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September 29, 2014
Canandaigua City Council cool to fire department OT request - NY

CANANDAIGUA — City Council members have made it clear they are not interested in giving more money to the fire department, even though the amount allocated for overtime this year is nearly spent and equipment repairs are complete but not paid for.

The fire department asked the city’s Finance Committee this past week to allocate an additional $15,000 to cover the costs for overtime and equipment repairs, as well as move around money within the department budget. Following discussion Tuesday, the proposal had no support and was not brought to vote by the three committee members present.

“If we are not obligated to allow overtime in the collective bargaining agreement then cut it out,” Councilman Ian Boni said Tuesday. “Spend it for an outside agency to look at what we’re doing wrong with the fire department. This million-something budget is insane. It needs to be cleaned up.”

No members of the fire department were present at the meeting. When contacted, Fire Chief Mark Marentette deferred comment to city staff.

This request comes on top of an additional $13,000 in overtime wages and $15,000 in vehicle repairs awarded in June, according to City Manager Dave Forrest. However, the excess funds may be necessary to keep the department running smoothly through the rest of the year.

Without this approval from City Council, firefighters will not be able to respond to calls while off-duty, and the $10,000 in repairs that have already been done will not be paid for, Forrest said.

“They don’t stand in very good spot,” Forrest said. “If firefighters are called in off duty to work a fire, that’s overtime. That makes it difficult.”

To date, the department has used approximately $70,000 of the $71,000 it has available for overtime.

To balance its budget, the fire department needs to add $10,000 for equipment repairs and $10,500 for overtime. The department is asking for $15,000 — $10,000 for equipment and $5,000 for overtime — and the rest can be made up by moving money around within the department, Forrest explained.

Council members were all reluctant to approve more overtime, some citing the city’s recent concessions to the department. In July, the city agreed to add six new paid positions — four fire captains and two part-time firefighters. Council members said the addition of the part-time firefighters was meant to avoid additional overtime costs.

“This overtime is killing me,” said Councilman Bill Taylor. “We keep getting more and more overtime and yet we’re supposed to have part-time people in to cut down on overtime.”

Taylor said when planning the fire department’s 2015 budget, he is going to “drill down on overtime.”

Since overtime was the top concern for City Council in discussions Tuesday, Finance Committee Chair Jim Terwilliger suggested splitting the overtime and equipment repairs into two votes, but that idea was shot down by the committee, and there was also no support for funding the repairs.

City Council members said they would need more information as to why the equipment needs repairs and which vehicles are being repaired regularly before allocating the funds.

Mayor Ellen Polimeni said the city has not seen budget amendment requests from other departments, which is why councilmembers are reluctant to approve another budget change for the fire department.

“At budget time I think there’s going to be a great deal of scrutiny,” Polimeni said.

While the committee did not vote to bring the issue to full council, it still may be brought up at the meeting for discussion.

“We’ve got some time between now and the council meeting next Thursday,” Forrest said. “It’s certainly enough time for council members to think things over and maybe come to a different conclusion.”
By Megan Brandow

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September 29, 2014
Garage door dispute is settled in Lockport - NY

LOCKPORT – The dispute between the City of Lockport and its firefighters union over who should be allowed to open the garage doors at the firehouse is over.

The matter became moot as of Sept. 15, when the city shifted Fire Department dispatching duties from the city Police Department to the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office.

“The county sheriffs weren’t going to be able to open or close our doors for us,” Fire Chief Thomas J. Passuite said Friday.

A lawsuit the city filed against the Lockport Professional Fire Fighters Association in April, seeking to block state arbitration in the case, is listed as “settled” on the State Supreme Court website.

The city went to court after the union objected to the city placing garage door openers in all fire vehicles in December. Up until then, the doors could be opened by buttons on the firehouse walls or by remote control by police officers at the dispatching desk.

The union’s complaint stemmed from what it considered one in a series of contract violations by the city. The firefighters union also sought to protect the work of the police union.

The Fire Board approved a new standard operating procedure, or SOP, on garage door opening Sept. 16, and the firefighters will be opening their own doors henceforward.

Union President Kevin W. Pratt said, “The SOP was revised, and it met our concerns to our satisfaction.”

However, there is a new garage door issue. An inspector from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration came to the firehouse Tuesday to check some union safety complaints.

Among them, according to Pratt, was the city’s failure to install devices on the firehouse doors that would keep them from closing if something – or someone – was underneath them. Pratt said the city installed such protective devices on the overhead doors at the police garage, but not at the firehouse. He said that other issues included air quality in the firehouse, because the city or its contractor allegedly failed to clean up above the ceiling tiles after a roof replacement project, and the lack of an emergency escape system on the department’s ladder truck.

Passuite declined to comment on the OSHA visit. The city has yet to receive a report on the federal inspection.
By Thomas Prohaska | News Niagara Reporter

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September 29, 2014
Firefighter Injured in Two-Alarm House Fire - CA

A two-alarm fire injured a San Rafael firefighter and caused more than $200,000 damage Friday in the Canal neighborhood.

The fire broke out at about noon at 305 Canal St. It started in a garage and spread quickly to the residence, said San Rafael fire Battalion Chief Jeff Buscher.

A fire crew happened to be in the area and reached the fire within two minutes, extinguishing it with the help of firefighters from several other departments.

"It was a very hot, dangerous fire moving very quickly," said fire Chief Christopher Gray.

No residents were hurt but a firefighter suffered minor injuries in a fall and was taken to a hospital for treatment.

The cause of the fire is under investigation but the origin appeared to be the garage, where firefighters found evidence of a car being dismantled, Gray said. He said inspectors are reviewing whether the automotive work violated city codes.
Gary Klien / Source: The Marin Independent Journal, Novato, Calif.

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September 29, 2014
Volunteers Not Happy with Plan for Va. County to Bill - VA

Culpeper Fire and Rescue Association President Anthony Clatterbuck told the Board of Supervisors on Saturday that his volunteer members have begrudgingly agreed to consider endorsing "soft billing" for rescue calls.

Clatterbuck said that estimates based on last year's calls indicate that billing insurance companies would bring an additional $356,000 into the county coffers.

That amount, combined with the $50,000 the county's nine companies already get from an 8-cent fire and rescue tax levy, would come close to providing the additional capital funds volunteer stations need annually, Clatterbuck told those who attended a four-hour fire and rescue summit.

"Each company needs $100,000 a year, not $50,000," Clatterbuck said. (The county already reimburses operation expenses.)

But when asked point-blank by Supervisor Jack Frazier whether or not the volunteer companies were actually in favor of charging for emergency transportation, Clatterbuck replied, "Absolutely not! We're against it! But that's what we're willing to swallow."

The county's paid rescue department has been soft billing patients for several years, and last year that program produced about $600,000 in revenue.

Soft billing means that patients are asked to pay for services but are not required to unless their insurance covers medical transports.

The volunteer companies, however, have heretofore steadfastly refused to move into soft billing for two reasons: the potential loss of donations and the paperwork involved.

Doug Monaco, chief of the Little Fork Fire and Rescue Company, was adamant about his organization's thoughts on the latter.

"We're not going to handle the paperwork unless the county guarantees us $100,000 [in capital-improvement money] a year," Monaco said.

Earlier Monaco told the group that his volunteer company badly needed a new firehouse and was looking into building a $3.3 million facility. He said Little Fork, which also needs a new truck, would require almost $5 million in the next two years. He added that those capital needs were projected to require a debt service of $24,900 per month.

While the prospect of debt was worrying Little Fork, the problem of no debt was prompting the Reva Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company to contemplate borrowing money to make renovations.

Officials from Reva said that being debt-free and having money in the bank was hindering that company's ability to secure state and federal grant money, which is key to running a volunteer company.

Volunteers also complained that donations were getting harder to come by now that the county has implemented its fire and rescue levy on real estate tax bills.

Clatterbuck said citizens are balking when asked for donations and pointing to the fact that they are now paying a specific fire and rescue tax.

Monaco said that some patients are refusing to accept service if they will be asked to pay for transport.

Clatterbuck added that the volunteer companies, in a sense, are competing with the paid rescue personnel for county tax-levy dollars.

"There has never been a competition as far as I have known," said County Administrator Frank Bossio.

But Clatterbuck, who commended the paid staff for its fine work, said that in essence it could come down to a raise for the professional staff versus the need for a fire truck for a volunteer company.

Bossio suggested putting a notice on tax bills explaining to taxpayers that 3.5 cents of the tax levy goes to the paid staff while 4.5 cents is divided equally among the nine volunteer groups.

"I'd like to see us get rid of the fire and rescue tax levy [designation] and put all the money in the general fund to be divided administratively," said Steve Corbin, president of Company 1, the county's oldest volunteer group.

Corbin also said that his company would have no problem with hiring an outside consulting group to come in and assess the county's needs and current status.

"But it should be a totally independent person, someone who doesn't even know our name," Corbin added, stating that bringing in the Program of Fire Services to do the job would be a waste of time.

Supervisors Sue Hansohn and Steve Nixon have called for an independent assessment for more than a year, but that request has been a bone of contention with the fire association.

No matter where the conversation ventured at yesterday's summit, it eventually came back to the question of soft billing by the volunteers.

"It's double taxation," said Richard Lee, who is treasurer for the Culpeper County Volunteer Rescue Squad (Company 11). "It is unjust to bill me for services if I am already paying taxes [for those same services]."

Bossio said it was not double taxation because the payments were coming from insurance companies.

"I'm paying insurance premiums and taxes," Lee countered. "That's like charging each student a dollar to ride the school bus."

While the soft-billing issue for volunteer companies remains far from settled, Clatterbuck stressed the fact that if it is adopted, a system would have to be devised to make sure all the proceeds would be divided equally.

"We don't want this to become a candy store for the most-favored departments," he said.
Donnie Johnston / Source: The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, Va

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September 29, 2014
Firefighter Hurt During Rescue Effort - CA

Firefighters rescued an elderly couple from the second-floor apartment after a blaze destroyed a Live Oak home on the 1300 block of 30th Avenue on Saturday morning, Central Fire officials said.

A fire was reported at 1360 30th Ave. about 4:15 a.m., Battalion Chief John Walbridge said.

When firefighters arrived on scene, they issued a second alarm, prompting the dispatch of four more fire units.

Five residents in the apartment where the fire started were able to escape. Residents in an apartment adjacent to the blazing home were unable to leave because the fire blocked their front door, Walbridge said. Firefighters used a ladder and rescued the couple through a window of their apartment.

One firefighter suffered a lower back injury after assisting with the rescue.

Responding agencies included Santa Cruz Fire, Scotts Valley Fire, Cal Fire and Aptos-La Selva Fire.

Firefighters contained the blaze within 23 minutes and completely doused it in 45 minutes, Walbridge said. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

The contents of the apartment where the fire started were destroyed. The second apartment had smoke damage to the bedroom and living room and fire damage to the kitchen.
Calvin Men / Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel, Calif.

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September 29, 2014
Manhattan Storefront Shatters When FDNY Truck Tire Blows - NY

A tire from an FDNY truck blew suddenly Monday afternoon, and the pressure from the tire shattered a nearby storefront window on the Lower East Side, injuring several bystanders, officials say.

The truck was in front of 160 Delancy St. when something caused the tire to blow, fire officials on the scene said. The pressure from the tire broke a nearby clothing store window, but the tire remained attached to the truck.

Three people were hurt, but refused medical treatment at the scene, officials said.

A new tire was seen being attached to the truck at the scene.

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September 29, 2014

Two Anchorage firefighters were taken to a hospital Thursday with minor injuries suffered while battling a blaze in East Anchorage, said a fire department spokesman.

The flames ignited in a three-story condo at 6712 Lunar Drive, leased by oil and gas fiscal consultant Brad Keithley. Keithley recently gained attention after announcing he would spend $200,000 of his own money to influence state legislative races this fall.

Keithley said Thursday evening he was unsure where the flames started. He had been eating lunch while packing for a trip to California. Smoke detectors sounded inside his condo, though he thought they were just malfunctioning. Then a neighbor knocked on his door and told him that his home was on fire.

Fire crews dispatched to the condominium complex after a 911 call reported the flames at 1:47 p.m., said Al Tamagni, fire department spokesman.

Mike Davidson, a senior captain with the fire department, said no one was inside the condo when fire crews arrived. They cooled the outside of the building before fighting the flames from the inside, he said.

He said crews extinguished the fire in about 20 minutes and kept it contained to one unit of the complex.

Afterward, firefighters threw scorched objects out a second-floor window of the blackened home. Davidson characterized the damage as "pretty significant."

Keithley said he will be spending the next few nights in hotels. He said he still doesn't know how badly the fire scorched the inside of his home.

"Life happens and you keep going," Keithley said, commending the fire department for its fast response and firefighters' positive attitudes.

Tamagni said he did not have specifics on the firefighters' injuries. The cause of the fire and cost of damage are still under investigation, he said.

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September 29, 2014
L.A. pays millions as police and firefighter injury claims rise - CA

Los Angeles Fire Capt. Daniel Costa liked to go all out on the racquetball court at the LAX fire station. A fellow firefighter described him as a "very competitive" player who "likes to win."

Costa seemed in fine form after five spirited games in the fall of 2011. So his supervisor was skeptical when Costa, then 53, said he'd hurt his knee on the court and needed time off, according to a report by investigators for the city attorney's office.

Costa was out on injury leave for a year, collecting his full salary, tax-free.

In 2009, he took a nearly year-long paid leave after a run-in at the fire station with subordinates he described as "bullies." He complained of chest pain, high blood pressure and other symptoms, state records show.

Costa has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of an injury-leave program for Los Angeles police and firefighters that has cost taxpayers $328 million over the last five years, a Times investigation found.

Total salaries paid to city public safety employees on leave increased more than 30% — to $42 million a year – from 2009 through 2013, the five-year period studied by The Times.

The number who took leaves grew 8%, and they were out of work an average of nearly 9 weeks — a 23% increase compared with 2009.

The increased frequency and cost of leaves has forced the Fire Department to spend millions of dollars a year in overtime and reduced the number of police officers on the street.

City leaders across California say the very design of the injured-on-duty program, IOD for short, invites abuse. Because injury pay is exempt from both federal and state income taxes, public safety employees typically take home significantly more money when they're not working. And time spent on leave counts toward pension benefits.

"What's the incentive to come back to work?" asked Frank Neuhauser, executive director of the Center for the Study of Social Insurance at UC Berkeley and a leading workers' compensation researcher.

The rate of claims in Los Angeles "is astronomical," he said. "It boggles the mind."

Nineteen percent of L.A. police and firefighters took at least one injury leave last year, a rate significantly higher than those of other large local governments, The Times found.

For public safety employees of L.A. County and the city and county of San Francisco, the rate was 13%. In Long Beach, it was 12%. In San Diego, it was 10%.

In all, L.A. police and firefighters on injury leave collected $197 million in salary from 2009 through 2013. Taxpayers spent an additional $131 million on their medical care, disability payments and related expenses, Personnel Department data show.

A disproportionate amount of injury pay went to a small fraction of employees who took leaves again and again, sometimes reporting a new injury just as a previous leave was about to expire.

Costa was on injury leaves 18 times for periods ranging from one day to a year during the 10 years before he retired in 2013, according to payroll records.

From 2009 to 2013, he collected $242,500 in injury pay, the records show.

Costa declined to comment. His attorney, Charles Adcock, said Costa has had "legitimate injuries repeatedly throughout his career, and went back to work when many people would have gone out on retirement." He declined to elaborate.

Records show that Costa suffered head and back injuries in two building collapses early in his career.

In an email, Beth Costa wrote that her husband's injury record reflects the inherent dangers of firefighting.

"Dan knowingly and willingly put his life on the line for perfect strangers for 35 years. That doesn't come without consequence nor does it come without time off when you are injured," she wrote.

California legislators first mandated 100% pay for injured public safety employees during the Great Depression to ensure that those protecting the public wouldn't hesitate to chase a criminal or run into a burning building for fear of losing their livelihood.

Over the years, lawmakers and local officials have expanded the range of ailments deemed to be job-related. They now include sore backs, heart disease, stress, cancer — even Lyme disease.

Because police and firefighters are expected to stay in shape, an injury sustained playing racquetball at a firehouse would be covered. An LAPD officer recently was granted injury leave after he hurt himself bench pressing 400 pounds at the Police Olympics in Las Vegas.

The increased leaves are putting a financial squeeze on emergency services in Los Angeles.

More than one in four of L.A.'s 3,200 firefighters took injury leaves last year, The Times found.

To fill those shifts, the Fire Department is spending more than $51,000 per day — or nearly $19 million annually — on overtime, LAFD officials said. The expense has come at a particularly difficult time for an agency struggling to pay for new equipment and hire recruits.

At the Police Department, where overtime has been severely restricted, the rising number of injury leaves means fewer officers on the street. Each absent officer represents "one shift that doesn't get filled, one neighborhood that doesn't get patrolled," said Cmdr. Andrew Smith, the department spokesman.

City officials offer a number of theories for the rise in claims and costs: an aging workforce; delays in approval of medical treatment; and the cuts in police overtime, which eliminated a key financial incentive for injured officers to return to work quickly.

But among the most frequently cited explanations is a kind of cultural shift in the workforce — as employees see their colleagues take more and longer leaves, they do the same.

"I would say, without any ill-intent, it just becomes a practice," said David Luther, interim general manager of the city's Personnel Department. "It becomes somewhat automatic."

Frank Lima, president of the city firefighters' union, said his members are suffering more injuries due to fatigue. He pointed out that the ranks of city firefighters have dropped by several hundred in recent years because of attrition and a hiring freeze.

"We're short-staffed. We're being run into the ground," Lima said. "It's a recipe for injuries. If anything, I'm surprised [the rate of injury claims] is not higher."

The union representing LAPD officers declined to comment.

Fewer than 5% of injury claims by L.A. police and firefighters over the five years studied by The Times were attributed to acts of violence, smoke inhalation or contact with fire or extreme heat, Personnel Department data show.

Most common are leaves for "cumulative trauma" — an umbrella term for medical problems that are not linked to a specific on-the-job injury.

Those claims run the gamut of ailments that can afflict aging bodies regardless of profession: back strain, knee strain, high blood pressure, carpal tunnel syndrome.

Cumulative trauma accounts for "the bulk of our big claims," typically filed by officers nearing retirement, said Karl Moody, a lawyer and former Los Angeles police officer who is head of workers' compensation investigations for the city attorney's office.

Even if city officials are suspicious about an injury claim, fraud is difficult to prove. It's not enough to show that an employee has engaged in strenuous physical activity while on leave. Investigators typically must prove that the injury occurred off-duty or that the employee lied about his or her condition to obtain benefits, according to prosecutors.

Of the more than 6,700 city public safety workers who have taken at least one injury leave since 2009, only a handful have been criminally charged.

The challenge is illustrated by the case of LAPD Officer Jonathan Hall, 45, who collected more than $98,000 during a year off recuperating from a 2012 shoulder injury, according to interviews and payroll records.

Last year, while Hall was on injury leave, undercover officers videotaped him giving scuba lessons for a dive center in Long Beach, according to court testimony by LAPD investigators. Hall was charged with insurance fraud, workers' compensation fraud and grand theft.

On Tuesday, a Superior Court judge said Hall's work at the scuba center seemed "fraudulent by nature." But he dismissed most of the charges, citing lack of direct evidence that Hall had misrepresented his condition to the doctor who declared him disabled.

Hall still faces one count of attempted perjury in connection with statements made during a deposition. He has pleaded not guilty.

Former firefighter Raphael Davis competed as a professional mixed martial arts fighter under the nickname "The Noodle" while on leave for a shoulder injury.

Davis pleaded guilty to filing a false workers' compensation claim and was required to pay $30,000 in restitution.

Some of the city's longest and most expensive injury cases do not involve allegations of fraud. Rather, they illustrate a cascade effect in which often-disputed symptoms such as chronic pain and stress accumulate through the years.

LAPD Sgt. Mark Zimmerman collected $259,500 in IOD pay from 2009 to 2013, payroll data show.

Zimmerman's record of job-related injury claims dates back at least 25 years, according to state Workers' Compensation Appeals Board records. His most recent string of ailments began in 1999, after a fellow officer put him in a headlock during a training exercise and injured Zimmerman's neck and back.

In 2003, he took a leave for surgery to address chronic pain stemming from the incident, and was prescribed increasing amounts of painkillers, the records show. Four years later, he went on leave again for experimental surgery to relieve the pain. It was unsuccessful, the records show.

More recently, he began a two-year leave in February 2011. Zimmerman told doctors his supervisor was upset about his use of sick time for a rash and used "foul language," creating a "super negative" atmosphere, the state records show.

When a neutral physician, Gary Stewart, examined him in February 2013, Zimmerman told the doctor he'd been on injury leave one year for high blood pressure and a second year for psychiatric issues, according to Stewart's report.

After reviewing his medical history, Stewart concluded that Zimmerman had not been psychiatrically disabled and that his "blood pressure was barely elevated" before returning to normal.

"How does that square with Mr. Zimmerman telling me that he was on IOD for a full year for hypertension and a full year for mental health issues?" Stewart asked in his written evaluation.

He concluded that Zimmerman should consider a less-stressful line of work because of diminished coping skills.

Zimmerman declined to be interviewed for this story, and his attorney did not respond to requests for comment.

Zimmerman's injury leave ended days before his visit to Stewart, payroll records show, and he has spent the last year-and-a-half on vacation and sick leave.

An injured-on-duty claim begins when an employee seeks medical attention for a physical or psychological problem he or she believes is work-related.

If a doctor agrees that the injury is job-related and declares the employee temporarily disabled, he or she is authorized to begin a leave and the city is responsible for the cost of medical treatments.

After a year of full-salary injury pay, police and firefighters are eligible for workers' compensation, which is available to all Californians and pays up to 66% of salary tax-free for up to another year. Those benefits are capped at just over $1,000 a week.

An employee can avoid the reduction in pay by filing a new claim for a different ailment, which resets the clock and provides up to an additional year of injury leave.

In some cases, employees file consecutive claims, reporting a new injury just as a previous leave is about to end.

More than 300 police and firefighters took more than 12 months of injury pay between 2009 and 2013, The Times found. They represented just 5% of sworn employees on leave, but collected 23% of the total payments, city records show.

"We call them frequent fliers," said David Noltemeyer, chief of the Los Angeles Personnel Department's Workers' Compensation Division.

Some city officials and attorneys for injured employees blame the city's Personnel Department for the increasing length of leaves, saying it has been slow to authorize payments for medical treatments prescribed by employees' doctors.

"I've been doing this 25 years. It has never been like this, and it is only getting worse," said Julie Sherman, a Van Nuys attorney who represents injured employees.

"These [employees] are stuck at home. They want to go to work. They're going crazy."

Noltemeyer said the city isn't to blame. He said the city authorizes payments in less than two days for treatments that are within its guidelines. Delays occur only if a doctor requests something the city's medical experts believe is unnecessary, he said.

Noltemeyer said he could not estimate the percentage of treatments that are challenged by the city.

State lawmakers first required 100% injury leave pay for state police in 1937. They expanded that benefit to cover public safety employees in local governments two years later.

Pressed by police and firefighter organizations and workers' attorney groups, which are among the state's most influential lobbying and campaign fundraising groups, legislators have repeatedly amended the law to cover new categories of employees, including L.A. County and San Diego lifeguards and University of California police.

Six of California's 10 largest cities, including Los Angeles, have extended the 100% injury pay benefit to civilian employees. But they take leaves at a much lower rate than sworn employees. In L.A. last year, civilian workers' leaves cost less than half the amount paid to police and firefighters.

Over the decades, state legislators have expanded a list of medical conditions presumed to be related to police work and firefighting. They added "heart trouble" in 1939, tuberculosis in 1957 and meningitis, Lyme Disease and HIV in the early 2000s.

Inclusion of a medical condition on the list makes it harder for city officials to challenge the connection between the claimed illness and the job.

In 1982, California became the first state in the nation to presume that cancer in firefighters is related to on-the-job exposure to smoke and other toxins. Seven years later, the legal presumption was expanded to include police.

If a public safety employee can demonstrate on-the-job exposure to a carcinogen, other factors — such as a lifetime of smoking or a family history of cancer — carry little weight in adjudicating claims, city officials said.

Former State Sen. Art Torres (D-Los Angeles) said he introduced the cancer presumption legislation primarily to spare widows of police and firefighters "the awful situation of having to prove their husbands' cancer was caused by toxic chemicals."

He said he did not intend the laws to provide benefits to living employees.

L.A. spent $9 million between 2009 and 2013 on medical care and disability payments related to police and firefighters' cancer claims, city records show. Publicly available data don't indicate how much the city paid those employees in salary while they were on leave.

Once an employee is on leave, city officials can seek to have him or her return to work and perform light duty such as filing or answering phones.

If the employee's doctor does not agree, the city can request a second opinion from a neutral physician chosen from a list provided by the state Department of Industrial Relations. Noltemeyer said that review can take longer to complete than the one-year period of injury benefits. The process starts over if the employee files a new claim for a different problem.

The reports by neutral doctors and other medical records, normally confidential, become public if the worker or employer introduces them as evidence before the state Workers' Compensation Appeals Board, which determines whether an employee is entitled to a permanent disability payment in addition to his or her salary.

The Times reviewed more than a thousand pages of such records from cases involving the city's top recipients of injury benefits, including Costa, the fire captain at LAX.

In 1982, Costa was injured when a building collapsed and he landed on an air tank strapped to his back, according to the state records. He aggravated that injury and hurt his head during a second structure collapse, according to a doctor's report from 1997.

Beth Costa said her husband's back condition has required him to take painkillers daily. The medications have led to serious complications, she said, including damage to his colon, pancreas and kidneys.

Costa also took leaves for a knee injury suffered playing handball while at work in 1996 and neck and upper spine injuries sustained playing basketball while on duty in 2000, according to the state records.

Noltemeyer said records available to him show Costa also claimed back injuries from lifting a ladder, lifting a generator, pulling a hose, and getting out of bed for inspection at a firehouse.

In addition to the salary he collected while on leaves over the years, the city has paid Costa $38,237 in permanent disability benefits for three of his injuries, according to Noltemeyer.

In early 2010, when Costa was four months into a nearly year-long leave for chest pain, stress and other ailments, state records show that a cardiologist reported that a treadmill test showed Costa had "exceptional conditioning" with "excellent exercise capacity."

The doctor concluded Costa could return to work the next day.

Instead, he stayed out until the leave expired. Then he remained off-duty using sick days and vacation time. He returned to the LAX station for his final tour of duty in the spring of 2011, city payroll records show.

Fire Capt. Randall Keyes told investigators from the city attorney's office that Costa had been scheduled to retire in about a year and a half, but said he wanted "to leave as soon as possible and take advantage of living life to the fullest," according to the investigators' summary of the interview.

At the station, Costa regularly played racquetball and handball, the report said.

On Oct. 31, 2011, Costa played five games of racquetball, the report said. The next day, a fellow captain overheard Costa on the phone telling a supervisor he was going home and wouldn't be back, according to the report.

Two weeks later, Costa filed a claim saying he had hurt his knee on the racquetball court. City investigators concluded he'd sustained no new injury, Noltemeyer said.

A short time later, Costa filed a cumulative trauma claim for his knee, which did not require proof of a specific time and place of injury. The city accepted that claim, Noltemeyer said. Costa spent a year on injury leave, payroll records show.

Toward the end of that absence, Costa began a new injury leave for prostate cancer and received injury pay until he retired in March 2013, Noltemeyer said.

Six months later, according to the department's golf club website, Costa won his division in the LAFD's annual Partner's Championship Golf Tournament.

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September 26, 2014
Firefighters deserve thanks, not lawsuit - NY

Several local fire companies are being threatened with a lawsuit for damages they caused putting out a fire.

Yes, you read that correctly.

This might even be a little funny if it wasn’t true. Stevens & Thompson Paper Co., which runs a hydroelectric plant on the Hudson River in Greenwich, filed a notice of claim — a precursor to a lawsuit — in connection with an April 6 fire. The claim alleges firefighters “intentionally, willfully and recklessly” caused water to flow into the power plant’s powerhouse. That’s because an old paper mill next to the plant was burning.

In most cases we know of, it is appreciated when a fire company intentionally and willfully puts out a fire.

In our many years in the news business, we are struggling to recall an instance when a fire company was sued for doing its job.

In this case, the plaintiff alleges the power plant manager asked the fire companies not to discharge water toward the power plant as the fire was being fought.

As we said earlier, we don’t know all the details of this specific fire, and how it was fought, but at face value this potential lawsuit causes us great concern.

For almost all our communities, volunteer fire departments are the one and only line of defense in protecting our homes in case of fire.

Volunteer firefighters are expected to go through extensive training and be ready to respond at all times of the day and night. It is an enormous commitment that is too often taken for granted.

The damage to the hydroelectric plant was extensive. The owners are asking for $250,000. But we have a hard time imagining the fire companies involved did not have a good reason to use water on the building in question.

But even if it was done in error, shouldn’t volunteers be given some latitude in these instances?

Fire companies are often judged on how fast they respond and perform their duties. Minutes can be the difference between saving a property — and perhaps lives — and not. Asking “May I?” seems a bit extreme in an emergency situation.

The lawsuit has other problems, including naming municipalities as defendants which do not have a relationship with the fire companies in question.

The insurance company that paid off the claim has already put in a notice of claim to see if it can get its money back, too.

Frivolous lawsuits continue to cause us great concern.

In an emergency situation where there is a fire, there will be water damage. For all we know, the hydroelectric plant could have burned down without the actions of the fire companies.

If fire companies have to defend themselves from litigation every time they respond to a call, they won’t be around much longer.

Local editorials represent the opinion of The Post-Star’s editorial board, which consists of Publisher Terry Coomes, Controller/Operations Director Brian Corcoran, Editor Ken Tingley, Projects Editor Will Doolittle and citizen representative Mike Sundberg.

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September 26, 2014


A Mineral Wells High School student and a Mineral Wells volunteer firefighter suffered minor burns Thursday after igniting the traditional Mineral Wells High School homecoming bonfire.

Both the student and the firefighter were treated for possible first-degree burns and released Thursday from Palo Pinto General Hospital, said Fire Chief Mike Pool. He added both may have had some second degree burns, but both were otherwise OK.

Pool said the injuries occurred when the bonfire was ignited in the high school parking lot.

He said the firefighter and the student ignited the fire.

“We don't know what they used [to ignite the fire],” he said.

He said it was very unfortunate anyone was injured, especially a civilian and student. No other injuries were reported.

Exact details of what happened to cause the injuries were not released pending a fact-finding mission by state fire marshals, Pool said.

“Evidently it was just human error,” he said, adding both might have been too close when the fire was ignited.

He said state fire marshals were called in to make sure all the facts were gathered correctly, adding their report will probably take several weeks to complete.

Wood pallets used for the fire were placed in two side-by-side trash bins totaling about 20 feet in length, he said.

Comments about the fire on Facebook suggest the ignition caused a loud boom and shook at least one home.

Pool said the bonfire is usually a safe event and currently there are no plans from the fire department to cancel the event next year.

“We could easily say 'no bonfires,'” he said, “but it's tradition.”

“The district's not ready to make a decision on the future of the bonfire,” said Jay Walsworth, assistant superintendent of Mineral Wells ISD.

To be able to hold the bonfire this year, it was moved to the school parking lot because of the countywide burn ban as a safety measure, he said.

The district would have to assess the situation and learn more facts from the investigation of the incident before making any decision, he said.

He said he attended the bonfire but was not near enough to see what was happening when the fire was ignited and didn't see anything that seemed unsafe.

“It was set up in the same manner as the year before,” he said.

He was unsure what was used to fuel the fire. In the past, when the bonfire was held at Miller Stadium, he said the fuel to light the fire smelled like diesel.

Volunteer fire officials were unavailable for comment Friday afternoon.

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September 26, 2014
2 medics injured in hit-and-run involving city ambulance - MD

2 medics injured

BALTIMORE —Baltimore City police are investigating a hit-and-run that involved an ambulance early Thursday morning.

Police said a car crashed into the ambulance around 3:15 a.m. at the corner of Falls Road and 42nd Street in the Hampden area of the city.

