Joy of the Effort

Joy of the Effort

I have been teaching in the fire service since 1986. My most fun times are teaching rookies anything. Classroom or Practical it is fun to watch the lights come on in these young men and women. Structure burns are fewer and farther between than they used to be. Each burn is like the proverbial box of Chocolate!. You never know what you are going to get until that first fire is over. Each department and AHJ are very different. Getting to work with multiple colleges and Instructors and Fire Marshals is a great blessing.

Training yourself and your department is essential to longevity. Making sure your FF are really up to the task of Fire Suppression is also important. All instructors have seen the old and young experience “airpack” issues, heat and claustrophobia concerns, and other “I got to get out of here” excuses. Knowing who will stay by your side when the going gets tough is important. As much as I enjoy burning in the training building sometimes some slip through to the front line.

Joe Ramsey has been a staple instructor for Northwest NC for many years. Joe initiated a team Instructor concept. As many as 8-10 instructors and Instructors in training attend the burns. We work as a team and rotate in and out like the crews. We can be leading a crew into the building and working on fire sets for the next crew. And Should the fire get up into the attic…. We have Instructors to guide the backup line. We have even set-up a RIT Instructor group for bigger and complex burns.

Vienna FD is able through Joe, Mike and Tim to be able to take less experienced FF with us on these structure burns and evaluate same. Sometimes we put them into the existing departments crews and other times they assist the burn instructor. Building sets and rebuilding after a crew comes in and puts the fires out. We have developed a whole generation of new leaders, firefighters and instructors. We have separated the wheat from the chaff.

The whole process is as complex as it seems. Building fires for the crews to come into in a reasonable amount of time is difficult. When there are lots of folks waiting for “their” fire it puts more pressure on the instructor to make good fires and make the structure last. Usually after the first rotation a fire or combo of fires finds significant void spaces. Attics and cocklofts will light off and then we test the command structure. Radio chatter ramps up and all are concerned their view get transmitted to the primary crew. We as instructors also teach crew leaders that they need to call for the backup line and share the firefighting.

The interior crews are usually directed to a predetermined access to apply water to the void space. Vent holes already cut serve to preserve the structure and prevent the ONE guaranteed fire. Crews learn to move around in the fire building and leaders get to lead. Command and the Safety groups get to see lots of fire and heavy smoke properly stopped with the correct application of water. All crews that exit after the attic lights off and is properly extinguished have learned some valuable lessons about pulling ceiling, application of water, and even putting out the fire feeding the spaces above.

Many Saturday mornings have been sacrificed to the STRUCTURE BURN. Family time sometimes takes a back seat to a Burn. Every FF should attend Every Burn they are able to attend. Even short and sweet structure burns teach something. Firemanship is a continual learning experience. We all change and people change. The process and watching todays leaders come out of good training is worth the effort.

The Truck pictured with my young self is a 1970 Chevrolet C-65 Howe. She was the first 5-man cab Vienna got. Reflected in the windows is a structure after we let it go. I had been assisting Old Richmond on a Structure Burn. Early 90’s




Thanks and Thankful

Thanks and Thankful

Getting ready for Thanksgiving involved a slow week at the Garage. A small business lives and dies by the ups and downs of the normal cycle of business. We were cash poor for the short term but we had enjoyed the full 6 months before of extraordinary business. Customer arrived at our doors each day and even took the time to go online, write notes and bring gifts of food and treats. We are treated like heroes by many of our customers. Some care enough they call us for help even when it’s not the vehicles.

Our little business started by Marvin and Annie Mae Wilson has sustained the Lasley family for 29 years. First Roberta started working and raising Jim and Paul. We were able to provide for the Lasley’s and the Wilson’s until they both passed on. Our family business was joined by Rowena and James Gilstrap when the second Lasley boy was born. Roberta and Rowena go just about every day getting supplies and tires and enjoying life as a small business owner.

Wilson’s has enjoyed helping the community by having a majority of is owners and staff volunteering for Vienna Fire department. All the Lasley’s are members as well as  Richard Lewis. This does not come without some hardship. Leaving on a call is very hard when promising to have a customers vehicle repaired. Poor Roberta or the guy that has the oil filter off will stay and get the customer going again.

The years have flown and Jim has come to work Full-time. Jim Lasley has grown up first as an infant and raised by Roberta and community. Jim graduated from Reagan High and Forsyth Tech and has made the work of Auto Mechanic his vocation. Jim has dated and married Victoria. Wilson’s is blessed to have Jim and Victoria living and working in Vienna. We are pleased to see Wilson’s entering into another generation of service to the Vienna community.

