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