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

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

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!

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.


The Budget is on the forefront of news this week. City Council is trying to hone in on what will be the cuts for the future year. I am sure many of you remember we lost 6 or 9 positions last year (still unclear on the number). This year we already stand to lose 6 according to the Roanoke Times. Those 6 were once told they were going to take from Clearbrook and move to Station 8 to put Medic 8 in service. It will be interesting to see what happens. You can read the Roanoke Times article here.

Nine firefighters will retire this year from the Roanoke Fire EMS Department. The retirements stem from an incentive to leave before December 1st after giving notice by March 16th. The incentive comes just in time to beat the increase in health care next year which ranges from $100 to $200 per month depending on the health care plan. Forty-Six Roanoke City employees took advantage of the retirement incentive. Read more abou the retirements here. Congratulations to those who will be retiring. Estimates are that the guys leaving have around 230-250 years of service. I look forward to attending some of the retirement parties!

The City Council voted to suspend the 457 contribution paid by the City effective April 1st. The contribution was a match up to $25 per paycheck. I am not sure how many employees Roanoke City has, but based on 1200 if everyone took advantage of the match, Roanoke City will save 780k each year or 30k per period the match is suspended. The suspension was put in place to help Roanoke City cover a budget deficit this fiscal year. Hopefully, they will add it into the budget for next year. The news of the suspension was emailed out via City email.

The Roanoke Fire EMS Department is currently hiring. You may view the various openings at VirginiaFireEMSJobs.com. The last word I got was that we will be having a recruit school starting in July ’09. This may change, or may have already changed, depending on the budget. The number of recruits depends solely on how many retire. Roanoke City has offered an incentive to those who declare their intention to retire between July 1 and December 1 of this year. They must give notice by March 13th I believe. There are rumors of anywhere from 4-15 retirees this year.

Johnny Lester retired on Saturday March 22, 2008 after 32 years of duty to the Roanoke Fire Department and Roanoke Fire-EMS Department. Johnny was hired on December 19, 1975. His last assignment was Captain on B-Shift at Station 10 on the ARFF Crew at Roanoke Regional Airport.

I apologize for the delay in getting this post put together, things have been a little hectic these past few weeks. I bumped into Johnny last week when he told me he was retiring and he was in good spirits. I hope he enjoys his retirement. Good luck and God Bless Johnny. The picture above was taken by Maurice Wiseman back in the early 1990′s.

Update: Here is the obituary and arrangements for Lt. David O. Rich from the Roanoke Times.

David Owen Rich (Buck), of Roanoke, passed away unexpectedly at his home on March 3, 2008. He was born in Roanoke, Va., on March 2, 1940. He attended Jefferson High School and served four years in the United States Navy. David was a retired Lieutenant from the Roanoke City Fire Department after 39 years of service. David continued to work for the Roanoke City Fire Department until his untimely death. He enjoyed playing bingo, traveling to Atlantic City with his family, going to the Salem High School football games and supporting his grandchildren. His grandchildren were his pride and joy and he will be missed dearly. He was preceded in death by his mother, Mattie Lawrence Oliver. David is survived by two sons, David A. Rich, and Randall S. Rich and wife, Holly, all of Salem; four grandchildren, Devon and Logan Rich, and Hannah and Danielle Rich, all of Salem. He is also survived by several aunts, uncles and cousins. The family will receive friends on Thursday, March 6, 2008, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Lotz Funeral Home in Salem. The funeral will be conducted at 10 a.m. on Friday, March 7, 2008, at Lotz Funeral Home in Salem. Interment will follow in Sherwood Memorial Park. Arrangements by Lotz Funeral Home, Salem, Va.
Published in the Roanoke Times on 3/6/2008.

I regret to inform you that Lt. David O. Rich (ret.) passed away this morning. Please keep his family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.

David Rich in front of one of the Service Trucks at Station 10. Picture taken by FF Travis Collins.

Although David was retired, he was still very much a part of Roanoke Fire-EMS. Since his retirement in 2001, he has worked part time as one of the three messengers. As a messenger, he was always there with the bottle truck at working fires, as well as anything else we needed. When he worked, he would pop in and out of fire stations dropping stuff off and picking stuff up. He would always stop in to say hi, and sit back and chat with the firefighters.

David came to work for the Roanoke Fire Department on December 1, 1963. He retired in 2001 with 38 years of service. I remember when I came to the department in 1999 that he was a Lt. at Station 13. David had previously been the Lt. on Ladder 9 at Station 9 and was moved to 13 when Ladder 9 became Ladder 13.

Many of us have fond memories of David. I thought it was always neat when you bumped into him on a fire now and before he retired. You could look in most any of the younger guys eyes and see excitement and awe; yet if you looked into Davids you knew he had been there and done that…he didn’t even have to open his mouth. He knew exactly what we felt, he felt it to. But after 38 years it seemed as though he just enjoyed seeing everyone else’s expressions.

His wealth of knowledge was looked up to by most, especially rookies who had the pleasure of working with him. He remembered the good stories, the ones to be passed down. He remembered the big fires, and he could tell you all about them.

Godspeed Lt. David O. Rich – you will be remembered and missed.

Left to right: Carty (Bill?), David Rich, Stan Fielder, and Chubby Wood in front of Ladder 9 at Station 9.

Check out RoanokeFirefighters.com for more.

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

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

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

Retired Captain Robert Guthrie celebrated his 80th birthday today at Saint Timothy Lutheran Church. His family threw a small celebration to mark the milestone. His birthday is actually on November 13th, although they celebrated it today.

Captain Guthrie has been a source of a lot of historic information during my quest to learn as much as possible about the Department. Thanks to FF Barry Kincer for the pictures.

