More Columns From This Author

January 21, 2015

I have just returned from the other side of the world, where it was summer. There were no air conditioners or fans, and things remained toasty, long into the night. A much different weather picture has been drawn here though. Cold temperatures, coupled with snow and ice, have made for a tough time for some.

January 14, 2015

As you read this, I am in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. We are here, sharing the gospel with an unreached, unengaged people group known as the Pedi. We are literally in a different world. The farthest thing from the minds of these people is fire prevention.

January 7, 2015

After 34 years, Roger D. “Big Daddy” Fields hung up his gear for the last time on Tuesday morning. Retiring after a long and successful career, Dale will be missed. Dale started his firefighting career in Petersburg. One of the incidents in Petersburg that I remember him talking about was when the hospital caught fire.

December 31, 2014

Where will you be when firefighters arrive at your burning home? The preferred answer would be outside and able to tell firefighters that everyone is out of the house. This information would allow the first arriving officer to transmit a verbal all clear from the homeowner.

December 17, 2014

If there is any such thing as a worst time to have a fire, it is during the holidays. We have seen everything from house fires to mobile home fires in the news recently. Tragically, a female firefighter in Philadelphia lost her life in an early morning basement fire on December 9.

December 10, 2014

It could be the title to a song, but it is much more serious than that. This week, a kitchen fire in Hanover claimed the life of an elderly person, while a candle left burning caused a house fire in Prince George. Fires are tragic any time of the year, but they seem worse during the holidays.

December 10, 2014

During my 34 years as a firefighter, I personally experienced and witnessed many incidents where our crews and police officers came under attack, for a plethora of reasons. Scene safety has always been a main consideration for personnel operating at an incident.

December 3, 2014

The first Thanksgiving included two different cultures coming together to share a meal. As I see Christmas decorations going up before Thanksgiving, it seems that the flame of Thanksgiving flickers dimmer and dimmer each year.

November 19, 2014

Fire pit ashes placed in a garage caused a fatal house fire. This scenario has and will play out, over and over again. Whether it be a paper bag, a plastic bag or a plastic trashcan, the ashes have a chance of causing a fire, even weeks after the last fire that you had in a fireplace, woodstove or fire pit.

November 12, 2014

In the past couple of weeks, there have been two significant fires in Chesterfield, with similar causes. Significant is defined by the fact that both of these fires displaced the occupants that had been living there.

November 6, 2014

I was talking with one of the county’s battalion chiefs today, seeking to glean the department’s initiatives concerning smoke alarms and other fire safety messages. As I once knew extremely well, he shared some of the proactive and reactive ways that the department is attempting to educate the public.

October 29, 2014

Firefighters respond to a wide variety of fires and situations, each and every day. When I was on the job, we considered the single-family dwelling fire our “bread and butter fire,” since it was the one that we fought the most.

October 23, 2014

Today, my wife and I had the indescribable privilege of attending a naturalization ceremony at the Center for Immigration & Naturalization in Baltimore. A friend of ours first stepped on American soil about 22 years ago.

October 15, 2014

If things continue to proceed as planned, a fire station that was approved many years ago will open for service in January 2015. Fire Station 21, on the south end of Harrowgate Rd., will provide service to a segment of the county that sat on the far end of Station 1 and 14’s districts.

October 9, 2014

This week is that time of the year, which commemorates the great Chicago Fire that destroyed a large part of the city. Since then, this week has been used to make fire safety a priority across America.

October 2, 2014

As most of you know, I had left hip replacement on Sept. 15. The surgery took about an hour and a half. I remember seeing the physical therapist at 3 p.m., but had no feeling in my legs, due to the spinal block. In fact, the feeling did not return until 6-7 p.m. that night, which ruled out my walking on the day of surgery.

September 30, 2014

Here lately, it seems like a lot of fires have started on the outside of homes and traveled to the inside. Whether it is a cigarette thrown into a mulch bed, a faulty electrical outlet or a grill on a deck, outside fires seem to be on the rise.

September 16, 2014

Around March or April of this year, I began to experience some upper left leg pain. I thought that I might have pulled a thigh muscle or a groin muscle. I felt sure that the pain would subside in a week or two, but it did not.

September 11, 2014

I had a first-time experience today, when I attempted to call 9-1-1 for a member of our church. I dialed 9-1-1; the phone rang about 15+ times; I hung up; I called the non-emergency line.

