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Friday, September 28, 2007

Blue Mass, Flag Football, and a Firefighter in need of help

I cannot thank my brothers and sisters enough for the calls placed to help Jeremy out with his house. We have guys from Roanoke City and Salem who have offered to help. However, more help is needed. Get your crew together and give him or I a call to set up a time to go out and help. More information can be found here.

The 3rd Annual Blue Mass will be held at St. Andrews Catholic Church on Saturday (tomorrow) at 5:30 pm. Please plan on attending. If you can attend or even if you are working, think about making a dessert dish to share with everyone. Contact Kelcey Branch on A Shift today or Willie Wines Jr. (page him) and they will make sure your dish gets to the Church. Everyone is welcome.

UPDATE: The events at Rivers Edge will begin at 2 PM. There will be food and fun for everyone.
There will be a flag football game on Sunday at 2 pm at Rivers Edge. Plan on being there to root on Roanoke City against Roanoke County and Salem. Players need to be there at 2:30pm.

Chief Hoback sent out an email on the City email server about a "Last Lecture". I recommend you watch the video and read the article. Maybe I will write a "Last Lecture" for you guys in a while. While it is kind of morbid, the thought behind it is certainly entertaining and intuitive. Basically it is about what you would say if it was your last chance to say it.

Thanks also to all of the comments on the Roanoke Fire/EMS Apparatus Staffing post (click here). I appreciate all of the comments as well as how they are written. I will hopefully get a chance to answer some of the questions soon. Continue to keep the comments professional and constructive.

One last thing is the HTR training held yesterday. The pictures are up on

Stay Safe

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Roanoke Firefighter in need of help

About two years ago, a Roanoke's Firefighter set out to build his families dream house. He planned the build and got the loan. He relied on brother and sister firefighters to help out build his dream home in order to save money and afford the house that his family would live in for many years to come. The house is nearly done, but he is in need of a lot of help to complete his dream home in time before the bank forecloses on it. The deadline is November 11th.

Jeremy Bennington, easily described as a very close friend of mine, has worked tirelessly over the past two years to build his dream home. The house is a log cabin built nearly completely with the hands of brother and sister firefighters.

However, he has unfortunately come up a little short on time and manpower. He is asking for help in completing his house. Currently, the house is under roof, drywalled, and primed. He needs help with putting in the kitchen cabinets, putting down hard wood flooring, trimming out the house, painting, building the garage, and many other tasks in time to get his Certificate of Occupancy and building loan converted to a mortgage on November 11th. Many of the firefighters he works with have spent days helping him, but they need more help.

I remember when we all got together to build the houses for habitat for humanity. We blew them away by working tirelessly, without complaint, and without anything but the good feeling of helping out a family in getting a new house after hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

I am calling out for help in completing this house for Jeremy and his family, who have been living with their in-laws the entire time. Jeremy works on the house everyday that he is off, and has numerous days of vacation between now and November 11th.

Doug Hurd has easily helped out the most in the construction. He is interested in getting you all out to help build as well.

If you have a skill that you think may help, please call and set up a time to help. If you are a jack of all trades like most of us are, plan on coming out or just show up. If you just want to help, you are welcome to help in any way possible.

The house is located at 13320 Narrow Passage Road in Eagle Rock. Here is a link for the directions.

Everyone is welcome to help.

Please contact:
Jeremy Bennington (13 C-Shift) Cell - 540-537-9997 Pager 540-224-0288 Home 540-884-2278 (his cell phone doesn't always work at the house.
Doug Hurd (13 A-shift)
Rhett Fleitz (13 C-shift) Cell - 540-537-8158 Pager 540-201-4667

Thank you so much for helping.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Roanoke Fire/EMS Apparatus and Staffing

WARNING...rant ahead.

Let us talk for a minute about our apparatus. In recent years, we have seen a trend of catching up in the purchasing of fire and ems apparatus in Roanoke. I commend the powers that be as well as the apparatus committee of finding funding for certain apparatus. Ladder 2, Engine 11, 13, and 1 are all new apparatus and have proven to be very efficient. All but Engine 11 are Pierce. Engine 11 is a M&W fire engine. All of the aforementioned apparatus were very well received among the firefighters in the City.

The ambulance fleet seems to be seeing a decent turn-around on replacement. Although, we still suffer from the constant strain put on these trucks from running up and down the street all day long. These trucks have witnessed a shortened life span, and it is understandable.

