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2015 October

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October 03, 2015

Highway 53 was closed after a driver ran into a fire engine responding to an emergency call.

The Fire Department confirmed 11:15 a.m. the truck was heading east on Highway 53 where traffic was stopped.

A woman who drove around the stopped traffic hit the fire truck.

The collision forced the truck to leave the road and down a 30 foot ravine.

The two firefighters on the truck were taken to North East Georgia Medical Center, in Gainesville, for treatment of minor injuries.

The woman driving the car was also transported to North East Georgia Medical Center for treatment of injuries.

Highway 53 is closed while heavy machinery is brought out to remove the fire truck from the ravine.

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October 03, 2015
Akron firefighters fall through floor into the basement of a burning home - OH

AKRON, Ohio - Two Akron firefighters avoided injury after falling into the basement of a burning home late Thursday night.

When firefighters arrived at the home at the corner of Baughman Street and Grace Avenue the porch was on fire.

Firefighters said that the first arriving crews quickly got the majority of the fire out when the two firefighters entered the home in thick smoke. As the firefighters entered the front door they fell through a large hole in the floor into the basement.

Both firefighters were able to find their way out of the basement uninjured.

Neighbors told the home has been vacant for about five months and they believe it was scheduled to be torn down.

The cause of the fire is unknown but arson investigators were at the scene.
Mike Vielhaber /

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October 03, 2015
Man on Spice Pushed Paramedics - PA

WILKES-BARRE -- City police cited Robert Lott, 41, of South Main Street, with harassment after he allegedly grabbed and pushed emergency medical technicians in the 100 block of South Main Street at about 7:26 a.m.

Friday. Police said Lott was allegedly under the influence of synthetic marijuana known as Spice and refused treatment.

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October 03, 2015
2 firefighters hurt in high-rise explosion - FL

(News Usa)

SUNNY ISLES BEACH, Fla. — A penthouse boiler room exploded because of a gas leak Friday at a 33-story high-rise near Miami, injuring at least six people, fire officials said.

The explosion happened around noon on the top floor of the Château Beach Residences, a 33-story oceanfront building under construction in Sunny Isles Beach. Debris fell to the ground below, and onto the pool deck of the one-story Monaco Oceanfront Resort next door. There were several large holes in the wall atop the building.

Nuria Serrano, a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue spokeswoman, said four people were injured in the explosion. Three sent to the hospital for treatment of possible serious injuries and the other was treated and released. Two firefighters also were injured. One was taken to a hospital and the other was treated at the scene.

There were no reports of missing persons but fire rescue teams were doing a second sweep of the building to make sure no one was trapped inside. Officials said 78 units responded to the fire.

Two construction workers were rescued unharmed after being stuck in an elevator for a short time, said fire rescue spokeswoman Michelle Fayed.

The explosion happened in a boiler room on top of the building.

Yomer Vega, an air conditioning worker who was working alongside two plumbers described the scene to The Associated Press. "I just heard the boom and then I ran to the stairwell," Vega said.

"All of the sheet metal and ductwork everywhere was falling," the construction worker said. "There was water going everywhere. I saw blocks and walls falling next to me," Vega added, before being pulled away by lawyers and his bosses.

A construction worker who was working in another area of the building said he heard two explosions.

"I saw one of the laborers, they had him on a stretcher because he got hit by falling debris," said Clem Fleming, 35. "It got your heart racing. My heart was pumping, pumping, pumping."

More than a dozen fire trucks were still outside the building Friday afternoon, and a portion of Collins Avenue was closed to traffic. Sunny Isles Beach is about 20 miles north of Miami.

The damaged building, which has been under construction for several years, offers condos ranging from 1,500 square feet to 9,000 square feet, according to the developer's website.

Aerial video from Miami television stations showed a large portion of sand on the beach in front of the building was discolored because of the debris.
By Kelli Kennedy / The Associated Press

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October 02, 2015
Manchester Firefighter Hits One Of His Own While Driving To Non-existent Fire - PA

The Manchester firefighter was reportedly driving his personal vehicle when he hit the other officer. The incident happened at the intersection of Main and Maple streets in Manchester, where the fire police officer was directing traffic on Friday morning.

The incident remains under investigation, as several eyewitnesses have given conflicting accounts of how it all happened.

Some witnesses told WGAL News, that there may have been an argument between the two men over where the firefighter initially parked his car. When the firefighter went to move his vehicle, he struck the fire police officer.

So, the injury sustained appears to have been from a “low-speed” impact. According to officials, the fire police officer was transported to York Hospital for observation and didn't appear to have suffered serious injury.

Both the fire policeman and the firefighter are with York Area United Fire and Rescue's (YAUFR) Station Five, in Manchester Township. Neither one has been identified.

The firefighter behind the wheel was reportedly arriving on the scene of what had been reported earlier as a house fire, the police chief said. But a Fire Lieutenant with the Borough's Union Fire Co. No. 1 said there was no fire at the home. A passer-by called 911 after spotting “dark smoke” coming from the home's chimney, he said.

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October 02, 2015
Driver of Ambulance Charged After Falling Asleep at the Wheel - VA

Virginia State Police say the driver fell asleep at the wheel on Interstate 81 Thursday morning.