A car at the crash scene appeared to be disabled, so it's unclear if a third vehicle may have been involved or if the driver of the disabled car ran away. Police have released no other details, other than to say a person was arrested in the case.

Two medics inside the ambulance were taken to a nearby hospital with minor injuries, officials said. It's unclear if anyone in the disabled car was injured.

Officials haven't said if the ambulance had its lights and sirens on at the time of the hit-and-run.

That section of Falls Road was closed for a few hours during the cleanup and investigation.

Stay with and 11 News for more details as they become available.
By Katie Lange /

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September 26, 2014
Detroit EMTs lured to fake emergency, robbed - MI

(Fox 2 News Headlines)

DETROIT — A fake emergency led to first responders being targeted by thieves on Detroit's east side, police believe.

It started at the plaza on Crane Street near Gratiot Avenue when a woman dialed 911 claiming she had chest pains. An ambulance with two medics arrived. While both begin catering to the woman in the back of the rig, the man she was is said to have walked up to the front and began to steal whatever he can get his hands on.

He was able to get away with the emergency medical technician's cell phone before they figured out what was really going on and started chasing him.

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September 26, 2014
Detroit ambulance takes 25 minutes to city hall emergency - MI

( Fox 2 News)

DETROIT — An ambulance took 25 minutes to respond to a medical emergency at Detroit City Hall after a reporter had a medical emergency.

The wait is drawing criticism after Detroit News reporter Darren Nichols suffered stroke-like symptoms in the press room, and Free Press reporter Matt Helms called 911, FOX News reports.

He called at 10:10 a.m. Thursday, and again at 10:30 a.m.

"It took 25 minutes for the EMS to arrive," Helms said. "We were literally outside listening for sirens, and didn't hear any."

Nichols was there covering a closed-door meeting, and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan addressed the delayed response time after leaving an executive session.

"It is not acceptable," he said. "The national standard is eight minutes and we have a team now looking at why the response was so slow and I am waiting on an answer from the fire department on that."
By FireRescue1 Staff

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September 26, 2014
Firefighters OK after ceiling collapse during power-line fire - CA

SAN JOSE -- A firefighter was treated at the hospital and released after a ceiling collapsed on him while he battled a three-alarm blaze Wednesday that involved a downed power line, according to the San Jose Fire Department.

Another firefighter who was hit by the falling debris escaped injury.

The fire was reported about 2 p.m. at a home in the 700 block of Concord Avenue east of San Jose City College, where a rear shed-like structure caught fire. Around the same time a power line fell and was quickly consumed by the flames.

Three alarms were called because of the danger from the exposed wires, fire Capt. Mike Van Elgort said. The fire was brought under control within two hours.

While the fire was believed to be electrical in nature, it was not immediately clear whether the line fell and caused the structure to catch fire or vice versa.
By Robert Salonga /

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September 26, 2014
Rookie firefighter injuries rise after FDNY lowers standards - NY

Somebody call 911 — the FDNY’s recruitment practices need some emergency help!

An unprecedented number of fire recruits have been injured during probie training this year — after the department dropped its normally rigorous standards and hired a host of “physically unprepared” wannabes, department ­insiders claim.

“These kids are dumb and out of shape,” a high-ranking source said. “The standards are in the toilet.”

At least a dozen recruits out of a class of 300 have had to go on paid medical leave, the Post has learned.

They were overwhelmed by the department’s grueling 18 weeks of training at Randall’s Island, sources said.

Usually, no more than one or two per year are hurt.

“Kids are showing up that don’t belong there,” said the source. “They are getting these soft-tissue injuries and being put on light duty.”

While their classmates are running sprints, performing push-ups and hustling up stairs, these fragile probies have been assigned to light desk duty — and are getting full pay to push paper at 9 MetroTech or Fort Totten. They will be allowed to enter training and try to qualify again next year.

Some insiders are convinced that some of the fallen recruits are even exaggerating their injuries in order to get more time to study and get in shape for the physical exams.

“It’s unprecedented,” said the high-ranking source, who has been with the FDNY for more than 20 years. “This is getting out of control. These kids are welcoming these injuries.”

Veterans of the department are shaking their heads at the abysmal performance, saying probies are now being allowed go on light duty after suffering lesser injuries like a sprained ankle, a source said.

“When I was in the Fire Academy, if you strained a muscle, you dealt with it at home,” said a 16-year FDNY member. “You nursed it on your off-time and got right back to training the next day.”

The Post first reported in July that physically unfit FDNY probie Choeurlyne Doirin, 39, was allowed to remain on light duty even though she couldn’t graduate with her classmates.

The former EMT said she suffered an injury that prevented her from finishing.

Another recruit, Wendy Tapia, was allowed to graduate from the academy ­despite failing a running test a whopping five times.
By Kenneth Garger and Danika Fears /

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September 26, 2014
Fire chief, asst. chief fired after sex scandal - LA

( - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports)

SHREVEPORT, La. — Shreveport Fire Chief Ronald Craig Mulford was fired today after an internal investigation revealed he violated administrative policies during his handling of complaints lodged against several firefighters under his command.

Assistant Chief James Thomas Carpenter also was terminated today after the investigation found that he also violated internal policies. Deputy Chief Ronald Jones, currently the department's highest ranking officer, made that decision. Mayor Cedric Glover announced the terminations after thoroughly evaluating the internal report he received on September 5 from the Internal Affairs Division of the Shreveport Police Department.

Mulford was indicted in June on five counts of malfeasance in office. He is currently out on bond, pending the outcome of his court case. Today's action by Mayor Glover is based on internal policy and is separate from the criminal case.

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September 25, 2014
Instead of shameful silence, Dallas fire chief owes answers - TX

chief owes answers
Dallas firefighters saluted as the body of fallen firefighter Stanley Wilson was carried from the scene of a six-alarm condo fire on May 20, 2013.
(File/Staff Photo)

If you’re a Dallas firefighter, consider yourself warned.

The city will ask you to risk life and limb on your next call. You will answer with skill, courage and honor because it’s your profession and your calling. You do it for your colleagues and the residents who pay your salary.

But if the worst should happen, if you don’t make it back to your firehouse, don’t expect your bosses to stand up for you with the same skill, courage and honor. They might — but as Fire Chief Louie Bright III showed in the Stanley Wilson line-of-duty-death investigation, they might not.

The job is dangerous enough, but when a commander’s ineptitude leads to a firefighter’s death, everyone deserves answers. At the least, one might expect disciplinary measures, corrective actions and transparency.

What we’ve gotten from Bright and his boss, City Manager A.C. Gonzalez, is “mistakes were made” obfuscation: Errors were many, so no one need be held responsible. Astoundingly, one of Bright’s suggestions was that firefighters are responsible for questioning orders that they find troubling.

Wilson was killed fighting a six-alarm blaze at the Hearthwood North Condominiums in far northeast Dallas on May 20, 2013. The official Dallas Fire-Rescue report into his death was buried for 16 months and released only last week with Bright’s statement, questions not welcome.

So Wilson is just dead, a 28-year veteran firefighter who leaves a wife and two teenage sons. As of Wednesday, Bright wouldn’t answer questions about his report or how he arrived at his choice to discipline no one. We can only wonder whether it would have been released even now had Jenny Wilson, Stanley’s widow, not hired a lawyer.

Gonzalez is talking, but mostly just to defend his chief. Bright, he said, is the person best positioned to make these calls. “I wanted to make sure he thought through his decisions and that he was taking actions that were the best and most appropriate actions,” the city manager said. “I told him I would be supportive and expected him to use his best professional judgment.”

This means Deputy Chief Bobby Ross, the incident commander for Stanley Wilson’s last fire, stays on the job and could be in charge for the next big blaze. The Dallas and state fire marshal reports cite Ross as ordering Wilson’s team to search inside a building that firefighters had been pounding with water cannons for up to an hour, undoubtedly weakening the structure. The state report calls this “inherently dangerous”; Wilson was crushed by falling walkways. Ross, with little backup, denies giving the order.

Despite Bright’s efforts to diffuse blame, the state report points to risk assessment, supervisory and communication breakdowns that track to Ross, the incident commander.

If Bright has a better explanation, he owes it to his firefighters and the residents they serve to say so. And if Gonzalez won’t make him, don’t we still have a mayor and 14 City Council members with mouths and megaphones?


“There has been a lot of talk of potential disciplinary actions for an employee or employees. The [Dallas Fire-Rescue] report revealed that many firefighters at the scene, including those with decision-making authority, should have handled things differently that night. ... I do not believe discipline is merited.”

Dallas Fire Chief Louie Bright III, from his statement in releasing his department’s report into firefighter Stanley Wilson’s death after 16 months

“Regardless of how well-meaning he [Deputy Chief Bobby Ross, the incident commander] thought he was, he broke every rule that is established for a fire commander. And it cost Stan Wilson his life.”

Jim Crump, retired Dallas firefighter and Wilson’s longtime friend, who has been critical of department leadership from the day of the fire
Editorial: /

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September 25, 2014


A firefighter was injured in the south zone of the King Fire Wednesday afternoon.

Cal Fire said the firefighter had to be lifted out of the area in a helicopter and was taken to Sutter Roseville Medical Center to get treatment.

California Department of Corrections spokesperson Bill Sessa said the firefighter was an inmate firefighter. He was hit by a tree limb while working on the fire line and suffered moderate injuries. Sessa said his condition has been stabilized and is expected to spend the night at the hospital.

Cal Fire Strike Team leader John Romero said the firefighter was assigned to his crew. The team was cutting line in the Stumpy Meadows area near Georgetown when the inmate firefighter was hurt.

"I was not on site when it happened. But I was there when he was hoisted into the helicopter out of the incident," said Romero. "He was alert and talking when he left."

Sessa said 955 inmates were working at the King Fire Wednesday. He said the dangers the men and women inmate firefighters face are the same as regular fighters battling a wildfire.

"Knowing how large this fire is and how dangerous it has been, firefighters are doing an excellent job," said Dana Walsh, King Fire Public Information Officer with the U.S. Forest Service.

The King Fire, which has burned 92,960 acres in El Dorado and Placer counties, has 7,621 personnel assigned to it. Firefighters from across the state and the country are helping battle the second largest active wildfire in the state; the largest is the Happy Camp Complex fire, which has burned more than 132,000 acres in the Klamath National Forest.

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September 25, 2014


Tampa Police say 29-year-John Edgerton of Tampa is the man who stole a Hillsborough County Fire Rescue vehicle and led Hillsborough County Sheriff deputies and TPD officers on a chase down Interstate 275 on Wednesday afternoon.

At 5 p.m. today, deputies responded to Nebraska Avenue and 139th in reference to a single vehicle crash where they say a vehicle driven by Edgerton struck a pole.

HCFR also responded to the scene. A Battalion Chief with the fire department arrived at the scene and Edgerton, jumped out of his vehicle and jumped into the fire dept. pickup truck and fled the scene.

Police revealed the vehicle Edgerton was driving in the crash was stolen.

Deputies pursued the fire department vehicle driven by Edgerton at that point onto Southbound Interstate 275 and ended the pursuit in the area of Sligh Avenue where it was then picked up by TPD.

The vehicle continued on and crashed into another vehicle in the area of Interstate 275 near Ashley Street.

The driver of the other vehicle was taken to Tampa General Hospital and is reported to be in stable condition.

TPD Public Information Officer Andrea Davis reported that Edgerton got out of his vehicle and ran from the accident.

Davis revealed that officers ran after Edgerton and a violent struggle ensued.

TPD officers took Edgerton into custody at the scene.

Davis informs News Channel 8 that two officers were taken to TGH with injuries consisting of a possible broken hand and stitches.

Edgerton has been charged with two counts each of grand theft auto & battery on a law enforcement officer and one count each of resisting arrest with violence and aggravated fleeing.

All lanes of Interstate 275 at Ashley Street were closed for a short while during rush hour Wednesday evening.

One lane opened to traffic shortly after 6 p.m.

All lanes of I-275 reopened at about 9:15 p.m.

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September 25, 2014
QUADRUPLE LODD FOLLOWUP:City Council members hear the mayday call of doomed firefighters - TX

(KHOU Video)

They are the words no firefighter ever wants to hear - through heavy breathing inside an air mask, it is clear something is very wrong, "Mayday! The roof is down and Station 51 is inside!"

Not just fire fighters from one station, but two.

"That is the radio communications that began what was the worst day in the Houston Fire Department," said Assistant Chief Richard Mann to Houston City Councilors.

It was not the fire that was unusual, it was the outcome.

"15 minutes and 29 seconds. We look back at that and we say how could this happen in 15 minutes and 29 seconds. That is the time from when we received the 9-11 call and we lost four firefighters," said Chief Mann as he began his presentation.

In the months since that deadly day, the Houston Fire Department has produced its own report into the fire at the Southwest Inn.

Council member Brenda Starling heard about that for the first time in this hearing, "I don't want to be at another funeral," was her first reaction to the Assistant Chief.

Communication is the heart of the report. It is not cited as a direct cause but certainly a contributing factor in the deaths. Months later that radio system is still a work in progress

Starling continued, "So what do we need to get these radio communications to where they need to be today? Not tomorrow, not next week, not a phase in."

There are still dead spots in numerous buildings across the city.

Council Members are already calling for new action, C.O. Bradford's first thoughts: "Have 3rd party independent testing of the tens of millions of dollars of technology that we are deploying in the City of Houston."

The radio system was put in service early because of a catastrophic failure of the old one.

On the day of the Southwest Inn Fire those radios had only been in service 30 days and on the first hour of that fire no one could communicate at all 11 percent of the time.

The problem was found to be too many people trying to talk at the same time.

There is a button for mayday on the new fire radios but none were activated and the call still came.

"Mayday. Mayday." The call continued with commanders on the scene responding, "We have a Mayday on the location we need a location. Engine 60 deploy for the mayday."

There are two on-going investigations, one state and one federal with reports still to come.

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September 25, 2014

(FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13">FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13)

A fire was reported at the Hickory Point Apartments around 11:30 a.m.

Memphis Fire Department says one unit caused the fire and smoke damage in at least three other units.

A Memphis firefighter was injured when a ceiling collapsed on him.

He was transported in non-critical condition to an area hospital for possible neck and back injuries.

No word on how the fire was started.

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September 25, 2014
State officials Investigate LAFD Hiring Process after White Applicant Alleges Bias - CA

State officials are investigating recent changes made to the Los Angeles Fire Department's hiring process after a complaint from a white male applicant who says he was unfairly passed over.

In July, city officials introduced a lottery system to winnow a pool of thousands of applicants for spots in a new recruit class scheduled to begin in December. The change was part of an overhaul of the LAFD hiring process, which was suspended earlier this year amid claims of mismanagement and possible nepotism.

About 300 applicants were allowed to advance via the lottery. To further Mayor Eric Garcetti's goal of diversifying the department, each gender and ethnic group also was guaranteed a percentage of slots equal to their proportion of the initial applicant pool.

Robert F. Holmes, 34, was one of the more than 10,000 applicants who applied under the new system. When his name wasn't picked to advance to the written exam, background check and scored interview that decide who is hired, he filed a complaint with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

"Sampling an applicant's ethnicity before they even test doesn't sound right to me," Holmes said in an interview. "If I'm not selected because my test scores aren't up there, I'm fine with that. I just think everybody should be able to test."

White males such as Holmes accounted for 35% of the overall applicant pool, city records show. The city's new screening method is intended to eliminate the possibility that, by random chance, small groups of applicants, such as Native Americans, would be passed over, according to Bruce Whidden a spokesman for the city Personnel Department.

Whidden said the city was making a good faith effort to be fair in reducing the pool of applicants without disadvantaging any group. "If you've got 5% women in the door, you've got 5% women going to the test," he said.

A state investigator interviewed Holmes last month and contacted the city to gather more information, according to state officials and documents obtained by The Times. State investigators will weigh the city's response and determine whether the lottery violates state law, which forbids discrimination based on race or gender.

"We can't comment on this particular case, as we don't discuss pending litigation" said Marie Lloyd, a spokeswoman for the mayor. "We remain firmly committed to reforming the Fire Department and its hiring process. The previous process was lacking in common sense and required a significant overhaul."

Garcetti suspended LAFD hiring in March, saying that reforms would be implemented after outside experts from Rand Corp. completed a review. But with the $270,000 report behind schedule and pressure on to grow the LAFD force, city officials decided to restart hiring, using the new lottery to determine who could take the firefighter test.

UC Irvine School of Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, who has advised city officials on government reform issues, said that the legality of lotteries like the one used for LAFD hiring is untested. He said he doesn't think the system runs afoul of state rules that outlaw government hiring quotas for women and minorities.

"There's just no law to give a definitive answer," Chemerinsky said. "It looks a lot like a quota. But there is nothing in a lottery that is discriminatory."

Holmes, a licensed emergency medical technician, said he now works for the federal Equal Opportunity Employment Commission in Las Vegas. If the state dismisses his complaint, he said, he will consider suing the city.

Spokesmen for the LAFD and City Atty. Mike Feuer declined to comment.

A drawing for the second LAFD recruit class budgeted this year is planned for next week, Whidden said.
Ben Welsh / Source: Los Angeles Times

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September 25, 2014
Three Retired FDNY Firefighters Die Same Day - NY

NEW YORK (AP) — The Fire Department of New York says three retired firefighters who worked at ground zero have died on the same day from 9/11-related illnesses.

Lt. Howard Bischoff and firefighters Robert Leaver and Daniel Heglund died Monday.

Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro says their deaths are "a painful reminder that 13 years later we continue to pay a terrible price for the department's heroic efforts."

The three worked at ground zero after the World Trade Center attacks. One had leukemia, one had esophageal cancer and a third had colon cancer.

The Uniformed Fire Officers Association planned a news conference Thursday.

It says first responders showed health problems soon after the attacks, with 99 percent of exposed firefighters reporting at least one new respiratory illness.

The FDNY lost 343 firefighters on 9/11.
Source: The Associated Press

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September 25, 2014
Firefighter Allen Westby dies following response - NY

(The Last Call - RIP)

EAST ISLIP, N.Y. — A firefighter died Monday following a response.

The U.S. Fire Administration reported that volunteer firefighter Allen Westby, 67, with the East Islip Fire Department, was found dead at his residence the morning after responding to an alarm.

Firefighter Westby was a 43-year veteran of the department. The nature and cause of fatal injury are still to be determined.

He leaves behind a wife and two sons.

In lieu of flowers, donations in firefighter Westby’s name may be made to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

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September 25, 2014
Firefighter bitten while rescuing woman in dog attack - CA

LONG BEACH, Calif. — A firefighter suffered a dog bite Tuesday as he and a fellow firefighter rescued a woman who was being attacked by her own dog.

LaTimes reported that firefighters were driving in a neighborhood when they saw a German Shepherd-mix attacking an elderly woman.

They jumped out of their rig and aggressively engaged the dog, which is when one firefighter suffered puncture wounds on his wrist and forearm, according to the report. The other firefighter was eventually able to grab the dog by its neck and subdue it.

The injured firefighter was taken to a hospital, where he was treated and later released, according to the report.

The elderly woman's injuries were described as traumatic, but she was listed in stable condition.

The dog was ordered to be quarantined at her home for 10 days, according to the report.
By FireRescue1 Staff

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September 24, 2014
Look out below: Danger lurks underground from aging gas pipes

About every other day over the past decade, a gas leak in the United States has destroyed property, hurt someone or killed someone, a USA TODAY Network investigation finds. The most destructive blasts have killed at least 135 people, injured 600 and caused $2 billion in damages since 2004.

The death toll includes:

• The explosion that leveled part of a New York City block in East Harlem in March, killing eight and injuring 48 more.

• A blast that flattened the concrete floors of an apartment building in Birmingham, Ala., killing one woman in December.

• A flash fireball in 2012 that left an Austin man dead, a scarred foundation where his house once stood and debris strewn across yards of his neighbors.

Read the full article

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September 24, 2014
Two Firefighter Positions in Jeopardy - ID

Clarkston officials confirmed Tuesday that two grant-funded positions at the fire department are on the chopping block because of budget concerns.

For the past two years, the salaries and benefits of two full-time firefighters have been covered by a federal Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant. The money runs out in December, and officials believe there's not enough in city coffers at this point to cover the positions.

At Monday's Clarkston City Council meeting, the council voted 3-1 in favor of notifying two fire department employees by letter about potential layoffs at the end of the year. If the 2015 budget numbers turn out better than expected, the grant-funded jobs could get a reprieve. But the city is required to give firefighters a 90-day notice if positions are eliminated, so officials opted to send the letters.

The vote was unusual because three councilors abstained. City Clerk Vickie Storey said she can't remember that happening in the 22 years she has worked for the city. Typically, an abstention stems from a conflict of interest.

Officials had to check the rules Tuesday to see if the motion actually passed.

The votes in favor of notifying the firefighters of the layoffs were cast by Councilors Terry Beadles, Bill Provost and Clee Manchester. Councilor Kelly Blackmon voted no, and Councilors Larry Baumberger, Brian Kolstad and George Nash abstained.

Fire Chief Steve Cooper said maintaining the two positions would cost the city $164,415 in 2015. Because the jobs were in jeopardy, a Clarkston firefighter has already accepted a position in Walla Walla.

Cooper said having two additional firefighters on staff for the past two years has been a benefit to the department in terms of service and safety. Without those positions, the chief said personnel will have to be called back to work for overlapping or simultaneous calls -- at an increased cost to the city. In addition, a reduction in staff could affect out-of-area transports and responses to other incidents.

However, the city is dealing with some budget unknowns, Cooper said. Asotin County wants to increase the city's jail costs and municipal court fees, and the city's emergency dispatch contract is still up in the air. Payroll and benefit costs for city employees are expected to increase, and the effect of two new stores -- Sleep Country and Walgreens -- remains unknown.

The city is still dealing with an $815,782 lawsuit filed by Skyline Construction, a Spokane company involved in the remodeling of the Clarkston Public Safety Building. The lawsuit is now being handled by a bankruptcy court and is not moving toward a resolution, Storey said.

Numerous fire department employees were in the audience at Monday's council meeting, and two spoke in favor of funding the positions.
Kerri Sandaine / Source: Lewiston Tribune, Idaho

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September 23, 2014

While cutting some metal pipe at the grounds today, an experienced truck company crew had a "blow-out." They had no previous signs of any issue with the blade. Luckily, majority of the truck companies do not run these blades as a first option.

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September 23, 2014

A veteran "hotshot" firefighter was struck and seriously injured by a falling snag Sunday evening while helping battle a 2-week-old wildfire on the Idaho side of the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, officials said Monday evening.

Richard (Wally) Ochoa Jr., 51, a member of the Winema Interagency Hotshot Crew, suffered a fractured skull, two broken arms, a broken jaw, a broken thumb and numerous cuts when he was struck by a snag while brushing fire line on the Freezeout Ridge Fire.

Fortunately, "no significant spine injury occurred," the Monday evening announcement stated.

Winema IHC crew members and other nearby fire personnel began immediate first aid while others worked to clear an area for a helicopter to take Ochoa to a hospital in Boise. Officials said he was in stable condition in the intensive care unit late Monday, with family and several crew members on hand.

John Kidd, incident commander for the Freezeout Ridge Fire, credited those on scene for their swift actions and reliance on emergency response training and medical evacuation protocols.

“I, along with the members of my staff, am grateful for those who assisted Mr. Ochoa by providing timely and appropriate care," Kidd said."The coordination and professional actions of our firefighters, both on the ground and flying overhead, very likely reduced the potential magnitude of his injuries.”

“Firefighter safety and well-being is priority No. 1,” said Wallowa-Whitman Deputy Forest Supervisor Tom Montoya. A team of specialists has arrived on the incident to assist the Winema IHC as they deal with the impacts of the injury to their friend and coworker.

The Winema Hotshots are based on the Fremont-Winema National Forest in south-central Oregon. Forest Supervisor Connie Cummins, said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with Wally Ochoa and his family throughout his recovery. We will continue to provide support to Wally’s family, as well as to all employees affected.”

The serious injury from a falling snag on the fire lines echoed a fatal incident last year in Central Oregon, when the top of a large, burning Douglas fir fell and killed logger John Hammack.

The latest accident occurred on the northeast portion of the Freezeout Ridge Fire, which began Sept. 6. The fire began on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest due east of Granite Mountain and spread east to the Nez Perce National Forest.

Though the accident occurred on the Nez Perce National Forest south of Dog Creek, the incident is being managed by the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest who oversees management of the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

As of Monday, the Freezeout Ridge Fire had burned about 3,500 acres.

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September 23, 2014

Buffalo Firefighters are working to figure out what sparked a late-night fire that injured five of their own.

It started around 11 p.m. Saturday at a home on Lovering Avenue in North Buffalo.

Fire crews on the scene say they believe it started on the porch but quickly spread to the rest of the home due to the wind.

Everyone living inside made it out safely.

Four of the injured firefighters were taken to ECMC. Another was treated at the scene. Their conditions are unknown at this time.

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September 23, 2014
Fire Truck Recall Puts Community in Bind - PA

BOALSBURG -- A faulty fire truck has forced the Centre Region to purchase a replacement, leaving the future of the apparatus unclear.

The truck in question is a 100-foot aerial ladder truck by Sutphen, a family-owned, Ohio-based company specializing in fire and rescue vehicles.

According to information Council of Governments Fire Director Steve Bair delivered to the General Forum on Monday, the truck was purchased in 2007 for $880,000 after retiring a 1987 model by the same company. The truck was expected to be in service until 2033.

Problems began soon, in 2008, with a steering gear box recall, Bair said. Equipment failure sidelined the truck twice in 2011, and the first reports of aerial failures began in 2012. Aerial recalls begain in 2013, but Sutphen claimed the issue was still maintenance-related.

On June 26, three firefighters in Erie were injured using an aerial truck. According to news reports, lowering cables had snapped, causing the ladder to collapse. On July 22, a "stop use" order was issued by Sutphen on all aerial-use trucks after a second ladder failure that injured three more firefighters in Hall County, Ga.

There are about 286 Sutphen aerial trucks in use across the country, Bair said.

Since the order was issued, the truck has sat at the College Township Municipal Building, COG Executive Director Jim Steff said.

According to Steff, there are still two more ladder trucks in use in the county, both with 75-foot ladders. The concern, he said, is that their ladder truck roster has gone from three to two. If there were a mechanical failure in one of the other trucks, it would put the county in a bind if two trucks were needed at a single fire or if two separate fires broke out needing trucks at each fire.

The last information issued by Sutphen, Bair said, indicated there may be a fix for the aerial problem, but there was still no way to provide a schedule. They also reminded him it could take four to five days to repair each truck, of which there are more than 280.

As a way to bridge the gap between today and whenever the Sutphen may be fixed, he said, a 1991 aerial truck by Pierce was purchased from a fire department in Alameda, Calif., for $51,000. The truck is being driven by a two-man crew that departed Alameda on Monday. It's expected to arrive in State College on Friday.

Due to the emergency nature of the purchase, Bair said he was given clearance by the Finance Committee to make the purchase. Funding for the truck was provided by the 2014 fire protection capital budget.

According to Bair, once the Sutphen situation is resolved, the plan is to invite Sutphen to participate in the project at the full value of the temporary truck; sell the truck, possibly for as much as 3/8 to half of the investment; or sell the unit for scrap for about $9,000.

The Sutphen could fail after this recall, Bair said, the fix may not work or Sutphen may refuse to reimburse the county for the cost. In any case, he's expecting some sort of legal battle.

"A $51,000 dent in our 25-year plan isn't horrible," he said, comparing a best-case scenario. "We most likely will put off a 2016 plan to purchase a new engine. That will probably put us back on track.

"In a worst-case scenario, we're left with a $1 million problem. The unit we're stuck with will be worth next to nothing."
Jeremy Hartley / Source: Centre Daily Times (State College, Pa.)

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September 23, 2014
Fire Hospitalizes Two Firefighters, Destroys Apts. - ID

HAILEY -- An early-morning fire destroyed a three-unit building in Hailey and sent two firefighters to the hospital.

The fire was reported at 1:09 a.m. Monday by a Hailey firefighter who was a resident in the building.There were three people living in the other two units. All residents escaped without injury.

Craig Aberbach, fire chief of the Hailey Fire Department, said two firefighters were treated for exhaustion and heat exposure, and later released from the hospital. Aberbach said the fire was difficult to fight because it was an older, split-level building with newer additions. The roof of the building was covered in metal.

"The floor collapsed inside, which created voids. One of the problems was that the shake roof had been covered with metal, making it difficult for firefighters to breach," he said.

The fire does not appear to be suspicious and Aberbach said an initial investigation concluded the fire may have started in the heating and ventilation equipment.

The fire smoldered all morning until heavy equipment was used to remove exterior walls. The fire was completely out by 1:15 p.m. Fifty-five firefighters from five different departments helped put out the blaze.

Aberbach said firefighters saved the new addition in the rear of the building and neighboring homes.

"It was really impressive with how close the neighbors' homes were," he said.

The Hailey Volunteer Firefighter's Association has a Burn-Out fund established to help all who lost belongings in the fire. Donations can be made to the Hailey Volunteer Firefighters Association 208-788-3147 or mailed to P.O. Box 1192 Hailey, ID, 83333.

Aberbach said all the displaced residents are staying in hotels paid by the fund.

"It really hits home. It's one of our own firefighters who lost everything in this fire," he said.
Tetona Dunlap / Source: The Times-News, Twin Falls, Idaho

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September 32, 2014
Lessons in Apparatus Placement


Not from the US, but I had to post it.

A Montreal fire truck push 3 police cars to arrive to the burning building


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September 23, 2014
Lack of Volunteers Puts Survival of Rural Ambulances in Question - ND

LAKOTA, N.D. -- Lakota Ambulance and Quick Response is on life support.

The elixir for revival is volunteers. But they seem to be in short supply in the Nelson County governmental seat of 650 residents.

The local ambulance service has just seven active volunteers, with most of them on call 35 to 50 hours a week -- in addition to their full-time jobs -- just to maintain the state-required 24/7 schedule to keep its license.

"We're one trip and fall or one back injury away from closing up," said Tami Bulik, the ambulance service's only employee. "You go to bed at night and you hope nobody's family has a heart attack or some other emergency overnight."

Lakota is not alone, according to Kenneth Reed, community paramedic coordinator for the North Dakota Department of Health's Emergency Medical Services Division and EMS director at Heart of America Medical Center in Rugby, N.D.

"This is troublesome to all of us," he said. "Lakota is just a symptom of what is happening all over the state right now. The money is not the issue. The problem is lack of volunteers.

"Unfortunately, it's becoming more common," he said. "Some may have larger rosters, but there's just a small percentage who are active with the ambulance. It's created an artificial sense of security."

That security vanished earlier this year in Goodrich, N.D., a small town northeast of Bismarck, when the local ambulance service shut down.

"They were down to one EMT, and she was rather elderly." Reed said. "She was trying to hang in there the best they can," Reed said. "That's what we're seeing in a lot of these communities. They're hanging on as long as they can, but it's very difficult to attract new, young people to give the time commitment."

Hundreds of hours

Doris Karas and Jack Davidson know all about time commitment.

Karas has been a volunteer with the service for 25 years, serving 150-plus hours monthly, plus her full-time job in town at Lakota Drug.

"It's pretty much 24/7," she said, sometimes forcing her to leave her job to answer a call. "I don't like to leave work, but I don't want to know what might happen if we can't respond."

Davidson, the Nelson County auditor, has been with Lakota Ambulance for 31 years, averaging 200 hours or more per month.

"He's on call just about every day. We'd be lost without Jack," Bulik said.

"The biggest thing is you have to be ready to go," Davidson said. "You can't go to the bar to have a drink. You can't leave town. You're very limited in what you can do. The thing is we don't have a lot of calls. But when we do have a call, it's sometimes pretty major."

He said the current lack of volunteer drivers is forcing emergency responders (EMRs) and EMTs to take extra shifts.

"If we could get a few more people, we could schedule people for weekends, and we'd have some time off," Karas said.

Erin Fossen is one new volunteer who has responded to Lakota's emergency call. She just started training to become a driver and an EMT.

I've always had an interest and there's a dire need for it," Fossen said. "The majority of our community is 40 and over."

