Below are all of the Christmas Jingles which were sent in. Check them out and let me know what you think…

Anonymous sent in this gem:
Jingle Bells all the way.
Horses eat hay.
What do you want me to say.
Some firefighers were born in May.
The tones go off and we say OK.
In the middle of the night or day.
Some cats have homes, some are stray.
Some go to church and pray.
Pepsi has a nice display.
Food is sometimes served on a tray.
Kids like to go outside and play.

CountryDew - A fellow blogger and the wife of a firefighter sent this one in. Visit her blog here:
The Wife Before Christmas

The night before Christmas, a dear holy hour
I sit with a brandy in front of the fire.
Alone with our child tucked asleep down the hall
and the man that I love has gone out on a call.

He's a fireman, you see, and when sirens blast
He rushes to help, to bring hope to you fast.
Through smoke, in the ice, in hard driving rain,
He offers assistance and helps folks in pain.

No though for himself, he offers a hand,
No matter the season or what we had planned.
I just let him go, see him off with a kiss
and try not to worry about what he will miss -

Baby's first step, or her eyes all alight
When she sees what Ol' Santa leaves her tonight.
I pray for his safety, that he comes back to me
That he not be in danger is my nightly plea.

He's my whole life, I give him all that I can.
He's one of the finest - he's a fireman.

-- CountryDew

Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear,
Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair.
Fuzzy Wuzzy wasnt fuzzy was he.

Oompah oompah oompidy doo,
I have got a puzzle for you.

I sit home in the middle of the night,
My father yells what you gonna do with your life.
Oh daddy please you know your still number one,
Girls…they wanna have fun.
Thats all they really waaaa-aant.
Oh girls they just wanna have fun.

Big Trav sent in:
Twas the night before Christmas and through the fire house not a creature was stirring except #2’s mouse. The Firefighters all snuggled all down in their beds with dreams of their families held tight in their heads. Their boots right beside them their coats hung on the engine with care, to make sure they get it on quick if they have to go anywhere. A short silent prayer for a run free nights sleep, to have enough energy with their families to be, awake and alert and not miss a thing, to be wide eyed and waiting to see what Santa brings.
For a few of the bravest it’s their first Christmas with chaps they don’t want to miss it while taking a nap. Others we know have been with their chaps before and look forward to that smile when they come through the door. Some of the bravest don’t have chaps of their own but still look forward to a love that is waiting at home and some have had several but their off and grown and may stop by later with chaps of their own.
When all of a sudden there arose such a clatter we all jump out of bed engine, medic, and ladder and wait with our feet in our boots to hear what is the matter. We wait on the dispatch to give us the news’ alarm coming in, now we’ve got to move. Control relays the call and it’s just an alarm, thank goodness this time no body is harmed. We will go back to bed and of family still dream and again pray that’s the last time the alarm bells will ring.
Remember now bravest as you finish this night, in a few more hours with the suns first light, the next shift will be in and you can go home to be with the family you missed all day long. So take just a minute and remember those folks, who have taken your place so you could go home.
Remember the soldiers who are so far from home who fight for our freedom so we don’t have to roam who won’t see their husbands, their wives or their chaps and won’t get a big dinner and definitely no nap. The will stand at a post maybe even alone and spend Christmas day thousands of miles from home. God bless them and keep them and bring them home safe I hope this is the last Christmas they have to spend in that place.

Merry Christmas to all my Brothers and Sisters and the US Armed forces wherever you may be God bless you all!
Lt. Travis A .Simmons
“Big Trav”
Roanoke Fire EMS
Station 2A “The ZOO”

The Roanoke Fire EMS Department has many committees. For the most part, the committees are very effective. In the more recent years, the recommendations of the committees have been agreed upon by Administration. The most common reason for non-compliance with committee recommendations has been budget constraints. Usually, this is taken care of up front when Admin. gives certain criteria for the committees to follow. This criteria is usually budget driven.

It hasn’t always been that way. I won’t delve deep into the certain issues which committees have been rendered useless due to veto by Administration, however the Quints is one issue where the committees were backed into a corner and were uncomfortable with the outcome.