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October 02, 2015
Livermore Falls firetrucks removed from station - ME

LIVERMORE FALLS — All vehicles but the ladder truck were moved out of the Fire Station as of Thursday morning, as ordered by the town's insurance company, Fire Chief Tim “TD” Hardy said.

A plan is in place for firefighters to coordinate with dispatchers in Androscoggin County who will go to get the trucks if there is an emergency. Trucks will be housed in three places.

The ladder truck will be moved to a private garage on Route 133 when it is ready to accommodate the truck, Hardy said. The insurance company is aware of this, he said.

The town's insurance company required that all trucks be out of the station by Oct. 1.

An engineer conducted a study of the building and discovered several structural deficiencies that were noted in a preliminary report in 2014. Voters in August narrowly rejected a request to build a new station at a cost of up to $750,000. Following the vote, selectmen voted to conduct a site-plan review and a preliminary design for a fire station.

The Fire/Rescue Department's utility pickup was parked outside the building Thursday morning. It will be housed with the ladder truck at a garage on the corner of Karn Road and Route 133. Two fire engines were moved to Jay's No. 2 station in the Chisholm area Wednesday night. Another engine was moved into the Livermore Falls Public Works Department garage, across from the Fire Station.

All truck drivers have been assigned a radio to coordinate truck use with county dispatchers, Hardy said.

He said the trip from the Livermore Falls station to Jay and back is 11 miles. Housing the trucks in Jay will not much affect the response time to the village, Hardy said.

“My concern is for the East Livermore area,” he said. That area borders Wayne, Fayette and Leeds.

“We are going to do the best we can,” he said. “The fortunate thing is the town of Jay has stepped up to help us.”

Jay town officials agreed to allow Livermore Falls to use two bays to store trucks and necessary equipment in its station nearest the town line. Livermore Falls will pay for heat for the station, estimated at $5,000 a year, and half of the quarterly water use, currently just under $50 a quarter.

A big concern of Hardy's is that firefighters will have no place to work when they return from a fire to clean up the trucks and equipment or for training, he said.

“Our plan is to use the Jay station," he said. "It has the ability for us to wash the trucks. (Jay has) gone out of their way to help Livermore Falls.”

He said the department's plan is to give the new setup a week and then officers will meet to see whether anything needs to be changed.

“Our goal is to make sure we get the trucks on the scene as quick as possible,” he said. “We are going to do whatever we can to make it work and if it doesn't work, we will make adjustments.”

Firefighters will store necessary equipment on the trucks. High-value equipment will be taken out of the station. Some items, such as extra and older hoses, will remain.

As cold weather approaches, the plan is to shut off the water at the station and drain the pipes and the sprinkler system.

The answering machine has been left on and the message includes a cellphone number for nonemergencies. An old cellphone has been activated, which Hardy has and checks daily. That number is 207-320-9171. In an emergency, people must call 911.

No open house will be held at the station for Fire Prevention Week this month, but firefighters will visit schools.
DONNA PERRY, Staff Writer /

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October 02, 2015
Dispatcher put on leave during probe - ID

MERIDEN — A longtime emergency dispatcher is on paid administrative leave while city officials investigate whether her performance delayed the emergency response to a fire last month that left three firefighters injured, according to City Manager Lawrence J. Kendzior.

Public safety officials are also reviewing operations at the city’s dispatch center, and have been meeting monthly since June to discuss concerns, Kendzior added.

Dawn Lyons, one of 14 emergency dispatchers handling police, fire and medical calls in the city, was placed on paid administrative leave on Sept. 25, Kendzior said. She was hired 27 years ago, according to Personnel Director Caroline Beitman. On the morning of Sept. 22, Lyons was working when a fire broke out at 504 E. Main St., an apartment house. Three firefighters were treated for burns after the fire, and five residents were displaced.

“The issue is whether her performance had any relationship to a delay in the fire department being able to respond to the fire and the injuries that occurred,” Kendzior said.

Beitman and Detective Lt. Mark Walerysiak are reviewing Lyons’ actions. Lyons will remain on leave pending the review, which should be completed “fairly quickly,” according to Kendzior.

Lyons and Brian Roller, president of the local union representing dispatchers in Meriden, couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday. Dispatchers in Meriden are represented by American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 4, based in New Britain.

“We are aware of (Lyons’) situation and providing union representation,” Council 4 spokesman Larry Dorman said Thursday, noting he couldn’t comment further.

Information has been gathered from the police and fire officials, including dispatch recordings from the morning of the fire. The recordings weren’t immediately available because they are being used for the ongoing investigation, Kendzior added. On Thursday, the Record-Journal formally requested a copy of the recordings through the Freedom of Information Act.

On Sept. 1, the city’s dispatch system was updated by the state, Kendzior said. Meriden was chosen as one of the first municipalities to receive the update, known as “Next Generation 911.” The system is being rolled out statewide and will eventually be used by over 100 municipalities, state agencies and state colleges. Since the city’s system was updated, there have been a number of issues, Kendzior said.

Issues with the updated system are not directly related to the review of Lyons, Kendzior said.

