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February 06, 2016
Two D.C. firefighters reassigned after missing gunshot wound on patient - DC

Two D.C. emergency medical technician firefighters were reassigned for failing to diagnose a gunshot wound to a patient they had treated and transported to a hospital Saturday night, D.C. Fire and Emergency Services officials said.

Timothy Wilson, an agency spokesman, confirmed that two employees were reassigned to duties away from patient care following a preliminary investigation into an incident this weekend.

The reassignments were reported initially by Fox 5.

In the incident on Saturday night, multiple fire department units responded to the 200 block of L Street SW for the report of a shooting at about 10 p.m., authorities said. Two EMT firefighters located one person with a gunshot wound and transported that patient.

However, they also found and examined a second patient whom they believed was high on PCP, and took that patient to the hospital. Hospital staff treating the second patient detected at least one gunshot wound.

“Our initial investigation has determined that the patient exam conducted by our personnel was not sufficient. The members have been reassigned for additional training,” Wilson said in a released statement.

It was not immediately clear how the department learned of the missed diagnosis. The matter remains under investigation, officials said.

Chief Gregory Dean has said that improving staff training remains the highest priority for eliminating issues that have put others at risk in recent high-profile incidents.

“There was a breakdown in upholding our standard in this incident; we must be diligent and thorough,” Wilson’s statement said. “The first leg in achieving and maintaining our standard of patient care starts with training.”

Ed Smith, president of the firefighters union, could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday night.
By Clarence Williams /

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February 06, 2016
3 hurt in Orlando fire truck accident - FL

At least 3 hospitalized with head and neck injuries, officials say.

ORLANDO, Fla. —A fire truck heading to a call on Curry Ford Road crashed during rush hour.

Three people are recovering from their injuries, WESH 2 News has learned.

"I thought it was the end of my life. I thought my life was over," said Brenda Gauvey, crash victim.

The Orlando fire truck ended up in the median.

"I'm very upset," Gauvey said.

Gauvey received a dent and a scratch on her car and two other SUVs were damaged, with debris scattered across Curry Ford Road.

The Orlando Fire Department told WESH 2 News the fire truck was headed to a call when it collided with at least one of the vehicles.

At least three people were hospitalized with head and neck injuries, according to fire officials.

"I could see it coming like this. I was like this. Bracing myself," Gauvey said.

Gauvey said she was side-swiped by the fire truck after she saw it hit the other two vehicles.

"The fire truck was going fast. I don't know how fast, but he was going. And he was barreling right through us," Gauvey said.

The fire truck was damaged enough that it had to be towed away, along with two other vehicles involved.

Fire officials said the firefighters on the truck were not injured.
By Chris Hush /

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February 06, 2016
Sewage fumes sicken Mount Vernon firefighters - NY

Official says the cause was paper towels that clogged firehouse toilets.

Six Mount Vernon firefighters were hospitalized this week because men have been negligently clogging the firehouse toilets, an official said.

On Sunday night the sewage lines backed up at Fire Station 1 at 470 E. Lincoln Ave., sending harmful fumes through the building, Deputy Fire Commissioner Ernie Richardson said. Six firefighters fell ill and were treated and released from a hospital that night.

Richardson said the Department of Public Works cleaned out the pipes and found the culprit: brown paper towels that are meant for drying your hands after washing them.

"The DPW pulled large amounts of brown papers towels out of those sewer pipes. The only way it gets in there is if guys are throwing it in there purposely. These guys have been told not to do it. That's the issue," said Richardson, a former union president.

DPW officials did not immediately return a request seeking comment.

Current union president Charles Ranken said he had not spoken with the fire commissioner and could not confirm his account.

Ranken said there have been problems before with pipes backing up at that firehouse.

Regardless of the reason, the situation needs to improve, he said.

"The building's old," he said. "Anything's possible as far as the pipes go. You've got to make headway with this."

The city brought in a company to disinfect the firehouse, where it's likely that only a few people are responsible for the paper towel issue, Richardson said.

"Those are strong fumes. Those fumes can make you sick. The problem was started by these guys not being responsible enough," he said.
Matt Spillane,

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February 06, 2016
Professional firefighters' group calls report on volunteers flawed - NY

The New York State Professional Firefighters Association released a statement on Thursday calling a report by the Firemen's Association of the State of New York flawed. Press Release

The report released Tuesday by FASNY discusses the economic benefits of volunteer fire departments, including how they save state taxpayers over $3 billion each year.

Some of the qualms NYSPFFA had with the report included its failure to acknowledge the differences between paid firefighters and volunteer firefighters. According to the release, there are differences in availability, qualifications, service quality, accountability and response times.

"Our field of play is unlimited; high-rise buildings, underground and confined spaces, hazardous materials, contagions, even acts of terror," said Sam Fresina, NYSPFFA secretary treasurer in the release. "The members of a volunteer fire squad fill a commendable role in providing suppression and prevention services, but it's not a comparable one to career firefighters."

NYSPFFA also said the number of volunteer firefighters is often inflated. Rosters tend to include members who are retired, moved or who are not interior qualified.

The group released a report of its own, "The Myths of Replacing Professional Firefighters with Volunteers," highlighting in more detail some of their issues with FASNY's study.

President of FASNY Robert McConville responded to NYSPFFA's release with a statement reinforcing his belief in the study.

“We have tremendous respect for our career brothers and sisters and the work they do. However, we stand by the findings of this report, which is the most in-depth, comprehensive study of its kind. It clearly shows that the dedicated men and women of the volunteer fire service not only provide professional emergency response but also save their community resident taxpayers billions of dollars a year.”
The Citizen staff /

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February 04, 2016
S.I. FDNY companies have slowest response time in the city - NY

(Photo from IBO)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y.— Staten Island had the slowest average FDNY response times and the borough's firehouses and engine companies were among the least active in the city, according to an analysis by the New York City Independent Budget Office.

