Brotherhood abound and remembering 2 of Virginia's fallen

Rhett Fleitz ( and I are lucky. We have been allowed to travel all across the Country over the past few years. We have witnessed countless acts of Brotherhood and met hundreds of TRUE Brother and Sister firefighters.

We hear that word a lot in our travels … “Brotherhood” and now, actually travel to speak on the subject.

Contact us about speaking at your event by clicking HERE 

When you hear the word “Brotherhood” spoken, most of us associate it with the larger Departments in the Country. The  FDNY always comes to mind for most but, you hardly ever hear about the “small town USA” Volunteer Fire Company.

That’s one of the things we’ve learned along our journey …. Brotherhood is all around us. It’s REAL … it’s ALIVE and WELL and you never know where you’ll find it at work…. in the largest of cities or the smallest of towns.

Yesterday, I traveled to Pinnacle, North Carolina. More specifically, I visited the Shoals Volunteer Fire Department. I was there for the 1st ever Brotherhood Cuts Event.

Brotherhood Cuts” is a fund raising event specifically designed for the fire service. It raises money through the National Firefighters Endowment who in turn, provides much needed funds and equipment to Departments in need all across the Country.

“National Firefighters Endowment seeks to support organizations that lack the tools and resources necessary to more effectively protect the life and safety of the public and their emergency response personnel with respect to fire and all other hazards.”


 Learn more about the National Firefighters Endowment by Clicking HERE . Learn more about Brotherhood Cuts by Clicking HERE . Read the Fire Critic’s post on both by Clicking HERE .

So yesterday was our Inaugural event. It was spearheaded by Shoals VFD Lt. Chris Gillett aka Firefighter Chaplain (find him on Face Book HERE ).

Chris did a FANTASTIC job!  He and a handful of other members from the surrounding area ( Taylor Welch, Eric Southern, Will Nowotny, Terrence Graham, and Justin Wilmoth ) set out to raise funds to purchase Bail Out Bags for Surry County Firefighters (North Carolina).

These “Bags” are a personal “escape” system. They allow firefighters an emergency means of egress from the 2nd floor and above. They allow us an alternative to jumping out of a window should we become cut off or trapped by the fire. These “systems” SAVE THE LIVES OF FIREFIGHTERS.

These members weren’t trying to purchase the bags just for themselves either …. they wanted to raise enough money to purchase a couple of bags for every Department in Surry County! Firefighters looking out for other Firefighters …. BEAUTIFUL!

They would raise the money by agreeing to shave their heads. YEA …. they agreed to SHAVE THEIR HEADS in order to purchase much needed, life saving equipment for their fellow firefighters. THAT’S BROTHERHOOD !

They missed their overall goal but made a very respectful first showing by raising over $2,000. Their efforts will make a difference in Surry County and they should all be proud.

They held the event at Shoals Station #61 and started off with a “hot dog social”. There were several folks in attendance including myself and good friend, Brother and fellow blogger Pete Sulzer ( aka Captain Chaos of ) .

Only the participants who reached their donation “goal” were obligated to shave their heads. There was going to be 2 … Chris and Taylor Welch. They has asked Pete and I to speak before the shaving began and although unprepared, we were honored. We spoke briefly on Brotherhood. Of course it was difficult for Pete to get a word in with me in front of a crowd…LOL.

I din’t do a good job. Actually, it was one of the worst talks I’ve presented on the subject. I was unprepared and awkward. I hope I got my point across and think I did. I wanted them to understand exactly WHAT they were a part of that night. I wanted them to know that THEY .. in “small town USA” Pinnicle, NC were setting a standard for Brotherhood that the rest of the Country would have to follow. I wanted everyone in attendance to know that these two Brothers were shaving their heads for THEM ….someone else … their Brother and Sisters and not for themselves. I wasn’t even looking and once again found Brotherhood at work.

After our talk, 10 members stepped up and shaved their heads! Even the Shoals Chief, Adrian Wall; went under the blades of the clipper!

I was humbled by their gesture and honored to have been part of such a great event / effort.

Again I’ll say that each and every member who received a shave should be PROUD and I hope they know the impact they’ve made on the Fire Service. I hope their effort inspires others .

