Friday, April 30, 2010

Wedding Bells! (and sirens and flashing lights and horn!)

This evening, we were honored to participate in the wedding of CFD Firefighter Annie McNelis and JIFD Captain Brad Smiley at the Santee Canal State Park in Moncks Corner. We sent in a decoy limousine before bringing in the bride and her matron of honor on Engine 11. Naturally, it would not have been a firefighter's wedding without the lights flashing, horn blasting, bell ringing and siren screaming so we were excited to do the honors for Annie and Brad as we rolled up. Chief John Winn drove Engine 11, much as he did when he first joined the department 34 years ago and our own Richie Denninger added his own special touch as he played the bagpipes. Congratulations Annie and Brad!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Fallen Firefighters' Survivors Foundation Poker Run this Saturday!

Don't forget to join us for the World's Largest Poker Run this coming Saturday, May 1, 2010, at the American Biker dealership on the frontage road of Interstate 26 just after the College Park Road exit going west.  Take the College Park exit and follow the frontage road to the dealership. Activities begin at 8:30 a.m and run all day. We will be there with the"Never  Forget" Camaro, Engine 11, "Big Red", "Lil Red" and David Reindollar's "bad to the bone" Fire Bike.

Spring Time in Charleston!

The winter weather is over and the sunshine and warm weather make for a wonderful time in Charleston.   The CFD is busy as we continue to move forward.  Many personnel have completed Emergency Vehicle Driver Training, our newest recruits are about halfway through their training and our most recently promoted Captains have just completed the first CFD Officer Training School.  This program was especially exciting for it was presented by many of the current Captains and Chiefs of the department, who added their experience and expertise to an excellent effort by all who participated. We are excited by the pending arrival of our two new engines, light truck and command vehicle that we hope will be debuted at the South Carolina Firefighters' Fire Rescue Conference the second week in June in Myrtle Beach. 

On a personal level, the CFD family is experiencing many upcoming high school and college graduations, births of both children and grandchildren and weddings galore.  Many of our CFD kids are playing soccer or baseball or cheering on the sidelines. Love is in the air as congratulations go out to Engineer Kevin Carter and his bride, Robin, (pictured above with their children) who exchanged their vows this weekend in Hampton Park, Firefighter Travis Cooper and his bride, Jessica, for their wedding this weekend at Middleton Place, and Firefighter Annie McNelis and her fiancee, Brad, who will tie the knot this coming weekend at Santee Canal State Park. We are also looking forward to the 3rd Annual CFD 9 Remembrance Picnic, the 2nd Annual CFD 9 5K Run scheduled for Fathers' Day in downtown Charleston and the Firefighter Challenge Games coming to Charleston.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Message from Chief Tom Carr

The following is a message sent to all Charleston Fire Department personnel today by Chief Carr:

As you may know I am a strong advocate of the organization supporting fire fighter health. In order to establish confidence in the medical support system, fire fighters must have total confidence that their personal medical situation is confidential. I do not take the decision to share my medical information with you lightly. But I feel it’s important that I share some personal health information with you.

I have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Parkinson is not fatal, but currently it is a non-curable, degenerative, and a debilitating disease. It generally doesn’t affect critical thinking and normally advances slowly.

You may know this as the disease that Michael J. Fox, Pope John Paul, Janet Reno and Mohamed Ali have. It is difficult to diagnose because there aren’t specific tests for Parkinson’s and each person is affected differently.

Currently my symptoms are a soft, raspy voice, some balance issues, some tremors in my hands and face, and a lack of facial expression. Symptoms are controlled to some degree by medication although there can be fluctuations during the day. My soft voice is the most frustrating. In the past I had a strong voice and rarely used a microphone.

But I still wake up every morning ready to get at the days activities. As the chief executive officer of the Charleston Fire Department, my responsibility is not fighting fires but fighting, cheerleading, and facilitating for you folks on the street.

My career plan is to continue to implement our CFD vision. We have made a great deal of progress but there is plenty left to do. We have established a great leadership team which is very effective.

I also want to help other fire fighters understand Parkinson’s, its risk and how your environmental exposure as a fire fighter increases your risk of having PD. There is a study that states in the general population the probability of PD occurring is 3-4 out of 1,000 and for a fire fighter the risk increases to 30 per 1,000. It is thought that people develop PD either genetically or environmentally or a combination of both factors. I went though genetic testing to determine if my children were at risk. I do not have the genetic markers for PD. Given the genetic test results, I most likely developed PD as a result of environmental exposure, such as, chemicals released from normal room and contents fires as well as exposure to pesticides and other chemicals. We need to assure our fire fighters have the information they need to understand the risk and reduce exposure.

