residents of Roanoke apartment complex:
Fire heavily damaged a Roanoke apartment complex early Friday morning. Firefighters were called to the Whitney House Apartments off of Williamson Road around 2:40 a.m. Officials say the end unit of the third floor was engulfed in flames. The blaze raced across the roof line on the sub-roofing and caught several other apartments on fire. The cause is still under investigation. (Read More)
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Marlan Morris Retires

Marlan Morris was hired November 21, 1987 by the Roanoke Fire Department. Marlan is retiring as the Fire Marshal of the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department and is taking with him a lot of prevention and investigation experience. Congratulations on your retirement Marlan. Administration had a going away party for Marlan the other day. I did not make it, but I hear that it was humorous.

Pictured at Station #6 L-R is front row Bev Mitchell, Lawrence Breeding, Tommy Poindexter, back row John Proctor, Marlan Morris, Gerry "Big Daddy" Sullivan, Ronnie Cochran, and Gary Laprad.

This has been a busy week of retirements. Mike Overacker, Cecil Boyd, and Marlan Morris all have retired this week. All these retirements add up to a bigger recruit school than Roanoke has experienced in the past several years. I believe the magic number is 17 recruits this year. Of course you have to remember that Roanoke County and Salem have recruits in the school as well. I have also heard rumor of Lynchburg Fire-EMS Department actually having recruits in our recruit school. I do not know if this is true, but you never know.

Casti Bhamidipati

Casti M Bhamidipati, D.O. graduated June 3, 2006 from University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine in Biddeford, ME. He graduated with the Sigma Sigma Phi award which is for those individuals with outstanding scholastic achievement and service. He is currently living in Syracuse, NY and will be doing his residency there for the next year in surgery.

Casti was a Roanoke Firefighter for about 3 years, hired on August 31, 1998, and left to go to Medical School. Congratulations on your graduation Casti. Thanks to Captain Alan Austin for the update.


Thanks to Woman, Fire, & Dangerous Things for this picture. View more pictures here.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Michael Overacker Retires

Michael "Mike" Overacker is working his last day today. Mike started his career on October 22, 1982 and will be retiring with almost 24 years of service with the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department. Mike is a well known photographer who has been published numerous times through the years in newspapers and calendars. Mike took a lot of pictures of fires earlier in his career and continued doing so up to this day. Mike lost a lot of images when his studio was flooded during the flood of 1985. His website hosts some of those images. I might add that he updated that site for the first time in several years last night and added pictures from some fires earlier this year.

Mike's last day is today, call him up and wish him well.

His most recent assignment was to the ARFF company at Station #10. He was promoted to Lieutenant several years ago. Congratulations on your career and best wishes during retirement.
Pictured is Captain Thomas Burton, Randy Smith (standing on truck), and Michael Overacker. This picture was taken in the early 1990's.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Andrew Spradling passes away while waiting for a heart transplant.

Roanoke Fire Fighters Local 1132:
Andrew Spradling passes away [6-13-06]
It is with deepest sorrow that we announce the passing of Andrew Spradling. Andrew is the brother of Roanoke City Firefighter Daniel Spradling and son of Roanoke County Firefighter Jerry Spradling. Andrew was born with only two chambers in his heart instead of four and had been waiting for a heart transplant for several years. Debbie, Andrew's Mother is with him in St. Louis. Local 3194 and Local 1132 are working to unite Daniel and Jerry with Debbie in St. Louis as soon as possible. (Read More)

Check out the Local 1132 website for more information including some articles about Andrew during his quest for a donor heart. My thoughts and prayers are with the entire Spradling family. Feel free to leave any comments for Andrew's family below.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Middle-Aged Georgian Leaves Lucrative Job To Become Firefighter - News

In high school I often wondered what I was going to make a career of. My only stipulation was that I did not want to end up middle aged and hating to go to work. I had to pick something I loved doing. I had read stories of men going through a midlife crisis and realizing they hated their job. What a waste, I did not want to end up like that. Soon after becoming a volunteer at the age of 17, I knew that I had to be a Career Firefighter. Check out this story of one of those guys who was unhappy with his job and made a change.

Middle-Aged Georgian Leaves Lucrative Job To Become Firefighter - News:
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

He traded his white-collar malaise for a firehose and a renewed sense of purpose.

At 40, John Williamson realized that his life in corporate management had left him professionally unfulfilled, swamped with paperwork, and physically and emotionally drained from the long hours wasted on I-285.

