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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The 1st Annual Bluepatch 1.5 mile Commemorative Dash


Several of the "Bluepatch" Firefighters have decided to organize the "The 1st Annual Bluepatch 1.5 mile Commemorative Dash" to relive the once popular task of running 1.5 miles to test the true fitness of firefighter candidates. Back in the day, firefighters had to run the 1.5 miles as well as do pull-ups, sit-ups, walk a balance beam, and other strenuous activities. The 1.5 miles had to be completed in 12 minutes.

The event location will be announced soon. If you have suggestions on a suitable track let Tim Jordan know at 13 B-shift. The event will be held on May 5th (Cinco da Mayo). Afterwards, for the ones left standing, there will be a social get-together at a local establishment (TBA).

If you are one of the firefighters who had to run the 1.5 miles and want to participate, let Tim Jordan know. Final eligibility will be determined by Captain Jay Ransome...Huh.

If you are a newer firefighter who didn't have to run the 1.5 miles, you might be needed for medical standby.

The participants are not required to run the entire 1.5 miles and may finish the distance in whatever manner they deem necessary (no motorized vehicles allowed; i.e. hoverounds, powered wheelchairs, or mopeds).

Workers Comp. claims will not be honored for this event. However, if you are injured you will be allowed to go on light duty...maybe.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

"Firefighting in Roanoke" makes it big in Fire Engineering Magazine

That is right, the book detailing the History of the Fire Service in Roanoke has made it to the pages of Fire Engineering. In February's issue, the book is listed in the last few pages of the magazine. I got an email today from someone telling me he saw it there. A quick search offered this (click) then scroll down about half way. Thanks to Arcadia publishing for getting the word out and publicizing the book.

"Firefighting in Roanoke" is supposed to have been published in "Enjine, Enjine" and "Fire Apparatus Journal as well.

The book signing today at the Transportation Museum went well. Unfortunately, they didn't get the exposure the first book signing received with the article in the Roanoke Times. They did say that the first order of books sold out quickly when the book was released.

If you are still looking for a signed copy of the book, there are several of them at the Transportation Museum.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Book Signing Tomorrow

Tomorrow I will be at the Transportation Museum for a Book Signing from 1-3pm. If you were paying attention, I had the date wrong last week. I will be there for sure tomorrow.

On another note, I somehow deleted the banner for this site. It might be back up next week, after I recover the files off of my old computer which died on me. I went out the other night and bought a new computer and I am still getting used to it.

Maybe I will see you tomorrow.

Roanoke Fire-EMS assists with HazMat in Natural Bridge

The HazMat team travelled North on Interstate 81 on Wednesday to assist with a tractor trailer accident that closed down both Southbound lanes for several hours. FF Travis Collins was able to snap a couple of pictures while the team was there. Visit for more.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

That old School Mentality - 100 or so years of it!

Recently, seeing a need to join the 21st century, Captain Willie Wines Jr. decided to bring his digital camera to the fire station. Actually, it was his father's camera. From what I understand, his crew enjoyed a good laugh after picking their jaws up off of the floor when the Captain whipped out a first generation digital camera. The guys realized quickly that the camera, which is reported to have been measured at 12" x 12", would provide a great opportunity to "get" the Captain.

As soon as the Captain stepped upstairs for a minute, the guys were hard at work rigging up a turn of the century camera with the gunpowder flash, shroud, and pedestal.

When Captain Wines returned to the bay to see the prehistoric device set up in the bay, all of the guys enjoyed a good laugh.

Here is the picture of the "Camera":

Tragedy in Baltimore - but could it happen here?

Racheal M. Wilson, an academy recruit, died of thermal injuries and asphyxia, the medical examiner's office said yesterday. She was 29 and had two young children. Her family said that she was covered with burns and was in pain before she died at Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

Italicized = taken from the story
Basically, it seems as though Recruit Wilson died because of a breakdown of the standards relied upon for safe training scenarios. I assisted with two of the live burns at the last recruit school. They were the first of which that I was able to instruct with. The instructors, to my knowledge, including myself are all required to have Instructor I and the NFPA 1403 class.

