Petitioners want to honor fallen firefighters with building
By Mark Wineka
Students of the Fire & Rescue Training Class at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College have initiated a petition drive to have the building where they train ó Building 700 ó renamed in honor of fallen Salisbury firefighters Victor Isler and Justin Monroe.
RCCC officials also want to come up with a lasting honor for the men, who had a close connection to the college, but they’re not sure renaming that particular building is the right move.
Building 700 is actually a renovated storage building being used for fire training.
Jeanie Moore, vice president of continuing education at RCCC, said the college has hopes of some day having a model facility for fire service training, which has long been a major study component at the community college.
Moore and Roger McDaniel, director of fire programs, met with the class Wednesday night after hearing of the petition drive.
They asked the class to choose a representative to help the administration as it moves forward with plans to honor Isler and Monroe, who died in the March 7 fire at Salisbury Millwork.
Moore said RCCC appreciates the sentiment expressed by the petition, “and we want to do that, too.” But the school is looking to explore the best options for a memorial of lasting significance, she said
It could take the form of continuing scholarships or programs, the naming of a facility, plaques or other ways, Moore noted. She told the training class she didn’t want to put the names of the firefighters on an old building ó one that might even return to a storage building some day.
Isler was a Top Gun graduate of the Fire & Rescue Training Class a year earlier and had become a part-time instructor at RCCC. Monroe was a fire science student at RCCC in a program associated with Central Piedmont Community College.
As of Thursday afternoon, the Web site-driven petition for renaming Building 700 had gathered 974 names in about a two-week period.
Mike West, a current member of the Ninth Fire & Rescue Training Class, said he expects the petition drive to last about a month before it is submitted to the college administration.
West is assistant systems manager for Salisbury-Rowan Utilities and a volunteer for the Granite Quarry Fire Department. The petition, which allows comments, has been signed by firefighters and others from across the county.
It also has numerous signatures from people elsewhere in North Carolina and several other states.
“We are affirming with our signatures that we believe the renaming of Building 700 would be a fitting tribute and means of honoring Victor Isler and Justin Monroe in that they gave their lives in the service to the citizens of Salisbury,” an introduction to the petition says.
“Renaming this building will continue the healing process and help us remember Victor and Justin as what they truly were; firefighters, brothers, heroes.”
A couple of other buildings on the RCCC campus in Salisbury have names associated with them, the petition notes. Building 100 is dedicated to C. Merrill Hamilton, and Building 200 is known as the Richard L. Brownell Building.
Members of the Fire & Rescue Training Class of about 36 students are a combination of people 18 and older who are members or want to be members of volunteer fire departments or who are pursuing fire science and firefighting as a full-time profession.
The training is intense and covers many different areas. West said the class meets for four hours every Wednesday night and eight hours each on Saturdays and Sundays.
The class was not held during the two weeks after the March 7 fire. When students returned, they first considered signing a petition on their own and submitting it to the school.
The idea broadened to include all fire departments and firefighters in the county. When the petition was placed on the Internet, word spread to many more people and those signing on have included dispatchers, family members of firefighters, emergency service personnel, law enforcement, hospital workers and the public at large.
In the first 48 hours after it moved to a Web site, the petition collected 250 names.
“It’s quite touching to go through the pages and see what people have written,” West said.
The Web site address is www.ipetitions.com/petition/IslerMonroe.
It is a free petition. If a screen prompts the user to donate money, it should be ignored by escaping or closing out that screen. The new name will still be counted.
People signing up will receive an e-mail later confirming that their names have been added to the petition.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263, or firstname.lastname@example.org.