Grand honor! to such brave brothers; let the shout sweep to the sky.
Weave garlands round their memories as the ages swiftly fly,
Over each Fireman's hallowed grave write with honor's pen:
Here lieth one who delighted to aid his fellow men!
— verse from "Ode to our firemen" published in the National Fireman's Journal, Feb. 9, 1878
SPAAMFAA has lost a number of valuable individuals in recent years. While their lives have ended on earth, their legacies live on in the fire apparatus they preserved, the history the documented, and in the lives they touched. Here, lest we forget, are memorials to our own….
It is with deep sadness that we inform you of the passing of IFD photographer/historian Rodger J. Birchfield (81). Rodger is survived by his wife Janice, his daughter Sasha, daughter Heather and son Justin.
Rodger was 10 days away from retirement.
Initial reports indicate that Rodger passed sometime this weekend at his home in Camby. Earlier this year – Rodger had a tree fall on his house and was in the process of getting the final repairs completed on the structure. Lt. Adam Arkins and a crew of contractors have been doing the repair over the last several months. An electrician, scheduled to be there today, called Arkins and 911 after he couldn’t get Rodger to answer the door. Rodger was found sitting in his recliner, with his IFD uniform shirt on and his radio by his side. By all accounts it appears to have been a peaceful passing. Rodger was doing what he loved best – waiting on that next run. The last incident Rodger photographed was the warehouse on Sherman drive on December 17th.
Photographer Rodger Birchfield came to the IFD after retiring from the Indianapolis News. For those of you old enough to remember…the News was the evening compliment to the morning Indianapolis Star. A lifelong, self-proclaimed “Fire Buff” Rodger spent many years as journalist with the News before it folded on October 1, 1999. Rodger joined the IFD one month later on November 8, 1999.
For 21 years, Rodger faithfully responded to just about every working incident in the IFD service district – and several in other districts. 24 hours a day 7 days a week, Rodger could be found photographing firefighters working an incident or highlighting the apparatus on scene. Rodger’s love of all things fire related is well documented in each and every photo he takes. His knowledge of the IFD and its storied history is invaluable for anyone trying to connect the present IFD to its historical past.
Rodger’s expertise in the fire service is nationally renowned as he is the published author of the only book ever written about the “Stutz Fire Engine Company”
In 2013 Rodger Birchfield was awarded an IFD Public Safety Service Commendation.
In 2015 He was awarded the State of Indiana State Fire Marshal Meritorious Service Award.
Tom, and his wife Janet, began collecting fire books in 1955. Since 1973, they wrote the popular “On the Bookshelf” column for SPAAMFAA’s Enjine!-Enjine! magazine. Together they amassed one of the largest firefighting history book collections in the world, with sections on general firefighting history, apparatus, specific fires, technical manuals, firefighting fiction, non-fiction biographies, and a significant number of history/yearbooks from individual fire departments around North America. All-totaled, their library numbered more than 2,600 volumes. In March of 2018, Tom donating his entire library to the SPAAMFAA Archives.
Here is a short video that shows the highlight of the move.
Deceased: Oak Ridge, Tennessee (age 88)
Preceded in death by parents – Coleman Cleveland Scott Sr and Ruby May Scott and brother Coleman Cleveland Scott Jr. and Sister Katherine Ray Scott and by his wife of 61 years Janet Cosby Scott.
Tom is survived by children Jan Coleman Stocks [John Stocks] and David Thomas Scott [Michelle Scott] and by grandchildren Elizabeth Grace Scott, Daniel Thomas Scott, Tariq Frazier and Cole Inman Stocks.
Tom received a BS in engineering from Auburn University, 1953 elected to Ph Kappa Phi, Tau Beta Pi and Phi Lambda Upsilon, Honorary Fraternities Commissioned as an Ensign, served three years in the US Navy during the Korean War aboard the USS Forrest Royal (DD 872) and made a round-the-world cruise in 1954-55, which included four months in the Korean Theater.
Tom also received an MS in Nuclear Science from Auburn University in 1958. He received his PhD in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Florida in 1965, Sigma Xi.
Tom worked for the Atomic Energy Commission and its successor agencies at the Idaho Falls, Savannah River and Oak Ridge Operations Offices. He received three Superior Performance Awards. He retired as the Deputy Director of the Enriching Operations Division in 1985.
Tom then served on the faculty of the University of Tennessee College of Engineering, 1986-2008. There he received the Outstanding Teacher of the Year in the Nuclear Engineering Department. He was also selected as the Outstanding Advisor in the College of Engineering and was given the Chancellors Award for Advising. Upon retirement he was designated Associate Professor Emeritus.
Tom was a member of First United Methodist Church, Oak Ridge since 1973. He served as Chairman of Trustees, on numerous committees, and ushered for 42 years, including being Head Usher for 20 years and Sunday School Greeter.
Tom played football at Coffee High School, Florence Alabama. He refereed high school football games for 40 years in four states. He was selected to referee two TSSAA state championship games. He was a TSSAA football supervisor for 5 years and received the TSSAA A.F. Bridges Award as football official of the year 2006-07 in East Tennessee.
Tom wrote a column for the Enjine! Enjine!, a quarterly journal of the Society for the Preservation and Appreciation of Antique Motorized Fire Apparatus in America, for 42 years. All 145 columns were typed and proof read by his patient wife, Janet. He was awarded the SPAMFAA member of the year award in 1992 and was also given The President’s Award in 2017. He has been the only member to receive both national awards.
Tom was a volunteer fireman in the Oliver Springs Volunteer Fire Department from 1974 until present. He served as a volunteer photographer for the Oak Ridge Fire Department from 1990 until present. He took pictures of major fires and accidents in the Oak Ridge and surrounding areas. His photos were often published in local news outlets. In 1973 he was designated a Lifetime Honorary member of the Aiken, South Carolina Fire Department.
Tom was also an Eagle Boy Scout and was inducted into the Order of the Arrow and served on the staff of Camp Westmoreland, Florence, Alabama for two years.
He and his wife Janet were enthusiastic travelers and attended some 32 National Elderhostel programs and numerous international trips. They regularly attended Broadway musical shows in New York, London, and regional theaters.
In Lieu of flowers donations can be made to:
Oak Ridge Torch,
152 Bus Terminal Rd
Oak Ridge, TN 37830