Fire, EMS vehicles and firefighters having a bad day!!!!!!
2015 April

This page may load slowly, lots of info.
Fire Truck
Lights will continuously flash when page completely loads.

Kolbs Home

View States Abbreviation

April 17, 2015
Explosion in house fire injures firefighters; some residents complain of slow response time - NY

Patricia Shyner, left, looks on as firefighters rush to fight the fire that destroyed a home at 70 High St. -where she lives - in Monticello on Thursday.
(ANDREW BEAM/Times Herald-Record)

MONTICELLO - Sparks shot into the sky as a fire engulfed a three-family home on High Street on Thursday, leaving several residents without a home.

Firefighters battled the blaze that broke out at 4 p.m and caused “extensive damage” to the home, which contained three apartment units. All occupants of the home escaped safely, but some could be heard screaming they “lost everything.”

Monticello fire Chief Scott Schoonmaker said that, at one point, firefighters went to open a door in the home before it blasted open, sending some down the stairs and blowing out the windows of the top floor of the building. As a result, three firefighters were taken to Catskill Regional Medical Center in Harris to be treated for minor burns.

Schoonmaker said firefighters put out the fire in approximately 30 minutes.

But some residents of the three-story Victorian-style home blamed firefighters for allowing the fire - which began on the second floor - to spread so quickly.

According to second-floor resident Sandra Margarum, firefighters were delayed in responding and it took them several minutes before they began using the hose to put out the fire.

“We lost everything because of the fire department not being responsive enough,” Margarum said.

Schoonmaker said the first firefighters were on the scene three minutes after the call came in and spent time searching for a man other residents of the home said was inside sleeping.

Firefighters later found the man standing outside watching the scene.

Tenants Patricia Shyner and her husband, Michael, were visibly shaken. Michael hugged and consoled Patricia as the fire raged on.

Patricia Shyner said they lost important documents, such as their birth certificates, in the blaze. She also said her mother’s ashes and Michael’s grandfather’s ashes were left inside.

“That’s important,” she said.

As tough as the fire was - with eight companies and more than 80 firefighters responding - Schoonmaker said there was a silver lining.

“Thank God everyone is going home safely,” Schoonmaker said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The Red Cross was on scene assisting the displaced residents of the home.
Andrew Beam /

Please buckle your seat belt

April 17, 2015
Top Officers Clash at Hartford, Fire Task Force Meeting - CT

HARTFORD -- Hartford Fire Chief Carlos Huertas and Deputy Chief of Training Daniel Nolan sparred over their respective roles and expectations at Thursday's final meeting of a task force appointed to review the fire department's operations.

Mayor Pedro Segarra formed the task force in December after incidents involving firefighters, both on duty and off, abusing alcohol or getting arrested.

The mayor also charged the panel with looking into safety issues and the department's response to an October house fire in which firefighter Kevin Bell was killed.

During an interview with three retired city fire chiefs -- John B. Stewart, Nelson Carter and Edward Casares -- and with Police Chief James Rovella, Nolan was asked about issues related to training.

One of the biggest problems, Nolan said, was that he and Huertas do not communicate.

"In order for training to be effective, we need communication," Nolan said. "That hasn't been happening."

Huertas countered that he receives a lot of emails and doesn't have the time or interest to respond to all of them, especially if they defy or question his orders.

"I give out orders," Huertas said. "I don't need them to be interpreted."

Later, when Nolan had an opportunity to respond, he said he "questioned unlawful orders" and added that the problems would continue until communciation improved.

Interim Assistant Chief Scott Brady, a retired deputy chief who is in his first week back on the job, was asked to provide his thoughts. He criticized Nolan for what he saw as insubordination brought on by lack of a command staff.

"There has been an assumption in the support divisions that they are autonomous," Brady said.

Huertas was also asked to tell the panel what his needs were as it prepares to make recommendations to the mayor about what steps the department should take to run more efficiently and resolve the spate of on- and off-duty, alcohol-related incidents that occurred in the past year.

Huertas said he needed an additional assistant chief's position. He has begun a national search to fill the position, which Brady filled on an interim basis starting this week.

He said he also needs more personnel in the training division, more professional development opportunities for officers and the addition of web-based training.

Casares told Huertas he would like to advocate for more staffing at the training division, but still had questions about whether the department was providing all the training opportunities it could. He said he wanted to see more data to show the need.

Carter also advocated more training opportunities and Stewart spoke of upgrading or possibly moving the training facility to prevent any more tragedies like Bell's death.

"I don't ever want to sit in this position again," Stewart said. "We don't want anyone to not come home. That's the bottom line."

At the end of the meeting Brady ordered Nolan to return to work instead of answering questions from the media. But Nolan questioned Brady's authority and spoke to the media anyway.
Steven Goode / Source: The Hartford Courant

Please buckle your seat belt

April 17, 2015
Firefighter, Civilian Hurt in Huge Apt Building Fire - CT

HARTFORD -- An intense fire tore through an apartment building in the North End Thursday night, hospitalizing a firefighter and a building resident and displacing about 70 people, city officials said.

Reports of the fire at 2604 Main St. came in about 6:30 p.m. and quickly escalated to a third-alarm, a rare call to bring in firefighters and equipment from throughout the city, fire Chief Carlos Huertas said. "A third alarm is almost at the point ... where we exhaust all our resources in the city," he said.

All the residents in the buildings made it out and were accounted for as of about 9:30 p.m., city officials said.

"This is by far one of the worst fires I've seen in the city, in terms of witnessing it," Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra said. "The most important thing for me is that all the families and all the residents made it out."

Officials estimated that 24 families, including 44 adults and 26 children, were driven out by the fire. Segarra and Huertas credited fire alarms in the building with helping the residents get out safely.

One of the three buildings in the complex was left uninhabitable, but officials said residents may be able to return to two nearby buildings. Those other structures will be assessed on Friday, Segarra said.

Heavy smoke and flames could be seen shooting up from the rear of the building shortly after firefighters arrived. At one point, three tower ladders were up spraying water from above.

"The amount of fire was very, very heavy according to initial reports from the incident commander," Huertas said.

Both a firefighter and the resident in the building were taken to St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center smoke inhalation, officials said.

Segarra said strong winds and an asphalt roof were among the issues that made the fire dangerous.

"I want to commend the men and women of the Hartford fire department who did an outstanding job today considering all the issues the mayor mentioned," Huertas said.

Segarra said pets inside the building were able to get out safely and just one cat had not been located.

While city crews battled the fire on Main Street, the city called in mutual aid from West Hartford and East Hartford to handle a fire on Lawrence Street near the intersection with Capitol Avenue, Huertas said. He said crews from those towns also manned city fire stations.

Main Street was closed as crews remained on the scene through the night. The fire marshal's office is investigating the cause of the incident, Huertas said.
Nicholas Rondinone / Source: The Hartford Courant

Please buckle your seat belt

April 17, 2015

Five firefighters from the Central Bell Fire Rescue volunteer fire department have been transported to a Bell County hospital after their fire truck rolled over on FM 439 near Belton this evening.

The condition of the firefighters was not immediately available, but all were conscious. Belton firefighters responded to the crash to assist, where two civilians were also reported injured.

Central Bell County Fire Rescue is a volunteer fire department that operates out of Nolanville not far from Waco.

Please buckle your seat belt

April 17, 2015
San Francisco firefighter collapses during training exercise - CA

TREASURE ISLAND, Calif. (KTVU) -- A San Francisco firefighter is in the hospital after a scary incident during training on Thursday morning.

The unidentified veteran firefighter was at the city's Fire Training Facility on Treasure Island, a place that helps firefighters stay ready for all the situations they face.

But just before 11 a.m., the firefighter suffered a medical emergency.

"They were doing a drill in our burn room, and one of the firefighters collapsed. And he was transported to the hospital," said Fire Dept. Spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge.

The burn room is where crews train in putting out controlled flames. They're wearing full gear and breathing apparatus. It can be stressful, even for experienced firefighters.

"It's also very hot in the gear. We haven't had an issue like this in the burn room," added Talmadge.

Cal-OSHA will look into the matter, and fire officials are conducting a safety investigation of the facility.

The firefighter is now at SF General Hospital in stable condition.

"He's undergoing tests, and we're not sure if it was actually related to the drill, or if it was a medical condition," explained Talmadge.

The firefighter, who also has a brother in the department, is being kept at the hospital overnight for observation.
By John Sasaki, Reporter /

Please buckle your seat belt

April 16, 2015
Former Arlington firefighters file lawsuit over lost benefits - NY

A half-dozen former firefighters have filed a lawsuit against the Arlington Fire District Board of Fire Commissioners, which carries with it the possibility of a looming class action.

The firefighters object to a resolution passed by the board last October to end the reimbursement of Medicare Part B premium costs from their retirement plans.

The six plaintiffs "satisfied their contractual commitment entitling them to lifetime medical benefits without cost," the complaint said. The document was obtained by the Poughkeepsie Journal after a Freedom of Information Law request was submitted to the Arlington Fire District.

The plaintiffs are seeking damages for what they're calling a "breach of contract," as well as compensation for expenses incurred because of the resolution, attorney fees and for the resolution to be "revoked," the court document said.

The six plaintiffs, who were employed in the district between the years of 1962 and 2014, include Barry Ireland, Edward Ireland Jr., Earle Bunn, Patrick McDonald, Arthur Rose and Victor Zamiloff. The complaint was filed in Dutchess County Supreme Court last February.

The Board of Fire Commissioners passed a resolution on Oct. 20, 2014 to stop the reimbursement of costs associated with Medicare Part B premiums for employees that retired from the district before the meeting date.

Board chairman James Beretta, as well as commissioners Joseph Armstrong and Peter Valdez voted in favor of the resolution, which passed 3-2. Commissioners Richard Dore and Kenneth Muckenhaupt voted against it.

The resolution had been "thoroughly researched" by the district's labor attorneys, Beretta said at the October meeting, which is available for audio playback on the district's website.

"The board and the district has been making payments since I believe 1986 that the district was not obligated to make," said Beretta last October. "This is an open and shut case," he said. "It's air tight."

Beretta declined comment Monday because litigation is pending.

Nathaniel Charny of Rhinebeck-based Charny & Associates is representing the plaintiffs. Laura Matlow Wong-Pan an associate at Thomas, Drohan, Waxman, Petigrow and Mayle is representing the fire district. Both attorneys also declined comment.

Medicare Part B premiums in 2015 are $104.90 per month for most recipients, according to the Medicare website. Part B coverage includes medically necessary and preventative services, the website said. In order to be eligible for Medicare most recipients have to be 65 or older.

In addition to the six firefighters, the complaint expands to others who retired during the same time frame.

A subhead of the court document called Class Action Allegations said there are more than 25 putative class members. The class includes those that retired from the district between the years of 1974 and 2014. Before the case is deemed a class action, a court must approve the certification.

"Plaintiffs bring this action on behalf of themselves and all other similarly situated individuals," the court document said.
Mark Gerlach /

Please buckle your seat belt

April 15, 2015

(WCVB Channel 5 Boston)

An off-duty Boston cop raced into a smoke-filled building to warn residents about a blaze next door during a two-alarm fire in the North End yesterday.Police officer Shana Cottone said she was leaving Suffolk Superior Court when she spotted the smoke.

She radioed dispatch and told them about the blaze, and then drove over. She said a woman outside the building said there were people on the second and third floors. “By the time I got there, there now was a good size fire going,” she said. “I ran up the stairs and I started kicking doors in. I had a big adrenaline rush, obviously. I kicked in the second-floor door and there was a guy in there with a dog, and his apartment was filled with smoke. I was like, ‘Get out of here. There’s a fire.’ The dog ran right out. The dog didn’t need to be told twice.”

The third floor she found no one, but she began to be overcome by the smoke and crawled on her stomach to the apartment shouting for people to get out. She said it appeared the occupants had already left.

“I’m not a firefighter, but fire wasn’t there yet and I couldn’t leave,” she said. “If there were people in there, which I was under the assumption that there were, I couldn’t just not go in there ... In the heat of the moment, you just do what you have to do.”

The fire destroyed the upper two floors of the vacant building next door on Stillman Place, but none of the neighboring residents was injured. Two firefighters were hospitalized for non life-threatening injuries, Boston Fire Department spokesman Steve MacDonald said.

Two years ago, Cottone was at the finish line of the Boston Marathon and helped victims of the bombing, including Rosann Sdoia, a severely wounded woman who Cottone comforted and accompanied to the hospital. Cottone was treated for smoke inhalation yesterday, but released. She plans to return to the marathon finish line today with some of the first responders who were with her that day.

Please buckle your seat belt

April 15, 2015
Firefighter Steven Ackerman found dead in basement of Brandon, South Dakota house fire - SD

(The Last Call - RIP)

Valley Springs Fire & Rescue Facebook page

Firefighter Steven Ackerman, 38, with Valley Springs Fire & Rescue has been officially identified as the firefighter killed late last (Sunday) night during a house fire in Brandon, Dakota. A civilian also died in that fire.

Tea Fire Chief Jeff Stahlecker received word of the loss of a fellow volunteer firefighter by phone. Several volunteer firefighters from other departments told him the news Monday morning. Stahlecker was shocked. He said it’s rare to hear about the loss of a volunteer firefighter because they aren’t dealing with the huge blazes departments in larger cities fight. “We leave our families to go help our other family and when something like this happens it’s never good,” Stahlecker said. “I feel really sorry for the family and volunteer firefighters, it’s tough losing a brother.”
Argus Leader: /

Orginal Coverage

Please buckle your seat belt

April 15, 2015
Firefighter Suffers Chemical Burns in Fire - ID

BURLEY -- A Burley firefighter was taken to the hospital Tuesday after a chemical fire at Redox Chemicals LLC.

Burley Fire Chief Shannon Tolman said the firefighter was treated and released from Cassia Regional Medical Center after he suffered a chemical contact burn Tuesday evening.

"He's doing fine," Tolman said.

Tolman said the firefighter was wearing protective gear but the chemical powder got inside his coat sleeve, causing the burn.

A chemical mixer, which holds 700 pounds of chemicals, was on fire, Tolman said.

The chemicals were reactive to water so the firefighters used 15 fire extinguishers, including some from neighboring businesses, to quell the blaze, Tolman said.

The call reporting the fire at 130 S. 100 W. came into the fire station at 4:42 p.m. and firefighters called the sheriff's dispatch, which routed the call back to the fire station.

The fire department sent out an engine, the command vehicle, a truck and a water tender.

When firefighters arrived smoke was showing at the door of the plant.

Tolman said he does not know what kinds of chemicals were involved.

Redox Chemicals officials were unavailable for comment on Wednesday morning.

"It's still undetermined why it caught on fire, they are still investigating it," said Tolman.

The chemical was extinguished inside the building, shoveled into wheelbarrows and taken outside, he said.

"It was a unique fire, that's for sure," said Tolman.

Tolman said it took about 10 minutes for the department to get the fire under control and another couple of hours to clean up.
Laurie Welch / Source: The Times-News, Twin Falls, Idaho

Please buckle your seat belt

April 15, 2015
Firefighter, 19, Wrecks Fire Truck, Two Hurt - TN

Two Midtown Volunteer Fire Department members were injured when the pumper/tanker they were in went off the road and then overturned Tuesday.

According to the television station, WBIR, Travis May, 19, of Harriman was driving the 1986 Chevrolet apparatus on U.S. Highway 70 when it went off the road into a grassy area. May, reportedly, over-corrected and apparatus turned over on to its roof. It reportedly slide for over 100 feet on its roof, according to radio station 105.7 FM on its Facebook page.

May and a passenger in the vehicle, Ty Puckett, 21, also of Harriman, were both injured and taken to Roane Medical Center, according to the television station.

According to another local station, Local 8 Now, both men were wearing seatbelts when the truck, owned by Midtown Volunteer Fire Department, overturned at about 6 p.m.

Reports indicate that neither of the two firefighters were seriously injured in the crash. The roadway was closed for more than an hour as water was removed from the truck allowing it to be righted and taken away
Source: News

Please buckle your seat belt

April 15, 2015
Fire Captain Sustains Serious Injures After 10-Foot Fall - CA

VENTURA, Calif.—A 34-year veteran of the Ventura City Fire Department suffered multiple fractures after falling about 10 feet into a concrete culvert while responding to a fire Sunday near Highway 33, officials said.

Capt. Myles Smith remained hospitalized Monday with serious injuries. Smith sustained multiple fractures to the right side of his body including his shoulder, arm, pelvis and femur.

"He's facing a fairly long road here," said Ventura Fire Marshal Brian Clark.

Smith has been a captain with the department for 22 years, Clark said.

The fire in the Ventura River bottom was reported at 2:36 p.m. It was burning on the side of the freeway near Stanley Avenue, officials said.

Ventura city and county fire departments responded.

Clark said Smith was injured about 20 minutes after the original call reporting the incident. Smith tumbled down an embankment and fell about 10 feet to the bottom of a concrete ditch, Clark said.

The rescue was swift, and firefighters were able to move him to the top of the embankment. Smith was treated and stabilized by a fellow firefighter before being taken to a trauma center, where he underwent surgery. Officials said he is expected to have more surgeries to repair the damage.

By 3 p.m., firefighters had extinguished flames and were mopping up.

Authorities were looking for a man whom they said witnessed the fall and then left the scene. The person was later contacted and determined to not have been involved.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation Monday.

Clark said the department chief initiated a serious-accident review team to investigate the incident. The team includes members of the agency as well as outside representatives.

Smith and his family are being supported by the Ventura City Fire Foundation and the Ventura City Firefighters Association, officials said.

"The fire service is a big family," Clark said.

Anyone wishing to donate to the foundation to help Smith can call 339-4300.

Please buckle your seat belt

April 15, 2015
Information passed along
Dispatchers Recall Odd 911 Calls - MO

The call to the Clay County emergency dispatch center certainly was unforgettable.

