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I am sitting alone at last. The firehouse is quiet and I can hear the pipes playing in my head. My Chief has fallen. While we ran from tone out to tone out, he slowly let go. As his boys ran the beat, he went to sleep. I miss him, you know. For some silly reason he used to call me "Watash". I think I'll write that on the back of my helmet. He believed in me.
He was our bull dog, our champion. He loved his men. We loved him. You couldn't help it. He believed in us. As the pipes play and the bell is rung, we'll sing a song for our Chief and remember him fondly as he was. But I will remember forever my last moment with him.
We had just run a Code, the boys had performed flawlessly. None older than 22, they fought for another man's life while thier own Chief lay dying in his hospital bed. They did it all, ET Tube first try, EKG and drug therapy, the works. I just stood there and passed them what they needed. You'd never know they were "just kids" as so many prefer to dubb them. I was watching them work and thought, "Not professional? Kiss my A**!" We can take these boys anywhere!

So as I stood next to the chief, I couldn't wait to tell him how well they'd performed, even then, knowing of his struggle, wanting to be with him. I took his hand. It was cold. I leaned over and said, "Watash reporting for duty, Chief." His eyes lit up, and he struggled for breath. I held his gaze, begging God to help me hold back my tears. "You shoulda seen your boys tonight, Chief" I said. "You can be so proud!" He reached up and placed his hand on my face and his eyes grew bright. He tried to talk, but we had to calm him. I told him I understood and I told him I loved him. Then I left him. I left him knowing we were on duty, toeing the line, ready to make him proud. Each University Firefighter, with grief in his/her heart, refusing to quit the tour.

I've never wanted to be a Battalion Chief or any other kind of Chief. I like my place, I like being a company officer and have never longed for the crossed bugles. But now I sit in his place. Only a week ago he sat here, saying "Well, Watash, whats for lunch?" Now I'm here...... And he is gone. Its after 2 am, and I can't sleep. Somehow I have to find the focus and willpower to begin again, to press on. I need to tackle that Battalion Chief's job, and do it for him. I know he wanted that. He believed in his people. He wanted one of us to step up and take it. So we must step up even as we plan his funeral.

We are the very embodiment of his life, his devotion to duty and his dedication to the young men and women who worked under him. We will be a living memorial to the Chief. What an honor to follow behind this man.

But just now, at 2:30 am, in a quiet firehouse, I miss him and I wish I could sit and talk with him just one more time. He was my friend you know.

The Parting Glass

"Of all the money that ere I had
I spent it in good company
And all the harm I ever done
A' las' it was to no but me
And all I've done, for want of wit,
To memory now I can't recall,

So fill to me the parting glass,
Goodnight and joy be to you all!
So fill to me the parting glass,
And drink a health what 'ere befalls,
Then gently rise and softly call,
Goodnight and joy be to you all!

Of all the comrades the ere I had,
that are sorry for my going away,
And all the sweethearts that ere I had,
that wish me one more day to stay,

But since it fell into my lot,
That I should rise, and you should not,
I'll gently rise and softly call,
Goodnight and Joy Be To You All!

So fill to me the parting glass,
And drink a health what 'ere befalls,
Then gently rise and softly call,
Goodnight and joy be to you all!"

--The High Kings

Good night to you, Chief. We're on duty, we're ready to roll!....."And all those kinds of things." --Watash

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Comment by Cody Grella on November 26, 2008 at 4:36am
I needed to hear that. It's very hard explaining how I feel at a time like this...
Chief was an inspiration to anyone he came in contact with (myself included).
I know that the love and joy he willingly shared will go on long after the sorrow of his passing...
Be strong, Brother.
Comment by Dan Miotke on November 25, 2008 at 6:12pm
Hey Capt., It's hard to find words worthy of Chief, he has influenced so many of our lives, he was like a father to me, I was one of those "kids." I remember going out on errands with him and getting talks on girls, relationships, food, and business. I'm glad I took his advice and married my wife! He always believed in us! The world needs more people like Chief Rounds.

Thinking about this weekend gives me such mixed emotions, the obvious sorrow of the loss, but the being proud of the great honor it was to work for him and be part of the UFD family. As we all gather to honor Chief, take a look around at the lives he has mentored and where they are today . Chief thrived on this, to see us arrive baby faced, wide eyed, and eager and grow and mature through our time at the U. Then when it was time for us to move on in our careers and to able to look Chief in the eyes, shake his hand and know he helped give us the confidence and skills to be successful.
Thank you for recognizing the awesome responsibility he has left us, his legacy will live on!
Comment by Brad Hoff on November 25, 2008 at 4:03pm
Brothers; I got an email from Chief Mohrman who we all know. For those that don't he is the former Chief of the Chena Goldstream VFD which neighbors the University Fire Service area. Chief Morhmann has been a long time friend of Chief Rounds from the start. I respectfully asked for his permission to share with everyone what he had to say about the Chief. He has so graciously allowed me to share his words below.


From: Eric Mohrmann []
Please feel free to post it there. Not everyone was as lucky as I was in knowing Phil.

Eric Mohrmann
Fire Chief

All of us here at Capital City Fire/Rescue would like to express our deepest condolences to Bess, Phil’s family and the UAF Fire Department family. The loss of someone who so loved life, as Phil did, is especially difficult.

There is a photograph on the wall above my shoulder of three “white hats” on a 2 ½ inch playpipe. Covered with frost, water spraying, you can’t really make out who they are but you have to wonder, who is running this fire if all the white hats are playing with the hoses?

Yes, this is a Phil Rounds story. The three people are Phil, Brad Paulson from Chena-Goldstream and myself. We were all, once again, working mutual aid together on a structure fire in the middle of the winter in Ester. It was a stubborn fire because of balloon frame construction, in a residence, on a steep hillside. The fire had worked its way down both exterior walls and through the roof, so we pulled everyone out.