She knows about the commitment, too. Her father, Stanley Schrupp, was a volunteer for more than 20 years, before retiring because of health reasons.

Bulik said they need more.

"The desperate need is for EMTs, but if we can attract volunteer drivers, we can train," Bulik said. "The first goal is to get them started as volunteer drivers, then as EMR, then EMTs."

Searching for answers

The Lakota Ambulance board currently is reorganizing, according to Bulik.

One of the options is to raise mill levy the service receives through property taxes to be raised from the current 0.73 percent to 5 percent, the maximum allowed without a separate public vote.

The current levy brings in about $5,500 annually, according to Davidson.

The board meets Oct. 1. If it decides to pursue a mill levy increase, the decision must be made by February. However, the extra money would not be available until 2016.

The money would be used to increase the small stipend volunteers receive for their service, said Bulik. Volunteer drivers and EMRs are paid $15 per run, while EMTs get $25 per trip.

"We'd like to get it to where they get paid $1 an hour just to carry a pager," Bulik said.

The North Dakota Department of Health requires that any licensed ambulance service provide 24/7 availability, with at least two qualified personnel on duty for every ambulance call.

"The financial support is really good in Lakota," Davidson said. "Money has not been an issue. It's getting volunteers. Some of us are getting older."

Mergers as remedies

One option to stay open in Lakota is to merge with Michigan Ambulance Service. Michigan, N.D., is 11 miles east of Lakota.

Under the substation arrangement, Michigan would assume ownership of all Lakota Ambulance assets, according to Jason Flom, EMT trainer in Michigan.

It would keep one ambulance at the Lakota station, he said. If a call comes in from the Lakota service area, Michigan would prepare to answer it. If two qualified people from Lakota are available, the Michigan crew would not respond.

If Lakota would close, its service area would be divided among several other ambulance services, including Michigan, McVille, Edmore and Lake Region in Devils Lake.

Michigan would get the majority of calls, because it is closest to Lakota, which is home to a Good Samaritan Nursing Home.

That's the same route that was taken recently in Finley, N.D., when Finley Ambulance Service merged with West Traill Ambulance Service, headquartered in Mayville, N.D., about 25 miles away.

Another substation agreement is working between Mohall, N.D., and nearby towns in north central North Dakota.

If Michigan would absorb Lakota Ambulance operations, it would nearly double its service area. Michigan currently serves 432 square miles, while Lakota covers 378 square miles.

Michigan had some troubles with attracting new members a few years ago. However, they never got to the point of possible closure, according to Flom. Today, it has 22 members, with 18 considered active.

"We're currently stable, but we have 3 to 5 people who would like to retire in the next couple of years. Some of them have been here for 35 or 36 years," Flom said.

Michigan Ambulance, which operates on 4.5 mills, currently pays volunteers $30 for an ambulance run and $1 an hour for volunteers when their pagers are on. Holiday pay is $50 for a run, plus an increased hourly on-call wage.

Every minute counts

Bulik believes a merger should be a last resort.

Although Michigan is just 11 miles away, in reality, she said, it may take 20 to 25 minutes before an ambulance can respond to an emergency in or near Lakota.

"If you have a heart attack in Lakota, that's too late," she said. "Every minute counts."

Flom agrees.

"I'm hoping the community takes them seriously," Flom said. "Some say they're crying wolf. They're not."

While mill levies and mergers provide some hope of relief, Reed said the dilemma is likely to spread to other small communities, especially in eastern North Dakota, where rural depopulation is continuing.

"There are funds available for grants," Reed said. "We have some of the best-equipped ambulances in the country. There's been funding available. All of the cost of training is covered by the state.

"The problem is lack of volunteers," he said. "The only way funding will help is if we get funding to hire full-time people. Then you have to decide, Do we want to pay someone full-time to respond to 30 calls a year?"
Kevin Bonham / Source: Grand Forks Herald

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September 23, 2014
Deteriorating fire station forces volunteer department to relocate - TN

ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. - For the past 20 years, the Hampton Valley Forge Volunteer Fire Department has serviced the entire Valley Forge community. It wants to continue doing so, but the deteriorating fire station is becoming too much of a burden.

If you walk into the station, there is sheet rock laying on the ground - a sight to be expected at a house destroyed by a fire. But last week when volunteer firefighters came to the station to respond to a call, they found the ceiling had fallen onto part of a truck.

The station is in the basement of a deteriorating building on Highway 19 in Elizabethton. The family that owns the building let the fire department move in rent free after the firefighters saved the building from a destructive fire.

But the building has presented problem after problem for assistant chief Chris Isaacs and his team.

First of all, there are only three functioning lights and one outlet. Isaacs says they need new electrical service from the exterior all the way inside to meet codes. there is no running water after the water line broke underneath the concrete floor somewhere.

There is only one source of heat that heats the area where the trucks are so the water inside won't freeze in the winter. But the biggest problem comes with the garage doors.

The doors have injured two firefighters in the past. When the firemen come in for a fire, they have to physically come through the door with a key, unlock the door, take a broom to raise the door up so it will clear the top of the firetruck, pull the firetruck out, and then perform the task again to lock the doors back down.

It's not for a lack of trying, the volunteers have put in plenty of time, money and effort into renovating the building. While they're thankful for the space, they say it's time for a change in location.

In Tennessee, any homes further than five miles from a fire station do not have fire protection, so Isaacs says they are looking to stay on the highway. There is property across the street they are interested in purchasing, but it's expensive - he says they will have to go in debt to buy it.

But Isaacs says they will find a way - it's a matter of helping themselves so they can keep helping others. "We meet people at their worst day of their life, and they don't realize how much we do until that day," he says.

The station plans on setting up a building fund to raise money to purchase the building. If you're interested in donating, Isaacs says to contact the Hampton Volunteer Fire Department location.
By Olivia Caridi,

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September 23, 2014
Building destroyed by fire in North Lawndale - IL

A massive fire that could be seen from miles away destroyed a building in North Lawndale.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A building in the 4000-block of West Ogden Avenue in the North Lawndale neighborhood was destroyed by fire early Tuesday.

The three-alarm fire broke out around 5:40 a.m. Tuesday. A number of emergency crews responded to the call, blocking off the intersection of West Ogden Avenue and South Pulaski Road for hours.

"I woke up this morning, was distracted by all the cameras, the lights, the fire department, People's Gas. So I knew there had to be some type of tragedy," said Robell McNeil, a USPS Mail Carrier.

Large flames and heavy smoke poured out of the roof as about 150 firefighters worked defensively to contain the blaze to the two-story building, which had a recording studio on the ground floor and a banquet hall on the second floor.

"As they began their ventilation process, the fire started rapidly progressing on us. We immediately ordered all the crews out of the building, they escalated the alarm," Deputy Fire Commissioner John McNicholas said.

Smoke filtered as far east as Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood on the North Side, several hours after crews first arrived at the scene.

The fire was struck out by 8 a.m. Tuesday. Debris and floodwater kept some surrounding businesses from opening. The firefighters who remained on the scene poured water on hot spots and kept watch in case of a building collapse.

"If that building were to fall, typically speaking, we can estimate how far it's going to come out onto the street. So we put our crews beyond that area," McNicholas said.

The fire left the building in dangerous condition and was ordered demolished. A few blocks of Ogden remain closed while crews bring down the building, meaning Valdez Food Products across the street cannot make their scheduled deliveries.

"The streets are closed. We can't take our trucks out. We can't do anything," said Isabelle Gomez, Valdez Food Products.

One firefighter suffered a minor back injury and was taken to the hospital. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Photo Gallery

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September 23, 2014
Rank-and-file S.F. firefighters call for chief’s ouster - CA

SF Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White gives a briefing about patients from Asiana flight 214 to the media gathered at San Francisco General Hospital in San Francisco
(Photo: Michael Short, Special To The Chronicle)

The ambulance repair list shows a list of potential issues July 2, 2014 at Central Shops of San Francisco, the fleet maintenance facility, in San Francisco, Calif. Ambulances that come in always get a full maintenance check even if it's only one issue reported. Quite often multiple problems are uncovered by the machinists. Photo: Leah Millis
(The Chronicle)

Citing a “grave crisis in direction and leadership,” heads of San Francisco’s rank-and-file firefighter organizations — including those representing women and minorities — have penned a letter calling on Mayor Ed Lee to replace the city’s first female fire chief, Joanne Hayes-White.

The letter calls for “new management” for the department with “new ideas” to address what the group is calling “the crisis in public safety,” according to sources familiar with the drafting of the statement.

The letter followed a meeting Monday morning at the Firefighters Union Hall, attended by about 25 union members representing various segments of the rank-and-file, including women, African Americans and LGBT firefighters.

Drafts of the letter were passed over the Internet, with the final copy expected to be signed and sent to the mayor later this week.

“It was an unprecedented meeting,” said one source in attendance. “Everyone was there, and everyone was on the same page.”

Sources say the situation reached a boiling point over the Labor Day weekend when the ongoing shortage of city ambulances had some firefighter units in the field waiting for more than an hour for an ambulance to transport their patients to hospitals.

The ambulance shortage has been an ongoing problem within the department, but it has mushroomed in the past year when it was detailed in several city and media reports.

In August, there were more than 374 incidents where it took more than 20 minutes for an ambulance to arrive at a call — including nine cases where it took more than an hour, according to data presented to the Fire Commission last month.

Supervisor London Breed, a former member of the Fire Commission who has recently held hearings on the ambulance issue, already has announced that she has lost confidence in the department’s leadership — but stopped short of calling for the chief’s ouster.

“They say they have a plan, but I don’t know what that really means,” Breed said after meeting with the mayor and fire chief Monday morning at City Hall.

Ironically, Breed’s meeting with the mayor and chief was going on as the firefighters were meeting a few blocks away on Mission Street.

“We don’t care how they do it. Hire more private companies to come in, but just get more ambulances on the street,” said one source.

In addition to the concerns about ambulance service, firefighters also want a plan to reduce firefighter overtime brought on by under-staffing.

The letter also calls for a five-year plan to bring the department’s aging ambulances and fire trucks and engines up to date.

Hayes-White had not seen the letter and declined to comment on it. However, she said, “I’ve had to make some tough and unpopular decisions in recent years, but I’m staying positive and professional.”

“And I want the public to know that a firefighter or paramedic will be on the scene within minutes of any emergency. We are talking about ambulance transport here.”

Mayoral spokesman Christine Falvey said the mayor had not seen any letter, but that he has “confidence in the chief.”

“She has led the department through the worst recession of a generation, and is now dealing with a growing city,” Falvey said. She added they are making “significant progress” with the ambulance transport.

In 2004, freshly elected Mayor Gavin Newsom made a splash with Hayes-White’s appointment as the city’s first female fire chief.

At the same time, Newsom named Heather Fong as the city’s first acting (and soon after) permanent police chief.

The fire chief has had occasional run-ins with the union, and publicly her department came under fire for its response to the July 6, 2013, Asiana Airlines crash that resulted in three deaths, including a 15-year-old who was run over by a responding fire truck.

There were also questions about the department’s handling of the case of veteran firefighter Michael Quinn, who was accused of driving a ladder truck into a motorcyclist while drunk and then leaving the scene.

Neither the Asiana crash nor the Quinn case was a factor in the letter, sources said.

Hayes-White, who had risen relatively quickly through the ranks, was just 39 when she became chief.

She is now 50 and eligible for retirement from her $320,000-a-year post.
By Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross /

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September 22, 2014

Two firefighters were injured wrestling a massive fire that ripped through three Brooklyn buildings Saturday, officials said.

The blistering blaze broke out on the first floor of an abandoned building at 1138 Bushwick Ave. near Putnam Ave. in Bushwick at about 6 p.m. and quickly spread to the adjoining structures

Taylor Winum, 25, said he’d only been living in a second-floor apartment next to the abandoned building for a week when a firefighter kicked in his door and told him to get out.

“At least I’m alive,” he said, taking the night’s events in stride. “It’ll be a good bar story.”

One of Winum’s neighbors had just stepped out for Chinese food when the fire broke out. He returned in less than 10 minutes and an hour later was still watching, dinner in his hand, as firefighters doused the blaze.

“I’ve lost my appetite,” said Aidan O’Grady, 22.

More than 130 smoke eaters fought the blaze, which was declared under control at about 7:30 p.m.

Two firefighters were taken to Wyckoff Heights Medical Center with minor injuries. No other injuries were reported, officials said.

FDNY Deputy Chief James Smithwick called the fire “suspicious” and said a handful of people seen outside the building when the fire broke out probably know what sparked it.

New York Daily News
“The fire is being considered suspicious because of the amount of fire,” Smithwick said, noting the difficulties of putting out blazes in abandoned buildings. “The firemen did a tremendous job of containing [it].”

FDNY fire marshals were working to determine the cause of the blaze Saturday night.

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September 22, 2014

Just before 6:30 p.m. Saturday, September 20, a Lamar firefighter was injured while answering a call to duty.

Happy Campers

At approximately 6:15 p.m. Lamar volunteer firefighters were called to respond to the area of Cabin Creek Avenue and Duff Road located in their fire district, on a report of a vehicle fire.

Firefighters arrived on scene and found flames and heavy black smoke exiting a 1998-2000 model Dodge truck. Firefighters prepared to fight the vehicle blaze and Lamar Fire Chief Kavin McCarley prepared to join fellow firefighters as they began to extinguish the flames. It is believed that Chief McCarley was injured after he approached the burning vehicle with a fire hose in hand. As water was supplied to the hose, the force of the water exiting the hose knocked Chief McCarley to the ground, causing injury

Immediately following the incident, Johnson County EMS was requested to respond to the scene. After EMS personnel arrived on scene, Chief McCarley was transported to Johnson Regional Medical Center for evaluation and treatment of the injuries he sustained during the incident.

The injuries sustained by Chief McCarley are unknown at this time, but as of 9 p.m. Saturday night, McCarley remained in the hospital at Clarksville. The fire consuming the Dodge was extinguished by firefighters and towed from the scene a short time later.

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September 22, 2014

A three vehicle accident Friday evening, involving a fire truck, sent three people to the hospital, and closed down a Denison intersection for a time.

Troopers say a Denison fire engine was on an emergency call, headed west on FM 691 through the intersection, when it was hit by a white Tahoe headed south on FM 1417.

The engine was forced into the eastbound lanes of 691 and hit a vehicle approaching the intersection.

Two firefighters were taken to the hospital and released, and another person went to the hospital to be checked out.

None of the injuries were life-threatening and troopers say alcohol was not involved.

They say investigators will reconstruct the accident.

Officials say the fire engine was severely damaged.

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September 22, 2014


(Anthony Bendele)

3rd Alarm with Special Call 525 North 1st Street Shamokin, Pa 13:45 NCCC dispatched a 1st alarm for a working structure fire at 525 North 1st street, Shamokin. Upon arrival of first in units the alarm was upgraded to a confirmed incident to 2nd then 3rd alarm with special calls for additional manpower. Vinyl on neighboring structures melted due to the heat. 2 FF suffered minor injured while 1 required transport to an area Hospital for heat exhaustion, stated Jason Zimmerman, deputy chief of the Shamokin Fire Bureau. The other FF pinched his fingers in the runs of a ladder while it was being raised. The fire is believed to originated on exterior of "C" side of the structure.

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September 22, 2014
Four Firefighters Hurt as Crews Work King Fire - CA

The enormous King fire burning in a forest region east of Sacramento has continued to grow, fire officials said.

The week-old blaze in Eldorado National Forest grew to 81,944 acres and was 10% contained as of Saturday evening, said Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean. Nearly 5,100 firefighters were battling the fire, he said.

Nearly 3,000 people have been evacuated from the area, and 21,000 structures remain threatened by the blaze, which started Sept. 13. Four firefighters have sustained minor injuries since the fire began, McLean said.

On Saturday, ground crews worked to strengthen containment lines around the fire to limit further spread of the flames. Teams fanned out to assess damage to the structures that had been burned.

The fire's spread is "expected to be minimal" overnight, according to the U.S. Forest Service, which is jointly managing firefighting efforts in the area, along with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Higher humidity is expected to help tame the spread of the blaze.

Warm temperatures, low humidity and forests full of extremely dry trees -- the result of serious drought conditions -- have contributed to the fire's severity, said Cal Fire spokeswoman Lynne Tolmachoff.

National Weather Service meteorologist Jason Clapp, who was onsite at the blaze, said possible thunderstorms in the area late Saturday could pose a threat to firefighters, creating winds that could strengthen the fire.

Additionally, he said, meteorologists were watching closely to see whether shifting weather patterns early next week would generate winds similar to those present last week when the fire spread quickly.

Also last week, the El Dorado County Sheriff's office arrested 37-year-old Wayne Huntsman on suspicion of deliberately starting the blaze. He was arrested in Placerville after investigators interviewed numerous people and developed multiple leads, El Dorado County Dist. Atty. Vern Pierson told reporters Thursday.

Officials have not released details on how they believe the fire was started, citing the ongoing investigation.
Hailey Branson-Potts and Eryn Brown / Source: Los Angeles Times

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September 22, 2014
Fire burns out of control at Niagara Falls recycling facility - NY


Pallets of cardboard and paper at the Greenpac Mill on Royal Avenue in Niagara Falls continued to burn out of control Saturday night. The entire Niagara Falls Fire Department is at the scene.

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September 22, 2014
Fire Department Hit by Blaze De-Certified by State - NC

BEAUFORT -- Carteret County, for now, has one fewer fire department.

The county was notified this month by the Office of the State Fire Marshal that due to the extent of a fire at the North River Volunteer Fire Department, the department no longer will be considered rated and certified until the station and equipment that were lost have been replaced.

A June 22 fire that broke out in one of the bays of the station at the North River VFD destroyed the building, trucks and most of the essential equipment used by the department.

Fellow firefighters from Central Fire Department in Lexington County donated a fire engine to the department, and Carteret County Emergency Services continues to assist North River in its efforts to rebuild.

Since the fire, Beaufort Fire Department has verbally committed to provide fire protection to the North River fire district, with the support of the members of the North River department.

However, Emergency Service Director John Ford said that due to the state's notification, an official contract with the Beaufort Fire Department is required.

"The action is necessary to ensure that the residents in the North River Fire District are in a recognized fire district by the Office of the State Fire Marshal and being served by a recognized and certified fire department," Ford states in a news release.

The state required a plan of action to show which fire department would be a primary department responding to calls in the North River district.

Beaufort Fire Department is being dispatched to all fire-related calls in the North River district until the North River department is re-rated by the state.

North River Fire Department members, who are volunteers, have the opportunity to temporarily join the Beaufort Fire Department to continue to serve their district.
Jannette Pippin / Source: The Daily News, Jacksonville, N.C.

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September 22, 2014
One Killed in Accident Involving Ambulance - WV


The Marion County Rescue Squad has released a statement following the accident Monday afternoon. The following is the statement in full:

"Today, one of our ambulances was involved in an accident while transporting a patient. All four of the MCRS employees onboard were injured, with two being taken to Ruby Memorial Hospital and two to Fairmont Regional Medical Center.

The accident investigation is being conducted by the Marion County Sheriff's Department and the West Virginia State Police.

MCRS wishes to extend our heartfelt sympathies to all involved, as well as their families. We extend our appreciation to all who assisted at the scene, to include the Barrackville, Farmington and Fairmont Fire Departments, Monongalia EMS, Harrison and Taylor County Emergency Squads, Marion County Homeland Security Director Chris McIntire and HealthNet Aeromedical Services."


An accident involving an ambulance and a Jeep temporarily shut down Route 250 and other area roads near Barrackville.

The ambulance went over a ditch on Barrackville Road and the Husky Highway. According to officials on scene the Jeep did not hear the ambulance behind it when it went to turn into Barrackville. The ambulance was heading straight toward Fairmont.

The crash occurred just after 1:00 p.m. Monday. There were four people in the Jeep at the time of the accident, none of which were injured. There were four rescue squad members and a patient in the ambulance. According to Marion 911, one woman from the rescue squad was flown to Ruby Memorial Hospital and three others had to be transported be ground.

The patient being transported in the ambulance died in the accident. The Sheriff's Department is investigating, assisted by State Police.
Written by Your 5News Team

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September 22, 2014
Man Charged with Assault after Spitting, Punching EMT - PA

A 50-year-old man was charged with spitting and punching an emergency medical technician early Sunday in Bethlehem, according to court records.

Gary Johnson, of Bethlehem, was charged with aggravated assault, simple assault and harassment. He was arraigned by District Judge Michael Faulkner and sent to Lehigh County Jail under $50,000 bail.

Bethlehem police were dispatched at 5:19 a.m. Sunday to St. Luke's University Hospital, Fountain Hill, and spoke to Brian Hart, an EMT with Dewey EMS, police said.

Hart told police he was responding to Manor Care, 2029 Westgate Drive, where he made contact with Johnson, a resident at the facility.

During the encounter, Johnson threatened Hart and then spit in his face and punched him in the face and arms, according to court records. Johnson continued to try and punch Hart until he was restrained, police said.

Bethlehem police said Hart had bruises and swelling to the left side of his head.
Manuel Gamiz Jr / Source: The Morning Call

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September 22, 2014
Firetruck, car collide in Manchester; 1 injured - NJ

(Photo: Manchester Township Police Department)

MANCHESTER – A fire engine and a car collided on Ridgeway Road Friday afternoon, injuring the car’s 18-year-old driver, according to police.

Nicole J. Clyde of Plumsted, driver of the 2010 Hyundai Accent, suffered head and wrist injuries and was transported to CentraState Medical Center in Freehold Township, according to police.

Ralph A. Capasso, driver of the Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Co. fire engine, did not suffer any injuries, according to police.

The accident happened around 2:17 p.m. as the fire engine was heading east on Ridgeway Road. Capasso attempted to make a left turn into the fire station and the engine collided with the Hyundai, which was heading west on the road, according to police.

The fire department and Quality Medical Transport assisted at the scene, and the crash remains under investigation by Patrolman Ian Bole of the township’s Traffic Safety Bureau.
Todd B. Bates, @ToddBBatesAPP

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September 22, 2014
Oklahoma City firefighter's home goes up in flames - OK

OKLAHOMA CITY —Firefighters rushed to help one of their own Monday morning.

According to firefighters, a fellow firefighter's home off Northeast 36th Street and North Lincoln Boulevard went up in flames around 4:45 a.m. Crews say it started in the bathroom and spread to the attic.

Firefighters quickly knocked out the fire. No one was inside, and no one was injured.

Firefighters say the home was being remodeled, and believe faulty electrical wiring was the cause. Arson investigators were called out as a precaution.

According to firefighters, there was major damage to the rear of the home. It's unclear if the home is a total loss.
By Rob Hughes /

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September 22, 2014
Fire Captain Grider succumbed to injuries sustained from a high-voltage electric shock - KY

(The Last Call 08/21/2014 - RIP)

Incident Description: Captain Grider succumbed to injuries sustained 30 days earlier when he received a high-voltage electric shock during an "ALS ice water challenge" at Campbellsville University. Grider and a second firefighter, who has since been released from the hospital and is recovering from his injuries, were both injured in the bucket of an aerial ladder truck when, according to reports, energy from a nearby power line arced to the bucket.

Incident Location: Chandler Avenue and Spring Street

Tribute is being paid to Captain Anthony “Tony” Lynn Grider
U.S. Fire Administration (USFA)

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September 22, 2014
Ambulance changes put paramedics and Chicago public at risk

Important safety gear, such as breathing apparatus, is being removed from Chicago ambulances, putting paramedics and the public at risk, firefighters say.
(Sun-Times File Photo)

On the eve of a dramatic upgrade in ambulance service, the Chicago Fire Department is making changes that, union leaders warn, could put the lives of paramedics and the public in danger.

Self-contained breathing apparatus are being removed from all 75 Chicago ambulances. In addition, roughly 70 paramedics graduating from the fire academy on Sunday will not be issued fire helmets, boots and protective clothing, known as bunker gear, that are standard issue for firefighters.

Without breathing masks and oxygen tanks, veteran paramedic Pat Fitzmaurice said paramedics will no longer be able to go into a burning high-rise--or subway after a derailment, collision or explosion--to rescue victims or firefighters in distress.

It also means that, instead of being right in front of a fire scene or in close proximity to a chemical spill, they may be staged a block away, Fitzmaurice said. That could add seconds and even minutes to the time it takes to rescue and treat victims.

The decision to strip paramedics of equipment specifically purchased for them was announced in an order signed Thursday by Deputy Fire Commissioner John McNicholas, who runs the Bureau of Operations.

“On Sept. 20, SCBA units will be removed from service on all ambulance units,” McNicholas wrote, spelling out the turn-in process without explaining why.

The Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2 has filed a grievance to protest changes that, the union contends, violate its contract with the city and put Chicagoans at risk at the worst possible time.

“With the real threat of terrorism worldwide at its highest level in years, Chicago is considered to be a prime terrorist possibility along with also being recognized as a city with multiple high-target hazards,” Ryan wrote Friday in a text message to the Chicago Sun-Times.

“The timing of this change in response protocol is suspect. As firefighters and paramedics serving a large city like Chicago, we need to be prepared for any and all emergencies…[and for] the worst-case scenario.”

Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford countered that Chicago was the "only major department in the nation" that outfitted "single-role" paramedics in fire gear and is simply "falling in line" with its counterparts.

"Single-role paramedics do not respond in burning structured or in hazardous location fires and they do not need the tanks or fire-resistant clothing,' Langford wrote in an e-mail.

As for the bunker gear, Langford said new paramedics will be issued “more comfortable clothing better suited to EMS operation.” It will include a “traditional helmet,” waterproof utility boots and clothing tailor-made to “block transmission of patient body fluids.” Existing paramedics will keep their bunker gear until it needs to be replaced, he said.

“Single-role paramedics do not operate in a fire or hazardous situation. Patients are brought to them,” Langford said.

Mayoral spokesman Adam Collins added, “The city has deep respect for the men and women who protect residents and we will continue to ensure they have the equipment they need to help them do the job they were hired to do.”

Fitzmaurice argued that the changes make no sense at a time when fires are down and the overwhelming majority of 911 calls are for emergency medical service (EMS).

“If we don’t have self-contained breathing apparatus, we can’t be anywhere near a toxic environment. That means precious seconds are lost,” Fitzmaurice said.

“When victims come out of a fire, they’re wet. Some are not breathing. It’s a wild, rushed scene. Now, there won’t be a stretcher there. Paramedics will no longer be near fire scenes. If there’s a high-rise fire, they’ll no longer be in the lobby or evacuating the stairwell. If there’s an incident in the subway, you can’t send paramedics down there. They’ll be staged at a distant location. People can die.”

Fitzmaurice pointed to two recent incidents where firefighters went into cardiac arrest at fire scenes and were resuscitated by paramedics wearing breathing masks.

He also recalled an incident that occurred on Valentine’s Day, 2013. Ambulance 52 was returning to quarters from a run that ended at Loretto Hospital when civilians jumped in front of the ambulance in the 100-block of North Central.

A house was on fire and victims were trapped inside, paramedics were told. According to Fitzmaurice, the paramedics were then able to put on their helmets, protective clothing and breathing apparatus and go into the house to rescue someone who had gone in to search for a child.

The decision to strip paramedics of a breathing device they campaigned long and hard for—and that ambulances have special compartments to carry---comes as the Chicago Fire Department ends its 15-year experiment with a two-tier system of ambulance service.

Starting next week, all 15 basic-life-support ambulances will be converted to advanced-life-support, giving Chicago 75 ambulances capable of providing the most sophisticated level of care.

The decision to end a two-tier emergency medical system that paramedics have called a dismal failure follows investigations by Inspector General Joe Ferguson, WBBM-TV and the Better Government Association. All three concluded Chicago needs more advanced life support ambulances to consistently meet response time standards.

The newly-approved firefighters contract calls for the appointment of a six-member committee to study the need for even more ambulances.

And yet another study is under way to explore the possibility of relocating existing ambulances. That has Northwest Side aldermen fearful of losing ambulances campaigning against the change before a final decision has even been made.
Fran Spielman /

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September 19, 2014
Massive Northern California fire outrunning firefighters - CA

In a summer of destructive blazes across Central and Northern California, the King fire — burning out of control in the forest east of Sacramento — has officials particularly alarmed.

The fire exploded in a matter of hours into the second-largest in California this year, forcing the closure of Highway 50 and moving north toward Tahoe National Forest.

The arson fire has produced a massive smoke plume the length of Colorado and is pushing embers across canyons, reservoirs and rivers, outracing thousands of firefighters trying to control it.

The King fire is the latest in a series of major blazes to roar out of control in vegetation left tinder-dry by California’s three-year drought. On Monday, 150 structures were lost in the logging town of Weed, just west of Mt. Shasta, when a wildfire swept through. A fire destroyed 30 homes a day earlier in Madera County.

Entire article with photos

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September 19, 2014

(CBSPHL Video)

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Crews battled a four-alarm fire in the Kensington section of Philadelphia that broke out in a warehouse early this morning, injuring three people.

The fire began about 2:30am at a vacant warehouse at American and York Streets. The blaze then spread to a neighboring paper storage company.

The fire was placed under control just after 4 a.m., but heavy smoke lingered in the area long beyond then.

“We went to 4-alarms, which is about 33 pieces of apparatus, 120 firefighters,” Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer said.

Commissioner Derrick Sawyer Provides An Update:

Officials say a 25-year-old man has been taken to Temple Hospital with severe burns to the majority of his body. He is said to be conscious and alert.

“We believe that the civilian injury, the person was coming out of the vacant building,” Sawyer says. “The person was on fire when they came out.”

Two firefighters also suffered minor injuries.

The warehouse where the fire started was completely destroyed and there was heavy damage to the paper company. The fire also spread to a nearby furniture business, but that only sustained minor exterior damage.

Sawyer says crews attacked the fire from the outside:

“When you have an older building and a heavy fire load, you have a greater chance of collapse. And once you have that collapse, anything could happen. So one of the things we did do was establish a collapse zone early.”

SEPTA bus routes 39 and 57 were being detoured around the area where the fire occurred. Two Philadelphia schools — the John Welsh and McKinley elementary schools — were forced to close for the day because of smoke from the fire.

Fire officials remain on the scene as an investigation into the cause of the blaze continues.
By Jan Carabeo, Mike DeNardo

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September 19, 2014
Firefighter shocked by electrical wire at Wilkinsburg fire - PA

WILKINSBURG, Pa. —A Pittsburgh firefighter was shocked by an electrical wire that fell during a fire Friday afternoon in Wilkinsburg.

Pittsburgh public safety spokeswoman Sonya Toler said the firefighter was taken to UPMC Presbyterian hospital and is in stable condition.

The one-alarm fire was reported just before 1 p.m. at a home in the 1600 block of Maplewood Avenue.

The Red Cross was assisting one adult and three children who were displaced as a result.

No other injuries were reported.

Photo Gallery

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September 19, 2014
RIT Rescues Firefighter in West Hollywood Fire - CA

Firefighters knocked down a dramatic blaze that burned two floors of a luxury condominium building in West Hollywood just north of the Sunset Strip on Thursday afternoon.

The fire was reported at Horn Plaza (map), which is near Sunset Boulevard, shortly before 4 p.m., Los Angeles County Fire Department Supervisor Art Marrujo said.

The blaze burned the second and third floors of the building and prompted a third-alarm response, according to tweets from the Fire Department.

“This building is … at the top of a steep hill. Very difficult getting here,” said fire Capt. Brian Jordan. “Some of the fire engines are parking down on Sunset Boulevard, and they had to hike up this hill with 100 pounds of gear.”

The blaze was declared knocked down at approximately 4:45 p.m., Marrujo said.

The fire also charred a portion of the outside of the building.

One firefighter received an injury of an unknown nature, Marrujo said.

A firefighter who was wheeled out of the complex and into an ambulance was holding his leg, video from the scene showed.

Sunset Boulevard appeared to have been closed in both directions to traffic at Horn Avenue as of 5 p.m., according to the aerial video.

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September 19, 2014
Fire chief responding to call at Great Northern Mall rear-ends car - NY

CLAY, N.Y. -- Several people were injured Tuesday afternoon when a fire chief responding to a fire alarm at the Great Northern Mall rear-ended a vehicle, the Onondaga County Sheriff's Office said.

