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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Acting chief named head of Roanoke Fire-EMS - From the Roanoke Times

Acting chief named head of Roanoke Fire-EMS
David Hoback said he looks forward to taking charge of the department's direction.

Reed Williams

David Hoback, who started working as a city paramedic 22 years ago and rose through the ranks, has been named chief of Roanoke Fire-EMS.

Hoback, 44, had been acting chief since July 2005, when former chief Jim Grigsby became acting assistant city manager for operations. Hoback's promotion was effective Monday and announced Tuesday.

He said he looks forward to taking charge of the department's direction and addressing its challenges, such as how to go about replacing aging facilities.

"I want to move the department forward," Hoback said Tuesday. (Read More)

MVA on Tazwell and 8th Street

MVA on Tazwell and 8th Street

Time of Dispatch: 0752
Units Operating: E-6, M-6, E-5, RS-1, M-3, M-7 Three minor injuries transported, one more trauma alert transported for a total of four.
Photos courtesy of Engine 6-A Shift.

Fire at 2327 Staunton Ave.

The Roanoke Fire-EMS Department responded to a residential structure fire on January 31, 2007 at 2327 Staunton Ave.

The call was received through the 9-1-1 Center at approximately 5:24 a.m. The response of two Engines, one Ladder truck, one Medic Unit, one EMS Captain, the Emergency Management Coordinator and one Battalion Chief for a total of 14 personnel responded to the scene.
The fire was under control at 5:35 a.m.

Upon arrival, crews found a fire in the kitchen. Crews quickly entered the structure and extinguished the blaze.

There were three people inside of the home when the fire started.
They escaped without any injuries. There were no injuries to citizens or Fire-EMS personnel.

The fire started in the kitchen and was containedkitchen. The house sustained heavy smoke damage. The cause of the fire was unattended cooking materials. Damage estimates are approximately $15,000.

Three residents, two adults and one teenager, were displaced from the home. Emergency Management responded to the scene and assisted them.
They are now being helped by the Red Cross.

Fire at 707 15th Street

The Roanoke Fire-EMS Department responded to a residential structure fire on January 30, 2007 at 707 15th St.

The call was received through the 9-1-1 Center at approximately 11:17 p.m. The response of three Engines, one Ladder truck, two Medic Units, one EMS Captain, the Investigation Unit and one Battalion Chief for a total of 20 personnel responded to the scene. The fire was under control at 11:50 p.m.

Police on patrol spotted the fire and called it in. Upon arrival, crews found heavy smoke and flames coming from the structure. Crews quickly entered the structure and extinguished the blaze. Crews conducted a primary and secondary search which was ruled all clear.

No one was inside of the home when the fire started. There were no injuries to citizens or Fire-EMS personnel.

The fire started in the back living area of the first floor and was contained to the structure. The cause of the fire is under investigation. Damage estimates are approximately $20,000.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Roanoke Fire-EMS Promotes Deputy Chief David Hoback

ROANOKE, VA - The City of Roanoke has promoted David Hoback as the Chief of Roanoke Fire-EMS effective yesterday, Jan. 29, 2007. Mr.
Hoback has been serving as Acting Chief since July 2005. He brings 22 years of experience with the city's Fire-EMS Department to this position, including his services as a paramedic (1985-1989), EMS Field Supervisor (1989), Deputy Coordinator of Emergency Services (1989-1995), Battalion Chief (1995-2002), and Deputy Chief (2002-2007). Mr. Hoback was selected from a number of highly qualified candidates resulting from a national search.

He holds a B.A. in fire administration from Hampton University and was named an Executive Fire Officer with the National Fire Academy in 2002. He also earned the designation of Chief Executive Fire Officer in 2006. Prior to his employment with the city, he worked for Community Hospital as an Emergency Room Technician.

During his tenure as Acting Director for Roanoke Fire-EMS, Mr. Hoback has led in planning, directing and reviewing activities of personnel working in the areas of fire suppression, inspection, prevention, training, hazardous incidents, and emergency medical services.

Under his leadership, the department has expanded the Regional Recruit School to include Lynchburg City Fire-EMS, expanded regional cooperation with Roanoke County Mount Pleasant EMS responding into Garden City, and participated on the City's Code Enforcement Team. As Acting Fire Chief, Mr. Hoback also participated in civic programs, fire prevention and safety campaigns, and recommended programs that provide for the efficient and effective use of personnel and equipment to reduce fire losses within the city.