The report, based on 2013 data, includes a breakdown of incidents to which firefighters are called upon to respond; statistics describing the relative frequency with which firefighters assigned to specific engine and ladder companies across the city respond to various types of emergencies; and response time statistics for structural fires at the community district.

According to the report, Staten Island, because of its low population compared to the rest of the city, had the slowest average response time of 4.5 minutes to structural fires. Queens was second with 4.4 minutes.

But, the report states, those times were not far off from the rest of the city. Bronx's response time was 4.2 minutes and Manhattan was 4.2. Brooklyn was the fastest with 3.6 minutes.

In reference to FDNY response times by community district, the North shore average was 3.6-4.3 minutes. The rest of the borough was 4.3-5.1 minutes, according to the analysis.

Two Staten Island communities were among the top 10 districts with the least rapid FDNY responses to structural fires.

Staten Island Community 2, (Arrochar, Bloomfield, Bulls Heads, Chelsea, Dongan Hills, Egbertville, Emerson Hill, Grant City, Grasmere, High Rock, Lighthouse Hill, Midland Beach, New Dorp, New Springville, Oakwood, Ocean Breeze, Old Town, Richmondtown, South Beach, Todt Hill, and Travis) was fifth with an average response time of 4.8 minutes.

Community District 3 (Annadale, Arden Heights, Bay Terrace, Charleston, Eltingville, Great Kills, Greenridge, Huguenot, Pleasant Plains, Prince's Bay, Richmondtown, Richmond Valley, Rossville, Tottenville, and Woodrow) was 10th with an average of 5.1 minutes.

Several Staten Island firehouses appeared on the least active engine and ladder companies in 2013.

Engine 151, which serves Charleston, Richmond Valley and Tottenville areas, was the third least active engine company in the city with 961 responses. Engine 168 (Rossville/Woodrow) was fourth with 1,062 responses.

None of the borough's engine and ladder companies were on the most active list, the report states.
By Mira Wassef |

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February 04, 2016
Lessons Learned:
Lessons Shared from Houston's 'Darkest Day' - TX

From left, firefighter EMT Robert Garner, 29, Probationary Firefighter Anne Sullivan, 24, Engineer/Operator/EMT Robert Bebee, 41, Capt./EMT Matthew Renaud, 35, of the Houston fire Dept.
(Photo credit Houston fire Dept.)

SAN DIEGO – A fire chief talked with hundreds of Firehouse World attendees Tuesday afternoon to help prevent future tragedies.

“We lost four firefighters, but this was the last alarm for seven firefighters,” Houston Executive Assistant Chief Richard Mann said about the May 31, 2013 fire now known as “Houston’s Darkest Day.”

Killed were Capt./EMT Matthew Renaud, 35, Engineer/Operator/EMT Robert Bebee, 41, FF/EMT Robert Garner, 29, and Probationary Firefighter Anne Sullivan, 24.

Previous Deaths in Houston

Houston has lost 70 firefighters since 1883.

The first firefighter to die during interior operations was Ruben Lopez in 1996. Since his death, the department has lost 17 members and most were during interior operations, including the deaths of two firefighters inside a McDonalds in 2000.

“These are numbers that I’m not proud of. I’m embarrassed and we’re working really hard to change that. That’s why I’m here today.”

And the department has made changes to reduce deaths.

Following the 1984 death of a Houston firefighter who fell from the back step of a fire truck, the department stopped allowing members to ride that position.

“We’ve had some good conversations,” Mann said about changes.

Changes Following LODDs

  • 1984 – The back step of fire apparatus was no longer a riding position following a death from a fall off a back step.
  • 2000 – Every Houston firefighter was equipped with a radio after two firefighters, who did not have radios, were killed in a fire at a McDonald’s restaurant.
  • 2001 – Four person staffing on all fire units was established after a firefighter was killed in a wind-driven high-rise fire.
  • 2009 – Tactics were reassessed following a firefighter’s death at a wind-driven house fire.
  • 2013 – The department established a formal Organizational Recovery Process following the Southwest Inn Fire.
  • 2014 – The department established a fireground survival program following the death of a firefighter who collapsed and was missing in a house fire.
  • 2015 – Each member of the department received the IAFF’s Health and Wellness training following a firefighter’s death after going into cardiac arrest at a fire.

Houston’s Darkest Day

Mann noted that Houston does not have zoning policies, saying that every neighborhood can have such a wide variety of structures that it’s hard to keep up.

The Southwest Inn was a budget motel alongside the Southwest Freeway. Eventually, a restaurant and banquet facility of wood-frame construction were added on the side closet to the freeway. There were two roofs; a flat-roof section over the kitchen on the left side and a lightweight truss roof with clay tiles on the remainder of the building. The overall building maintenance was lax, so deterioration from termites and water also weakened the structure.

The first call came in at 12:05 p.m. and before crews arrived, 17 9-1-1 calls were received. One caller reported that everyone had escaped.

Arriving three minutes later, Engine 51 Captain Renuad reported a one-story structure with smoke showing from the restaurant. They pulled a 2 ½-inch attack line and made entry through the front door. Mann said they followed policy by deploying a thermal imager to check the conditions at the entryway before moving into the structure.

“We had a report that Capt. Renaud used the thermal imager and found fire above them, so they began pulling the ceilings as they went toward the kitchen,” Mann said.

The smoke from the fire was so bad that it actually stopped drivers on the freeway, which delayed many of the incoming units.