At about 2:25 p.m., Moyers Corners Fire Chief Michael Brown, 39, of Liverpool, was driving a Ford Explorer north in the left lane of Morgan Road with his emergency lights and sirens on, the sheriff's office said. He was responding to a fire alarm at Macy's in the Great Northern Mall.

Tyler Hallock, 17, of Liverpool, was stopped in a Toyota in the left lane of Morgan Road. He was waiting to make a left turn onto Forestbrook Drive, the sheriff's office said.

The Explorer rear-ended the Toyota and both vehicles ended up in the ditch on the east side of the road, the sheriff's office said.

Hallock and his front passenger, Halie Rawlins, 17, of Liverpool, complained of back pain after the crash. Hallock's backseat passenger, Anthony Austin, 17, of North Syracuse, suffered head and back injuries. Brown suffered numerous scrapes and bruises.

The sheriff's office said none of the injuries anyone suffered were life-threatening. Brown and the occupants of the Toyota were taken by ambulance to area hospitals.

The sheriff's office said no tickets have been issued yet, but that it is continuing to investigate.

The posted speed limit where the crash occurred on Morgan Road is 40 mph.
By Ken Sturtz |

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September 18, 2014
When a Lesson Took a Dangerous Turn, a Room Full of Firefighters Couldn't Save Neal Smith - TX

Penny Smith says she didn't know the full story behind her husband's death until the state and federal investigations.
(Photo by Daniel Kramer)

For the final smoke diver drill, trainees had to plow through punishing tasks on each floor of a six-story tower.
(Courtesy of the Texas State Fire Marshal's Office)

Neal Smith appeared disoriented after he crawled out of a wooden box during an intense training exercise.
(Courtesy of the Texas State Fire Marshal's Office)

Penny Smith says her husband was partinally inspired to become a firefighter after members of the Atascocita Volunteer Fire Department visited his daughter's pre-school.
(Photo courtesy of Penny Smith)

(Photo courtesy of Penny Smith)

Firefighter Neal Smith was almost out of the second floor of the six-story training tower when he became disoriented and fell to his knees.

Smith had excelled through the first day's exercises, and he was doing fine on day two. He was one of a few to clear a bunker with air left in his tank; others quickly depleted their supply as instructors, perched above the rafters, threw firecrackers and lassoed the trainees' air tanks with bungee cords. And now he was making his way through four floors of the tower until he reached the room where the mission was a right-hand victim search: Trainees had to slide beneath a plywood plank screwed to the entryway 30 inches above the floor and conduct a counter-clockwise sweep of the room while keeping their right hands on a wall. Visibility was impaired by a fog machine and by a web of fire hoses and landscaping timbers hanging above a floor littered with golf balls and marbles.

Weighed down by 75 pounds worth of gear that included an air tank, mask, coat and trousers still saturated with sweat from the previous day's exercises, trainees had to navigate their way through pallets, tires, metal pipes and burned-out box springs to reach a 2-by-10 wooden box with one end propped upon a barrel. The men had to crawl through the box, which spilled out into a floored elevator shaft, and then crawl back through to continue the sweep.

Smith's teammate went through first. By the time Smith shimmied inside to look for the hypothetical victim, his internal temperature was pushing 108 degrees, and his brain was swelling. Instead of continuing the search when he crawled out of the box, he circled back in.

An instructor spent five minutes yelling at Smith to get out of the box and continue his search. Smith didn't make it far: At a 55-gallon drum only a few feet from the box, Smith dropped to his knees. The instructor yelled at Smith to move. When that didn't work, the instructor ordered Smith's teammate "to go around him."

While sliding under the plywood barrier, the teammate reached behind him one last time to feel for Smith. Feeling only fiberglass, he turned and saw the reflective tape on Smith's helmet. There was no movement.

The teammate made it out to the second floor landing when the call went out: Mayday. Man down.

Instructors slid an unresponsive Smith under the doorway's plywood barrier, down the darkened stairway and out of the tower. On-site paramedics stripped off Smith's gear and clothing and felt for a pulse that wasn't there. They administered CPR, then tried a defibrillator, but Smith's skin, slick with sweat and hot to the touch, prevented a connection.

Ten minutes later, an ambulance rushed Smith to the emergency room. Doctors swathed Smith's overheated body in ice packs and cooling blankets. They cranked up cooling fans and shot him up with cold liquids. None of it would save his life.

Those last minutes before the 46-year-old's brain death, and the events leading up to it, are detailed in state and federal reports that shed light on an obscure, unregulated training program for firefighters -- mostly volunteer -- based in Beaumont. The smoke diver program, a punishing weekend course meant to teach firefighters how to survive in dangerous conditions on little to no air from their self-contained breathing apparatus, was touted by the East Texas Firemen's and Fire Marshal's Association, a nonprofit trade group for volunteer firefighters. As an elite corps, smoke diver graduates are encouraged to share their new-found skills at their individual departments. They also get a nifty patch.

At the end of the two-day course with 22 trainees, 13 completed the course, two students had washed out, two others went to the hospital, and four students did not return for the second day, saying they had safety concerns or the course wasn't as advertised. And Smith was dead.

According to the subsequent investigations, what may have saved him -- or at least increased his odds -- was one very simple thing: a tub of ice water at the scene.

"There was a mistress in the family," Penny Smith says, two years after her husband's death. "And it was called the Atascocita Volunteer Fire Department."

Penny had to get used to sharing her husband, who always had one ear on his department-issued radio. She had to learn a second language. At any second, a "box could drop," and Smith would be out the door to a fire. She can rattle off radio chatter like it's tattooed in her memory.

But before all that, in 1995, Smith was a rising sales manager at Sprint, where Penny was a co-worker. But then, because Smith was always pushing himself, he became her boss. Smith later took a job with Zale's.

Penny says Smith, a Navy veteran, was moved to serve in some capacity after 9/11. In spring 2008, when members of the Atascocita Volunteer Fire Department visited his daughter Natalie's pre-school, the girl went home that day and talked about seeing the fire truck. That's when Smith knew how he wanted to serve. He joined the "probie" class that July, and in November, Smith -- the oldest trainee -- graduated at the top of his class.

Located 30 miles north of Houston, the Atascocita Volunteer Fire Department's 132 members serve roughly 70,000 residents spread over 26 square miles. At the time of the December 2013 Texas State Fire Marshal's Office report on Smith's death, the department had eight full-time and 17 part-time employees. The report noted that "apparatus includes three engines, one 75-foot ladder truck, four ambulances," and assorted vehicles for command, mass casualty and rehab. According to the report, the department in 2011 "responded to 795 fire-related -incidents and 3,000 medical incidents." Volunteers are required to work two 12-hour shifts a month. Smith always wanted to work more.

"Baseline was never good enough," Penny says. "It was always, 'I can do something better.'"

Which is why it was not a surprise when Smith told her he wanted to become a smoke diver. He went on a diet and hit the gym. Hard. Smith lost about 57 pounds in 2011, slimming down to 153 pounds on a five-foot-six frame.

"Neal Smith was in the best physical shape for endurance than any other time in his life," AVFD Chief William Bivens told the Houston Press. Before he left for Beaumont, Bivens said, Smith talked about how eager he was to return to the department with his new-found skills. He was also eager to prove his mettle the following weekend: He had entered into an Ironman competition in Galveston.

"I was on his case about what he was fixing to do," Bivens says. He ribbed Smith; why would a guy in his 40s want to compete in an Ironman race?

But Smith told Bivens he didn't plan on being just another competitor. "And he informed me very quickly, he's not going out there to compete," Bivens says. "He said, 'Chief, I'm going out there to win it.'"

Bivens says he's only had two firefighters attend the smoke diver course before Smith, and they never mentioned enduring the troubling techniques described in the state and federal investigations. In fact, he says, they never mentioned much of anything.

"I heard rumors that once they graduate, that they should be tight-lipped as far as this type of training because they don't want to scare other people off," he says.

That's why, Bivens claims, the state report "raised my eyebrows. I was upset about throwing the [firecrackers], I was upset about not keeping the people properly hydrated and monitoring like they should have....We have training down here all the time at my department, and there would be nothing like that....It could not happen down here. Because we do take care of our firefighters."

Penny expected that level of care from the smoke diver instructors, just like she expected them to push Smith in order to become a better firefighter. Although the state and federal reports stop short of officially blaming the class for Smith's death, his widow doesn't. In July, Penny sued the individual instructors and the professional associations behind the smoke diver training program, accusing them of gross negligence.

Pushing a firefighter to make him better is one thing, Penny says. "But what went on in this was beyond appalling."


The day after Smith died, instructor Dennis Gifford summed up the circumstances of Smith's death for a reporter like this: "As tragic as this is, it's really more or less coming down to the strict limitations of the individual." Maybe Gifford thought Smith just wasn't cut out to be a smoke diver.

As a founding member of the Texas Line of Duty Death Task Force, which provides assistance to families of fallen firefighters, Gifford presumably knew what he was talking about. But 15 months later, state and federal reports told a different story.

According to those investigations, the program was not "conducted in accordance with national and state standards and recommendations." The reports concluded that trainees were not provided adequate "rehab" between drills, nor were they fully medically monitored.

Instructors, it seemed, did not fully understand how heatstroke worked and could have benefited from some instructions themselves. The reports noted that tossing firecrackers at trainees was not an instructional method recognized by any accredited firefighting authority and that, without proper oversight or any sort of standards, training programs could devolve into "rites of passage." (The program's coordinators voluntarily and indefinitely suspended the training after Smith died).

By Gifford's standards, Smith wasn't the only trainee that day with "strict limitations."

Smith's friend and fellow Atascocita firefighter had panicked that morning during an exercise held in a concrete-block bunker thick from the haze of a fog machine.

This firefighter spent much of the previous night vomiting, cramped from dehydration, after a grueling first day. He told investigators he "saw red and feared for his life," and removed his face-piece. He was immediately disqualified.

Another trainee washed out that morning complaining of chest pains and one of Smith's teammates in the tower exercise, who'd been lagging behind since the sixth floor, gave up on floor four.

Smith, however, was excelling right up to the point he collapsed.

To Penny, it makes perfect sense: Her husband was well-equipped for a program that, according to the smoke diver website, "is designed to take an experienced firefighter and teach him/her practical advanced survival skills in full gear with SCBA."

Penny says Smith had always worked hard to control his breathing, and this training promised to challenge him as never before.

The problem was that the challenges didn't follow any recognized firefighter training guidelines.

The Texas Commission on Fire Protection approves training programs and certifies instructors for paid fire departments. Volunteer departments can choose, but are not required, to submit their training programs for Commission approval.

According to the state's report, a smoke diver instructor and East Texas Firefighters and Fire Marshal's Association board member told investigators that the curriculum was approved by the Commission, yet the Commission had no such records. (An attorney for the East Texas Firemen's and Fire Marshal's Association declined to comment for this story.)

The program also involved Texas A&M's Engineering and Extension Service, which, according to the state report, "records the training and then provides a certificate of training for reporting the training hours" to either the TCFP or a nonprofit group called the State Firemen's and Fire Marshal's Association. (The State Firemen's association is also named in the lawsuit. A spokesperson declined comment for this story.)

The Extension Service's Scott Matthews, who was present during Smith's training, told the Houston Chronicle the day after Smith died that he was not conducting the training, and was only there to "facilitate the certificate."

Yet for years, the Extension Service has issued announcements for applying to the class stating that the training was "conducted by" the Service. Scott's explanation for that, per the Chronicle, was: "That's standard wording on a flier." (A spokesman for the Extension Service, which is not a defendant in Penny's lawsuit, declined comment. Matthews also did not respond to multiple requests for comment).

The Extension Service's standard wording claimed that the smoke diver course was one of two "offered today that do more for firefighter survivability than any courses offered in the last 20 years," and the sentiment is echoed on the smoke diver website.

The State Fire Marshal's report notes that smoke divers "instructors pushed students to their physical and psychological limits using intimidation, peer pressure, noise distractions and limited visibility. These methods contributed to causing a proportionate number of the enrolled students to fail, thereby validating the training and keeping the program to the perceived 'elite' level."

And it appears that the course was at least designed to fail more students than when it was originally founded in 1996. According to the state report, "investigators learned that many students passed the course with ease when the training occurred in cooler months. So the decision was made to provide the training during April and September, when the temperatures are usually warm, but not as hot as summer months."

"The course is extremely challenging, intensely physical, and will take the student to his/her limit," according to the smoke diver website, which also states that "While the course is not designed to fail students, they will not be coddled."

Perhaps that's why, after Smith was rushed to the hospital, instructors faced a dilemma: Should they suspend training, or would that be coddling?

A member of the Industrial Safety Training Council, the nonprofit that maintains the grounds where the smoke divers train, spoke with the second-floor instructor about canceling the class. With plenty of trainees ready to continue, the instructor saw no need to disappoint a cadre of firefighters who had busted their asses for a day and a half.

The only need now was administrative: In addition to often heroic emergency life-saving measures, maydays also trigger paperwork. So the instructor shuffled off to the Council's offices to write his statement on the Smith incident as a relief instructor was called up to the second floor. He would soon have company.

The next pair of trainees to breach the second floor made it through the body-box, but only one came out unfazed. The second firefighter, from a volunteer department in Georgia, crawled out, got to his feet, then fell forward into the hanging hose lines. Like Smith, the trainee overheated. Instructors called a second mayday.

Training was suspended for a short while but resumed later that day. Thirteen of the original 22 trainees graduated by day's end. Their names are on the Texas Smoke Diver website, along with Smith's and the Georgia man who was the second mayday that weekend. Those two are bestowed a special honor: They're recognized as "Most Determined."


According to Penny's lawsuit, the Industrial Safety Training Council should have known what kind of training was going on at its facility, the Beaumont Emergency Services Training Complex.

And while the state report notes that "a member of the training facility spoke with the lead instructor who had been on the second floor and discussed canceling the remainder of the course," the Council's lawyer says they had nothing to do with that weekend's training.

"The training session in question was under the overall direction of Texas A&M, but the East Texas Firemen's and Fire Marshal's Association did provide all the trainers," John Durkay says, adding later, "We opened up the gate in the morning, let the fellows in, and closed the gate in the evening when they left."

Durkay places the responsibility on the shoulders of the East Texas Firemen's and Fire Marshal's Association, whose members, like Dennis Gifford, taught the course.

Gifford's connection to the BEST Complex is, well, complex. For one thing, he appears in a promotional DVD for the training ground, saying, "We'll have backup if needed. We'll have safety."

Aside from shilling for the Complex, Gifford has been teaching there long enough to be familiar with the facility's own "Participant Safety Manual," which guest instructors are supposed to comply with. The manual includes a section on the warning signs and treatment of heat stress and heat-related illness. But the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health report states, "Although the facility had a heat stress program, many components of the program were not initiated or followed by the instructors administering the course."

It's no surprise, then, that after Smith died and the smoke diver class was suspended, the website was updated to express how the trainers "were very shocked at the incidences of over-heating related issues. For a project that uses no live fire, only simulated smoke," and that took place over a weekend with "very mild weather and humidity, we were surprised by those impacted and what some internal body temperatures were found to be."

Because of this, "we are already researching many of the new technologies and the latest firefighter rehabilitation studies" to treat heat stress.

Fortunately for them, the State Fire Marshal's Office report suggested one of these new technologies: a tub of really cold water.

The report indicates that if the Complex had "a tank or tub, such as a cattle-watering trough or bathtub filled with ice and water for cold- or ice-water immersion treatment," Smith's core temperature may have been reduced sooner, improving his prognosis.

That "mild weather" contention is also arguable. While the temperature was 88 degrees, with a heat index of 92, when Smith died, the state report notes that heat index alone is not a good measure. (For one thing, it doesn't take into account the weight of a firefighter's clothing and equipment.)

From interviews with trainees, state investigators discovered that "smoke divers policy is that if a trainee reports [a heat-related illness], the trainee will likely miss a portion of the training or not a complete the course, and, consequently, not receive the smoke divers patch."

The bottom line was this: "Failure to complete the course might be perceived as personal failure, or that the trainee was not fit or 'tough' enough to be a firefighter."

"I like to use a simple template when looking at things like this," says Billy Goldfeder, a 41-year firefighter and the director of the International Association of Fire Chiefs' Safety, Health, and Survival Section. (Goldfeder was not speaking on behalf of the association.)

The template is, "If your son or daughter were being trained as firefighters, how would you want them trained? Who do you want training them? What do you expect out of the instructors? What 'systems' would you expect to be in place?"

Standards exist for a reason, Goldfeder told the Press in an e-mail. (He's currently the deputy chief of the Loveland-Symmes Fire Department in Ohio; publisher of "The Secret List," an independent newsletter addressing safety issues; and serves as an associate or contributing editor for Fire Engineering, FireRescue Magazine and Firehouse Magazine.)

"It's important to know and respect the fact that standards were written by those who often know better than we do," he writes, adding that state and federal firefighting authorities "produce extremely comprehensive reports about firefighter deaths -- what happened, why and how it can be prevented in the future. These reports...are developed by people who actually give a damn -- not some federal bureaucrats."

Goldfeder says that "Captain Smith's loss appears to be a predictable and preventable event. That course was supposed to be about training. And training must be a controlled and [well-led] activity by certified and qualified instructors using strict discipline and standards -- standards (and reports) that existed well before Smith's death."

So what about the two reports published after Smith's death?

"Sadly, Captain Smith was not the first to die in this manner, but his death could possibly be the last, if these reports -- and their recommendations -- are read, studied and followed with precision at every level of the fire service," Goldfeder writes. "Quite honestly, I am not sure there is any better way to honor his life, and his line of duty death, than by doing that."

The Texas Line of Duty Death Task Force, which Gifford co-founded, states on its website that such investigations "help educate fire departments in preventing similar deaths."

Apparently, the investigations of Smith's death are the exception: When asked if he wanted to comment for this story, Gifford declined on the grounds that "We've already unfairly been judged by two investigations that are skewed full of errors, and I don't wish to add to that."

As part of the LODD Task Force, Gifford attended ceremonies honoring firefighters who died after Smith. As part of an "LODD family," Penny would also be there. "I have intentionally avoided him," she says.

Although the smoke diver course is still in limbo, the website remains. At the top of the page are the words: "When things go wrong inside, have the skills to get you and your crew out alive."

Smith's name is right below.
By Craig Malisow /

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September 18, 2014
Arlington Fire cancels school safety programs amid budget woes - NY

A few thousand students in the Town of Poughkeepsie likely won't be climbing aboard Arlington Fire District engines this year after school safety programs were canceled as the fire district cuts costs amid budget constraints.

Nine private and public schools in the Arlington, Wappingers and Spackenkill districts are affected. Parents plan to voice concerns at the Oct. 6 fire district board meeting.

During Fire Prevention Week, firefighters across the nation visit students to teach them about home fire safety, give them fire equipment tours, show them what they look like dressed in full gear and more.

"I take fire prevention very seriously," said Arlington Fire Commissioner Jim Beretta. "But the board has not been presented with any option besides a high-cost plan. ... That's unaffordable this year."

October's Fire Prevention Week costs about $12,500 for staff overtime and materials, officials said.

The fire prevention captain should come up with a plan to visit the schools with volunteers, Beretta said.

Volunteer participation is limited because of the daytime hours, and bringing in staff on overtime helps avoid disruptions, since they won't have to answer calls, said Arlington Fire Chief Tory Gallante.

Overtime terms are in accordance with staff contracts when paid firefighters visit the schools, Gallante said.

But paid staff members don't have to participate, Beretta said.

Other "nonessential spending" is on hold as officials work to close a $100,000 budget deficit caused by workers' compensation. An extra $250,000 in overtime costs is also anticipated, on top of the $2 million allocated for it in the $16.2 million 2014 budget.

Fire commissioners were cautioned that "overtime would increase" unless they replace outgoing staff, Gallante said, and more firefighter injuries, which could "historically" be due to the decreased staff working more hours, have led to higher workers' compensation rates.

On Monday, Commissioners Ken Muckenhaupt and Rich Dore voted to reinstate the school program; Peter Valdez and Joe Armstrong voted not to. Beretta couldn't attend the meeting. The tie means a vote to reinstate it can be brought up again.

"If the board changes the decision, we'll contact the schools immediately to see if we're still welcome to come deliver the program," Gallante said.

The program should be reinstated with an unexpected $375,000 surplus in pension rebates, said 1st Assistant Chief John Richardson.

Wappingers mom Tina Cottrell hopes her children get to participate again, especially since seeing a firefighter "all suited up" is key to ensuring children won't be afraid of them in an emergency.

"Because of that program, our family knows where to meet in case of a fire," Cottrell said.

Other fire districts, like Poughkeepsie's Fairview and Fishkill's Rombout, will keep their programs.

They're "necessary to reduce fire-related injuries and deaths," said Fairview Fire Chief Chris Maeder.

Fairview has paid and volunteer staff. Two firefighters are paid a stipend on top of their salary to visit two elementary schools, Maeder said. If firefighters get overtime for school safety, they get their regular hourly wage, not time-and-a-half pay.

Rombout, an all-volunteer district, sends four to five firefighters to visit two schools, said coordinator Sharon Forbes.

In July, "I start reminding everyone of the date(s) and ask them to take off from work," Forbes said.
Nina Schutzman, Poughkeepsie Journal

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September 18, 2014
Firefighter, Cop Struck at Crash Scene - VA

HAMPTON -- A police officer and firefighter, responding to a two-vehicle crash, were injured in a second crash.

The two emergency workers were on the scene of the first crash at Hampton Roads Center Parkway at Magruder Boulevard shortly before 6:30 p.m., when a Honda traveling westbound on Hampton Roads Center Parkway lost control and hit a Jeep, said Sgt. Jason Price, a Hampton police spokesman.

The officer, firefighter and two other people were taken to a hospital for treatment of injuries that were not considered life-threatening.

No other details about the two crashes were available.

Shortly after 8 p.m., police said Hampton Roads Center Parkway reopened to traffic.
Lauren King / Source: The Virginian-Pilot

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September 18, 2014
Hackers Send Paychecks of Four FDNY Firefighters to Russia - NY

A hacker stole the paychecks from four FDNY firefighters by breaking into a computer at their engine company, stealing their passwords — and then routing the dough to Russia, sources said on Wednesday.

The firefighters, from Staten Island’s Engine Co. 167, discovered that their paychecks hadn’t been direct-deposited into their bank accounts about three weeks ago, the sources said.

“The victims found no deposits. When they called payroll, they found that their paychecks had been ‘rerouted,’ ” a source explained.

City Department of Investigation probers suspect the savvy thief was able to exploit a computer virus to retrieve the firefighters’ names and passwords for their work computer.

Then the thief was able to use that data to gain access to the city’s Employee Self Service system, which stores city workers’ personnel data, to change the victims’ bank routing numbers, the sources said.

The thief eventually had the money placed onto a prepaid bank card that was later cashed in Russia, a source explained.

Firefighters get paid every other week, and the estimated theft exceeds $10,000 and caused the ESS system to be knocked out of service as the investigation continues, the sources said.

An FDNY spokeswoman said the victims’ losses have since been reimbursed.

And Diane Struzzi, a spokeswoman for DOI, said her agency “is investigating this matter . . . There is no evidence that any other accounts from city computers have been hijacked.”

The caper follows similar computer thefts in June, when another FDNY firefighter and an Emergency Medical Service employee were fleeced in much the same way after using their home computers, according to information distributed by the Uniformed Firefighters Association.
By Susan Edelman and Philip Messing / Source: New York Post

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September 18, 2014

A Scott County firefighter is in stable condition after being taken from the scene of a fire for medical assistance.

The identity of the firefighter was not released, but Brandon Remley, assistant director of the Georgetown-Scott County Emergency Medical Services, said the firefighter was hospitalized due to a medical emergency.

Scott County Fire Department Battalion Chief Justin Baker said the firefighter was treated for heat-related symptoms.

The firefighter is in stable condition, Remley said.

Crews were at the scene of the blaze at 105 Seahawk Trial for several hours battling the house fire.

The fire was reported around noon Wednesday and it took crews 45 minutes to get the blaze under control. One side of the house was fully involved from the basement to the attic, Baker said.

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September 18, 2014
Surveillance Video Fuels Criminal Charges Against Two Cleveland Firefighters - OH

(19 Action News|Cleveland, OH|News, Weather, Sports)

A surveillance video has been released showing the crash of a Cleveland ladder truck in a parking lot last June. Two firefighters, the driver and the officer, have been charged criminally with submitting false reports about how the accident occurred.

Fire Captain Ron Vargo and Firefighter Richard Nickerson blamed the crash on a vehicle that cut them off, causing them to strike a light pole. The crash caused over $20,000 to the ladder truck and destroyed the pole.

The video surveillance shows there was no car in the area, just a large tractor trailer that was turning around.

Both firefighters have entered pleas of not guilty and have asked for a speedy trial.

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September 18, 2014
Nashville fire station was without key equipment for 2 days - TN

(WSMV Channel 4)

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - A Nashville fire station was without a key piece of equipment for two days, and some firefighters say the missing truck put people and property at risk.

According to Mark Young, the people living in an Inglewood neighborhood wouldn't have had adequate protection if a fire had broken out in the area because a fire engine was moved to a Madison station to replace one of their engines that was broken down.

Assistant Fire Chief Ricky White said that's only partially correct. He admitted the Inglewood department didn't have a fire engine on hand for two days but said one was available literally minutes away.

"The nearest engine to that location would have probably been Engine One over at Dickerson Road and Broadmoore, and I'm going to estimate a two to three-minute response time," White said.

White said it's just a fact they have to deal with - Nashville has an aging fleet of fire trucks in its 39 stations.

An upgrade plan is in the works, with nearly a dozen new, high-tech fire trucks expected within a year. That's a $5 million commitment to upgrading the fleet, but in the meantime, White said they'll do their best to keep things up and running the best they can.

He said the department can't buy new equipment if the city council doesn't give them the money to buy it.

That's getting tougher to do because the cost of a new fire truck has basically tripled in the last 13 years.

"The prices of this new equipment is not just affecting Nashville, it's affecting fire departments across the country. Unless things change, I can see us getting priced out of business to a certain extent," White said.

That's no excuse, according to Young, who says not enough money for working equipment won't fly with his firefighters who put their lives on the line to save lives and protect property.
Reported by Patrick McMurtry /

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September 18, 2014
Stolen fire truck found in Adair County - OK

ADAIR COUNTY, Okla. — A fire truck missing for more than two weeks has been found.

Deputies said Rodney Bird was driving the truck, but was able to escape.

The truck stolen from Lowrey Volunteer Fire Department in Cherokee County was found in Adair County south of Stilwell.

Officials said a deputy tried to pull over Bird after he was recognized as someone wanted on outstanding warrants.

Bird led deputies and the Cherokee Nation Marshal’s Service on a chase and crashed the truck near a school.

Officials said Bird then ran off into the woods and hasn’t yet been found.

The truck was damaged and the fire and medical equipment had been taken out, but firefighters said they are glad to have it back.

“We’ve got a truck and that’s good news. We’re just going to buy the equipment as we can and replace it,” said Fire Chief Larry Watts.

Because Bird hasn’t been found, officials aren’t sure if he is the one responsible for stealing the truck.
By Morgan Downing /

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September 17, 2014
Fire Capt. Pinned Between Vehicles at Crash - NC

KNIGHTDALE -- An Eastern Wake Fire Department captain suffered a broken leg Wednesday morning when he was pinned between two cars that were being moved out of Bethlehem Road after an accident south of Knightdale, the NC Highway Patrol said.

One of the cars rolled unexpectedly, and Capt. William Boggs' left leg was caught, troopers said.

Wake County EMS took Boggs to WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh, and he was reported to be in good condition.

Troopers said the accident happened about 6:30 a.m. when a car backed out of a driveway without the driver checking traffic in both directions and was hit by a car on the road.

It happened near Bethlehem Road and Moon Valley Lane south of Knightdale.

The people involved in the accident were not seriously hurt, troopers said.
Source: The News & Observer /

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September 17, 2014
OSHA Cites Fire Department - NC

The Winston-Salem Fire Department has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Division of the North Carolina Department of Labor over three OSHA violations. Two of the citations were considered serious, incurring $3250 fines each. The third was consider not serious and no fine was imposed.

The same citations could probably be brought against a large percentage of fire departments in the United States.

The serious violations allege that some personal protective equipment (turnout gear) was damaged, and that the department’s exposure control plan had not be updated annually as required by OSHA. The non-serious violation alleged that personnel were not trained on hazardous materials in the workplace under the HazCom standard (29 CFR 1910.1200). The department completed the training in June, 2014 but it was supposed to have been completed in December, 2013

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September 17, 2014
Gary Police, Firefighters Stage Protest Calling For Pay Raise - IN

(CBS) — Gary police and firefighters are staging a protest this afternoon outside City Hall as they face another year with a pay raise.

It has been almost a decade since the first-responders have seen raises.

They say they’re among the lowest paid in the state, with starting salaries of $39,000 and they’re quick to point out that the mayor, Karen freeman-Wilson, is among the highest paid mayors, with a salary of $142,000.

They’re planning to picket outside city hall before Tuesday evening’s city council meeting.

At an unrelated event Tuesday, the mayor told WBBM, “they deserve more, they deserve more.”

But, she said, with all of the financial challenges in Gary, there’s just not money.

“Its not that we don’t appreciate their sacrifice. When you see what they do every day, you have to appreciate it. It’s a matter of how do you convey that appreciation,” she said.

She said she has a plan that she thinks they’ll be able to live with, including a clothing allowance.

The first responders say she’s offering a one-time payment to each of the police officers and firefighters of one thousand dollars.

That’s not going to work, they say.

The police and firefighters aren’t buying that Gary can’t afford to sweeten the deal, noting that the City stands to receive up to four million dollars this year from a public safety income tax.

They also say the City receives several grants for firefighter and police officers totaling about two million dollars and another two million in ambulance fees and receipts from the City Court.
Mike Krauser /

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September 17, 2014
Firefighters face discipline over lewd banner at convention - NJ

MONROE TWP., N.J. — Officials met Tuesday to discuss how to discipline firefighters responsible for a lewd banner displayed at the New Jersey Firemen's Convention.

The sign, which read “Show us your t---,” flew under the Williamstown Fire Company's official banner on a balcony railing, reports. The slogan drew attention of residents in the town after the photo appeared on social media.

Fire Chief Michael Jacobi and President Joe Kurz said they were pursuing disciplinary action, likely a suspension, against those responsible, according to the report.

"It doesn't represent our town the right way. They are all volunteers, and they're all good guys," Mayor Michael Gabbianelli said. "It was probably a joke that got carried away. But something will be done about it."

The fire company posted an official response on its website as well.

"The Williamstown Fire Company would like to sincerely apologize to anyone that was offended by the joke,” the announcement read, which also promised disciplinary action.

"I think it's demoralizing to women. I think it's insulting," Shawn Rutter, a college math professor and former EMT, said. "A lot of young kids idolize that type of work. Every little kid wants to be a firefighter. A lot of parents drive their kids to that parade. That's not a conducive learning environment."

Rutter said he was concerned about how the township was being represented, according to the report.

"I've got no ill feelings," Rutter said. "I commend everybody that's a policeman or fireman or EMT. But I think somebody made a bad call and it needs to not happen again."
By FireRescue1 Staff

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September 17, 2014
S.F. supervisor says Fire Department puts public safety at risk - CA

Supervisor London Breed will announce Tuesday that she has lost confidence in the leadership of the San Francisco Fire Department, saying its inability to get ambulances to medical emergencies quickly is putting public safety at risk. She also wants a change to city law that would require minimum standards for emergency medical services.

Article with photos

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September 17, 2014
Firefighter John Derek Gupton was killed in apparatus crash - NC

(The Last Call - RIP)

LOUISBURG, N.C. — One firefighter was killed and another injured when their truck crashed southeast of Louisburg on Tuesday, according to Franklin County Sheriff Jerry Jones.

The single-vehicle wreck happened on the 1300 block of Sykes Road, just east of Lake Royale, at roughly 5 p.m. The truck was on its way to a call, though Jones wasn’t sure of the nature of the emergency, he said.