911 Caller: "I'm late for work & there's a goat at my front door that won't let me out."

Dispatcher: "Do you have a back door?"

Caller: "Oh, thanks!"

Though the exchange occurred last year, a Clay County dispatcher sent out a tweet of it Monday to raise awareness of National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.

The annual event during the second week of April recognizes men and women who work as public safety dispatchers.

"It was shared as an example of some of the interesting calls we've received on 911," Jon Bazzano, a Clay County dispatcher, said about the goat incident.

That tweet and several others included the hashtag #Notfor911. The sheriff's office provided them as part of a tweet-along that allowed followers to read about emergencies and other service calls.

Bazzano included several other tweets of actual calls received over the years.

Such as: "Hi, what time is it?"

And: "Can you tell me what it's like outside today?"

And: "Hi, can you tell me if I have a warrant?"

Oh, and so far this year, the sheriff's office has handled more than 800 calls to 911 that were hang-ups, misdials, open-lines or pocket dials.
Glenn E. Rice / Source: The Kansas City Star

Please buckle your seat belt

April 15, 2015
Ex-Firefighter's Joy Ride Ends in Arrest in West Virginia - VA

April 15—Last week, Gary Lee Philpot drove the Loup Creek Volunteer Fire Department's Chevy truck. Tuesday he was arrested on a number of charges.

The problem? Philpot, 34, of Robson, did not have permission to use the 2007 Silverado crew-cab pickup. And the fire chief said Philpot was about to be released from duty because he had not complied with the terms of his probationary status, a Fayette County Sheriff's Office press release states.

Now Philpot is charged with misdemeanor offenses of trespassing, joy riding and third offense driving on a revoked license. Yet, during an investigation, it was revealed he was wanted for third offense driving on a suspended license, reckless driving, operating an ATV on a roadway with a center line and fleeing in a vehicle from a law enforcement office. Those charges stem from a June 2014 incident, according to the press release.

Philpot's problems began April 7, when the county's 911 Center received a call that the fire department's truck was stolen.

When deputies arrived, the truck was back at the fire house, but Philpot was seen joy riding in it early that evening on Dempsey Branch Road, the release states.

The fire chief told deputies that Philpot recently returned as a member of the fire department, but he failed to comply with its probationary requirement, the release states. The chief told authorities Philpot was about to be relieved of duty before the incident, but had not yet been notified.

Fayette County Sheriff Steve Kessler said Philpot "did not have keys to the building and actually broke into the station in oder to take this fire department vehicle."

Kessler said after consulting with the county's prosecuting attorney, charges of breaking and entering were not appropriate, as Philpot had been a member of the department.

Philpot was arraigned in Fayette County Magistrate Court where bond was set at $3,500. There was no record of him being in the Southern Regional Jail Tuesday night
Daniel Tyson / Source: The Register-Herald, Beckley, W.Va.

Please buckle your seat belt

April 15, 2015
2 injured when firetruck overturns in Roane County - TN

Two people with the Midtown Volunteer Fire Department suffered minor injuries late Tuesday afternoon when the firetruck they were in ran off the road in Roane County and overturned, according to a Tennessee Highway Patrol report.

Travis May, 19, of Harriman was driving the truck about 5:45 p.m., according to a report. Ty Puckett, 21, or Harriman was a passenger.

Both were taken by ambulance to Roane Medical Center for treatment of injuries thought to be minor.

May was driving a 1986 Chevrolet Pumper Tanker westbound on U.S. Highway 70 when it ran off the road into a grassy area.

May then over-corrected, and the tanker turned over on its top, according to the report.

Please buckle your seat belt

April 15, 2015
Cyber attack hobbles Salisbury Fire Department's computers - MA

SALISBURY — A nasty computer virus that had some of the hallmarks of a “ransomware” attack hobbled the Salisbury Fire Department recently, destroying computer files and temporarily forcing staffers to resort to pen and paper.

Reports of such attacks on police departments and demands for cash payments to unlock encrypted files have been springing up throughout the region in recent weeks. And although Salisbury doesn’t appear to have had a ransom demand, the incident led fire Chief Rick Souliotis to offer advice for his fellow chiefs: Back up your computers every day.

The Salisbury Fire Department’s problem began about two weeks ago, when Souliotis’ desk computer started acting strangely when he went to use it that morning. He went through the normal procedure used by just about everyone when computers aren’t working right.

“We shut down the computer so we could reboot,” he said. “When we turned it back on, it just started to download a ton of stuff.”

The department called in its computer consultant, who went to work, Souliotis said, but nothing good resulted.

“He took my computer and cleaned it completely,” Souliotis said. “I was getting emails like you wouldn’t believe. He cleaned them all off the first day. The next day the emails started again and had to be cleaned off again. We didn’t open any of the emails, so I don’t know what they said.”

Things progressed from bad to worse, he said, causing the department to just shut down its computerized dispatch center.

“We started recording everything by hand on paper, the way it used to be done,” he said. “We then put all those records in the computer now that we’re up again.”

And although the department has an automatic tape backup system for its dispatch center, it doesn’t automatically back up text documents. Flash drives were on hand, Souliotis said, but as often happens, they weren’t used religiously because computers were working well and didn’t appear vulnerable to problems.

“I lost every (computer) document I ever had,” he said. “It’s unbelievable. Who would ever think someone would do that.”

What Souliotis and the town’s consultant believe is that the department was hit with a cyber attack through a virus that entered the fire department’s computer system through an email. The minute it was opened, the virus spread and corrupted everything. No ransom email was discovered, but it may have been killed off in the flood of junk emails that the department received after the attack.

They suspect it might have been the same virus that hit the Tewksbury Police Department last week. It encrypted all the department’s data, then demanded a $500 ransom to provide the key needed for decryption.

“That’s what happened to the Tewksbury Police Department,” Souliotis said. “They paid the ransom.”

According to published reports, Tewksbury’s not alone. Since 2013, similar episodes of what experts are calling “cyber terrorism” have occurred in a number of law enforcement agencies nationwide. Most paid the ransoms, which range from $500 to $600, and received the code needed to get their information back in useful format.

Some agencies refused to pay the ransom, including the Durham, New Hampshire, Police Department when the cyber-ransom virus hit there last June. Some lost everything, but Durham didn’t because it had a good system for backing up all its data.

According to published reports, experts scrubbed the Durham agency’s computers clean, isolated and removed the encryption virus, then Durham’s backed-up files were reloaded. Down for a while, the department’s computers rose to life again with all their files in place.

Whether an encryption virus for cyber-ransom, a file-eating cyber worm infection, or the sudden death of a hard drive, Souliotis doesn’t really care. It all means the same thing: loss of valuable information needed to conduct public business for life-protecting agencies like fire and police agencies.

He said he’s going to discuss new backup options with Town Manager Neil Harrington. And he’s also strongly suggesting that others learn from what happened at Salisbury Fire Department.

“Make sure you’re backed up and protected as best you can,” he said. “This is a serious virus, and you don’t want to have it in your system. Trust me. I know what it can do.”

Please buckle your seat belt

April 15, 2015
Feds join firefighter's death investigation - OH


( | 9 On Your Side)

CINCINNATI — Federal investigators will meet with the Cincinnati Fire Department on Friday to discuss their inquiry into the death of veteran firefighter Daryl Gordon.

Gordon, a 30-year veteran, died when he fell down an elevator shaft March 26 while working to save residents in the King Towers apartment complex., 6020 Dahlgren St. in Madisonville, during an early morning fire.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is one of three agencies trying to piece together what led to Gordon’s death.

The Cincinnati Fire Department and the Ohio Fire Marshal’s Office are conducting the other two investigations. The state investigation will determine what started the fire.

The fire department, with the help of other local agencies, is looking into each step it took while responding to the King Towers fire.

"We look at things throughout the entire fire,” Cincinnati Fire Chief Richard Braun said during a press conference days after Gordon’s death.

Braun emphasized the investigation might turn up issues unrelated to Gordon’s death that need to be changed.

NIOSH and the fire department could take almost a year to issue final reports, Braun said.

"These reports will be extensive,” the chief said. "We had two firefighters pass away in Toledo and that report just came out and that was almost 16 months ago.”

The fire marshal’s report will likely be the first to be released. Each investigation began shortly after Gordon’s death, Braun said.

Gordon, 54, left behind a wife and two daughters. He was also a member of University of Cincinnati Medical Center's Air Care and Mobile Care unit where he worked off-duty saving lives for 24 years.

He was the first Cincinnati firefighter to die in the line of duty in 12 years.

Thousands lined the streets of Cincinnati on April 1 to pay final respects as firefighters led the procession delivering Gordon to his final resting place in Oak Hill Cemetery.

"A true hero is not defined by one act of bravery but by a lifetime," Braun said during Gordon’s memorial at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral that day.
Brian Mains , Zac Pitts /

Please buckle your seat belt

April 13, 2015

Fire Rescue responded to Imperial Estates Mobile Home Park this morning, after report of a structure fire at 16377 Reuben Drive.Upon arrival, firefighters discovered the single wide mobile home fully engulfed in flames. Firefighters battled the blaze but the structure was a total loss.

There are reports that one firefighter was injured, after receiving an electric shock while battling the blaze. He was transported to a local hospital for treatment, where his condition is unknown. According to Chief Kevin Carroll, the injured firefighter appeared to be in stable condition while en route to the hospital.

There were no occupants inside the residence at the time of the fire and no reports of damage to other structures.

According to neighbors, the current occupant is incarcerated but we could not confirm that information.

The State Fire Marshall is on scene investigating the cause of the fire

Please buckle your seat belt

April 13, 2015
Four Atlanta Firefighters Injured in Accident - GA

A crash involving an Atlanta Fire Department fire truck injured four firefighters on Monday morning, authorities said.

The crash happened on Jonesboro Road at McWilliam Road in southeast Atlanta at about 9:30 a.m.

A fire department spokesman said that the truck was responding to a fire on Jonesboro Road when it struck a car and then a tree.

Witnesses said a MARTA bus and several cars stopped on the road. When the fire truck came around the corner, the driver jerked the wheel to avoid the bus and hit a huge oak tree.

Four firefighters were hurt, including one who was trapped in the fire truck.

All four were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The fire truck is a total loss.

Please buckle your seat belt

April 13, 2015
Two Dead, Including Firefighter Steven Ackerman, In Brandon House Fire - SD

(The Last Call - RIP)

BRANDON, S.D. - A homeowner and a firefighter have died in a house fire in the Minnehaha County city of Brandon.

Police Chief David Kull says 47-year-old homeowner David Smith was taken late Sunday to a Sioux Falls hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Authorities identified the firefighter as 38-year-old Steven Ackerman, a volunteer with the Valley Springs fire department.

Firefighters responded to the scene shortly after 10 p.m. Sunday. They were ordered out of the burning home about 40 minutes later. Ackerman was reported missing about 11 p.m. His body was found in the home's basement about 1:30 a.m. Monday.

There was no immediate word on the cause of the fire but authorities say they do not believe it is suspicious. Kull says it appears the blaze started in the basement.


Previous Story:

Brandon Police Chief David Kull announced at a press conference Monday morning that two people were killed in the fire, including a firefighter.

The Brandon police report the 47-year-old homeowner David Smith was pronounced dead at a Sioux Falls hospital.

Around 10:30 p.m. fire crews were ordered to evacuate the home. By 11 p.m. a Valley Springs firefighter was reported missing. At 1:30 a.m. the firefighter's body was found in the basement of the home. The firefighter's name is not being released at this time.

Chief Kull also said he believes there were two people in the house when the fire started, including Smith, but there is no information on who the other person inside the house was. He says to his knowledge smoke detectors were working in the home.

The investigation is ongoing Monday morning, but officials say they do not believe the fire is suspicious.


One person was hospitalized after a fire that destroyed a home in Brandon late Sunday night.

Brandon firefighters were called to the home on the 100 block of W. Fir Street around 10:15 p.m. They were soon joined by fire crews from Renner, Valley Springs and Splitrock Township.

Most of the fire was knocked down by midnight.

Brandon Fire Chief Gary Lembcke says smoke was coming from the garage and the eaves of the home when they arrived. At that point it was unknown whether or not anyone was still inside the home.

"Upon being notified that we had a potential victim inside we went into rescue operations right away," said Lembcke.

Lembcke says there was only one person inside the house. That person was taken to the hospital but there is no word on their condition.

When asked if all firefighters were accounted for, Lembcke said he had no comment.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Rachel Skytta, KDLT News Weekend Anchor,

Please buckle your seat belt

April 13, 2015
Free cable for some public entities an issue for Lewiston officials - NY

LEWISTON — Residents in the town and village are debating over the inclusion of public entities in the town’s new cable franchise agreement with Time Warner Cable.

Discussion arose at last month’s town board meeting, when Councilwoman Beth Ceretto noted the inclusion of Sanborn Fire Hall, Upper Mountain Fire Co., Lewiston No. 1 Fire Company sub-station on Swann Road and the exclusion of Lewiston No, 2 Fire Company, of which she is the vice president. Eligible public institutions made part of the agreement will be provided access to free, basic cable television.

Ceretto and Supervisor Dennis J. Brochey later questioned provisions that granted access to the Lewiston-Porter and Niagara-Wheatfield school districts, while not offering the same benefit to Stella Niagara schools. Brochey also noted the omission of the highway, police and sewer departments in the town

“Any other of the private schools and the fire companies, if they benefit from it, should be included,” Ceretto said.

Brochey added that many calls from residents in the village appealing for the benefits’ extension to qualified entities do not fall under the town’s agreement.

Councilman William Conrad, the liaison to the cable commission that negotiated and finalized the contract with Time Warner, said that applicable organizations will be serviced next year, when the village’s own cable franchise agreement is due for renegotiation. Conrad, who is a former board of education member in Niagara-Wheatfield, said that the cable commission’s chairman, James M. Abbondanza, would assist the village negotiations.

“To my knowledge, he’ll offer to address those locations next year when they go to redo the contract,” Conrad said.

A public hearing has been scheduled to vet the agreement on April 23 at 6 p.m. in Lewiston Town Hall at 1375 Ridge Road.
By Philip Gambini

Please buckle your seat belt

April 13, 2015
Firefighter nearly hit in manhole cover blast - NY

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Authorities say an underground electrical fire is blamed for an explosion that sent a manhole cover flying more than 200 feet above a Buffalo street in a blast that was captured by a television news photographer.

WGRZ-TV reports that the fire began around 11:30 a.m. Sunday on Tupper Street in downtown Buffalo.

Police evacuated two buildings as smoke poured out of manholes. A Buffalo Fire Department official says the second of three explosions sent one of the manhole covers 200 to 300 feet into the air.

A WGRZ photojournalist was interviewing a man on the street when the second blast occurred about a half-block behind him. The video shows the cover flying high into the air as the man yells "Heads-up!" several times.

The cover landed near a firefighter and a utility truck. No one was injured.
The Associated Press

Please buckle your seat belt

April 12, 2015

The Tennessee Highway Patrol is currently working a fatality crash on Highway 249 (Sams Creek Road) in Ashland City.A vehicle and Ashland City Fire Department truck collided head-on shortly after 3:30 p.m., according to THP spokesman Lt. Bill Miller

The early preliminary information indicates that a passenger in the vehicle has died as a result of their injuries.

Please buckle your seat belt

April 12, 2015
FIREHOUSE MOLD: Scranton should have air-test results of closed firehouse next week - PA

Mold closed Scranton’s East Mountain fire station at least into the middle of next week if air-quality test results come back satisfactory. In the meantime, the department will conduct roving fire-engine patrols in that neighborhood for quick responses there if needed, Fire Chief Patrick DeSarno said Friday.The firehouse was closed Thursday morning because of a mold problem, city Councilman Joe Wechsler announced at council’s meeting Thursday night.

Two firefighters complained Thursday morning about headaches and the station was closed as a precaution until air testing could be done, the chief said Friday. Results of tests conducted Friday morning should be received by Wednesday, he said.

East Mountain’s Engine 10 now is operating out of the downtown Fire Department headquarters Engine 4, he said.

The East Mountain station has suffered from “years of neglect ... (and) ongoing problems from a leaky roof,” the chief has said. Roof repairs also are being planned, he noted.

The East Mountain station closure is a concern because of the remoteness of parts of East Mountain. In spring 2012, the Fire Department had a slow response to a fire at a house in East Mountain, where the fire station at that time had been closed. Immediately after that blaze, former Mayor Chris Doherty reopened the East Mountain firehouse.

During this East Mountain station closure, Engine 4 from downtown headquarters and Engine 2 from Gibbons Street at Pittston Avenue in South Side will periodically ride into East Mountain to maintain a presence there, the chief said.

“They’ll be physically taking a ride up there, stop at the firehouse, do a loop around the mountain,” Chief DeSarno said.

“That’s about as best we can do until Wednesday. We can’t have a 24-hour presence (in East Mountain), but every so often they’ll take a ride up on the mountain. We’re going to do the best we can to be proactive and put a fire watch there (on East Mountain). We’re not going to sit down here and wait until something happens.”

Mr. Wechsler, a resident of East Mountain, said, “I’m happy they’re making an effort to provide us coverage. This is the best of a bad situation.”

While Engine 10 — the vehicle — is at headquarters, firefighters who would have been at the East Mountain station may be assigned elsewhere on any given day, depending on possible brownouts (temporary closures) of other stations and the daily strategic deployment of available personnel, Deputy Fire Chief Al Lucas said.

Please buckle your seat belt

April 12, 2015
Firefighter injured, 25 displaced in Pilsen extra-alarm blaze - IL

One firefighter was injured in a blaze early Sunday in Pilsen.
(Network Video Productions)

An extra-alarm fire blazed early Sunday at a Pilsen apartment building.
(Network Video Productions)

No residents were hurt in a blaze at a Pilsen apartment building early Sunday.
(Network Video Productions)

A firefighter was injured and 25 people were displaced in an extra-alarm blaze early Sunday at an apartment building in Pilsen.