His wife, Patti, recalls a pivotal conversation at their home in Suwanee. She asked him "Well, honey, what do you want to do?"

"When I was a kid, I always wanted to be a fireman. What kid doesn't want to drive a firetruck?" he answered. Then, he added ruefully, "Now I'm too old."

Just how old do you have to be before you give up on your boyhood dreams? The Williamsons decided that 40 was way too young --- and they soon learned that 40 was just young enough to become a firefighter.

So, Williamson applied to the Gwinnett Fire Department. He finished at the top of a recruit class whose members were mostly in their mid-20s. Read More
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It just so happens that Roanoke Fire-EMS is finalizing the hiring process right now. We are in the process of hiring 17 recruits I think. I know several of the candidates and you might be interested to find out that several are firefighters from out of State, some are just moving from other States, and yet others are making career changes. Some of them have contacted me through this website. As always I am very happy to answer any questions. It is interesting to hear of who is looking to go where and for what reasons.

Cecil Boyd Retires

Firefighter Cecil Boyd retires after 23 years on the job. Cecil was hired August 27, 1983 worked his last day June 12, 2006. Cecil, who planned on retiring in a couple more weeks, decided when he got to work yesterday that he had worked enough. I got to work with Cecil at Station #8 for about 4 months last year. I regard him as the hardest working no nonsense firefighter I have worked with. Cecil never got wrapped up in all the politics and nonsense of the job, he just wanted to fight a little fire occasionally and he was happy. Cecil received the Firefighter of the Year award in 1993 from the Roanoke Fire Fighters Association for rescuing children from a fire on Panorama (Salem View Apartments). Congratulations on your retirement Cecil.

Authors note: unfortunately I do not have a picture of Cecil, if anyone else does, send it in.

Memorial Tribute

A memorial has been unveiled at the site of The World Trade Center in recognition of the 343 FDNY firefighters who gave their lives so that others might live doing their duty on September 11th. The memorial is six-foot-high, 7,000-pounds and 56 feet long in length. The mural was funded through fundraising by Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation. The Rambusch Company built the mural. The memorial is attached to the side of the Engine 10 and Ladder 10 firehouse. Read the entire article for the whole story.

"The first large-scale 9/11 monument at ground zero — a bold, literal and almost neo-Classical 56-foot-long bronze relief dedicated to the firefighters "who fell and to those who carry on" — was unveiled yesterday on the side of "10 House," the home of Engine Company 10 and Ladder Company 10, across Liberty Street from the World Trade Center." Read more
Check out this post on Firewhirl for more information.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

In town for the Power Tour

This past week Daniel Lawson, a Firefighter from Local 2958 North Plainfield Professional Firefighters in North Plainfield New Jersey, stopped through town to meet up with the Hot Rod Power Tour in Salem, Virginia. Daniel contacted me about finding a place for himself and his brother to stay the first evening in town. FF Jeff Proulx opened his home to Daniel and his brother, thanks Jeff. Unfortunately Daniel was late getting in on Tuesday and was not able to see much that evening. The following day he was able to stop by Station #9 and #10. Maybe next time we will have more time to hang out and show you around Roanoke.
Pictured: L-R Gary Fisher, Joe Austin, Rhett Fleitz, Travis Collins, Steve Lambruscati, Tina O'Brien, Daniel Lawson, R.T. Flora, sitting is Warren Hawley (retired).

Thanks for taking the time to check out Roanoke and enjoy the views on your ride back to New Jersey.

Broadway's injury

Here is a message to all the Roanoke Firefighters who are concerned with FF Bradbury. Let me know if you have any questions and I will forward them. Leave any comments you might have for him as well.

"Rhett, I just wanted to post a note to tell everyone thanks for the calls and concern for our recently injured brother. If anyone doesn't know what happened to Kevin "Broadway" Bradbury, we were playing volleyball the other night and yes contrary to popular belief it was "REAL" volleyball not SUMO or UFC just regular old volleyball. Broadway was going to hit the ball and stepped down wrong and fractured his ankle. Not to go into detail but I will remember that sight and sound forever.

After the X-rays the orthopedist told us that he had in fact fractured his ankle in 3 separate places and dislocated it as well. As of today he is resting at home with family and is awaiting the swelling to go down enough for the ortho's to get in there and operate, which could be up to seven more days. He will then be on the road to recovery, and says he probably won't be back to work until sometime in August.

I will send more info to Rhett to post as it comes in. Any questions feel free to call me or any of us at 2-A. It is also reported that the Dept PIO is keeping a close watch on the situation as well. Thanks again for the calls.