Interior efforts hadn’t worked because of ship lap boards over the walls and we couldn’t get ahead of the fire. All hands were tied up pulling salvaged items away from the building when we got the idea to get a larger line in play, so out came the 3 inch line with a playpipe. Phil, Brad and a rookie firefighter grabbed the line and set it into action. Seeing two white hats on the line tickled me so I told a volunteer who was taking pictures to get a shot of the “Chiefs’ line and walked over to join in. Chasing the rookie away, the three of us were making good progress on knocking the fire down. Naturally, we were joking about the chiefs having to show the young’uns how to do it.

That’s what I remember about Phil, that great big grin and an absolute love for his calling. Not a job,… a calling. His example taught the many young people he worked with what dedication and love of the job really means. Many of these fine young people have adopted this calling as their own. What better legacy than that can any of us leave?

Phil, you were always there when we needed help and now you’ve left us here to carry on. You’ll be missed but I’ll just look over my shoulder and say “OK Phil, let’s get it done”. Shucks, I guess you never have really left us.

Eric Mohrmann
Fire Chief
Comment by Shawn McGilvary on November 25, 2008 at 3:50pm
Well said Cap'n. I remember the Chief every time that bell rings and we go to work.

Comment by Eric Hankins on November 24, 2008 at 11:27pm
Ben, Brother,

As once again you have managed to put your heart on paper.

I am truly saddened by the news of the passing of Chief Rounds. By your and other accounts he sounds like he was a Fireman's Chief. One of the good guys. We all know Chiefs like that, but we also know the opposite. While it is always hard to lose a Fireman, it is especially hard when it is someone that close to you. Someone that you call your Brother.

Please send my most sincere condolences to the members of the UFD and the family of Chief Rounds.

We will never forget Fallen Brothers.

Go with God Chief, Your men at UFD will take it from here.

Comment by Kimberlee Jones on November 24, 2008 at 5:03pm
I am a consumer who lost my home to fire a few years ago. As such, I feel a sense of loyalty to the personnel who responded, and who for days after, stopped by to drop off an item or two, to help move something heavy from the debris, or to just check in. I am saddened by your tremendous loss; your team is in my thoughts and prayers.
Comment by Ben Simonds on November 24, 2008 at 2:39am
I am glad that I did get to talk to you tonight. I know this is a difficult time for you and the rest of the "MEN" at the University. I sit here some 500 miles away and remember almost a year ago the feelings that you are having. To have to work and worry and wonder was a very difficult thing for me as along with the other guys i worked with. I believe that Phil is where he needs to be and this is difficult for a lot to understand. That is definitely the concept that helped me the most when Cam passed. We will never be able to understand or rationalize why they are gone but they are. There is a time to dwell and then a time to remember and carry on. This Job will continue on long after or days just like it has for the last 200 years. We have been blessed with the gift to attend it while we are here on this earth. The best way to remember those before us is to love the job and cherish it. To continue on in a manner that would make anyone that has served and loved the job and respected it the way that we do as brothers, friends, and FOOLS would. Phil was a Mentor and friend for many. I know that we will all try to continue his life in some aspects of ours. I am here for you brother. Any time I am a phone call away

Comment by Ben Fleagle on November 24, 2008 at 2:08am

Thank you. Brad, you should know that I have never held a grudge with you or had any desire to keep you at a distance. As president of the chapter I have sometimes had to represent the official stance or opinion of the chapter and not necessarily my opinion. I have stayed away in order to leave certain things to the men that you work with. But enough of that here. This is about Phil and he certainly showed both of us how to get past differences and put Brotherhood first. I look forward to honoring the Chief with you and your department at the ceremony on Saturday. He was truly everyone's Chief in every sense of the word. KTF.
Comment by Brad Hoff on November 23, 2008 at 10:28pm
Brother, I'm never far away and always here for the brotherhood in whatever you need. It's my privilege and honor to help out, anyone, anytime and even now in our time of grief for someone we all loved.

I was fortunate that I had the opportunity to see Phil on Tuesday to see him as his usual self; cheerful and glad to see his friends even if he was in the hospital and exhausted. He even said "Don't worry Brad, I'm not dying". Little did I think that he would leave so soon after seeing how cheerful he was. It has been difficult to swallow and to stay positive and not get emotional thinking about him being gone. Hard to get over thinking that a person like Chief and someone I have known for almost half my life would depart at such a young age. I can't remember the exact first time I met him when I first came to Alaska in 91 as a young cocky fireman in the AF. I do remember the time I ran into him on my honeymoon in Valdez in 93. He and his family happened to be on the same Stan Stephens cruise as my wife and I. We were able to enjoy a meal with him and his family and I have never forgotten that time and saw the picture the other day of him and Bess that I took on that day. That is just one of many memorable times I was fortunate to have shared with an incredible man who was truly a firemens fireman, a brother, a friend and a kind of person we like to surround ourselves with to learn from because he loved taking care of his guys like he took care of his own family.

Brother Ben it's time for me to stop looking and living in the past and start fresh. I think Phil or anybody would hope that for anyone of us. Life is too short to hold grudges and I know you and I have not been on the best of terms most times and you may dislike me for some reason or the other but I still think of you as my friend. So I apologize and hope you can forgive me and that in some way I can be here for you and your guys during this time. Just say the word!


Comment by Doug Price on November 23, 2008 at 9:27pm
You got it also Brother Ben. And tomorrow while im on duty i will pray for you and your crews also. Take care !

RIP Chief! To Ben and the UFD gang KTF!!!!!!!!!

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