The three-story building in the 1900 block of South Wolcott was occupied when the blaze began about 1:40 a.m., but no residents were hurt, Fire Media Affairs spokesman Will Knight said.

One firefighter suffered a minor injury and was taken to Rush University Medical Center, Knight said.

The fire was extinguished at 3:18 a.m., Knight said. A total of 25 people, including several children, were displaced and the Red Cross was notified.
Jordan Owen /

Please buckle your seat belt

April 12, 2015
Information passed along
Hidden Dangers in Propane Tanks Uncovered

(WCVB Channel 5 Boston)

Propane tanks used for grills are being used in meth labs.

Please buckle your seat belt

April 12, 2015
Firefighters Concerned About Reputation Following Hazing - TX

From left to right: Alec Miller, Brittany Parten, Casey Stafford, Keith Wisakowsky and Blake Tucker.

WAXAHACHIE — Firefighters are always the good guys.

When trucks roll up to an apartment complex with billowing smoke and flames licking at the eaves, everyone knows chaos is about to be brought under control. Firefighters are there to rescue, confront the danger and comfort victims.

So last week, after seven Ellis County volunteer firefighters were arrested on cringe-worthy charges — an aggravated sexual assault with a chorizo sausage and an attempt to cover up the incident — experts in the field defended the profession while condemning the incident.

They also worried that the deviant details might soil the wholesome image of firefighters in the American consciousness — the modestly macho men on calendars, the heroes who rushed into the doomed twin towers during 9/11.

According to court records, a cellphone video of the alleged attack shows firefighters squealing in impish delight as a young man is sexually humiliated. The Ellis County district attorney said the incident appeared to be a form of hazing.

“We have a lot of that [hazing] in the fire service,” said Jeff Dill, a licensed counselor and fire captain in the Palatine Rural Fire Protection District in northeastern Illinois. “We kinda test the new person to see if they’ll be there in our time of need, support us and have our back. But this is way beyond that. It’s criminal.”

Dill, founder of the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance, said he feared that the alleged assault would expose larger problems in the fire service culture, and that others would begin coming forward with similar stories of abuse. If they do, it may tarnish the profession much as cellphone videos have changed the national narrative about police officers.

“That would be a shame,” Dill said, “because most of these guys are just trying to serve their communities.”

So far, the incident seems confined to a small rural station 30 miles south of Dallas.

The assault is alleged to have occurred in January at the Emergency Services District 6 fire station.

After the incident, court records say, the man crawled into the bathroom and threw up. While he was taking a shower, a firefighter stole his towel and clothes — forcing him to run outside naked to retrieve a pair of shorts from his truck.

Authorities said the victim came forward March 31.

The man remains a volunteer in the department, and officials said he aspires to make firefighting his career.

The Dallas Morning News generally does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault.

Suspects keep mum

Five firefighters face charges of aggravated sexual assault, a first-degree felony with a possible prison term of five years to life: Keith Edward Wisakowsky, 26, of Waxahachie; Casey Joe Stafford, 30, of Midlothian; Preston Thomas Peyrot, 19, of Waxahachie; Alec Chase Miller, 28, of Waxahachie; and Blake Jerold Tucker, 19, of Midlothian. They were arrested Monday.

None of the five responded to email or voice-mail interview requests, and no one answered the door at their homes. Most of the suspects’ Facebook pages and social media accounts were deactivated last week. Family members and many friends of the firefighters also declined to comment.

Based on Ellis County Jail records, it was difficult to determine whether all the suspects have hired attorneys.

The scandal intensified when the fire station’s top brass were arrested Thursday.

Chief Gavin Satterfield, 31, of Waxahachie and Assistant Chief Billy Getzendaner, 34, of Midlothian were accused of tampering with a witness, a first-degree felony.

Court records say the men called a meeting at the station with the victim and five suspects. Getzendaner said he watched the video, laughed about it, and then told the firefighters to destroy the recording.

The assistant chief then allegedly told the men that the act could be considered a sexual assault and that the victim “could do something to us.”

He then looked at the man and said, “But you’re not going to,” according to the affidavit.

The ESD No. 6 board removed both men from their leadership positions Thursday night.

“We are very, very saddened by the fact that people … this board has relied on, the people of this county and this district have relied on, have been accused of something so heinous,” Clay Hinds, an attorney for the ESD No. 6 board, told KXAS-TV (NBC5).

Wisakowsky’s girlfriend, 23-year-old Brittany Leanne Parten of Waxahachie, also was arrested Monday, accused of recording the assault on her cellphone. A conviction could carry a prison sentence of six months to two years in jail.

All of the suspects have bailed out of the Ellis County Jail.

A fuzzy portrait of the suspects emerged from court records, interviews and backgrounds left online.

Miller, a lieutenant at the fire station, was named the 2014 officer of the year. He played football at Coppell High School, and his father, Jim Miller, is the offensive line coach at Waxahachie High School.

Wisakowsky has been a lieutenant at the volunteer fire station since 2011. He is an operations manager for a Waxahachie company that sells chemicals used in crop dusting. Tucker was certified as an EMT in December. Parten is an amateur photographer.

Getzendaner was on the ESD No. 6 governing board until last year. He’s also a licensed paramedic and a firefighter for the Cedar Hill Fire Department, but a city spokesman said he has been suspended without pay pending the outcome of the investigation.

Satterfield, the chief, is a registered emergency medical technician.

His attorney, Joseph R. Gallo, denied Satterfield did anything wrong.

“When criminal cases become high-profile, innocent people are often wrongfully caught up in the process,” Gallo said Thursday. “I now look forward to working with the Ellis County district attorney’s office to clear his name.”

Attorneys John Mallios of Waxahachie and Dan Hagood, a former Dallas County assistant district attorney, will represent Wisakowsky, who in court records is accused of using the sausage to assault the victim.

“Mr. Wisakowsky will plead not guilty, and all our talking will be done in the courtroom,” Mallios said. “We expect him to be exonerated.”

When asked about the video recording of the incident, Mallios responded, “Have you seen it? You’ll hear more about that later.”

Tracey Estrada, 54, of Red Oak said that if you talk to a firefighter very long, you’ll hear the word “brotherhood.”

It’s a term used to describe the family inside fire stations — the camaraderie, loyalty and hierarchy that grow between those who often work 24-hour shifts together and then spend their off hours watching one another’s kids play baseball.

If firefighters at ESD No. 6 were brothers, Estrada was sort of a den mother.

For eight years, her daughter was married to Joshua Lascano, one of the 26 volunteer firefighters at the station.

Even though they divorced a year ago, she said, Lascano still comes by the house several times a week and at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Estrada said, grinning, that her former son-in-law also seems to show up with his firefighter buddies every time there’s barbecue.

Lascano was not one of the men arrested. He declined interview requests.

“We were there when several of these guys did their final training in a burning building, and we watched them graduate,” Estrada said of the ceremony at the Navarro College Fire Academy in Waxahachie. “You wouldn’t think by looking at them that they were capable of something like this."

Estrada said Lascano told her he received a copy of the video on his cellphone the night of the alleged assault and, with another firefighter, encouraged the victim to go to police.

“Josh always wore his ESD shirt and hat. It was something he was proud of,” Estrada said. “But he hasn’t had them on in two days.”

Uncertain future

The future of the ESD No. 6 fire department is uncertain. Its governing board meets Monday to decide whether to disband the station or to reconstitute the volunteer force.

In the interim, Ellis County Fire Marshal Joe Stewart said he would help make sure calls for service are covered.

“The type of activity that is alleged to have taken place … is unprecedented in my career,” said Stewart, who’s been in fire service 30 years.

The Texas Commission on Fire Protection regulates paid fire service, monitors training levels and oversees the type of equipment used in stations.

Some volunteer fire departments, however, are run by emergency services districts that operate much like city councils and make decisions based on factors such as funding and the local demand for fire services.

Nearly 80 percent of fire departments in Texas are volunteer-based, said Chris Barron, executive director of the State Firefighters’ and Fire Marshals’ Association of Texas.

Paid fire departments have human resources departments that hold sexual harassment training sessions for their staffs, but volunteer fire stations often cannot afford them.

Barron, who is chief of Manchaca Fire/Rescue near Austin, described the apparent failures at ESD No. 6 as shameful.

He said fire departments can be so friendly that people forget their priorities. But when firefighters step out of line, Barron said, it’s the responsibility of the chief and his assistant to impose order.

“They’re the ones that should put down the hammer and stop the shenanigans, so to speak,” Barron said.

Richard Rozier, a former president of the ESD No. 6 board, said he never sensed dysfunction at the station.

“I trusted in the men, the women and the leaders — thought they were serving with the best of intentions to help the public,” he said. “To find out that’s not the case is very disappointing.”

Last week, as news of the arrests spread and public outrage intensified, some media outlets called the arrested men Waxahachie firefighters. Most of the firefighters do live in Waxahachie, but they are not members of the Waxahachie Fire Department, which has 56 certified and paid firefighters.

The two are separate entities funded from different tax bases, said Waxahachie Fire Chief Ricky Boyd, who started his 33-year career as a volunteer.

At his station, he said, rookies may be assigned less glamorous chores — scrubbing urinals, mopping floors, answering the phone — but there are no demeaning assignments.

And pranks that many people say are common in the fire service — painting young firefighters’ nails when they’re sleeping or releasing bees in the stall while they’re showering — are forbidden.

“As far as hazing, we don’t tolerate any level of that,” Boyd said. “The problem is, if you allow any form of hazing, where do you stop it?”



Age: 31

Position: Fire chief

Charge: Tampering with a witness

Background: Certified emergency medical technician for several years.


Age: 34

Position: Assistant fire chief

Charge: Tampering with a witness

Background: Paid Cedar Hill firefighter for six years; member of Emergency Services District 6 board before becoming assistant chief for the ESD’s volunteer fire department in early 2014.


Age: 26

Position: Volunteer firefighter

Charge: Aggravated sexual assault

Background: Lieutenant in the volunteer fire department; operations manager for a company that sells chemicals used in crop dusting.


Age: 30

Position: Volunteer firefighter

Charge: Aggravated sexual assault

Background: Deactivated his Facebook profile soon after his arrest; on the profile, he stated he worked for a water treatment company in DeSoto.


Age: 19

Position: Volunteer firefighter

Charge: Aggravated sexual assault

Background: Court records show the Waxahachie resident was one of two suspects who gave interviews to investigators and admitted their roles in the alleged assault.


Age: 28

Position: Volunteer firefighter

Charge: Aggravated sexual assault

Background: Grew up in Coppell and was named the fire department’s officer of the year last year; admitted his role in the alleged assault and told investigators he regretted his actions, according to court records.


Age: 19

Position: Volunteer firefighter

Charge: Aggravated sexual assault

Background: Received his EMT certification in December; deactivated his Facebook profile soon after he was arrested on Monday.


Age: 23

Position: Civilian

Charge: Improper photography or visual recording

Background: Not a member of the volunteer fire department; her social media profile suggests she was an amateur photographer.


Ellis County does not have its own fire department but relies on several municipal and volunteer departments for fire service.

With seven of its 26 members facing criminal charges, the Emergency Services District 6 fire station was closed for part of last week.

ESD No. 6 board members voted to have Ellis County Fire Marshal Joe Stewart coordinate mutual aid response between the remaining volunteer firefighters and nearby fire departments.

Board members will meet again Monday to discuss whether to hire or appoint an interim chief. They also will consider whether to suspend all operations at the department for a time.
Naheed Rajwani and Scott Farwell / Source: Dallas Morning News

Please buckle your seat belt

April 12, 2015
North Carolina EMS Truck Damages Church Carport - NC

SNOW HILL—A Hookerton EMS truck responding to a 911 call Wednesday hit and damaged the carport of a church.

Trey Cash, an EMT and Greene County fire inspector, said a man who was with his family members was injured in the church parking lot.

"A 51-year-old male fell and hit his head on the concrete," he said.

When the call came in to Greene County's dispatch center at 7:27 p.m., Hookerton EMS Captain Sheri Taylor arrived at New Wine Pentecostal Holiness Church (Iglesia Pentecostal Vino Nuevo) at 1826 N.C. 58. in Snow Hill.

As she pulled up to the carport at the front of the building, the top passenger side of the truck hit the side of the carport roof, knocking the opposite end of the roof off it's column of concrete blocks.

N.C. Highway Patrol trooper Kent Beaman said the damage to the carport was simply due to the weight of the truck.

"She didn't have much damage on the truck," he said. "... She wasn't going fast at all."

No charges were made, Beaman said.

Hookerton Mayor Bobby Taylor said the cost of retouching the paint at the top corner of the truck would likely cost $50 or less, but he didn't know if EMS would be having the repair done.

The concrete blocks holding up either side of the front of the carport appeared to be stacked without mortar.

Shaun Jackson, Hookerton fire chief, said he thought the department's insurance adjuster had been to the church Thursday morning to assess the damage, but he didn't know what the estimate is.

The injured man was taken to Lenoir Memorial Hospital, and his condition is unknown. It's also not known if he and the people who were with him are members of the church. Fire and EMS officials said they didn't know who the owner of the church is and no one from the church came to the scene after the family left.

Tax card information states the property owners are the church in care of Marcial Aguillon Sanchez and Gumersindo Ocana, with an address in the Snow Hill town limits. The sign in front of the church says the pastors are Marcial and Juanitaa and services are held Mondays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m.

The building is the former Willie Gray Store, built in 1950.
Margaret Fisher / Source: The Free Press, Kinston, N.C.

Please buckle your seat belt

April 12, 2015
Moline continues taking fire truck out of service because of low staffing - IL

MOLINE -- Projected overtime expenses at the Moline Fire Department caused the city to resume a practice of placing a fire engine "out of service" when staffing is too low.

Steve Regenwether, president of Moline Firefighters Association Local 581, said the city is rolling the dice when it comes to public safety.

Moline has four fire stations: 1630 8th Ave., 1490 41st St., 1526 46th Ave. and 4700 38th Ave. Each station has a fire engine and two also have ambulances.

Last September, Moline started taking an engine out of service when there were not enough firefighters to staff all four trucks.

According to the union contract, each fire engine has to be be staffed with a lieutenant, engineer and firefighter.

However, for most of 2014, the department had three vacant firefighter/paramedic positions and two firefighters out on disability. If any on-duty firefighter took vacation or was sick, another was called in on overtime so the fire engines could be fully manned.

By Aug. 31 2014, the city had paid $357,700 in firefighter overtime, which was almost double what was budgeted for the year -- $180,000.

In January, Moline started staffing all four engines again, even though it has a vacant firefighter/paramedic position and four firefighters out on disability.

Mr. Steinbrecher said within weeks the city realized, if it were to continue to staff each truck and the two ambulances, overtime expenses could hit $700,000 this year.

The city budgeted $189,000 for overtime.

The policy had to be reinstated, Mr. Steinbrecher said. However, if the department is only one firefighter short it will bring one back on overtime. Or, it will bring in as many as needed to ensure both ambulances and three fire engines are staffed.

Mr. Steinbrecher said Moline is moving as quickly as it can to fill the vacancy. "We are trying to get all budgeted positions filled as quickly as we can. That will help the situation," he said.

Mr. Regenwether said the city knew about the staffing situation last year and questioned why Moline did not increase the fire department's overtime budget. "They had to see this coming," he said.

Moline is without one of its four engines 72 percent of the time, he said.

Other area fire departments provide Moline mutual aid when requested, which is usually only in the case of extraordinary event or fire, Mr. Regenwether said. "Mutual aid is now being used to supplement manpower. That is not what mutual aid is for," he said.

On March 30, the Moline Fire Department was called to a garage fire at 707 51st St. The fire station closest to the scene couldn't send a truck because it was covering a call that should have been covered by the Central Fire Station, which didn't have an engine in service that day, Mr. Regenwether said.

The East Moline Fire Department responded with an engine and two firefighters, beating Moline to the scene, he said.

"The call came in (and reported) an individual trapped upstairs in the house," Mr. Regenwether said, adding by the time firefighters arrived the person had gotten out of the home safely. He said the situation could have ended much worse.

Mr. Steinbrecher agreed the city has been fortunate and said having an engine out of service is not what Moline wants. "It is our hope as soon as we get these positions filled and occupied, we will be able to return to normal and have all of our engines in service most of the time."

The contract union firefighters are working under expired Dec. 31, 2014. Neither Mr. Regenwether nor Mr. Steinbrecher would comment on specific issues related to negotiations. Mr. Steinbrecher said wages and staffing are issues for both the city and union. Mr. Regenwether said negotiations haven't gone well and the union has filed for arbitration.
By Dawn Neuses,

Please buckle your seat belt

April 10, 2015
Ambulance catches fire with patient inside - CA

SAN DIEGO – An ambulance caught fire in Pacific Beach while taking a woman to the hospital Wednesday morning, according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

Two emergency medical technicians were driving on Mission Bay Drive near Garnett Avenue just before 2 a.m. when they heard a loud sound come from under the hood. When they pulled over, the engine caught fire, prompting them to evacuate the patient from the ambulance and wheel her across the street to a nearby McDonald’s parking lot.

Another ambulance arrived about 25 minutes later and took the woman to the hospital. She was safely moved out of the ambulance well before the fire escalated.

Several loud explosions occurred as the ambulance’s engine continued to burn and an oxygen tank exploded. The ambulance became fully engulfed in flames just before 2 a.m. and was a total loss.

No one was hurt and the cause of the fire remains under investigation.
by Brodie Hart /

Please buckle your seat belt

April 10, 2015
Equipment Stolen From Rural Fire Station - CA

Officials estimate that $30,000 in equipment was stolen Tuesday from a rural fire station west of Modesto.

