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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Collective Bargaining...the work continues

By far the most important issue to most of my brother and sister firefighters is the collective bargaining bill that just passed through the House with tremendous support. In case you were wondering who didn't support it look here.

The IAFF has been placing an enormous amount of resources towards getting this Bill passed in both the House and the Senate. The goal is to get enough sponsors to make the vote veto proof. You can follow along on the IAFF website here.

Some of you guys have asked what the Bill actually will afford us. The answer is this: The bills establish minimum standards for state collective bargaining laws. I am sure there will be issue with how different sides of the fence interpret the standards.

The video below sums up the testimony from several proponents of the Bill.

Here is another one

Friday, July 27, 2007

Radio Interoperability and Automatic/Mutual Aid

Everyday poses new issues, new ideas, new incidents, and new experiences. Roanoke City continues to offer better service to its visitors and citizens as well as those in the outlying areas.

Several companies run mutual and automatic aid outside of Roanoke City, as other departments run it into the City.

People have talked about a Metro style department in the past, however that seems to have gone by the wayside with Roanoke County building stations nearly on top of ours. I am sure the County won't mind our personnel working out of Clearbrook as long as possible though. Eventually, the County will have to step up and hire more firefighters. I don't want to get involved in their politics, but someone is saving the County hundreds of thousands of dollars each year by keeping their department underdeveloped.

The Metro department idea was again shown to be a figment of the imagination when the County build a brand new Administration building and 911 dispatch center. If we were even remotely thinking of merging, this would have been the start; to combine the 911 dispatch centers. It may not seem like a big deal to the individual dispatch centers or the individual Administrations but it is an issue on the street.

Case and point:
Roanoke (City) Engine 13 runs a first due in Roanoke City, Automatic aid to Roanoke County and Salem, and Mutual aid to both as well.

If Engine 13 gets a call in Salem, the officer has to:
  1. Mark in route with Roanoke City
  2. Mark out of service with Roanoke County
  3. Mark in route with Salem
  4. Switch to the correct tac channel
  5. Hope that in switching channels and radios that they didn't miss any pertinent information.
What a mess. As it it, Engine 13 has to mark in and out of service with Roanoke County any time we get a City call. We have been laughing at Salem for having to do that for years with the City. I guess what goes around comes around.

Basically, I don't see much issue with running Mutual Aid. I don't know of any firefighters who wont answer the call of duty. The problem I have with it is covering for other departments shortfalls. Salem could probably stand to hire a few more firefighters to fully staff the trucks they have. Roanoke County...where do I begin. I don't see any reason why the County doesn't have 24 hour Fire and EMS coverage at every station guaranteed.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A great article and teaching tool on Vertical Ventilation

Jeff Ponds and the rest of the crew over at have put together an excellent article on Vertical Roof Ventilation. I suggest everyone take a look at the article and maybe print it out to leave on the coffee table for everyone else to read.

Check it out here:

Monday, July 23, 2007

Update on David Bishop IV

David and his wife Tracy are back in Roanoke. They got back Friday. They are resting in their own beds now and both continue to get better. They really appreciate all of the calls, emails, and cards they received.

I hope to see you around soon Dave.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

No News is Good News

I haven't had anything to write about in the past several days. Not that I have been looking for information. I will be finished with the 1033 Investigation class this Wednesday and back on shift on Thursday. Hopefully, I will be rid of this Strep Throat that I have been blessed with for the past several days.

Apparently there haven't been any fires or major incidents in the past couple of weeks. At least not from what I have heard. I haven't been reading the papers though either.

James Mone will be on the news on August 1st from what I understand. News Channel 10 came and rode along with him on Medic 2 doing a "day in the life of..." type story.

Stay Safe

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Several new blogs - one on Charleston

Guys you gotta read this.

There are a few new blogs out there and I have added them to the blogroll to the right.

Somewhat new and new to many of you are:
First In Blog
On The Job (One Firefighter's Notebook)
Fire Sprinklers
Friction Loss On Charleston

One of them really stands out though.

Read this:

That's Dumb

Sometimes I'm asked if it's really that bad at the city. Well...yeah. But, the moron continues, everything appears to be in top shape. My response is that Germany looked well to some people under Hitler, China under Mao, and Cambodia under Pol Pot.

