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Monday, July 28, 2008

This article is a must read

Follow the link to the article below. This is an expertly written article characterising firefighters showing full respect for a Firefighter who died in the Line if Duty. A very moving article of our Love for each other that is the Brotherhood shown through at a very trying time in a Department's healing after the death of a young firefighter.

Link to the article

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Roanoke Firefighters Auxiliary trip to Emerald Pointe

The Roanoke Firefighters Auxiliary hosted a trip to Wet N' Wild Emerald Pointe yesterday. I must say that if you are in need of a decent family trip and do not want to put up with the planning or excecution of the trip, let the Auxiliary take care of the hard work for you.

The Auxiliary recently had a bowling night as well. They have posted pictures on their website here. The trip to Emerald Pointe was awesome. The kids had a great time, and the adults enjoyed the park as well. Around 50 of us made the trek to Greensboro, NC for the day. We had to sit through one storm when we first got there, then the weather was perfect. The overcast skies kept the crowd to a minimum, which was perfect for riding the slides.

And yes, Willie wore the goggles and water wings the whole day.

View more images on the Roanoke Firefighters Auxiliary Website

Roanoke Firefighters Water Supply Class

Department Instructors presented a Water Supply Class in 18 four hour blocks for city firefighters.

The class covered “Relay Operations” and the fundamentals of LDH supply hose.

“It has been a successful class. A “Back to the Basics” class is always beneficial. The older Firefighters enjoy the practice, and we have so many new young people for which the experience is a first. It truly is a win-win situation.” - Lieutenant Jim Hylton

The lead instructors were: Captain Warner Van Damme, Lt. Jim Hylton, Captain Robert Perdue, Lt. Mark Brown,

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Still Going

Hey guys,

I just realized that it has been over a week since my last post. I have been busy much like most of you all. I have so much to say, and I hope to get to it soon.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) I am taking the kids to Emerald Pointe with several other families. The Roanoke Firefighters Auxiliary set up the trip. We are hoping for decent weather.

There has been a lot going on in the City, although at the surface it appears as though the Department hasn't changed much.

I noticed in the paper the other day where the city has spent over a million dollars on another piece of property. I swear, Roanoke City is having a very lucrative budget crunch. The claims of not having money are met with what seems to be one of the biggest spending sprees I have seen in a while.

The Roanoke Times had a nice piece on Roanoke City Manager Darlene Burcham...I didn't read it. I am sure that they got their point across, unlike the news media is able to do when we have a story for them. The one sidedness of our media in Roanoke is embarrassing to say the least.

If you think back to when Chief Hoback took the helm as Chief of our department most of us where saying things will change. Most of us gave him a chance. Most of us kept our heads up and wanted to believe that change would come.

Damn, this is getting depressing...

I will continue on though.

You know that 6 million dollar station 1 they built, well they are replacing it piece by piece it seems. Soon they will have a brand new garage floor throughout. Apparently, the work was sub-par. Shock.

Ladder 13 went out of service the other day...and then the reserve ladder went out of service. Engine 13 stayed in service though, and the City operated with 3 ladder trucks, well actually 2 and a half. Ladder 7 accounting for that .5.

I was told by one of our Chiefs that if a truck is broke he will shop it automatically. That if it is unsafe, then it needs to be fixed and does not need to be in service. This was told to me without me asking. I didn't say a word...until now. Why the hell are Ladder 7 and Ladder 13 still in service if they have not been able to fix the relief valves since February. Hell we have needed 4 people outside of the apparatus drivers to come in special and tell us they are broke. What gives.

Oh yeah, Engine 8 failed the pump test twice and was kept in service for months.


I will tell you what I think. I think we are on a one way trip to the darkest day of our lives. I think that without change, one of us is going to be seriously injured or killed.

The best thing we have going for us is each other. Watch your back, watch your brothers back.

I have some more stuff I need to post. Some feel good stuff as well. Look for it soon.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Retired Captain James Givens Passes Away

Retired Captain James Givens passed away on Friday. He worked for the Roanoke Fire Department for 42 years, serving most of them at Station 9. The funeral arrangements are as follows: viewing Sunday 2-4pm and 6-8pm; viewing Monday 6-8pm; Funeral Tuesday 2pm all at the Downtown Oakey's. Honor Guard Members are needed. Contact Richard Lipes, Chief Tartaglia, or myself by pager if you can help. Also needed are pallbearers for the funeral, his wife is requesting members who worked with him.

