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Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Asheville firefighter remembered for helping department    view comments tweat me share on facebook
The legacy of Asheville firefighter Capt. Jeff Bowen lives on through the way the Fire Department operates today. Three years to the date of Bowen's death, Fire Chief Scott Burnette explained how Bowen was always focused on making the department better. He described Bowen as a "remarkable gift" when he joined the department in 1998. "It was very clear — very quickly — what a gift he was," Burnette said Monday, speaking at a remembrance ceremony in front of Fire Station 3. "He was a rising star in our department." Bowen, 37 at the time of his death in the line of duty, rose to engineer, lieutenant and then captain in 13 years. He was instrumental in the development of personnel, and Burnette said he was always coming to him saying, "We can do this better." "And he had a good plan to do it better," Burnette said, speaking to the scores of people who attended, mostly firefighters and Bowen's wife, Stacy, and his mother, Laurel. City Council members Gordon Smith, Chris Pelly and Gwen Wisler also were present, along with former Asheville mayor Terry Bellamy. Stacy Bowen and Laurel Bowen helped Burnette place a wreath near his memorial plaque. "This is truly a family, a brotherhood," she said. "And it's a testament to that, that they continue to do the memorial every year and the department is going forward and improving in areas that need to be improved and doing it in his honor because he was that type of firefighter. He was that firefighter that always looked for improvements and said 'We can do this better.' So they're keeping his legacy alive by continuing to improve."
Asheville Citizen Times

Winston-Salem woman charged with arson in apartment blaze    view comments tweat me share on facebook
A woman was arrested this morning and charged with arson in connection with an apartment blaze Monday night that left several families without homes. Teresa Everette Lineberger, 41, of 926 Thurmond St. Apartment 21, is charged with first-degree arson and malicious use of explosives to damage property. Winston-Salem police and fire departments were called to the Plaza Apartments at 926 Thurmond Street about 11:15 p.m. Monday. When the agencies arrived they saw flames coming from a building, which is owned by the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem, according to the fire department. Three people were injured from the fire, according to Winston-Salem police. One was treated at the apartment complex, and two others were taken to area hospitals for their injuries. It took firefighters about 45 minutes to bring the fire under control. Fire investigators determined the blaze began in a kitchen of an apartment, "started by the occupant," according to the fire department, and continued out the window and onto the roof.
Greensboro News and Record

Suspicious fires on the same road in Brunswick County prompt arson investigations    view comments tweat me share on facebook
Investigators in Brunswick County are looking for multiple arsonists in connection to five separate suspicious fires that sparked along the same road, all within the past six months. At least two of the incidents have been ruled as arson, and there is concern in the Supply area that the others may have been intentionally set as well. Investigators say they're not having an easy time finding answers. A blue tarp and burned debris is all that's left of one family's home on Shell Point Road in Supply. Investigators say they're looking for who's responsible for burning that home and it all started with a burglary. Detective Ed Carter with the Brunswick County Sheriff's Office and Chief Mark Hewett with the Civietown Fire Department say that a group of suspects broke into a house on Boone's Neck Road -- stealing money, electronics, and keys. Carter says the suspects used those keys to steal a car. When they drove that car behind a house at 3095 Shell Point Road, they hit a tree stump, rupturing a gas tank underneath. Authorities say that's when they panicked and set the vehicle on fire. The gas helped spread the fire to the mobile home nearby where the damage still lingers.
WSFX-TV Fox Wilmington

Fire damages Fayetteville business on Eastern Boulevard    view comments tweat me share on facebook
Emergency crews responded to a fire Monday night inside a South Eastern Boulevard business. Firefighters found smoke and flames coming from iCan Construction Waste Management and Recycling about 9:45p.m., according to Deputy Fire Chief Tracy Smith of Pearces Mill Fire Department. No one was injured in the blaze, Smith said. Fire crews were notified of the burning structure in the 1000 block of South Eastern Boulevard shortly after the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office received a burglary alarm at the business. The cause of the fire was not immediately known, Smith said. No one was at the business when the fire ignited, firefighters on the scene said. A North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation investigator and an arson investigator were called to the business, Smith said. Plumes of smoke unfurled from a hole in the side of the business as firefighters used a ladder and chain saw to chew through the side of the wood-framed house.
Fayetteville Observer