Examples of Roanoke’s committees are the turnout gear committee, uniform committee, apparatus committee (two actually – one for fire and one fore ems vehicles), training committee, airpack committee, and many others. Some meet regularly, others like the airpack committee were kind of a one time thing to decide on new airpacks.

The Charleston Fire Department (SC) is facing the very worse for the newly formed committees which were suggested by the panel overseeing the reformation of the department. These committees have been overruled by their Chief. Chief Thomas, who has been identified as the root of many problems in the department by many inside and outside of the department, went along with the recommendations for forming committees. However, when given the recommendations by the committees, Chief Thomas has decided not to implement the recommendations and do whatever he felt like. Basically, the committee members felt as though Chief Thomas had wasted their time and according to some; returned to the dictator role he had been posturing for the past 16+ years in the job.

This is not healthy. The system we have is healthy. Although we cannot have everything we want, the firefighters in Roanoke have figured out that through committee involvement we can compromise on what equipment we have to work with. This system has been very beneficial to the firefighters, giving them a sense of worth in the department and offering them the input into equipment which could mean the matter of life or death while on the job. The flip side of the coin would be Administration deciding on this key equipment while being removed from the day to day operations in which we use them. What does it matter to an Incident commander, who is standing outside, of what airpack we have on. It doesn’t directly effect them. Just as the firefighters don’t order office supplies equipment for Administration because we don’t use them.

There are issues on the committee level too though. Many believe that a lot of the committee members do it for one reason only (to make themselves look good). I cannot say that is not true. There are some who appear to be in that situation. However, for the most part it seems as though the firefighters who are involved in committees do so for the simple reason of understanding that they can be part of the solution. The other issue with committees is that many firefighters have been unable to get involved in certain committees due to some firefighters being involved in more than one. All I can say is the next time there is a sign up for a committee, have your company officer put in a good word for you.

As for Charleston, from my point of view I think that there is one simple answer to reform. That answer is to get a new Chief. I am not saying it will be a cure all. But from what I have read, and I have been following it since the tragedy, it would be a great place to start.

This is a picture of Station 8 B-shift standing in front of Engine 8 with their Christmas Wreath. Left to Right is Captain Kent McIlhany, Firefighter Shane Duncan, and Lt. Jim Hylton. The crew works at Station 8 located in Crystal Springs.

Shane Duncan fries up a turkey for the guys to eat for dinner. The guys had purchased a turkey for thanksgiving, however it was not needed because of the local Church which provides a complete dinner for all the fire stations in the Roanoke Valley. So the guys enjoyed a fried turkey for dinner. You have to love Shane’s set up including two chairs and a recycling bin to keep the wind off of the burner.

Here is the new rookie at Station 13 C-shift Josh Slaughter. Josh’s first day was on Saturday and was quickly thrown in the mix of vacation sign ups. We sign up for a whole years vacation in December. Josh, like the rest of the rookies, won’t have much vacation to sign up for because they will only accrue a little bit of vacation during the year.

Josh enjoyed a very slow day, we didn’t run our first call until after midnight. However, once he was in bed around 10pm, we decided to let him know what the alarm tones sounded like. We were hoping that he would come out of the bunkroom struggling to get his turnout pants on, but it wasn’t the case.

More hi jinx in the future I am sure, we decided to be easy on him the first day.

If you guys have photos to share, just let me know.

If you are just joining in today, be sure to read the posts below.

I detailed a decent rant for you all, several issues discussed; click for more.

I also documented Scooters return home and a fire in Northwest the other day; click for more.

Scroll to the bottom of the post if you are a recruit.

This video below (those of you at work will not be able to watch on City computers) is a decent view of a Retirement party for a coworker that even the Chief decided to attend. The retiree is a cop, but that is not important. I found the video on

You have to watch the video in its entirety, trust me it is worth it. The banter between the retiree and the Chief and Captain is priceless. Even the Chief’s wife catches feelings.

I have been asked several times over the years why one guy gets a big retirement party and another gets a small one. Well the answer is that it has been accustom for the guys who work with the retiree, or other peers of the retiree put the event on. I will be honest with you. It seems as though you can base how much people like someone by the amount of people at their retirement party. Sure, it can be skewed by certain details which disallow others to be at the event, but it is a good measure.

