Bear with me while I change some stuff around. This might take a while.

The Blue Mass was last night at St. Andrews Church. We had a good crowd, although there could always be more. The event is held for all Fire, Police, EMS, and related workers of all religions. The Roanoke Blue Mass began last year when the Knights of Columbus decided to bring the “Blue Mass” to Roanoke in order to pray over the Public Safety workers.

Prayer of protection for those who protect –

Prayer of protection for those who protect
About 100 people attended the Blue Mass, celebrated to pray for the protection of those who serve in public safety.

By Amanda Codispoti

The wail of bagpipes exploded through the cathedral, from the black and white checkered floor to the vaulted ceiling.

Children seated in pews covered their ears as the bagpipe ensemble, Warpipe, led the procession to the altar. (Read More)

Sometimes I am humbled by my brothers and sisters. As the days go by, more and more blood sweat and tears of the Brotherhood are shown through actions that you might see, but more often than not are behind the scenes. Case and point, tonight 4 stations baked desserts for the Blue Mass. These guys weren’t able to attend, but they helped out. For that I am truly indebted. I am sorry I cannot thank everyone in person, but take this thanks for what it is worth. The event was great, I only wish more firefighters were present. I will have more tomorrow on the event.

That is only one example. Like I said, everyday I see more and more.

Some people think that at times I am negative on the blog. At times I am, but I do not want you to think that it is my purpose to be overly negative. I say what I feel, I mean what I say. Sometimes my words are misunderstood. I want to set the record straight.

The reason for this blog is for one thing. I want to report on us, the Roanoke Firefighters for whoever wants to listen. I want people to know who we are, what we do, what we are about, and why we do what we do. I want people to know about my brothers and sisters the Roanoke Firefighters (nobody excluded).

I want to tackle all the issues. If everything was peachy, that would be great. But let us be real.

Since its inception, has seen a lot of changes. I have reported on the good and bad, the ups and downs, the unique and the ordinary. I have been able to uncover history that might have gone unnoticed, stories that might not have been read, firefighters who might not have gotten a notice.

I do this for my brothers and sisters. Luckily I do not have to do this alone. I get phone calls, emails, and have conversations from my coworkers. I can’t do this alone, and I do not want you to think that I do it alone. My support structure is large. I have guys who keep me informed of the good and bad.

For this I am humbled. I enjoy walking into a firehouse and seeing guys looking at this site. I enjoy hearing from Roanoke Firefighters who say they enjoy the site and look at it daily. I enjoy the words of encouragement, although I do not expect it. It should be me thanking you guys. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have anything to write about.

There are readers in other Cities, States, and even other Countries who enjoy reading about my brothers and sisters. I hear from guys who used to work here, used to live here, and know many of you who are your fans. I hear from citizens, officials, and leaders who enjoy reading about their Firefighters. They like knowing about your ups and downs, your accomplishments, and your stories.

Honestly, I do not think you know of the readership of this site. It is amazing how people end up right here. Google and Yahoo are good friends of ours.

What now? We will keep going. Keep sending in your stories, pictures, and questions. I will do my best to post about them.

A comment on the comments. I have enjoyed the comments from you all. In case you were wondering, I rarely have to moderate the comments on the blog. I enjoy any and all comments. Just as I provide you with my opinion in my posts, you are entitled to your opinion. In case you are wondering, if I post a comment it will always be from me indicated by my username “FireFleitz”. It should also be noted that I, nor anyone else, can find out who you are if you comment as “anonymous”. This is perfectly acceptable and I recommend using this feature. If I ever thought that I could keep this whole blog anonymous I would have done it, therefore there wouldn’t be any question as to any “treatment” by exercising my rights to freedom of speech. Since this would have been impossible, I understand that my words might be inflammatory at times. However, you should know that I try to keep all posts as professional as I know how.

In case anyone is wondering, I still feel we work for the best Fire Department in the State. We may not be perfect, but none are.

Thanks for letting me do my part.

I guess I have veered from the original point of this post. Sometimes my best posts are ramblings where I just start typing and end up wherever my tiny little mind takes me.

I hope that I do my brothers and sisters justice.

God Bless,

FireFleitz out

Originally uploaded by firefleitz.

Just to keep everyone updated. I have updated my flickr account to include some more pictures. Check out all of the Obenchain pictures as well as some more bonus ones. Click on the picture, or click this link right here for all of the pictures.

Maybe we should start a new segment called something like “Job Security”. Enjoy.

