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December 18, 2014
Two Charged With Stealing $106K From Fire Dept. - PA

Two Washington County residents have been charged with conspiring to steal nearly $106,000 from a volunteer fire department.

Thomas Yuratovich, 42, former president of Denbo-Vesta 6 Volunteer Fire Department in Centreville, and Rachel Lynne Sargent, 40, the former treasurer, are accused of making more than 160 withdrawals or purchases using the department's bank account for their personal use.

According to a criminal complaint, the suspects funded casino trips, cruises, other travels including a trip to the Cayman Islands and purchases of personal items at Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Best Buy and Home Depot.

Another member of the department found discrepancies in the bank records and contacted Centerville police, who brought in a fraud investigator. Mr. Yuratovich and Ms. Sargent were ousted from the department and face charges of theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception, conspiracy, access device fraud and evidence tampering.
Jon Schmitz / Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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December 18, 2014
Concern Rises Over Fire Truck With One Air Pack - ME

NEWRY -- Selectmen are trying to determine why Roxbury's firetruck has only had one working air pack for the past three months.

At Tuesday night's meeting, they decided to either have fire Chief Ray Carver contact board Chairman John Sutton and explain the problem or schedule a meeting between the board and Carver.

"To me, that's unacceptable to have them not working," Selectman Tim Derouche said.

Sutton said the department should have a minimum of three working air packs even though Roxbury only has two firefighters who are trained to enter burning buildings and it takes a minimum of three firefighters with air packs to enter burning buildings.

Selectman Mike Worthley, also a Roxbury firefighter, said he was told that the non-working air packs are being serviced and should be ready soon. Firefighter Matthew Patneaude said there were originally four air packs on the firetruck.

Sutton said the issue of non-working air packs is "a big problem" that needs to be resolved.

Worthley said a Roxbury firetruck could arrive at a burning building and three firefighters from Rumford could show up in their personal vehicles, but nobody could enter the building to rescue trapped occupants without working air packs.

"It sounds like something has gotten very overlooked," Derouche said.

In other business, Worthley said the Maine Cardiovascular Health Council and MCD Public Health got a federal grant to buy and place automated external defibrillators in eligible rural areas. This includes training first responders and the public how to properly use the life-saving devices.

He said he got an application from Med-Care Ambulance in Mexico to apply for one for the Roxbury Town Office. Worthley said the town already has one on the town firetruck and there would be no cost for a second one other than batteries and pads.

Derouche told him to apply for it on behalf of the town.

Renee Hodsdon, deputy town clerk, tax collector and treasurer, told the board that she had sent 30- to 45-day foreclosure notices to five property owners who owe from $122.69 to $1,074.55 in taxes. When asked what the town's next step is, Hodsdon said, "We wait."

Chairman Sutton clarified, saying, "We hope we get payment."

The board also voted unanimously to accept new General Assistance appendices following an earlier public hearing that was only attended by selectmen and Town Clerk Nina Hodgkins.

Code Enforcement Officer Robert Folsom Sr. reported that he has found three properties that don't have septic systems installed and has written four draft letters to send to people who have raised camps without getting permits. He said he also found that someone built an addition to a deck that is in the Shoreland Zone and a camp that was moved in without a permit and a barrel placed in the ground for septic waste.

Sutton read into the record a list of complaints about early-morning ice on town roads on Dec. 4 and asked to have the plowing and sanding contractor attend the board's next meeting. He said he also learned that one resident got sand from the town stockpile and spread it at the Roxbury Post Office lot. Derouche said that shouldn't be done because the post office is a business and can hire its own contractor to spread sand on its lot.

Selectmen also learned that a Wells Fargo real estate firm wants to donate the old store building at 1881 Roxbury Road to the town.

Worthley, who is president of the Roxbury ATV Riders Club, suggested leasing it to the club for use as a clubhouse. He said it should first be checked to learn if someone has stolen its copper piping.
Terry Karkos / Source: Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine

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December 18, 2014
Fire Chief Ricky Wooten Doub Found Dead at Home After Calls - NC


Chief Ricky Wooten Doub

The chief of the Forbush Volunteer Fire Department in Yadkinville, N.C., was found dead at his home Tuesday after having responded to an EMS run and fire call earlier in the day. He was 61.

Chief Ricky Wooten Doub died of an as yet undisclosed cause, according to the U.S. Fire Administration in an announcement of his passing.

The USFA said Doub was found deceased at his East Bend home by his wife at about 5 p.m. Tuesday evening.

According to his obituary, filed with the Gentry Family Funeral Services, Doub was born on Feb. 2, 1953, in Yadkin County and was the owner and operator of William Doub and Son Excavating.

He had been a member of the Forbush Fire Department for 29 years and served as its chief for the past eight years. He is survived by his wife Judy his mother, brothers, nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his father, William Doub,

Funeral services will be held Friday, Dec. 19, at the Baltimore United Methodist Church in East Bend. Burial will follow in the church cemetery.
Source: Firehouse News

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December 18, 2014
Deputy Chief Is Sixth Hartford Firefighter Placed On Leave - CT

HARTFORD — Deputy Chief James McLoughlin has become the sixth Hartford firefighter placed on paid administrative leave since November.

City officials have declined to say why McLoughlin was placed on leave, effective Dec. 10.

He joins firefighter Justin Wood, who was charged in the accidental shooting of a friend; firefighter Jeffrey Vendetta, who was charged with drunk driving and evading arrest; firefighter Cinque Scott, who was suspended following an on-the-job alcohol-related incident; and lieutenants Vernon Tyson and Scott Cunningham, who were involved in a fight at the scene of a fire.

McLoughlin also declined to discuss the reason for his suspension and referred all inquiries to Hartford Fire Chief Carlos Huertas's office. Huertas did not respond to a request for comment.

McLoughlin was the incident commander in the Oct. 7 fire on Blue Hills Avenue that killed one Hartford firefighter and left another seriously injured..

Kevin Bell, 48 and a six-year veteran of the department died in the fire. He was found unconscious on the second floor of a two-story house in a room to the right of the stairwell. He was discovered missing after McLoughlin ordered all firefighters from the building in order to conduct a head count.

Firefighter Jason Martinez, 29, was also seriously injured when he jumped from a second story window on the front side of the building. He sustained burns on 10 percent of his body and was taken to the burn unit at Bridgeport Hospital. He was released from the hospital Oct. 30 and has not returned to work.

Bell's breathing apparatus was seized as part of the investigation into his death. There is no indication whether equipment issues played a role in his death.

The state medical examiner's office has not released a cause of death and the cause of the has not been determined.

The string of incidents and issues related to the fire in which Bell died prompted Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra to form a task force of retired city fire chiefs and the Hartford Police Chief James Rovella to review the fire department's operations and its actions related to the fatal fire.
By Steven Goode / courant.com

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December 18, 2014
Fire chief : 'Happy Birthday Jesus' sign will not be taken down - NY

(WKTV) - Utica Fire Chief Russell Brooks has received numerous letters this year from a national organization called The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), an organization founded in Wisconsin in 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

Each of the letters asks Chief Brooks to take down a sign that sits outside Firehouse No. 4 in South Utica, which has been put up there by Station 4 firefighters each Christmas season for about the past decade.

The sign says "Happy Birthday Jesus, We Love You."

Brooks say the Station 4 firefighters started putting the sign up after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

"911 brought a lot of the guys closer to God, and they just wanted to show their faith in Jesus," Brooks said. "They had no idea a controversy would arise."

This story about the sign in Utica has been picked up by numerous news organizations across the country, including the Washington Times on Monday.

A spokesperson for FFRF told News Channel 2 on Monday it came to their organization's attention when a Utica resident contacted them, complaining about the sign last year. FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor released a statement saying, "About 20 percent of Utica citizens are nonreligious and others follow non-Christian faiths, and that includes Utica firefighters. The Utica Fire Department should not send them this exclusionary and alienating message."

Brooks says earlier this year, when he first started receiving the letters from FFRF, he contacted a not-for-profit national law firm called The Thomas More Law Center based in Ann Arbor, Mich.

According to its website, "The Thomas More Law Center's mission is to restore and defend America's Judeo-Christian heritage and moral values, and to preserve a strong national defense, and a free and sovereign United States of America. In courtrooms throughout our Nation, Law Center lawyers fight for the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, the sanctity of human life, and a strong national defense. The Law Center does not charge for its legal services, and relies on tax-deductible donations from concerned patriotic Americans and charitable foundations."

Brooks says The Thomas More Law Center has vowed to take this case to court pro-bono if someone does bring a case against the fire department.

Brooks says most government entities back down to such threats, but he says he won't.

"Pledge of Allegiance has God in it, money has God on it," he said. "This case isn't unique."

Brooks says other departments, such as the New Hartford Fire Department, have a manger on their lawn, but he says it's the sign in Utica that gets all of the attention.

He says he has heard another area fire department will be putting up a similar 'Happy Birthday Jesus' sign in the near future but won't say which one. He says when it does go up, the media will probably hear about it.
By Gary Liberatore / wktv.com

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December 18, 2014
Study Shows Fire Houses Need Renovations in Utica - NY

UTICA, N.Y. -- The Utica Fire Department wants to deliver the best service possible, but firefighters say that's becoming harder with the deteriorating infrastructure they work with. City officials commissioned an independent study of the department.

"It was basically an inventory of the conditions of our existing firehouses," said George Clark, the Utica assistant fire chief. "The biggest thing is we've identified some of the major deficiencies and how to proceed in the future."

The proposed department project includes renovations and truck replacements. There's also the possibility of the two oldest stations, one and four, merging. That proposal has been in place for about eight years.

"And because this plan was out there, it had support, we haven't done any capital projects at Sunset and Shepherd," said Russell Brooks, the Utica fire chief. "So there's some issues that need to occur, it needs to be updated."

When station four was built, about 100 years ago, firefighters still traveled by horse. But today, some of these trucks they use can weigh anywhere from 40,000 to 50,000 pounds.

And the basement they sit above isn't designed to support that kind of weight.

"They've put some steel beams inside to prop up and make sure the floor does not deteriorate further," said Clark. "It will, but for now it's okay."

Clark says it would be less expensive to start fresh and build the proposed merged station. But if all the elements of the proposed project are carried out, it will cost almost $29 million.

"Money is a major factor," said Clark. "Obviously For the city to do that where they're coming from would be rather difficult. So we're exploring different funding possibilities -- grants. The city can't take on a project this large."

Fire officials say regardless of cost, the project eventually needs to happen. Once it does start, it will take between five and seven years to complete.

The assistant fire chief says he expects the Common Council to make a decision on the proposal anywhere from six months to a year from now.
By: Alana LaFlore / http://elmira-corning.twcnews.com

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December 18, 2014
4 firefighters hurt in Riverdale blaze - IL

Four firefighters suffered non-life-threatening injuries while battling an extra-alarm blaze at a condominium building Tuesday in Riverdale, officials said.

About 100 firefighters from departments all over the south suburbs responded to the fire in a three-story building within the Riverwood Condominiums at 137th Street and Stewart Avenue.

The Riverdale Fire Department's deputy chief, Art Schweitzer, said he doesn't know how the firefighters were hurt, but said they will be OK.

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The injured firefighters were taken to Ingalls Memorial Hospital in Harvey and MetroSouth Medical Center in Blue Island, Schweitzer said. Two are with Riverdale Fire, one is a Calumet Park firefighter and the fourth is with Markham.

One civilian also complained of difficulty breathing, apparently because of asthma, Schweitzer said.

He also said Riverdale police officers knocked on the doors of other residents in the building, helping them evacuate safely.

The fire started about 5:15 p.m. in a second-floor unit at 13705 S. Stewart. At least five other units were damaged, Schweitzer said, most of them by smoke.

Schweitzer said residents or families from those units were displaced.

It's unclear where the fire started in the second-floor unit and the cause remains under investigation. Fire officials said the blaze was put out in 45 minutes.

Schweitzer said there was a "mayday" call -- denoting a firefighter in distress -- as the fire was raised to a 2-11 alarm, calling for extra help from several fire departments. The mayday call was prompted by a firefighter who "ran out of air on the third floor," he said.

About a dozen people, some from the fire building, camped out in a neighboring building as firefighters assessed the damage. Some firefighters were seen walking around with axes and oxygen tanks strapped to their backs.

Janie Horton, the condominium association president, was cooking dinner in her unit in one of the other buildings when she got a phone call about the fire.

"We got a great alarm system, thank God," she said.
firefighterclosecalls.com

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December 18, 2014
FIREHOUSE FIRE - NJ

A fire in Elk Township on Monday night damaged the Ferrell Firehouse.The smell of smoke drifted more than a mile from the corner of Elk and Ellis Mill roads, and the night was lit up by engines from several neighboring communities.

Patrick Spring, mayor of the township and captain with the Ferrell Fire Co., said the flames started in the lounge of the firehouse at about 10:30 p.m. No one was in the building when the fire began.

Fire companies from neighboring towns, including Harrisonville, Clayton, Aura, Ewan and Monroeville, were on hand. By 10:50, the fire was under control, but not before the building's lounge and office were damaged. The truck bays and all vehicles inside were undamaged.

"There's nothing in that building we can't replace," Spring said. "We will rebuild."

Still, Spring said, the experience of having your own firehouse burn was a harrowing one.

"When it's your own house, it's a little different," he said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. No one was injured
firefighterclosecalls.com

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December 18, 2014
FF INJURED BY FALLING ROOF - CA

A firefighter is recovering after he was injured battling an overnight fire in Southeast Fresno.

The flames broke out shortly after 1 a.m. Tuesday in a two-story townhouse in the area of Butler and Winery. Fresno Fire officials say a firefighter went into the house and was cutting a hole in the wall when the roof came down on top of the firefighter.

Authorities say the firefighter was taken to the hospital with significant injuries, but is expected to be okay. Authorities say two people were displaced by the fire. The fire caused about $200-thousand in damages and investigators say is was started by an electrical malfunction in the home.
firefighterclosecalls.com

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December 18, 2014
Town Seeks Merit-Based Pay System for Firefighters - FL

Contract negotiations will resume Thursday between the town and the union representing the rank-and-file firefighters in hopes of finalizing terms of a new contract.

Both sides last met on Sept. 26 and left the bargaining table with one sticking point: the formula for salaries and raises.

Town and union representatives will meet at 9 a.m. at the South Fire Station.

Local 2928 of the International Association of Firefighters wants to keep the salary step plan, which establishes raises for employees at each step in their careers.

The town wants firefighters to switch to a merit-based system, which is used by all other employees. In that system, raises are based on employee evaluations completed by their supervisors. Union representatives argued against a merit-based system, saying it could allow favored employees to get the largest raises while others receive significantly less.

Jeffrey Mandel, the town's labor attorney, has said the merit system rewards the highest-performing employees and provides raises for everyone who receives a satisfactory evaluation.

Rank-and-file firefighters are the only town employees represented by a union.

At the last session, the town agreed that if fire lieutenants are granted a "Kelly Day" or other similar scheduled day off from work, unionized fire employees also would receive that benefit. A Kelly Day is an unpaid day off every three weeks that firefighters nationwide typically receive. Lieutenants currently do not have Kelly Days.

In July, firefighters received up to a 4 percent pay increase thanks to an agreement between the town and union representatives. The town offered the one-time agreement outside of contract negotiations allowing firefighters to receive raises on the anniversary date of their hire or promotion in 2014. Firefighters hadn't received raises in the four years before that.

The last time the sides went through contract talks , the town declared an impasse in June 2010. A special magistrate listened to both sides and filed a report. The Town Council rejected the magistrate's recommendations, triggering a packed public hearing in April 2011. In a 3-2 vote, the council imposed a contract, eliminating longevity bonuses, increasing the work week by eliminating Kelly Days and instituting a pay freeze unless negotiated through collective bargaining.

If the two sides reach an agreement, the department's unionized employees would vote on it. If a majority accept it, the contract would go before the Town Council for approval. The three-year, retroactive contract if approved would remain in effect until Sept. 30, 2016.
MICHELE DARGAN, Palm Beach Daily News

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December 18, 2014
Information passed along
Wildfire Study Supports Need for Controlled Burns


A firefighter watches for spot fires during a burnout operation while battling the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park, Calif., on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013. Fire crews are clearing brush and setting sprinklers to protect two groves of giant sequoias as a massive week-old wildfire rages along the remote northwest edge of Yosemite National Park.
(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A fierce wildfire that scorched part of Yosemite National Park burned less intensely in places that had fires in recent years — a finding that researchers said Wednesday supports a belief that controlled burning often curtails extreme fires.

The U.S. Forest Service study focused on areas of the Rim Fire that burned 400 square miles in Stanislaus National Forest, Yosemite's backcountry and private timber land.

It was the largest fire in the recorded history of the Sierra Nevada. It destroyed 11 homes and cost more than $125 million to fight.

Areas hit by the Rim Fire within Yosemite had burned within 14 years and experienced less intense flames, said U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station, which authored the study.

The study also said wildfires are almost impossible to contain after they turn into a storm of smoke, gas and ash that race across treetops.

"The specific conditions leading to large plume formations are unknown," said Jamie Lydersen, lead author of the study. "But what is clear from many observations is that these plumes are associated with extreme burning conditions."

Studies into the makeup of Yosemite's forest done three years before the Rim Fire provided a point of comparison, researchers said.

Researchers recommend that forestry agencies with shared borders and interests combine their efforts to conduct controlled burns during moderate weather conditions, giving them the best chance for to avoid massive high-intensity fires.

Bow hunter Keith Matthew Emerald, 32, has pleaded not guilty to a four-count indictment charging him with starting an illegal fire and lying to federal agents. Authorities said he lost control of a campfire on Aug. 17, 2013.
The Associated Press

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December 18, 2014
Family: Ambulance sent to Wrong Address; Man Died - PA

Vincent Marcario was resting in bed at his home in Kingston, looking forward to the Thanksgiving feast he had stayed up late preparing with his sister, when the day took a tragic turn.

Lying in bed, Mr. Marcario, 46, had a heart attack that proved fatal. Family members, who struggled to preform CPR in a cramped bedroom until help arrived, believe a 911 dispatch error may have cost Mr. Marcario his life.

The death occurred six months after a woman died in a fire in Mocanaqua after a 911 dispatcher sent fire departments to the wrong municipality.

In Mr. Marcario's emergency, Kingston Fire Chief Frank Guido confirmed an ambulance responding to the 911 call on Nov. 27 was dispatched to Gates Street in Wilkes-Barre instead of South Gates Street in Kingston. He said he submitted an incident report to the county about the error after he learned his crew saw the dispatch error on the computer logs.

Mary Hayes, who called 911 when her brother had the heart attack, said she has lived at 36 S. Gates St. for the last four years with her family and knows she told 911 the correct, full address, even spelling out the name of the street. The call taker asked her if it was Kingston Twp. or Kingston Borough, she said. Ms. Hayes, 50, told the calltaker she didn't know, but the address was behind Kirby Park.

"I don't know how they could screw that up with Wilkes-Barre," Ms. Hayes said.

She estimated it took between 15 and 20 minutes from the first 911 call until an ambulance arrived. She said she used her cellphone, but it doesn't save the time calls are placed.

Chief Guido couldn't say how long until the dispatch error was caught, but said once his crew realized there was a mistake, it took three minutes until an ambulance was on scene.

Fred Rosencrans, executive director of Luzerne County's 911 Dispatch Center, confirmed there's an investigation, but said he couldn't comment further because it is a personnel issue, referring questions to county solicitor David Pedri, who also said he could not comment.

Asked in detail about the mix-up, he said, "I can tell you it's pretty accurate," but he declined to say whether any disciplinary action has been taken or what the outcome of the investigation was.

"It's a very sensitive situation whenever it involves personnel," he said. "I understand the public wants to know, but my official comment is it's a personnel issue and it has been investigated."

Paula Schnelly, president of the local American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees chapter -- the union for 911 call takers -- declined to comment on whether any disciplinary action was taken against a 911 dispatch employee.

"I will say this: the 911 center is understaffed," she said.

One or two weeks before his fatal heart attack, Mr. Marcario was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, but he was fine while helping prepare Thanksgiving dinner, Ms. Hayes said.

"He wanted his ham and turkey," she said, adding she wouldn't let him steal any stuffing while preparing the meal.

Night owls, Ms. Hayes and her brother finished making the meal shortly before sunrise, Ms. Hayes said. Some family members, including Mr. Marcario and his sister, were already at the house Mr. Marcario's mother, Marie Marcario Weidemann, 74; his adopted brother and sister Danny Marcario, 19, and Julie Marcario, 17; and his nephew Leo Ravalli, 18.

Mr. Marcario was in bed in his upstairs bedroom when chest pains started, Ms. Hayes said. He couldn't call out for help because he was short of breath, but was able to wake Leo by tapping on the dresser. Once Leo saw something was wrong, he got his mother, Ms. Hayes.

Mr. Marcario's mother and sister, both former nurses, came into the room, and Ms. Hayes called 911 once she realized he was having a heart attack.

Ms. Weidmann said she sat with her son while Ms. Hayes went to turn on the porch light for EMS. Before Ms. Hayes made it downstairs, though, her mother called for her to come back up.

"I was holding his hand and the only thing he kept saying was, 'Mom, mom. I can't breathe,'" Ms. Weidmann said.

That's when he stopped breathing and his hands and face went ice cold, according to the family.

Ms. Weidmann pounded on her son's chest, but the force hurt her hands because of nerve problems she suffers.

Ms. Hayes then had her mother call 911 back to tell the dispatcher they were starting CPR. The 911 caller said they had to get Mr. Marcario on the floor to have a steady surface to place him on in order to preform CPR.

Ms. Hayes said there was little room on the floor, but Danny Marcario was able to get his older brother off the bed. Ms. Hayes stood bending over her brother because she couldn't kneel next to him and used her body weight to compress his chest while Danny Marcario did the breathing.

"I was putting everything into it," Ms. Hayes said.

But the family's efforts were to no avail. By the time help arrived and transported Mr. Marcario to Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, it was too late.

If 911 dispatched EMS to the correct address the first time, Ms. Hayes said, "I firmly believe they could have saved his life."

Earlier this year, there was a 911 dispatch error in a fatal fire. County 911 records show dispatchers sent fire departments to the wrong location while responding to a house fire in Mocanaqua that killed 52-year-old Michelle Dzoch.

When the fire was reported to 911 at 10:47 a.m. on May 15, dispatchers first sent fire departments to 76 Main St. in Conyngham Borough instead of 76 Main St., Mocanaqua, Conyngham Twp., according to dispatch records obtained by The Citizens' Voice via a Right to Know Law request. Those locations are about 15 miles from each other.

Sugarloaf Fire and Rescue, Hazle Twp. Fire and Rescue and Valley Regional Fire and Rescue were initially dispatched, the closest one of which is more than 15 miles from Mocanaqua.

The Mocanaqua Fire Company was dispatched at 10:52 a.m., and records show it was another six minutes before crews were en route to the fire, which was a tenth of a mile away from the Fire Department.

Two call center employees were initially suspended without pay, but one of them was subsequently fired as a result of the 911 mix-up.

The center relies heavily on phone company records, including between 170,000 to 180,000 records for land lines alone in the county, Mr. Rosencrans of Luzerne's 911 Dispatch Center had said. He noted that many communities have similar names and the same street names, and out-of-area phone providers have been known to list addresses in the wrong municipalities.

"As a director running a center that's the seventh-busiest in the state, that's the kind of stuff that keeps me up at night, to be honest with you -- thinking about the amount of data that's out there that could be wrong," Mr. Rosencrans said in a June interview. "When I had a data department of seven, years ago, and now I'm down to one person, it's almost impossible to scrub the data to where I want it to be."

As a result, call-takers are trained to assume that the data is wrong on every call, he said.
emsworld.com

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December 18, 2014
2 firefighters hurt while rescuing woman from house fire - OH

CLEVELAND — Two firefighters were injured Wednesday night as the Cleveland Fire Department pulled an elderly woman from a house fire.

The fire was in the 16500 block of Southland Avenue on Cleveland's far West Side and was reported about 6:15 p.m.

One firefighter suffered a hand laceration, and another rolled an ankle. The woman was found in a basement closet and was taken out by firefighters and taken to the hospital. It took firefighters about 10 to 12 minutes to locate her. Her condition was not immediately available.
WKYC.com

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December 18, 2014
Anderson County firefighters hurt in crash released from hospital - KY

ANDERSON COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - Several Anderson County firefighters who were hurt when their fire truck crashed Tuesday night have been released from the hospital.

Witnesses said the fire truck ran off Puckett Road and crashed into a tree.

Neighbors on Puckett Road said they were eating dinner around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday when they heard a loud crash. When they went outside, they saw that a fire truck had slammed into a tree after traveling several dozen feet in a ditch along the roadway.

Alton Station firefighters were on their way to offer assistance with another wreck near the intersection of Puckett and Hammonds Creek roads when the collision occurred.

Battalion Chief Chris Harrod says the crew was heading to a wreck near the intersection of Puckett and Hammonds Creek roads when the accident happened, "They came up on the radio when you could hear a change in their voice. You could tell something had gone wrong,"

According to Harrod they believe one of the truck's tires slipped off the road and the truck ran into a large branch, which peeled back the metal roof of the cab, "The firefighter was kind of laid over the engine compartment and was able to get away from all of the tangled metal here,"

Harrod says five of the firefighters inside the truck were taken to Frankfort Regional Medical Center. The sixth one went to the University of Kentucky Medical Center.

All of the firefighters were released by midnight. Harrod credits the firefighters excellent training in helping them to reach such a good outcome, "You know, they're professional firefighters. The volunteer department, they train just as hard as any other paid department in the state of Kentucky,"

The department will begin the process to get a new truck soon, but in the meantime Harrod tells WKYT they do have another one that they can use.
By: WKYT NEWS STAFF / wkyt.com

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December 18, 2014
Longtime Horry County firefighters suing for promised pay raises - SC

Four longtime Horry County Fire Rescue employees are suing the agency for not following through on promised pay raises, according to court records.

The lawsuit was filed last week by Wylie Neil Doyle, Timothy Lee, Anthony Mottola III and David Todd. The four have a combined 77 years of department service, with Todd working the longest at 25 years and Mottola having the shortest tenure at 14.

All are cross trained as firefighters and paramedics, according to the lawsuit.

The employees’ pay has been based on a formula that factors in position and years of service. In July 2008, the agency created a “propay” system that relegated firefighter/paramedics to a lower grade on the agency’s salary scale but rewarded them with a $7,500 propay increase for training in both fields, according to the lawsuit. The goal was to offer firefighters an incentive for obtaining a paramedic certification. Firefighter/paramedics were reduced in grade level so they would not outrank their supervisors.

But when the agency implemented propay, the employees contend, they received less than they were promised because the county didn’t properly account for their years of service.

In 2013, Mottola was promoted to lieutenant and actually saw his pay decline because of issues with the propay system, the lawsuit states.

Court records indicate Horry County Fire Rescue administrators have acknowledged problems with the propay system but haven’t compensated the four employees for their years of underpayment.