Think about that if you are one of those boot-lickers. It is much better to be respected and get promoted based on merit, than to be despised and suck your way to wherever you are going.

As for the rookies just getting out of the Academy, I will steer you to this post that I put up a couple of recruit schools ago. I think it is a worthwhile read. Click here for the link, the post is simply titled “Recruit”.

Scott (pictured to the right) is going home from the hospital today after suffering cardiac arrest at a house fire on December 3rd. We wish him the best in his recovery. The cause of the fire has been determined. You can read more about it here. Scott, pictured to the right, The picture to the right is Scott from Todd Reighleys blog. It is the only one I could find and is about a year old.

Structure fire in Roanoke

Elsewhere, Northwest Roanoke Firefighters had a structure fire the other day. Click on the picture to the left to view more pictures and read more about the fire.
The cause is still unknown.

First of all, I want to thank everyone involved in saving one of our own. I have enjoyed reading the comments and appreciate the additional information.

One comment caught my eye:

Why do all the articles and news reports keep saying that he was just injured? He wasnt injured, he suffered full cardiac arrest and was brought back on scene by his own co workers. I think some outlets are down playing what happened and what was done to save him. Great job to all that was there…..and hope you get well soon Scooter.

Absolutely, Scooter had a heart attack which caused cardiac arrest. Scooter was essentially dead on the floor, however the guys on scene saved his life. This is a true testament to early CPR and early defibrillation. Scooter is not out of the woods yet. He is still in the hospital and is undergoing care to correct what caused the heart attack in the first place. His family wishes that he not be bothered, although you can visit with them. The department will keep you up to date on when he can have visitors.

As far as playing down the information…read on:

I agree completely, although I kinda understand why. Some might say, HIPPAA regulations and that might be so, but I also think it is because the reports were not confirmed until late that he had actually suffered a cardiac arrest. I don’t mean by what people were saying, I mean what was officially reported by spokespersons for the department. From what I could tell this was Chief Hoback on the news and Tiffany Bradbury through the press release.

You have to realize that this is was a very delicate situation, and still is. I think they did a decent job at getting information to the news. All this was done while Scooter’s relatives were still learning about the incident.

As for not playing down the situation. Firefighter and The Secret List both had Scooter’s story online.

The Secret List released this:

FF CARDIAC ARREST: A Virginia Firefighter is recovering after he went into cardiac arrest while operating at a house fire in Roanoke yesterday. The firefighter, Scott Hetherington, 39, was in stable condition last night. Firefighters pulled FF Hetherington out of the house fire and initiated CPR. Our best for a quick recovery.

I put the story and some more pictures up on Click the picture for the article. Also note that Firefighters around the Country are interested in Scott’s story and hope that he is resting comfortably and recovering. I understand that the family would not like visitors to Scott’s room, however they can visit with the family on the 7th floor of RMH.

Listen to Jay Lowry’s Podcast on where he talks about the incident.

Firefighter Scott Hetherington was injured today while working at a structure fire with a report of occupants trapped. Firefighter Hetherington went down while in the structure and a mayday was called.

He was transported to the hospital and is awake and talking. His family is by his side.

Scott works on Quint 7 and has been a firefighter for 9 years.


Here is the story from what I have gathered talking to those on scene:

Engine/Ladder 7 was toned out to a fire at 1101 Ferdinand for a structure fire with other units. Engine 7 arrived and began interior suppression with a crew of three – Captain Rorrer, FF Zimmerman, and FF Hetherington (I do not know who was driving). Lt. Simmons met the crew at the front door to begin positive pressure ventilation by placing a fan at the front door. Upon entry by the crew of three, Simmons started PPV. The crew had a report of occupants inside. Shortly after the crew entered, Captain Rorrer came back to the door and signified to Lt. Simmons that something was wrong. Lt. Simmons retrieved FF Hetherington from just inside the door where he had collapsed. Hetherington was dragged to the front yard where firefighters began a fight to save his life. Apparently, Hetherington had suffered a cardiac emergency. Deputy Chief Altman, FF/PM Pfister, and FF/PM Murphy (all Paramedics) transported Hetherington to the hospital and were able to revive him. Shorty after, Hetherington was awake and oriented in the hospital.