Firefighter John Derek Gupton, 24, lost control of the 2,500 gallon tanker he was operating when the apparatus left the roadway to the right, hit a ditch culvert and overturned, the U.S. Fire Administration reported. Firefighter Gupton died from injuries sustained in the accident.
The News & Observer

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September 17, 2014
Fire truck overturns, burns - NC

(Photo courtesy Scott Wickersham via Twitter)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Four firefighters were injured and taken to the hospital after their fire truck overturned Thursday morning.

A picture sent to WSOCtv from a witness showed the fire engine on its roof with flames shooting into the air from its underside.

A woman who was driving behind the truck said it was going too fast, came upon a three-way stop and was not able to make the turn and flipped over, according to the report.

Hazmat teams are on scene making sure the truck is safe and that no gas is leaking. Skid marks can be seen in the road at least 75 yards before the stop sign on a curve, according to the report.
By FireRescue1 Staff

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September 16, 2014
Legal battle continues over who owns rural Oklahoma fire department's land - OK

EL RENO — The legal battle over who owns the land a volunteer fire department sits on continued this week, as the man who purchased the deed to the lot contends he is its rightful owner.

In April, a clerical error allowed a county-owned plot of land that houses the Cedar Lake Volunteer Fire Department to be sold for $100, possibly jeopardizing the future of the department’s headquarters.

The land was accidentally put up for sale as a tax delinquent property and purchased by Howard Sutton, a maintenance employee who works in the same building as the Canadian County commissioner’s office.

Assistant District Attorney Paul Hesse asked the Canadian County District Court to find the purchase of the lot void, citing a portion of the land’s deed giving the Western Sportsman Club — a part of Cedar Lake community that donated the land to the fire department — the option to buy back the land if it is ever sold.

The county had the ability to sell the land, and Sutton committed no act of fraud in its purchase, wrote Mark Osby, Sutton’s lawyer, in a Tuesday court filing.

Canadian County records show Sutton has bought several Cedar Lake properties in the past two years for prices ranging from $2,000 to $16,000, and a response filed Tuesday by Sutton’s attorney also acknowledges Sutton has purchased tax delinquent properties in the past. Calls for comment Friday to both Sutton and his attorney were not returned.

In a motion filed Thursday, Hesse again asked the court to recognize the fire department as the rightful owner of the lot, stating the sale of the land was not legal.

“Whether [Sutton] made a mistake or committed fraud on the county, or neither, the fact remains that the County was without authority to sell the subject property,” Hesse wrote.

Business has carried on as usual at the fire department, despite the lawsuit, said Randy Gipson, one of Cedar Lake’s volunteer firefighters.

“We caught up with a couple of good fires, a few medical calls,” Gipson said of the last month of operations at the department.

Situated next to a small, remote, lakeside community, the Cedar Lake Volunteer Fire Department has about 30 volunteer firefighters and responds to hundreds of fires and medical calls per year in a 250-square-mile range.

The fire department and the land it sits on consists of a modest metal warehouse that houses the department’s donated fire engines, a classroom and an office and dispatch center.

Gipson said the department also was recently given an 18-wheel truck to transport water.
Graham Lee Brewer /

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September 16, 2014
Judge voids town of Elbridge's contracts with Jordan and Mottville fire departments - NY

SYRACUSE, NY -- The town of Elbridge's contracts with the Jordan and Mottville fire departments are void, according to state Supreme Court Justice Anthony Paris.

Paris voided the contracts last week because the town of Elbridge failed to hold a public hearing before considering the fire protection contracts, which went into effect in January.

"It is undisputed that there was no notice and no public hearing held on the issue of the contracts for fire protection awarded to the village of Jordan and the village of Mottville," Paris said in his decision. "The court finds that a public hearing was necessary pursuant to town law."

The dispute over fire protection bubbled up last fall during negotiations on the town's yearly fire contract. In the past, the contract has been split between the Jordan and Elbridge departments.

The town tried to use the contract negotiations to force through some changes it believed were needed at the Elbridge Fire Department. It wanted the village to hire three paid commissioners to oversee the department.

The village refused. When the two sides couldn't agree on a new contract, the village board passed a resolution in December saying that it would not provide service to the town and would charge $25,000 a month if its fire department were called to the town fire district.

The town then contracted with the Jordan and Mottville fire departments to provide emergency services to residents living outside the village of Elbridge.

When the village opted not to provide the service, "it forced us to look somewhere else to provide protection for town residents and we feel we've been receiving outstanding service," Elbridge Supervisor Ken Bush said.

In February, the Elbridge Fire Department sued the villages, the town and two fire departments over the town fire contract.

Paris' decision to the lawsuit was released on Sept. 11. Paris ordered the town to hold a public hearing on the town's contracts for fire protection services for the contract year 2014. Bush said a public hearing will be held at 7 p.m. Oct. 9 at the Town of Elbridge Municipal Offices.

"I may have made a procedural mistake, but I did what I had to do to make sure the town was protected," Bush said. Bush said the town had two weeks to find fire protection for the parts of the town that were previously covered by the Elbridge Fire Department.

Elbridge Mayor Henry Doerr said he is glad the public will finally have a chance to speak.

"Everyone in the village pays town taxes," Doerr said. "We deserve a say."

In the interest of public safety, Jordan and Mottville will continue to answer calls in the town of Elbridge Fire District, Paris ordered.
By Sarah Moses |

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September 16, 2014
Black Fire Destroys Cal Fire Apparatus - CA

A fire that started Saturday in Mendocino County on Black Bart Trail burned 417 acres, destroyed seven structures and forced evacuations for the residents in Redwood Valley. It also claimed two fire trucks and a Cal Fire pickup truck.

The Black Fire stared Saturday afternoon at 3:48 p.m. As of Monday 8:20 a.m. the fire is 50 percent contained according to Cal Fire's website.

Firefighters worked in extreme conditions with erratic winds. The Black Fire has called in a total of 458 personnel to combat its growth.

Mendocino Sheriff's Facebook page posted Sunday that they, along with Cal Fire, are "reassessing the evacuated area to determine if evacuees may return. Some residents may be allowed to re-enter on a temporary basis to check on animals or gather some belonging."
Tauhid Chappell, News10

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September 16, 2014
3 hurt in Fresno crash involving Cal Fire engines on Highway 41 - CA

A 17-year-old Fresno girl sustained major injuries Monday afternoon when the car she was riding in was sandwiched by two Cal Fire trucks on southbound Highway 41 north of Shaw Avenue, the California Highway Patrol reported.

The collision took place about 12:40 p.m. as a 1996 Nissan Maxima driven by the girl's mother, Patricia Dircio-Pellez, 38, of Fresno, was between the two Cal Fire trucks. The leading truck stopped for slowing traffic ahead, but the second truck did not slow in time and ran into the back of the Nissan, the CHP said. The impact pushed the Nissan into the back of the leading truck.

Dircio-Pellez sustained minor injuries and another daughter, Mireya Montes, 18, of Fresno sustained moderate injures. The 17-year-old's injuries were described as non-life threatening. All three were taken to Community Regional Medical Center.

No one in the trucks was hurt.

The collision is under investigation.

Traffic on southbound Highway 41 north of Shaw Avenue was backed up for miles for two hours.
The Fresno BeeThe Fresno Bee

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September 16, 2014
Man fights, kicks Ind. officers, firefighters - IN

RICHMOND, Ind. — A man faces charges of battery and resisting law enforcement after an incident Sunday night. reported that Joseph E. Pentecost, 20, was arrested after he fought and kicked officers and firefighters attempting to escort him to his house.

Richmond Fire Department personnel tried to wake Pentecost, who was "disoriented and confused," Capt. James Branum said.

When firefighters and officers tried to take him to his house to recover, Pentecost began fighting and kicking, according to the report. Officers used a Taser "to get him under control," Branum said.

There were no serious injuries in the incident.

Pentecost faces charges of battery on a police officer, battery on a firefighter and resisting law enforcement, as well as a misdemeanor charge of a minor consuming an alcoholic beverage.
By FireRescue1 Staff

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September 15, 2014
Intruder Dons EMS Uniform, Arrested in Firehouse - WV

Firefighters in Putnam County were scratching their heads after becoming the victim of a strange crime.

"It takes a special person to steal from someone who is there to help people when they're in need," said Asst. Chief Jarrod Summers with the Winfield Fire Department.

Police said late Friday night 35-year-old Nichole Braham found an unlocked door and walked right into the Poca Fire Department. Medics on duty were heading out for a call when they found her.

"What you do in a situation like that? You walk out and there's somebody with your clothes on, going through your partner's stuff," said Franklin Bragg, a Putnam County EMT and Poca Volunteer firefighter.

Police said Braham had dressed herself from head to toe in medic clothing.

Police also said she went through the medics' lockers, stole bedding, toiletries, and anything she could get her hands on.

Medics told police Braham claimed to be with Cabell County E-M-S and working in Poca for the night. But when police questioned her, Braham said she was homeless, cold and needed clothes.

Braham's actions kept to crews from responding to an emergency and had to have another department respond for them.

"It's terribly frustrating. It leaves you in a helpless situation where you feel like you can't do what you have to do because you don't have the tools to do that job," said Summers.

As Braham remains behind bars, fire stations will be locking down.

Braham is charged with trespassing, destruction of property, petit larceny, and withholding or giving false information. She's currently being held at the South Central Regional jail with no bond.
Katy Brown /

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September 15, 2014


FDNY FF Dan Heglund is fighting a valiant battle against a terrible World Trade Center related disease. Dan Heglund FDNY Eng 75, Lad 33, Rescue 4 has dedicated his life to the citizens of New York and Long Island.

Please watch this video from a few years ago. Dan-o is the chauffeur of Lad 33, and makes a great move getting into a severely exposed bedroom to search @ 3:41 of the tape. His efforts assisted in the successful rescue of two civilians that day.

FirefighterCloseCalls would like to ask all friends and brothers to comment on this video and wish Dan Good Luck and Thank Him for His Service. Share this with all your friends and let's show Dan-o we appreciate what he's done for all of us. The Fire Service is a Wonderful Brotherhood. Let's connect and get Dan 5000 Good Will Messages. KGB

We are trying to get people to like his FaceBook page to show him the love and support out there. PLEASE take time to go to Dan Heglund's FB page.

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September 15, 2014
Firefighter in D.C. Patient Death Case Heads Back to Academy - DC

The probationary firefighter who was initially blamed when an elderly man died after being denied treatment near a D.C. fire station has been ordered to undergo remedial training, according to a department spokesman.

Remy Jones, who was just two months out of the academy when the incident involving Medric "Cecil" Mills Jr. occurred in January, also was ordered suspended without pay for one 24-hour shift, said the spokesman, Timothy Wilson. Jones is the last of five firefighters to be disciplined in connection with Mills's death.

The 77-year-old collapsed of an apparent heart attack near the fire station on Rhode Island Avenue in Northeast. As his daughter held him, bystanders rushed to the station, but Jones told them firefighters couldn't respond until someone called 911 and they were dispatched. A D.C. police officer flagged down a passing ambulance, but Mills died hours later at a hospital.

The ensuing uproar of Mills's death sparked a review that found lax discipline and complacency in the station, and blame shifted from the young Jones to others, including Lt. Kellene Davis, the station's highest-ranking firefighter, and a firefighter who retired to his bunk to read instead of helping.

District officials promised the Mills family a thorough and transparent investigation. But disciplinary hearings were secret and the Mills family, along with the District's mayor, said the independent boards meted out punishment that was too light. Davis was allowed to retire before she could be demoted, and the firefighter who read his book was suspended for 60 hours without pay. Another was given a reprimand, and a third was cleared.

Jones, assigned that day to the Watch Desk, told investigators that he did not know how to respond when people came to the fire station seeking help. Instead of sounding a general alarm, he tried to page Davis over the intercom. She said she never heard the page. Other firefighters blamed miscommunication, and Jones said another firefighter told him he couldn't help Mills without being dispatched.

Because Jones had not yet passed probation, he was not subject to the same disciplinary process as the other firefighters, who are under a labor union and were afforded hearings. Jones's punishment was at the discretion of the District's interim fire chief, Eugene A. Jones, who took over in July. The two are not related. The chief has said previously he believed the probationary firefighter was the "least culpable."

Remy Jones, who did not return calls seeking comment on Friday, graduated with Cadet Class 15 in November. Since 1986, more than 350 high school graduates have gone through the cadet program, which was mired in trouble in the early 2000s and eventually canceled in 2008. Then-Chief Kenneth B. Ellerbe restarted the program in 2011 and brought in dozens of young firefighters.

The Washington Post previously reported that Jones had been counseled for poor attitude and misbehavior during his time at the academy, including an incident in October when he locked a fellow cadet outside in the rain, documents show. Two supervisors recommended a written reprimand, but none was given.
PETER MERMANN and AMY BRITTAIN, Washington Post Blog

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September 15, 2014
Mayday at Elkton fire – radio traffic & helmet-cam video - MD

(Rising Sun Fire)

Crew’s encountered heavy fire in the basement of a balloon construction residence, hoarding conditions slowed the crews as the fire burnt through large sections of the first floor and traveled the balloon construction void spaces to the second floor and attic of the structure.
(Singerly Fire Company)

ELKTON — A blaze ripped through a duplex in Elkton early Monday morning, gutting the building and leaving three people homeless, according to the Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office.

A married couple that lives in one side of the duplex in the 100 block of Osage Street called 9-1-1 about 4 a.m., after blaring smoke alarms stirred them from sleep, fire officials said.

After grabbing their dog, the occupants, whom investigators identified as Russell and Billie Peters, were able to escape with their pet, fire officials added.

The woman who lives in the other side of the duplex was not at home when the fire broke out, according to fire officials, who identified her as Pauline Jennings.

Investigators identified Kenneth Watters, of Rising Sun, as the owner of the building.

While battling the blaze, a volunteer firefighter with the Susquehanna Hose Company in Havre de Grace suffered a minor back injury, fire officials said. An ambulance transported him to Christiana Hospital in Delaware, they added.

"They were doing an exterior attack on the house, when a chimney collapsed," said Senior Deputy State Fire Marshal Oliver J. Alkire, lead investigator, adding that the firefighter was hit with debris.

The firefighter suffered his injury shortly after firefighters who had been battling the blaze inside the building evacuated the place, because structural conditions had deteriorated and raised safety concerns, according to Alkire.

Approximately 75 firefighters from numerous volunteer fire companies battled the blaze for about two hours before bringing it under control, fire officials reported. The blaze forced emergency workers to shut down nearby streets.

The blaze caused an estimated $120,000 in structural damage to the two-story duplex, which was destroyed, Alkire said. It also destroyed approximately $100,000 worth of property owned by the occupants on both sides of the duplex, he added.

Relatives and the American Red Cross are assisting the three people left homeless by the blaze, fire officials reported.

As of Monday afternoon, investigators had determined that the fire started somewhere in the basement, but the cause of the blaze remained under investigation, according to Alkire, who also reported that detectives have ruled out foul play.
By Carl Hamilton

Photo Gallery

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September 15, 2014
Medic Michael Howard Dies On Duty from Apparent Heart Attack - TX

(The Last Call - RIP)

Michael Howard
Paramedic Michael Howard, of Jewett (TX) EMS, died Sept. 13 of an apparent heart attack while responding to a call.

46-year-old paramedic Michael Howard, from the Flynn station of Jewett (TX) EMS, died from an apparent heart attack Saturday morning while responding to a call. Howard went into cardiac arrest and died at the scene.

An autopsy is scheduled for today to confirm the cause of death.

Howard worked for the Leon County-based EMS service for 22 years. He was also an instructor for the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX).

TEEX released the following statement about Howard: "TEEX was sad to learn of the unexpected death of former adjunct instructor, Michael Howard. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends."
EMS World Staff

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September 15, 2014
Fire truck overturns, injures firefighter - OH


JACKSON TOWNSHIP, Ohio — A firefighter was hurt when a fire truck crashed Monday morning. reported that the rig's driver was returning to the station from ladder training when he moved right to give an oncoming vehicle more room.

The truck's right wheels went off the side of the road and the driver overcorrected, troopers said.

A firefighter suffered minor injuries after the truck overturned. Troopers said the fire truck wouldn't have normally been on the road for a non-emergency run, but a section of the road was closed for work, forcing a detour.

The truck, valued at $350,000, is insured, the fire department said.

The crash remains under investigation.
By FireRescue1 Staff

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September 14, 2014
Resident Concerned About Firefighter on Cell Phone - CA

A concerned citizen spotted a Kern County firefighter talking on the cell phone while behind the wheel of a work truck.

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September 14, 2014


Two firefighters who suffered from smoke inhalation after a Thursday night fire have been released from the hospital.

Assistant Fire Chief John Clouse, with the Newark Division of Fire, said firefighters Tim Cooperrider and Chris Ferris were released from Licking Memorial Hospital before midnight. The doctor ordered them to take a day off to rest but they should be back to work by Saturday, Clouse said.

The fire was reported at about 8:18 p.m. Thursday at an apartment complex located at 15 S. Third St., just 13 minutes after the firefighters were called to the same address for an unrelated medical run.

Cooperrider and Ferris were in the building when the fire alarm went off just two doors down from where they were, Clouse said. The two found smoke coming from a door on the second floor, he said, and entered the unlocked apartment to find the room filling up with smoke.

The firefighters could see something was on fire so they quickly searched the unit, found the elderly woman who lived there and extricated her from the building, Clouse said. They then reentered the building and assisted with the evacuation of the rest of the floor, he said.

"It's a good thing they were there, or it could have been a different outcome for the victim," Clouse said. "They were in a risky environment there, and they performed well and I'm proud of them."

The woman was taken to Licking Memorial Hospital for smoke inhalation, where she was treated and released, Clouse said.

The fire was fully involved fire but was quickly extinguished, Clouse said. He estimated the damage to the apartment to be about $3,500. The only structural damage reported was a broken window. The sprinklers in the building were activated, so there is smoke and water damage as well.

The fire was determined to be accidental, caused by a candle placed too close to blankets.

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September 14, 2014

An Allen Park Firefighter was injured Wednesday evening while attempting to vent the roof of a doctor's office that had caught fire on Southfield Road. Smoke and flames were visible on the roof of the building by the time firefighters arrived on scene around 6 p.m., said Allen Park Fire Chief Douglas LaFond. Both the Allen Park Fire Department and the Dearborn Fire Department responded to the fire. The firefighters who first arrived were able to extinguish the fire quickly. However, for some reason the building was electrically charged and one of the firefighters attempting to vent the roof with a metal tool received a shock of an unknown voltage after touching the tool to the metal flashing on the roof.

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September 14, 2014
Two men claim they were hazed at Albuquerque fire academy - NM


hazed at Albuquerque fire academy

Two men say they were bullied and mistreated in the time they spent hoping to become Albuquerque firefighters. The former AFD cadets say it was hazing. They both were in the academy within the last year and say they have never been treated so poorly.

“Some of the academy staff would make cadets wear props to humiliate them in front of their classmates,” he said.

Another former AFD cadet tells KRQE News 13 he spent just three days at the academy before he had to be rushed to the hospital.

“(The instructors) didn’t allow me to drink water unless I was told to drink water,” the second former cadet said.

“It shut my kidneys down, gave me a mild heart attack.”

After three days in the hospital, the academy told him to either resign or be fired – he resigned. He, too, is now a firefighter with another department.
Cole Miller, KRQE:

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September 14, 2014
More fire departments using part-time firefighters - OH

BUTLER COUNTY — Middletown city officials are hoping to convert the Middletown Division of Fire into a department operated by full- and part-time firefighters — a growing trend in Butler County and around the United States.

City Manager Doug Adkins, on the night City Council announced 11 positions were being cut from the fire department after members of International Association of Fire Fighters Local 336 rejected the city’s proposal, said of the 26,482 fire departments registered in the United States, 8 percent are staffed by career-only positions, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

He added that 5 percent of those departments are staffed by mostly career firefighters (51 percent to 99 percent career); 16 percent are staffed by mostly volunteer staff (1 percent to 50 percent); and 71 percent are staffed by volunteer staffs.

Of the 10 largest fire departments in Butler County, three — Hamilton, Middletown and Monroe — employ exclusively full-time firefighters, while the departments in Fairfield Twp., Madison Twp. and Trenton are operated by part-timers and volunteers, according to an analysis by the Journal-News.

City officials and fire chiefs around the county say the size of their fire departments, and whether they’re operated by career firefighters, part-timers or volunteers, is a matter of money and the demand for services.

For instance, in Middletown, Adkins said the average annual cost of a firefighter — including base salary, overtime and benefits — is $103,000. He said since firefighters work 24 consecutive hours, and are off work the next 48 hours, they work about 51 hours a week, some of those hours at overtime pay.

Adkins said there are 26 full-time firefighters in Middletown who are eligible for retirement over the next five years. When those positions open, Adkins said, “cheaper” firefighters will be hired, which will save the city money and allow it to concentrate on other needed areas, such as paving roads.

Fire Chief Steve Botts previously told this newspaper that closing Station 84 and cutting firefighter positions could save about $1 million in the city’s budget.

Station 84, which services the northern part of the city, was built in the 1950s and needs a number of significant repairs, among which is the roof, Botts said.

Adkins said the city has to reduce its budget. He said during the last 10 years, the cost of public safety has increased by $2.3 million, while all other departments have reduced their spending by $2.2 million. At the current rate, he said, the city would be “broke” within four years.

Paul Stumpf, Liberty Twp. fire chief, believes in the 24/48 shift. He said his 30 full-time firefighters work that shift because it’s a “tried and true” procedure.

Meanwhile, Adkins said Vandalia, where he formerly worked, uses a part-time model, with eight full-time and 47 part-time firefighters, and the average cost of employing a firefighter is $48,384, or 43 percent the cost of a Middletown firefighter.

In other departments, part-time firefighters are either paid per hour or per run.

In Oxford, Fire Chief John Detherage is the only full-time firefighter. He said the station is manned by 40 part-time firefighters who work either 12- and 24-hour shifts and are paid $15 to $16 an hour, based on their certification. He said there are four firefighters on duty at all times.

Since all the firefighters are part-timers, Detherage said scheduling becomes “labor intensive” because of other work conflicts. Several of the fire chiefs said their part-time firefighters, because they’re only allowed to work 30 hours a week, work at two or three stations. This only adds to the difficulty of manning the stations, they said.

Madison Twp. fire department pays its part-time fire chief $10,000 a year and its emergency medical services captain $5,000, said Fire Chief Kent Hall. He said the department employs 25 firefighters and EMTs, and no full-time personnel.

Hall followed the tug-of-war between Middletown and the fire union, and while he said he “stays out of their business,” the fact that Middletown laid off 11 firefighters “does concern me.”

John Centers, fire chief in Monroe, said the layoff of firefighters in Middletown will likely increase the number of mutual aid calls by his department. He said Monroe would provide as much assistance as possible, and if a problem with staffing arises, it would be addressed.

Adkins said the city is discussing “automatic aid agreements” with two neighboring cities, Monroe and Franklin, for confirmed structure fires. He said the city can’t afford to staff for such a few number of fires.

Brian Ruhl, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 20 in Hamilton, said Thursday, the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorists attack, was a bad time to discuss firefighter layoffs. He said on Sept. 11, 2011, the American people placed firefighters on a pedestal, but now, because of budget cuts, they’re “scapegoats.”

“Don’t even get me started,” he said. “It’s incredible what’s happening out there.”

Tony Goller, the West Chester Twp. fire chief, said he closely followed the negotiations in Middletown, and he said the layoffs were based on the “almighty dollar.”

He said voters in West Chester passed a fire levy in 2006 and his department in financially secure. There are 62 full-time firefighters, who work 24 straight hours, then are off for 48 hours.

The department also is supported by 73 part-time firefighters.
By Rick McCrabb Staff Writer /

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September 13, 2014
Johnstown Ambulance Accident - PA

There was some heart stopping moments in Johnstown as an ambulance rushing a patient to a hospital collides with a car. This happened on Thursday morning at the Intersection of Napoleon and Haynes Streets. The Police said that the ambulance was going through an intersection with its lights flashing when it collided with the car. The patient was placed into another ambulance and taken to a hospital in Pittsburgh. The driver of the car was not injured. The crash is under investigation.

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September 13, 2014
Ambulance hits elk on I-5 near Napavine - WA

NAPAVINE, Wash. (AP) - An ambulance from the Salkum Fire Department struck an elk early Wednesday on Interstate 5 near Napavine.

Fire Chief Duran McDaniel says the ambulance was transporting an elderly man to Providence Centralia Hospital. The man was strapped down and unhurt in the crash.

McDaniel says the driver and an emergency medical technician were banged up and checked at a hospital.

The Chronicle reports the elk was barely alive after the crash and later killed.
By Associated Press

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September 13, 2014
Richmond ambulance involved in Hull Street Road crash - VA

RICHMOND, Va. — Emergency crews responded to a crash near the intersection of Hull Street Road and Belt Boulevard in South Richmond.

Images from the scene show a damaged Richmond Ambulance Authority vehicle and at least one other car.

A Richmond ambulance was headed to a 911 call with its flashing emergency lights and sirens blaring.

While on their way to the call police say the driver of a red sedan failed to yield and slammed into the ambulance.

Officers say the driver and two kids under the age of five were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

“We are mandated to respond with lights and sirens,” said Rob Lawrence, Chief Operating Officer. “We were able to confirm that the crew were following the procedures we set down for safe vehicle operations,” said Lawrence.

Some westbound lanes of Hull Street Road were closed as police investigate and clean-up crews work to clear the area.

That’s because ambulance operators are monitored once they get behind the wheel.

“It means we can assess how safely vehicles are being operated on the streets of Richmond,” said Lawrence.

The technology were installed in the Authority’s fleet of vehicles.

“So, if there’s ever any question or in the worst case scenario, if we have a vehicle contact. We can go back into the system and see what the vehicle was doing at that exact moment in time,” said Lawrence.

The system records the operators driving patterns, like how fast the person is going, if they’re wearing a seat belt, and using the vehicles flashing lights and sirens.

Lawrence says it’s more than just responding to an emergency call.

“We very much believe in the culture of safety. So, we train our vehicle operators to be as safe as they possibly can,” said Lawrence.

Lawrence says the system will also warn operators when they reach the driving limits set by the Ambulance Authority.

The system was installed more than two decades ago, at a cost of $3,000 a piece for each vehicle.

The city of Richmond was the first in the country to do it.

The Richmond Ambulance Authority is considering putting cameras inside of the vehicles.
by Scott Wise and Sandra Jones /

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September 13, 2014
UA receives grant for firefighter safety research - AZ

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health recently received a $1.4 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) program, for research to implement and evaluate risk-management processes, according to a recent U of A release.

According to past research emergency vehicle crashes are the second leading cause of death among U.S. firefighters, accounting for 390 deaths since 1994 and more than 1,000 reported injuries per year, with little improvement seen over the past decade.

The U of A will be working with the following - Chicago Fire Department, Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue in Virginia as well as Stayton Fire District in Oregon, with training consultation provided by the Seattle Fire Department. According to the release this three year research program will use 'a risk-management process of scoping hazards, assessing risks and implementing tailored controls to reduce vehicle incidents in the fire service.' Some of these controls will consist of improved driver training and the use of vehicle data recorders or 'black boxes'. In addition the program will include an economic analysis that will help departments choose sustainable interventions and program evaluation to guide successful adoption of interventions.

"One of the exciting things we'll be doing is using vehicle operation data, things like engine speed, acceleration and braking events to assess driver safety. Since vehicle data recorders are relatively new in the fire service, we'll be one of the first to study how we can effectively use them to improve driver training and reduce vehicle incidents," said Dr. Jeff Burgess, MD, MPH and associate dean for research at the UA Zuckerman College of Public Health, in a recent release. Dr. Burgess is also the principal investigator on the project.

"Our prior work with Tucson Fire Department revealed how important it was to understand how firefighters felt about the risk-management process and how the process affected their behaviors," said Dr. Burgess, in the recent release. "Being able to understand what works and what doesn't and responding appropriately will help ensure the interventions are acceptable and sustainable."

Risk management is an internationally applied method to reduce critical hazards associated with fatalities and improve occupational operations to reduce injuries. The framework is widely adopted in Europe and Australia in both firefighting and mining industries, but is still rare in the United States. “In a prior study, we found that fire departments with the most advanced risk-management programs in the United Kingdom had injury rates four to 60 times lower than U.S., Australian and Canadian fire departments,” said Dr. Burgess.

According to Dr. Burgess, the new grant builds on a long history of firefighter safety and health research at the UA.

Members of the research team include - Keshia Pollack, PhD, Johns Hopkins University College of Public Health; Dustin French, PhD, Northwestern University; and co-investigators Stephanie Griffin, PhD, CIH, and Chengcheng Hu, PhD, from the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.

All of the investigators have collaborated on other National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-funded risk-management studies with the Tucson Fire Department and will continue to work together on this project.
By Elizabeth Walton /

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September 12, 2014
Man shot at overnight, crashes car into fire department headquarters - MO

Man shot at overnight
Pic of damaged fence at Stl Fire Hdq-2 cars crashed through it 2:10am. Police: drivers were shooting at each other.
(Chris Regnier)

Man shot at overnight
More damaged trailer. Pd-cars in gun battle were Camaro/Dodge Charger. Camaro driver-26 yr old man- shot in buttocks.
(Chris Regnier)

Man shot at overnight

More damage at Stl Fire Hdq. Fire officials say the cars that crashed through fence hit trailer/2 parked cars in lot.
(Chris Regnier)

ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)- A man is hospitalized after he was shot at near the St. Louis Fire Department Headquarters Friday morning. The 25-year old victim told police that he was driving a Camero north on Jefferson just after 2:00am when another car drove up and someone inside began shooting at him.

He ducked to avoid the shots and that caused him to crash through the fence on the St. Louis Fire Department Academy at Jefferson and Thomas in north St. Louis. The suspect car, a black Dodge Charger, followed the victim onto the property.

The victim ran to the back door of headquarters for help. He had been shot once in the buttocks and is listed in critical but stable condition.

The suspect fled the scene on foot.

Authorities say the cars hit a fire department trailer as well as two parked vehicles that belonged to firefighters. One of the cars involved in the gun battle that crashed actually had a parking meter in it.

No arrests have been made. The investigation is ongoing.
by Chris Regnier /

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September 12, 2014
8 Gilbert fire employees receive disciplinary action - AZ

Eight Gilbert Fire Department employees are temporarily having their pay docked 5 percent after an investigation found they improperly used paid sick time to work for a small fire district near Payson.

Gilbert Fire Chief Jim Jobusch approved the disciplinary action, which was made public this month.

The reductions began Sept. 1 and will last 12 weeks for those not in supervisory roles, and 16 weeks for supervisors. Half of the employees were supervisors.

In addition, those disciplined will have their sick hours reduced by the total amount misused, 233 hours, to compensate the town, according to a town spokeswoman.

The eight employees have until Monday, Sept. 22, to appeal the decision.

The investigation was prompted when a town official received an anonymous complaint last November alleging that a Gilbert battalion chief was soliciting firefighters to work shifts for the Forest Lake Fire District, where the battalion chief held a second job as fire chief.

While it is legal for firefighters to hold a second job, they must get written consent from a supervisor and it must not interfere with their existing duties, said Dana Berchman, Gilbert's chief digital officer.

Sixty-eight of Gilbert's 201 Fire Department employees have second jobs, she said. Taking vacation time to work a second job is legal, but using sick time violates town policy.

The investigation found that between 2008 and 2013, the employees used paid sick time a total of 24 times to work in Forest Lakes.

The battalion chief in question, David Rodriquez, was placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation and retired on May 28 after an initial report was made public.

Keith Sobraske, who was hired by the town to conduct the investigation, could not substantiate whether Rodriquez himself had used sick time to work in Forest Lakes. He did conclude, however, that Rodriquez solicited other firefighters to work shifts in Forest Lakes while on duty in Gilbert.

The investigation found that paid sick time was typically used so Gilbert fire personnel could work a full 24-hour shift in Forest Lakes or to cover the two-hour commute from the Valley.

Rodriquez refused to comment on the investigation but did confirm that he remains fire chief of the Forest Lakes Fire District. He was not disciplined because of his retirement.

