Ah….What can we say. I imagine that Battalion Chief Bobby Slayton might take the award for being asked the most times about when he is retiring. I don’t think anyone did it out of rudeness, but moreso to see if he was going for some record.

Chief Slayton was hired on December 6, 1965. Up until his retirement on July 1, 2010 he held the #1 spot on the Seniority list for a long long time!

The truth is that Chief Slayton has been a Battalion Chief since before most of the current department members were hired. He was actually considered a District Chief at the time. Then they changed the title to Battalion Chief.

I had the honor of working for Chief Slayton for several years. He was a great guy!

Here are some photos from his retirement party. He got a little choked up, but wouldn’t you?

1111Captain Clonnie Yearout has been on the job since November 12, 1973. He is retiring with 36 years on the job. Clonnie’s last assignment was as Captain at Station 13 A-shift…Who am I kidding? With the exception of a short time, Clonnie has worked his entire career at Station 13.

It has been a lot of fun seeing and interacting with Clonnie at 13 throughout my career.

Clonnie is a proud Grandfather  a couple times over and I am sure that his grand-children will bring a lot of joy to his newly found “extra” time. Clonnie has also painted for a long time and I imagine he will continue painting.

I must say that Clonnie might be the last of his kind…meaning guys who work at one station throughout their career. Mostly we get moved around and shuffled when the wind changes direction. Clonnie has been a mainstay at 13, has maintained distributing the station supplies for as long as I can remember, and knows 13′s territory inside and out. Then again he lives in our first due territory (the county first due area of 13).

God Bless and enjoy your retirement

1038Lieutenant Leroy Edwards retired from the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department after 34 years on the job. Leroy was hired by the Roanoke Fire Department on December 15, 1975.

Leroy’s most recent assignment was the ladder Lt. at Station 13 on A-Shift. He filled that position for a long time.

I have enjoyed changing out with Leroy for years in the morning when C-Shift relieves A-Shift. Leroy and I have had a great relationship of jabbing at each other every morning until one of us gets pissed off and leaves! Just kidding, kind of.

Leroy had a retirement party at the fire station and I was able to stop by. Actually it is the only one I was able to make it to. There was also a retirement party at the Homeplace for Clonnie and Leroy. I have pictures from both events.

Thanks to Mike Overacker for the video below and Tim Cady for the photos from the Homeplace. The photo to the right is from Maurice Wiseman.

The video is great! This was a song that was sung and Leroy joined in…a great passage on to retirement. Leroy and the rest of these guys have a lot to be thankful for…mainly a long and healthy career.

Captain Jimmy Renick has retired from the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department after 34 years. Jimmy was hired on December 15, 1975 by the Roanoke Fire Department. His brother Ronnie retired several years ago as a Captain as well.

Jimmy’s last assignment was Engine 8 A-Shift. I enjoyed eating lunch and hanging out with his crew when I worked at the Credit Union when it was upstairs at Station 8. Jimmy has always been really good to me. We even caught a few fires together back when I used to swap time with Rob Humphreys.

Jimmy, you will be missed. Enjoy your retirement.

The older pictures are from Maurice Wiseman. The newer pictures were taken by Maryanne Marx during Jimmy’s retirement party.


Hank Pfister is retiring after 25 years on the job. Hank was hired January 1, 1985 (that is the date I have). He was one of the original EMS Department Paramedics. Hank is a beloved member of our department and has an affinity for motorcycles!

Hanks last assignment was Station 4 A-shift.


L-R Lt. Steve Jordan, FF Chuck Patrick, FF/PM Hank Pfister, FF/PM Kieth Blankenship, FF Ed Miller, Captain Tim Parry


R-L Chris Brown, Marci Stone, Adam Fleming, Hank Pfister

Ricky Troutt has retired from the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department after 34 years on the job. Ricky was hired on December 15, 1975 and I believe his last day on the books is December 15, 2009 (although he has already worked his last day).

Ricky obtained the rank of Battalion Chief and his last assignment was on the Northside on A-Shift.

Ricky and his wife own Iron Sports Custom Cycles. His son Adam is a firefighter with Roanoke Fire-EMS as well.

Congratulations Chief, if I win the lotto I will hit you up for a custom chopper!

(above) Chuck Wells, Ronnie Renick, Brent Berry, John Sweeney, Ricky Troutt, and Kevin Bell on Ladder 2 A Shift in the early 1990’s. Picture from Maurice Wiseman

(above) Chuck Wells, Ronnie Renick, Brent Berry, John Sweeney, Ricky Troutt, and Kevin Bell on Ladder 2 A Shift in the early 1990’s. Picture from Maurice Wiseman

Roger Markham has retired after 25 years on the job. Roger began his career with the Roanoke Fire Department on October 2, 1984. Roger’s last assignment was on A-shift at Station 14.

Here is the thing about Roger…I hardly knew him and he hardly knew me. I can remember awkward silence when he walked into the Credit Union the first couple of times when I was there because he didn’t know my name and I didn’t know his. We got over it, but still rarely saw each other.

Anyways, here is to a long and healthy retirement Roger!