See, if you take a dump and spray paint it white, well, it's still shit. You can dress up stuff just so long and then the dam breaks. Just like Milli Vanilli. That's us. The Milli Vanilli Fire Department.

He is writing about the Charleston Fire Department. This is his department, although I think he is retired. The blog is his rant space. The rants are not in vain though, and not necessarily due to the terrible loss of life that the CFD just experienced. More so, it has been developed because there are things that apparently many members have been screaming about for a long time. Issues that need to be fixed and haven't. These issues have come to light because of the 9 LODD firefighters and the fact that the department is under a microscope. HOWEVER, their Fire Chief is claiming that all is well in Charleston.

His writings are somewhat hilarious at first, but the problems he speaks of are no laughing matter. Check out the comments too.

Read on:
Friction Loss On Charleston
Wherein a man with a bad attitude looks at lunacy.

House Passes Collective Bargaining Bill

The IAFF's top legislative priority, the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2007 -- which guarantees collective bargaining rights for every fire fighter in the nation -- has overwhelmingly passed the U.S. House of Representatives.

The bill, HR 980, won the support of a majority of the Repiblicans and Democrats in Congress, passing by a margin of 314-97.

“For more than 50 years, the IAFF has battled to guarantee every professional fire fighter the right to collectively bargain,” says IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger. “This is just the first step, but it's truly an historic moment for our union.

HR 980 assures four basic rights: the right to organize and form a union and be recognized as the exclusive representative for employees within a specific fire department; the right to bargain with respective public employers over wages and other terms and conditions of employment; the right to have a neutral third party assist in mediating any disputed issues; and the right to reduce negotiated agreements into binding, legally enforceable contracts.

Thanks to the IAFF’s aggressive grassroots efforts, HR 980 garnered 280 cosponsors, including 70 Republicans. Only 12 of the more than 2,900 bills introduced in this Congress have attained a congressional majority – 218 members – as cosponsors. “Clearly, our grassroots operation -- the calls from our members in the field -- succeeded in elevating this issue and generating support across all parties in the House,” Schaitberger notes.

The IAFF will now focus its efforts in the Senate and, ultimately, on lobbying the president to sign the bill into law when it reaches his desk.

For more information on HR 980, click here.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Missing Piece of the Puzzle - Station 6 in 1957

When I was finishing the book (Firefighting in Roanoke) I double checked everything. When I got to the chapter on the Diamond Jubilee I realized an error. I had written that we had a picture of every firefighter at every station in Roanoke on that Day. I was wrong and I knew it. Unfortunately, through all the work that Maurice Wiseman and I did and all of the pictures available out there, the picture of #6 for that day was never found. We have several originals and many copies for every picture, except for #6. So I had to change the wording of the chapter and write that it was all of the firefighters and fire stations except station 6.

The missing picture was out of my mind. I figured that the picture was never taken. However, that all changed the other day when I got a call from a friend. Greg Doss lives just South of Nashville, TN. Greg is a native of Roanoke and used to be a firefighter in Vinton. His father, Daniel "Peanuts" Doss was a firefighter for Roanoke City. Peanut's sister, Grace Myers, is the widow of Joseph Earl Myers. Joe was firefighter for Roanoke City as well. Peanut's nephews are Mike and Tommy Hogan, both firefighters for Roanoke City. Jerry Hogan is Mike and Tommy's cousin.

I met up with Greg the other day at Grace Myers' house. Joe, her husband, was a firefighter for Roanoke for about 6 years when he suddenly went blind. The firefighters kept Joe on the books for a year until they had to let him go. Grace still has his helmet and turnout coat. The coat is more of a thick raincoat with buckles much like turnout coats. The material is almost like leather, and might have been leather. Grace also had two pictures out that were related to the fire department. One was of Fire Station 1 and the other was this missing picture of #6.

I have not had time to identify all of the firefighters in the picture but I know of several so far. Left to right they stood in line of rank, both shifts at once. Therefore the first two are Captains, then two lieutenants, then four firefighters. Again this is 1957. On the right is Captain Cox, who later died in the Line of Duty, then we think it is Captain McFarland, one of the lt.'s is Honey Vest and all the way on the right is Firefighter Joseph "Earl" Myers.