Yours in service,
Travis A. Simmons

P.S. Thanks to Admin. and Capt. Pope we were allowed to stay at the hospital with Broadway until his ankle was set and splinted, help the docs hold his leg and get his splint on and then to take him home and get him inside. Also thanks to the other Medic trucks for pickin up our slack while we were there so we could stay with our brother. I owe yall a big one.....Trav "

Golf Tournament recap

The tournament was a huge success. I will be adding pictures and info on the Local 1132 site in a couple of days. There were some things that I just had to post today though.

First off, it was great to see all the guys having fun cooking again this year. Unfortunately Johnny Price couldn't be with us, but his three sons were there to make sure everything ran smoothly. The BBQ was great and I believe that everyone had enough to eat. There were 108 golfers and we went through 38 cases of beer.

From what I could tell everyone had a good time. Jerry Franks sure left in a hurry after the tournament was over. Maybe because Dubose turned the porta potty over with Franks holding on for dear life inside. That was hilarious. He had that blue stuff all over him.

My team consisted of Courtney Price, Jeff Oliver, Eric Mulford, and myself. We didn't do so hot. Maybe I should take up knitting.

Thanks to all who came out to help.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Firefighter With Muscular Dystrophy Fired - News -

Thanks to Pat Campbell's Blog, I found this article on a firefighter who has been fired for his disability. Read the article and leave a comment if you want.

Firefighter With Muscular Dystrophy Fired - News -
A firefighter is out of a job because of his disability.

Jeff Chesak said he couldn't believe it when he got the news that his career as a firefighter was over, WESH 2 News reported.

He has muscular dystrophy but he said that does not keep him from performing his duties. However, his bosses said Chesak is not capable of performing at a level that ensures the public's safety.

"It's just a slowly progressive disease," Chesak said.

Walking next to Chesak, you'd hardly know he suffers from muscular dystrophy. Around his ankles and feet are small braces that steady him. He said the disease is not keeping him from doing his job.

But the same week he got his 20-year service award, he was fired. (Read More)
I don't see why they couldn't make an exception and let him continue with the same retirement plan so he could serve his last 4 1/2 years and retire. This story is especially close to firefighters due to the fact that the IAFF is the biggest supporter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Common Goals - Firefighters strive to better themselves

Nationally the Fire Service is undergoing a huge transformation and has been for the past 10-20 years. The effects of these changes are beginning to show. Good, bad, or indifferent this is what Firefighters have to work with.

1. Fire/EMS merges
2. Better Fire Prevention resulting in decreased fires
3. A National trend of younger Fire Departments
4. More stringent guidelines, laws, and regulations
5. Steady Influx of women in the fire service
6. More responsibility and the same pay
7. Pay increases which aren't keeping up with inflation or the cost of living
8. The publics view of firefighters as jacks of all trades
9. More emphasis on schooling and training than experience and love of the job
10. Low morale due to these issues and others

The truth is that the Fire Service of 2006 is not that of any decade prior. Pay, benefits, pensions, and retirement are all issues which we are going to have to continue to fight for until we retire. At that point you should be able to say "I got what I got, and I gave them one hell of a fight to get it, yet I deserve every penny". City, State, and Federal Governments are not going to give you anything that you don't fight for. You have to make a stand somewhere in your career realize that you can make a difference.

This issues which opened this post are merely a comparison. Most of those issues where not issues 20 years ago. The truth is that Firefighting is not just blood, sweat, and tears of years before. The ideology of suet covered faces of past generations have grown into the need for dirty hands from training and earning your keep with elbow grease. Departments across the Nation are feeling the effects of decreased fires. This decrease has had ill effects on our pay and benefits. If the tax payers and Government Officials do not see us out fighting fires all day then they assume we are not doing anything. What they do not realize is that the increased work load that builds each year has taken the place of waiting for a fire. Couple that with the ever increasing EMS call volume and we are actually busier than past generations, only lacking in the area of fires. Try explaining that to them though.

Fire departments are younger today as well. This is in part due to the increase of firefighters in the 70's and 80's due to "America Burning". Locally, we can see the effects from the third platoon being added in 1972. Most of these men have retired in the past 10 years leaving the fire departments to fend for themselves as the experience levels and job knowledge plummet. Now we rely on teaching ourselves, learning from our mistakes, and growing. This cycle will repeat itself in another 15-25 years, depending on where you are. Eventually the effects will lessen as the retirements spread out.