"David has proven himself an effective leader for our Fire-EMS Department," said City Manager Darlene Burcham. "I am confident his direction will be an asset to our city as we continue to modernize our fire and emergency medical facilities and services to be more responsive and accessible to citizens."

Author Note: The above was taken from a Roanoke City Press Release.

Historic Note: Chief David Hoback is the first Chief named since the Roanoke Fire Department and Roanoke City EMS Department merged in 1995. Former Chief Grigsby was named Chief several months prior to the merge.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Disclaimer

You may have noted that a Firefighter/Medic wears many hats. If you're thinking your day will be filled exclusively with Fire and EMS calls, think again. It may seem as if you are a janitor, a chef, a public relations representative, a codes and compliance officer, a taxi driver, a social worker, a referee, part of a lawn care crew, a mechanic, a painter, or an electronics or computer whiz. Oh yes, I almost forgot, you are a firefighter and a medic. If you're looking forward to a career of high angle rescues, multiple structure fires and trauma call after trauma call, this job may not be for you. Although you will encounter these types of calls in your career, you need to be mentally prepared for a much less glamorous reality…life.

This text was taken from Norfolk Fire and Rescue Employment information page for Duties of a NFR Firefighter/Medic. View the complete page here.

Maybe all departments, including ours, should add this disclaimer.

Fire at Parkers Seafood Restaurant

Fire at Parkers Seafood Restaurant on Peters Creek Rd.

Click for the Story and Video from WDBJ7

The Roanoke Fire-EMS Department responded to a two alarm commercial structure fire on January 28, 2007 at 1336 Peters Creek Road, Parkers Seafood Restaurant.

The call was received through the 9-1-1 Center at approximately 2:08 p.m. The response of five Engines, two Ladder trucks, two Medic Units, one EMS Captain, two Administrative Chiefs, the Fire Marshal, the Investigation Unit and one Battalion Chief for a total of 32 personnel responded to the scene. The fire was under control at 2:31 p.m.

Upon arrival, crews found heavy smoke and flames coming from the back of the building. Crews quickly entered the structure and extinguished the blaze. They ventilated the structure and did a primary search which was ruled all clear.

No one was inside of the restaurant when the fire started. There were no injuries to citizens or Fire-EMS personnel.

The restaurant sustained heavy smoke and water damage. The cause of the fire is under investigation. Damage estimates are not available at this time.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Roanoke Metro Fire/EMS?

This picture was sent to me of the Roanoke Metro Fire/EMS Department Station #11. If you didn't know, in exchange for Engine 11's (Garden City) response into the Mount Pleasant area of Roanoke County, Mount Pleasant Medic 62 runs calls into the Garden City area of Roanoke City. Apparently some of the guys were having fun with the fact that there has been an increased amount of mutual aid and automatic aid on top of having City guys working out of a County Station. There were rumors of a "Metro" Department even before the assistance among localities began.

Currently we have:

A Lieutenant and a Firefighter stationed at Clearbrook Station #7 on each shift riding on County Apparatus and responding to a first due territory which includes Roanoke City around the Electric Road/220 corridor.

Engine 4 runs automatic aid with Salem.

Engine 13 runs automatic aid with Roanoke County and Salem.

Engine 10 runs automatic aid to Roanoke County.

Engine 6 runs mutual aid into Vinton frequently.

Of course mutual aid has no bounds, any of the jurisdictions can ask for assistance at anytime and the firefighters are more than welcome to help.

The automatic aid calls have increased, and City units are frequently used to assist the outlying localities.

Of the mutual aid coming back into the City, it seems as though we use Medic 71 the most. Maybe someday there will be a "Metro Fire Department".

I apologize if I left out any of the mutual/automatic aid that we assist with. These are just the ones on the top of my head.

Transformer Fire at Westside Elementary

Northside Companies run transformer fire at Westside Elementary School.

Last night, E13 was dispatched for a transformer fire at Westside Elementary School. We had previously run a call for wires arcing about an hour prior and returned this time to find AEP crews working at two different poles on each side of the school. Once we arrived at the same pole we had run prior, we realized that it the fire wasn't near the pole we had run near the school, and in fact a ground transformer was burning right next to the school. E13 asked for additional companies to fill out the assignment and began putting attack lines, and a supply line in place for suppression. AEP crews stated that the unit was de-energized, but could not say that there was NO electricity in the unit. Therefore, like most electrical fires, we side on the error of safety and treated it as though it was energized until AEP could confirm that there wasn't any power in the unit. E9, L13, M9, and BC2 arrived and we began cooling the unit which was burning pretty well. An 1 3/4" handline was used to apply foam on the unit which did not have a lasting effect on the fire. A 2 1/2" handline, which was pulled when E13 arrived, was then put into service along side the 1 3/4" handline and the fire was brought under control in about 30 minutes.

Water from the suppression efforts followed the conduit into the building and flooded the cafeteria with about a 1/2" of water. L2 was called in to assist the companies on scene to clean up the cafeteria.

The units cleared and AEP began the task of replacing the unit. Westside Elementary School will be closed for several days until the unit can be replaced.

Here are some external links for the story.

WSLS10 Story
WSLS has not uploaded the video of the incident. But from where the camera man was standing, I am sure he got some good footage. I will update the information when I get it.

WDBJ7 Story and Video

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Lunch at #9 with Billy Obenchain

Chief Obenchain and Jimmy Jennings stopped by #9 for lunch with the guys today. Captain Wines, FF Jeff Dudley, FF Jeff Proulx, and FF Ben Obaugh ate a hearty meal with Billy and Jimmy cooked up by FF Chris Franklin AKA "Chicken Hawk" AKA #9 C-Shift Chef. They feasted on a spread of cornbread and pinto beans. I am sure they shared some decent stories and solved many of the World's problems.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Fire at 2220 Mountain View Terrace

The Roanoke Fire-EMS Department responded to a structure fire on January 24, 2007 at 2220 Mountain View Terrace.

The call was received through the 9-1-1 Center at approximately 11:21 a.m. The response of four Engines, one Ladder truck, two Medic Units, one EMS Captain, one Investigation Unit, the Fire Marshal, the Assistant Fire Marshal, two Administrative Chiefs, the Education Information Specialist, the Administrative Support Supervisor, the Emergency Management Coordinator and one Battalion Chief for a total of 30 personnel responded to the scene.

Upon arrival, crews found heavy smoke coming from the structure.
Crews quickly entered the structure and extinguished the blaze.

There were two residents, one adult and one child, in the house when the fire started. They were rescued from the second story back porch of the house by a neighbor. They were both transported to the hospital for smoke inhalation. There were no injuries to Fire-EMS personnel.

The exact cause and origin of the fire are under investigation at this time. The residents were displaced from the home and are being assisted by Emergency Management. A damage estimate is not available at this time.

This home did have working smoke detectors - they helped to alert the resident to the fire. Roanoke Fire-EMS offers free smoke detectors and installation for City of Roanoke citizens. To schedule an appointment, call 853-5785.

This is an update to the fire that occurred on Wednesday, January 24,
2007 at 2220 Mountain View Terrace. The cause of the fire has been ruled accidental due to cooking. Damage estimates are still unavailable at this time.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Why we bill for EMS

Today I read an interesting article on how Bedford County is going to bill for rides to the hospital (link). Roanoke began billing probably 6 or 8 years ago. But is it that bad in Bedford that they have to start billing now. First of all, let me clear the air about who actually gets billed; the insurance companies. The self-pay, non-insured ambulance "customers" are not billed - well at least not sent to the collection agency.

Why do we bill? The simple answer is that we are trying to capture some of the expense of keeping ambulances staffed, running, and in service with trained personnel.
Why do we have to bill? Because the growing trend of calling the ambulance for everything took a toll on how many ambulances were in service and created a need for more ambulances, more staff, and more wear and tear on the ambulances.

Who calls most frequently? The non-insured to take them to the ER instead of a Family Physician. The mis-informed who think that by riding in an ambulance they will get to be seen first at the ER. The uneducated who do not know that there are Doctors offices who will allow uninsured to be seen and assist them with finding Government supplemental assistance to pay for the visit. Oh and let us not forget the ones who were taught to just call 911.
Who do we collect from? The insurance companies. It is my understanding that we do not come after self-paying people.

Who does it hurt? Well like most insurance paying people, our insurance rates and premiums increase due to the need to cover the costs of Emergency Rooms and Doctors Offices seeing the uninsured. This is a Government problem and it affects all insurance subscribers. The same goes for auto insurance.

What is the answer? Well this leads to an issue that one of our Battalion Chiefs often likes to bring up: EMS Prevention. After all, due to Fire Prevention and education the U.S. was able to see a decline in fires and correct the problem in the 70's and 80's of "America Burning". So why not educate people about EMS and when to call and when not to. The answer is money.

