Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Hiatus

As Lieutenant Drew Reyes sports his "white elephant" gift (yep, the pink bunny slippers) and gets ready to unwrap another goody from under the tree, we'll say "Happy Holidays", too, and see you after the new year. Be safe and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Kudos and an Award Announcement!

A couple of recent kudos letters that Chief Kerr received about the great work our folks are doing...

First, Battalion Chief Thayer Smith was recognized by Oklahoma State University Fire Service Training:

Next we have the crew of Engine 1/A shift, along with Firefighter Tye Baker of Quint 1/A shift:

And last, but certainly not least, an award announcement that Chief Kerr received about Firefighter Coitt Kessler:

Congratulations to Coitt and thanks to all of you for continuing to demonstrate how our mission goes beyond our name!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey

Okay, not really, but a few random thoughts to share!

Friday, December 2, 2011


Sometimes, a picture is worth a thousand words...or in this case, two pictures/two thousand words!

First, we have Thanksgiving dinner at Station 20/B Shift:
(Special thanks to Capt. Marcus Faske for the picture!)

Then we have photo #2, taken by BC Palmer Buck at the fire at Sambets Cajun Deli and Firey Food Store on Thanksgiving Day; 120 turkeys went up in smoke! Obviously, they didn't see our "how not to fry a turkey" demonstration:

Monday, November 28, 2011

TCFP ARFF Certifications

Thirteen Austin firefighters have completed a TCFP ARFF Certification class presented by the ARFF Section at ABIA. The 120-hour curriculum started October 3 and was completed on November 10, 2011. They are:

Front row L to R: William Wade, Kevin Fees, Lance Williamson, Don Barthlow, Maurice Gonzales, Andrew Thomas, Mark Harris

Back row L to R: David Girouard, Loren May, Everett Thomas, Glasco Martin, Quinn Izard, Carrie Pritchard (not pictured)

(Special thanks to BC Tom Thies for the info and picture!)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Recent Recognitions

Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr and the AFD Executive Team recently recognized several individuals for significant accomplishments:

  • Battalion Chief Palmer Buck, a member of AFD for 18 years, who graduated from the Executive Fire Officer Program (EFOP) at the United States Fire Administration Academy based in Emmitsburg, Maryland. The EFOP is a four-year intensive curriculum that examines how senior authority figures can exercise leadership when dealing with difficult, adaptive programs within their jurisdictions. Chief Buck was one of 107 students from across the country to graduate from this elite program in 2011.

  • Firefighter Rhonda Harms (E17/C Shift) who recently returned from a two-year tour in Afghanistan with the US Navy. Rhonda presented Chief Kerr with a flag that her unit had flown there in honor of the Austin Fire Department.

  • Adrian Rodriquez, AFD's Warehouse Stores Coordinator, who was chosen by Stanley Tools as part of their nationwide "Builti for Life Unsung Heroes" contest. This contest pays tributes to the unsung heroes who make our country great and keep us going. Stanley chooses unselfish men and women who take action and don't expect thanks in return. As Stores Coordinator, Adrian is a crucial member of the team who keeps the department running smoothly every day. His diligence and "get it done" nature guarantees that the crew is always well-equipped and prepared to fight fires. The AFD constantly relies on him to have the necessary safety equipment stocked and organized.

  • 2011 COACCC Committee: Battalion Chief Bruce Station and civilian employees Mandy Ray, Phillip Lybrand, Alisha Weskamp, Kimberly Costello, and JoBeth Prentice were recognized for their outstanding creativity in making this year's City of Austin Combined Charities Campaign for AFD the best ever! Our goal was $75,000 and although the funds raised are still being tallied, we know we are very close to meeting that goal.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Survey: City Services Appreciated

A majority of Austinites are happy with many city services, according to a new survey. The ETC Institute, a national research corporation, presented a survey last Thursday to the City Council. Among the findings: 80 percent of respondents were either "very satisfied" or "satisfied" with public safety!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fallen Firefighters Memorial Ceremony

On Saturday, October 29, the George Washington Carver Museum & Cultural Center unveiled a memorial bronze sculpture (commissioned through the City's Art in Public Places program of the Economic Growth and Redevelopment office) honoring Austin's first three African American firefighters--Willie Ray Davis, Roy Greene, and Nathaniel Kindred, Sr. Prior to 1952, no African American had been hired under civil service law to work as a firefighter in the state, making the City of Austin the first municipality in Texas to do so.