Roger circa 1994. Photo by Maurice Wiseman

If anyone has any photos to share, information to share, or stories to share in the posts please get them to me ASAP. I am working on posts for the retirements we have had recently!!


Updated: Thursday evening.

I apologize for the name differentiation. I had William G. Walters and knew he went by Jerry or Stick. I figured it was short for Gerald, but I did not know he was a Jr. My apologies. His obituary is added below with funeral arrangements.

William Gerald Walters Jr.
William Gerald (Jerry) Walters Jr., 59, of Roanoke, Va., passed away early Wednesday, September 23, 2009, following a short illness at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. He is survived by his wife, Judith Ann Miller Walters; a son, William Gerald Walters III; his mother, Mary Elizabeth Walters; mother-in-law, Kathleen Miller; two sisters and spouses, Diana and Clarence Woods, Marilyn and Charles “Chuck” Evans; one brother and spouse, James Michael and Tammy Walters; two sisters-in-law and spouses, Caroline and Ronnie England; Lula and Jerry Snyder and one brother-in-law and spouse, Frank Jr. and Karen Miller; numerous loving nieces and nephews and friends and his faithful companion, Michi-girl. He was preceded in death by his father, William G. Walters Sr. and father-in-law, Franklin Miller Sr. An Armed Forces Veteran, he worked as a firefighter and EMT for the City of Roanoke until his retirement in 1997. The family will receive friends Friday, September 25, 2009, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. at Oakey’s North Chapel, 540…. Funeral services with the Rev. Mark Washington officiating will be Saturday, 12 noon, at Oakey’s North Chapel. Interment will follow at Blue Ridge Memorial Gardens.

William G. Walters, or Jerry or Stick to most, passed away today. Stick was hired on November 22, 1974. He retired aroune 2000 although I don’t have the exact date. He was nicknamed “Stick” because he was tall and skinny!

I knew Stick pretty well for never having worked with him. I was hired in 1999 and he probably retired right around the same time I was hired. Stick’s last assignment was Station 8. He suffered a stroke last year, and I remember him telling me about his recovery. He fully recovered from the stroke from what I could tell and was always good for a couple of stories when he stopped by the Credit Union. Stick will be missed.

More information will be added when we know it. Enjoy the photos below circa early 1990′s taken by Maurice Wiseman.



I kinda missed this one by a little bit. Captain Charlie Fochtman retired last month. Charlie was last assigned to Station 11 on C-Shift. I spoke with him the other day and he is packing up and moving to Avon, North Carolina. I don’t blame him one bit! I wish I could join him!!!! Enjoy the picture below circa early 90′s. Enjoy retirement Captain!


Just a quick message to Roanoke’s Bravest, our Families, and our Friends. We have a couple of guys we need to keep in our prayers.

Dave Palmer is in the hospital. He needs our prayers. I understand that some of the guys are getting together to help out at his house. I will be happy to post any information here. I don’t want to go into too much detail and I have not been given the full diagnosis, but he and his family are looking at a long recovery.

Retired Chief Billly Obenchain is returning to Duke this upcoming week. I don’t know much else, but that we should also be praying for him.

We also have several out on light duty finishing up their injury/illness/operation leave who should be joining us back in the station soon. Bennington, Kincer, Elmore, Foutz, Jordan, etc.

Retired Captain Ronnie Renick is still recovering from his motorcycle accident from what I hear.

Mark Nelson is still out on his ordeal. I still don’t understand the guilty until proven innocent deal. I really feel that administrative leave with pay should be used in these circumstances while the judicial system works. Unless you are jailed that is. However, I do not know the full details so I might just be totally off base.

Finally, Bryan Fichtner is still going through what I would call a very raw deal. Truthfully, in most any FD in the Nation I feel he would be looking at full disability. Instead we have him working some each day. No bright side to that story!

They guys at Station 11 B-shift are inviting everyone to stop by on September 27th for an open house to wish Captain Riley Peters a wonderful retirement. The events will start at noon and go until whenever.

This is an often debated question. Where should you work Roanoke City, Roanoke County, or Salem?

Since I work in Roanoke City, I will offer you an issue that we face here in the City as opposed to Roanoke County or Salem. One that is a huge problem and probably the most important given the potential danger in our profession.

The problem is Disability Retirement. Text below is directly from Roanoke City Code (link)

Sec. 22.2-51. Occupational disability retirement allowance.
(a) Eligibility. Upon the application of a member in service or the head of such member’s department, any member who has been totally and permanently incapacitated for duty as a natural and proximate result of an accident occurring while in the actual performance of duty at some definite time and place without willful negligence on his part may be retired by the board on an occupational disability retirement allowance not more than one (1) year after the filing of such application; provided that the board’s medical examiner or examiners shall certify after medical examination (i) that such member is mentally or physically totally incapacitated for the further performance of any gainful employment for which the member is qualified with his most recent participating employers, (ii) that such incapacity is the natural and proximate result of an accident occurring while in the actual performance of duty, and (iii) that such incapacity is likely to be permanent.
(b) Amount of benefit. The occupational disability retirement allowance shall be equal to sixty-six and two-thirds (66 2/3) percent of a member’s average final compensation. This benefit shall be reduced by workers’ compensation benefits as provided for in section 22.2-53. This benefit shall not be reduced due to payment commencing prior to normal retirement age.