I am spending most of my time taking vacation and spending it on the Blue Ridge Parkway ( Mile marker 95.5, ten miles south of the peaks and ten miles North of Rt. 460 in Botetourt Co. Harvey’s Knob). On Wed. there was a group of motorcycles (all Harley’s) coming through and I noticed a FF emblem on the back of a leather jacket that caught my eye.
I proceeded to ask questions and found that a group of 60 or so FF’s from Texas, Okla. Missourri, & Maryland were traveling together and going South. I did not get where they were going as they were in a hurry. I could not get pic of the back of a jacket, but did get a pic of a sticker on a windshield of what was on the jacket.
You just never know where you will meet other FF’s enjoying this beautiful country.

- Sent in by a reader

I always enjoy the emails. I have a couple more I need to get to.

Thanks to a commentor on the last post for this video.

Here are some interesting sites related to truck work (ladder companies). I found a new blog which covers the various aspects of the truck companies at The Bravest Online ( offers a video showing a decent look at a ventilated roof. This video is a great training tool. Note how all the smoke coming from the eaves is rerouted once the roof is opened up. Lastly, I offer you this video below. These various roof ventilations show that once you cut through the roof, you still need to pierce the ceiling of the floor below to properly ventilate.

The guys of Jackass have come up with an interesting use of firehose. The firehose rodeo.

Northside C-Shift pictures. Here are the coveted pictures from the photo op with Chief Obenchain. I believe that all of the Northside companies were able to make it to the Roanoke Civic Center for the pictures.

In all the pictures I have looked over, covering the entire history of the Roanoke Fire Department, I do not believe we have a picture of this many firefighters or this many apparatus.

A job well done for this historic photo and kudos to the men and women who put it together. You can still get your hands on the WEO/Obenchain Shirt. Check out the Local 1132 site for more information and how to order.

I will be adding these images to my Flickr account so you guys can look through all of them. Apparently I have used all of my free space on it, so I have to pay for more space. This isn’t a problem, I just have to get around to signing up for it.

Preston stands wearing some fire gear.
Jade sits behind the wheel as Preston looks on.
Preston and Captain Willie Wines Jr. sit in Engine 14.
Check out Steve McFaden’s new tattoo. He had the IAFF emblem tattooed on his leg earlier this week. I must say that the artist did a good job with this tattoo.
Roanoke Firefighters get another unique opportunity training using real apartments.

Roanoke’s Hurt Park Apartments used for fire training:

The Hurt Park Apartments in Roanoke are set for demolition. But before the walls come down, city firefighters are moving in…for training.

When Roanoke firefighters pull up to the building, smoke is escaping from the second story windows.

They’re told that people are trapped inside, perhaps young children.(Read More and watch the video)

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I have been to several conventions, meetings, seminars, and conferences in the past year or two. I have learned a lot of information from the firefighters who have been protecting our benefits in the past. We have retired firefighters still lobbying for firefighters across Virginia. At the VPFF Educational Seminar we began the legislative process for next year. Several bills we pushed last year never made it to a vote and will be re-emerging next year.

Today, I was able to learn from Bruce Roemmelt, a retired Prince William County Firefighter. Bruce has been involved in politics for a long time. He has lobbied for firefighters benefits for many years in Richmond.

One big issue facing firefighters is protecting our Pensions. Yeah I know, some of you might say ““I have 20 more years until I retire, why should I care about that stuff.” The answer is that right now while you are not caring, your pension might be in jeopardy. If you have ever cared about anything relating to your job, this needs to be it. Sure, pay is an important issue, but I want to be able to walk away at a reasonable age and enjoy my retirement.

Across the United States, localities are trying to change the Pension Plans from a Defined Benefit system to a Defined Contribution system. This change is not new, rather it is a trick that Local and State Governments learned from Companies like IBM and Hewlett Packard. A defined benefit, or traditional retirement plan, offers a guaranteed benefit after required number of years of service. A defined contribution plan, which is often a 401(k) plan, requires employees to contribute a defined amount and bear the entire risk of opportunity of investment results (employees will not have a guaranteed benefit).

The reason why these Pensions are in trouble goes back to investment strategies in the late 1990′s. When the stock market was doing well many States and Localities decided to capitalize. Pension funds were invested in the stock market and flourished for a couple of years. However, when the stock market tanked nothing was done about supplementing the funding and the Pension funds declined.

New Jersey‘’s Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS), equivalent to the Virginia Retirement System (VRS), floated $2.8 billion in 30-year bonds in 1997. This was a great investment for a couple of years until the stock turned. Now the fund is playing catch up and faces $10 billion in payments on the principal and interest.

