This week I was notified by a friend in Richmond of an Ebay auction for some Roanoke City historical artifacts. The pieces were from 1884-1906 and include an image I have never seen before. I will not be sure if the one image is from Roanoke until I get it, but it is said to have been.

The items are coming back to Roanoke via Abingdon. It is safe to say that much of our history has been sold or taken outside of the Roanoke Valley. These items are making their way back!

If you have any artifacts from the following departments or organizations I would love to see them, make copies of them, or possibly copy them: Roanoke Fire Department, Roanoke Fire-EMS Department, Roanoke Life Saving Crew, Williamson Road Life Saving Crew, Hunton Life Saving Crew, Friendship Fire Company, Vigilant Fire Company, Junior Fire Company, Alert Fire Company, Hotel Roanoke Fire Company, Roanoke Fire Company, or others I may have left out.

Now check out the stuff I picked up today on Ebay, then scroll down for the description.

This is the description of the various items:

This is a great and important archive that belonged to one of the first members of Vigilant Steam Fire Company Number 1 from Roanoke, Virginia. It features a great early photo of him in his outfit, other photos of his company, early Ribbons of the company, and booklets from Firemen’s conventions. Everything is in excellent condition. It is really a remarkable early Firemen’s collection. Here is what is in the group:
Great large cabinet card of the Vigilant Steam Fire Co No 1 at a convention in Hampton from the 1880s
Great CDV of a Fireman with the Vigilant No 1 Helmet, Hat and Belt from the 1880s
Vigilant Steam Fire Co No 1 Roanoke, earl Ribbon from 1880s
Roanoke Machine Works Hose Co No 2 Ribbon from July 4, 1885
The Advance Official Program for the 26th Annual Convention of the Virginia State Firemen’s Association from 1912
Official Program for the 9th Annual Convention for the National Firemen’s Association held in Roanoke from 1906
Nice Cabinet Card of a group of Firemen from the early 1900s

REMS, short for Roanoke Emergency Medical Services, is looking at a uncertain future while Roanoke City leaders juggle many possible budget cuts for the remaining year and following year. REMS was told that there mere $80,000 funding from the City would be cut out of the next budget year. That $80,000 helps REMS continue on each year and remain an active force within Roanoke City’s Public Safety.

REMS was formed when the Roanoke Life Saving Crew and Williamson Road Life Saving Crew merged in the 1990′s (forgive me if I am off on my history a little). The Roanoke Life Saving Crew was formed in 1928 by Julian Wise and was the first of its kind. Touted as the World’s first life saving crew, many others formed in the region and across the Globe. You can view more here.

REMS has maintained funding over the years through mailings seeking donations. Those donations dropped off when Roanoke City began charging for EMS transports. REMS now draws a mere $20,000 from mailing/donations each year. According to Ken Harper, REMS VP, Roanoke City currently makes around $200,000 – $280,000 from those transports. That is the profit after collections and should not be misidentified as the billed amounts.

Updated: How could I forget that we use the REMS building as our training center  all the time. Roanoke Fire/EMS crews are in and out of the REMS building for IMS, EMS, Continuing Ed., and Fire classes daily. The main reason it is used is because our training center is outside of the City and the training room at the new Fire Station 1 can’t be used because there is nowhere for the apparatus to park.

REMS also does many other things within the City. They do EMS standbys at most major events at the Roanoke Civic Center and elsewhere in the City. They take care of stocking and distributing EMS supplies for all of the Medic Trucks and Stations in the City. They also provide storage for our reserve medic trucks at their station. REMS has the only 4×4 ambulances in the City and the only bariatric ambulance in the City (excluding private ambulance companies). Those are some of the benefits of REMS and I am sure there are more.

Just recently, Sidney Robertson passed away:

He was an active member of Huntington Court United Methodist Church and was President and CEO of Roanoke Emergency Medical Services for a number of years. In 1998 received the Crew Member of the Year Award in recognition of over 60 years volunteer service. This award is now known as the Sidney F. Robertson Award. He had been a volunteer for Williamson Road Life Saving Crew and REMS for over 70 years.

Sidney’s Eulogy was delivered by Roanoke’s Assistant City Manager Jim Grigsby. I know how much time and effort Sidney put into REMS and the organizations which became REMS and I wonder what he would say if he knew the current state of affairs.

Read about Sidney in depth here, and here.

Visit REMS online at If you would like to speak your mind, I suggest contacting Roanoke City Council and letting them know you think that the funding should be restored. Contact Roanoke City Council here.