The disparity has grown over the years because of cost-of-living increases and overtime worked, according to the lawsuit.

Paul Porter, the Columbia attorney representing the firefighters, said his clients have tried to resolve the payment issues with the county since early 2013 and sued when they ran out of options. He said that documents and statements made by agency officials indicate they knew there were problems, yet they never addressed them.

“At the end of the day, they tried to work with the county to rectify the situation,” he said of his clients. “[The agency] simply wouldn’t fix it. I think they had no other choice. … The amount of pay they’re being shorted per year is quite large.”

Horry County spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier said Wednesday morning that the county had not been served with the lawsuit yet. The county typically doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

Bourcier did say the county still has the propay system and she is not aware of any changes made to it in recent years.
By Charles D. Perry The Sun News cperry@thesunnews.com

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December 16, 2014
Man caught on video struggling with firefighter at major L.A. fire wanted for questioning - CA


(firelensman)

The Los Angeles Fire Department Arson/Counter-Terrorism Section and officials from the National Response Team of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), are requesting the public’s help in identifying two potential witnesses seen in video footage taken the morning of December 8th, 2014 near a major emergency structure fire at 900 West Temple Street in downtown Los Angeles.

These two individuals are not considered suspects or persons of interest. Investigators have identified them as being in the area of the fire, and merely wish to interview them.

The public is encouraged to view and share the video and images now posted.

Anyone with information that may assist in identifying these individuals is urged to contact the LAFD Arson Section directly at (213) 893-9850. The LAFD remains committed to using all resources available to help determine the cause of this fire, and has been working closely with the ATF and the Los Angeles Police Department in an ongoing investigation.
Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesperson / Los Angeles Fire Department

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December 16, 2014
Firefighter battles blaze after falling down elevator shaft - NY


Firefighters at the scene of a three-alarm inferno early Monday morning in The Bronx.
(Photo: Demetrius E. Loadholt)

A firefighter wasn’t going to let falling through a 10-foot elevator shaft stop him from battling a three-alarm inferno early Monday morning in The Bronx.

Thick smoke engulfed an abandoned warehouse on East Tremont Avenue at 12:45 a.m., making it difficult for Justin Reilly and his fellow members of Ladder 33 to fight the blaze.

Reilly was in the boarded-up building when he tumbled down a freight shaft.

“There was a lot of smoke, heavy smoke, and he couldn’t see it and he fell in,” Lt. Dan DiMartino told The Post. “There was zero visibility moving along and that’s not something you would expect.”

The 4-by-4-foot hole swallowed Reilly, leaving him covered in debris.

“There was a ton of rubble at the bottom of the shaft,” DiMartino, 30, recalled. “He was able to get his bearings, and he stood up and called his own mayday.”

DiMartino and four fellow firefighters worked their way to the basement and helped hoist Reilly back to the ground floor after he’d been missing for 15 harrowing minutes..

EMTs evaluated Reilly, who insisted on returning to the fight after he was medically cleared.

“When adrenaline is flowing, guys can do a lot,” DiMartino explained. “There was still more work to be done with that fire.”

Reilly rejoined about 140 other firefighters, who spent hours trying to contain the flames.

The fire was finally extinguished at 3:15 a.m.

The cause of the massive blaze is under investigation, the FDNY said.

A fire marshal at the scene said they are looking into the possibility of the blaze being set by a homeless squatter.
By Aaron Feis, Priscilla DeGregory and Sophia Rosenbaum / http://nypost.com

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December 16, 2014
North Berrien Fire Board finds evidence of fraud and embezzlement - MI


(ABC57 News)

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. - Tax payers in northern Berrien County are upset, after officials discovered fraud and embezzlement may have occurred within the fire departments. That's money straight out of tax payer funds.

This all stems from former fire board treasurer, Robert Wooley, who is being charged with embezzlement from a senior center in Berrien County. That's when the board thought they'd take a look at their own funds.

And while the investigation is just preliminary, it does give firefighters enough of a reason to be disappointed.

"Betrayed, hurt, saddened, not only as a board and a department, but to all the taxpayers in northern Berrien County," says fire board chairman Robert Harper.

The board learned Monday that tens of thousands of dollars could have been stolen from their departments. The North Berrien Fire Rescue is made up of fire departments in Coloma and Hagar Township. Earlier this month, officials from both townships asked their board attorneys to take a look at their bank statements. That's because Robert Wooley, the former treasurer for the fire board, was recently charged with embezzlement at a different organization.

"We went through the sorts of things you would do if you had an anomaly in your checking account," says fire board attorney Scott Dienes.

After seeing checks made to cash, signatures that didn't match, and strange transactions, the attorneys "determined that cause does exist to believe that fraud has occurred."

Again, this is only evidence that fraud could have occurred. The board voted tonight to move forward with a formal forensic investigation, and that could take months.

Wooley is due in court for those previous charges Tuesday, and could face 20 years in prison.

As for the money lost, the board does not yet have an exact figure, but the big worry right now for Northern Berrien Fire is how to pay for this investigation, and they are looking at the city's insurance plan to see if it might be covered.
By Marissa Kynaston / abc57.com

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December 16, 2014
Car Hits Fire Truck On Scene Of Multi-Vehicle Crash - OK

OKLAHOMA CITY - Police said a car crashed into a fire truck that was on the scene of a multi-vehicle collision in southwest Oklahoma City, Monday morning.

According to Oklahoma City police, emergency crews responded to a three-vehicle collision at Interstate 44 and S.W. 149th Street. However, as crews worked to clear the scene of that collision, another car struck a fire truck.

Police said three people were injured in the original crash. They have been transported to the hospital.

Fire officials said no firefighters were injured in the second crash. But the fire truck sustained minor damage.

Both collisions are still under investigation.
By News9.com

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December 15, 2014
Responders Suffer Smoke Inhalation During Fire Rescue - NY

CANAJOHARIE -- Police and firefighters rescued a man from his burning home Saturday, but he did not survive.

The Montgomery County Sheriff's Office said the Canajoharie Fire Department responded to 6316 State Highway 10 Saturday for a reported structure fire with a person trapped inside.

Deputy Luke Paine and Ed Hernandez, an officer with the Canajoharie Police Department, entered the burning house and found Robert Shear unconscious in an adjacent room from where the fire started.

With help from two firefighters, Shear was taken from the residence and Hernandez provided first aid until EMTs arrived on scene.

Shear was transported to Little Falls Hospital where he died. The fire only caused minor damage to the house. Paine, Hernandez and members of the fire department were treated for smoke inhalation.

The sheriff's office said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Lauren Stanforth / Source: Times Union, Albany, N.Y.

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December 15, 2014
Rescued kayaker sues FDNY for injuries during rescue - NY

A teenager who flipped his kayak in Jamaica Bay says he was seriously hurt by responding firefighters.

Frank Marino Jr., 17, was kayaking May 30 about 1,000 yards west of the Marine Parkway Bridge when something went wrong, and he found himself in the drink, according to his Queens Supreme Court lawsuit against the city and firefighters.

Three firefighters reached Marino, but things went horribly wrong when the propeller of their Fire Boat hit Marino, causing “multiple severe and serious lacerations” to his abdomen and legs, which required surgery, he claims.

Marino is seeking unspecified damages. The city said it will review the lawsuit.
By Kathianne Boniello / http://nypost.com

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December 15, 2014
Information passed along
Cop Shot Is Also A Firefighter---Time To Protest? (The Secret List)

It's been a crazy 24 hours between the NSW terror hostages, the Prince Georges County Ambulance jacking and so much more....and now this...

As you may have read or heard, a 27 year old Baltimore City Police Officer was shot last evening during a traffic stop in west Baltimore. The officer and his partner conducted the stop in the 2600 block of Gwynns Falls Parkway around 1915 hours. They did a car stop on suspicious activity, and they walked up to the car...and shots were fired.

Police Officer Andrew Groman was hit under his vest and was rushed to Sinai Hospital were he underwent surgery and is in stable but critical condition. Groman is also a past Captain with the Warrington Fire Company in Bucks County, PA.

You may remember that he was also one of two Firefighters we wrote about, that where injured in 2011 during a fire call for a front loader fire at a mulch farm. He and the other member received burns after the loader exploded when preparing to attack the fire.

Last night, thankfully, the bullet missed one of Officer Gromans main arteries by a millimeter. It went through his intestines and colon-leaving two holes in his intestine. They repaired that but the bullet is still lodged above his right pelvic-and they will remove that at a later date. The Dr's wants to remove his catheter and have him walking by the end of the day and are talking about getting him out by the end of the week. He is doing well but in a lot of pain.

INITIAL REPORTS ARE THAT after the officers approached the car, a struggle ensued, a Taser was used and then someone in the car fired three shots, striking the officer once in the abdomen, They do not believe officers fired their service weapons during the shooting,...the officer's partner then rushed him to Sinai Hospital, where he had surgery last night.

A few people were taken into custody, but only one man, a 19-year-old, was charged in the shooting so far....a violent repeat offender, Donte Jones. Cops have recovered the gun.

We are so thankful that Officer Groman survived this attack and wish him a rapid recovery. For those out there looking to protest something, how about protesting this attempted murder on these Police Officers? Just say'n...

Take Care. Be Careful. Pass It On.

BillyG

The Secret List 12/15/2014-1600 Hours
firefighterclosecalls.com

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December 15, 2014
FIRE POLICE OFFICER STRUCK - NY

A Rombout fire police officer was injured at the scene of a two-car crash in Fishkill Sunday night, while he was responding to the accident, said Kevin Barry, public information officer for Rombout Fire Company.Two vehicles collided at the intersection of Routes 82 and 52 at 5:46 p.m., Barry said.

There were two passengers in each vehicle; three of the four were transported with non life-threatening injuries to MidHudson Regional Medical Center by Town of Wappinger ambulance and Mobile Life Support Services.

The Rombout fire police officer was arriving on the scene when he was rear-ended by another driver, an "inattentive motorist," who wasn't "paying attention," a common cause of firefighter and police injury at the scenes of accidents, Barry said.

The fire police officer was "not badly injured" and was also sent to MidHudson Regional for evaluation, Barry added.

Fire police are responsible for scene safety and traffic control.

Rombout was assisted by Town of Fishkill and state police, along with both ambulance companies.
firefighterclosecalls.com

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December 15, 2014
Information passed along
Loebsack in favor of tax break for volunteer firefighters - DC

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congressman Dave Loebsack is pushing to help rural fire departments.

The Democrat joined Republican Congressman David B. McKinley out of West Virginia in introducing legislation to create a tax deduction for volunteer first responders in the hopes that it will help volunteer fire departments and other public safety organizations recruit and retain volunteers.

"I’d like to thank Representatives McKinley and Loebsack for introducing this important legislation," Chief Philip C. Stittleburg, Chairman of the National Volunteer Fire Council, said in a release. "The services donated by volunteer emergency response personnel are valued at more than $140 billion annually and the average responder donates services worth more than $18,000 each year. At the same time, local agencies are increasingly struggling to recruit and retain volunteer firefighters and EMTs. This common sense bill would help bolster staffing in volunteer public safety agencies by allowing responders to claim a portion of the value of the services they donate each year as a charitable donation."

“Our volunteer firefighters stand ready to serve us the moment disaster strikes. They donate their time and energy to keep us safe, and we can do more to support their critical role in our communities,” Loebsack said. “Over 90 percent of Iowa’s firefighters are volunteers, and this tax credit would provide an important recruitment tool for Fire Departments to maintain the level of staffing that they need to do their jobs. I am pleased to work on a bipartisan basis with Rep. McKinley to advance this important legislation.”

According to a press release, the bill provides a tax deduction for hours of service each year volunteered for fire-fighting and prevention services, emergency medical services, ambulance services, civil air patrol, and emergency rescue services.
by KHQA Newsdesk

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December 14, 2014
CLOSE CALL AT PA ATTEMPTED SUICIDE SCENE INVOLVING HAZ-MAT - PA

Emergency workers responding to a suicide attempt in Palmer Township complained of fumes burning their eyes Sunday, which prompted a hazardous materials response, according to the township fire commissioner.Fire Commissioner Stephen Gallagher said the emergency workers arrived at 2:09 p.m. after receiving a call of a suicide at 2 Orchid Court. Gallagher said a woman in her 30s drank various household cleaners in order to kill herself.

Emergency workers felt burning in their eyes and called for a hazardous materials response at 2:15 p.m.

Local emergency workers initially entered the home to determine a baseline level of contamination, Gallagher said. A hazmat crew from Lehigh County came to check the toxicity of the air before letting anyone in the home.

Emergency workers had the cul de sac blocked off with traffic cones for about an hour. Two fire trucks and a Northampton County emergency response vehicle were on the scene Sunday afternoon.

Firefighters removed the cones by 3:25 p.m. and said the home was safe for occupancy.

Gallagher said the woman was hospitalized after the attempt. She lives in the home with her husband and child. He did not have their names available. Northampton County property records list the owner as Jeffrey J. Godfrey.
firefighterclosecalls.com

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December 14, 2014
2 FFs INJURED AT HOUSE FIRE - OR

Officials say two firefighters were injured early Sunday while fighting a blaze at a home in Eugene.Deputy Chief Randy DeWitt of the Eugene-Springfield Fire Department says one firefighter was taken to a local hospital with leg injuries, while the other was taken to another hospital with arm injuries.

The two-story home had been converted into four units and the people living there were out of the home when fire crews arrived just after 3 a.m.

Investigators were working Sunday to determine what caused the fire.
firefighterclosecalls.com

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December 14, 2014
SAFD & Local 624 IAFF "Our Battle with Cancer" - TX


(Jennifer Chadwick)

Recently the San Antonio (TX) has experienced numerous members of the SAFD family being diagnosed with cancer. As a profession we are prepared to “risk a lot to save a lot” and often times we equate that principle to incident factors like structural stability, fire progression, and rescue prioritization. Little do we realize that there is another more insidious risk threatening our safety and that of our sisters and brothers. We need to be aware of the hidden and always present threat we, as firefighters, face daily when we report for duty in the form of carcinogens.

Above is a video that the SAFD Cancer Task Force put together. We would like to thank the SAFD brothers who exhibited the courage to go on film and make this video, and its message, possible. Special thanks also go out to Casey’s wife, Andrea, who supported this initiative and allowed us to share Casey’s story.

Please keep all fire service sisters and brothers who are battling cancer in your thoughts and prayers....our (yours and mine) chances of having to deal with cancer is far, far greater than having to deal with any other injury or life threat to Firefighters.
firefighterclosecalls.com

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December 14, 2014
Firefighter seeks coverage of mental health injuries - MN


A barn fire burns in Oak Township on May 3
(Photo: Stearns County Sheriff’s Office)

MELROSE – Jerry Hartsworm was the kind of firefighter who didn't wait for the alarm.

When he heard over his pager that the nearby Freeport Fire Department was responding to a barn fire, he jumped into his truck and headed to the Melrose fire station, knowing his department likely would be called to help.

What happened that day eight months ago left Hartsworm changed. His physical injuries healed, but the mental scars he suffered have left him tormented and unable to work. Adding to the pain is the legal battle he's faced to get the city's insurance carrier to cover his medical expenses and lost wages.

For Hartsworm, 50, who spent four years as a volunteer on the Melrose Fire Department, life has become a daily struggle.

"Every one of us, when that pager goes off, we know there's a possibility that we're going to die," he said. "And we accept the fact that we could die. But what I cannot accept is the fact that I'm discarded — that I didn't get hurt the right way to be covered."

***

Hartsworm had always wanted to be a firefighter like his father, a lieutenant for the St. Cloud Fire Department. He remembers walking into the fire station as a kid, smelling soot and diesel, and being proud of his dad.

When Hartsworm moved with his wife, Cyndi, to Melrose to take a supervisor job at Jennie-O, one of the first things he did was join the fire department as a volunteer. Although firefighters sometimes had to respond to grisly car crashes or other tough situations, Hartsworm said he never had any difficulty.

"Every dirty job that they had, I wanted to experience everything, so I did," he said. "We had some real nasty calls and stuff, but I wanted to be in the middle of it. It didn't bother me a bit."

It was a warm, windy evening on May 3 when a large hay barn in Oak Township caught fire. Hartsworm was on one of the first Melrose fire trucks to arrive at the farm. The barn was already blazing, the air brownish with smoke.

He helped pour water onto the flames from a heavy hose for more than an hour. As they prepared to move the line, Hartsworm went back to his truck, hot and exhausted.

After a rest and a drink, Hartsworm joined other firefighters who were taking off sheets of metal covering the old barn to get at the flames. He and two others prepared to enter the barn. The assistant chief told him to put on his air pack in case the wind shifted, so he did.

Hartsworm was about 20 feet into the barnwhen he grabbed a large sheet of metal and handed it outside. He reached for the next one, looked up and saw the south end of the barn coming down.

The next thing he knew, Hartsworm was face down with fire all around him. He guesses he might have been knocked unconscious. He got on his knees and started crawling the way he had come in.

Outside, Hartsworm started walking toward the truck. Another firefighter asked him what was wrong. I think I got hit by something, he said.

Hartsworm was put on a backboard and taken to the hospital. The paramedics checked his blood sugar, which was elevated. Hartsworm is a diabetic. But at the hospital, the doctor told him it was normal when someone has a lot of adrenaline and is dehydrated. After some fluids, his blood sugar returned to normal.

Hartsworm had a large knot on the back of his neck. He guesses he was hit by a falling beam or piece of debris, and that wearing his helmet and air pack saved his life.

Trouble is, sometimes he wishes they wouldn't have.

***

Hartsworm spent three days in the hospital and two more weeks at home, recovering. He suffered headaches and was sensitive to light.

Then he had to go back to work. The city's insurance company, the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust, indicated it was going to deny Hartsworm's workers compensation claim. The trust contended that Hartsworm's diabetes was the cause, not a workplace injury. They also said no other firefighters had witnessed debris fall on him.

That came as a blow to Hartsworm, who said it's not surprising that the others didn't see what happened.

"I understand the insurance company is doing what they're supposed to be doing," he said. "They're supposed to try to protect their clients. But somebody in a desk down in St. Paul does not know what it's like to be in a fire. Nobody understands. Sometimes, you don't see the hand in front of your face."

Meanwhile, Hartsworm was dealing with mental and emotional fallout, including depression and listlessness. He said he felt like he'd lost his soul.

"I woke up and all my joy was gone," Hartsworm said. "I was a very passionate person before this, at Jennie-O. I love that job. I've done so many great things there, and I still have a lot of great things to do there. And I didn't care about any of it anymore."

Finally, Hartsworm's doctor send him to a neurology clinic in the Twin Cities, where he was diagnosed with a mild traumatic brain injury.

He started having nightmares: that he was trapped, burning, with no air to breathe, w

atching other firefighters get killed. Afterward he didn't want to go back to sleep.

"I'm in a vicious circle where I need sleep and I can't have it," Hartsworm said.

His wife said Hartsworm isn't the same outgoing person he was when they got married 30 years ago. Now he's irritable and short with her, and even their family doesn't want to be around them.

"I miss the person that I was married to," Cyndi Hartsworm said. "I try to be understanding, but sometimes I don't understand."

One night Hartsworm stood on a freeway bridge, contemplating suicide. The only thing that kept him from jumping was the thought of what the semi driver below would endure.

Hartsworm was put into a partial-hospitalization psychiatry program at St. Cloud Hospital, where he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. He spent five weeks in the program.

"They literally saved my life," Hartsworm said. "They kept me focused, they taught me how to stay safe."

But the city's insurance trust informed him that it would not cover mental health treatment. The Hartsworms' finances were stretched. They paid their rent late and went into debt. Harstworm had to apply for food stamps and ask Catholic Charities for gas money to get to his appointments.

Eventually, LMCIT accepted Hartsworm's initial workers' compensation claim for the physical injuries. In August, the state Department of Labor and Industry ordered the trust to pay a $1,000 penalty for the denial.

Still, LMCIT continues to deny the claim for the mental health treatment and subsequent lost wages. Hartsworm can't understand why his mental issues aren't considered a work-related injury.

"I fight for my life every day," he said. "This is as real as going into a fire every day for me."

He tells people he wishes he had died that day.

"Then I would have died a hero," Hartsworm said. "I wouldn't have been an embarrassment to the fire department and my family. Everybody tells me that's a distortion, but that's how I feel."

***

The League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust is a cooperative joint powers organization formed by Minnesota cities in 1980. Cities contribute premiums into a jointly owned fund rather than paying premiums to buy insurance from an insurance company.

LMCIT's workers' compensation program has more than 900 members, according to its website.

Melrose Mayor Tim Vogel said the city doesn't have a say in what the League chooses to cover, like a self-bonded city would. He and Fire Chief Jeremy Kraemer said they can't comment specifically about Hartsworm's case.

LMCIT also declined to speak directly about Hartsworm's case, but did provide some statistics about injury claims.

There have been 1,166 injury claims involving firefighters in the past two years, said Darin Richardson, claims manager with LMCIT. So far there has been a payment in 505 of those for medical expenses or lost wages or both, he said, while 21 are in denial status.

Firefighters are considered city employees, entitled to the same workers' compensation benefits other employees would receive, Richardson said. LMCIT receives many such claims and evaluates each one based on the facts, he said. There are very few denials, he said.

Mark Rosenblum, president of the Minnesota State Fire Department Association, said he's not familiar with Hartsworm's case. But he said it would surprise him to hear that a firefighter isn't covered.

"Most cities have very comprehensive workers' comp plans and support their firefighters wholly," Rosenblum said. Many also offer critical stress management debriefings and other outreach after a fire, he said.

Dave Ganfield, secretary of the Minnesota State Volunteer Firefighters Association, said he underwent a similar experience 14 years ago. While working as a volunteer firefighter for Apple Valley and a career firefighter for Richfield, he developed a heart condition that doctors said was work related, but the insurance company disputed that. Ganfield appealed but lost.

"Volunteer firefighters for many, many years were just considered exactly that — volunteers — and it was a question as to who really protected them if they were injured," Ganfield said.

State laws have been changed to make it clear that volunteer firefighters are city employees and covered under workers' compensation for any injuries that occur during a fire call, he said.

Being denied coverage is frustrating for firefighters, especially if their injury prevents them from doing their day job, Ganfield said.

"You thought, 'I was doing something good for my community, and I've risked myself on the calls that I go to,' " Ganfield said. "And here something happens to me, and I'm being deserted.' "

Ganfield urges city officials to discuss ahead of time what would happen if someone were injured. Fire departments also could do a better job of informing their firefighters, he said.

"Most people just think if something happens, it'll be taken care of," Ganfield said.

***

Hartsworm kept quiet for a long time, not wanting to cause problems for the fire department or the city. He resisted hiring a lawyer, but finally did to try to recoup his medical expenses.

"I'm not suing anybody," he said. "I don't want any money. I'm not asking for anything. I just want my bills covered, and I want to get better."

His lawyer, Howard Helgen, said he hasn't received an official response from the trust about why the claim is being denied. But Helgen said Hartsworm's doctors have made it clear that he is suffering an emotional reaction to a physical injury. Helgen provided a letter from one of Hartsworm's physicians, who wrote she believes his PTSD is the direct result of the firefighting incident.

"From my perspective, it's unfortunate that he's had to hire an attorney to get the necessary benefits and treatment," Helgen said.

Hartsworm's employer, Jennie-O, is now paying him disability. He's working on getting better. His therapist has helped him understand what triggers his PTSD — a fire alarm, driving past the fire station.

Hartsworm said he's not seeking publicity, but hopes that telling his story might help others.

"It just pains me to think that this could happen to somebody else," he said. "And if there's any injustice done to me, hopefully I can fix it so it doesn't happen again to the next person."
Kirsti Marohn, kmarohn@stcloudtimes.com

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December 14, 2014
Four-alarm Brooklyn apartment blaze injuries 7, halts J Train - NY


(060661)


(Danny Iudici for New York Daily News)


(Danny Iudici for New York Daily News)


(Ryan Sit/New York Daily News)


(Ryan Sit/New York Daily News)

Seven people — including two children, two cops and a firefighter — were hospitalized after a four-alarm fire ripped through an apartment building in Brooklyn early Friday, authorities said.

Residents — many in their pajamas — were forced to scramble down the fire escape of the three-story building on Hendrix St. near Fulton St. in East New York after the inferno erupted about 1:05 a.m.

All seven of the injured people were treated at area hospitals and listed in stable condition Friday morning, officials said.

“I opened the door and saw all the smoke," said Shawn Robertson, 34, who lives on the second floor and was awakened by the smell of fire.

“I woke everybody up.”

His girlfriend led her three kids down the stairs while Robertson remained behind and quickly became trapped.

“I went to get my keys and phone and by the time I had them, the smoke was so thick I couldn't see nothing," he said.

“I couldn't get down the staircase. It only took like 15 or 20 seconds and the whole room was full of smoke. It was ridiculous.”

He climbed out a the window, shimmied along the building’s window ledge and clambered down the fire escape.

Shamel Williams, wearing pajamas, managed to save his pit bull, Champ.

“We had to bring the dog and everything down the fire escape,” said Williams, 35. “We almost passed out from the smoke.”

Shelby Campbell escaped with her son from their third-floor pad down the fire escape.

“I couldn’t see anything, the smoke was so thick,” said Campbell, 56. “Thick, black smoke. It was hitting my face and choking me.”

It took firefighters two hours and 45 minutes to conquer the blaze.

Some smoke-eaters stood on the elevated J-train platform to pour water on the fire, which could be seen from blocks away as flames shot through the roof and burst out of windows.

Black smoke blew over the train tracks, forcing the MTA to halt J service between Crescent St. and Broadway Junction starting about 1:15 a.m.

Service had not been restored as of late Friday morning, but the MTA was running shuttle buses.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.
BY Ryan Sit , Barry Paddock / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

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December 14, 2014
Stolen ambulance in Prince George’s County, involved in ‘potential fatal crash - MD


(kguwopp)


An ambulance has been commandeered and kicked crew iut. Ambulance stolen and last seen on IL at.RT 1 towards.Greenbelt.
(Mark Brady @PGFDPIO)


Stolen Ambulance now involved in crash - overturned at Greenbelt Road and 62nd Avenue - injuries reported.
(Mark Brady @PGFDPIO)
EMS TASK FORCE sounded for.stolen ambulance crash. 2 people are trapped 1 in ambulance 1 in another vehicle.
Stolen Ambulance - a trauma code reported in the 2nd vehicle involved in crash - potential fatal crash.
Crew is safe and unharmed following the carjacking of our ambulance. Further information will be released by @PGFDPIO when available.


(Mark Brady @PGFDPIO)
On scene with our crews at stolen Ambo rollover - multiple injuries- NO FD injuries. Greenbelt Rd/62nd Av


(Mark Brady @PGFDPIO)
Stolen Branchville Ambulance rests on its side in parking lot of Joes Crab Shack after striking appx 7 other cars
2 @Branchvillefire volunteers were assaulted during the ambulance theft. Occurred on the Beltway near I-95 They are both fine.


