Money can't buy what I found at the Trump National Golf Course…


Trump National Golf Club as in Donald Trump…I spent last weekend in North Carolina and it was a GREAT trip!

Rhett and I were asked to speak at the annual awards dinner for the Lake Norman Fire / Rescue Department. Due to the Holidays (and out of town family obligations), Rhett was unable to attend so I had to work alone …. well almost.

Since Rhett couldn't make it, I decided to take Donna (my wife) and the Buckaroo with me. He (the Buckaroo) has been begging to go on one of my "fire department" trips for some time now and this one worked out perfect.

Like we always do, I had posted about the trip on our Face Book accounts and received several invitations to "drop by" some houses on my way down. We always LOVE meeting and visiting with Brothers and Sisters all across the Country!

Follow on Face Book… click HERE

Pleasant Hill VFD NCChief Andy Chatman, of the Pleasant Hill Volunteer Fire Department (Station # 33) was one of the first to extend the invitation.

I'm glad I decided to take the time to stop because, just like all of my previous visits to NC; I found exactly what Rhett and I speak about so often.

They're located approx. 15 miles inside NC following I-77 South which meant that the stop was on my way.

Find Pleasant Hill VFD on Face Book HERE

Chief Chatman and several of his members were on hand to welcome us to their station.

Pleasant Hill VFD in NC remembersI knew this was a good house (Department) as soon as I pulled into the parking lot.

One of the first things I noticed was a Memorial they had placed adjacent to the entrance. This Memorial was just one of the ways the members of Pleasant Hill VFD Honors those who came before them. 

As soon  we got inside, it became even more apparent that Chief Chatman and the members of Pleasant Hill "get it".

Their history was proudly displayed in glass cases and in picture frames along every wall. I know that for the most of us, that's a "typical" firehouse but I'll bet you'd be shocked at the number of houses where you wont find their Pride so openly shared.

DSCN1967I have to tell ya, it's refreshing to walk into firehouses where it's evident..

Chief Chatman had told me not to get "too excited" about the visit because they were "just a small rural Department". Well, I can tell you that size, run stats or status (paid or volunteer) doesn't matter when it comes to Pride for the Job.

Theirs showed throughout Station #33 and you could see it in their faces as they took to opportunity to show and share it with me!

There was a story told with every picture. A name for every face and, for most; a relative who is now serving. The station was clean and in order, their rigs spotless.

me and Buckaroo with Pleasant Hill NCEvery door was opened and an explanation given as to why this was done this way or that as well as to how many members dedicated their time and efforts to complete the project.

WHAT they had didn't seem as important as WHY they needed it, HOW they got it and WHO helped them put it in service!

It was a GREAT tour / visit! The station, rigs, the KME Bell mounted on the front bumper of Engine 3301, to the training mock-ups (Denver Drill, entanglement and roof), their chicken barbeque pit and the alert siren claimed from their original station …. I enjoyed every aspect of our time together.

I'd like to give a special THANK YOU to Chief Chatman and his members for taking the time out of their day to open their house to me and my family. 

View more pictures from my Pleasant Hill VFD station visit by clicking HERE

So we pulled out of Pleasant Hill and headed South to Lake Norman. The Buckaroo was already ecstatic and couldn't believe my trips were this much fun! He was on an adventure and didn't even realize that it had only begun.

Captain Wines and Buckaroo in hotel hot tubWe arrived safely and got checked into our very nice hotel suite.

The Buckaroo has a key card from every hotel I've stayed at but he himself has never stayed at a hotel. You should have seen the look on his face when we walked into the room..LOL. 

We had a hot tub in the room but decided to head down to the indoor pool / hot tub to relax a little from the long drive. He was on a mini-vacation!

Shortly after, my mom rode up from Charlotte and picked him up. He got to spend the night at her house… after they did a little shopping of course… yea… he's just a little spoiled.

So, to get prepared for the dinner, I had asked Deputy Chief of Operations, Neel Brawley to give me a tour of their station / area.

Lake Norman Fire RescueAgain,  I was impressed!

Like with Pleasant Hill VFD, the first thing I spotted was a Memorial in front of the station.

What was really neat about this Memorial was that they included their community in it as well. Much like the NFFF does, they allowed citizens to purchase personalized "Memorial Bricks" which were placed like "pavers" inside the Memorial walls.