It was a great event! You can see for yourself by clicking here:

Friday, November 4, 2011

"Fall Back" This Sunday and Check Your Smoke Alarms!

On Sunday, November 6, 2011, Austinites will “fall back” with the end of Daylight Savings Time, moving their clocks back one hour until the spring. This is an excellent opportunity to remind you to also check—and, if necessary, change—the batteries in your smoke alarms. The number one reason that lives are saved in a fire is the presence of a working smoke alarm.

Remember, a working smoke alarm is the cheapest life insurance moeny can buy! 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Special Olympics Texas Fire Truck Pull

It's the ultimate tug of war challenge... and a GREAT team-building event! Gather a team of 12 and join in the 2nd Annual Austin Fire Truck Pull Challenge. Your team will play "tug of war" with a 55,000 lbs. fire truck. The teams with the Fastest Team Pull and Most Money Raised will be named the 2011 Fire Truck Pull Challenge Champions! This event is hosted by Travis County Sheriff's Department, Austin Police Deptartment, and Austin Firefighters. Registration fee is $300 per team.

Date: November 12, 2011
Time: 8:00 a.m.
Location: Kreig Softball Complex, 517 South Pleasant Valley Drive
Contact: Melissa Matherne, 512-491-2927,

More information:

Monday, October 31, 2011

Texas Monthly BBQ Festival

Texas Monthly held their annual BBQ Festival yesterday on the grounds of the Long Center. More than 30 restaurants from across the state had samples of their finest to share, and 3,000 attendees took advantage of it! The Austin Fire Department was a co-sponsor of the event, spreading safe outdoor cooking tips and wildfire safety messages throughout the day. Legendary Texas musicians Ray Benson and Jimmie Vaughn were also on hand, and Chief Kerr presented each of them with an AFD Challenge Coin. A great time was had by all...check out the photos below!

Chief Kerr talks fire safety tips with Texas Monthly Editor-in-Chief Jake Silverstein.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

AFD Firefighter Bruce Odems Sings the National Anthem

Our very own Firefighter Bruce Odems (Community Outreach) will be performing "The Star-Spangled Banner" this Saturday, October 22 at 8:00 a.m. to kick off the Pink Heals 5K Run/Walk, sponsored by the Pink Heals Tour (in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month). Come show your support for Bruce and the cause!

Pink Heals 5K Run/Walk
8:00 a.m.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
9th and Main Street, Georgetown
For more information, contact 512-930-3473 or visit

Friday, October 14, 2011

AFD Exhibition Basketball Game: October 25

The Trinity Christian Academy Varsity team would like a rematch! If you were there a couple of years ago, you might recall the very exciting game in Lexington, Texas that went into double overtime..what a great game! The boys are older, stronger, and faster now, and want to see if the Austin Fire Department's still got it!

Date: October 25, 2011
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: TBD
More information:
Questions? Contact Firefighter Darren Hyson, 913-9768.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Garner Wildnerness Rescue Competition

The Llama Mountain Team, anchored by the Austin Fire Department's Special Operations Team, took top honors at the recent Garner Wilderness Rescue Competition, hosted by Texas Rescue Competition. The Llama Mountain Rescue won both the Vertical and Advanced Competition, and captured the High Point Trophy for the fourth year in a row.