September 4, 2014

As I listened to an influential voice rant at the funeral of the young man that was killed in a confrontation with a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, I was saddened. This was our police officers and the equipment with which they perform their duties that was being spoken about.

August 29, 2014

Some people believe that driving to a fire station is the quickest way to obtain service in a medical emergency. The danger with this thinking is that apparatus in a station does not necessarily mean that personnel are at the station.

August 20, 2014

One of the most recent Line Of Duty Deaths (LODDs) was a young volunteer firefighter in another state that died after being struck by a tractor-trailer, on an interstate. One of the most dangerous areas that firefighters, medics and police officers have to work is on the side of the many highways across this country.

August 13, 2014

For some reason, many people equate the presence of a chaplain with the absolute worst outcome, in any given situation. Six men make up the chaplain group for Chesterfield Fire & EMS, of which I am one.

August 6, 2014

As I watched the very sad and tragic story of the young mother who died from a brain aneurysm, triggered by an anaphylactic reaction from a bee sting, I began to think of ways to help people help themselves in this situation.

July 30, 2014

The most difficult time of my career occurred when I was transferred from Fire Station 1 to Fire & Life Safety, as the department’s Community Programs Coordinator. I started with this opening because 2004-2006 was tough for me to get up and go to work.

July 23, 2014

On July 8, one child died after being left in a hot vehicle in Ridgefield, Connecticut, while a store employee in Jacksonville, Florida, found a second child before serious injury occurred.

July 16, 2014

I received a letter from a reader of this column who pointed out a hazard in the kitchen that I had not written about in a recent article on kitchen fires. The hazard mentioned are appliances that remain plugged in when there is no one in the kitchen, especially toasters.

July 9, 2014

I read where an 82-year-old lady self-rescued from her burning home by bailing out of a window recently. People asked, was it a single-story or two-story home? The journey out of a window is difficult, no matter which floor it is on.

July 3, 2014

The title should speak volumes of a troubling apathy in America. Cooking-related fires continue to be the leading cause of fires in Chesterfield County, the State of Virginia and the United States of America.

June 24, 2014

Everyday, in Chesterfield County fire stations, a document circulates to each fire station known as the Daily Business Plan. It states things like battalion staff, units involved in inservice training, community events that may have an impact on emergency operations, a link to line of duty deaths nationwide

June 17, 2014

We wondered if winter was ever going to end, but that is a distant memory as we begin to deal with these hot and humid days that this summer will afford. I am glad that we got to enjoy a little bit of spring before the humidity arrived.

June 11, 2014

Let me start by saying that this article will hit very close to home and may be extremely raw for some that may read it. In the early hours of Sunday morning, the first fire unit was faced with heavy fire conditions and multiple fire victims, with one person still inside.

June 4, 2014

There have been three different fires, in three different localities in the past week. All three were in multi-family dwellings, with one being a duplex. The immediate lesson that we learn is that we have a lot of work to do in the area of fire prevention and fire safety.

May 28, 2014

I saw last night’s news report of a man that used an oil mixture to burn brush around his home, and consequently caught himself on fire, burning 50 percent of his body. This is a much more common occurrence than you may realize.

May 14, 2014

I read a report of a multi-family dwelling fire that started in a kitchen. This scenario is one that plays out many times each day in our nation. The problem with this one was that the occupant received burns on their face, neck and arms.

May 7, 2014

We have seen the news reports of two large houses, one in Chesterfield and one in Henrico that caught fire recently. Both fires had an accidental electrical cause, though both incidents were totally different. One involved the charging of a battery that must have shorted out.

April 30, 2014

Are your affairs in order? We go through this life, never thinking for a moment that it could all change in a split second. My years as a paramedic put me in the middle of crisis situations, where family members had either made the tough decisions previously and

April 23, 2014

In the Bible, the Apostle Paul talked about his thorn in the flesh. There were some who believed that his thorn was a person, however I believe that his thorn was a health issue, specifically an eye problem that he spoke about.

April 16, 2014

I was attributed a statement by some firefighters that had worked with me regularly; “I thought that I had seen it all.” I guess that I must have said that more frequently than I realized. I also used to say, “Stay on this job long enough and you are prone to see anything.”

April 16, 2014

Though we really get drawn to the spectacular or the horrific, are these what we see hurting or killing people day in and day out? We have all watched, as ships and aircraft comb the Indian Ocean, seeking clues into the disappearance of Malaysian Flight 370 and the 239 souls onboard.