However, with all that said we still have significant issues in our fleet. Some of the issues are understandable ( some are nearing the end of their useful life and need replacement), some issues were preventable (overweight, under-designed, and poorly planned apparatus), and yet others are not acceptable.

I learned recently that the reserve ladder truck cannot drive up certain hills in Roanoke. Recently, the reserve ladder truck, could not drive up Adams Street in NW Roanoke. The ladder truck made the turn, and the street was wide enough, the problem was the truck stopped moving forward. That is right, the truck could not pull its own weight up a hill and subsequently had to be backed down the road and the crew had to find an alternate route. This is inexcusable.

This ladder truck is our only reserve ladder truck currently. The truck is in service for ladder 13 at Station 13 currently, because Ladder 7 is out of service. Huh? Let me explain. Remember when they got rid of engine 7 and began utilizing Ladder 7 as a quint, well if ladder 7 goes out of service then ladder 13 has to be moved to station 7 to fill in and ladder 13 gets the reserve ladder. Do you follow now? It is a tangled mess.

Administration has already planned on replacing ladder 13. Unfortunately it isn't soon enough. Now remember that ladder 7 and ladder 13 are only about 10 years old. The ongoing joke is that they will use ladder 13 as a "parts car" for ladder 7.

However, there is recent rumor that Roanoke City is thinking about purchasing a 100' aluminum ladder on a single axle rear end to replace ladder 13. Didn't they learn their lesson with the two quints we have now.

Here is a solution:

  • Float a bond to purchase enough trucks to catch up. 3 ladder trucks and 4 engines to replace ladder 1, 7, and 13 and engines 2, 5, 6, and 8. This will leave you with a decent reserve fleet and replace the trucks which need it.
  • Replace the ladder trucks with tiller 100' straight sticks.
  • Then make minimum staffing on all ladder trucks 5.
  • You can easily obtain this with the SAFER Grant. Roanoke City won't end up paying the full 100% of the increased manpower for 10 years (don't quote me on that). IF YOU THINK 5 IS TOO MANY WATCH A LADDER TRUCK WORK AT A FIRE. There are too many tasks left incomplete or unaccomplished due to lack of manpower. Case and point, there might still be a roof on the apartments on 13th Street. However, that might be a strategy and tactics issue as well.
  • While writing the SAFER grant application, ask for more staffing for the engines as well. A 4 firefighter minimum would bring our staffing to acceptable levels. If you are paying attention, one of the first recommendations by the panel in Charleston was to increase staffing to 3...then 4. It doesn't have to be overnight, but the change would make things a whole lot safer and more efficient.
  • Since I am on the know that problem with the medic trucks running too many non-emergency calls.
  • Well here are two solutions:
  • One: invest in priority dispatching, turning over the non-emergent calls to a third party transport company.
  • Or...Two: re-invest the transport billing funds back into the system and put more ambulances on the street.
  • ...but that brings up another issue; not enough ALS providers. I am not going to tackle that right now. I will however hit on it AGAIN soon.
I know I didn't hit on everything I wanted to, but I think this is a good list. Before you start jumping down my throat for saying that "they" or "administration" or anyone else doesn't do anything, re-read what I wrote. I just outlined how to continue the work that has been started and finish the job.

We have been so lucky for a long time. If you read current events across America, you will find incidents occurring everyday which require more firefighters than we have on all three shifts combined. While I don't expect us to suddenly inflate our staffing to absurd levels, it would be nice to know that we are starting the game with enough players.

Stay safe

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

An update: Captain Pete Smith's funeral, Captain Bishop is coming back to work, and where I have been

Hey everyone,

Thanks to all of you all who called to offer help and prayers while I was in the hospital. For those of you who don't know, I was hospitalized with viral meningitis for a couple of days. I am recovering at home now. I think the worst is behind me.

Captain Bishop will be returning to work soon. The word I got is that he will be our new Captain at Station 13 C-Shift. I look forward to seeing him back on the job and working with him the same.

Unfortunately, I was unable to make it to Captain Smith's funeral service. I wanted to add something to the previous post which contained his obituary.

I met Captain Smith, Pete as most of us knew him, when I began working at the Credit Union about 3 years ago. Pete would make the trek down the street to station 8 everyday. Rain, Snow, or Sleet he would come down and sit and talk. More often than not, someone would be waiting with a question for him. At the time he was around 92 years old. Pete would often climb the stairs to the Credit Union just to say hi.

Just like all of the other retirees who stop in to say hi to stations across the City, Pete always had my attention, unless I was otherwise busy. The big difference with Pete is that there is only 1 firefighter left working from before he retired. Therefore, most of what Pete knew of the job and lifestyle has changed many times since he left.

