Father’s reflection


Surrounded by family, not smothered but wrapped in some loving arms. Camping with thousands is very intimate at times. Long walks on the beach, sitting n reflecting, and quiet time after all have gone to bed.

I am blessed with a Mom that let community men help raise me. My dad’s were many. To those still alive… JD Beroth, Bob May ,Tom Wright… Thanks. N I think you would be proud at your Grandsons n Family

Train up a child…. Proverbs… Thanks

That Feeling … Some may never Understand

That Feeling … Some may never Understand

There was nobody in 12 counties that did not know a Tornado was on the ground in Iredell, Davie, Yadkin, and Stokes counties. The system and Social media worked as planned. Devastation and Chaos spread through the 4 counties. Wx networks tracked the Tornados every move. Reporters sped to the source of the damage reports fast enough to warn others in adjacent counties.  Fire, Police, and EMS along with Emergency Management responded to help. Old fire dogs called in their locations in case of standby or Help Needed.

The urge to help your neighbor gets stronger as you gain experience. Proper knowledge and Equipment coupled with training causes even more readiness. Knowing past history or past experience when “All Hands were Working” makes it even harder to stay put and wait for the CAll.

The Storm had many busy. Wx folks were filled with the need to warn others. Especially after the storm reports started coming to the newsrooms. Many stopped what they were doing just to get ready. I personally got my house in order to have to leave. My family was getting together to Eat. Perfect timing. FF always leave during meals. I don’t know Why but thats when calls come in.

If you have answered the Call you know the pull to answer the next. Adrenaline junkies or just extremely valuable assets or cannon fodder it does not matter. We all get that FEELING.


Richard retired from the Forsyth County Fire Department. He had gotten married and was asked to stay home and comfort his New Wife when the Storms rolled through Vienna and Forsyth county.  He laughed as he told it … Ha He said “Honey I’m a Fireman and when it Storms we are always out in it”.  Truer words are never spoken. We are always out in it!

Vienna is blessed to have 2 brush trucks, multiple command level individuals, and very “wood” talented chainsaw masters. Down trees are not like any other wood that need cutting. Felling and sawing up trees is a simple task compared to the bent, twisted and pressure packed trees that fall on the roads. Asphalt waiting to kill the chain, power,cable,and phone lines add serious pressure to the simple task of cutting trees out of the road.

Clearing the road includes watching out for Traffic, More falling trees, the storm that caused the damage, and the tree(s) itself. The chain-sawyer and brush pullers have to work in harmony. Sometimes the obstacle prevents getting around even on foot . When that is the case we usually send someone around so traffic does not crash into us from that direction. We then can also work on two sides of the stuff. Trees, lines, vines, poison oak and ivy, piles of ice or snow all block the road. When its just a leaner or super large we call in DOT. Its magnificent to see the backhoe!!!

Storm Mode occurs once every 4-5 years. The term came into being because the Communications center receives more calls than they can dispatch. Usually it is a particular area of the county. Geographically departments share a common talk around channel put into use because the Emergency and Tactical channels get busy. Life safety emergencies are still dispatched on F1 and E1 but all Public service and non -life threatening are called into the stations. All stations set-up a call taker and dispatcher and divide into work crews. Call are received and handled according to priority.

We usually get a couple of  summer like storms each season and spring May storms roll through every Year. Just remember that there are Thousands of us out across the State when the Thunder Rolls. Working to save a life includes access to the areas of our district. Many are risking their lives so You will not be inconvenienced too long. Thanks for the support and as always- When you need help Call 911. Lots of Times you will be calling out a Firefighter into the Storm….



Vienna Fire Department is very blessed with excellent training and staff for responding to automobile accidents. Little district with big city call volumes in the 90’s and 2000’s. Vienna had a mutual aid agreements and eventually merged with Mt. Tabor VFD in the Early 90’s. Vienna was on its way to being a great Extrication resource for the Forsyth County area. Capt. and then Asst. Chief Dennis Reneau was relentless on training and equipping the “new squad”. Vienna was a pioneer in lighter and safer Rescue Equipment.

Holmatro equipment was purchased and the training began. I did not know the difference in the equipment until I started teaching the rescue section of FFI&II using both Rescue 721 and Lewisville’s Rescue 611. Lewisville has Hurst… IE The Jaws of Life tm. Vienna pursued the Holmatro brand and eventually also bought the same brand. Hundreds of students cycled through the rescue classes and Vienna benefitted by having multiple Instructors teaching but also all the classes were open to Vienna membership to come on extrication Saturday and practice and help guide students.Of course Rescue on the West side benefited from Instructors at Vienna, Old Richmond, Lewisville and Forbush. Putting those tools to work on cars, trucks,busses and farm equipment.