I hear guys say ““Let’’s get the multiplier increased””. I agree. However, I am wondering how much can get done by talking about it. We need to begin with making sure our pension fund is funded properly.

I will offer more information soon. If you have any questions let me know.
Pictured R-L Assistan Manager Jeremy Brown, Rhett Fleitz, Co Manager Paula Booth.
Photo by Rhett Fleitz

I got a call yesterday from Jim Walsh, an IAFF brother in Scranton Pennsylvania. Jim asked if I could be at the Bonsack Walmart for a check presentation. Walmart donated $1000 to the Children’s Wish Foundation International. This morning I ran up to Walmart for the presentation. Unfortunately, neither the paper or television station which said they would be there showed up. Therefore, I am doing the news today.

Children’s Wish Foundation International is committed to bringing joy and happiness to seriously ill children throughout the world and this dedication has created special experiences for children around the globe. To date, Children’s Wish Foundation International has touched the lives of children in 32 countries, providing a lifetime of memories for them and their family.

Jim Walsh’s son received a wish from this organization several years ago. Jim has been involved with CWFI ever since.

Just another day in Roanoke:

Maybe it’s time we showed our appreciation for the work the Roanoke Fire/EMS and Police Departments do for us?

They might not be perfect, but damned if you’ll find one single department anywhere that is.

They need our support, they need higher pay for the dangerous work they do, and they need better support from City Hall, and much less politics so they can do the job they are supposed to do.

Maybe it’s time to start asking where DO our tax dollars go, if not to retain Roanoke’s Bravest and Roanoke’s Finest?

Tonight, 7pm at the City Market building.
Come show your support for those who keep us alive.

Show them your grateful.

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AR-1 has been delivered to the Roanoke Regional Airport. The truck is an E-One Titan. AR-1 will be placed into service after training this week. It will be be in service just in time for the Roanoke Regional Emergency drill on September 23rd. You can view more information on the E-One site under new deliveries. has also listed it under new deliveries.
Read this below, then follow the link to the full article. I will let you draw your own conclusions. I think I have offered enough opinion by now. I will entertain comments.

Arlington County Professional Firefighters and Paramedics Association – Local 2800 IAFF:

The underlying message in this inquiry is that EMS has to be made a better place to work so that firefighters want to work there. The current mentality of requiring personnel to go to EMS school is a concept that has been tried before and failed miserably. All indications are that the current requirement is also failing miserably. Not only are new firefighters not being allowed adequate time to learn the job of a firefighter (thereby compromising service delivery on the suppression side), they are simply tolerating a two year mandatory stop over in EMS. Obviously, that mind set lends itself towards compromised EMS service delivery. People become firefighters because they really want to do the job. You need to create a system that will create that same desire towards EMS. Mandatory assignment to EMS is a poor policy that compromises both fire suppression and EMS service delivery! (Read More)

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CBS To Rebroadcast 9/11 Documentary – News:
The CBS Television Network and filmakers Jules and Gedeon Naudet and James Hanlon have updated the multiple-award winning program “9/11″.

Watch Video Preview

The two Naudet brothers had been working on a documentary of FDNY and a probie’s life in the city. September 11 saw them on a call with the company in the streets of New York when the sound of a low flying jet was heard overhead. As they panned the camera up, the American Airlines jet crashed into the World Trade Center tower.

I remember watching this the first time it aired. I have a copy at home as a matter of fact. I thought that the film gave a great sense of realism to what those firefighters were up against that day. I believe that films like this one will stand as a great history lesson for our children and future generations to watch and witness what happened on that terrible day.

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I have been busy getting back into the swing of things after the trip to Toronto and sending the book in. I am trying to make up for lost time with my family. I am working on a couple of things coming up.

I hope to see you all at the Blue Mass at Saint Andrews on September 28th. Plan on attending. For more information check out the Local 1132 site.

The new ARFF truck should be delivered in the next two or three weeks.

From what I understand, the new Station #10 on the north end of Williamson Road has moved on to Architecture and Engineering. This should be the next station to open after the new station downtown opens early next year.

Sunday September 10th, there will be a Valley Wide Memorial Service at the Market Square in Downtown Roanoke at 7pm. Come and pay respects to the 343 firefighters, the police officers, and thousands of civilians who lost their lives on September 11th in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and Flight 93.

The IAFF recently voted to make September 11th a Fire Fighter day of Remembrance in Toronto at the IAFF Convention. You can watch the IAFF 9/11 tribute.

I am sure the event downtown will be special, unfortunately C-Shift is working that day.