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!

From the Halls of Hyattsville

Nik and Nick (practically twins) - two bunk-ins at Hyattsville Volunteers

It may be a while before I have a chance to share all of the great stories and experiences I heard this weekend during my awesome bunk-in tour-of-duty with Hyattsville Volunteers but I didn’t want to delay in showing you the photos.

While we didn’t catch any real work, I still had a blast and gained a real education on and appreciation for bunk-in programs — especially theirs.

I also had the opportunity to tour College Park Volunteer Fire Department — a class act and great fire-dorm set-up — courtesy of Capt. Matt Machala who is rightly very proud of their program.

All of these young people are pretty impressive.

So until I can find the time to get to the real story, here are some photos — to paint a thousand words.

How I met Billy D. Hayes … and stuff

This story of how I met Billy D. Hayes (and several other great people) was told when Billy called in during the Firefighter Storytellers Internet Radio Show with special guest Janet Wilmoth on February 9, 2011. It was originally printed  in “The Volunteer Firefighter” magazine from www.fasny.com –  August- 2008

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This article is one in a series of toolkits focusing on recruitment, retention, fire service marketing and leadership.

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My best friend: Chief Dennis Allen

Last month I said we’d take the summer off from talking about clearinghouses and trench work to focus on some other aspects of the fire service as they relate to recruitment and retention.

So, I decided we’d talk about an often mentioned but rarely explored principle of the fire service: Brotherhood. For the purposes of this article, the term “brotherhood” is gender-generic, so I hope the feminist revolution doesn’t show up at my doorstep any time soon.

Already you might be asking yourself what brotherhood has to do with recruitment and retention. But think about it. What is one of the greatest if not somewhat intangible assets we have to offer someone thinking about joining our ranks? That’s right; it’s the real brotherhood of the fire service. Read more of this post

Not Just a Daddy’s Girl

Janet Wilmoth became a Run-to-the-Curb kid before she could even walk.

She was six months old when her Dad carried her to watch a big warehouse fire in Chicago (she has old home movies to prove it). Born into a fire fighting and fire buffing family, her father, his sister and brother used to chase fire trucks while living in Chicago.

After the Lisle IL Volunteer Fire Department responded with their ambulance for her mother, her Dad thanked the chief. The chief said they needed help and that he should join since we lived so close to the fire department. Her father heeded the chief’s calling.

That was an early start to what would be Janet’s unusual path to the fire service.

I credit Janet with inspiring me to create Run-to-the-Curb and Firefighter Storytellers in Planting a Seed.

Check back here as we fill in the blanks on Janet’s story after the show. Read more of this post

Duracell Storing Powerful Firefighter Stories

By now, you’ve certainly heard – and possibly even seen – the buzz around the NVFC partnership with Duracell and the launch of the “Power Those Who Protect Us” battery donation program to bring attention to the needs of the volunteer fire service in local communities across America.

As the recently launched website states: “Volunteer firefighters devote their time to protect you and your community. Duracell’s “Power Those Who Protect Us” donation program lets you give back to these selfless heroes. ” Read more of this post