The break-in occurred about 2 p.m. at the Woodland Avenue Fire Protection District station on Hart Road, Chief Mike Passalaqua said.

Someone used a pry bar to open a locked door and gain entry to the station. Those responsible went through a firetruck and took what they could carry from the building, the chief said.

The stolen items included portable radios, a medical bag, life vests, brass hose fittings, wrenches, a mask and wildland firefighting gear.

A piece of rescue equipment also was reported stolen, according to the Woodland Avenue Firefighter Association's Facebook page. The chief said the device is used to stabilize an overturned vehicle as firefighters try to remove a person pinned inside.

Passalaqua said the volunteer firefighters carry portable radios for safety when they go into a smoking structure. Some of the other equipment is used when the volunteers put out grass fires.

"I always thought that kind of equipment was sacred, but I guess nothing is anymore." Passalaqua said.

The chief said the break-in occurred sometime after he stopped at the Hart Road station at noon Tuesday. A person living near the station keeps an eye on it but was at a doctor's appointment until 3 p.m.

District officials hope a motorist on the well-traveled road saw suspicious activity and will report it to law enforcement.

Passalaqua expects insurance to cover the cost of replacing the stolen equipment, and the district likely will install an alarm system at the station, he said. Other departments have offered to loan equipment until the stolen items are replaced, the chief said.

Woodland is a volunteer department that protects the rural area west of Modesto and responds to some unincorporated pockets within the city. The district's primary station is on Woodland Avenue, just outside the city boundary, so the burglary should not hamper the ability to respond to west Modesto neighborhoods.

Woodland has 26 volunteers and gets by on a $170,000 annual budget.

Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at or (209) 578-2321
Ken Carlson / Source: The Modesto Bee

Please buckle your seat belt

April 10, 2015
Lessons Learned:
Firefighters Recall Surviving a Building Collapse - SC

Two York County firefighters who suffered broken legs two weeks ago when a brick wall collapsed on them during a house fire say they hope to be back on the job in about six months.

The two men -- 55-year-old Rich Diamanti and 23-year-old Joseph Volk -- responded to the house fire on Volunteer Drive along with others from the Newport Fire Department on March 23.

Diamanti said on Wednesday that the crew hadn't been on scene for more than a few minutes when a roof beam fell and pushed the exterior wall down. He and Volk were standing in what firefighters call the "collapse zone" -- an area around a burning structure where personnel could be injured if the blaze brings down a roof or wall.

This week, both men said they're focused on their recovery and things are going well. They are both unable to walk and are using wheelchairs to get around.

Volk says he's hoping to be able to put pressure on his left leg soon and start walking on his own in about three months. He and Diamanti said it could be about six months before they're fighting fires again in Newport but that they're both eager to get back in action.

Diamanti's right leg suffered a triple, open compound fracture. His tibia and fibula -- both bones in his lower leg -- broke through his skin.

Volk also sustained a compound fracture in his lower leg -- breaking both his tibia and fibula. And, his back was burned.

Both men were rushed to Piedmont Medical Center in Rock Hill during the late afternoon accident last month. Later, Diamanti was treated by orthopedic doctors in Charlotte.

After the brick wall fell, crushing his leg, Volk says he remembers waking up in the ambulance. His last memory from the scene, he said, was watching the garage roof collapse.

Fire seemed 'unstoppable'

The two men had turned their backs toward the house fire momentarily, Diamanti said, to try to extinguish flames that had reached a pickup truck in the driveway.

"When I turned my head back to look at the fire, suddenly there was a ton of debris on top of me," Diamanti said.

Diamanti -- a fireman with 38 years of experience -- then dragged himself partially down the home's driveway so that other Newport personnel could see he needed help. EMS crews responded and other local fire departments showed up to help put out the fire.

That day's fire, officials say, was a challenging one. The Newport Fire Department was on the scene within minutes of a dispatcher taking the 911 call from a neighbor. Volunteer Drive sits off S.C. 5 and Tirzah Road, in the Newport area between the cities of Rock Hill and York.

Very quickly, Diamanti said, the fire took hold of the home, engulfing the garage in flames and beginning to spread to other parts of the structure. As the Newport fire engine turned the corner onto the neighborhood street, "we knew it was going to be a lot of work," he said.

"Whatever was involved in that garage really kept it going ... It was unstoppable, from our vantage point."

Neighbors reported hearing multiple explosion sounds from inside the garage where the fire apparently started. The home's resident told The Herald at the scene that he was home when the blaze broke out. Andrew King said he heard a "crack" in his garage, where his water heater is located and he runs a convenience store petroleum maintenance business.

King was not injured in the fire.

Given the scale of the house fire and the eventual roof collapse over the garage, Diamanti says he's wondered if he and Volk would have avoided injury if the fire department had been just a few minutes later to the scene. The fire station is less than 4 miles from the house.

Still, Diamanti said, their injuries "could have been much worse."

Volk agreed, saying "I feel really lucky. I know God was watching over us that day."

Danger 'comes with the business'

They could have sustained worse injuries than broken legs, Volk said. He added: "We could have lost our legs. We could have been crushed and died. I'm thankful it's just a broken leg."

Diamanti estimates that the home's large sections of brick wall that fell could have weighed between 300 and 500 pounds. Potential dangers and injuries, he said, "comes with the business" of fighting fires.

"We know that going in. And, getting on the scene, we try to work as safe as possible. It's just an unfortunate accident that happened."

Volk -- who says he's wanted to be a firefighter since he visited a Rock Hill Fire Department station at age 5 for a birthday party -- says he's itching to get suited up and rejoin his fire department family. He started working at the Newport Fire Department in 2009.

"As soon as I turned 18, I put an application in ... I can't wait to get back at it," Volk said.

Diamanti called the accident "a little deterrent ... We'll be back on the job again."

He started work as a firefighter in New Jersey in 1977. After he and his wife Nancy moved to South Carolina, Diamanti said he missed the camaraderie at the fire station so he applied for a job with Newport.

Volk and Diamanti are part of a fire department made up of about 43 personnel -- the majority of which are volunteers. On the day of the fire when the men were injured, they were on the clock as part-time firemen. During other shifts, they volunteer.

The firemen say insurance policies will cover their medical expenses but they've been touched by the outpouring of community support recently. Newport Fire Chief Carl Faulk said the department may announce fundraisers or events for future support, if needed.
Anna Douglas / Source: The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.)

Please buckle your seat belt

April 10, 2015
Woman charged after brandishing knife at firefighters - ME

A 19-year-old Hartland woman was arrested Wednesday after allegedly displaying a knife in a threatening manner to firefighters at the city’s Bangor Street fire station.Brandee Lewis was arrested around 7 p.m. Wednesday and charged with criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon and violating bail conditions.

Sgt. Vicente Morris said the woman displayed a knife in a manner firefighters at the station deemed to be threatening. He did not know why the woman was at the station or allegedly threatening firefighters there. He said she had recently been released from jail and was out on bail.

She was taken to Kennebec County jail with no bail allowed.

Please buckle your seat belt

April 10, 2015


A two-alarm fire in Hartford has left at least two firefighters injured, according to Hartford Fire Chief Carlos Huertas.

The fire ripped through a three-story home on Hamilton Street Wednesday evening near the corner of Zion Street around 7:40 p.m.

The firefighters taken to the hospital have injuries that aren’t life-threatening.

It was initially reported by the fire department that three were injured, but we have since learned from the chief that just two firefighters were taken to the hospital and are expected to be okay.

The building is vacant, and all companies were ordered out of the building.

No word on whether the fire was suspicious or not.

Please buckle your seat belt

April 10, 2015
Suburban Philadelphia firefighter falls from ladder - PA

POTTSTOWN - A firefighter is hospitalized after falling about 10 feet from a ladder while battling a building fire in suburban Philadelphia.

Officials say he's listed in stable condition at Reading Hospital and Medical Center. His injuries that aren't considered life threatening.

The firefighter was injured while responding to a fire at a Comcast service center in Pottstown around 4:30 a.m. Thursday.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.
The Associated Press

Please buckle your seat belt

April 10, 2015
Lessons Learned:
A firefighter who wants you to learn from his mistakes - MD

Fireground Audio with MAYDAY and Rescue - Kentland, MD
(Nicholas Martin)

Six-year-ago today things weren’t looking very good for Danny McGown, a young Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department firefighter. Today, on the anniversary of the day he almost lost his life, McGown, a little older and a little wiser, posted a message on his Facebook page for all firefighters. Danny gave me permission to share the post. The radio traffic from the house fire is at the bottom of this post.

Previous coverage of the fire that injured Danny McGown

6 years ago, today, i woke up in a hospital bed, intubated and my arms in restraints with my father telling me to keep calm. I knew i had gotten burned, had a slight idea of how bad, but nothing could compare to the reality of it from my thoughts. As everyone came to visit, it began sinking in. On that morning, we were dispatched for smoke in the dwelling.

Typical Prince George’s County run. However this one was not. While en-route, PSC advised of they were getting reports of an auto next to the house. We arrived to find the same. As we were stretching, the bar man (katie johnson) asked family in the front yard if everyone was out. They advised yes. She looked at me n said “I’m gonna do a quick sweep at the door.”. Around 15 seconds later, she told me it was in the house. At that time our wagon driver (scotty hurst) was charging the line.

We made entry. To this day i still swear i saw flames at the top of the 2nd floor stair well. As we made progress down the hallway, i was cracking the line to ensure we were not to deep as it was zero visibility and increasing heat. After the first open in the hallway, I hollered back to katie “this line isn’t doing s***!” As when i opened it the bail flopped over my hand. It was later determined that was just prior to the wagon driver flipping a kink on the attack line. After that pressure was perfect. As we made it to the end of the hallway, the ceiling fell. Sending a few hot embers down my back (due to me not having my collar up).

As i wiggled around to stop my back from burning, i managed to turn myself into the kitchen. That is the point in which i first screwed up. I thought i was still in the hallway. Once in the position, the heat intensified. Still with absolutely zero visibility, it continued to get hotter and hotter. This is the second screw up. At that point we should of backed out. But “salty fireman” took over and “this is my fire, no one else’s” did not help either. As i sat there on my knees, turning my head back and fourth to dullen (thats a word now) the burn, i thought to my self “were in trouble”.

It was right then that my scott air cylinder got extremely hot to the point in which it was burning my throat. I knew it was time to go then. I hollered to my back up man”it’s time to go”. He did not hear me. I said it again and at that point, fight or flight took over (3rd mistake). I abandoned my position to seek “refuge” from what i was told, away from the hell we were in. Katie saw pre-flashover conditions prior to me leaving.

The actual burn line was in line with the top of my cylinder and and below where my head was at. As i retreated down what i thought was the hallway to the front door, was actually later found out to be another, smoke and slight heat filled room. The infamous fireplace that replicated the front of a home is the first thing in came in contact to (to my right) as i remembered the was a wall to the left of the front door. Had there been another wall to my right in the room i was now in, i would of probably never assumed it was the font as that font door layout was still fresh in my mind. But since i did think it was the front, i looked at my 2 flashlights, which i could not see.

So i assumed my mask is completely blacked out, and i am outside. Once i took my regulator off, i found out else wise. As i take that first hit of smoke, which should of been fresh air, i panicked. Re-clicking never crossed my mind nor did kissing the floor or making a radio transmission (mistake number 4). Just get out did. So i yelled for help, took another breath in, yelled for help again, then began pushing my self into the wall hoping to fall into another room, or out of a window. Once outside, i came back. Having no clue of what they just had to do. I did not have my waist strap on 5th mistake), so the quick rescue that was made, was delayed by them having to find my strap to turn it into a seat. Once i. The unit, things became much better.

Especially since i was so alert it didn’t seem that bad. Then i saw the look on the medics faces. My post from 2013 will explain that. I was asked by someone if the heat in my air cause the panic. The answer was no. Still hasn’t because i have experienced it in the past many times. But it is now my new indicator for when conditions are getting worse. If i had my flaps down, i believe it may have been worse, but that’s just my opinion. Always keep in mind the gear we wear now, allows us to go deeper and longer with no initial effect.

Then boom, its too late. Always follow your ears, air and gut feelings of when conditions are deteriorating around you. Keep in mind the construction of new homes. Light weight means burns quicker and easier. Always remember your basics. It could save your life. Always train like your life depends on it, because it does.

And i hate band wagon sayings, but this one is true, “always expect fire”. The day you dont, is the day you screw up. I have seen it to many times, smells n bells, no layout, no scott pack, tools, coats open, no lines pulled and no hoods. You friends, are setting your selfs up for failure. The day you run the same place for bells and it is a fire, your already behind the ball. Please feel free to share. Hopefully my screw ups will help prevent someones else

Please buckle your seat belt

April 10, 2015
Fire Department Cited For 'Serious' Safety Violations In Blaze That Killed Firefighter - CT

The Hartford fire department has been cited for five "serious" violations by state Department of Labor officials investigating the fire that claimed the life of firefighter Kevin Bell.

The violations issued by Conn-OSHA are equipment-related to individual firefighters from engine Company 16, which Bell belonged to, that participated in trying to put out the Oct. 7 fire at a home on Blue Hills Avenue. Bell died and a second firefighter was seriously injured.

The OSHA violations include:

  • The department failed to ensure all firefighters had been fit tested for their respective self-contained breathing apparatus within the past year.
  • The department did not issue, and require the use of protective fire/heat resistant hoods by firefighters responding to the blaze.
  • All firefighters had not received required medical evaluations prior to annual fitness testing.
  • The department failed to ensure that all self-contained breathing apparatus air cylinders underwent testing every five years as required by federal law.
  • The department failed to ensure that firefighters wore helmets or wore equipment properly. OSHA investigators said several firefighters weren't properly wearing ear flaps and chin straps at the fire scene.

City officials have been ordered to attend a conference with Conn-OSHA inspectors on April 23 to discuss the violations and present any evidence to refute the charges. The city could face fines of $1,000 per violation if they do not propose a plan to fix the violations cited by OSHA investigators.

The violations do not name individual firefighters and it is unclear if any of the violations pertain specifically to Bell's equipment. Bell's equipment was seized at the hospital and sent to federal investigators.

Bell, 48, was killed in a house fire at 598 Blue Hills Ave., becoming the first city firefighter to die in the line of duty in 40 years. Another firefighter, Jason Martinez, was badly burned and forced to jump from a second story window.

A six-year veteran of the department assigned to Engine 16 at 636 Blue Hills Ave., Bell was in the house for less than 12 minutes before another member of the department called a mayday, according to radio transmissions,

He was discovered missing after all the firefighters were ordered out of the building for a head count and was unaccounted for in the house for more than eight minutes, records show.

When it was discovered that Bell was missing, a team from Tactical Unit 1 was sent into the burning house and found him in less than 30 seconds. Bell was found in a room on the second floor to the right of the staircase.

Bell had been in the house for less than 21 minutes, according to records. An air tank is rated for 30 minutes of air, but there are a variety of factors that go into how long a firefighter's air bottle lasts, including level of exertion or how much air is taken in with each breath.

Bell was responsible for carrying a hose up to the second floor and putting water on the fire.

In the aftermath of his death, the state fire marshal's office, Conn-OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health began investigations, and the breathing apparatus that Bell was wearing was sent to its manufacturer for testing

Two days before Bell's death, an internal fire department email revealed that an inspection of his engine company's equipment found numerous safety issues, including empty air tanks.

NIOSH's 20-page report raises questions about the conditions of the 10-year-old breathing apparatus that the men wore that night. Among the conclusions:

Bell's breathing apparatus failed the "remaining service life indicator" test. Bell's cylinder had two alarm systems on it, and although the first one worked, the second alarm, which would have gone off when he had about 20 percent to 25 percent of his air left, did not pass the federal tests. Hartford fire officials said the alarm did sound, however. Martin would not say why Bell did not make it out of the house, saying that his death is still under investigation.

Bell's 4-year-old Scott Air Pak was in fair condition overall, although there were numerous scratches and gouge repairs on the cylinder, and parts of it were dirty.

The air cylinder worn by the second firefighter had not been tested in the past five years, as required by federal law. Bell's air cylinder had been pressure-tested in April 2013.

The second breathing apparatus did not meet NIOSH's pressure tests because it "did not maintain positive pressure" throughout the 30-minute testing period.

NIOSH said that the probe of the breathing apparatus has concluded and that "in light of the information obtained during this investigation, NIOSH has proposed no further action at this time." NIOSH is still investigating the circumstances of the fatal fire and how the department responded
Dave Altimari and Steven Goode / Source: The Hartford Courant

Please buckle your seat belt

April 10, 2015
Man in Custody After Stealing Ambulance - GA

A suspect was in custody early Tuesday after allegedly stealing an ambulance from outside Grady Memorial Hospital and leading police on a chase through Cobb County before ditching the emergency vehicle in southeast Atlanta.

Channel 2 Action news reported that the ambulance was stolen as a paramedic cleaned out the back of the vehicle. The keys were in the ignition, police said.

The ambulance, which is owned by American Medical Response and operates primarily out of DeKalb County, had a tracking device.

Police tracked the stolen ambulance into Cobb County, where officers backed off a chase when speeds got dangerously fast, according to Channel 2.

The suspect later wrecked the ambulance along Kelly Street in southeast Atlanta and took off on foot, but after about 30 minutes, an Atlanta police K9 unit tracked him to where he was hiding in a nearby drainage sewer.

Atlanta police spokeswoman Kim Jones said Jermaine McCommons, 38, was arrested and charged with theft by taking auto and "a host of other traffic-related charges."

The charges also include DUI -- driving under the influence of alcohol, willful obstruction of law enforcement officers by use of threats or violence, and driving while license suspended or revoked, Fulton County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Tracy Flanagan said.

McCommons is expected to have a first appearance hearing Wednesday morning at the Fulton County jail, Flanagan said.