At 12:18, District 68 called for a second alarm and called for Engine 51 to exit the structure until a water supply was established. Less than a minute later, when the supply line was charged, Engine 51 returned to the interior.

Engine 82 called a frantic Mayday at 12:23 saying there was a roof collapse.

Additional resources were called once the Mayday was sounded, and shoring equipment was also requested due to a large crack in an exterior wall.

A non load-bearing wall stopped part of the collapse, which allowed Beebee and Renaud to crawl out of the initial collapse, but they were caught by a fire that quickly grew after the collapse.

“We could have easily lost another member from Engine 51 and the crew of Engine 82 if things went different,” Mann said of the catastrophic collapse of the I-beams with a 30-foot span.

Captain Bill Dowling was rescued by firefighters at 12:52 p.m., but not before a secondary collapsed occurred. He lost both legs and suffered brain damage.

“Dowling’s rescue was the first recorded successful rescue to use a RIT pack to switch over a down firefighter’s air supply. “

Recovery Mode

At 1:02 p.m., chief officers made decision to switch from rescue to recovery.

Even with a full SCBA tank, the missing firefighters would have run out of air by that time.

“That’s not a discussion that anyone wants to have. We knew a secondary collapse was about to occur due to a large crack in the exterior wall.”

There was a brief glimmer of hope when Bebe’s radio kept transmitting, but it was later determined to be degradation of the radio due to heat.

Lessons Learned

“There’s the offensive vs. defensive decision and you have to put yourself in the officer’s position to make that decision,” Mann said. “I would absolutely say he made the right decision to go in and get that fire….everything tat that point was focused on life safety.”

Mann pointed to accountability and communications issues that were found on the fire scene that tragic day.

The accountability board was overwhelmed following the collapse as firefighters were removing their SCBA and not turning off the accountability system. For a few minutes, it was hard to determine who was missing and they did not realize two companies were still inside the collapse structure.

They had recently switched to an 800 megahertz radio system a month before, but it wasn’t tested under major emergency conditions. One key change was the implementation of a radio prioritization system that allowed officers priority to use the radio and, if a microphone is keyed and there is no audio after five seconds, that radio times out.

Following the Southwest Inn Fire, the department looked at establishing a formal Organizational Recovery Process.

The primary goals include:

  • Establishing the facts pertaining to fire.
  • Identify contributing factors to fire and apps for improvements.
  • Develop opportunities for improvement based on all LODD, near-misses and department experiences.
  • Identifying and developing guidelines for policy changes.
  • Identifying new tactics and strategies based on lessons from the incident.

This process began in June and it was called the recovery process.

In July, the department established committee meetings to formally look at the lessons from the fire and they met twice. Through September and October, the group developed recommendations from the findings and they distributed a bulletin with the department to keep them up to speed.

A year later, the report was ready and it was going to be reviewed with the families before it was released. A week later, Firefighter Daniel Grover was killed in a house fire and that put the findings on hold.

The report was released in August and by September, all fire companies were reviewing the report at the district level.

Mann shared the following take-home messages with Firehouse World attendees.

  • Always focus on the priority to honor the fallen
  • Support families of the fallen
  • Support crews of fallen
  • Support the fire department
  • Keep the lines of communications open with fallen firefighter’s family
  • Communicate the follow-up plan of action within the organization
  • Update the community on the progress of the report
  • Support joint labor-management issues
  • Understand how to deal with public support, including donations

“Don’t do anything that’s a knee jerk reaction,” Mann offered, saying that you need to act on the teachable moment while it is fresh in everyone’s mind. “They are very vulnerable at the time and this is the time to make the fire department culture change, if you need to change the culture."

The last slide in the presentation showed the Houston firefighters' memorial. Above the photo, it read “If we’re not going to use experience, experience has no value.”

"I hope I have done my job in honoring those four fallen firefighters in sharing the lessons."
by Peter Matthews / Source: Firehouse

NIOSH Report on Houston's Southwest Inn Fire

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February 04, 2016

(The Last Call - RIP)

Firefighters in a N.C. fire department are mourning the loss of a veteran.

James R. Varnell, 53, fell ill as he was leaving a training drill at Bakertown Vol. Fire Co. on Tuesday night.

Fellow firefighters came to his aid, and provided basic care until medics arrived.

Varnell was taken to a local hospital where he died. An autopsy will determine the cause of death.

He has more than 20 years in the fire service.

This brings to eight the number of firefighters to die on duty so far this year. News

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February 04, 2016
Firefighter falls through floor of burning building - MD

A firefighter fell through a weakened floor of a burning house in Prince George’s County but did not suffer serious injuries, authorities said Thursday.

The fire occurred just before 6 p.m. Wednesday in the 10700 block of Waco Drive. Officials said the two-story home had working smoke alarms, which helped alert those inside.

Firefighters found in their initial investigation that the fire was in between the floor joists of the first floor and the basement ceiling. When firefighters were searching the first floor of the home, one firefighter stepped onto a burned out part that was weak, said Mark Brady, a spokesman for the county fire department.

The firefighter fell through the joists and into the basement, according to Brady. He did not suffer any major injuries and was able to make “his way back up the basement steps,” Brady said.

The fire caused roughly $15,000 in damage. The cause is under investigation, officials said.
By Dana Hedgpeth /

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February 04, 2016
Atlanta Fire Department is losing firefighters to other agencies - GA

ATLANTA — It's one of the most dangerous jobs of all. Being a firefighter means battling smoke and flames, and the dangers of a building collapse.

The city of Atlanta is now advertising for new firefighters. The firefighters' union told Channel 2’s Richard Elliot that's because so many current firefighters are leaving.

Both the Atlanta fire chief and the firefighters’ union president agree that Atlanta has some of the best-trained firefighters in the Southeast, but the union says other departments are swooping in and taking those firefighters with offers of better pay.