I would like to comment on how Roanoke Fire-EMS trains and how events such as FF Wilson's unfortunate death are prevented here in Roanoke. Are we perfect? By no means. While reading through the article, I notices many highlighted events which are being investigated in this case and realized what we do and why we do them. My comments on how we do recruit schools are based on the last recruit school in Roanoke, which I was a part of. I cannot comment on all recruit schools or future ones.

I also realize that this report/article was based on one reporters interviews; that the events are still being investigated; and that the parties who are being portrayed as guilty are indeed innocent until proven otherwise.
  • Binetti said the way the blaze was started and whether a "walkthrough" was held to inspect the building before setting the fires are two areas investigators are scrutinizing.
We do a thourough walkthrough of the burn building to show the recruits/trainees where the fires will be, where the doors and windows are, and to give them a sense of the layout.
  • When putting out fires, the department is supposed to make sure a secondary team of firefighters - a Rapid Intervention Team - is suited up to replace firefighters who are tired, injured or in trouble. At the South Calverton Road fire, the head of that team, Broyes, did not have a hose charged and did not have proper equipment, union officials have said.
We use a charged hose line and a 2-3 person RIT (rapid intervention team) who are ready in full PPE (personal protective equipment) to go in and assist if needed.
  • And, union officials said yesterday, Broyes' RIT was not composed of real firefighters, but of cadets from Wilson's class.
During the recruit schools we use recruits paired up with at least one instructor as the RIT.
  • Union officials also said that the "instructors" used in the training exercise were not certified teachers from the academy. They were regular firefighters pulling extra shifts. This means they were not properly trained to teach in a live fire, Fugate said.
I am not sure of Baltimore's standards on instructors teaching at their recruit schools. I believe that all of the instructors teaching Roanoke's recruit schools are at least Instructor I and NFPA 1403 certified.
  • Sledgeski said only one hydrant was tapped for the exercise. When a house is on fire, the department will typically connect a "pumper truck" to a hydrant and then run multiple hoses from the truck.
We use two engines (pumpers) each on their own water source. One supplies the interior crews and the other supplies the RIT line.
  • Fires were set on each floor of the three-story rowhouse on South Calverton Road, Sledgeski said. Safety standards limit training exercises to one fire. Sledgeski said recruits were told that they would face only two fires. The third was essentially a "surprise" fire.
Roanoke has a three level burn building, which is used for all live fire training during recruit school. There is never a fire in the third floor, although it can be used for training (searches, etc.). We set two fires, one on the first floor and one on the second floor. There is only one team of recruits inside at a time.
  • The instructor in charge of the third-floor team did not have a radio to find out what was going wrong.
Every team has a radio in Roanoke, and often every instructor ends up with a radio while inside. This might mean that some instructors work in a group of two and share a radio.
It seems as though many of the "events" being investigated into recruit Wilson's death are followed by Roanoke Fire-EMS. This is a good thing. So what if it takes a couple extra minutes to show everyone the floor layout, so what if we can't burn three fires, so what if we have to follow the rules. There are reasons why we do these things.
Many of the reasons why NFPA 1403 was developed was because of the incident in Lairdesville:
  • In Lairdsville, a tiny town in upstate New York, a volunteer fire chief was convicted of negligent homicide and served jail time for his role in a fatal training exercise that involved a set fire in a century-old farm house. But in that case, several recruits were ordered to go upstairs and lie down so they could pretend to be victims.No fire hoses were charged before the fire was set and the lines were not in position. Also, plywood boards were nailed over the windows, leaving a small hole in one wall as the only escape route.The deputy chief, who later went to jail, set a sofa on fire directly below where the recruits were playing victim. "The fire raged out of control, raced up the staircase, and the entire place became an inferno," said Michael A. Coluzza, who prosecuted the case.
Roanoke is starting another recruit school on Monday. So for all you instructors out there, remember we can prevent these incidents through proper training and following the rules.
Be safe and have fun.