AFD Special Operations Members who participated were:
  • FS Matt "Mama Llama" McElearney
  • FS DJ Walker
  • Capt. Tommy Gillis
  • Capt. Lonnie Owen
  • FF Carrie Stewart
  • FS Jeff Deane
  • FF Chris Bowen
  • FS Heath Haddock
  • FF Les Ward
Check out the great photo below! Special thanks to Battalion Chief Palmer Buck for the info and picture.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

MetroRail Collison

On Monday, October 10, 2011, the MetroRail was involved in a Train/Pedestrian collision. After taking care of the pedestrian who suffered critical injuries, crews from Ladder 8, Rescue 28, and Engine 28 assisted 20 passengers off the train and onto buses to continue their commute. Check out the photos below! Special thanks to Battalion Chief Palmer Buck for sending these along.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

National Night Out is Tonight, October 4!

National Night Out is an annual event dedicated to building stronger community partnerships and neighborhood unity. The Austin Fire Department is again providing fire- and life-safety education. Neighborhood associations around the city will be hosting a variety of special events such as block parties, cookouts, parades, flashlight walks, contests, and youth activities.

Our colleagues at APD are hosting a kick-off party this evening from 5-7 p.m. at Mueller. Check out the flyer here ( for more information. It's free, so come on by!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Kudos for Cindy Lyons, Our New OHN!

"I'm currently going through the light-duty process from an injury I received while on duty. I've had little luck with the process up until yesterday (September 21). I met with Cindy Lyons in the morning, and discussed my case and the issues I was experiencing with it. Within an hour of our conversation, she had called me and gotten me the information I needed to move forward with the process. Today I will be back in physical therapy thanks to her. I don't know what her job is but having a professional review IOJ claims on a weekly basis would sure help get people back out to operations."

FS Derek Herring (Ladder31/B)

Editor's Note: Cindy is AFD's new Occupational Health Nurse (OHN). She will be officed at Wellness, and will manage and coordinate the department's Workers' Compensation program and activities. Cindy is a seasoned professional with more than 20 years of work experience, the majority of which has been in the workers' compensation and occupational health field. Prior to joining AFD, she was the Disability-Health Services Manager for General Electric in Houston, where she managed, coordinated, and facilitated all personal and workers' compensation disability cases and case management for the U.S.-based oil and gas population. Cindy is a graduate of McNeese State University, Lake Charles, Louisiana with a degree in Nursing. Cindy has lived, traveled, and worked with companies throughout the United States, and has an extensive background in public safety.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Free Sports Classes For AFD Families

Sportball is offering free sports classes to AFD families. Below are the class descriptions, times, dates, etc. Spaces in these classes are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

What is Sportball?
Sportball is sports instruction program that teaches fundamental sports skills to young children. Our program is non-competitive, which means the kids learn step-by-step instruction that focuses on building skills and confidence. Scrimmages and game schedules are not our primary focus. Our primary goal is to give each child a boost in athleticism, awareness of the game, and a chance to discover their sports potential. At Sportball a certified coach will lead your child through sports drills, scrimmages, and other fun motor-skill and teamwork games.

Class Locations
Sportball offers sports classes in every season at several locations across Austin. Free classes to Fire and Rescue familes are available on a first-come, first-serve basis at the following locations. Classes last one hour. Your child will need tennis shoes and a water bottle for the soccer class (shin guards are "nice to have" but not required), and a baseball glove and tennis shoes for the baseball class. The only thing needed for the mutil-sport class is tennis shoes.

Dick Nichols Park (Southwest Austin)
Ages 4-5
Soccer and baseball class
12:15 pm on Saturdays
Sept 24 to Nov 12

Ages 6-7
Soccer and baseball class
1:15 pm on Saturdays
Sept 24 to Nov 12

Eanes Elementary (Westlake)
Ages 4-5
Soccer and baseball class
10:00 am on Saturdays
Sept 24 to Nov 12

Mueller (East Austin)
Ages 5-6
Soccer and baseball class
11:15 am on Saturdays
Sept 24 to Nov 12

Ages 7-9
Soccer and baseball class
12:15 pm on Saturdays
Sept 24 to Nov 12

Pepper Rock Park (Round Rock)
Ages 4-5
Soccer and baseball class
10:15 am on Saturdays
Sept 24 to Nov 12

