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The Roanoke County Fire & Rescue Newsletter

Summer 2011

ON CALL Newsletter

S A F E T Y: 10 Essentials of Safe Hiking

Department Celebrates 25 years of Service Roanoke County Chosen To Participate in a Statewide Volunteer Recruitment Campaign

From the Chief As we approach the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, tragedy, nothing could be more appropriate than to reflect on that fateful day, honor those who died, and think about all the changes that have been made since that event. While most of us never thought we would see acts of terrorism of that magnitude on our native soil, we will all forever remember where we were when the reality of these attacks became known. The entire nation was in shock at the horrific scenes visible on the television, and the entire nation was in mourning for those who lost their lives at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in a Pennsylvania field. The deaths of innocent civilians and public safety service members alike tore apart families that day and for their sacrifices we honor them on the anniversary of 9/11 each year. As we continue to heal from this wound to our nation, we also revel in newfound patriotism and pride for our great country. As we have shown resilience throughout history, we show it again as we rebuild not just buildings, but memorials to those lost. We are also striving to put safeguards in place to ensure that this never happens again. Immediately after the attacks, the United States government agencies as well as local governments began to implement changes to strengthen the security of our country. Most prominent in everyone’s mind have been the increased security procedures in our airports. It is easy to become frustrated with the new delays and travel inconveniences, but we should all remember that these security measures are in place to protect our nation from another tragedy such as 9/11. Untold numbers of changes have been made in training and preparedness within the nation’s military and government; and high-risk facilities across the county have heightened their security as well. Local governments who had long ago developed plans for natural disasters began including plans for man-made disasters in their emergency operation plans. Regulatory training now includes appropriate responses to terrorism events. Our own Roanoke Valley has seen tremendous changes in both training and the improvement of equipment that would be used should any such natural or man-made disaster occur. In closing, we have come a long way to improve security and preparedness across our nation to prevent an occurrence such as 9/11 from ever happening here again. As we hold 10th anniversary remembrance ceremonies to honor those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, we should all reflect and share a Chief Burch offers a Roanoke County Fire & Rescue tsense of pride that our country has evolved and shirt to the FDNY Fire Commissioner Salvatore J. Casprepared following the events of 10 years ago and not sano on a recent trip to New York. allowed this senseless act of terrorism to defeat the people of this great nation.


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In July, the Roanoke County Fire & Rescue Department will celebrate 25 years of service as combination fire and rescue department. Twenty-five years ago, the department hired its first career paramedics into a fire-based department and became known as the Roanoke County Fire & Rescue Department—a combination system managing both fire and rescue services county wide. The change came at a time when many of the county volunteer first aid and rescue squads were requesting assistance from the county to cover emergency medical calls during daylight hours. Daylight calls for emergency medical services (EMS) were increasing and most volunteers were working during the daytime, making it difficult for some of the agencies to cover their calls. The county already had a fire department at that time and chose to incorporate emergency medical services—first by hiring six paramedics to cover calls in areas identified as needing help and then by establishing a combination fire and rescue department. Above: a ladder truck from 1986 where two firefighters would ride in the open cab behind the driver and front seat passenger and a fifth firefighter steered 911 system and most streets were identified by from the very back. Below: a ladder truck from today with a completely route numbers rather than names. While ad- enclosed front cab for all firefighters to ride more safely. Today’s truck has vanced life support (ALS) care was available in a cost of over $600,000 versus the $158,000 price tag for the 1980’s truck.

A look back— In 1986 there was no E-

the field it was not as commonplace as it is today. Computer technology was hardly a thought at the time. Volunteer fire and rescue organizations had been providing service for many years in Roanoke County but it was not always a coordinated effort as they operated as individual agencies with separate policies and procedures.

July 1986— The system as it was in 1986, while functioning, fell short of the citizen’s needs and effective July 1, 1986, the Roanoke County Fire & Rescue Department was officially established and a chief was employed. Roanoke County assigned an EMS coordinator to facilitate coordination between the eight rescue organizations (at the time) and the new career paramedics. All emergency providers—volunteer and career, fire and rescue—now had one coordinated voice to provide the much-needed countywide communication and organization. Since 1986, the Roanoke County Fire & Rescue department has grown significantly. Three fire and rescue stations have been built—Back Creek, Read Mountain, and North County—to better serve our growing county. Career personnel See 25 YEARS on page 11 On Call Newsletter


