Hey all,

I got a phone call today from a brother out of State. We hadn’t talked in about 6 months and he regularly kept up with the Roanoke Fire Blog. Apparently, he missed the transition from the old blogspot address and hosting to the new and improved site here at RoanokeFire.com. In all actuality, he had emailed me back in February, as a lot of other guys did, but I did not return their emails. It was not out of disrespect, I just didn’t feel like talking about what was going on in Roanoke. I didn’t care about what was going on.

Some of you might be asking how such a big proponent for positive change, safety concerns, and the all around need for truth in the department would suddenly not care. I will give you a short synopsis, and yes comments are open so you can throw in whatever the hell you want.

Prior to January, I was the Secretary/Treasurer of IAFF Local 1132, a position I held for somewhere around 4 years. I loved the job, with all of its ups and downs. The biggest perk was being able to meet and hang around many others locally, across the State, and even across the Nation who were like me, wanted change, and were committed to the IAFF and their Union Brothers and Sisters.

After January, I was no longer the Secretary/Treasurer. The reason being is because I resigned. I resigned at the request of some of the members of my Local. Don’t think for a minute that it was a majority of the members, it wasn’t.

It has now been several months since that meeting and I have not talked about it too much. Not because it is painful to talk about, but because it angers me. It doesn’t anger me that I resigned. It angers me because I figured if they weren’t happy with the way I was doing things, they would DO things differently. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Instead, the movers and shakers of the Local are still plugging away minus one and the the ones who wanted my head on a stake are still doing what they did before…nothing constructive.

I get asked all the time to post stuff on the blog. Things like “our apparatus was out of service” or “did you see what they did the other day” or “what about those cuts that City Council is thinking about”. I hear it, but I didn’t post it. I didn’t post it because I was sick of sticking my neck out.That is about over. I am going to get back into it.

I still believe that this site was a great way of educating:

  1. The public learned about what was going on
  2. The press learned about what was going on
  3. The public and press were explained things that are usually swept under the rug
  4. Other Union Brothers learned about what we were going through
  5. Union Brothers learned that it is ok to speak up
  6. Marketing the Department and Local across the Nation as a great department (faults and all)

After all, we are a great department.

I am looking out the window and noticing that nothing is still burning. We don’t burn houses to the ground like some neighboring departments (has a lot to do with response times). We work well together. For the most part, we look out for one another.

Our local has come along, but it hasn’t even scratched the surface of what it is capable of. One thing I was always weary of was exposing weaknesses of our Local. I wasn’t covering anything up, I just wasn’t giving attention to things we should be doing better.

Luckily, it doesn’t matter anymore. I can no longer be held accountable for my words as an officer of the Local. That is a big weight off of my shoulders. Therefore, you will soon hear more about what is wrong and what we need to do better as a Local.

The best part of not being the Secretary/Treasurer is that I get to coach my son in soccer and lacrosse. I get to go see my daughter do gymnastics and dance. I get to hang out with my wife. I get to get back to living and I am loving every minute of it.

I get to do all that and I don’t have some asshole standing by to say that I am not doing anything or asking what I am doing for them.

I have always stood by the reasoning that an organization is only as strong as its members. Local 1132 is no different as are most Locals in the States and Canada.

We could be so much stronger if the ones who say things like “What is the IAFF doing for me” would spend their energy becoming part of the solution.

I am still an IAFF member and I am looking forward to staying involved. I am a proud IAFF member.

- Rhett Fleitz

Roanoke Fire Fighters from many stations will be attending the St. Patrick’s Day Parade this year. It will be held on Saturday March 14th. The lineup begins at 9:30 am at the parking lots at Jefferson and Albemarle. The Roanoke Fire Fighters Association will have their 1938 Chevy Oren Fire Engine in the Parade and Roanoke’s Bravest will be riding on and walking beside it.

Bring your family and enjoy the day. Last year was a blast.

After the parade, meet up with other Local 1132′s members at the Union Hall for pizza, drinks, and a jumpy pit for the kids.

The Roanoke Firefighters Auxiliary is apparently heading up the after party and are asking for everyone who wishes to attend to rsvp at rfaauxiliary@gmail.com.

Be their and be sure to be wearing green. Below are some of the designs for shirts this year by their respective stations.

Reminder that Firefighter of the Year and other award citations are due soon. Look at http://www.local1132.org for more information or contact me or Tim Parry. All nominations must be signed, sealed, and yes delivered.
I will try to stay on top of the News Coverage following the Roanoke Fire Fighters Association’s stance against the budget cuts.

From what I have heard already, the Council Members were very receptive to our message. Some are said to have remarked that our presence and our message was the biggest and most impressive that the Council Members had seen in their tenure on Council.

Another little birdie told me that Mayor Nelson Harris was at the previous meeting at 5pm and even ate the catered dinner after that meeting between 5pm and 6pm. However, at 10 minutes to 7pm, Harris handed the gavel to Vice-Mayor Trinkle and tip-toed out the back door. I guess our presence was something that he did not want to get involved in during Elections. I also understand that the City Manager was not prepared and tongue tied while being interviewed afterwards.