Experience is a fickle teaching tool. Great jobs and learning experiences are magnificent. Bad experiences and bad habits can produce good results. The Bad can be learned and used over and over until the time comes when something catastrophic occurs and someone is injured or killed. IE. Using tools without safety glasses. Glass may never get in your eye or a hydraulic hose may never burst but if YOU ALWAYS WEAR YOUR ISSUED SAFETY GLASSES you will be fine.

Vienna and Mt. Tabor combined to run over 1200 calls per year. This is more than twice as many as most volunteers and even staff can run. This is a learning experience in itself. Wrecks totaled about 10 percent of the calls. Pin-ins were a bi-weekly occurrence. Extrications come at all hours in all kinds of weather. For 10 years we went to wrecks all around the old MT. Tabor district and assisted in the Station 6 area. This was in addition to the Vienna area. Accidents included Motor Vehicle accidents, Light truck and trailer, Heavy trucks and Tractor Trailers. Industrial and Farm accidents did happen. Experience piled up and knowledge was distributed to all that would listen and practice

Multiple jurisdictions, past bad experiences, Unified Command and getting to know all the players helped make the incidents run much more smoothly. The Police, Sheriffs office, WS City Fire and FCEMS found a consistent command structure, Strong Command and clear direction as to roles and responsibilities. Often times Vienna responded,   extricated the patients , helped package the  patients, and packed up to leave before the Police got the road blocked. Good for all involved. The Rescue incident with high loss of life and critical injuries produced adrenaline junkies with all they could handle. These calls flowed so fast that control and direction of incoming units was difficult. The need to get the patients into surgery ramped DOWN in time from the Golden Hour to the Platinum 10. We tried to extricate in 10 have 10 to drive or fly and 10 to assess in ED… National extrication averages were 30-40 minutes. Pressure, Pressure, Pressure… More on that later

Those that have gone before…

Those that have gone before…

I am surrounded by History and tradition. I am an Automobile Mechanic in a small hometown shop that is almost 100 years old. The floor was poured in 1918 for a North Carolina State highway garage on the then US 421. I have been here physically 44 years. The walls have stuff on them from the 50’s or 60’s. Auto repair is all about what you remember from your history. Remember cool stuff and you will fix cars faster.

I am also in the Fire Service… 200+ years of Tradition unhampered by progress. To say we have always done it that way is REAL. WE HAVE!… Worked then Works Now.  Well I have OLD stuff and New stuff. Fire Service and Automotive. Cool old trucks, cars and machines. I also have been a Boy Scout, Leader, and Supporter for 40 official years and really 50 years unofficial.

I am a book reader and have a great imagination. I can stand and look across a vista and imagine the settlers walking and pulling wagons across our magnificent landscape.I have stood imagining the others that have come before me standing exactly where I am standing and looking out. I had one of those moments this past Wed. I had the opportunity to visit the Vade-Meccum/Camp Sertoma/Hanging Rock State Park property.

There are multiple buildings and lots of Explored land. There is an old hotel built in 1904. A large gymnasium and Chapel are on the property. There are hiking trails dating back to the original land tracts and old springs, dams and bridges. I stood in the downstairs of the old hotel reflecting on a room full of guests being served. I looked out the rear window at the old incinerator. I could imagine the loads of trash being dumped in then burned. We then looked at the gymnasium. Old exposed wood and steel beams with the wood floor.

Homer Dearmin told about a dance he attended during his CRK  staff years at the property. I could almost hear the music and feel the energy coming out of the building. Groups of teens standing on the porch and near the snack bar seemed almost too real.

We then took a trail to the open fields and area behind the property. Used most recently as a high ropes course. We had to traverse the creek and a few deadfalls but came upon the old bridge and spring house when the “Mineral Springs” were most sought after in the early 1900’s. The trails begged us to follow to the old lake and dam. We took a short time to lean against the bridge and Our Park Ranger Robin told us about pictures and historical facts from the area we were visiting. The Creek bearing the name of the property owners flowed gently under the bridge with minnows already visible in the clear pools. I could imagine the children slipping away and coming down to chase the crawdads and salamanders in this very creek.

I love to stand and reflect on those that have been before me. I hope that one day as we pass through this life I too will leave something that will cause reflection and wonder. I hope its not just the Dash between the Years on my headstone.