Great job by all involved. I find it hard to believe that this was short of a miracle. If the situation were just the tiniest bit different, the outcome might not have been the same.

According to the comments:
Book keeping note: Although Altman did run the resuscitation at the scene, Dave Pope rode in and maintained Scooter’s airway througout. Brady McDonald drove M4.Gator, who was right in the middle of it, pulled the truck closer to Scooter. Chief Bishop was right there too. Fine job done by all!

Here are links to the story:

Updated: Firefighter, family OK, but dog dies in Roanoke fire

House Fire in Roanoke

MyOur…Jeremy’s house has received the Certificate of Occupancy. This morning, Jeremy met with the building official out in Eagle Rock in Botetourt (Bot – it – tot) County and successfully got the CO. Rumors are coming in on what he had to do to get the CO and they mimic the tactics he used to get promoted…just kidding. Hell he is probably half drunk by now…kidding again.

There are many people who need to be thanked for helping out with the house. This is from me off the top of my head, so if I forget about anyone take it up with the Rod.

I guess we should all thank Doug Hurd for building the house. Doug was kinda like the crew who worked behind the scenes while Bob Vila (Jeremy) was on camera (sarcasm). Actually, Doug is a contractor and assisted Jeremy in building the house to specifications. His expertise and anal retentiveness kept the roof on the house that Jeremy built mostly with his blood and ours.

All kidding aside, Jeremy put a lot of time and hard work into that house, as did many of us. There are still cosmetic projects which need to be completed. But hopefully we will get his family moved in soon.

Here is a list of the firefighters who helped in some way or another in no particular order. Kelcey Branch, Chuck Sharp, Scott Mutter, Scott Boone, Scott Bradford, Todd Stone, Willie Wines Jr., Craig Sellers, Matt Dewhirst, Lynwood English, Sam Stump, Chris Elmore, Matt Wheeling, Phil Dillon, Jeff Beckner, Travis Meador, Brian Wray, David Wray, Nathan Foutz, John Burrows, Rob Joiner, Tim Cady, Daniel Murphy, Jeff Oliver, Travis Simmons, Chris Franklin, Tom Mougin, Jeff East, Eric Mulford, Dale Barker, Greg Fulton, Tim Brown, and whoever else I missed. If you leave a comment with names I will update it.

I also want to thank another firefighter. Dana Potter is a firefighter with Logan International Airport up in Boston. He called me after the initial S.O.S. for help for Jeremy’s house was posted on the blog. Apparently, his parents live down here in the Roanoke area and he just happened to come across the blog. He read about Jeremy’s predicament and called me to offer his help. I was amazed that a firefighter from Boston wanted to help out on his vacation, but he did. Dana then visited us at Station 13 the following day and sent us some t-shirts when he got back. I always like talking to a visiting firefighter, but this one takes the cake. Thanks so much for your help Dana.
Pictured from right to left are: David Bishop, Jeremy Bennington, Willie Wines Jr., and Dana Potter.

Gary Fisher is leaving the Department to work in Iraq for a year. Currently working at 10 C-shift, Fish had worked at 13 A and 5 C during his career in the Department. Fish plans on coming back to the department once he fullfills his 1 year contract in Iraq. He will be working as a firefighter on base just as Todd Reighley and B.T. Butler have. I had the enjoyment of working with Fish at 10 when I was on the ARFF crew. Fortunately, Fisher will be making big money when he is in Iraq. Unfortunately, there is a war going on. I guess someone needs to make the cheese. I just don’t get why we don’t make 100k+ a year here in Roanoke (sarcasm).

Fisher is no stranger to war, he spent several years overseas in the Marines including Iraq. Apparently he liked the area enough to go back. Maybe he knows something we don’t. Then again, maybe we know something he doesn’t.

His last day at work is today, Sunday the 18th. Stop in and say goodbye if you get a chance.