A spokesman for the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection didn’t return a request for comment Thursday. According to the agency’s website, the “Next Generation 911” system will allow people to text 911 during an emergency, as well as send images and videos to dispatchers. In April and May, test sites for the new system included New Britain, Newington, Fairfield, Middletown, Shelton, Wolcott, Mashantucket, Wilton, Enfield and Westbrook. The system is expected to be installed statewide by next year, according to the agency.

Regarding the dispatch system, “we are addressing whatever problems have arisen from that and are making sure that equipment is functioning properly,” Kendzior said.

Frank Kiernan, director of emergency communications, couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday. Since the system was updated on Sept. 1, Deputy Fire Chief Ryan Dunn, Deputy Police Chief Timothy Topulos and David Lowell, executive vice president of Hunter’s Ambulance Service, have been meeting with Kiernan to review “the entire operation,” including protocols, training and equipment, according to Kendzior. It was clear from the Sept. 22 fire and other recent issues that a review of the department is necessary, Kendzior said.

Since June, Fire Chief Ken Morgan, Police Chief Jeffry Cossette, police Capt. Patrick Gaynor, Dunn, Kiernan, Lowell and Donna Hunter, president of Hunter’s Ambulance Service, have been meeting monthly to discuss issues that have been brought up about the dispatch center.

The group first came together because the police and fire departments reported a number of incidents that needed to be examined, Kendzior said. Before September, there were numerous issues that were addressed and corrected, he said, but following the installation of updated equipment on Sept. 1, “there were a large number of things that needed to be reviewed,” including Lyons’ performance during the Sept. 22 fire.

Morgan said Thursday there have been ongoing concerns about the dispatch center. But there was no one specific incident that prompted public safety officials to start meeting four months ago. Recently, “we’ve been having technology issues” and dealing with glitches regarding radio communications, he said. “That’s where the inconsistencies lie right now.”

One such glitch occurs when dispatchers, who use headsets, are on the phone, Morgan said. When dispatchers take a call, radio communications aren’t audible. To get around communication issues, “we’re sending pages over to the ambulance service as a redundancy,” he said.

An investigation into the Sept. 22 fire is ongoing, Morgan said. Reached by phone Thursday, Fire Marshal Steve Trella referred all questions to Morgan. Trella noted he is still investigating the cause of the fire.

Fire Capt. Brendan Noonan said Thursday he communicates with dispatchers on a daily basis and while he has not had issues directly, has heard of some. He added that the department is working with city officials to resolve concerns.

When Noonan was contacted by the Record-Journal on Thursday, he hadn’t been told that a dispatcher was on leave. This is not unusual, he said.

From what he knows of the Sept. 22 fire, Noonan said, it’s difficult to determine whether a dispatcher could be responsible for the injury of three firefighters. Though Noonan wasn’t at the fire, he spoke to those involved, including one firefighter who is still receiving treatment at the Bridgeport Hospital Burn Center. The other two firefighters injured in the fire are back on duty.

The apartment house where the fire occurred used to be a doctor’s office and was set up differently, with extra doors and walls, Noonan said. Three firefighters were in a room on the first floor with two doors. The door they entered failed and cut off the hose line, he said, so when the fire surrounded the firefighters, they couldn’t stop it.

“Those are the hazards of the job,” Noonan said.

Mayor Manny Santos and City Council members were told of the investigation into Lyons and the dispatch center last Friday, according to Kendzior.

Santos said Thursday he was concerned about ongoing issues at the dispatch center.

“It’s important that our residents have confidence in our departments and our city employees,” Santos said. “If there is any hesitation in making phone calls for help, that puts the whole community in jeopardy. It’s very important that whatever is going on in dispatch gets resolved immediately.”

City Councilor Kevin Scarpati, chairman of the council’s public safety committee, said the city is reviewing the Sept. 22 fire and “addressing everything and anything possible to assure we address the situation properly.”

Scarpati, who is unaffiliated, is opposing Santos, a Republican, in the upcoming mayoral election.
By Andrew Ragali Record-Journal staff

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October 01, 2015
Fire union questions rising ambulance costs, Edison mayor's ethics - NJ

The chest pains started not long after firefighter Joe Dipple arrived at the scene. Laden with gear, fully exerted as he walked past the burning home, he suddenly couldn't carry a ladder through the 10 inches of snow on that afternoon in February 2014.

Sit down, another firefighter told him. You're going into an ambulance.

Even though Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital was closer to the south Edison home, the first-responders took him to JFK Medical Center.

When he got there, his union reps say, he received substandard medical care and an unwanted cashectomy. And now, with a $2,600 medical bill for an ambulance ride that the town still hasn't paid, he is worried about his credit, and wondering whether the town will ever take care of it.

"I get the bills every month. I send them to my union. The union sends them to the town," Dipple said in August. "I've never had any problems like this before."

Dipple's case is just one stark example of what the fire union sees as JFK Hospital's growing influence and worrisome impunity in Edison township. The union president, Robert Yackel, said that the problems are made worse by the fact that the mayor, Thomas Lankey, is also a top official at the hospital. Yackel recently filed ethics charges accusing the mayor of self-dealing, just a few years after the town outsourced EMS services to the private hospital.

The situation is causing delayed response times and sticker shock for people who take ambulance rides, the union says: The $500 or $600 the town used to passively charge patients' insurance companies has become $1,500 or $2,500 from JFK, with monthly reminders about outstanding bills. And firefighters, who are CPR certified, are not being called to the scenes of incidents even if they're around the corner, in deference to JFK, Yackel said.

