Thursday, July 31, 2008

"Raising Engine 11" Update

Work is progressing on the Raising Engine 11 project.   Chief Roberts found the old bell for it and has returned it to its’ rightful place and we thank him for it.  We have secured much of the small equipment needed to put it back in its’ original form.  PPG Industries is donating the paint and supplies to refinish the body and Retired Battalion Chief Jeff Holbird of the North Charleston Fire Department has agreed to lend his talent in painting the truck.  Chief Holbird is a master with a paint gun and we are excited that he is helping us out.  He is known in this area as a builder of many street rods and other cars and one of his paint jobs recently sold on the Barrett Jackson Auction program.  Liberty Art Works in Missouri has agreed to produce two chrome ceremonial axes with “Remembering the Charleston 9” emblem to be mounted on the truck.  We intend to disassemble the truck during August.  We are taking all of the running boards and other tread plate off of it to sandblast and powder coat in a high gloss silver.  We will also powder coat many of the brackets, handles, rails and other accessories courtesy of the Austin Services powder coating shop in Summerville.  Let us know if you would like to contribute a buck or a hand.  It is a worthwhile project. Click on the "Raising Engine 11" photo in the right column of this page for more details on this project.

Where are You?

We know, without question, that many of you are hurting. You have faced much in the past year. The loss of your nine brothers, every aspect of the Department being called into question, many retirements and resignations and a large number of “outsiders” joining your ranks. New procedures and equipment coming at you as hard as a three alarm fire with much more to come. Our Team has been with you throughout it all and we are paying attention. Many of you have sought assistance in our program. A great number of family members have asked for help as well. We have watched you at fires, been with you during training, visited you in your stations, during the day and late at night. We have come to your homes, accompanied you to the emergency room, stood with you during the memorial services, consoled you and you have consoled us. You have disagreed with each other and counseled each other. Many of you have been actively involved in our program and, because of you, others have sought our help. Regardless of where you are in this process, we can all do more to help one another. If something in on your mind, if something is troubling you, give us a call. It is truly a no obligation call. We will respond to you. Call us at any time on our help line (843) 609-7013. You can help yourself while helping others.

Recruit Class in Progress!

This past Tuesday, Richie Denninger, Amanda Custer and I spoke to the new recruit class about our program and what we had to offer them. It was exciting to see a class of nineteen new firefighters, each hoping to become one of Charleston’s own. As we walked around the parking lot afterwards, we noticed license plates from quite a few different states, a sign that there is a great interest all around for firefighters to join this department. It was good to hear that all of these recruits have received Fire Academy 1152 certification prior to coming here. This will give them a good sound basis to build on and something to bring to the table, as they continue to prepare to take their places in the companies. To the new recruits, take pride in being a part of a department in transition as Charleston moves ahead, knowing that you are joining a great group of men and women who have faced the worst of times in the past year but have continued to answer the call to do their duty. To the other members of the department, reach out to these recruits, share your experiences, your training, your beliefs and, most importantly, your spirit as you all work to make the Charleston Fire Department an example for the fire service of this nation.

Be safe, my friends.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

What's in a Hug?

Today, the Team had the honor of accompanying the Charleston 9 families and many of you to the memorial service at the South Carolina State Firefighters’ Association’s Annual Fire-Rescue Conference in Myrtle Beach. One gesture that I saw over and over again today was firefighters greeting one another with a hug. As I thought back over the years, I don’t believe that I have ever noticed that at all or certainly not as much. We have all experienced much grief and heartache this past year and I believe we have developed an ability to be more open with our feelings, concern and respect for each other because of it. There seemed to be no boundary to this show of emotion as firefighters from all over South Carolina and many other states came together this week in Myrtle Beach to train, to share ideas, to learn, and most importantly, to support each other. It was a great gathering and Charleston was well represented by our CFD 9 families, our honor guard, our escorts, our instructors, our officers, firefighters and the CFD Wives' Club members and their families. I know that the Charleston 9 would have been proud of them all, we sure were.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

We Are Charleston!

In 1970, Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia suffered a terrible tragedy when their football team was killed in a plane crash while they were returning home from a game in North Carolina. In 2006, a movie, "We are Marshall" was released in theaters to memorialize those players and to document Marshall University's recovery from this unprecedented event. This week, I participated in a conference held here in Charleston that discussed the work to plan and carry out the Charleston 9 Memorial in June, 2007. The following scene from the movie portrayed Matthew McConaughey, as Coach Jack Lengyel, as he spoke to his team at the gravesite of the Marshall players. As I watched this clip during the conference, I thought it was important to share it with all of you.

