If you Want to be a clown ….Remembering our fallen and another LODD in Massachusetts

photo from Roanokefirefighters.com

Sadly, reports are in of another Line Of Duty Death (LODD)  in Massachusetts.

Brother James “Jim” Rice , an 11 year veteran of the Peabody Massachusetts Fire Department was killed today on the scene of a 3 alarm fire at 5 Hancock Street in Peabody.

Brother Rice leaves behind a wife and 3 children.

More details and video on Fire Critic (Click HERE) 

Rhett’s link (above) also contains some audio. Early reports were of 3 firefighter injuries with one being critical.

The incident occurred in a 3 story occupied apartment building that displaced 13 residents. This is the 2nd LODD this month in Massachusetts. Firefighter J. Davies, of Worcester MA; was killed December 8, 2011 while operating at a fire at 44 Arlington Street.

See related post HERE

Please keep the Rice family, the Peabody Fire Department as well as all of our Brothers and Sisters in Massachusetts in your thoughts and prayers. I will attempt to keep you updates as more information becomes available.

Here in Roanoke, we’ve been remembering two of our fallen as well.

Two years ago today, we lost our beloved Battalion Chief Billy Obenchain to his battle with Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma ( CTC ).

Chief Billy retired in 2006 after serving 33 years in the Fire Service. His last assignment was Battalion Chief, C-shift North. I was honored to have worked for him.

A portion of my title “If you want to be a clown..” is a quote from a poem he wrote. That poem now hangs in our Regional Training Center and is read to every class of new recruits.


If you’re “on the job” …. hit that link above … it’s worth the read! The frame that the poem is hanging in also has the dollar bill that Chief Billy used when reading the poem to new recruits.

See related posts on Chief Obenchain  HERE   HERE   HERE  and HERE 

This past October also marked the 2nd anniversary of the death of Captain Chris Brown.

Chris was a 2nd generation firefighter, hired in August of 1994. His Brother remains on the job here in Roanoke as a Lieutenant (currently assigned to Station #6 C ).

Chris worked his way through the ranks to Captain and served his last assignment as the leader of “The Big Show” … Station #1 C.

Photos from Captain Chris Brown’s funeral HERE

Related posts and more pictures of Captain Brown  HERE  HERE and HERE 

Both of these Brothers remain in our thoughts and will continue to be missed by many.

Lt. Rob “Bugg” Reid posted a pic tonight on Face Book of the Christmas tree at station #5. If you look on the wall, to the left of the tree; you’ll see a framed t-shirt.  That shirt is in remembrance of Chief Obenchain and Captain Brown.

Every time I think of Chief Billy, 2 people automatically come to mind. His son Zach, who is on the job here; assigned to Station #2C and his best friend, Roanoke County Fire / Rescue Battalion Chief Gary Houff.

Chief Huff is now  engaged with his own battle with cancer. These two men ( Chief Billy and Chief Houff) must have been from the same mold because Chief Houff is fighting just as hard and proving to be just as stubborn.

Chief  Houff was the Battalion here on C-shift as well and even though he works for the County, we got to see each other a lot. Not just work either …. Chief Huff stayed by Billy’s side everyday of his fight. It was a true testament to BROTHERHOOD.

Well, Chief Houff crew (County Station #1) had him and his family out for Christmas dinner tonight. I got the call and had “Acting Battalion” Captain Clayton Martin come pick me up. Clayton and I rode out to sit with Chief Houff and his men of Station #1 tonight.

We had a BLAST!

Captain Witt  and Chief Houff have a squared away crew and it was an honor to sit around the kitchen table with these Brothers tonight.

There were plenty of stories, laughing and even a swelled eye or two between me and the Chief.

Gary is doing and looking well … another one who encompasses the name of this blog… “Wooden Ladders and Iron Firemen”.

THANKS for the invite and allowing us to share in the BROTHERHOOD experienced around that table tonight men!

Real quick, I’ll mention 1 of 2 visitors to our station tonight ( I’ll catch the 2nd tomorrow).

Our department Chaplin, Father Sandy Webb dropped in for a visit and to wish us a Merry Christmas.

I LOVE Father Webb. We met back on St. Patty’s Day and really “clicked” ( yea.. me and a Priest)

I’m not sure if or how he knew I had a lot on my mind and was carrying a heavy heart today but it was comforting to have him in our house.

Father Webb has been a great addition to our family and I am thankful for his work.

Ok, out of respect for the topics and men I’ve mentioned tonight, I’m not going to add a Sexy Santa’s Helper to this post. I’m sure you all understand.

We start our 4 day in the morning but I’ll check back in before midnight.

PLEASE …. PLEASE….Stay SAFE and in House!

Captain Wines