You have to be well-trained to do the job well.

“It's easy to transition an Atlanta firefighter because we're trained so well, and there's so much investment in us,” said the head of the Atlanta firefighters’ union Paul Gerdis.

Gerdis said the rank and file are concerned about pay and benefits.

“It's easy for other departments to pick off our members because they can attract our members with higher salaries, better benefit packages,” Gerdis said.

Atlanta Fire Chief Joel Baker said he's working with the union and the mayor's office to enhance firefighter pay and benefits.

“This is the strongest and largest the fire rescue department has ever been,” Baker said.

Baker told Elliot he doesn't believe attrition is a problem at all, but isn't surprised other departments want to hire Atlanta’s firefighters.

The city is advertising for 75 new firefighters to replace the 68 who left last year.

As someone who came up through the ranks, Baker said he knows his firefighters want more money.

He's asking them for patience while he works with the mayor.

“Times are going to get better, you know? I want our members to have faith and confidence in their fire chief,” Baker told Elliot.

The union says it has had good meetings with the chief and the mayor's office. It's hopeful something can be worked out.

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February 04, 2016
2 Chelsea firefighters injured in 4-alarm blaze - MA

Chelsea firefighter Anthony Salvucci carries Crystal the cat to owner Linda DeFeo, a resident of 43 Eleanor Street this morning, after a 4 alarm fire ripped through her residence

Firefighters work at the scene of a 4-alarm fire at 43 Eleanor Street this morning.
(Staff photos by Mark Garfinkel)

Two firefighters were injured, and a 3-year-old was guided out by firefighters responding to a four-alarm blaze in a large Chelsea apartment building this morning.

"A neighbor from the rear of the building noticed the child on the fourth-floor balcony and alerted us. We were able to get a crew up there and remove the child through the interior of the building prior to the fire extending to the location where he was," Chelsea Fire Deputy Chief John Quatieri told the Herald.

The blaze broke out on Eleanor Street around 10 a.m. this morning, with smoke filling a section of hallways in the 24-unit apartment building, and flames spreading through the walls towards the ceiling.

"The fire started on the third floor but it quickly spread to the fourth floor and adjacent apartment," Quatieri said.

A fire captain was transported with a back injury to MGH after "a nasty fall" from being tangled in hose lines, and another firefighter injured his shoulder on the third floor, Quatieri said.

Quatieri said the department had enough manpower to contain the fire and all occupants were evacuated from the building with no further reports of injuries.

Residents stood outside the building under dreary skies as firetrucks and ambulances crowded the area.

Linda Defeo, another fourth-floor resident, was elated as a firefighter handed her pet cat Crystal over to her.

"I just grabbed some clothes and didn't think it would be this bad of a fire because the alarm goes off all the time. Smoke was coming through the vents and I went out and there was a lot of smoke in the hallway, " said Defeo as she cuddled her pet. "They got my cat down. It's amazing that she was calm through this."

The cause of the fire is currently undetermined. Quateri said he did not yet have an estimate of the extensive damage which included shattered windows, exterior, smoke and water damage.
Colneth Smiley Jr. for Boston Herald

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February 03, 2016
Coast Guard rescues firefighters who were searching for missing teen - OR

(Oregon State Police)

A U.S. Coast helicopter crew in Oregon rescued two North Lincoln Fire and Rescue members who were searching for a teen who fell off the rocks in Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area on February 2, 2016. According to news reports, the firefighters were on personal watercraft during the search in the area known as the Punch Bowl.

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February 03, 2016
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IAFC President Testifies Before Senate on Responding to New Terror Threats


IAFC President and Austin fire chief Rhoda Mae Kerr appeared before the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Fairfax, Va. – Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr, IAFC president and chair of the board, testified today before the U.S. Senate that the tactics deployed by terrorists have evolved since 9/11 and local first responders now must be prepared for a variety of incidents.

Kerr, a fourth-generation firefighter, testified before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, chaired by Sen. Ron Johnson (Wis.). The hearing explored the challenges and needs of America’s first responders when responding to terror attacks on the homeland.

“We're seeing a different terrorist threat,” said Kerr, fire chief of the Austin (Texas) Fire Department. “The incidents in Boston, Paris, Garland, Chattanooga and San Bernardino used a variety of tactics. They were carried out by lone wolves or smaller groups of individuals. They used tactics like gunfire and explosives. In some cases, they may have communicated with overseas actors. In all cases, the planning for these attacks was hard to detect.”

Kerr said America’s fire and emergency service is seeing a new terror-threat environment that uses a variety of tactics. Local fire departments are adapting so they can respond to both large-scale and localized terror threats. To prepare for this new threat environment, local departments require accurate information about threats to their jurisdictions.

“It will take a whole community effort to be prepared for these threats, which requires the active participation of all federal, state, local and private-sector stakeholders, including the American public,” Kerr said. “The federal government provides a number of opportunities for local first responders to receive the information, training, communications, planning, equipment and coordination that are required for an effective emergency response. It's important to recognize the essential role that this committee has played in improving our nation’s preparedness.”
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

Read Chief Kerr's Full Written Testimony

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February 03, 2016
Proposal would cut 65 Portland firefighters - OR

Portland could eliminate 52 firefighter positions, 13 more if city hall doesn't act, committee says.

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) – In its requested budget for 2016-2017, the Portland Fire & Rescue budget advisory committee “struggled” to announce that the city may have to eliminate up to 65 firefighter positions.

The fire bureau, like all city bureau’s, has been asked by the mayor to submit budget requests that reflect a 5% cut. According to the documents first obtained by KOIN 6 News, the fire bureau is being requested to cut $5.1 million from its budget.