A new way to force entry through overhead doors!!

Today, I checked out and they have posted a very interesting way to breach overhead doors. The video was sent in by one of their readers and is hosted on The video features some firefighters from Richmond, California breaching an overhead door with one cut and making an entry area bigger than a V cut will ever offer.

Here is another video courtesy of a commenter on of the cut being performed on an actual call.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


In an effort to keep this site as professional as possible, which has been increasingly difficult recently, I have removed the "anonymous" capability of posting comments. Now you have to register with blogger in order to post comments. You do not have to create a blog, just a username. Hopefully, this will hinder the "childish" comments from being posted. If that doesn't work, there are other alternatives. These other alternatives aren't as harsh as breaking legs, rather it would require me to moderate comments prior to them being published.

I let the rather juvenile comments go long enough, and I have realized that even with this site which gives the "Roanoke Firefighters" a chance to showcase themselves on the Internet you guys will inevitably ruin a good thing.

Now, if you have something to say it will require you to invest a little time and energy in signing up to say it. Hopefully, this will thwart the comments which are better left muttered under your breathe.

I apologize to the people who enjoyed leaving comments on this site which were insightful, constructive, and positive.

When I started this site, my intention wasn't to create something I would have to babysit. Actually, I was hoping to create a site that the Roanoke Firefighters would embrace as their own and use as a tool to voice a professional opinion occasionally on topics that I post on.

You may be thinking that I have offered my opinion on this site often and you don't always agree with it. You are right, I have. However, I have always signed my name to it. I don't think that half of the recent comments would have been typed if you had to sign your name to them. Do you?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Big News is in!! - Roanoke Fire-EMS Receives Grant Money

Breaking News!!

Roanoke Fire-EMS has received a grant in the amount of $432,820 for Operations and Safety. The grant is from the "Fire Grants" which are the Assistance to Firefighter Grants (AFG). I can only hope that this is the grant money we were hoping to get for the diesel exhaust systems. I will do a little more research and update ASAP.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Book Signing at the Transportation Museum

UPDATE: I made a mistake...gasp. The Book Signing is not today, it is actually next Saturday, February 24th from 1-3pm. I apologize if I caused any inconvenience.

I will be at a book signing at the Transportation Museum next Saturday for "Firefighting in Roanoke". Stop in and get a signed copy if you don't already have one, or just stop in to chat.

Where: The Transportation Museum
When: Saturday, February 24th from 1-3 pm

The first book signing I did was a lot of fun. Hopefully this one will be just as much fun.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


I received an email yesterday about this new "Roanoke Radio Retention Tool". I was out of town at the time so I am getting it posted now. Apparently I missed a new "Roanoke" specific tool that we designed on our own. The need for the new tool arised after Battalion Chief Beckner misplaced his radio. Now that we have the retention tool, this incident will be a thing of the past.


(sponsored by ACME / C.W.Williams)


· Attach end “A” to radio you wish to retain.

· Attach end “B” to forgetful Battalion Chief.

· For added retention, place seat belt attachment around waist and attach buckles until you hear an audible “Click”

· Remind said Battalion Chief that proper use of this tool will reduce the odds of loosing his radio.

· Special Note: Per memo 3-14 dated 11/02/06 this device and attached radio must be worn under your turnout coat when entering into any Structural firefighting operation, to prevent damage to radio, or radio retention tool.

Of course, this is all in fun. Apparently the device was built with 3 back-ups so that the radio would not be left anywhere.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Bargaining Bill Introduced in House - From the IAFF Website

Bargaining Bill Introduced in House

February 12, 2007 – The Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representatives Dale Kildee (D-MI) and John Duncan (R-TN). IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger has identified the Cooperation Act, HR 980, as the IAFF’s highest legislative priority.