Pete was great with stories. He had plenty of them. The most recent times I saw Pete was when his son brought him by the party we had at Station #3 before it closed, and just a couple weeks ago his son in law brought him by station 8 to the credit union. We talked for several minutes and then they left.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Pete Smith Passed Away

Brothers and Sisters,

I regret to inform you that Pete Smith has passed away.

Elmer Elijah Smith, or Pete as he was known as, was hired by the Roanoke Fire Department on June 1, 1942 and retired on September 1, 1974. He was the oldest living retiree, having drawn retirement more years than he was on the job.

Pete was a good friend to many of us.

June 13, 1912 September 15, 2007 Elmer E. (Pete) Smith, 95, of Roanoke, died on Saturday, September 15, 2007. He was a retired Captain with the Roanoke City Fire Department. Surviving are his wife of 73 years, Ona Shrader Smith; three children, two daughters and one son, Norma Jean Smith Akers and husband, Robert W. Akers of Roanoke, Wanda L. Smith Darden and husband, Willie L. Darden of Edenton, N.C. and James R. (Jim) Smith and wife, Augustine Dalton Smith of Roanoke; eight grandchildren, Robert E., Ricky W. and Richard L. Akers, Robin Koger, Ronnie Darden, Shari Underwood and Hunter and Ross Smith; seven great-grandchildren and three great-greatgrandchildren. Services will be held at Oakey's South Chapel on Monday, September 17, 2007, 2 p.m., with the Rev. Gary Fowler officiating. Interment will follow at Sherwood Memorial Park. The family will receive friends on Sunday from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m., at Oakey's South Chapel.
Published in the Roanoke Times from 9/16/2007 - 9/17/2007.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I just had to laugh...

There is a thread on firehouse forums right now where the firefighters are discussing pay across the Nation. I just had to laugh at some of the figures compared to ours. You can view the thread here. It is interesting how one of the firefighters from South Carolina gives his pay and then makes the comment that it is the benefit of working for a Right To Work State. Needless to say, his pay is on the lower end of the spectrum. That same lower end of the spectrum is the same area where ours is located.

We can only hope that we can get the National Collective Bargaining Bill passed and actually have some say on our pay grades.

Another note is that Roanoke City just sent many Chiefs to the International Association of Fire Chiefs conference. That same group (IAFC) is rumored to be fighting against the Collective Bargaining Bill. Does this mean that Roanoke City will soon be sending firefighters to IAFF events?

Just a thought.

You can view more information about the Collective Bargaining Bill here.
View some key points about the bill here.

Tonya Meeks leaves the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department

Tonya Meeks is leaving the department. I meant to get by Station 10 today for a picture, but I wasn't able to make it. Tonya began with the Roanoke EMS Department was merged into the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department when the Fire and EMS Departments merged.

Tonya's last assignment was to Station 10 at the airport. She is a paramedic and will be sorely missed.

It was good working with you Tonya. I hope you enjoy your new job.

Tonya leaves the department amid what seems to be a mass exodus of other women. Since I joined the department in 1999, I have seen 7 women leave the department for one reason or another. This leaves just 6, by my count, left in the department. I believe there is a woman in the recruit school now as well.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 11th - The 6th Anniversary

Today marks the 6th Anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11th.

Roanoke Fire-EMS has hired approximately 100 firefighters since that day. These firefighters might not understand exactly what those brave 343 firefighters did that day. They mounted the largest Rescue effort in modern history. They gave their lives so that others might live.

Historically, 100 firefighters give the ultimate sacrifice each year. Not all are during brave rescues, but they die in the line of duty none the less.

Take the time to reflect on what those 343 firefighters stand for.

To put that number in perspective, 343 firefighters would mean nearly all of the paid firefighters in Roanoke City and Roanoke County combined.

Read the September 11th post from 2006

Read the September 11th post from 2005

The names of the 343. Thanks to Firefighter Hourly for the list.

