The time has come to finish what was started with Firefighting in Roanoke. I plan on writing the second book on the history of Firefighting in Roanoke in the future. This book will be very similar to the previous one showcasing the Roanoke Fire Department, Roanoke Emergency Medical Services, and the Roanoke Fire EMS Department which was created from the two. I also plan on delving a little bit deeper into the Roanoke Life Saving Crew, the Williamson Road Life Saving Crew, and the Hunton Life Saving Crew and First Aid Crew.

The new book, which has yet to be named, will focus on Firefighting and EMS in Roanoke since 1972 when the 3rd platoon was added to the Fire Department. That period in time is where “Firefighting in Roanoke” trailed off.

I have already spoken with a few guys about getting some photos and history from. The book will be the same format: 128 pages with anywhere from 124-250 photos. I will rely on photos and information from Roanoke’s Firefighters and EMS providers who worked here during this era and who are still here.

I am looking for photos of:

  • Big Fires
  • MVA’s
  • Rescue
  • Fire Apparatus
  • EMS Apparatus
  • Other incidents
  • Training
  • Historic Events
  • Promotions
  • Retirements
  • etc.

The photos need to be very good quality. I have a great track record of getting the photos scanned and returned quickly. I do not need to hold on to the photo during the creation of the book. Turnaround time should be a couple of days to no more than a week.

Basically, if you want a shot of having your photos, your crews, yourself, your fires in the book then I need to have stuff submitted. Feel free to contact me by phone, pager, or email to get the photos and information to me.

I need to get my hands on the photos in order to ensure that I get a high quality scan. If you do not want to give up your photos and would rather scan them yourselves just let me know and I will give you the details on the image I need.

I really wanted to write the complete written history of the department, but in talking about it it seems as though most of my brother and sister firefighters would rather see the last 40 or so years done first. I aim to please, so I decided to do this book first.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have a question. I have 128 pages to work with. So basically I have about 30 pages to allot for each decade: 1970′s, 1980′s, 1990′s, and 2000 to present. If all goes well I should be able to have this book created in about a year. However, that is only an estimate. If I get a lot of photos submitted and get rolling on this book it could be sooner than later. It took me about 9 months to write the first one, but only about 20% of those photos were submitted. The other 80% were on hand from the collection of Maurice Wiseman. This time it will probably be the opposite. I will probably have about 20% on hand already and hope to have 80% or so submitted.

Soon I will begin the daunting task of going to the History Museum, Library, and VT Imagebase to collect images.

I am creating this book for my brothers and sisters. I really appreciate any and all submissions of history, ideas, and photos for the book.

I cannot guarantee that your photos will be used and I will not know which photos will be used until the final months of the project. I will do my best to showcase our history as best I can.

To get a hold of me, use the contact form (button at the top of the blog), email, or call me.

-Rhett Fleitz

I thought I would repost this video about the History of Firefighting in Roanoke. We have had a lot of new hires since I did the interview and it sums up the beginning of Firefighting in Roanoke. Huddle together, get some popcorn, and enjoy.

If you all want to purchase the book, let me know or you can purchase it on amazon, the link is below. The RFFA still has several copies for sale.

Putting the book together was a lot of fun. It won an IAFF Media Award this past year; which was pretty cool. The book has had mild success and was published December of 2006. I am working on the preliminary process for the second book. I have to figure out what type of format I want to use though.
Local 1132 submitted 4 entries into the IAFF Media awards this year. Two articles written by Amanda Codospoti, as an affiliate website, and “Firefighting in Roanoke” as a special one time project.

Unfortunately, there were better stories and websites, but the book actually got second place (ok third since there was a tie for first). So here is to the Roanoke Firefighters, whose book just got a little more notoriety.

You can see what else placed with “Firefighting in Roanoke” here.

You can view all of the award winners here.

Fairfax and Charlottesville also won awards.