(Mark Brady @PGFDPIO)
Stolen Ambulance crash occurred at 62nd Ave & Greenbelt Rd in Greebelt. 3 transports including1 in critical condition

During the 5:00 hour this evening, Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department Ambulance 811 (Branchville VFD) was carjacked by someone who assaulted the crew. That happened on the Capital Beltway between I-95 and Route 1. The ambulance was then involved in a serious crash in front of Joe’s Crab Shack at Greenbelt Road and 62nd Avenue. Three were transported from the crash scene, including one that was a trauma code.
statter911.com

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December 14, 2014
Information passed along
County to Define Firefighters' Nonfire Responsibilities - SC

The days when a firefighter's job only required some familiarity with a water hose are long gone.

A firefighter's job today involves much more than fighting fires. They have to know how to handle all manner of rescue equipment in response to everything from car wrecks to chemical spills with the skills of a paramedic thrown in for good measure. Most regulations now require firefighters, even volunteers, to train for all kinds of rescue missions.

This is already the reality on the ground for York County's fire departments. Now the York County Council is moving to make it official.

Revisions to the county's fire ordinance that are currently before the council would expand the scope of a firefighter's duties -- or in the language of the ordinance, "accurately identify" them. The changes to be voted on Monday would allow the county's Board of Rural Fire Control to put into writing what a firefighter must do in a nonfire situation. At the same time, the board would be tasked with creating "interagency response teams" to deal with rescue operations countywide.

"We should have done this a while back," said William Weatherford, the county's director of fire safety. "Everybody in the country is going to fire and rescue. Departments have already started adding rescue services, and this change just opens the door (to those services)."

The revisions mostly recognize the job firefighters from the 16 rural fire departments already perform when they get called to the scene of a disaster other than a fire. The creation of dedicated response teams drawing firefighters from different departments with specialized skills and access to the right equipment would make it easier to get the right people in place to respond.

"Once those teams are set up, you don't need, if there's a trench collapse, to call out four stations and hope one person knows about trench rescue," said Gary Loflin, the county's interim emergency management director.

When it comes to setting up any other rescue team, fire board chairman David Hord said the board likely would take its time deciding what skills are most needed, and when and how the response teams would be set up. York County already has a dedicated hazardous materials team to handle the release of chemical or toxic materials.

"This ordinance allows us to go where we need to go in the future," Hord said. "We want to start with extrication, and then -- looking years into the future -- go to training for all kinds of rescue."

Responding outside the district

Currently, most firefighters might be trained in at least one form of rescue operation, such as how to remove someone from a crashed vehicle. Without any ordinance or policy on rescue training, nothing actually requires it. As it stands today, whether any one fire station has the tools to do a particular job usually depends on the initiative of its firefighters and the station's ability to pay for it.

Some stations are known to countywide dispatchers as the "go-to" firehouses for certain equipment. The Bethel Volunteer Fire Department is known for its trench rescue equipment. Riverview gets the calls to free someone from a confined space. Flint Hill handles calls countywide because of its high-angle rescue equipment.

A combined crew of full-time professionals and volunteers operate Flint Hill's special truck with a 100-foot platform and rappelling equipment used to rescue people either too high or too low to be reached by standard ladders. The station bought its equipment with money raised from its own special tax district.

When needed, Flint Hill firefighters respond to calls far outside of their district north of Fort Mill. When someone jumped off a bridge on Interstate 77, Flint Hill had to lower a rescue team to the riverbank. A similar call sent firefighters to Lancaster County when a worker suffered a heart attack atop a 75-foot tall water tower.

Any future high-angle rescue team created by the fire board would include firefighters from several departments, but would likely draw heavily from Flint Hill and almost certainly use its equipment.

"We already have a lot of the guys trained," said Flint Hill Chief David Jennings. "Once they set up a high-angle rescue team, they'll have all the equipment and gear and everything else needed."

New language in the ordinance would also empower the board to buy rescue equipment alongside standard fire equipment, and determine how to distribute such gear more effectively around the county. Unlike Flint Hill, some rural departments don't have their own tax district to draw resources from, so they depend on the county government for their equipment.

'The difference between living and dying'

The change in the ordinance is necessary because of changing times.

The current ordinance was written with the assumption that county rescue squads volunteer-run, nonprofit groups that operated ambulance fleets for medical emergencies would handle rescue situations. But the old division of labor between firefighters and rescue squads has disappeared, as many of the traditional rescue squads have ceased operating.

The three rescue squads that once served York, Clover and Hickory Grove have closed in recent years, and across-the-county-line volunteer squads in Lancaster and Indian Land are expected to cease operations next year.

Fort Mill Rescue Squad director Tim McMichael has a good working relationship with neighboring firefighter-rescue outfits like Flint Hill's, and he sees the potential for cooperation with any new fire department rescue teams.

"It really depends on what extent they decide to work with us," McMichael said. "If the county approaches it from the standpoint of getting their own trucks or equipment, then there's really no need for us."

Despite that, the rescue squad leader looks at the new services less as competition than as an effort to ensure all residents will be guaranteed a timely response on rescue calls.

"I'm on record saying fire services is the place for these activities," McMichael said. "This will bring a better service to the citizens of the county. With the rescue squad, you only have so many people available on any given day for a trench rescue."

County emergency officials likewise don't foresee the changes affecting the operations of squads such as McMichael's.

"This is not intended to supplant the rescue squads," Loflin said. "The Fort Mill and Rock Hill squads still offer extrication, and we're not going to take that over."

On all sides, there's an agreement that better coordinated efforts are necessary to respond to residents who need to be rescued from dangerous situations -- with clearly delineated, countywide policies on what personnel from which departments will respond, using what equipment and how.

Whether it's an emergency medical technician, a rescue squad member or a firefighter from any of the county's departments ultimately won't matter to the person being rescued. But the lack of a coherent policy to make rescue services available just might.

"It could make the difference between living and dying," Jennings said.
Bristow Marchant / Source: The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.)

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December 13, 2014
Hartford Mayor Appoints Panel To Review Troubled Fire Department - CT

HARTFORD -- In the wake of numerous incidents, including firefighter arrests, Mayor Pedro Segarra has appointed a panel of retired city fire chiefs to undergo a review of the Hartford Fire Department operations.

Segarra appointed retired chiefs John Stewart, Nelson Carter, Charles Teale and Edward Casares, along with current Police Chief James Rovella, to examine the issues and address them appropriately in order to make changes for the betterment of the department.

In the past eight months, several firefighters have had publicized issues with alcohol abuse on and off the job. One has been arrested in the accidental shooting of a friend in the face while drinking off-duty, another is accused of barging into the apartment of a woman he didn't know, and a third recently crashed his car and left the scene of an accident, leading to his third drunken-driving arrest.

Last weekend two city fire lieutenants at the same fire also got into a fist fight. No charges have been filed in that incident.

Current Fire Chief Carlos Huertas has also come under fire for his handling of the department's inquiry into the October fire that killed one firefighter and seriously injured another.

Huertas appointed a board of inquiry shortly after the fire. But in November, deputy chief of training Daniel Nolan, who Huertas named to lead the board, accused him of ordering the panel to "stand down" from its investigation at the orders of city hall and then lie to the public about it.

Segarra said Friday that the men and women of the fire department risk their lives on a daily basis and that it is important for the city to ensure they have the support they need and are functioning in a healthy environment.

Huertas said Friday that he appreciated the mayor's support and intended to work with the panel to ensure that the department is operating at the level the public needs.

The panel is expected to take about three months and is expected to advise Huertas on a regular basis and to work with Rovella.
Steven Goode / Source: The Hartford Courant

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December 13, 2014
Firefighters' Union Miffed Over Not Filling Vacancy - PA

When the City of Meadville's proposed 2015 budget was presented recently, it was advertised as a tax increase with no cuts to public safety personnel. But the union representing Meadville's firefighters begs to differ.

According to Meadville Firefighters Local 515 President Chris Thoreson, the city has proposed the cut of a full-time firefighter position within the budget.

A full complement of firefighters in Meadville Central Fire Department is 15, plus the chief. But because Captain Bob Fitch, who retired in July, had an off duty injury and hadn't worked since December 2013, the department has run with 14 firefighters for the past year.

Thoreson said the city should have filled Fitch's position with part-time firefighters while Fitch was on medical leave from December 2013 to July 2014. Once Fitch retired in July, they should have hired a new full-time worker, Thoreson said.

Instead of hiring someone to fill Fitch's vacancy, the city has been paying overtime since last December to maintain the same level of fire service as when Fitch was still working.

"When you're working overtime essentially for the last year, it adds up," Thoreson said.

"Everyone is doing more with less," said Joe Smock, Local 515 vice president.

A normal schedule for Meadville's firefighters is 24 hours on duty and 48 hours off duty. If a firefighter works overtime, he or she works 48 straight hours with 24 off. Thoreson said this has the potential for a firefighter to work 120 hours in a week.

Fire Chief Larndo (Tunie) Hedrick said that a 48-hour shift doesn't mean the firefighter is awake the whole time. Firefighters are on call for the full 48 hours and must stay at the fire station.

Hedrick said it is stressful to work 48-hour shifts, and that stress affects morale of the department. Those working overtime are tired and not as sharp, which can create a safety issue, Hedrick said.

"(Overtime is) pushing them to a level I don't like to see them pushed to," Hedrick said.

Interim City Manager Andy Walker confirmed that only 14 full-time firefighters are in the proposed budget for 2015.

"We well recognize the staffing levels and we've been filling the levels of service through overtime," Walker said.

Walker said the same number of firefighters, five, are present each shift as when Fitch was still with the department just one of them is working overtime. The National Fire Protection Association requires there be at least four firefighters on duty at all times for safety reasons.

The NFPA says there should be two firefighters outside of a burning structure while two firefighters enter the structure. In case something happens to one of the firefighters, there is help outside the structure.

"In all reality, two in and two out is the bare minimum," Hedrick said.

When Hedrick started as a firefighter in 1982, the City of Meadville had 18 firefighters plus the chief. There were six paid city firefighters on each shift, and with four volunteer fire departments in the city, there would be 16 firefighters arriving at a fire scene. There are currently zero volunteer fire departments with City of Meadville limits.

"The job doesn't get any smaller," Hedrick said. "It's the same size it's always been."

Walker's plan is to hire part-timers to act as the 15th man, but the decision is up to City Council when they can be hired, he said.

Mayor Chris Soff sees bringing part-time firefighters into the department as a viable option.

"I think that's definitely an option council has considered for some time, especially in light of continued increases in costs," Soff said. "Use of part-time firefighters would still maintain the level of safety we've all come to expect."

Local 515 feels the city should provide more than part-timers to fill the full-time vacancy.

"We want our full-time position filled," Thoreson said. "Public safety is paramount."

The city maintains a civil service list of people eligible to be brought onto the department as part-time employees. Hiring lists are good for one year, with the option to extend it another year.

The current hiring list which has five names on it was developed on Oct. 31, 2013, and was extended through October 2015.

What to watch for next

The next Meadville City Council meeting is Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the City Building, 894 Diamond Park. This will include the final reading and adoption of the 2015 budget.
Earl Corp / Source: The Meadville Tribune, Pa.

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December 13, 2014
Santa Rosa Firefighters Fined Over Political Calls - CA

Santa Rosa has fined its firefighters union $2,000 for violating the city's new rules restricting political robocalls.

The twin $1,000 penalties were imposed last week for recorded calls attacking City Council candidates Chris Coursey and Lee Pierce for their positions on reforming the public-safety sales tax Measure O.

The 22,381 calls made on Oct. 25 claimed the two candidates "want to make Santa Rosa a more dangerous place to live."

At the time, Coursey called that an "outrageous lie" and "beyond the pale" and lamented that independent groups were "poisoning" what had been a clean campaign by the candidates.

The former Press Democrat columnist and commuter rail spokesman, who eschewed robocalls during his first run for public office, went on to become the top vote-getter in the election and is now vice mayor. Pierce came in sixth in the hunt for three open council seats.

On Friday, Coursey said he was pleased the city was enforcing its new ordinance.

"It's too bad you can't make 'em tell the truth, but you can at least make 'em follow the rules," Coursey said.

Concerned about loopholes in state law, the City Council in May passed a strict new set of local regulations covering political robocalls.

The rules require any group that funds more than 200 such calls within a 30-day period to report the activity, no matter the cost. State rules only required people or groups spending $1,000 or more to report their activities, meaning it was possible for people to fund significant numbers of robocalls without ever publicly disclosing their identities.

The new rules also require robocalls to give recipients the chance to opt out of future calls. The calls also must say who paid for them, including the person's telephone number, and include a statement that they were not approved by a candidate or committee controlled by a candidate. Transcripts of calls also need to be disclosed to the city clerk within 48 hours.

Soon after the Oct. 25 call, Coursey filed a complaint with City Clerk Terri Griffin claiming that the calls violated the new rules in two ways: they didn't give people a way to opt out and they didn't include the disclaimer that the committee, I.A.F.F. Local 1401 -- Committee for a Safe Santa Rosa, was not affiliated with any candidate or candidate controlled committee.

At the time, union president Tim Adoudara blamed the error on an "issue with our vendor." He did not respond to requests for comment this week.

City Attorney Caroline Fowler investigated the complaint. She asked Aboudara to provide proof that he had instructed the group's vendor to include the opt-out option in the call, but he never did so, according to her Dec. 5 letter. She also noted that a transcript of the call filed with the city contained no such opt-out language.

Four days after that first call, on Oct. 29, the union made a second call to nearly 27,000 homes. The new call replaced the claim that the candidates "want to make Santa Rosa a more dangerous place to live" with the claim that they "are dangerous for Santa Rosa" because they support lower public safety funding which "could result in slower medical response times, putting people's lives in danger at the time they need help the most."

That second call did give recipients the chance to opt out of future calls and included other required disclosures. The union reported spending a total of $975 on the two calls, just under the $1,000 limit that would have triggered a more detailed filing under state law.

The city code calls for fines of "$1,000 for each violation" of the local robocall regulations.

The city does not consider each individual call to be a violation of the ordinance, explained Griffin. If it did, that would result in millions in fines, which was not the council's intention in enacting the law, she said.

There is a provision in the ordinance allowing a group that is unaware of the city's robocall laws to "cure" the violation and escape fines at the discretion of the city clerk as long the group "has not received prior notification from the City Clerk regarding said requirements" and fixes the problem within two days. That provision was meant to apply to out-of-area political committees that may be unaware of Santa Rosa's rules, Griffin said.

During the recent campaign, Aboudara worked closely with local political consultant Nick Caston. The union endorsed his council candidate, Ashle Crocker, including recording a robocall supporting her.

Caston and his wife, Councilwoman Erin Carlstrom, were also heavily involved in the failed firefighter-backed Yes on Measure N campaign, which sought to expand the city's utility users tax to include cellphones.

Caston said he had nothing to do with the robocalls against Coursey and Pierce, however, and had "absolutely no clue" who did.

"I very much avoid having those types of conversations," Caston said.

State law prohibits cooperation between candidate campaigns and those of independent groups involved in election activities.

Caston noted that there are plenty of vendors who facilitate robocalls, and said it is neither difficult nor expensive to record and send them.
Kevin McCallum / Source: The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, Calif.

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December 13, 2014
Firefighter is struck by car, hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries - DC

A District firefighter at the scene of a building fire Saturday morning was injured when a 21-year-old man ran a car into him and pinned him against a firetruck, police and fire officials said.

About 3:30 a.m., the firefighter arrived on the 800 block of Florida Avenue NE, said Officer Araz Alali, a D.C. police spokesman. The firefighter saw a car moving fast in the area and put his hands up to try to slow the driver. “The driver ignores that. Instead, he speeds up,” Alali said.

The car struck the fireman and pushed him against the truck, causing leg injuries, Alali said. The firefighter was taken to a local hospital. His injuries were thought to be non-life-threatening, said Tim Wilson, a spokesman for the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department.

Police charged the driver, Roy McCall, of Auburn Hills, Mich., with felony assault, Alali said.
By Dan Morse / washingtonpost.com

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December 13, 2014
LAFD firefighter swept downstream during river rescue - CA


Rescuer Gets Swept Away During Swift Water Rescue in LA (HD)
(CERT - Community Emergency Response Team)


An LAFD Swift Water Rescue Team prepares to rescue a homeless man stranded by high water in the LA River in Atwater Village, Calif., on Dec. 12, 2014. The man, living with his wife among the trees did not get out in time and the high water stranded them both. The man was taken ashore on a raft and taken to USC Hospital with mild hypothermia. His wife was rescued an hour later and was in fair condition with hypothermia and cuts from the trees.
(Photo by Mike Meadows/Special to the Los Angeles Daily News)


A homeless man clings to a tree on Friday, Dec. 12, 2014, in the storm-swollen Los Angeles River in Atwater Village as a member of the LAFD’s Swift Water Rescue Team moves in to bring him to safety.
(Photo by Mike Meadows/Special to the Los Angeles Daily News)


Firefighter and paramedics help a woman rescued from the L.A. River
(Credit: KTLA)


Your @LAFD is @ the LA River. Rescued 1 vict. Just found a 2nd clinging to trees. Boat rescue in progress.
(Chief Terrazas @LAFDChief)

A couple clinging to trees in the middle of the rain-swollen Los Angeles River were helped to safety during a dangerous operation by a firefighter swift-water rescue team in the Atwater Village area Friday morning.

Amid a continuing fierce rainstorm, rescuers were first called to the scene at 9:41 a.m., according to Katherine Main of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

About an hour later, a man was located and taken to safety. He told rescuers that his wife was caught in the trees amid the rushing water, and it took almost another hour for her to be transported across the river.

Both people were taken to a hospital in fair condition, Main said.

The rescue effort took place south of the Glendale Boulevard overpass (map) in an area where homeless encampments are set up amid trees on small islands in the middle of the normally shallow river.

“Very dangerous conditions here — the river was flowing at pretty high volume of water, and there was a great deal of risk to put swimmers in the water,” said Battalion Chief Charles Butler. “We got both victims out — very successful rescue.”

The second patient was helped on a stretcher out of the boat and onto a gurney waiting on the nearby bike path, video from the scene showed.

The patients appeared to be transients who had been stuck among the trees that grow out of the natural river bottom, Butler said.

“Those trees become strainers in swift-water rescue terminology,” Butler said. “If you get hung up in a strainer, you’re likely going to drown.”

Rescuers could be seen working in wetsuits and helmets, using ropes as the water flowed rapidly south. A helicopter hovered over the water but was unable to help because of nearby power lines, Butler said.

At one point, a rescue swimmer was swept downstream, prompting others to run after him. Other rescuers twice threw lines into the water, and the rescuer was able to catch hold of the second line and be pulled out onto the concrete bank.

Fellow rescue swimmer Dusty Clark said his colleague was a professional, “outstanding swimmer” who was not in jeopardy during the operation.

The Fire Department planned to review the operation to see what had allowed the rescuer to get caught in fast-moving water, Butler said.

The battalion chief had high praise for his firefighters, saying the specialized swift-water rescue team had trained specifically for this type of emergency.

“We’re in the rescue business. We can’t just say, ‘Hey, we’re out of here, we’re done,'” Butler said. “Until we make the rescue, we’re it.”

The Glendale Boulevard off-ramp from the northbound 5 Freeway was closed amid the Fire Department activity, the California Highway Patrol announced on Twitter just before 11 a.m.
by Melissa Pamer, Mark Mester and Kimberly Cheng / http://ktla.com

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December 13, 2014
Firefighters, strip clubs’ holiday connection seen as odd, sexist - CA

Where will San Francisco firefighters be on Thursday night? Why the Gold Club, of course — you know, the South of Market “topless strip club featuring the best strippers in San Francisco.”

(That’s according to the club’s website. I cannot personally confirm or deny the “best strippers” claim.)

Members of San Francisco Firefighters Local 798 will be on hand to accept a check from the Gold Club’s “Secret Santas” — a euphemism for women dressed in far less than big red suits. The event is the culmination of the union’s annual holiday toy drive, and the check will go to buy toys for needy kids.

This comes after another strip club party for the firefighters on Nov. 21 to kick off the toy drive. That one was at the Penthouse Club — you know, the North Beach “top rated strip club with the most beautiful topless strippers.” (Again, courtesy of its website. Again, cannot confirm or deny the claim.)
By Heather Knight / sfgate.com

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December 12, 2014
Two Chicago Firefighters Hurt in Hospital Fire - IL

Two firefighters received minor injuries after battling a multi-alarm blaze at Resurrection Medical Center on the Far Northwest Side Thursday evening, police said.

The fire started at the hospital, located at 7435 West Talcott Ave., about 9:36 p.m. near a kitchen area on the second floor, said Chicago Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago.

The blaze worked its way up to a chapel in the hospital. About 40 patients were evacuated to another part of the hospital as a result, Santiago said.

Two firefighters received minor injuries and were taken to area hospitals, he said. No patients or hospital staff were reportedly hurt.

Firefighters had raised the fire alarm to a 2-11 and then to a 3-11 blaze, calling for multiple fire companies, police said.

Firefighters also called for an emergency medical services plan 1 requiring multiple ambulances to the facility, police said.

"This is an unbelievable amount of wood work that we had to work our way through," Santiago said, adding that a total of about 80 fire companies were on scene.

As of 12:30 a.m. Friday, the fire was struck out, but there was "a lot of water damage" at the hospital, Santiago said.

Steve Muniak, 62, was visiting his sister at the hospital when he saw fire trucks coming in.

"I saw some smoke coming out of the roof," he said.

The part of the hospital his sister was in was secured and wasn't being evacuated, Muniak said. He said Wi-Fi service went down throughout the hospital.

Investigators are working to determine what caused the fire to start.
Alexandra Chachkevitch and Carlos Sadovi / Source: Chicago Tribune

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December 12, 2014
Firefighters say governor didn't protect them - MO

FERGUSON, Mo. -- The flames burned for hours on the night of November 24th. it was the night Prosecutor Bob McCulloch announced the grand jury decision to not indict Officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown.

Firefighters trying to battle those blazes said, "When the emergency calls came in during the protests on November 24, Governor Nixon failed to deliver on his promise to protect the community and firefighters with National Guard troops. Governor Nixon's failure meant firefighters were not dispatched in many circumstances to save businesses and homes in locations where protests turned violent with increased danger. Where firefighters were dispatched to do their jobs, in a number of cases they were attacked and gun fire was present at the scene, and they had to abandon their hose lines and equipment to take cover."

The president of the International Association of Firefighters Mark Woolbright was not available to do an on-camera interview with us but he said, "Governor Nixon turned his back on fire fighters when it mattered most – when they were needed to help save areas of the Ferguson and adjoining communities from further damage. It turned out that the governor's words were nothing more than empty promises and pathetic political posturing of the worst kind. As a result, fire fighters were often found in unsecured and dangerous positions. Because of such, the normal risk of firefighting was taken to an all new heightened level. It was extremely unfortunate the Ferguson community citizens and business owners of Ferguson were left with little or no fire protection, leaving nothing more than ashes and tears from their measurable loss."

At least 25 businesses were on fire that night. Senator Jamilah Nasheed is on the Government Accountability Committee of the state Legislature, which meets on Thursday. She said she will ask the other members to investigate the governor's decision on that day and where the National Guard was while criminals were lighting homes, businesses and cars on fire.

Statement from the governor's office

The Governor appreciates the bravery and dedication of the hundreds of law enforcement officers, guardsmen and fire fighters who worked tirelessly to protect the public in a very difficult, dangerous and volatile situation in Ferguson that night.

From the beginning, the plan developed and executed by the unified command was to have the Guard stationed in support roles at places like fire houses, police stations and power substations so that experienced law enforcement officers could be out policing protest areas. That night, more than 700 guardsmen were deployed to nearly 100 locations around the St. Louis region, including at the Ferguson Command Post. There were also nearly 500 law enforcement officers, including 150 state troopers, in Ferguson.

The Governor has said repeatedly that the violence and destruction seen that night was unacceptable and that he will be working with those businesses every step of the way to help them rebuild. But the fact that no citizens, law enforcement officers or fire fighters lost their lives is a testament to the hard work and professionalism of the men and women who worked day and night to protect the public.
Farrah Fazal, KSDK

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December 12, 2014
EMT Fearful After Being Bitten by Woman - MA

A Boston EMT is living an "absolute nightmare" after he was bitten deep in his left hand -- allegedly by a drunken, combative Florida woman in a Hub hotel -- leaving the medic wondering whether he has been exposed to dangerous pathogens.

The EMT, Tony O'Brien, who works a truck in Charlestown, said that because of red tape he may not even find out what he's been exposed to since the woman who bit him must first agree to a blood test -- and medical authorities won't tell him whether she's done that.

"It's terrifying," O'Brien said last night, moments after leaving Massachusetts General Hospital with no answer yet as to whether the woman would take a test. "It's an absolute nightmare. There's no way I can know if I'm going to get HIV, hepatitis, or any other thing."

The attack happened about 9:40 p.m. Wednesday, when O'Brien and his partner were called to the eighth floor of a Beacon Hill hotel "to assist a woman who was found in the hallway under the influence of something," police said.

The woman was later identified as Laura Elizabeth Bell, 28, of Jacksonville, Fla., cops said.

"O'Brien stated the woman was sitting on the floor and he could immediately smell the odor of alcohol emanating from her," police wrote in their report. "O'Brien approached Bell and attempted to assist her however she suddenly became out of control and attacked him. O'Brien stated Bell scratched his neck and bit him in the hand which drew blood."

According to the report there was a "large bite mark" on his left hand, long scratches running from behind his ear and down his neck, as well as a scratch under his eye.

Bell was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital, where police described her as "combative and erratic" and were forced to place her in restraints.

She will be summonsed to Boston Municipal Court to face charges for assault and battery on a public employee, police said.

A woman reached at a telephone number listed for Bell, and who identified herself as Bell, said she did not remember the attack.

"I was drinking," she said. "I have to go. Goodbye."

Police said they spoke to the manager at the hotel where the incident took place about why Bell was there.

"He stated Bell was not a guest at the hotel and was not sure why she was on the property," police said.

Detectives later learned she was registered at a Back Bay hotel where she was expected to stay until next week, police said.

The charge of assaulting an EMT carries a maximum sentence of two and a half years in jail if convicted.

O'Brien said ambulance crews are routinely assaulted while responding to drunk and disorderly calls.

"This is not an EMS call, this is a police call," he said. "We've been fighting this for years. ... We're assaulted daily. We don't write it up, generally. It's getting to a point where something is going to have to be done."
O'Ryan Johnson / Source: Boston Herald

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December 12, 2014
Man Leads Police Officers on 60mph Ambulance Chase - IN

An Elkhart man faces auto theft and battery charges after police say he stole an ambulance and led them on a chase through Elkhart Wednesday afternoon.

Police were called to Elkhart General Hospital at 2:28 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 10, for a report that an ambulance had been stolen from the bay outside the emergency room, according to a police department report.

It is common practice to leave ambulances unlocked and running while medics pick up or drop off patients, said Sgt. Chris Snyder with the Elkhart Police Department.