Have fun and be safe in Iraq. You know where to check in on us.

Read the letter below regarding Smokey Shelton -

The Shelton Family would appreciate anyone who might have a few minutes to spare to come to the Roanoke City Courthouse on December 13th at 2pm on the third floor to help us support Smokey Shelton in the sentencing hearing for the individual who attacked him in his home and stabbed him 6 times and cut his throat. The Court Representative advised us that the more people we can get in the Court Room the better chance he will receive a sentence that he deserves for the attack on my Dad (Smokey). We would again like to thank all the people for their support during a time we needed it the most. Again please help us get this man off our streets so no other family will have to go through the situation our family had to endure. Again thank you all.

Lt. K.W. Shelton

This past weekend, several firefighters got together at Logan’s Roadhouse to enjoy a meal before going to the Brad Paisley Concert. The firefighters received tickets to the concert for free. Roanoke Fire-EMS was given a bunch of tickets, which they distributed on a first call basis. I am not sure how many tickets there were available, but I do know that several firefighters were able to go. While I did not go to the concert, it seems as though everyone had a great time.

Left to right are: Back row: Matt Wheeling, guest of Travis Meador, Travis Meador, Willie Wines Jr., Scott Boone, Ben O’Baugh. Front Row: Wheelings Guest, Randi Wines, Reba Wines, Robin Wines, Boone’s Wife, Rhett Fleitz. I apologize for not remember the guests/wives/girlfriends names.

Local Heroes Receive Awards

WSLS NewsChannel 10
Nov 7, 2007

The Roanoke Kiwanis Club recognized four Roanoke Fire-EMS workers for their heroic deeds. David Lucas, Jeff Proulx, Alan Mitchell and Adam Fleming came to the rescue when an ambulance burst into flames at the Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital last June.

Proulx said, “As soon as they pulled in, you could just hear a loud, bang, explosion. Turned around and the back doors were opening up, and you could just see smoke coming out.”

Read the entire article

The news coverage of the awards was great. All four firefighters were interviewed at the old station 1 did a great job on camera.


Captain Willie Wines Jr. wrote an article that I think all of you should read. It is up on and the direct link is here.

This is an excerpt:

Today, despite all we’ve learned and all our advancements, we are still killing firemen due to temporal distortion, reluctance to relinquish control of ones situation, channeled attention, loss of situational awareness, fear of the unknown, fear of retribution, lack of procedural knowledge, attempting to fix the problem, pride or denial. What makes this problem even worse is the fact that situations constituting a MAYDAY have expanded as well (or these situations just haven’t been seen as MAYDAYs all along). My Department was very recently hit with the tragic loss of a young Captain….

Read the entire article


Engine 13 and 5, Medic 4, and RS-1 ran an overturned vehicle yesterday. Click the picture for the story.

Check this out from E-5. Apparently, they took a few minutes to have some fun this evening. That is all I am going to say about it. Use your interpretation. Meanwhile, I will be hiding under a rock.


Jeremy is looking for help this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I will be going out on Saturday to help. We are working on trim work inside and outside currently as well as hanging doors and numerous other things around the house. If you can help, call me at 540-537-8158 to make sure what time guys are working. There is a map below to Bennington’s house.

Today, posted a story by Captain Willie Wines Jr. about a call that Engine 9 ran recently. Check it out here.

Also, Firefighter Travis Collins had another article published in Virginia Fire News Magazine. Tiffany Bradbury also had a story about Roanoke Fire-EMS Accredidation. Brad Creasy, a long time writer for the mag also had a couple of articles from over in town Bedford.

Keep up the good work.

Virginia Fire News Magazine does not have a website, although you can view the information on the mag and get a subscription here.

This Thursday and Friday, October 25th and 26th, Firefighters will be working at Bennington’s house. If you would like to help, please show up or contact Captain Willie Wines Jr. at #9 tomorrow to work on Thursday, and Captain Todd Stone at #1 today or Wednesday to help on Friday.

It is reported that News Channel 10 will be there on one of the two days to do a story on how the Firefighters are helping Jeremy finish his house. It would be great to see a lot of firefighters out there. Somebody please take some pictures.