Tanker Fire Shuts Down Route 220 in Downtown Roanoke

Friday, July 11, 2008

Message from the Roanoke Firefighters Auxiliary reference to trip to Emerald Pointe

We finally have our Emerald Pointe Trip reservations made. We will be going to Wet and Wild Emerald Pointe on Wednesday, July 23rd. We will be leaving Roanoke at 7:30am and will return home around 9:30pm, as the park is open from 10am-7pm. (We will let you know where we will be leaving from at a later date) The total cost of the trip is $46.00 for adults and children over 48" tall and $38.00 for children under 48" tall. This price includes an Abbott bus to and from the park and lunch in the park. Lunch will be buffet style and include hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad, chips and a drink. The buffet line will be unlimited times through, but will only stay open for one hour. The price also includes our own private tent while we are there. Each family will be responsible for providing their own dinner, but there are several choices available inside the park.
The trip is less than 2 weeks away and we only have 54 seats on the bus. If we have more people we have the option of getting another bus, but it is very important if you are planning on going that we get information and payment as soon as possible. Abbott needs $100.00 ASAP and Emerald Point needs 50% when I mail the contract back to them.
Please reserve your spot ASAP by calling Melanie at ********** or **************. If you have any additional questions, please let us know!
So.......grab your swimsuits and let's go!

If you guys need the number for Melanie let me know or you can call Scott Graham at Fire Station 1 today. You can email Melanie at

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Open Post

This is an open post for the readers. I want to hear from you. Whether you comment on here occasionally, frequently, or never have I want to hear what you have to say about the site and what direction you think it should be going. I do put a lot of time into this site and I enjoy it very much. I just want to make sure that I am making the best use of the site for the readers from the outside and the many Roanoke Firefighters who check it out daily.

Leave a comment for others to read. The topic could be on whatever really. Keep it civil please. If this is a feature you all like, I might continue an open post on a regular basis.

At 9 for Homemade Ice Cream

E13 and L13 went down to Station 9 for homemade ice cream. M9 had been there for a minute between calls, but missed the photo op. L-R is Captain Willie Wines Jr., FF Josh Slaughter, FF Josh Compton, FF Chris Elmore, Lt. Jeremy Benninton, 1st Lt. Sam Stump, FF Brad Glidden, FF/PM Scott Boone, and Captain Robert Perdue. Not in picture are FF Kenny Walker and FF Ben Obaugh on M9, Lenny English transferred to M2 for the day, and myself behind the camera. This picture was taken on Wednesday, July 9, 2008. The guys got to enjoy some comraderie and ice cream after a busy day of several calls due to a storm that came through Roanoke.

Roanoke Fire-EMS and JCHS

Here is a video from on of the students of Jefferson College of Health Sciences. It is a view through their eyes of our Department and their program. You guys at work will not be able to see this as it is hosted on YouTube. Enjoy.
UPDATE: The video was taken offline, and now has be edited to give credit for some of the photos. The video is live again. Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

For Love of the Job

Firefighters will tell you that Firefighting is more of a lifestyle and less of a job. Although "job" is what it tends to be referred to, the word has more meaning than what outsiders realize. That is just one thing that outsiders or "civilians" don't realize about our "job".

Firefighting is one of those jobs that is very hard to explain or even justify. For example, whenever it suits the media or taxpayers, many like to refer to the down-time we have. The fact that we have to go to the grocery store, and sit down to eat meals, kick back to watch the evening news, and even sleep between calls at night grates on some peoples nerves. They do not realize that we could be in the middle of anything...and have to go on a call. We don't finish what we were doing, we go.

How do you think your wife (spouse) would feel if you were in the middle of a heated argument and had to cut the argument short to run a call? What about cooking a nice meal for the family, getting your plate loaded up and sitting down to dig in after a hard days work...and having to go on a call.

We spend 24 hours at our assigned station, or get transferred to another station to spend 24 with other firefighters. We enjoy what we do, or we wouldn't do it. If we didn't enjoy it, it would not be worth risking our lives for others.

That is our mentality. Sure we might not risk our lives every day, but we are willing, capable, and trained to do so. Most civilians do not realize the extent of our dedication to our jobs. That is what we are paid to do after all. To protect the lives and property of the citizens and visitors of Roanoke City. Those words may not mean much and you might not give them much thought at all. I guarantee you that every Firefighter thinks about this from time to time; and every Spouse of a Firefighter thinks about this often.

Over 100 firefighters die each year in the line of duty while they are working. Hundreds more die each year from job related illnesses and injuries i.e. cancer, hepatitis, trauma, and diseases. Hundreds more are disabled each year from injures on the job. When Firefighters retire, their bodies are worn out and tired.

The Roanoke Fire-EMS Department always scores high marks from citizens for our service. We are a dedicated bunch.

However, public opinion of Firefighters is that we are out of sight and out of mind. You don't think about us until you need us, and at that time we had better perform like you want us to. But what if we had fallen into a state of disrepair, what if we had not been trained properly, what if we didn't care anymore, what if our trucks didn't run, what if we didn't know what to do? This wouldn't be the time for you to find out would it?