To help me out in what I am trying to say I will use two posts which I found in a message forum for the Chicago Fire Department. Take it for what it is worth. The first being a more crude comment on all the nonsense which has entrenched the fire department making Pride, Honor, and Tradition seem like four letter words. The second of the two speaks for itself.

"I've been reading this board in its new incarnation for a while now, and besides being not being filled with any real discussion, I've found a lot of you bickering back and forth like babies. "EMS vs Fire!!" "I'm busier than you!!" "Stop complaining!" "Waahhh!"

To me, this is the indicator of "No time on the job" or a "Cushion spot". Sure, nobody's doing anything real anymore, so what? Know your job in case something does happen.
After a few years of employment by the most corrupt city government in the US, you will begin to realize what is important... The performance and relationship of the team that you belong to, not "When are we going to get bunkers!" "Ambo assists suck!"
It all starts on a company level. Down on the bottom of the ladder is where it happens when the bell rings. If you come from a house full of Jerk offs and have no desire to find greener grass, hey, enjoy.
If you are content to be assigned to a house full of tired old timers who don't want to teach you nothing, and you don't want to leave, watch out. You'll be eaten alive on some details.
The funny thing is now I've caught myself complaing too, but for all the new guys who think this job sucks, quit now... Or, give it some time and you will learn to accept the B.S. that has been piled on for years, and make the best of it."


"The main quality that separates an average individual in their chosen profession from one who is outstanding, is the pride they take in what they do. Taking pride in oneself, and pride in your profession, are two of the most important ingredients of success. This is true in all walks of life, and this includes the fire service.

Many firefighters like to use the word "they". ("When are they going to straighten out this company?" or "What are they going to do to improve the Department?" ) The outstanding firefighter realizes we are "they". The way to improve your Company, Firehouse, or the Chicago Fire Department is to start with yourself. Show pride in what you do. Pride does not have to trickle down from the top, it is equally important at every level.

We are all members of the Chicago Fire Department, the greatest fire department in the world. The reason we are in this position is because of the pride the average firefighter takes in their job. We are all part of a team, and we all share the responsibility of making the fire department a better place. What have you done lately to improve things?

Pride in oneself starts with your personal appearance. Do you wear your uniform proudly or do you look like a slob? Remember, public relations is a big part of our job. The citizens of Chicago look up to you, don't ever let them down.

How do your apparatus, tools, and equipment look? Show me a company that takes pride in their own appearance and that of their equipment, and I'll show you a good company. If your company is less than motivated, start with yourself. Pride is contagious.

Does your company train and drill everyday? If not, why? You do not become the best by luck; you become the best by hard work. To succeed you must train together as a team. This is every firefighter's responsibility, but especially that of the company officer. A good officer must be a good teacher; this responsibility comes with the job. Relief officers, this includes you. You are not a substitute teacher, you are an officer; the lives of your company members rely on your competence. Do your job. Training saves lives!

Officers, if you have firefighters out of uniform, a dirty apparatus, tools and/or equipment that are not maintained, and untrained firefighters, wake up! Do not be afraid to be a leader. Lead by example, set high standards, and take pride in what you do.

Lets work together as a team to improve the Chicago Fire Department. Remember when you look in the mirror, that's not just an average person looking back. That's a Chicago Firefighter, and there is not a more respected occupation on earth."

Chief Steve Chikerotis [July 2003 Training Bulletin]

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Atlanta Firefighters Protest Police-Only Raise Proposal - News

Read this article, in its entirety, and let me know if it sounds familiar.

Atlanta Firefighters Protest Police-Only Raise Proposal - News:

Atlanta's firefighters are protesting Mayor Shirley Franklin's decision to give police a raise but not them.

Franklin hopes to reduce attrition in the Atlanta Police Department by boosting pay by 3.5 percent, beginning in July. The mayor wants to give police officers $3.8 million in surplus funds while offering no raises to other city employees, including firefighters.

So far this year, Atlanta has hired 68 officers and has lost 64, leaving the 1,641-member Police Department with 145 vacancies.

Firefighters, as they have done in prior years when Franklin did not treat them equally, descended on City Hall on Monday to demand equal pay.

Capt. Joe Hussey was among about two dozen firefighters who attended the council meeting seeking "parity" with police. He promised that he and his colleagues would take their protest to the streets.