Thanks to the Myers family for allowing us to get a copy of the photo. Thanks to Greg Doss and his Father Peanuts as well. This means a lot to us and is the missing piece of the puzzle. We now have every firefighter and fire station pictured in 1957.

As for Daniel "Peanuts" Doss, he is a character. Some of the stories he told me were hilarious. Obviously a prankster, he would have fit right in nowadays as well. Although some of the stuff he got away with back in the day we would certainly be fired for now.

Peanuts worked for Roanoke City from 1958 - 1966 and decided to move on; Tommy Hogan worked here for years, being hired in 1963, and made Captain; Mike Hogan died of Leukemia after working here for a little over a year 1972 - 1973; Jerry Hogan was hired in 1964 and made Captain, you can still see him around at Union Meetings etc.; Joseph "Earl" Myers worked here from 1956 - 1962 and left because he lost his sight.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A little note on comments

Dear Anonymous,

The last time I turned of the comments, you guys complained because you couldn't post your comments anonymously. I found it entertaining the way some of you pouted around kicking the ground because you couldn't leave your comments on the blog.

After a couple of weeks I turned them back on. It seemed as though some of you all calmed down a bit and the comments became a little more constructive rather than immature, childish, and unnecessary.

I know that a lot of you all feel that your comments are hilarious. Not everyone understands your humor. Not everyone appreciates your humor.

I appreciate your understanding in this matter.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Why Not Rudy, This is why!!

Hey guys, several of you have asked about the Republican candidates this year. It seems as though the loudest heard are the ones who simply want the IAFF to endorse a Republican. I think it is funny because I personally don't care about what party they are in but rather their views on certain issues. You are entitled to your opinions, as am I.

What I am getting at is that the Republican front runner is Rudy Guiliani. Rudy has a sordid past with the IAFF and its members. There is a website set up to inform about the issues that have created this animosity between Rudy and IAFF members. Visit the website:

I don't know who the IAFF will endorse, however I can pretty much guarantee it will be one of the front running Democrats. The Republicans don't seem to have much to offer right now.

While I am at it, you can view more info on the Collective Bargaining Bill here.

This and That

Gish is coming back! This time I went to the source. He still has to have his physical, but he is scheduled to be back in about a week or two. I apologize for the premature notice of his return, although I thought I had a pretty decent source when I posted it.

From what I understand Gish is one of 11 who were hired. Congratulations to the others who were hired. Welcome to the Department.

I hope to have an update for you on Dave Bishop in the next day or so. If you have heard anything, leave a comment.

Here is a picture of E13 and L13 doing some pump training. Check out more pictures on

If you have ever wondered how we clean the grill out at 13, check out FF Lynwood "Woody" English on the nozzle.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Engine 7 is taken out of service

Fire Engine 7 has been taken out of service after 84 years of service to Roanoke's Southwest neighborhoods. The engine was placed into service on December 13, 1922 when Fire Station 7 was opened at 1742 Memorial Avenue. A ladder truck was added in 1950 after Roanoke's Firefighters added on an additional bay with a large bunk room above. The first Engine 7 was a 1920's model Seagrave.
Engine 7 has been replaced with an ambulance (Medic 7). The other unit which will remain in service at Station 7 will be a Quint (Ladder 7). A Quint is a multitasking truck. Ladder 7 boasts a 75' Aerial Ladder, Ground ladders, 300 gallons of water, hose, and a pump. In the grand scheme of Quints, ours is about as underdesigned as they can get. Ladder 13 is an identical truck and is only run as a ladder.

From the ground up, Ladder 7 has shortcomings. Here are a few of the major ones.

The ideal reach of an Aerial Ladder is at least 95'; Ladder 7 is 75'.
The ideal amount of water on an engine is at least 500 gallons; Ladder 7 holds 300 gallons.
The weight of the truck is obviously too much for the single axle design in the rear end.

From what I understand, Quint 7 will be run as an engine in its first/second due and as a ladder truck outside of that area.

The reason why I bring all this stuff up is because of what is going on in Roanoke.

Roanoke has the most aggressive Fire Department in the State! If you don't believe me look around the State. We have had fairly safe history (knock on wood); and are very blessed by having quick response times, dedicated personnel, and hard workers.

So my question is if it isn't broke then why fix it?

Several years ago, Engine 12 was taken out of service and replaced by Medic 4; the additional two positions were sent to Roanoke County at Clearbrook Station 7.

