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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Captain Johnny Lester Retires

Johnny Lester retired on Saturday March 22, 2008 after 32 years of duty to the Roanoke Fire Department and Roanoke Fire-EMS Department. Johnny was hired on December 19, 1975. His last assignment was Captain on B-Shift at Station 10 on the ARFF Crew at Roanoke Regional Airport.

I apologize for the delay in getting this post put together, things have been a little hectic these past few weeks. I bumped into Johnny last week when he told me he was retiring and he was in good spirits. I hope he enjoys his retirement. Good luck and God Bless Johnny. The picture above was taken by Maurice Wiseman back in the early 1990's.

AFLAC Signup the 26th and 27th of March

For more information go to the Local 1132 website. Link here.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Two Roanoke Fire Engines in California Now

Thanks after the Mill Mountain Brush Fires

Hey guys. I got an email from a frequent biker to the Mill Mountain Trails. She wanted to thank all the firefighters for their work. The email came from Jen over at "Jen's Bike Blog".

She writes:

Please pass along my Thanks to the firefighters both Roanoke City and County who responded to the brush fires on Mill Mtn the other day. I ride my bike up there regularly and have hiked and done trail work, etc up there so the place means a lot to me. We rode by where one fire was, and we are very lucky they caught it when they did. Mill Mtn is ripe for a huge fire - lots of deep, dry leaves. Again many thanks from a grateful biking community.
I know that the fires weren't that big by County standards, however most of us City guys aren't used to fighting many brush fires within City limits. Let alone near midnight on the side of a mountain.

Firefighting Overseas with one of our Brothers

Hey guys. I got word from Fisher that he has seen some fire overseas. The pictures show the aftermath of the fire.

He checks in every couple of weeks. I missed his last call, but will be calling him back next week after I move. Click on the images to see larger versions.

He writes:

Here are some pics from a fire we had the other night. the building was 150 ft by 30ft and foreign nationals lived in it. when we arrived we were told everyone was out. Apparently a power strip caused the fire. I forced entry to the bedroom and did a search while the other firefighter extinguished the fire. The Capt did a 360 and then the 3 of us started ventilation. The fire destroyed the room of origin and damaged several others. We used about 300 gallons of water.

Have fun and stay safe Fish.

Roanoke Firefighters are testing Leather Bunker Boots

One of the things that I really like about the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department is the use of committees within the department to have buy-in by our members. This provides sense of ownership over decisions made which effect our health, safety, and operations while doing our job. The use of committees has been effective in getting us the tools, equipment, uniforms, and vehicles which we rely on to do our jobs effectively, safely, and efficiently.

While there is still a veto power by the Chief over the committee decision, this veto power is not used all the time. Usually the biggest issue that creates a need for veto is budget constraints. All in all, veto over committee decision has not been detrimental in our health, safety, and operations. The one veto that comes to mind as being an outright catastrophe is when a former Chief overruled the apparatus committee on the purchase of two ladder trucks. His decision to purchase vehicles that the committee could not entirely stand behind ended up being cheaper for the City originally. However, over time with the increase in maintenance, out of service time, and repair has cost the City well over the cost of the trucks originally. The firefighters saw up front that it was a bad decision, and have had to live with it since. Ultimately, it will cost the City more money because the trucks will not make it as long as ladder trucks should. The trucks longevity was cut short because of its poor design.

Other committees have made breakthroughs in testing which ultimately had the manufacturers change the design. Our turnout gear and airpack committees did really hard work in finding equipment and gear suitable for us. In doing so, they found flaws which were pointed out (some were even fixed due to our recommendations).

These committees are formed by members of our department who want to make change. These members should be commended for the time they put in and the hard work and dedication they have to their fellow firefighters.

Currently, committee members are testing leather fire boots as well as various turnout gear. To me it is a no brainer to go with leather fire boots. We will see what comes of it. Below, you will see why rubber fire boots are a poor decision and a waste of City money. This is what can bee seen above the gear lockers at Station 13.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Policeman Perry VS. Fireman Jake

This collection of videos is hilarious. Check them out. If you are on a City Computer, you will not be able to watch them at work. Proof that Firefighters are sooo much better than Cops. Enjoy

You can even visit the website here:
And order shirts here

Part 1-3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Link Dump #10

It has been a while since I have had time to tell you all of new websites/blogs of note that I enjoy reading.