No matter the ups and down of our economy the Lasley’s and especially Tim Lasley have a tremendous amount to be thankful for. Roberta, Jim Paul, Victoria, Little in -vetro Lasley, Mom and Brother Brian and Annette n Family, Kathy and Walter and Family . A magnificent Church family of Brookstown Methodist ,Bethlehem AME Zion, and Olivet Moravian. A Strong Community of Vienna and Double blessed by Scouting.

I have to also include our network of friends both in the community and on social media.  Friends comprise most of the customers of the little business. Men usually make ‘few real true friends and I have been blessed with many. So Thanksgiving really isn’t about what I have as much as what I can do and serve. I am blessed to be able to do and teach and serve.

Thanks Yall

Veterans Day

Veterans Day

Honor, Respect, Awe, and captivated by the stories some could tell. Not all Veterans can talk about their service. Some were and still are living with the horror of War. Pictures and smells coupled with sounds are triggers of memories. Memories can be magnificent or haunting. I am thankful all the men in my early years went to serve. I am free and enjoy a very special lifestyle because of the sacrifice of so many.  These men came home and built and lived the American Dream. Jobs and homes and Families were waiting for the returning Veterans.

Not all Veterans could return to civilization and some never will. My Pastor speaks about a place in Davidson county where Fathers took sons to try to  leave their memories and thoughts of War before coming back into society. Thankfully my mentors were able to come back ,Finish College, find jobs and build homes. I was raised in the para-military times Boy Scouting and Fire Department followed a Chain of command style of leadership.

I have marched in the Veterans day parade since I was a Cub Scout… Boy Scout … and 3 good Years of Marching Band. I have served my Community as a Fireman and EMT but still am in Awe and many times overwhelmed with emotion as I think of all the Veterans that gave up so much for me. Thanks from a Humble community servant


Food,Fellowship, Decompression and Release

Busy has been described to me as “Being Under Satans Yoke”. Time Flies. Life is passing by at a prodigious rate. I have a wonderful workplace and am lucky enough to work with Family. Our Employees are family too. Billy says there is no drama… We all get along and respect each other. However Work is WORK. If it were easy anyone could do it. At times I need to get away and do something different. Scouting has been my release. Did I mention I am Fire Chief? More Work! I have never dreaded going to either “Work”. Calls are no problem. Someone needs help! Training and administration are some work. Again Deputy Chief, Assistant Chiefs and Officers keep the load off me except for the BIG decisions. Again Scouting.

Scouting puts me in the outdoors and in places I may never see if I did not volunteer. I get to see the light come on in a youth that”yes ” even in the worst WX we can survive and even thrive. Let it rain and you don’t deal with the big crowds. Our youth are preparing to cook over only wood fires ways. They have researched and identified 8 methods to cook. Teaching to cook and preparing to cook are 2 very different things. We are splitting wood tonight. More than the scouts realize… Ha

Simple pleasures of just sitting and watching “Cowboy TV” as the fire burns low. Stories are shared and as more and more slip off to bed the fire circle tightens and joys,worries,  and cares are shared. As others share their wants and needs many times mine pale in comparison. True friendship can be found around the evening campfire. These bonds of friendship are tightened with work and shared experiences. Respect is noted and also the lack thereof.

Adult men make very few real true friends. Scouting and the Fire Service have forged my friendships kindled by Church or Community organizations. The work involved whether leader or follower binds men together. The quiet sharing of experiences give release to many issues that seemingly were overwhelming until sitting quietly around a common fire resting before bed. Shared experiences also shoulder the burden of each other’s needs. This makes the group and individual stronger and better able to face the work days and weeks ahead.

Thanks to all the Leaders and Mentors that have gone before me. Let me not go quietly into that good night. I want to share and shoulder for each of You that journey along with me. I will carry my burden and gladly show you how you have made each day a blessing to me.


Guru’s, Owners and Technicians

Guru’s, Owners and Technicians

For the past 30 years I have been a member of IGONC. Mr Wilson was not a joiner so although we knew about IGO we never joined and benefitted from the group. I have attended conventions by closing for the week. My whole family has attended and grown up in the IGO. Our convention is now the ASTE trade show and IGONC convention. This year we Sold out the Trade Show, Sold out the Room book, Packed the rooms for classes and in a special report had over 150 in attendance for the OEM Information update by Chris Chesney.