The ambulance sustained minor damage when the suspect struck a pole, police said.
Mike Morris / Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Please buckle your seat belt

April 10, 2015
2 firefighters burned battling Amador County house fire - CA

AMADOR COUNTY, Calif. (KCRA) —A Cal Fire firefighter and an Amador County firefighter were hurt battling a house fire in Pine Grove, according to officials.

Cal Fire's Aaron Williams, 22, of Plymouth, is recovering Thursday at the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento after suffering 16 percent second- and third-degree burns to his shoulders, arms, hands and ears, according to Cal Fire officials.

The fire broke out just before 9:30 p.m. Wednesday at a home off East Clinton Road.

While working to put out the flames, Williams suffered serious burns that required that him to be airlifted to UC Davis Medical Center.

Williams has been with Cal Fire for two years and was reported to be in good spirits, surrounded by his family and fellow firefighters, Cal Fire officials said.

The Amador County firefighter was also burned in the blaze and was taken to Sutter Amador Hospital. He's listed as stable.

There is no word on how exactly the firefighters were hurt.

Cal Fire is working with the Amador Fire Protection District to review the incident.
By Sarah Heise /

Please buckle your seat belt

April 10, 2015
Stamford Fire Department throws out exam - CT

STAMFORD --The city has to throw out its firefighter exam after an expert said it discriminated against women and minorities.

Officials announced Thursday they intended to send the matter to the Board of Finance in order to fund a $150,000 replacement exam.

Meanwhile, the city has already written to the 753 men and women who took the test, informing them that they could take the replacement, which will likely happen in early May. They will not have to pay the $35 examination fee again.

Men and women who took the test in January immediately began complaining to the Human Resources and Fire departments, saying the two hours allotted for the test was not enough and the Stamford exam was much more difficult than other fire departments' entrance exams.

As it turned out, the test was also highly slanted in favor of white men.

"In reviewing the exam results, the city discovered that the test had an adverse impact on minorities, in particular, on black, Hispanic and female candidates," Mayor David Martin wrote to the Board of Finance on Thursday. "The results showed that 3.8 percent of black candidates, 20.8 percent of Hispanic candidates and 6.2 percent of female candidates passed the exam, a statistically significant difference from the 36.4 percent rate for Caucasian candidates."

Exams produced by Cooperative Personnel Services Inc. have already been the subject of litigation in Hamden. Two black applicants to that town's fire service alleged that the test discriminated against minorities.

Stamford hired industrial psychologist Joel Weisen to investigate whether the January exam was flawed. He concluded not only that the test was skewed, but also it may not be the best test suited for jobs in a fire department.

City officials said they had used other CPS tests, mostly for skilled clerical or accounting positions, and had not had any problems with them.

All told, the January exam would have cost the city $15,000. Officials said they had already paid some preliminary invoices, but were unlikely to honor future billings.

Martin is asking for a bid waiver and a $150,000 emergency appropriation to hire a new testing company, Morris & McDaniel, whom officials said come highly recommended from New Haven and New York City.

Time is of the essence for the Fire Department to hire new men and women. A $3 million Federal Emergency Management Agency grant is contingent upon the city hiring 24 new firefighters. So far, it has hired eight since receiving the grant.

"Maybe there's some lemonade to be coming out of this, despite the challenges that are encompassed by this," Martin said. "The cheapest thing that we can get off the shelf may not be the best and certainly not the lowest cost when you consider the risks that you're taking."
Alex Gecan /

Please buckle your seat belt

April 08, 2015
Two fire engines destroyed at 3-alarm fire in Prince George’s County - MD

A three-alarm (plus) fire that began in a storage area behind the warehouse used by a firm that remodels bathrooms and closets resulted in two Prince George’s County (MD) Fire/EMS Department fire engines being destroyed. Caught in the fire after the wind shifted were Rescue Engine 833 from Kentland VFD and Engine 828 from West Lanham Hills VFD. No firefighters were seriously injured.

Acoording to The Washington Post, in the he storage area were “many flammable materials — wooden panels, tires, cars in disrepair waiting to be fixed, sea containers of styrofoam.” The two pumpers were caught in the fire when the wind shifted.

Article with photos and video at

Please buckle your seat belt

April 08, 2015
Firefighter injured battling South Side blaze; 6 residents displaced - IL

A firefighter was injured and six people were displaced after a fire erupted in the Fuller Park neighborhood on the South Side.

The blaze started around 4:15 a.m. in a two-story home in the 5000 block of South Princeton Avenue, said Chicago Fire Department spokesman Juan Hernandez.

A firefighter was taken to Mercy Hospital and Medical Center. He was listed in good condition, and the nature of his injuries was not immediately known, Hernandez said.

Five adults and one child were displaced as a result of the fire, authorities said.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation.
By Alexandra Chachkevitch Chicago Tribune

Please buckle your seat belt

April 08, 2015
82-year fire veteran John J. Doster dies after response - PA

(The Last Call - RIP)

LEVITTOWN, Pa. — A fire police captain John J. Doster died April 2 after he was hospitalized Feb. 25 during a two-alarm warehouse fire.

U.S. Fire Administration reported that John J. Doster, 95, with the Edgely (Pa.) Fire Company #1, complained of not feeling well while on scene of a warehouse fire.

He was directing traffic on a cold evening with much of the main street of the borough closed for fire operations. Shortly after, he went home and within a few hours his condition worsened.

Doster was transported to the hospital for treatment. He succumbed to his illness last Thursday.

Doster was a U.S. Army World War II veteran and recipient of the Purple Heart, Bronze and Silver Star and was the recipient of Chapel of Four Chaplains Award.

His career as a volunteer included being the past chief, past president and lifetime member of the Edgely Fire Company #10. He was an 82-year fire service veteran and was preceded in death by his wife of 41 years.

Viewing will be from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the Edgely Fire Company #10, 1200 Edgely Avenue, Levittown, Pa., and again from 10 to 11 a.m. Friday morning followed by his service at 11 a.m. Interment will be in Sunset Memorial Park in Feasterville-Trevose, Pa.
By FireRescue1 Staff

Orginal Coverage

Please buckle your seat belt

April 08, 2015
San Francisco Firefighter Recovering From Head Injury Suffered During North Beach Restaurant Fire - CA

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A firefighter was injured at the scene of a restaurant fire in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood Monday afternoon, according to fire officials.

The incident was reported at 2:42 p.m. in a restaurant located in a mixed-use building at 1416 Powell St., San Francisco fire spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge.

The firefighter lost consciousness, fell down and hit his head, according to Talmadge.

He was transported to a hospital for medical treatment, she said.

An update on his condition was not immediately available Monday afternoon.

Initial reports indicated that the kitchen’s flue had been the source of the fire, but those reports were later updated to show that the fire was caused by a steam generator, according to Talmadge.

“It was in the flue, but the cause was from a steam generator,” Talmadge said.

The fire was contained at 3:10 p.m. Damage estimates were not immediately available Monday, according to Talmadge.

Please buckle your seat belt

April 08, 2015
W-B Twp. fire department faces funding crisis - PA

The Wilkes-Barre Township Fire Department faces a crisis over frozen state funding, but township officials will not let the volunteer company collapse.

That was the message from township Mayor Carl Kuren at Tuesday’s meeting of Wilkes-Barre Township Council.

“This is our fire department. We are not going to let it go down the tubes,” Kuren said.

His remarks came after a grim report from Larry Ace, the president of the township fire department’s relief association.

Ace told council that a recent audit report revealed the fire company never repaid a 10-year-old loan for $150,000 from a state fireman’s relief fund — and the department’s state funding is frozen until the loan is repaid.

“Until there is $150,000 back in the account ... the fire department will get no funding,” Ace said.

Council and fire company officials briefly discussed how a loan so old for such a large amount could have been left unaccounted for so long.

The loan — which used the fire department’s ladder truck as collateral and was to be repaid at $5,000 per year plus 3 percent interest — was taken out in 2005, when the department was run by a previous executive board and administration, Ace said. Those officers included former long-time fire Chief John Yuknavich, who is currently in federal prison after he pleaded guilty last year to embezzling funds from the fire department for his personal use.

When an all-new executive board took over running the fire department in January, it investigated the department’s finances and discovered the loan had not been repaid, according to Ace.

None of it had been repaid, he said.

As Kuren put it: “There wasn’t one penny paid back.”

Township officials noted there is a silver lining to the fire department’s seemingly dire financial situation: Once the loan is repaid, the fire company will receive retroactive state funding for the past five years, which will offset most or all of the funds used to repay the loan, township solicitor Bruce Phillips said.

But no one could explain how the missing loan money went unnoticed for years. Written records do not help much, officials said.

“There is no paper trail, no nothing,” Kuren said.

While every official who spoke at the meeting supported the township helping the fire department stay afloat financially, council took no action on the matter Tuesday and the mechanics are still being worked out, Kuren said.

In remarks after the meeting, the mayor made clear he and council members would hold the fire company accountable for any township money it received.

“If we give them the money we’re not just going to hand it to them,” he said.

One possibility is for the township to take over the fire department’s building and lease it back to the department. That will be among the agenda items at a special council meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday to discuss issues involving the fire department, Kuren said.

County and state officials are investigating the latest controversy in the fire company.

The audit that revealed the unpaid loan money was conducted by the state auditor general’s office, according to Ace.

A representative of that office took part in a meeting on Tuesday afternoon, along with Kuren, Ace and other fire department and township officials, Ace said.

A Luzerne County assistant district attorney also attended the meeting, county District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis confirmed.

She declined to comment on whether her office is investigating potential criminal charges.

“We did meet with the mayor to discuss some issues that came up,” she said.

In remarks after the meeting, Ace made clear how urgently the fire department needs help from the township to stay afloat, for now.

“If not for the township we would be belly-up and padlocked,” he said.
By Eric Mark, Staff Writer

Please buckle your seat belt

April 07, 2015
Retired Arlington firefighters sue district over health insurance benefits - NY

POUGHKEEPSIE – Six retired firefighters employed by the Arlington Fire District have filed a lawsuit in Dutchess County State Supreme Court alleging the district breached its contractual promise by terminating the reimbursement of out-of-pocket costs associated with Medicare Part B premiums.

The six plaintiffs, Barry Ireland, Earle Bunn, Edward Ireland Jr., Patrick McDonald, Arthur Rose and Victor Zamiloff, are suing as individuals and as a class, representing all those similarly situated retired Arlington firefighters.

All of the men were active members of the Arlington Professional Firefighters Association IAFF Local 2393, which is the negotiating unit for collective bargaining agreements.

The men maintain that bargaining agreements state retirees will continue to receive health insurance coverage for the rest of their lives, at no cost to the employee. They charge that the fire district breached its contractual obligation by ceasing to reimburse the out-of-pocket costs associated with Medicare Part B premiums.

The suit is seeking an order declaring the district breached its contractual obligation and reimburse the retirees and the class for the out-of-pocket expenses.

Please buckle your seat belt

April 07, 2015
Autistic man attacks Independence Township firefighters before and after nearly dying - MI

INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP, MI -- After biting and trying to punch an Independence Township firefighter in the face about 1:30 p.m. Saturday, an autistic man nearly died, was resuscitated and again became combative.

Firefighters responded to assist the 46-year-old autistic man after someone from the group home where he lives call 911 to say he was having trouble breathing.

"The subject was having difficulty breathing, but was in an agitated state ... While attempting to calm the individual, the subject became agitated and assaulted one of the Independence Township firefighters," Oakland County sheriff's deputies said in a statement. "The subject attempted to punch a firefighter and then bit him on the arm."

Deputies and firefighters strapped the man to a gurney to restrain him.

Firefighters "discovered that the subject had stopped breathing and could not find a pulse and CPR was started," officials said. " A pulse and breathing were re-established. He then became combative again."

The man was hospitalized and treated. He was conscious and breathing at the hospital.

Investigators say the man has a history of aggressive behavior, based on statements made by staff at the group home.
By Gus Burns |

Please buckle your seat belt

April 07, 2015
Information passed along
NTSB: Oil train cars need urgent upgrades - MT

BILLINGS, Mont. — Tank cars carrying oil or ethanol by rail urgently need to be retrofitted or replaced to make them more fire-resistant after a spate of explosive accidents in recent months revealed the shortcomings of voluntary industry standards, U.S. safety officials said Monday.

The National Transportation Safety Board issued a series of recommendations calling for tank cars to be fitted with protective systems better able to withstand fire than the bare steel construction now widely in use. It said a decade-long retrofit timeline that's been suggested by the tank car industry was too long to wait.

"The longer we wait, the more we expose the public to the problems of these cars that aren't especially robust," NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart told The Associated Press.

One alternative cited by the safety board would equip flammable liquids cars with ceramic "thermal blankets" that surround the tank and shield it from intense heat should a nearby car catch fire. Those blankets already are used for transporting liquefied petroleum gas.

Also recommended were relief valves that can prevent pressure from building inside tank cars as they heat up from nearby fires.

The industry in 2011 voluntarily adopted rules requiring sturdier tank cars for hauling flammable liquids such as oil and ethanol. But cars built to the new standard split open in at least four accidents during the past year, including oil trains that derailed and burned in West Virginia in February and Illinois last month.

The recommendations come as the Department of Transportation considers new rules to bolster tank car safety. Oil and ethanol train crashes have stirred widespread worry in the U.S. and Canada, where 47 people were killed when a runaway oil train crashed in Lac-Megantic, Quebec two years ago.

If the Transportation Department decides it would take too long to retrofit the existing fleet with new protective features, it should consider significant speed restrictions on trains as an interim measure, the NTSB said in its recommendations.

The volume of flammable liquids transported by rail has risen dramatically over the past decade, driven largely by the oil shale boom in North Dakota and Montana. Since 2006, the U.S. and Canada have seen at least 23 oil-train accidents and 33 ethanol train accidents involving a fire, derailment or significant amount of fuel spilled, according to federal accident records reviewed by the AP.

The fleet of oil and ethanol tank cars is projected to top 115,000 cars by the end of 2015.

Many are owned not by railroads but by the oil and ethanol producers that ship their product via rail. That's created friction between the energy and rail industries as each looks to the other to foot the bill for safety improvements.

The Association of American Railroads said in response to Monday's NTSB announcement that it supports aggressive steps to retrofit or replace the tank car fleet. "Every tank car moving crude oil today should be phased out or built to a higher standard," the group said in a statement.

The Railway Supply Institute, which represents tank car users and manufacturers, said companies already have spent more than $7 billion on voluntary upgrades.

Those companies are ready to do more, but it will take time, said the group's president, Tom Simpson.

Two Democratic lawmakers, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden and Rep. Peter DeFazio, both of Oregon, urged the Obama administration to move quickly on new rules for oil trains. Regulators need to "get these cars upgraded quickly, or get them off the tracks completely," Wyden said.

A spokesman for the American Petroleum Institute said the organization supports a "science-based" approach to safety that includes track maintenance and repairs in addition to tank car upgrades.

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.

Railroads hauled 493,126 tank cars of crude oil last year, up from just 9,500 cars in 2008 before the boom took off in the Bakken region of North Dakota, Montana and Alberta. Each holds about 30,000 gallons of fuel.
The Associated Press

Please buckle your seat belt

April 06, 2015
Firetruck crashes with car in Syracuse; 2 people taken to hospital - NY

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- A firetruck hit a car on the way to a Saturday morning blaze near Onondaga Park, officials said.

The accident happened around 6:40 a.m. near the intersection of Bellevue and Palmer avenues, said Sgt. Gary Bulinski, of the Syracuse Police Department.

A 22-year-old Syracuse woman was driving her 2012 Chevy sedan west on Bellevue Avenue when the northbound firetruck on Palmer avenue hit her, Bulinski said.

The driver was taken to Upstate University Hospital with injuries that are not life threatening. Her 1-year-old child was also taken to the hospital as a precaution. No firefighters were injured.

The fire happened at 336/338 Palmer Avenue, which was unoccupied, said Lt. Joe Galloway, of the Syracuse Fire Department.

He said the fire started in a space between the second and first floors because of an electrical wire malfunction.

Firefighters were at the scene for about 15 to 20 minutes, he said.
By Jolene Almendarez |

Please buckle your seat belt

April 06, 2015
Hartford deputy chief says fire chief jeopardized safety of media & politicians during Fire Ops 101 - CT

Note: The video is WVIT-TV’s coverage of Monday’s event that does not refer to this dispute.

Yesterday (Monday) a Fire Ops 101 event was held at the Hartford Fire Department Training Academy. Sponsored by a dozen Connecticut fire departments, the event is used to familiarize politicians and the news media with the work of firefighters. It often brings good news coverage for a fire department. But this time not all of that coverage was flattering.

That’s because Hartford Fire Department Deputy Chief of Training Daniel Nolan filed a complaint that Fire Chief Carlos Huertas, in an effort to save money, jeopardized the safety of all involved in the event. Nolan claims that Chief Huertas would not allow overtime funds to be spent for six members of the Training Academy staff to oversee the event. Nolan’s complaint, according to the Hartford Courant, says National Fire Protection Association guidelines for live burns and other training were violated.

“Due to the nature of having untrained personnel participating in this exercise [three legislators and two members of the media suited up and participated in Monday’s event], along with other firefighters who are not familiar with the operation of live burns and structures utilized at this event, the potential for injury is great,” Nolan wrote in the complaint.

In the complaint, Nolan said that he had requested overtime for six members of the training division because the scheduling of the event coincided with their days off, and emails attached to the complaint show that Huertas initially approved the overtime but later rescinded it without explanation.

Nolan alleged that Huertas’ decision put participants’ safety at risk for financial reasons.