The North Charleston Fire Museum is putting on a fire muster on August 23rd. This is a good way to show your spirit in these events. This is the first fire muster of this type to be held in South Carolina since the 1880's. Go to for more information.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Any time you think we aren't making progress, check this photo out!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

In Sympathy

We extend our heartfelt condolences to Capt. Milton Green in the loss of his mother.

"The Good Old Days"

Fred Walker & Gerald Mishoe 1967

I had the pleasure this week to visit an old friend of mine in a local nursing home. He is 86 years old now and has been a surrogate father to me since I was a teenager. During my high school years, when many of my friends were drinking or turning to drugs, he kept me busy working on race cars or fishing and hunting. We talked about the good old days, when life was much simpler, and the memories flooded back for us to enjoy once again. He reminded me that we create the “good old days” as we live our daily lives. Sure, we face tragedies, the loss of our 9 brothers and the loss of his wife of 65 years, two weeks ago, but the memories of them are what sustain us to move on. So, take some time today, to hug your wife or play with your children. Call your mother, your brother or sister, or a good friend, and let them know you’re thinking about them. Put some memories in your “good old days” bank and look forward to the days when you can revisit them to remind yourselves of what life is all about.

Stay safe, my friends.


Happy Birthday, Mandy Rivers!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Pen to Paper

Yesterday, a young lady stopped by my office to ask about the Raising Engine 11 project. She shared with me that she has lost her husband several years ago after he suffered an unexpected heart attack. She said that after the loss of the Charleston 9, as a young widow herself, she felt a special connection to the wives of the 9. During the procession to the coliseum, she stood at the roadside with her six year old daughter. She taught her daughter to stand and place her hand over her heart to show respect for our heroes. She and her daughter talked about the project this week and the child wants to contribute a portion of her weekly allowance to “Raising Engine 11”.

As I have thought about our conversation and her gesture, it became clear to me that we are all very fortunate, fortunate to live in a time when respect for heroes in our lives is an important part of teaching our children and the next generation the value of a good life.

You have faced much difficulty in the past year. The loss of our friends has been terrible to bear. The intense examination of every aspect of this department has been brutal with more than enough criticism to go around. Throughout it all, you have held your heads high, never wavering from the call to do your duty. I have kept my opinions mostly to myself, for operations is not what our Team is about. But, as an old firefighter myself, I certainly have an opinion so, for at least this time, I want to share it with you. The Charleston Fire Department is beginning a rise to the top. Great things are on the horizon and each of you is a part of making this department a model for all other departments in this nation. It will not be an easy road but one for which the past year has prepared you. If the fire service is where your heart is, this is the place to be. Let’s honor our fallen brothers by giving it our all. Stay the course and keep the faith. I believe you will be glad you did.

And by the way, there are many, many people in this community who care about you and your families. You are their heroes and ours too.

Stay safe, my friends!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

How to Stay Young

1. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.
2. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.
3. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity,


Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take,
but by the moments that take our breath away!

George Carlin

Happy Birthday Wendy Winn!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Fun at Brittlebank Park

On Sunday, June 22, 2008, the Team had the pleasure of participating in the first annual Charleston 9 Commemorative Family Picnic at Brittlebank Park.

There was great food and many activities to include the Fun Bus, a jump castle, dunking booth, horseshoes and volleyball. Thank you to the CFD Wives' Club for a spectacular job and all of their hard work in providing this great time for all.

We are already looking forward to next year!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Ashlee Needs Your Help!


Hello everyone - Ashlee is participating in the American Heart Association's Heart Walk. Last year, she raised $600. Visit the link below to visit her web page. Any donations will be greatly appreciated. For those of you who know Ashlee, you know what a joy and blessing she is to us. We feel so lucky that she was able to have the needed heart surgery that she had. Its donations that make procedures like that possible. Check out her web page!

Thanks! Eran and Sharon


The Charleston Firefighter Support Team is dedicated to the emotional health and well-being of the Firefighters and Families of the Charleston Fire Department.

We can be contacted on our 24-Hour Help Line at 843-609-7013. All counseling services are free of charge to any Charleston Firefighter or a family member.

Our offices are located at 2090 Executive Hall Road, Suite 170, Charleston, S.C. 29407 off of Savage Road near the I-526 0verpass.



Jim is originally from Connecticut. He is a licensed professional counselor and a Team Clinician with a special interest in Trauma and Stress management and brings over twenty-five years of experience to the table.