Sobraske analyzed the time sheets and schedules of Gilbert fire officials suspected of working in Forest Lakes. The initial report covered 2011 to 2013. A second report went back to 2008. In addition, Sobraske interviewed 28 current or former Gilbert fire personnel. All but two chose to have a representative from United Mesa Firefighters present during the interviews. United Mesa Firefighters is the union that represents Gilbert firefighters.

Berchman said the investigation has not prompted a change in town policy because those disciplined were violating existing policy.
Jonathan Reid, The Republic |

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September 12, 2014
9/11 responders with rare cancer denied insurance coverage - NY

John Meyers remembers standing at ground zero, feeling like a small speck amid mountains of debris.

"Everything was pulverized," said Meyers, a former New York police officer and first-responder who provided security after the September 11 terror attacks. "It was nothing but dust."

For 20 days, during 14-hour shifts, Meyers breathed in countless chemicals; he even ate meals on site as the dust hovered.

Most of that time, he did not wear a mask. In retrospect, he said, "We were ingesting whole buildings."

Article with video and photos

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September 12, 2014
Skaneateles rescue boat sinks at country club dock - NY

Skaneateles rescue boat sinks
Skaneateles firefighters and other rescue personnel attend to the Skaneateles Volunteer Fire Department's rescue boat Wednesday after it sank in Skaneateles Lake near the Skaneateles Country Club Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning.
(Photo courtesy of Robert Green)

The Skaneateles Fire Department's rescue boat sank while it was docked at the country club between 6 p.m. Tuesday and 9 a.m. Wednesday. No one was injured and the cause of the sinking is unknown.

There was no explosion or fire on the boat, and Fire Chief Dan Evans was not aware of any vandalism or foul play. The boat was pulled out of the water and it is out of service until further notice.

Evans said the boat, which is equipped with two outboard motors, was found on its side at the bottom of the lake in 10 to 12 feet of water. There was a minor spill of fuel into the lake, Evans said, and firefighters deployed booms to catch that material. The state Department of Environmental Conservation was satisfied with what the fire department did to contain the spill, he said.

About 20 Skaneateles firefighters assisted in the work, and the country club was also very helpful, the chief said.

Divers helped lift the boat up using a crane on a barge. The boat was back on the trailer by 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, and it is now back at the fire department. Evans is expecting a cost for getting the boat out of the water; he said an insurance company will assess the damage, and the boat may be repairable.

The fire department uses the boat about a dozen times per year to assist boats that are out of gas or otherwise disabled. Firefighters also use the boat for dive operations and for pumping water from the lake.

The last time the boat was used was Aug. 31, the night of the department's Labor Day fundraising activities. Firefighters used the boat to clean up a fuel spill on the lake. No one noticed anything wrong with the boat then, Evans said.

The fire department has owned the boat since the early 1990s. The aluminum-hull boat is perhaps 25 feet long and there had been repairs to it in the past but no problem that would cause a sinking, Evans said. Firefighters are unable to view the complete hull now, so it is unknown if there was a leak somewhere or if a seam split open.

The boat was built specifically for water rescues. Its construction does not require use of a plug, so that was not a factor in the sinking.
Tom Maguire /

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September 12, 2014
Plympton-Wyoming Upset Over Firefighter Charge - WY

Upset Over Firefighter Charge

Plympton-Wyoming officials are expressing concern the OPP’s laying of a charge against a firefighter in a multi-vehicle crash last winter may be retribution for criticism about Hwy. 402.

The driver of one of two fire vehicles involved in the crash in whiteout conditions on a cement portion of the Hwy. 402 is now charged with careless driving.

Wyoming Volunteer Fire Chief Mike Vasey says their vehicles were travelling at 40 km/h when hit from behind.

Five firefighters were injured and the driver charged has been on disability from his regular job since the crash because of a shattered wrist.

“There were 15 vehicles involved and we were in the middle. How do you pick one driver out of that bunch? I don’t understand the reasoning. Somebody up the ladder has made this decision without knowing all of the facts, ” says Vasey.

Mayor Lonny Napper notes the charge was laid soon after he complained to the province that inadequate snow removal or the condition of the cement road surface may be to blame.

He’s told the province he’s upset.

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September 12, 2014


A semi driver killed Wednesday in a freak crash near St. Cloud — he was crushed when his load shifted while yielding to a fire truck — was identified today.

The 32-year-old driver, Glen Estien of Orlando, stopped his semi abruptly to yield to an Osceola County fire truck turning onto Narcoossee Road with its lights on and sirens blaring, said Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Kim Montes.

Witnesses told troopers the firetruck stopped at a stop sign on Yukon Street just before it turned onto Narcoossee Road.

When the semi driver hit the brakes, the steel beams he was carrying moved and crushed him, Montes said.

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September 12, 2014
San Bernardino wins 2 victories against firefighters union in bankruptcy court - CA

RIVERSIDE >> San Bernardino officials’ budget-balancing efforts won two victories in U.S. Bankruptcy Court here Thursday at the expense of the firefighters union.

In a tentative ruling, Bankruptcy Judge Meredith Jury agreed to reject the current bargaining agreement between firefighters and the city, allowing the city to impose a new contract of its choosing.

The city suggested in papers to the court that part of the reason to reject the existing contract was so it could replace a constant staffing model with minimum staffing — in essence, giving management the option of leaving some firefighter positions unfilled for a shift if a firefighter doesn’t come to work, reducing the more than $4 million in overtime the city pays firefighters most years. Another expected reason was continuing to make firefighters pay the retirement contributions the city handled until January 2013, reducing the employees’ take-home pay by nearly 14 percent.

But City Manager Allen Parker said after the court hearing that there weren’t plans to impose a new contract immediately after rejecting the current one, theoretically leaving a void.

“It kind of leaves us in limbo,” Parker said. “That can be your headline: City in limbo.”

Jury made clear that she wasn’t agreeing to the specifics of any potential imposition. And she said that during bankruptcy the city can’t break “substantive law,” including the city charter provision that prevents cutting public safety salaries (but which is on November’s ballot for possible repeal).

Previous cases don’t establish how long the imposed contract can be used, Jury said.

“I said it’s interim, but I don’t how long interim is,” she said. “I think until a new collective bargaining agreement is negotiated or the plan (to exit bankruptcy) is approved.”

In a separate ruling Thursday, Jury rejected the firefighter union’s motion for relief from the stay preventing anyone from suing the city while it’s in bankruptcy. Firefighters’ attorneys want to argue in state court that the city hadn’t followed state law in its negotiations. Still undecided are separate motions for relief from the stay from the police and fire unions after contracts were imposed on those unions in January 2013.
By Ryan Hagen, The Sun /

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September 12, 2014
Asst. Fire Chief William Wiita suffers heart attack - MI

(The Last Call - RIP)

Asst. Fire Chief William Wiita
Asst. Fire Chief William Wiita
(Photo: Coldsprings-Excelsior Fire Rescue Department)

KALKASKA, Mich. — Coldsprings-Excelsior Fire Rescue Department Asst. Fire Chief William Wiita, 47, was found dead in his home Sept. 8 about three hours after responding to a medical run

The cause of death was ruled heart attack.

Chief Wiita, a volunteer firefighter and EMT for more than 12 years, was fondly known as "Uncle Will" on the department. According to his obituary, Chief Wiita was known for his fondness of hunting, fishing and playing practical jokes on friends.
By FireRescue1 Staff

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September 11, 2014

There is nobody that worked that pile that is not thinking in the back of their mind that the other shoe is going to fall and that you’re going to get sick.” For FDNY Firefighter Ray Pfeifer, that other shoe fell more than four years ago.

The 56-year-old Pfeifer became concerned when a sharp pain shot through his leg. Analysis by specialists revealed a baseball size tumor in his leg. Pfeifer’s body was comprised by an aggressive cancer. “I was given the last rites a couple of times.”

Pfeifer has been fortunate to elude what has taken so many of his fellow brothers. “I have thirteen more years than my friends, I’m a very lucky man. My friends were murdered on 9/11, from the 12th on, from that day on, I’m still here, I’m very lucky. I got to watch my kids grow up.”

However, sometime in the not so distant future, Pfiefer will unfortunately join many of the same brothers he shared sorrow and sweat with for days on end at the pile.

Ray Pfeifer is dying.

The 56-year-old’s body is ravaged by stage 4 cancer. “I’ve made my peace with the world, my kids are older, I think we did a good job with them, I made some great friends and we’ll carry on you know, it’s tough.”

Upon reflection, Pfeifer shared that he along with others knew that the pile was an unhealthy environment. “We joked about it on the pile, oh there is the smoke, there is the green smoke now let’s walk around the other side and try to not get cancer this week.”

Once diagnosed, Pfeifer says he felt as if no one in Washington D.C. cared. “In the beginning I felt abandoned by politicians that have our whole life in their hand.”

As for his visits to the hospital for treatment, he said, “When I go to Sloan Kettering and I walk into the lobby and I see people that I know, cops and fireman that dug on the pile, you know it’s bad.”

While Pfeifer holds out hope that he will once again miraculously overcome insurmountable odds, he admits he shouldn’t be around.

He and his close friend Mike Otten switched schedules at the last second. To this day, he gets emotional over the innocent switch and how it has impacted the lives of others.

“I had a friend of mine’s son say to me and at the time I guess he was 11, and he said to me, ‘Ray are we ever going to find my dad?’ And I tell this story all the time, I always get… Cracked up you know.”

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September 11, 2014
9/11 First Responder: ‘Invisible Diseases’ Are Killing Us

Invisible Diseases

Thirteen years after the September 11th terrorist attacks in New York City, thousands of first responders continue to struggle with health problems, some which are just being diagnosed.

Respiratory illnesses like asthma and sinusitis are common among those who participated in the World Trade Center recovery efforts. And studies show that the incidence of cancers for 9/11 first responders are 15 percent higher than the general population.Thyroid cancer was 239 percent higher.

John Feal was severely injured on the Ground Zero site when an 8,000 pound steel beam crushed his foot.

He started the FealGood Foundation, which advocates for physically and emotionally injured first responders and helps them get compensation.

Feal tells Here &Now’s Jeremy Hobson that he believes post-traumatic stress disorder is the number one killer of 9/11 responders.

Interview Highlights: John Feal On chronic illnesses 9/11 first responders face

“My injury pales in comparison to those who are sick and dying — or who have died from their 9/11-related illness. These invisible diseases are literally killing these men and women on a daily basis, and sadly 2,749 innocent lives were killed on 9/11, because of senseless violence but we’re losing people all the time.

“As a nation, we are going to pay homage and remember those who died on 9/11. We do that every year. But let’s finish the sentence: there are really good men and women who are sick and dying because of their heroic actions that didn’t die that day—but were given a death sentence.”

On compensation for 9/11 first responders

“Before the James Zadroga Health and Compensation Act that we got passed in 2010, you had to rely on workmen’s comp, social security, disability, or your pensions, or your health insurance.”

“When we got the bill passed December 22, 2010, the first words out of my mouth were, ‘This bill is not perfect.’ On a scale from one to ten I’ll give it a six. But a six is better than nothing and that six is helping people. Yesterday, we just introduced legislation to extend this bill 25 more years. This six can go to a seven or an eight if we can get this done.

“But you know, the first time around it took eight years to walk the halls of Congress to get this bill passed. And now we are going to have an uphill fight against Congress. Because everyone in this country — no matter what the issue is — everybody knows that Congress doesn’t really like to pass bills lately.”

On how he observes 9/11

“I feel so bad for those who haven’t got the closure from finding loved ones or not being able to find remains or the DNA.”

“We were on that pile looking for them. It was so hard to go in and out of Ground Zero and having a family member come up to you and say, ‘Did you find my loved one? Can you help me?’ And you come out of there and they are waiting for an answer.”

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September 11, 2014

There was a close call in the city of Mount Juliet, TN on Sept 9th, 2014. Firefighters were performing training on a Pierce 105' Aerial Apparatus when the ladder was being brought in with a volunteer firefighter (Chris Smith) on the ladder. His feet became entangled in between the ladder rungs as the ladder was being brought in. He suffered fractures of all bones in the right foot, and muscle tearing and some fractures in the left foot and ankle.

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September 11, 2014
FDNY Adds More to List of Fallen from WTC Illnesses - NY

WTC Illnesses
Family members left roses at the Memorial Wall as their loved ones’ names were read.
(FDNY photo)

WTC Illnesses
Numerous FDNY members and families attended the annual ceremony at FDNY Headquarters.
(FDNY photo)

NEW YORK - The FDNY added 13 names to the World Trade Center Memorial Wall on Sept. 4, the members died from illnesses related to their work at the World Trade Center site.

Their names join the 76 already on the Wall, which was unveiled in September 2011.

"These men and women were our mentors, our colleagues and friends," Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. "Each served with the utmost pride and distinction."

The added names included:

Battalion Chief Richard D. Arazosa, Battalion 19
Battalion Chief Thomas R. Van Doran, Battalion 3

Captain Peter J. Casey, Engine 212
Lieutenant Steven B. Reisman, Engine 307
Lieutenant Thomas J. Greaney, Ladder 175

Firefighter Keith E. Atlas, Engine 35
Firefighter Walter Torres, Engine 328
Firefighter William H. Quick, Ladder 134
Firefighter Willie T. Franklin, Jr., Engine 65

Paramedic Rudolph T. Havelka, EMS Bureau of Training
Paramedic John W. Wyatt, Jr., EMS Station 22
EMT Francis A. Charles, EMS Station 58

Supervising Fire Marshal Emil K. Harnischfeger, Bureau of Fire Investigation

Family members placed white roses at the base of the wall as their loved ones’ names were read.

"Today we honor the service of these members and the sacrifices of their families," Chief of Department Edward Kilduff said. "They are important to the legacy of the FDNY."
Fire Department City of New York

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September 11, 2014
Lessons Learned:
9/11 Attacks Remembered by Emergency Agencies

Few could have fathomed the shocking 9/11 attacks that took place 13 years ago today, or the slew of mass shootings around the country more recently.

On this anniversary, those events have changed Americans' day-to-day habits, and also altered the way area agencies prepare for major threats, several local experts said this week.

Because we live in a very different world now, we need to be ready for any kind of emergency, said Tom McCartney, regional director of the New York State Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Services of the Southern Tier in Johnson City.

"Today, we have to be prepared for things that wouldn't have happened 20 years ago, like an active shooter on campus or an armed gunman at a mall," McCartney said. "Unfortunately, things like that happen in this day and age, so we need the public to know what to do when something like that happens."

Because September is National Preparedness Month, local fire departments, emergency personnel and health facilities are looking at plans with an extra-critical eye and offering preparedness training for area residents, McCartney said.

Overall, the attitude of emergency service coordinators toward disasters has shifted since 9/11 to one of proactive preparedness, rather than recovery, McCartney said. In addition, agencies are encouraging people to take charge of their own preparation.

One way New York state is doing this is by offering training through the Citizen Preparedness Corps. The two-hour training sessions feature demonstrations by the National Guard and provide residents with the tools and resources to prepare for any type of disaster, McCartney said. A key component of the training is distributing free NYS Disaster Preparedness Kits.

"The key objective is to make people more prepared," McCartney said. "It used to be that people -- especially in more-urban areas -- were more reliant on government agencies to help them in times of crisis, but that has changed. We want people to be ready to take care of themselves, their families and their communities for 72 hours to 10 days, in case that help isn't available. If we can do that, we'll all be stronger and more resilient."

There is a variety of upcoming local trainings from which area residents can choose, McCartney said. The Schoharie County training will take place at SUNY Cobleskill's Bouck Theater on Sept. 13; the Delaware County training will be at the Margaretville Central School on Sept. 17; and the Otsego County training will take place at SUNY Oneonta's Hunt Union Ballroom on Oct. 23. For more information, visit the New York Aware Prepare website, McCartney said.

McCartney said his agency also makes sure that local governments are prepared for disaster and that they have the right equipment, which includes pumps, generators, chainsaws, light towers, emergency food and water and medical supplies.

Oneonta Fire Department Chief Patrick Pidgeon said the city has several pumps and generators in case of emergency. On Sept. 27, Cooperstown Medical Transport and Oneonta's Fire Department is hosting a community emergency training at SUNY Oneonta, Pidgeon added.

One of the most important things you can do in times of crises is to be aware of what's taking place around you, McCartney said. He suggested signing up for NY-Alert, a free program that sends real-time emails and text messages regarding severe weather warnings, significant highway closures, hazardous material spills and otheremergency conditions. Do whatever it takes to stay informed, he urged.

Garrick Hoadley, a volunteer with the Mohawk Valley Region's American Red Cross, spent two weeks serving in New York City after Sept. 11, and knows firsthand the importance of preparation.

Since 9/11, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, the Red Cross has also placed a greater emphasis on preparation, Hoadley said, with other agencies, such as Catholic Charities and Salvation Army, focusing on recovery.

"If we're better prepared, that will hopefully mean less recovery," Hoadley said.

No matter what situation arises, it's vitally important to have a plan, Hoadley, of Gilbertsville, said. This includes deciding on a meeting place in case you must be evacuated or having a designated area in your home ready in case you need to "hunker down" and stay put.

Individuals should build an emergency kit with water, a change of clothes and important documents or medicines, Hoadley said.

Anyone can get involved with local emergency services agencies, be trained in first aid and CPR or give blood, he added.

Hoadley also mentioned that the Red Cross has more than 11 free SmartPhone apps for a variety of different disasters, including tornado, flood and shelter-finder apps.

The way that hospitals prepare for emergencies has also changed drastically since Sept. 11, according to Bassett Healthcare Network'sEmergency Preparedness Manager Brinton Muller and Bassett's spokeswoman Karen Huxtable-Hooker.

"Hospital preparedness has changed not only since 9/11, but weather related emergencies -- from flooding to tornadoes -- occur with more frequency than a decade ago and we need to be prepared," Huxtable-Hooker said. "A hospital doesn't take time off. We are 24/7, 365 days of the year. We need to be prepared as individuals and as employees to respond so that we can also be there for our patients."

Before 9/11, many hospitals did not have comprehensive, structured disaster plans that they regularly reviewed, updated and tested to be prepared to respond to a disaster, Huxtable-Hooker said.

Bassett Medical Center and its affiliate hospitals have specific response plans for various types of emergencies, Huxtable-Hooker said. The network and individual hospitals frequently have drills in order to practice response and learn where improvements need to be made.

Today, preparedness means "research, planning, education, relationships, cooperation and coordination with all partners inEmergency Preparedness, including other hospitals, nursing homes, home care health agencies, state and county departments of health, Homeland Security, law enforcement, fire, EMS and schools," Muller said.

Since 9/11, there has also been a concerted effort to develop better methods of tracking patients and available beds across the state, Muller said.

"The New York State Department of Health developed an e-FINDS tracking system that gives each patient a unique bar-coded bracelet so that, when evacuated from a health care facility, there is an ability to track where that patient is evacuated to, determine available beds and match patients to the appropriate bed location based on level of care needed," Muller added.

Bassett will hold its annual Emergency Preparedness Fair on Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Cooperstown Bassett Clinic, Huxtable-Hooker added. The focus of the fair is proactively planning for the care of children and pets.

Whether you visit Bassett's preparedness fair, give blood, put together an emergency kit or attend a Citizen Preparedness Training, the important thing is that you're taking your safety into your own hands and being proactive, Huxtable-Hooker said.

"Twenty years ago, people didn't take the need to be prepared at home and at work quite as seriously as we do today," Huxtable-Hooker said. "Unfortunately, the headlines are full of far too many examples of why emergency preparedness is not only a good idea, it is essential."
Source: Jessica Reynolds, The Daily Star

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September 10, 2014
Thief Steals Truck, Equipment From Cherokee County Fire Station - OK

CHEROKEE COUNTY, Oklahoma - A thief is putting a rural fire department in Cherokee County in a bind, after stealing a fire truck loaded with equipment.

The chief fears the loss could mean slower response times, going into what's expected to be a very busy fire season.

At the Lowry Volunteer Fire Station No. 3, there's a space where there should be a fire truck parked and ready for service, but it's empty after a thief broke into the station and stole a grass rig.

"Whenever this truck was taken, it wasn't taken from me personally it was taken from the community,” said Lowry Fire Department Chief, Larry Watts.

A Cherokee County deputy on a separate call, noticed the garage door open just after midnight Monday morning, and determined firefighters weren't out on a call.

"Taking away from the community, it's just very frustrating,” Watts said.

The department covers 50 square miles in North Central Cherokee County. They have a couple of other grass rigs, but Watts fears being down a truck, could delay response time.

"A lot of times we can get there and the first truck there may be able to get it out, but if that doesn't happen then we're there for hours after hours, trying to contain it,” he said.

With fires like we've seen in Oklahoma the past few years, any delays could be costly.

The truck is insured for $40,000, but it will cost much more than that to replace, especially when you include all the stolen equipment.

"Plastic tank, mounted pump, and a hose reel that was mounted on the tank, which was made by Darley, and then we had rakes and some shovels, we had a toolbox, with some medical supplies. We had emergency lighting,” Watts said.

It's not a quick process to replace a truck. It will likely take months to collect the insurance money, find a truck, and do the specialized outfitting needed; which means it won't be available in time for Oklahoma's wildfire season, which Watts predicts will be a bad one.

"We're going to have plenty of grass and brush growth this summer, when it dries out, it will be a heavy fire load,” Watts.
Craig Day, News On 6

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September 10, 2014
Mountain Brook firetruck rolls 75 feet across Overton Road, comes to stop with no injuries - AL

firetruck rolls 75 feet

MOUNTAIN BROOK, Alabama - Mountain Brook firefighters had a few harrowing moments this morning when a fire engine got loose and started rolling across busy Overton Road.

No one was injured, and the damage was minimal, said Mountain Brook Fire Battalion Chief Tim Wooten.

The incident happened at Station No. 2 on Overton Road when firefighters were performing their morning check on the equipment. Wooten said the cab of the firetruck has to be raised to get to the engine.

While the cab was raised and tilted, something came loose and dropped onto the emergency brake button. "It released the air brakes,'' Wooten said.

Engine 2 then started to roll. "When they realized what was happening, their main concern was protecting the public,'' Wooten said. "They got out on to Overton Road and were able to stop traffic."

The firetruck rolled about 75 feet before it came to a stop in a wooded section of a lot. There was minor damage to landscaping. "We were fortunate,'' he said.
By Carol Robinson |

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September 10, 2014
Plumstead Supervisors Split on New Fire Station - PA

Plumstead supervisors are divided over whether to fund the estimated $800,000 demolition and rebuilding of the Plumsteadville Volunteer Fire Co.'s substation, a project firefighters say is necessary to provide sufficient protection for residents.

In a split 3-2 vote Tuesday evening, supervisors decided to hire William Jenaway to study the situation and advise them on how to proceed.

Jenaway, who has more than 40 years of fire service experience, will be paid an amount not to exceed $10,000.

He's expected to provide feedback on whether repairing or rebuilding the substation on Route 611 is the best idea, or if there are better alternatives, including the possibility of Plumstead paying a fire company from a neighboring municipality for coverage.

Supervisors Frank Froio and Stacey Mulholland opposed the resolution, saying further study was unwarranted and an unnecessary expense. They both pointed to input from the township's fire protection services advisory committee and a recent extensive study -- prepared with Jenaway -- that they say makes it clear the need for a new substation is pressing.

"We're putting our firefighters in a building that rats run away from," said Froio.

Officials said Jenaway has indicated the study could be completed in 40 hours over the course of about 30 days; itâ??s unclear when heâ??ll begin the analysis.

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September 10, 2014
Firefighter Richard Choate dies of heart attack after call - NJ

(The Last Call - RIP)

Firefighter Richard Choate
Firefighter Richard Choate

ANDOVER, N.J. — Bryam Township, New Jersey Firefighter Richard Choate, 68, died of an apparent heart attack about five hours after returning from a fire alarm.

The U.S. Fire Administration reports that Firefighter Choate drove the water tender to the scene and stood by while the alarm was investigated. He refueled the rig and returned to quarters a short time later.

About five hours later, he was found unresponsive in his personal vehicle, which had run off the road.

He was transported to the hospital while resuscitation efforts were performed. He was pronounced dead at 13:03 hours Sept. 8.
By FireRescue1 Staff

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September 10, 2014
Bruceton Fire Department fights fire at own station - TN

Bruceton Fire Department

BRUCETON, Tenn.--Fire damaged the Bruceton Fire Department Wednesday morning. The city said flames destroyed equipment they need to fight fires.

“It all happened so fast,” Assistant Chief Shannon Sloan said.

The building caught fire around 7:45 a.m. Slan has been with the department 18 years. “Been here all my life, grew up around firefighting and it's just heartbreaking,” he said.

The city said crews returned from a call and saw smoke several minutes later. “It's burnt three of the four bays, roof fell in,” Bruceton Director of Public Services Brian Edwards said.

The fire chief said investigators believe the fire sparked because of a problem with the alternator inside a vehicle that was parked inside the building.

Crews saved two fire trucks and a rescue vehicle. The city estimates fire caused up to $200,000 worth of damage to the building, and about another $100,000 worth of equipment damage. They hope to borrow gear from other departments.

“Hopefully, we'll still have a good engine to fight fire with, may just have to get some other manpower to come in and help put it out,” Edwards said.

No one was hurt. “Everything's replaceable. Lives are not,” Sloan said.

As the department plans to move forward, they ask for support from the community.

Firefighters said the department has insurance.
By Mallory Cooke / By

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September 10, 2014
3 FDNY firefighters hurt in double murder-suicide apartment fire - NY

(CBS New York)

NEW YORK — Authorities say three members of a family found dead with stab wounds inside a burning New York City apartment were killed in an apparent murder suicide.

The blaze broke out at 4:50 a.m. Tuesday inside a sixth-floor apartment in Queens.

Police say the victims — a 50-year-old man, his 54-year-old wife and their 15-year-old son — all were found near the entrance.

The medical examiner's office will determine the cause of death. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Three firefighters suffered minor injuries.

Authorities say the fire was confined to the apartment. It was brought under control before 5:30 a.m.
The Associated Press

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September 10, 2014
Man sets girlfriend's clothes on fire, baby burned, 2 firefighters hurt - NC

A lover’s spat was at the center of a fire that forced several people out of their homes and caused several Roane County businesses to close temporarily.

State Fire Marshal investigators arrested Jacob Hite, 21, of Spencer, Monday. Hite faces multiple charges including first degree arson and arson creating the risk of bodily injury.

The fire started Saturday night in a bedroom in Hite’s apartment at 208 Court St. in Spencer.

Spencer Mayor Terry Williams said the building was a two-story brick structure with brick buildings on either side. He didn’t know the age of the buildings but said much of downtown Spencer were older, historical buildings. The building at one point had been office space but had since been converted into four apartments, he said.

Hite lived in apartment 2 with girlfriend Haley Jarvis. She told State Fire Marshal’s investigators that she and Hite were arguing in the bedroom where she was gathering her clothes, according to a criminal complaint. Jarvis told investigators she was leaving Hite.

She said Hite grabbed one of her work shirts and set it on fire with a Zippo lighter, then threw the flaming shirt into the closet onto a pile of her clothes, according to the complaint.

Jarvis said she tried to put out the fire but after her attempts failed she grabbed her 8-month-old son, who had been in another room while the couple argued, and ran out of the apartment.

The baby suffered “contact burn injuries” to his leg. He was treated and released from Roane General Hospital.

Several fire departments, including the Spencer Volunteer Fire Department, responded. Mayor Williams said firefighters kept the blaze contained to the apartment building and used more than 750,000 gallons of water to extinguish the fire.

Two firefighters were treated for injuries.

“Arresting someone is wonderful but that doesn’t solve the problems that it caused,” Williams said. “We appreciate the fire marshals coming up here to investigate this.”

The buildings on either side of the apartment building suffered water and smoke damage. Businesses in those buildings, on one side is a sporting goods store, a hair salon and a law office and on the other side is an insurance office and a renovated office space, closed temporarily while they clean up after the fire, the mayor said.

“If it wasn’t for the fire departments we’d be looking at a whole different set of problems,” Williams said. “It’s just going to take a few days to get those businesses back up on their feet.”

Williams said it was his understanding that the most, if not all of, residents of the building had found housing elsewhere.

Hite is being housed at Central Regional Jail. His bond was set at $210,000.
By Ashley B. Craig, Police Reporter /

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September 09, 2014
Delays in implementing Niagara County’s emergency radio system spark outcry - NY

First responders and Niagara County leaders called strongly Monday for an end to delays in implementing the county’s new $10 million emergency radio system. The project is blocked by stop-work orders in Lewiston and North Tonawanda, where objections to the tall towers the county is building have prevented their completion.

And as fire and county officials met in Lockport Monday, the Town of Lewiston held its own meeting and talked about their next step – legal action.

In Lewiston, a 215-foot tower on the grounds of Upper Mountain Fire Company is complete, although not all the communications equipment has been installed. But town officials say they received no legal notice of the project and it is illegal under the town’s law, which requires a 500-foot buffer zone around communications towers.

In North Tonawanda, the planned 280-foot tower has been ordered from the factory but has yet to be installed at the site, which is the city Fire Department headquarters on Zimmerman Street. City officials are concerned about the fall zone.

Lewiston Town Attorney Mark Davis said the Lewiston tower is “50 to 60 feet behind several houses.”

He and town Building Inspector Timothy R. Masters attended the County Legislature’s Administration Committee meeting Monday, but Davis said the town government had not authorized them to speak about concerns of town residents and officials.

Sheriff James R. Voutour told the County Legislature’s Administration Committee, “I understand why they’re upset. Nobody wants a tower in their backyard. But this is critical infrastructure.”

Greg Sitek, president of Upper Mountain Fire Company, said he had to take issue with Voutour. Sitek said, “I have 48 members of my fire company who absolutely want that tower in their backyard.”

He and Lewiston Fire Company No 1 Chief John Penzotti demanded a settlement that would allow the system to come on line. The new system is supposed to eliminate “dead spots” where mobile radios don’t work.

Penzotti said his company’s “first-call area” has only 70 percent coverage. “I can’t tell you the sinking feeling it is to be working on a full code (a patient with no pulse), calling for help with advanced life support and hearing your dispatch say, ‘Unit calling, you’re completely unreadable.’ ”

County Manager Jeffrey M. Glatz said the positioning of the site on Upper Mountain’s property was chosen by the fire company itself. Sitek confirmed that.

“There was no other site that was optimal, considering public land that was easily accessible when we were negotiating the lease,” Glatz said.

Masters said the county’s engineer admitted at a public meeting in Lewiston recently that there was another site just as good. “The Coast Guard tower on Military Road would have worked, but they didn’t want to wait for the paperwork,” Masters said in an interview. The tower is on land owned by the New York Power Authority near its power plant reservoir.

Retired Niagara County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Gary Hunt, who served on the county committee that organized the project, said NYPA denied permission for the county to use the tower.

Jonathan F. Schultz, county fire coordinator and emergency management director, said he hopes that can be worked out by next week. He said the other five towers are done: at the City of Lockport composting plant, at the former Lockport Mattress plant near Olcott, at Terry’s Corners Fire Company in Royalton, atop Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center and behind the County Jail.

Schultz said the county had hoped to activate the system Oct. 21, but that won’t happen now. He said the system needs to be tested while leaves are still on the trees, so the project won’t come on line until next spring at the earliest.

The county decided to upgrade its emergency radio system as a means of complying with a Federal Communications Commission mandate to reduce the amount of space that the county’s emergency voice and data transmissions use on the broadcast spectrum, a demand called “narrowbanding.”

The FCC wanted narrowbanding to be activated as of Jan. 1, 2013. The county has gotten two one-year extensions of that deadline, and Schultz and Voutour said they signed paperwork last week asking for a third.

“I can’t guarantee we’re going to get it,” Voutour said.

Legislator David E. Godfrey, R-Wilson, said the county risks an FCC fine of $16,000 per day of violation for each of its 10 frequencies if it doesn’t obtain another extension.

Masters said the resolution Lewiston wants is simple: “Move the tower.”

In the Town of Lewiston, officials are fighting the placement of the tower. The town has until Oct. to file a notice of claim, the first action in pursuing a lawsuit.

Earl S. Erwin, a resident of Upper Mountain Road, wrote a letter to the board reminding them that the tower went up in three days, over one weekend in July, with workers ignoring a stop-work order and working through the weekend to get done.