Joseph Agnello, Lad.118
Lt. Brian Ahearn, Bat.13
Eric Allen, Sqd.18 (D)
Richard Allen, Lad.15
Cpt. James Amato, Sqd.1
Calixto Anaya Jr., Eng.4
Joseph Agnello, Lad.118
Lt. Brian Ahearn, Bat.13
Eric Allen, Sqd.18 (D)
Richard Allen, Lad.15
Cpt. James Amato, Sqd.1
Calixto Anaya Jr., Eng.4
Joseph Angelini, Res.1 (D)
Joseph Angelini Jr., Lad.4
Faustino Apostol Jr., Bat.2
David Arce, Eng.33
Louis Arena, Lad.5 (D)
Carl Asaro, Bat.9
Lt. Gregg Atlas, Eng.10
Gerald Atwood, Lad.21
Gerald Baptiste, Lad.9
A.C. Gerard Barbara, Cmd. Ctr.
Matthew Barnes, Lad.25
Arthur Barry, Lad.15
Lt.Steven Bates, Eng.235
Carl Bedigian, Eng.214
Stephen Belson, Bat.7
John Bergin, Res.5
Paul Beyer, Eng.6
Peter Bielfeld, Lad.42
Brian Bilcher, Sqd.1
Carl Bini, Res.5
Christopher Blackwell, Res.3
Michael Bocchino, Bat.48
Frank Bonomo, Eng.230
Gary Box, Sqd.1
Michael Boyle, Eng.33
Kevin Bracken, Eng.40
Michael Brennan, Lad.4
Peter Brennan, Res.4
Cpt. Daniel Brethel, Lad.24 (D)
Cpt. Patrick Brown, Lad.3
Andrew Brunn, Lad.5 (D)
Cpt. Vincent Brunton, Lad.105
F.M. Ronald Bucca
Greg Buck, Eng.201
Cpt. William Burke Jr., Eng.21
A.C. Donald Burns, Cmd. Ctr.
John Burnside, Lad.20
Thomas Butler, Sqd.1
Patrick Byrne, Lad.101
George Cain, Lad.7
Salvatore Calabro, Lad.101
Cpt. Frank Callahan, Lad.35
Michael Cammarata, Lad.11
Brian Cannizzaro, Lad.101
Dennis Carey, Hmc.1
Michael Carlo, Eng.230
Michael Carroll, Lad.3
Peter Carroll, Sqd.1 (D)
Thomas Casoria, Eng.22
Michael Cawley, Lad.136
Vernon Cherry, Lad.118
Nicholas Chiofalo, Eng.235
John Chipura, Eng.219
Michael Clarke, Lad.2
Steven Coakley, Eng.217
Tarel Coleman, Sqd.252
John Collins, Lad.25
Robert Cordice, Sqd.1
Ruben Correa, Eng.74
James Coyle, Lad.3
Robert Crawford, Safety
Lt. John Crisci, H.M.
B.C. Dennis Cross, Bat.57 (D)
Thomas Cullen III, Sqd. 41
Robert Curatolo, Lad.16 (D)
Lt. Edward D'Atri, Sqd.1
Michael D'Auria, Eng.40
Scott Davidson, Lad.118
Edward Day, Lad.11
B.C. Thomas DeAngelis, Bat. 8
Manuel Delvalle, Eng.5
Martin DeMeo, H.M. 1
David DeRubbio, Eng.226
Lt. Andrew Desperito, Eng.1 (D)
B.C. Dennis Devlin, Bat.9
Gerard Dewan, Lad.3
George DiPasquale, Lad.2
Lt. Kevin Donnelly, Lad.3
Lt. Kevin Dowdell, Res.4
B.C. Raymond Downey, Soc.
Gerard Duffy, Lad.21
Cpt. Martin Egan, Jr., Div.15 (D)
Michael Elferis, Eng.22
Francis Esposito, Eng.235
Lt. Michael Esposito, Sqd.1
Robert Evans, Eng.33
B.C. John Fanning, H.O.
Cpt. Thomas Farino, Eng.26
Terrence Farrell, Res.4
Cpt. Joseph Farrelly, Div.1
Dep. Comm. William Feehan, (D)
Lee Fehling, Eng.235
Alan Feinberg, Bat.9
Michael Fiore, Res.5
Lt. John Fischer, Lad.20
Andre Fletcher, Res.5
John Florio, Eng.214
Lt. Michael Fodor, Lad.21
Thomas Foley, Res.3
David Fontana, Sqd.1
Robert Foti, Lad.7
Andrew Fredericks, Sqd.18
Lt. Peter Freund, Eng.55
Thomas Gambino Jr., Res.3
Chief of Dept. Peter Ganci, Jr. (D)
Lt. Charles Garbarini, Bat.9