Amanda is one of our Team’s clinicians who serves in a counseling role for firefighters or family members seeking the services of our team. Amanda’s twenty years of experience in the field is invaluable to the team.


Chris serves as the Peer Support Clinician and Family Liaison Supervisor for the DMH on the Charleston Firefighter Support Team. Chris has been in the mental health field for over twenty years, specializing in providing services to people who have experienced traumatic events.


Richie serves as the Peer Support Supervisor for the team and is retired from the FDNY after twenty-seven years of service. He works with the peers who visit the firehouses to offer support to the on-duty personnel. Richie remains an active member of the Counseling Services Unit of the FDNY.


Mark has worked in the substance abuse field for over thirty years. His dedication to helping people with alcohol or other substance abuse problems stems from his own ongoing recovery from alcoholism that began in 1967. In addition to being a member of the team, Mark is Director of Charleston County’s Department of Alcohol and other Drug Services, The Charleston Center.


Gerald serves as the Project Manager for the South Carolina State Firefighter’s Association’s Counseling Support Unit and the coordinator of the Team. Gerald is the former Assistant Chief of the North Charleston District Fire Department and has been involved with the South Carolina Fire Service for over thirty-years.


The Charleston Firefighter Support Team was organized in July, 2007 through a collaborative effort of the South Carolina State Firefighters' Association and The South Carolina Department of Mental Health. It is founded on the principles of hope, healing, respect and recovery. All counseling services are free of charge to members of the Charleston Fire Department and their families. The strictest code of confidentiality is enforced as described and established by Law in the State of South Carolina Privacy Practices of Protected Health Information. (PHI)

The Support Team is designed to provide Advocacy Education and Treatment through its Peer Outreach, Family Liaison Program and Counseling Support Unit. As public servants, our commitment must be to the whole agency and to the citizens of our community. We uphold this commitment through diligence, honesty, personal responsibility and the highest professional standards. Staff members respect the rights of others to hold values, attitudes and opinions that differ from their own without judgment or disdain; and do not attempt to impose their own values and beliefs.

The Primary Goals of the Team are to develop services that are easily accessible and available, ensure that services meet the needs of firefighters and their families, and identify those in most distress and respond effectively. The Team will achieve these goals through a commitment to excellence and the highest respect for integrity, unique culture, and traditions of the firefighting community.


A Tribute to Charleston Firefighters

Engine 11 is a 1961 Model C85 Mack that was placed in service in the Charleston Fire Department in December, 1960. Many former and current Charleston Firefighters rode this truck during their careers. It was retired from service in early 1991 after over 30 years of service and has been in storage at Stoney’s Old Time Firehouse in Colleton County since that time.

The Charleston Firefighter Support Team had been searching for a fire engine that could be restored and used as a public fire education and event/parade truck to honor the Charleston 9 and all Charleston Firefighters, current and retired, for their dedication and service to our community.

The Team has acquired Engine 11 and is beginning a project to restore it to its original condition. Anyone wishing to contribute financially to this project can make their donations to “Raising Engine 11”, c/o Charleston Firefighter Support Team, 2090 Executive Hall Road, Suite 170, Charleston, South Carolina 29407. Anyone wishing to contribute their time and talent to help with this restoration can contact Gerald Mishoe at (843) 609-8300 or at .


This is the new Charleston Firefighter Support Team blog. We will make every effort to keep you informed of important events and dates related to our Team and our firefighters. Please feel free to leave any questions, thoughts or concerns that you have. We will make every effort to respond to you in a timely fashion.


The Charleston Firefighter Support Team provides an array of services designed to meet the needs of personnel and families of the Charleston Fire Department.

The following services are available:

Crisis Intervention - Attending to those in need of immediate and critical support.

Individual Counseling - One-on-one counseling to address issues identified as causing undue stress and emotional upset and to seek viable solutions to these issues.

Family Counseling - Meeting with fire department personnel and their families to promote unity and strength within the family.

Couples’ Counseling - Addressing those issues unique to the needs of a committed relationship.

Group Counseling - Using the power of peer support to tackle issues and together seek solutions.

Children’s Counseling - Working with children based on their developmental stage to provide a safe environment to discuss any concerns, promote confidence, and increase self-control.

Medical Assessment - Assessing the need for and monitoring medications.

Community Outreach and Social Support - Participating in activities, meetings, and events outside of the office to provide support and education. We are available to provide services in the office, in schools, in the home, or in the stations. Phone consultations are available for additional support.