In a statement, JFK said it had helped improve response times and saved the town money.

"JFK's sole focus is to continue providing Edison the highest quality EMS services including significantly improved response times to patients in an emergency situation," spokesman Steven Weiss said in an email. "We are pleased to have helped the Township of Edison eliminate major expenses for EMS services."

A central issue is certain ambulance transports that used to be the job of Edison firefighters. In the past, firefighters were paid a stipend to do the transports in town-owned vehicles, and they put $1 million back into the town every year when they billed insurance companies, the union says. But in 2011, the contract was outsourced to JFK, which pays the town $200,000 annually — and bills patients $1 million a month, Yackel claims.

The fire department would passively bill customers, meaning they'd collect whatever an insurance company was willing to pay and forgive the rest, Yackel said.

Lankey's administration said in a statement that the JFK contract was subject to competition from other ambulance providers. The deal predates his election as mayor; when he was a councilman, he abstained from voting on JFK-related matters. Lankey is the senior vice president for long-term care at JFK.

The switch to JFK has backfired in one major respect. The town was seeking to save money by not having to pay transport stipends to firefighters. But an appeals court ruled last week that the town had to pay $1.2 million for the transports that the town took away from the firefighters, because whether or not the work was guaranteed in the contract, the payments were.

"What this town needs, they need someone to come in here and look at the delivery of the EMS system," Yackel said. "They have screwed this up something terrible."

Nearby Woodbridge has town-supported first-aid squads that do medical transports, and they also passively bill, meaning that they don't send collections letters and take what an insurance company will offer, according to a township spokesman.

The union president says that even after the firefighters supported Lankey's election, they're not going to take it anymore.

"I got sick and tired of being jerked around all the time," Yackel said.

Going nuclear, burning the bridge, fanning the flames — pick your fire-related metaphor. The union has filed an ethics complaint against Lankey with the state, just as the union is in negotiations on its contract with the town.

Lankey has "taken advantage of his official state position and public trust to benefit a private organization for which he is affiliated, all to the detriment of the township's residents," Yackel wrote in a letter seeking a state investigation.

Last year, the town's ethics board found that Lankey violated state regulations when he used the township attorney to fight a traffic ticket.

"The mayor, a senior vice president, should not be doing business with the place he works for," Yackel said. "It's self-serving. Everything is JFK, JFK."

William Northgrave, the township attorney, said the ethics complaint hadn't yet been delivered to Lankey.

"Mayor Lankey respects any person's right to ask for a review of the actions of elected officials as set forth in state law," Northgrave said. "The Mayor would address any issues or concerns in the appropriate forum once they are brought to his attention."

Robert Diehl, the council president in Edison, said several seniors spoke up at a recent meeting about the suddenly higher cost of ambulance service (the town's business administrator, Maureen Ruane, said nobody in the mayor's office has received a complaint about ambulance service costs).

"They're being billed, and even though they're saying we don't necessarily chase you for that money, they still end up with a bill," Diehl said. "They don't like that."

Diehl said he's also heard complaints that JFK ambulances will take them to JFK, even when Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital is closer.

That was Dipple's experience. JFK was about five miles away from the fire scene; Robert Wood Johnson, in New Brunswick, was three.

Dipple is on the mend, finally, but it took some straightening out. The JFK doctors told him he was having a lung issue, and told him to see his general practitioner, Dipple said. But it wasn't a lung issue. A month later, he went to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, and found out he had to have surgery to repair a valve in his heart.

He most recently received a bill for ambulance services in August. (In a statement, the town said that cases like these are rare, and have been rectified.)

JFK declined to talk about Dipple's case.

In May, Dipple went before an arbitrator, he said.

"They said, why aren't these bills paid?" Dipple said. "Pay the man's bills."
By Brian Amaral | NJ Advance Media for

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October 01, 2015
Airpack Malfunction Cause Of Eureka Springs Firefighter’s Injury - AR

EUREKA SPRINGS (KFMS) — An investigation into a Eureka Springs firefighter’s injury showed that mechanical failure was the issue.

Rod Wasson was injured while working a fire on Aug. 29, sustaining respiratory injuries and spending weeks in a burn unit.

Eureka Springs Fire and EMS interviewed Wasson and tested his equipment to determine what caused the injury. In the report, they found that the self-contained breathing apparatus that Wasson was using that day failed three counts of testing, so Wasson removed his mask.

The biggest issue was that it didn’t provide enough air volume for heavy respiration, the report says. It passed at the low-level respiratory test, which provides enough air for a firefighter at rest — not performing exerting activities such as firefighting.

Adding to the issue, the SCBA’s low-air alarm was also set below the minimum level to trigger an alert, and the transfer switch between the low and high pressure stages was also below the minimum level.

Wasson said that he felt like he was suffocating when he entered the structure. He tried to exit, but couldn’t find the door. He removed his face mask, dropped to the floor and called for help.

Another issue was that Wasson’s equipment was pieced together from other firefighters. This is a routine practice in the department for part-time personnel, who don’t have their own assigned gear.