Also like Pleasant Hill, this station was not Lake Norman's first.

They were established in 1966 and built their first building themselves with help from the community. They moved into this building (pictured left) in 2006. It was obvious that the Lake Norman Fire / Rescue Department has made some great progress in just under 50 yrs of service …. their new building is definitely an upgrade…LOL.

Lake Norman Fire Rescue DepartmentAll kidding aside, the station was BEAUTIFUL.

Again we found the walls adorned with a rich sense of Tradition and Pride. You could tell that a lot of attention was paid to detail.

The bay was just as impressive as the station. Every rig and each compartment was spotless. Every tool in it's place.

You'll have to click on the picture (right) to enlarge it but take a look…. these Brothers and Sisters have the tools they need to get the job done!

That says a lot to me in itself.

It tells me that they've been doing their job both on and off of the emergency scene. It tells me that they have the support of their town leaders as well as their community. It's not an easy task to accomplish but obviously, Chief Andy Weatherman and his staff are doing something right!

Lake Norman Fire / Rescue's web site HERE

Lake Norman Fire / Rescue on Face Book HERE 

Captain Wines of Ironfiremen com with Chief Neel Brawley of the Lake Norman NC Fire Rescue DepartmentUnfortunately, we didn't have much time at the station (considering how long it would have taken to see every little detail as I so often like to do).

Time was slipping away and we needed to get back and to get ready for the night's events.

The Awards Dinner was held at The Trump National Golf Club (link) just past the Firehouse in Lake Norman..

WOW !!! What an amazing facility.

Lake Norman has 56 members on the rooster and I think everyone of them was in attendance (along with their families and past members). The house was packed!

A packed event at the Lake Norman (NC) Fire Rescue awards dinnerAgain that tells me that the leadership of the Lake Norman Fire / Rescue Department must be doing SOMETHING right!

We shared a great meal before the award recipients were announced.

A Junior Member of the Year, Firefighter of the Year and Officer of the Year were all recognized.

Service awards were also given with one member having served 35 years!

Due to their Department participating in no-shave November, I was asked to judge a mustache contest  where the Department was to make a donation to the local Cancer Society in the winners name.

Lake Norman Fire Rescue mustache contest winner with Captain WinesThe winner was easy to spot. She not only had the best stache …. she was also the cutest of the bunch…LOL.

So I was given about an hour to speak and did so towards the end of the night's festivities. 

I spoke on the "Culture" of the Fire Service and what type of culture the Lake Norman Fire / Rescue Department may be fostering. 

I talked about the need of having community, as well as their own members; "buy in" to have (or continue) positive, forward progress. It made a good transition into motivating firefighters and improving morale.

Captain Wines with the Chiefs of the Lake Norman Fire  Rescue Department (NC)Of course that tied into what Rhett and I hold as the key to it all … TRADITION, PRIDE, HONOR and RESPECT.

  • Continuing the Traditions worth keeping.
  • Taking PRIDE in the Fire Service and wearing the badge.
  • Honoring the sacrifices of those who came before us.
  • Respecting our profession, rank and each other.

It was a whole lot to try to squeeze into just an hour. I hope I was able to deliver the intended message. It seemed as though I kept them engaged and interested.

Afterwards, many of us went by a members home for an after party. There, we weren't on a time constraint and got to share in some great conversations. It was truly and honor and privilege to meet and spend some quality time with these members and their families. 

Have me speak at your event… CLICK HERE 

Click HERE for more pictures from Lake Norman

969470_674170922627354_469641700_nSo the next morning, we'd head back home to Virginia.

Many of you know that my dad (retired from the job) now drives the tour bus for the 5 time SPBGMA's Entertainers of the Year Bluegrass Band Nothin Fancy (link).

Well, dad and the boys were on their way home from Florida and headed straight through Charlotte.

To continue the Buckaroo's weekend adventure, they stopped to pick him up for the ride home.

He really thought he was "something" getting to ride on the bus. I think he enjoyed the weekend as much (if not more) then I did. Despite being near some of Trump's money, he couldn't have purchased what we found among the Brothers, Sisters and new friends / bonds we made in North Carolina. 

Stay SAFE and in House!

Captain Wines