Welcome back to RoanokeFire.com. This blog was one of the first of it’s kind on the internet, beginning in March of 2005. The site went silent in 2010, when then editor/author Rhett Fleitz decided to move on to create FireCritic.com.

Please welcome Nate Camfiord as the brand new editor here at The Roanoke Fire Blog. I wish Nate the best in he endeavors as he uncovers the Roanoke Valley and beyond in photos and stories.

Nate has the ability to capture a story within a single photograph. Nate is a photo columnist in the Fire & EMS Virginia Magazine (2011-present). His work (cover photo and images throughout) can also be seen in the new book “25 to Survive” (PennWell Publishing/Fire Engineering). Two videos can be found below that also feature his work.

Here is a little bit about Nate:

After spending most of my life in the DC/Northern Virginia area I relocated to Roanoke in July of 2012. After years as an operational Firefighter/Paramedic I had to “hang up my gear” for the last time in 2011 due to a rare neurological condition. Since then my primary focus (which initially began in 2008) has been Fire Service photography. It’s been on the job training. As time passed I realized my true passion in terms of photography has been to tell “The Fireman’s Story”… in as many ways as possible.

When I moved to Roanoke I was blown away by the Fire Service in this area. I sensed so much pride, commitment, tradition, dedication and brotherhood. As I said to a friend “The Fire Service here in Roanoke is the best kept secret in the state”. I am both honored and humbled that Rhett Fleitz is willing to hand over Roanokefire.com to me. I hope that in time I can earn your trust, develop a positive reputation and tell YOUR story. It’s one that deserves to be told.

Most respectfully, Nate Camfiord

Please do me a favor in welcoming Nate to his new role as editor/author/photographer here at RoanokeFire.com. You can contact Nate at 5bucksamanphoto@gmail.com.

- Rhett Fleitz

I have attached some odd photos from around Roanoke Fire-EMS and/or the previous Roanoke Fire Department. I apologize I don’t have photo credits. These were sent to me from a reader of the blog. If you know who took them let me know and I will get the credits up.



The photos below are of an old ARFF Truck.
It is actually a cadillac that is currently at the Transportation Museum in pieces.



This morning, IAFF Local 1132 members hosted a breakfast in honor of retired firefighters from the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department (although all were hired and most retired when it was still the Roanoke Fire Department). The breakfast was attended by about 50 firefighters, a couple of spouses/relatives, and a handful of helpful Local 1132 members. The highlight was having Bob Gillespie attend. Bob will be 95 in a couple of months and is the oldest living retired firefighter. There were so many firefighters in attendance who do not get to see one another on a regular basis. The guys loved being around each other and to tell stories on each other.

The Retirees normally meet on the second Tuesday of every month for a breakfast at K&W Cafeteria. Our breakfast took the place of the normal breakfast.

Roanoke City Mayor David Bowers stopped by to say hello as well as Roanoke Fire Fighters Association President Rodney Jordan and Roanoke Fire-EMS Chief David Hoback.

The event was put on by Captain Willie Wines Jr. (C-Shift VP) and most of his crew from Station 9 C-Shift. Thanks to all who helped including Robert Reid, Rachel Winter, Ben Obaugh, Scott Boone, Craig Sellers, Baron Gibson, Rodney Jordan, and Willie Wines Sr.

I must admit that you don’t really know about our fire department until you have hung out with these guys a couple of times. Enjoy the pictures and video.

Editors note: you are getting the videos in their entirety because I have not learned how to edit them yet. Give me some time and I will catch up to the technology! I have a camcorder that records in HD, but I lose some of the quality when uploading to youtube. I hope to figure this out in the future to make it better.

Video of the Retirees getting settled in and catching up.

Captain Wines welcoming the retirees.

Pete Price reminiscing over the past. Great stories!

Mike over at RoanokeFirefighters.com has several pictures of the fire on 715 1st Street NW on February 10th.

Click here to view more images.

Photo by Mike Overacker


Hey all, I will be back in town for a few days by Sunday evening. I appreciate the comments and discussions. I would like to address one comment though about how I handled the retirement of Mark Podlewski. I have in the past, posted a picture and as much information as I can find about or retirees. I try my best to honor their service which is just a small gesture that I am afforded due to my position in having this blog. That honor which is usually nonexistent from our department.That being said, let me offer you a couple of reasons why Mark’s retirement post was not what you expected:
  1. I was going out of town and very busy.
  2. Mark did not even tell the guys he was working with he was retiring, his BC accidentally let the cat out of the bag.
  3. I did not, and still do not have my external hard drive which has all of the Union’s Photos on it including any of Mark.
This has little to do with Mark and more to do with the fact that I do what I can when I am able. I do not take offense to your viewpoints. As a matter of fact, I appreciate your concern and your attention to detail.