Erwin said his house is directly across the street.

“Not only is it an eyesore, but if this fell it would fall on one of three homes directly in its path,” wrote Erwin. “Not to mention that the chances of selling my home with a tower over 200 feet in the air is slim to none.”

Councilman Alfonso Bax said the town would hold a special meeting to discuss the next steps. No date has been announced.

“It’s important to note that this is not any negative statement against our first responders,” he said. “The residents were told how imperative it is to have the new system in place and we acknowledge that. However, to erect a tower that contradicts our own statute on the issue with very little notice and then the way it was done breeds more questions than answers.”
By Nancy Fischer | News Niagara Reporter , Thomas Prohaska | News Niagara Reporter |

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September 09, 2014

A family from Korea was killed in an apparent murder-suicide when a fire was set inside their Queens apartment Tuesday, officials said.

The blaze that killed father Joon Lee, 54, mother Sung Lee, 53, and their 16-year-old son, Brian Lee, erupted around 4:50 a.m. on the sixth floor of the seven-story Blair House apartment co-op on Roosevelt Avenue near Parsons Boulevard in Flushing, fire officials said.

“The fire is still under investigation, but the police are telling me this is a murder-suicide,” said Councilman Peter Koo.

“It is very important to know about mental or emotional problems with the people you live with. You need to tell your local spiritual leader or counselor about such problems,” he added.

Twelve fire units and 60 firefighters responded to the one-alarm fire and battled the flames until the blaze was under control at 5:24 a.m., officials said.

The teen was attending Brooklyn Tech high school, a family friend from Korea told The Post as he wept outside their home.

The father was working as a trucker.

“It’s not an accident, I know that. The police told me,” said Assembly district leader Martha Flores Vasquez.

“There have never been any issues in this building. They have really high maintenance. I know the people in this building well, I live around the corner. The super and staff here are excellent, they really take care of the building,” he added.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, the FDNY said.

At this stage in the investigation, it appears to have been at least a homicide, a police source said.

Three firefighters were injured and were treated at area hospitals.

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September 09, 2014
Town Seeks to Restrict Apparatus Use For 'Personal Gain' - PA

An attempt to restrict the use of fire trucks for weddings and private functions and activities has raised the ire of at least a couple of Franklintownship & Community Fire Company fire officers in Franklin Town, York County, Pa.

Kaitlin Stough, a lieutenant in the Franklintownship & Community Fire Company and 10-year member, believes the majority of the five-member Franklin Town board of supervisors would like to stop fire apparatus from being used for things like weddings and funerals.

On June 28, she and Wilber Stough Jr., the deputy chief of the fire department, were married and the department’s new rescue truck was used during the ceremony.

“We’re 100 percent volunteer and we don’t ask for a lot,” Kaitlin Stough said. “Using the rescue meant a lot to us.” She added that her husband's father, Wilber Stough Sr., died in the line of duty as a member of the same fire department 30 years ago, so fire service runs deep in the family.

Stough said there’s a board of supervisors’ meeting on Sept. 10 and she hopes to pack the room with people who object to the measure.

On the other side, the town is just trying to be responsible for equipment it helps pay for, said Franklin Town’s lawyer, Solicitor Bret Shaffer, who works for the Carlisle, Pa., law firm Baric & Scherer.

Shaffer, who has been representing Franklin Town for the past nine months, said the community’s board of supervisors voted at its meeting last month to have him draft a resolution that would express the board’s preference that the fire company’s apparatus be used responsibly and not for private gain. The vote, however, was not unanimous

“The board of supervisors have asked me to draft a resolution seeking to encourage the fire company to refrain from using publicly funded vehicles for use,” Shaffer said. He added the resolution “has no teeth” and is just an expression of a preference that discretion be used with fire equipment.

Shaffer said the supervisors have a responsibility to the taxpayers to make sure the equipment the community purchases is used appropriately. He added that parades, firefighter line of duty deaths and public education events are perfectly acceptable.

According to Stough, the apparatus in the fire company was funded not only by Franklin Town, but Dillsburg Borough and Carroll Township. The fire company pays for the insurance and maintenance costs.

Stough said using a fire truck for a wedding is one of the few benefits volunteers have for the sacrifices they make on a routine basis. Further, she fears the actions of the supervisors in her community could have a chilling effect on departments throughout the nation.

On her Facebook page, Stough wrote: “We put our lives on the line for our community and ask for nothing in return. Is our dedication not worth anything? Would someone dare try to take away military honors to a veteran who has passed away? Absolutely not. This issue is no different.”

Muddying the waters further, Stough said she believes the supervisors in Franklin Town “caved” to a vocal critic who happens to be her new husband’s stepfather who is also a former member of the fire company.

Solicitor Schaffer, who was at the meeting where the topic was initially discussed, said he recalls a “family member” raising the issue, but the fact remains that the supervisors have a responsibility to make sure publicly funded equipment is used appropriately.

He said, for instance, a fire truck at a birthday party, and yes, a wedding, does not serve the public and the supervisors would like the fire company to refrain from those kind of practices.

He added that the board of supervisors have no desire to limit the use for funerals. He said it’s appropriate to honor individuals who have distinguished themselves by public service at funerals.

Shaffer stressed that any resolution ultimately signed by the board would be nothing more than an “expression of intent” and could not be enforced. Use of fire equipment is up to the officers of the fire company.

“It’s not a contract, it’s not an ordinance, it’s an expression, or a hope, that the fire company would use some sensitivity regarding how public funds are used,” Shaffer said.

Stough said the new apparatus was provided to the fire company without any stipulations, as with the other apparatus in the station.

“They are for use at the fire chief’s discretion,” she said.

Stough said she and her husband sought and were given permission to use the apparatus for their wedding. She personally arranged for two neighboring fire departments provide station coverage on her wedding day. She added the community had better coverage than on most other days.

On her Facebook page Stough further wrote: “If this resolution is accepted, I would not be surprised to see members of your local volunteer fire companies hang up their coats. We are not contractually obligated to respond to emergencies or staff the fire station. We do it because it is a passion. Please don't let our pride be stripped from us.”

Shaffer said he hopes people will fully look at the issue before making an emotional reaction to the supervisors’ action. He said they’re just doing their jobs and being responsible to the people who pay taxes by making sure there are no personal gains being made from publicly funded equipment.

“There’s a pretty good relationship between the township and the fire company,” Shaffer said. “The supervisors can’t set a policy. They are just asking that some discretion be used. It’s a non-binding statement of intent.”
Ed Ballam / Source: News

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September 09, 2014
Department Shares Plan to Downsize - NY

Big Tree Volunteer Fire Company in Hamburg wants to downsize.

Fire company officers Monday night laid out plans to close their two firehouses and build a new one on vacant land that the company bought seven years ago.

Another fire company, Woodlawn, also is planning substantial renovations to its firehouse on Route 5. Both companies needed the approval of the Town Board to borrow money, and they got it Monday night at the regular board meeting.

The 77-year-old Big Tree Company plans to build a 26,000-square-foot hall at a 16-acre site on Big Tree Road near Bristol Road. The company bought the land for $310,000 in 2007.

The project is estimated to cost $3.21 million, of which the fire company plans to borrow about $1.09 million. The company has about $1.15 million in savings and expects to raise more than $1 million by selling the two firehouses on South Park Avenue and Bayview Road. It also expects to save about $46,500 a year by consolidating.

The fire company started looking at its building needs about nine years ago and decided that it would be more cost-effective to put up a new building rather than try to consolidate in either of its buildings.

"Modern apparatus barely fits," said Assistant Chief Christopher P. Zak. "Backing the apparatus in is very difficult."

One location also makes sense in light of dwindling numbers of volunteers, he said. The new building will have drive-through bays for trucks and other equipment, but no banquet facilities, he said.

"We're not in the banquet business anymore," he said.

The annual mortgage payment will be about $72,000, Zak said. He said the company plans to divert some funds from a maintenance account to help make the payment, and does not anticipate asking the town for more money.

"We can afford this without having to come to the town for additional funding," he said.

The two existing buildings would not be put up for sale until the members of the fire company approve the project and the sale of the property, he said.

Woodlawn volunteer firefighters said renovations being planned to their firehouse are the third phase of work started several years ago. It will include refacing of the building, new windows, doors, roof and drywall, said President John E. Kolb.

Representatives from both companies faced questions from Council Member Michael P. Quinn Jr. on whether they would hire companies with apprenticeship programs. Quinn said that while he is a member of a union, he is more concerned that workers have been trained properly in safety precautions.

"We're trying to keep costs down for our taxpayers," Firefighter Patrick J. McAnaney said. "How do you know the nonunion ones don't have training?"

There are some union subcontractors, he said, and the fire company would check with its general contractor about worker training. Big Tree representatives said they could ask that workers on their firehouse have a 10-hour safety course.
Barbara O'Brien / Source: The Buffalo News, N.Y.

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September 08, 2014
Union head: Decision prohibiting firetrucks at 9/11 event 'absurd' - NY

The head of Anne Arundel largest firefighters union on Friday called a decision to prohibit county firetrucks from participating in a commercial event to honor first responders on 9/11 "absurd."

Mission BBQ in Glen Burnie will offer free sandwiches to police, firefighters and first responders Thursday, the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Volunteer fire companies are expected to be on hand to hang American flags from their engines — however, all county engines will be absent.

The reason: a 2013 county ethics commission opinion that took exception to allowing county fire engines to promote a private business, Fire Chief Michael Cox said. The county holds its own 9/11 memorial each year at the police and fire department headquarters in Millersville.

"The fact that we'd say that the 'no flags from career truck' but allow volunteer companies from other jurisdictions is absurd and it's silly," said Keith Whalen, president of the Anne Arundel Professional Fire Fighters Local 1563. "This day means a lot to us — it's insulting."

Cox said the department asked for the commission to draft the opinion after it was asked to participate in 2013. The department will frequently ask the commission to write opinions when approached from such requests from private businesses, Cox said.

"Basically what they said was that county ethics law does not allow county apparatus to be used for the purposes of a private business," Cox said. "This event — even though it's honoring veterans, police officers and firefighters for 9/11 — it's still a private business."

He said, "That's how they rule and we abide by it."

After the department decided not to participate in the event last year, it asked the county volunteer companies to take part in its absence, Cox said.

A number of volunteer companies from outside the county participated in last year's event, Whalen said. However, he noted that while volunteer companies may own their own engines, they still receive support from county taxpayers.

"There's no separation (between) volunteers and county firefighters," Whalen said. "It's just insulting that we wouldn't embrace anything that supports that day and supports fire personnel."

Bill Krauss, co-founder of the Glen Burnie-based chain, declined to comment on the controversy.

"Sept. 11th is one of our busiest days, but far more importantly it is day of remembrance," he said. "We are now 13 years removed and will never forget the brave souls we lost on that tragic day."

Each of the company's 10 locations will hold a ceremony at noon on Thursday, with a local first-responder singing the National Anthem. All law enforcement, firefighters and EMS can get a free turkey, pork and brisket sandwich. Cox said firefighters could accept a sandwich, as long as they are off duty.

The company will sell "9-11 Never Forget American Heroes Cups" in remembrance of the victims of the attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. For the next month, $2 from each $3.99 cup sold will be donated to local police and fire charities. The company projected it would raise more than $50,000.
By Ben Weathers,

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September 08, 2014
5 Mount Vernon firefighters injured in basement fire - NY

Firefighters battle a basement fire in a furniture and home goods store located at 122 South 4th Avenue in Mount Vernon Sept. 5, 2014. Mount Vernon received mutual aid from Eastchester, Pelham, Pelham Manor and Yonkers.
( Photo: Tania Savayan/The Journal News)

Firefighters battle a basement fire in a furniture and home goods store located at 122 South 4th Avenue in Mount Vernon Sept. 5, 2014. Mount Vernon received mutual aid from Eastchester, Pelham, Pelham Manor and Yonkers.
(Photo: Tania Savayan/The Journal News)

MOUNT VERNON – Five firefighters were injured Friday when a basement fire spread through parts of a South Fourth Avenue furniture store.

The firefighters, who were said to have suffered from smoke inhalation and muscle strains, were taken to an area hospital. Their injuries were thought to be fairly minor.

Firefighters from the Mount Vernon, Yonkers, Eastchester, Pelham and Pelham Manor fire departments responded to 122 S. Fourth Ave. about 1:20 p.m. to find heavy smoke, Mount Vernon Deputy Chief Tom Duffy said.

Duffy said the furniture store is connected to several buildings extending back to Fifth Avenue and that the basement was poorly ventilated, making for challenging conditions.

"We tried to gain access to Fifth Avenue," Duffy said. "We couldn't get the access we needed so we had to do several pushes in through here, under the heavy smoke and fire conditions, which made it very difficult."

Nearly all of the items in the basement were destroyed by the blaze. Duffy said the main part of the store, located on the first floor, sustained heavy smoke and water damage.

What caused the fire was not yet known. Duffy said investigators would examine evidence at the scene Friday evening.
Tania Savayan and James O’Rourke /

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September 08, 2014

Trenton, NJ: Two firefighters injured. A Little Harbour firefighter and a civilian were rigging a hose, away from the fire, when a vehicle driving by caught it, resulting in injury for both.

Const. Ken MacDonald with the New Glasgow Regional Police said the injuries were not life threatening.

At approximately 4:15 p.m., Trenton Fire Department was called to the fire on North Main Street.

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September 08, 2014

A firefighter was seriously injured battling a fire in a Brooklyn brownstone. Fire officials say the firefighter is being treated at New York Presbyterian Hospital for a non-life threatening injury.

Four other firefighters suffered minor injuries in the two-alarm blaze which broke out about 6:30 p.m. on Halsey Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

No word on what caused the fire.

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September 08, 2014

( Video)

A firefighter is injured while battling an apartment fire in Huber Heights.

Officials tell us the firefighter was transported to Miami Valley Hospital in stable condition. They tell us he was burned on the shoulders.

There are multiple jurisdictions on scene, so it is unclear which department the firefighter was with.

Crews with Dayton, Fairborn, Bethel Township, Harrison Township and Huber Heights are all on scene.

Huber Heights officials say three units were burned, and at least two are a complete loss.

They are trying to figure out who resides in the units.

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September 08, 2014
Seven fire department ladder trucks fail inspection, are removed from service - DC


Seven of the ladder trucks in the D.C. fire department’s fleet have failed inspection and have been taken out of service.

In a statement issued Sunday night the department said seven of 17 ladder trucks, or more than 40 per cent, were found to have rust at the base of the ladder support. The department said the seven “will not return” to service “until the issues affecting them are resolved.”

Most departments have regular inspection programs in which the possibility exists that any given piece of apparatus might be found wanting. However, the removal from service of so large a proportion of any category of equipment appeared to be unusual.

Ladder trucks are major fire department resources in combating high rise fires and making rescues from upper levels of buildings.

A major part of the image of urban firefighting involves high-rise residents being taken out of the windows of burning building and down the trucks’ ladders to safety.

It was not immediately clear last night how often the trucks are actually deployed in the District, or the total number of calls on which they are sent.

Also unclear was how frequently the trucks have been inspected, or how the corrosion occurred. Details on the age of the equipment and other aspects of their maintenance history were not immediately available.

Inspections of the trucks “are part of a preventive maintenance plan for vehicles within our fleet,” said Interim DCFEMS Chief Eugene A. Jones. “It’s important that the vehicles our employees rely on when they respond to an emergency are safe.”
By Peter Hermann and Martin Weil /

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September 08, 2014
Detroit fire department has alert system made of pop cans, doorbells - MI

Detroit firefighters use pop can fire alarm system: Detroit is so broke that firefighters get emergency alerts through pop cans, coins, door hinges, pipes and doorbells.

Detroit is so broke that firefighters get emergency alerts through pop cans, coins, door hinges, pipes and doorbells.

And they make these gizmos themselves — one involving a pop can that gets tipped over by an incoming fax. The clink of the can means there’s an emergency. Then there’s the chain-reaction gadget: a fax hits a door hinge, which then tugs on a wire, which then sets off a doorbell.

“It sounds unbelievable, but it’s truly what the guys have been doing and dealing with for a long, long time,” said Detroit Deputy Fire Commissioner John Berlin, adding that technological upgrades are long overdue. “We’re in desperate need. We’re probably 30 years behind.”

Berlin’s comments confirmed today’s testimony of a recovery consultant for the city of Detroit, who said at the bankruptcy trial that technological upgrades are long overdue in the city.

The witness, Charles Moore, talked about how the city plans to spend $1.4 billion on services when it emerges from bankruptcy. Technology, he said, needs to be a priority. To bolster his argument, he shared the pop-can, fire-alert story.

Moore said one of his colleagues who spends lots of time at Detroit firehouses told him about it.

Turns out, Moore’s colleague was right: Due to budget constraints, none of the city’s 38 firehouses have the modern-day emergency alert systems that most other cities use.

In most cities, fire officials say, when an emergency alert comes into a fire station, a series of bells sound off — like Morse code. Then an automated voice offers instructions on which engines go where.

“Well, we don’t have that system here,” Berlin said. “The firefighters modify ... they improvise.”

In other words, Berlin said, they make the alert systems themselves, buying simple materials like wire and doorbells and hinges from the hardware store or Radio Shack. Or, they just set an empty pop can by a fax machine, sometimes filling it with coins. Some, he said, set a pipe that sounds like a wind chime near a printer, where the paper alert comes out.

“We’re way, way behind the curve. The guys are very creative in these firehouses and that’s why you see these pop cans,” Berlin said.

That soon could change.

Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr has made public safety a cornerstone of his $1.4 billion reinvestment strategy over the next 10 years, with $42 million carved out for fire department upgrades, including technology systems.

According to a 2013 report issued by Orr, response times for both the Fire Department and EMS are “extremely slow” compared to other cities.

The Fire Department’s average time is 7 minutes, and EMS’ response time is 15 minutes. That’s partly due to old trucks and ambulances that are poorly maintained, combined with a never-ending string of incidents, the report found. Detroit has had between 11,000 to 12,000 fires every year for the past decade.

That’s a lot of pop-can alerts.

“But because we’ve improvised, that never became a priority,” Berlin said of getting an upgraded, modern alert system. “It’s been that way since way back. Unfortunately, we fall back on tradition far too often.”
By Tresa Baldas / Detroit Free Press Staff Writer

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September 08, 2014
City chief: Fire cuts could cause delays - AL

A proposal to eliminate 15 Decatur Fire and Rescue positions could leave the department out of compliance with national standards, delay firefighters' ability to enter burning structures and hinder their ability to deal with more than one fire at a time, according to Decatur Fire and Rescue Chief Tony Grande.

He stopped short, however, of objecting to the job eliminations.

Mayor Don Kyle, who proposed eliminating the unfilled positions in a heated budget hearing last week, said the staff reduction would not increase the cost of homeowners insurance because it would not hurt the city's Insurance Service Office fire rating.

Eliminating the unfilled positions also would save the city $800,000, a step Kyle said is necessary if the city is to balance its budget in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

"I'm most concerned about the people's safety and the firemen's safety," Councilman Chuck Ard said. "Let's forget about the ISO ratings for now. I want to know the impact on response times if we do this."

The 15 positions Kyle wants to eliminate were added four years ago with money from a federal Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant. In the first year, the grant paid 100 percent of the salaries. The amount dropped each year, and the city now receives no assistance in paying the salaries.

‘Two in, two out'

Grande said the purpose of the SAFER grant was to allow short-staffed fire departments to meet National Fire Protection Association standards and Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules. Referred to as the "two in, two out" rule, the voluntary NFPA standard and the mandatory OSHA standard govern the handling of structure fires.

The OSHA rule states a minimum of two firefighters can enter a burning structure, and they may do so only if two other firefighters are outside of the structure and available to rescue their colleagues. Compliance with the related NFPA standard requires each fire truck to have a crew of at least four firefighters.

Before Decatur took advantage of the SAFER grant, its firetrucks were manned with only three firefighters, not enough to comply with the "two in, two out" rule. The grant increased the department to 126 firefighters, enough to meet the standard. This year, because the city did not replace firefighters who left and because some firefighters always are unavailable because of vacation or sick leave, firetrucks again operate with only three firefighters.

Grande said multiple trucks respond to structure fires, but aggressive fire suppression can't begin until a second truck arrives if there are only three firefighters per truck.

"If they can't go in, the fire is going to grow at an exponential rate," Grande said. "It's more dangerous because it's going to get hotter, because it can cause flashovers and injure firefighters. They're trying to get a lot of work done while waiting on that next vehicle. ... One of the things you lose with less than four firefighters on the truck is you do lose a little bit of aggression, because they have to be much more careful."

The only exception to OSHA's "two in, two out" rule, Grande said, is that two firefighters can enter the structure with only one outside when the building is occupied. The practice, he said, increases the risk to the firefighters.

"That elimination (of 15 positions) is five people per shift," Grande said. "When we have those five gone per shift, it means we're going to have to send more of our on-duty crews to the scene from farther away. ... Anytime we lose positions, it's going to affect how many bodies we can get to the scene within that initial time frame."

Having only three firefighters per truck does not just affect the "two in, two out" rule, Grande said, it makes it more difficult to get enough total firefighters to a structure fire. The department now has 101 firefighters, or about 33 per shift. Vacations, sick leave and training drop the actual number lower.

Grande gave an example of a structure fire Thursday in Burningtree, caused by a washing machine.

"We sent our normal crews out there," Grande said. "We had four trucks out there. That was half of the city force out there. At a minimum staffing level, four trucks is 12 people, and that's not going to meet the minimum requirements. So we end up having to send a fifth vehicle."

Ard asked Grande if that means the department can respond only to one structure fire at a time.

"If I had five trucks at this fire, that would leave me only three available," Grande said. "If a second event occurs, that means nine folks are trying to take care of that second event. We'll shuffle our folks and move, but all of that takes time. With fires, the first 20 minutes is the time to take care of business."

Eliminating 15 positions, Grande said, necessarily reduces effectiveness.

"If we lose those positions, we lose that ability to respond in the quickest manner with the heaviest number of people at the very front end," Grande said.

Kyle questioned the wisdom of staffing the department to handle more than one structure fire at a time.

"To me, it's kind of like retail staffing at Christmastime versus other parts of the year," Kyle said. "You can't staff for Christmas 12 months a year."

"I don't think it's a good analogy to compare Christmas shopping to the lives of our citizens," City Councilman Billy Jackson responded.

Balance required

Kyle said the city's financial situation requires balance.

"We cannot afford to staff the peak," Kyle said. "If we know how often we get into a bind because we have more than one big issue going on, then we can maybe better evaluate the dollars and cents."

Ard asked if closing one of the city's eight fire stations would allow the elimination of 15 jobs without degrading performance. Kyle has on several occasions proposed closing Station 4, located on Nelms Road Northwest, just off Moulton Street.

Grande said closing a station slows response times, which are critical both for fires and emergency medical calls.

Council President Gary Hammon said it's obvious more firefighters would increase safety, but that does not answer the question of whether fewer firefighters are adequate.

"If we had 126, I don't think there's anyone in this room that would argue that we wouldn't be a whole lot safer with 252," Hammon said.

Hammon said funding for ideal fire department staffing, however, would have to come from some other department.

"You've got to balance it with what you can financially do," Hammon said.

Ard said he was struggling to make a decision on whether to cut 15 positions when the council had no data on how the cut would affect response times, information Grande said he could only get by studying Morgan County 911 data.

"Since we're talking about people's lives, I think that's the type of analysis we need," Ard said.

The City Council will have a public work session to discuss the fiscal 2015 budget at 5:30 p.m. Monday, on the seventh floor of City Hall.
By Eric Fleischauer Staff Writer /

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September 05, 2014


Investigators are trying to determine the cause of a kitchen fire in New Hyde Park that sent two firefighters to the hospital with minor injuries Friday morning.

The fire, reported at 7:12 a.m., damaged the kitchen and a bathroom at the home on Lakeville Road, Nassau County Assistant Chief Fire Marshal Michael F. Uttaro said.

Officials said that volunteers from New Hyde Park, Garden City Park, Mineola, Manhasset-Lakeville and West Hempstead battled the fire. The two injured firefighters, both from New Hyde Park, had heat exhaustion, officials said.

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September 05, 2014
Firefighter injured after blaze tears through Kingston house - NY

Firefighter injured
The fire was called in at 11:07 a.m. at 34 Jarrold St.
(JAMES NANI/Times Herald-Record)

KINGSTON — A firefighter was injured and a family of six was forced to the street Thursday after a three-alarm fire scorched the second floor of its home.

The fire was called in at 11:07 a.m. at 34 Jarrold St. By the time firefighters arrived, a grandmother and two small children were able to escape unscathed, according to Kingston Deputy Fire Chief Donald Allen.

The rest of the family wasn't home.

Firefighters were able to douse the flames quickly, though there was extensive fire and smoke damage upstairs and water and smoke damage downstairs.

But while one firefighter was inside the home battling the flames, part of a ceiling collapsed on his head, Allen said. He was wearing a helmet but complained about head and neck pain. He was treated at the scene and taken to the Broadway Campus of HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley.

Allen was also able to pull from the home an uninjured dog, an old blind beagle.

Neighbors let the crying grandmother and two children rest on their porch while firefighters threw scorched household items from the attic window and tore holes in the room to air out the home.

Firefighters were leaning towars an accidental cause to the fire, but it was still being investigated.
By James Nani / Times Herald-Record

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September 05, 2014
Township in Soup for Fire Department's Actions - OH

LIMA — Shawnee Township will pay $10,000 to the Columbus Jewish Federation as part of an agreement ordered by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The punishment was one of three actions ordered by the EEOC after investigating the Shawnee Township Fire Department. The department must all provide its workers training on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with a focus on religious/racial harassment. Also, the department will require its workers to immediately report all future complaints to the township trustees as soon as the complaint is received.

The complaint was filed by former Shawnee Township Firefighter Paul Way shortly after he was fired by the Shawnee Fire Department Dec. 11, 2012. Way submitted the complaint to EEOC, citing a hostile work environment and sexual, racial or religious discrimination.

Way said in addition to a hostile work environment, anti-Semitic and anti-homosexual comments were made while he was a firefighter for the township. Way produced photos which showed a cake with “Happy Birthday fag” written on it and another with graphic depictions of a gas chamber and swastikas.

The EEOC report stated it they had found “reasonable cause to believe that per se violations have been found under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” The report said the reasonable cause was due to the fire department’s failure to address Way’s notice of discriminatory practices and cultural bigotry in regard to Nazi propaganda, saluting and other anti-Semitic activities performed by management and members of the fire department.

The report was a prerequisite to Way filing a federal lawsuit against the department, which he says he is now in the process of doing. The EEOC report was released May 28.

Township trustee Chris Seddelmeyer and fire chief Todd Truesdale each referred questions to a lawyer representing the township. A call from someone stating he was the lawyer for the township said a comment would be made today.

Way was given a written reprimand in July 2012 for spreading negative views about the department’s operation through emails inside and outside the department. He was demoted in September for the emails, which were sent to two platoon chiefs of the department. He was fired for the improper use of sick time after fire department officials reported he was participating in recreational activities (at a bar drinking or having lunch) while on sick time between Sept. 12 to 14.

Way said it was just an excuse to fire him because he had complained about improper activities within the department. He said he produced a doctor’s slip for his sick day and simply sat at a restaurant and had lunch while waiting for a pharmacy nearby to fill his prescription.

Way claimed that pictures showing anti-Semitic remarks were also on PowerPoint presentations during banquets and were posted on the wall at the department. Way said he has received his notice of right to sue letter from the EEOC and has 60 days from receiving it to file. He said he still had about 42 days left. He said details of the lawsuit have not yet been spelled out.
Lance Mihm / Source: The Lima News, Ohio (MCT)

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September 05, 2014
Building Accidentally Destroyed in Firefighter Training Exercise - IL

Building accidentally burns out of control following firefighter training exercise.

Firefighters training at the old Lake County Forest Preserve headquarters in Libertyville Thursday morning had to return that afternoon to battle a full-scale blaze.

Multiple fire departments came to the 6,000-square-foot building to set fires and practice putting them out in the morning, according to Libertyville Fire Chief Rich Carani. Once training exercises were over, the building was unattended for some time before they discovered it was seriously on fire around 2 p.m., he said.

Because the headquarters at 2000 North Milwaukee Ave. is deep within the forest preserve and nowhere near a hydrant, firefighters from 15 departments had to haul huge containers of water by hand from tankers set up at the edge of the preserve.

The building was slated to be demolished in a controlled burn by multiple fire departments in another training exercise Saturday, Carani said. Firefighters were going to practice for different situations they might encounter, like when there is a person in a bedroom, for example.

The forest preserve stopped using the building in 2011. A construction company rebuilding the intersection of Milwaukee Avenue and Route 137 has used the building for the past two or three years, Carani said.

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September 05, 2014
Anderson Township firefighter Kevin Ollier dies - OH

(The Last Call - RIP)

Firefighter/paramedic Kevin Ollier
Firefighter/paramedic Kevin Ollier

Anderson Township firefighter/paramedic Kevin Ollier died this morning.

Ollier joined the township in February 2001, and served the Anderson Township community as a firefighter/paramedic for the Anderson Township Fire and Rescue Department. Before coming to Anderson Township, Ollier served as a firefighter/paramedic with the Union Township Fire Department, starting part time in 1990 and working fulltime there starting in 1992. Additionally, he worked at UC Mobile Care from 1994-2012. Besides his job with Anderson Township, Ollier was as a nurse at University Hospital.

Ollier, a Union Township resident, was 60 years old. The cause of death is unknown.

“Kevin was very interested in caring for emergency patients, from his first day as an EMT, to paramedic, to a nurse,” Fire Chief Mark Ober said. “He was passionate about emergency medical services.”

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September 05, 2014
Terry Fire Department's ATV stolen for second time - MS

A 6-Wheeler used to help the Terry Volunteer Fire Department fight grass fires has been stolen for the second time.

Hinds County Emergency Management Director Ricky Moore, who oversees volunteer fire departments in Hinds County, said the Polaris ATV was stolen when someone broke the lock on the door of the Terry Volunteer Fire Department storage building on Tank Road.

"We housed it there to use when we have a grass fire and we can take it anywhere when there is a search for a lost person," Moore said of the ATV.

Moore said the cost of the ATV is about $13,000. It's the same vehicle that was stolen about four years ago form the volunteer fire department storage building. The ATV and other equipment were recovered in May 2010 after it was found in an area not far from the station.

"I guess they liked it so much they came back for it again," Moore jokingly said.

Moore said they will beef up lighting and other security measures at the Terry Volunteer Fire Department station.

Moore said thefts have occurred over the years at other volunteer fire departments in the county. The volunteer departments don't have employees on site at the stations. They respond when calls come in for assistance.

The Hinds County Sheriff Department is investigating the equipment theft.

Also, Terry Police Chief Bracy Coleman said the owner of Tannehill's Auto Repair off of I-55 Frontage Road responded to an alarm early Wednesday at the business and encountered a burglar suspect coming out of the front door. The owner, Terry Tannehill, and the burglar got into a scuffle. Tannehill fell or was pushed to the ground in the scuffle and hit his head on an object, according to Coleman.

The burglary suspect sped away in dark blue small pickup truck. Terry Police said to their knowledge nothing was taken from the business.

Authorities are also searching for the person who snatched an undisclosed amount of cash Tuesday from the cash register at the Dollar General Store in Terry.

Authorities have no suspects in the cases and don't know if the cases are connected.
Jimmie E. Gates, The Clarion-Ledger

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September 05, 2014
San Francisco firefighters contain big blaze in the Mission - CA

Firefighters contained a five-alarm blaze Thursday evening in San Francisco's Mission District after it burned for hours, injured at least four people, damaged two buildings and sent up a huge plume of smoke.

Two civilians and a firefighter were taken to a hospital for treatment after inhaling smoke, while one firefighter was treated at the scene for the same ailment.

Article & photos

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September 04, 2014
Walden fire bid rejected - NY

Residents of the Walden Fire District, Tuesday, overwhelmingly rejected a proposed $1.5 million expansion and renovation of their central fire house.

“We’re just going to head back to the drawing board now,” said Commissioner Rick Penney, after the referendum was defeated 198-32.