April 16, 2014

Two days prior to the writing of this article, a major fire that destroyed an apartment complex under construction in Houston provided spectacular news footage. The focus of the news reports surrounded the construction worker that found himself trapped on an upper floor balcony, with heavy fire on that floor.

March 26, 2014

When time is critical, will public safety personnel be able to find your home? Basic life support on scene in six minutes or less of the event’s occurrence and advanced life support on scene in ten minutes or less of the event’s occurrence yields the greatest opportunity for survival of a cardiac or respiratory emergency.

March 19, 2014

If it is going to happen, it will probably first happen in New York City, and it will be big. The gas explosion that leveled two buildings in Harlem today is something that we must all learn from. Aging buildings and aging infrastructure is something that will one day affect every locality across America.

March 12, 2014

There are sayings and acronyms that have been used in public fire education to provide easily stated phrases that contain lifesaving information. I may not name them all, but I will explain every one that I state, with the same hope of providing information that will save one’s life.

March 5, 2014

During my days as an engine and truck officer, we did school inspections, multiple times each year. I can remember getting called to the principal’s office, after completing an inspection of a local elementary school, accused of destroying children’s artwork.

February 26, 2014

I remember receiving a phone call from a Chester mother whose son could not sleep after a fire had occurred in their neighborhood. He had seen the smoke coming from the house, watched firefighters arrive, and saw them work until the fire was out.

February 19, 2014

Two recent fires in our region have proven the effectiveness of properly operating smoke alarms. In both cases, heavy fire damage occurred to the homes, but news reports stated that the occupants were alerted about the fire by smoke alarms, and were able to escape uninjured.

February 12, 2014

This is the label that has been placed on the Atlanta catastrophe caused by a 2.3-2.6-inch snowfall. The result was people stranded on roadways and in schools for 24 plus hours. I heard that children, who were taken off of buses, were taken to Krogers and Home Depots.

February 5, 2014

Picture yourself on duty in a fire station at 2 a.m. The entire shift, including you, is sound asleep. At that moment, the lights come on and the all-call-signal sounds, indicating that the whole crew will be responding to an emergency incident.

January 29, 2014

As I was traveling down Chester Road yesterday, I and many others came upon a busted bag of pine tags in the middle of the road, which incidentally, you could not tell that they were pine tags until you got up to it.

January 22, 2014

We have just lived through a couple of pretty cold days, but it is not the first time that we have seen extremely cold temperatures. This cold snap affected me personally in two different ways. During the last coldest day, my wife noticed that one of our vinyl windows had cracked from one side to the other.

January 15, 2014

I recently read a news report of a vehicle fire at a gas station in Powhatan that was caused by static electricity. A quick thinking gas station attendant hit the emergency gasoline shutoff before a bad situation became worse.

January 15, 2014

In what room of a house or apartment will the greatest number of fires start?
Approximately 3.7 out of every 10 fires will begin in the kitchen.

December 30, 2013

Yesterday, I had lunch in a sub shop in Ashland. When I was leaving, I pushed on one of the doors to leave, and found it locked. Though the door beside it opened, both doors should have been unlocked, since the building was occupied.

December 18, 2013

As I sit here looking at our artificial Christmas tree, with white lights and ornaments that date back to the start of our family, I know that there are many that will adorn live trees in their homes.

December 11, 2013

With this “pending” ice storm on the horizon, I want to spend a little time talking about preparing for, living through and recovering from a weather event. I know that this information will come a day late and a dollar short for what is supposed to begin tonight, but there will be other weather events that will affect our lives.

December 4, 2013

About a week and a half ago, there was an apartment fire at a nearby apartment complex, where a lamp was knocked over and ignited the curtains. A fire in a multi-family dwelling, bad, yes, but what made it worse was that two people in the apartment were either hearing-impaired or completely deaf.

November 27, 2013

Though I believe that I have written an article on this subject previously, I feel it important to address the responsibilities of landlords versus tenants, where smoke alarms are concerned. I do understand that rental or leasing companies handle some properties, but ultimately, the responsibility rests with the owner(s).

November 20, 2013

Most of you have probably heard about the house fire that occurred in Dinwiddie, where an elderly couple became two of the latest, possible fire fatalities. This fire is under investigation, so my comments will be based upon past experience and speculation, but we may be able to deduct some worthwhile learning points, simply from what we do know.

November 13, 2013

I was reading the Daily Business Plan for Emergency Operations of CF and EMS the other day, and saw where they responded to a working attic fire. Depending on the layout of your home, there are not many things that can cause an attic fire, so let’s talk about those things.

