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.

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.

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.

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.
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.

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

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.

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 RoanokeFirefighters.com for more.

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.

If it isn’t broke…then don’t fix it. Over 150 firefighters in the City of Roanoke subscribe to AFLAC insurance – either cancer, long term disablity, or Intensive Care (I believe those are the three offered). The firefighters like the coverage, as do hundreds of other Roanoke City Employees.

Recently, AFLAC was given the boot and the City brought in BCI to “communicate” the new insurance coverage. When the 5 individuals came to my station they stated they worked for BCI and/or Empower and were only there to “communicate” the insurance to us.

I am not taking this time to talk about the fact that the Human Resources openly handed out our information, I will do that later.

What I would like to do is offer you some insight as to what I have found on the Internet about Unum, Empower, BCI, and whoever else is related. I might add that these are internet articles and I have no way of knowing the credibility of the articles.

Unum aka Unum Provident
Unum.com – The website states “We are a company of people serving people. When you choose Unum as your employee benefits provider, you’re in the hands of 10,000 people dedicated to providing better benefits to organizations of all sizes and their employees.”

On Wikipedia, it states “Unum garnered media attention in 2002 after attorneys who had sued the company went to national television outlets claiming the company had quotas for closing claims.”

Here is another article on Unum – “Unum was recently forced by state regulators to reopen 290,000 disability insurance claims that had been rejected, including a case where ‘Unum insisted that a man who had quintuple bypass surgery was fit to go back to his job at a stock brokerage firm, even though his doctors said the stress might kill him’ and where Unum ‘refused benefits to a man who had had multiple heart attacks’[7].”

Here are some personal experiences with Unum.

http://www.empowergrp.com/ – The domain was recently purch

This article talks about Empower purchasing BCI. “The Empower Group Ltd., the global organization and performance consultancy founded in 2000, today announced that it has acquired Bowker Consulting International (BCI), one of the world’s leading strategic compensation and benefit practices.”

BCI – Bowker Consulting International
www.bowkerconsulting.com – The domain is not registered.

Really and truthfully, this whole thing is a mess. The City hired Empower to figure out what insurance would be the best. Empower did that and is now signing people up for the insurance.

Unum was the chosen insurance along with Liberty Mutual. Liberty Mutual had a local rep deliver the product and a lot of us already had the insurance.

The fact of the matter is that the City had a benefit that the employees were happy with. Of all the benefits, this one was adequate unlike so many others. So what does the City do? Get rid of it and replace it with a less than appealing alternative.

I know most of you all tune in each day to see something new or read the newer comments on older posts. I will have a couple of posts coming up soon. I have been a little busy with selling and purchasing a new house.

First and foremost, I will be dissecting this issue with UNUM, Empower, BCI, Global…Whatever they call themselves insurance company. I will be looking at many different dimensions of this issue and I hope to enlighten you.

I will also have some pictures up from the banquet. Mainly just to get Kenny Walker off my back.

I have a post that I have wanted to do on the promotional process. The problem is that every time I think of it it is right at promotion time. I would have rather had it out a couple of months ago. Look for that in the future.

And last but not least, we have to come up with an award(s). I would like to see an award given out in some form or fashion from right here on the Roanoke Fire Blog. It could be annually, monthly, weekly, whatever. I just need some ideas. I might have some ideas this weekend.

Maybe weekly superlatives? Sounds pretty good. However, I wouldn’t want to hurt anyones feelings. I can see it now: The firefighter most likely to….

One firefighter suffered cardiac arrest during the November incident, but colleagues helped him.

Scott Hetherington had no pulse and wasn’t breathing when his fellow Roanoke firefighters pulled him out of a burning house in November.

They laid the 39-year-old on the front lawn, and Assistant Fire Chief Billy Altman began cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Hetherington, who recovered.

Meanwhile, another crew of firefighters arriving at the Ferdinand Avenue house got to work searching the home and putting out the blaze.

“You could see the pain on their faces, and they did an outstanding job,” Roanoke Fire-EMS Chief David Hoback said.

The department is receiving a Governor’s Award for their quick actions to take care of the fire scene and save Hetherington, who suffered a cardiac arrest.