You do not have to be skilled in a trade to help. Some of the work that will be getting done is building the garage (remember it is a log home and log garage), hard wood flooring installed, trim work inside and outside, as well as numerous other odd jobs here and there.

Jeremy appreciates all of the help he has gotten to this point. I believe that if we have enough people on these two days, we will be able to complete the job by November 11th.

Todd Reighley wrote:
If you can figure it I will cover lunch and drinks for both days. Don’t know if the union would authorize use of a credit card and I can cut a reimbursement check or If you can find one central lunch provider, I can call in and cover it with my CC. I would come out and throw down, but the 6,800 miles is a bit of a commute. Plus I wouldn’t make it back in time for morning roll call. Let me know what you figure out, I would like to lend a hand and thank the guys for pitching in.

So you guys work it out and get back to Todd.
Meanwhile, I am on vacation, out of town. If you need me, email me.


Jeremy’s house is coming along pretty well. There is still a lot of work to do. Mainly the trim (inside and outside) and hardwood floors. The electrician and plumber will be back next week to finish their work.

Craig Sellers, Matt Dewhirst, Lynwood English, Jeremy, and myself worked over two days to complete the tile in the kitchen, 3 bathrooms, and laundry room. I am pleased to say that Jeremy should be finished with the grout by now.

Thanks so much to Captain Sellers for coming out and working 2 days and getting the tile down. I am glad to say that I learned a new trade. Not that anyone would pay me to lay tile, but I know the basics now.

WSLS News Channel 10 will be out to do a story on Jeremy’s house and how the firefighters are helping to build it on either the 25th or 26th. I understand that Captain Stone is getting a group of guys to come up on the 26th and there will be a group going up on the 25th as well. Please contact me or Jeremy if you would like to help. It sounds like we will be building the garage and working on the interior and exterior trim. If the hardwood flooring is in by then, we will be laying that down as well.

Channel 10 got the idea from reading the story on the blog.

Many others have helped do things up to this point. The response has been overwhelming of people wanting to help. Jeremy is hard to get a hold of when he is working on the house. If you need to talk to him or have a message for him, just get a hold of me and I will pass along the message.

I think that we can get the stuff complete by the November 11th. However, he will need all of the help he can get. It would be great to see the numbers there on the 25th and 26th like we had for the Habitat for Humanity project (You can view that story on the blog here).

The picture to the left is Craig Sellers installing tile in the laundry room. He related his help that day (Jeremy, Lynwood, and myself) to that of his sons helping him……..when they were 3 and 4. Just kidding. The tile looks great.

Reading some of the comments from Staffing in Roanoke (the previous post), I realized that some of you want more information. I try my best to write on the basis of non-firefighters reading this and/or firefighters from other jurisdictions. Apparently I have fallen short. That is ok. I will elaborate further.

First of all, I want to say that the reasoning for writing Staffing in Roanoke was to shine light on apparatus being taken out of service almost daily due to the lack of staffing. My solution is to hire more firefighters and/or create more positions so that when these events occur, we will not be taking units out of service for the lack of 3 firefighters.

Although I have been a proponent of a minimum staffing of 4, the last post was not intended to develop cause for it, I have written about that in the past and will do so again in the future.

One of the commentors asked about information on what firefighters do and reasoning for needing 4 firefighter on the truck. The cause for the question was for ammunition to assist in writing council. I want to be certain that we are at least operating at par before attempting to increase staffing for the 4 minimum.

The issue at hand is that Roanoke Fire-EMS staffs its fire engines and fire ladder trucks with a minimum of 3 firefighters. When we do not have 3 firefighters for each truck we mark trucks out of service. This is not the intended result of having a minimum of 3. The minimum of 3 is to ensure that we have 3 on every truck. If we do not have enough then we need to call in overtime (quick fix) or hire more firefighters (long term fix). Surely, the Department cannot guess when members will quit or retire, however it can be proactive by over hiring to merely cover the gap.

Almost daily, an engine or two is marked out of service so that members can go to intermediate class, instruct at the recruit school, or occupational health for physicals and drug tests (random tests), and many other reasons. However, marking the trucks out of service is not the answer.