Asked about the complaint Monday, Huertas said that one member of Hartford’s training division was involved and that other needed safety oversight was being handled by certified personnel from other departments.
Steven Goode, Hartford Courant: /

Please buckle your seat belt

April 06, 2015
Billing Information of 750 Philadelphia Ambulance Users Stolen = PA

Billing information for at least 750 patients who used Philadelphia ambulances in 2012 was stolen by an employee of the company that handles such data, the Fire Department said Friday.

The company, Intermedix, was first made aware of the data breach, which affected agencies in several states, in 2012, the department said. The thefts were part of a scheme to use the patients' information to file fraudulent tax returns, and the employee is now in jail.

In 2012, Philadelphia officials were assured that the breach did not affect them, the department said.

But in February, police in Opa-locka, Fla., arrested a person in possession of a sheet of paper with names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, and other billing information for some Philadelphia ambulance patients. The department would later identify about 750 patients whose information was stolen in the data breach. All had used ambulances on April 1 and 2, 2012.

It was unclear whether anyone else's information had been stolen, the department said, but patients who used ambulances in the city between Feb. 1 and Sept. 4, 2012, could be at risk.

No medical information was disclosed in the data breach, the department said.

The department has sent letters to those affected, they said. Those patients can receive free credit monitoring and fraud resolution services, the department said, and it encouraged patients to call the IRS to determine whether a fraudulent tax return had been filed in their name.
Aubrey Whelan / Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

Please buckle your seat belt

April 06, 2015
2 fire trucks burn at commercial building fire - MD

2 fire trucks destroyed in blaze

Raw footage: Fire as seen from I-295

CAPITOL HEIGHTS, Md. (WJLA) – A three-alarm fire broke out in a roofing company building in Capitol Heights Monday afternoon in the 8700 block of Ashwood Drive.

Prince George’s County Fire officials said two fire trucks were lost in the blaze. One firefighter suffered a minor burn on the leg; no other injuries were reported.

Fire departments from areas north and south of Prince George’s County—as far away as Branchville—were being called in to help extinguish the heavy flames.

Witnesses told ABC7 they heard as many as five explosions before the fire broke out.

The thick, black smoke emitted from the fire could be seen for miles, as far as Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Va. and near Nationals Park in Washington.
By Jennifer Donelan, ABC 7 News

Please buckle your seat belt

April 06, 2015
Firefighter Injured, Home Destroyed In Maple Grove Fire - MN

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A firefighter suffered a minor injury and a family is without a home after a fire in Maple Grove early Sunday morning.

Crews were called to Willowby Crossing around 6 a.m. after a neighbor initially reported an explosion. When firefighters arrived, the garage of the home was fully engulfed in flames and the fire was starting to spread to the house. About 60 firefighters from four of the five stations in Maple Grove responded to the scene.

The firefighter was injured when one of the home’s floors gave way. The firefighter is expected to be OK.

The family was able to get out of the home, unhurt. Fire officials say the garage and most of the house was completely destroyed in the fire. The family is displaced and made arrangements with a hotel.

Fire officials say the house did not have a sprinkler system, which would have helped put out the flames. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Please buckle your seat belt

April 06, 2015
Women face multiple hurdles within Tampa Fire Rescue = FL

TAMPA — Nearly 40 years after the first female firefighter began working at Tampa Fire Rescue, a majority of the city's fire stations still lack designated women's bathrooms and private changing areas.

Many male firefighters wear boxers when they sleep in the open dorms at firehouses. But some female firefighters who sleep in T-shirts and underwear have become targets for vulgar and sexist insults.

And in some firehouses, verbal abuse and harassment reaches levels that one male firefighter described as "a living hell."

Fire stations across the nation have had to adjust their policies as more women enter the male-dominated field. But some say Tampa Fire Rescue, which employs nearly double the national average of women, has been slow to adapt.

After news of a personnel chief retiring amid a sexual harassment investigation broke last month, female firefighters began talking to the Tampa Bay Times about discrimination. Their concerns ranged from overt sexual advances from male fire department employees to retaliation for reporting problems.

"A lot of the men on the job are fine with working with women, but the ones who aren't seem to be really loud," said Tanja Vidovic, who has been with the department since 2008. "It's accepted, people aren't reprimanded for it. And it's an environment of you're a tattletale and you're ruining the party if you say anything."

Although 43 of the 622 sworn firefighters are women, fire Chief Tom Forward said the department is still working on making changes.

Many of the concerns, he said, such as privacy curtains, qualify as "quality-of-life" issues. With a limited budget, he said those matters take a backseat to more pressing items, such as a leaky roof.

Some female firefighters say they are afraid to raise complaints about harassment or a hostile work environment because, many times, the actions are enabled by the captains. While Forward said he has not witnessed or heard of these issues, he said he's not naive.

"Firefighters are very protective of their whole nest, they really are," said Forward, who has been with Tampa Fire almost 32 years. "Sometimes maybe to the detriment of the individual who's having concerns."

• • •

Of Tampa's 22 fire stations, only six have partitioned sleeping areas and designated male and female bathrooms and showers.

The remaining stations, making up more than 72 percent of the department, are laid out in the same manner as when the department was made up of only men.

At those stations, women can either wait until there are no men in the bathroom and lock the door or use the officers' bathrooms, which often requires walking through their private room.

The situation is different in other local fire departments.

All of the St. Petersburg Fire Rescue and Hillsborough Fire Rescue stations, for example, have separate male and female bathrooms and showers. And all of those stations, except eight of the 43 in Hillsborough, also have individual dorms or partitions and sleeping curtains.

Danielle Nalven said even though she always had "very respectful experiences" in her five years using the Tampa Fire restrooms and sleeping in the open dorms, she wished there was a designated female bathroom and privacy partitions.

"I personally don't want to go to the bathroom next to a guy and I feel bad locking everybody else out," Nalven said. "Dividers are nice for anyone to have."

Without curtains, privacy in the dorms is nonexistent. There is no dress policy for the department, meaning individuals can sleep in whatever they want. While most men sleep in shorts or pants, others prefer boxers.

Hannah Gray, the firefighter at the center of a sexual harassment investigation that led to a personnel chief's resignation, regularly slept in a T-shirt and underwear. She said she was called a slut and a whore by fellow firefighters, many of them not stationed with her, for doing so.

District Chief Sue Tamme, who also deals with these issues in her role as secretary of the International Association of Women in Fire & Emergency Services, said a minimum dress policy would provide defined regulations.

"This is a place of employment. That question should be answered up front," Tamme said. "We've had 38 years to answer that question."

Forward said no such policy has ever been considered because it comes down to common sense and courtesy.

"We don't hire children; we hire professionals here," Forward said. "We really haven't had a situation, to my knowledge, where anybody has been put in a bad situation."

Tamme, the first female district chief in Tampa, said women in any fire department aren't likely to complain about things such as dress, privacy and bathrooms because they don't want the repercussions that can arise when a female complains.

"I don't know of any experience where a man complains and there's been that sort of backlash," Tamme said. "We're not going to complain over something as benign as somebody not being dressed appropriately on one given day because we love every other aspect of the job."

Though women have requested privacy curtains for years, none has been installed.

Forward said privacy curtains have been discussed the past five years, but have been stalled by budget constraints and bureaucratic red tape.

"Obviously this situation brings to bear a concern that really needs to be readdressed," Forward said. "We need to go ahead and put more energy into getting the curtain system moving forward."

• • •

Some women who have spoken out against the status quo said they have faced a backlash, including verbal harassment, lower performance reviews and being skipped on promotion lists.

Several women told the Times about unwelcome sexual advances from colleagues and supervisors. When they rebuked these advances or raised concerns against other mistreatment, they said retaliation sometimes followed.

"If you're up for a promotion, you really can't say anything," Vidovic said. "They will not promote you."

Other firefighters endure verbal harassment from individuals at their stations.

"They absolutely humiliate you," Gray said. "They gang up on you. They embarrass you."

The negative attitude toward Gray started before she even arrived at the station, said firefighter Steven Appel, who was already assigned to Station 21 B shift. For the most part, Appel said, it was perpetuated by one man.

"He was a sexist, he was a misogynist and it came out everyday, and he went unchecked," said Appel, who has been with the department since 1994. "All this behavior was enabled (by the captain)."

Gray, a former police officer, documented her experiences, filling a notebook and a half with incidents.

Though Appel is speaking out now about the verbal abuse he witnessed against Gray, he said he carries guilt over not doing something sooner.

"The hostile work environment toward her was just unbelievable," Appel said. "She was going through hell."

• • •

The women who spoke with the Times were quick to say that a majority of the department is made up of kind, respectful people. But even women who say they love their careers and haven't experienced harassment describe discrimination on the job.

"You do have some of the old-school guys that don't really feel like a female can do the job," Nalven said. "Nothing you do would ever be good enough."

Nalven said she feels many men with those ideas are retiring, but when she comes across them, instead of raising concerns, she takes it upon herself to avoid the problem.

After working for a captain who repeatedly passed her over for promotions, Nalven transferred to another station.

"I realized, 'Your day is never going to get better, just move on,' " Nalven said. "I can't prove myself every single day. It's exhausting."

Tamme said her role with the international women's group has given her experience with "the pace at which change occurs."

"My expectations are realistic," she said.

Other women echo the understanding that change takes time, even 37 years after the first women joined the department.

"You can't go from 100 percent male-dominated to changing them overnight," Nalven said. "They are slowly going toward making it more female-friendly."
Caitlin Johnston, Times Staff Writer

Please buckle your seat belt

April 05, 2015
Man Allegedly Intimidated Ore. Firefighters with Knife, Hammer - OR

Police on Friday arrested a 29-year-old man who they say earlier this week set a small fire on a Forest Grove porch, then greeted responding firefighters with a hammer and a knife.

Reuven Josiah Miller was at a North Plains business Friday when police took him into custody without incident, said Forest Grove Police Capt. Mike Herb. Miller was arrested under accusations of first-degree arson, and he could face additional charges, Herb said. Miller was booked into Washington County Jail.

Five days earlier, firefighters say they had a bizarre encounter with Miller. At about 1:45 p.m. on Monday, a neighbor of a house in the 1400 block of Larch Street reported that it was on fire. Firefighters arrived to discover a small fire on the porch and lawn of the home, Forest Grove Fire spokesman Dave Nemeyer said.

Nemeyer, who was one of the first firefighters to arrive, said firefighters saw Miller throwing gas cans out of the garage and in the direction of the fire. Miller next was seen with a hammer in one hand and a knife in the other, Nemeyer said.

Nemeyer said Miller didn't say anything to firefighters, who had given him plenty of space. Miller stabbed the knife into the wooden railing of the porch, then got into his Toyota Camry and drove off, Nemeyer said.

At that point, firefighters put out the 5-by-5 foot fire. They put out a public plea for help in finding Miller.
Aimee Green / Source: The Oregonian, Portland, Ore.

Please buckle your seat belt

April 05, 2015
No fatalities reported in ambulance crash - ND

An ambulance crashed this weekend at the intersection of N.D. Highway 68 and U.S. Highway 85 in McKenzie County.
(Courtesy of North Dakota Highway Patrol)

An ambulance crashed this weekend at the intersection of N.D. Highway 68 and U.S. Highway 85 in McKenzie County.

The ambulance was carrying a mother and her baby, according to the North Dakota State Highway Patrol. Another ambulance was dispatched.

A 2014 crash report for major North Dakota highways, prepared by the state Department of Transportation, reveals that U.S. Highway 85 — the main drag through the state’s prolific oil production zone — leads in all categories of fatal accidents, injury accidents and property damage accidents.

DOT spokeswoman Jamie Olson said, in February, the department will be slowing speeds to 55 mph, installing a traffic signal, lighting and delineator reflectors on U.S. Highway 85 where it intersects with N.D. Highway 68.

Please buckle your seat belt

April 05, 2015
Driver going wrong way on expressway hits ambulance - PA

A Commonwealth Health ambulance was involved in a two vehicle accident on the Scranton Central Expressway near the Harrison Street bridge, after a car (pictured in background) came up the expressway in the wrong direction
(Jason Farmer / Staff Photographer)

SCRANTON — A Commonwealth Health ambulance was involved in a two-vehicle wreck on the Central Scranton Expressway near the Harrison Avenue bridge Friday afternoon.

The wreck occurred when a car drove the wrong way on the expressway. No patients were on board, and three hospital employees were uninjured, spokeswoman Renita Fennick said.
Staff Report /

Please buckle your seat belt

April 05, 2015
2 Firefighters Hurt Battling Blaze in Wissahickon - PA

Crews responded to a blaze in a wooded area near Bells Mill Road in Philadelphia Saturday afternoon. Two firefighters suffered minor injuries while battling the flames

Two firefighters suffered minor injuries Saturday while battling a brush fire that erupted near a farmhouse in the Wissahickon section of Philadelphia.

The 2-alarm blaze broke out in a grassy area near Bells Mill Road around 6 p.m., officials said.

Medics rushed the two injured firefighters to Roxborough Memorial Hospital, officials said.

The location of the blaze, in a wooded area, along with the wind conditions made it difficult for crews to get to the scene, according to authorities.

Crews got the fire under control shortly after 7 p.m.
By Alison Burdo /

Please buckle your seat belt

April 05, 2015
Charlestown fire displaces family, injures firefighter - MA

Firefighters arrived at 311 Main St. at 11:40 a.m. Saturday, when a two-story wood-frame house was in flames.
(Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff)

A one-alarm fire in Charlestown Saturday displaced a family of six, killed several pets, and sent a Boston firefighter to the hospital, officials said.

Boston Fire Department spokesman Steve MacDonald said firefighters arrived at 311 Main St. at 11:40 a.m., where a two-story wood-frame house was in flames. The fire was extinguished about 20 minutes later. MacDonald said the two adults and four children who live in the building were not present during the fire, but several pets, including at least four dogs and some cats, perished.

One firefighter was taken by Boston EMS personnel to Massachusetts General Hospital with minor neck injuries, MacDonald said.

Fire Department officials determined the fire was caused by an electrical short-circuit on an appliance on the top floor, and they estimated damages could be as much as $350,000. Flames also melted the siding of an adjacent building.
By Alexandra KoktsidisGlobe Correspondent

Please buckle your seat belt

April 05, 2015
Omaha firefighter seriously injured battling blaze - NE

Rescuers were called to a blaze at a two-story home near 45th and Meredith Avenues on Saturday night. It was unclear whether anyone was inside when the fire began.

A firefighter works to subdue the flames of a Saturday blaze near 45th and Meredith. Crews were called to house about 8:25 p.m.

An Omaha firefighter was injured Saturday night as he battled a house fire near 45th and Meredith Avenues, an official said.

Fire Chief Bernard Kanger declined to describe the injury but said it was not fire-related. The firefighter was taken in serious condition to the Nebraska Medical Center with injuries that were not life-threatening, he said.

No one else was injured.

Firefighters were called to the house about 8:25 p.m. The fire started on the first floor then raced up the back of the two-story house, Kanger said.

It was not clear whether anyone was inside the house when the fire started, Kanger said.
By Emerson Clarridge / World-Herald staff writer

Please buckle your seat belt

April 05, 2015
Fire Truck Destroyed During Grass Fire - IN

Editor's Note: This story has been updated with new information from the Liberty Volunteer Fire Department. The initial information posted by the local newspaper, the Pal-Item, was inaccurate.

Two Liberty firefighters escaped from their grass fire truck after it went up in flames on Wednesday.

Crews were mopping up hot spots when Firefighters Matt Reuss and Jeff Moles were driving across a previously scorched field to fill up with water when the truck stalled out.

“The truck died in the bottom of the field,” Reuss told the Pal-Item newspaper. “I got it started and was driving uphill when (farmer) Kevin Pinkerton yelled, ‘Your truck is on fire.’”

The earlier report from the Pal-Item newspaper that a wind shift sent the grass fire towards the rig is incorrect, Liberty VFD Training Officer Nate Stevens told Sunday afternoon.

"We're still not 100 percent sure whether it was a mechanical issue or if an ember was sucked into the truck's air intake," Stevens said.

The cause of the fire, which destroyed the 20-year-old rig, is under investigation.

Mutual aid was called for to help mop up the hot spots.

"The truck was 200 yards out in a muddy cornfield, so when mutual aid arrived there was nothing they could do," said Stevens.

Stevens said the insurance money they will receive will not be enough to purchase a new truck.

They set up a page to help collect money to help find a replacement.

“It’s a rough time of year not to have a grass truck,” Reuss said.

Blooming Grove, College Corner and Everton firefighters responded to help Liberty crews.
Source: News

Orginal coverage

Please buckle your seat belt

April 05, 2015
Information passed along
5 Things to Know About Flakka - FL


Authorities are sounding the alarm about flakka, a new synthetic drug. Dr. Jon LaPook joins CBSN to explain the drugs's effects and dangers.

Please buckle your seat belt

April 04, 2015
America’s Longest Serving Firefighter John Doster Sr. Passes Away - PA

(The Last Call - RIP)

John Doster in 2010.
(Credit: Office Of Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick)

(Credit: Submitted)

Video of Doster in 1958:
(Irish Truckie)

John Doster Sr. was always ready when his community needed him.

The 96-year-old Levittown resident, who was the longest serving firefighter in the United States, passed away early Thursday after an undisclosed illness.

Doster began fighting fires as a teenager in Bristol Township and moved through the ranks all the way up to chief of the Edgely Fire Company. Up until this winter, Doster was commonly spotted serving as a fire policeman at emergency incidents.

Aside from taking a few years off to fight the Nazi’s in North Africa during World War II, Doster had been a stable presence at the Edgely Fire Company since he joined at 15.

“(The) firehouse was just across from the school and when the whistle blew, the principal of the school would chase us out to go push the truck to get it started. And a couple times, we jumped on and went to the fire,” Doster told 6abc in 2008.

Doster raised two children – one the former chief of the Edgely Fire Company – with his wife, Lydia, who passed away in the 1980s. Throughout his life, he worked as a plumber, carpenter, crane operator, truck driver and farmer.