Here are some new ones I have come across. Most of them have been incorporated in the blogroll to the right, others are linked on - News from the West Coast - Penn. Fire News
Firefighter Reports - The newest installment website headed by Jay from The website mimics that of Consumer Reports specifically designed to inform firefighters of equipment, gear, tools, etc. that we use on a regular basis. The website debuted this week.

Second Story Ladder Rescue in Roanoke City

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

AFLAC info for Local 1132 members

Please post on Union Boards in Stations
Attention All IAFF Local 1132 Members:

AFLAC Signup March 26th and 27th at the Credit Union

Your Union Officers have been working diligently to remedy the situation left by Roanoke City’s decision to discontinue allowing AFLAC to directly draft from payroll.

Due to this issue, Local 1132 has decided to create its own group account with AFLAC. The group will be administered by the Local. This will also enable Local 1132 to decide what programs/products will be offered to its members.

The immediate need is to get all Local 1132 members switched over to the new group from Roanoke City’s group. The Local has been working with the Roanoke Virginia Firemen Federal Credit Union to create an easy transition to the new group as well as set you up with direct deposit from your payroll into your Credit Union Account then having AFLAC draft from each individual account.

The process only takes about 5 minutes. You need to fill out a form for AFLAC followed by a new payroll deduction form for the RVFFCU.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Rhett Fleitz #######.

Here are some answers to common questions so far:

· You will direct deposit into your Credit Union account biweekly. AFLAC will draft from it once a month.
· There will be an extra half payment put in your RVFFCU account twice a year – AFLAC will not draft this amount.
· You may sign up on March 26th or 27th.
· If you cannot make these dates, contact Rhett Fleitz.
· If you have not had the chance to get AFLAC since being hired or would like to add/drop your coverage you will be able to do so in the following months. Please bear with your Union Officers while we get everything set up.
· We would like to get everyone set up by April 1st. Please plan on coming by the Credit Union on the 26th or 27th.

Rhett Fleitz
Roanoke Fire Fighters Association IAFF Local 1132

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Roanoke St. Patrick's Day Parade Aftermath

I thought that the parade was a great event. This was actually the first time I was in the event from what I remember, however I might have marched several years ago. It was a beautiful day and the crowd was amazing lining the street.

If you all get a chance be sure to give a huge thanks to Bob Neil and Tim Parry for all of the hard work they have put into getting the truck parade ready.

We are also thinking about putting it in the Dogwood Festival in Vinton next month.

There are many more photos and more story at here.

Friday, March 14, 2008

St. Patrick's Day Parade

The St. Patrick's Day Parade is tomorrow. They moved the start time up to 11:30 instead of 12 due to the inevitable rain which they say will start promptly at 2pm.

Bugg sent me the images of the four shirts made up by Roanoke Firefighters who will be at the Parade.

I know that there will be some Roanoke Fire-EMS Vehicles in the parade. Firefighters will be walkin along side of them as well as others walking with the Dalmatian Rescue. There will also be the 1938 Chevy Oren Fire Engine of the Roanoke Fire Fighters' Association in the parade. It should be right along the rest, feel free to walk or ride with the fire engine as well. Captain Willie Wines Jr. will be at the helm.

More than likely, after the parade we will be seeking shelter from the rain in one of the bars downtown for food, fun, and BEER. Plan on hanging out a while. If you need anything call or page me.

All four of the shirts were made by Acute Designs, Missy and Scott Mutters company.

I think the shirts look pretty decent. Great job guys.

I apologize if I missed anybody. I haven't heard if the Roanoke County Firefighters will have the Color Guard in the parade again.

The 1950 Roanoke Squad 1 should be in the parade as well.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

2008 Roanoke Fire Fighters Association Banquet

You can thank Kenny Walker for nagging me every day we work together for finally getting around to putting this up on the blog. Kenny is pictured to the left.

The Roanoke Fire Fighters Association held its Annual Awards Banquet on February 2, 2008. The event, which will be moved back to December this year, was attended by 1/3 of the members and their spouses, dates, and significant others.

The event was held at the Holiday Inn Airport, formerly the Clarion, just as it has been in the past.

After dinner, the new officers of the Local were sworn in and the awards presentation began.

The following Awards were given out (from memory so forgive me for any errors):

Engine 6, Medic 6, and RS-1 "C" Shift received a Company Citation for an EMS call with a stabbing victim. The crews had an amazing turnover time from on scene to arriving at the hospital.

David Lucas received a Firefighter Citation for pulling a paramedic and patient from the back of a burning ambulance at RMH.

Engine 9 "A" Shift received a Company Citation for rescuing a man from a house fire.