"No matter what we do," Hussey said, "we can't get anything. The T-shirt says it all." Like the others, he wore a red T-shirt printed for the occasion with the words. "Atlanta values firefighters 0%."(Read More)

It seems to me as though the Firefighters are being penalized for staying on the job. This can have detrimental effects on the morale, as even the article points out. It is amazing though that out of probably at least 500+ firefighters, only two dozen firefighters were at there council meeting.

Hole in One

Take this perfect hole in one, add in about 150 off duty firefighters surrounded with the best BBQ, ice cold adult beverages, and a great cause (MDA) and you have the Roanoke Valley Professional Firefighters Annual Golf Tournament. If you are playing on my foursome, or are playing the same hole as us, you might get to see some of my greatness. That greatness has a very distinct look to it, which I believe this video captures. The only difference is that when I golf, once a year, I don't have cameras following me around. The Golf Tournament is this Friday.


Check out this poem and others from Firefighter Wayne. He has a great historical blog that I have read consistantly for about a year. He has some really great raw history of the fire service as he worked for the Detriot Fire Department from 1962-1998. Check out the recently posted poems and all the other history.

I'm laying in the darkness,
I cannot fall asleep.
I wonder where my husband is,
I wish he'd call or beep.
I saw him leave this morning,
the black boots on his feet.
He said he had to run now,
and I know he's on the street.
You'll know him when You see him,
his truck is very loud.
He has no time to stop now,
he doesn't want a crowd.
A caller said "Please hurry!"
Come quickly if you will.
A young man with a motorbike is laying very still.
A mother calls in anguish,
her child limp and blue.
HURRY! Come, I need you!
I don't know what to do.
I hear his key turning,
he's coming in the door.
I hear him drop his boots,
then footsteps on the floor.
I hear him in the kitchen,
I can tell from his walk,
He'll soon come and wake me,
and ask if we can talk.
We'll sit out in the moonlight,
and listen to the night.
He talks about a shooting,
a streetgang in a fight.
A car crash, a drowning, a small child hurt at play.
The things he needs to talk about,
the things he did today.
The old, the sick, the injured,
some so very small.
He did all he could to help them,
he answered every call.
Every day he has a mission,
he knows it in his heart.
He does everything he can and always does his part.
If you are sick or injured and you need to reach my Hon,
I can tell you how to reach him, his number is ......911.
A Firefighter's Wife
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Monday, June 05, 2006

Virginia Disasters - and the other 49 States at

Check out this FEMA website to see all the past Virginia Major Disaster Declarations, Emergency Declarations, and Fire Management Assistant Declarations. You can click on the individual Disaster number to view information on that disaster including a map for where the disaster occurred. Link for example. The information gets very detailed beyond that, although the information is not as detailed the older the disaster is.

You can search other States disasters from this FEMA Link.

There is a decent article on today about the NFPA EXPO Report

NFPA Expo Report: All Disasters are Local, Be Prepared

Firehouse.Com News

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Responsibility for handling major incidents, including hurricanes, falls with local government, not the feds, according to Dr. Cortez Lawrence, US Fire Administration fire programs director

"No where in the Constitution is fire protection mentioned," Lawrence told several thousand people at the National Fire Protection Association's annual conference Monday.

Lawrence, who assisted with response after Katrina, said locals need to realize that they must be self-sufficient. "They are the tip of the sword..."

Part of that readiness plan is getting the public to understand that they also must be prepared to fend for themselves for at least 72 hours. They should have a supply of medications, food, water, batteries and other personal care items.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Where's the Blog

Busy, busy, busy. That has been my life the past two weeks. I have been getting comments on when am I going to post again. Well this is the deal - The blog has taken a back seat to some other priorities. Take away the fact that I haven't posted in 5 days and you might not have noticed. The truth is that for the past several months have been difficult to come up with stimulating news, information, stories, history, photos, and the like. I know I have a lot of readers out there. Some local, some distant, some former Roanokers, Firefighters from other Cities, and the many Firefighters from Roanoke for which this blog is named.

Some coworkers have asked why I have stopped posting working fires. The truth is that I have not stopped. What I have done is enabled you guys to get the information that the Roanoke Fire-EMS Dept. offers through MyRoanoke on your own. What I would rather have is your insight, your photos, your stories on the fires and post that. An email or phone call will suffice.

I will be extremely busy with the book until September 1st. After that the process should be easier.

I will let the readers pick out the format for this week. Let me know what you want to know about, see pictures of, or the like. Put me on task. Just leave a comment and I will see what I can do.

If you are wondering about how many ARFF calls I have been on. Still nothing.