Crews Recognized for Mentoring Special Education Intern

On March 29, the Roanoke Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross and WSLS 10 hosted “A Celebration of Heroes”, a community awards breakfast honoring local heroes for saving a life, performing an extraordinary act of courage, or making a difference in the community. The heroes were publicly recognized during the breakfast at the Sheraton Roanoke Hotel. Heroes were honored in the categories of Medical, Firefighter, Law Enforcement, Emergency Responder, Good Samaritan, 9-1-1 Dispatch, Community Impact, Workplace, Military and Education. This was the eighth annual “Celebration of Heroes” event. The Red Cross and WSLS 10 requested nominations from the counties of Roanoke, Botetourt, Franklin and Craig, as well as other cities and towns in the region. The heroic acts occurred between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010. Roanoke County Fire & Rescue Department Captains Daryl Burks, Travis Griffith, and Brian Witt and their crews were honored as the Workplace Heroes for their work mentoring and encouraging a special education intern, Jeremy, a senior student at Glenvar High School. Through an agreement with Roanoke County Public Schools, the adult student comes to the North County station three days a week for two hours each day— escorted by an instructional aid—to learn job skills related to keeping a fire station clean and tidy. Upon finishing his daily job tasks, he then gets to wash the fire trucks, or clean the bay floors, or even test the fire hydrant with the “guys.” Jeremy hopes to one day work in a local business using the skills he has learned at the station.


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Mount Pleasant Volunteer First Aid Crew Stands Down After 53 Years of Service After 53 years of dedicated service to the community, the Mount Pleasant First Aid Crew dissolved its organization on February 1, 2011. Citing increased call volume, greater training requirements, and diminishing volunteers as the primary challenges, crew officials said it was too difficult to commit to providing the high quality of emergency medical services (EMS) the community has come to expect. Roanoke County Fire & Rescue Chief Richard E. Burch Jr. has assured the Mount Pleasant community that they will see no change in services. “The Mount Pleasant Public Safety Building # 6 has around-the-clock career personnel who are trained in EMS and firefighting.” The Mount Pleasant First Aid Crew was formed in 1958 by a small group of dedicated volunteers. The crew operated from the basement of Garman’s Grocery Store on Mount Pleasant Boulevard until 1973, when they moved to the newly constructed Mount Pleasant Public Safety Building #6 on Jae Valley Road. The new station was built Chief Burch w on land donated by Mrs. ith the 2011 M ount Pleasan in g a proclama Irene Robertson and still t First Aid Cre tion from the w afte B oard of Superv 2 2, 2011, mee serves to this day. ting. Pictured isors at their F r receiv(lebruary Prime, Chief r) Janet Dora Once reliant only on Richard E. Bu n, Sam Doran rc ,T h, Volunteer C telephones for communi- Simmons, Paul C hief Ann Meye ammy ronk, Dennis r, Andy Furrow. cation, in the 1960s the crew added a specialized radio receiver system, combined with an air-raid siren located atop the old firehouse, to summon its volunteers. The siren sounded once for a rescue call and five times for a fire. As technology advanced, portable radios and a paging system further improved the amount and speed of emergency information that could be transmitted. After 53 years of service, the Mount Pleasant First Aid Crew resolved to stand down. They leave a proud history of selfless service and unparalleled dedication to their community. The Roanoke County Board of Supervisors recognized the 14-member crew for the dedicated years of service at their February 22, 2011, meeting.

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Essentia that

HOW TO PACK THE 10 ESSENTIALS OF HIKING The ten items on this list are backpacking gear that hikers refer to as The Ten Essentials or critical and essential items that belong in your pack as insurance against the unexpected. Although you may not use all the backpacking Ten Essentials every time you hike, they can be life savers in an emergency. The most important essential however, is not on the list — "Common Sense." Having the right gear is one thing; knowing how and when to use it is quite another. Most often it's not a person's equipment that saves them from injury or worse but rather their experience, know-how, and good judgment. Conversely, it is generally inexperience and lack of good judgment that gets people into trouble. Not only must we have the proper equipment — including The Ten Essentials — and know how to use them, but we must also cultivate knowledge and wisdom related to the areas that we hike through self-study, educational courses, and learning from the experiences of others.

1. Water:

Carry your water in durable bottles that have secure screw-on lids, not bike water bottles with pop-up tops. These leak and your water will be gone and your clothes will be wet. Also be sure to carry water treatment in case you run out of water such as iodine tablets or a water purification filter.