I have so many things I would love to say right now, but instead I will leave you with this fact. Ninety One (91) Firefighters were in Council Chambers tonight. That is more than one-third of the department. Remember that one-third was working. I think we have your attention.

I must say that tonight I was a very proud Firefighter and a very proud member of the RFFA. To see you all come together in unity and solidarity was truly moving. Scooter’s account of his incident, Rorrer’s talk about Scooter, and Rodney’s account of Kyle Wilson all gave me goose bumps. It brought me to a place that I will be speaking of in the future on the blog.

I look forward to the Roanoke Times in the morning. Look for the story on Scott Hetherington on the front page of the Virginia section as well as an article by Mason Adams on the Council Meeting last night.

Click on the links below for news and video.

Firefighter Hourly covered the story here
The FireEMSBlog covered Scooters story here
STATter 911 covered the story last week here
Valerie Garner covered the story on her blog here

Firefighter Returns After Heart Attack – WSET
Roanoke firefighter returns after heart attack
Video: Firefighter returns to duty since suffering cardiac arrest – Roanoke Times
Firefighter reclaims spot at station – Roanoke Times

Firefighters upset about proposed cuts to Roanoke’s fire department – WDBJ
City seeks widespread budget cuts in proposal – Roanoke Times
Firefighters Face Cuts – WSET
Roanoke Firefighters Association makes statement at City Hall – WSLS
Many fired up about proposed cuts to Roanoke’s fire department
Firefighters Fight Cuts – WSET (a snippet is below)

Chief David Hoback, Roanoke Fire & EMS – “City council, city manager, no one wants to do this. But the fire department, being the second largest budget, has to contribute their share.” And Chief Hoback decided the only way to reduce his budget by $350,000 to $400,000, as instructed, was to reduce his staffing. A decision that has his firefighters rallying against him. Lt. Rhett Fleitz, Firefighters Assoc. Local 1132 – “This isn’t necessarily the firefighters against the fire chief. This is more so, the firefighters against the budget cuts.” Cuts that would scale back the staffing at Station 13 on Peters Creek Road from six firefighters to three, the absolute minimum required to operate a truck. Fleitz – “This proposal will jeopardize Roanoke City (web) firefighters as well as the citizens we’re trying to protect.” Chief David Hoback, Roanoke Fire & EMS – “They will not see a difference. They will not experience a difference. The truck will still get there in four minutes or less and be able to meet those performance standards.” But Chief Hoback admits, if adopted, this proposal would stretch his department thin. He says reducing any more positions would force them to eliminate a station. And no one wants that.

I just want to answer a couple of questions about the Banquet this year for you guys. I have had several questions and I want to make sure you guys are informed.

  1. The Banquet is on February 2nd and starts at 6pm.
  2. The Banquet will be held at the Holiday Inn Airport (formerly the Clarion).
  3. Social hour is from 6-7, dinner from 7-8, banquet from 8-9 and fun until 1am.
  4. The rooms are $79. If you were told something different, call back and tell them you are with the RFFA Banquet. They should have cleared up the confusion by now.
  5. Tickets are $35 a piece. $70 for a couple. Members and guests are $35 a piece.
  6. You can bring as many guests as you want.
  7. The reason for the cost increase is because the cost has not gone up for many years. If finally caught up to us and has cost the RFFA a lot of money out of pocket in the past years. The RFFA does not budget funds for the banquet. However, the RFFA will still foot part of the bill for the banquet.
  8. If you have not been, I recommend you go. It is a lot of fun.
  9. If you did not get an invitation and are an RFFA member do the following:
    1. Check the Union website to see if your invitation was returned (http://www.Local1132.org).
    2. If it was returned, get me your correct address immediately.
    3. Otherwise, let me know and I will get you an invitation.
  10. If you have a nomination for Firefighter of the Year or Company Citation, get your nomination to Tim Parry (4A) or myself (13C) by January 15th.
  11. The nominations must be signed!
  12. If you are planning on attending and drinking, please either get a room or set up some other transportation to get home. Do not drink and drive.
  13. Under the rules of the EMS Council, you cannot drive an EMS unit with a DUI. This includes Ambulances, Engines, and Ladder Trucks. You will be terminated and there is nothing anyone can do to save your job if you are convicted of a DUI.
  14. If you have any other questions, just let me know.
The Banquet is on Feb. 2nd. Get your Firefighter of the Year nominations to Parry or Fleitz.

The Invitations went out yesterday. If you don’t get one shortly, let me know.

Rooms will be available and the event is at the Holiday Inn (formerly the Clarion).

Voting is currently being held online for C-Shift Vice President (http://www.local1132.org).

Voting will continue through the 22nd and end on the 23rd with voting at the Union Hall from 8-10am.