Lt. Rich Tyler, a spokesperson for the fire bureau, cautioned that the proposals by the committee are not finalized and will still need to be reviewed by the mayor and a decision on citywide budget cuts will not be made until later.

The fire bureau’s budget committee said the $5.1 million reduction could be accomplished by eliminating four of the bureau’s Rapid Response Vehicle units and closing two stations and companies, which would eliminate 52 emergency response positions. That number, according to the committee, could increase to a total of 65 positions, if the city council does not authorize 13 current firefighter positions that are being funded through a grant.

During the fiscal year 2013-2014 budget cycle, the city cut 26 firefighting position. The fire bureau then applied for and was granted the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant, which brought back 13 of those 26 positions. The fire bureau is now asking the city council to once again fund the $1.4 million to maintain those 13 positions.

The budget committee wrote in its report that that elimination of any staffing “will have significant and immediate negative impacts on emergency response times and reliability throughout the city.”

Currently, response times for the city’s fire bureau are 7 minutes and 12 seconds. The goal is 5 minutes and 20 seconds.

The committee is also concerned that substantial cuts may leave the fire bureau “unable to maintain its current Insurance Service Office (ISO) rating.” The ratings are used to determine home and business insurance premiums. “Additional budget cuts will result in a lower ISO rating which in turn will increase property insurance rates for Portland residents and businesses,” the committee writes.

“If (the fire bureau’s) resources are reduced, the organization will not be positioned to handle the current demands for service, let alone a significant increase in the future,” the committee writes.

According to a Portland Fire Bureau report, in fiscal year 2014-2015, the agency responded to more than 77,000 calls for emergency services. The agency operates 28 engine companies, nine truck companies, four Rapid Response Vehicle units, and one heavy squad unit. There are currently 30 fire and rescue stations in the city. The bureau has specialty units that include: water rescue, marine response, urban wildland interface, structural/trench collapse, high-angle rope rescue, foam response, HAZMAT, chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive response.

In the budget report, the committee wrote that it “first tried to identify reductions outside of emergency response operations and frontline firefighters.”

The fire bureau is also seeking a onetime request of $3 million to help fund the relocation of the agency’s logistics and prevention departments.

Alan Ferschweiler, president of the union that represents Portland firefighters, called the proposed cuts “drastic.”

“We’re at the base level,” Ferschweiler said. “Anything more is not tenable to continued operations of the fire bureau.”
By Brent Weisberg and KOIN 6 News staff

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February 03, 2016
Fire chief: 'One of us was going to die' at shootout after crash - UT

Chief Jeremy Hunt, who's also a reserve police officer, exchanged gunfire with a man after responding to a vehicle crash.

LOGAN, Utah — A 30-year-old man pleaded not guilty to attempted murder after shooting at first responders at a crash scene.

Cache Valley Daily reported that Cade M. Austin, 30, was driving erratically before he crashed into a large natural gas regulating device on Dec. 15. He then brandished a handgun and exchanged gunfire with Assistant Fire Chief Jeremy Hunt. Hunt, who is also a reserve police officer, took the witness stand during Tuesday’s hearing.

He testified how he became nervous and un-holstered his handgun when Austin refused to get out of the car while fidgeting with something under his sweatshirt. Austin later pulled out a handgun from his waistband.

"Everything was just so fast," Hunt said. "I made the conscious decision that if his firearm made it up to our level, one of us was going to die. I couldn't allow that to happen. So I fired my weapon."

Hunt explained how he aimed his gun into the car in the direction of Austin's chest and fired. He said he couldn't remember who shot first, but that they exchanged several rounds.

Austin, who was drinking alcohol from a bottle, was later pulled from the car by SWAT team members after losing consciousness. He was transported to a hospital and treated for gunshot wounds to the chest and right shoulder.

Austin is being held without bail in a county jail. He's charged with two counts of attempted murder, interfering with an arresting officer, reckless driving and having an open container inside a vehicle.

He was ordered to appear again in court on Feb. 29.
By FireRescue1 Staff

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February 03, 2016
Official under fire for calling firefighters 'bubbas' - NC

(Command Shift Z)

Commissioner Hood Richardson said he was concerned about the training they had in order to be able to provide medical services.

WASHINGTON, N.C. — Nearly 100 responders and other protestors gathered at a commissioners meeting after a commissioner called firefighters who provided on-scene medical services "bubbas."

WNCN reported that the controversial comments were made by Beaufort County Commissioner Hood Richardson during a meeting in January.

"We feel like we may have been stereotyped and I think it is a derogatory term," said Capt. Ray Harris, with the Bunyon Fire Department.

During the meeting on Monday, many people wore “Bubba” name tags. Richardson said that "bubba" could be a term of endearment like "brother."

"What I was concerned about was the training that people had in order to be able to provide these medical services," Richardson said.

The service he was concerned about was pit crew CPR, which brings in the closest responders to work as a team to perform CPR on a victim.

"All of the fire departments in Beaufort County have been trained in team CPR concepts, and are now beginning to be trained as medical responders," Capt. Harris said.

In 2012, Richardson was also heard allegedly bullying a 911 dispatcher, WCTI13 reported. Hood called the sheriff’s dispatcher to report a woman walking in the middle of the street. He became irritated when the dispatcher told him he was transferring his call to a city dispatcher.

"You can just deliver the message," Richardson said.

The dispatcher refused his request and repeated he was transferring his call.

"I'm Hood Richardson, Beaufort County Commissioner. You'll hear about this tonight if you don't get off your butt and do your job!"

The dispatcher eventually agreed to deliver the message to city dispatchers.

"Not only did [Richardson] refuse to be transferred, he began to berate my dispatcher and threaten her," Sheriff Alan Jordan said.