The lifelong public servant was always ready to help, local emergency officials said Thursday afternoon.

“At 96 years old, he ran circles around men half his age. His history of service as a volunteer is unparalleled. He was the epitome of consistency, competency, and courtesy,” Acting Bristol Township Chief of Police Ralph Johnson said. “The standard he set as a gentlemen and a volunteer is an example to all emergency service responders.”

Sgt. Chuck Burns, who is currently serving as an acting lieutenant, noted Doster’s “amazing dedication to the people of Bristol Township.”

The dedication Burns spoke of was clear over the decades of service Doster gave.

“Chief Doster had a passion and commitment to the volunteer fire service and the citizens of this area that was unsurpassed and clearly demonstrated by his 80 years of service,” Bristol Township Fire Marshal Kevin Dippolito said.

The acting police chief recalled Doster’s recent service at the fatal collapse of a concrete storage unit along the Delaware River in Bristol Township.

“During the recent collapse at the Silvi site, John refused to leave his fire police post to get a coffee and pork roll, egg, and cheese sandwich for himself. For the first time since I’ve known him, he allowed me to get something for him.”

In 2008, Doster was awarded the National Volunteer Fire Council’s (NVFC) Lifetime Achievement Award for his service. It’s the not the first award he has received. Following an injury in World War II, he received a Purple Heart from the government and has been honored with many firefighting-related awards throughout his distinguished career.

While being interviewed by a TV reporter several years back, Doster said, “I’ll still help people ’till the day I drop down.”

Up until a few years ago, Doster was responding to 90 percent of Edgely’s calls.

“When the whistle goes off, I just come out to do my job,” current Edgely Fire Company Chief Carl Peirce recalled Doster saying.

The chief said Doster’s loss is a major blow for the volunteer fire company, one that has the feeling of one large family.

“The guys at Edgely have been phenomenal with my grandfather,” John, Doster’s grandson, said.

Almost always wearing his safety gear and driving his pickup truck with an emergency light, Doster was a fixture at emergency scenes.

All those who spoke of Doster on Thursday, talked about his dedication, years of service and respect for the community.

“It was truly amazing that this man was in his 90’s and still got out of bed, even on the coldest nights, to respond to calls,” Dippolito said. “He will be sadly missed.”

For Doster’s family, the loss hits hardest.

“He’s one in a million. I don’t think we’ll ever see that again,” his grandson John said, adding his grandfather wasn’t afraid to tell him when he was doing things the wrong way.

“I ascribe to be like him.”
Tom Sofield /

Please buckle your seat belt

April 04, 2015
Two Syracuse firefighters injured in blaze; cause under investigation - NY

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Two firefighters were injured Thursday morning battling a house fire that left nearly a dozen people from two families homeless.

Firefighters were called to 502 Carbon St. shortly after 6 a.m. When they arrived, flames were already shooting from the second floor, First Deputy Chief Kent Young said.

The two adults and four children on the first floor and the five adults on the second floor escaped unharmed.

But the two firefighters suffered burns to their ears and faces, Lt. Joe Galloway said. Their injuries are not believed to be serious. Their names have not been released.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Galloway said the fire began on a second floor side porch and caused significant damage to the entire second floor and attic. The first floor of the house sustained water damage.

Thursday's fire threw several challenges at the fire department, authorities said. After the fire spread to the attic, crews struggled to reach it and a power line burned off the house and began sparking on the ground.

Both families that were forced from the house are being helped by the American Red Cross of Central New York.
By Ken Sturtz |

Please buckle your seat belt

April 04, 2015



The Fresno City Fire Department is sharing the initial information that has been gathered as part of their ongoing investigation into a fire that seriously injured one of its personnel. It is important to reiterate what the department has provided at the beginning of their report, that this information is intended to be used as safety and training material and that details presented may be subject to change.

“A Board of Review has not approved this Informational Summary Report. It is intended as a safety and training tool, an aid to preventing future occurrences, and to inform interested parties. Because it is published on such a short time frame, the information contained herein is subject to revision as further investigation is concluded and additional information is developed.”

At 1323 on 3/29/2015, Fresno Fire Department Dispatch received a 911 call reporting a residential fire at 1310 E. Cortland, Fresno CA. At 1324, Engines 5, 9, 20; Trucks 4 and 11; and Battalion 1 were directed to respond to 1310 E. Cortland.

Upon arrival at 1326, Engine 5 assumed command and gave a size-up reporting heavy smoke showing, possibly in the attic and secured a water supply. Engine 5 assigned Truck 4 to ventilation with their crew of four, Engine 20 with two Firefighters from Engine 5 to Fire Attack and 2/out, Engine 9 with a crew of four to utilities and forcible entry on the garage door, and Truck 11 staged with their crew of four. Battalion 3 was not assigned to the call but was in the area and arrived to assist as needed.

The Truck 4 Captain led the way to the roof with a rubbish hook followed by the Truck 4 Firefighter with a saw. The Truck 4 Engineer footed the ladder and the Rescue 4 Engineer prepped the second saw for operation.

Truck 4 Captain sounded his way to the ridge, then north towards the garage.


Please buckle your seat belt

April 04, 2015

A grass fire in Spring Run Wildlife Management Area charred hundreds of acres and left one fire fighter seriously injured Wednesday night. Jim Nygaard of the Superior Fire Department was air-lifted to a burn unit at a Twin Cities hospital after battling a blaze east of Spirit Lake.Nygaard has been with the Superior Fire Department for more than 30 years and was using one of the department's tractors to plow a fire barrier when the machinery stalled.

He couldn't get it to restart, and in an attempt to get himself out of the situation he was in, he got burned," Superior Fire Chief Kevin Swalve said. "Because of the high winds, the flames went up over him."

Nygaard was transported by ambulance to Lakes Regional Healthcare and then air-lifted to a burn unit in St. Paul, Minnesota. He's now in stable condition and should be OK, Swalve said.

Nygaard is a past Superior Fire Chief, but loved being out in the field fighting fires instead.

"He's been a real good asset to the department," Swalve said. "He decided he didn't want to be in control, he wanted to be one of the people working. He's always been that way, always a go-getter and getting things done as he seemed fit. He isn't afraid to do things to get it accomplished." The fire, which began shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday, torched an estimated 700 acres between 175 Street and 272nd Avenue. Fire crews were on scene for nearly five hours.

They struggled to contain the blaze due to extremely high winds and dry conditions. Daly thought his department was dealing with three different fires early on due to the massive size of the blaze.

"It was just too big and too fast," Spirit Lake Fire Chief Pat Daly said. "We even had to back burn a part of it to control it because the wind was supposed to change, we really don't know where the starting point was."

Daly and a State Fire Marshal's Office investigator were unable to determine a cause of the fire after spending several hours on scene Thursday morning. The fire scorched prairie grass, a few dozen trees and a garage.

"I've seen a lot of grass fires and I've never seen one move this fast," Daly said. "It just went and we knew we had structures in the area. Shortly after we arrived on scene is when the garage started on fire."

The grass fire jumped across two roads. Thick, black smoke could be seen from several miles as most residents headed home from work on Wednesday.

"The wind was a big factor," Daly said. "It kept moving everything away. Our biggest thing was to keep it away from the houses. The rain didn't come soon enough, I wish it would've came about an hour sooner."

Wednesday evening's thundershowers didn't do much to ease fire concerns in the near future, Daly said. The National Weather Service office in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, still had Dickinson County in the "extreme" category on the grassland fire danger index on Thursday.

"The wind is still up there and we didn't get enough rain," the fire chief said. "We are still trying to get people to watch what they are doing and postpone burning for a few days until we start greening up a little bit."

Firefighters from several area agencies helped battle the fire Wednesday evening, including Superior, Milford, Arnolds Park/Okoboji, Lake Park and Estherville as well as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"I'd like to thank everybody that came and helped," Daly said. "We even had farmers come out with tractors and discs. It really helps when you have everyone in the community out battling with you."

Please buckle your seat belt

April 04, 2015
Information passed along
Handling the citizen complaint on the grocery store run - CA

(Anna Olson)

This video provides a great lesson in public relations. The firefighters from Station 64 in Butte County, California were finishing up a grocery run when they were confronted by an angry citizen complaining they were shopping at a store that wasn’t near their firehouse. Watch how this is handled by the firefighters. The video was taken by another citizen who thought the complainer was out of line.

They showed this man nothing but respect and told him how to follow-up on his concerns. The firefighters weren’t the least bit defensive or nasty. The citizen was on the attack and the firefighters did their best to de-escalate the situation rather than to give the man what he probably wanted … an argument.

These firefighters acted as if there was a camera rolling on them all of the time while they are on duty. And in this case there was one.

Please buckle your seat belt

April 04, 2015
East Cleveland's firefighting equipment crumbling - OH

EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Nowadays, firefighters roll out of the East Cleveland Fire Department on a wing and a prayer.

East Cleveland firefighter Thomas Buth not mincing words when he says the Department is in "dire straits" with antiquated equipment falling apart and in desperate need of repair.

Buth, who is also the president Local 500 Firefighter Union, stood between two fire trucks when he told Channel 3 reporter Dawn Kendrick, "You know this engine was fixed with parts off of this engine. Being that it's a frontline, unit we had to almost rob Peter to pay Paul."

The list of needed repairs is long and the city is broker than broke.

In such financial shambles, the state is again forced to control the purse strings under fiscal emergency.

You don't have to be a mechanic to see the main frontline engine has several leaks underneath.

"It has a water leak from our tank and the pump and also a diesel leak, but we're still running it. That's all we got," said Buth.

Firefighters do patch up equipment repairs when they can. Buth says calls to service shops they used in the past for quotes come back saying, "We can't give you a quote because the city owes us too much money."

Even a donated truck needs maintenance now, and Buth says there is no money to fix it.

Tuesday morning, firefighters used their own money to have brakes fixed and an EMS unit.

"These are saving people's lives and property. If I was paying taxes in the city of East Cleveland, I would be very, very upset," said Buth. "We need to get a handle on this."

Mayor Gary Norton did not return phone calls Monday or Tuesday, but he's called a town hall meeting to "discuss the next steps in considering a merger of East Cleveland with the city of Cleveland. The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 2nd at 6:30 p.m. at the McGregor Home on Private Drive in East Cleveland.

Last month, Norton told Channel 3's Tom Beres, "Something structural must be done in order to preserve services into the future."

In the meantime, for firefighters, Buth says getting to the fire could be as dangerous as fighting it: "We are technically a sneeze away from catastrophe."

Norton will point out that The Northeast Ohio Alliance of Hope cites a startling statistic from a U.S. Census Bureau report. According to the data, more than 17,000 East Cleveland residents, only 5,000 are employed.

That means the income tax burden is on those residents.

Residents are urged to come and share their ideas at Thursday's town hall meeting.
Dawn Kendrick, WKYC-TV

Please buckle your seat belt

April 04, 2015
Information passed along
Hash explosions, fires prompt proposed changes in legal pot states - CO

DENVER — Alarmed by a rash of explosions and injuries caused when amateurs make hash, lawmakers in Colorado and Washington are considering spelling out what's allowed when it comes to making the concentrated marijuana at home.

The proposals came after an increase in home fires and blasts linked to homemade hash, concentrated marijuana that can be inhaled or eaten.

In Colorado, at least 30 people were injured last year in 32 butane explosions involving hash oil — nearly three times the number reported throughout 2013, according to officials with the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a state-federal enforcement program.

Washington's legal marijuana law in 2012 did not permit the production of hash or even edibles at home; it technically remains a felony even to use weed purchased at a state-licensed store to make brownies. Nevertheless, many people have done it.

Federal prosecutors in Seattle have brought charges in five cases where hash-oil operations blew up, including at one apartment complex where an 87-year-old former mayor of Bellevue died after sustaining an injury while trying to escape a fire that started in another unit.

People make hash oil at home for the same reasons they make beer, wine or booze — to save money, make it to personal taste, or as a hobby.

Though there are safer methods, such as soaking marijuana in a vegetable-based glycerin, one common practice is to force a solvent such as butane or propane gas or liquid through leafy cannabis, a process that separates its psychoactive material from buds, leaves and stems.

After the extraction, the hash-maker then releases the gas or boils off the liquid, leaving behind marijuana's psychoactive material in a potent goop. The resulting product — called hash oil or shatter or wax in even more concentrated form — can be added to foods without the grassy taste raw pot imparts.

Without proper ventilation, though, the gases can pool in a room, where a spark from an appliance can trigger a severe explosion, knocking buildings off their foundation in some cases.

Washington lawmakers are proposing to allow limited home hash production, though butane or other explosive gases would be banned except for use by commercial producers. Safer methods would be OK, and adults would be allowed to use cooking oil, butter or similar substances to make edibles.

"We have a little problem here with people blowing themselves up," said Washington state Sen. Ann Rivers, the Republican sponsor of that state's measure. "Anything we can do to stop that from happening."

In Colorado, where hash regulations vary by jurisdiction, a bill up for its first vote next week in a House committee would establish a similar ban on the use of explosive gases to make hash.

"People who make it at home, they can do so with alcohol or methods that are safe," said Colorado state Rep. Yeulin Willett, a sponsor of the bill.

Colorado's largest jurisdiction, Denver, banned some types of home hash production late last year. A similar ban is under discussion in the state's third-largest city, Aurora.

But some marijuana activists argue that when pot is legal, concentrating it at home should be legal, too. They compare the hash explosions to fires caused by turkey fryers and call it a problem with a new product that is best addressed by consumer education.

"Sure, there have been numerous dangerous explosions and fires from idiots who are determined to blow themselves up participating in activities which need considerable safety precautions," said Timothy Tipton of the Rocky Mountain Caregivers Cooperative.

Tipton insisted that butane extraction is perfectly safe with proper ventilation or when done outside.

Supporters of home production also say Colorado's law is on their side. The state's marijuana legalization measure specifically included concentrated marijuana and all its production methods.

Just last month, the Denver district attorney dropped a case against a man facing felony charges of manufacturing marijuana concentrate and fourth-degree arson. The man, Paul Mannaioni, was charged last year after a hash oil explosion sent him and two other people to a hospital.

Mannaioni challenged the legality of Denver's hash oil ban, prompting Colorado's former attorney general to say the marijuana amendment allows limits on home production.

The charges were later dismissed after prosecutors said they couldn't tie him to the explosion beyond a reasonable doubt, leaving the legality of the city's hash oil ban unresolved.

Some marijuana advocates said a statewide ban would invite more legal challenges.

"It's a patient's right to make their medicine," said Jason Warf of the Southern Colorado Cannabis Council.

But Colorado lawmakers backing the homemade limits said the state should err on the side of caution.

"This is something we need to nip in the bud," Willett said.
By Kristen Wyatt and Gene Johnson / The Associated Press

Please buckle your seat belt

April 02, 2015
Court tells West Brighton FD to give firehouse to town - NY

A state appellate court last week upheld an earlier order that the West Brighton Fire Department begin the process of turning over its assets, including the firehouse on West Henrietta Road, to the town of Brighton.

The fire department's volunteer members have been sidelined for more than two years since the town board decided to contract instead with the Rochester Fire Department in August 2012. The town was concerned that there were no longer enough volunteer firefighters to provide adequate, cost-effective fire protection in the district.

A 2011 contract between the two parties stipulated that the town would get the firehouse and the department's equipment and cash reserves when the relationship ended. The fire department has argued that the contract is invalid for various reasons.

A state Supreme Court judge ruled in the town's favor last year, and the five-member Fourth Department Appellate Division court upheld that ruling March 27. Barring further appeal, the department now must begin the legal process of transferring the goods in question over to the town.

"It's good news for the taxpayers of West Brighton," Brighton Supervisor Bill Moehle said. "It's really time to return the focus to where it should be, which is fire protection."

West Brighton Fire Department President Chris Smith said the decision was "disappointing" but the department would not concede defeat.

He pointed out there are still unresolved legal matters, including the town's obligation to dissolve the West Brighton Fire Protection District after a vote of its residents.

He also insisted on a distinction between an order for the department to turn over its assets and an order to "take all necessary action to" turn over its assets; the contract only specifies the latter. The actual transfer eventually will require the approval of either the state Attorney General or a court.

"The important thing is that there are still open cases in this whole legal issue that have to be decided yet," he said.

The department has not yet decided whether to appeal the ruling further. It also faces a request from five of its members to scotch the entire department on the grounds that it no longer serves its stated function.

Moehle said it would be "very hard" to imagine a scenario in which the volunteers return to fighting fires anytime soon. The Rochester Fire Department in 2012 signed a five-year contract that pays it $750,000 a year for its services.

"We tried very hard (to integrate the volunteer firefighters), and frankly they slammed the door in our face," he said. "They followed the lead of their lawyer and disrupted that opportunity."

At one point, the department had about $400,000 in cash on hand, but it, like the town, has been paying hefty legal bills for several years. It remains to be seen how far its fund balance has been depleted.

Please buckle your seat belt

April 02, 2015

The San Francisco Fire Department has not acted on a warning from the city’s district attorney that it needs to toughen its alcohol-testing rules for firefighters — a warning that anticipated a judge’s dismissal of drunken-driving charges against an ex-firefighter who crashed his rig.Superior Court Judge Kay Tsenin — citing a “Keystone Cops” investigation —tossed felony charges last month against Michael Quinn in the June 2013 crash at Fifth and Howard streets that left a motorcyclist seriously injured. In addition to police delays in investigating the crash, Tsenin blamed the Fire Department for not properly maintaining equipment that measures blood-alcohol content.

Nearly a year before the case against Quinn fell apart, District Attorney George Gascón sent a sternly worded letter to Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White about problems with the Fire Department’s testing equipment — along with several other “troubling practices” in its antialcohol program.