Lieutenant John Harley Dubose (above) is retiring from the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department. John was hired on August 23, 1984 and his last day will be November 1, 2007. John’s last assignment was on A-Shift at Station 10 assigned to the ARFF Company. John might be best known for being a part of some of the best cartoons the fire department has ever seen. Congratulations and best wishes on your retirement John. By the way, the neighbors called and asked if you could please finish the GARAGE MAHAL!!

I would have posted Davids retirement sooner, but he had concocted some scheme of going out with a bang. He decided not to do the idea, so I figured I would post his retirement. Firefighter David Sexton was hired on January 15, 1985 and retired just recently (I don’t have the date). Sexy Sexton is probably the funniest and most sadistic member of our department. His demonstrative and colorful stories are a true pleasure to watch and listen to. The first time I worked with him, I learned that he had kicked everyones ass in the department.

The department will be different without these two class clowns. Best wishes. Both pictures were taken in the early 90′s.

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
Captain Eddie Fielders Retirement Party will be tonight at 7pm at Hooters on Williamson Road. Everyone is invited.
Captain Fielder circa 1994

Captain Eddie Fielder is retiring today after 23 years of dedication to the department. Eddie’s most recent assignment has been as company officer at station 13 on C-Shift (my Captain). Eddie was hired on September 17, 1984 and his retirement date will be November 1, 2007. We wish him a healthy and happy retirement. He will be relocating to Myrtle Beach with his wife, Cathy.

The guys at 13 will be sending him off with a steak dinner tonight. Feel free to call or stop by to say goodbye. We will be having a retirement party for Eddie on Wednesday, October 10th at Hooters at 7pm. Plan on attending.

I will have more as the day goes on.

Brothers and Sisters,

I regret to inform you that Pete Smith has passed away.

Elmer Elijah Smith, or Pete as he was known as, was hired by the Roanoke Fire Department on June 1, 1942 and retired on September 1, 1974. He was the oldest living retiree, having drawn retirement more years than he was on the job.

Pete was a good friend to many of us.

June 13, 1912 September 15, 2007 Elmer E. (Pete) Smith, 95, of Roanoke, died on Saturday, September 15, 2007. He was a retired Captain with the Roanoke City Fire Department. Surviving are his wife of 73 years, Ona Shrader Smith; three children, two daughters and one son, Norma Jean Smith Akers and husband, Robert W. Akers of Roanoke, Wanda L. Smith Darden and husband, Willie L. Darden of Edenton, N.C. and James R. (Jim) Smith and wife, Augustine Dalton Smith of Roanoke; eight grandchildren, Robert E., Ricky W. and Richard L. Akers, Robin Koger, Ronnie Darden, Shari Underwood and Hunter and Ross Smith; seven great-grandchildren and three great-greatgrandchildren. Services will be held at Oakey’s South Chapel on Monday, September 17, 2007, 2 p.m., with the Rev. Gary Fowler officiating. Interment will follow at Sherwood Memorial Park. The family will receive friends on Sunday from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m., at Oakey’s South Chapel.
Published in the Roanoke Times from 9/16/2007 – 9/17/2007.

Tonya Meeks is leaving the department. I meant to get by Station 10 today for a picture, but I wasn’t able to make it. Tonya began with the Roanoke EMS Department was merged into the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department when the Fire and EMS Departments merged.

Tonya’s last assignment was to Station 10 at the airport. She is a paramedic and will be sorely missed.

It was good working with you Tonya. I hope you enjoy your new job.

Tonya leaves the department amid what seems to be a mass exodus of other women. Since I joined the department in 1999, I have seen 7 women leave the department for one reason or another. This leaves just 6, by my count, left in the department. I believe there is a woman in the recruit school now as well.

Retired District Chief Pat Taylor was found dead at his residence on August 7th, 2007. Taylor was hired on January 1, 1965 and retired around 1999. More details to follow.

The Roanoke Fire-EMS/Roanoke Fire Fighters Association Color Guard began the event with the posting of the colors.

The Color Guard members are L-R Noel Gardner,
John Burrows, Daryl Songer, and R.T. Flora
Last night was the 2006 Annual Awards Banquet held by the Roanoke Fire Fighters Association Local 1132. The event was held at the Holiday Inn, formerly the Clarion, and was an enjoyable evening.

The highlights of the Banquet are the Retirement Axes handed out to the Firefighters who retired during the past year, and the awards giving to firefighters for exceptional acts including Firefighter of the Year.

Of the retirements over the past year, the firefighters who were present to receive their retirement axe were; Billy Obenchain, Oscar Smith, John Sweeney, and Michael Overacker.

Michael Overacker photographed the evening, so this is the picture
of him receiving his retirement axe.

This year the coveted “Firefighter of the Year” award actually went to 5 firefighters for a double rescue that occurred at a house fire. Captain Scott Mutter, 1st Lt. Scott Alford, Lieutenant Jamie Brads, Firefighter George Harris, and Firefighter Eric Mulford performed two rescues on the scene of a house fire. Congratulations to all you guys.
Receiving the award for Firefighter of the Year are: L-R Scott Alford, Eric Mulford, Jamie Brads, and Scott Mutter. George Harris was unable to attend.

Special Thanks to Vice President Tim Parry for all of the planning that goes into providing the banquet. The many hours of preparation paid off, and it seemed as though everyone enjoyed themselves.

My lovely Bride, Becky, and myself at the Banquet

On another note: There has been a lot of discussion about the Banquet and where it is held, whether we should have a DJ or a Band, the cost of the banquet, and when it is held. In the coming months the RFFA will be revisiting the planning of the event to make sure that we are planning the best possible banquet for all of our members to enjoy. Feel free to leave comments on what you would like to see change or stay the same.

I was unable to take many pictures during the event. Michael Overacker took many photographs of the event and will have them available soon.