2. Map:

Usually the best type of map to carry when hiking is a topo map (topographic map with contours). Knowing the topography around you is essential to staying on course and not getting lost. Bring a trail guide, or photocopies of hiking route descriptions from books with trail maps.

3. Compass:

The other half of trail navigation is a quality compass. Don't skimp on quality when buying a compass— get one with a pop-up line-of-sight reader. A map is only useful for locating your whereabouts if you have a compass and if you know how to use it. Take a class on navigation or read a book on this important topic. A GPS device is a great addition to map and compass, but should not replace them.


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ls of Hiking may save your life 4. First aid kit:

One of the most important items in your back pack is a first-aid kit and book explaining what to do in emergencies. You should take a first-aid course to learn proper life-saving techniques.

5. Knife:

Many people carry a Swiss Army-type knife with multiple blades and tools.

6. Light:

A flashlight is adequate, but a headlamp is preferred so you don't have to hold it when performing tasks that require two hands. Don't forget extra bulbs if you have a traditional headlamp (LED headlamps are better) and extra batteries wrapped in plastic so they won't get wet.

7. Fire:

This really means “heat.” In the event of an emergency when you have to spend the night in the cold, having a fire-starter and wind-proof matches handy to start a fire will help keep you warm.

8. Extra food:

Yes, pack more food than you'll need even though it adds weight to your pack. This means that after every successful hike you should still have food left over. Consider energy bars since they have the most calories per ounce.

10 ESSENTIALS 1. Water 2. Map 3. Compass 4. First Aid Kit 5. Knife 6. Light 7. Fire 8. Extra Food 9. Extra Clothes 10. Sun Protection

9. Extra clothes:

Even when hiking on hot days, bring what you would need to spend the night. Many folks have hurt themselves not far from the car and needed a warm layer and a wind-proof layer to wait for help to arrive.

10. Sun protection:

Remember sunglasses and sun block for all hikes except on the cloudiest of days. Don’t forget Chapstick for all hikes and a wide-brimmed hat when appropriate.

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21 Volunteers Graduate from Fire Academy The ninth Roanoke County Volunteer Fire Academy consisting of 21 graduates concluded March 16 with a graduation ceremony at the Vinton War Memorial. Roanoke County Fire & Rescue Chief Richard E. Burch, Jr., and 10 Roanoke County Volunteer Fire Chiefs were joined by county officials and families at this exciting event where each volunteer was pinned with their firefighter badge. These graduates have spent more than 20 weeks and 200 hours receiving instruction and practical training in the areas of basic firefighting skills and hazardous material operations. The academy ended with a live-burn at the Roanoke Valley Regional Fire-EMS Training Center where recruits were able to test their practical skills. The Roanoke County Volunteer Fire Academy is offered annually in September. The class is offered for all new Roanoke County fire volunteers who serve at one of the 10 volunteer fire companies throughout the county. Anyone wanting more information about becoming a volunteer firefighter with Roanoke County should call Jennifer Conley Sexton at 777-8706. Inset: List of Volunteer Fire Academy # 9 participants and their stations


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Aaron Beckner Nick Blackwell Chris Booth Sr. Kole Bushong Thomas Faron Preston Gonzalez Michael Hall Adam Hoover Chad Howard Jordan Keyser Joshua Ledford Chris Luci Zachariah Malloch Larry Ogle James Perkins Bryan Redden Nicolas Schmitt Thomas Simmons Shawn Tyree Lucas Teubert Alexander Thompson

Fort Lewis Fort Lewis Cave Spring Read Mountain Cave Spring Vinton Cave Spring Back Creek Back Creek Vinton Hollins Back Creek Back Creek Masons Cove Cave Spring Mount Pleasant Fort Lewis Vinton Mount Pleasant Fort Lewis Read Mountain

Roanoke County Fire & Rescue Chosen To Participate in a Statewide Study on Volunteer Recruitment and Sustainability