The report recommended that Eureka Springs immediately replace their SCBAs, which are outdated models. Additionally, the department must perform medical testing and proper mask fit testing for everyone who routinely wears fire gear.

The report also recommends that each firefighter gets a personal set of protection equipment.
by Shawnya Meyers /

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October 01, 2015
Armed Ranchers Confront Wildland Firefighters - ID

Firefighters in Idaho were confronted by angry, armed ranchers.
(Photo credit: U.S. Forest Service)

The Forest Service is investigating a report by a firefighter that he and others fighting the Tepee Springs Fire near Riggins were harassed and threatened with guns by landowners.

The unidentified firefighter said the landowners were unhappy that firefighters were not directly fighting the fire that was burning in a steep watershed that drained into the Salmon River. Fire managers had decided to use an indirect strategy to fight the fire because of safety concerns.

The report, filed on the National Interagency Fire Center's SAFENET page, is designed to give firefighters a voice in safety decisions and to direct managers to safety concerns. The report was published in the online firefighter's web magazine Wildfire Today, along with a response from the landowners of Mountain View Elk Ranch on the West Fork of Lake Creek, three miles east of Riggins.

The incidents began Sept. 2, when fire behavior was still extreme. It ended four days later, after cooler temperatures and rain reduced the ferocity of the fire that had closed the Salmon River Road for most of the month.

"The landowners, on multiple occasions, expressed frustration towards firefighters (for) their suppression actions, which ranged from verbal threats to aggressive posturing. Law enforcement officers were called on multiple occasions and the incident eventually resulted in two of the landowners verbally accosting a BLM employee while armed with a weapon," the firefighter said in the report. "The landowners made multiple unsafe demands to firefighters, such as downhill line construction in extremely rugged terrain with fire below them; attempting burnouts on mid-slope (bull)dozer lines with no escape routes or safety zones, and to drop water from helicopters with (the landowners) in the work zone.

"During at least one documented occasion, the landowners took it upon themselves to attempt a burnout and began igniting fire below crews without any communication or warning. Crews had to be pulled to safe areas."

Brad and Sarah Walters, the son and daughter-in-law of the elk ranch owners, published a detailed response to the firefighter's filing on Wildfire Today. I spoke with Sarah Walters Tuesday; she said she was a firefighter for five years, and her family didn't want firefighters to take any action that risked lives. She denied that the ranchers made any threats, started any fires or did anything wrong.

She did acknowledge family members carried sidearms when federal law enforcement officers arrived on the ranch.

"They brought the federal agents on our ground first," Walters said. "We never threatened anybody with anything."

Walters said they carry sidearms on the ranch 90 percent of the time.

"We said there was no reason for federal officers to be there," she added. "We were just trying to save what was left of our animals and our ranch."

The Tepee Springs Fire burned 95,000 acres before firefighters said it was contained Sept. 24. The number of firefighters has dropped from more than 700 to 15 today, said Brian Harris, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service.

"We're still battling this fire," Walters said. "They say it's 100 percent contained. It's not."

Harris said there are still hot spots in the West Fork of Lake Creek and other parts of the fire. The West Fork lies in the 9 percent of the fire where firefighters have used a confinement strategy, instead of containment. There they use helicopters to drop bucketsful of water.

"For firefighter safety purposes, we did not go direct in fighting the fire in the West Fork area, so we did construct an indirect containment line to the west," Harris said.

Later firefighters built a check fire line to keep fire from burning on to the ranch. But several refused to return because of the earlier confrontations. Walters said the fire burned through their ranch twice previously, but that their animals -- including elk and bison -- "are OK."

Beth Lund, a Forest Service regional fire official from Ogden, said in the SAFENET corrective actions section that the agency "takes firefighter safety very serious, is looking in to this matter further and will provide further response and follow-up."

When I asked the Forest Service for comment, I got this: "The issues brought forward ... are being reviewed by a group of interagency leaders. We continue to encourage open dialog about safety concerns and will follow up as deemed appropriate."

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October 01, 2015
PTSD Effects On Firefighters, First Responders And Other Community Protectors

A glimpse into what firefighters, first responders and community protectors see in their daily lives and how they handle the issue of PTSD. We sometimes forget that the people trying to help us are dealing with this issue too.

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October 01, 2015

CNY Central was at the scene as Syracuse firefighters battled an early morning fire, which left a firefighter injured.The fire broke out on the 300 block of Bruce Street around 12:30 Wednesday morning.

A Syracuse Fire Department District Chief says the firefighter suffered burns on his legs and was taken to a local hospital.

He also says the fire was advanced by the time they got there and that crews worked aggressively to get the fire under control in a short time.

It's not known if the house was occupied.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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October 01, 2015
Draper Fire Apparatus Crashes into Hill After Brake Failure - UT

DRAPER — Some local firefighters had quite the scare Friday when the brakes on their fire truck went out, causing them to crash into a hillside.

Fortunately everyone was wearing a seat belt, no one was injured, and only the fire truck sustained damage.

Jeremy Robertson, a captain with the Unified Fire Authority, said they were returning from a call in the SunCrest neighborhood when the incident occurred.

As they made their way down Traverse Mountain Road, they began to have trouble with the air brakes on Engine 114. Though they tried several maneuvers to apply the brakes and emergency systems to stop the truck, nothing worked.