Read the entire story here

Captain Marvin Huddleston is retiring. His last day is today. Huddleston was hired in August 29, 1979 by the Roanoke Fire Department. Huddleston was one of the first Paramedics in the Roanoke Fire Department if not the first (if my memory serves me correctly). Huddleston is currently the Captain at Station 6 C Shift.

Captain Huddleston enjoyed a steak dinner with the guys at #6, his wife Claudia, Chief Beckner, and Captain Loren Thompson. He then went home from the station for the last time on the job.

Congratulations on your retirement. The picture below is from a fire at Chemsolv and taken by Lt. Mike Overacker (retired).

Here is video from Roanoke Times on the fire today.

I have a couple of pics from after the fire I will try to get online tomorrow. Check over at Mike Overackers site RoanokeFirefighters.com for more pictures.


Thanks for all the help guys. I talked to Gary last night. Everything is well overseas.

If anyone knows of anyone else overseas, let me know. I have been in contact with Jeremy Edwards from Roanoke County, he is deployed in Iraq currently.


If anyone knows Gary Fishers email, let me know. Gary if you see this, email me at FireFleitz@comcast.net.

Also, I am looking for information on Roanoke Valley Firefighters who are deployed and/or working overseas in the war, helping with the war, or work related to the war.

If you know of anyone, please email me and let me know.


Scott Leamon did a story on Scooter Hetherington last night. I am sorry I missed it cause I am out of town. The story is on the WSLS website and part of it is below. Great story Scott L., many thanks for telling the it.

By Scott Leamon / sleamon@wsls.comJan 21, 2008

Any house fire is tragic.

But Roanoke city firefighter Scott Hetherington believes the house fire at 1101 Ferdinand Avenue on the afternoon of November 30th is part of the reason he’s alive today.

“I remember putting on my mask and that’s really about it,” Hetherington said Monday afternoon from his “house” as firefighters refer to it.

It’s Station 7 on Memorial Boulevard. It’s where Hetherington was based.

Hetherington remembers little else because of what happened after he got to the fire on November 30th.

10 On Your Side obtained the emergency tapes from Roanoke city’s dispatch center to help tell this part of the story.

“Be advised,” a firefighter can be heard on one portion of the tape shouting. “Firefighter is down in the building at this time.” Read the whole story

Roanoke Firefighters have battled 3 fires today:

Times are approximated.
0430 – Famous Anthony’s at Grandin and 419 in Southwest
1700 – Single Family Dwelling Fire at 33 13th Street Southwest (look for pics on VAFireNews.com by morning)
1900 – Two Alarm Warehouse fire in the 700 block of Church Ave. SE (pics on WSLS and WDBJ)

Great job guys/gals. Stay Safe.

FF Jeremy Edwards of Roanoke County Station 2 in Vinton is overseas serving in the Army. He was in the first regional recruit school. Unfortunately, I do not know Jeremy, although I am sure many of you all do. Feel free to correct me or add any other information. Apparently, he checks in on the blog occasionally. However, he did not send in the pic. Stay Safe Jeremy.
Happy New Year everyone!

I wish everyone the best in the New Year. I have had a lot of fun this past year with the Roanoke Fire Blog. I am happy to see all the progress that the Roanoke Fire EMS Department and the Firefighters of Roanoke have made. We have seen a lot of progress this past year, as well as some minor set backs.

I must say that I truly love my job. I enjoy coming to work each and every day. I know a lot of Roanoke’s Firefighters share in my sentiment as well. I really enjoy the camaraderie that I share when I stop by fire houses throughout the City.

Keep the news coming in.

One other note that I missed in December was that “Firefighting in Roanoke” is now a year old. I am not sure the exact count of books sold, but it is somewhere around 1600 – 2000. I have plans to begin another book this year, although I have not decided on the format I will choose.

One last note, E13 and M9 ran the first call of the New Year. We just got back from call number 1 which was toned out at 0001 hours. That probably will not happen for me again in my career.

Good luck in the New Year, God Bless, and Stay Safe.

Check out the photo I received today. All seems to be well overseas. Reighley will be home in a month or so from what I understand. Meanwhile, Fish just started his tour overseas. I got to speak with Fish just prior to his departure. Stay safe guys.