Roanoke Firefighters Blog is 1 year old

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The Roanoke Firefighters Blog turns 1 year old tomorrow, March 9th. I have been trying to think of how to celebrate, and I had a hard time coming up with something good. So lucky for you all, I decided that I would just begin typing. That is right, I will speak candidly about what I have reported over the past year, events, and the history. I will attempt to summarize what the Roanoke Firefighters Blog has been all about.

In the beginning, I figured this “Blog” interface would be kind of neat. Although I had no idea what I was getting myself into, I decided to jump in head first. Well I had no idea I had so much to learn. After all, I didn’t have the slightest clue what html meant. I was in for an education like no other. I have not even scratched the surface of learning web page design.

After I got the blog up and running, I spoke with Rodney Jordan, the President of Local 1132, about branching out and running a website. The website would have been built around the blog. Rodney made the comment that he would rather I take over the Local 1132 site. Not exactly what I was looking for, I mean now there would actually be expectations of the site. I would be held accountable for the site, and the look of the site.

So now I really had to go to school. I had to buckle down and learn html, which is what I still use primarily. I have not branched out to java, flash, dhtml, or xhtml. Give me time and I will learn more. So I uploaded my first web page to the Local 1132 domain. In the beginning, it was very shaky ground. I was uploading, changing, correcting, and crashing the site daily. All the while I was learning, that being the main point through this whole evolution.

But I digress; after all we are talking about the blog not the website, which I am equally proud of.

So the Blog took off, and I had a lot to learn. It took months for a lot of the department it featured to find out its existence. I didn’t expect everyone to read it in the beginning, but I also did not imagine I would get the numbers I do. I think the blog averages about 70-80 hits from City computers a day.

After I had captured the attention of the Roanoke Firefighters, and shown my dedication for featuring them in one of the best firefighter blogs on the internet, I asked myself “What now?” The answer was simple; I will tell everyone about us by making this a national and even international blog that features stories of all types from all over the globe. I did make the conscious decision to try to limit the stories on firefighters which were bad publicity.

Another conscious decision I made about my reporting stories was that I would be honest and true to the firefighters of Roanoke City. This is what some of you would say that got me into trouble. I could not agree more. It is no secret why I am where I am at. But is there anything I can do about this? Some of you kid with me about calling downtown and apologizing. Well maybe that would be easy for you to do, but not me. After all, I did not intentionally offend anyone. I merely stood up for something I believe in, something that most Roanoke Firefighters believe in. I never made it a personal vendetta, or attacked anyone. I merely made my point, voiced my opinion, and defended us the firefighters.

Yet you see where I ended up. Well, oh well. The way I see it is the same way a Chief explained it to me one day. He said something along the lines of “I don’t have to agree with you, I can agree to disagree”. That is the way I see it. People do things all the time that I disagree with, but I sit back and try to understand their point of view. That doesn’t mean I have to agree with them, I just try to understand.

Do you know what the most effective part of this blog is? It isn’t informing the Roanoke FF’s of what is going on, we seem to keep each other informed pretty well. It could be bringing national/international stories to light on a local level, but it isn’t. Actually, the most effective part of this blog is explaining who we are, what we do, and what we are about. The blog is a great medium between the public and the firefighters. I pride myself on this, and I hope that I am doing us justice.

Another effective aspect of the blog is recruitment. I don’t know how many firefighters email me about the department. Most are looking to compare us to other departments while they look for a department to call home. I like to pride myself on being honest. I am not going to sugarcoat everything, and most of the candidates are looking for the truth anyways. Don’t get me wrong, the message is not negative. After all, Roanoke Fire-EMS is a great department. We have our weaknesses just like any other department. But we have pride, a deep pride that comes from the history, tradition, and honor for the department which is not found everywhere.

So who exactly reads the blog? Well it is hard to tell exactly. I have posted the stats in the past, but I will break it down a little further now.

Take for instance that someone told me we had recruiters in Charlotte right now, well I have gotten several hits from the City of Charlotte. However, I usually get a couple of hits a week from that area.

The blog gets several hits from reciprocal links, like the blog listing on and the Local 1132 website, and Roanoke County’s local.

The blog has regular readers, who I hear from occasionally. I never mind a comment. I have been informed, berated, congratulated, thanked, and questioned in the comments.

Then there are the search hits. The blog gets hits from searches for all sorts of things.

It is good to see so many firefighter blogs sprout up since I started this one. By no means was this one the first. Actually the firefighter blog is actually a year older than mine.

I hope to bring this blog to you for many more years. Thanks for tuning in. By the way, you guys do an excellent job of keeping me informed. If you would like to see something appear on the blog, let me know.

In the end, I would not change a thing. I feel strong that I have brought a lot of good publicity to the City of Roanoke, Roanoke Fire-EMS, and the Roanoke Fire Fighters Association even though this blog is unofficial to all three.

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