November 6, 2013

As bow season gives way to black powder season, I believe it important for us to talk about hunter safety, in the hope that each of us will have a safe and productive hunting season. Each year, there are cases of hunters falling from tree stands, accidental shootings and hunters suffering heart attacks.

October 30, 2013

Though many churches provide an alternative to common Halloween activities by offering a Fall Festival, there will still be many children walking their neighborhoods and telling their neighbors, “trick or treat.”

October 23, 2013

Now that the government has returned to some semblance of normal, a true oxymoron, I thought that I would share an article that I wrote in the midst of the shutdown.

October 16, 2013

As fire officials investigate the fatal fire in Triangle, Va. that claimed the lives of three adults, I thought that I would share some thoughts, in the hope that this will not happen again.

October 9, 2013

This is Fire Prevention Week in America. The theme for the week is “Prevent Kitchen Fires.” Unattended cooking is still the cause associated with the highest number of single family and multi-family residential fires. When I left the job, 3.7 out of every 10 fires started in the kitchen.

October 2, 2013

1 lb. of ground beef
1 lb. of sausage
1 tub of Ricotta Cheese

September 25, 2013

I missed the memo about sharing memories from Hurricane Isabel, which came in on the North Carolina coast on September 18, 2003. Our shift came on the morning of the 18th at 8 a.m. Let me shift gears for a moment, and share a memory from Hurricane Fran that came in on the North Carolina coast on September 5, 1996.

September 18, 2013

Last Friday night, my wife and I were in Abingdon. After dinner, we decided to take a walk through the middle of the town. Though there was quite a bit of traffic, the crosswalks were clearly marked and when you pushed the button, you got a pedestrian crossing signal, with enough time to cross.

September 11, 2013

My wife and I were just blessed with our first grandchild, back in July. This new addition to the family got me thinking about home escape plans; odd I know, but this is how I think. Babies create an immediate change to any home escape plan in the case of a fire, because they depend on others to get them out.

September 4, 2013

By the time that you read this article, I will have just returned, with a team of four other people, from the Limpopo Province of South Africa. It was my fourth time to go to this part of the world, and to work among the Pedi people.

August 28, 2013

Summer is ending and school is starting, Sept. 3 to be exact. There will be an influx of additional traffic and pedestrians on already busy roadways. Curtis Elementary will have a new crossing guard, though she is not new to Chester.

August 21, 2013

What is it that would prevent a person from being able to escape from a burning building? There are many answers to this question, so I will attempt to speak about as many reasons as possible, while hoping that you, the reader, will think through this issue.

August 14, 2013

As we rapidly move towards the end of summer, I thought that I would throw out some reminders to finish the summer well. My definition of well, in this case, is everyone safe and your property intact.

August 7, 2013

Many homes have attached garages, in other words, the garage is connected directly to the house. Building codes have improved over the years, with minimum Sheetrock requirements being five-eights inches thick on the wall between the main living area and the garage.

July 31, 2013

Through a part-time job that I have been doing, I had the opportunity to walk through a number of lived-in apartments the other day. What I saw did not shock me, but it does warrant me writing about it. Most people’s apartments were pretty clean and straightened up, however, there were a couple that left a lot to be desired.

July 24, 2013

The last verse of the Book of Judges states, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” This was not a positive statement then, and I believe that the latter part of the sentence draws a word picture of our nation today.

July 17, 2013

Words cannot describe the inexpressible joy that is in my heart right now. God had blessed me with the privilege of working with a group of young people from around the state this week, but little did I know the blessing that lie around an unexpected corner.

July 10, 2013

We are definitely in the hot and humid pattern, but we have definitely gotten more rain this summer than in years past. With these hot days, there comes the need to pay closer attention to hydrating yourselves with the proper fluids, prior to outdoor activity.

July 3, 2013

On July 4, Americans will celebrate independence, or stated more emphatically- FREEDOM! I have had the privilege of traveling to two different continents, and five different countries, seeing some of the most beautiful sights and meeting some of the most wonderful people, but as the saying goes, “there’s no place like home.”

June 26, 2013

Whether it is a dry or wet drowning, it is still a drowning nonetheless. The difference between the two types of drowning depends on the point when the laryngospasm occurs. The point of this article is to do everything possible to prevent a drowning.

June 19, 2013

This could be a title of a novel or a soap opera, but it is actually a response to Thursday’s storm. I heard a weather reporter say Thursday morning, “if you didn’t know that this storm was coming, you have not been listening because we have been forecasting it since the weekend.”

