FIRE AND IRON MC CLUB HISTORY
In 1997 two friends and co-workers from Orange County Fire and Rescue were riding back from the Cabbage Patch Bar during Bike Week and stopped at The Eagles Nest in Samsula, FL. While having a few beers they started talking about different Fire clubs and how none seemed to be the right fit for them. They had looked into other clubs, but were not happy with them due to the many rules or being brand specific. The talk then turned to them forming their own club. After some discussion, these two friends, Lance "Yummy" Hilliard, and Joe "Chez" Czesnakowicz, with the addition of Mike "Short Stick" Eller who also rode and worked at the same station then as Joe, decided that they would start something brand new.
First they needed a name. With Joe hailing from the Pittsburgh area and having family that worked in the steel industry he thought about those tough men who worked in the mills and how firefighters have that same toughness. And the name he came up with was Fire and Iron. Fire is what we do and Iron is what we ride and who we are. And as people who do this job we must be made of steel. But steel in its basic form, being iron, is brittle. That iron is transformed by fire just as we are transformed by fire. It makes the iron malleable, it can be shaped and moved. It becomes hardened and stronger. When we are treated and tested by fire we become stronger and harder. We have to be strong, unyielding to face this task. Just as every test and treatment of the steel makes it harder so does every test and fire we encounter from the first days in the academy to our last day on the job.
Then the club would need a patch. The first patch for the club was a 3-piece patch that was orange, with orange lettering, and a Maltese cross in the center. This patch was designed by Joe.
Shortly after its inception a meeting was held with the local dominant club and the center patch was changed from a 3-piece patch to just the center patch which was designed by Mike Eller. By late 1998 the club has all but fizzled out. Joe Chez was approached by Mike Moss, another Orange County Firefighter asking if he could take a shot at resurrecting the club. Mike Moss designed the bottom rocker to go along with the center patch. The two-piece allowed us to show our neutrality and was a sign of respect to show that we were not trying to be or represent ourselves as something that we were not.
The first "Official" Meeting for the club was held in November of 1999 at the Orange County/Orlando Firefighter Union Hall. There were 15 people at that meeting. There are only 4 that are still with the club today and they are the three founding members and Terry Naumann of Chapter 1.
The first members of the club invited other firefighters from different departments to join them, bringing the total membership to 20-25 members from various central Florida fire departments. Dues started off at $25 a year, with all the money going to charities and there was a meeting once every month.
The first official charity ride for the newly formed club was for the Annie Russel home for Atypical Children in January of 2000.
After some hard work by the founders and others who shared the clubs vision, the second chapter of Fire and Iron, known as Stations, started in Seminole County. Despite being a very short-lived endeavor, the club knew there was interest to grow. The “second” station in Volusia County, FL. Station #2 started in the spring of 2001. They are still with the club today. Fire and Iron MC was led by Mike "Caveman" Moss, from 2000 until 2012, he left the club in 2014. In that time Fire and Iron grew from a loosely associated group of Stations into a cohesive motorcycle club. It has not come without its hardships as any growing club would go through.
In 2006 the first National Rally was held in Harrison, OH hosted by Station 56. The rally was the first that got members from different areas of the country all together at the same time at the same place and established National Officers. Kevin "Crosschecker" Smith was the National Vice President with Terry "Fonze" Naumann acting as the club treasurer, Rob "Kalli" Kallendorf acting as the Sgt At Arms and Ed "Loco" Grossheim acting as the secretary Also around 2006 Jim Luff's house at 5th and olive in Daytona became the defacto "Clubhouse" for all motorcycle festivities in the Daytona area. Club members from around the country would visit, crash on the floors and couches and park in the yard. Rent was a few bucks to keep the beer flowing and the house stocked with toilet paper.
As the club grew the need for representation that was based on geography was needed. The first Regional Officers were put in place in 2007
In 2008 the second National Rally was held in New Braunfels, TX and was hosted by Station 18. The rides and area of the country made this rally one that won't soon be forgotten. The National President was MIke "Caveman" Moss, the National Vice President was Bubba Conran, the National Sgt At Arms was Rob "Kalli" Kallendorf, the new National Secretary was Paul "Eggman" Eggerding and Terry "Fonze" Naumann was the National Treasurer.
Since the National Rallies are held only every 2 years the club agreed that the National Officers should hold a National Board Meeting in the off years of the rally. In 2009 the first National Board Meeting was held at Shady Jack's Saloon in St. Louis, MO. The site was chosen because it was centrally located in the country and if you have never been to Shady Jack's, well, you are missing out.
In October 2009 Station 42 hosted the 10th Anniversary party for the club in conjunction with the Florida State rally. The Anniversary party weekend was well attended with a motorcycle rides and one on the track at Disney.