For years, Administration has attempted to decrease Roanoke Fire EMS down to 9 stations (currently we are at 12, in 1995 we had 14).

We have lost:
Station 12 – closed around 2000, Engine 12 was taken out of service and Medic 4 was placed in service. We also sent 6 firefighters to staff a county station (Clearbrook). The County is still counting the dollars it saves!

Station 3 – closed last year, Engine 3 and medic 3 are now Engine 1 and medic 1. This was a cosmetic change and no apparatus were taken out of service.

Engine 7 was taken out of service this year and Ladder 7 became a Quint. Medic 7 was put in place of Engine 7.

It should also be noted that in 1991, Engine 1 was taken out of service to put Engine 14 in service on 460 (Gus Nicks area). City Council decided at the last minute to delete the new firefighter positions needed to staff the new engine 14 and simply up and move engine 1 out there from downtown. The newly funded firefighter positions became police officer positions.

With the future of the Roanoke Fire EMS Department still up in the air, the 9 station department concept is still on the table. Some of which would include the combining of Stations 5 and 9 (northwest), 2 and 10 (northwest), and 6 and 11 in Southeast. This was laid out in the Tri-Data Study recently completed for the City.

What will happen? Who knows. But rest assured, the trucks that remain in service should REMAIN IN SERVICE. It boggles my mind that the department is run on a skeleton crew. We have been chiseled away to bare bones and the future looks like it will get worse.

So as for right now, the 4 firefighter minimum seems far fetched when we cannot even comply with the 3 firefighter minimum.

I have stuck my neck out pretty far on this blog. And so be it if my skeptics only remember the stuff they disagree with. However, I have seen this occurrence long enough. I feel that there needs to be change. Trucks being marked out has become commonplace. I want the firefighters to know that this type of behavior is not safe or acceptable. I believe that many of us have become numb to the fact that it happens so often and feel that it is ok. It isn’t.

I just don’t want to be the person to be on this same pedestal saying told you so after a firefighter fatality or civilian fatality because trucks were out of service.

Staffing in the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department. This topic has bothered me for a long time. There are several issues relating directly to staffing, and I hope to cover several of them in the next few paragraphs.

First of all lets talk about trucks being out of service. I think that if we had scrolling message boards outside of each station notifying the citizens of when the trucks are out of service and why, we would have several complaints. I know that a lot of it is part of life like going out of service occasionally and being out on a call, even out of service for training. However, being a firefighter on the Northside, it is amazing how often Engine 2 and Engine 13 are out of service due to manpower.

Now let me give you a little background. All of Roanoke City’s Fire Engines are staffed with a minimum of 3 firefighters (I will leave rank out of it). 3 of the 4 ladder trucks are staffed with a minimum of 3 firefighters. Recently, one of our Ladders (Ladder 7) has been staffed with a minimum of 4 firefighters. This is due to the fact that the Engine was taken out of service at that station and replaced with an ambulance. Better or worse, there are more issues concerning this removal of an engine. The Ladder that remained in place of the Engine Ladder combo now acts as a Quint, meaning the truck can do everything an engine and ladder can do (for the most part). The problem is that the truck doesn’t do anything on it’s own except sit quietly. Therefore, now you have 4 guys doing the job that in Roanoke requires 6 and in other cities requires 8 to 9 firefighters. That is right, in some cities, the minimum staffing is 4 on engines and ladders and even 5 on some ladders. But Roanoke apparently places a lot of stock in its firefighters by doing the job with 3.

I digress, the issue is staffing not removal of apparatus.

The point I was beginning to make with laying out the minimum staffing is just that; the minimum staffing is 3 on each piece except 1. If you walk in any fire station in Roanoke you will see 3 on the truck 80% of the time (just an educated guess). Where are all of the extra firefighters? Well the answer is that there aren’t many. With guys off on vacation, sick, and light duty, and vacancies due to retirements, firefighters quiting, and other reasons we are left with the minimum on duty.

So basically every day we begin with the minimum unless by chance a station here or there has an extra firefighter. Extra being used very loosely because actually an extra firefighter would be above and beyond the 4 assigned to most apparatus.