When I was finishing the book (Firefighting in Roanoke) I double checked everything. When I got to the chapter on the Diamond Jubilee I realized an error. I had written that we had a picture of every firefighter at every station in Roanoke on that Day. I was wrong and I knew it. Unfortunately, through all the work that Maurice Wiseman and I did and all of the pictures available out there, the picture of #6 for that day was never found. We have several originals and many copies for every picture, except for #6. So I had to change the wording of the chapter and write that it was all of the firefighters and fire stations except station 6.
The missing picture was out of my mind. I figured that the picture was never taken. However, that all changed the other day when I got a call from a friend. Greg Doss lives just South of Nashville, TN. Greg is a native of Roanoke and used to be a firefighter in Vinton. His father, Daniel “Peanuts” Doss was a firefighter for Roanoke City. Peanut’s sister, Grace Myers, is the widow of Joseph Earl Myers. Joe was firefighter for Roanoke City as well. Peanut’s nephews are Mike and Tommy Hogan, both firefighters for Roanoke City. Jerry Hogan is Mike and Tommy’s cousin.

I met up with Greg the other day at Grace Myers’ house. Joe, her husband, was a firefighter for Roanoke for about 6 years when he suddenly went blind. The firefighters kept Joe on the books for a year until they had to let him go. Grace still has his helmet and turnout coat. The coat is more of a thick raincoat with buckles much like turnout coats. The material is almost like leather, and might have been leather. Grace also had two pictures out that were related to the fire department. One was of Fire Station 1 and the other was this missing picture of #6.

I have not had time to identify all of the firefighters in the picture but I know of several so far. Left to right they stood in line of rank, both shifts at once. Therefore the first two are Captains, then two lieutenants, then four firefighters. Again this is 1957. On the right is Captain Cox, who later died in the Line of Duty, then we think it is Captain McFarland, one of the lt.’s is Honey Vest and all the way on the right is Firefighter Joseph “Earl” Myers.

Thanks to the Myers family for allowing us to get a copy of the photo. Thanks to Greg Doss and his Father Peanuts as well. This means a lot to us and is the missing piece of the puzzle. We now have every firefighter and fire station pictured in 1957.

As for Daniel “Peanuts” Doss, he is a character. Some of the stories he told me were hilarious. Obviously a prankster, he would have fit right in nowadays as well. Although some of the stuff he got away with back in the day we would certainly be fired for now.

Peanuts worked for Roanoke City from 1958 – 1966 and decided to move on; Tommy Hogan worked here for years, being hired in 1963, and made Captain; Mike Hogan died of Leukemia after working here for a little over a year 1972 – 1973; Jerry Hogan was hired in 1964 and made Captain, you can still see him around at Union Meetings etc.; Joseph “Earl” Myers worked here from 1956 – 1962 and left because he lost his sight.

This video was produced by Jim Hammerstrom and Blue Ridge Public Television (Blue Ridge PBS) for the show Blue Ridge Excursions. The video is an interview with Lt. Rhett Fleitz of the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department talking about the history of the department and the book “Firefighting in Roanoke”, which was authored by Fleitz. The book was a tribute to Maurice Wiseman who dedicated many years to preserving the history of the department. The video has been reproduced with permission from Blue Ridge PBS.

For those of you on Roanoke City computers, the video will not be accessible due to site limitations. The video is hosted on YouTube, which you aren’t allowed to look at.

I just got finished watching the interview I did for PBS on Blue Ridge Excursions. Many thanks to Jim Hammerstrom for doing an excellent job editing the story. I will do my best to get a hold of the video to get copies out to whoever wants one.

And yes I know that #5 is at 12th and Loudoun Ave. not 12th and Moorman. My bad.

I hope you guys liked it who were able to watch it.

Tonight on PBS Blue Ridge Excursions, the video on the history of the Roanoke Fire Department will air at 730 pm.

The website for PBS is here

Let me know what you think after you watch it. I will be watching it for the first time as well.