New Hope Volunteer firefighters perform dog rescue    view comments tweat me share on facebook
The cliché of firefighters rescuing kittens from trees wasn’t far from the truth Sunday morning. Firefighters from New Hope Volunteer Fire Department helped free a boxer stuck underneath a storage building. Karen Rash, owner of Abbie the boxer, says the dog got scared when a thunderstorm rolled through the area Sunday morning. She ran underneath a storage building and got stuck. Rash said usually if she knows bad weather is approaching she’ll bring Abbie and her brother inside the house. But Sunday, the storm was unexpected. Both boxers ran to hide underneath the storage building in the backyard. Abbie couldn’t get out. Rash said she didn’t even know the boxer was stuck until she heard her cries. “She was just wailing,” Rash said. “She was terrified.” The New Hope Volunteer Fire Department happened to be at a neighbor’s house for an unrelated call. Frantic, Rash’s husband, David Rash, flagged the firefighters down for help. Having finished up the call at the neighbors they gladly obliged. Not able to pull her out, firefighters had to cut through the floor of the building to get to Abbie. The boxer was still scared, running to her owner as soon as she was free. “As soon as she was able to get out of the hole she went bolting straight to my husband,” she said. “He could just feel her whole body shaking.”
The Gaston Gazette

Monday, July 28, 2014
Elizabethtown Fire Department chief set to step down   view comments tweat me share on facebook
Over the past 25-plus years, Bryon Graham has gotten used to the heat of his job. But now he’s decided to let his life cool off a bit, moving into retirement from his job with the Elizabethtown Fire Department in January 2015. Graham joined the fire department in November 1998 as a paid fireman and, in July 2008, was promoted to fire chief. He said the one thing that he is most pleased about is completing the renovation of the fire department building. “It took almost eight years. I picked it up when I came,” said Graham. When asked what he will miss the most about the fire service, Graham said, “Just the camaraderie we have around here. It’s a family-type deal. You have to look after each other.” Graham said probably the most enjoyable thing he has witnessed during his tenure is the completed restoration of the town’s 1928 Model A fire truck and the fact that it now has a permanent home in the new addition to the fire department building. “The town fathers should be proud of it. They had enough foresight to preserve the 1928 Model A. It was the first truck they ever had,” said Graham. When the building was renovated, a room was designed specifically to house the Model A truck and allow the public to see it. Graham said the public doesn’t realize it, but the fire department is more than a building filled with fire trucks. He said, aside from providing basic fire protection to the community, the station also participates in the first-responders system and a first-responders unit is housed there which responds to EMS calls. Graham said the station averages a call volume of about 700 to 1,000 calls per year. As of June 30, the station had received 522 calls — many of them medical related. “It’s hard on the guys that stay here at night. They are here for fire protection and they are running more EMS calls,” said Graham.
Bladen Journal

Former Charleston firefighter uses comedy to cope with tragedy   view comments tweat me share on facebook
Comedian Travis Howze is in the comedy hot seat every time he steps on stage. After years as a firefighter, policeman and Marine, he is used to the heat. But his career hasn't always been a laughing matter. Howze, who performed at Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club in Clayton Saturday night, turned to comedy as a way to cope after losing nine of his fellow firefighters in a Charleston sofa store fire in 2007. "I have seen the worst of the worst, or so I thought," he said. "When you're assigned to a team that I was assigned to, where you have to go in and retrieve your friends after they've perished and see them in the conditions that I had to see them in, there's no words that I have that can explain that. I just have those memories." He said the loss pushed him into alcoholism and depression and he began struggling with post-traumatic stress and survivor's guilt. "Eventually my symptoms took a toll and caused me to have to leave the job, so I went into comedy full time," he said. It may seem to be a strange jump, but Howze said his "Funny Under Fire" standup act was his way to take a stand against the pain. "Comedy was the only thing that made me feel good. So, I put down the bottle, stopped feeling sorry for myself and decided I deserved to have a happy life," he said. The memories are still there, carried on his sleeve in the form of a tattoo -- nine stars for his nine comrades lost. "Before every performance, I get up and hopefully they're looking over me, and if nobody else is giving me a 'standing O,' then hopefully they are," Howze said. A standing ovation helps in his continued healing and is even better, he said, when he helps someone else.
WNCT-TV Channel 9