I have talked at length to my doctor at MUSC and have been evaluated at the Mayo Clinic. They believe, and I know, that I am able to continue fire chief executive duties. I don’t take this lightly, my responsibility is to support you. I take this commitment seriously and would do nothing to compromise you or the CFD. I plan to continue working for you as long as I am able. My doctors say that 5-10 years is a reasonable expectation.

I am totally committed to you and the CFD. In fact, you are the CFD and many of you have experienced devastating impacts on your family and on yourselves personally.

My initial diagnosis of PD felt devastating on my life but the opportunity it presents can’t be overlooked. I am committed to getting the word out about PD and the possible links to fire fighting.

Have no doubt that I will continue to lead the CFD on its current path.

Chief Tom Carr

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Our Parade Nevers Ends!!

We have a motto in our office that "Our Parade Nevers Ends" and today was no different as we participated in the 25th Annual St. George Grits Festival Parade. We take great pride in representing our department and our firefighters any time we can in an effort to show our support of all that they do.  We hope that, by example, we encourage other communities to remember their firefighters daily for their service to their communities. 

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Charleston Loses a Great Leader

The following is an editorial written by Brian Hicks of the The Post and Courier newspaper in Charleston on
Wednesday, April 7, 2010:

They buried Hazel Wine Jr. on Saturday, his family and friends gathered graveside on a beautiful Lowcountry sea island.

Wine was not famous, rarely had his name in the newspaper or on the television, but he spent decades serving this community -- and Charleston is a little poorer without him.

Wine, 67, served for more than 30 years in the Charleston Fire Department, retiring in 2006 as a Battalion Chief. He was, his friends say, a leader of men, a mentor to young firefighters.

A soft-spoken man who ran a tight ship, Wine commanded respect as easily as he gave it.
"He made sure everybody did their job," Assistant Chief Raymond Lloyd says. "He was honest, fair and he could be tough. We'd have a fire and he'd say, 'Bro, we've got to get it done because I'm not going to call for any help.' And we'd get it done."

When Wine joined the fire department in the '60s, it was unofficially segregated. He was assigned to the ladder company on Coming Street, a station staffed entirely by black firefighters. The white firefighters worked for the pumper company. That's just the way things were.

In the early '70s, when the department began joining the modern age, Wine volunteered to go work on the pumpers, to lead the way. Fire department veterans say he became a leader then; whatever personality conflicts arose in those days were smoothed over by Wine. His skills did not go unnoticed. Shortly after becoming chief, Rusty Thomas promoted Wine to Battalion Chief. He was one of the first black firefighters to rise to such a lofty post.

"What you saw was what you got," Thomas says. "He knew his job and his guys knew their jobs. He demanded respect, and he got it."

These days, people around the fire halls remember him for his ingenuity and his professionalism. His friends say you'd be hard-pressed to find a firefighter who didn't like him. If you did, it would be someone he chewed out at one time or another and if Wine dressed them down, they deserved it.

When the department lost nine men in the Sofa Super Store fire in 2007, Wine had been retired for little more than a year. Still, he came back to help his men get through the most trying ordeal of their careers. "He came to every funeral, every eulogy -- he was there in uniform," Lloyd says. "Since he was retired, he could have just come to the big service and no one would have thought anything about it. He went above and beyond." That's likely because Wine realized he was part of something larger than a simple collection of co-workers. The fire department is a brotherhood, folks who risk their lives every day to keep other people safe. They stick together, in part because people like Wine showed them how.

Hazel Wine Jr.'s life is a lesson in professionalism and dignity and for that, Charleston owes him a good deal of thanks.
Copyright © 1995 - 2010 Evening Post Publishing Co..

CFD Officer Candidate Training Set for April 12

On April 12, 2010, the Charleston Fire Department will begin its' first formal Officer Candidate School. The program will be two weeks in length with many existing officers of the CFD presenting the classes. The seventeen new Captains of the department will attend sessions ranging from shift dynamics, report writing, haz mat operations, crew resource management, incident management, strategy and tactics, building construction, basic computers and health and wellness, including a session on behavioral health presented by our Team.  We are excited about this new program and are looking forward to participating.