The reason for all the Fire Prevention in the last 80's and 90's continuing to today is because fires, responding to fires, and all the costs a fire department has related to fires is out of pocket. There aren't any funds associated with running fire calls, except the newly established fee for too many false alarms. However, this is only pocket change to running the alarm.

Now that we have seen EMS calls skyrocket, the answer wasn't to educate rather it was to bill for the experience. The flaw is that the very people who call too often aren't the ones saddled with the cost. It is the insured, the ones who rarely call when it isn't an emergency who have to pay. Luckily for them they have insurance, but the premiums, rates, and overall cost of insurance has gone up because of the billing.

Why should we commit to EMS Education? It depends on who you ask. If you ask the responder they will tell you it is a good idea that would decrease call volume, decrease "burnout", decrease response times, increase efficiency, and increase morale. However, if you ask an Administrator (from anywhere) they will more than likely tell you it is not necessary. We are providing a service and recouping the costs associated with responding.

Who cares if the responders are feeling the the affects of running all the nonsense "BS" calls. We are making money people.

Sure there would be costs associated with EMS prevention and education, but imagine the outcome.

Most departments our size are already a step ahead with prioritized dispatching. I know you have heard me say it many times before, it is like beating a dead horse. This doesn't mean that we have to get rid of the BLS calls and give them to Carilion or another 3rd party transport company. This just means that ALS (life threatening) calls would get priority. If we really wanted to make money we would have a fleet of BLS ambulances running around all day long taking people to and from the hospital and doctors offices. That would more than likely necessitate an EMS Division. I am not saying to reemerge as two departments, just divide within the organization. Maybe we can answer some of the other ailments of the EMS system.

But that is a whole other post, probably not one I will do anytime soon.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Fire at 645 Albemarle Avenue

The Roanoke Fire-EMS Department responded to a structure fire on January 19, 2007 at 645 Albemarle Ave.

The call was received through the 9-1-1 Center at approximately 2:34 p.m. The response of four Engines, one Ladder truck, two Medic Units, one EMS Captain, one Investigation Unit, the Fire Marshal, the Assistant Fire Marshal, the Education Information Specialist and one Battalion Chief for a total of 28 personnel responded to the scene.

Upon arrival, crews found smoke and heavy flames coming from the back of the structure. Crews quickly entered the structure and extinguished the fire. Crews rescued a hamster from the home.

Everyone had escaped the home when fire crews arrived. Nine people, 6 adults and three children were displaced. They are being assisted by the Red Cross. There were no injuries to citizens or Fire-EMS personnel.

The cause and origin of the fire are under investigation. Damage estimates are unavailable at this time. The house has been condemned.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Fire at 902 Rockland Avenue

The Roanoke Fire-EMS Department responded to a structure fire on January 15, 2007 at 902 Rockland Ave.

The call was received through the 9-1-1 Center at approximately 8:26 p.m. The response of three Engines, one Ladder truck, two Medic Units, one EMS Captain, one Investigation Unit and one Battalion Chief for a total of 19 personnel responded to the scene.

Upon arrival, crews found smoke emitting from the eaves of the structure. Crews quickly entered the structure and extinguished the fire.

There were two residents in the house when the fire started. They escaped without any injuries. There were no injuries to citizens or Fire-EMS personnel.

The fire started in the bedroom and was contained to the home. The house received smoke and heat damage. The cause of the fire was an overheated extension cord. Damage estimates are approximately $40,000.

Roanoke Fire-EMS encourages all Roanoke residents to practice fire safety steps every day. Remember, fire safety is your personal responsibility and fire prevention precautions DO make a difference!

Roanoke Fire-EMS offers free smoke detectors and installation. To schedule an appointment, call 853-5785.

The Fire Prevention Division of the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department offers fireplace safety and/ or home fire safety inspections. City of Roanoke citizens can call 853-2795 to set up an appointment.

Fire at 3012 Yardley Drive

The Roanoke Fire-EMS Department responded to a structure fire on January 17, 2007 at 3012 Yardley Dr.

The call was received through the 9-1-1 Center at approximately 10:22 a.m. The response of two Engines, one Ladder truck, one Medic Unit, one EMS Captain, one Administrative Chief, the Education Information Specialist, Emergency Management and two Battalion Chiefs for a total of 19 personnel responded to the scene.

Upon arrival, crews found smoke coming from the front door and the residents outside. Crews quickly gained entrance to the structure and extinguished the blaze that was found in the kitchen. A primary search was also conducted which was ruled all clear. Firefighters rescued a dog from inside of the house.

There were residents in the house when the fire started. Everyone had exited the building when Fire-EMS Crews arrived. There were no injuries to citizens or Fire-EMS personnel.

The fire started in the kitchen and was contained to the kitchen. The house also sustained smoke damage. The cause of the fire was cooking.

Seven residents, six adults and one child, were displaced by this fire. Emergency Management was contacted along with the Red Cross to assist the residents. Damage estimates are approximately $27,000.

This home did not have working smoke detectors. Roanoke Fire-EMS offers free smoke detectors and installations. To schedule your appointment, please call 853-5785.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

2007 VPFF Legislative Conference

Members of Local 1132 are attending the VPFF Legislative Conference in Richmond to learn about current Legislation and follow up by Lobbying for that Legislation.

Visit Local 1132 Online for information, or go directly to the VPFF website for up to date information.

Follow the Bills on the VPFF website.

Here is an interesting site to follow the bills, it was developed by Waldo Jaquith who is a popular political blogger. The site is

Monday, January 15, 2007

"Firefighting in Roanoke" on Ebay

"Firefighting in Roanoke" has finally reached the apex of Internet marketing by making its debut on Ebay. A book store is selling the book (Link) and has put a buy it now price around $22 with $6 shipping cost. It will be interesting seeing how it goes. I kind of doubt it will sell at the buy it now price since you can purchase it on Amazon for around $13. I have been waiting for the book to show up on Ebay to complete the total marketing for the book giving it the maximum exposure. It really has been a fun ride watching the book sell across the Internet.

The Transportation Museum wants to set up a book signing in February. I should have a date for you soon.

For all the people who have purchased the book, I hope you have enjoyed reading about the history of the Roanoke Fire Department. Credit the members of the Roanoke Fire Fighters Association and families of those members who are gone for keeping the pictures and getting them to the RFFA for use in the book.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Guns N' Hoses 4

2007 Annual Roanoke Valley Guns and Hoses Hockey Game
Click the picture for the article and more pictures.
Pictures by Michael Overacker

Saturday, January 13, 2007

A New Blog - Concord, NH Fire/Battalion 3

Battalion 3 of Concord, NH has started a blog. The webmaster is a firefighter named Bickers who apparently used to work for the Bristol, VA Fire Department. It seems as though he got the idea from Shawn Roark who started the Bristol Firefighters Blog. It is great to see the new blogs pop up across the nation. A "blog" is a really simple way for firefighters to feature their department without knowing a lot about web development. I have added the link to the sidebar on the right.

Guns N' Hoses 4 Hockey Game Tonight

This is a reminder of the Guns N' Hoses 4 Hockey Game tonight at 5pm at the Roanoke Civic Center. Youth Hockey begins at 5, the Firefighters VS. the Police begins at 6/6:30. Be sure and come out to support the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

2006 RFFA Annual Awards Banquet

The Roanoke Fire-EMS/Roanoke Fire Fighters Association Color Guard began the event with the posting of the colors.

The Color Guard members are L-R Noel Gardner,
John Burrows, Daryl Songer, and R.T. Flora

Last night was the 2006 Annual Awards Banquet held by the Roanoke Fire Fighters Association Local 1132. The event was held at the Holiday Inn, formerly the Clarion, and was an enjoyable evening.

The highlights of the Banquet are the Retirement Axes handed out to the Firefighters who retired during the past year, and the awards giving to firefighters for exceptional acts including Firefighter of the Year.

Of the retirements over the past year, the firefighters who were present to receive their retirement axe were; Billy Obenchain, Oscar Smith, John Sweeney, and Michael Overacker.
Michael Overacker photographed the evening, so this is the picture
of him receiving his retirement axe.

This year the coveted "Firefighter of the Year" award actually went to 5 firefighters for a double rescue that occurred at a house fire. Captain Scott Mutter, 1st Lt. Scott Alford, Lieutenant Jamie Brads, Firefighter George Harris, and Firefighter Eric Mulford performed two rescues on the scene of a house fire. Congratulations to all you guys.
Receiving the award for Firefighter of the Year are: L-R Scott Alford, Eric Mulford, Jamie Brads, and Scott Mutter. George Harris was unable to attend.

Special Thanks to Vice President Tim Parry for all of the planning that goes into providing the banquet. The many hours of preparation paid off, and it seemed as though everyone enjoyed themselves.

My lovely Bride, Becky, and myself at the Banquet

On another note: There has been a lot of discussion about the Banquet and where it is held, whether we should have a DJ or a Band, the cost of the banquet, and when it is held. In the coming months the RFFA will be revisiting the planning of the event to make sure that we are planning the best possible banquet for all of our members to enjoy. Feel free to leave comments on what you would like to see change or stay the same.

I was unable to take many pictures during the event. Michael Overacker took many photographs of the event and will have them available soon.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Roanoke Fire-EMS Roof Ventilation Training

The Roanoke Fire-EMS Department has acquired an apartment complex for use in training up until demolition begins to replace the structures with a new complex. The Department has been able to use the complex for training on Rules Of Air Management (ROAM) training and Roof Ventilation Training. The training has been accomplished on duty, rotating crews from the various stations through the training on all three shifts. (Read More and see additional Photos at

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Putting Roanoke Fire-EMS on the Map

Over the life of this blog, through the Maurice Wiseman Project, Local 1132's website, submitting pictures to and, assisting journalists with the Roanoke Times, "Firefighting in Roanoke", and future exploits I have enjoyed giving Roanoke Fire-EMS and the Roanoke Fire Fighters Association a face among departments across the Nation and reaching around the Globe. To get hits from Countries I have never heard of is really neat. It has been journey learning about the tools which help propel a website to a well read website. There are so many interesting products which can help get readership. The Blog has served as a medium for so many to learn what the Roanoke Firefighters are all about; the good and the bad. The publicity that the book alone has given us has been overwhelming. In the next month I will be at another book signing and Blue Ridge Public Television wants to do an interview on the book and the Maurice Wiseman Project. However, the response from my brothers of the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department has been the best. I really appreciate all the thanks I have received for putting the book together. Many of you would like to see a "sequel". I can say that the possibility of doing a "Firefighting in Roanoke- the last 50 years" is pretty good. Just give me time to get some other things out of the way first. All you have to do is keep getting me photographs to copy and get back to you.

Today, a guy stopped by who you all might know. Battalion Chief Billy Obenchain stopped by to say hello to the guys at Station 13 and dropped off some interesting reading. Apparently he and another guy by the name of Shelor (sp?) put together a book on all the apparatus from the 1880's to around 1980 as well as another book detailing key points in history from 1882-1982 about the Roanoke Fire Department. Much of the information I had already done the research for at the Library; looking through the microfiche of old newspapers. However, this was put together in chronological order and binded. It will be a great asset when I begin the complete history of the Department. Thanks Billy, it will be put to use. Of course, as with all the stuff I receive, it is property of the RFFA.

The thing that gets me is that we have so many great instructors, gurus of various fire/ems disciplines, and specialists who do not reach out to get their name recognized for the work they do and know in order to assist other firefighters. has contributing editors; you might be able to submit information to them. has the nationally recognized firefighters who are common firehouse names. But there are other publications/websites that would be glad to publish your columns. is a great site which looks for original content. has room for contributing editors, yes I know I have a personal stake in the site but the site has plenty of room for feature writers on training and the like. Just look at the previous post for more opportunities. All most of them are looking for is regular submissions.

Recently, the Roanoke Times had an article about seeking columnists for writing regular columns in the paper. I saw the article and thought about it for a minute. Wouldn't it be cool to have a regular column in the paper which highlights the Roanoke Fire Department? The likeliness of them accepting that column is probably slim. However, what if the writer wrote about firefighting in the Roanoke Valley and surrounding areas. That is a concept which might work. Then I got a phone call from a Captain, he said I might do a good job with it. I explained that I might be a little to busy for a regular column. It would be neat. The idea is still up in the air.

It has also been told to me that the blog is probably pretty decent recruitment tool. I can say this; I get several emails a month about the department, when we are hiring, what the department is like, and what our department is all about. It is fun talking about the department with the prospective candidates. Some of them try to get hired, others I never hear from again. After all, it is just as hard to get this job as many other FD's around.
Either way, the Blog will keep on ticking.

Links to keep you busy

Monday, January 08, 2007

Stuff roles downhill

I thought this picture was pretty funny. It was sent in by a reader, and is from

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Fire at 1133 Pilot Street - Maple Grove Apartments

Roanoke Firefighters respond to an Apartment Fire at the Maple Grove ApartmentsRoanoke Fire-EMS responded for a Building fire at 1133 Pilot Street NW. E13, L13, E9, E4, E5, L7, M10, M4, BC-2, and Salem Engine 2 responded for the reported fire. E13 advised of a heavy column of smoke which could be seen as they responded from Station 13 on Peters Creek Rd. Firefighters experienced heavy fire from two apartments which had spread to one other in the 4 unit apartment building. The Firefighters were able to contain the fire quickly and the primary and secondary searches were negative.