June 12, 2013

Whether they were on the roof or under it, in the collapse zone, four firefighters lost their lives in a restaurant fire that spread to an adjoining hotel in Houston Texas. The after-action report, though not out yet, will share valuable information about what went wrong.

June 5, 2013

What do you write about when you have been without cell service and without a television for the last week? Though I did just return from a place like I just described, I had actually planned to share this prior to my trip. I have only been in fire stations a few times since retiring in 2010.

May 29, 2013

Approximately 24 hours before a powerful tornado devastated Moore, Oklahoma, firefighters in Dallas were battling what would become a six-alarm condominium fire. At 3 a.m. on Monday, FF Stanley Wilson was awakened with the rest of his crew, dispatched to what would become his last fire.

May 22, 2013

What is it that can make a person mad, “at the drop of a hat?” I say that it is when another person makes a mistake driving or drives with no regard for anyone else on the road. Whatever the case, our anger is roused when people cannot drive.

May 15, 2013

Getting old is a reality of this life. The problem is, are you ready for that time to come? Many would say that this is not the role of a pastor, but I have found myself, on more than one occasion, having to guide people through the difficult decisions that aging brings.

May 8, 2013

NBA veteran Jason Collins’ decided to come out as an open homosexual this week, making him the first active openly gay athlete on any major U.S. team. I am a lifelong lover of all things basketball, but to be honest I don’t really care to know about this man’s sexual preferences.

May 1, 2013

Three guiding principles that Chesterfield Fire & EMS had posted on the walls of fire stations for years were

April 24, 2013

As we watch an end to the mayhem in Boston and the surrounding suburbs that began with the bombings at the Boston Marathon, many may wonder how all of this worked? One short acronym, NIMS, National Incident Management System is the easy answer.

April 17, 2013

Yesterday’s fast-moving brush fire caused traffic and lives to be disrupted for hours. The Virginia Department of Forestry’s fire danger rating for yesterday and today was a 3, or a high danger of fire. Though we do not have many days of low humidity, we do have winds, accompanied by the effects of drought and a lot of fuel from previous hurricanes.

April 10, 2013

Scottsdale, Ariz. was ahead of the nation, in regard to residential sprinkler systems. Their testing showed the overwhelming benefit of a home protected by smoke alarms, in conjunction with a residential sprinkler system.

April 3, 2013

I recently received a call from a friend of mine telling me that he had experienced a fire the night before and needed advice on what to do next. The fire scenario was that his diesel pickup was parked next to his house, and he had plugged up his block heater, since it was supposed to get cold that night.

March 27, 2013

On Sunday, March 31, Christians will celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. John 1:1 states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

March 20, 2013

There is a suspected arsonist(s) on the loose on the Eastern Shore. The news reported last night about a sixty-seventh fire in another abandoned building. These fires are taking a toll on firefighters, firefighters’ families, police officers, fire apparatus, taxpayers, and the economy as a whole.

March 13, 2013

Your smoke alarm or alarms are activating, what next? This is a discussion that every family should have before a fire occurs in their home. A practiced home escape plan could be the difference between everyone getting out safely and multiple family members dying in the fire.

March 6, 2013

This has been an age-old campaign, designed to prompt people to keep fresh batteries in their smoke alarms. Smoke alarms are still the best and most inexpensive measure of fire protection, once a fire occurs. If there is a proper number of smoke alarms, and they are placed properly, smoke alarms should activate when smoke is detected.

February 27, 2013

In the last few weeks, we have seen three building fires in the news: an apartment fire in Henrico and two house fires in Chesterfield. Though I do not know what caused the apartment fire, I think that there are plenty of things that we can learn from each fire.

February 20, 2013

It is funny what people will do when they know that their pastor is coming to visit. On the planned visits, you can tell that a lot of cleaning has taken place prior to a pastor’s arrival.

February 13, 2013

I had the privilege recently of attending a ceremony at the Dupont Spruance Plant, where members of the Dupont workforce were recognized for their willingness to volunteer in numerous organizations, throughout this area. It was refreshing to hear people’s stories of why they became volunteers, as well as the many wonderful contributions that each one makes in the lives of others.

February 6, 2013

How many of you have heard, “If we do not learn from history, we are bound to repeat it?” A recent nightclub fire in Brazil that claimed the lives of over 200 people was eerily similar to the Rhode Island fire that claimed the lives of 100 people in 2003.