As for what I have been doing. I have put everything on the back burner for the past week and enjoyed myself down here in the Outer Banks. I actually shot some pics of a house fire and they were posted on FireNews.Net (NC’s version of VAFireNews.com). Check them out here.

Other than hanging out with my family for the week, the highlight of my vacation was swimming with some sand tiger sharks and barracuda. I was able to do this while SCUBA diving on the wreck Dixie Arrow off the coast of Hatteras, NC.

Rodney Jordan, Duane Dixon, Brent Berry, and I recently returned from the IAFF Convention in Las Vegas. In case you were wondering, the Convention is a “Business Meeting” of sorts. We vote on resolutions which set forth the business for the next two years as well as beyond. If you would like to view video and resolutions, check out the IAFF website.

Rodney and I were pleasantly surprised to see that one of Local 1132′s historic images was used as the banner for the convention. As you can see in the picture, Steamer #2 sitting in front of Station 9 was picked as the main centerpiece for the convention and could be seen all over the Exhibit hall. This image was one of many sent in to the IAFF for the History Project. The IAFF also used several images for the IAFF History Project which was unveiled a couple of years ago.

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.
This was sent in by Derek Surratt at Station 6 A-Shift
Call was received that a house was on fire in the 500 block of 9th St. SE around 0100, sending E6, E1, L1, M6, BC1, RS1. While en route control advised that a VA State Trooper was on scene stating that the house was fully involved. Upon arrival E6 advised that the house was fully involved & defensive attack was initiated. Working fire companies were E11 & M2 w/ the additional engine request bringing E8.

See more photos of this fire and others at RoanokeFirefighters.com. Overacker was able to grab some decent photographs at the Tazewell fire, 9th Street fire, and the Roanoke City Mills fire. Click here to see them.

Here are a few links for you related to Roanoke Firefighters in the news. Click on each story for the link.

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.

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 VAFireNews.com here.

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

From http://www.roanokesaintpats.org/:
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

Click on the pictures for more photos
Mike Overacker has some pictures of the Roanoke Electric Steel fire up at RoanokeFirefighters.com.

On a side note, apparently DC Tartaglia told Roanoke City Police to ban Mike Overacker from future fire scenes. I am not exactly sure what is going on with this, but I think that Fire Photographers do a lot to preserve history, document incidents, and offer Firefighters with proof of a job well done or not as a training tool and/or pat on the back. I have seen photos taken by fire photographers used for investigations, slideshows, hung on walls, in presentations, and on websites. Some of which are Mike’s photos used by the City.

I don’t think that the sentiment displayed today towards Mike is the same outlook that many others have towards him, even in Administration. However, I cannot speak for them.

I would like to say that I appreciate the work Mike has done over the years in photographing incidents. As a matter of fact, the RFFA plans to submit some of Mike’s work in the IAFF Media Awards Contest this year.

Lt. Baron Gibson was able to get some pictures of the Highland Avenue fire yesterday. Click here or the picture for the story and more pictures.

Eventually, everyone gets there name on the blog. Some for more heroic or meaningful reasons than others. Today at Station 10, a couple of the newer firefighters learned an important lesson about Old Glory. Station 10 does not have a light on the flag and it is the newest firefighters role to raise the flag in the morning and lower it in the evening. Today, Old Glory was forgotten about until Captain Flora noticed. He immediately summonsed the firefighters who’s duty it is to lower the flag and fold it. They were given a little lesson in proper etiquette. Below is Firefighter White and Firefighter McDonald saluting the flag before bringing it in for the night. Thanks to Captain Flora for the photos.

Captain Chuck Swecker might have the stature of Superman, but I am not sure that he is the Man of Steel. This picture was sent in by his brothers on A-Shift. Captain Swecker is currently assigned to Firehouse 5 on A-Shift.

Black Crow Terrorist Policy
January 27, 2008

It is the policy of the Black Crows to respond vigorously to all terrorist attacks at our station and to our members as well as our mascots. The Black Crows regard all such terrorism as a potential threat to station security as well as a criminal act and will apply all appropriate means to combat it. In doing so, the Black Crows shall pursue vigorously efforts to deter and preempt, apprehend individuals who perpetrate such acts.

January 18, 2008 our founding symbol of pride was brutally abducted by terrorist. Information from underground sources have revealed that he has been tortured and has made the ultimate sacrifice. Although he will be missed, other Black Crows within his family have proudly stepped up into his place and took over his duties.

It is the policy of the Black Crows not to make concessions to terrorist, therefore if any member is lost in action they will be held up and given the highest honors.

The only request the Black Crows will make is that all remains whether human or plastic be returned to receive these said honors and a hero’s burial.

Click here for pictures to the Church Avenue Fire on VAFireNews.com. Pictures by Mike Overacker and Drew Abel.