And the F.O.O.L.S showed up!


Valley Of The FOOLSYou’ve heard me talk about F.O.O.L.S. (link) many times before.

The Fire Critic (Rhett Fleitz) and I are members of a local chapter, Valley Of The FOOLS (link) . Our “mission” is simple …

“The F.O.O.L.S. exemplify the true meaning of the Brotherhood by providing training opportunities to Brother and Sister Firefighters worldwide. We organize benefits to assist not only a firefighter and their families in need, but our communities as well. The F.O.O.L.S. exist to strengthen the Brotherhood of our chosen profession and fuel the flame of passion we have for our calling”.

We are a new Chapter, organized in January 2014 and cover a large portion of Western Virginia.

Because our membership is so wide spread, the location of our meetings has changed every month. We do this so the same members don’t have to travel every month. It’s worked well for us.

IMAG1357Prior to this weekend, we have met in Lexington, Staunton, and Lynchburg.  Yesterday, the day before Easter; we met in Roanoke. If you are within driving distance of any of these locations, you should come out and join us! Our May meeting will be held in Charlottesville.

We are already 50 members strong and continue to grow!

Like the mission says, we formed with the purpose of providing quality training opportunities to our Brother and Sister Firefighters. We provide some type of training at every meeting. Yesterday’s event in Roanoke was our biggest yet!

On Easter weekend, 35+ members showed up for training! That is an AWESOME turnout and speaks VOLUMES about each Brother and Sister who attended.

It was basically a day of “Truck” work / training. We touched on saws, vertical ventilation (from an aerial) conventional forcible entry as well as through the lock. We had 5 stations that the members rotated through. It was a HUGE success and there are several people I’d like to thank.

IAFF logoFirst, we need to thank the Roanoke Firefighter’s Association IAFF L-1132 for the use of their building and property. It was the PERFECT location.

Many of the members enjoyed touring the building and taking in some of the history of the Roanoke Fire Department. Being a member of L-1132, I was proud to be able to share the building and our history with them.

IAFF L-1132 web site HERE

L-1132 on Face Book HERE


Bedford Fire Department bannerWe also need to thank the Bedford Volunteer Fire Department.

Bedford is located about 25 miles East of Roanoke.

They allowed us to use their aerial, a 2007 Seagrave 100′ tiller as well as saws, tools etc!


Bedford FD Web Site  HERE or Bedford FD on Face Book HERE

Stewartsville Chamblissburg Fire Dept headerThanks as well to Bedford County’s Stewartsville / Chamblissburg Fire Department, Station #13.

These Brothers provided additional saws and equipment for our use.

SCFD Web Site or SCFD on Face Book

Photo by Steven Burke

Photo by Steven Burke

So like I said, thanks to the folks above; we were able to set up 5 stations and the day was a success.

The first station was held inside after our short business meeting and was attended by the entire group.

Roanoke City Engine 1 B-shift came up to lend a hand.  FF David Lucas (lead), Lt.Nathan Foutz and Captain Scott Alford presented a class on saws.

Everyone took something away from the class because there was something for everyone. They covered everything from fuel to chains / blades. Thanks to Captain Alford for bringing the crew up and to Big Dave Lucas for taking the lead.

Photo by Steven Burke

Photo by Steven Burke

Outside, the students rotated through our remaining 4 stations and our instructors were just as good.

Staunton Fire & Rescue Chief, Scott Garber was lead instructor at one of our forcible entry props.

The Chief not only brought the prop, he also brought a pretty nice stash of tools which included  The Pig (link) .

Chief Garber is obviously a good instructor. FOOLS related, he is a Charter Member of Valley Of The FOOLS and is also one of our Training Coordinators. He is a huge part of why and how we are able to offer such quality training.

Photo by Steven Burke

Photo by Steven Burke

As it happens, another Charter Member and Training Coordinator, “Big Mike Elston took lead on our second forcible entry door prop.

“Big Mike” is a Lieutenant with Salem Fire-EMS and a volunteer for Kentland Company #33.

He is a well respected instructor across the State and beyond.

One of the “cool” notes from the day is  that Big Mike’s son was one of the attendees. That’s actually his son on the halligan.

With Big Mike doing the striking, I sure hope Duncan wasn’t late for curfew the night before…LOL.

Photo by Steven Burke

Photo by Steven Burke

So we also had a “through the lock” station set up.

Brother Steve Ripley from the Lynchburg Fire Department had the lead here.

This was the first time I’ve seen Steve instruct and he left a good impression.

His knowledge was evident but what impressed me the most is how he took time and worked with each student individually.

He didn’t just show them “how”, he also explained “why”.

Again I’ll say that I think everyone who attended took something away. This is not something many of the Brothers or Sisters in attendance do on a daily basis and it’s also not a class that’s presented every week at every firehouse. Nice job Steve …. THANKS.

Photo by Steven Burke

Photo by Steven Burke

Our 4th station was saw operations and vertical ventilation. The “cool” factor here was that (thanks to Bedford FD) we got to make our cuts from the aerial.

Again… NOT something that many of the Brothers and Sisters in attendance get to do on a regular basis. This was a unique opportunity for many of them and it was provided by Valley Of The FOOLS!

We were able to use a roof prop from Roanoke Fire-EMS and Home Depot donated the plywood.

Captain Tim Cady and Lt. Rob “Bugg” Reid from the Roanoke Regional Training Center, along with Kevin Musgrove from Bedford FD were our instructors for this scenario.

Photo by Steven Burke

Photo by Steven Burke

Although some students had to step outside of their “comfort zone”, each was able to make a cut.

For some, it was their first time using a vent saw. For others, it was their first time on an aerial.

The end result was that every student put forth the effort and got the job done. I think it was an experience several of them will not soon forget.

Thanks again to all the instructors and students for making the day run so smoothly.

I should add a couple things here…..

IMAG1391First is the fact that we did charge for the class. The cost was $5 for FOOLS members and $10 for non-members.

Where else can you get a full days training like this for $10? Only from a group of FOOLS!

I should also add that the reason we charged a fee was because we provided lunch.

Two of Roanoke’s retirees, my dad and Lt. Richard “Paddy” Patterson; came out and cooked burgers and dogs for us. Paddy was my Lt. back when I made Captain at old Station #3 (now closed) and someone who taught me a lot as a young Officer. They both seemed to enjoy being out around training and a bunch of FOOLS.  I know I enjoyed having them there!

10153068_233562063510053_2287789316270298177_nSo if you’re reading this and wishing you would have came out … don’t worry…. there’s plenty more where this came from!

As mentioned earlier, our nest meeting is in May and will be held in Charlottesville, Va.

You can contact and learn more about Valley Of The FOOLS through their Face Book Page HERE .

Our President is Jack Hammond, VP Preston Wiley and Sec. / Treasurer Jarrod Harlow.

View more pictures from Valley Of The FOOLS Spring Training Event in the links below …..

More pictures HERE  or HERE

Stay SAFE and in House!

Captain Wines