The Virginia Fire Chiefs Association (VFCA) announced in April that the Roanoke County Fire & Rescue Department had been selected as one of 20 departments in Virginia to participate in a federally funded program to develop a first-of-its-kind model to achieve and sustain adequate levels of fire and emergency service volunteer staffing. The Volunteer Workforce Solutions (VWS) program is being led by the Virginia Fire Chiefs Association, that identified the need for departments in Virginia to seek new solutions to address continuing downward trends in volunteer staffing levels. The VFCA secured the funding from a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant. Research and data collected by the VFCA since 2004 has shown that staffing issues in volunteer fire departments is consistently the #1 issue facing fire departments in Virginia. A 2010 Virginia Fire Service Needs Assessment Survey conducted by the Virginia Department of Fire Programs found that 67% of all survey respondents reported the need for more volunteer firefighters. The VWS program will work to identify and address recruitment and retention challenges facing volunteer fire departments while helping the departments and elected officials to effectively plan their future emergency response systems. “Over the last several years, it has been very tough for many fire departments throughout Virginia to recruit and retain volunteers for a variety of reasons,” said Chief Jack Jones, VFCA President. “Most volunteer fire departments are constantly struggling to bolster their volunteer workforce in order to provide the optimum level of protection for residents. The participating departments—and their communities—are really stepping up to provide leadership on this issue, not just for Virginia, but for volunteer fire departments throughout the nation.” “Roanoke County Fire & Rescue recruits on average 75 volunteers each year. However, we lose about the same amount due to young people going away to school or moving out of the area and the older members retiring,” said Chief Richard E. Burch, Jr. of Roanoke County. “We are hopeful that the DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES? campaign will help us attract more new recruits in order to sustain the high quality of service the citizens of Roanoke County have come to expect.” A total of 20 communities were selected by the VFCA to participate in the year-long effort based on geographic information, population, fire department statistics, and an interest to participate by the community. Ten departments will engage in a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Segmentation study which will use technology to take a deeper look at the community’s characteristics and create a future roadmap for recruitment and retention. The other 10 departments will serve in a control group engaging in a traditional recruitment campaign. The Roanoke County Fire & Rescue Department is one of ten departments selected to participate in the study’s control group that will use traditional methods to recruit and retain volunteers. The traditional recruitment campaign entitled “Do You Have What It Takes” kicked off in June. The Roanoke County Fire & Rescue Department has received promotional materials (banners, brochures, postcards and posters) and has identified two local “advocates” to share our message via Facebook and Twitter. Our local advocates are Justin and Becky and can be reached on Facebook at Firefighters Justin & Becky. Roanoke County Fire & Rescue encourages all citizens to contact 540.777.8706 or visit to find out more about becoming a volunteer firefighter.

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County Receives Grant for Thermal Imaging Cameras On February 16, 2011, the Foundation for Roanoke Valley awarded a $20,000 grant to Roanoke County for the purchase of two state-of-the-art thermal imaging cameras. One camera will be placed in service at the Back Creek Fire and Rescue Station; the other will be used at the Bent Mountain Fire and Rescue Station. The grant comes from the Foundation’s Jacqueline S. (Jackie) and Shelborn L. (S.L.) Spangler Fund, which was established in 2006 through the estate of S.L. Spangler. The purpose of this endowment fund is to address a wide variety of important needs and opportunities in the communities along the Route 221 South corridor, generally falling between Cotton Hill Road and Check, Virginia. This designation reflects where the Spanglers lived during the course of their lifetimes. Alan Ronk, the foundation’s Executive Director, said, in making the announcement, “For this year’s Spangler Fund grants, we wanted to focus on helping to meet the fire, rescue, and safety needs of the respective neighborhoods involved, over and above the many wonderful resources that Roanoke County is currently able to provide. Chief Burch noted, “These thermal imaging cameras are very light and easy for our personnel to carry and are superior in every way to the bulky first-generation equipment currently being used at the Back Creek and Bent Mountain stations. Over time, this updated technology will help save additional lives, help prevent injuries to homeowners and our firefighters and play a vital role in minimizing structural damage in the course of battling a fire. We are delighted that the foundation has awarded this grant to Roanoke County and look forward to getting the cameras in service very soon.” The Foundation for Roanoke Valley is the community foundation serving this region. For more than two decades, the foundation has administered and made grants from hundreds of named endowment funds on behalf of the community.

Alan Ronk, Executive Director of Foundation for Roanoke Valley (middle), along with members of the Spangler family (left) award members of the Roanoke County Fire & Rescue Department a check for $20,000 for the purchase of two thermal imaging cameras.