This was my first fire since joining the guys at Station 13. Last day we had a small fire at another apartment complex in NW, which was relatively small.

Unfortunately, 16 tenants were put out of their homes due to this fire. Luckily, there weren't any serious injuries to any of the tenants or firefighters.

Engine 9's crew stand in the burned out window casing. The guys are from left to right; Jon Dixon, Chris Franklin, Captain Willie Wines Jr., and Brad Glidden (from station 10). Lt. Richard Alley was pumping Engine 9.

Captain Wines told me a little story after the fire. Captain Wines was just recently moved from Station 14 to Station 9. He said that the first day on the job was at Station 9, being assigned to Ladder 9. His father, a retired firefighter who worked at Station 1, came to visit him on his first day of work. While his father was there L9 got a fire, the first one of his career. Fast forward 100 years or so to today, his father stopped by again. This time it was Willie's second day back at Station 9. Ten minutes after his father got there, this fire was toned out. I thought it was a pretty good story.
Lynwood English from L13 and R. Caughey from E4 stand in the upstairs apartment window. This was their first fire.

On a personal note, this was my first fire since a fire at the Ferncliff Apartment fire 2 years ago. It was good to get back in the action. Once on scene, it was like I was never gone. We (E13) got the hydrant and brought the 5" supply line. I helped hook it up to E9 and was able to get in and do some overhaul. It was a nice homecoming being back at Station 13. It is always a great fire when all the firefighters stay safe.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Amazing Video of a Backdraft

Check out this amazing video of a Backdraft while firefighters are trying to mount a defensive attack on a taxpayer. The information on the, where the video is hosted, says that no firefighters were seriously injured in this incident. The video probably will not show up on City computers because is one of the blocked sites.

Firehouse Chat

I have always enjoyed the discussions held at the various firehouses. The discussions vary depending on the personalities in the room. We have some great personalities. We also have some great discussions. One of the hottest topics everywhere I go is the state of affairs within the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department. Whether it is scrutinizing of ideas, tactics, or policies that affect our daily work environment or talking about the way things should have been done. After all it is very easy to arm chair quarterback.

Let us look at all the big changes we have witnesses recently like the Consolidation Plan, the study and it's 35 recommendations, the new ambulance at #3, and all the other things which aren't on the tip of my tongue.

The Consolidation Plan talks of closing stations 1, 3, 5, and 9 and building two new stations. It also incorporates moving the suppression companies out of #10 into a new fire station and selling #10 to the Airport which houses the ARFF crew.

Correct me if I am wrong but I believe that the closing of #12 was brought up in the plan as well and occurred shortly after the plan emerged. This entailed getting rid of an engine company, replacing it with an ambulance at #4, and giving two personnel to the County to run mutual aid into the City.

The new study and recommendations (in my understanding) detailed a Quint concept which would get rid of at least two more engine companies. After all, a fully staffed Quint can only really perform the functions of a Ladder OR and Engine at one time. Our apparatus is staffed with 3 personnel, with the occasional day in mid March where we have 4 on an engine.

Then you have another Medic unit at #3 (medic #7). Was this planned for? Not in the long term. I do not know of many who will say we don't need the additional medic truck. But do we have the manpower for it. Maybe we should have hired some more Medics to staff the truck before actually putting it into service. Basically the additional truck was put in service to replace the ill-fated Medic 1 at REMS. But this isn't something that happened over night. Ever since I have been here REMS has had a hard time staffing the truck with volunteers. This is a national trend, fewer people have less time to volunteer.

Maybe we should recruit more Paramedics. But that is another story all together.

If you sit down with firefighters you will hear many great ideas. There are plenty of ideas on ways to correct some of the plans that the firefighters don't agree with.

I know from experience that it is more common to hear what you did wrong rather than what you did right.

Do you know why most firefighters point out who made most of these decisions, because it was not them. Nobody ever asked what the firefighters wanted. I don't they expect every idea to be presented to them. However, some of these decisions which will effect the workplace environment of our firefighters need to have the firefighters input to give them a sense of OWNERSHIP. There is a big difference between compromise and having something shoved down your throat. If you want the firefighters to be proud of what they do, who they work for, and where they work they have to have a stake in it.