2010 saw the Fire and Iron and National Rally visit the landing site of the pilgrims by taking over Plymouth, MA. Station 144 South Shore, MA hosted the rally. A highlight of the rally was the Brockton Pipes and Drums playing to 300+ leather clad, kilt wearing firefighter bikers during a kegger on the front lawn of the hotel and then leading them down the street of Plymouth on a pub crawl. Even the local police gave up trying to control the group and finally just informed the National VP and National Secretary to handle any issues on our own and only call them for the ones that we couldn't.
2011 saw the Fire and iron National and Regional Officers reconvene at Shady Jack's in St. Louis, MO. The site was convenient and Jack took good care of the club. It was at this National Board meeting that the club voted to establish a National Executive Board for the purpose of running the clubs finances and day to day operations. The National Officers of the club would act as the Executive Board with the Regional Officers and National Officers comprising the National Board. At this meeting it was also voted on that the Regional Officers could implement State or Regional representatives to help assist in the running of the region.
In 2012 the National Rally was held in Winchester, KY and hosted by Station 45 Winchester, KY. This rally had almost 800 club members in attendance. The club took a ride together and thanks to the Kentucky State and local police and various fire departments Interstate 64 was shut down for a short time so that we could go on a little ride with our friends. Measuring at slightly over 7 miles long and with just over 700 Fire and Iron bikes on the road it was something to behold. At this rally Bubba Conran was voted in as National President and Mark "JD" Kozak was voted in as National Vice President, and the club grew even further. Many loose ends and other aspects of the growing club were settled and the club grew stronger still.
Once again Shady Jack's hosted the 2013 National Board meeting. It was at this meeting that the National Board was informed that as of March 2013 the first Fire and Iron Station in Germany would be opening. A new National website was presented and the old one shut down and the new one to be start to be used. It is still the one we use today. 2013 also saw the establishment of the first Station in Canada. Station 95 in New Brunswick.
Next up in 2014 Fire and Iron "Shocked the Badger State" with Station 17 hosting the 4th National Rally in the Wisconsin Dells. With all the pools, great rides and one late night "Acquired" beer cooler ride this rally was fun from the moment you got there. This rally also saw the first full patched members from Germany to attend a National Rally. Ricci "Flash" Ruschioni took over the reins of the club as he was voted in as National President and Mike "MikeB" Bentley was elected during this rally as the second ever National Sgt At Arms, taking over from Kalli.
Orlando Florida was the site of the 2015 National Board Meeting. The site was moved in order to meet members from that region and to help facilitate some club business in the State. It was here that the National Sgt At Arms Mike Bentley obtained the new road name of "Cheap A$$". A large bar bill and a snarky Hooters girl later and you get a new Name. Ask him or the National Secretary about that one.
The Gateway City of St. Louis, MO and Station 314 hosted the 5th Fire and Iron National Rally in 2016. Rides along the Mississippi river, late night pool parties and a BBQ at Shady Jack's in downtown St. Louis all made for great memories. After a well-known helicopter ride to take pictures of the club ride the National President earned a new road name of "Raaalph". When you meet him, you can ask him how he got it. Ricci "Raaalph" Ruschioni was voted back in as National President, Mike "Cheap A$$" Bentley won Sgt At Arms and Paul "Chicago Paul" Eggerding maintained his position as National Secretay. The club also voted for other changes at the top with Don "Match" Matchem being voted in as National Vice President and Ben "Meat" Goodstein being voted in as National Treasurer. During this time the club started its own Foundation and became a nationally recognized 501(c) 3 charitable organization. At the same time Fire and Iron MC became a 501 (c) 7 organization. The club, with the help of the Founding members, the National Executive Board, also trademarked the Fire and Iron Logo, as well as another logo and name associated with the club.
2017 saw the National and Regional Officers descend upon the Crescent City of New Orleans for the National Board Meeting. Visiting with the new Station there in West Jefferson and seeing the sites with the Brothers was a really good time. But make no mistake, the primary reason for getting together was business and at this meeting the first major revision of the Bylaws was done by splitting the Bylaws and the Procedural and policies of the club. The club also partnered with Firehouse magazine, hosting a booth at Firehouse Expo in Nashville, TN and leading a ride to raise money for firefighter charities that were affected by hurricanes that struck both Houston, TX and Central Florida this year.
2018 will see the National Rally to be held in West Virginia and hosted by 3 stations. Stations 29, 40 and 72. Fire and Iron in its 19th "official" year has grown to over 145 stations worldwide. The club is still young and growing but you are part of not only one of the largest firefighter’s motorcycle clubs in the world, but definitely the BEST!
Joe "Chez" Czesnakowicz
Lance "Yummy" Hilliard
Mike "Short Stick" Eller
ORIGINAL CLUB COLORS
National Rally Hosts
2006: Station 56
2008: Station 18
New Braunfels, TX
2010: Station 144 Plymouth, MA
2012: Station 45 Winchester, KY
2014: Station 17
Wisconsin Dells, WI
2016: Station 314
St. Louis, MO
2018: Stations 29, 40, 72
2019: Fire and Iron 20th Anniversary
Chapter 1 Florida