Thomas Gardner, Hmc.1
Matthew Garvey, Sqd.1
Bruce Gary, Eng.40
Gary Geidel, Res.1
B.C. Edward Geraghty, Bat.9
Dennis Germain, Lad.2
Lt. Vincent Giammona, Lad.5
James Giberson, Lad.35
Ronnie Gies, Sqd.288
Paul Gill, Eng.54
Lt. John Ginley, Eng.40
Jeffrey Giordano, Lad.3
John Giordano, Hmc.1
Keith Glascoe, Lad.21
James Gray, Lad.20
B.C. Joseph Grzelak, Bat.48
Jose Guadalupe, Eng.54
Lt. Geoffrey Guja, Bat.43
Lt. Joseph Gullickson, Lad.101
David Halderman, Sqd.18
Lt. Vincent Halloran, Lad.8
Robert Hamilton, Sqd.41
Sean Hanley, Lad.20 (D)
Thomas Hannafin, Lad.5
Dana Hannon, Eng.26
Daniel Harlin, Lad.2
Lt. Harvey Harrell, Res.5
Lt. Stephen Harrell, Bat.7
Cpt. Thomas Haskell, Jr., Div.15
Timothy Haskell, Sqd.18 (D)
Cpt. Terence Hatton, Res.1
Michael Haub, Lad.4
Lt. Michael Healey, Sqd.41
John Hefferman, Lad.11
Ronnie Henderson, Eng.279
Joseph Henry, Lad.21
William Henry, Res.1 (D)
Thomas Hetzel, Lad.13
Cpt. Brian Hickey, Res.4
Lt. Timothy Higgins, S.O.C.
Jonathan Hohmann, Hmc.1
Thomas Holohan, Eng.6
Joseph Hunter, Sqd.288
Cpt. Walter Hynes, Lad.13 (D)
Jonathan Ielpi, Sqd.288
Cpt. Frederick Ill Jr., Lad.2
William Johnston, Eng.6
Andrew Jordan, Lad.132
Karl Joseph, Eng.207
Lt. Anthony Jovic, Bat.47
Angel Juarbe Jr., Lad.12
Mychal Judge, Chaplain (D)
Vincent Kane, Eng.22
B.C. Charles Kasper, S.O.C.
Paul Keating, Lad.5
Richard Kelly Jr., Lad.11
Thomas R. Kelly, Lad.15
Thomas W. Kelly, Lad.105
Thomas Kennedy, Lad.101
Lt. Ronald Kerwin, Sqd.288
Michael Kiefer, Lad.132
Robert King Jr., Eng.33
Scott Kopytko, Lad.15
William Krukowski, Lad.21
Kenneth Kumpel, Lad.25
Thomas Kuveikis, Sqd.252
David LaForge, Lad.20
William Lake, Res.2
Robert Lane, Eng.55
Peter Langone, Sqd.252
Scott Larsen, Lad.15
Lt. Joseph Leavey, Lad.15
Neil Leavy, Eng.217
Daniel Libretti, Res.2
Carlos Lillo, Paramedic
Robert Linnane, Lad.20
Michael Lynch, Eng.40
Michael Lynch, Lad.4
Michael Lyons, Sqd.41
Patrick Lyons, Sqd.252
Joseph Maffeo, Lad.101
William Mahoney, Res 4
Joseph Maloney, Lad.3 (D)
B.C. Joseph Marchbanks Jr, Bat.12
Lt. Charles Margiotta, Bat.22
Kenneth Marino, Res.1
John Marshall, Eng.23
Lt. Peter Martin, Res.2
Lt. Paul Martini, Eng.23
Joseph Mascali, T.S.U. 2
Keithroy Maynard, Eng.33
Brian McAleese, Eng.226
John McAvoy, Lad.3
Thomas McCann, Bat.8
Lt. William McGinn, Sqd.18
B.C. William McGovern, Bat.2 (D)
Dennis McHugh, Lad.13
Robert McMahon, Lad.20
Robert McPadden, Eng.23
Terence McShane, Lad.101
Timothy McSweeney, Lad.3
Martin McWilliams, Eng.22 (D)
Raymond Meisenheimer, Res.3
Charles Mendez, Lad.7
Steve Mercado, Eng.40
Douglas Miller, Res.5
Henry Miller Jr, Lad.105
Robert Minara, Lad.25
Thomas Mingione, Lad.132
Lt. Paul Mitchell, Bat.1
Capt. Louis Modafferi, Res.5
Lt. Dennis Mojica, Res.1 (D)
Manuel Mojica, Sqd.18 (D)
Carl Molinaro, Lad.2
Michael Montesi, Res.1
Capt. Thomas Moody, Div.1