The emphasis above was mine.

The issue with the bold and italic text above basically says that if you become disabled from your job, you can be place in another position of “gainful employment”. That gainful employment would naturally be any position within the City that you are able to do.

In other words, even though you were injured as a firefighter you can become a ticket collector at the Civic Center. The fact that you put in time and risked your life as a firefighter for Roanoke City and the Citizens of Roanoke City is not an issue.

You should have a problem with this. Everyone should have a problem with this! Everyone should be doing something abou this.

I can tell you that I have spoke with Council members about this and the outlook is bleak. They care about the ampitheater, the market building, the Social Security building, and the art museum more than they care about us getting hurt.

Let me show you the other side of the fence (the Roanoke County and Salem Firefighters). These guys/gals operate under the Virginia Retirement System (VRS).

The VRS Disability Retirement (link)

If you are unable to perform your job because of a physical or mental disability and the disability is likely to be permanent, you may be eligible to apply for disability retirement benefits through the Virginia Retirement System (VRS).

Your eligibility begins on the first day of employment in a VRS-covered position. Any medical condition you have when you are first employed, however, must worsen substantially for you to be considered for disability retirement. You also must apply for disability retirement while employed in a VRS-covered position or within 90 days of leaving employment.

Therefore, I will pose the question to you. Where would you rather work?

Sure there are other arguments, but most pale in comparison to the one above.

I am hearing rumors that anywhere from 6-12 Roanoke City Firefighters have put in for the open positions in Salem.

If you are wondering how many firefighters will be hired this next round, I am hearing that the City and County will both hire 12 each and Salem will hire 6. Do not take that as fact though, I do not have the exact numbers.

Lt. Darren Parker has spent his last days as a Lt. on ladder 7 today. Fridge, as he is known around the department, has been with us for around 12 years. You can view more information over at Station 9′s blog. I should be getting some more images for you soon, I found the one below on a previous post on RoanokeFire.com. I have not heard any word on his plans after his departure with the department.

Updated: I added a picture at the bottom and this information:
Fridge is only leaving because of a job promotion that his wife recieved at Anthem which requires her to move to the Raliegh/Durham area.

Good Luck Fridge!

Lt. Darren Parker is on the left

Lt. Darren Parker is on the left


There’s an unmistakable difference between putting out blazes in the United States and putting them out in war zones. The most common causes of fires in Roanoke: smoking or cooking. The most common causes of fires in a military base: blasts from a mortar shell or a rocket.

And yet at the recent going-away cookout for Chuck Mills, a retired Roanoke firefighter who plans to spend the next 12 months in Iraq, there was no talk about that. It was all about the 72 he scored in his round of golf that morning, the 1968 Camaro he had recently restored, and his youngest son’s recent high school graduation.

“That’s what I’ll miss the most … my family,” Mills said. “I’ve never been away from them this long. I’ve never been gone for more than a week at a time.”

Read the Entire Story:  Roanoke firefighter retires to Iraq – Roanoke.com.

I have been busy recently, but that is no excuse for not getting the news up here. I expect a longer post in the next couple days with photos and all. Let me know if I missed any…

Kenny Walker (14B) retired yesterday with 20 years in the FD and 8 more elsewhere in the City.

Brad Underwood (ARFFB) retired yesterday with 27 years on the job.

Chuck Mills retired about a month ago and I only found out last week. He had 18 years in the FD. Chuck is pursuing work in the Middle East. He will be working in Iraq as a firefighter.

I will have more information in the near future when I have time.

Good luck guys!

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!

The famous Josh Holmes of B-Shift does not call Station 9 his home anymore. Last cycle was Dr Holmes last with Roanoke City Fire/EMS as he now turns to a more lucrative fast paced career working for “Our Health” magazine. Josh came to the city on 12/11/2000 as a Paramedic/Firefighter and spent most of his time here on B Shift between Station 9 and 10.

via Engine 9 RFD: Josh Holmes.

Cleveland calls firefighter candidates from 1998 to join force

Robert Heard planned to become a Cleveland firefighter in 1998. The maintenance worker passed the entrance exam and the city told him he would be called to the Fire Training Academy as a cadet.

The training finally started — 11 years later.

Read More here

1140Battalion Chief Audie Ferris retired on April 8th after working for the Roanoke Fire Department and Roanoke Fire EMS Department for 28 years. Ferris was hired on November 20, 1980 and was promoted to Battalion Chief in 1999 if my memory serves me correctly. His most recent assignment has been BC of Southside A-Shift as well as being in charge of HTR and the Swift Water Rescue Team.

The Southside A shift firefighters had a party for him on Monday at Station 1 and Admin had a get together for him on Wednesday.

View pictures on the Station 6 blog here.

We wish you the best Chief.

Audie is retiring from the fire department and from what I hear will be working with the State Medical Examiners Office located in Roanoke County as an MSI.

I have attached some photos of Audie for your pleasure as well. Some old and some real old. Enjoy.