Even though I have been familiar with the F.O.O.L.S. (Fraternal Order of Leatherheads Society) organization for quite some time, I had never ventured out to find a local Chapter here in Tennessee. Of course, when I think of F.O.O.L.S., the first thing that comes to mind is the Brotherhood BASH in Indianapolis every year at FDIC. It’s a huge event that is hosted by the IndyMetro F.O.O.L.S in April, and different chapters from across the country set-up booths to sell their shirts, patches, and coins. The music is always great, and the company is even better.
A few friends of mine from Virginia, Rhett Fleitz (The Fire Critic), Willie Wines (IronFiremen.com), Steven Burke, and Preston Wiley recently started a new chapter in the Roanoke area. While the Valley of the FOOLS was just founded in January, they are already doing some great things and have a membership that is growing quickly. After travelling to FDIC this year with several of these guys, I had a few conversations with them about the reasons they joined, what they plan to accomplish, benefits, etc. Click here to read about a recent drill these brothers held! (Ironfiremen.com)
Training was the key word that seemed to continuously come up during our conversations. After all, The F.O.O.L.S. International‘s Mission Statement reads:
The F.O.O.L.S. exemplify the true meaning of the Brotherhood by providing training opportunities to Brother and Sister Firefighters worldwide. We organize benefits to assist not only a firefighter and their families in need, but our communities as well. The F.O.O.L.S. exist to strengthen the Brotherhood of our chosen profession and fuel the flame of passion we have for our calling.
Of course, who wouldn’t be on board when we are talking about firefighters from different departments, different training programs, etc. coming together to better themselves as well as their departments. After all, if there is a better or easier way out there to do something…I WANT TO KNOW!
Within a few minutes of searching on the internet, I came across the Smoky Mountain F.O.O.L.S.. As I searched for more info about the chapter out of the Knoxville/East TN area, I found that the chapter had been in a bit of a lull recently. They had a few members transfer chapters and were looking to become active once again.
While some of us from the Tri-Cities area had a few conversations about starting our own chapter locally, we also agreed that if we had a group of guys that were “hungry” in the Knoxville area, why duplicate into two smaller groups?
We ended up deciding to head down to the Bucket Head Tavern to see what the Smoky Mountain F.O.O.L.S. had going on, and boy am I glad that we did! My brother, Austin Simpson, from Bristol TN Fire made the trip down the road with me, and I also knew a few other guys that were going to be at the meeting.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect!
Would we be welcomed? Would they rather us do our own thing? Is this just a social club? Where are they now…and more importantly…where do they want to go?
It didn’t take long at all to realize that we made the right decision.
Lt. Mark Warren (Rural/Metro Fire) did a fantastic job of catching us up on where the chapter was, and where they want it to go. It also was obvious that we could work together with all these guys to be sure that the chapter succeeds!
If you are located from Oak Ridge to Bristol: YOU SHOULD JOIN!
The dues are currently only $25/year!
Our Next Meeting: JUNE 27th, 2014 @ Bucket Head Tavern in Knoxville, TN
For the remainder of the evening, we discussed plans for training events, future meetings, etc. It was well worth the drive, and we look forward to growing the chapter each month. As of right now, it appears that we may try moving the area of the meeting on a month to month basis depending on membership. Even if you are just considering joining, come out and talk to us!
I guess I can officially say that I am something that people have been calling me for years…