New Hope Volunteer Fire Department gets economic development loan   view comments tweat me share on facebook
New Hope Volunteer Fire Department, with locations on Whitfield Road in Chapel Hill and N.C. 86, will soon be able to better protect residents and property in Orange County with the help of Piedmont Electric Membership Corporation. Piedmont Electric awarded the fire department a $168,000 zero-interest loan that will be used to add a tanker truck to the fleet. The funds are part of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program, or REDLG, which provides zero-interest loans and grants to local electric cooperatives, such as Piedmont Electric. The cooperatives, in turn, lend money to local businesses for projects that support rural areas. Tanker trucks, such as the one being purchased by New Hope Volunteer Fire Department, are primarily responsible for hauling water to rural fires where hydrants are often less common. “We are proud to once again support a community in which we provide electricity and help keep our members and their families safe,” R. G. Brecheisen, president and CEO of Piedmont Electric, said. The loan’s reach will exceed the purchase of one new tanker truck. “The savings on interest alone will cover new protective turnout gear for three firefighters,” Howard Pratt, president of the New Hope Volunteer Fire Department Board of Directors, said. “This loan will improve the safety of civilians and personnel alike.”
The News of Orange County

Newly minted Winston-Salem firefighters mark last class for Chief Farmer   view comments tweat me share on facebook
When Charles Royster walked across the stage in the Benton Convention Center Friday morning, he was more than a graduate of Recruit Class XX of the Winston-Salem Fire Department, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. He was a role model for his six-year-old son, Chad, who was waiting on the other side to help pin on his dad’s shiny new badge. “He’s brave and I’m really proud of him,” Chad said, looking up at his dad. Royster, 30, said he left his job as a second-grade teacher at Konnoak Elementary School to become a firefighter after his son said that’s what he wanted to be when he grows up. “I’m going to pin him up when he comes of age,” Royster said. Snagging a spot on the department is no easy feat. Out of more than 600 qualified applications, 15 men were eventually chosen to become members of the recruit class that graduated Friday morning. The keynote speaker was Chief Antony Farmer. Farmer announced earlier this month that he is retiring at the end of the year, meaning Class XX is the last class over which he’ll preside. “We started with 15 and graduated 15,” Farmer said, “so this is a great note to end on.” Omari Peterson, the class’ chosen spokesperson, said the recruits came from all different walks of life, but became a team over the course of six months and more than 1,200 hours of training. “We each have our own strengths and weaknesses,” Peterson said, comparing the class members to pieces of a puzzle. “We became a family.” The class included men like Royster, who had no prior firefighting experience, and men like Clinton Hunter, who is an experienced volunteer firefighter. Hunter, 23, said he’s dreamed about being a firefighter since he was a little kid. Realizing that dream Friday left him a little speechless. “I’m just excited to get started helping out the city,” Hunter said. Hunter won the Outstanding Teammate Award, voted on by his peers in the recruit class.

Kinston: Efforts underway to preserve Hose Co. No. 2 fire station   view comments tweat me share on facebook
It’s easy to ignore. In a city brimming with historic properties that have seen better days, the brick structure bearing the title of “Hose Co. No. 2” — standing between the Lunch Box convenience store and East Caswell Street on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard — can be passed dozens of times without a second glance. But Guy Basden, former Kinston firefighter and local historian, is looking to change that. As a firefighter from 1960-1975, he worked out of what was once called the Tiffany Street Station and would like to tie it to historic preservation efforts already underway at Caswell No. 1 Fire Station Museum on North Queen Street. “I would like the opportunity to give that some landmark distinction,” Basden said. “I’d like to honor (the late Kinston Fire) Chief (Tony) Kelly and our first two professional black firefighters.” “The county fire department operates two trucks out of the Tiffany Street Station.” Further the facilities plan detailed, “The Number Two Station on Tiffany Street has a complement of 16 men and three trucks. Of this complement, six men and two trucks are supported by the county for the protection of property in the county but receive training and miscellaneous services from the city.”
Kinston Free Press

New Hanover County home catches fire Sunday night   view comments tweat me share on facebook
Several people were displaced Sunday night after a fire broke out in their New Hanover County home. Firefighters from multiple fire departments, including county and several area departments, responded to 6711 Shoemaker Lane around 9 p.m. When firefighters arrived, flames were visible from the roof of the three-story home. The home is currently being rented by four people, said a resident who lives here. The man said residents were on the dock when they came home and could smell burning. No one was inside when the fire began, he said. The home, located down a dark, dirt road, was cordoned off with yellow tape when small flames and smoke were still visible from the chimney around 9:55 p.m. The fire appeared to have mostly affected the top floor as there were large holes in the roof and one side of the top floor was completely charred.
Wilmington Morning Star

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