Police found the Tri-County Ambulance vehicle in the area of C.R. 10 and John Weaver Parkway with its emergency lights on, Snyder said.

The person driving the ambulance refused to stop for police and continued on John Weaver Parkway at about 60 mph with police in pursuit.

After a brief chase, the ambulance stopped at Aeroplex Drive and Kinro Court, where police arrested the driver, 23-year-old Otha Henri Nowlin.

Nowlin was taken to the Elkhart Police Department, where he battered two employees of the department, Snyder said.

He was booked at the Elkhart County Jail on preliminary charges of motor vehicle theft, resisting law enforcement, resisting law enforcement with a vehicle and two counts of battery.

Nowlin is being held without bond, Snyder said.
Emily Pfund / Source: The Elkhart Truth

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December 12, 2014
Fire truck backs into fire station - MD


(Photo courtesy Anne Arundel County Fire Department)

ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, Md. — A fire station suffered damage when a fire truck backed into the building Thursday night.

The incident occurred at 10 p.m. as the crew was returning to the station. As they approached the station, the driver and officer in charge made the decision to back onto the front ramp rather than using firefighters to spot the apparatus, according to a press release from the Anne Arundel County Fire Department.

As the rig was backed onto the ramp, the driver mistakenly believed he had the bay door lined up in his mirrors. However, the driver had two different bay doors in his mirrors and the apparatus backed in to the exterior brick column between the two doors, according to the report.

While there were no injuries, the damage to the station was substantial. The brick column was knocked down, causing two bay doors to collapse.

The accident caused minor, cosmetic damage to the backing engine. A falling bay door damaged a mirror on an engine parked inside the station.

Full service from the station was continued. An investigation of the incident will be conducted.
By FireRescue1 Staff

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December 12, 2014
Firefighter passes out at house fire scene - OK


(News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports)

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — A firefighter passed out while battling an early Friday morning house fire.

News9 reported that crews responded to the fire at the house around 4 a.m. The firefighter was taken to a hospital to be checked out as a precaution.

He was treated and later released. It is unclear at this time why the firefighter passed out, according to the report.

Investigators believe the fire started in the attic above the living room. Officials said the cause was likely an electrical short.

The fire has caused about $50,000 in damage.
By FireRescue1 Staff

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December 12, 2014
Firefighter dad’s worst nightmare - MA

On November 14, 1996, the day Paul Chuilli Jr. was born, his proud father began his career as a firefighter in Bridgewater.

Exactly 18 years and 26 days later on Wednesday morning, Paul Chuilli Sr. was part of a three-man crew on Engine 1 that rushed to a single-car crash on a winding West Bridgewater road.

There, trapped inside the crumpled remains of a Chevrolet twisted up against a tree at the edge of a manicured lawn, Bridgewater firefighter Paul Chuilli came upon the body of his youngest son.

“It’s every firefighter’s worst nightmare,” said Joe Cairns. “You answer the bell and when you get there, you find it’s your own flesh and blood. Believe me, there’s nothing worse.”

Joe Cairns was not speaking merely as a captain of the Bridgewater Fire Department, but as the uncle of the boy who starred on the football and basketball teams at West Bridgewater High School, a thoughtful kid who also took the time to make just about everyone his friend.

“They needed the Jaws of Life to get Paul out of that car,” Joe Cairns said, suppressing his own tears, “and his Dad was there, ?doing what good … no, great firefighters do. Paul did his job in the most horrible of circumstances. I can’t imagine anything more difficult than answering a call like that, and finding it’s your son.”

Fastened to the base of that tree on Aldrich Road where Paul Chuilli Jr. died just before noon on Wednesday were epitaphs from his older twin brothers, Evan and Dylan, his sister, Kate, and mother, Katelyn, as well as members of the football and basketball squads.

“Junior, I can’t come up with words for the pain and the hole in my heart. I don’t know how each day will work out with you not here. Mom.”

“I’ll never understand why you left my life so soon,” his brother Evan wrote, “but my little brother will always stay in my heart. Everyday that goes by you’ll be in my mind. I love you so much. Evan.”

Mark Bodwell, principal of West Bridgewater High, recalled that familiar voice and the smile that radiated across the hall, shortly before Paul Chuilli Jr. died on Wednesday.

“Paul called out to me, ‘Hey, Mr. Bodwell, how’s it goin’?’ I smiled back. We had a half day and Paul was going to be coming back to school for basketball practice.”

The young principal paused for a moment, as if being ambushed by the vagaries of life. A boy brimming with life, an anchor of the student body, was no more.

Suddenly, the future for Bodwell was all about today’s tribute on the Bridgewater/Raynham football field, where students will send balloons into the sky.

“At a time like this,” Mark Bodwell said, “all we can do is keep the doors open and allow our kids to be with their friends and grieve together. The counselors are here, but our students tend to lean on each other for support. They’re wrestling with something that wasn’t supposed to happen. Their friend is gone.”
Peter Gelzinis / bostonherald.com

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December 11, 2014
EDITORIAL: Floundering Hartford Fire Dept. Needs Housecleaning - CT

It is time, it is beyond time, for a full-scale, impartial, outside review of the entire Hartford Fire Department operation, before public safety is compromised. In just the past eight months or so, the once-proud department has appeared to be spinning out of control.

For openers, several firefighters have had issues with alcohol abuse, on and off the job. One is accused of accidentally shooting a friend in the face while drinking off the job, another with barging into the apartment of a woman he didn't know, a third with crashing his car and leaving the scene, his third DUI arrest.

That departmental discipline is lagging was in evidence over the weekend when two fire lieutenants got into a fight at the scene of a minor house fire.

Also, the specter of political influence reared its head in August, when a job posting for assistant chief, the second-ranking position in the department, was written so that only one of six deputy chiefs, Terry L. Waller, was eligible for the promotion. He is the fiance of city Corporation Counsel Saundra Kee Borges, the city's former chief operating officer and a longtime friend and ally of Mayor Pedro Segarra.

Though the posting was withdrawn after a public outcry, Mr. Waller is serving as acting assistant chief.

Death

But it is the events surrounding a tragic fire on Oct. 7 that call the department's effectiveness and integrity into question. On that day, firefighter Kevin Bell, 48, died while fighting a fire in a two-story home on Blue Hills Avenue, not far from his firehouse, Engine Co. 16.

The Courant reported that on Oct. 5, two days before the fatal fire, an internal department email revealed numerous safety problems at Engine Co. 16. In the sharply worded email to Chief Carlos M. Huertas, Lt. John Nolan cites such things as a generator empty of fuel, a water hose not working properly and two empty Scott air bottles. Another email from Sept. 24 indicated the engine company's thermal imaging camera, which can be used to locate victims or firefighters through smoke and fire, was not working properly.

It is not known if faulty equipment played a role in Mr. Bell's death. His breathing apparatus was seized as part of the investigation. On receipt of the Oct. 5 email, Chief Huertas assigned acting Assistant Chief Waller to investigate. Early the next day, Mr. Waller said he would get right on it. It is not clear whether he did, and we aren't likely to find out any too soon.

The state fire marshal's office, Conn-OSHA and the U.S. Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have begun investigations of the blaze, probes that are expected to take six to eight months.

Probe

Chief Huertas also appointed an internal board of inquiry to review the department's actions. But in another batch of emails obtained by The Courant, the department veteran put in charge of the board of inquiry, deputy chief of training Daniel Nolan, accuses Chief Huertas of secretly shutting down the investigation.

Mr. Nolan said Chief Huertas came to the board of inquiry's first meeting and told it to stand down until all the other agencies finished their investigations. He went on to say that the directive came from city hall "due to legal concerns" and that Chief Huertas had directed the board to "lead people to believe" they were moving ahead with the investigation.

Mr. Nolan refused, and was removed as head of the board of inquiry. Chief Huertas denied telling the board to hold off on its investigation but did say that "other ongoing investigations ... could potentially be compromised" in an email to The Courant. He said the board of inquiry's role was to review information once it is gathered.

This has led to a lot of speculation about what is really going on and who is really running the department. It is time to clean house.
Source: The Hartford Courant

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December 11, 2014
Firefighter injured in Van Buren apartment fire - MI


(VIDEO BY WXYZ)

One firefighter was rushed to the hospital after he had a cardiac emergency battling a fire at an apartment complex in Van Buren Township on Wednesday.

Officials say he will spend the night in the hospital and is expected to recover.

We're told firefighters from Van Buren along with Ypsilanti Township, Sumter Township and the cities of Romulus and Belleville all fought the fire.

It took about an hour to put out.

About 40 units were destroyed in the fire--and 52 residents were taken to the township hall where the Red Cross and Van Buren Public Safety chaplains were there to take care of them.

Investigators say they are still looking into the cause of fire.
wxyz.com

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December 11, 2014
Concern Over Firefighter Suicides Prompts KCFD To Seek Resources, Help - KS

Sirens flash and wail as the 17-ton fire engine barrels down Independence Avenue in Kansas City's Historic Northeast. The four firefighters on board gear up in their flame retardant boots and jackets as they rush to the scene of a call.

“After 25 years I’ve seen just about everything you can image,” says firefighter Dan Utt, shouting over the blaring sirens. “Probably more than I’d like to recall to be honest.”

Utt estimates their station receives three to four assault calls — like this one — a shift, so for him this is just another day on the job. In fact, last year this station responded to around 35,000 calls, some fires but mostly medical emergencies, including everything from shootings to heart attacks.

Firefighters and mental health issues

It comes as no surprise that firefighters experience a high level of stress and trauma in their line of work, and since 2011, incidences of firefighters committing suicide have begun to surface in cities like Phoenix and Chicago.

Now, many fire departments, along with mental health experts, are working to understand the emotional impact of the work. Specifically focusing on a potential relationship between the work of a firefighter and tendency towards suicidal thoughts.

The Kansas City Fire Department has lost four firefighters to suicide in the last ten years. The most recent was Nico Cruz who died in July. That may not seem like an alarming number but for local firefighter Joe Galetti, these were his colleagues and close friends.

“I know some of my fellow brothers and sisters are struggling on the inside,” he says. “Just from the fact that we've lost a lot to suicide."

A tall man in his late 40s, Galetti wears dark blue KCFD sweatpants with black sandals over his socks. Sitting in the chief's office at Station 23, he openly recounts the gruesome and even tragic things he has witnessed in 21 years as a firefighter. But when it comes to talking about the friends he’s lost, Galetti’s eyes get misty.

“I can’t put myself in their shoes,” says Galetti in his deep booming voice, "the underlying issue that lead up to such a desperate move. Why didn't they reach out? Why didn't they ask for help?”

New resources for suicide prevention

Richard Gist, the Public Health Psychologist at KCFD, says that while Firefighters tend to share a close camaraderie amongst one another, they are also notorious for being emotionally guarded. That’s why he wanted to develop a tool to encourage firefighters to reach out to one another and talk about their struggles.

Employee services, like professional counseling are already available to city firefighters, but Gist wanted something that could be on hand 24/7. That’s why together with The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, he helped to develop ACT, which stands for Ask Care Take. ACT is a mobile app that teaches firefighters step by step how to help prevent suicide.

Whether looking for help for yourself or another firefighter, ACT brings you to links where you can find information and professional help. The app also includes short videos that use actual firefighters, not actors, to demonstrate how to hold difficult conversations.

There is currently no official system in place to track the national rate of firefighter suicides. But by using the known rate of suicide for white middle-age males, the predominant demographic in the U.S. fire service, The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation estimates firefighters are at least three times more likely to commit suicide than to die in the line of duty.

"You are perhaps more likely to save a man's life through this mechanism," says Gist as he holds up his iPhone. "Than you are to physically pull them out of harms way."

ACT is due to launches this month and in the coming year Gist hopes to have the app in the hands of firefighters throughout the country.
By Esther Honig / http://kcur.org

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December 11, 2014
First Responder Issue Leaves County Short on Answers - TX

Kerr County wants to know what it's getting for its money in terms of first responders -- those handful of men and women tasked with providing prompt emergency medical assistance in advance of ambulances.

County commissioners were prepared to hear a report on the program from the Kerrville Fire Department after Commissioner H.A. "Buster" Baldwin placed the matter on their Monday agenda, but all they ended up hearing was aired frustration. Baldwin said the county used to pay the city money for specific portions of the first responder program, but lamented that it seemed there wasn't as much financial transparency now.

Baldwin also said he wants to know if the city needs help funding any equipment needed by first responders.

First responders, assigned to particular regions of the county, are sometimes the first on-scene at medical-related 911 calls such as those involving heart attacks, strokes and severe wrecks, among other emergencies.

Baldwin said he'd tried four or five times to get the first responder program's director, Kerrville firefighter Eric Maloney, to give a briefing before commissioners.

"I can't seem to get him over here ... just couldn't pull that off," Baldwin said. "I don't have a lot of patience with that. I don't know what the issue is. I'm really not concerned with it. I think we need to have a report."

Kerrville Mayor Jack Pratt, who was seated in the audience, noted the fire department has "been in transition" and suggested calling someone else.

The agency recently underwent major administrative changes when the city manager eliminated the position of assistant fire chief, and the former fire chief resigned unexpectedly.

"I suggest you go to the fire chief and work with him, and if he can't get it resolved, then he can take it to city manager," Pratt said.

Maloney was not immediately available for comment.

On Tuesday, Baldwin said Maloney had since been contacted and had agreed to come to the commissioners' Dec. 22 regular meeting.

The county budgeted responder costs in the amounts of $16,327 in 2012-13, $29,700 in 2013-14 and $32,300 this fiscal year. In the spring, Kerrville and Kerr County officials approved a separate, 10-year interlocal agreement to provide ambulance and emergency services countywide for $1.2 million.
Sean Batura / Source: Kerrville Daily Times

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December 11, 2014
FDNY Modifies Skills Test; Comes Under Fire by Critics - NY

The Fire Department has stopped requiring probationary firefighters to pass a job-related physical-skills test before getting hired — a move that critics derided as a lowering of standards.

The move by first-year Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro, which allows probies to fail components of the Functional Skills Training test but still graduate from the Fire Academy, comes amid criticism of the department’s low hiring rate of women.

“It’s a lowering of the standards across the board,” said one former FDNY official familiar with training protocol.

“What needs to matter is how well you perform the tasks of firefighting,” he added. “The question is when you’re 270 pounds and you’re on the fourth floor and someone comes through that window — can they pick you up and drag you out or not?”

The FST drills include advancing a heavy tire 6 to 8 feet, raising a ladder up a wall and breaching holes in a ceiling — while wearing an oxygen tank with a limited amount of air.

Nigro revealed the adjustments to the exam at a City Council hearing Wednesday where members questioned whether the skills test was responsible for the 10,500-member force including just 44 women.

Department officials insisted the two issues were unrelated and that the changes hadn’t impacted anyone in the academy class that graduated last month. While 95 percent of men pass the FDNY’s demanding physical test, only 57 percent of women manage to get through.

After the hearing, Nigro said passing the skills tests had only been required of the two most recent classes — and not for any of the 15 years before.

“We still grade the people. You can still fail it if you go beyond the time, but you’re not automatically failed from the program,” he said.

Despite Nigro’s assurances, Fire and Criminal Justice Services Committee Chair Elizabeth Crowley (D-Queens) questioned the impact of inconsistencies in training in recent years.

“There are still concerns that excessive testing methods within the Fire Academy are being used to keep women probationary firefighters from graduating,” she said.
Source: New York Post

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December 11, 2014
Concord: Battalion chief's home burns again - CA

CONCORD -- A Cal Fire battalion chief lost his home in a one-alarm fire early Wednesday morning, just hours after another fire had gutted one of the home's bedrooms.

The one-story home in the 2100 blocks of Fredricks Street, across from John Muir Medical Center near downtown, began burning just before 3 a.m. and appears to have been caused by smoldering material similar to recyclable paper that was inside the walls near the attic, Contra Costa Fire Protection District Fire Marshal Robert Marshall said.

"Unfortunately, the home is a total loss," Marshall said. "It's not something that you see very often. Obviously, the family is devastated."

The same home burned Tuesday morning, but crews were able to contain the damage to one of the bedrooms and contents inside it. Fire crews remained for hours after that blaze was controlled, working to put out hot spots. Save for some smoke damage, the rest of the house remained intact and would have been livable again.

"Unfortunately, this was in an area that we weren't able to get to or to check, because it's behind a wall and that area of the house was OK," Marshall said. "But this material was inside it, and some of it was smoldering undetected and ignited. This is the unfortunate result of that. These things don't happen very much, but they do happen."

The family of four was staying with relatives Tuesday night and not at home when the fire began. Flames were high enough that the first reports of it came from motorists on Highway 242, Marshall said.

Fire crews fought the fire mostly from the outside but were able to get in the home eventually, Marshall said. The fire was not declared under control until just before 4:30 a.m.

"You have to feel for the family," Marshall said. "It's really a devastating turn of events."
By Rick Hurd / rhurd@bayareanewsgroup.com

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December 11, 2014
Firefighters under investigation for distribution of narcotics - DC


(FOX 5’s)


Seven DC firefighters have been under investigation since last summer for allegedly taking part in an oxycodone distribution ring. The scheme was uncovered after investigators in St. Mary's County searched the phone and computer of a veteran lieutenant. five of the seven have been off the street since July while two others have resigned.

WASHINGTON - Seven D.C. firefighters have been under investigation since last summer for allegedly taking part in an oxycodone distribution ring. It is a scheme uncovered after investigators in St. Mary's County searched the phone and computer of a veteran lieutenant.

Five of the seven have been off the street since July while two others have resigned from the department.

Multiple sources familiar with the case say it all began with the arrest of Henry Dent -- a lieutenant who investigators say walked into a St. Mary's County pharmacy last March where he tried to pass a fake prescription for oxycodone while dressed in his fire department uniform.

From there, sources say, the case took off when investigators started looking at the emails and text messages on his phone and computer.

Until recently, Dent was a lieutenant assigned to Truck 12 in the Tenleytown neighborhood of Northwest D.C.

He handed in his resignation after being told he was going to be terminated.

According to court documents, investigators with the St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office and sources familiar with the investigation, Dent was passing fraudulent prescriptions for oxycodone at multiple pharmacies in the Washington metropolitan area until he was stopped leaving a southern Maryland pharmacy.

Back on March 6, the sheriff's office says they found Dent in his firefighter uniform trying to pass a fraudulent prescription for oxycodone at a pharmacy in Charlotte Hall. They arrested Dent and the sheriff's office says they also found other numerous fraudulent prescriptions which they say Dent admitted to making.

In fact, investigators in St. Mary's County say they found dent with 18 fraudulent prescriptions and six empty prescription bottles.

Now, here is the twist. Dent caught a break with prosecutors who dropped the charges after reviewing numerous documents they now believe to be fakes. Documents provided to the court by Dent. It is an allegation Dent denies.

The state's attorney's office and investigators with the sheriff's office both confirm the investigation has been reopened and Dent may be facing additional charges.

They also confirm the feds have joined the investigation.

As for the six other firefighters? Sources say documents and messages found on Dent's electronic devices led them to the other firefighters who are now under investigation. The implication being they were distributing it amongst themselves.

Interim D.C. Fire and EMS Chief Eugene Jones declined to comment on camera, but in a statement, said in part:

“...as you may be aware this issue is being investigated by the Federal Government. I nor the Department will take any action or disclose any information that may impede or hinder a Federal Investigation.”

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, oxycodone is a semi-synthetic narcotic analgesic which is popular with drug abusers. It gives users a sense of euphoria and feelings of relaxation.

The firefighter's union also released a statement which reads in part:

“We hope that these allegations prove to be unfounded, but we can assure you we will do everything to make certain our mission of serving the people of the Nation's Capital is not impacted.”

Sources familiar with the investigation say the U.S. Attorney's Office has been looking at the evidence since last July, but no charges have been filed.

Over the last week, FOX 5 has given Dent numerous opportunities to tell his side of the story on camera. He declined, but in several phone conversations, Dent denied falsifying documents, says he is clean and sober and denies distributing drugs to the other firefighters under investigation.

He admits taking oxycodone, but said it was for personal use after being injured in an accident involving a fire truck
By Paul Wagner, FOX 5 Reporter

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December 11, 2014
New Hardware Glitches Mean Dispatch Issues for D.C. Police, Fire and EMS - WA


There are new concerns over equipment used by D.C. ambulances and fire trucks.Technology designed to speed up response might actually be slowing it down. News4's Mark Segraves takes a deeper look at the problem.

Computer glitches could be causing delays for ambulances and fire trucks in the district.

D.C. fire and police use GPS and other computer technology to track and dispatch fire equipment, ambulances and police cars. When 911 calls come in to the Office of Unified Communications, the technology shows where the closest first-responder is and dispatches them to the emergency.

But new hardware installed in the past few weeks has not been 100 percent reliable.

“The issues that we’ve identified, we think that we’ve been working through those,” Office of Unified Communications Chief Information Officer Teddy Kavaleri said.

He added that because it is a major overhaul, issues are expected.

Among the issues: New tablets showing wrong locations for fire trucks and ambulances.

“There was a glitch where some of these units were being misreported on their locations,” Kalaveri said. “Well as soon as we identified that, we came up with a workaround, so we’re working through it. And those issues should be almost eliminated if they haven’t been eliminated.”

The problems have not caused any loss of life, officials said. They hope to have all the glitches fixed in the next few weeks.

Until then, firefighters and paramedics are using radio again.
By Mark Segraves / nbcwashington.com

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December 10, 2014
Chief ordered firefighters to block hit-and-run suspect - FL

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player
Fire truck used to block hit and run driver

A St. Johns County Fire Rescue operations chief ordered a fire truck to block a hit-and-run suspect in a neighborhood where the crash happened, and advised other trucks where the pursuit was going, according to radio calls released by the Fire Department Monday.

A 17-year-old was involved in a hit-and-run crash about 10:45 p.m. Nov. 24 at the intersection of San Juan Drive and Ponte Vedra Boulevard, and continued to speed through the neighborhood, according to St. Johns County deputies.

St. Johns County Fire Rescue Operations Chief Kurt Kaunath lives in that neighborhood and was off duty at the time. He heard the crash and went to investigate, but the teen left the scene.

That's when Kaunath jumped in his county truck and followed the teen. Then he got on the radio with his co-workers responding in Engine 10, a brand new truck.

The chief was still following the teen and asked for the firefighters' help to keep the driver from getting away. Kaunath asked the engine to block the road.

"Yeah, Doug, see if you can block Solano Road," Kaunath said in the radio calls. "He's coming toward you. He won't get you until Corona."

"What type of car is it?" the radio operator on the truck responded.

"Hey, Doug, it's an SUV," Kaunath said.

"Acknowledged. We are heading north on San Juan right now," the operator responded.

"SUV is in front of Ponte Vedra Club at this time, southbound," Kaunath said.

News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith commends the firefighters for trying to catch a suspect, but he said that's not their job.

"People with the Fire Department are not trained for pursuit driving, that is, how to go through intersections," Smith said. "They know how to do that as to respond to a fire. They are trained to do that."

Smith said the right thing would have been to call police with the license plate number and let them handle it.

Some residents agree.

"Yeah, I think that would definitely be a police matter," Eddie Ezelle said. "I think they should have called the proper authorities and had them take care of that."

"They probably shouldn't have done that," Dan Glimb said. "They probably should have called the police, and if you wanted to chase the kid, that's his own business, but for him to call to block the neighborhood, I don't think they should be using the county to do that."

The Fire Department defended the actions of its operations chief, who's been with the department for 28 years. The department released a statement, which reads:

"SJCFR has completed an internal inquiry into the incident and determined although the events described above are certainly not a normal occurrence, the Operations Chief was acting in the interest of public safety, the protection of the injured juvenile driver and the public traveling in the area. The intent of following the vehicle and order to block a road was not meant to place fire rescue crews at greater risk than many other emergency events encountered."

The teen eventually pulled into a driveway, where Ponte Vedra Inn and Club security caught up with him. Once police arrived, the fire crew left the scene.
Author: Ashley Mitchem, Morning traffic, news reporter, amitchem@wjxt.com

LISTEN: Fire Rescue radio calls in hit-and-run incident

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December 10, 2014
EMT caught sleeping 12 times on job can’t be fired - NY


Ehrlich was caught multiple times blatantly sleeping on the job.


She’s the FDNY’s “Sleeping Duty.”

The city stripped EMT Serele ­Ehrlich of her lieutenant’s rank after co-workers and bosses accused her of sleeping on the job an astounding 12 times.

The 57-year-old serial snoozer endangered the public for half a decade while on duty — snoring during training sessions, dozing at her desk and catching some Zs behind the wheel of her command vehicle, the FDNY contended.

Ehrlich slept so deeply, co-workers claimed, she missed phone calls to her desk and radio communications while on patrol. Even flashing lights and blaring sirens failed to rouse her, they complained.

Yet it took more than a dozen complaints over five years before the FDNY took any action against her.

The department tried to fire Ehrlich in 2012, charging her with the sleeping incidents, chronic lateness and going AWOL six times in 2009. A city administrative judge upheld six snoozing charges but recommended only a 45-day suspension, saying Ehrlich had an otherwise unblemished history.

Then-Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano disagreed but backed off firing her and instead demoted Ehrlich to paramedic, writing in November 2013, “The Department should not and will not wait until Lt. Ehrlich’s misconduct results in significant, perhaps deadly, consequences for the public and/or those she is tasked to supervise.”

The city Civil Service Commission upheld the demotion last month.

Ehrlich’s alleged slumbers read like a bad dream. Among them:

Now-retired Deputy Chief JoEddy Friszell found Ehrlich passed out behind the wheel of her command vehicle outside Brookdale Hospital in Brooklyn in 2007 with an open map resting on her chest — and could not wake her. “I put every single light on in my vehicle, flashing in her face, and she did not budge,” he told The Post. “I blew the siren, and she did not budge. I took pictures, because she did not budge.”

Friszell said he once discovered Ehrlich sleeping at her desk. He called her on the phone to wake her up, telling her, “You ought to turn around, because I’m in your office behind you.”

Friszell charges Ehrlich once fell asleep on duty in her car while stopped at a red light. “Thank goodness she didn’t take her foot off the brake,” he said. Ehrlich denied this and noted no complaint was ever filed.

Capt. Vincent Hanlon, now retired, said he found Ehrlich reclined in the driver’s seat of her command car parked outside Station 58 in Canarsie in May 2009. He twice tapped on the window — and even called her on the radio while standing next to the car, according to his claims. She did not respond until he smacked his palm against the window, he said. “I wouldn’t call it a nap. She was sound asleep,” he recalled. “When she woke up, I expected to see slippers on her feet.”

In July 2011, Ehrlich was responsible for leading a monthly drill in Station 58. Chief Robert Hannafey, the Brooklyn commander, walked in and found Ehrlich at the supervisor’s desk — “head back, mouth open, snoring,” while two EMTs watched a training video, he testified at Ehrlich’s hearing, showing photos.

