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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


Anonymous said...

Good job Rheit, not only on the blog info but all you have done for us with the book and your position in the local. Thanks for the hard work and dispite what you might think you will be missed from the ARFF crew.

FireFleitz said...

Thanks for the compliment. I appreciate it.

- Rhett