“This new congress offers the best opportunity we’ve ever had to finally achieve our long-awaited goal of ensuring basic collective bargaining rights for every fire fighter in the nation,” Schaitberger says. “Today I call on every IAFF local to help make HR 980 a reality. We need fire fighters in every community in America to contact their member of Congress to urge them to co-sponsor this historic legislation.”

A Senate version of the legislation is also expected to be introduced in the coming weeks, sponsored by Senators Judd Gregg (R-NH) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA). Both the House and Senate bill will be featured at the upcoming IAFF Legislative Conference in March.

To read a copy of the legislation, click here. For more information about the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act, click here.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Looking Back

In today's paper, the Roanoke Times offers "Looking Back" as it does every Sunday. Two things caught my eye:

n First Presbyterian Church had a Friendship Quilt that was made in 1892. It contained 20 squares commemorating volunteer fire departments, fraternal organizations and other insignia of Roanoke.


n "Thirteen firemen were injured, none seriously, when fire gutted the One-Hour Valet shop at 26 Church Ave. SW, early today."

As for the quilt, I will be looking into this. I cannot believe that thing was right under our nose and we haven't seen it. I will hope to have pics in the next week or two.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


Shenandoah Life has provided the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department with $50,000 for exercise equipment for several stations in Roanoke City. Stations 7, 8, 10, and the new headquarters station have received equipment this week. You can read about the donation on Shenandoah Life's website. Eventually all of the stations will receive state of the art exercise equipment. Station 4 and 9 have already gotten the equipment, funded by the City.
David Bocock is heading up the effort to bring the equipment into the stations. He said that the City is continually attempting to allocate funds to complete the purchase for all of the stations.

Thanks to Shenandoah Life for the equipment.

Happy Anniversary Station #1 - As seen on the Front door of the Station

Friday, February 09, 2007

Firefighter James Gish is leaving for the Beach

Firefighter James Gish is leaving the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department to go to work for the Virginia Beach Fire Department. What the hell is he thinking? The Beach, Bikinis, the largest Volunteer EMS Department in the World, Bikinis...and did I mention Bikinis. Damn, some people just don't get it do they. He will learn eventually.

Actually, we wish you luck in your new Department Gish. We are sure you will enjoy it down there. It was good knowing you, we will see you around.

Gish is pictured on scene of the Radar Fire, he was driving Ladder 2.

Firefighter David Ploch leaves the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department

Sorry I am a little late on this one.

Firefighter/EMT David Ploch resigned from the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department. His last day was Monday, February 6th from what I understand.

While I never worked directly with David, I did see him around and I can say that he had a profound respect for the job. David spent most of his 3 years or so at Station #1 and was recently moved to #6. Prior to coming to Roanoke, David was in the Military Special Forces.

His abrupt decision to leave the department is believed to be the result in a scheduling conflict over taking an upcoming EMT-I class.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Station 8 A-Shift appears in the South Roanoke Circle

There was an excellent article with pictures in February's edition of the South Roanoke Circle. A-Shift at Station 8 was featured and basically introduced all the firefighters to the area.

Check out the website where you can download the latest edition in .pdf form.

Yet another article providing positive public relations. Last month, B-Shift was featured in the newspaper. C-Shift is next and might appear next month.

Cook & Ladder - From the Roanoke Times

Cook & ladder
At Roanoke's Fire Station No. 2, often where there's smoke, there's good eats.

By Lindsey Nair | 981-3343

* Watch a slideshow with audio

When the alarm sounded in the kitchen at 3:30 p.m., First Lt. Jim Cady was managing a boiling pot of potatoes, a pan of hissing sausages and a mess of cabbage.

The Roanoke firefighter hadn't even started on his homemade bread yet.

"Whooooooop! Whooooooop! Engine No. 2, Engine No. 10, Engine No. 5," a crackling voice began.

"That's us," said Cady, clamping down lids and switching off burners.