As the assigned “conditions officer,” Ehrlich had to monitor and manage 16 employees in eight ambulances on March 2, 2012. That day, Capt. Dinorah Claudio, commanding officer of the Ocean Hill station, took photos of Ehrlich asleep at 8 a.m. in her patrol car on the corner of the busy Rockaway Boulevard and Dean Street, in full public view.

Ehrlich claimed she was reading the newspaper and may have “briefly closed my eyes for a second.” She said Claudio had it in for her after Ehrlich found the captain gave a paramedic unauthorized days off.

Ehrlich denies ever sleeping on the job or missing an emergency, calling it “a witch hunt” by spiteful colleagues. But she acknowledged, “I might have a mild case of sleep apnea.”

“I never hurt nobody,” the 20-year veteran said. “I gave my life to the department. What they’ve done to me is so unfair.”

Her demotion to paramedic took effect last Dec. 6, but Ehrlich — who made up to $90,000 as a lieutenant with overtime — then let her paramedic certification lapse. She was demoted again in August to EMT, with her salary dropping to $48,153.

While serving in EMS, Ehrlich moonlighted as the owner of a Brooklyn baby-furniture shop — and still runs the business on the side, The Post learned.

Co-workers believe Ehrlich, who always worked the overnight shift, came to work tired because of the Midwood business, Brooklyn Baby.

“She would . . . go to sleep every night,” Friszell said of Ehrlich, who worked the night shift.

Ehrlich has owned the business for 33 years. She told customers last week that the Avenue M store was undergoing repairs but to call her any time from 7:30 a.m. to midnight to place orders or to arrange house calls.

An FDNY spokesman called Ehrlich “an active EMT.” But Ehrlich said the department has put her on an unpaid medical leave since October.
By Amber Jamieson and Susan Edelman

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December 10, 2014
Lessons Learned:
9 Volunteer fire fighters and 1 off-duty career fire captain killed by an ammonium nitrate explosion at a fertilizer plant fire - TX

NIOSH has recently released the following Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation Reports
CDC NIOSH

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December 10, 2014
Lessons Learned:
Career fire fighter killed by structure collapse while conducting interior search for occupants following 4th alarm - TX

NIOSH has recently released the following Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation Report
CDC NIOSH

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December 10, 2014
"ALL OF THE RADIOS FAILED"


(SFFD Radios)

As you probably know, there were some close calls and Line of Duty deaths in recent years where radios -being used in fire environments (our environment) were part of the concern. In once again their attempt to separate fact from fiction and rumor, NIST did some scientific testing-with the cooperation and participation of fire service.

These new test results* from the NIST confirm that portable radios used by firefighters absolutely can fail to operate properly within 15 minutes when exposed to temperatures that may be encountered during firefighting activities...and not just obvious failure.

We rely on the radios to report our location, our progress and our needs...often urgently. Performance problems with portable radios have definitely been identified by the NIOSH as contributing factors in some firefighter fatalities.

ALL PORTABLE FIRE RADIOS FAILED:
All seven of the firefighter portable radios tested by NIST failed to perform properly within 15 minutes when exposed to temperature levels encountered in “fully involved” fires, as when all the contents in a room or structure are burning. Four of the handheld radios stopped transmitting, and three experienced significant “signal drift,” rendering the radios unreliable for communication. The failures occurred while the radios were subjected to a temperature of 160 degrees Celsius (320 degrees Fahrenheit), termed Thermal Class II conditions.** The temperature is representative of a fully involved fire or conditions outside a room when its contents flashedover.

During the post-test cool-down period, three of the radios did not recover normal function.

PLEASE TAKE TIME TO REVIEW THESE FOUR REPORTS:

1-NIST RADIO REPORT

2-RELATED LODD REPORT
HERE is an LODD report (see recommendation 9) demonstrating the problem:

San Francisco FD Double LODD:

The above FIRE killed SFFD Lieutenant Vincent A. Perez and Firefighter-Paramedic Anthony M. Valerio on June 2, 2012--READ THE BELOW for additional details and the SFFD report.
3-OVERVIEW:

4-ACTUAL SFFD INTERNAL REPORT-See Page 93:
firefighterclosecalls.com

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December 10, 2014
Rockport firefighter hospitalized with two lumbar fractures following training accident - ME


William ‘Billy’ Smith, a Rockport firefighter and Rockland Police officer, makes the best of his painful situation Monday in his room at Pen Bay Medical Center, where he is recovering from two lumbar spine fractures. Smith (not pictured in this photo) was training how to go through a hole in the ceiling, to get from a second floor to a first floor, when his foot became caught and he lost his grip and fell onto his back.
(Photos by Holly S. Edwards/Jason Peasley)

ROCKPORT — Rockport resident William "Billy" Smith is both a Rockland Police officer and a Rockport firefighter, but today he is a patient at Pen Bay Medical Center, laid up in bed with fractures of his L3 and L4 (lumbar) spine.

Smith was participating in the second day of last week's multi-town Rapid Intervention Team training, when his foot became caught up as he was making a controlled descent through a hole in the ceiling to the room below. The maneuver is part of the Rochester Drill, which deals with firefighters falling through and becoming stuck between floors, or becoming trapped between floors.

During the drill, Rockport Fire Chief Jason Peasley said that Smith's group was given the scenario of being trapped on a second floor, after the stairs had burned and/or become impassable. They had to lower themselves down through a hole in the upper floor, to the first floor below.

Loaded down with 40-50 pounds of firefighting gear, and holding on to a charged line (hose) that acted like a rope to help him make the descent, Smith was unable to hold on while he worked to free his foot and lost his grip.

Smith fell about 4-feet, and landed flat on the floor below, on his back. Unfortunately, he was wearing an SCBA air pack at the time of the landing, and the cylindrical tank and the metal frame it connects to were between his back and the wood floor.

"According to the instructors, he did everything correct, everything was by the book," said Peasley. "We had done the prior work and watched the videos, practiced the maneuvers and it was a freak accident."

Peasley said that smith, "happened to land in the worst way."

"Two other firefighters also fell, but they both landed on their sides and were able to walk away uninjured," said Peasley. “Training is for learning, and that’s what we did this weekend.”

In fact, Peasley learned the Camden Fire Department was going to be undergoing the same training Monday night, and they now plan to put down padding in case anyone falls.

“They’re calling it the Billy Pad,” said Peasley. “But the reality is, the training doesn’t call for one, but now we know we want to use padding when we can, because Billy’s fall happened so fast the nearby instructors couldn’t get there fast enough to prevent it.”

The two-day RIT training included 33 firefighters from the towns of Lincolnville, Camden, Hope, Rockport, Rockland, Cushing, Owls Head, South Thomaston and Friendship. The first day of training was Dec. 2, and included a slide presentation, history of the need for the RIT, the work done by RITs, gear needed, responsibilities and what they are allowed to do.

Peasley said this is the first time a multi-town RIT training course had been conducted, and it's the hope that each town will have at least a few members trained specifically for RIT work when there is a major event and need for mutual aid.

"Sometimes it's the best of the best firefighters that take this training, they are the best with ropes and knots, special tools, tricky situations, speed and efficiency, " said Peasley. "Any type of major incident you have, you are working together as three, four possibly five towns at a structure fire. Most towns don't work on structures fires be themselves. So you need to be able to work with other towns and this does that."

The second half of that Tuesday night class was hands-on, including practicing with equipment, tools and techniques. They basically learned how to prep someone to be taken out of a building, said Peasley, whether it's converting an air pack into a harness, or putting someone into a harness, practicing carries, using tools for dragging, and making litters out of poles and rope.

"A RIT team is there for an emergency response, when you have someone go down," said Peasely. "That team basically stands next to the incident commander, and they stay there the entire time. They may not get to go in and play at all, but if anything goes wrong, they are standing right there, they have a RIT bag, an extra bottle of air, ropes, tools and all the stuff they need to go in, and that is their only mission, to save a life."

For this week's training, everybody was learning all the techniques and about the tools, etc. Peasley said that it's unrealistic in the Midcoast to think you'll have the same group of firefighters show up to a call, and to train some of them for RIT work. So by training everybody, a small RIT group can be designated at any given fire scene, no matter who is able to be there to help out.

And as for the job itself, Peasley said that it not only requires good knowledge of ropes and knots and being able to change out air packs quickly, but also physical ability.

"Depending on how rapidly something is going down, you need to make a decision whether it's just 'scoop and go' or taking time to put on a proper harness," said Peasley. "And being able to carry 200 pounds of dead weight requires a lot of physical exertion, as well as training in good techniques to get it done."

Saturday's live training took place in Searsmont on Route 105, in a to-be demolished house across from the Searsmont Community Center. The house was owned by Robbins Lumber, donated and prepared for training. After Saturday’s indoor training, the building was burned to the ground in a controlled fire.

The RIT training started Saturday at 8 a.m. and ended at 3 p.m., said Peasley and it continued without incident after Smith was injured.

After Smith fell, Peasley said his gear was removed to make him more comfortable, and he was assessed by the trainers from Bangor Fire Department.

"He wanted to get up, but they kept telling him to stay down," said Peasley. "He did eventually stand up and was uncomfortable, and I took him out to my truck. Very quickly though, he was in agonizing pain. He refused an ambulance, so I took him in my truck to Pen Bay."

Once at the hospital, Peasley said it took about four people to remove Smith from the truck, as his body was locked in pain and shock.

From his hospital room Monday morning, Smith confirmed Peasley's details.

"It was excruciating pain," said Smith. "I was yelling and crying, it was so bad."

Now, Smith said in addition to the pain he's battling, he's dealing with the realization of his injuries, which are compounded by what he’s already living with on a daily basis.

Two years ago, Smith learned he had a brain tumor. Among the initial symptoms, it caused him severe headaches, and then started messing with his vision. He underwent extensive testing and radiation therapy in Maine hospitals and at out-of-state renowned medical centers, and while the tumor is considered benign, it still sits inside his skull, behind one of his eyes.

Today, while the brain tumor is stable and he suffers bouts of double vision and other side effects, he is trying hard to consider himself lucky.

Nov. 30, a video of Smith sledding with local kids while he was on patrol in Rockland went viral on the Internet. Last Wednesday, his kids had a two-hour delay in the start of school, so they videotaped their dance-off outside in the slush.

"Today, I'm here with a broken back. Unbelievable," said Smith.

Smith said he learned earlier in the day Monday that he would soon be fitted for a back brace, and spend six to eight weeks in it while his fractures healed. So far, there is no talk of a need for surgery.

"We were such great training this weekend, the Bangor guys were so great to work with," said. "I feel so bad that I got hurt, but it shows that our profession is dangerous. If this can happen in a controlled environment, where there's no actual pressure to save your life or someone else's and you can go slowly and take your time to do it right, bad things can still happen."

For now, Smith is trying to take it day by day. Keep his spirits up, be patient while the doctors work to find a way to manage his pain, try to make sure his wife and kids are being taken care of.

But try to get that through the head of a police officer, firefighter, husband and dad. The doer, not the person who has things done for him.

"It blows. I feel bad. But there is nothing I can do right now and that's the hardest part," said Smith.
By Holly S. Edwards / penbaypilot.com

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December 10, 2014
FF INJURED IN FIRE COLLAPSE - NJ

The Parsippany District 5 Fire Department did not have far to go on Saturday night, when it was dispatched to put out a house fire two doors down from the station. The call, however, was hardly routine as one firefighter fell through a damaged floor before the job was done.

According to police and fire department reports, District 5, located at 180 Old Bloomfield Ave., and township police were alerted at 9:47 p.m. to a single-family home at 152 Old Bloomfield Ave. for a report of a possible working fire. First responders saw smoke and flames coming from the west side of the home, a small cottage with a single dormer window on the second floor.

Members of the Parsippany Fire District 4 joined the District 5 crew and the fire was extinguished within 15 minutes, according to witnesses.

“I live down the street so we were able to respond very quickly,” said District 5 Chief Robert Campbell Jr.

A firefighter from District 5 was transported to the Morristown Medical Center for non-life-threatening injuries sustained after falling from the second floor as it collapsed while he was inside the residence, according to police. Campbell said the firefighter, whose name was withheld, was released from the hospital that same night with no lingering injuries.

The home was not occupied at the time of the fire, according to a police report. The 28-year-old male and 30-year-old female residents of the home later arrived at the scene and were able to seek shelter with a relative.

Police and Morris County Sheriff’s Office fire investigators investigated and determined the fire was accidental.

The home sustained considerable damage, some of which was covered by a large tarp on the west side of the home, where vinyl siding could be seen warped from the heat. The upstairs dormer window was broken with glass on the pitched roof in front of it.

The home was secured by members of Car 69 Rescue and Recovery.

Additional responders included tower ladders from the Pine Brook Volunteer and Parsippany District 6, the rapid-intervention team from Whippany Fire Department and the Lake Parsippany Volunteer Fire Company District 3.

Parsippany’s Rockaway Neck Volunteer First Aid Squad also responded and stood by with its rig while the Parsippany Rescue and Recovery Unit assisted with its board-up, air truck and PATRIOT rehab trailer.
firefighterclosecalls.com

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December 10, 2014
LODD:
Firefighter Joyce Craig Lewis Dies in House Fire - PA

(The Last Call - RIP)


(Photo The Associated Press)


firefighterdispatch

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Philadelphia firefighter hailed for her work ethic and the pride she took in being assigned to the city's busiest engine companies died Tuesday after she became trapped in the basement of a burning row home where an elderly woman was later rescued, officials said.

Joyce Craig Lewis — the first female member of the Philadelphia Fire Departmnt to die in the line of duty — was part of a three-member hose team sent to attack the fire in the basement of the home in the city's West Oak Lane neighborhood at about 3 a.m. Tuesday, fire commissioner Derrick Sawyer said.

Commanders quickly changed tactics and ordered the company to withdraw as the fire intensified, with chimney-like conditions billowing smoke and heat toward firefighters, Sawyer said.

Craig Lewis, an 11-year veteran and mother of two, could not escape and issued a mayday call, officials said. Firefighters raced back inside and found the 36-year-old unconscious with no vital signs, he said.

Paramedics performed CPR and rushed her to Albert Einstein Medical Center. She was pronounced dead a short time later.

Mayor Michael Nutter called Craig Lewis's death "a tremendous loss" and a "very sad day" for all Philadelphians.

A procession of fire apparatus led an ambulance with Craig Lewis's body down the closed lanes of the Schuylkill Expressway to the city medical examiner's office. Black bunting was hung from firehouses.

Craig Lewis is survived by a 16-year-old son and a 16-month-old daughter, Nutter said.

The Philadelphia native was one of 58 women among the city's 1,800 firefighters, according to firefighters union president Joe Schulle. She worked in firehouses in Germantown and North Philadelphia before requesting a transfer to Engine 64 in Lawncrest, one of the city's most active fire houses. He said he believes she was working an overtime shift Tuesday morning.

"Everybody on that fire (scene) inevitably today is sitting at home reflecting, thinking what they could have done differently, how this could have been prevented," Schulle said. "They're heartbroken."

However, he said the intense heat and deteriorating conditions may have made it nearly impossible to escape.

"If you are in a flashover, you have seconds — not minutes — to get out of there," Schulle said.

Craig Lewis, a certified EMT, had been previously commended for attacking a fire while colleagues rescued residents from a burning home, Sawyer said. Her efforts Tuesday to keep the fire contained to the basement came as other firefighters rescued the elderly woman from another part of the home, he said.

Her equipment has been collected and preserved for a pending investigation, Sawyer said.

More than 40 Philadelphia firefighters have been killed in the line of duty since 1943, according to the International Association of Fire Fighters.

The last, Capt. Michael Goodwin, died April 6, 2013 in a roof collapse while battling a fire in a three-story building in the city's Queen Village section. He was 53.

Women account for relatively few firefighter deaths in national statistics — 29 of the 1,059 on-duty deaths recorded by the U.S. Fire Administration between 2003 and 2012 — in part because they are still vastly outnumbered by men on department rosters.
Source: The Associated Press

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December 10, 2014
Woman accused of stealing equipment from fire truck - NH

LACONIA, N.H. —Laconia police say a woman faces charges after stealing equipment from a fire truck while it was out on a call.

Firefighters were called to a downtown parking garage for a report of a fire alarm. While on the scene, a bag with equipment and clothing was stolen.

Police tracked down Jasmine Sanchez, who was wearing a Laconia fire department sweatshirt and knit hat.

She was arrested on a charge of receiving stolen property.
By Renee Anderson / wmur.com

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December 10, 2014
Yemassee officials criticize investigation of fire-station arson - SC

The investigation of an attempt last month to burn the Yemassee Fire Department and Town Hall should be handled by the state instead of the town's police department, according to the mayor and fire chief.

Mayor Jerry Cook and Fire Chief Paul Holmes said Tuesday they had not discussed their concerns with Police Chief Jack Hagy, but hoped he would turn over the investigation of the Nov. 18 fire to the S.C. Law Enforcement Division.

On that night, two volunteer firemen allegedly attempted to burn the fire station because they were feuding with a volunteer firefighter who was inside, according to police reports.

Cook said SLED should lead the investigation because of the town's small size to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.

SLED has been assisting with the investigation, agency spokesman Thom Berry said, but it is not the lead agency.

Cook said he was not opposed to Yemassee police being involved in the investigation, but said SLED should take the lead.

Hagy defended his department's investigation and said he is confident in police Capt. Gregory Alexander, who is in charge of the case. Hagy said he wants to speak with town officials about their concerns.

Former Yemassee and Sheldon Fire District volunteers Chris Williams, 22, and Dominique Thompson, 21, both of Yemassee, have been charged with second-degree arson and attempted murder for their alleged roles in trying to set fire to the building. A teenage firefighter and the interim town clerk were inside the building at the time, but managed to escape, according to police.

Williams and Thompson were released from jail Tuesday after posting $50,000 bonds, reduced Monday from $300,000, according to court records.

Police Capt. Alexander said the dispute started when Thompson took volunteer firefighter Deandre Griffin's face mask on an emergency call. On Nov. 18, Thompson and Williams had heard that Griffin, 18, was angry at them about the face mask incident. The men knew Griffin would be working on reports in the fire station that night, so they decided to burn the station down with Griffin inside, Alexander said.

Williams later told police the fire was Thompson's idea, and that they had talked about setting the fire upstairs, but "his heart just wouldn't let him do it." Instead, he poured gasoline by a door and along a wall, according to a police report.

Thompson initially denied involvement, but later told police he drove Williams to and from the fire station and knew he had made a mistake, the report said.

The mayor and fire chief say they're not satisfied with that version of events.

Cook said he suspects a third person might have suggested the men burn the attic, which houses the town's records. The police chief and captain, however, say they have no evidence anyone else was involved.

Holmes said he's concerned there have not been enough interviews and said the incident seems too extreme to have stemmed from a feud over a face mask.

"It has got to be explained why, instead of doing what normally happens with a disagreement, they're destroying a whole town," Holmes said. "They could have destroyed everything. And you don't do that just because you're upset."

Holmes said he and the police have also had a misunderstanding about Williams and Thompson's work history. Williams was suspended more than a year ago due to his operation of a fire engine on an emergency call, but Thompson had not left the department, Holmes said.

"He had slacked off on his attendance to meetings, but he had not been suspended or anything until this," the fire chief said.

Police Capt. Alexander, though, said he still believes Thompson quit, following a fire at his own home in which no Yemassee volunteer firefighters were available to respond.

The department is still working with SLED to investigate the Nov. 18 fire and a series of other unsolved fires in Yemassee. Alexander said police plan to interview a third person about those incidents, and that person is not a volunteer firefighter or related to Williams or Thompson.

"It's just, bottom line, still under investigation," Alexander said. "We just want to get all our ducks in a row."

Volunteer firefighters accused of setting fire to Yemassee fire station, November 21, 2014

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December 10, 2014
Blaze Destroys Buildings After ‘Totally Useless’ Hydrant, Low Pressure Hamper Firefighters - MI


(credit: Mike Campbell/WWJ Newsradio 950)


(credit: Mike Campbell/WWJ Newsradio 950)

DETROIT (WWJ) - Detroit firefighters battled flames and equipment problems at two different scenes near the Lodge Freeway Wednesday morning.

The first fire broke out at a vacant multi-dwelling home on Calvert Avenue at the Lodge Freeway service drive, just north of Chicago Boulevard.

Fire Chief Gene Biondo said crews dealt with one problem after another — including winds that caused the fire to spread to a neighboring home, which was also vacant.

“This hydrant we can’t use. It’s barely got pressure,” he told WWJ’s Mike Campbell. “They had to open up one of the mains to get us more pressure, but yeah, the hydrant right in front of the house was totally useless. We were pumping from a block down.”

The fire completely destroyed both buildings. As crews were finishing up at the scene, another call came in about a blaze nearby at 14th and Lawrence.

When crews arrived at the second scene, the vacant home was completely engulfed in flames. Firefighters again dealt with low water pressure, but were able to keep the flames from spreading to any other dwellings.

Dealing with low water pressure during this time of year isn’t anything new, Biondo said, because the mains are so old in this part of the city.

“If they keep them at full pressure, they break. So in the winter time, they try to maintain them as best they can and then when we have an incident like this, they get crews out here as quickly as possible and try to boost the pressure for us,” he said.

No injuries were reported at either scene. Causes of both fires remain under investigation.
http://detroit.cbslocal.com

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December 10, 2014
LODD:
Firefighter Gus Losleben killed in crash with log truck - TN

(The Last Call - RIP)


(Courtesy photo)

Dec. 10, UPDATE– Hardin County Mayor Kevin Davis is requesting that all flags over county buildings be flown at half-staff from sunrise Dec.10 until sunset Dec.13 in honor of Gus Losleben, the Hardin County firefighter killed while responding to a fire on Tuesday.

Dec. 10, UPDATE– The Tennessee Highway Patrol has identified the driver of the log truck who was killed as Christopher Durham, 30, of Booneville, Mississippi. He was a father of three young children and had served in the U.S. military.

According to Trooper Charlie Childers, the Hardin County Fire Department tanker truck carrying 2,000 gallons of water crossed the center line in a curve on Holland Creek Road and struck the loaded log truck head-on.

Dec. 9, UPDATE– Hardin County volunteer firefighter Gus Losleben, 69, died this afternoon of injuries sustained in the crash.

Dec. 9– The head-on collision of a loaded log truck and Hardin County Fire Department tanker claimed the life of the truck driver and critically injured a firefighter, authorities said.

The incident occurred this morning around 10:30.

Hardin County Fire Chief Melvin Martin said District 6 (Olivet-Walkertown) volunteer Gus Losleben, a four year veteran of the department, was driving the tanker to a fully involved house fire in the Walnut Grove community.

Losleben was headed west on Holland Creek Road toward the two-story home when he collided head-on with an eastbound log truck. The firefighter was airlifted to the Memphis Med after being extricated from the obliterated vehicle.

Martin described Losleben’s condition as “extremely critical.”

Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Charlie Childers said the still unidentified driver of the log truck was killed instantly.

THP officials were unsure exactly what caused the crash. A THP Critical Response Team is at the scene investigating.

Logs spilled onto the road, making it difficult for the truck driver’s body to be reached by rescue personnel.

“We will have to clear the scene and remove some of the logs before we are able to positively identify the driver,” Childers said.

Martin said the fire to which Losleben was responding destroyed the structure.
courieranywhere.com

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December 08, 2014
Greenburgh: Cops probe possible insurance fraud by fire district - NY

GREENBURGH – Greenville Fire District voters will decide Tuesday whether to borrow roughly $1 million for a new ladder truck, as police investigate allegations of insurance fraud involving the rig it is meant to replace.

Voters in the district, which provides emergency services to the Edgemont community, will cast their ballots Tuesday on the proposition, part of an up to $1.785 million bond. The new truck would replace Ladder 4, the focus of a complaint that accuses fire officials of lying about the circumstances of an accident in August 2012 and filing a false insurance claim.

Ladder 4 was traveling to Pelham in August 2012 when it collided with a Toyota driven by a 17-year-old at Ardsley and Old Army roads.

Firefighters told police at the scene they were responding to an emergency, with lights and sirens, and had proceeded with caution through the intersection.

But records submitted as part of the complaint made to the Westchester County district attorney appear to show that firefighters were on a mutual aid call to cover a firehouse in Pelham — and were not permitted to bypass the rules of the road. The Toyota driver told police he did not hear the sirens and proceeded through the intersection because he had a green light.

The complaint also accuses firefighters of driving recklessly and accuses the fire district of engaging in a cover-up to receive insurance coverage.

The district's insurer, Selective Way Insurance Co., sent a letter to Greenville in November 2012 informing the department that another party was believed to be responsible for the loss. The letter says the claim was transferred to Selective's subrogation department to recover payments for damages. An estimate said it would cost about $4,000 to fix the firetruck, a 2001 Pierce Aerial Ladder.

The district attorney referred the matter to police in April, according to a letter obtained by The Journal News.

Greenburgh police Detective Capt. Brian Ryan said he expects to present his findings on the case to the District Attorney's Office in the "near future," but would not comment further.

Fire Chief Daniel Raftery and Robert Bruckenthal, chair of the district's board of fire commissioners, did not respond to requests for comment.

The new firetruck is one of three propositions on the ballot. The other two concern the renovation of Fire Headquarters and financing tax certiorari claims against the district. There's also an election for fire commissioner.

Greenville's website says that, if the resolutions are approved, the fire district will issue one bond combining the three items. It was not clear what will happen if any of the propositions fail.

The fire truck would be paid for by issuing up to $950,000 in serial bonds and appropriating up to $300,000 from the district's capital reserve fund.

The district says the concept of "saving up" for a major purchase has become unrealistic due in part to the significant increase in price for large-ticket items like fire trucks.

Voting will take place Tuesday from 2 to 9 p.m. at the firehouse at 711 Central Park Ave.
Greg Shillinglaw / lohud.com

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December 08, 2014
Short-Staffed Buffalo Fire Department to Blast Past Overtime Averages - NY

The Buffalo Fire Department is short-staffed by nearly 15 percent, and that's leading to several million dollars of overtime paid out by the city but it's a problem that has lasted more than a decade, according the the local fire union's president.

"Why is there overtime? 200 of our members have retired since 2009, and the people that were hired didn't replace the total number of people that have retired," said Local 282 President Dan Cunningham.

The Buffalo Fire Department is short 90 members, leading to $4.6 million of overtime paid out to firefighters in the first six months of the year, according to Cunningham.

"The city of Buffalo hadn't hired an employee from the fire department from 2002 until September of 2009," Cunningham said.

From 2009-2012, he said the city hired 148 new firefighters, but it's still not enough. Cunningham says back in June, 2,000 candidates were placed on a list after passing the written firefighter's exam, but that's not all there is to it.

"There is training that's required to move the process of hiring new firefighters forward, and we're working on getting that training accomplished, which requires the support and assistance of unionized firefighters," he said.

That training is called the Candidate Physical Ability Test. Cunningham said firefighters would have to volunteer to work four hours of overtime to administer the training. He said 47 firefighters have signed up, but Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield won't start the training until 100 firefighters sign up.

