Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I'm sure all of our readers know by now that we buried a brother yesterday. The unexpected loss of Captain Chris Brown has affected every member of our Department in some way or another. Chris was assigned to Station #1 C-shift aka "The Big Show". He is survived by many including his brother Mark Brown who is also assigned to C-shift as Lieutenant on Engine #5 (The 12th Street Express). There are several things that need to be said and talked about and I'll try to hit them all while being as brief as possible. First, the service was documented by Rhett Fleitz (Lieutenant Station #13-C, published and noted author) and Mikey Overacker (Retired Lieutenant #10A). Please take the time to view the coverage here, here, and here. Winters, over at Station #3 (The Hippie Hotel) also made a nice post (yea, I stole her title but we steal from them all the time anyway) to their blog found here . The brothers from Station #6 also had a nice tribute here while Chris' men posted their own memorial on their blog. You can see one of our local news channel's coverage here.
The service was awe inspiring to say the least, and a true testament to the man that Captain Brown was. The attendance alone was impressive. That said, it is almost unimaginable how much effort, sacrifice and dedication it took to make it happen. I know I'm bias, but I think that only the Fire Service could have pulled this off. In the City, we needed 35 members to cover our rigs during the service. Our Brothers of Roanoke County Fire and Rescue and Salem Fire / EMS Department were quick to offer their assistance. These brothers and sisters came in, OFF DUTY, WITHOUT PAY manned our trucks and did it in a BIG way. They didn't just man the trucks, they staffed em with 4! We haven't had 4 on the trucks city wide in forever! IMPRESSIVE! The list is long, but their names need to be shared. I want to personally say THANK YOU to each and every one of them and say to everyone how proud I am to work in this profession and share the brotherhood that only we know and have been fortunate enough to witness over these past few days. Here's the list.
Roanoke County
Listed by Rank, Name, and Assignment covered in the City
Div. Chief Joey Stump Southside BC
Div. Chief Todd Maxey County Engine 5 running out of City #2
BC Sexton Northside BC
Capt Daryl Burks Station 4
Capt. D.M. Jones Station #3
Capt Troy Gray Station 6
Capt Brian Weeks Station 13
Capt Brian Witt Station 13
Capt Jeff Lawson Honor Guard
Lt Don Altice Station 6
Lt Kevin Gresham Station 5
Lt Toby Martin Honor Guard
Lt Riley McClure Honor Guard
LT. Danny Irvin County L-5 @ #7
Lt Lynn Hudson Station 5
PM/FF Brandon King County Engine 5 running out of City #2
PM/FF Jeff Johnston County Engine 5 running out of City #2
PM/FF Gary Hostetter Station 6
PM/FF Geoff Tuck Station 9
PM/FF Ron Stone Station 9
PM/FF Matt Bradshaw Station 9
FF/EMT J. Arnold County L-5 running out of City #7
FF/EMT K. Maciel County L-5 running out of City #7
FF/EMT Tim Webster Honor Guard
FF/EMT Brandon Carroll Station 9
FF/EMT Jarad Hall Station 11
FF/EMT John Gillespie Station 3
FF/EMT Kevin Harbour Station 3
FF/EMT Zach Graybill Station 13
FF/EMT Tim Craighead Station 7
FF/EMT Lannie Hoosier Station 13
FF/EMT Drew Willis Station 13
FF/EMT Todd Hanson Station 5
FF/EMT Adam Amburgey Station 6
FF/EMT John Richardson Station 13
FF/EMT Robert Mauck covered County position to keep them at min. staffing as well.

Salem Fire / EMS

FF/Medic Betty Tottin Station 2
Lt. Jimmy Poindexter Station 2
Captain Eddie Hite Station 2
FF/EMT Jeromy Hartman Station 2
FF/EMT Jason Morris Station 3
Ff/Medic Stephanie Richardson Station 3
FF/EMT Robert Paxton Salem Engine 1 out of City 4
FF/Medic Brian Buccola Station 4
FF/MEdic Jonithan Huffman Salem Engine 1 out of City 4
FF/Medic Mike Spalding ?? sorry
FF/EMT Jeromy McAlexander Salem Engine 1 out of City 4
FF/EMT Tod Bedwell Salem Engine 1 out of City 4
Lt. Tracy Coe Ladder 2
FF/EMT Chris Fuqua Ladder 2
FF/Medic Chris Smith Honor Gaurd
FF/Medic Mike Elliston Honor Gaurd

I would also like to say thanks to the Chiefs for allowing the covers to take place, for handling the scheduling / assignments and then attending the service. Chief Richard Burch and Chief Dustin Campbell of Roanoke County. Chief Pat Counts of Salem. Chief Melvin Saunders from Roanoke City, Capt Chris Trussler and Lt. Chris Franklin both from the City a well.