Wait. They didn't call for the ladder truck. False alarm. (Read More)

It is always great to see Roanoke's Firefighters in the news. Today, this article in the Roanoke Times featured Station #2 A-Shift. While I am sure the ribbing from the guys across the City has been fun, these types of articles help keep the firefighters in the Public's eye and provides a positive look into what we are all about.

Be sure and watch the slideshow with audio - this offers a unique view into the kitchen at #2A.

Thanks Lindsey

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Roanoke's Fire Station #1 turns 100

Roanoke's Fire Station #1 Turns 100 Years old today

Roanoke's Fire Station #1 opened on February 6, 1907 and today it reached the age of 100. The National Historic Landmark has remained open since it replaced the first Station #1 which was built in 1888. (Read More)

Fire Station 1 turns 100

The Historic Downtown Fire Station #1 turns 100 years old today. The station opened on February 6, 1907. If you would like to view some of the history of the Roanoke Fire Department, now the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department, you look at the right hand sidebar and click on the category "history", or you can go to Local 1132 online and view the Maurice Wiseman Project:
Fire Station #1 is believed to be one of the oldest operating firehouses in Virginia.
I will have more on this story later today.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Massive apartment fire leaves dozens homeless

Massive apartment fire leaves dozens homeless
Five injured in six-alarm fire in Queens

By Patricia Wu

(Queens - WABC, February 4, 2007)

The flames quickly spread between buildings and sent several hundred people out into the street.

It started in an apartment building on Neilson Street in Far Rockaway.

Eyewitness News reporter Patricia Wu joins with the latest.

Kathy Deherrera and her husband are thankful to be alive. They woke up just after midnight. Their apartment building was on fire.

"The more windows popping, more noise, more firemen, more trucks," one of fire victims, Kathy Deherrera, said. "We decided to leave. We did."

What a tough job for firefighters. The extreme heat of this six-alarm blaze caused the entire roof of the six-story apartment building to collapse.

It took more than 400 firefighters more than four hours to get this fire under control and they faced one hurdle after another. First a transformer exploded, causing power to be shut off to the building and several others in the area had to be shut off as well to protect the firefighters. (Read More)

Did you read that: there were 400 firefighters on scene. To put that into perspective, that is a small dent in the mere 12,000 or so FDNY firefighters. But if you were to have a fire of that size in the Roanoke Valley; there are only 77 firefighters on duty in the City of Roanoke at a time if no one was off. This is out of 270 total, give or take a few, on payroll. Roanoke County has around 120 career firefighters (I may be off) which would equate to 40 on duty at a time. Salem has around 40 firefighters equating to around 12 on duty at a time. Vinton has around 12 firefighters equating to 4 on duty at a time.

Therefore, on duty the Roanoke Valley has around 134 firefighters on duty at at time totally a total workforce of 442 career firefighters. I realize this doesn't include the volunteers, which I haven't the slightest clue on numbers.

So a fire of this capacity might require a total callback of every career firefighter in the Valley. You figure at least 42 of them might not be able to respond.

Just thought I would put that fire into perspective.

Flaws found in firefighters' last line of defense

Flaws found in firefighters' last line of defense
U.S. waited 5 years to heed expert's warning on ‘man down’ alarms

By Bill Dedman
Investigative reporter
An MSNBC Special Report

Worn by a million firefighters in the U.S., the PASS device is a motion sensor that makes an awful racket if a firefighter stops moving for 30 seconds while battling a blaze. It flashes its lights and lets loose a series of ear-splitting beeps — an urgent call to help a fallen comrade.

It’s a call that hasn't always been heard. Tests by federal and independent labs show that some PASS alarms can fail to perform as intended if they get too hot or wet — a serious problem for people who rush into burning buildings with water hoses. And federal investigative reports reviewed by show that 15 firefighters have died since 1998 in fires where a PASS, or Personal Alert Safety System, either didn't sound or was so quiet that rescuers weren't given a chance to find the firefighter quickly. (Read More)