The 10 members who received their “Brotherhood Cut” is…Shoals Lt. Chris Gillett,  Shoals Firefighter Andrew Scott, Shoals Lt. Dustin Baker, Shoals Lt. Gerald Brewer, Firefighter Tanner Haynes, Kernersville Firefighter Taylor Welch, Shoals Chief Adrian Wall, Pinnacle Firefighter Kyle Hall, Pinnacle Firefighter Kevin Settles and Blewes Creek Firefighter Will Nowotny.

Read coverage from Mondee Tilley on Mt Airy by clicking  HERE

Congratulations and WELL DONE Brothers! 

While I was there, I also got to meet and visit with Shoals Junior Firefighter Bobby Fulp.

Firefighter Chaplain (Chris Gillett) has talked about Bobby on Face Book several times here lately.

Bobby was born with an abnormal heart. He has faced many surgeries throughout his young life (currently 17 yrs old) and has an internal pace maker.

He hasn’t been feeling well lately and, sadly; has learned that his pace maker has failed. It needs replaced and Bobby may end up needing a heart transplant. Although sad, his story is also inspiring.

Bobby has always wanted to be a firefighter. His condition will not allow it. Well, not a “firefighter” as most folks (including Bobby) would define it.

Chris told me a few weeks back that on several occasions, Bobby gets “down” because he can not preform “interior” firefighting operations on the fire ground. That’s what he thinks the definition of a firefighter is … the guy on the end of the nozzle or on the tip of the ladder. MAN WAS HE WRONG.

I had a great talk with Bobby. I explained to him that all the things he does around the station and for his Department makes him more of a firefighter than most. There is always several members rushing to the scene of a working fire for their chance to “get the nozzle”.  Members will race one another to a volunteer station in order to get the drivers position. You never hear of these same members rushing or racing to the station for training night. You’ll never find them at the station pushing a broom or washing the rig. Nobody is fighting for the chance to take out the trash or clean the bathrooms. Changing an air bottle or setting out equipment on the scene of a fire is certainly beneath members such as these.  NOT FOR BOBBY. Since he can’t go in … he does EVERYTHING else and thought of himself less of a firefighter because of it.

I hope I changed his views. I wish all the firefighters I knew were as passionate and enthusiastic as Bobby. I wish they shared his eagerness,  determination and dedication. I found yet another example for us all to follow right there in Pinnicle NC.

Chris had told me that Bobby enjoyed receiving patches, shirts, hats etc from other Departments.

Bobby will be heading to Duke for more surgeries and hopefully a brand new pace maker this Tuesday.

Knowing that, I contacted some folks and collected a few items for Bobby to add to his collection.

I took him a Brotherhood Chip from me and Rhett. He got an illuminating tee-shirt from MN8-FoxFire and patches from Roanoke Fire/EMS (Va), Read Mountain Fire/Rescue (Botetourt County, Va), Swoope VFD ( Augusta County Va) and one all the way from Germany! Bobby was ALL SMILES.

Find and “like” Bobby Fulp on FaceBook by clicking HERE

Back in Virginia, we buried 2 major contributors to the Fire Service on Saturday. Elliston VFD Chief M.L. “Pug” Wells and Richmond Fire Department Lt. David “Dave” Pulliam Sr.

I didn’t know Chief Wells or “Pug” as everyone calls him but I did know Dave Pulliam. Dave was VERY active in the IAFF as well as the VPFF. He served 35 yrs for the Richmond Fire Department and 25 yrs as President of Richmond Local #995.  I have some GREAT memories of hanging out with Dave and “Big Bird” while out of town on Union business. These guys were a BLAST. It’s a good thing they took me with them back then or they may have ended up in jail… LMAO.

Rhett posted on Dave’s passing over on Va Fire News … CLICK HERE . Richmond City Council even acknowledged his passing … Click HERE .

Thanks for the lessons and memories Dave … you put in some solid work Brother and I will remember you! Rest EASY.

Rhett also covered Chief Well’s passing on Va Fire News … CLICK HERE .

He was even recognized on the floor of the General Assembly … Find that video by clicking HERE .

More coverage of Chief Well’s funeral can be found  HERE .

**Sorry for the links .. I wanted to post the videos but the WDBJ 7 web site will not allow me to embed their video.**

I’m going to wrap it up for now … I’ll have more for ya on Tuesday . Until I get back…

Stay SAFE and in House!

Captain Wines