As the firefighters continued down the steep hill with their lights and sirens on, they tried to notify the public and asked police to block traffic at intersections, Robertson said.

Eventually the truck came to a flatter area, where a Unified Fire ambulance slowed traffic in the right lane so the fire truck could cross.

The fire truck then continued up a dirt hill until the firefighters became concerned it might roll, and they turned back down the hill, through a ditch and onto the roadway, where they narrowly missed a concrete culvert, Robertson said.

Once they felt safe to drive it up the hill once more, they were able to come to a complete stop.

The damaged fire truck was towed and is now going through a third-party review and commercial drivers inspection, Robertson said.

Less than 12 hours before the accident, the fire crew discussed the possibility of a fire truck losing its brakes during one of their close call reviews, where they look at close calls on websites such as Firefighter Close Calls.

So I've been a firefighter for 19 years, and this is the first time it's happened to me. I don't hear of it happening very often locally.

–Jeremy Robertson, captain with Unified Fire Authority

"We had just read that morning about an accident in another volunteer fire department where a vehicle had lost its brakes and had ended up colliding with a police officer on scene," Robertson said.

Robertson said a full checkout/pump check was done that morning, but said this doesn't replace a full United States Department of Transportation pre-trip inspection.

"We were very fortunate that this accident did happen right above an area where we were able to safely collide with the hillside and bring the engine to a stop," Robertson said. "We're fortunate that this accident happened when we were returning from a call, so there was no patient care that was compromised, there was no delay in responding to another emergency."

Robertson complimented the Draper Police Department, which responded to the situation immediately and aggressively to help them protect the public from harm.

"So I've been a firefighter for 19 years, and this is the first time it's happened to me. I don't hear of it happening very often locally," Robertson said.

As far as lessons learned from the incident, Robertson said downshifting was the only thing that slowed the acceleration, seat belts should always been worn and though the captain's emergency switch is an additional brake, it won't stop a truck without brakes, even when it's in first gear.
By Megan Marsden Christensen /

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October 01, 2015
Child injured after car hits Hampton fire engine headed to emergency, official says - VA

A 4 year-old was injured Wednesday afternoon when a car crashed into a Hampton Division of Fire & Rescue engine headed to an emergency call, an official said.

The accident happened about 3:15 p.m. at the intersection of W. Mercury Boulevard and Fox Hill Road, according to Hampton Police Division Sgt. Jason Price.

Investigators determined the fire engine was traveling northbound on Fox Hill Road with its lights and sirens on when a Chevy Impala struck it in the intersection, Price said.

The child was taken to the hospital with injuries that do not appear to be life-threatening, he said. The driver of the Impala, Takisha McClinton, was issued a summons for failure to obey a traffic signal and driving on a revoked license.
Sarah J. KetchumContact Reporter / Daily Press

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October 01, 2015
Law covering 9/11 responders' medical care expires - WA

Federal officials who administer the program say it will face challenges by February and will have to start shutting down by next summer.

WASHINGTON — A law that provides medical monitoring and treatment for Sept. 11 first responders expires at midnight Wednesday due to the failure of Congress to act.

For now, first responders who rushed to the World Trade Center after the 2001 terrorist attacks, worked for weeks and now suffer from illnesses like pulmonary disease and cancers will still be able to get their health care. But federal officials who administer the program say it will face challenges by February and will have to start shutting down by next summer.

Letting the program expire creates "enormous anxieties and fears in the minds of very sick people," said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., who has been lobbying her colleagues to make the program permanent and recently was joined by comedian Jon Stewart.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said it was unacceptable for Congress to let it expire.

"Congress must stop putting politics ahead of our heroes' health," he said in a statement.

The Sept. 11 program is one of several that will expire at midnight due to congressional inaction. While Congress moved toward passing legislation to keep government agencies open, there are some programs that depend on further action to operate long-term.

John Feal, a former World Trade Center demolition worker and leading advocate for sick responders, has pressed lawmakers to pay attention to the Sept. 11 program.

"People are dying and suffering, and Congress can easily close this wound," Feal said. "But they continue to add salt to it."

The Zadroga Act, named after a responder who died after working at ground zero, first became law in 2010 after a debate over the bill's cost. Proponents are seeking the law's permanent extension in part because some illnesses may not manifest until years later, after the statute of limitations for worker's compensation or certain state laws may have run out.

House Republicans have been supportive of the program but have opposed its permanent extension because they say they want the chance to periodically review it and make sure it is operating soundly. The Senate has not moved a bill.

In a letter to the Senate, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden said if the law isn't extended, the World Trade Center Health Program "will begin to face significant operational challenges" by February. By next summer, the program's 72,000 enrolled beneficiaries will have to be notified that they may not receive health care beyond September 2016 and the program will have to start to shut down. Frieden said that process could cause patients additional stress.

Earlier this summer, Dr. John Howard, the administrator of the CDC program, told a House panel that extending the law would help clinicians treat victims and allow administrators to better plan patient care.

Other laws set to expire at midnight tonight:

—Federal Perkins Loan Program. The House passed a bill Monday to extend the student loan program, which provides low-interest loans as one alternative to more expensive private student loans. But Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., on Wednesday blocked an attempt to extend the law in the Senate.

