Salute to Veterans

UPDATED: 11/7/11
Please join me for a special Veterans Day tribute show on FirefighterStorytellers.com on Wednesday-November 9, 2011 at 9pm EST.

We’ll be joined by a few very special guests who are veterans of both the armed forces and the fire service — my favorite kind of two-hatter — including Vince Pupo Jr., a Marine, Fire Investigator and retired Fire Chief and Sheriffs Department Detective.

In addition to being a well-known fire service “character” – Vince has written and shared his experiences of his military service during the Vietnam War and now writes short stories and poems related to military life and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affecting veterans.

Tribute to Soldier/Volunteer Firefighter: SSG Matthew Kreiger

The show will be dedicated to Matt Kreiger, a fine young man from my volunteer fire company (Evans Center) who is recovering from being shot in the head while serving in Afghanistan earlier this year. We will also recognize the efforts of WNYHeroes.org — a local organization dedicated to elevating the status of our veterans from desperate back to decorated.

Please help us spread the news of this very special show by downloading, printing and distributing the show flyer and/or sharing a link on your Facebook page or other social network. We hope that you can join us.

Here’s a link to last year’s Veterans Day Special with Citizen-Soldier-Firefighgter Dan Frontera.

RttC Kids: Following in their Father’s Footsteps

These two Run-to-the-Curb kids are obviously destined to follow in their father’s footsteps as the children of Lt. John Shafer from Greencastle Indiana. John is the editor of the popular blog “Green Maltese” and is a rising star on the subject of building construction and firefighter safety. Six year old Jade refers to herself as Daddy’s “Little Fire Girl.”

Fire Men – Three Generations of Firefighters

EDITOR’S NOTE: Join Tiger Schmittendorf at 9pm EDT tonight (8/10/11) with his special guest: Firefighter and Author Gary Ryman on the next installment of his Firefighter Storytellers radio show on the FirefighterNetcast network. 

Gary is the author of “Fire-Men” – a newly released autobiography of three generations of firefighters in the Ryman family, a tradition that started with Gary’s father and continues today in Gary’s son Michael.

Listen in as Gary and Tiger share their adventures and their stories of life in the fire service.

Tiger will also be introducing a new and exciting relationship with Fireman’s Fund Insurance and their renowned Heritage Program which has awarded more than $28 million to fire departments for needed equipment, firefighter training and community education programs.

Tiger will be giving away copies of the video DVD titled: “Into the Fire” to selected guests who call into the show to share their story. Read more of this post

Wandering Lessons of Leadership

THE FULL TITLE:
Lessons Learned from a Couple of Happy Wanderers and the People they Wandered Into.

I read with great interest this related tale of two foreign firefighters who recently came to “The States” to learn more about our fire service culture while hoping to raise some much needed funds for their pet projects across the pond.

Read “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Fire Service” by my friend Janet Wilmoth, editorial director for Fire Chief Magazine and stop back here to finish the journey.

INSERT LONG PAUSE HERE………………………………………………….

Welcome back from your side trip. What did you take away from her story?

I was intrigued not only by the firefighters’ journey itself, but also by Janet’s comment on how she was so enthralled by their stories. There’s that word again: STORIES!

I wasn’t surprised by Janet’s reaction as she is who I credit with planting a seed and inspiring me to create this story-sharing site. It’s our stories that link us across the fire service, across the states and even across ‘a pond.”

Then, what really excited me was the lesson she shared in effective leadership as demonstrated by Chief Frank Trout of the Westmont IL Fire Department who talked about turning their organization on its head.

Read more of this post

Rekindle: Chief Norm Flanders

Editor’s Note: My apologies to Chief Flanders for the delay in publishing his story. However, it’s only fitting that we publish this feature on our nation’s celebration of Independence Day as Norm Flanders is my favorite kind of two-hatter: a veteran of our US Armed Forces — and a veteran firefighter, and for that – we thank him for his service to his community and our country.

As a young boy, I always ran out to the street to see where the fire trucks were going and always waved as they drove by. I later befriended a firefighter in the city fire department and would stop by on his shift to say hi and visit. His friendliness and willingness to take a few minutes to talk to me impressed me greatly. Unfortunately we had to move out of the city and my weekly visits to the fire station ended.