Richardson said he was just doing his job as a citizen and as a county commissioner.

"I'm not sorry that any of it happened," he said. "I would do the same thing again. I’m doing my job."
By FireRescue1 Staff

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February 02, 2016
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Second set of gear can help firefighters avoid cancer - NY

Some research over the past few years has started to show a link between fighting fires, and an increased rate of cancer. Firefighters in Schenectady are encouraged to clean their gear after fires, to keep them free of contaminants. But that cleaning process takes hours and when a fire call comes in, firefighters have to go.

"It's not uncommon for us to have two structure fires in one shift," said Schenectady Fire Chief Ray Senecal.

Chief Senecal said that just about a year ago, the city spent about a quarter million dollars to buy all firefighters a second set of gear. One to wear when the other is dirty or in the wash.

"The potential is there to be exposed to a wide range of toxins. We want to make sure we minimize where employees have the ability to be contaminated," said Mayor Gary McCarthy.

Monday, Schenectady firefighters received a second safety hood, the protective gear that directly covers a firefighters face, head and neck.

"The Cancer Foundation is going to supply the department with a second safety hood. These are the front line protections you have," said Chief Senecal.

The Schenectady Firefighters Cancer Foundation paid for the safety hoods, with help from an anonymous donation.

Aimee Parlatore is the Director of the Schenectady Firefighters Cancer Foundation. She said the foundation was started to help fellow firefighters battling cancer. Now it's also aimed at education and prevention. She said that if firefighters aren't wearing contaminated gear they aren't breathing the contaminants in, or absorbing them into their bodies.

"The last thing we think about is how sick am I going to get from this action right now? The Cancer Foundation, the Department, we've taken that role over for them (firefighters)." Said Parlatore. "Having the ability to say, 'here are the tools, all you have to do is employ them.'"

"Being able to do things like a second set of gear, a second hood, it's probably going to save our lives," she said.

Parlatore hopes that as more research rolls in, her department and foundation set an example. She said high cost of gear is preventing some departments from taking the same proactive action.
By WRGB Staff

For more information, visit Schenectady Fire Fighters Cancer Foundation

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February 02, 2016
Study: Paying NY fire volunteers would cost $3.3B a year

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Volunteer firefighters say their service saves New York communities more than $3 billion a year statewide.

A study released by The Fireman's Association of the State of New York on Tuesday calculates that switching over to all-paid squads would cost $3.1 billion in pay and benefits annually, plus additional costs for maintaining living and eating quarters. There also would be a one-time cost of $5.9 billion for a statewide switchover.

There is no serious movement to pay all-volunteer squads, but officials with the firefighters' group say they want to illustrate the value of volunteer squads.

There are about 100,000 volunteer firefighters in New York state.

About nine of ten municipal fire departments are volunteer, many in more sparsely populated areas with a smaller tax base.

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February 02, 2016
Lessons Learned:
Dangerously Close: Explosion in West, Texas


CSB Safety Video on the April 17, 2013, fire and explosion at the West Fertilizer Company in West, Texas, which resulted in 15 fatalities, 260 injuries, and widespread community damage. The deadly fire and explosion occurred when about thirty tons of fertilizer grade ammonium nitrate exploded after being heated by a fire at the storage and distribution facility.

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February 02, 2016
Oromocto Fire department tackles mental illness

The Oromocto Fire Department's willingness to tackle mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, came at a high price.The suicide of a volunteer fighter and former military sergeant, Paul Martin, in 2011 sent a shock wave through the department.

Then, more recently, one of the department's full-time members almost succeeded in taking his life.

Lt. Jerry Poirier is a broad-shouldered, calm-looking firefighter but, just over a year ago, he was falling apart.

"It culminated into me ultimately breaking.""I just existed. My thoughts weren't clear, my work wasn't efficient, I wasn't myself. I was just here physically, but mentally, I was on the moon," Poirier says.

Poirier says he had come through a year and half of hyper-vigilance, caused when he resuscitated his six-month-old son who suddenly stopped breathing one night.

He wasn't sleeping for fear something would happen when he wasn't watching. It was the first time he ended up needing help.

But years later, when other things combined to send him into a mental spiral, he didn't recognize it in himself.

'Yeah, I'm good'Poirier attempted suicide but fate intervened and he got help to deal with what he felt was a of problems.

"It's not as if, before I broke, the guys didn't try. My own crew was poking at me, and asking if I was OK, and I kept shoving them aside saying, 'Yeah, I'm good,'" he says.

"No issues here. Just let me be. I hid it from them."

Poirier decided to speak out about his recent struggle. He let his bosses and co-workers know what had happened.

That disclosure prompted the Oromocto Fire Department to start looking for better ways to help its members spot their own, and their co-workers, problems.

Fire Chief Jody Price started searching for the latest methods to help his members.

He ordered an app for cellphones and tablets that visually walked them through breathing techniques.

"One thing we did was kept the groups small. So it wasn't like you were in front of a group of 65 people, laying on exercise ball, breathing," said Richard Cummings, the department's deputy chief.The department brought in local health professionals for biannual days of mental health training. The training included exercises for reducing stress, and breathing techniques to reduce anxiety.

"There were small groups, and we gave them the background information."

Openness helpedCummings said about a dozen firefighters in the 50-member department are accessing some form of mental health assistance.

"So, that's a pretty high percentage," he says.

Cummings says because Poirier was open to talking about the mental health care he was getting, they were able to bring in the health-care team to help re-integrate Poirier into his crew just four months later.

Poirier says he believes that having the fire department deal with mental health issues in an open and up front way has opened the door to a healthier workplace overall.

