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May 28, 2015
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Heads-Up CPR: Can Elevating the Patient’s Head Improve Outcomes? - FL

Palm Beach County Fire Rescue's method calls for placing the patient on a LUCAS device and scoop, then placing a Pelican case on the stretcher before the patient. Personnel then raise the stretcher head and run the shoulder and waist straps through the scoop handles.
(Photo credit: Palm Beach County Fire Rescue)

The next important innovation in CPR could be right around the corner.

Following some promising findings in lab research and bolstered by a strong theoretical case for its efficacy, several EMS systems in South Florida have begun performing what’s known as heads-up CPR. It entails elevating the patient’s head during resuscitation to allow gravity to help improve blood flow in and out of the brain.

“There’s such a long history of poor survival for adult cardiac arrest despite all the things we’ve done,” says Ken Scheppke, MD, medical director for Palm Beach County Fire Rescue, one of the agencies trying the innovation, “that when something comes along like this—it’s simple, but there’s a good, clear-cut sense that it should help physiologically—I think we should keep trying new ideas to improve care for that segment of the population.”

Lab work is ongoing and clinical trials forthcoming, and this implementation—by a half-dozen agencies in Palm Beach County and two in Broward—lays important groundwork by demonstrating safety and feasibility. It may also be hinting at benefit, as it’s helped boost Palm Beach County Fire Rescue’s all-rhythm ROSC rate from 16% to 23%.

Elevation of the head is just one piece of the plan, though. Also involved are mechanical chest compressions, an ITD and, in Palm Beach County, a scoop stretcher. PBCFR’s method, largely conceived by field personnel, calls for placing the patient on a LUCAS device and scoop, then placing a Pelican case on the stretcher before the patient. Personnel then raise the stretcher head and run the shoulder and waist straps through the scoop handles.

Top EMS docs heard about the idea at February’s Gathering of Eagles conference, where renowned emergency physician Paul Pepe, MD, shared the results of research led by French physician Guillaume Debaty. Using a LUCAS device and ITD, Debaty and company measured organ blood flow in arresting pigs supine, with a with a 30-degree head-up tilt (HUT) and with a 30-degree head-down tilt (HDT). The HUT was associated with better coronary perfusion pressure, better cerebral perfusion pressure and better brain blood flow.1

Why does it work? Basically, standard supine chest compressions increase arterial and venous pressures simultaneously, reducing the possibility of a cerebral perfusion gradient. Conversely, elevating the head uses gravity to help drain the brain, and the LUCAS (some systems are using AutoPulses) and ITD help enhance flow further.

“We’re still learning about this concept and thinking through the process, but it’ll be pretty interesting to see where it all settles,” says Peter Antevy, MD, associate medical director for PBCFR and medical director for two Broward County services also now using the head-up approach. “We now have almost all of Palm Beach County and small pockets of Broward County doing it, which will give us data back, like a small field trial. If we can get some good data out even before a randomized trial, that may speed up the whole process.”

“What these guys are doing in South Florida is developing excellent groundwork for a controlled clinical trial,” says Pepe. “They’re showing that it’s possible and can be done, and without safety issues. We’ll do the controlled trials later, but they’re doing invaluable work right now by advancing the concept in terms of seeing if it’s feasible.”

For more on heads-up CPR, see the special August issue of EMS World Magazine
by John Erich /

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May 28, 2015
Fire truck overturns in Bryant - AR

(Photo: Chris Ross, THV11)

BRYANT, Ark. (KTHV) – The driver of a Bryant fire truck is apparently having a bad day.

Bryant Fire Department Sergeant Todd Crowson said the truck toppled over after the passenger side tires of the truck "caught in the road" while on Springhill Road.

According to Crowson, a large dump truck was passing the fire truck at the time of the accident, but it was not hit or involved.

He added that no one was hurt and the road is expected to be back open within 30 minutes from the time they get the truck on a wrecker.
THV 11 Staff, news source

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May 28, 2015
Area volunteer firemen to undergo background checks - PA

Parent volunteers at school have to do it. Boy Scout troop leaders have to do it.

And once July 1 rolls around, Pennsylvania's volunteer firefighters will have to obtain at least two criminal-background clearances and possibly three.

More than 20 pieces of legislation, passed by the General Assembly in its 2013-14 session, change how the state responds to child abuse. One provision states that people who provide care, supervision or guidance to children or have routine interaction with children in the course of their employment or volunteer work must get two $10 in-state criminal background checks on a three-year renewal cycle.

Anyone who has lived outside of the state in the past 10 years also must obtain a $27.50 FBI background check, which tracks nationwide crime information.

While some volunteer fire companies have requested that municipal governments pay for the checks, Monroeville fire Chief Harold Katofsky said officials of the five Monroeville volunteer fire companies decided to pay for the checks for their members themselves instead of asking Monroeville council, which already faces budget constraints.

“We're not happy that the state regulated it and didn't fund it, but it's doable, and it's worthwhile,” he said.

Katofsky said the state firefighters association advised members that volunteer departments can use relief funds — levied through a tax on fire insurance premiums — to pay for the checks.

“But if you use it for that, you can't use it for something else,” he said.

Chief Ron Harvey, of Monroeville Fire Co. No. 5, said new members already undergo in-state checks on their background and driving records before they join. Every two years, the station reruns the checks on their driving records.

Because of the new requirements, all members will undergo in-state clearances. Two active members of his station who have moved into the state need the FBI clearances.

Harvey said his station wouldn't require life members who are unlikely to respond to calls to get up-to-date clearances based on the new state regulations.

“I'm taking a guess that the state is going to be reasonable,” Harvey said.

George Burkhardt, president of Pitcairn Relief Fire Co. No. 2, said his department always has performed checks on new members, but officers in the company — one of two in Pitcairn — weren't aware that new requirements will take effect in July.

“I can honestly say that we haven't heard anything from anybody,” he said.

In Export, fire Chief Neal Nichols said his department will have about 30 background checks done. “We initially looked at it as a negative because of the cost. But this is kind of a good thing with our fire departments, in that it helps us provide our community with (cleared) volunteers.”

For firefighters, regular contact with children comes mainly through junior firefighter programs, which encourage minors to become involved with their local fire companies.

But even for departments without a junior program, their work in the community brings them into contact with minors.

“The big thing for us is when we go into schools to do fire-prevention work or when we go into day care facilities,” Nichols said.
By Patrick Varine and Gideon Bradshaw /

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May 28, 2015
Officials: Fire dept. 'stretched too thin' - MA

(News, Weather and Classifieds for Southern New England)

FALL RIVER, Mass. — Firefighters in Fall River experienced a nightmare scenario when two fires took place at the same time.

One of the fires displaced a family of five on Seabury Street Sunday night. "It's frustrating because the resources that might be left are usually a lot of times distant,” said Deputy Chief John Lynch.

Fire officials said that responding to simultaneously calls is actually not that uncommon, especially since firefighters also respond to medical emergencies, car accidents, and smaller incidents, such as getting stuck in an elevator.

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May 28, 2015
Firefighter critically burned while refueling chainsaw - NV

A seasonal U.S. Forest Service firefighter is in critical but stable condition after suffering injuries Monday while working on a small fire on Mount Charleston, the agency said today.

Josh Evans suffered second- and third-degree burns to his upper body in a flash fire that occurred while refueling a chainsaw, officials said.

Evans and his crew had been battling a fire sparked by lightning in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area when the incident occurred, officials said.

Evans was airlifted to University Medical Center, where he is in the burn unit, officials said.

Another fire crew replaced Evans’ crew, and the fire was eventually contained, officials said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Josh and his family in this unfortunate situation. We appreciate our selfless firefighters who willingly face ongoing challenges in the interest of protecting life and property,” Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Supervisor Bill Dunkelberger said in a news release.
Adwoa Fosu Local news reporter

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May 28, 2015
Some say AFD violated rights when searching for stolen equipment - NM

(Burque MediaPRO)

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A simple search for stolen equipment or a violation of rights? When thousands of dollars worth of firefighting equipment went missing, Albuquerque firefighters took to the streets to find it, but the way they did it has some crying foul.

There doesn’t seem to be any emergency, but these firefighters are in a hurry for something. It’s why one Albuquerque native got out her phone, Monday, and started recording.

“I saw the Albuquerque Fire Department randomly stopping anybody they saw on the street,” she said.

The photographer asked we hide her identity. She says it happened near Dallas and Central. Firefighters questioning people on the street, searching their bags, even having them turn their pockets inside out.

“I was completely shocked,” said the photographer. “It was in complete violation of our constitutional rights.”

A resident in the area saw the video, too, and agrees what the firefighters did was wrong.

“I think they should have investigated it more, maybe find out where the equipment went, maybe who had it,” said resident Kelli Maestas.

Yet, Albuquerque Fire Department officials say they’ve got it all wrong.

“I think the Youtube video is a very poor depiction. To insinuate the firefighters were out there doing something illegal as it said in the video- search and seizure- it’s just ridiculous,” said Albuquerque Fire Chief David Downey.

Downey says the firefighters were at a briefing for a recent call– the cherry picker accident that killed two people and injured three more. It was their second meeting on the call. Downey says firefighters were eager to learn the conditions of the children injured, considering many of the firefighters were parents, themselves.

“It’s very, very traumatic and a difficult scene to respond to, so we wanted to make sure the responders were doing okay,” said Downey.

Afterwards, they came back to their trucks to find about $7,0000 worth of equipment missing– a duffel bag with wildland firefighting equipment, a radio, a computer and a number of personal items.

Downey says the firefighters first contacted APD. Police met with the battalion chief and got a police report in the works while firefighters went in search of their gear.

“They sort of scattered through the neighborhood if this had just happened, maybe we could ask some questions and find some people if they saw anything suspicious and hope to retrieve the equipment,” Downey explained. “This is property of the city, the taxpayers buy this equipment for us. We have to be good stewards of that.”

Firefighters found their man, Daniel Liddick, a short time later wearing the missing duffel as a backpack. They were also able to recover most of their equipment. However, a $3,800 computer is still missing, as is a radio, a mask and a number of personal items.

Downey says firefighters held the man until APD arrived.

APD spokesperson Celina Espinoza says it was no different than a citizen’s arrest or a when a security guard detains a shoplifting suspect.

“We were called, suspect was still on scene. We took custody of the suspect, conducted a search and made an arrest,” said Espinoza.

Despite concerns from local residents that the neighborhood had a lot to do with firefighters’ actions, Downey argues the setting played no part in the search for stolen equipment.

“Regardless of the area of town this occurred in, if emergency response equipment has gone missing, we’d go looking for it anywhere and we would ask the people that were around at the time if they’d seen anything. I don’t think the part of town had anything to do with the response from the firefighters,” Downey explained.

AFD says it’s not protocol to go out looking for lost or stolen items, that the firefighters took it up on themselves to search for the equipment. Downey adds that the firefighters were not out of service for long, if at all.

They say the Albuquerque Police Department is not investigating them for anything that happened Monday.
By Katherine Mozzone /

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May 27, 2015
Retired firefighter charged with harassment over recruit training - NY

CHEEKTOWAGA, NY (WIVB)- Frustration boiled over during the training of Buffalo’s new fire recruits.

Sunday morning, retired Buffalo Firefighter Robert Jackson showed up at Erie County’s Fire Training Academy. The Cheektowaga Police report says Jackson expressed disgust with a fire lieutenant over a relative of Jackson’s who had to resign from the department. Jackson is accused of swinging and striking the lieutenant in the face. He’s charged with second degree harassment with physical contact.

A source familiar with this year’s class of 120 recruits says that so far, there has been an unusually high number of failed evaluations in the first four weeks. The source says 37 evaluations have been failed, but it’s not 37 different recruits failing, but some individuals failing two, three or even five physical evaluations so far.

This is the first Buffalo class in years that was hired without passing a CPAT physical test first such as the one shown below. The Buffalo recruits had to pass a slightly easier physical test and will have to pass the more rigorous challenge before becoming a firefighter. They are paid $17 an hour during this 10 week training, and while fire sources tell News 4 most of this year’s class will graduate with no problem, some who are still in the class are having a very hard time with the physical aspects.

Michael DeGeorge, a spokesman for the Mayor and Fire Commissioner could not confirm exactly how many evaluation failures there have been here, but he points out that no one has actually failed out of the class. He also points out that in every class, five to ten percent choose to quit.
By George Richert, News 4 Reporter

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May 27, 2015
This is what could happen if you park in front of a fire hydrant - NJ

A hose runs from a fire hydrant through two windows of a Honda SUV in Pennsauken after crews responded to a house fire on May 27, 2015.
(Photo courtesy of Ted Aurig) (Photo courtesy of Ted Aurig)

PENNSAUKEN TWP. — It's 4:17 a.m. and four fire fighters need to make snap decisions. A vacant house along Sherwood Terrace is on fire, but occupants may be inside, neighbors relayed.

The fire hydrant that first responders need to hook their hose up to is blocked by a parked vehicle. What do you do?

"We exhausted the alternatives," Pennsauken fire Chief Jospeh Palumbo said of finding a water source during the "critical time period" when the first crews on scene arrive and get to work.

Palumbo, who arrived on scene shortly after the first fire truck arrived, said they were "left with no choice" but no break the rear driver's side and front passenger's side windows on a black Honda SUV as to get a hose from the hydrant to the engine.

The possible incendiary fire may have been sparked by squatters, the chief said, adding that the second closest fire hydrant was also blocked by another parked vehicle and trash cans.

"If anybody was parked near a fire hydrant, we would be obligated to ticket them," Pennsauken police Sgt. Chris Sulzbach said Wednesday of police protocol.

The sergeant added that the police department hadn't heard from any neighbors near the scene regarding the response and towing of vehicles only occurs if it has been in the same spot for awhile.

When asked about running the hose over or under the car, Palumbo said that the vehicle's exhaust system underneath could have compromised the line and a 90-degree angle formed by running the hose over the roof would have restricted water flow.

"This person made the conscious decision to park in front of the fire hydrant. Windows can be replaced; people cannot," the chief said.
By Greg Adomaitis | For

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May 27, 2015
Fire chief hurt in crash returning from incident - MO

CAMDEN COUNTY, Mo. — A fire chief suffered minor injuries Sunday when his vehicle and an ATV collided while returning home from an emergency incident.

LakeNewsOnline reported that Fire Chief Dennis Reilly, 57, with the Sunrise Beach (Mo.) Fire Protection District, was traveling eastbound on a highway when a westbound ATV drove down the eastbound shoulder.

Adam Williams, 27, was driving the ATV.

Chief Reilly told troopers that it appeared another vehicle was in his lane and he swerved to avoid it, according to the report. The crash report stated that the vehicles collided on the shoulder.

Chief Reilly was transported by ambulance to a hospital. He was released Monday morning and most of his injuries were superficial, according to the report. He was back at work Tuesday and told reported that he was a "little banged up and sore, but doing alright."

Williams was not injured, but was charged with second degree assault with a vehicle while intoxicated and is also facing a charge of operating a motor vehicle in a careless and imprudent manner.
By FireRescue1 Staff

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May 27, 2015
Fire truck and car collide - IL

CHAMPAIGN -- Emergency responders got into an accident of their own Tuesday. A fire truck and car collided at the corner of Randolph and University.

Authorities won't say if the engine was responding to a call at the time. No one was hurt, but officials remind everyone to use caution when sharing the road with emergency vehicles. When you hear the sound of sirens, or see those flashing lights, pull over.

"You'll want to check your mirrors, put your turn signal on and go ahead and pull over to the right."

The basic rule learned in drivers ed may seen harder to follow nowadays with distractions like cellphones and the radio, but Fire Marshal John Koller says to remember someone's life may be on the line.

"It does have an impact on the response if people aren't paying attention and able to get out of the way properly."

But, even with music or a cellphone in your ear, fire engines should be hard to miss.

"We have lights that we have specifically designed to hit mirror points in vehicles and things like that."

Fire engines are actually most likely to be struck when they're parked at the scene of an incident. That's why they're painted with reflective strips to make them more visible to driers.

"As we're driving down the road, we have our music on, things like that, but we're still paying attention to our mirrors as we should be."

A common mistake? Getting back on the road too quickly when there's more than one emergency vehicle responding.

"Whether it's an ambulance, a fire truck or police car coming for an emergency, you could safely get out of the way."

And, not become part of the emergency. Illinois state law says you must pull to the right side of the road to allow emergency vehicles to pass, even if it's not in your lane. If you're waiting at an intersection with two-way traffic, you should remain stopped until the vehicle goes around you.
Abby Llorico /

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May 27, 2015
Firefighter injured battling house fire in Covington - KY

COVINGTON, Ky. -- A firefighter was hurt while putting out a house fire near Taylor Mill Elementary School late Tuesday night.

"We place ladders on the building so firefighters are able to get out if they get in trouble," said Eric Matheny, a battalion chief with the Covington Fire Department. "We did transport one firefighter to the hospital, non-life threatening injuries."

The fire on Berseem Court, located off of Taylor Mill Road in south Covington, was reported at about 11 p.m., Kenton County dispatchers said. The people who lived in the home were already outside by the time fire crews arrived.

Officials have not identified the injured firefighter. He was taken away by ambulance for treatment. There has been no update on his condition.

The house had extensive fire damage on the first and second floors, and smoke damage throughout.

Investigators are still trying to determine what started the blaze.
By WCPO Staff

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May 26, 2015
Lessons Learned:


Another fire we can learn from. Fire Officers must fully appreciate the fact that when making decisions, and especially when committing firefighters at a fire, that their decisions, orders and the FF's actions will directly impact the outcome. Seem simple? One would think. Watch the below video and ask yourself (and those at your firehouse kitchen table) the same question as if you were the boss. This building is vacant and has been for 3 years. Is there any reason that this would be anything other than a defensive fire? Can you think of any reason you would send your Firefighters to the roof on this fire?

Does placing your firefighters (on the roof, near the hole already made by the fire) make sense when the apparatus that can supply the needed elevated stream sits there... not being used?

Orginal Coverage

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May 26, 2015

A borough firefighter was seriously injured Monday night when he fell off a roof while battling a fire and broke his pelvis, police said.At about 6 p.m., a police officer on patrol reported seeing smoke coming from a residence on Boonton Avenue so both police and the fire department responded to the scene, Butler Police Lt. Mike Moeller said.

Based on the preliminary investigation, a cigarette is believed to have accidentally sparked the blaze on the outside deck of the multi-family home, Moeller said.

Butler firefighter Al Marion was on the roof of the house using a fire hose when he lost his footing and fell about eight to 10 feet onto the ground, the police lieutenant said.

Marion was flown by medical helicopter to Morristown Medical Center due to the extent of his injuries, Moeller said. Based on the preliminary investigation, Marion fractured his pelvis and shattered one of his elbows, he said.

The fire was extinguished in about 30 minutes and the residence remains habitable, Moeller said. No other injuries were reported, he said.

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May 26, 2015

A firefighter with the Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department was hurt while battling a house fire early Tuesday morning.Officials said the fire is believed to have been started by a lightning strike. The fire happened in the 17000 block of Fairgrove Park Drive.

Authorities said a mayday was called after the firefighter fell through the roof.

KPRC 2 is told the firefighter is conscious and will be transported to an area hospital.

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May 26, 2015
Firefighter falls 20 feet battling Sac building fire - CA

Some tweakers were burning rubber off copper wires next to my work and caught the building on fire. I didn't notice it but a fire fighter fell through the roof around 3:52. He ended up being ok in the end with minor injuries. Sorry about the language!
(Max Smith)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KCRA) —A Sacramento Metro firefighter was hospitalized Friday after he fell 20 feet from the roof of a burning building Friday morning.

The fireman, whose name was not released, was cutting a hole through the roof to ventilate the building, which was engulfed, firefighters said. When he fell, his body caught fire and crews sprayed him with water, said Sac Metro Battalion Chief Patrick Ellis.

“I thought we were going to have a fatality on the fire ground today and luckily, we had eyes on him,” Ellis said. “Luckily, he got up, walked out. Best-case scenario.”

The fire broke out about 10:20 a.m. at a warehouse on Auburn Boulevard near Pasadena Avenue. People in nearby businesses gathered to watch fast-moving flames engulf the building.

A Sac Metro Fire Department spokesman said the cause of the fire is still under investigation, but a witness who called 911 called it a "campfire" that was started outside the building.

“It was originally a campfire on the ground, outside the door,” said Paul Williams, who said he works in a business across an alley from the warehouse. “I called 911 when I saw the fire. And a few minutes later, it was totally engulfed in flames.”

Investigators paid special attention to an area outside the building, near a barbecue.

Fire crews initially believed there might be people stuck inside the building, but didn’t find anyone. The only person hurt was the fireman who fell.

“All I saw was him coming out of the flames of the burning door, crawling on all four hands and knees, climbing out,” Williams said.

The Sac Metro spokesman said the injured fireman was taken to UC Davis Medical Center with minor injuries.

By Sharokina Shams /

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May 26, 2015
Firefighter jumps out of way as vehicle plows into GR fire engine - MI

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Being a firefighter is one of the most dangerous jobs around.

There was plenty of proof this week in West Michigan.

Monday, two Crockery Township firefighters were injured from an electrical shock. Early Friday morning, a Grand Rapids firefighter had a close call with a motorist while working a separate traffic accident.

Police are trying to figure out how a driver missed all the flashing lights at an accident scene on the East Beltline Avenue near Burton Street SE just before 1 a.m. Friday.

A Grand Rapids firefighter jumped out of the way and, as damage to the back of the fire engine show, not a moment too soon.

The back bumper was crushed. Roll up doors on the compartments holding rescue equipment will not open as the body of the truck was bent from the impact.

“The reality is that in a few seconds somebody not paying attention can cover a lot of distance, and it’s too late,” said Grand Rapids Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Sehlmeyer.

GRFD, GRPD and an ambulance crew were working the original Friday morning crash.

The fire department was using an engine as what is referred to as a blocker, part of a standard safety procedure in which at least one and usually two fire departments vehicle are used to block traffic several yards in front of a crash.

“The placing of this piece of equipment by our crews actually creates a shadow to work,” said Sehlmeyer. “That ultimately prevented some death, potentially, to first responders and also the people in the original accident.”

It’s a common problem in Grand Rapids and across the country.

Figures from the National Fire Protection Association show that out of the 97 firefighters killed in the line of the duty in 2013, six died after being struck by a vehicle at an accident scene – many more were injured.

In 2010, 24 Hour News 8 reported that three GRFD ladder truckers had been hit on the S Curve.

The city was running out of spares.

GRFD eventually got an old water department dump truck, painted it red and put a big shock absorber on the back.

Sehlmeyer said the idea has done more than save damage to more expensive rigs.

“It gets people’s attention. That’s what we are really trying to do. Get people’s attention,” said Sehlmeyer.

Firefighter training has been modified over the years. There is a reason the firefighter narrowly escaped injury in Friday’s crash was able to jump out the way. He didn’t turn his back to the traffic lanes.

It’s part of the procedure when at a crash scene. Firefighters are even required to turn their bodies toward traffic as they are climbing out of the truck.

The driver that hit the fire engine was sent to the hospital with on-life threatening injuries.

His status and the status of the investigation were not available from the Grand Rapids Police Department as of Friday afternoon.
By Joe LaFurgey /

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May 26, 2015
Buffalo fire truck, vehicle collide on Cherry Street - NY

A Buffalo fire truck collided with a vehicle at Cherry and Mortimer streets at 11:42 a.m. Tuesday. No one was injured and damage to the vehicles was described as minor.

The fire truck was returning from investigating a commercial alarm at a building on the 500 block of Genesee Street that was prompted by “burnt food,” fire officials said.

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May 26, 2015
Injuries reported after ambulance, vehicle collide in Kansas City - KA


KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) - Multiple injuries were reported after an ambulance and a vehicle collided.

Several ambulances were ordered to Truman Road and Van Brunt Boulevard. This occurred about 5 p.m. Monday.

Two firefighters and two paramedics were injured and taken to the hospital but none of their injuries were serious.They suffered neck and back pain.

The ambulance was traveling westbound on Truman with lights and sirens when it was hit by a silver vehicle that failed to yield to the emergency vehicle, according to officials at the scene.

The emergency crews were transporting a motorcycle driver who had suffered a leg injury in a crash. The motorcyclist did not suffer any additional injuries in his second crash of the day.

The two adults and two children inside the car were shook up and checked out at the scene. They weren't transported to the hospital via ambulance.

Kansas City Fire Chief Paul Berardi responded to the scene. The air bags in the ambulance deployed when it crashed.
By DeAnn Smith, Digital Content Manager

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May 26, 2015
6 flags found in dumpster behind Tampa fire station - FL

Tampa, Florida -- Six American flags were found in the bottom of a dumpster behind a Tampa fire station on Monday morning.

It happened at Port Tampa Fire Rescue Station 19 on Interbay Boulevard.

Capt. Tom Meid says what they found made them angry.

"We found these six American flags on poles stuffed at the bottom of our dumpster and covered in debris and especially today being Memorial Day, that's not right."

And if it wasn't bad enough that someone threw the flags in a dumpster behind a fire station, this particular fire station borders MacDill Air Force Base in South Tampa.

Meid said they immediately decided to clean up the desecrated flags. "All the people who have sacrificed for that flag and one of our crew members is a Marine, so that kind of had some other added importance ... that this is no way to treat the flag. So we had to take them out and salvage them."

Firefighter Erik Hernandez is that Marine. He says seeing the flag that he loves and fought for treated with such disrespect made him angry .

"From what I saw this morning, flags being in the dumpster covered in flies, paint and whatever else was floating around in there, after we cleaned them, in the wind nice and clean, standing tall. I'm proud ... it's my flag!"

Two of the flags couldn't be salvaged and will be disposed of properly. But the firefighters are hoping that whoever did this, has driven by the fire station and sees the flags flying again.
Jenny Dean /

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May 26, 2015
Judge to rule next month on Harvey fire company theft charges - CA

A state district judge will rule next month on whether the two men in charge of Harvey Volunteer Fire District No. 2 stole public money by spending it lavishly on banquets and conferences and, in the case of one of the men, using it to buy personal items including pricey Oakley sunglasses painted in LSU colors and a genital enlargement device that he invoiced as a “hose coupling.”

Prosecutors with Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick’s office finished making their case last week that Chief Scott Berthelot and Deputy Chief Michael Reason knew they were misappropriating property tax revenue and conspired with each other to do so.

Reason also faces three counts of filing false public records because of the way he accounted for a trio of dubious purchases.

Attorneys for Berthelot and Reason countered that the money that comes in for Fire Protection District No. 6 — about $2.8 million per year — becomes private once it enters the fire company’s coffers. They said the money was all accounted for and spent according to the district’s bylaws, and the documents related to Reason’s purchases are not actually public records.

Both sides wrapped up their closing arguments last week, and 24th Judicial District Court Judge Glenn Ansardi said he will rule on the matter June 18.

The state’s case questioned more than $325,000 in spending between 2007 and 2012.

Prosecutors Cliff Milner and Michael Morales said $162,000 was spent over a four-year period on meals and entertainment alone, with $72,000 of the spending for meals involving purchases that exceeded the department’s allowable limit.

Defense attorneys argued that theft requires specific intent and that neither the parish nor the state Attorney General’s Office has told the company it spends its money improperly.

“They can’t be found guilty of spending money that they thought was appropriate to spend for recruitment and retention,” said Wiley Beevers, who is representing Berthelot.

Beevers pointed to testimony during the case that social functions play a key role in attracting and retaining volunteer firefighters.

He pointed to one of the dozens of checks included on the bill of information charging the two men, noting that it was used for “tools that were bought and put on a fire truck.”

“How in the world is that theft?” he asked.

Prosecutors, however, said the case is not about limiting the ability of volunteer fire departments to hold social functions to recruit new members. It’s about knowing “you shouldn’t spend $6,700 to send five people to a convention in downtown New Orleans,” Morales said.

“This is a classic misappropriation case,” Milner said.

Beevers chided the prosecution’s emphasis on purchases of ribeye steaks for department brass while the rank-and-file ate pot roast, as well as the pink color of the iPod that Berthelot bought for himself using the fire company’s now-discontinued incentive-points program.

He said the $600 watches bought by the department to honor volunteers for 20 years of service amounted to $30 a year, and he asked who would knowingly gather the beneficiaries of theft together, take their picture and send it to everyone.

“Is that theft?” Beevers asked. “Ask yourself what (Berthelot) converted and put in his pocket. Zero.”

Milner presented an ad the fire company put in The Times-Picayune newspaper in support of a 2009 millage renewal. Signed by Berthelot and Reason, the open letter to voters said the millage was for fire prevention and suppression services, to pay for training, wages, matching funds for retirement and renovations to an aging fire station.

“This was the public statement by Scott Berthelot and Michael Reason ... to taxpayers that this is what they were going to use the money for,” Milner said. “This case, Your Honor, is about a bait-and-switch.”

Milner said a charge of conspiracy requires only that two people worked together to break the law, which he said Berthelot and Reason did in their open letter to taxpayers, when Reason signed a contract with the parish to provide fire service, and when they made improper purchases and approved them.

Reason’s defense against the counts of falsifying a public record hinges on whether the documents are legally considered public record.

Prosecutors noted that the documents were handed over to comply with a public-records request, but Reason’s attorney said the department handed over everything it had in order to be cooperative and because it felt it had nothing to hide.

In addition to the $288 genital enlargement device, Reason purchased $147 in fungal ointment and billed it to the fire company as sponges and medical supplies. He billed the $290 Oakley sunglasses as fire goggles.

Reason contends he used the wrong credit card when he bought the penis pump, and his attorney, Chris Edwards, said fighting athlete’s foot and protecting one’s eyes while fighting fires are legitimate expenses, noting the definition of goggles as “protective glasses.”

Morales, however, said the fact that Reason deliberately billed the pump as a hose coupling undermined his excuse that he used the wrong credit card. He said Reason also knew the sunglasses weren’t a billable expense because he had been forced to reimburse the department for a pair of them three years earlier, which is why he billed them as “fire goggles” the next time.

“He clearly misstated what he purchased, and he misstated what he purchased on all three occasions,” he said, noting that Reason reimbursed the money for the fungal cream only after the investigation started.

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May 26, 2015
Local I-Team: Firefighters Behaving Badly - TN

MEMPHIS, TN ( often battle ferocious flames, but documents obtained by the Local I-Team show that in the last two years, over 30 Memphis firefighters have been in trouble with the law.

Thomas Malone of the Memphis Firefighters Association blames the intensity of their jobs.

"We do have these issues where these people are taking these things home," Malone said. "They are self-medicating, they are doing all kinds of wrong things."

Take Memphis firefighter Tommy McDaniel who was found guilty of driving under the influence. His Facebook page now reads "fire, honor, and rescue," but two years ago, police stopped McDaniel after a driver reported him "swerving into the opposing lane of traffic."

"We need a system where they can call and get help. Because they are so proud, they don't want anyone to know that they are having problems or that people think they are weak so they make errors," Malone said.

Firefighter Anderson Fullilove had been "hitting all kinds of stuff" according to an officer affidavit from May 2013.

Police officers noted he had "a heavy odor of intoxicants," "vomit on his chin," and a loaded handgun next to him when he was arrested.

Kevin Vincent was found guilty of DUI in 2004 and left MFD after being re-arrested for reckless driving and DUI in 2014. Bryan Wilson was indicted on statutory rape about a year ago after a 17-year-old female reported she spent the night with him on "10 or more occasions."

Nicholas Johnson was arrested for rape in 2013. MFD documents reflect Johnson saying the interaction was consensual.

And the list goes on. Malone said he believes post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is growing among firefighters, but he is not optimistic there will be a solution soon.

Firefighter landed at the top of this year's list for the most stressful job according to CareerCast. Firefighting ranked number one due to the physical danger, unpredictability, and negative psychological effects of the job.
Maria Hallas /

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May 25, 2015

A man was killed after driving into the rear of a Las Vegas Fire & Rescue apparatus, The accident occurred around 11:30 p.m. Sunday at the intersection of Boulder Highway and South Sandhill Road, according to Metro. The fire engine was turning right from Boulder to Sandhill when it was hit from the rear by a 2002 Chevrolet pickup. The truck had its lights and sirens on and after the accident. Firefighters worked on the pickup driver, a 28-year-old man from Las Vegas, before he was transported to Sunrise Hospital Trauma Center, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

No firefighters were injured. This is the 43rd traffic-related fatality in Metro’s jurisdiction this year. The accident is under investigation.

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May 25, 2015
Woman Charged with Assaulting Firefighter - MA

A New Hampshire woman is facing charges after the allegedly assaulted a firefighter who was trying to assist her on Sunday.

Ingrid Bochman, 61, of Salem, is charged with one count of domestic violence assault and one count of simple assault. She was released on $1,000 personal recognizance bail and is scheduled to appear in Salem District Court on July 13.

Salem Police and Fire responded to Michaelson's home on Old Rockingham Road around 7 p.m. Sunday for an abandoned 911 call. Dispatchers were able to call the residence and spoke with a female occupant who began to make suicidal threats. When police arrived, they learned that the woman had assaulted her husband before calling 911.

As the woman was being treated by fire personnel, she became combative and pushed one of the firefighters, striking him in the chest.

She was taken to a local hospital for evaluation and later arrested.
By Marc Fortier /

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May 25, 2015
Planned Panhandle Ban Would Boot Fla. Firefighters - FL

-WEST PALM BEACH -- Palm Beach County has taken the first step toward getting panhandlers off its streets, tentatively passing a tough new ordinance and setting for June 23 a hearing and a second and final vote.

The proposed ban already has a casualty: the annual Labor Day weekend "Fill the Boot" collection by firefighters on street corners for Muscular Dystrophy.

Firefighters have been doing it for some three decades and lately have averaged more than $100,000 a year. Most of the money goes to some 500 local families.

"We're just going to have to look for an alternative way to raise money besides street corners," said Tara Cardoso, spokeswoman for the Professional Firefighters and Paramedics of Palm Beach County.

The proposed ordinance covers more than just begging. It would ban anyone from standing in the street while soliciting business or donations, selling things or distributing merchandise. The rule would cover only streets and medians, not road shoulders and sidewalks. Violators could be fined up to $500 and spend up to 60 days in jail.

Bans have met constitutional challenges both locally and nationally. Federal and state courts have protected panhandling as free speech but also have upheld restrictions.

But in a memo to commissioners, County Attorney Denise Nieman said a man was killed by a hit-and-run driver earlier this year as he stood on the median at Okeechobee Boulevard at the entrance to Florida's Turnpike. She said the ban "is in the best interests of the health, safety and welfare of the public" and is "narrowly tailored to serve a significant government interest."

Other municipalities "will go further than this, but I think they do so at their own risk in terms of the constitutionality," Commissioner Steven Abrams said.

Tuesday's commission vote was 7-0.

Priscilla Taylor said she'll ultimately oppose the rule unless the county removes the option of jail.

"That's the problem we have in this country. Everybody gets locked up," she said. "Are we going to lock them up because they're panhandling?"

Marlene Everitt, the senior assistant county attorney, told the commission the ban would start with deputies providing information and education and issuing warnings.

"This will not be a wholesale gathering of people to go to jail," she said.

Abrams suggested Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw come, or send representatives, to the June 23 final vote.

"It's certainly not his (Bradshaw) desire to fill up his jails," Abrams said. "The people who need the help should get the help. But by other means."

County Administrator Bob Weisman reminded commissioners some solicitors are anything but broke, but their actions rather are "aggressive solicitations occurring from well-organized persons." Commissioners also commented about groups raising money for sports tournaments or other school field trips, and others deceptively pretending to do so.

Commissioner Melissa McKinlay asked how the county can fine people who are out on the street specifically because they have no money.

"God only knows that in Palm Beach County we should be a leader in trying to solve this problem," County Mayor Shelley Vana said. "We have a homeless resources center so people with major problems can find a place to live, and now we're working on chronic homelessness."

Gregory G. Glenn, an attorney and advocate for seniors and veterans, told the commission, "Let's stop all of us 'playing in the freeways' and pass this law to protect all parties while still offering an alternative manner in which to express and raise funds away from our busy roadways."

Vice Mayor Mary Lou Berger, who's pushed for the new rule, said she understood the concern about running off firefighters.

The union's Cardoso said firefighters were empathetic and that in fact some of them had at times worried about their safety, although none ever has been hurt.

Berger said she met this week with representatives of the union, including president Rick Grau.

"We knew this was coming," she said Grau told her. She said she told him, "I will pledge to you to help you."
Eliot Kleinberg / Source: The Palm Beach Post, Fla.

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May 25, 2015
Charity Collection Display Stolen from Boston Firehouse - MD

A display used to collect money for charity outside a popular Boston fire station was stolen overnight.

Firefighters at Engine 33 and Ladder 15 said the boot and collection box weighed over 50 pounds. It was bolted to the ground between the apparatus bays.

"It's just pretty low what they did," Boston Firefighter Eric Evans told television station WCVB.

Money that was collected at the Boylston Street firehouse went to the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the Walsh-Kennedy Memorial Fund. The memorial fund is in honor of Lt. Ed Walsh and Firefighter Michael Kennedy, who died in a March 2014 blaze.

"They actually came by with a sledgehammer or something and they banged it right out," said Evans.

It is unknown how much money was in the boot and firefighters said that donations on a holiday weekend with high foot traffic tend to be high.
Source: News

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May 24, 2015
Sanford firefighter suffers medical issue en route to fire - ME

SANFORD, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A Sanford firefighter is in the hospital after suffering a medical issue on his way to a fire.

According to Captain Brian Watkins, Sanford was called to Lyman for mutual aid at a structure fire Saturday afternoon.

On the way, the driver of the department's squad truck suffered a medical issue and crashed the truck into a guardrail.

No one else was involved in the crash. The driver was taken to Maine Medical Center where he is listed as stable. His name has not been released.

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May 24, 2015
FDNY Medics Charged with False Reporting - NY

Two FDNY paramedics are accused of falsely reporting their actions on a patient care report.

Daniel Ornstein, 33, and Joseph Farrell, 39, responded to a cardiac arrest on Staten Island in July 2014.

The patient's wife told the medics that he had a do not resuscitate order, but she was unable to find it, the Staten Island Advance reports.

While they performed CPR, the wife showed health care proxy paperwork to the crews. According to policy, they were not allowed to accept it.

Their paperwork indicated that the patient received an endotracheal tube and intravenous medications. According to the criminal complaint, they did neither and they were questions by their supervisor, who arrived after the patient was pronounced dead.

A law enforcement told the newspaper that the two "admitted to it," because they sympathized with the wife.

The supervisor reported the discrepancies, which opened a case with the Department of Investigation.

Farrell and Ornstein were arrested Wednesday, and are charged with first- and second-degree offering a false instrument for filing, and second-degree falsifying business records.

"We believe that these two paramedics did not act in any ill manner or out of personal gain, but rather were driven by compassion to the patient who was terminally ill, and his wife, who was suffering watching him die, and that in the process, the Department of Investigation is accusing them of deviating from department procedure," Local 2507 executive board member George Burbano said.
Source: News

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May 24, 2015
Firefighter dies trying to rescue flood victims - OK

(The Last Call - RIP)

( - Oklahoma City, OK)

( - Oklahoma City, OK)

CLAREMORE, Oklahoma - The Claremore Fire Department has identified the firefighter who died while rescuing residents from a duplex.

The department says Jason Farley, a nearly 20-year veteran of the fire department, drowned when he stepped into a storm drain.

Claremore Fire Chief Sean Douglas said Captain Farley was attempting to rescue residents on Archer Court and Highway 20 on the west side of town.

Douglas said another firefighter attempted to rescue Captain Farley. That firefighter was taken to the hospital to be checked out. Douglas said Farley's death is a tragic loss for the department and the city of Claremore.

His body was recovered around 1 a.m.

First responders in Claremore were busy all night with calls related to floodwater assistance.

Drivers are urged to stay off the roads during the flash flooding event.

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May 24, 2015
Two Gastonia firefighters injured while battling house fire - NC

Two Gastonia firefighters were injured late Thursday night as they tried to escape harm after fire engulfed them and others on the second floor of a home.

“It could have been a lot worse,” Gastonia Fire Chief Phil Welch said Friday. “The ceiling dropped down, which allowed the fire to engulf the firefighters.

“We take it for granted a lot of times. This is the type of fire we go to every day,” Welch added. “There’s a science to fire and often we can predict it, but sometimes there’s an unseen.”

Both Marco Gonzalez, an eight-year veteran of the department, and Jamie Weyant, a 13-year veteran, were treated at CaroMont Regional Medical Center

Gonzalez, 53, injured his knee and was released from the hospital around 2 a.m. Friday. He’ll have to specialist next week to determine further treatment, Welch said.

Weyant’s injuries were more serious. Weyant, 41, injured his neck and back and was admitted to the hospital.

Both men are expected to fully recover, Welch said.

When fire surrounded them, Gonzalez and Weyant, along with four other firefighters, were getting out of the house down the stairs when they fell. One or more other firefighters fell on Weyant, Welch said.

The other firefighters were able to help Gonzalez and Weyant escape from the house.

Firefighters were called to 3025 Courtland Drive at 10:08 p.m. Thursday for the fire. When firefighters arrived they could see smoke and flames coming from the rear portion of the two-story home, according to Chris Stowe, a spokesman for Gastonia Fire Department.

Gastonia firefighters encountered heavy fire on the second floor of the home after entering.

Twenty-fire firefighters responded to the blaze that started on the outside of the house due to discarded cigarettes, Welch said.

The cigarettes had apparently been tossed away in a plastic flower pot. But pillows and other combustible material helped fuel a fire hours later, Welch said.

Smokers should always either use ashtrays and make sure their cigarettes are out, he said.

The people who live at the home were not there at the time of the fire.

An estimated $80,000 in damages was caused by the fire.

Firefighters were able to rescue multiple dogs from the fire.
By Kevin Ellis /

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May 24, 2015
Fire medics pronounce man dead, hour later he started breathing, moving limbs - MN

MILWAUKEE — A man was pronounced dead after collapsing at his Milwaukee apartment, but began to move his limbs as he was about to be taken to the morgue, authorities say.

The girlfriend of the 46-year-old man had not been able to reach him for two days, and called police Tuesday asking for an officer to check on him. An officer went to the man's home and entered his apartment with the building manager. The man, identified by relatives as Thomas Sancomb, had collapsed at the end of his bed, according to the heavily redacted report from the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner. The officer called 911.

Paramedics from the Milwaukee Fire Department said Sancomb was "cold to the touch and in rigor," and they did not attempt to resuscitate him, the report said.

Sancomb was pronounced dead at 2:10 p.m. at the apartment, forensic investigator Genevieve M. Penn wrote in the report. Penn then called Sancomb's brother, John Sancomb, to inform him of the death and the brother requested an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

A transport team arrived to take the body to the morgue, but at about 3 p.m., Thomas Sancomb had "spontaneous respirations" and began moving his left arm and right leg, but no pulse was evident, Penn wrote. She summoned paramedics back to the apartment and called the family.

Sancomb's pulse returned and he was rushed to Columbia St. Mary's Hospital in Milwaukee. His diagnosis at the hospital was redacted from the report. Hospital spokesman Evan Solochek said no information could be disclosed because of federal privacy laws.

John Sancomb told the medical examiner that his brother had a drink and a cigar every once in a while, but did not use street drugs. Sancomb said he last saw his brother two weeks ago and was concerned that he wasn't walking well, the report said.

He told The Associated Press that his brother is improving every day.

"Thomas' health is the most important thing we're focusing on right now," he said, declining to talk further about the incident.

The medical examiner's office declined to comment on the case. The Milwaukee Police Department said only that officers responded to a welfare check and found the man unresponsive in a bedroom. Milwaukee Fire Department Lt. Mark Stanmeyer referred questions to fire officials, who rejected a request to speak to the lieutenant who responded to the apartment.
By Gretchen Ehlke / The Associated Press

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May 22, 2015
No ladies rooms in many Buffalo firehouses - NY

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Most Buffalo Fire houses were built about a hundred years ago.

They never accounted for the possibility of female firefighters, and they were built with a common shower area, and one bathroom for the men to use.

Times have changed, and on Tuesday a few of the 24 female Buffalo firefighters came to the Common Council’s Finance Committee meeting to explain the need to retro-fit fourteen of the City’s firehouses to include a place where women can shower and use the facilities in private.

Dawn Kunz has been on the Buffalo Fire Department for nineteen years and says she has just dealt with waiting until all the guys are done. “The facilities are usually inside where the men’s shower is, so it’s like a little awkward. You can’t take a shower there definitely, but just to go to the bathroom, you have to knock or make sure nobody’s in there.”

Thomas Barrett, president of the Buffalo Professional Firefighters Union Local 282 points out how important it is for women to not have to wait to take a shower. He says many of the chemicals that get on your skin after fighting a fire can be cancer causing, and it’s healthier for firefighters to be able to shower as soon as they get back to quarters.

Buffalo Common Council member Christopher Scanlon has sponsored a resolution calling on the Public Works Department to begin designing a plan to retro-fit the old fire houses to include separate showering and bathroom facilities. He says the cost would be in the millions and it won’t all happen this year, but his hope is to complete the job incrementally, and possibly seek State or Federal grants to defray the cost to the City.
By George Richert, News 4 Reporter

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May 22, 2015
Choice of Convicted Felon as NY Volunteer Department Chief Raises Questions - NY

Some New York residents are questioning the choice of a convicted armed robber to lead a local volunteer department on Long Island, while the man who served time for the felony says the hard road back has helped him better serve his community, NBC 4 New York's I-Team has learned.

Elmont Fire Department Chief Robert Schriefer, 40, served three years in jail for a 1998 armed robbery in North Long Beach. The felony complaint says Schriefer, then 23 years old, helped two other men steal cash from patrons of a bar while they were "armed with a handgun."

Schriefer, a long-time volunteer firefighter whose family has served Elmont for generations, described his crime in an email to the I-Team as "a significant mistake -- one that I regret deeply."

He said volunteer firefighting has been a kind of restitution, in his eyes, to those he hurt and the larger community.

“For me, that incident was a wake-up call and I have since committed myself to living a positive and productive life, including dedicating hundreds of hours each year to responding to aid my neighbors at fires and emergencies," Schriefer said.

Bylaws for the Elmont district explicitly state that convicted felons are not eligible to become active members of its volunteer fire department.

"Any person .. who is a convicted felon, or who has been convicted of such lesser crimes which shall, in the opinion of the Board of Fire Commissioners, demonstrate lack of good moral character required of a Volunteer Firefighter, shall not be eligible to become an active member in the Elmont Fire Department,” the bylaws state.

Joseph Frank, an attorney for the Elmont Fire Department, told the I-Team bylaws that provide a blanket ban on felon applications are not enforceable under state law unless the crime was arson.

“Article 23-A of the Correction Law require that fire districts and other employers apply a prescribed process to review the prior criminal convictions of applicants and are not permitted to automatically exclude an applicant for membership based upon a criminal conviction that is not an arson conviction," Frank wrote in an email to the I-Team.

A former Elmont firefighter, Beatrice Lozada, who sued the department for sexual harassment told the I-Team she recalls past applicants being turned down because of their criminal records. In her former position of company secretary, Lozada said she knew of at least two men denied membership in the volunteer department because of their rap sheets.

The Elmont Fire District declined to specifically discuss Lozada's allegations that applicants in the past have been turned away based on previous crimes. The department said criminal records are only one factor taken into consideration in the application process.

“We attempt to do a full assessment of the applicant and give each applicant a fair chance to serve their community,” said Elmont Fire Commissioner Joseph Balletta.

Some local residents told the I-Team the prior armed robbery conviction should bar Schriefer from serving as fire chief, in line with the intent of the bylaws of the department. Others said Schriefer served his time and deserved a second chance, but the magnitude of the felony for which he was convicted was too great to give him a position of such authority.

The controversy over Schriefer's appointment follows a series of issues connected to the Elmont Fire Department.

In 2011, several department logos portraying what appeared to be Confederate flags prompted accusations of racism. Later that year, the New York Comptroller's office published an audit describing inappropriate credit card use in the fire district. An I-Team investigation also found the Elmont Fire Department spent thousands of tax dollars on specialized race cars for drill team competitors.
By Chris Glorioso /

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May 22, 2015
Toledo FD Votes No Confidence in Chief - OH

Toledo's union firefighters have voted no confidence in the city's fire chief.

By a vote of 319-46 members of Local 92, which represents privates, lieutenants, and captains, said they don't have faith in Chief Luis Santiago.

The issue was put before the whole membership after the required 10 percent of membership signed a petition seeking a vote. Firefighters voted Monday and today.

Jeff Romstadt, president of the union, said at the conclusion of voting tonight it was "premature to make any statements." Instead, he said he would discuss the meaning of results at an 11 a.m. Wednesday news conference at the union headquarters.

Mr. Romstadt said the results will be presented to Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson and city council. The mayor backed the chief in statements preceding the vote.

"I would like to make it clear, I have full confidence in Chief Luis Santiago and his ability to provide service and protection to the citizens of Toledo," she said.

Mr. Romstadt tonight called the vote "an historical event," and said it was the first-ever vote of its kind in Toledo's history.

Chief Santiago has led the department since July, 2011. The union has criticized the chief for department policy changes cited in a report from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health which was issued after the January, 2014, deaths of two firefighters.

Chief Santiago said last week the vote follows a disagreement with a small faction of the department.

"The vote is really inconsequential to me, because I understand how a vote like that takes place. It isn't truly representative of all the members of this department," Chief Santiago said.
Source: The Blade, Toledo, Ohio

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May 22, 2015

Investigators are trying to figure out if a man may have been impaired during a rear-end collision with a Grand Rapids fire truck overnight.

It happened just before 1 a.m. Friday near the corner of Burton Street and the East Beltline Ave. SE while firefighters were on the scene of another crash.

A fire department battalion chief says the man, who is being called "a habitual drunk driver," drove through cones and into the back of a truck, which had its emergency lights flashing.

He was taken to the hospital and treated for his injuries. But no firefighters were hurt in the crash.

"It was kind of a close call for some of our people here," says Battalion Chief Dan Stoddard. "We were very fortunate that no one was hurt. we actually had a firefighter who had to run towards the woods because there as the car was coming in."

The people involved in the original accident were not badly hurt.

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May 22, 2015
FIREFIGHTER CAUTION: First of its kind drug lab found inside a home - OH

A welfare check of a 4-year-old girl in Akron led to a chemical drug lab that is likely the first of its kind in the state of Ohio, according to Akron police.Police responded to 760 Silvercrest Avenue in Akron's Kenmore neighborhood to check on a 4-year-old girl around 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Once at the home, officers could smell marijuana from outside in the driveway. According to Lieutenant Brian Simcox, when the officers approached the home a woman came to the door and told them they would need a search warrant to enter the home and check for the girl.

Police went to a judge who signed the search warrant and they entered the home around 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Once inside the home police immediately found a large amount of chemicals and equipment used in chemical drug manufacturing. Simcox said that he and other veteran officers could not identify the chemicals and had to call a BCI chemist to help with processing the scene.

Most of the chemicals are used to manufacture hallucinogens like LSD and Ecstasy, Simcox said, but until the drugs can be tested they could not identify most of what they found inside the home.

"We did find a large bag of sassafras root which is an endangered bark that is used for hallucinogen drugs," Simcox told

As the night went on 8 officers worked to carry out the drugs and drug manufacturing equipment until the entire front yard was filled with drugs, chemical containers and drug making materials.

"According to what we are being told by our BCI chemist this is very unusual for Akron, let alone the state," Simcox said that in his nearly 20 years he has never seen anything quite this elaborate.

A man and a woman were arrested and warrants will be filed for at least two others that were not home. Police said the 4-year-old girl was not in the home when they conducted their search warrant but she was located and is said to be OK.

Simcox also told that 4 officers including himself were told by Akron Hazmat crews that they would need to go to the hospital to be checked out after cleaning up the lab because they entered the home unprotected expecting just a marijuana operation and were exposed to the chemicals.

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May 22, 2015
One injured in 2-alarm fire in Camden - NJ

(FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV)

CAMDEN, N.J. - Fire crews responded to a second alarm fire in Camden Friday morning.

The fire broke out in a 3-story building on Kaighn Avenue in Camden.

Both Camden Fire Department and Pennsauken Fire Department crews arrived to battle the blaze.

Currently, the crews seem to have most of the flames out of control; however, smoke continues to fill the air around the building.

Reportedly, one firefighter was rescued from inside the building with minor injuries.

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May 22, 2015
Columbus Fire Truck Hits Billboard Causing $255K in Damage - OH

(hoto credit: Columbus Division of Fire)

A brand new Columbus fire engine had a scrape with a billboard causing more than $250,000 damage to the apparatus that had been in service less than a week.

According to a newspaper article published by The Columbus Dispatch, city officials are scratching their heads trying to figure out why a firefighter drove under the well-lit billboard, which is about the size of a semi-truck in an empty downtown parking lot. The mishap occurred in early March at about 8 p.m. one evening and is being reviewed by the Columbus Fire Division, according to the newspaper.

The engine, which cost $550,000, was being operated by Firefighter Brian Murphy who said he was trying to get to other firefighters and paramedics who were helping a patient in an alley, the newspaper reported. He told investigators he didn’t notice anything warning him about the billboard or low clearance. He tried to drive under it and stopped when he heard lights breaking.

It appears the apparatus was half way, or more under the structure when it finally stopped.

The impact heavily dented the cab’s roof, ripped of several lights, damaged the pump and destroyed hose and tools carried on the truck, according to the paper. It also appears, from the photos, the impact tore off the deck gun which might explain the damage to the pump.

Murphy told investigators he wasn’t familiar with the new pumper and the new, smaller windshield design impaired his peripheral vision, the newspaper reported. The city is planning to repair the vehicle and will use funds from the department’s capital reserve funds to cover the quarter of a million dollar price tag, according to the news report.

When it does go back in service, city officials are not sure they want to put it back in the downtown station, claiming they are frustrated by the crash. An older engine might be assigned to the station, the paper reported.

Columbus reportedly investigates about 10 fire truck crashes per month including taillight and mirror breaks, the paper reported.

The collision with the billboard remains under internal investigation.
Source: News

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May 22, 2015
Methuen mayor plans cuts to proposed fire budget - MA

METHUEN — With a fire engine retired last year and an ambulance ready to be taken out of serivce, Methuen Fire Chief Steven Buote has submitted a long list of needs to the City Council and the mayor.

The document outlines a capital improvement plan to be carried out over seven years, but the fiscal year beginning in July has already become a sticking point. Mayor Stephen Zanni said he is looking to cut the department's proposed $2.6 million budget for next year by at least half, and possibly more.

"We’re doing business today in a way that we have never done business before because of the lack of dependable equipment," Fire Chief Steven Buote said Tuesday, prior to a Wednesday meeting with Zanni about his plan.

He could not be reached Thursday to comment on the meeting.

The list of the department's immediate needs, as described by Buote, include a new pumper truck that would cost $550,000. The truck would replace one the department stopped using last year because of severe damage to its frame. When that truck was retired, the department's reserve engine was put into service. That means the department currently has no backup truck if the pumper is out of the city or out of service due to maintenance.

Zanni said he is hoping to lease the new pumper truck with the intention of buying it down the road, which would cost about $60,000 per year.

"Luckily, we haven’t had an incident that has had a severely negative (outcome), but when we send an engine next door for mutual aid, and then we’re down to two engines covering the city, and that’s a significant concern," Buote said.

The engines that remain are aging, which is why Buote also requested $1.25 million for a new ladder truck. It would replace a 20-year-old truck currently in use by the department. In his proposal, Buote calls the truck a "maintenance nightmare" which has been "out of service more than it has been in service" for the last five years.

Zanni said he is hoping to postpone that purchase if possible, but is also willing to consider a bond to finance the truck.

"You can’t just bond over 10 years, then 10 years from now you’re faced with the same issue again," he said. "(Not purchasing a new truck) is a big concern too, because ... if it’s on its last leg and it goes next year, then we have no ladder truck."

Zanni is also looking to replace the $260,000 ambulance requested by the department with a $150,000 model he says would be sufficient for the city's needs. The cheaper truck would also eliminate the need to modify the garage doors of the Central Fire Station, a $250,000 expense listed in Buote's proposed budget.

Like the firetrucks, Buote says, the ambulances are approaching the end of their useful lives. The department's oldest ambulance is a 2004 model with more than 100,000 miles on it that Buote says is frequently in the shop and has broken down with a patient inside.

"This has been put off for so many years, We’re now at a point where we have to replace a lot all at once," he said. "It's a huge dollar amount. However, you put it off until next year, you’re still in the same predicament."

Zanni said he is working to balance the needs of all of the city's departments in a citywide capital improvement plan. Of the city's three largest departments -- fire, police and public works -- the fire department's request is by far the largest. Over seven years, it calls for $14 million.

In March, the Department of Public Works presented an $8 million five-year capital plan, and the police department submitted a $3.6 million request.

Zanni expects to have his recommendations for next fiscal year prepared by the middle of next week, he said. The mayor's budget goes to the City Council for review in June.
By Lauren DiTullio

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May 22, 2015
Eleven firefighters left Millington fire department - TN

MILLINGTON, Tenn. — The Millington Fire Department said they were having trouble keeping its firefighters.

Eleven left the force in just the past six months.

That’s a lot for a town Millington’s size.

The chief said he was losing men to bigger cities nearby.

Millington city leaders said money was too tight and they simply couldn’t compete.

“We’ve lost four to Memphis, three to Atoka, one to an ambulance company and I had a couple that got out fire service completely,” said Fire Chief Gary Graves.

Folks we talked to were worried about their safety.

“It’s scary. I would hate to lose good firefighters,” aid Shawna Bell who lived in Millington.

Bell, who moved to the area three years ago, said having fewer firefighters made her wonder if the ones left would be able to respond quickly.

“I understand the budget is tight here as well as other places so hopefully we’ll be able to give them what they need or what they’re asking for so we’ll be able to keep good workers,” she said.

Graves told WREG losing firefighters wasn’t going to impact the response time, but it was going to have some type of impact in the department.

“Even though we’re short 11 people, that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to fill all those slots too, because of some internal stuff that we’re doing internally to reorganize the department,” he said.

Graves said it wasn’t clear at this time how many firefighters he’ll bring on board.

It’s something he and city leaders were still talking about.

People who lived there hoped it’s enough to keep them safe.

“I hope that someone is listening in a responsible position that could do something to make sure we take care of our firemen because they take care of us,” said Robert Burdette.

Graves said although they lost a number of firefighters, the city doesn’t plan to close any fire stations.

In February, WREG first told you the department was worried about possibly closing at least one firehouse because it was expecting to lose firefighters.

Graves said firefighters were working overtime as well.
by Siobhan Riley /

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May 22, 2015
4 Firefighters Hurt After Plunging Through Roof of Burning Casino - CA

Four firefighters were injured after falling through a roof while battling a blaze in Cudahy late Thursday. Jane Yamamoto reports for Today in LA on Friday, May 22, 2015.
(By Jeff Scharping)

Four firefighters were injured after falling through a roof while battling a blaze in Cudahy late Thursday.

They were hurt while fighting a three-alarm fire at the abandoned Club Caribe Casino at Atlantic Avenue and Clara Street at around 11:38 p.m, a Los Angeles County Fire Department spokesman said.

They were cutting a hole in the roof to release hot gases when it collapsed below them, and they plunged 30 feet to the floor below.

An official said the firefighters have been transported to the USC Medical Center for treatment. One suffered moderate injuries. while three other sustained minor injuries. They are each in stable condition.

The cause of the fire is has yet to be determined, and firefighters finally called a knock down on the blaze at 2:42 a.m.

Cudahy is the second smallest city in LA County in terms of area, just ahead of Hawaiian Gardens.Four firefighters were injured when they fell through a roof of an abandoned casino while battling a blaze in Cudahy Thursday evening.

Crews responded to a fire at the Club Caribe Casino on the 7600 block of Atlantic Avenue shortly after 11:30 p.m.

As they tried to release hot gases in the building caused by the fire, by cutting a hole in the roof, they were sent plummeting 30 feet to the ground below them when the roof collapsed.

Four firefighters were transported to a USC medical center, Supervisor Michael Pittman said, with the Los Angeles County Fire Department. One of the firefighters suffered moderate injuries. while three others sustained minor injuries.

One firefighter remained hospitalized Friday morning in stable condition in a burn unit while the other three were released.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. It was knocked down at 2:42 a.m.
By Michael Larkin and Kevin LaBeach /

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May 19, 2015
Two Jailed in Cabot Volunteer Firehouse Burglary - AR

A man and woman have been arrested after Pulaski County Sheriff Deputies caught them burglarizing a volunteer fire station in Cabot.

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May 19, 2015
Firefighter Injured by Falling Ceiling - TN

A Chattanooga firefighter was injured Sunday morning when a ceiling fell on him as he battled a residential fire.

The injured man was treated and released at Erlanger hospital and will spend some days recovering at home, Chattanooga Fire Department spokesman Bruce Garner said in a news release. The firefighter's name was not released.

Five fire crews responded when a duplex fire at 202 Glenwood Circle was reported at 10:30 a.m. Garner said by the time they arrived, one side of the duplex was ablaze and flames had broken through the roof.

The occupants, Walter Hurt Jr. and Stephanie Smith, were home. Smith told firefighters she was cooking breakfast when she saw smoke coming from the kitchen cabinets and the air conditioning vents. They picked up their dog, Quejoe, and quickly got out of the house. The occupant of the other duplex escaped unharmed as well.

As firefighters went inside with hoses, a plaster ceiling in a bedroom fell and hit one man on the head and back.

The crews helped the injured man out and withdrew, some attacking the blaze with a deck gun while others protected neighboring structures. The fire was under control in about 20 minutes, Garner said. No estimate on the dollar loss was available, but the damage was extensive. Two cars were also badly damaged or destroyed.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, Garner said.
Source: Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn.

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May 19, 2015
Firefighter Suffers Cardiac Arrest After Shock at Scene - MI

CROCKERY TOWNSHIP -- A Crockery Township man died and two firefighters responding to his aid were injured -- one seriously -- in an incident shortly before 6 p.m. Monday in the 11800 block of Apple Drive.

Emergency crews were called at about 5:45 p.m. when the 43-year-old man's wife arrived home from work and found her husband unresponsive in the yard, Capt. John Wolffis of the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department said.

It appeared that the man had been operating a lift vehicle, raised the arm of the vehicle and hit a primary power line, Wolffis said.

It was unknown how long he had been down, as his wife said he had stayed home that day to work on the house.

Five Crockery Township firefighters arrived within five minutes of the call for help, went immediately to the injured man, hooked up an AED and started patient care, Wolffis said.

One firefighter repositioned himself and received a shock from the nearby lift vehicle. The shock threw him against another firefighter, who also suffered a slight shock.

Wolffis said that one of the firefighters had an older AED unit in his car, which was used to bring a pulse back on the firefighter who went into cardiac arrest after being shocked.

"The last report was that he was talking at the hospital," Woffis said.

The 38-year-old firefighter has been with the department for four years.

The second firefighter, 49, a 30-year veteran with the department, continued to work on the original victim and sought his own treatment.

Police declined to release any of the victim's names at the scene.

Consumers Energy workers responded to the scene and turned off the power and moved the lift away from the power lines. They were able to then restore power, said Wolffis.

The officer said it was a miracle that the wife didn't get shocked, considering she touched the vehicle in an attempt to shut it off
Becky Vargo / Source: Grand Haven Tribune, Mich.

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May 19, 2015
Homeowner dead, 2 firefighters injured from electric shock - MI

CROCKERY TOWNSHIP, MI -- Two firefighters suffered electric shock while rendering aid to a homeowner who went into cardiac arrest and was later pronounced dead Monday.

Crockery Township firefighters were called to a home in the 11800 block of Apple Drive about 5:50 p.m. Monday, May 18. The homeowner's wife had returned home from work and found him suffering from cardiac arrest.

The 43-year-old man was lying in the grass in the front yard next to a SkyTrak lift, which he had been using to work on his home.

The lift's boom was raised and touching a power line when five firefighters arrived about five minutes later.

Ottawa County Sheriff's Capt. John Wolffis said the firefighters immediately began setting up an automated external defibrillator in an attempt to revive the man. At that point, one firefighter stepped near a front tire of the lift and was shocked.

"He didn't actually touch it," Wolffis said. "The power kind of arced over to him."

That firefighter fell onto another firefighter, who suffered a minor shock.

The firefighter who was shocked initially, a 38-year-old man, went into cardiac arrest at the scene. Firefighters used a second AED to administer two shocks and then located his pulse, Wolffis said.

Crews continued to try to revive the homeowner, who was pronounced dead at the scene. The cause of death appears to be electrocution. Authorities do not know when the man was injured.

The 38-year-old firefighter was transported to an area hospital, where he is awake and talking Monday night, Wolffis said. His injuries are considered serious.

He has been with the department for four years.

The firefighter who suffered the secondary shock was treated and released from the hospital. The 49-year-old has worked for the department for 30 years.
By Angie Jackson |

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May 19, 2015
Past Washington Paramedics, Firefighters Vent Frustrations - WA

MOSES LAKE—Past Moses Lake city firefighter/paramedics shared frustrations with morale, respect and safety in letters written to the EMS Task Force. Two of the four letters were dated March 9 and 12 of this year. City Manager Joe Gavinski was fired March 24.

The former employees were asked why they left the department, explained Troy Hesse, of the city firefighters union. The question originally came up during a city council retreat when employee turnover in another city department was discussed.

Some turnover issues in that department included the newer generation of employees changing jobs infrequently and moving around a lot, Hesse said.

"As firefighters, we didn't think that was necessarily true of the people who had left (the fire department)," Hesse said.

He mentioned frustrations regarding respect or the evaluation of the department's services from city leaders.

The four letters were obtained by the Columbia Basin Herald through the state's Open Public Records Act. The writers' names were withheld to maintain their privacy.

One former firefighter/paramedic said the start of the ambulance service in Moses Lake "was an exciting time in the beginning."

"The city (Joe Gavinski) was in a contract dispute with the fire union. When a decision was to be made by the arbitrator, Joe sent a final proposal and a threat that there will be layoffs if we turned it down. We settled because the new paramedics that were just hired three months earlier didn't want to lose their job. This was the first of several threats made over the years during contract negotiations," he wrote in part.

The same employee wrote of concerns about having personnel provide out-of-town transports and then using off-duty personnel to come into work.

"This is a great way to burn your people out," the employee wrote. Then on the next trip no one comes in to back fill and now you're short staffed. Being short staffed now brings up safety issues to fire fighting or EMS call to the citizens. It was all about the money. People tend not to worry about safety when it's about the money."

A second former employee wrote most training attempts were interrupted with out-of-town transports.

"There were many days when we had six transports or more," he wrote. "When these occurred it pulled our staffing away from the city and taxpayers. The lack of focus on our community during these times was very worrisome for the line guys. Our complaints about the transports were much more than not wanting to take a trip out of town, but for the pure consideration of our community," the former employee wrote in part.

A third former employee also mentioned concerns about out-of-town transports and using two firefighters a day for that purpose. A total of seven firefighters are staffed per day.

"I could not work for the city when they value their profits over safety and refuse to have the vision or grow with current industry standards," he said.

In a separate April 6 email obtained by the Herald, a medic's mother-in-law asked Councilmember David Curnel about the status of her son-in-law's promotion. She also asked about her son-in-law's use of sick leave to care for his wife and newborn. She wrote she had never seen a city or employer that doesn't allow their employees to use sick leave for that purpose.

"We are aware of the situation," Curnel replied. "It will be dealt with in an appropriate manner. Mr. Gavinski is no longer city manager as of today."
Lynne Lynch / Source: Columbia Basin Herald, Moses Lake, Wash.

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May 19, 2015
Man runs into fire truck while driving under the influence - KY

LOUISVILLE (WHAS11) -- Louisville Metro Police arrested a man they said was drunk when he ran into a fire truck.

Police said the fire truck was stopped, responding to an accident, when Demetrius Buford crashed into it.

It happened Saturday morning, May 18, on Dixie Highway, near Standard Avenue--in the Park Hill neighborhood.

No one was hurt but Buford failed several field sobriety tests, according to police. He's charged with DUI and not having insurance.

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May 19, 2015
Illinois River VFD airboat sinks after training exercise goes sour - IL

Firefighters of the Illinois River Area Volunteer Fire Department participate in a 2014 airboat training with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. The department’s boat, pictured here during last year’s training, sank in the river last week while firefighters were training new members on how to use the vessel
(Daily Press file photo)

Oklahoma Highway Patrol’s dive team and Welling firefighters worked with members of the Illinois River Area Volunteer Fire Department Friday to remove the IRAVFD’s sunken airboat from the river after a training exercise went sour.

IRAVFD firefighter and board member Jerry Hammons said the boat went down during training operations about a half-mile upstream from Sparrow Hawk Camp.

“We’d been doing training all week, training new guys to operate the airboat,” Hammons said. “The current was too strong coming around a bend, and it washed the boat into a logjam. When it went into the logjam, the water rush from the boat running down the river came up over the boat. The backwash came in and sank it at that time.”

Only two people were on the airboat at the time, Hammons said, and neither were injured. Both were wearing their life jackets.

The OHP and Welling firefighters – who have their own flat-bottom vessel – met Friday morning and traveled to the site of the crash. Hammons said it took much of the day and the help of cables, ropes, chains, and a bulldozer, to pull the boat out.

“Initially it was partially submerged on its side, and in the process of getting it out, it became tangled up in some brush, and pretty much fully submerged,” Hammons said.

The airboat’s cage, which surrounds the prop, and what Hammons called the “headache rack,” were damaged, but the boat is being repaired. If no major issues are discovered, Hammons said the airboat should be operational and back on the river in time for the Memorial Day holiday.

Hammons said he turned in a $3,000 insurance estimate for the damage.

The IRAVFD has had an airboat for several years, and though there was previously only one operator trained for the vessel, the OHP recently trained about a half dozen of the firefighters. Those qualified pilots have trained others, according to Hammons, who is one of the qualified operators

“We were doing the training to get ready for summer floating business,” he said. “On holidays and summer weekends, that boat may go out four or five times a day. We use it for water rescues, medical calls on the river, we use it for searches when someone goes missing on the river, and occasionally, law enforcement will use it if they need to go up river.”

Hammons said he and others from the IRAVFD were “proud” to have help from the OHP and Welling firefighters in removing the airboat from the river Friday.
by Josh Newton /

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May 19, 2015
Drat, there are rats in a Tampa fire station - FL

TAMPA — Firefighters working in one of the city’s oldest fire stations have complained about mold and an infestation of rats in the building where they work and sleep.

For up to nine months, Firefighters at Station No. 10 on North 34th Street reported regularly hearing rats scamper in the space between the first and second floor. Parts of the station also had a foul smell of rat urine.

Rat droppings would regularly fall from a loose ceiling tile when a bathroom door was opened, according to a complaint given by a firefighter to Councilwoman Lisa Montelione. Firefighters also had to throw out food after rats invaded food lockers. Photos taken by a firefighter show stained ceiling tiles and 3 dead rats in a glue board trap.

“I do understand that the tiles shouldn’t be replaced until the rats are completely gone but continuing to be showered with feces doesn’t seem like a fair option either,” the firefighter wrote in a complaint.

City officials said the station was inspected by a pest control firm last month, the fourth time since November that the firm has treated the infestation. Glue board traps were laid and city facilities workers recently cut back nearby trees that may have provided a route for rats to enter the roof of the station.

Stained ceiling tiles have been removed and the station is scheduled to have all its tiles replaced over the next few months, Public Affairs Director Ali Glisson said.

“We have had no complaints from those working at the station since April,” she said.

City records show that the two-story brick station built in 1928 has also suffered from mold in the past.

Mold was detected in the Captain’s quarters and a bathroom in 2013. An inspection found elevated levels of Cladosporium and memnoniella spores in drywall.

Cladosporium only rarely causes health issues to humans but can cause several different types of infections, including skin, eye, sinus, and brain infections, according to the Centers for Disease Controls. It has also been associated with allergies and asthma.

Memnoniella can cause throat irritation, eye and nose itchiness and rashes and affect people with asthma.

The mold was the result of a leak, Glisson said and was treated. Subsequent tests for mold were negative.

The city conducted another test for mold on Friday and is awaiting results from that.

“We do air quality tests as needed as well as whenever someone vocalizes a concern,” Glisson said.

Montelione said conditions must be bad for firefighters to complain as they tend to be the type that just get on with the job.

“I don’t believe any of the council members want to see these types of conditions for the people who put their lives on the line for us every day,” she said.

Councilman Guido Maniscalco said he plans to visit the fire station himself to see firsthand the conditions there. He said the city may have to look at hiring a roofer if the problem persists.

“At least the city is taking steps, but if the problem is not solved, there are other things we can do,” he said

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May 18, 2015
Frightened FDNY Firefighter Worries Colleagues - NY

He’s a firefighter in name only.

Michael D. Johnson won’t fight fires. Instead, he stays on the sidelines as his Engine Company 257 colleagues rush into burning buildings, FDNY insiders told The Post.

Nicknamed “Tragic Johnson” by the rank and file, he’s managed to evade the smoke and flames several times since joining the Canarsie, Brooklyn, firehouse last year, sources confirmed.

“To have a guy that you know to be afraid is not going to be there for you when you need him to be — it’s frightening,” said one FDNY source.

The latest fright unfolded April 2 at a three-alarm blaze on East 78th Street, when Johnson’s irked captain radioed a “mayday” after discovering Johnson was AWOL, sources said. He had been assigned as “backup” to the nozzle man carrying the hose into the burning two-story building.

That left just two firefighters — the first and a third — to haul the heavy hose up a long staircase and spray water on the flames.

A photo obtained by The Post shows Johnson at the curb next to an FDNY vehicle while fellow firefighters march up steps into a house engulfed in black smoke.

Johnson told his colleagues that he’d returned to the fire truck to refill his air tank, a source said.

But sources said he never entered the blaze and should not have run low on air.

“It can’t be ignored,” another department source said of the probie firefighter’s repeated absences. “If they ignore it, some civilian will end up injured or killed, or a fireman will be injured or killed.”

“Everyone is concerned about working with him,” said a third source. “We’re concerned for our safety, but we’re also concerned for his safety.”

But department members are afraid to openly complain or criticize Johnson, who is black, because he was hired under a court order to increase minority hiring in the FDNY.

Johnson, 41, a former city EMT who earned two medals on that job, was among 282 “priority hires” — applicants passed over in 1999 or 2000 as a result of discrimination, a federal judge ruled.

His June 2, 2014, graduation class of 286 probationary firefighters was hailed as the most diverse in FDNY history — 24 percent Hispanic, 17 percent black and with four women.

While most priority hires — including others at Engine 257 — have become outstanding firefighters, sources said, Johnson has fumbled. It took him three attempts to pass the Fire Academy, they said, and he has been sent back for retraining twice. “He’s a nice enough person, but he’s certainly lacking in the ability to put himself in harm’s way,” one source said.

The fire boss who radioed the “mayday” — a rare code used only to signal that a firefighter is lost in a blaze or in distress — knew Johnson had stayed outside but wanted to document his absence on the recorded transmissions, sources said.

Shortly after the incident, a chief sent a letter to the Brooklyn division describing concerns about Johnson, a source said.

The department confirmed Saturday that the April 2 mayday resulted in an official department order to retrain Johnson.

After his weeklong retraining, a source said, Johnson indicated he didn’t want to return to the Canarsie firehouse but was ordered by department brass to do so.

“The department seems to not want to give a f–k about any of this because they want to fill their quota,” the source added.

Reached at his home on Saturday, Johnson refused to answer questions about his performance or address the complaints, saying he was not authorized by the FDNY to speak.

Of the mayday, he said only, “The captain never said anything to me. I have to go to my station and ask them what they’re talking about. So many things could be said and not be true.”

Johnson saw his salary soar from the $44,520 he made as an EMT in 2008 to $76,488 last year as a firefighter, according to See Through New York data.

Johnson would not address reports he took several days of medical leave for stress following the April 2 fire and several months’ medical leave after a fire in a six-story apartment building on Rockaway Parkway last July 4th weekend.

Insiders insisted they were not targeting Johnson because he was a “priority hire,” noting the Canarsie firehouse has black and Latino members and a female firefighter who are all highly regarded.

But Johnson’s advanced age as a rookie may have made it more difficult for him, sources said.

“He’s now in the position where he has to do a job that’s not meant for a 40-year-old to start,” one said. “He’s slow and he’s a danger.”

FDNY spokesman Jim Long would not discuss Johnson’s performance or record, but said, “Probationary firefighters receiving additional training, or going back for retraining, is a normal practice in the department.”

Officials noted that Johnson and other Fire Academy graduates remain under probation — and evaluation — for a year after they enter the field.

Those who do not successfully complete probation can be fired, officials said. Johnson will mark his first year as an FDNY firefighter in two weeks.
By Amber Jamieson and Susan Edelman / Source: New York Post

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May 18, 2015
Bullet Pierces Illinois Ambulance While Patient Being Treated - IL

Somebody fired a gun into an ambulance while paramedics were treating a patient Sunday evening in the Englewood neighborhood, according to police and fire department officials.

At 5:35 p.m., paramedics were sent to the 5600 block of South Bishop Street for a traffic crash. But when they got there, they found an ambulance with its driver's side front window shattered, said Will Knight, a spokesman for the Chicago Fire Department.

"A large caliber slug was noted on the floor inside the cab,'' Knight said in an emailed statement.

The shooting happened as two paramedics inside the ambulance, which was not involved in a crash, were treating a person who suffered shortness of breath, Knight said.

No one was shot, he said.

Police are investigating the incident.
Rosemary Regina Sobol / Source: Chicago Tribune

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May 18, 2015
Fire dept. back in service after vehicles, gear donated - OH

EDON, Ohio — Just two weeks after the Florence Township Fire Department nearly burned to the ground, it has received enough donations from northwest Ohio communities to get back to work.

On Friday, the department got a slightly used emergency life squad truck from Lucas County, the first vehicle it can use to replace five trucks that went up in flames May 3.

The department of 34 volunteers bounced back quickly from the blaze as it has received reserve fire engines on loan from Bryan and Wauseon fire departments in the days following the devastating fire.

"This will be our first permanent vehicle that we have acquired since the fire," Chief Jay Klingler said.

With the borrowed fire engines, the department resumed operations almost immediately.

Other equipment to replace gear lost in the fire has been donated by Northwood and Perrysburg fire departments in Wood County, Maumee and Monclova Township fire departments in Lucas County, and Clyde Fire Department in Sandusky County.

"We are back to functioning. We got what we need to fight a fire or at least make an initial attack," the chief said.

The fire department provides emergency and medical services to the villages of Edon and Blakeslee, Florence Township, and the far west end of the Ohio Turnpike.

"The first priority was to get the engine trucks and equipment. We want to let the people of Florence Township and the villages to know we are still here. Just because we had a fire we are still protected," the chief said.

Firefighters who went to the firehouse on the evening of May 3 to attend a meeting found a fire truck ablaze in the garage. A mutual-aid call immediately was made to neighboring communities to get firefighting help.

Chief Klingler said the first trucks arrived within 5 to 7 minutes of a call to the Williams County 911 center, but the four-bay garage — with two ladder trucks, a water tanker, heavy-rescue truck, and 2,000-gallon grass rig parked inside — was leveled.

The fire is under investigation by the state Fire Marshal. Chief Klingler said an inventory of the loss is being conducted by the department’s insurer, but has been estimated between $1 million and $2 million.

"The stated value of the trucks was almost $1 million, not to mention the building and equipment," he said.

Dennis Cole, director of Lucas County Emergency Medical Services, received the county commissioners’ approval last week to donate the 2010 International truck to the Florence Township department.

The vehicle had about 85,000 miles on its odometer when the agency recently bought a replacement and took it out of service.

Lucas County typically makes its surplus life squads available to local fire departments and schools or colleges for public-safety and training programs.

"We try to recycle them and to a user that has a lower volume of service," Mr. Cole said.

Word of the Florence fire made its way to an employee in vehicle maintenance at Lucas County Facilities, and a request was made to Mr. Cole for the donation.

Chief Klingler said the truck from Lucas County will be used to transport extrication equipment for accidents, tools, and gear.

Perrysburg Fire Department donated eight helmets that were being held for backup. Chief Jeff Klein said the helmets are just a fraction of equipment that Florence Township lost in its fire.

"We felt it was really important to step [in] and deliver a little bit to help them get back on their feet," he said.
The Blade

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May 17, 2015
Firefighters hurt in Uniondale house fire, official says - NY

Four firefighters were hurt while battling a house fire on Argyle Avenue in Uniondale on Thursday, May 14, 2015, fire officials said. One of the wounded firefighters suffered "serious" burns to his hands, officials said
(Credit: Lou Minutol)

Two firefighters sustained burns while battling a blaze that damaged three homes Thursday in Uniondale, a fire official said.

Assistant Chief Nassau County Fire Marshal Michael F. Uttaro said one of the injured firefighters was admitted to the burn unit at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow with "serious" burns to his hands.

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May 17, 2015

(The Last Call - RIP)

A longtime Philadelphia (Mississippi) Fire Captain, Dwight Greer, 44,who had a big personality and loved his job, collapsed and died last Wednesday night an hour after responding to a run. Despite the best efforts of his personnel, he could not be revived. He died on May 6, 2015.

Fire Capt. Greer, 44, was pronounced dead at the hospital at 1937 hours. Services have already been conducted. He was not married and had no children.

As the PFD Chief Pierce Clark stated that he had "seen men go above and beyond to help a total stranger many times putting their self in harms way, but last night watching my men work on one of their own was the hardest thing I have been part of and hope to never see it again. RIP Captain Dwight Greer." Greer had a big personality and was a just a gentle giant.

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May 17, 2015
Wrong-way driver in PA hits ambulance = PA

Also: Stolen ambulance hits truck in CA, killing two
(York Daily Record/Sunday News)<

DriveCam video from a crash this (Friday) morning that hurt four people after an ambulance was struck by a vehicle going the wrong way on South Queen Street in York Township, Pennsylvania (York County).

The crash happened at 12:25 a.m. when the White Rose Ambulance traveling south on South Queen Street struck a Honda Civic traveling north in the southbound lane just south of Cricket Lane, according to York Area Regional Police.

Three women in the ambulance and the 36-year-old York Township man operating the Honda were transported to York Hospital, police said.
The York Dispatch: /

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May 17, 2015
Fire chiefs say closest station not always called - PA

HEMPFIELD TOWNSHIP, Pa. —They are on the front lines of fire response, and they say their jobs have never been harder.

Volunteer fire chiefs told Action News Investigates what frustrates them the most. It's no surprise they have big concerns about manpower and money, but they have another major worry that has an impact on response time.

If your house catches fire, you want 911 dispatchers to call the fire departments that can get there the quickest.

But some fire chiefs and assistant chiefs say that does not always happen in Westmoreland County.

“Sometimes in the translation between 911 and what gets put into the computer, the closest company along with us may not be activated,” said Jeremy Gamble, assistant chief at the Bovard Fire Department.

He and other fire officials say the closest fire station may not be the quickest responder, but the 911 center calls that station anyway.

North Hempfield Fire Chief Gary Pilkington says it's a straight shot down Business Route 66 from his station to a popular restaurant. But his station is not the first responder. The station that is -- while slightly closer -- actually has a longer ride. Since that station is physically closer, the computer says it goes first.

"They hit four or five red lights, and they also have to make four or five turns, come off an on-ramp," Pilkington said.

"But they're dispatched ahead of you?" Reporter Paul Van Osdol asked.

"Oh yeah," Pilkington said.

Adamsburg Fire Chief Don Thoma said he had a similar experience when 911 dispatched a fire company to back him up.

“The company they sent had to go through one-way streets, up through two more fire districts, across red lights, down over the hill, left, right, as opposed to the closer company -- no red lights, no stop signs, but might have been 100 feet further away,” Thoma said.

Westmoreland County Public Safety Director Bud Mertz said that type of situation will be corrected when the county 911 system is fixed.

The county recently approved an $800,000 upgrade to its computer-aided design or CAD system. Mertz said fixing the system was his top priority when he took the job 11 months ago.

Van Osdol: “How much of an impact do you think that's going to make on response time?”

Mertz: “Oh, I hope it makes a huge impact.”

The chiefs certainly hope so.

“This is not a want for a new dispatching CAD system. It's a need. We have to have it,” Bovard Chief Greg Saunders said.

But that's not their only need.

“We need the money and the people,” Forbes Road Assistant Chief Steven Rosatti said.

Some chiefs say people are even more important than money.

“I would rather have five volunteers than a million dollars,” Hannastown Chief Doug Fordyce said.

But they have grown frustrated with the state's failure to offer volunteers more incentives like a substantial tax cut.

“A few years ago, they said, we'll give a hundred-dollar kickback to be a firefighter. It took me a hundred dollars in paperwork to get it. So it was a joke,” Saunders said.

Ultimately they say Westmoreland County and Western Pennsylvania will need to reduce the number of volunteer departments and start paying more firefighters a salary.

"You're going to have to pay guys to do this job that guys have been doing the past 100 years for free. You're gonna have to start paying them," Rosatti said.

"That means you've got to raise taxes though, right?" Van Osdol asked.

"Absolutely," Rosatti said. "Can you afford to have a fire department, or can you afford not to have a fire department? That's the question."

For now, the chiefs will do what they can with limited manpower and money.

Thoma said he worries every day when a call comes in "whether we're going to have enough people come out, whether we're going to have trained people come out."

Pennsylvania’s Legislature is currently considering several bills aimed at bolstering the number and quality of volunteer firefighters.

One bill would exempt volunteer firefighters from paying local wage taxes.

Another would protect volunteers from being punished by their employer if they have to leave work to fight a fire.

Another bill would offer incentives to fire departments making it easier for them to merge.

Some of these bills have been proposed in previous years, but none passed.
By Paul Van Osdol /

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May 17, 2015
Attorney blasts Fawn Township for 'criminalizing fire service' with run card rules - PA

An attorney retained by Fawn Township Fire Company No. 2 claims that township supervisors are “criminalizing the fire service” by setting rules that would set a statewide precedent.

Kim Houser of Greensburg, an attorney and a firefighter for almost 30 years and a state fire instructor, made that argument before the board Tuesday.

He was referring to a proposed ordinance requiring both township fire companies to file “run cards” that include each other, with Allegheny County 911 and the township.

That ordinance initially involved a fine of $1,000 and up to 30 days in jail for anyone not complying.

Houser said the ordinance has “horrific problems” that, for whatever problem the supervisors are seeking to resolve, will create “16 others.”

Run cards basically outline the response to different types of fires or emergencies. They spell out situations in which one or both fire companies are to be summoned and prescribes the equipment to be dispatched.

Animosity between the two fire companies and differences on how each company responds operationally led the township supervisors to believe that at least one fire company was considering leaving the other company off its run card, according to Solicitor Steve Yakopec.

That prompted the township supervisors to propose the ordinance.

According to supervisors chairman Dave Montanari, a key difference is that Fawn No. 1 will immediately dispatch equipment while Fawn No. 2's chief or an officer will head to the scene to assess the situation before calling what equipment is needed.

However, Yakopec pointed out to Houser on Tuesday that the proposed ordinance has been revised.

The initial ordinance required that both companies respond to the scene with a fire engine if it is possible to crew one.

That requirement has been dropped. Also, the proposed maximum fine of $1,000 has been dropped but replaced with a $300 fine. The 30-day jail sentence is still there.

“So that's the only thing that has been criminalized, not having run cards?” Houser asked.

“That's right,” Yakopec replied.

“I get what you are trying to do but to criminalize it, that's the short-sighted part of it,” Houser said.

He said the ordinance will do nothing to help encourage people to volunteer for the fire service.

Yakopec said under state law, the township code requires enforcement of a summary offense to be handled that way.

“In something like this I normally wouldn't put a penalty in it, but for that clause,” Yakopec said.

Houser also cautioned the township supervisors that they are ultimately responsible for the run cards and could be sued as a result.

“I disagree that (supervisors) are responsible to the degree he thinks they are,” Yakopec said.

“Once a municipality begins to dictate fire response, that means they own it,” Houser said. “But they have to rely on the folks at the fire companies putting together those run cards and that they are not creating holes or blind spots.

“I‘ve never seen an ordinance like it in the state of Pennsylvania.”
By Tom Yerace /

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May 17, 2015
Firefighters trapped under live wires - OK

About 130,000 volts of electricity coursed through live power lines on top of and surrounding two Norman fire trucks Friday, May 8.

Four firefighters were responding to an automatic fire alarm call on Brookfield Drive that day when over 60 mph straight-line winds sent the poles barreling down on the rain soaked roadway and on top of one of the trucks at 48th Avenue Northwest, near Rock Creek Road.

The men were stranded inside the vehicles for over four hours as they waited for electric companies to turn the power off.

Firefighter Brent Hopkins was driving Fire Engine 4, following Capt. Mike Jones and firefighter Dusty Borrer in a grass rig, as they responded to the call around 5:20 p.m. On the way there, rain, wind and hail began to assault the area.

As the firefighters turned onto 48th Avenue, Hopkins said he remembers slowing down and was traveling under 5 mph in the engine truck. Jones, leading in the grass rig, said they traveled about 100-150 yards down 48th Avenue when he saw the poles begin to fall down like dominoes.

Firefighter David Perry, who was riding with Hopkins, said when they rounded the corner, he could see the pole leaning, but before the words could escape his mouth it was too late.

“The next thing I know, I look up and I see poles falling down and it’s actually coming right towards my window,” Hopkins said. “So I slam on the breaks and just lean back.”

Right before he thought it was going to impact his window, Hopkins said it caught on a telephone cable, flipped around the mirror and slammed into the windshield. Glass flew everywhere and the live power lines began to hit the truck.

“That’s when the light show started. It was just like the sun exploded inside the cab of the truck,” he said. “I really thought that pole was going to hit me in the head. I really did.”

For a moment after it happened, Jones said he thought he felt a light surge of energy. His first instinct was to radio the engine behind him and try to make contact, but there was no answer.

“My first thought was maybe something bad happened because we couldn’t really see behind us. You can’t really see behind a grass rig because of the tanks,” Jones said.

A minute later he heard Perry on the radio talking to dispatch and said he was glad to hear his voice. The electric companies were called and they were told to sit tight until it was confirmed there was no power in the lines.

Deputy Fire Chief Jim Bailey said both companies had to be contacted because OG&E’s lines ran on the west side of the road and OEC’s ran on the east side. When the lines fell in together toward the road, they intermingled. They also had to wait to get a special crane in order to pull the poles back up.

“I was glad it hit the truck and not the brush rig, because if it had done that, those guys probably wouldn’t have been alive,” Perry said.

Hopkins said he had glass in his boots, glass in his hair and there was glass everywhere in the cab, but they made the best of the situation. Although the men were stranded in the vehicles, they continued to do what they could to keep those around them safe.

After the rain let up, about 10 minutes after the incident, the firefighters saw three people walking down the middle of the road between the live power lines. Jones said he got on the PA system and told them to stop walking, which they did, but they still stepped over the lines to get out of the road.

“We had a lot of people coming from that neighborhood out, I guess to see what was going on,” Jones said. “So they (Hopkins and Perry) were honking their horn on the engine anytime they saw anybody approaching the lines…and I was getting on our PA.”

Hopkins said that’s all they could do because they were still energized in the engine.

“If power lines are down, they need to be assumed that they’re energized,” Bailey said. “Just because you don’t see it sparking and arching and jumping doesn’t mean it’s not energized.”

“In this circumstance, with all the water they had down there, even if these guys would’ve jumped out of the truck, they could’ve been electrocuted just because of the wet ground.”

Hopkins said they have been trained how to handle situations like that and tell people what to do when they’re in a car and the lines are energized.

“You don’t move. You stay. You don’t touch anything. You don’t do anything,” he said.

So they waited. And waited. And waited some more. Even when they were told the electric company said they were 99.5 percent sure the power was off, they continued to wait.

“When they say they’re only 99.5 percent sure, you’re not getting out of that truck because those power lines still have surges in them,” Perry said.

Finally, around 9:30 p.m. they were clear to leave. Aside from a busted windshield, Engine 4 had visible damage on the ladder, which sits on top of the truck, as well as several dents and dings.

The live power lines even burned several areas of the truck. A bar bolted on the right side of the truck has a hole that looked big enough to stick a finger through.

While firefighters have responded to many calls to help people who have power lines come down on their vehicles, it was a first for the four men and the first they had heard of it happening to anyone in a fire truck. Luckily, no one was injured.
By Jessica Bruha Transcript Staff Writer

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May 17, 2015
Blooming Grove to dissolve fire department - WI

After 75 years of service, the town of Blooming Grove Fire Department will take its last calls next month.

The town board of Blooming Grove approved 3-1 a tentative agreement Tuesday that would dissolve the fire department July 1 and transfer fire coverage to the Madison Fire Department.

The move is part of a gradual process to transition the town into the city. A 2005 boundary agreement calls for Blooming Grove to be completely annexed into the city on Oct. 31, 2027, with several smaller, pre-scheduled annexations in the interim.

This year, the city will annex portions of the town along Sprecher and Cottage Grove roads.

Blooming Grove’s department is small, staffing three people on its fire engine and two on its ambulance at any given time. Its workforce consists of 47 firefighters, most of whom are volunteers or paid on call or on premises, said Fire Chief Glenn Linzmeier.

The department had four full-time employees, but with discussions ongoing to fold the town into Madison’s coverage area, three left for other careers and the town opted not to fill those positions. The other full-time employee will join the city fire department, Linzmeier said.

“There’s been some discussion between the municipalities, definitely at the fire level and above somewhat, looking at how to do a very well-staged approach to bringing some of these services into the city and making sure the city manages the town’s liabilities,” Linzmeier said.

The town will primarily be served by Madison’s Fire Station No. 5 at 4418 Cottage Grove Road, but with pockets of the town spread out throughout the East Side, Madison Fire Chief Steven Davis said fire coverage to the town will be the responsibility of five or six stations.

“I don’t have any concerns. It accelerates the inevitable — the 2027 date when all of Blooming Grove comes into the city. It actually gives us the ability to plan a little better long-term as to what the city might look like then,” Davis said. “The call volume is so small that we can absorb it.”

Some residents raised concerns about coverage in parts of the town without hydrants, but Linzmeier and Davis said those are handled in mutual aid agreements between various fire departments throughout the county.

“The Blooming Grove residents are going to get the same type of response as residents in the city of Madison that are on the peripheral of these properties,” Linzmeier said.

Davis said his department will immediately begin training with its partner departments that provide rural water service.

Blooming Grove opened a new fire station on Stoughton Road in 2011, but Linzmeier said there are no immediate plans to transfer the station or any of its equipment to the city.

Under the agreement, Madison will also provide fire safety inspections, reviews and community education. Blooming Grove will pay the city $75,000 a year through 2020. Payments will jump to around $222,000 in 2021, increasing slightly each year until 2027 when the annexation is complete.

The agreement will be introduced to the Madison City Council on Tuesday and then reviewed by the city’s Board of Estimates and Public Safety Review Committee. Davis doesn’t anticipate any obstacles to the agreement’s approval.

Linzmeier will remain on the town payroll during the transition
By Jeff Glaze | Wisconsin State Journal

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May 14, 2015

A Yonkers house fire sent five firefighters to the hospital and forced 18 people from their home on Wednesday, officials said.A blaze snaked through the multifamily house on Lamartine Avenue around 4:41 p.m., Fire Chief David Dronzek said. Flames started on the first floor before rising to the top two floors of the three-story home, he said.

The fire was brought under control in about an hour, Dronzek said, as about 50 firefighters fought the flames. Five firefighters were taken to local hospitals with minor injuries, he said.

Red Cross spokeswoman Carolyn Sherwin said that volunteers were helping 13 adults and five children from four families who live at the house, which was uninhabitable for the night.

There was not a lot of fire damage, Dronzek said, but the house was damaged more by water and firefighters chasing the flames. It was unclear what caused the fire, he said, but it did not seem suspicious.

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May 14, 2015

Truck 52, a rear-mount aerial of the Chicago (IL) Fire Department was returning from a call on the city's southeast side when it became stuck in a sinkhole.There were no firefighter injuries. The fire apparatus became stuck when the pavement under the rear of the truck collapsed.

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May 14, 2015

The vehicle involved in the fatal hit-and-run of a retired Somerville firefighter was parked in this space in front of Lincoln Hose Company No 4's firehouse on the night of March 6.
(Somerset County Prosecutor's Office)

The vehicle police are seeking in the hit-and-run death of former Somerville firefighter George Kavanaugh may belong to another firefighter, authorities said.The vehicle is a 2012-2014 dark-colored Honda CR-V or a 2015 Volvo XC-60, according to the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office. The vehicle's owner may be associated with a local fire department, authorities said.

Authorities said the vehicle has running boards and alloy hubcaps, and appears to have a decal on the rear bumper.

There is a reward of up to $15,000 for anyone who provides information leading to the apprehension of the operator/owner of the vehicle.

Kavanaugh, 75, was fatally struck on March 6 in front of Somerville Fire Department Lincoln Hose Company No. 4's firehouse at 34 Warren St..

At approximately 9: 25 p.m., Kavanaugh, a life-long Somerville resident, was standing on the sidewalk directly in front of the firehouse awaiting a ride from his friend, George Riehman, when he was struck, police have said.

Kavanaugh, who was transported to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital-Somerset, where he died from his injuries, was a the chief of the Somerville Fire Department in 1985 and 1986. He served as a firefighter for 50 years, holding various posts within the company. He was also a life member of the state's Firemen's Association.

An Army veteran, he was a member of American Legion Post 12 in Somerville

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May 14, 2015
Ambulance Struck in Chain-Reaction Crash - GA

A Smyrna man was killed in a multi-car pileup that shut down I-75 northbound in Bartow County before daybreak Tuesday.

According to Cartersville police Maj. Mark Camp, the chain reaction wreck began about 6:15 a.m. when the driver of a Ford truck lost control and spun out just north of the I-75 bridge over the Etowah River.

The Ford was then hit by a Honda Accord, and both drivers got out of their vehicles, which were in the left emergency lane and partially in the left travel lane.

A third car tried to avoid the first accident, swerved to the left and hit the wire guardrail in the median, Camp said.

A fourth car, also a Honda Accord, then swerved to the left to avoid the accident, but struck the driver of the Honda involved in the initial crash, knocking him across the median and killing him, according to Camp.

"An ambulance with Central Ambulance came upon the scene and stopped to help, but a fifth car ended up striking the ambulance's rear bumper, causing minor damage," he said.

Camp said no charges have been filed, but the investigation is ongoing.

The identity of the motorist killed in the wreck has not been released, but Camp said he was from Smyrna.

Authorities shut down all northbound lanes of I-75 for more than an hour, but had reopened one lane by 8 a.m. and all northbound lanes by 10:30 a.m.

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May 14, 2015
FDNY Will Reduce Physical Standards on New Entrance Exam - NY

The FDNY has instituted changes to its entrance exam that critics charge will water down standards even more than the hiring of a female firefighter who flunked a fitness test.

Acting on the recommendations of a consultant, PSI Services, the FDNY is reducing the number of exercises that simulate pulling down a ceiling. It is also having supervisors use videos to evaluate trainees not on the time it takes to perform tasks, but on “a minimally acceptable pace of performance.”

One FDNY veteran said those changes make little sense.

“The reason they developed a time standard was to make sure standards remain high and are trusted,” said the veteran. “A subjective standard would undermine that trust.”

PSI also urged the department to reorder the tasks in its functional skills test to “reduce the cumulative fatigue that would occur for a recruit.”

The Law Department commissioned PSI to perform the study to guard against lawsuits from women and African-Americans — groups that have successfully pursued suits in the past, one city official noted.

The department came under fire from within more recently for graduating Rebecca Wax from its academy, despite the fact that she failed a key fitness exam.

City Councilwoman Liz Crowley (D-Queens), whose committee oversees the FDNY, noted that some of the recommendations will actually make testing more difficult for trainees, but that those tests will be “more fair.”
By Michael / Source: New York Post

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May 14, 2015
Woman Steals Ambulance, Kills Two in Crash - CA

Two people are dead after a woman crashed a stolen Hall Ambulance emergency vehicle into a big rig near Frazier Park Wednesday evening.

The identities of the woman and a man driving the rig had not been released as of late Wednesday night.

According to reports, a Hall Ambulance medical crew and a Kern County Fire Department team were summoned to a call for aid in the 3900 block of North End Drive in Frazier Park at about 5:45 p.m.

Shortly thereafter, a woman with a knife approached the teams and then jumped into the driver's seat of the ambulance, saying she knew how to drive, before speeding away, said Capt. Tyler Townsend, public information officer with the Kern County Fire Department.

The team members backed away as the woman approached and were not injured.

A few minutes after fleeing in the ambulance, the woman was heading east on Frazier Mountain Park Road when she collided with a big rig in front of the Flying J Travel Plaza just west of Interstate 5.

Units from the California Highway Patrol, Kern County Sheriff's Office and a team from the Los Angeles County Fire Department arrived at the site of the crash. The man driving the rig was dead at the scene, Townsend said, and the woman had major injuries. She died before an air ambulance could arrive.

Townsend said it wasn't clear if anyone else was in the big rig. He said the crash occurred in Los Angeles County, whose coroner has taken charge of the case.

No patient or medical crewmember was in the ambulance when the woman drove away, said Mark Corum, director of media services for Hall Ambulance. Townsend said the initial medical aid call was made regarding the woman who stole the ambulance, but it wasn't clear if she had placed the call herself.

Hall Ambulance staffs a station in Frazier Park with two ambulance teams, each comprising an emergency medical technician and a paramedic.
Erik Loyd / Source: The Bakersfield Californian

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May 14, 2015
Fire truck hits power pole, closes Race Track Road at I-95 overpass - FL

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — A St. Johns County Fire Rescue truck was involved in a crash on Race Track Road at the Interstate 95 overpass on Tuesday afternoon.

According to SJCFR, the a Heavy Rescue truck was responding to a 911 call when it left the roadway and struck a power pole.

No one was injured in the crash. JEA is responding to the area and the road will be closed for up to two hours while heavy equipment moves a power pole and power lines across the roadway.

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May 14, 2015
5 firefighters injured in Gaithersburg blaze - MD

(Pete Piringer)

(Pete Piringer)

GAITHERSBURG, Md. (AP) — Montgomery County fire officials say five firefighters were left with minor injuries after the roof of a burning home collapsed in Gaithersburg.

Fire department spokesman Pete Piringer says crews called to the home on Leekes Lot Way early Thursday found heavy fire coming from the second floor. A short time later, officials say part of the roof collapsed on five firefighters, but they were able to escape. All five were treated at a local hospital and released.

Officials say a man who was inside the home when the fire started was able to escape safely. Piringer says the man told investigators that he built a fire, which apparently spread to the chimney and roof.

Damage is estimated at $800,000.
By The Associated Press

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May 12, 2015
And, of course, there’s a camera rolling

(Ryan Workman)

Just face it and maybe even embrace it. It’s quite clear the next trip or fall you take on the fireground will be caught on video and shared on social media. With the public having their phones out pointed at you even on the most routine EMS calls, how can they miss catching you falling on your face or your butt. This is just the latest one to crop up on YouTube. The firefighter is apparently okay. The fire was extinguished quickly, according to the description.

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May 12, 2015
New Fire Chief Faces New Delayed Ambulance Investigation - DC

WASHINGTON (NBC Washington) - D.C. is investigating the latest ambulance delay, in which the closest units did not respond to a 911 call.

Nina and Richard Rose described it as the scariest 23 minutes of their lives – the time between their 1-year-old son being knocked unconscious and help arriving.

“He was completely unresponsive at first, and for a minute I thought that he was dead or dying, which is why I lost my mind and started screaming,” Nina Rose said.

Dispatch records obtained by News4 show the first call to 911 was made at 10:10 a.m. Sunday after the boy fell down the porch steps and hit his head. Despite the 1 year old being unconscious, the dispatcher listed his condition as conscious and rated the emergency as minor.

“After just five minutes we were getting concerned,” Richard Rose said. “After 10 minutes I called back to say what’s the deal.”

There were at least three calls to 911. After more than 23 minutes, an ambulance arrived, but records show it wasn’t the closest available unit or even the second closest unit.

“I felt like at that point I could have gotten him to Sibley (Memorial Hospital), the ER, in that amount of time we had been waiting,” Nina Rose said.

Dispatch records show a second ambulance and a fire truck were also dispatched but never arrived.

In the end, the boy regained consciousness and was diagnosed with a concussion.

The next day, Nina Rose sent emails to her council member and the mayor, then she got a call from new Fire Chief Gregory Dean and D.C. Homeland Security Emergency Management Agency Director Chris Geldart saying they were sorry.

“We were sorry that her experience with the D.C. fire department was not a positive experience and we were looking forward to showing her we were going to make positive steps,” Dean said.

“We both want the residents to expect what we expect if something happens to our children, that the services are going to be there when you call them, and we’re going to work hard to make sure they are,” Geldart said.

A senior official with Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration said this is how they plan to handle mistakes, by immediately owning up to them, making direct contact with the residents involved and working to fix the problem.

“It actually made me feel so much better,” Nina Rose said. “I’m so glad that it seems like they’re taking a new approach. They seemed very responsive.”

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May 12, 2015
Delmont's new fire station destroyed by tornado - SD

DELMONT - Rescue crews are there for everyone when we need them but sometimes they also need help.

Sunday's tornado destroyed Delmont's fire station, but it's getting by with a help from nearby towns like Tripp.

The day after a tornado tore through Delmont, the damage isn't limited to those who need help but those who also give it.

Delmont Fire Chief Elmer Goehring said "I hate to see our equipment sitting in there. There's so much other stuff going on right now, that we aren't real focused on that at all."

Strong winds knocked down the town fire hall but it didn't shake Fire Chief Goehring.

"I can't really say that it affected me at all. The homes are what I knew... I didn't really think much of it," Goehring said.

Delmont's fire station was barely six months old before a tornado ripped it to shreds.

"January, we moved in. It's been probably a five-year project securing funding, and some of it wasn't all that fun. It was a real asset to us, and it will be again at some point," Goehring said.

More than 20 neighboring crews showed up after the storm hit to pitch in. It's why Mayor Mae Gunnare knows that even without a fire house, they'll get by.

"They pulled through. We did get a rig out, that's why we have South Dakota spirit. We'd be in their hometown if they needed us," Gunnare said.

"We have great mutual aid communities around us and they're going to help us out as long as we need them, just like we'll help them out if the need arises for them," Goehring said.

"I'm so thankful for the fire departments from all over, and the EMT's," Gunnare said.

Delmont will rebuild its fire hall, but for now, Chief Goehring is just taking the devastation one day at a time.

"I haven't really dealt with it yet," Goehring said.

Delmont's fire hall was so new, the town didn't get a chance to dedicate the building

Goering will be back out at the firehouse on wedesday to assess the damage.
By: Mark Roper /

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May 11, 2015
Rescue at Buffalo Boarding House Fire - NY


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Buffalo Fire crews battled flames at a home at 262 High Street Monday morning. The fire started around 5:30 a.m. in the house that is used for boarding rooms, where around a dozen people lived.

“I heard something like an alarm clock go off. I figured that’s what it was. Then I heard someone yell, ‘Fire! Fire! Get out of the building!'” recalled one resident, Vincent Purpura. “When I opened up my door, there was smoke all over the place. I ran out the door and then all of the sudden, I saw flames shooting out.”

When firefighters arrived, they found flames coming out the front windows of the home, out the side of the building, and over the peak of the roof. “Very bad conditions here. Rapidly deteriorating,” said Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield. “Lots of fire. It looked like the structure may be compromised.”

The decision was made to pull firefighters out for a defensive attack, but then firefighters got word that a man was still trapped inside. “Rescue One went in the back of the building without a charged hose line, were able to find the victim and bring him out,” Whitfield said. The victim was unresponsive when he was pulled from the building, but fire personnel and paramedics with Rural/Metro were able to resuscitate him at the scene. He was taken to Buffalo General. News 4 is still waiting for word on the man’s condition now.

One firefighter also was taken to the hospital after having a medical emergency while fighting the fire. Whitfield said “one member of rescue one did go down with what looks like a seizure.” The News 4 crew on the scene Monday morning saw the firefighter walk out of the house with support from other firefighters. He was awake and alert as he was taken to the ambulance to be transported to Buffalo General.

Crews estimate the damage to the building is $75,000. One person we spoke to said he only moved in about a month ago, and he lost everything in the flames.

The Red Cross says it is helping ten people after that fire.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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May 11, 2015
Fire Truck Responding to Emergency Call Gets Stuck in Sinkhole in the Bronx - NY

A fire truck responding to an emergency call got stuck in a sinkhole in the Bronx Monday, authorities said.

Firefighters parked their truck on Colden Avenue to answer the call, and when they came back shortly before 9 a.m., they saw the front right wheel of the rig had fallen into a 3-foot hole, authorities said.

The hole wasn't too large, a deputy fire chief at the scene said, but firefighters had to wait for a tow truck to haul it out.

Con Edison and the city's Department of Environmental Preservation responded to assess the situation underground, but authorities said there didn't appear to be any threat to neighbors.
By Lori Bordonaro /

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May 11, 2015
Information passed along
Firefighters press legislative agenda in Albany - NY

New York state firefighters are pushing a legislative agenda that includes expansion of cancer coverage for volunteer firefighters, requiring smoke alarms to have sealed-in 10-year batteries, and allowing volunteer fire companies to charge for ambulance service.

Members of the Firemen's Association of the State of New York, the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, and the Association of Fire Districts of the State of New York will be in Albany Monday for a lobby day.

Oneida County volunteer firefighters Brian McQueen of Whitesboro and Dan Schwertfeger of Floyd will be discussing their personal experiences with cancer. Some studies have shown that firefighters have an increased risk of cancer because of exposure to carcinogens in the line of duty. There is currently no formal assistance available for volunteers who are diagnosed with cancer.

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May 11, 2015
Bancroft VFD not running calls, other fire departments stepping in to help - WV

(WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports)

PUTNAM COUNTY, WV - When your family needs help, your local fire department is quick to the scene. But this past weekend, Putnam County fire administrators suspended service from the Bancroft Volunteer Fire Department, diverting its call to nearby stations.

Putnam County Fire Service Board Administrator Rich Pullin said the issue started Friday afternoon. The WV State Fire Marshal's Office received an email from the insurance commission, asking why Bancroft VFD didn't have worker's compensation. When the county called to figure things out, they say offices had closed for the weekend. Out of an abundance of caution, Bancroft volunteer firefighters were told not to run calls. Crews from Poca and Eleanor would be dispatched instead.