Alexander said the rate for Perkins loans is higher than other loans and he wants Congress to replace the program with simpler loans that have lower interest rates and more generous repayment plans. He said students who have Perkins loans now will not be affected.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan has called on Congress to expand and better target the program. "Perkins is an important campus-based financing tool to help lower and middle income students cover any remaining need after other aid has been applied," he said.

—Land and Water Conservation Fund. The Interior Department program invests earnings from offshore oil and gas leasing to protect federal public lands and waters. Expiration will mean that the government isn't authorized to collect some of the offshore royalties, decreasing revenues collected for local conservation, restoration and historic preservation projects across the country.

Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and James Lankford of Oklahoma objected to an attempt to extend the program Wednesday, saying the fund already has enough money and federal land ownings should be re-examined.

—Child nutrition. Renewal of the 2010 law that oversees school meal programs, summer feeding programs, the Women, Infants and Children program and other government institutional food aid has been stalled as lawmakers debate its cost and whether rules making school meals healthier should be changed. The programs will continue even if the law expires, as long as congressional spending bills provide the dollars.

According to the Agriculture Department, one program will be shut down by expiration — the USDA National Hunger Hotline, which helps hungry people find local food resources.
The Associated Press

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October 01, 2015
Fire department ordered to remove haunted house signs - PA

PennDOT told the department to remove their signs advertising the haunted house because they could pose a safety risk on state roads.

ELYSBURG, Pa. — Volunteer firefighters who often respond to emergencies on state roads have been told by PennDOT to remove their signs advertising a haunted house because the signs are within the state's right-of-way and could pose a safety risk.

Harvey Boyer, president of Elysburg Fire Department, said PennDOT made them take down the recognizable signs, which feature a green skull surrounded by text indicating the time and date of the 39th annual Elysburg Haunted House that benefits the department and Ralpho Fire Company.

"Not only do we spend countless hours of training ... but we also spend a lot of time doing fundraising," Boyer said in a Facebook post that was shared more than 2,100 times Tuesday. "Shame on you PennDOT!"

Boyer's Facebook post also urged people for their continued support of the Haunted House, which will kick-off Oct. 10 at the Valley Gun and Country Club.

Boyer said PennDOT contacted Ralpho Township supervisors last week about the signs located along Route 487 near J&D Campground, Route 54 north and south of Elysburg and at the intersections for state Routes 487 and 54; and 487 and 61.

Boyer said Capt. Eric Haupt met with a PennDOT representative, who told Haupt the signs were within PennDOT's right-of-way. The signs were repositioned, but the next day they were told the signs were "unacceptable" and had to come down.

David Thompson, community relations coordinator for PennDOT District 3-0, said in an email response for comment Tuesday that the signs, and other unrelated signs, were requested by PennDOT to be removed because they were encroachments within the state's right-of-way.

"An encroachment is any object placed without permission within the legal limits of a highway right-of-way," he said. "Such objects are not allowed to be placed in the right-of-way as they could pose a public safety and/or legal liability."

He said objects in the right-of-way may interfere with a driver's view of other traffic, other official traffic signs and could cause drivers to be distracted, all which could result in accidents. Objects are not permitted in the right-of-way, unless it serves an official highway purpose, he added.

Boyer said they have used the signs in question for 10 years and wondered why, after all this time, they would start to enforce the right-of-way.

"We don't want to be above the law, but at the same token, we're putting our lives on the line and are saving taxpayers money by volunteering," Boyer said. "We cut down trees across the (state) roads, we close roads when it's icy, we are there for them (PennDOT) in that regard."

Thompson said policy hasn't changed - signs in the right-of-way have always been prohibited - but 4,500 miles of state roads in the district make it impossible to catch every encroachment.

"PennDOT is also required by federal legislation to control off-premise advertising outside the right-of-way along the interstates and other federal aid routes," Thompson said. "Along these routes, a sign is required to be permitted by PennDOT unless it is on the actual site of the business it is advertising."

He said an option for local organizations looking to advertise upcoming events is to request their municipality to pass a resolution accepting liability for a banner placed within PennDOT's right-of-way, in a specific location, that must first be reviewed by the department.

Boyer said a sign at the entrance to the gun club is allowed to stay. He said many community members have volunteered to let the department put their signs on private property.

"They will go back out in two to three days," Boyer said. "It's a shame that we spend hours and hours training to save lives and we can't put up a sign for a couple of weeks for our biggest fundraiser."
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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October 01, 2015
Information passed along
Denver firefighters talk about suicide prevention

DENVER -- Suicide prevention is usually not mentioned in an employee handbook or in regular workplace meetings.

However, the Denver Fire Department has made it a priority. "It's OK to talk about these things," Denver Fire Chief Eric Tade said. "There is no need to internalize them."

Chief Tade has worked at Denver Fire for more than 20 years. He can recall several suicides within the department.

However, it was the loss of one department veteran in February 2013 which prompted change.

Chief Tade refers to Captain Steve Magana as the "firefighter's firefighter" who embraced his job wholeheartedly over his 30 years with the department.

Lt. Juan Vigil spent 15 years working alongside Captain Magana at Station 19 in Denver's Hilltop neighborhood.

"I would never have thought that would happen to him," Lt. Vigil said.