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25 YEARS continued has grown from 25 firefighters and six paramedics in 1986 to the 153 cross-trained personnel today. The volunteer system continues to boast 250 personnel countywide within 15 volunteer organizations. These career and volunteer personnel continue to jointly provide the best service available to all of Roanoke County’s residents, businesses, and visitors. Below is a list of those who were serving with the department in 1986 and are still serving with us today. Career Personnel serving with department since 1986: Division Chief Todd Maxey Division Chief Joey Stump Battalion Chief Tom Bier Battalion Chief Bill Duff Battalion Chief Rodney Ferguson Battalion Chief Gary Houff Battalion Chief Daryell Sexton Captain Troy Gray Captain Gary Huffman Captain Greg King Captain Jeff Lawson Captain Mike Unroe Firefighter Scott Morgan Firefighter Charles Wilson Fire Logistics Tech. David Hogan Volunteer fire/rescue personnel serving with department since 1986: Doug Adams, Jr., Vinton Rescue Squad Richard Alls, Catawba Volunteer Fire Company Richard Arnold, Cave Spring Rescue Squad Steven Bandy, Masons Cove Volunteer Fire Company Susan Bandy, Catawba-Masons Cove Rescue Squad Jackie Beard, Catawba Volunteer Fire Company Troy Bowman, Catawba Volunteer Fire Company Willie Bryant, Masons Cove Volunteer Fire Company Jerry Caldwell, Catawba Volunteer Fire Company Danny Carroll, Fort Lewis Volunteer Fire Company David Carroll, Fort Lewis Volunteer Fire Company Michael Conner, Masons Cove Volunteer Fire Company Teddy Crowe, Bent Mountain Volunteer Fire Company Bruce Deweese, Bent Mountain Volunteer Fire Company Robert Early, Mount Pleasant Volunteer Fire Company William English, Vinton Volunteer Fire Company Perry Fisher, Vinton Volunteer Fire Company

Frankie Garman, Catawba Volunteer Fire Company Steven Garman, Catawba Volunteer Fire Company Colin Gee, Mount Pleasant Volunteer Fire Company Michael Gee, Mount Pleasant Volunteer Fire Company Michael Glass, Fort Lewis Volunteer Fire Company Wayne Guffey, Vinton Rescue Squad Woodrow Henderson, Fort Lewis Volunteer Fire Company David Kilbane, Cave Spring Volunteer Fire Company John King, Cave Spring Volunteer Fire Company Barry Lussen, Cave Spring Volunteer Fire Company Ronald Milan, Cave Spring Rescue Squad Timothy Mills, Fort Lewis Volunteer Fire Company John Molumphy, Cave Spring Volunteer Fire Company Anthony Morisco, Bent Mountain Volunteer Fire Company Frances Murrie, Bent Mountain Volunteer Fire Company Sydney Myers, Vinton Rescue Squad Kenny Orr, Catawba Volunteer Fire Company Robert Perdue, Cave Spring Volunteer Fire Company Tom Philpott, Vinton Rescue Squad Bennett Powell, Vinton Volunteer Fire Company Jon Roe, Cave Spring Volunteer Fire Company Dean Rorrer, Mount Pleasant Volunteer Fire Company Dennis Schoonover, Masons Cove Volunteer Fire Company Emerson Schoonover, Jr., Masons Cove Vol Fire Company Craig Sellers, Cave Spring Volunteer Fire Company Daryl Shelor, Catawba Volunteer Fire Company Edward Smallwood, Cave Spring Volunteer Fire Company John Starkey, Catawba Volunteer Fire Company Larry Starkey, Catawba Volunteer Fire Company George Stone, Vinton Volunteer Fire Company Donald Thomas, Vinton Volunteer Fire Company Mitchell Vaughan, Vinton Rescue Squad Randy Wimmer, Bent Mountain Volunteer Fire Company Robert Wingfield, Cave Spring Rescue Squad Timothy Worrell, Bent Mountain Volunteer Fire Company Barry Yates, Masons Cove Volunteer Fire Company

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The Roanoke County Fire & Rescue Newsletter 5925 Cove Road Roanoke, Virginia 24019 Main Phone: 540-777-8701 Editor: Jennifer Conley Sexton Please send your comments to

Visit us on the Web at www.RoanokeCountyVA.Gov/FR

Governor Bob McDonnell Ceremonially Signs Legislation to Support Virginia Public Safety

Chief Richard E. Burch, Jr. (second from left), representing the Virginia Fire Services Board, is on hand to witness Governor McDonnell signing public safety legislation.

On Call, RCFRD 2011 Summer Newsletter  

Fire & Rescue Newsletter highlighting stories about the department and its members.

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