B.C. John Moran, Bat.49
Vincent Morello, Lad.35
Christopher Mozzillo, Eng.55
Richard Muldowney Jr, Lad.07
Michael Mullan, Lad.12
Dennis Mulligan, Lad.2
Lt. Raymond Murphy, Lad.16
Lt. Robert Nagel, Eng.58
John Napolitano, Res.2
Peter Nelson, Res.4
Gerard Nevins, Res.1
Dennis O'Berg, Lad.105
Lt. Daniel O'Callaghan, Lad.4
Douglas Oelschlager, Lad.15
Joseph Ogren, Lad.3
Lt. Thomas O'Hagan, Bat.4
Samuel Oitice, Lad.4
Patrick O'Keefe, Res.1
Capt. William O'Keefe, Div.15 (D)
Eric Olsen, Lad.15
Jeffery Olsen, Eng.10
Steven Olson, Lad.3
Kevin O'Rourke, Res.2
Michael Otten, Lad.35
Jeffery Palazzo, Res.5
B.C. Orio Palmer, Bat.7
Frank Palombo, Lad.105
Paul Pansini, Eng.10
B.C. John Paolillo, Bat.11
James Pappageorge, Eng.23
Robert Parro, Eng.8
Durrell Pearsall, Res.4
Lt. Glenn Perry, Bat.12
Lt. Philip Petti, Bat.7
Lt. Kevin Pfeifer, Eng. 33
Lt. Kenneth Phelan, Bat.32
Christopher Pickford, Eng.201
Shawn Powell, Eng.207
Vincent Princiotta, Lad.7
Kevin Prior, Sqd.252
B.C. Richard Prunty, Bat.2 (D)
Lincoln Quappe, Res.2
Lt. Michael Quilty, Lad.11
Ricardo Quinn, Paramedic
Leonard Ragaglia, Eng.54
Michael Ragusa, Eng.279
Edward Rall, Res.2
Adam Rand, Sqd.288
Donald Regan, Res.3
Lt. Robert Regan, Lad.118
Christian Regenhard, Lad.131
Kevin Reilly, Eng.207
Lt. Vernon Richard, Lad.7
James Riches, Eng.4
Joseph Rivelli, Lad.25
Michael Roberts, Eng.214
Michael E. Roberts, Lad.35
Anthony Rodriguez, Eng.279
Matthew Rogan, Lad.11
Nicholas Rossomando, Res.5
Paul Ruback, Lad.25
Stephen Russell, Eng.55
Lt. Michael Russo, S.O.C.
B.C. Matthew Ryan, Bat.1
Thomas Sabella, Lad.13
Christopher Santora, Eng.54
John Santore, Lad.5 (D)
Gregory Saucedo, Lad.5
Dennis Scauso, H.M. 1
John Schardt, Eng.201
B.C. Fred Scheffold, Bat.12
Thomas Schoales, Eng.4
Gerard Schrang, Res.3 (D)
Gregory Sikorsky, Sqd.41
Stephen Siller, Sqd.1
Stanley Smagala Jr, Eng.226
Kevin Smith, H.M. 1
Leon Smith Jr, Lad 118
Robert Spear Jr, Eng.26
Joseph Spor, Res.3
B.C. Lawrence Stack, Bat.50
Cpt. Timothy Stackpole, Div.11 (D)
Gregory Stajk, Lad.13
Jeffery Stark, Eng.230
Benjamin Suarez, Lad.21
Daniel Suhr, Eng.216 (D)
Lt. Christopher Sullivan, Lad.111
Brian Sweeney, Res.1
Sean Tallon, Lad.10
Allan Tarasiewicz, Res.5
Paul Tegtmeier, Eng.4
John Tierney, Lad.9
John Tipping II, Lad.4
Hector Tirado Jr, Eng.23
Richard Vanhine, Sqd.41
Peter Vega, Lad.118
Lawrence Veling, Eng.235
John Vigiano II, Lad.132
Sergio Villanueva, Lad.132
Lawrence Virgilio, Sqd.18 (D)
Lt. Robert Wallace, Eng.205
Jeffery Walz, Lad. 9
Lt. Michael Warchola, Lad.5 (D)
Capt. Patrick Waters, S.O.C.
Kenneth Watson, Eng.214
Michael Weinberg, Eng.1 (D)
David Weiss, Res.1
Timothy Welty, Sqd.288
Eugene Whelan, Eng.230
Edward White, Eng.230
Mark Whitford, Eng.23
Lt. Glenn Wilkinson, Eng.238 (D)
B.C. John Williamson, Bat.6 (D)
Capt. David Wooley, Lad.4
Raymond York, Eng.285 (D)