"They're wanting our members, who are working an exorbitant amount of overtime because the city is short. Now they want them to work more overtime to take this test so they can verify it's a good test," the union president said.

Since 2007, the city has spent an average of $8.7 million a year in overtime to firefighters. This year is already on pace to pass that, especially with the response effort to last month's snowstorm. Mayor Byron Brown said he is aware of the issue, but said there are regulations and contract issues that he has to work through.

"The fire department, in terms of its hiring, is under federal court order, so that is based on past discrimination in hiring that goes back many, many years before I was in office as mayor. So, we have to work with the federal government," Brown said.

But Cunningham said after years of going through this, that's not an excuse.

"The Department of Justice has been involved in hiring in the City of Buffalo since 1974, and they can't get it straight?" he said.
By: Alex Haight / http://jamestown.twcnews.com

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December 07, 2014
Firefighter Hurt During St. Louis Fire - MO

ST. LOUIS -- A firefighter was hurt battling a fire that gutted the apartment of a family of four this afternoon in the 1200 block of North 16th Street, fire officials said.

Batallion Chief Mike Killingsworth said 16-year-old twin brothers and a man got out of the apartment safely and called for help about 4:50 p.m.

The fire caused extensive damage to their apartment but the flames did not reach the others in the three-story building in the Carr Square complex.

The injured firefighter suffered from smoke inhalation and was taken to a hospital, officials said. The firefighter's injuries were not considered life-threatening. No one else was hurt.

There was a brief scare at the scene because of reports of a missing child. It was quickly learned that the child was still at school.

Killingsworth said the cause of the fire was unknown.

The Red Cross was at the scene to offer help to displaced residents. The property manager said the family in the apartment where the fire started lost all their belongings. Other apartments had smoke damage but residents were expected to be able to return to them next week.

Denise Hollinshed is a crime reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Denise Hollinshed / Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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December 07, 2014
Effects of Chemical Blast on Calif. Firefighters Still Unknown - CA


(Photo credit: Courtesy of KNBC)

SANTA PAULA, Calif. -- Three Santa Paula firefighters were the first to show up on a dark morning in mid-November after the back of a truck exploded at a wastewater plant west of town.

Told that it was only a sewage explosion, they entered the grounds of the Santa Clara Waste Water Co. without any special protection for what turned out to be a chemical blast, Fire Chief Rick Araiza said last week. Now, the firefighters are ill and on 30-day disability leave with an unknown prognosis, he said.

Capt. Milo Bustillos, Engineer Matt Lindsey and firefighter Matt May declined to comment on the advice of legal counsel. But Araiza said the men's illnesses plus damage to an engine that may never be returned to duty have created havoc in the Santa Paula Fire Department.

"I'm extremely upset," Araiza said. "I've lost some of my best firefighters."

The fallout is personal for the small department serving a city of 30,000, he said.

"We know their families," he said. "We grew up together. For this to happen when they're doing their jobs is just devastating."

He fears his best fire engine -- one of three in the department -- may be a total loss because of contamination. A city mechanic sent to help clean up the engine has fallen ill, as well, he said.

It's unknown how fully they will recover amid continued mystery over the substance that exploded around 3:45 a.m. Nov. 18. The exact identity of the chemical will probably never be known, said Rick Bandelin, hazardous materials manager for the Ventura County Environmental Health Division.

Samples have been collected, he said, but the substance is so volatile that laboratories are refusing to test it.

Officials with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is assisting county officials in the investigation, declined to say how unusual the spill site is, saying only that each site has unique characteristics. But the mixture of chemicals has properties that are difficult to neutralize, officials said.

Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said the incident began when the back of a vacuum truck exploded after pressure built up from the chemicals inside. Then a couple of hours later as the sun came up, the chemical dried, became volatile and ignited, he said.

Dozens of people were treated for potential exposure, two people were injured and evacuations were ordered.

Araiza gathered his crews together Saturday morning to update them and help his department begin to heal.

"We're hurting right now," he said.

The Ventura County Fire Department also responded, but Lorenzen knew of no ongoing respiratory issues for firefighters who were at the scene.

Lorenzen said firefighters were assured by staff on site that there was nothing hazardous at the facility.

"Based on that, they went in," he said, adding that the firefighters might have taken additional precautions if they had known the nature of the explosion.

All the county firefighters have returned to work, he said.

Dr. David Mescher, a pulmonologist who practices in Oxnard and Camarillo, said it's difficult to predict how well patients will recover without identification of the chemical.

"Without knowing what the chemical is and the intensity of exposure and the duration of exposure, you really don't know," he said.

Santa Paula operates one of the smallest fire departments in the county, with 18 firefighters and 30 reserves.

The city can depend on aid from other fire departments if there's a big fire, but the worry is the day-to-day demands for the agency that responds to 2,400 calls a year. Firefighters handle city fires and medical calls, inspect buildings for fire safety and are automatically dispatched to fires in Fillmore and the unincorporated territory between Ventura and Santa Paula.
Kathleen Wilson / Source: Ventura County Star, Calif

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December 07, 2014
WHEEL FALLS OFF LINTHICUM FIRE PUMPER - MD


(Kevin Ryder Photos)

Firefighters from the Linthicum Fire Station had the ride of a lifetime Sunday, when their Fire Engines front wheel failed nearly causing a serious accident.The Fire Department had received multiple reports of a dwelling fire in the 200 block of 6 Ave NE shortly before 1 p.m. Several units from Glen Burnie area, including the Linthicum station, responded. Arriving crews reported a working fire in the attic. That fire was brought under control a short time later.

Accidents like these proves how dangerous the job of Firefighting can be. In fact, many of the annual fatalities involving firefighters are due directly to vehicle collisions. There were no reports of injuries in this incident. County maintenance crews responded to the scene to assist the stranded engine. An investigation will take place so officials can determine what exactly caused the failure.
firefighterclosecalls.com

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December 07, 2014
FF INJURED BY PIECE OF FALLING ROOF - KC

A firefighter was injured while battling a house fire in Kansas City on Sunday morning.Firefighters were called to a house fire on East 77th Terrace near Troost just after 5 a.m. Sunday.

A piece of roof fell on the firefighter's head. He was taken to hospital with burns but is expected to be OK.

A mother and child live in the home but were not there at the time of the fire.

Most of the second floor was gutted from the fire. It is not considered a total loss but it is not livable.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.
firefighterclosecalls.com

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December 07, 2014
ATLANTA FF INJURED AT OK CAFE FIRE - GA

The Atlanta Fire Department was called out to OK Cafe on the corner of West Paces Ferry Road and Northside Parkway around 8 a.m. Sunday.

A woman who was inside the restaurant when the fire started says there were around 50 people inside at the time. She says a waiter began running through the restaurant yelling for everyone to leave.

No flames were visible, but there was a burnt smell inside, according to a witness.

“We started getting smoke, smelling smoke and then they said it was on fire and they told us to evacuate and run out, so we got the customers out and we got out. Everybody got out safe, everybody is fine,” said Melissa Rogers, who has been a waitress at the restaurant for 13 years.

AFD says no injuries were reported from the initial fire. One firefighter was injured on the scene and taken to Atlanta Medical Center. There is no word on the firefighter’s injuries or condition.

The owner told Channel 2’s Steve Gehlbach he believes it started because of an electrical issue with a hot water heater. He told Gehlbach they were having issues with the heater and called an electrician, but quickly called 911 when smoke started building.

Atlanta firefighters could be seen on the roof above the Take Away section for most of the morning on Sunday.

The restaurant, which is considered an Atlanta landmark, has been in business since 1987.

The General Manager told Gehlbach the dining room seems to be OK and they plan to rebuild and reopen soon.

“All our staff as we approach the holiday season, that’s really the tough part. You know, what are they going to do now? We’ve always done the right thing for them and we will continue to do the right thing for them. It’s just a sad state of affairs. This place means a lot to a lot of people in this community,” said General Manager Carlos Alarcon.
firefighterclosecalls.com

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December 07, 2014
Firefighter breaks leg battling house fire in southwest Houston - TX


A firefighter is recovering in the hospital after he broke his leg fighting an overnight house fire in southwest Houston

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A Houston firefighter is recovering in the hospital this morning after he broke his leg battling an overnight house fire in southwest Houston.

Arson investigators say something electrical sparked the flames.

The fire broke out around 8:30 last night on Trail Lake Lane near Rocky Springs Trail.

Firefighters found heavy smoke pouring from the home as they arrived.

Despite mechanical problems, firefighters say it took them just minutes to douse the flames.

Houston firefighter Scott Artze said, "We had some mechanical problems when we got on location and had one firefighter get injured while we were hooking up the fire hydrant."

The home's garage and attic were damaged in the blaze.
http://abc13.com

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December 07, 2014
Firefighter Crashes on Way to Philly Rowhome Blaze - PA


A firefighter was in a car accident while in route to a house fire in Kensington.

A Philadelphia firefighter was heading to a fire early Saturday morning when his car collided with another vehicle only a few blocks from the blaze.

The crash occurred near the intersection of Jasper and East Atlantic streets in the Kensington section of the city around 2 a.m. -- moments after crews responded to the house fire on the 3300 block of Jasper Street, near East Wensley Street, officials said.

It is unclear if the Battalion Chief was hurt in the crash. The woman driving the other vehicle -- an unlicensed driver -- was taken to a local hospital for treatment, authorities said. The severity of her injuries is unknown.

The house fire was placed under control at 2:25 a.m. No one was hurt in the blaze.

Read more: http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Firefighter-Crashes-on-Way-to-Philly-Rowhome-Blaze-Kensington-Jasper-284963721.html#ixzz3LGvXvPUI Follow us: @nbcphiladelphia on Twitter | nbcphiladelphia on Facebook
By Alison Burdo / nbcphiladelphia.com

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December 07, 2014
Hartford firefighters involved in altercation at house fire - CT


(WFSB 3 Connecticut)

HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - Two Hartford firefighters were involved in an altercation while responding to a fire Saturday.

At about 1:40 p.m. Hartford police officers were dispatched to the fire house at 25 Blue Hills Ave. for a report of a fight between two Hartford Fire Department lieutenants.

According to police, the incident involves a reported fight between the two lieutenants at a fire located at 16 Chatham Street. The fire was reported at 11:56 a.m. Saturday. Police said both lieutenants, and a witness who is a Hartford Fire Department employee, were interviewed.

Eyewitness New has obtained the 911 calls made by one of the firefighters to police.

"Can you send an officer to the firehouse? I want to file an assault complaint against a firefighter," one of the firefighters involved in the altercation said during the 911 call.

The lieutenant was calling police about the other fire lieutenant who he says hit him in the back of the head causing his helmet to fly off after getting into a heated argument.

"Is that party there as well," the police dispatcher asked the lieutenant.

"Pardon me? No he's not," the lieutenant said to dispatch.

Neither of the lieutenants wanted to press charges.

"We are a fire department as well as a family," said Chief Carlos Huertas, of the Hartford Fire Department. "The women and men of this department are performing a very technical and dangerous job during the most difficult and stressful of times. Today's incident only proves that our brave firefighters are human. Rest assured, we will examine this incident and take appropriate action to ensure public safety."

According to police, the incident was not in public view and there were no reported injuries.

A police dispatcher called the fire house after the lieutenant called the complaint, to make sure it was a legitimate call.

"I'm not sure if you're aware of this, but Engine 14 just filed a report for some sort of assault that went on there," the dispatcher said.

Sources told Eyewitness News both firefighters have been placed on administrative leave.

The homeowner where the fire broke out said he didn't see or hear anything out of the ordinary at the time, but sources said one lieutenant was allegedly telling the other lieutenant what to do.

The sources said one lieutenant hit the other in the back of the head, knocking his helmet off.
By Olivia Lank - By Jill Konopka - By Kaitlyn Naples - By Robert Goulston / wfsb.com

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December 07, 2014
EMT Hurt in Ambulance Crash Recovering - MD


EMT Jay Stanton was released from the hospital Friday, but has a long road to recovery.

A Maryland EMT seriously injured in an ambulance crash earlier this week has been released from the hospital.

EMT Jay Stanton, a volunteer at Elkridge Vol. Fire Department, who suffered extensive leg injuries, was released from R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center on Friday.

He still has a long road to recovery, friends said.

On Monday night, Stanton was driving the ambulance responding to a mutual aid call when it crested a hill on U.S. 1. There was a tractor trailer blocking all three lanes as it had been involved in an earlier collision.

The ambulance hit the back of a Hyundai Sonata, then hit the side of the trailer, police reported.

Stanton was pinned in the wreckage of the ambulance for more than an hour. Two others in the ambulance were released after treatment at a local hospital.

Several civilians including a child were hurt as well.
Source: Firehouse.com News

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December 07, 2014
Responders Still Dealing with Sandy Hook Shooting Trauma - CT


A Sandy Hook firefighter helps put an angel on top of a Christmas tree near Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 15, 2012, a day after the shooting left 26 people dead.
Photo credit: Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT

NEWTOWN -- EMT Peter Houlahan of Redding has never missed a day of work over a bad emergency call. He has never been so emotionally overwhelmed by trauma that he lost his focus on patient care.

But something changed the day he was called to the worst crime scene in Connecticut history -- at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 first-graders and six educators were killed by a young gunman who then killed himself.

"Before Sandy Hook I looked at the world as a good place where bad things happened," the 53-year-old father of two said. "Now I look at the world as a bad place where good things happen."

Like most EMTs and firefighters and police who responded to Sandy Hook on Dec. 14, 2012, Houlahan is doing the same job he was doing that horrible day, coping with the stress that comes with confronting death so frequently.

But unlike a growing number of police and firefighters, Houlahan has not sought help -- either from peers or from professionals -- even though he knows where to find it.

"You almost feel like 'I can't close my eyes anymore -- I see those children, I see those parents,' " said Houlahan, recalling the kids he saw running from the school building as he approaced, and the parents in the Newtown firehouse waiting to hear the worst.

"Then there is the anxiety and the anger and the fear," he says. "But I haven't had to get help. I feel like. What's the point? I have gone on a lot of bad calls."

As recently as a generation ago, Houlahan's reservations might have gone unchallenged. But Connecticut's public safety culture is changing, and with it perhaps the notion that emergency service workers are somehow immune to emotional injury.

"Brain science and the accumulative and acute effects of post-traumatic stress have shown us that this needs to be put on the front burner," said state police Sgt. Troy Anderson, who has been running a peer-driven counseling and support program since 2007. "There is no predisposition or DNA gene that allows us to go to scenes nobody signed up to see."

In addition to stress management sessions for first responders, which have gained acceptance in firehouses and police departments in Connecticut over the past two decades, a new Trauma Recovery Network has started in Fairfield County and a new Recovery and Resiliency Team has begun outreach in Newtown as a result of the Sandy Hook tragedy.

Both groups strive to help first responders recognize problems with sleep, appetite and intimacy as manifestations of emotional injury that must be treated just like physical injury.

"We are not so stigmatized by this anymore," said Bernie Meehan, assistant fire chief in Danbury and a paramedic in Roxbury who has run about 400 debriefings for first responders after traumatic incidents. "It is not a big deal now if you go to a varsity-level tragedy and you say 'I took a hit there.' If you took a good shot traumatically, most first responders won't bust a person's chops for that."

Still, obstacles remain. The stigma that keeps some first responders from making the connection between trauma and mental health is rooted in a culture where asking for help has traditionally been seen as a sign of weakness.

In Newtown, a handful of officers have left the department and several others have faced disciplinary hearings since the Sandy Hook shootings, said Eric Brown, an attorney for the Newtown police union.

"It's speculative because none of it is proven, but most people would agree that Sandy Hook had an impact on them," Brown said.

In neighboring Danbury, where Brown also represents police, an city officer was disciplined for off-duty behavior that was eventually linked to his hospital duty the day of the tragedy.

"I think people want to believe that cops are superheroes," Brown said. "Nobody wants to hear that a cop has a mental health issue."

With the second anniversary of the mass shooting one week away, officials are saying little publicly in deference to the families of the victims. But first responders are using peer programs to keep the conversation open about stress management.

"We are keeping it alive because we know we have to," said Anderson, the state police sergeant. "If anybody sets the tone that we have to move on, that creates a barrier to treatment if somebody needs it."

Barriers to recovery

Houlahan's was the third ambulance to arrive at Sandy Hook. Two ambulances before him had rushed victims to the hospital. He was poised to enter the school when he was told no one else could be saved.

"We knew what was inside there and I was grateful I didn't go in," Houlahan said. "I saw others, from the most highly trained law enforcement we have, come out upset, resting on each other's shoulders. I saw one guy who was in such shock I can still see his eyes. I will never forget it."

Equally unsettling for him and scores of other first responders was the empty feeling of knowing that they couldn't help.

"I had EMS guys lined up behind me and what was really disturbing was this deep feeling of sadness that there was nothing to hold on to," he said. "I had days where I felt like my legs were kicking out from under me, but I didn't think that I had anything to talk about."

"I felt like, Who am I to go get help, when all I was doing was sitting there?"

His experience is common among first responders, said Dr. Jill Barron, a psychiatrist who completed a study for Newtown in 2013 about recovering from the tragedy.

"(E)vidence has shown that the more aware or reflective one is, the better able they are to withstand stress, and they are less likely to experience 'burnout' in addition to a host of physical problems," Barron wrote in her recommendations for first responders.

Houlahan has reflected deeply on that day, and has written a moving first-person account of his experience.

"I have been to very dark places with depression," he said. "It's not that I am spiraling into this acute depression; it is just my perspective on things. I have tried to face it and take it on when I saw it coming."

Since the beginning of stress debriefings for first responders after the L'Ambiance Plaza collapse in Bridgeport killed 28 workers in 1987, the tools to diffuse trauma-related stress have increased substantially.

One therapeutic technique that is becoming popular is called EMRD -- for Eye Movement, Desensitization and Reprocessing.

"There is research indicating that these traumatic experiences are damaging to people's brains," said Meehan. "EMRD is a way to redirect some of those thought patterns."

Anderson says there are more treatment options than people might expect.

"We were able to get many of our people trained in Transcendental Meditation," he said. "What we are saying is you really need to explore the options. There is an option out there for everyone."

Part of the challenge of helping all first responders get the help they need is the special nature of their work environments.

A firehouse is more amenable to a conversation than an ambulance garage, for example, particularly when firefighters are sitting around a meal of pork roast and potatoes.

"It is fairly easy to diffuse a rough call when you are breaking bread with your brothers," Meehan says. "You can look at these young guys and remember what it was like when you were their age and say, 'You did a good job.' "

EMTs tend to be more isolated and overworked.

"Every good EMT I know becomes detached at the scene," said Houlahan. "Detachment has its good points, but the bad side is you almost don't have the emotional vocabulary to take these things on and recognize them."

While hundreds of first responders were affected by the tragedy at Sandy Hook, either as part of the investigation or in a support role, those closest to the horror were Newtown's first responders.

"I think the men and the women in the police department understand the need to be vigilant and take care of their mental health," Brown said. "I don't think it is easy but I think they are doing okay.

"I don't know the extent to which they are suffering," he added. "It would be hard for me to imagine that they aren't suffering."

The Newtown Police Department was in the headlines last year because of its plans to fire an officer named Thomas Bean, who said he was so traumatized by Sandy Hook that he could not pick up a gun. The department backed off those plans under public pressure, but informed Bean that the town insurance policy would pay his long-term disability benefits for only two years.

Bean had arrived at Sandy Hook 20 minutes after the gunfire ended. He was assigned to interior security, and later called what he saw 'horrific.' He awoke the next morning feeling numb and thought about cutting himself with a razor blade "just to feel something."

Bean is fighting the town for what he says is his right under the police union contract to receive disability benefits until the date of his retirement, which would be 12 more years.

The case is being heard by the state Board of Mediation and Arbitration. A key point at issue is that post-traumatic stress disorder is not covered in state workers compensation law as a workplace injury.

Bean went to Hartford in March to ask the General Assembly's Public Safety and Security Committee to pass legislation that would cover his condition.

Brown, who represents Bean, said the bill stalled because legislators fear it would cost municipalities too much money.

"The politicians don't have the will because their constituents don't," Brown said. "If you have a broken arm, you can X-ray it, but if you have a broken heart, no X-ray is going to show that."

Newtown police Capt. Joe Rios said the effect trauma has on emergency service workers and first responders is a reality.

"We recognize there are significant mental health issues concerning 12/14 and other critical incidents such as a serious crash or the death of a child," Rios said. "So how we take care of each other on a daily basis is important, and I think the awareness and the understanding is growing."

Meanwhile the Newtown community has rallied around its first responders.

"They are such a dedicated and stoic group of people that I don't know if they know how much we appreciate them and respect them," said Donna Culbert, director of the Newtown Health District. "They are still our rock."
Rob Ryser / Source: The News-Times, Danbury, Conn.

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December 07, 2014
Medic describes putting out blaze at fire station - SC

YEMASSEE, S.C. — Brad Welch had just settled in for a night’s rest at the EMS station in Yemassee when a panicked voice came in on the radio.

“I could hear a sense of fear,” Welch recalled.

Welch, a paramedic, was on call with Hampton County EMS and bolted out the station’s front door. He saw smoke billowing out of the Yemassee Fire Station that was just across the small parking lot.

Welch ran to the station, opened the side door and saw fire spreading across the back wall.

Also trained as a firefighter, Welch, 28, started one of the fire engines and extinguished the blaze, which took about 10 minutes.

“I was only doing my job,” Welch insists.

Two former volunteer firefighters — Christopher Williams, 22, and Dominique Thompson, 21 — have been accused of setting the fire at about 11:30 p.m. Nov. 18, trapping another volunteer firefighter in the station’s office, Fire Chief Paul Holmes said.

The trapped firefighter — a 17-year-old who has not been identified because of his age — escaped without harm and helped Welch put out the fire, Welch said.

“The Town Hall and fire station were saved,” Fire Chief Paul Holmes said. “If (Welch) had not responded as fast as he did, the whole Town Hall would probably have been in flames, and we’d have lost fire trucks and ambulances (parked at the station).”

The fire damaged one of the station’s doors and walls, Holmes said. It also caused minor damage to a fire truck, but it is still operable.

Though a full-time paramedic, Welch is no stranger to fighting fires. He is a certified firefighter EMT and worked for the Bamberg Fire Department from 2000 to 2004.

When responding to fires as a firefighter, Welch is dressed in protective clothing — fully covered with gloves, boots and a helmet. The EMS uniform he was wearing is much less protective, and not made to fight fires.

But that didn’t slow Welch.

“It happened so fast, I didn’t have time to think about what I was doing before I did it,” Welch said. “I was trained to do that, so it was just kind of nature.”

Welch said he didn’t see anyone outside when he emerged from the EMS station, including the suspects.

Williams and Thompson were identified on the fire station’s surveillance camera and charged hours later with allegedly setting the fire, Holmes said.

During an interrogation, one of the two men said they both poured gasoline around the fire station door at about 11 p.m. and lit it because they were “feuding” with the volunteer firefighter who was inside, Yemassee police Capt. Greg Alexander said.

Williams and Thompson were charged with attempted murder and second-degree arson. They are being held at the Hampton County Detention Center, with bonds set at $300,000 each, according to a jail official.
The Island Packet

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December 07, 2014
3 emergency dispatchers fired following deputy's shooting - FL

Three veteran dispatch agency workers were fired this morning when an internal review determined they did not follow dispatch protocol for a fire call that led to the shooting death of Leon County Deputy Chris Smith.

Tim Lee, director of the joint Consolidated Dispatch Agency, told the agency's board he terminated the employees because they failed to relay to first responders call notes put in the system just two weeks prior that Curtis Wade Holley had threatened to shoot law enforcement officers if they came to his door.

Lee said the dispatchers were trained to relay the information — which popped up as it was supposed to on the right side of their computer screens — but for reasons he could not explain, each failed to click on the alert.

"The system functioned properly. It displayed the premise hazard," Lee said. "The dispatcher, through human error, failed to click on the premise hazard."

Consequently, on the morning of Nov. 22, firefighters and Deputies Smith and Colin Wulfekuhl were sent without warning to 3722 Caracus Court for what they thought was a simple house fire. Instead, they were ambushed by Holley, 53, who investigators said harbored anti-government views and set the home ablaze to lure first responders.

Smith, a 47-year-old married father of two, was first on the scene and immediately shot and killed by Holley. Holley then turned his .40 caliber handgun on Wulfekuhl, who was saved by his bullet-proof vest as he ordered arriving firefighters to stay back. After a 12-minute gun battle in the middle of the street in the quiet neighborhood, Tallahassee Police Officer Scott Angulo shot and killed Holley.

Leon County Sheriff's Office Maj. Robert Swearingen said it's unknown whether or not Smith would have changed how he approached the call had he known about Holley's threats.

But, said Swearingen, who spoke on behalf of Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell, the failure of dispatchers to relay the information was inexcusable.

"The Leon County Sheriff's Office is gravely concerned and deeply troubled about the CDA staff not providing available, critical officer safety information to Deputy Chris Smith and Deputy Colin Wulfekuhl and all of the first responders who were dispatched to 3722 Caracus Court," he said.

An internal CDA review of the incident found an "officer safety" alert was entered into the dispatch system for the northwest Tallahassee home on Nov. 8 at the request of LCSO Sgt. Wiley Meggs.

"Per Sgt. Meggs with LCSO if we got a call at this residence he wants to be notified no matter what time," the alert stated. "Mr. Holley (if he is the owner of the residence) has threatened to shoot any law enforcement that comes to his residence. This is valid until told otherwise by Sgt. Meggs as of 11/8/2014 at 11:16 hours."

LCSO officials would not disclose what caused Meggs to have the warning added, citing the ongoing investigation into the overall shooting incident.

The dispatchers fired were: Gwen Forehand, a 25-year veteran; Doyal Hester, a 20-year-employee and Darrel Newman, who had 10 years on the job. They were all fired over the phone, Lee said.

Shante Knight, a new employee undergoing training, was suspended for two weeks without pay.

Forehand, one of the three fired, told the Tallahassee Democrat that Lee was "an awesome director," but that more training is needed at the agency.

"Hindsight is 20/20, working a call is not that easy," she said. "It's easy to go back and look back and say, 'Hey this is what happened.' I just hate people had to get fired behind it."

She chose not to discuss the details of the Nov. 22 incident. The Democrat was unable to contact Newman or Hester.

Tallahassee City Commissioner Scott Maddox has been expressing concerns about the dispatch system for months.

"I think we have systemic problems at the CDA, which is why I ordered an audit prior to this horrible tragedy," Maddox said. "I am waiting for those results."

City Auditor Bert Fletcher, who is heading up the audit, said it is 75 percent complete and will include reviews of processes, training, technological issues and staffing.

Since opening last September, the dispatch center has been plagued with problems, including dozens of technological errors that led to shutdowns.

In the still-unsolved July killing of FSU law professor Dan Markel in his Betton Hills garage, first responders were initially sent to the wrong address because of a software-driven error.