Future Firefighter Preston

I was about 15 years old when my real passion first got started…so to speak. I helped our local small town FD {not the one I am with now}, at a structure fire that rekindled.

After we moved we lived near a lake. I learned to love to fish and swim. I loved being outdoors every chance I could. Then one afternoon while about five of us friends were swimming, we heard sirens coming up the road. We hurriedly dressed, then went to check out where the fire truck was going and what the excitement was about.

The excitement was at a large farm house that burned the day before, from a lightning strike. It was again on fire. So we followed the fire truck up the road to the house. There was a small amount of smoke showing from the second floor window and the hole in the roof.

At first there were only three firefighters and us kids at the fire scene. Two firefighters were taking a portable pump to the lake to draft water. We stood around watching what was taking place.

Read more of this post

Will Wyatt: Funny Firefighter

Firefighter/Author Will Wyatt

Will Wyatt is a funny guy, but looks aren’t everything…

Seriously folks, I had a great time interviewing Will on my Firefighter Storytellers show with my partner-in-crime and new co-host: Chief Tom Merrill from the Snyder Fire District here in Erie County NY.

The show airs at May 12, 2011 – 9pm EDT on the FirefighterNetcast Radio Network.

Will is a firefighter in The Village Fire Department near Houston TX and is the author of the great read: “And a Paycheck Too!”

Before I share Will’s Run-to-the-Curb story, I’ll share a story he sent me the day after we taped his show: Read more of this post

Long Time Leader: Doc Moltrup

My Story:

PGFD Division Chief Donald "Doc" Moltrup

I first became interested in the fire service when I was three or four years old. We had a very good family friend near our home town of Beaver Falls, PA, who was the Chief of the Chippewa Township (PA) Volunteer Fire Department. We visited them often and I also looked forward to going to the fire station with him.

He also gave me all of his old issues of “Fireman” magazine, then the official magazine of the NFPA (and probably the only real fire service journal in that era). I poured through these magazines and even traced pictures of fire apparatus in advertisements in them and made up my own fictitious fire department with them.

Although my Dad was never in the fire service, he was kind of a fire buff so I went to fires with him often. I lived in State College (PA) for several of my pre-school years and a volunteer with the Alpha Fire Company in State College lived across from our house. I always saw him rushing off to fire calls and wished I could go too. Read more of this post

We call it brotherhood

Photo by Tom Suddath the DCFD band photographer

I stumbled upon this post via Facebook and was enthralled as the author shared the story of a bus ride that stretched from jubilation to sadness and every point in between Washington DC and New York, NY.

The author is a DCFD firefighter who, like most of us, enjoys other passions in his life. His are cycling, music and beer. Doesn’t make him a bad guy, does it? LOL

I won’t ruin the story for you but I just had to share this gem of a quote I found within it that reinforces my theory on the importance of storytelling in the fire service: Read more of this post

Help Out this Run-to-the-Curb Kid

Chiefs and Run-to-the-Curb Kids: Jimmy and Tommy Hook

We’ll share the rest of the story about 11-year old Tommy Hook soon but all you need to know for now is that his Dad, Deputy Chief Jimmy Hook of the Hyattsville Volunteer Fire Department died last week after a brief illness at age 42.

The good folks at HVFD are doing the right thing by him and making sure that Tommy has the financial support to go on to be a great kid after the loss of his dad – and to follow in his father’s footsteps as a great adult and maybe even a firefighter some day too.

I only met Jimmy and Tommy once, and just a few weeks ago during my visit to Hyattsville, but as you can see from this photo I snapped by chance right before they left the firehouse — both of them left an impression on me.

Here’s the link to the education fund that’s been set up for Tommy Hook. I hope you’ll consider helping them take care of this great Run-to-the-Curb kid: http://www.hvfd.com/hvfd/content/view/304/2/

Related Links:

Epic Stories from the Beltway

One week after I bunked and rode with Hyattsville Volunteers, the “white cloud” (as they called me because they didn’t catch any work while I was there) was lifted and HVFD caught all the work they could eat this past weekend.

Here’s a few links to their wild fires and wild times to whet your appetite. I can’t wait to hear the back stories of these adventures.

You could even say that this is the story of my life: A week late and a dozen fires short!

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