"The alpha male stigma here is out the door. We are tough. Our first priority is helping you and taking you to a safe place in your moment of need," he says.

"When we come back here, that's when we start to process things for ourselves, and take care of ourselves, and our department has done tremendous things to help us cope with that."

Poirier says the members of the fire department talk more now and ultimately he believes they are a better department for it.

The Tema Conter Memorial Trust Fund says it knows of 39 first responder suicides in 2015, four so far this year.

It says it gathers its statistics through news reports, and direct reporting to the organization.
Catherine Harrop/CBC

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February 02, 2016
Firefighter Line Of Duty Death spurs Retirements, Hiking Overtime Costs - OH

The on-duty death of firefighter Daryl Gordon has spurred more than double the expected number of firefighters to resign in recent months.Gordon's died while trying to save lives amid a Madisonville fire on March 26.The retirements are hiking the Cincinnati Fire Department's already over-budget overtime costs, said Fire Chief Richard Braun on Monday. The department budgeted 1.6 million for overtime this fiscal year, which ends June 30, but has already spent $2 million and is projecting a year-end cost of $4 million.

"That has changed the dynamics in the department," Braun told the City Council's Law and Public Safety Committee, noting he recently bid farewell to 17-year and 25-year veterans. The department expected 11 retirements this year but has already seen 17 retirements and expects 6 more by the end of the fiscal year.

"Some are just feeling the pressures of the job and leaving early; some, their families are giving the pressure," he said. "But this correlates in."

A new 6-month 40-member recruit class will start in June, and Braun said the department will need to immediately start another recruit class, which will need to be paid for in the next city budget.Braun said he expects 54 retirements in 2018, the result of a recruitment class hitting its 30-year mark.

The fire department has an authorized staffing level at 841 members, but it currently employs 820.

The fire department is seeking to avoid brownouts, during which the department idles equipment when it can't pay for staff -- a move that jeopardizes response times. To keep up staff levels, Braun said he is accelerating firefighters out of temporary light-duty roles, cracking down on chronic use of sick leave and picking up a member who is working in the department's paramedicine program and deploying him on the streets, paid for by spot overtime.

“These are not options,” said Councilman Kevin Flynn. “We have to be, as a Council, be willing to make the policy decision that we’re going to move forward next year budgeting for a January 2018 class to begin.”

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February 02, 2016
Lessons Learned:
NIOSH Firefighter Fatality Report: New Jersey Firefighter Suffers Fatal Heart Attack at Fire

Autopsy revealed atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease in volunteer firefighter.

The NIOSH Firefighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program has released the line of duty death report of a New Jersey volunteer firefighter who suffered a heart attack while battling a commercial structure fire on June 8, 2014.

On June 8, 2014, a 54-year-old male volunteer firefighter responded to the scene of a commercial fire and performed interior fire suppression activities. The firefighter was part of an engine crew that advanced a charged 2.5-inch hoseline into the building. The firefighter served as the doorman to ensure the hoseline did not get caught on the door.

After his second building entry, the firefighter exited the structure and then collapsed on the curb in the front of the building. On-scene emergency medical service (EMS) personnel immediately initiated cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and placed the firefighter in an on-scene ambulance for transport to the emergency department (ED).

Despite resuscitation efforts on scene, during transport, and in the ED, the firefighter died. The death certificate and autopsy report, both completed by the Assistant Medical Examiner, listed the cause of death as "atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease,” with physical exertion and smoke inhalation as contributory factors.

The autopsy found severely blocked coronary arteries and evidence of an acute heart attack. Based on the firefighter’s undiagnosed coronary heart disease (CHD), NIOSH investigators concluded that the physical exertion associated with fire suppression activities at this fire triggered the firefighter’s heart attack and subsequent sudden cardiac death.

Key Recommendations:

  • Provide preplacement and annual medical evaluations to all fire fighters in accordance with NFPA 1582, Standard on Comprehensive Occupational Medical Program for Fire Departments
  • Ensure fire fighters are cleared for duty by a physician knowledgeable about the physical demands of firefighting, the personal protective equipment used by fire fighters, and the various components of NFPA 1582
  • Phase in a mandatory comprehensive wellness and fitness program for fire fighters.


NIOSH Report: Firefighter Suffers Fatal Heart Attack at Commercial Fire

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February 02, 2016
Questionable Calls Costing Ambulance Agencies - PA

(WTAE-TV Pittsburgh)

Whether it's a cup of tea or a car wreck, ambulance agencies respond when they receive the call.

Action News Investigates has learned that on one of every four of those calls, EMS agencies are not getting paid.

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February 02, 2016
Phoenix Fire Department sees an alarming trend in suicides - AZ

PHOENIX (KSAZ) - Firefighters train to be physically strong and more recently, Phoenix firefighters are also getting new training on how to be mentally strong, as well.

"In 2010, we had four suicides in a really short period of time," said Phoenix Fire Capt. Ray Maione said.

Since then, Capt. Ray Maione says more than eight more of his brothers went on to end their own lives. Coping with the nature of their jobs, the sheer volume of calls, the high stress and lack of sleep all take its toll.

"When the average citizen is sleeping, we're up dealing with all kinds of problems," Capt. Maione said. "You can go from a fire to saving a baby in a house, to a baby drowning, to an older person having a heart attack. You never know what you're going to see on a daily basis."

It's not something firefighters can easily talk about, let alone admit is a problem.

"In the past, it's always been something you just kept pushing to the side," Capt. Maione said. "Now, we train the guys and let them know it's OK to ask for help."

The Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance tracks firefighter and EMT suicides across the country. Founder Jeff Dill says education, awareness and resources are the first steps in preventing first responders from taking their own lives.