I don't have an official number, but the Uniformed personnel in attendance was impressive as well. Not just local members either. I was able to meet, thank and shake the hand of LOTS of brothers from out of town. We lined both sides of the drive into the cemetery and then followed the Capt. to his final resting place. EVERY shoe shinned, buttons polished etc. Uniformed movement, salutes and stances. The pics can be seen on Rhett and Mikey's sites linked in the beginning of this post.
The Honor Guard... leaves me speechless. TOP NOTCH! Again, I am humbled and filled with pride because of the job these men did. They served 2 shifts of viewing and the burial service. I am going to try to list their names and hope I don't forget anyone. Chris Trussler, Daniel Goodwin, Richard Lipes, Phillip Dillon, Robert Reid, Travis Meador, Roger Manual, Daryl Songer, Travis Simmons, Michal Jenkins, Collin Humphries, J.D. Reynolds, Zach Obenchain, Todd Reliegh, Jacob Palmer, Josh Hull, Jeff East, Chris Smith (Smitty),Tim Webster, Mike Elliston, Toby Martin, Tom Gherman, Jeff Lawson and Riley McClure. I'll add that Honor gaurd members Rob Reid (Bugg) and Daryl Songer stood on post for 1 hour and 20 minutes straight during the church service...again, an unbelievable display of RESPECT, HONOR AND PRIDE! The flag folding team.. FLAWLESS!
The dispatchers of Roanoke City announced Chris' passing and placed him on his last alarm. Later, following an explination of the tradition by Chief Hoback, members from the Honor Gaurd rang the bell to signal 5-5-5 and place Chris in quarters.
Our Brothers and Sisters from Lynchburg Fire / EMS Department sent 3 bagpipers. I wish I knew all their names and don't. I did get to thank each one and shake their hand. I'll tell ya, when they hit that first note, there wasn't a dry eye around. WELL DONE men and THANKS!
Captain Toby Bedwell 1st Lt. J.J. Price and Lt. Jamey Brads stepped in to handle all of the arrangements and see to the Captains family. I know that Chris' wife Stephnie and his "girls" Caroline and Hannah didn't have to drive anywhere nor were they without a fireman by their side. Framed pictures and video slide show at the service...so much to do and it all handled professionally.
The members of #1C...WOW! What a great company Chris built. Stuck together like glue. They had each others back and a shoulder to cry on. Rallied around Jeff (Battalion Chief Beckner), Mark, Stephnie, the "girls" and Marqueta (Chris and Mark's mother). An example for every company to follow. They drove their rigs to the cemetery (Battalion 1, Engine 1, Ladder 1, Medic 1, and RS1). They got out at the gates and walked their Captain home, hands on the hearse. Again...RESPECT, HONOR AND PRIDE! They each removed their right glove and placed them atop the casket, Battalion Chief Beckner among them. He then paused, removed the gold badge from his uniform, laid it atop the gloves and through tears spoke "God's speed Battalion Chief Chris Brown" (Chris was up for promotion having just completed the testing process).
We buried Chris yesterday; today, 1C reported for duty! A work ethic handed down through generations of firefighters and one Chris passed to his men. It reminds me of a scene from the movie Ladder 49... The crew is dealing with the loss of a brother and the Captain breaks in and explains how to honor him. I'll add it here..

( It's a long clip but the first 63 seconds is what we're referencing)
I know it's hard and you men are hurting but know that the Melrose Misfits, every other member of our Department, and brothers and sisters from departments near and far are here for you to lean on. ANYTHING..ANYTHING you guys need, let us know. I'll close with this poem, author unknown..

In Honor
Brother when you weep for me
Remember that it was meant to be
Lay me down and when you leave
Remember I'll be at your sleeve
In every dark and choking hall
I'll be there as you slowly crawl
On every roof in driving snow
I'll hold your coat and you will know
In cellars hot with searing heat
At windows where a gate you meet
In closets where young children hide
You know I'll be there at your side
The house from which I now respond
Is overstaffed with heroes gone
Men who answered one last bell
Did the job and did it well
As firemen we understand
That death's a card dealt in our hand
A card we hope we never play
But one we hold there anyway
That card is something we ignore
As we crawl across a weakened floor
For we know that we're the only prayer
For anyone that might be there
So remember as you wipe your tears
The joy I knew throughout the years
As I did the job I loved to do
I pray that thought will see you through
Captain Wines.


Anonymous said...

The overwhelming response from our neighboring juristictions was incredible. Roanoke Police did an outstanding job with facilitating a smooth procession to the cemetery. I would like to add my sincerest thanks and appreciation to all those who contributed to make this happen. Let US not forget this, should a similar incident occur to our neighbors.


Anonymous said...

Great post Captain, thanks again to all that helped and still continue to pray for the Brown family and make Captain Brown smile from above knowing that we get on the trucks in honor of him everyday taking pride doing our job like he did.

Anonymous said...

Amen "BROTHER"! Great post that sums it all up. I too was glad to have been witness and a part of this event. Thanks to Capt. Wines Rhett and Overacker for their coverage updates and postings. No other way would we have been able to stay informed and up to date on the happenings. My thoughts and prayers remain with the family and the crew of 1 c-shift

Anonymous said...

Excellent post Captain Wines. Continued prayers will be going out to the family. Hats off to the guys at 1C for climbing back on those trucks and honoring Captain Brown. He wouldn't have it any other way!
Well done guys!

Anonymous said...

I don't want to take away from the guys from the county and Salem that covered our houses, but a note of thanks should be given to REMS also. Those folks gave up their daily wages to man 3 or 4 MEDIC units, not just BLS as we're used to, and covered calls. There were also some of their folks at the funeral paying respect to our brother.

RFD9 said...

I appoligize for the omition. Actually, I didn't realize that REMS had staffed some extra medic units. Indeed, our thanks to them as well and ANY others I may have missed. I also neglected to mention the Police Officers (I did get to speak to and shake the hands of the motorcycle officers who lead the procession). There was just SOOOO many people and support, I was bound to miss a few. Sorry again and THANKS! Capt. Wines