Is there light at the end of the tunnel? Well it depends which tunnel you are looking down. The study recommended a committee that to my understanding would address this lack of communication. The idea behind the committee is to allow firefighters and administration to meet and discuss changes, plans, and ideas. The success of the committee depends on which firefighters, and which types of firefighters are involved.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The South Roanoke Circle features Station 8 B-Shift

The South Roanoke Circle, a publication for South Roanoke, featured a story in the January 2007 edition about Station 8 and the crew on B-Shift. Station 8 will be 78 years old on January 23 of this year. Mary Anne Marx photographed the men, including Captain Robert Perdue, Lt. Jim Hylton, and FF Shane Duncan for the story which was written by Jill Hufnagel.

If you get a chance to pick up a copy of the paper which was sent out yesterday it is worth reading. It is always good to see the firefighters in the paper. Thanks to the South Roanoke Circle for featuring the Roanoke Firefighters.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Fire at 4511 Williamson Road

The Roanoke Fire-EMS Department responded to a structure fire on December 31, 2006 at 4511 Williamson Rd., The Plaza Court Motel.

The call was received through the 9-1-1 Center at approximately 2:28 a.m. The response of three Engines, two Ladder trucks, three Medic Units, one EMS Captain, one Investigative Unit, and one Battalion Chief for a total of 24 personnel responded to the scene.

Upon arrival, crews found a fire in a back room of the motel. Crews quickly extinguished the blaze. The fire was contained to the room of origin. Rooms above and beside this room sustained smoke damage.

There were no injuries to civilians or Fire-EMS personnel. The Red Cross is assisting some of the occupants.

The cause and the origin of the fire are still under investigation.
Preliminary damage estimates are approximately $15,000.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year

Happy New Year Brothers!

We have now entered a defining year in the history of Firefighting in Roanoke. Did you know that March marks the 125th Anniversary of the first Fire Official in Roanoke - a Fire Marshal who's job description was to inspect the chimney flues. This year also marks the 100th Anniversary of Fire Station #1 opening in February. The most defining Anniversary this year might be the 100th year of a completely paid department. Many events which have defined our fine department many years before we even thought of working here. Since these significant dates, there are not many others. We might consider the Second Platoon in 1936, or the first Black Firefighter in 1965, or the Third Platoon in 1972, or maybe even the first Female in 1995. But really 1995 only counts if you are to disregard the history of Roanoke City EMS, and then the date would be earlier. Not prior to 1985 though. To be sure of the date would only take a moment. These are the significant dates that have molded our department. Then there are other dates like when the department doubled in size in 1911 from 3 to 6 stations. Maybe you would consider when we got our first motorized apparatus also in 1911. Maybe when we bought the 5? Oren Grey Ghosts in 1950? Or in 1991 when we bought 5 Grummans both of which were large investments by the City.

These are defining moments in the history of the Department. Most firefighters have defining moments in their careers. Like their first fire, or their first day on the job, or possibly when they were promoted, the various assignments they will experience in their careers, or the big fires which occur every couple of years.

2007 has promises of being a big year for the Roanoke Fire-EMS. We will see another Chief named, the 12th in history since Chief McFall on March 1, 1903. Battalion Chief Billy Obenchain will be replaced in February as well. The new Fire Station at Elm and Franklin will open sometime around March and Fire Station #3 will close down having been open since April 12, 1909 equalling 98 years of fire service and having been home to horses in its early years.

For the new recruits, some of this stuff may seem like not such a big deal. For the veterans of the department, they have seen Chiefs come and go. For me, having been in the department for almost 8 years this will be the first time seeing a new Chief. As for the Battalion Chiefs go, when I came in 1999, Assistant Chief Tartaglia, Battalion Chief Beckner, Battalion Chief Roger Manuel, Battalion Chief Ferris, and Battalion Chief Altman (I apologize if I am wrong on any of these) hadn't attained the level of BC. It has been interesting watching the ranks get filled.

We will see more recruits hired in February and then some more in July from what I understand. There may be more retirements before 2007 is over as well.

As for your resident Blog Dawg, as Deano Scarpini (Dean Russell the head of the Dublin Fire Brigade Mafia) calls me, is concerned I will continue to keep the site running. 2007 brings me back into the mix of things after being somewhat retired on the ARFF crew. January 5th will be like the first day of work for me. I cannot wait to run calls and see my brothers on the street protecting the Citizens of Roanoke.

Happy New Year
Stay Safe and God Bless

- Rhett Fleitz