"Family relationships are the number one reason for firefighters completing suicide, followed by depression and addictions," Dill said. "Post-traumatic stress is actually fifth in the ranking."

"We're human like everybody else," Capt. Maione said. "We have the same problems like people we answer fire calls on. We have those same problems."
By: Nicole Garica /

Jeff Dill, founder of the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance, tracks firefighter and EMT suicides across the country. He said education, awareness and resources are the first steps in preventing responders from taking their own lives.

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February 02, 2016
FDNY Probie was seriously burned - NY

Last night an FDNY Probie was seriously burned at a dwelling fire when the floor below him collapsed. A MAYDAY was transmitted and Rescue 5 members located and removed the Firefighter. Reports are that the Firefighter suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns - but is expected to recover.

Fireground radio traffic / Photos from the scene

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February 01, 2016
Resident of burning stone house confronted firefighters, became violent and was arrested, police say - NY

The fire at 4366 U.S. Route 209 burns late Thursday afternoon
(Mid-Hudson News Network photo)

KRIPPLEBUSH >> A resident of a burning two-story stone farmhouse on U.S. Route 209 in this Marbletown hamlet was arrested after she confronted firefighters at the scene, interfering with efforts to extinguish the blaze, according to the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office and a fire department official.

Firefighters and onlookers were confronted by Judith L. Young, 51, of 4366 Route 209, who attempted to enter the burning home, officials said.

Young was arrested by sheriff’s deputies at about 6:20 p.m. Thursday and charged with the misdemeanors of obstructing governmental administration, obstructing fire fighting operations and resisting arrest, and with disorderly conduct, a violation, police said.

Bob Newell Jr., assistant chief of the of the Kripplebush Fire Department, confirmed Saturday that Young lived in the farmhouse. “Sometimes, unfortunately, some people can’t believe a situation is happening in their life ... try to save their property and end up being a hindrance,” he said.

Sheriff’s deputies responded to assist multiple fire departments who were fighting the working structure fire when Young, who authorities said was drunk, attempted to enter the burning home. After being escorted from the scene, police said Young continued disobeying orders to stay away from firefighters and the residence.

Young’s actions delayed efforts to extinguish the fire, authorities said. She also became violent and attempted to strike bystanders and deputies, they said.

Young was released with tickets for Marbletown Town Court.

The three-alarm fire destroyed the second floor and spread to the roof of the farmhouse, Newell said Friday.

He said the blaze, near Kripplebush Road on Route 209, was reported about 4:55 p.m. Thursday and was under control within about 45 minutes.

There were no injuries.

The blaze remained under investigation Saturday by the Ulster County Cause and Origin Team but was believed to have started near a wood stove in the kitchen. It is not considered suspicious, Newell said.

The home’s second floor was gutted, and the first floor has water damage, Newell said Friday, adding that, “unfortunately, it is uninhabitable for the time being.”
By Diane Pineiro-Zucker, Daily Freeman

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February 01, 2016
Information passed along
National Debate: Should firefighters be packing heat while on the job?

(KFVS12 News)

A Pulaski firefighter was shot and killed after responding to a medical call last week in rural Arkansas. Recent acts of violence against first responders– like in the case of Lt. Jason Adams –has sparked nationwide debate over whether firefighters should be packing heat.

While firefighters and emergency personnel in Dayton, Ohio said they want to be allowed to carry firearms on the job, some veteran firefighters in southern Illinois, disagree completely.

Chief Ted Lomax of the Carbondale Fire Department said his department won’t be allowing that any time soon. “We’re not going to put our firefighters in harm’s way when it comes to that,” Lomax said. “The police officers, that’s their job and they’re trained to do that so we let them do their job.”

There’s no doubt firefighters are faced with armed threats constantly while on the job, so it’s no surprise this question is fueling further debate. But it’s not just gunfire that ‘s a concern for first responders– it’s violence in any form against firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians.

In a recent study, researchers at Drexel University found that EMT’s and paramedics are 14 times more likely to be assaulted on the job than their firefighter colleagues.

Southern Illinois University Carbondale student Will Rolon said he thinks firefighters should be armed, “If they have to defend themselves then I think it’s necessary,” he said.

The City of Mount Vernon, Illinois has a policy against employees carrying firearms while on duty– with the exception of police officers.

Mount Vernon’s Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Sargent told KFVS, “Maybe down the road there may be a discussion about it…Our working relationship with our [police] department is tremendous. That’s probably why we haven’t had that discussion.”

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February 01, 2016

A metro fire department lost a fire truck on Saturday while battling grass fires in McClain County.The Washington Fire/Rescue team said they were assisting the Goldsby Fire Department to fight a grass fire when their truck was involved in an accident.

The roll-over crash totaled the department's brush pumper truck.

The department said all firefighters were fine and there were no injuries.

The department thanked residents for their calls of concern in a Facebook post late Sunday evening.

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February 01, 2016
Firefighter falls through floor while battling house fire in Takoma Park - MD

TAKOMA PARK, Md. — A firefighter fell through a floor Saturday evening, while battling a house fire in Takoma Park, Pete Piringer a spokesperson for the Montgomery County Fire Department said. The firefighter was able to escape safely without assistance, according to Piringer. No other injuries were reported, and no one was home at the time of the fire.

The cause of the fire was due to an electrical issue in the basement, and accidental in nature, according to Piringer. The fire then spread from the basement throughout the two-in-a-half story home.

The fire may have even been burning for hours before neighbors noticed it, Piringer said.

According to Piringer, 75 firefighters responded to put out the fire. One family was displaced, with 250-thousand dollars worth of damage.

Video of the scene can be seen in the video below:

A task force and additional fire rescue units were requested, and assisted in putting out the fire, Piringer said.

Photo Gallery

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