Firehouse Tour with Captain Wines

During our four day break, I was able to make a trip that I had been trying to put together for some time. This weekend, I planned a trip for the family to make the two-hour drive up to Roanoke, VA. While I have been through there before, and attended a few concerts there, I hadn’t had a chance to see the sights of the city. I have two friends who work on the Fire-EMS Department there, and I always look forward to catching up with them. I travelled with them to FDIC in Indianapolis last year, and will be once again in a couple of weeks. Rhett Fleitz, who operates the fire service blog, The Fire Critic, and Captain Willie Wines, who operates the fire service blog, Wooden Ladders and Iron Firemen, are two brothers that I am glad to call friends.

While I was unable to catch up with Rhett, Captain Wines welcomed the opportunity to meet the family and show us the city. He was on-duty at Station 13, and told me to stop by as soon as I arrived in town. We arrived around noon and found Captain Wines hanging out in the day room waiting our arrival. Captain Wines, with his unique sense of humor, is always referring to my girlfriend as my “sister.” Honestly, it took some time to convince my girlfriend of the “firehouse humor” and that Cpt. Wines knew she wasn’t my sister.

Cpt. Wines is great with kids, and he often blogs about “Buckaroo” in his posts. I couldn’t have asked for any better hospitality. After two ice-cream sandwiches and a pitcher of Kool-Aid, my boy, Issac, was wired from wall to wall. He typically is really shy around strangers, but I warmed him up to some photos of Cpt. Wines on Facebook before our trip. I think he may have been more excited then I was! Cpt. Wines gave him all kinds of fire prevention items (stickers, fire helmet, bracelets), and then offered to take us on a tour downtown.

The acting Battalion Chief came by the station to swap out with Captain Wines to allow him to take us around. It was greatly appreciated, and I know Captain Wines was glad to show us around.
The Roanoke Fire Station 1 was built in 1907 and was operated out of until 2007, when it was replaced by a new station. The architectural design features in the firehouse were phenomenal. The high ceilings in the bays, the marks in the brick where the horses had licked the salt from the mortar, and the sloped and slotted concrete bay floors that allowed the horses to gain traction as they took the firefighters on their run were all great key features that the firehouse exhibited.


Captain Wines gave us a full tour of the old station that now houses several reserve rigs for the department. He took his time to explain each design feature of the station with my family. As I’m sure they are tired of stopping at “another” firehouse when we are out of town, I could tell they were enjoying the trip.

As we left the old firehouse, we were told to follow along as we travelled to Roanoke’s Fallen Firefighter Memorial. As any memorial, it was an honor to stand and reflect what the statue symbolizes. The names of their fallen firefighters were carved in the concrete behind the statue, along with the dates of their deaths. I captured this photo of my little boy, Issac, studying the statue.

Photo retouched by Smoke is Showing Photography

I love the moment that the photograph captured.
His natural reaction to the large firefighter statue.
Does he understand? Does he realize the dangers we all face in this business?

While he is only 2 years old, I know that he doesn’t understand. I do, however, know that I will raise him to understand. He will know the dangers of the job, and will know the importance of remembering those who have passed far too soon.

I can’t thank Captain Wines enough for the experience, and look forward to our trip coming up next week.

-AC