I Introduce to you…The Valley of the FOOLS

Photo by Justin Ide


photo above by Justin Ide

Yesterday, the Valley of the FOOLS met for the second time almost doubling our membership in the first month. If you don’t know what the FOOLS is or what we do, this might explain a little bit.

First of all, I am proud to be a member of the Fraternal Order of Leatherheads Society (F.O.O.L.S.)

The Valley of the FOOLS is one of the newest chapters of  FOOLS International and its area covers a large part of Western Virginia. While the geographical boundaries aren’t exactly set, the area covered by the Valley of the FOOLS covers East to the Louisa County area, West to the West Virginia line, North to West Virginia, and South to the area covered by the SCBA FOOLS (Marion, VA).

What is the FOOLS? 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. (source)

Download the Valley of the FOOLS application here

Visit Valley of the FOOLS on Facebook

Salem Lt. Mike Elston and Staunton Fire Chief Scott Garber. Photo by Justin Ide

Salem Lt. Mike Elston and Staunton Fire Chief Scott Garber. Photo by Justin Ide

I might also add that the Valley of the FOOLS is one of the coolest names for a FOOLS chapter I have seen yet! OK, I may be biased.

Last night, we had our second meeting and first training session. We are starting out on a path of meeting in a different location each month. We decided to meet on Sunday’s at 4pm. We have a short meeting, then we have an hour or two of training. Then, we meet at a local pub for some fellowship.

Yesterdays meeting was at Staunton Firehouse #1. Chief Scott Garber (charter member of Valley of the FOOLS) graciously opened the doors at the firehouse for the meeting/training. After a short meeting where we voted in 14 new members (33 total members now), we had forcible entry training put on by Salem Lt. Mike Elston and Chief Garber. Due to the number of firefighters at the training, we had a ropes/knots station too. Brothers from Lynchburg offered up a class on the family of eights.

It is refreshing to see Fire Chiefs involved in the FOOLS, including Lexington, Staunton, and Swoope Fire Chiefs.

Brother from Lynchburg going over the family of eights. Photo by Justin Ide

Lynchburg FF Stephen Ripley going over the family of eights. Photo by Justin Ide

There were plenty of firefighters in attendance who haven’t joined yet. They wanted to see what the FOOLS was all about. I think that President Jack Hammond is on the right course with how we are going about things and I think that we are off to a great start. I feel certain that many of these firefighters will be joining in the near future.

I mentioned forcible entry training and ropes/knots training. The knots station was great. I tied knots I hadn’t tied in years…after a little instruction.

And the forcible entry training…I will just say that the door was unforgiving for me. But hey, no one ever said that the doors we come across are going to open easy. The training was well received and I got a lot out of it…including a few laughs.

I must say that Chief Scott Garber (Staunton) is building one hell of a fire department. I notice all kinds of things when I am in a firehouse from the cleanliness to gear to equipment. Chief Garber “gets it”. Yet another FD I would work for anytime!

Bonus photo below is Staunton’s first motorized fire engine. I think they also said first motorized fire engine in Virginia too. It is a 1911 Jumbo, made by Robinson Fire Apparatus. It cost $8500 and pumped 750 gallons per minute. The engine was restored by White Post Restoration. They have an entire room full of their history at the firehouse. This engine is the centerpiece.

staunton fire engine 1911 Jumbo