Reminder: Benefit Book Signing in Roanoke at First Due Fire/EMS Gear for injured Firefighter Kevin Jamerson of Moneta Volunteer Fire Department Tomorrow Saturday April 28th 1pm.

I will be at First Due Fire/EMS Gear signing copies of “Firefighting in Roanoke”.

Click for more information

In haste of what some would call my shameless self-promotion, I forgot all about the interview I did airing on PBS tonight. I was interviewed for Blue Ridge Excursions for PBS a couple of months ago and it is airing this week. In case you missed it along with me you will have the opprotunity to watch it again on Sunday April 29th at 730 pm. By the way, the interview isn’t about me at all, it is about the history of the Roanoke Fire Department and was filmed in the bay of Fire Station #1. The really cool thing about it is that the RFFA has a tape of an interview that RVTV did with Maurice Wiseman in the 1990′s.
That is right, the book detailing the History of the Fire Service in Roanoke has made it to the pages of Fire Engineering. In February’s issue, the book is listed in the last few pages of the magazine. I got an email today from someone telling me he saw it there. A quick search offered this (click) then scroll down about half way. Thanks to Arcadia publishing for getting the word out and publicizing the book.

“Firefighting in Roanoke” is supposed to have been published in “Enjine, Enjine” and “Fire Apparatus Journal as well.

The book signing today at the Transportation Museum went well. Unfortunately, they didn’t get the exposure the first book signing received with the article in the Roanoke Times. They did say that the first order of books sold out quickly when the book was released.

If you are still looking for a signed copy of the book, there are several of them at the Transportation Museum.

Tomorrow I will be at the Transportation Museum for a Book Signing from 1-3pm. If you were paying attention, I had the date wrong last week. I will be there for sure tomorrow.

On another note, I somehow deleted the banner for this site. It might be back up next week, after I recover the files off of my old computer which died on me. I went out the other night and bought a new computer and I am still getting used to it.

Maybe I will see you tomorrow.

UPDATE: I made a mistake…gasp. The Book Signing is not today, it is actually next Saturday, February 24th from 1-3pm. I apologize if I caused any inconvenience.

I will be at a book signing at the Transportation Museum next Saturday for “Firefighting in Roanoke”. Stop in and get a signed copy if you don’t already have one, or just stop in to chat.

Where: The Transportation Museum
When: Saturday, February 24th from 1-3 pm

The first book signing I did was a lot of fun. Hopefully this one will be just as much fun.

“Firefighting in Roanoke” has finally reached the apex of Internet marketing by making its debut on Ebay. A book store is selling the book (Link) and has put a buy it now price around $22 with $6 shipping cost. It will be interesting seeing how it goes. I kind of doubt it will sell at the buy it now price since you can purchase it on Amazon for around $13. I have been waiting for the book to show up on Ebay to complete the total marketing for the book giving it the maximum exposure. It really has been a fun ride watching the book sell across the Internet.

The Transportation Museum wants to set up a book signing in February. I should have a date for you soon.

For all the people who have purchased the book, I hope you have enjoyed reading about the history of the Roanoke Fire Department. Credit the members of the Roanoke Fire Fighters Association and families of those members who are gone for keeping the pictures and getting them to the RFFA for use in the book.