The Fight

The Fight

I look back and remember the outcome of Incidents from my years in the Fire Service. Some were magnificent saves and sometimes the outcome was less than expected. Some situations were too far gone and others spiralled down until there was nothing left. Defining moments in a long career that has had Easy times and controversy. I think what I remember the most is the Fight. Usually with Fire as the adversary but Time is a real Devil.

In my cadet and early training years the Fight was for the Old guys to let us do MORE!. We wanted to Fight fire, Drive the trucks, and spend the money. We wanted to train as much as other departments and we wanted the certifications as they were being developed. Time took care of the Fight because as the Old Guys aged in the department they rewarded us with responsibility and nurtured us till Their retirement and death.

My next Fight was internal. I was fighting against more experience and more training for the very few Officer spots in the Vienna department. Low turnover and very little movement upward gave lots of competition. I always wondered too if I had it in me to Fight or Run? When the time came to hang in there and give just a little more to put out that fire or back out and quit. I was training with my equipment and apparatus and training with the membership but with a little eye on Who? was stronger, better, and more favored for leadership.

The Fight with Fire came naturally and I had a leg up being both Day and Night Volunteer. I got to run more with the Short staffed daytime and the overabundance of personnel at night. I got to see other departments operate and out of necessity was given more responsibility. I got to choose from LOTS of advice about both the Fire Service and Life. When fires came in other districts I was on a truck in an airpack. Naturally when we arrived I was able to either take a line in or follow one already in place.

The late 70’s and Early 80’s brought a new Fight. Medical calls skyrocketed and EMS assist became a large part of helping the community. Our Department started a Rescue Squad  early and trained in both Medical and Technical Rescue. I made the decision to join the Fight. My Fight was can I learn all the Stuff Required to do EMT? Can I stand the sight of Blood or Vomit?. Will I have the fortitude to deal with the Grim Reaper? How will I remember all that is needed in order to do the best for the patient.

Fires, Rescues, and Medical became a natural addition to my days. The Fight ratcheted up as Vienna entered the new Century. We merged with Mt. Tabor and tripled our call volume. I  learned to drive in city traffic and that we cannot make all the calls. I had to delegate every responsibility out of necessity. Depending on someone else to do all the right things in the Fight. Vienna got better as a Fire Department and Rescue Squad.  With the experienced personnel and equipment Vienna was better for the merger.

The Fight switched to Time. Time to raise a family and build a business and keep all those certifications and qualifications. Time for all the Con-Ed hours, Teaching hours and personal time. ISO/DOI requirements tested Departments. I found my stride and really enjoyed all the Fights except the Ideological and Monetary issues. I do not like to disagree and being a Leader I had to learn to agree to disagree. I had to establish boundaries and discipline when those boundaries were crossed. Time in Service began to take a toll on the body.

I am not ready for the biblical “fought the good Fight” but I have done so. I love a good push on a fire, I enjoy the command details, and I am ready to debate the Youth of today… Keep Fire in Your Life, Choose wisely your Fights, but Fight that good Fight and Do Not go Gently into that Good Night…




Leaders are involved in multiple facets of life. My life is as complex as a diamond with deep and intricate faces and the shinny and shallow glitter of simple pleasures. Leading involves not only motivating but providing clear direction. To lead you must have followers and of course in the wake of decision making those that disagree. My study information shows me that 10 percent die, and 10 percent leave with no reason. To just remain the same 20 percent must be attracted to the leader or cause and stick. Involvement in Fire Department, Church, Family , Business, Scouting, and a host of smaller groups and causes; gives me plenty of ways to lead and try multiple leadership styles. I am Commanding in my Fire Chief position. I display the Lewin Leadeship style of Authoritarian. Autocratic leaders should provide clear expectations for what needs to be done and when done and how it should be done. I need to provide a clear division between leadership and followers In my training role I must be a participative leader aka Democratic leadership. Offer guidance, participate, and allow input from group members. Delegative leadership is only used when highly motivated and qualified members are participating. Situations will necessitate the use of a strong decisionmaker to move the group at times. I have been taught that with each group of my life I will use the 3 major styles of leadership at times. There are also research that indicates further division of the leadership styles. I am a KISS man and an 80/20 believer. 3 styles of leadership are enough for me today. So whats the point! I am versitle enough to make changes in my style but will need the followers to accomplish my goals. So all that said then Here are a few Goals. 1. Write the stories of the Fire Department 2. Develop an automotive training program and plan 3. Hold my children and followers accountable 4. Have as much fun as possible 5. Attend as many Brookstown functions as possible 6. Make clear lists and communicate expectations . Kurt Lewin Leadership Styles About.com

This was my 2013 New Years Pledge.. I will reup for 2017