So that is at 0750 hours when we begin our shift. Soon, apparatus will be magically marked out of service because of numerous reasons. Company level training, individual training, drug tests, physicals, meetings, investigations, promotional testing, Captains meetings, and many other reasons. Basically, anything that would require at least 1 firefighter to leave the station and not be able to answer calls while being in their first due territory.

This is when, on the Northside, Engine 2 and/or Engine 13 are most commonly out of service. It is usually out of the Battalion Chiefs hands. They work with what they have. On the Southside, I would imagine that the situation is similar. I bet the citizens would have a fit if they knew how often these trucks are out of service, when just a handful of more firefighters would fix the problem.

In the past, I have been a huge proponent of minimum staffing of 4, or compliance with NFPA 1710. Right now, I am not even pushing for the minimum of 4, but rather just the minimum of 3.
After all, if we have to mark a truck out of service because a firefighter has to go to training then are we really meeting the minimum of 3. I THINK NOT. Minimum staffing of 3 should mean a minimum of 3 all the time. Doesn’t it just make sense. It seems to me like a cover up. Sure, the system allows for a certain amount of trucks to be out of service at a time. But for what reasons. Maybe we need to reform the system and add some positions just to ensure the minimum staffing is met.

I am kinda scared to ask for a minimum staffing of 4 anymore. The way things are currently going, if it was agreed upon, it would cost marking 5 trucks out of service unless of course we had every vacancy filled and everyone was at work that day.

I will leave you with a couple of things.

First of all, the Charleston review panel has come out with a recommendation of a minimum staffing of 4 in 2 years. Charleston FD is approximately the same size as Roanoke Fire-EMS.

Second, this video from the IAFF on NFPA 1710 (thanks for the heads up from Jay at Sorry for those of you on City Computers, you aren’t allowed to access YouTube.

Thirdly, this video from Fairfax County IAFF on the topic of staffing.

Captain Eddie Fielder’s retirement party was last night at Hooters. We had a great time and enjoyed some good stories and maybe a couple of beers.
Hooters announced Eddies Retirement on the sign out front

All of the guys got together for a picture. L-R Rhett Fleitz, Travis Collins, Zak Obenchain, Lynwood English, Jeff Proulx, Eddie Fielder, Teddy Adkins (in the very back), Jeremy Bennington, David Bishop, Todd Harris (in the very front), Chris Elmore (back), Sam Stump (front), Jim Mone, and Ben Obaugh.

The members of the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department all chipped in to get Eddie this bugle on a pedestal. The engraving reads:
Captain Eddie Fielder
In Recognition of 23 Years of Dedication
To the Roanoke Fire – EMS Department
Congratulations and Best Wishes on
Your Retirement
September 17, 1984 – November 1, 2007

Todd Harris presents Eddie with a retirement gift

On the night of Eddie’s last day at Station 13, the guys invited his wife, Cathy, in for a steak dinner. Standing in the back are Trevor Shannon and Jim Mone. Clockwise from the front left are: David Bishop, Jeremy Bennington, Cathy Fielder, Eddie Fielder, Joe Hodgin, Chris Elmore, Sam Stump, and Zak Obenchain. The dinner was also for Zak Obenchain who was leaving Station 13 to go to work at Station 2.

Station 13 C-Shift on the last day of Eddie’s Career. L-R Firefighter Zak Obenchain, Firefighter Chris Elmore, Captain Eddie Fielder, Lieutenant Rhett Fleitz, Lieutenant Jeremy Bennington, 1st Lieutenant Sam Stump, Captain David Bishop (taking the helm at station 13 C-shift due to Eddie’s departure), and Firefighter Lynwood English.

The dinner crowd for the evening: Standing – FF Zak Obenchain, FF Chris Elmore, Battalion Chief Dale Barker, Captain Eddie Fielder, Lt. Jeremy Bennington, FF Jim Mone. Kneeling – Lt. Rhett Fleitz, 1st Lt. Sam Stump, Captain David Bishop, FF Lynwood English.

Eddie Fielder and his wife Cathy in front of Engine 13