I am not saying that our Department has gotten to this point, but it could because our voices are not being heard. One reader of the blog thinks that since the Fire Chief said so then he must be right. What if that Fire Chief told all of his firefighters to jump off of a bridge? Since that reader thinks he is right, we would all jump. Not a chance, and we would be there to save that naive reader from jumping as well. But that one reader wouldn't be the only one, his thought process is the same as many.

But I digress, this isn't about our Administration it is actually about the citizens. We need your help in making sure we are taken care of. I don't mean so that we are overpaid. I just mean that when the next alarm sounds, we have enough firefighters on scene quickly with the proper resources at hand to do the job efficiently, effectively, and safely.

Historically, change in the Fire Service is often brought about by trial and error. The trial is usually found in training because Firefighters like to keep our job simple and easier. The error is usually tragedy in which Firefighters are hurt or killed in the Line of Duty.

However, change isn't always that easy. For instance, consider the posts on this blog and the comments shared by others. There have been many posts and comments which have argued right and wrong, the lack of leadership, and the faults of certain directives, policies, procedures, and planning. These thoughts offered mostly by Roanoke City's Bravest have united many of them as well as helped them understand others points of view. The combination of commenting and reading by many has helped educate each other (and myself) of thoughts and feelings I might not have considered.

Now think about if tragedy were to strike in whatever form or fashion. Will change occur then? I think so. Which is exactly the problem. We should be fixing these issues now, not making them worse so that tragedy is averted. Unfortunately, our department is run by playing the odds. Why is our Administration happy with 70% for this and 80% for that and 90% for that. Using those statistics to prove that we do a pretty good job getting there quickly enough most of the time. What if that other remaining % had a name? What if there were faces to go with that "acceptable loss"? Why aren't we striving to make it 100% across the board? Is 90% the new 100%? Do we even care about who gets left behind because of our "supposed" budget shortfalls.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Gold's Gym offers 12 open memberships

The new Gold's Gym at Crossroads (old New Fitness building) has partnered with the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department to offer 12 open memberships in exchange for CPR classes taught by our members. What does this mean for you? Well it means that at any given time, 12 of our members may be working out at Gold's Gym for free, all you have to do is show your City ID. In exchange, our CPR instructors will teach the employees of Gold's. The memberships are not valid at the South Gold's Gym.

This is a pretty good deal set up by the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department. I know that David Bocock had a lot to do with this. Thank him when you get a chance.

Here is the link to the new Gold's Gym

Here is some info about the Gold's Gym:

The Crossroads Gold's will be one-third larger at 45,000 square feet, compared with the 31,000 square feet of Roanoke County's.

Tripp Martin, who lives in Blacksburg, is the primary owner and operator of the new Gold's. And he's planning to open a Blacksburg Gold's next year.

At Crossroads, the former New Fitness space is being doubled and renovated to accommodate the new business.

This new space also will house two pools, one for adults and one for children. And it will have a cardio theater, which shows PG-13 movies continuously on a 20-inch screen while people exercise on bikes and other cardiovascular equipment set up in front of it.

Some traditional features include four rooms for group exercise classes, a women's area with cardio and weight equipment, and a children's playroom.

The existing Gold's does not have a pool or a cardio theater.

Backdraft, not likely...Explosion Definitely

Do you need any help there Billy? We need some more help, we have one stream in operation and the first floor is fully involved...wait make that HOOOOLY SHIIIT. HOOOLY COW THAT WAS INCREDIBLE.

This is some amazing footage.

Backdraft Levels Two Story Building - Watch more free videos

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Public Safety Employee Disaster Assistance Program

Public Safety Employee Disaster Assistance Program
The Commonwealth has enacted new legislation that offers financial assistance to public safety responders. Section 44-146.17 in the Code of Virginia states that public safety employees who respond to a disaster can receive assistance from the state under the following conditions:

* The governor has declared a state of emergency; and
* The employee is actively involved in response and recovery efforts for the disaster; and
* The employee experiences extreme personal or family hardship as a result of the disaster.

Each employee can receive up to $2,500 each month for up to three months. The Commonwealth is offering these funds to fill unmet needs that insurance, charitable contributions and any other available disaster funds do not cover. The approval of assistance and amounts awarded are at the discretion of the governor or his designee, and all such decisions are final. Temporary or contract support employees are not eligible.
Public safety employees who suffered extreme hardships due to the April 28 tornadoes should submit an application and supporting documentation to VDEM. Applications and program guidance are available at For more information, contact Individual Assistance Program Manager Larry Braja at or (804) 897-6500, ext. 6538.