Friday, September 07, 2007

Retired District Chief Pat Taylor Passes Away - Obituary

Sorry I was a little late on this one. However the memorial service is tomorrow.

Phillip A. (Pat) Taylor, 63, of Roanoke County, passed away suddenly on Tuesday, August 7, 2007. Pat was born on August 8, 1943, the son of the late James Henry and Ruby Spradlin Taylor. Pat was predeceased by his first wife, Dianne Helms Taylor. His second marriage to Anna Charlton Taylor ended in divorce.
Pat is survived by his brother, Robert and fianc�e, Corky, of Frederick, Md.; his nephew, Christopher and wife, Laura; and grandniece and grandnephew, Abigail and Carson, of Winchester, Va. The following is as much a memorial recollection as an obituary. Any errors or omissions should be blamed on his brother Pat certainly would have.
Pat grew up on Hollins Road where he attended the Hollins Road Church of the Brethren. The Reverend J. Weldon Meyers was his pastor. His participation in the church sponsored Boy Scout troop, where Bill Craft was his scout leader, was his favorite activity. Thank you Weldon and Bill.
After high school, Pat joined the U.S. Army Reserve serving from 1964 until his honorable discharge in 1970. Thank you, Col. Gore. After completing his initial active duty in 1965, Pat joined the City of Roanoke Fire Department. Firefighting was truly Pat's professional passion. His competence and dedication resulted in the achievement of the position of Battalion Fire Chief by the time he retired in 1999. Thank you Pete Smith, Gary Clark, Richard Patterson, and Pete Kandas.
Pat's love of motorcycles started with Japanese cycles, moved to British cycles, and finally culminated in Harley Davidson's. Late in life Pat seemed to have forgotten that he had ever rode anything but a Hog. Thank you Barry Garst, Jerry Beckner, and Matt Patterson.
Pat's love of sports cars did not start with Porsches, but quickly went in that direction. He not only loved to drive the cars, but he and close friends rebuilt old Porsches, and traveled many miles to "swap meets" in order to obtain original parts. Thank you Jack Simmons and Keith Rowe.
Before cell phones, if you needed to reach Pat and he was not at home, your best chance of catching up with him was to head to the nearest gun show. His collection pretty much spanned the history of this nation. Thank you, Frank Koehler.
In the early 60's, Pat enjoyed traveling to a small race track near Danville, Va. In the 90's this race track reemerged as Virginia International Raceway (VIR). Some of his fondest memories of the past decade were of VIR. Thank you, Larry and Trey Sullivan.
From 1994 on, Pat spent many weeks at the Outer Banks in N.C. Beach cottages provided a wonderful environment for gourmet meals and gorgeous sunsets and a very surreal experience the week of September 11, 2001. Thank you Anna Charlton, Nancy Glasscock, Corky Sullivan, and Charlie.
Always the wine connoisseur, Pat especially enjoyed the wine tasting at Bernard's Landing and Chateau Morrisette. Thank you Gary Shrader and Lou Bradley.
Pat Taylor's family will receive friends on Friday, September 7, 2007 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Oakey's South Chapel on Brambleton Avenue. A memorial service will be conducted on Saturday, September 8, 2007 at 12 Noon at Oakey's South Chapel, 989-3131.
Published in the Roanoke Times on 9/2/2007.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Clarification on Union 101


I would like to clarify my comments from the last post.

When I said:

The other day at at a Union Meeting, I had the pleasure of answering a question that boggled my mind. A firefighter stopped by to borrow some items from the Union. Items which the Union owns and regularly allows members to borrow. It just so happens that the member stopped by minutes before a Union meeting. He asked what we were doing there. I told him we were there for a meeting. Then he asked "What do you guys do at the meeting?". In which I responded we are planning out his career. He had no comment.

I meant this as an ambiguous example to drive home my point that the members need to be informed because obviously some of them aren't. I did not bring this up as a personal attack on anyone and I realize that the member who asked the question did not mean any harm by it. I do not expect all 250 of you to know everything that is going on all the time. I just wanted to show the degree of communication that needs to occur, which doesn't.

On the other hand, if you have an issue with what I write then you can do one of many things. You can call me, page me, meet me in person, email me, leave a comment (to which I usually answer), or just let it be. I prefer the communication, especially if you take issue with my words.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Union 101

I decided a while back that I would not use this blog as a voice for my role as a Union Official. I enjoy the fact that at least some of you realize that when I write on here it is me as a firefighter and not as one of my other roles.

I learned that many of you all did not like to hear some of what I had to say as a Union Official in this unofficial forum.

I am not changing that stance. What I write below comes as a firefighter, not as a Union Official, however it has everything to do with the Union.

The other day at at a Union Meeting, I had the pleasure of answering a question that boggled my mind. A firefighter stopped by to borrow some items from the Union. Items which the Union owns and regularly allows members to borrow. It just so happens that the member stopped by minutes before a Union meeting. He asked what we were doing there. I told him we were there for a meeting. Then he asked "What do you guys do at the meeting?". In which I responded we are planning out his career. He had no comment.

What did I mean by my answer. Simply, the Union is asked questions from members at each meeting which we are then tasked to find answers to. These questions range from simple to complex.

The meeting also serves as a continuing business plan for the direction in which we travel on various issues.

When I get around to various stations, which I do frequently, I am often asked what the Union is doing about this or that. My question is who are you referring to?

The Union is every member. Not anyone person more than another.

When asked why the Union is doing something, I usually offer the answer "because that is what the members voted to do.

That is where members are usually uneducated about the process. Why are they uneducated about Union business? I don't know the answer to that. I can offer some suggestions.
  1. They don't care
  2. They don't know when the meetings are
  3. They don't think they have a voice in the Union
  4. They don't have time
  5. They aren't willing to make time
I know that most members work 2 jobs and are involved in their children's sports, Church, and other things. So are most of the members who are involved. There aren't too many members who make it to every meeting, or that sign on to be in a bunch of committees. However, if we have members who are willing to allot a couple of hours each month at helping the Union move forward we would be able to accomplish so much more.

In the future, with hopes of the new Collective Bargaining Bill passing, we will rely on more and more member involvement to get initiatives planned and processed. The handful of extremely active members we have now will be very busy planning out and carrying out the negotiations which come along with collective bargaining. These negotiations and the contract to follow will be written by our members. You will have to have a voice in what you would like to see changed in order for your ideas to be heard.

I know that many members have lost interest due to the proceedings of Union meetings and issues in the past. Things have changed. I have been to most of the meetings in the past 4 years and I can say that the bitch sessions have ended.

These same issues we had in the past are the reason why I stopped going to Union meetings shortly after being hired. Ever since realizing that I wanted to be a Career Firefighter, I wanted to be a member of the IAFF. I understand what the IAFF stands for and I want to be a part of making my workplace, my career, my lifestyle better.

Many of you get a kick out of asking what the IAFF has done for you. I can say that rarely does the IAFF walk away with bad news. Many of the things that you take for granted were awarded at the Local, State, and Federal level. Three big initiatives are the Heart/Lung Bill, the Presumptive Laws, and soon to be Collective Bargaining.

Each meeting, we bring up the proper process for Workers Compensation Claims. This issue has been talked about in depth for the last year. However, we still have members who do not know. Why not? The word is not getting out.

I know that many of you do not like to hear "Come to a Union Meeting and you will find out". Well the comment could not be more clear. I know that the days after a Union Meeting I am tasked with giving a brief synopsis of the meeting to many of the members I come in contact with. I don't mind filling you guys in, but it sure would be easier if you guys were there. I cannot guarantee that I will remember everything.

At the meetings, when something new is brought up which requires action, we are tasked with finding someone to carry it out. Inevitably, this person already has a lot on their plate and due to lack of involvement by others, these persons have to do more.

Don't think that for a moment our Union is any different from most others. When I go out of town to conventions, seminars, and meetings I find the same issues to plague many other locals.

More than likely you can measure the amount of involvement by realizing how much a Union succeeds in its endeavors. Currently, your Union is working on many initiatives and trying to mediate many issues which directly effect you.

If you have any questions about getting involved contact your Shift Vice President, Shift Steward, come to the next meeting on September 24th, or contact me.

By the way, it doesn't matter whether you have been here 25 years or 25 days, you still have a voice.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Hunt Ave Fire and Casper Drive Fire in Photos

Station 2 A-shift sent in photos of the fires on Hunt Avenue and Casper Drive. Check them out below. Click on the pictures for more. Thanks to Drew Able for taking the pictures.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Cartoons on Roanoke

Mike over at has posted many cartoons from over the years. Some of them are hilarious. There are a couple which poke fun at yours truly. Check them out and have a laugh. If you don't get it, ask someone.