Lee said he has made a recommendation to Motorola, the system vendor, to modify the system so a dispatcher could not process a call without clicking on the "premise hazard" field and alerting first responders of potential danger.

Moving forward, he said, such system warnings will be annually evaluated for accuracy and dispatchers will receive training that reinforces CDA procedures. The agency's quality-assurance staff will verify that premise hazards, if present, are viewed when calls come in.

"I take very seriously the actions that are being taken and that my position is to represent the community as well as the first responders," Lee said. "I think my immediate reaction to the response and the incident has shown that we take these events seriously."

Leon County Administrator Vince Long, who chairs the CDA's board of directors, said the agency has assigned officers from the different law enforcement agencies to review and analyze the dispatch center's processes.

Despite recent events, Long expressed his confidence in Lee.

"We fully support director Lee's actions," he said. "This just speaks to the fact that this function is provided by imperfect people with imperfect technology and certainly under imperfect circumstances."
Sean Rossman and Jennifer Portman, Tallahassee Democrat

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December 05, 2014
Safety Issues Surfaced Days Before Conn. Firefighter Died - CT


Hartford Firefighter Kevin Bell, 48, who died while battling a two-alarm house fire in Hartford, Conn., on Oct. 7, 2014.

Two days before Hartford firefighter Kevin Bell was killed on duty, an internal department email revealed an inspection of his engine company's equipment found numerous safety problems, including completely empty air tanks.

Bell's breathing apparatus was seized as part of the investigation into his death on Oct. 7. There is no indication whether equipment issues played a role in his death.

In a stinging e-mail written on Sunday, Oct. 5, Lt. John Nolan of Bell's Engine Co. 16 cited equipment issues including a generator empty of fuel, a water hose not working properly and two empty Scott air bottles.

"Life safety cannot be taken lightly," Nolan wrote in e-mail to Fire Chief Carlos M. Huertas. The emails were obtained by the Courant under the Freedom of Information Act.

"(Fire) House work has not been performed anywhere near satisfactory, if at all," Nolan said, referring to routine equipment checks that are supposed to be done daily at the end of each shift.

Nolan's email requests that Huertas assign for "retraining" another lieutenant in the company and a firefighter who he alleged indicated that a water hose was ready for use when it was not.

Within 20 minutes of getting Nolan's e-mail, Huertas forwarded it interim Assistant Chief Terry Waller ordering him to immediately correct "this egregious behavior."

"I require Fire Services from both shifts explaining what in the 'Sam Hill' is going on," Huertas wrote.

Huertas, who Friday declined to comment on the issues at Engine Co. 16, ordered Waller to make sure anyone not adhering to proper safety protocols aware they will be subject to discipline, including potentially being fired.

Waller responded early on Oct. 6 "that I will handle it and give you a report ASAP."

A review of e-mails from July through November does not indicate whether Waller reported back to Huertas about the equipment problems.

Another email, sent Sept. 24 from fire official Stephen Larkum to Huertas and Waller, reveals that the engine company's thermal imaging camera was not working properly. The cameras can be used to find firefighters through smoke and fire.

Engine 16's imager was purchased in 2005, making it one of the oldest in the department. In his e-mail, Larkum wrote that given its age the department should consider replacing it at a cost of $10,000.

"As you know this is a very important piece of equipment that everyone relies on," Larkum wrote.

Department sources said that Engine 16's thermal imager wasn't replaced prior to the fatal fire and that it obtained a one three days after Bell's death

Bell, 48, a six-year veteran of the department was killed while fighting a fire in a two-story home on Blue Hills Avenue, not far from his firehouse.

He was found unconscious on the second floor in a room to the right of the stairwell. He was discovered missing after Deputy Chief James McLoughlin, the incident commander, ordered all firefighters from the building and conducted a head count.

A second firefighter, Jason Martinez, 29, was seriously injured when he jumped from a second floor window in front of the building. Martinez suffered burns on 10 percent of his body and was taken to Bridgeport Hospital's burn unit. He was released Oct. 30 and has not returned to work.

The state fire marshal's office, Conn-OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health are conducting separate investigations of the blaze. Huertas also appointed a board of inquiry to review the department's actions. More than 70 firefighters were at the scene of the fire.

The investigations are expected to take 6 to 8 months to complete. The state medical examiner has not issued a cause of death and a cause of the fire has not been determined.
Dave Altimari and Steven Goode / Source: Hartford Couran

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December 05, 2014
Sticker shock: Spat between Detroit fire and police over parking spot - MI


(Fox 2 News Headlines)

DETROIT (WJBK) - A coveted parking spot leads to a sticky situation between police and fire.

Detroit police and fire work as a team and often times where you see one, you'll see the other.

Earlier this week one firefighter was heated over a police officer's pick of parking spot at the Detroit Public Safety Building.

The officer's car then ended up covered in firefighter stickers along with a note, which made Edsel Jenkins, the executive fire commissioner, livid.

"Totally embarrassing, inexcusable and unacceptable," he said. "There are designated parking spots inside headquarters and at times, depending up the urgency, somebody might park in somebody else's parking space, but that is no reason to put stickers on someone's windshield, that's inappropriate."

Stickers stuck to the personal car of a police officer, along with a nasty gram from a firefighter which read "Stay out of our spot, you are not the senior chief of fire department, I will be informing the chief of police," signed.

The names, FOX 2 will keep secret for now.

"I've spoken with the individual, but it's under investigation by DPD, Internal Affairs," Jenkins said. "They conduct investigations not just for DPD but for DFD. I'm going to wait for them to complete that investigation before I take any action."

It started on the sixth floor of the parking structure which is where the convenient foot-bridge is to get inside the public safety building.

Police said the night before Thanksgiving, an officer parked her car, inside the garage, before she headed in for roll call.

The officer stopped in one of the coveted spaces, closest to the door which she thought it was fair game with few cars around.

That was about 10 p.m. but when she returned to her car around 4 a.m. it was covered with the stickers that say "I visited a fire station" with a note.

The officer filed a police report. and trying to remove this reminders stuck to her car.

FOX 2 was told that the officer didn't realize the space was reserved for Detroit Fire Department personnel until after the sticker shock.

"We hope to be roll models for young people in the city of Detroit," Jenkins said. "And we're supposed to be above reproach and someone that the average citizen looks up to.

"It's inappropriate conduct and in our rules and regulations there are penalties for that."

"I'm embarrassed that this happened and we're going to guarantee that it doesn't happen again."

With Internal Affairs is handling the investigation police declined comment.
By myFOXDetroit.com Staff

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December 05, 2014
Fire Department Settles Sexual Harassment Case for $1.1 Million - NJ

NJ Fire Department Settles Sexual Harassment Case for $1.1 Million

The terms of a settlement announced last month by a New Jersey borough have finally been disclosed, and the female firefighter who claimed to have been sexually harassed will be receiving $1.1 million.

According to news reports, Kerry “Kira” Mansueto has agreed to accept $1.1 million to settle the lawsuit she filed in 2011 against the Borough of Cateret. The story was in the headlines recently when Mayor Daniel Reiman vowed to take disciplinary action against the male firefighters involved in the scandal. That vow followed a news expose into the case by Home News Tribune and MyCentralJersey.com reporter Sergio Bichao.

MyCentralJersey.com quoted Mayor Reiman as saying “Let me be clear: The settlement of the civil legal matter does not mean that the borough accepts any or all claims in the initial complaint as fact. However, based on the investigation to date, there appears to be evidence of behavior that is disturbing and unacceptable — and there is no department or office in this community where such things will be tolerated.”

Mansueto and her attorneys are claiming that Mayor Reiman’s failure to address her concerns are partially responsible for the harassment continuing for as long as it did. Calling the Mayor’s statement a “crock”, Mansueto’s attorney, Alan Genitempo was quoted as saying “She asked them to investigate. If they had taken action back then, there never would have been a lawsuit. They failed to recognize their obligations. I think that they did what people should never do and that is to take the words of the harasser over the victim without ever speaking to her.”

Mansueto herself was quoted as saying: “The mayor blew me off. He wouldn’t return my calls. His calendar was always booked. The fact that all that happened and now the mayor is saying that I never reported anything is very, very disturbing.”

Here is a copy of the settlement: Mansueto-v-Carteret-settlement-agreement
firelawblog.com

More on the story.

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December 05, 2014
EMSA Investigates, Learns Following Ambulance Crashes - OK

Per routine procedure, EMSA is conducting its own review of Tuesday's crash involving an ambulance and the extrication of the driver from a pickup.

Just before 4 p.m. Tuesday, a green pickup crossed the center line and collided with an EMSA ambulance near the W. Edmond Road-State Street intersection, Edmond Police Department spokeswoman Jenny Monroe said in a previous report.

The 17-year-old driver of the pickup was transported to OU Medical Center's Presbyterian Tower in Oklahoma City, Monroe said. Fire rescue personnel used a variety of tools to extricate him from the severely damaged truck.

Monroe said the teen's injuries were non-life threatening. A passenger in the pickup was not injured and left the scene with a parent, Monroe said.

"We are lucky that is the case," she said. "It could have been much worse."

Monroe said crash investigators still have some work to do before issuing any citations.

EMSA spokeswoman Lara O'Leary said two EMSA personnel and a student were transported in good condition to a local hospital, treated for bumps and bruises and released.

At the time of the crash, the five-ton ambulance was in the process of pre-positioning for the next call, O'Leary said. Per routine procedure, when word of the crash came in, another ambulance was immediately dispatched to the scene, O'Leary said.

EMSA contracts with a private ambulance service to provide emergency medical care and dispatching. O'Leary said the agency owns and operates 55 ambulances in central Oklahoma and 45 in northeast Oklahoma, where the population is slightly lower.

After any crash, EMSA has procedures in place for personnel to follow including sending a supervisor to the scene, conducting its own investigation and working closely with local law enforcement, O'Leary said. The review includes determining cause and implementing changes if needed, O'Leary said.

Medics complete thorough training including how to handle anambulance, O'Leary said.
Mark Schlachtenhaufen / Source: The Edmond Sun

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December 05, 2014
Firefighter hit on I-5 urges drivers to move over - WA


Seven years after the "move over law" was passed in Washington state, the wrecks continue. Five days ago a firefighter in Tukwila was hit by a vehicle that didn't move to the other lane while emergency workers responded to a crash.
(KING 5's Alex Rozier sp)

TUKWILA, Wash. -- Five days after a scary crash on Interstate 5, Tukwila firefighter Greg Hansen told his frightening story.

It was Saturday at 6 p.m. when he responded to a crash on the interstate. While he was working with the victim of a collision, a second car hit him and sent him approximately 12 feet into the air.

In 2007 Washington state passed a law requiring all vehicles to move over when they see emergency workers at work on the highway. At this point the investigation is ongoing and once the Washington State Patrol determines who is at fault, the driver or drivers will be cited. WSP is hoping anyone who is a witness to the crash will contact them immediately.

"I don't remember it happening. The next thing I remember is there's a bunch of people over me working on me," firefighter Greg Hansen said. "All I remember is a boom, boom and the next thing I remember is that I'm on the ground and in the most pain that I've ever been in in my life."

Greg's wife Mary Prentice was at home when she learned her husband had been hit.

"I will tell you that that's a phone call that no family member of any emergency worker wants to ever get," Mary Prentice said. "When I knew that he was going to Harborview, I knew that something was really wrong."

Amazingly Hansen did not suffer any broken bones and was released from the hospital that night.

"I'd rather run into a burning building any day than go to a call on the freeway," Hansen said. "They don't move over. They're going by you at 60, 70 miles per hour, they don't move over. It's scary, it's very scary."

"If I had a message it would be to slow down and move over when you see emergency lights, I don't care what color they are. If they are flashing on the freeway, slow down and move over," Hansen said. "When I think about it there are thousands of ways this could have gone and each one of them is worse."
Alex Rozier, KING 5 News

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December 04, 2014
Grain Elevator Fire Challenges Firefighters - WI

A grain bin fire at DeLong Co. caused more than $100,000 damage Tuesday morning, according to Sharon Fire Chief Bruce Vanderveen.

Sharon firefighters were dispatched at 8:30 a.m. to DeLong Co., N545 Salt Box Road, Sharon.

When they arrived, smoke was billowing from one of the bins, and fire and smoke were belching from the trench under the bin.

The 20,000-bushel bin was holding wet corn. When corn comes in from the field, some is dried with heaters, and some is stored wet.

Fighting a fire in a grain bin is challenging, Vanderveen said.

"There's really no good way to do it," he said.

Firefighters tried to close the doors on the bin to cut off oxygen to the fire but were unable to do so.

Crews cut a hole in the bottom of the bin to try to drain the bin of corn but were only partially successful.

"When that stuff burns, it turns into a kind of tar," Vanderveen said.

Burning corn can explode if not handled correctly, he said.

The Sharon department requested mutual aid at about 8:50 a.m., and fire and ambulance crews from Clinton, Walworth, Darien, Delavan, the town of Linn, Lake Geneva and Harvard, Illinois, responded.

Just after 1 p.m., firefighters declared the bin unsound and cleared the area around it.

"It was no longer safe to have fire personnel near it," Vanderveen said.

Vanderveen put damage estimates "in excess of $100,000."

The DeLong Co. plans to bring in specialists to do salvage and recovery, Vanderveen said.
Catherine W. Idzerda / Source: The Janesville Gazette, Wis.

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December 04, 2014
Ambulance Involved in Head-on Crash - KY

An ambulance headed from Harlan to a Lexington hospital was involved in a collision on Alumni Drive in Lexington on Monday.

According to Harlan EMS Operations Officer Steve Lewis, nobody was seriously hurt in the crash.

"Our crew was transporting a patient to UK Medical Center," said Lewis. "The patient's condition worsened, (so) they upgraded their status and were running emergency to get them there quicker."

Lewis said an wreck in the opposite lane occurred which placed a vehicle in the path of the ambulance.

"It hit head-on," said Lewis. "We had two crew members, a patient who is a minor and his guardian in the ambulance with him. All four of them were transported to UK Medical Center by the Lexington Fire Department."

All four ambulance occupants were treated in the emergency room and released, said Lewis.

Lewis said the patient was then taken on to the original destination.

"Severe damage to the front," said Lewis when asked about damage to the ambulance. "We've not gotten appraisers to look at it to say whether it was totaled, so we're still waiting on information on that."

Lewis said the ambulance was towed from the scene.

"We're just happy the patient and crew are OK," said Lewis. "We don't know the extent of everyone's injuries in the other vehicle, but we're glad everybody was treated and released and we hope they make a full recovery."

Sherelle Roberts, public information officer for Lexington Division of Police, said the incident involved the ambulance and two mini-vans.

Although there were three vehicles involved, Lewis said only one of them actually struck the ambulance.

"There was a road closure for just a brief period of time," said Roberts. "Probably less than an hour, because they had to wait for tow trucks to come ... After that the roadway was cleared and the situation was pretty well finished."

Neither Lewis or Roberts would release the names of any parties involved in the crash.
Joe P. Asher / Source: Harlan Daily Enterprise, Ky.

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December 04, 2014
Long Beach to lay off 5 firefighters - NY

The city says it will lay off five firefighters on Jan. 1, when a $910,530 federal grant — which allowed the Fire Department to bring back personnel two years ago — comes to an end.

Officials with the Long Beach Professional Firefighters Local 287, the union representing the city’s career firefighters, say they were informed about the layoffs at a meeting with City Manager Jack Schnirman and other officials on Monday. “We were told that the grant has ended, and after the holiday we’re going to have to lay five guys off,” said Will Ryan, vice president of Local 287. “We’re extremely disappointed.”

The Fire Department consists of both a career and volunteer force, and the cuts will bring the career unit down to 25 firefighters. Schnirman, however, said that union members were aware that the layoffs were on the horizon, since the two-year grant — issued in December 2012 — was set to expire.

“Unfortunately, we’re looking at a situation where we have a grant that has expired,” Schnirman said, “and it’s something that we were all aware of two years ago.”

Residents and firefighters packed Tuesday’s City Council meeting after word quickly spread about the layoffs on social media, and there were calls for the city to reconsider and find room in the budget or other sources of funding — on a night when the city discussed plans for a new skate park.

Many cited a need to retain the firefighters, especially since the Long Beach Medical Center remains closed and turnaround times on ambulances have increased dramatically.

“I really think we need to go back and maybe trim something,” said resident Mary Volosovich. “I’m for the skate park … but the quality and protection of life — we don’t have that 24/7 [hospital] and it’s not going to be up next year or so, we all know that. Go back to your drawing board and look at this again. You can’t play with people’s lives like this.”

The discussion came on a night when Schnirman announced that the city was experiencing a widespread power outage, which led one resident to shout, “The Fire Department is on it!” to a round of applause.

“The last thing we should be cutting is our firefighters,” another resident told the council.

Schnirman pointed to a memo regarding the terms of the grant, signed by the union, which stated, “Following the completion of the [grant] cycle, the city may elect to submit a renewal application. If rejected, there is no guarantee that the city will be able to keep the five firefighters.”

“There’s no surprise here,” Schnirman said before the meeting. “We had the meeting yesterday and I said, ‘Look, guys, today is the date the grant expires, and there is no new grant.’”

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer announced the grant at a press conference two years ago, pointing to the impact Hurricane Sandy had on the community and the need for additional firefighters in Long Beach. The award was provided by the federal Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response program and administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The funding allowed the Fire Department to rehire five firefighters who were laid off in July 2012. The layoffs came after the city, still reeling from a multi-million-dollar deficit, claimed that the previous administration had not budgeted for those positions.

Schnirman and Fire Commissioner Scott Kemins said that the SAFER grant was not available this year. “There is no grant to reapply for,” Kemins said. “The money is drying up, and in 2013, only two departments in the state were awarded a SAFER grant, and both were less than $100,000.”

But some union members questioned the layoffs, saying that the city had budgeted for 30 firefighters in the current fiscal year. Ryan cited the “already dangerously low staffing levels.”

“The budget makes no reference in it being influenced by grant money,” he said. “I ask why we reduce it now to 25, especially if the fiscal year is until July. The city is out of its financial crisis and has increased their work force. Why are we now reducing and jeopardizing essential emergency services?”

Long Beach firefighters receive a starting salary of $40,000 per year, but longtime members of the department can earn more than $100,000.

Schnirman said that it would cost the city an additional $660,000 per year to maintain the current staffing level — the equivalent of a 2 percent tax increase. “Given that the grant has expired, we’re looking at a situation where our payroll will be impacted at approximately $55,000 per month,” he said. “Public safety, of course, is paramount, and at this point we’re looking at a situation where we would go back to historical staffing levels of the last 30-some-odd years.”

Historically, Kemins said, the Fire Department has operated with 25 career members, and would continue to operate with at least five firefighters per tour. The city also operates three ambulances, manned by career firefighters and volunteers. Schnirman said that, because of the hospital’s closure, an additional ambulance was brought in last year, at no cost to the city, from Nassau University Medical Center, to assist — an action that he said was met by a grievance filed by the union, which claimed that it violated their contract. The city also hired a consulting firm earlier this year to perform a “full-scale evaluation of its emergency response needs.”

“Those are things we will be looking at in the near future,” Schnirman said.

Some union members said after the meeting, however, that the cuts would have a negative impact on services, at a time when firefighters have already responded to more than 4,350 calls this year.

The city said it had yet to determine who would be let go, since the layoffs will be based on seniority, in keeping with civil service regulations.

“We’re looking forward to upcoming meetings with city officials and the city manager to find ways to forgo the layoffs,” Ryan said.
liherald.com

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December 04, 2014
3 FFs INJURED IN LEXINGTON FLASHOVER - KY


(firefighterdispatch)

Three firefighters received minor injuries while battling a fire in Lexington.The fire happened at a home on Delmont Drive near Versailles Road on Thursday afternoon. Lexington Fire officials tell LEX 18 that three of their firefighters received minor injuries during a flashover.

A flashover occurs when everything in the room reaches combustion temperature at the same time and catches the the contents of that room on fire. The firefighters were in the front yard at the time of the combustion.

One firefighter received first degree burns to his hand.
firefighterclosecalls.com

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December 04, 2014
DALLAS FFs INJURED IN SMOKE EXLOSION - TX


(FOX 4 News - Dallas-Fort Worth)

Two firefighters suffered burns battling a late night house fire in Dallas.
firefighterclosecalls.com

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December 04, 2014
Firefighters Demonstrate for Better Pay, Benefits - FL

Marion County commissioners arriving at their meeting Tuesday morning were met by firefighters and paramedics demonstrating for better pay and benefits.

Wearing yellow T-shirts and holding signs with slogans like "protect your quality of life," as many as 80 men and women lined Southeast 25th Avenue.

"The purpose is to raise awareness. People need to be made aware of the way that they (county commissioners) treat the employees in the community is unacceptable," said Ryan O'Reilly, a Marion County firefighter and paramedic.

Ryan said salary negotiations with the county are painfully slow, and county residents need to know their firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians are severely underpaid. Salaries, he said, are substantially less than what other nearby counties pay.

In many cases, the county doesn't pay a living wage, he said. "But this is not just about money. This is about public safety, as well."

Of the county commissioners, O'Reilly said, "They don't care."

Experienced emergency workers are quitting. Sixty have left in the past year and there are more than 30 vacancies that still haven't been filled, according to Marion County Fire Rescue records.

Many of those leaving are experienced emergency workers who are being replaced by less experienced men and women, O'Reilly said.

Worse yet, dozens of firefighter/paramedics qualify for food stamps, O'Reilly said.

To make sure as many people know that as possible, the Professional Firefighters of Marion County union posted the fact on an electronic billboard at Southeast 17th Street and Lake Weir Avenue.

O'Reilly, who is also an officer in the firefighter's union, said that while it is unknown how many firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians qualify for food stamps, he has counseled many, knowing their salaries and the number of dependents in their homes.

"We're talking dozens (who qualify)," he said, though he noted that most do not actually accept the government assistance.

O'Reilly said that when he began working for the county as a firefighter six years ago, he qualified for food stamps. His starting wage was $8.88 per hour. He had a wife and three children.

The Marion County Fire Rescue pay has not improved much since then, according to Marion County records.

A firefighter's beginning salary is $8.98 per hour.

An EMT's beginning salary is $8.98 per hour.

A paramedic's beginning salary is $10.98/hr.

Combination firefighter/EMTs begin at $9.83 per hour.

Combination firefighter/paramedics begin at $11.93 per hour.

Because of overtime work that is typical in this kind of job, average salaries for EMTs through firefighter/paramedics range from about $27,000 annually to $42,000, according to county salary records. The annual starting salary for firefighter/paramedics in Marion County is $35,472.

Meanwhile, response times have increased due to a lack of adequate ambulances and firefighter/paramedic crews, O'Reilly said.

Whatever the reason, response times have been climbing, records show. While the national goal is 9 minutes in most cases, Marion County has crept up to 10.6 minutes in many cases.

Marion County Fire Rescue Chief Stuart McElhaney said it has become difficult to replace emergency workers who are leaving. Most disconcerting is the difficulty in replacing experienced paramedics who have contact with patients.

He said Marion County has now become a department for new, young emergency personnel who leave once they have a little experience under their belts.

The department has about 500 employees.

Starting annual salaries for firefighter/paramedics in Gainesville is $44,188 per year. In The Villages it's $42,653; in Pasco County, it's $43,389; and in the City of Ocala, it's $37,553, according to a recent Marion County advisory board workshop report.

O'Reilly said the union wants a $2 per hour raise for its members. All Marion County employees received a 3 percent across-the-board raise in October.

Courtnie Mims, 29, is a mother of two sons and wife of a Marion County firefighter/paramedic. She was one of the people out protesting Tuesday morning.

"We're one of the families that qualifies for (government) help," she said.

She doesn't accept food stamps or other government assistance; instead, she makes other sacrifices, like eliminating cable television and using basic phone service instead of smartphones.

Her husband has been working for the county as a firefighter/paramedic four years.

Asked whether he ever thought he might be standing on the roadside waving signs asking for a pay raise when he was still learning to be a firefighter, Kevin Mims, 31, said: "I wouldn't have believed it."

County Commissioner David Moore said there is little he can say because the county is currently negotiating with the firefighters' union.

He acknowledged that his emergency personnel were not paid at the same level as those in neighboring counties. He said the county was still recovering from the recession.

"We do have some catching up to make. We're still recovering from the Great Recession. We're doing the best we can," he told the Star-Banner after Tuesday's commission meeting.

Also during the county commission meeting, commissioners unanimously voted to make Assistant County Administrator Bill Kauffman the interim county administrator. If he performs to the commission's liking until Sept. 30, he will be granted a five-year contract.

The move increases his previous annual salary from $108,576 to $157,500. He will also receive $600 per month for a vehicle allowance. After the interim period, his base salary increases to $167,500 per year.

Commissioner Stan McClain said it will mostly likely not take until September to determine whether Kauffman is doing a good job and that the board will probably discuss his future tenure before then.

Commissioner Carl Zalak said he wanted a written set of goals for Kauffman so the board could better evaluate the new administrator, and so that he better understands what the board wants of him.

The board also agreed to grant Kauffman the same authority as any county administrator, which means he can hire and fire employees.

"We can't evaluate him if we tie his hands," Zalak said.

Kauffman said he was honored by the board's faith in him.
Fred Hiers / Source: Ocala Star-Banner, Fla.

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December 04, 2014
Suspended cop faces DUI after hitting fire truck - PA

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - Police in Erie have charged one of their own with drunken driving for an off-duty accident in which the suspended officer allegedly rear-ended a fire truck that was backing into its station on Thanksgiving.

Online court records don't list an attorney for 28-year-old Gabriel Carducci. The Erie Times-News reports he was mailed a summons Wednesday on charges of drunken driving, careless driving and not yielding to a fire truck entering a fire station and faces a preliminary hearing Jan. 15.

Police say Carducci was glassy eyed and had a blood-alcohol content twice the state's legal limit for drivers when he crashed about 5 a.m.

Police chief Randy Bowers says Carducci was already put on leave Nov. 10 for another unspecified off-duty incident that is being investigated by outside agencies.

Carducci doesn't have a listed phone.
Erie Times-New

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December 04, 2014
Homeless man charged with theft from Melbourne fire truck - FL

Melbourne police have arrested a homeless man on a charge of stealing items from a Melbourne fire truck near City Hall on Monday night.

According to a release from the Melbourne Police Department, witnesses reported seeing a man entering the truck around 10 p.m. through a broken rear window and removing items from it. The value of the items was estimated at more than $5,000.

When officers arrived, they reported seeing 33-year-old Jacob Alan Pelak holding items in his hands and walking away from the truck, which was parked in the 1000 block of Palmetto Avenue.

Pelak was arrested after a foot chase.

The items removed from the truck were recovered.

Pelak was charged with grand larceny of a fire extinguisher, larceny theft of more than $300 but less than $5,000, resisting an officer/obstructing without violence and burglary of an unoccupied conveyance unarmed. He remains in custody at the Brevard County Jail.
Chris Bonanno, FLORIDA TODAY

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December 04, 2014
Firefighter Bitten While Responding To Call - MI

LANSING, MI (WLNS) - A firefighter is recovering from a nasty bite on his arm.