Ladder 7, Medic 7, Medic 4, and RS-1 "A" Shift received Company Citations for the rescue and subsequent resuscitation of Firefighter Scott Hetherington at a house fire.

And the Firefighter of the Year Award went to Captain Doug Rorrer and Lieutenant Travis Simmons for rescuing FF Hetherington.

I do not have the letters in front of me, so I did not elaborate on the awards. I believe I got them all.

There were also 4 Retirement Axes given out this past year. Captain Gary Laprad, Captain Eddie Fielder, Lieutenant John Dubose, and Firefighter David Sexton all retired this past year. Only Eddie Fielder was at the banquet to receive his axe.

I believe that everyone enjoyed themselves. It seemed as though there were plenty of good times to be had by all.

Jordan's Custom Framing gave us a deal on 3 large prints which were framed and raffled off. The pictures really turned out amazing. Captain Mutter made off with one, someone else won the other and the guys at #9 bought the other one straight up. Rodney really did a great job on the frames.

Coming up later

I will have the pictures and information posted about the RFFA banquet later tonight. I have said it, so now it has to happen.

I will also have a post on the Hero to Hero program. Read about it now on The post will have information on how the firefighters in Roanoke City and Roanoke Valley can get involved in this.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Ambulance Fire Heroes

By Lindsey Henley
WSLS10 Reporter
Published: March 10, 2008

“You could just hear a loud, bang, explosion,” Jeff Prouix said.
That sound came from inside a Greenbrier West Virginia ambulance as it pulled into Roanoke Memorial last June.
“I turned around and the back doors were opening up, and you could just see smoke coming out,” he said.
That’s when Prouix and three other men, all Roanoke City Fire and EMS workers, came to the rescue.

Watch the video here

Many of you all have seen this story before. However, WSLS ran it again today as a "Tribute to Heroes".

Great Job Guys.

Roanoke St. Patrick's Day Parade 2008

The Roanoke Fire Fighters Association has entered the 1938 Chevy Oren into the parade this year. This gives Firefighters another chance to walk in the parade (or ride). If you are interested in being in the parade let me know.

Or you can walk with the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department along with the Dalmatians with Dalmatian Rescue.

The 1938 Chevy Oren is housed at Historic Fire Station 1 and this will be its debut. Tim Parry and Bob Niel have been touching it up a bit to get it ready for the event. Stop in and check it out.

Roanoke St. Patrick's Day Parade Grand Marshal Henley Green

2008 McDonald’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade Grand Marshal
Roanoke City Firefighter/EMT - Henley Green

Each year the McDonald’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade celebrates the Irish & Scotch Irish influence within the Roanoke Valley and the entire Southwest Virginia region, plus we have lots of fun and great entertainment. But this celebration is also a salute to those within our community who serve and protect us every day. That’s why this year’s Grand Marshal is Roanoke City Firefighter/EMT Henley Green. Here’s why Henley was selected as this year’s Grand Marshal.

On Jan. 28, 2008 Henley Green was working off-duty from Roanoke Fire-EMS on a landscaping job for a sub-development in Mount Pleasant. It was an average day. He was working on a rock wall and getting ready to go for an early lunch. He got in his vehicle to leave when one of the Superintendents called and said that one of Henley’s co-worker's, who was working in a different part of the development, was having a seizure. Henley quickly drove the ½ mile to where his co-worker was. His co-worker (#1) was inside of a building that was being worked on upstairs. There were no stairs to reach the upper level, so Henley climbed a ladder, some 10 feet up, to reach his co-worker. Henley started checking him out and realized he wasn’t doing well. He didn’t know what was wrong but knew he needed an ambulance quickly.
Read more here

Look who's shaving his head!

Look who's shaving his head!

Eielson FF Association Team Member Jeff Akin

From the website:
"You heard it right - I'm shaving my head in solidarity with children who have cancer and typically lose their hair during treatment, while raising critical funds for childhood cancer research!

In the US, more children die of childhood cancer than any other disease. Please make a donation on my behalf to support childhood cancer research so that all children diagnosed with cancer will have a better chance for a cure.

To make a donation, click on "Donate Online" or "Donate by mail or phone.""

Visit the website here

Although many of us do not know Jeff Akin, I was sent this story by Lewie Kennitt. He wrote:

"This guy is a FF in North Pole Alaska and a friend of a friend. I promised my friend I would send this on to some brothers. So if you want to post it on the blog that would be great but if you don't, I can understand that too. I told my pal, firefighters are always giving time and money to MDA among other things and not sure if we would get involved with this."
If you have the chance, donate to this great cause. If anyone is interested in heading this thing up next year, I will be the first to shave my head.