Trailhead Park (Canyon Creek)
Ages 2-3
Soccer and baseball class
11:30 am on Saturdays
Sept 24 to Nov 12

Ages 4-5
Soccer and baseball class
12:15 pm on Saturdays
Sept 24 to Nov 12

Lakeway Activity Center
Ages 3-4
Multi-sport class
10:15 am on Tuesdays
Oct 26 to mid-Dec

WAYA (Central Austin)
Ages 3-4
Multi-sport class
2:00 pm on Wednesdays
Oct 27 to mid-Dec

Ages 16mo-3yr
Multi-sport class
9:30 am on Tuesdays
Oct 26 to mid-Dec

Clay Madsen (Round Rock)
Ages 3-4
Multi-sport class
3:15 pm on Wednesdays
Oct 27 to mid-Dec

Ages 5-6
Multi-sport class
4:00 pm on Wednesdays
Oct 27 to mid-Dec

To register for the free classes: Contact the Sportball director, Shannon Taylor at (512) 608-2634 or e-mail More information about Sportball can be found at Call or e-mail to reserve your space!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Firefighters Tell Their Wildfire Stories

Dimitri Nichols (on the first-in brush truck to the Pedernales fire):

TIFMAS deployment to Bastrop:
(This story also ran on Fox, but a link was not available.)

Monday, September 19, 2011

AFD Captain's Daughter "Patient Champion" at Scottish Rite Children's Hospital

Please read below:

"My name is Toby Heidel, and I’m currently assigned to AFD Ed Services as the C-Shift Field Training Officer. My daughter, Maya, has a disease that affects the bones in her hip joints called Legge-Calve-Perthes disease. For the last 2 ½ years, she’s been receiving treatment for her condition at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas. The hospital is an amazing facility with some of the best doctors in the world for her condition (one of them literally wrote the text book on her disease!). Perhaps the most amazing thing about Scottish Rite Hospital is the fact that they charge their patients absolutely nothing. ALL the care and surgery that Maya has gotten there has not cost us a dime. It’s pretty incredible.

"Each year, the hospital is the beneficiary from funds raised at the Dallas White Rock Marathon. For the event, 5 'Patient Champions' are chosen from the thousands of patients that Scottish Rite serves to represent the hospital at various fundraising and PR events. This year, Maya was chosen as the Central Texas Patient Champion! We’ve been delighted at the opportunity to help the hospital out in any way we can in light of the free care that Maya has received there.

"As part of the event, we’ve been able to set up a fundraising site in conjunction with the marathon. I’d really like the opportunity to get the word out to other members of AFD who might like to donate to Scottish Rite on Maya’s behalf.

"Here’s a link to the Patient Champion page on the marathon website (scroll down for Maya’s information):

"And here’s a direct link to Maya’s fundraising page:

"If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. My mobile number is 512-694-5868."

Toby Heidel
Field Training Officer - C Shift
Austin Fire Department

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Honoring America's Fallen Firefighters This October

Please take a few minutes to view the clip below from the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. You'll learn how to show your support in October as those Firefighters who lost their lives in 2010 serving their communities are honored.

Monday, September 12, 2011

9/11: Profile of DC Dawn Clopton and Photos

  • HEB's magazine, "My Texas Life" focused on three hometown heroes from throughout Texas. Our very own Division Chief Dawn Clopton was one of those featured! You can read the piece that was done on her by clicking here and going to pages 6-7:
  • Check out this photo of Lt. Travis Maher and BC Warren Weidler at the World Trade Center site, who were in NYC over the weekend and attended mass for the 343 firefighters who died on September 11. They also marched in the review parade. Chief Weidler tells us that the FDNY was very appreciative of the AFD presence in NYC, especially given all the wildfires we have been dealing with.
  • Photos from the Tower Climb and ESPADA Capitol Rotunda performance, courtesy of Lt. Pete Constantine (E12/C):

  • And here's some great photos from the Memorial Ceremony and Tower Climb from the Statesman's photographer, Jay Janner: