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2015 April

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April 01, 2015

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April 01, 2015
Firefighting Pilot Brandon Ricks and Firefighter Steve Cobb Die in Mississippi Helicopter Crash - MS

(The Last Call - RIP)

A United States Forest Service pilot and firefighter died in a helicopter crash earlier this week in Mississippi.

The U.S. Fire Administration reported that Pilot Brandon Ricks, 40, and Forest Service Engineering Technician Steve Cobb, 55, died in the March 30 crash, which occurred in the vicinity of Airey Tower and Martha Redmond roads.

The pilot and one firefighter died of injuries sustained and one firefighter was seriously injured when their U.S. Forest Service helicopter crashed while monitoring a controlled burn of about 800 acres in the Desoto National Forest

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April 01, 2015
Firefighter Hurt in Restaurant Fire Collapse - PA

One firefighter was injured battling an early-morning fire at a Jefferson Hills bar and restaurant Wednesday.

The three-alarm fire began just before 4 a.m. at the Old Large Hotel on Oak Road. No one was inside the 112-year-old establishment at the time, according to Allegheny County Emergency Management Coordinator Alvin Henderson Jr.

He said partial roof collapse in a portion of the building sent a firefighter to the hospital with pain in her neck. He said the injury did not appear to be serious.

The county fire marshal was on scene, Henderson said, but the fire was being preliminarily ruled an accident.

Jefferson Hills Fire Chief Andrew Tomer said the fire spread quickly up the walls and into the attic of the three-story building.

"It kept getting worse," he said. "It was a stubborn fire."
Megan Guza / Source: The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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April 01, 2015
Firefighter Among Four Injured at Fire - MN

A fire Tuesday at a downtown St. Paul apartment building injured four people, including one man who suffered serious burns and smoke inhalation.

Firefighters were called about 4:30 p.m. to a second-floor apartment fire at 538 St. Peter St., where they found a critically injured man. He was taken to Regions Hospital and is expected to survive, said Fire Marshal Steve Zaccard.

Another person in a nearby apartment suffered smoke inhalation and was in stable condition at Regions, he said. Two other people who suffered minor smoke inhalation were treated at the scene.

Firefighters also rescued a cat that they treated with a special pet oxygen mask, Zaccard said.

A firefighter who suffered an eye injury from falling debris was treated at the hospital.

Residents said the fire alarms went off but that some ignored them because they get so many false alarms, Zaccard said.

The fire, which was extinguished in about 15 minutes, was contained to one apartment in the 66-unit building, and most of the residents were able to return their homes Tuesday evening, he said. The Babani's Kurdish Restaurant on the first floor may have suffered some water damage, Zaccard said.

The cause of the fire has not been determined.
Mary Lynn Smith / Source: Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

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April 01 2015
3 hurt, including 1 firefighter, in 2 fires - IL

Chicago firefighters battle a blaze in the Pilsen neighborhood early Tuesday.
(Alexandra Chachkevitch, Chicago Tribune)

Three people, including a firefighter, were injured in two separate fires that broke out Tuesday morning on the Southeast and Near Southwest sides.

Two people in their 70s were hurt after a blaze started around 5:05 a.m. in a 1½-story house in the 9600 block of South Woodlawn Avenue in the Cottage Grove Heights neighborhood, Chicago Fire Department spokesman Jeff Lyle said.

One person was in critical condition and one was in a serious-to-stable condition, Lyle said. It was not immediately clear where they were hospitalized, he said.

As of 6 a.m., firefighters had finished battling the fire and were cleaning up the area, Lyle said.

Earlier, a firefighter was injured when an extra-alarm fire broke out in a three-story building around 3 a.m. in the Pilsen neighborhood on the Near Southwest Side, Lyle said.

The blaze started in a vacant building in the 1300 block of West Cullerton Street at 2:59 a.m., and the fire was upgraded around 3:19 a.m., Lyle said.

One firefighter suffered minor injuries and was taken to Rush University Medical Center, Lyle said.

At the scene, several neighbors stood on a sidewalk and watched the firefighters. Some were carrying pets and small children.

Neighbors said the building that caught fire has been vacant for at least a year and that renovations have been going on for the past few months.

The causes of both fires were still under investigation early Tuesday.
By Alexandra Chachkevitch / Chicago Tribune

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April 01, 2015
Information passed along
Safety groups petition consumer bureau to ban flame retardant products

Consumer safety groups want federal regulators to ban products made with the flame retardant chemicals known as organohalogens.

Groups including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the International Association of Fire Fighters and the Consumers Union are petitioning the Consumer Product Safety Commission to ban consumer products containing the chemical in four categories — children’s products, furniture, mattresses and the casings around electronics.

The groups say the chemicals, which migrate continuously out from everyday household products into the air and dust, have been linked to cancer, lower sperm count, premature births, decreased IQ in children, impaired memory, learning deficits, hyperactivity, hormone disruption and lowered immunity.

Firefighters, concerned for their health, are hoping to find another fire safety solution that’s non-toxic.

“When toxic flame retardants burn — and they do burn — it creates a serious health risk for fire fighters,” Harold Schaitberger, the International Association of Fire’s general president, said in a statement. “There is significant scientific data that shows the association between firefighting, exposure to deadly toxins and cancer.”

Though there is no law pushing manufacturers to use this chemical flame retardant in products, consumer groups argue there is no law prohibiting the use of these toxic chemicals either.

Lawmakers have been working to reform the nation’s toxic chemical laws for decades, but the effort has repeatedly stalled with Republicans and Democrats failing to reach a consensus on how it should be done.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) with co-sponsor Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) with co-sponsor Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) introduced competing bills last month, reigniting the chemical reform fight on Capitol Hill.

Meanwhile groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics are calling on the federal agency — the CFPB — to help protect one of the nation’s most vulnerable populations from what they say are some of the nation's most dangerous chemicals.

“Children’s natural behaviors –—playing on the floor, exploring different surfaces, putting things in their mouths — make them uniquely vulnerable to flame retardants and the harmful fumes and dust they emit,” Academy President Sandra Hassink said in a statement.

“These products must be made safer if we are to make children’s environments safer and secure the foundations of health for every child.”
By Lydia Wheeler /

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