Vigil and Magana became good friends and spent time outside of work hunting and fishing together."

"As a team here, it was tough," Lt. Vigil said. "Probably the hardest thing we've had to deal with inside the firehouse ... For sure for me."

Captain Magana's death rattled the entire department, and the call for change started with a meeting with the Carson J. Spencer Foundation.

Spencer-Thomas founded the suicide awareness and prevention foundation in 2005 after the death of her brother, Carson.

"They kind of made a commitment to one another that they weren't going to stop until they got some tools, some resources, some answers," Sally Spencer-Thomas said.

"When Carson was struggling, he did not have tools like man therapy. He did not have mentors like the Denver firefighters to say, 'It's OK, man. We'll stand with you. We'll get you through this.'"

Spencer-Thomas is focused on addressing stress and its effect on mental health as well as offering tools to help those who are struggling to cope.

She speaks throughout the country to mental-health groups and most recently did a tour of college campuses.

The Carson J. Spencer Foundation is very focused on working with male-dominated businesses like the Denver Fire Department. Of the roughly 1,000 employees, there are only about 50 women in the department.

"Eighty percent of people who die by suicide are men," Spencer-Thomas said. "Just the fact that they are a male-dominated workforce creates the risk."

Spencer-Thomas also points to the trauma firefighters see daily on the job.

"We respond to fires, but also suicides, gunshot wounds, traumatic injuries within auto accidents," Lt. Vigil said. "A lot of times, we'll see children badly injured -- things that the average person is not going to see."

Because firefighters repeatedly see those kinds of situations, they develop what Spencer-Thomas calls, "acquired capacity."

"Those situations can make them unafraid of violence or self-injury," Spencer-Thomas said. "They can develop fearlessness around suicide because of their exposure to life-and-death situations."

However, there is one suicide risk factor that firefighters face more than any other: the need to be tough and strong.

"I know for myself and for a lot of the fire service, we try to just file it away and not let it affect us, try to have that hard exterior," Chief Tade said.

Lt. Vigil agrees with the chief, but they've both changed the way they think.

"We can't keep dealing with things the same way we have in the past, which is ignoring it, rub some dirt on it and you'll be fine tomorrow," Lt. Vigil said.

After some initial resistance to talking about suicide in regular meetings and in classes at the academy level, Denver firefighters are embracing the program.

Mental health is now just as important as physical health in the department's total wellness program.

"We want them to come in and be, 'Wow, it's just as normal to talk about this at the kitchen table as it is to talk about the great CrossFit workout we just had,'" DFD Chief Tade said.

The National Firefighters Chiefs Conference is coming up in Keystone in October.

A team from the Denver Fire Department is going to talk about how suicide prevention has become a big part of the department's total wellness program.

The DFD team will talk with other firefighters from all over Colorado on ways to get a program going in their departments.

"As long as we can see into the future, it will be part of our training," Chief Tade said.

As for Lt. Vigil, who oversees several different firehouses, including his former Station 19, he says he's now an "open book."

"Captain Magana's suicide broke the heart of many of us, but that has also made us much stronger," Lt. Vigil said.

The Carson J. Spencer Foundation has also worked with the local branch of RK Mechanicals.

Being a construction company, it too is a male-dominated business. Workers face injuries from the laborious work, which can be seasonal and therefore pose a financial worry.

RK launched its Man Therapy program in 2014 with the slogan: "you can't fix your mental health with duct tape." There are slices of duct tape with those words on the hard hats worn at job sites.

RK has "toolbox talks" with construction workers at job sites, and select managers undergo suicide prevention training.

RK also has mental health support resources available through the company's wellness program as well as a wellness coach who provides one-on-one counseling.

RK worked with the Carson J. Spencer Foundation to develop the "Construction Industry Blueprint" for all companies and workers in the field.

Spencer-Thomas says she is also working on a program that could assist male entrepreneurs who work tirelessly to get businesses started and sustainable.

For more on the suicide awareness prevention and work of the Carson J. Spencer Foundation, go to

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, there is help 24-7 at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline ( Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Kyle Dyer, KUSA

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October 01, 2015
11 People Injured in Concourse Fire, FDNY Says - NY

THE BRONX — Eleven people were injured Wednesday morning when faulty wiring sparked a blaze at a Concourse apartment building, FDNY officials said.

Wires in the cockloft 1055 Grand Concourse, near East 165th Street ignited the flames about 4:20 a.m., FDNY officials said.

One person was seriously injured and treated at Lincoln Medical Center, where they were in stable condition, officials said.

Ten of the 168 firefighters who battled the blaze were also treated for minor injuries, officials said.

An FDNY spokesman said he believed all 10 firefighters had been treated and released from the hospital and were now doing fine.

Tenants said they woke to the smell of smoke.

"We turned on the light and smoke was coming through the window frame. It was billowing. It was dark gray," said fifth-floor tenant Maxiel Chea.

"I woke my kids up and told them, 'Hurry up! Let's move!' We got what we could and got out."

Firefighters were already there and extending ladders up to the roof, she said.

"They were going in with the hoses. They were breaking windows. Glass was shattering. I was in a state of shock," Chea added.
By Trevor Kapp, Aidan Gardiner and Eddie Small /

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