Officials say a drunk 27-year old man put up a fight in an ambulance and latched on with his teeth.

It happened outside of Deja Vu Strip Club on West Jolly Road in Lansing early in the morning.

According to Lansing police managers called police because the suspect was causing a scene, refusing to leave.

Soon after they got there the man collapsed.

The Lansing Fire Department was called and when they loaded him into an ambulance, he started struggling, and bit a firefighter.

The 27-year old man will likely be charged with aggravated assault.
wlns.com

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December 03, 2014
NFFF Issues New Report to Address Suicide Among Firefighters

Did you know a fire department is three times more likely in any given year to experience a suicide among its membership than a line-of-duty death? Fortunately, suicide is preventable and help is available.

The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) has made suicide research and awareness a priority and released a new report, "Confronting Suicide in the Fire Service: Strategies for Intervention & Prevention," to address the growing issue and need for further research and funding.The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recognize suicide as a major public health problem and are focusing attention on this growing national and international issue. According to the WHO, "More than 800,000 people worldwide die from suicide every year... one every 40 seconds. For each suicide there are many more people who attempt suicide every year." The CDC reports suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for all Americans taking 39,000 lives and is responsible for nearly 500,000 self-inflicted injuries annually.

"The incidence of suicide affects all segments of society, therefore every sector or organization within the public plays a role in working toward prevention. As the incidence of suicide was becoming a growing concern within the fire service, the foundation realized that we could help raise awareness about the issue and hopefully draw more attention to research and education," said Chief Ron Siarnicki, executive director of the NFFF.

The report summarizes suicide statistics, risk factors, public health assessment, and prevention tactics. Most importantly the report highlights recommendations for future research based on findings from national summits in 2011 and 2013 to measure the prevalence of suicide among firefighters; develop prevention, screening and intervention efforts; and establish a national agenda with an action plan to reduce suicides. Recommendations include:

  • NFFF should support specific research to enhance our understanding of suicide in the fire service and should lead the way in knowledge translation projects to bring empirically supported best practices to fire service organizations and personnel. The foundation is working with Thomas Joiner, PhD and Florida State University to conduct the first ever research on firefighter suicides, attempts and ideation.
  • Develop, implement, evaluate, and disseminate one or more additional modules for Helping Heroes website helping-heroes.org/user/login covering issues of suicide and depression for clinicians serving fire service populations.
  • Richard Gist, PhD, principal assistant to the director of the Kansas City (MO) Fire Department is working with the Medical University of South Carolina to create the application.
  • Design, implement, and evaluate a broad, multilayered social marketing campaign - including social media - promoting mutual support and action to help prevent suicide.
  • Creating awareness through social media, posters, pocket cards and information is an effective way to create some awareness. Based on consensus from the 2013 summit, a new program, Ask, Care, Take (ACT) is being created.

Both summits and the report are a result of the Foundation's Everyone Goes Home program and outlined in Firefighter Life Safety Initiative # 13, Provide firefighters and their families with access to counseling and support.
fireengineering.com

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December 03, 2014
Three Milwaukee firefighters injured after jumping out of window - WI


(WISN 12 News)

MILWAUKEE —Three firefighters were injured while fighting a fire on Tuesday night.

The fire was reported around 10:10 p.m. at an apartment building near Eggert Place and Sherman Boulevard in Milwaukee.

First-responders rushed inside after getting reports that residents were trapped.

While inside, three firefighters became trapped and had to jump out of a second-story window. They were taken to an area hospital to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

No one else was seriously hurt.

The Red Cross is helping residents of the building.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.
wisn.com

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December 03, 2014
LODD:
Myrtle Beach Fire Department is announcing the passing of Fire Lieutenant John Burns - SC

(The Last Call - RIP)

The Myrtle Beach Fire Department is announcing the passing of Fire Lieutenant John Burns (1964 - 2014). Lieutenant Burns died while on duty (12/3/2014) of what appears to be natural causes. John began his 26 year career with the Myrtle Beach Fire Department in July 1988. John received many accolades throughout his firefighting service, he was an active member of the Pee Dee Regional Urban Search and Rescue Team (USAR), United States Air Force Veteran, and a SC State Certified Fire Instructor.
firefighterclosecalls.com

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December 03, 2014
First responders file suit in Paulsboro spill - NJ


A Police officer walks by and takes a llok as water is being sprayed onto the tanker cars that were derailed in Paulsboro, NJ in 2012.
( MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer )

A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of 16 emergency responders seeking compensation and medical monitoring for health concerns stemming from a 2012 train derailment and toxic spill in Paulsboro.

The lawsuit names Conrail, CSX, and Norfolk Southern, which operate a bridge that malfunctioned and caused the accident. It also names the Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health, a consulting firm hired to assess medical problems.

A lawyer representing the workers said the firm, hired by the railroad companies, either failed to take urine samples for medical monitoring or lost them.

The train derailed while crossing the East Jefferson Street Bridge, built in 1873, causing more than 20,000 gallons of highly toxic vinyl chloride to spill and spew fumes.

The National Transportation Safety Board issued a report over the summer that placed much blame on the rail company, but also faulted local emergency officials as being ill-prepared.

The agency criticized Conrail for allowing the freight train to cross the swing-style bridge over the Mantua Creek even though safety locks were not working. The agency also noted that the company did not provide sufficient training for the crew to inspect the locks.

Seven cars derailed, four into the creek, causing one to rupture and leak the vinyl chloride. Nearly 700 residents were evacuated from their homes, and about 30 sought medical attention.

Matthew Weng of the Chance & McCann law firm, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the workers in federal court in Camden, said there were initial conflicting reports about the leak and how dangerous the fumes were, while police, firefighters, and medics responded without proper protection - including masks.

Weng said many experienced burning eyes and respiratory issues that day, while some had increased illnesses in the year that followed. There are also concerns, Weng said, that those who were exposed may face a lifetime of medical issues, including cancers that may develop later in life.

Among the plaintiffs are members of the police departments of Greenwich, Mantua, and Pitman, the Mantua Fire Department, the Gloucester County Sheriff's Office, the county EMS, and Inspira Medical Center Woodbury.

A spokesman for Conrail said the company would respond to the allegations in legal filings. Spokesmen for CSX, Norfolk Southern, and the Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health said they could not comment on pending litigation.

The lawsuit, filed Nov. 25, is among several filed on behalf of residents, business owners, and first responders. In total, there are about 2,000 plaintiffs.
Barbara Boyer, Inquirer Staff Writer

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December 03, 2014
Federal investigators probing elite LAFD fireboat unit - CA

Criminal investigators with the U.S. Coast Guard are probing an elite group of Los Angeles firefighters at the city's port to determine whether federal licensing records were falsified for crew members assigned to large fireboats, The Times has learned.

In June, a special agent of the Coast Guard Investigative Service requested 10 years of LAFD logs, journals and other records that document the operation of the department's fleet of five fireboats, according to a copy of the request obtained by The Times.

A internal LAFD memo sent last week said the investigation is focusing on whether “unidentified members" of the unit properly obtained Coast Guard licenses required by the city.

Officials with the Coast Guard and the LAFD confirmed the investigation Tuesday but declined to provide details because the inquiry is ongoing.

LAFD spokesman Peter Sanders said his agency is "cooperating fully" with the investigation, and holding off on any internal review of the matter until federal agents have completed their work.

The inquiry comes as the LAFD has been trying to restore confidence in how new department recruits are selected, following a Times investigation that raised concerns of nepotism and unfairness.

The specially trained and equipped fireboat units under scrutiny are stationed at firehouses near the Port of Los Angeles.

They conduct search-and-rescue operations at sea and fight waterfront fires, such as a Wilmington wharf blaze in September that paralyzed commerce and sent toxic smoke into neighboring communities.

The teams include scuba divers trained for underwater firefighting, as well as crews that operate the LAFD harbor-based fleet, including a 105-foot, water-cannon equipped boat described as “the world’s most powerful fireboat.”

Under city rules, pilots and mates assigned to the boats must first secure Coast Guard-issued licenses that involve specialized training, a written exam and verification of hundreds of hours of experience at sea.

Investigators are focusing on whether licensing paperwork documenting the time spent on the water by some firefighters was overstated, according to a source familiar with the investigation who declined to be named because of the ongoing inquiry. The inquiry began after investigators received a tip, the source said.

Sanders said the LAFD conducted a similar internal investigation two years ago but was unable to substantiate allegations that records had been falsified.

Chris Volkle, a commercial ship captain who heads Marine Fire Training, a Seattle-area academy that provides training for on-the-water firefighters, said most private maritime companies and fire departments have record books where training hours are documented.

"If that person driving that fireboat is unqualified" and lacks experience, Volkle said, "he could kill people."

LAFD fireboat jobs are highly paid assignments. Last year, the 15 pilots and mates at the port earned more than $210,000, on average, nearly half of that from overtime, according to a Times analysis of city payroll data.

Before he was named LAFD fire chief in July by Mayor Eric Garcetti, port operations were under the supervision of then-Asst. Chief Ralph M. Terrazas.

Terrazas has been briefed on the investigation, but had no comment on the investigation, Sanders said.

The Coast Guard unit handling the case at the port is a federal law enforcement agency charged with pursuing maritime criminal activity.

Lt. Commander Joe Klinker, spokesman for the Coast Guard, said "the investigation is active," which precludes additional comment by his agency.


By Ben Welsh, Richard Winton / latimes.com

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December 02, 2014
FF INJURED AT HOUSE FIRE - VT


Firefighters work to put out a house fire in Whitingham, Dec. 2.
(Chris Mays/Reformer)

A firefighter was taken to the hospital Tuesday afternoon after falling during initial efforts to put out a three-alarm house fire on Route 100.

"I don't know what his condition is yet," said Whitingham Fire Department Chief Stanley Janovsky, adding that he would not comment on the firefighters name.

Calls were made to people known to be living at the home to make certain they weren't inside during the fire. No names have been released.

"We're still trying to make that determination. We haven't found anyone inside," Janovsky said. "We're not 100 percent sure."

The cause or origin was not determined yet either as of 3 p.m. on Tuesday. The fire was still active at that time. Janovsky said there was a wood stove inside the home. The home is considered a total loss.

When Janovsky's department received word that the home was on fire, it was believed that someone could be inside.

"We have found a dog," he said.

Due to collapsed ceilings and unsafe conditions, firefighters in the interior of the home were experiencing difficulties getting through to areas of the home needing to be extinguished. The third floor had collapsed on the second floor, Janovsky told the Reformer.

"The only real issue is getting the hot spots out and trying to tip toe around live wires," Janovsky said, adding that firefighters had to make sure floors inside were safe before walking on them.

Green Mountain Power had not yet shown up at the scene as of 3 p.m. Janovsky said the company was called to shut power off two hours before.

Whitingham First Response and Deerfield Valley Rescue assisted at the scene with over a dozen firefighters from Whitingham Fire Department, Halifax Fire Company, Readsboro Fire Department, Wilmington Fire Department, West Dover Fire Department and Heath Fire Department, of Massachussetts. Water was taken by Lake Sadawga without any issue.

"It was definietely hot. The second and third floor was fully involved when we got here," said Janovsky. "I would say it's under control as long as nobody gets hurt. They got to take their time getting to where they got to get."

Neighbors said they smelt smoke but did not think anything of it as another neighbor regularly burns wood.
firefighterclosecalls.com

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December 02, 2014
WALL COLLAPSE CLOSE CALL IN WATERLOO - MO


(Myke Goings)

Waterloo Fire Rescue responded to a fire at Tri-City Clothing, 713 Logan Avenue (Edwards St).

Fire crews initially were inside the building fighting the fire. After a portion of the roof collapsed the crews were pulled out of the building for safety reasons. While crews battled the fire from the ground Waterloo Fire Rescue's aerial truck was used to fight the fire from above.

Shortly after I arrived I could see the first floor was engulfed in flames. About forty-five minutes later I saw flames start shooting out from the 2nd floor in the back of the building and could see the 2nd floor was engulfed in fire.

Shortly before 02:00 a.m. Tuesday morning (about six hours after the fire started) a wall of the building collapsed.

No injuries were reported during the fire. Due to the mid to low teen temperatures the Red Cross provided hot cocoa, coffee, water and chocolate chip cookies to to fire fighters.

A portion of the 700 block of Logan Avenue and the 100 block of Edwards Street is closed until the debris can be cleaned up.
firefighterclosecalls.com

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December 02, 2014
FF INJURED IN FALL THROUGH PORCH - IN

Wayne Township Fire Department was called to a working residence fire on Monday afternoon.The fire broke out at Dunn Street and Glenn Arm Road around 3:18 p.m.

According to a release tree trimmers working next door called in the fire.

One firefighter was injured after he fell from the front porch due to thick black smoke that made it hard to see. The firefighter was transported in good condition to IU Methodist Hospital.

The fire was contained in 15 minutes and no one was home at the time of the fire.

A cause of the fire was under investigation. Damages were estimated at $40,000.
firefighterclosecalls.com

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December 02, 2014
6 injured in Howard County ambulance crash - MD


Photo of the crash scene
(Photo: Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services/Facebook)


An ambulance driver is in critical condition after being trapped in wreckage of an accident in Howard Co on Monday night.
(Photo: WUSA9)


Rescue crews respond to 2 people entrapped in Howard County.
(Photo: WUSA9)

ELKRIDGE, Md. (WUSA9) -- Six people, including an ambulance driver and an 11-year-old child, were injured in an accident involving a tractor-trailer, an ambulance and two other vehicles in Howard County Monday night, according to Howard County police officials. The accident happened at Washington Boulevard and Kit Kat Road in Elkridge at approximately 7 p.m. on Monday, say police. They tell us that the ambulance was responding to an emergency call for mutual aid in Baltimore County and had its emergency equipment on at the time of the crash. Police say the tractor trailer was stopped, taking up three lanes of Washington Boulevard, due to a crash it was involved in with another vehicle. It had been making a left turn from Kit Kat Road to southbound Washington Boulevard. When the ambulance went up the hill on northbound Washington Boulevard just before Kit Kat Road it hit the back of a Hyundai Sonata, then hit the side of the trailer part of the tractor trailer, according to police. That impact made the Hyundai collide into the back of a Chrysler 300. The driver of the Howard County Fire Department ambulance, EMT Jay Stanton, had to be extricated from the vehicle. It took crews an hour to do so, according to police. He was then sent to University of Maryland Shock Trauma in Baltimore in critical condition. He is now in stable condition, say police. Five other people were sent to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, Howard County Police said. They included two EMTs, the driver of the Hyundai, an 11-year-old female passenger in the Hyundai, and the driver of the Chrysler. Police say that the driver of the tractor trailer was not injured. Police continue to investigate the crash, which closed the road in both directions for approximately five hours.

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December 02, 2014
Responder Seriously Hurt in Ambulance, Tractor-Trailer Crash - MD


(WBAL-TV 11 Baltimore)

A Howard County firefighter was seriously injured Monday night aftera crash involving an ambulance, a tractor-trailer and two other vehicles.

The driver of the medic unit was pinned, and the 'Go Team' from R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center was requested.

Two other providers in the ambulance also were injured as well as four civilians, according to WBAL.

There was no patient in the ambulance when it struck the rig on U.S. 1 at Kit Kat Road, authorities said.
Source: Firehouse.com News

Scene Photos

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December 02, 2014
Frisco firefighter injures shoulder while battling two-alarm fire - TX

A Frisco firefighter was injured Monday night while fighting a two alarm house fire.

Firefighters were dispatched to the 1300 block of Bowie Lane about 6 p.m. When they arrived they found fire showing through the attic of the two-story house.

At some point, a firefighter fell about eight feet from a ladder injuring his shoulder. He was transported to Texas Health Presbyterian of Plano and is in stable condition.

No other injuries were reported.

Crews were able to extinguish the fire by 8:25 p.m. The cause is under investigation.
Claire Cardona / http://thescoopblog.dallasnews.com

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December 02, 2014
Lit cigarette started a house fire Monday night in Red Bird, fire officials said - TX

Updated at 11:14 a.m. Tuesday: A burning cigarette ignited a blaze Monday night that badly damaged a Red Bird house, fire officials said.

One of the residents of a house in the 1500 block of Drury Drive said he heard smoke alarms going off about 20 minutes after he smoked a cigarette. When he went to check the alarms, he saw that the garage was on fire. The fire rapidly spread throughout the house and took firefighters about an hour to extinguish, Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman Jason Evans said in a press release.

Two firefighters suffered burn injuries after a minor gas explosion while battling the blaze. A third firefighter was also injured. All three were taken to the hospital in stable condition and have since been released, Evans said.

The American Red Cross responded to help the two male and four female residents. No other injuries were reported.

The fire caused more than $100,000 in damage to the house and contents.

Updated at 8:08 a.m. Tuesday: NBC 5 reports that three Dallas firefighters were injured late Monday while putting out a fire near West Leadbetter Drive and Highway 67.

The station also reports that two neighbors helped the homeowner and her mother escape the fire.

Original post at 10:54 p.m. Monday: Two Dallas Fire-Rescue firefighters were injured in a small explosion at a fire Monday night.

Firefighters were dispatched to a one-story house in the 1500 block of Drury Drive, near West Ledbetter Drive and Highway 67, in Red Bird about 10:30 p.m.

One firefighter suffered superficial burns to the face and hands, and another sustained slightly worse burns to the scalp, a Fire-Rescue dispatcher said.

Both were taken to Parkland Memorial Hospital. Their injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

Two additional ambulances were dispatched to the scene but did not transport anyone.

Investigators are working to determine what caused the fire and the explosion.
Claire Cardona / http://thescoopblog.dallasnews.com

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December 01, 2014
Org. Opens Addiction Treatment Center for Responders - IL

Scott Schaben started working as a suburban firefighter in the 1980s, bonding with his co-workers over off-duty beers. But his social drinking turned compulsive after he went through a divorce a few years ago, consuming his life until he knew he needed help.

He ended up seeking treatment at Rosecrance, a Rockford-based recovery center that has what it bills as the nation's first treatment program aimed exclusively at firefighters and paramedics. Schaben, 52, said that being among others who knew the stresses and demands of his job was a considerable help.

"It was just like a huge load taken off my shoulders," he said. "I just felt that even though I didn't know someone, I could still talk to them. It made a big difference."

Researchers have consistently found that members of the fire service drink more than the average adult, a legacy of consumption that dates to when some firehouses doubled as the local tavern.

But when off-duty imbibing leads to addiction, getting help can be problematic, some say. The job's pressure and "no weakness" culture make it difficult to face up to the problem, and its insular culture creates a belief that outsiders won't be able to help.

That led Rosecrance last month to create a separate unit at its inpatient center for firefighters and paramedics. Led by an active-duty Chicago Fire Department battalion chief, it aims to provide the expertise and understanding that will help its clients get better.

"No one told us the effects the job would have on us and our families, and no one gave us the tools on how to deal with it, day in and day out, for a career," said Dan DeGryse, the battalion chief. "It's going to take time to change. What we're trying to do now is address it after 150 years of the same stuff."

Researchers say aspects of the fire service are risk factors for addiction. Firefighters and paramedics witness traumatic scenes over and over, sometimes multiple times per day. They have unusual schedules, typically working 24-hour shifts followed by two or more days off -- time some fill with drinking.

And they have a culture some say has long tolerated, if not encouraged, drinking to excess once the job is done.

"Alcohol is used as a social lubricant," said Sara Jahnke of the Kansas-based Center for Fire, Rescue and EMS Health Research. "A lot of the debriefing happens at the bar, talking about things that happened on the shift."

Jahnke, the daughter of a retired fire chief, recently contributed to two papers focusing on alcohol use within the fire service. One found that during the prior month, about half of career and volunteer firefighters binge drank and about 10 percent reported driving while intoxicated -- numbers that are significantly higher than in the general public.

The second paper looked at firefighters' perceptions of alcohol use, concluding that many inaccurately believe their profession is no worse than the norm when it comes to problem drinking.

"The alcohol ... is not one of those (things) where it's abused," one firefighter told the researchers. "But socially, you get that tolerance like you're in college."

Christopher Scrol, a Rockford firefighter and paramedic who leads the local union, disputed the idea that alcoholism in the fire service is worse than in other jobs, saying the image of the hard-drinking first responder is out of date. Firefighters today, he said, are increasingly well-educated and health-conscious.

"We work a 24-hour shift," he said. "The last thing I want to do at 8 a.m. is go hit a bar. It's not on my radar."

Chief Sean Maloy of the Bedford Park Fire Department, who also leads the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association, said that while he understands how the stress of the job can lead to substance abuse, he sees no evidence that it is a widespread problem.

"The potential is there for a lot of them ... (but) I think it would be the exception, not the rule," he said.

But Jeff Dill, a captain in the Palatine Rural Fire Protection District and founder of a training service called the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance, said firefighters are well-skilled at concealing their issues.

"I talk about cultural brainwashing: When you put this uniform on, this is how you're supposed to act -- show unity, strength, no weakness, handle all your problems on your own," he said. "Now we're starting to find (some) can't meet those expectations."

Dill is on the advisory committee for Rosecrance's Florian program, named after the patron saint of firefighters. The roughly monthlong residential program was developed under the idea that the job conditions and customs that lead some firefighters and paramedicsinto addiction require a unique response.

"There are treatment programs that claim to treat first responders, but we're not all the same," DeGryse said. "We don't all drink at the same bars. We don't experience exactly the same thing."

Pat Spangler, who has worked with firefighters for years at Rosecrance, said conditions vary even within the fire service. Members of big urban departments might have more acute sleep problems and exposure to more trauma, while rural volunteer firefighters might know the people they come to help.

But one commonality, he said, is the urge to keep personal problems buried.

"They don't really address the trauma of (the job), because they don't want to open Pandora's box," he said. "As one fireman told a therapist I was talking to: 'You don't want me questioning whether I should run into that house. You want me to be confident.'"

Rosecrance counselor Diana Rudeen said part of the treatment is to help firefighters deal with job stress without drugs or alcohol. That can include everything from deep breathing exercises to "thought stopping" -- a technique to banish negative ideas before they become overwhelming.

"It's like planting your feet on the ground -- 'I'm OK, I'm here, I'm going to go into the fire and I'm going to save lives, '" Rudeen said.

A further challenge comes when it's time for firefighters andparamedics to return to work. The job's strain and sleep issues will still be there, as will colleagues who believe in bonding over a drink. Rudeen said the program tries to address that with follow-up counseling that can include online chats or face-to-face peer counseling.

So far, she said, it seems to be working.

"When they go back to the firehouse, they talk to the guys they're on the (rig) with and say, 'I'm in treatment. I'm not going to be able to go out afterward, '" she said. "I've had (former clients) who have been really successful with that."

Tim Gibbons, 55, who just retired as a Chicago Fire Department battalion chief after almost 35 years in the fire service, got sober 30 years ago and has since supported other firefighters struggling with substance abuse -- including some who have gone through Rosecrance.

He said that while the old firehouse drinking culture has gone away, problems with alcoholism remain. He plans to do peer counseling for the Florian program even in retirement, saying that "letting tough guys and gals be vulnerable with each other" helps their recovery.

"The problems are still there," Gibbons said. "Our ability to pull what used to be shameful into the light of day is what's different. People are much more accepting of what can no longer be denied."
John Keilman / Source: Chicago Tribune

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December 01, 2014
Firefighter in Dust-up at Deadly House Fire - TX


(Photo credit: Courtesy of CBSDFW)

A Texas firefighter was knocked down by a distraught family member Monday morning as he arrived at a fatal house fire in Parker County.

After the attack on the Spring Creek firefighter, the suspect ran away, according to CBSDFW.

Deputies from the Parker County Sheriff's Office chased and caught him, but it's unclear if he is a suspect in the house fire, the station reported.

The Parker County Fire Marshal said that firefighters had to restrain the victim's husband at the scene and that a firefighter was knocked down.

Firefighters discovered a 27-year-old mother and her three-year-old son dead in the home that burned to the ground.

A fire on the same property over the summer left an elderly man dead and there had recently been a dispute over the man's will.

The cause is under investigation by Parker and Tarrant County officials.
Source: Firehouse.com News

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December 01, 2014
Long Island Communities Face Major Volunteer Firefighter, EMT Shortage - NY

ISLIP TERRACE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Volunteer fire and rescue services on Long Island are in need of more than a few good men and women.

As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, volunteerism is down, and one Long Island community as even had to change the way it handles medical emergencies.

Lee Neuman used to volunteer in her local ambulance corps. Now, she worries that if she herself is ever in need, an ambulance won’t get to her in time.

“Seconds do count,” Neuman said. “Seconds can mean the difference between life and death.”

Her fire department in Islip Terrace is about to change who responds to medical emergencies. The fire protection district faces a shortage in responding EMT volunteers.

So Islip Terrace is disbanding its ambulance service for now — directing 911 calls to this nearby community ambulance corps that already serves four other districts.

Critics are sounding the alarm.

“The response time is going to have to get longer,” said Islip Terrace Fire Commissioner Tony Chiofalo. “The ambulance now is further away.”

Islip Terrace is not alone. Across Long Island, medical emergency calls to 911 are up and volunteers are down.

“They can’t handle the volume,” Chiofalo said. “You got a lot of really dedicated, committed people, but it’s very strained.”

For years, Suffolk County communities relied solely on volunteers for ambulance services. But the economy took its toll on numbers.

Officials blame an exodus of youth, an aging population, Baby Boomers working two jobs, and changing values.

Chris Ciaccio knows the value of volunteering. He gives his time to the Commack ambulance corps.

“I work full time. I make my hours here, and I just recently bought a house,” Ciaccio said. “It’s a lot of commitments outside of this place, but if you really do like it, you stay and you make it work out.”

Commack is one of the few districts that have not had to supplement the volunteers with paid staff.

The district has gotten creative — accepting non-residents and assigning set shifts.

“They can schedule their time,” said Richard O’Brien, chairman of the board for the Commack Volunteer Ambulance Corps. “They know they are not on a call 24/7.”

Back in Islip Terrace, the department will stop taking emergency medical calls for one year, while officials say they’ll work to boost the ranks.

The Chief of the Exchange Ambulance Corps told CBS2 it will be able to absorb the additional calls from Islip Terrace without problems.
http://newyork.cbslocal.com

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December 01, 2014
Firefighter hurt in P&G paper machine blaze - WI

Green Bay Metro firefighters battled a stubborn blaze at an east-side paper mill for more than three hours on Sunday afternoon.

The fire in a paper machine at the Procter & Gamble mill at 501 Eastman Ave. was reported shortly before 4 p.m.

One firefighter was injured and taken to a local hospital for evaluation, according to a press release from the Green Bay Metro Fire Department. No damage estimate was immediately available.

Firefighters from a number of surrounding departments were called to assist. Response vehicles from around Brown County, including Howard and Bellevue, were seen entering the area through a security gate.
Patti Zarling, Press-Gazette Media

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