"We do it all the time, we're use to helping out and that's what we do,” said Poca Fire Chief Earl Conrad.

Bancroft VFD receives about 100 calls a year, responding to the surrounding areas of Red House and Hometown. Chief Conrad says that's a lot of extra area to cover, especially if there's a large structure fire.

"That would be the main thing...the possibility of not having enough people,” said Chief Conrad. “We don't have anybody here, they would have to come from their house to here and then to the scene."

Pullin says he plans to sort out the confusion by Monday morning. Until then, the station's mutual aid partners say they are more than ready to pick up the slack.

"We have a real good brotherhood, I mean if one needs us, we're there,” said Chief Conrad.
By Christina Fan, Reporter /

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May 11, 2015
Ambulance swept away by floodwaters - CO


MORGAN COUNTY, Colo. — An ambulance carrying a patient and four others was swept away by floodwaters early Sunday morning as it attempted to reach another ambulance. All on board the ambulance escaped uninjured to dry ground through the front windows or rear doors.

Byers Fire ambulance was driving to meet a Morgan County ambulance to transport a patient to Colorado Plains Medical Center, reported CBS Denver.

“It tried to cross the intersection of Morgan County roads 4 and D. There was water flowing over the roads. The ambulance was swept away off the road and against a power pole,” Travis Bailey, Wiggins Fire Department, said in a statement.

Those in the ambulance had to cross 6 or 7 feet of water to reach dry ground and walk a mile north to reach other responders.

According to Karen Williams of the Bailey Fire Department, along with the patient the others on board were a family member of the patient and and three firefighters.

The driver could see the road as he ventured into the water and “wouldn’t have driven into it if he couldn’t see it,” Williams said. “They knew water coming in was going to be an issue.”

She said because of that the driver and family member rolled down their windows and crawled out the windows. The three in the back opened up the doors and made it out with a little help from the first two.

“Responders had difficulty finding a safe route to the scene since many of the county roads are covered with water,” Bailey said.

The patient made it safely to the Colorado Plains Medical Center.

The ambulance remains stuck in about 8 feet of water. Bailey said it will be a couple days before it can be retrieved.
By FireRescue1 Staff

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May 11, 2015
2 firefighters injured when roof gives way - IN

INDIANAPOLIS -- Two firefighters were injured on the job late Sunday night after the roof of a home gave way.

Indianapolis Fire Department crews were called to a vacant home at 235 Parkview Ave. -- which is southeast of the intersection of New York Street and State Avenue -- just after 11 p.m. Sunday.

IFD Capt. Rita Reith said one firefighter fell through the home's roof, injuring his shoulder when he was caught by beams.

The other firefighter injured his back while reaching out to grab his falling colleague.

Both firefighters were able to stay on the scene until the fire was out. They were both taken to the hospital afterward to be checked out. Staff

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May 10, 2015
Man Allegedly Ran Over Firefighter's Foot at Fire - PA

A Kiski Township man is accused of running over a fireman's foot at a fire last month.

Richard J. Cerrato, 66, of 647 Canal Road allegedly drove over the man's foot April 24.

He is also accused of twice driving over the hose being used to fight a basement fire near 1202 Sugar Hollow Road.

Police say the victim is an Apollo No. 2 volunteer fireman who was helping Kiski Township firefighters.

Cerrato is accused of ignoring a fire engine blocking most of the road and the orders of Apollo fire police.

Cerrato's gray Honda ran over the hose the first time and "nicked" a firefighter as he drove past.

Cerrato is accused of turning around and a few minutes later driving back down the road and stopping on the foot of a fireman who flagged him down.

Kiski Township police Officer Scott Pontieri is charging Cerrato with assault, 12 counts of reckless endangering -- one for each firefighter near Cerrato's car -- as well as disorderly conduct, careless driving and other charges.

The firefighters were putting out a basement fire reported at about 5:40 p.m. A woman and her two children and two dogs got out safely.

Cerrato was arraigned and released on $5,000 unsecured bond pending a preliminary hearing scheduled for Wednesday.

Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or
Chuck Biedka / Source: The Valley News-Dispatch, Tarentum, Pa.

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May 10, 2015

A Cambria County Fire Chief is in the hospital and recovering after he was pinned between a car and the Fire Truck early Saturday. This all happened in an alley off of Main Street in East Conemaugh Borough. Fire Fighters were called to put out a garage fire after a car burst into flames. It was shortly after Fire Fighters had the flames put out that a car drove into the alley hitting the East Conemaugh Fire Chief and the Fire Truck. The Chief was taken to Memorial Medical Center for his injuries and is expected to be okay. No word if charges will be filed.

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May 10, 2015
Man Killed in Crash With Fire Vehicle - KY

Kentucky State Police say a Northern Kentucky motorcyclist has died in a crash with a fire department vehicle on a run in central Kentucky.Police said a sport utility vehicle from the Danville Fire Department was responding to a vehicle fire Friday morning south of Danville. Investigators said as the SUV entered an intersection, the motorcycle hit the passenger's side of the SUV.

The motorcycle driver was pronounced dead at the scene. A passenger on the motorcycle was airlifted to the University of Kentucky Medical Center with life-threatening injuries.

The motorcycle driver was identified as Edward Weiss, 67, of Fort Wright.

Two other vehicles were involved in a collision as the fire department vehicle came to a stop near the intersection.

Police said the SUV had its emergency equipment activated at the time of the crash, and both people on the motorcycle were wearing helmets.

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May 10, 2015
Pompton Lakes fire chief’s home burns - NJ


Pompton Lakes NJ Fire dept house fire on Chestnut Ave severely damages home of Fire Chief on Friday May 8th. I will leave a link below to the "GO FUND ME" site that has been set up to assist the Chief and his family rebuild and replace items they lost in the fire. The "GO FUND ME" Site Link below!

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May 10, 2015
Two firefighters burned in St. Pete house fire - FL

St. Petersburg, Florida -- Two St. Petersburg Fire Department firefighters were injured Friday night while responding to a call of a fire in a house at 3900 7th St. S.

The two first responders on the scene, Tom Jockers, a first-year firefighter, and Engine 8 officer, Lt. Tanya Hart, were injured during the fire.

Both firefighters were transported to Bayfront Medical Center for treatment of their injuries. Jockers has been released.

Lt. Hart suffered first and second-degree burns and was transported to Tampa General Hospital for further treatment Friday night. She is listed in stable condition.

The occupants of the house escaped from the fire unharmed.

The structure fire and the exact cause of the firefighters' injuries are still under investigation by SPFD.
10 News Staff, WTSP

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May 10, 2015
Firefighter injured in fire at Medford High School - MA

MEDFORD, Mass. (WHDH) - A firefighter was taken to the hospital while battling a fire at Medford High School.

The fire sparked just before 12:30 a.m. Saturday in the school's autobody shop.

Crews were able to extinguish the fire after a few hours. One firefighter was taken to a local hospital with minor injuries.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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May 10, 2015
Ambulance, Car Hit by Shots Fired in Chicago - IL

An ambulance carrying a patient was one of two vehicles damaged when a person opened fire Thursday on the Dan Ryan Expressway, according to Illinois State Police.

The Superior ambulance and a car were struck by gunfire about 3:15 p.m. when they were traveling north on Interstate 94 near 31st Street, a state police sergeant said.

The ambulance was occupied by at least one employee and a passenger in the rear, while the car had two occupants.

There were no injuries, the sergeant said.

The ambulance rushed directly to Mercy Hospital and Medical Center. The car exited the highway at 25th Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard.

It's unclear if either of the vehicles was the intended target of the gunshots, state police said.

No description of a suspect was immediately available.

Though the shots fired are believed to have occurred at 31st Street, state police investigators closed the two far right lanes from near 18th Street to near 41st Street to search that area.
Tony Briscoe / Source: Chicago Tribune

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May 10, 2015
Vandergrift fire captain feels effect of house fire - PA

Vandergrift No. 1 fire department Capt. JJ Uskuraitis (white shirt) embraces another fire fighter after a fire broke out at his home at 127 Sherman Avenue in Vandergrift on Saturday, May 9, 2015.
(Jason Bridge | Trib Total Media)

Firefighters fought a fire at 127 Sherman Avenue in Vandergrift on Saturday, May 9, 2015.
(Jason Bridge | Trib Total Media)

Firefighters and EMT's work feverishly to save two dogs rescued from a fire at 127 Sherman Avenue in Vandergrift on Saturday, May 9, 2015.
(Jason Bridge | Trib Total Media)

Vandergrift Fire Department No. 1 Capt. John Uskuraitis was driving back from the funeral of Ligonier Township Lt. Eric Eslary Saturday afternoon when he heard the fire call over his scanner.

At first it didn't register that 127 Sherman Ave. in Vandergrift was his home address.

Once the shock wore off and he heard the initial reports of people possibly in the house, Uskuraitis called in to let Westmoreland County 911 know that no one was home, Vandergrift No. 1 Deputy Chief Randy Dunmire said.

Uskuraitis lives with his wife and three children ages 7, 11 and 14. Uskuaitis declined to comment at the scene.

The fire was reported shortly before 3 p.m. When fire crews arrived, flames were shooting out the rear door and windows and heading up to the second floor of the two-story home, Dunmire said.

Firefighters extinguished flames within 20 minutes and brought two dogs down from the second floor. Paramedics performed CPR on a bulldog and a boxer mix, but they were unable to save them, Dunmire said.

Officials believe the fire was caused by an electrical malfunction in the kitchen, likely the stove or microwave, he said.

“His wife was maybe two miles away when she thought she might have left the stove on,” Dunmire said. “She came back and checked and it wasn't on, so she left again.”

The most damage is in the kitchen and dining room area, said Dunmire. But heat and heavy smoke caused extensive damage on the second floor, he said.

There are homes on both sides of the Uskuraitis house, but neither was damaged.

With temperatures in the upper 80s, firefighters took precautions, and none suffered heat-related problems.

Dunmire said he and the first crew inside to battle the fire pulled out and sent in a new crew after 15 minutes, about half of a regular shift.

“I can usually stay in the whole time, but this time we decided to come out,” Dunmire said.
Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media

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May 08, 2015
Information passed along
Crews better-trained, but oil train fires overwhelm - NC

FARGO—Local fire chiefs say their crews are better-prepared for a fiery train derailment since the 2013 accident near Casselton—but also said oil train fires are too intense to fight.

The issue of the safety of hauling Bakken crude oil by rail resurfaced when a BNSF Railway train derailed Wednesday near Heimdal in Wells County, about 80 miles southeast of Minot. Between six and 10 cars derailed and caught fire, officials said.

No injuries were reported, but about 40 people were evacuated from the town and surrounding area as a precaution.

News coverage of flames and black smoke once again billowing into the air recalled the scene a mile west of Casselton on Dec. 30, 2013, when 20 tanker cars derailed; 18 were punctured, exploded and erupted in flames.

"You'll never fight that fire," said Tim McLean, chief of the volunteer Casselton Fire Department.

The flames were so intense—and punctuated by explosions that sent fireballs hundreds of feet into the air—that firefighters remained half a mile from the blaze, their cheeks warmed by the eruptions.

Since then, many of the department's firefighters have attended special training classes at a center near Pueblo, Colo., for responding to hazardous materials fires. By late summer, half of the department will have received special training.

"We have a certain sense of what we're going to do when we respond to these things," McLean said. "We know more of what to expect."

Similarly, 15 Fargo firefighters have received training in hazardous materials fires, and the department has response plans in place that have been tested through tabletop exercises, said Fargo Fire Chief Steve Dirksen.

Yet to be implemented new tanker car standards and new conditioning standards to reduce the volatility of Bakken crude oil before shipment are improving safety, he said.

Gasoline, which moves in great quantities, is only slightly less volatile than the new standards imposed by the state of North Dakota, which took effect in April, Dirksen said.

"It has made it safer," he said. "It's just part of the risk that's there."

Also, he said, BNSF has staged a foam spray truck at a Fargo Fire Department station—equipment that was dispatched Wednesday morning to respond to the fire near Heimdal.

"I think we have taken a lot of good steps," Dirksen said, adding that trains through Fargo-Moorhead now travel at slower speeds, between 25 and 35 mph.

"We are well-prepared," Dirksen said. Still, he added, referring to a fire of Casselton proportions, a fire of "any magnitude like that is going to quickly overwhelm our resources."
By Patrick Springer /

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May 08, 2015
Firefighter: CWPs likely stopped deaths of children, firefighters - WI

( | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports)

NEW HOLLAND (WIS) - Firefighters said they may have stopped a massacre after a gunman surprised them at their station Tuesday.

The Aiken County Sheriff's Office said deputies responded to the New Holland Fire Department's Station 2 around 6:30 p.m. for a report of shots fired.

Firefighters said Chad Barker pulled up to the crowded fire station parking lot full of children and firefighters, got out of his car, and began firing in the air and at his vehicle. They say he also pointed the firearm at individual firefighters for lengthy periods of time.

"I came out of the office, saw the man with the gun, told everybody to leave out the back quickly that there was a man in the parking lot with a gun, and I was not kidding,” said Gary Knoll, a firefighter for New Holland.

Knoll said he and another firefighter who have concealed weapons permits pulled their guns on the gunman.

Knoll said Barker returned to his vehicle and firefighters carefully followed him with their weapons still drawn. After encouraging Barker to put the gun down, Knoll said Barker ultimately complied and Knoll grabbed the gun.

He said the group of firefighters detained Barker, who then began beating his head on the ground, until deputies arrived and locked him up. Barker has been charged with two counts of Pointing and Presenting a Firearm.

Knoll, meanwhile, hopes for additional charges and says he's more disappointed with the $20,000 bond granted to Barker. Knoll was hoping for a larger amount.

"He's a hazard to everyone here,” Knoll said. “We can't possibly think about going to a fire call without having to worry about whether this guy's standing in a tree stand somewhere with a high power rifle."

Ultimately, though, Knoll is relieved no one was hurt and he is relieved he and other firefighters carry concealed weapons.

"It saved a life, if not multiple,” Knoll said.

The firefighter, who has been with New Holland for a little more than two years, says his hope is that Barker will get any help he needs.

Deputies are still investigating the incident and say the firefighter involved did not know Barker. They say additional charges are a possibility.
By Chad Mills /

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May 08, 2015
Deputy Fire Chief talks about attempt to rescue little girl - NY

Baldwinsville (WSYR-TV) - It was a sad day at the Baldwinsville Fire Station Monday, just a day after firefighters were unsuccessfully in saving a little girl from her burning home.

2-year-old Nora Lamirande was napping inside her bedroom Sunday while her mom and brother enjoyed the afternoon outside.

The 4-year-old boy ran to a neighbor's home and his mother followed after. When she looked back to return home, she was the house and flames, according to New York State Police.

State Police add that the mother did nothing wrong.

Fire investigators said the fire started in the kitchen because of something on the stove.

Neighbors first tried to rescue the little girl, but the flames were too strong.

Baldwinsville Firefighters were called to the scene and responded in about 5 minutes.

Deputy Chief Anthony DiGregorio was the first to head inside, but the flames and smoke were too much. He made the difficult decision to wait for an engine already on its way.

DiGregorio spoke exclusively to NewsChannel 9's Andrew Donovan and said, "I didn't want that child to die alone. People know me. I would have... if I could have gotten in there, I would have gotten in there."

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May 08, 2015
Bernalillo County fire officials could be terminated after fight - NM

BERNALILLO COUNTY, N.M. —Two high-ranking leaders with the Bernalillo County Fire Department could face serious consequences for a scuffle on the job.

Emergency Medical Services Division Chief Michael Chavez and Logistics Division Chief Danny Valenzuela got into a fight in March. It started as a joke, and ended with one of them shoving the other.

Interim Fire Chief Greg Perez called Bernalillo County Sheriff’s deputies after the incident to file a report. The county has a very strict policy when it comes to workplace violence, a department spokesman said.

“It is a zero tolerance policy. People can be anywhere from reprimanded to termination,” said spokesperson Larry Gallegos.

Gallegos said it is still too early to tell what the consequences will be. The investigation has been turned over to Bernalillo County’s human resources and legal departments.

“Any time something happens in the department, it makes sense to go outside the department for an investigation,” said Gallegos.

He does not know how long the investigation will take, but said the department will wait until it is complete before any action is taken. In the meantime, both Valenzuela and Chavez remain on duty.
By Sandra Ramirez /

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May 08, 2015

(WBNG Video)

A massive brush fire in Chenango County tore through almost 20 acres of forest Thursday evening.A call came in for mutual aid to Cross Road in the town of German at approximately 3 p.m.

Initial reports claimed flames as high as 15 feet were making their way through a pine forest at Red Brook State Forest.

Greene EMS, Chenango County Emergency Services Bureau of Fire and forest rangers were called in to assist. 17 fire departments from multiple counties were also on scene to help fight the blaze.

An Albany State Police helicopter was flown in to monitor the progression of the fire, and track how far it was spreading.

Officials said the fire is under control, but there are still hotspots.

According to fire officials, three firefighters were injured while fighting the flames. Two were treated for heat exhaustion and one for asthma-related injuries.

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May 08, 2015
A Detroit fire commissioner who doesn’t run or hide, admits his own scew-up - MI

Fire chief's promotion up in smoke
(WXYZ-TV Detroit | Channel 7)

Detroit Fire Department firestorm
(WXYZ-TV Detroit | Channel 7)

CAUGHT ON CAMERA: Local fire marshal breaks the law on the job
(WXYZ-TV Detroit | Channel 7)

I was under the impression that part of the job description for Detroit’s fire commissioner is to run and hide from reporters anytime there is a hint of bad news. If that’s the case, Interim Commissioner Jonathan Jackson isn’t qualified for the job.

This week, WXYZ-TV investigative reporter Ross Jones reported serious problems with Jackson’s recent promotion of Andre Johnson from battalion chief to senior chief. Apparently unknown to the department, Johnson has a long record of alcohol related driving violations and his license has been revoked since 2010.

Watch the stories above and below to see how Commissioner Jackson dealt with reporter Jones and think back to all of the stories we ran of the three previous commissioners running and hiding from reporters and generally making a mess of already bad situations.

Below are some quotes from the interview. These are words and phrases I don’t recall ever coming out of the mouths of Jackson’s predecessors.

“I should have done a much better job of vetting someone I was considering to promote. I take full responsibility for it,” Jackson said.

“It’s something I should have taken more seriously.”

“I’m going to take appropriate action. I’m going to deal with this decisively,” Jackson said.

“This is a black eye for myself, our department.” Jackson said. “It definitely doesn’t make us look good.”

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May 08, 2015
MAYDAY Firefighter rescue caught on video (3 angles) Lansing - MI


On Friday March 20, 2015 at 5:58 am the Lansing Fire Department responded with 3 Engine companies, 2 Truck companies, 2 Battalion Chiefs, and 1 Medic unit (25 personnel total) to a residential structure fire.

During the initial attack the nozzle man, after sounding the floor, crawled on to a wood living room floor and subsequently fell thru the collapsed floor into the basement.

Fire was visible across the basement ceiling at times and the smoke conditions were heavy. A MAYDAY was called by the nozzle man’s company officer and Rapid Intervention was immediately deployed. A two part rescue attempt incurred.

Attempts were made to rescue the firefighter thru the hole (made while falling into the basement) and via interior basement stairwell. Fortunately the fire fighter was not seriously injured (moderate time/loss shoulder injury from fall onto concrete floor in basement) and was able to extinguish some fire while awaiting rescue.

The fire fighter who fell into the basement was rescued out of the hole using an attic ladder. The whole event was capture on video from 3 angles (the Battalion Chiefs car GOPRO camera and 2 interior helmet cameras).

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May 08, 2015
Paris Fire Apparatus Window Shot Out - TX

PARIS, Texas -- Paris Police say the latest target in a series of window shootings was a fire truck travelling down the road Tuesday afternoon.

It happened in the 300 block of SE 16th Street around 2 p.m.

Chief Bob Hundley says it could be related to a string of similar shootings around town. Investigators believe the shooter is using a BB or pellet gun.

Only the driver's side back window was damaged. No one was hurt.

Police say they're questioning a suspect, but no arrests have been made.

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May 08, 2015
Vehicle hits fire truck responding to accident in downtown Atlanta - GA

ATLANTA (CBS46) - A vehicle ran into a fire truck that was responding to an accident Wednesday night in Atlanta.

The accident shut down all southbound lanes on I-75/85 near University Avenue in downtown Atlanta. The lanes have since re-opened.

The fire truck was responding to an accident with injuries when it was hit, according to a spokesperson with Atlanta police.

The police spokesperson said the vehicle hit the "fire truck apparatus."

The driver of the vehicle was taken to the hospital, and was breathing and alert.

The firefighters were not injured, although the fire truck had minor damage.
By Rodney Harris /

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May 08, 2015
Man arrested after shots fired in a fire department parking lot - GA

Deputies said a drunken man was arrested after firing shots in an Aiken County fire department parking lot Tuesday.

Chad Barker, 31, of Aiken, was charged with two counts of pointing and presenting a firearm.

According to an Aiken County Sheriff’s Office news release, Barker drove to the New Holland Fire Department on Camp Rawls Road and discharged a gun in his vehicle. He then pointed the weapon at bystanders in the parking lot.

Firefighters were able to get the weapon from Barker and detain him until police arrived.

Barker was treated for a self-inflicted laceration to the head at an area hospital and then taken to the Aiken County Detention Center. No one else was injured.

Barker was “grossly intoxicated,” according to the release.
By Bianca Cain Johnson Staff Writer /

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May 08, 2015
Bicyclist hurt in collision with fire truck - NJ

TRENTON, N.J. — A 46-year-old bicyclist suffered minor injuries when he collided with a turning Trenton fire truck Thursday evening, the fire department said.

The fire truck, the vehicle operated by Rescue Co. 1, was not on an emergency call and not moving fast when the 5:25 p.m. collision occurred on North Clinton Avenue at Prince Street, Battalion Chief Michael Welsh said.

Rescue 1 was returning to their headquarters after a training session at Mercer County College when they were headed south on North Clinton Avenue in evening traffic. The firefighter driving the truck made a right onto Prince Street and the bicyclist, who was also headed south, basically rode into the side of the truck, Welsh said.