Now we lose Engine 7 to put another Medic truck in service.

Before you guys start screaming, I will admit that we need more ambulances. It seems like the City gets dumped daily and we are calling on other agencies to fill in and run calls for us. At what cost?

Think of it this way, if we are running more EMS calls then we are billing for more EMS calls and thus making more revenue for those EMS calls. Naturally, you would think that the additional revenue would be used to fund these additional medic trucks. Until I am proven otherwise, it is my understanding that the revenue from EMS billing is placed in the general fund of the City and not earmarked for Fire-EMS uses.

The additional Medic Trucks must come at a cost. That cost has become Engine/Ladder Companies. Our fleet of Medic trucks increases, our fleet of Fire Apparatus decreases. It seems as though we are on a crash course for potential disaster. Look around, most of the large incidents we have had in the past we have been able to handle with limited loss of life and property. But will the cost be greater in the future?

Monday, July 09, 2007

Fire at 1460 Varnell Avenue

The Roanoke Fire-EMS Department responded to a report of a structure fire on July 8, 2007 at 1460 Varnell Ave.

The call was received through the 9-1-1 Center at approximately 5:33 p.m. The response of two Engines, one Ladder truck, one Medic Unit, the EMS Captain and a Battalion Chief for a total of 13 personnel responded to the scene. The fire was out when crews arrived.

When crews arrived they found smoke on the second floor of the home. Upon further investigation, crews found an ashtray sitting on the edge of a bathroom vanity that had caused a fire in a trash can located beside the vanity. The trash can burned and caught the side of the vanity on fire. This melted the water line to the sink which extinguished the fire.

There were 2 people in the home when the fire started. They escaped without any injuries. There were no injuries to Fire-EMS personnel.

The fire started in the trash can located in the bathroom and was contained to the bathroom. The upstairs of the house sustained smoke and water damage and the ceiling and floor of the kitchen downstairs received water damage. The fire was caused by smoking materials.Damage estimates are approximately $11,000.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Roanoke Fire-EMS gets Diesel Exhaust Systems

From Lt. Baron Gibson:

After many years of asking fire administration for it, installation has begun of a diesel exhaust system for our department. Station 14 was the first and will be completed mid week. Station 6 was started on Sat. July 07 and will be operational the week of July 16 with station 11 to follow . The rest of the department will be completed in the next couple of months. A committee headed by Capt. Matt dewhirst and assisted by Lt. Rhett Fleitz and myself was formed in the fall of 2005 to assess the different systems on the market. This was a fairly extensive study with the committee traveling to several departments out of state. The committee decided that Nederman was the system for us. We applied for a Fire Act Grant and recieved it in 2006.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

2007 Promotions

On June 28th, the promotional ceremony was held for the recent promotees. From L-R with their new rank 1st Lt. J.J. Price, Lt. Steve McFaden, Lt. Chris Franklin, 1st Lt. Tim Cady, Deputy Chief Billy Altman, Battalion Chief Teddy Adkins, 1st Lt. Scott Graham, Battalion Chief Kent McIlhany, Battalion Chief Dale Barker, Captain Ronnie Campbell, Deputy Chief Ralph Tartaglia, 1st Lt. Noel Gardner, Captain Loren Thompson, 1st Lt. Tom Mougin, and Captain Chuck Swecker. Not pictured is Lt. Joe Hodgin.
Here is Tyler and Scott Graham after the ceremony.
Thanks to Melanie Graham for the pictures. I appreciate it.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

2007 Roanoke Valley Professional Firefighters MDA Golf Tournament

This years 2007 Roanoke Valley Professional Firefighters MDA Golf Tournament was a huge success. I had a blast this year and got a trophy for the third year in a row (last place if anyone is counting). My father was able to make it into town again for the golf tournament (neither of us is golfers). Jeff Oliver was our third and apparently nobody else wanted to play with us. Either way we had a blast. Many thanks to Tina O'Brien and Charlie Adkins for putting on a great tournament. Unofficially, we raised about $5000 for the MDA. Check out for more photos.

I almost forgot to tell you guys. There were 25 cases of beer consumed at the Golf Tournament. There were only 112 players. You do the math.

Here is my swing. Move over Tiger.

The Hooters Girls are always a staple at the Golf Tournament.