Yesterday was the first book signing. I did not have a clue what to expect, but it went very well. Perry Franks, Jerry’s brother, set up the event at the Roanoke Antique Mall. We had the good fortune of the article in the paper mentioning the event. I showed up a little early and was pleasantly surprised to find that the Rocky Mount Fire Department had sent up their 1929 Seagrave. That truck is in excellent condition. I arrived around 1230 and there were already people waiting for a signed copy. Over the course of the next several hours I had the pleasure of talking to many relatives of retired firefighters. Several of which were related to firefighters from the teens. That was very interesting. Many of the names mentioned, I had heard of. I ended up searching the book many times to see if the relatives were in the book. The event was really fun. I met the grandson of Stephen C. Snead, the daughter of Bobby Geary, Hugh Waid – a firefighter who left to go to Fairfax around 1965 after working here 10 years, a relative of Alfred and Ott Britt, several retired firefighters as well.
I had a couple people ask about Maurice Wiseman. That was really neat. Unfortunately, I never met him, so I could only offer a little bit of information on him. I did get to meat Earl, one of his brothers. He is pictured in the picture above with his wife, both in blue jackets. They were very interested in the book and we talked about Maurice for a while.
The Chief of the Rocky Mount Fire Department brought their 1929 Seagrave Engine to show for the event. Thank you for helping out and showing off the truck.
Thanks for Perry Franks for taking the pictures
Amanda Codispoti wrote a great article in today’s paper on the book. The article is linked below. Thank you Amanda for the well written article and the awesome publicity. The book signing was today, and the book was very well received. I will have more on it later, I am waiting on some pictures.

Firefighter bridges time
A new book follows the evolution of services in Roanoke from an all-volunteer group in 1882 to the Fire-EMS department in 1995.

Amanda Codispoti

During the first few decades of firefighting services in Roanoke, firefighters such as Howard Dowdy drove and washed the horses that pulled fire wagons.

More than a century later, Dowdy’s grandson, Bev Mitchell, would drive and wash the gray, and later red, fire engines.

“I imagine we respond a whole lot quicker now than we did then,” Mitchell said, chuckling.

The evolution of the department, from an all-volunteer organization in 1882 to the Fire-EMS department in 1995, is documented in a new book, “Firefighting in Roanoke.”

The book, compiled by Roanoke firefighter Lt. Rhett Fleitz, includes more than 200 pictures that illustrate the changes in Roanoke’s firefighting services, which began almost 125 years ago. (Read More)

The books are in. Get your hands on a copy while supplies last. The RFFA has ordered 400 copies. Contact me to get your copy asap. You can stop by the Credit Union today, or stop by station 10 tomorrow for your copy. They will also be available at the Retirees Breakfast at the Union Hall on Tuesday December 12th starting at 9am. My pager number is 201-4667 if you want to get a hold of me, otherwise email me.

Guess what I have in my hands. That is right, I received the first copy of the book “Firefighting in Roanoke” today. Becky, my wife, brought it to the station. I have to admit that it is pretty darn cool to see the book finally. The rest of the books will arrive in about 3 weeks. I will be sure to let you all know when they get here.

Becky brought our children with her and we all sat down and watched the movie Cars with the rest of the crew. If you haven’t seen that movie, it is pretty cool.

I am about to show you something, but don’t get too excited just yet. Check out what Powell’s bookstore has for sale. Amazon has it for sale and Amazon (Canadian) also has it for sale. However, these sales are for preorder. The book still won’t be available until December 11th. I haven’t even gotten my advanced copy yet. As a matter of fact, I haven’t even heard from them in a while. Obviously they are working though. If you want to keep track of the book on the internet, I googled “Firefighting in Roanoke”.

It is getting exciting that it is almost here.

I received some news yesterday that some of you might be interested in. The book will be on sale on December 11th. I will have more information as it is available. I am more than elated since I figured on a February/March 2007 publish date.
Here it is in all its glory. The book is near completion. Click on the picture to see it enlarged and read the text. This is the cover proof for the book. There weren’t any changes, so that is exactly what it will look like. The picture is Fire Station 1 in the 1930s.

I will receive a cover proof of the book in about a week. I will make any necessary changes and submit the book draft. After they alter make the changes the book will go into printing. This will be at in about two weeks. The book will be available sometime in the next 6 months. That is the guarantee. Hopefully it will be available in January or February. The timing couldn’t be more perfect with all of the events of next year.

The long road of writing this book has been enjoyable. I have had a lot of assistance from my peers. I appreciate all of the help. Print the picture out and post it in the stations, this way no one will say “What book”.

Now that I have the book behind me, look for more initiatives in the future.