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May 06, 2015
Information passed along
Charleston 9: The Ultimate Sacrifice - SC


From the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, "Charleston 9: The Ultimate Sacrifice", looks at the dramatic changes made in the operations of South Carolina's Charleston Fire Department following the deaths of nine firefighters on June 18, 2007. The video, produced by STATter911 Communications and Greg Guise Media, focuses on how the leadership of the late Chief Tom Carr helped the department recover after such a devastating loss.

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May 06, 2015


Take a moment and listen to this fire ground audio from a fire a few days ago in Highland Park, MI. According to the person who sent it to us, Highland Park is completely surrounded by Detroit and as of the first of this year, is dispatched by Detroit FD and is part of an automatic mutual aid system whereby Detroit sends a Chief, an Engine or Two and a Rescue Squad on box alarms (structure fires) in Highland Park. The submitter of this heard this live and could not believe what was happening. The Firefighters of Highland Park have some significant challenges…….

Apparently, Highland Park received the call directly and responded with a reported 7 Firefighters on scene without the automatic aid-after the DFD dispatcher asked if they wanted the full assignment.

Here are two of the more interesting quotes you will hear:

There’s three lines inside that house and if you guys don’t start making a little better knock on this fire man, I’m going to request the box. There’s no excuse for the fire to be growing like this.

Do not come back out of that house until that second floor is out.

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May 06, 2015
Memphis firefighter injured after becoming entangled in debris at fire - NJ

ORANGE MOUND, Tenn. — A Memphis firefighter experienced first hand the dangers of the job after getting tangled in debris and falling while fighting an apartment fire.

The unidentified firefighter was among fifty fire and emergency personnel working a fire at the Kimball Cabana Apartments on Kimball near Lamar.

Though his injuries were not life threatening, the incident pointed out risks firefighters take everyday.

Early Wednesday, there was a sea of red lights and an army of firefighters at the Kimball Cabana Apartments.

A suspicious fire burned several vacant apartments causing an unexpected “wake up call” for Rodney Watson.

“I was asleep about two o’clock, two thirty and I heard the firetrucks and everything. I looked out the window and all I saw was firetrucks and police officers,” he told WREG.

It took less than thirty minutes to bring the fire under control, but not before it gave one firefighter the scare of his life.

“One of our firefighters was injured, sustained an injury to his knee. There was some debris in the structure that he became somewhat entangled in. And that caused the injury,” said Lt. Wayne Cooke, PIO, Memphis Fire Department.

Lt. Cooke said firefighters were trained to work in dark, smokey and unfamiliar surroundings, where each and every step was risky.

Firefighters found hidden hazards in Wednesday morning’s fire and alerted other firefighters to the danger.

“It was reported by firefighters who gained entry into the second floor area that there were floors that were deteriorating and holes in the in those floors,” he said.

Watson said he was just glad to know the firefighter would be okay, but he was more than a little concerned for his own safety early Wednesday morning.

“I live right there where the fire was at. The fire was in the last one, I live on the other side. They said someone went in there and set the fire, I don’t know what happened though,” said Watson.

While investigators looked for clues to who started the fire, Watson told us he believed the vacant apartments were too much of temptation for arsonists and thieves.

“Folks just come in and break in and steal all the appliances and stuff out of them, water heaters and all that stuff,” he said.

If you can help find the person or persons responsible, you are urged to call Crime Stoppers at 528-CASH or the State Arson Hotline at 1-800-762-3017.
by Mike Suriani /

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May 06, 2015
13 firefighters hospitalized after fighting fire in Hamilton garage containing chlorine - NJ

HAMILTON — Thirteen firefighters were taken to area hospitals for treatment Wednesday after fighting a garage fire in Hamilton that contained chlorine, fire officials said.

The 2:45 p.m. fire ripped through two large garages in the 2000 block of South Broad Street, gutting the buildings and at destroying two vehicles parked inside one of the garages, firefighters and witnesses said.

One of the garages contained a container of chlorine, the kind used in backyard pools, and when it burned it caused a gas that caused several firefighters to suffer respiratory injuries, fire officials said.

At about 3:15 p.m., as an odor of a chemical hung in the air, fire officials and Hamilton police officers moved onlookers out of the immediate block, saying the fumes from the chlorine would be harmful to inhale.

And the numerous firefighters who responded were moved a block away and emergency medical officials started setting up a decontamination process for the firefighters, so they could then be taken to local emergency rooms for evaluation.

On Wednesday night, officials said 13 firefighters had been taken to local hospitals, 12 for respiratory testing and one for facial burns.

The cause of the fire was under investigation Wednesday by fire investigators from the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office, Hamilton police and township fire marshals.

Hamilton Fire Marshal Scott McCormick, reached at the scene on his cell phone at about 4 p.m., said he was about to be evaluated by EMS officials and then headed to the hospital for treatment. He could not provide further details.

McCormick said a fire chief who was in charge of the initial firefighting efforts was also headed to the hospital.

Firefighters and EMS crews from Trenton, Robbinsville, and northern Burlington County assisted Hamilton firefighters at the scene. Hamilton's hazardous materials firefighting unit was also at the scene.
Kevin Shea | For

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May 06, 2015
Information passed along
FDNY Union Boss Makes Dig at Unfit Probie at Graduation - NY

There were 304 other graduates of the Fire Academy at the graduation ceremony Tuesday—but all the heat was on Rebecca Wax.

The controversial new probie—who graduated despite not passing a key fitness test—was forced to squirm at her own commencement as the head of the firefighters union told the members of her class that being fit was a matter of life and death.

“Fitness has to be a part of your life,” said Uniformed Firefighters Association President Steve Cassidy, who did not directly name Wax. But he clearly alluded to her case, which was first reported by The Post on Sunday.

“Sometime in the near future, I guarantee you will go to your first fire and you will realize you have never moved so fast or worked so hard ever before,” Cassidy said.

“Some instructor at the academy yelling in your ear while you’re doing a drill is not the same as some mother telling you, ‘My baby is on the second floor.’ That’s real.”

Wax, 33, made headlines for becoming the first person to be allowed to join the FDNY despite flunking the Functional Skills Training (FST) test, a grueling obstacle course run in full gear with a limited air supply.

She was allowed to graduate after FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro announced FDNY rule changes last year that eased her entry into the department.

Wax didn’t seem upset by the speech, as she smiled with her sheepskin beside the commissioner during the event.

Cassidy later claimed he wasn’t targeting Wax, and often talks of fitness. Nevertheless, other firefighters whispered snarky comments behind Wax’s back.

“This is a circus,”one FDNY official sneered. “I had to bust my chops to go through training.”

And when Wax posed with two other women who also graduated, he said, “Give me an 8-by-10 so I can frame it. Just kidding.”

The other two women, Nia Terrelong and Hildany Santana, passed the FST test with flying colors.

Wax is assigned to Engine 259 in Sunnyside, Queens—where firefighters were mostly diplomatic about their new firehouse mate.

“I never met her,” one said. “I guess we’ll wait and see.”

But some vets turned up the heat.

“The Fire Department is blessed with so many capable women, and now the public will look at all women firefighters and not know who is qualified,” a retired fire captain said.

Wax could not be reached for comment.

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May 06, 2015
Fire Lt. Kevin McRae dies after collapsing at fire - DC

(The Last Call - RIP)

Lt. Kevin McRae, a 25-year veteran of the department, died after collapsing at a fire at a downtown high-rise Wednesday morning, a spokesperson for D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser confirmed.
(Published Wednesday, May 6, 2015)

A D.C. firefighter has died in the line of duty.

Lt. Kevin McRae, a 24-year veteran of the department, died after collapsing at a two-alarm fire at a downtown high-rise Wednesday morning.

"D.C. lost a hero today," Mayor Muriel Bowser said outside MedStar Washington Hospital Center, where members of Engine 6 have gathered to support McRae's family.

Fire crews were called at 8:10 a.m. about the fire on the upper floors of an apartment building at 1330 7th Street NW, just north of the Washington Convention Center. McRae's crew was the first team to arrive at 8:13 a.m., Bowser said.

Significant fire was coming from the 9th and 10th floors when crews arrived. A second alarm was called within minutes, and firefighters knocked down the blaze in about 50 minutes.

McRae and other firefighters had just exited the building when he collapsed.

"Everything was routine right up until McRae exited the building and collapsed," said Acting Fire Chief Gregory Dean.

Paramedics began CPR and transported him to MedStar Washington Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after 10 a.m.

McRae, 44, leaves behind his wife, three children and mother.

"They're devastated, as is his other family, which is the fire department and his crew," Bowser said outside the hospital shortly before noon Wednesday. "It's pretty shocking."

Another firefighter was also taken to a hospital, was treated and released.

Two civilians were also taken to local hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries.

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May 05, 2015
Mount Vernon mutual aid issue explodes - NY

Mount Vernon's heavy reliance on neighboring communities to help fight its fires has erupted into a political conflagration.

The dispute over the appropriate use of the Westchester County Mutual Aid Plan was first reported in The Journal News a few weeks ago, but a recent Channel 11 news interview with Mayor Ernie Davis has reignited the issue.

Answering charges that Mount Vernon has abused the mutual aid system at the expense of taxpayers from outside the city, Davis shot back: "So when a fire happens in another community, instead of just shining cars or whatever they do, they are now coming over to help a city that is in trouble."

The mayor's critics are incensed.

Mount Vernon Councilman Richard Thomas called out Davis for his "low brow, disrespectful comment … insinuating that first responders do nothing and their lives do not matter."

Barry McGoey, the head of the Yonkers firefighters union, said in a statement that the mayor's comment was "ridiculous" and an "insult."

"Mayor Davis may not know it," McGoey continued, "but when Yonkers firefighters are not in Mount Vernon on mutual aid, we are not 'shining cars' but ... responding to fire calls, medical emergencies, automobile accidents, gas emergencies, building inspections, training, etc. This is the 'whatever they do' that Yonkers firefighters 'do' when we're not busy protecting the City of Mount Vernon."

When I contacted him, the mayor didn't back down.

"I'm going to tell the truth," Davis said. "If you're not fighting fires, what are you doing? Please tell me."

Mount Vernon is an embattled city, and so is the mayor, who is serving one year of supervised probation after pleading guilty to federal misdemeanor charges and is up for re-election in November.

The city has had severe fiscal challenges in recent years and more than its share of fires. However, Councilman Thomas said the mayor has failed to adequately staff the city's fire department, reflecting a "complete disregard for human life, property and taxpayer resources."

Ernie Richardson, the president of the Mount Vernon firefighters union echoed Thomas, complaining that staffing is at an historic low, sometimes as low as 14 firefighters on a shift, down from a high of 25 in 1976.

It was no surprise that the city has been criticized for leaning on mutual aid, Richardson said. He claimed "numerous" firefighters are absent "with debilitating injuries because of the excessive workload put on the undermanned department."

Asked about understaffing, Davis replied, "That's a lot of crap."

The mayor said the problem was that too many firefighters fail to show up for their shifts, choosing instead to go to outside jobs. The slack is taken up by other city firefighters receiving overtime, and that, Davis said, was an abuse to city taxpayers.

If true, this also would presumably result in more calls for mutual aid as well — though Davis did not say that exactly.

"What I tell them is, 'Come to work,' " Davis said. "You've got the best jobs in the world. Come to work. The taxpayer is not going to keep doing this."

McGoey has been an especially vocal critic of Mount Vernon, saying that mutual aid should be requested only in extraordinary circumstances when a department's resources have been exhausted.

"Mount Vernon does not follow any of the above," McGoey said. "They call for mutual aid from surrounding jurisdictions almost every time there is a fire larger than one room."

McGoey said that Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano and elected officials from other municipalities, including Pelham and New Rochelle, should cease sending firefighters to Mount Vernon except in crisis situations and "until Mount Vernon learns to respect our firefighters and our taxpayers."

Spano acknowledged that McGoey's concerns "may have merit," but he added, "It wouldn't be responsible or safe for us to withhold mutual aid when in fact we receive as much as we give."

As it happened, on Wednesday when an elderly couple was killed in a fire in a Yonkers home, four municipalities responded with mutual aid and one of them was Mount Vernon.

"I guess I'm supposed to protest," Davis said with a hint of sarcasm. "God works in mysterious ways. I said, 'O.K., talking all that smack, now we gotta help you out.' But that's what we're supposed to do."
Phil Reisman,

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May 05, 2015
Tulsa Man Sets Fire, Threatens Firefighter In Attempt To Escape Arrest - OK

Early Sunday morning, a Tulsa man deliberately set a fire in an apartment and then threatened a responding firefighter with a knife.

News On 6 reported that police officers arrested Bobby Williams, the firebug, as he tried breaking into other apartments in the same complex of the fire to avoid police. The arrest report stated firefighters realized he had started the fire after they found a mattress, clothing and other items burning in an apartment.

One of the firefighters was threatened by Williams, when he approached the first responder holding a knife. He said, “I will cut you up” and then ran off.

About 45 minutes later, Williams attempted to enter two different occupied apartments by trying to raise their windows. He even scaled the roof of the complex, trying to avoid police officers. Thwarting his efforts, the police and a K-9 unit were able to apprehend the 29-year-old man and take him into custody.

Authorities stated Williams sustained small burns on his wrists, but no other injuries were reported.

According to KTUL, Williams was booked into the Tulsa County Jail on Sunday. He is facing felony charges including arson, assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of attempted burglary, and possession of marijuana and methamphetamine.
Written and photos by FFN Staff

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May 05, 2015

One man died, five people are homeless and three firefighters were injured, 1 in very critical condition, after a fast-moving fire engulfed a home on Church Street in the City of Poughkeepsie, NY-north of NYC yesterday.

The victim apparently died of smoke inhalation. Three firefighters were injured in the attempt to rescue the victim, Chief Mark Johnson said. One was seriously hurt and was admitted yesterday to Vassar Brothers Medical Center, City of Poughkeepsie.

The other two firefighters suffered an injured shoulder and an injured back and were taken to hospitals for examination or treatment.

City firefighters responded to an alarm at 10:58 a.m., called in by several neighbors, and found heavy fire, Johnson said.

PFD Firefighters found one occupant, a man, deceased upstairs in a closet.

The Fire Chief speculated that the smoke and heat from the first-floor fire rose to the upstairs and may have impaired the man's ability to get around.

"We're not sure how he ended up there, trying to escape, or confused," Chief Johnson said. "There was an extreme amount of smoke and an extreme amount of heat." Smoke is extremely toxic, and "Two or three breaths and you're incapacitated." It's possible the man was disoriented and may have mistaken the closet for an exit, he said.

Johnson said the fire started in the first-floor front room, but that it was not clear yet how the fire started. Johnson said it was likely that it rose up the stairs to the second floor where the lone occupant was.

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May 05, 2015
300 gallons sewage closes Beltsville fire station - MD

BELTSVILLE, Md. (WUSA9) -- The Beltsville fire station is closed after 300 gallons of kitchen waste was discovered underneath the kitchen floor on Friday.

The fire house is located in the 4900 block of Prince George's County Avenue. The broken sewage pipe that drains kitchen waste was found on Friday night, according to Mark Brady with the Prince George's County Fire Department.

The fire crews and trucks have been moved to the Calverton Station for the time being. They will stay there until repairs have been made and it is safe to move back. It is not clear at this time how long the repairs will take.

The sewage was found underneath the kitchen floor. Environmental and worker safety agencies have been contacted, Brady added.

All environmental and worker safety agencies have been notified of the situation.

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May 05, 2015
Williams County Fire Station Destroyed by Fire - OH

A fire Sunday night destroyed the Florence Township Fire Department. Reports came in around 6:30 p.m. about a fire at 201 S. Michigan Street in Edon.

All of the department's fire equipment was destroyed and Edon Police Chief Tom Szymczak said the building had major damage. No firefighters or personnel were in the volunteer fire house when the fire started.

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined.

The department is meeting on Monday to figure out what they are going to do until the department is rebuilt. In the meantime, other departments in the area will take over responding to incidents in Florence Township.

A GoFundMe account has already been set up in the department's name to help cover the costs of replacing equipment.

The fire department covers the Village of Edon, Blakeslee, Florence Township, and the Ohio Turnpike.

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May 05, 2015
Firefighter Dies After Being Injured in Fatal Poughkeepsie (NY) Fire - NY

(The Last Call - RIP)

A Poughkeepsie firefighter died from cardiac-related issues he experienced while fighting a fatal fire in the city Monday.

Firefighter Timothy Gunther, 54, was described as an exemplary firefighter and good friend by Chief Mark Johnson at a news conference today, Tuesday, at the Public Safety Building.

Gunther's death is considered a line-of-duty death, the first since 1971 for the department, city officials said Tuesday, in front of a crowd that included more than 20 firefighters.

"In honor of Firefighter Timothy Gunther's heroic service we will be lighting the Mid-Hudson Bridge red this evening," the New York State Bridge Authority announced via Facebook. "May he rest in peace."

Flags on all Dutchess County Government facilities have been lowered to half staff to honor Gunther.

Gunther, a 21-year veteran of the fire department, was assisting with rescue and suppression activities on Monday, when he started getting cardiac-related symptoms, such as shortness of breath and a tingling in his left arm, Johnson said. He was transported to Vassar Brothers Medical Center.

While at the hospital, Gunther's condition worsened, he underwent surgery, and was taken off life support this morning, Johnson added.

"He succumbed to his injuries while fighting a fire and trying to rescue another person in the City of Poughkeepsie," Johnson said.

Gunther started at department in 1994. Before that, the Beekman resident was an English teacher, Johnson said.

He was part of a team of firefighters given a unit citation award in 2011, for helping to rescue with a Hudson River rescue, according to Journal archives. Gunther was also a 2008 General Salute to Heroes Award winner, for"making a difference in keeping patients alive before and after Advanced Life Support."

He wrote a first-person farewell to Deputy Chief Joe Kelley of the Hartsdale Fire Department, who died in January 2013. The piece was published in the Journal in February that year.

"It doesn't really matter how Joe died but only how he lived and how his life affected everyone he knew," Gunther wrote in the article.

Gunther was also a Hudson Valley Playwright. In his biography listed on the Hudson Valley Playwright's website, Gunther graduated from SUNY Albany in 1982 with a degree in English. He received secondary education from SUNY New Paltz in 1992, the website said.

He was also past chairman of the Beekman board of ethics, confirmed Town Supervisor Barbara Zulauf.

Gunther "was an outstanding resident in the community," Zulauf said.

City Mayor John Tkazyik said that firefighters risk their lives every time they leave a station.

"It is all too often that we hear the distinctive sirens of responding fire companies...and dismiss them as simply an annoyance," Tkazyik said at Tuesday's press conference. Gunther "served his community with pride and distinction and for that, we commend him. To his family, you have a great reason to be proud."

Firefighters know how dangerous their jobs can be, Johnson said. But "we never think it's going to happen here to us." Gunther was "trying to save the life of another person, and he paid the ultimate sacrifice."

While the chief and mayor spoke, many of the firefighters wiped tears from their eyes.

Via statement, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro praised Gunther and the city fire department.

"We are grateful for his dedication and service, and are inspired by the courage and sacrifice made by all firefighters who answer the call to protect our lives, our homes and our communities," Molinaro said. "We are reminded, today, of the extreme risk these men and women take every day and are ever more grateful for those Bravest throughout our community."

The news of Gunther's death comes one day after the home at 315 Church Street went up in flames Monday, which was May 4, International Firefighters' Day.

Gunther was assigned to Engine 2 at the time of the fire.

One occupant of the building, a man, was found upstairs in a closet. The victim, who apparently died of smoke inhalation, "was pulled from the building by several firefighters" and later pronounced dead at the hospital, Johnson said. The cause of the fire is unknown, but the chief said it doesn't not appear to be suspicious.

Besides Gunther, two other firefighters sustained injuries. Both firefighters were treated, one at the scene and one at the hospital.

Johnson speculated that the smoke and heat from the first-floor fire rose to the upstairs and may have impaired the man's ability to get around.

"We're not sure how he ended up there, trying to escape, or confused," Johnson said Monday. "There was an extreme amount of smoke and an extreme amount of heat." Smoke is extremely toxic, and "Two or three breaths and you're incapacitated." It's possible the man was disoriented and may have mistaken the closet for an exit, he said.

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May 05, 2015
Firefighters dodge ammo fighting house fire - PA

PENN HILLS, Pa. — Ammunition that continued to go off inside of a burning Penn Hills apartment home Monday night made the firefighters’ job difficult, Penn Hills Fire Chief John Capone said.

Firefighters responded to a home in the 6400 block of Leechburg Road around 8:10 p.m. Firefighters were called back to the scene before 5 a.m. Tuesday when the flames rekindled.

Capone said a litter of kittens died, but two people, a dog and two cats were rescued from the flames.

Brian Myers told Channel 11 News that he was driving on Leechburg Road when he saw smoke billowing from the home. He said he pulled over and rushed over with his passenger to make sure everyone was out.

"I kicked the front door in, let 2 cats out and then we ran around back," Myers said.

Myers and neighbors helped the two people inside their first-floor apartment escape.

Capone said no one was in the upstairs apartment, but there were pets. He said two cats ran out the door, and firefighters rescued a dog who was in a cage.

There was no immediate word on what might have caused the fire.

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May 05, 2015
Seminole Co. commissioner calls out firefighters for going to grocery store - FL

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — A Seminole County commissioner is calling out firefighters over a grocery run.

Commissioner Brenda Carey texted a complaint to firefighters for going to a Winn-Dixie less than a mile from their fire station on Lake Mary Boulevard while they were on the clock.

One firefighter who asked to remain anonymous told Channel 9's Tim Barber that cooking on the clock during a 24-hour shift is part of the job.

"I just feel it's very petty," the firefighter told Barber.

He said he was outraged when he found out Carey followed the crew on a grocery run from Station 36 to the store.

"It's just kind of disheartening, you know?" he said. "We take a lot of pride in the Seminole County Fire Department, and I think we do a really good job."

"I see the FF's are still making grocery runs with our expensive-to-operate vehicles. I thought the policy had been changed to only allow them to stop when returning from a call. I followed this one from the station to the turn in for the grocery store. Disappointed," Carey wrote in her complaint.

Barber took a look at the policy, which states, "It shall be a priority to coordinate grocery runs with other business-related trips".