The vote came in the wake of a proposed $1.5 million dollar renovation that would had renovated over 1,100 sq. ft. of pre existing space. In addition, the funds would have also added administrative/public space, along with two exterior bays on each side of the station, allowing more room for fire trucks.

Penney added that the District has no current alternative plans for the funds that they had saved (about half of the estimated cost) prior to proposing the renovations.

The issue had sparked public comment from several members of the District. Before a public meeting that was held on Aug. 25 to elaborate on the renovations, District firefighter Michael McNamee had said that he expected the district to be “split right down the middle.”

During the voting period, the thought on everyone’s mind seemed to center around surprise over voter turnout, with more than 100 voters at the halfway point of the three hour voting period, according to Commissioner Robert Montanaro.

Penney said that he was surprised to see such a high numbers of residents who came out to vote. According to Penney, only two members of the public had attended a public meeting last month.

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September 04, 2014
Boston Firefighters Battle Nine-Alarm Apartment Fire - MA

Nine-Alarm Apartment Fire
Ladder 14 operating a big line from their stick.
(Photo courtesy the Boston Fire Department.)


(Neil Tuli

A nine-alarm fire that broke out at a three-story brick apartment building in Allston left five firefighters with minor injuries and 54 residents displaced, reports (

The fire at Harvard Terrace, a dead-end street near the intersection of Harvard and Brighton avenues, began around 5:45 p.m. on the rear porch before spreading.

When firefighters arrived, heavy fire was showing and a second alarm was immediately ordered. By 7:15 p.m., the fire was at nine alarms.

All firefighters were ordered out of the building at one point due to concerns over a possible collapse.

Boston Fire Department Commissioner Joseph Finn said the firewall helped firefighters keep the fire from spreading to other buildings in the dense neighborhood.

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September 04, 2014
Firefighters Injured During Rescue at Maryland House Fire - MD

ASPEN HILL, Md. (WJLA) – An 81-year-old woman died in a house fire in Aspen Hill, Maryland early Thursday morning. Montgomery County Fire and Rescue received a call from a neighbor about a fire on Iris Street around 4:30 a.m. Crews arrived on scene to find heavy smoke coming from the home.

A man standing outside of the home told firefighters his mother was still inside the home.

Firefighters located the woman on the second floor. With the stairs inside the home ruined by the fire, firefighters went in through an upstairs window to pull the woman out.

She was transported to a local hospital, where she later died from her injuries.

Two firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion.

Investigators believe the fire started in the basement, and said a gas line near the home complicated efforts to put out the fire.

"We do know the gas line was a contributing factor to the fire spreading," said Fire Chief Steve Lohr.

Firefighters said there were no smoke detectors inside the home.

The woman's death is the fifth fire death in Montgomery County so far this year.

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September 04, 2014
Revived with Narcan, Man Attacks W.Va. EMS Providers - WV

Two West Virginia EMS personnel were assaulted Wednesday afternoon moments after they revived a suspected overdose patient with Narcan.

The crew was alerted to the patient along the railroad tracks on the West Virginia side of the Ohio River.

The man with a decreased level of consciousness was given a dose of Narcan, which revived him, according to

Scott Gill then started attacking the crew.

After he got behind the wall, I seen him fighting with one of the ambulance guys," witness James Hall told the reporter. "And when the cops got down there, he took off running..."

Gill was found in Steubenville about two hours later. Officers don't know how he crossed the river into Ohio.

He's now behind bars facing charges.

Neither EMS provider was seriously injured, the station reported.

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September 04, 2014
Drunk while driving fire truck? No charges filed yet - IA

FLOYD, Iowa —A former fire department member is suspected of being drunk when he drove a fire truck into some concrete between two doors of the fire station in Floyd.

The accident occurred a little before 4:30 a.m. on Aug. 24 at the Floyd Volunteer Fire Department station.

The Mason City Globe Gazette reports that no decision has been made on whether the man will be charged. Floyd Fire Chief Ben Chatfield says the man had resigned from the department before the incident occurred.

Chatfield says the station has been repaired and that the department is awaiting a report on damage to the ladder truck.

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September 04, 2014
Plano Fire-Rescue easing away from using backboards to transport patients - TX

away from using backboards
Dr. Mark Gamber, Plano Fire-Rescue’s EMS medical director, says that in some cases, such as those involving gunshot or stab wounds, backboards can do more harm than good.
(Rose Baca/Staff Photographer)

Backboards have been a central tool for Plano Fire-Rescue over the last 30 years. EMS workers use them to help lift patients off the ground, carry them to ambulances and keep them immobile during the trip to the hospital.

But now the department has become one of the first in Texas to adopt new guidelines on backboards that scale back their use, based on a joint statement from two national physicians’ organizations.

“Sometimes they may cause more harm than good,” said Dr. Mark Gamber, the department’s EMS medical director.

Beginning in late July, the department implemented a policy limiting backboard use to certain situations when a patient’s spine might need to be immobilized, such as blunt trauma or spinal pain. If a patient is walking around or doesn’t complain of back pain, he or she will be asked to lie still on a softer cot when being taken to the hospital.

Changing course

A 2013 joint statement from the American College of Surgeons’ committee on trauma and the National Association of EMS Physicians made several recommendations for EMS workers after studies showed that backboards aren’t always needed.

“There is research that shows that most patients who have been on a board will have some pain in their back after the process,” NAEMSP president Ritu Sahni said in an email. “In addition, there is a risk for pressure ulcers after some time on the board. At this time, there is little evidence that proves a benefit for using the board.”

Eileen Bulger, chairwoman of the American College of Surgeons’ committee on trauma, agreed, noting that sometimes patients would have to remain immobilized on a stiff backboard for long periods if the hospital were far away.

“It’s really based on an evolution of literature,” she said. “We never had good data for the best way to immobilize patients. We felt that [backboards] were probably over-utilized.”

Gamber said that in some cases such as gunshot or stabbing wounds, backboards were doing more harm than good.

“You’re twice as likely to die if you’re on a backboard,” he said of those situations.

Scaling back the use of backboards also helps prevent unnecessary medical procedures, Gamber said.

“Anybody, but particularly kids, may be put on a backboard when they just fell and broke a bone or hit their head,” he said. “When you ask them if their back hurts, their back didn’t hurt, but now it does hurt.”

Gamber says that means doctors are more likely to do unnecessary X-rays, which add to medical costs and expose patients to radiation when they don’t need it.

“You might be creating issues downstream,” he said.

Researching the issue

Gamber says he began researching the use of backboards as fire departments in Wichita, Kan., and Albuquerque, N.M., adopted new guidelines in April. The new change is definitely a “big, everyday operational change,” he said.

Plano EMS providers have been trained on the new policy. Gamber has also worked with local hospitals so they can coordinate medical efforts with the department.

Backboards will still be used to help move patients to an ambulance and when they’re needed to protect a person’s spine, Gamber said.

Several other Dallas-Fort Worth area fire departments are looking at the recommendations.

Fort Worth Fire Department public information officer Timothy Hardeman said his department still follows current protocols from the Emergency Physicians Advisory Board, though staff will be discussing the issue with its medical director at its next meeting.

Jason Evans, a public information officer with Dallas Fire-Rescue, says the department is aware of the issues surrounding backboard use and is considering some changes to its policies.

The McKinney Fire Department is revising its policies to the new guidelines, public information officer Stacie Durham said.

Sahni says backboard policies rest with local EMS medical directors.

“For years, backboards were considered the ‘standard of care,’ but now the [physicians’ joint statement] allows local EMS medical directors to make an informed decision — along with local trauma providers,” he said.

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September 04, 2014
Raisin Twp. may split police, fire departments - MI

Eliminating the Raisin Township public safety director position and separating the police and fire departments is being considered by the township board after Scott Lambka announced he would resign this week.

In a letter dated Aug. 26, Lambka resigned as public safety director effective Friday, Sept. 5, and recommended eliminating the position.

Initial discussion of the resignation took place at a meeting Aug. 27 of township department heads and continued at a special board meeting Tuesday.

“It is my opinion that we were mistaken to merge the police and fire departments. This has created an administrative quagmire that really hasn’t benefited the township at all,” Lambka wrote in his letter. “I would like to suggest that you abandon the director’s position and return to a police chief and fire chief system.”

Lambka did not reveal what his new job will be. He also declined to comment at Tuesday’s meeting.

Board members discussed the recommendation, but took no action because the matter needs to be part of the budget deliberations that are underway. The board moved assistant police chief Kevin Grayer to head the police department and assistant fire chiefs Eddie Mathis and Jake Warner to oversee the fire department operations until a decision is made on the departments’ structure.

A motion to separate the departments and appoint the three men to the positions was ruled out of order by township attorney David Lacasse.

“You can’t create a police chief and a fire chief if those positions don’t already exist,” he said. “You don’t need to make any changes to the command structure.”

Township supervisor/manager Jim Palmer will handle many of the administrative duties with possible help from Lambka, who told Palmer his new position would allow him the flexibility to assist in the transition between Sept. 29 and Jan. 1. More decisions are expected at the regular monthly board meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 8.

Trustee Deb Brousseau pushed for more discussion and study before any final actions are taken.

“We don’t want to rush into this,” she said. “First, we have to decide if we want to do this.”

Lambka has held the position for about 19 months. Richard Renard resigned as public safety director in February 2013, which resulted in the administration of the police and fire departments being consolidated into one department, eliminating one chief’s position. Lambka had been police chief since 2005, and in his resignation letter he said he was taking a position with another department, a move which he said “will challenge my growth and further my career.”

Township Supervisor Jay Cavanaugh said he first heard about the resignation Aug. 27 in an email from township clerk Betty Holdridge to the other board members about the meeting that day involving Lambka, Palmer and other township department heads, including the clerk and treasurer, Kami Johnson. Trustee Dale Mitchell also attended.

Cavanaugh and Trustee Larry Crittenden verbally sparred over the content of the meeting. Cavanaugh said the meeting was close to violating Michigan’s Open Meetings Act.

Lacasse disagreed, saying a quorum of the board being present is not a violation of the Open Meetings Act. As long as discussion did not start the board toward any decisions, the meeting was legal.

“In my opinion, it was not going to be a violation of the Open Meetings Act, as long as there was no discussion among board members and no deliberation,” Lacasse said.

In 2001, Raisin Township started a law enforcement department and Renard served as the public safety director until 2005 when he resumed his fire chief duties and Lambka was promoted to police chief.

The departments were combined into a public safety department as a result of Renard’s resignation. Under the arrangement, Grayer was appointed assistant police chief, Mathis was appointed first assistant fire chief and Warner was appointed second assistant fire chief.
By David Frownfelder / Daily Telegram Staff Writer

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September 03, 2014
Lowrey fire truck missing after station burglarized

Authorities are looking for a fire truck that disappeared from the Lowrey Volunteer Fire Department over the weekend.

Larry Watts, of the Lowrey VFD, said Tuesday afternoon that the stolen truck had not been recovered. It is described as a 2008 Ford 1-ton used commonly for grass or brush fires.

Cherokee County Sheriff’s Deputy Tom Moore discovered Lowrey’s Station No. 2 had been burglarized when he was driving through the area after taking two other burglary reports.

According to Moore, Deborah Snell filed a report after Chandon Bryan Vance broke into her home.

Vance also allegedly broke a window out of a truck at Snell’s residence, broke into a toolbox, and pulled a motorcycle out of a garage and left it in the front yard.

Vance was not at the scene, but after Moore took Snell’s report, the deputy was called to another home less than a mile away.

Randell Hutchins told deputies he heard a noise outside, went to investigate, and found a younger man near his home

When confronted, the man appeared to be disoriented.

Hutchins told deputies he went inside to retrieve a phone and the man disappeared.

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September 02, 2014
Ambulance takes an hour to answer call near Gracie Mansion - NY

An elderly neighbor of Mayor de Blasio lay on the floor with blood gushing from her head while waiting nearly an hour for an ambulance to answer repeated 911 calls — and was rescued only when a witness ran to Gracie Mansion to get help.

A caretaker and horrified neighbors bombarded 911 after Sandra Boucher, 89, took a tumble in the building’s mailroom on July 15, but the retired jewelry designer was left writhing in pain in one of the latest blunders involving the city’s troubled Unified Call Taker system.

“To be in New York City living right across from Gracie Mansion and to have it take 50 minutes to get an ambulance to finally come to take this old woman to the hospital, the whole thing was a total disaster,” fumed Richard Frances, 68, a neighbor and psychiatrist who angrily phoned 911 himself a half- hour after the initial call.

“I felt as if she got as much care as if she lived in the Sahara Desert.”

Added neighbor Lauren Roberts, “She was just lying in the mailroom in a pool of blood by her head.”

The building manager finally ran across the street to Hizzoner’s residence and told one of the mayor’s guards, who flagged some firefighters just down the block.

A source involved in the 911 system said there were no EMTs available when the first call came in about 3 p.m. Only after the calls kept pouring in, did an operator raise the case’s priority to life-threatening, and an ambulance pulled up shortly after 4 p.m., minutes after the fire crew had arrived.

“Jesus Christ almighty, an 89-year-old lady lying on the floor bleeding after banging her head. To make it a non-life-threatening incident at first, it’s off-the-charts dumb,” griped Martin Steadman, spokesman for the Unified Fire Officers Association.

The FDNY said it is reviewing its response to the incident.

Fire-union leaders cite thousands of similarly bungled responses. They blame the Unified Call Taker system, implemented in 2009 to increase response times.

City Hall has said that the unions just want to protect members’ jobs and that there were plenty of errors before the new system was established.

De Blasio has halted all spending on the 911 system and ordered a comprehensive review of UCT.
By Shawn Cohen /

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September 02, 2014
Rescue boat capsizes - OH


A rescue craft overturned late today-but all rescuers are ok-in their search for an 8 year old child missing and presumed drowned since Monday in Hamilton County, Ohio near Cincinnati.

Rescuers have now paused their search this evening in the Great Miami River in Whitewater Township due to high water and dark skies.

Sonar had "hit" an unidentified object at the bottom of the river during the afternoon.

Hamilton County emergency crews have been searching for Bryan Nolasco Morales in the river along US 50, between US 128 and Kilby Road, since about 4 p.m. Monday.

Harrison Fire Chief William Hursong said search dogs “hit on one spot in the river real hard" about 24 hours later Tuesday. He said sonar later showed signs of an object near the area where the Great Miami and Whitewater rivers meet, close to where the boy was last seen.

Just after 5:30 p.m., Hursong said divers still didn't know what the object was.

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September 02, 2014
Your Challenges When Responding

Part 1 of an excellent story about the challenges that fire, rescue and EMS have when trying to turnout/respond and safely reach an emergency call in time.

Every Second Counts: Growing Concerns for Emergency Responders Part one

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September 02, 2014
Volunteer Fire Departments Struggling with Staff Shortage - CO

Volunteer firefighters protect about half of Colorado's residents, with solely volunteer departments being responsible for about 70 percent of the state's land surface, and they are significantly understaffed, reports

The Colorado State Fire Chiefs Association estimates that Colorado is short 3,500 volunteers in meeting National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) standards. That would require an increase of more than 40 percent to the present force.

"Generally, all fire departments that have volunteers need more volunteers," said Garry Briese, executive director of the fire chiefs association.

Like their career counterparts, volunteers are expected to respond at all hours of day and night, often over extended distances, and in all weather conditions. They face the same obstacles, inherent health risks and physical dangers. The difference is that they don't get paid.

There are 198 all-volunteer departments in Colorado serving more than 450,000 residents, and an additional 137 agencies that are a combination of career and volunteer firefighters. These "hybrid" stations serve 2.2 million residents, and 33 of them have only one or two paid firefighters.

To give perspective to the size and shape of all volunteer fire departments against their vast responsibilities, they average nine firefighters per 1,000 residents and six per 100 square miles, an area about two-thirds the size of Denver.

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September 02, 2014
Surveillance cameras catch man sifting through Wayne Township fire truck - IN

(Wayne Fire)

INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 2, 2014) – Firefighters in Wayne Township are telling residents to stay alert after surveillance video caught a man trying to steal from one of their fire trucks.

Footage from Aug. 29 shows a man climb into the cab of a Wayne Township truck around 9:10 a.m. It happened at the Chapel Hill Shopping Plaza near 10th and Girls School Road.

Firefighters confronted the man, who ran off. Nothing was reported missing from the truck.
by Matt Adams - Web Producer /

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September 02, 2014
Firefighters knocked down as fireball erupts during NJ strip mall fire - NJ

(CBS New York)

WESTFIELD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A raging fire tore through a strip mall in Westfield on Monday.

The blaze began around 11:30 a.m. at the back of a nail salon and karate studio on South Avenue, officials said.

CBS 2 captured video of a massive fireball exploding over the shopping center, knocking two firefighters to the ground.

A bystander and another firefighter assisted the men who fell, CBS 2’s Matt Kozar reported.

“They were treated and released from the hospital, cleared to return to duty,” said Westfield fire Chief Daniel Kelly.

Officials said the explosion came from the nail salon, which was packed with chemicals and rags, firefighters’ worst nightmare. And that wasn’t the only issue they faced: There were water-pressure problems with the hydrants, plus the heat and humidity.

Kelly said the fire companies ventilated the one-story structure, but couldn’t do it fast enough.

“The high heat and gases get trapped up in the void space called the common cockloft,” Kelly explained. “And if they aren’t vented out quickly enough, they reach an emission point, where they flash over.”

On Labor Day, business owners who have worked so hard to build something were left picking up the charred pieces. Five of the eight occupancies sustained significant damage.

The pizzeria Hassan Diwane has owned for 20 years was left unscathed.

While he said he’s thankful he didn’t have damage and that no one was seriously hurt, he said he still feels the suffering of his fellow business owners.

“I feel so bad, especially for the nail salon,” he said. “They just opened. Not even a year.”

Kelly said 80 firefighters battled the blaze.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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September 02, 2014
Lessons Learned:
Read report on Houston’s Southwest Inn fire that killed 4 firefighters - TX

The Houston Fire Department today (Monday) released its final report into the deadliest incident in the department’s history. The May, 2013 fire at the Southwest Inn Motel killed Firefighters Anne Sullivan and Robert Garner, Engineer Operator Robert Bebee, and Senior Captain Matthew Renaud. The fire also injured Captain William Dowling, Firefighters Robert Yarbrough, Foster Santos, and Tony Livesay.

The report was leaked to the news media in Houston on Labor Day. It provides more than 200 recommendations for safety improvements.

Jayme Fraser & St. John Barned-Smith, Houston Chronicle:
Firefighters had nearly contained a small fire at the Southwest Inn last year when the roof collapsed, killing four and sending their colleagues into a chaotic dash to rescue them.

A draft copy of a Houston Fire Department report reveals that some firefighters abandoned procedures, creating confusion about who was in charge, cluttering radio channels with non-essential transmissions and sometimes delaying assistance from new units who could not drive close to the scene nor knew where to park.

Significant technical challenges with the new radio system, implemented less than a year earlier, fueled the disorganization as strong winds whipped the fire into a much larger blaze.

Problems with radio communications are among one of the findings of a 193 page report by a committee within the Houston Fire Department that investigated a fatal motel fire that killed four firefighters.

In May 2013, four firefighters lost their lives while battling a massive blaze at the Southwest Inn Motel. It was the deadliest accident in the history of the Houston Fire Department.

The cause of the fire is still unknown, but the report did determine it started in the attic space above the kitchen. Investigators say there is no evidence that it was deliberately set. The report states that because of the high amount or radio traffic, firefighters were not getting through or were hearing partial messages.

Download the full report

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September 02, 2014
Belvidere firefighter falls from moving firetruck, is taken to hospital - NJ

A Belvidere firefigher fell today from this firetruck along Water Street near Orchard Street in White Township while responding to a fire alarm call. (Express-Times Photo | TIM WYNKOOP)

A Warren County volunteer firefighter was rushed this morning to the hospital after he fell from a moving firetruck, authorities said.

Belvidere's Goodwill Fire Company No. 1 was responding to a fire alarm when Joseph Peters tumbled out of the truck along Water Street in White Township, according to New Jersey State Police.

The 28-year-old Peters was badly injured and taken to St. Luke's University Hospital in Fountain Hill for treatment of a possible head injury, state police spokesman Sgt. First Class Gregory Williams said.

Peters appeared to be sitting inside the truck and was attempting to put on his equipment when his arm accidentally hit a door latch, police said. The door swung open and the Belvidere man fell, according to police.

Emergency logs from the Warren County Communications Center indicate the truck was responding to a fire alarm at Knowlton Township Elementary School.

State police were dispatched at 11:19 a.m. to reports of an accident. Peters was conscious and alert when troopers arrived, Williams said.

A medical helicopter was on standby, but later cancelled and Peters was taken by ambulance to the hospital.

An assistant chief from the volunteer fire company declined comment today, citing the ongoing investigation. One lane of Water Street near Orchard Street was briefly closed as emergency crews responded the scene.
By Matthew Bultman | The Express-Times

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September 02, 2014
Evanston fire truck involved in car accident Sunday morning - IL

An Evanston fire department truck was hit by a car Sunday morning while responding to a fire call, officials said.

The accident occurred at about about 9:35 a.m. Sunday at Ridge Avenue and Central Street when a woman in an SUV tried to maneuver around the fire truck, fire Chief Greg Klaiber said. After hitting the truck, she crashed into a pole, he said.

The woman may have suffered a seizure or passed out, resulting in the crash, Klaiber said. The woman was unconscious following the accident and was transported to Evanston Hospital, he said.

As of latest reports, the woman was in stable condition, Division Chief Dwight Hohl told The Daily at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

No firefighters were hurt because of the accident. One firefighter was minorly injured while removing the woman from her car, but will be able to immediately return to work, Hohl said.

The truck suffered only minor damages, Klaiber said. Police were on the scene investigating the accident at about 10:30 a.m Sunday, he said.
Paige Leskin, Reporter

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September 02, 2014
Judge says Brown County fire departments may not charge for services - SD

A judge’s ruling that fire departments cannot charge for responding to standard calls shouldn’t hinder responses by local volunteer fire departments, said Brown County’s emergency management director.

Scott Meints works closely with the volunteer departments and, in cases of serious fires, reports to many of the same calls.

While the decision won’t mean departments go to fewer fires, the fact is that many local departments have limited resources, Meints said. So their being allowed to charge for responding would have been a financial benefit.

But that’s not going happen under a ruling by Judge Tony Portra.

In August, Portra dismissed two Brown County lawsuits filed against Dwight Lawson of rural Groton, who was billed roughly $11,500 by the Aberdeen rural and Groton volunteer fire departments for an October 2012 fire that destroyed a shed on his property. Both fire departments responded to the call.

The Groton fire department billed Lawson about $8,800, the Aberdeen rural department roughly $2,700, according to court documents.

Simply put, Portra ruled that state law doesn’t specifically give fire districts authority to charge for their responses.

“There is no reason to imply further powers regarding funding that the Legislature did not specifically provide,” Portra wrote in his decision.

Fire districts, which must be approved by voters within district boundaries, have taxing authority to fund themselves.

So, Meints said, those fire departments have a reliable source of funding. But there are a handful of volunteer departments in Brown County that don’t have districts, and they are really struggling, he said.

Meints said there is a county ordinance that holds landowners liable for damages when fire departments have to respond to controlled burns that get out of control. And, he said, it applies even when the proper precautions and permissions were procured before the controlled burn was started.
By Scott Waltman /

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September 01, 2014
Fire Destroys Memphis, Firefighter Bitten By Fire Ants - TN

Fire broke out in a 50-room motel on Lamar early Sunday, but no one was seriously injured, officials said.

Still, the Super 8 Motel at 4060 Lamar was a total loss, Memphis Fire Department spokesman Lt. Wayne Cooke said.

The fire began about 11:45 a.m. when the air-conditioning unit in Room 207 malfunctioned, Cooke said. The guests evacuated, he added, and the only minor injury came to a firefighter who suffered several bites from fire ants. The fire was brought under control just before 1 p.m.

Cooke estimated the value of lost property and contents at $750,000.
Jody Callahan / The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn

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September 01, 2014
Detroit firefighters attacked by rocks, bottles during wild day of arsons - IL


Residents hurled rocks and bottles at Detroit firefighters as they extinguished a suspicious blaze in a vacant house Friday night, accentuating a wild 24-hour period in which fires broke out in 25 homes, nine cars, a school and an apartment building.

Of those 36 fires, at least 29 were suspicious.

Shortly before 9 p.m., firefighters arrived at a vacant house fire at 14519 Robson. Soon after, residents began chucking bottles and rocks at the firefighters and their rigs on a block devoured by blight.

“I need as many police as possible,” Chief 7 told dispatchers. “I have civilians attacking firefighters and FEOs, throwing bottles, rocks and whatnot.”

About 10 minutes later, two police cars and a helicopter descended on the area. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the assailants were found.

The first arson fire on Friday broke out inside an occupied house at McKinney and Grayton on the east side at 2:55 a.m. Over the next 21 hours, the fires were relentless, sometimes spreading to neighboring homes.

At 12:35 p.m., a suspicious fire inside a vacant house spread to an occupied home and abandoned apartment building, devouring all three structures at St. John and Ewer in southwest Detroit. Arson is suspected in a fire that damaged Alexander Macomb Elementary School on the east side near Chandler Park at 4:10 p.m.

Between 6:45 p.m. and 8:20 p.m., two fires broke out one block from each other at E. Kirby and Grandy, an area already decimated by arsons and abandonment.

The fires present a significant challenge to a city struggling to curtail a six-decade population decline. The fires are burning out neighborhood cores, accelerating blight and ratcheting up insurance rates.
Steve Neavling, reporting for Motor City Muckraker

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September 01, 2014
Lessons Learned:
2008 Death Prompted Changes in OSU Firefighter Training - OK

STILLWATER -- Whether Thomas Russell "Rusty" Topping was a member of the Barnsdall volunteer fire department has been the topic of legal controversy.

But there's no question he suffered a firefighter's death.

Firefighting is grueling, strenuous work. The harshness of the job was fully reflected May 31, 2008 when Topping and 24 other students showed up for live burn firefighter training exercises at the Oklahoma State University Fire Service Training Professional Skills Center at Stillwater.

It was hot and humid. Temperatures started out the training day at 75 degrees, but climbed to 91 degrees by mid-afternoon.

While not scorching hot by Oklahoma standards, it was the hottest day to date that year. Students had not yet become accustomed to such temperatures, according to the final death investigation report prepared by a four-person team selected by the Oklahoma State Firefighters Association at the request of the OSU training service.

The report presented conflicting accounts of Topping's apparent physical preparedness for the challenge.

Topping, who was 28 years old, stood 6-feet tall and weighed 280 pounds.

Medical conditions

"Firefighter Topping was ... considered one of the best, most enthusiastic, fittest students in the course by both the students and the instructors," investigators reported.

However, they also reported that the state medical examiner, who listed the cause of death as hypothermia, found "significant medical conditions of hypertensive atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and obesity."

Topping noted in his registration materials that he had been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease that causes abdominal pain and diarrhea. He failed to mention that he had flare ups that morning and the previous day, which would have made him more susceptible to dehydration -- an ever-present danger for firefighters.

On-site emergency medical services personnel were not familiar with the symptoms and potential complications of ulcerative colitis, investigators reported.

Topping was no stranger to hard work.

"It was well-known that firefighter Topping worked a full day for the City of Bartlesville hand-digging ditches in the hot sun," investigators reported. "However, he always reported to class on time and was the first to volunteer and the last to leave."

Topping enthusiastically displayed those traits that day, as firefighters were put through a day-long series of strenuous live burn training exercises designed to teach them how to attack fires in buildings --both upstairs and below ground -- as well as put out fires in vehicles, dumpsters, electrical panels and hidden in walls.

Heat takes toll

The heat quickly began to take its toll on students. who performed their tasks while in full bunker gear and wearing self contained breathing apparatus.

At 11 a.m. a Copan firefighter named Call was overcome by heat exhaustion. An ambulance was summoned to take him to the Stillwater Medical Center.

Thirty minutes later, another firefighter named Anthony went down, overcome by heat, as well. After being taken to the rehabilitation station to cool down, Anthony returned to training.

"He stated that he was going to return to his group and finish the process 'even if it killed him,'" investigators reported. "He had worked too hard and the process was so hard that he 'was not going to go through it again no matter what.'"

As the day wore on, other firefighters reported difficulty from the heat.

One firefighter told investigators he removed his face piece and opened his coat to cool down after finishing a rotation on the fire hose nozzle, even though he thought he "got in trouble for it."

He said he was "too hot and they could just kick him out if they didn't like it," investigators said.

By mid-afternoon "most of the students were near exhaustion," the report said.

An instructor yelled at students when he found all but Topping sitting when they were supposed to be assisting the rapid intervention team, which was responsible for watching other firefighters while they attacked a blaze to make sure none of them got in trouble.

"All present reported that firefighter Topping appeared to be holding up better than everyone else. He never complained about anything," investigators reported.

Topping told an instructor who had been overcome by the heat that he worked outside digging ditches all day and this didn't bother him at all -- "in fact, he was enjoying it."

Break in protocol

Topping made it through all the live burn exercises, only to collapse in a restroom at the end of the day.

He had gone to the restroom by himself, a break in protocol from the training center's buddy system. Topping was pronounced dead a short time later after being taken to Stillwater Medical Center.

OSU has been training firefighters since 1931 and has an excellent safety record. Topping is the only student death in the program's history, according to Bryan West, facilities manager for the OSU Professional Skills Center.

Safety is stressed every day, he said.

The investigative report contains much evidence of that. An accountability system was set up that included a buddy system. Breaks were scheduled between firefighting exercises. Water and Gatorade stations were set up. Instructors preached proper hydration. The list of safety measures was lengthy.

Still, investigators found numerous problems and recommended changes:

"A culture existed to cause instructors to believe that students would come forward when they needed a break, and students to believe they were inadequate if they came forward for a break," the report said.

No ambulance was on site during training exercises.

Training was conducted regardless of outside temperatures.

Changes had been made in 2005 that added additional training stations. From 2005 up until Topping's 2008 death, one student out of every 3.6 live burn classes had been sent to the hospital.

Volunteer firefighters were not required to obtain medical evaluations before attending training or being allowed to fight fires.

Water jugs on site ran out of water on a few occasions, although they were refilled as soon as that was discovered.

There was no food on site, other than what students and instructors brought themselves.

There was no shade in one of the rehabilitation areas.

Several changes made

Several changes have been made since the report came out to try to improve safety, West said.

The center tries not to do training exercises in July and August.

Training days have shortened.

Training exercises are now carefully timed so firefighters aren't in their gear under harsh conditions for prolonged time periods.

2008 National Fire Protection Association standards were adopted that require mandatory breaks for specific lengths of time between training exercises. Longer recuperation periods are required when the weather is hot. Students are required to remove their gear so they can properly cool down.

Hydration continues to be pushed and granola and other food is now provided.

Still, some of the recommended changes have not been made.

The center tried to require ambulances on site, but found the scheduling too difficult and the costs too high, West said.

Pre-training physicals still aren't required for voluntary firefighters. West said he would love to see that happen, but called it a "touchy subject," adding that rural volunteer fire departments would probably lose 80 percent of their firefighters if physicals were required.

'There will always be risk'

No matter how many safety measures the center puts in place, there will always be risk because firefighting is a strenuous profession, West said.

"It's not just jumping in a big red truck and screaming with the lights and sirens," he said. "When you get to that house or you get that car wreck and you've got to pull your equipment out and you've got specific duties, like running into a burning building to save somebody or cutting a vehicle apart to save a life, there's some strenuous activities going on. If it's 120 degrees out, you've still got to do your job."

Because those job situations sometimes occur, West said there are some fire chiefs in Oklahoma who would like to see their firefighters trained in 120 degree heat.

"We're not going to do that," he said. "There's just a safe way of training and there's not. Safe training has always been our Number 1 priority."

West, who was present the day Topping died, said the death left a lasting impression.

"Every day I walk into this building and I have to provide live fire training, that event comes back to me," he said. "It's just not something -- even after six years -- that you get over."

"When anybody asks, we're going to do it safely," West said. "We're not going to take any shortcuts and we're not going to do anything that puts anybody's safety at risk."
Randy Ellis / Source: The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City

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