God Bless

Fires at Summit Apartments and Albemarle Ave

Click on the pictures for more photos

Sunday, March 09, 2008

A message to the Readers

I was contacted by a reader who is a graphics producer in Roanoke. He apparently enjoys reading the blog and decided to touch up the photo to the left that I posted the other day. Thanks Patrick, I always appreciate the help. You can certainly tell the difference.

Hey guys. As always, it has been a trying time for Roanoke Firefighters after losing a solid and committed member of the Roanoke Fire-EMS Family. David O. Rich was damn near an institution in the department. Along with Donnie and Jimmy, I always enjoy seeing one of them come in the door to the station. They are the biggest supporters of the Department, they are the pipeline to information and supplies every day of the week. David will be missed, by myself and all I am sure.

I will get back to regular posting soon. I like to keep important posts up for several days. David deserves it.

Now to a little issue I have. I put a lot of time into this blog. I don't do it for me, I do it for the readers. It is basically part of my life as a firefighter now. Like it or not, it is the blog. Some of you check in daily to see what the new posts are, and others check in to see what Rhett has to say.

What I don't get is why there weren't 250 comments on the last post? I know that everyone can relate to David. It is so often that when readers don't agree with me that they comment. But what about when they agree with me, or if there isn't an issue? Is it so hard to comment? It isn't for me, but for his relatives, his grandchildren and others. This blog will be here for a while and the comments will live on.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Lt David Rich

Update: Here is the obituary and arrangements for Lt. David O. Rich from the Roanoke Times.

David Owen Rich (Buck), of Roanoke, passed away unexpectedly at his home on March 3, 2008. He was born in Roanoke, Va., on March 2, 1940. He attended Jefferson High School and served four years in the United States Navy. David was a retired Lieutenant from the Roanoke City Fire Department after 39 years of service. David continued to work for the Roanoke City Fire Department until his untimely death. He enjoyed playing bingo, traveling to Atlantic City with his family, going to the Salem High School football games and supporting his grandchildren. His grandchildren were his pride and joy and he will be missed dearly. He was preceded in death by his mother, Mattie Lawrence Oliver. David is survived by two sons, David A. Rich, and Randall S. Rich and wife, Holly, all of Salem; four grandchildren, Devon and Logan Rich, and Hannah and Danielle Rich, all of Salem. He is also survived by several aunts, uncles and cousins. The family will receive friends on Thursday, March 6, 2008, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Lotz Funeral Home in Salem. The funeral will be conducted at 10 a.m. on Friday, March 7, 2008, at Lotz Funeral Home in Salem. Interment will follow in Sherwood Memorial Park. Arrangements by Lotz Funeral Home, Salem, Va.
Published in the Roanoke Times on 3/6/2008.

I regret to inform you that Lt. David O. Rich (ret.) passed away this morning. Please keep his family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.
David Rich in front of one of the Service Trucks at Station 10. Picture taken by FF Travis Collins.

Although David was retired, he was still very much a part of Roanoke Fire-EMS. Since his retirement in 2001, he has worked part time as one of the three messengers. As a messenger, he was always there with the bottle truck at working fires, as well as anything else we needed. When he worked, he would pop in and out of fire stations dropping stuff off and picking stuff up. He would always stop in to say hi, and sit back and chat with the firefighters.

David came to work for the Roanoke Fire Department on December 1, 1963. He retired in 2001 with 38 years of service. I remember when I came to the department in 1999 that he was a Lt. at Station 13. David had previously been the Lt. on Ladder 9 at Station 9 and was moved to 13 when Ladder 9 became Ladder 13.

Many of us have fond memories of David. I thought it was always neat when you bumped into him on a fire now and before he retired. You could look in most any of the younger guys eyes and see excitement and awe; yet if you looked into Davids you knew he had been there and done that...he didn't even have to open his mouth. He knew exactly what we felt, he felt it to. But after 38 years it seemed as though he just enjoyed seeing everyone else's expressions.

His wealth of knowledge was looked up to by most, especially rookies who had the pleasure of working with him. He remembered the good stories, the ones to be passed down. He remembered the big fires, and he could tell you all about them.

Godspeed Lt. David O. Rich - you will be remembered and missed.

Left to right: Carty (Bill?), David Rich, Stan Fielder, and Chubby Wood in front of Ladder 9 at Station 9.

Check out for more.