Independant is First in the name of our organization. All mechanics and owners are very independent. Building a business based on the needs of our customers is tough. We were branded grease monkeys. Dullards were put in Auto Shop in High school to get them through. THINGS HAVE CHANGED!

Transportation is critical to the very infrastructure of our nation. Over 70% of vehicle owners would rather have an Independent mechanic service their automobiles. Trust is a key component. Competence is expected with perfection close at hand. The vehicle platform is complex and going to get even more as the years go by. Safety systems can take control of the vehicle and autonomous vehicle are logging thousands of miles today.

Our industry is grey. Lots of OLD GUYS are the current programmers and subscription members to the OEM’s. Manufacturing and other lower tech work is paying more than Auto Repair. Vehicles are more complicated and there are fewer service intervals. Sounds like just what was being said when I got involved in 1975.

If you missed our ASTE convention you missed out. Great social atmosphere, Great Information, Great tools, and a good kick in the Pants. If My Shop is the Best- Why do I  let customers go other places?…. My Goal for this coming Year- Advertise Greatness, Prepare for New Customers, Work our Ass off to be the Best Automotive Repair Shop period.

Thanks to the Best customers and Friends ever along with Magnificent Employees

Thanks Tim and Roberta Lasley, Jim and Victoria Lasley, Richard and Sandy Lewis, Billy and Jennifer Green, Paul and Connor. JoJo and Patches


Alive and Well

Alive and Well

Don’t believe anything you read and only half of what you see.! I have been told this for years by my mentors and parents. I can tell you that the Rural fire service is alive and well in North Carolina. Yes volunteer numbers are down. Yes call volumes are swamping many departments. Yes we are requiring way too many hours to Certify and Qualify our first responders. There is still a palpable passion to our JOB! Witnessed by the intense interest in my last structural burn.

Training is frequent and intense. Our training process is better than ever. We have available every screw up on video to view. We have instant on the scene critics. We have the social media roaring  the proper thing to do… I think we can perform properly and respond perfectly to all situations if we were not humans. That human factor has millions of variables.

The Mission is simple. Save lives, Protect property. We are here for them! We must however protect ourselves to properly continue the service. I am the Safest I have ever been in 44 years of service. I am at a High level of Situational awareness. I drive slower, work out more and eat better than I ever did in the first 30 years. I have preached from the training pulpit the ways to stay alive till age 25 and beyond.

I have kept fire in my life. Carrying my turnout gear with me for 40 years to be ready at a moments notice. As soon as I became an EMT I have carried a jump bag too. I have taught the Structural Burn for the last 30 years. Taking crews and finding the best of the best and bringing those FF to additional burns to develop their skills. We burned with 10 Instructors and helpers keeping 35 -40 in crews of 4 n 5 busy all night.

The Command Staff, Water Supply and Instructor support worked tirelessly during the burn. The Whole incident had been pre-set. Lines, Tool Staging, Sets in all rooms all were ready to keep crews busy. Instructors rotated with the air supply and crews rotated as they got Fire. FF were rehabbed and fed as Crews and the burning continued. No Complaints from over 100 FF. Firefighting is alive and well in Rural NC.


Computers, Phones and Keeping in Touch

Life is Flying by…. The Garage is rocking along and the Heat sets in…Windows 7 computers are attacked by Microsoft… Phone breakage….Computer quits when the cable is updated… Roberta has to Stay with Her Mom…Twitter changes the feed and we lose some contact with our Tweeters…Weekend Warrior resumes after a brief respite…Paul goes back to School… Doves are eminent

I have lost touch with some of my friends. My home desktop will not communicate with the new cable modems… I am relegated to using the smart phone and no keyboard…More tweets and likes and less WordPress and Facebook…Pouring myself out of my clothing and cold showering helps after the hot and humid day in the shop. Flop into a chair and figure out what to Eat…Meetings have resumed and I am busy now more than ever before.

Chiefs Meet at the end of the month… New Chiefs are appointed… Others hired… New members come to Vienna… Rescue is in full swing… Auto Extrication is Hot and Fun…Raven Knob Cranks up for the Fall Camping Season…Patio is calling “Wait till it cools Down” …Outdoor fireplace is stacked and ready…Some Garage wood is cut and split and stacked… Thanks Paul…Jim is fixin up the Fixer upper…

We have and will keep on keepin on… I will get another computer and be able to type when it’s not 92 in the building… The temps will moderate and soon it will be my Anniversary 09-3… Hard to believe it’s been 34 years since Roberta said Yes…I will see everyone in the Fall and get back to camping and slow down a little…

My Phone is getting old and has some quirks… Watch out…