Barber drove from the station to the store, which came in under a mile away. While at the store, firefighters from Station 36 responded to a medical call and crash next door.

Carey told Barber by phone that it's her job to look after taxpayer dollars.

The firefighters said they were just going for sausage, biscuits and orange juice, but they had their gear with them just in case.

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May 05, 2015
Fire Lt. Ricky Thurman dies of cardiac arrest - GA

(The Last Call - RIP)

Swainsboro, Georgia firefighter Lt Ricky Thurman died in the Line of Duty this evening Monday, May 4, 2015, Lieutenant Thurman was operating at the scene of a house fire on Wadley Road at around 2200 hours.

While operating at the fire, he suffered cardiac arrest and was unable to be revived. Swainsboro is east of Macon and south of Augusta.
By FireRescue1 Staff

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May 05, 2015
Harlan County woman accused of trying to rob firefighter during fundraiser - KY

HARLAN, Ky. (WYMT) - One Harlan County woman is behind bars after police say she tried to steal money from a fire department during a fundraiser.

Harlan Police arrested Marilyn Goldsberry, 44, of Cawood, Sunday and charged her with robbery, disorderly conduct, wanton endangerment and menacing.

Officials with the Lower Cloverfork Volunteer Fire Department said the circumstances surrounding the arrest are very bizarre.

The bridge between Highway 421 and the Harlan Walmart is where police said Goldsberry tried rob a firefighter while members of the department were conducting a roadblock and car wash.

One of the firefighters, Gilbert Cox, was holding a boot and collecting donations in it when police said Goldsberry tried to rip it away from him.

"I figured she was going to hit me or maybe pull a gun out or something," Cox said. "I didn't know what to do. I just held on to the boot. I wouldn't let it go."

Goldsberry caused Cox to nearly be run over by an oncoming truck, police said.

"She could have killed me," Cox said.

Gladys Middleton - the president of the department's Ladies Auxiliary - said she saw the whole thing.

"At that moment, to be honest with you, I was ready to plug her," Middleton said. "People have their ups and downs, their bad days and good days. But everybody deserves a second chance."

Goldsberry is in the Harlan County Detention Center awaiting arraignment.

Members of the fire department were still able to have a successful fundraiser Sunday to help them pay for gifts for area children around Christmas.
By: Tanner Hesterberg /

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May 05, 2015
Community mourns fallen firefighter Tim Peters in Schuylkill County - PA

(The Last Call - RIP)

Pine Grove, Schuylkill County - The fallen firefighter's flag is flying at half staff outside the Pine Grove Fire Company No. 1.

It's there for Tim Peters, who died just hours after responding to a call. He's being remembered as one of the fire company's most celebrated volunteers

"If you knew Tim he was a big gentleman," Said Pine Grove Fire Chief David Sattizahn, "His words spoke with some kind of enthusiasm when he spoke. He was just a lot of fun to be around."

Peters passed away just hours after responding to a medical call last week. Since he died within 24 hours of answering a call, his death is considered a line of duty death.

Chief Sattizahn says Tim was one-of-a-kind.

"He was full of life. He was really full of life. Tim was really good with his kids, with his family and wife."

Peters joined the fire company in 1992, and would eventually rise to president of the company.

Sattizahn says under peters watch the fire company was able to add new engines and move to a bigger home. He adds that Peters was very dedicated to the company.

"Volunteers are hard to come by. And anybody that you have, and when you have a loss like this it's tremendous," Sattizahn said.

Peters was 46-years-old. He leaves behind a wife of 21 years, a son, and two daughters.

Services for Peters will be held Tuesday. The funeral will be at Saint Paul's United Methodist Church in Pine Grove. Then, Peters will be carried by fire engines to his final resting place at the Saint Peter Luthran Cementary.

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May 03, 2015

(The Last Call - RIP)

The Orchard Farm Fire Protection District (Missouri) is mourning the loss of a longtime volunteer Firefighter today. Firefighter / Engineer Larry Lawhorn, 60, suffered an apparent medical event while responding to an emergency call in Portage Des Sioux early this morning and later died in the Line of Duty.

Shortly after 0200, Lawhorn was traveling northbound on Highway J responding to a structure fire on Second Street in Portage Des Sioux when his OFFPD vehicle left the roadway and came to rest in a field. He was found by other personnel as they left the Portage Des Sioux call. Despite resuscitation efforts by Firefighters from the OFFPD and Rivers Pointe Fire Protection District and Paramedics from St. Charles County Ambulance District, Lawhorn was later pronounced dead on-scene.

Lawhorn had a long career in fire protection, serving with the St. Charles Fire Protection District prior to volunteering for OFFPD. Arrangements are pending with Baue Funeral Homes in St. Charles. For additional information, please contact: Chief Jeremey Hollrah:

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May 03, 2015
Firefighter Charged with Battery in Attack on Officer - IN

A Schererville firefighter was charged with battery, a Level 6 felony, following an incident with a police officer at a February emergency.

Kevin S. Stumpe, 38, along with three other firefighters, responded an early morning alarm call on Feb. 22, reports.

He asked Schererville Police Officer Jennifer Zukley if she knew what a white wash is, according to the affidavit.

She was unaware of it, and Stumpe asked her to step outside the building. The affidavit says Stumpe squeezed Zukley's neck and slammed her into a pile of hardened snow.

Zukley told detectives that she told him to stop and after the incident he left the call without saying anything.

Schererville Fire Chief Joe Kruzan did not comment.

The newspaper reports that Zukley has a pending sexual discrimination lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court against Schererville town officials.
Source: News

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May 03, 2015
Firefighter Dies After Being Struck by Tree - TN

(The Last Call - RIP)

A Madison County firefighter Chris Blankenship died after a tree fell while firefighters were battling a vehicle fire.

Chris Blankenship, a 10-year member of the Madison County Fire Department, responded to a vehicle fire at Highway 18 and Medon-Malesus Road Sunday morning. The fire was a result of a vehicle accident, according to release from the fire department.

While crews were tackling the fire, a tree unexpectedly fell on top of Blankenship. He was trapped beneath the tree and the ground.

Crews quickly removed him from underneath the tree and administered medical treatment.

Blankenship was transported to Jackson Madison County General Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries, according to the department.

Blankenship leaves behind a wife, Ashley Chism Blankenship and two children, Baily and Chase.

He was assigned to Madison County Fire Station 2.

"We ask the public for special prayers for the Blankenship family and the entire Madison County Fire Department," Madison County Fire Chief Eric Turner said.
Source: News

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May 02, 2015
Watertown city manager looks to cut fire department positions - NY

WATERTOWN — Saying she has a different take on a recent fire department study, City Manager Sharon A. Addison said Thursday night she is ready to take on the firefighters union and cut fire department staff.

Ms. Addison contends she can negotiate cuts in the fire department staff by reducing the department’s less serious emergency calls. She argued adamantly that “city management” should decide staff levels, not the firefighters union.

The fire department uses the industry standard of “minimal staffing requirement” that maintains 15 firefighters are needed to be on duty at all times. But for years, critics have accused the fire department of sending staff and vehicles out on the least serious medical calls as a way to keep response calls up and staffing levels at 78 members.

The topic of her view of the fire department study came up during a City Council budget session Thursday night. Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham said it was time for the city manager’s strategy to become public, saying it was at the forefront of her 2015-16 budget message.

“What you are proposing will not be easy,” Mr. Graham said, adding it also will be expensive.

The mayor explained that the city somehow will have to negotiate with the Watertown Professional Fire Fighters Association, Local 191, to agree to cut down on those medical calls and that it eventually would lead to reducing staff.

If the city manager pursues the strategy, the city will have to spend “six figures” to hire “a downstate attorney,” to handle the negotiations, he said.

Three weeks ago, consultant International City/County Management Association concluded the city will have to keep current departmental staffing levels if it is unable to negotiate a different “deployment model” with the firefighters union.

But Ms. Addison has a different take on the study’s findings that could keep costs down in the long term.

“It’s no secret we’re trying to get the fire department to ask for a cost-saving strategy,” she said, even though about 95 percent of the department’s costs are fixed.

Ms. Addison acknowledged she’s been using attrition to keep staff levels down, adding the department could reduce more than 50 percent of the emergency calls and overtime costs now exceed $350,000.

“The lines were drawn before the study,” Ms. Addison said, adding the city “has an obligation” to taxpayers.

The firefighters union has been without a contract since July. Negotiations were halted while the two sides waited for the report to be completed.

Contacted after the meeting, Daniel E. Daugherty, the fire union’s vice president, said he was unaware of the city manager’s bargaining strategy, since she has refused to meet with the union until later this month or June.

“We told her the day after the study came out we wanted to start negotiations,” he said.

Mr. Daugherty said the union is aware the city manager included personnel changes in her proposed budget. She has proposed shuffling staff from the city Code Enforcement office back into the Fire Department, and adding a code safety inspector in her $41.289 million spending plan.

Ms. Addison has proposed eliminating two positions in the fire department and moving two others now working in the Code Enforcement office there. The new safety inspector would fill the void. The changes would save the city $47,000, Ms. Addison has said.

The city has had an agreement to keep the two positions in codes since a 1993 agreement with the firefighters union.

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May 02, 2015
Man Arrested for Fire Station Break-in - NM

Members of the Agua Sana Volunteer Fire Department in Hernandez, Rio Arriba County saw something disturbing when they reviewed surveillance video of their station from the night of April 16.

There was a man inside the station and authorities later discovered a break -- in and two chain saws, a water pump and a portable generator had been taken. "He (the suspect) made a couple of trips in and out of the building," said Rio Arriba County Sheriff's Lt. Randy Sanches.

Fire chief Alfredo Montoya reviewed the surveillance video and then a volunteer firefighter reviewed and recognized the man in the video as living close to the station, said Sanches.

Deputy Joey Aquino reviewed the tape on his own time, said Sanches and obtained a search warrant and arrest warrant for Loren Salazar, about 50, of Hernandez. Salazar was arrested Saturday night and charged with two counts of burglary, one count of larceny and one count of breaking and entering, according to Sanches.

"The officer (Aquino) who took the initiative to do this, did this on his day off," said Sanches.

The equipment, which was recovered, is valued at $5,000, said chief Montoya. "It's not very often we are lucky enough to get (stolen) equipment back," said Montoya
Andy Stiny On / Source: Albuquerque Journal, N.M.

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May 02, 2015

(KRON4 Video)

The East Contra Costa Fire Protection district is no stranger to money problems. The department is currently running on a Federal Grants, but money is drying up quickly.Voters could have voted to raise $4 million dollars to continue the service, but chose not to.

The district serves more than 100,000 people and the $4 million could have kept it fully operational for the next four years.

According to officials, there are more than 6,000 calls for service annually.

Due to the lack of funds, two of the fire houses will be closed permanently.

The president of the United Professional Firefighters of Contra Costa County, Vince Wells released a statement saying, “Two more station closures and firefighter layoffs will mean it takes longer to get the help you need in an emergency. These drastic reductions in service levels are something this community cannot afford given the continued growth in East County.”

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May 02, 2015
Senator Sounds Alarm on Volunteer Staffing - PA


The decline in volunteers manning Pennsylvania fire stations has reached what Sen. Kim Ward Wednesday called "crisis level," and she said it is well past the time for lawmakers to address the issue.

"It's time for us to take action," Ward, R-Hempfield, told a crowd of about 50 "” predominantly firefighters "” at a hearing at Adamsburg Community Volunteer Fire Company. "Firefighters provide a service that is vital to public safety that people expect and far too often take for granted."

Sen. Randy Vulakovich, R-Shaler, chairman of the Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, said that in 1976, Pennsylvania boasted a total of 300,000 volunteer firefighters. Today, that number has dwindled to about 50,000, or one-sixth that number.

Vulakovich said lawmakers need to form a strategy to "re-establish" the number of volunteer firefighters in the state.

"We must reverse this trend," Vulakovich said. "Volunteers are the pillar of emergency preparedness in Pennsylvania."

One reason for the decline, he said, is that volunteers spend 90 percent of their time raising money, and that's something the state needs to address.

"Time is a critical factor in the lives of volunteers," Vulakovich said, adding that the state has to find a way to prop up an institution whose members face tremendous obstacles and dangerous situations on a daily basis

Don Konkle, executive director of the Pennsylvania Fire and Emergency Services Institute, offered a lighthearted slogan to illustrate the hard work that volunteers put in to keep their departments operating.

He estimated that at a typical barbecue fundraiser, about $1.50 is raised for each chicken sold. He suggested departments adopt the slogan: "Fund a fire truck. Save a chicken."

While his comment lightened the mood of the hearing, he said that the sobering fact is that volunteer firefighters are doing more community work with less funding than at any other time in history.

Several suggestions made by the panel included increasing state support for volunteers, such as adding education tuition reimbursements, training and tax credits.

Former state Sen. Tim Solobay, commissioner of the Pennsylvania Office of Fire, said that the state's citizens depend on lifesaving services provided by volunteer firefighters.

"When you hear that whistle, you need someone to answer the call," he said.
CHUCK BRITTAIN, Tribune-Review

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May 02, 2015
Information passed along
Cleveland firefighters want bulletproof vests - OH

CLEVELAND -- Firefighting in itself is a dangerous business. But in a new more volatile and violent urban environment, there can be added risks.

And Cleveland firefighters are asking for the same kind of protection that their counterparts in Toledo,Cincinnati and Columbus already have -- bulletproof vests.

Cleveland police have them and so do EMS First Responders who have had them for 12 years.

"It's a big issue. It's a big issue...We want to be as prepared as we can be, " said Frank Szabo, president of the Cleveland Firefighters union

Szabo says talks with the city about vests have been going on for more than a decade but recent trouble in Ferguson and Baltimore seem to have added a sense of urgency.

There have been meetings with the city since early this year. Another one is set for May 19.

Two and a half years ago, a gunman in upstate New York set a house on fire and then opened fire, ambushing responding firefighters.

Two were killed. Two more were wounded.

Fire crews came under fire battling blazes in Ferguson. And firefighters in Baltimore have dodged thrown objects and seen equipment vandalized.

Szabo claims that about half of cities with similar size and demographics as Cleveland already have vests.

Some departments buy them for all firefighters. Some buy adjustable vests that are assigned to each position on fire trucks.

That could be a significant cost difference.

In Cleveland, there are about 750 firefighters. Buying vests for each would be expensive. Buying adjustable vests for firefighters on duty would only involve around 150 vests.

There was a recent incident that left firefighters upset.

A truck was called to help police during an on-again, off-again shooting incident with a barricaded man. Firefighters were only told to help police by bringing a ladder and did not realize they were entering an incident involving gunfire.

Safety Director Michael McGrath said the city is doing research to come up with the best option.

"I understand their concerns. We are willing to talk and see if we can resolve some of their issues," he said.

Szabo says the department recently clarified and improved orders how to respond to fires and incidents that could involve coming under fire.

There seems to be a tentative commitment to buying vests.

But if there's trouble in the wake of the Michael Brelo verdict, they won't be here in time.
Tom Beres, WKYC-TV

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May 02, 2015
Man Deliberately Drives into Fire Station - VA

A 63-year-old Newport News man damaged a fire engine and a glass door at a Denbigh fire station Thursday afternoon after he purposely drove into a fire station building, police said.

The man crashed his Toyota Corolla at Fire Station #9 at 14417 Old Courthouse Way just before 1:30 p.m., Newport News Police Department spokeswoman Holly McPherson said.

No injuries were reported as a result of the crash, and the man was taken to a local hospital for a psychological evaluation, she said.

The man was not attempting to commit suicide, but McPherson said the department would not be releasing more information about the circumstances of the incident.

A glass bay door sustained extensive damage, and the fire damage had minor damage, although it will be out of service until officials can determine how much, McPherson said.

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May 02, 2015
Information passed along
US, Canada unveil rules to boost oil train safety

WASHINGTON — Rail tank cars used to transport crude oil and many other flammable liquids will have to be built to stronger standards to reduce the risk of a catastrophic train crash and fire, under sweeping new safety rules unveiled Friday by U.S. and Canadian transportation officials.

The regulations are a long-awaited response to a series of fiery train crashes in the U.S. and Canada, including four so far this year. The most serious accident occurred in July 2013, when a runaway oil train derailed in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, just across the border from Maine, killing 47 people and destroying most of the town's central business district.

"I witnessed Lac-Megantic firsthand, and I believe that we truly have to act to honor those who died and honor those who were injured" to show that safety is "our most important priority in transportation," said Canada's Minster of Transport, Lisa Raitt. She joined U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in announcing the new regulations.

Under the rules, new tank cars carrying the most volatile liquids, including crude oil and ethanol, must have an outer shell, a thermal lining to withstand fire, improved valves and thicker, 9/16ths-inch steel walls to keep them from rupturing.

For the crude oil fleet, more than 16,000 of the oldest tank cars, known as DOT-111s, would have to be phased out or retrofitted in the U.S. and Canada by 2018. By 2020, an additional 27,000 cars primarily used for crude would need to be upgraded.

For the ethanol fleet, retrofits for almost 20,000 DOT-111s would have to be completed by May 2023. All remaining cars used to haul hazardous flammable liquids would need retrofits or replacement by 2025.

Defending the timetable, Foxx said officials took into account how long it will take manufacturers to produce tank cars to the new standard.

"This is a schedule we believe is workable; it's aggressive," he said. "If you talk to some of the manufacturers who are going to have to do the work, it's more aggressive than they would like."

The deadlines drew criticism from safety advocates and some members of Congress, who said they would leave dangerous cars on the tracks for too long. Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington state, where crude-by-rail traffic is expected to sharply increase in coming years, added that Friday's announcement did not address the high volatility of crude originating in the Bakken region of North Dakota, Montana and Canada.

"We're seeing these explosions that even first responders can't respond to adequately," Cantwell said.

Trains of at least 70 cars that have at least one car containing the most volatile class of liquids also must have electronically controlled brakes that automatically stop all the cars in a train at the same time, instead of sequentially. The braking requirement goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2021. But it will be extended to all flammable-liquid trains after 2023.

The braking requirement applies only to the U.S., but Raitt said Canadian regulators are moving on a separate, faster track to adopt a new braking standard.

Officials estimated the cost of the regulations at $2.5 billion. The oil and railroad industries had lobbied heavily against some of the changes, including meetings several times in recent months with White House budget officials.

The American Petroleum Institute said Friday the timeline for tank car retrofits was too short and doesn't recognize limits on shop capacity available to get the work done. API President Jack Gerard said the regulations "will lead to shortages that impact consumers and the broader economy" by choking off the transport of oil to refineries.

Railroads had fought the new braking requirements, saying they will provide little or no added safety benefit. The Transportation Department "couldn't make a case" for electronic brakes "but forged ahead anyhow," said Edward R. Hamberger, the Association of American Railroads' CEO. "This is an imprudent decision made without supporting data or analysis."

But Sarah Feinberg, head of the Federal Railroad Administration, said electronic brakes will be "a game-changer" for safety. "We are not an agency with the goal of making things convenient or inexpensive for industry."

The two governments worked on the rules together because oil trains go back and forth across the border.

Last year, railroads moved half a million tank cars of crude oil, up from just 9,500 in 2008 before the hydraulic fracturing boom made oil production surge in the Bakken.

The Obama administration has been under intense pressure from Congress as well as from state and local officials to ensure the safety of oil trains that traverse the country after leaving the Bakken region. To get to refineries on the East and West coasts and the Gulf of Mexico, oil shipments travel through more than 400 counties, including major metropolitan areas such as Philadelphia, Seattle, Chicago, Newark and dozens of other cities.
By Joan Lowy and Matthew Brown / The Associated Press

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May 02, 2015
Investigation finds politics, personalities hinder fire response - PA

Fire chiefs of neighboring stations sometimes do not get along. And in Pennsylvania, it's up to the local fire chief to decide who backs up his department when they go to a fire.

When a house caught fire on Lobinger Avenue in North Braddock, multiple stations were called to back up the North Braddock Volunteer Fire Department.

Trucks came from East McKeesport, 5.7 miles away; Monroeville, 6.5 miles away; and Penn Hills, 6.7 miles away.

But one fire department -- much closer -- was nowhere to be found.

Swissvale is just two-tenths of a mile from the house that burned. The Swissvale Fire Department is only a mile-and-a-half from that house. But when the home caught fire, Swissvale trucks never left their station. That's because the North Braddock chief does not want Swissvale helping him.

This, despite the fact that Swissvale has a professional fire department. Dispatch records show it has one of the quickest response times in Allegheny County.

Reporter Paul Van Osdol asked the North Braddock fire chief about why he left Swissvale off his run card -- the document he gives Allegheny County 911 saying which departments are backing him up.

Van Osdol: “They're not on the run card for North Braddock?”

Chief Anthony Rydzak: “Right.”

Van Osdol: “Why not?”

Rydzak: “They're just not on it.”

Van Osdol: “Because they're pretty close, right?”

Rydzak: “They are.”

Van Osdol: “Any reason why they wouldn't respond to the fire? Because we're only a couple blocks from Swissvale, right?”

Rydzak: “Uh, yeah, I don't know.”

Swissvale officials declined to comment, but Action News Investigates has learned that North Braddock removed Swissvale from its run card after a controversy that broke out when Swissvale fired Deputy Fire Chief Jim Barca, who is also the fire chief in Homestead. Other volunteer firefighters rallied around Barca.

Barca's allies alleged that he was fired because Homestead did not allow Swissvale to help fight a massive blaze in Homestead last year. Swissvale's chief said that had nothing to do with it.

The state fire commissioner says there is no reason for fire chiefs to block neighboring departments from backing them up.

Van Osdol: “Doesn't that put their own citizens in jeopardy?”

Fire Commissioner Tim Solobay: “It sure does, and I tell you what, I've been very critical in the past of places where I heard that going on. There's a couple of them going on right now in the commonwealth."

In 2011, O'Hara Township banned the Guyasuta Fire Department from answering calls following allegations that it was not using neighboring departments for backup. The fire department dissolved and was ordered by a judge to sell all its assets, including its trucks.

Just down the street from the North Braddock house that burned up, resident Grace Fletcher says fire officials need to put aside politics and focus on public safety.

“I think they should remember why they do their job, not for personal issues or political issues, it's to help their communities," Fletcher says.

Certainly, the vast majority of firefighters do keep public safety at the forefront
By Paul Van Osdol /

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