Gascón wrote in the April 2014 letter that the department’s practices had “serious firefighter and public safety implications.” The Chronicle obtained the letter through a state Public Records Act request.

'Zero tolerance’?

Specifically, Gascón faulted the department’s “zero tolerance policy” for drinking that, in fact, requires that on-duty firefighters who test positive — but below a blood-alcohol level of 0.04 percent — to remain on duty. That limit is half the state level for legally driving a car, but is equal to the state threshold for drunken driving of a commercial vehicle like a fire truck.

“It is strongly recommended that the San Francisco Fire Department implements a true zero tolerance policy as it relates to on-duty blood alcohol content,” Gascón told Hayes-White. “No on-duty firefighter or paramedic should ever have any measurable amount of alcohol in their blood system.”

Check for accuracy

The district attorney also said the Fire Department was failing to ensure that its Breathalyzers, which measure blood-alcohol content, were being checked for accuracy every 10 days, the state standard for law enforcement agencies. Instead, the department had a policy of checking the equipment once every 30 days, which Gascón said “manufactures an inherent challenge to any positive test result by a firefighter in a criminal prosecution.”

That warning proved prophetic in the case against Quinn, when Tsenin threw out Fire Department blood-alcohol test results showing he was drunk in the hours after the crash because the equipment was unreliable.

Gascón also urged the Fire Department to expand its random testing of firefighters to off-hours, something Fire Department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said the chief did the day after Quinn’s crash. Hayes-White never informed Gascón because the prosecutor did not solicit a response in his letter, Talmadge said.

The chief has not embraced any of Gascón’s other recommendations, Talmadge said, in part because many of them would require negotiations with the firefighters union.

The current testing policy, implemented in 2005, was “something that took a very long time and much negotiations to arrive at,” Talmadge said.

“We, to our knowledge, are the first urban department” in the country to adopt a testing protocol, Talmadge said. “Other departments have contacted us and used our policy as a model.”

As for verifying equipment every 10 days instead of every 30, Talmadge said the department doesn’t consider itself a law enforcement agency.

“Our department is a civilian authority, not a legal authority,” Talmadge said. The tests are not “intended to be used in courts of law. We are not violating anything by not having those tests because they would not use our tests in a court — they can’t be used for legal purposes.”

Test more frequently

However, she said, the Fire Commission has asked department officials to consider testing the equipment more frequently. “We are taking a look at that,” she said. “If they want us to do that every 10 days, then we’ll do that.”

Tom O’Connor, president of the firefighters union, said the department’s 0.04 percent blood-alcohol limit emulates rules used nationwide.

“The 0.04-or-less standard is the federal standard for flying commercial aircraft or driving a tractor trailer on the highway,” O’Connor said.

While the FAA standard is to revoke the license at 0.04, the agency prohibits the pilot from operating the plane if they’re 0.02 or above.

Michael Hardeman, a Fire Commission member who received Gascón’s letter, also defended the department’s practices and said blame for the 2013 incident should fall to Quinn, who vanished for two hours after the accident and was seen guzzling water in a nearby bar.

“That judge’s ruling confused me, I’ll say that,” Hardeman said. “I don’t know if the intention was to encourage people to flee the scene of an accident. That was very disturbing to me.”

Please buckle your seat belt

April 02, 2015

Ocean City firefighters have reported headaches, congestion, and general sickness after being on duty, the result of vehicle fumes leaking from the ground-level engine bay into second-story bunk rooms.Fire Chief Chris Larmore told Ocean City Council members Tuesday that the firefighter's union has brought their illness issues to his attention, and that such health problems most likely were caused by an HVAC design flaw in the living quarters.

He also said the problem may be fixable, by relocating bunk rooms to another side of the building, as part of an ongoing renovation. And, while Larmore pledged to make whatever changes are necessary to improve living conditions to the 55-year-old facility, he also said "there's no reason to believe" the bunk room is unsafe.

"There's a difference between uncomfortable and unsafe," the fire chief said in an interview Wednesday. "If we had employees that went to a doctor and said, this has symptoms of mold, or some sort of air quality problem, you don't think we would have responded to that? If there is a recency of that, I need to know that. That's not something any of us would want to run from. It defies common sense. If my people are getting sick because of something in my building, you think the city would ever deny fixing this? Of course not."

Ryan Whittington, president of the firefighter's union, said no firefighters have taken any sick leave as a result of the ventilation problem, though some have continued to report "not feeling well" during and after their shifts.

He also said International Association of Fire Fighters Local 4269 has not filed any formal complaints about air quality, but instead is trying to work at the underlying problem with labor management.

A March 2015 report on air handling equipment showed that the two bunk rooms, one each for career and volunteer firefighters, used to be a shared space that had been split into two rooms after a round of renovation. That project, however, did not include installation of return air handlers, which has led to the poor air circulation.

It means when exhaust leaks through the ceiling of the engine bay, that air isn't being cycled back out. Firefighters also report that this HVAC arrangement makes bunk rooms unbearably hot on scorching summer days.

"Now that we are aware of the 'no return air path' we will begin to work with management to get this resolved," Whittington said. "I think if an air quality test were done, it would help determine if we even need the complete HVAC unit replaced or simply add a return air path. I want to see what is best for our firefighters while being cost-effective."

Larmore said there hasn't been an air quality study at headquarters since 2004, which came back negative, though he plans to have another conducted "sooner rather than later."

New renovation plans

There's a new round of renovations that were supposed to have started by now, a $2 million project that would include new office space to the south end of the building, an expanded engine bay on the north side, and a new roof, doors, and windows.

The fire chief's solution of moving the bunk rooms, however, were not part of these plans. This option only presented itself recently, with a new development: the town is going to demolish an adjacent water tower, which increases the available construction footprint. The water tower has been there since 1959. Headquarters was built in 1960.

Now, based on the water tower's removal by fall 2016, resort officials have decided to put these renovations on hold until July.

"Come back in 90 days," Councilman Wayne Hartman told the fire chief. "We'll suspend the project for you. In 90 days, you tell us the needs of the department and the best future for the building."

Getting a new ventilation system would alleviate concerns about poor air quality, according to City Engineer Terry McGean. And a full replacement of the building's HVAC system at a cost of $250,000 is also a central part of the renovation plan.

But it won't happen overnight. It's likely that a new HVAC system could be completed by the end of the summer. Even if it started tomorrow, McGean said, it would take at least four months to complete, including time for bidding the project, and about six weeks of work. In the meantime, it's been suggested to firefighters that simply leaving the door open will air out the space.

There's still some thought being given to replacing the fire department headquarters entirely, building a new facility on the currently-empty south side of the property, and demolishing the existing headquarters for parking. Such a project could carry a price tag between $6 million and $8 million.

The town just opened its rebuilt 130th Street fire station, and has preliminary plans to replace its mid-town fire station in the next few years by building on an empty lot in front of the 65th Street Public Safety Building.

Town Council President Lloyd Martin said he isn't interested in building a new headquarters facility.

"We can renovate. I can't support not doing this. I hate saying that, but I really want to move forward," he said.

Please buckle your seat belt

April 02, 2015

The Liberty Volunteer Fire Department lost a truck Wednesday while fighting a field fire on Indiana 101 South.

Firefighter Matt Reuss, who was driving the small truck known as the “grass rig,” said firefighters already had applied two tanks of water to the fire and were on their way for a third load when the wind shifted.

“The truck died in the bottom of the field,” Reuss said. “I got it started and was driving uphill when (farmer) Kevin Pinkerton yelled, ‘Your truck is on fire.’”

Firefighter Jeff Moles, who was a passenger in the truck, said fire and smoke quickly surrounded the truck.

“I couldn’t even see Matt,” Moles said.

Moles and Reuss escaped the vehicle without injury, but the truck is a total loss, Chief Jim Barnhizer said.

“It’s about as totaled as it can get,” Reuss said.

The fire likely was sucked into the engine compartment through the engine’s air breather, Barnhizer said

Firemen estimated the truck fire occurred just after 3:30 p.m., about 30 minutes after the fire was reported. The fire was in the 4570 block of Ind. 101, on the west side of the highway, Barnhizer said

The Liberty department called for mutual aid from fire departments in College Corner, Blooming Grove and Everton to fight the fire in a field that still was covered with plant fodder from last year’s crop.

Some nearby farmers brought tractors and equipment to turn up fresh soil to halt the fire’s spread.

The field fire is believed to have started from a brush or trash fire, on a day when it was much too windy for such activity, firefighters said.

All of Liberty’s fire trucks are insured, but the smaller grass truck is a 1995 model, so it’s uncertain now how much it’s worth and how soon it can be replaced, Barnhizer said.

In the meantime, Liberty will rely on its neighboring fire departments to fight any grass fires that occur, Reuss said.

“It’s a rough time of year not to have a grass truck,” Reuss said.

Please buckle your seat belt

April 02, 2015

A stubborn fire in a silo at a pet food processing plant in Hazle Township kept firefighters from four counties busy Tuesday night into Wednesday as they meticulously worked to extinguish the smoldering product and contain damage.

Bill Gallagher, Hazle Township supervisor and volunteer firefighter with its fire company, was one of many volunteers who responded to Vita Line, 1111 N. Park Drive, Humboldt Industrial Park, when the fire began Tuesday around 6:30 p.m. The business is a short distance from state Route 924.

Firefighters at first believed equipment inside the plant caught fire and later sparked two secondary fires. They just about had the blaze extinguished around 9 p.m., Gallagher said, when Vita Line maintenance workers found two other pieces of equipment on fire, including a silo.

The exact cause of the fire has not been determined.

After the discovery of the new fires, Hazle Township Fire and Rescue contacted Luzerne County 911 and requested additional fire companies to respond with more manpower, Gallagher said.

Espy Fire Company from the Bloomsburg (30 min down interstate) area was dispatched as they have expertise in handling silo fires, as well as the state Department of Environmental Protection and Luzerne County and Hazle Township emergency management officials.

At 3 p.m. Wednesday, while firefighters were in their 21st hour at tackling the blaze, Gallagher said silo fires have to be approached with caution. He said if water from a hose is placed on the fire inside the silo, the steam could be so great that the silo would split.

Also, silos storing any type of product that creates dust can cause the silo to explode due to heat building up inside it. If oxygen is added to the silo, he added, it can create a “fire vacuum” causing the dust to become combustible too.

At about 3:30 p.m., Gallagher said, there was an explosion in the silo caused by unknown means. No major injuries were reported initially; however, 23 firefighters in the basement during the explosion were examined by medical personnel from ambulance companies, he said.

Vita Line’s silo was holding about 90 tons of powdered dog food that is later pressed into harder pieces of food through the production process.

The silo is about 60 feet high and about 12 feet wide in the rear of the building with walls surrounding it, and a roof overhead.

Gallagher said the dangers of fighting a smoldering fire inside a silo left employees and firefighters with only one option — to manually remove the powdered pet food using carts. He said the product was removed slowly from the bottom of the silo, brought out into the parking lot where it was hosed down and then, using township road equipment, dumped into large dumpsters for disposal.

Most of the product had been emptied from the silo by 2 p.m., he said.

Volunteer firefighters rotated shifts at the plant to prevent exhaustion and to allow those who had work during the fire to leave, resulting in multiple crews from companies in Luzerne, Carbon, Schuylkill and Columbia counties responding to the scene. Some of the firefighters who responded came from Nanticoke, Harwood, West Hazleton, Sheppton-Oneida, McAdoo and Freeland.

L and L Fire Company was dispatched to provide its heated rehabilitation tent, where crews could have a drink of water and food. The tent also provided space for crews to have their vital signs checked. Local ambulance companies also responded, while others were placed on standby at their stations.

Hazleton firefighters, along with other local fire companies, took turns handling Hazle Township’s other emergency dispatches through the entire incident.

Employees at the plant working a shift that began at 11 p.m. Tuesday were sent home upon arriving for work that night, Gallagher said. He was unsure if anyone else, aside from priority and maintenance employees, were working Wednesday at the facility.

A telephone message for comment left at the business Wednesday afternoon went unanswered. Two men standing at the entrance to the plant Wednesday morning said members of the media were not allowed on the property at that time.

On March 4, 2013, a fire at the plant destroyed a pickup truck and damaged a train bay. The fire began when the truck, pulling a train car in the bay, experienced a mechanical problem.

According to ARW Engineers website, the Vita Line Products facility, for American Nutrition Inc, is a 267,000-square-foot pet food processing plant designed to provide the owner with the ability to provide its product throughout the eastern United States

Please buckle your seat belt

April 02, 2015
Firefighter Injured in Roof Collapse - NC

DURHAM - For the second time in less than a year, fire damaged a commercial building in the heart of downtown Durham. Part of the roof collapsed on firefighters, injuring one.

City firefighters were called at 2 a.m.

Tuesday to a three-story building at 118 W. Parrish St. They worked their way down an alley and saw heavy smoke rising from the back of the building, Deputy Chief Chris Iannuzzi of the Durham Fire Department said.

Firefighters forced their way inside and brought the blaze under control in about 15 minutes, he said.

On the unoccupied third floor, a bathroom, two large rooms and the roof were damaged by fire. There was smoke damage throughout the rest of the third floor.

The occupied second floor sustained water damage, as did the unoccupied first floor.

A section of the roof collapsed onto firefighters working on the third floor, according to Iannuzzi. One firefighter suffered an arm injury that was not serious. The fire's cause had not been determined Tuesday, but the investigation will continue.

In May 2014, fire heavily damaged the same building, near the former Jack Tar motel and parking deck.

Investigators said the 2014 fire apparently started in a photography studio on the top floor.

Please buckle your seat belt

April 02, 2015
Information passed along
Fire District Shares Recruitment Ideas - OR

As the majority of communities are nationwide, the Stayton Fire District in Oregon is in dire need of not only recruiting volunteers, but keeping them.

So, they’ve teamed up to share ideas on how to it.

“We realized early on, that all of us are facing the same struggles. The majority of our volunteers work outside the fire district,” explained Matt Aalto, recruitment and retention coordinator & firefighter/EMT for the Stayton Fire District.

Instead of meeting every other month as they used to, recruiters are now just a click away from getting ideas to pursue.

“We expanded the to have resource links, a shared calendar, and a comprehensive directory of the fire departments in Oregon with links to their sites and more,” he explained.

Aalto is excited about the effort, and is anxious to let others know.

“Word has started to get around about our website and we are hoping it becomes a model for other agencies to follow since it brings people together and allows those without media creative skills, finances or other resources to use previously used media resources (flyers, banners, videos, grant info, etc.) for free.”

When someone signs on the dotted line in Stayton, they can expect a phone call or follow up e-mail.

They are also sharing efforts on what they’re doing to keep those people,” he added.

Applicants just don’t simply sign on the dotted line, and wait, either.

Each is invited to a station for an orientation where they learn about what’s involved in becoming a firefighter or first responder. Personnel will talk about their experiences and the training required.

After passing a physical and fitness test, the recruit is encouraged to participate in the activities in their station.

“While they are waiting for formal training which takes about a year, we want them to go down to the fire station and hang out. That’s the only way they’re going to get to know people,” he said, adding that they also will be picking up tips from veteran firefighters.

Rookies also may participate to a certain point in monthly drills as well.

“We’ve found a higher success rate once they start the academy because many know the various tools and tasks…And, they know what’s involved and the commitment necessary.”

With some classes online now, recruits are getting trained and out in the field a bit sooner. But, there are no shortcuts either.

“We’re hurting for people just like everyone else is,” he said. “And, the majority of our volunteers don’t work in the fire districts where they live.”

Keeping volunteers is always a challenge as well.

Firefighters at one of Stayton’s stations came up with the idea of flag presentations as recognition.

Instead of giving the slightly worn flags to veterans’ groups for proper disposal (burning), they are folding them and placing them in special cases.

“It’s become a really big deal. When they are presented to a person, it’s special because it’s flown over their station.”

Aalto added that it’s imperative that people make volunteers feel welcome and appreciated. News

Please buckle your seat belt

April 02, 2015
Man Removed from Scene After Yelling at Firefighters - MO

A Chesterfield man yelled at firefighters and tried to block the roadway as crews were battling a house fire Tuesday.

Larry Hoffman blocked roadway access and interfered with Monarch Fire Protection firefighters during the Still House Creek Road house fire, Chesterfield Patch reports.

Hoffman, who is a critic of the firefighter's union, blocked the street and then videotaped firefighters as he yelled insults and profanities at the crews, according to a police report that was filed. Police told him to leave the scene and move his vehicle.

“It was totally inappropriate to interfere with emergency services and public safety at the scene of a fire – the firefighters filed a police report for interference immediately,” an eyewitness told the website. “Luckily, the firefighters extinguished the fire before Mr. Hoffman caused any further trouble. Thanks to the police order, they could get out of there without further incident or any accident.”

The website said he's vocal supporter of Robin Harris, the incumbent Monarch Fire Protection District Board President , who is running for re-election next week. News

Please buckle your seat belt

April 02, 2015
Philly Chief Says He was Pressured to Alter LODD Report - PA

A day after an internal presentation of a Philadelphia Fire Department critique detailing errors and delays in the December blaze that killed Firefighter Joyce Craig, the report's author wrote in an official department log that he was being pressured to redact portions of his work.

Deputy Chief Rich Davison, the author of the report, wrote that Deputy Commissioner Jesse Wilson -- the department's second-in-command -- had asked for redactions and explained his request with the suggestion that "some statements in the critique could hurt the city," according to a copy of the entry obtained by The Inquirer.

The critique, which Davison was assigned to conduct, identified tactical errors and communication failures at the scene on the night Craig was killed, and concluded that they spoke to "real training deficiencies within the Philadelphia Fire Department."

In Davison's March 4 entry in his division logbook -- where he is mandated to record significant events of the day -- Davison wrote that he "respectfully refused" the deputy commissioner's request to alter his findings. The entry did not specify what the statements in question were.

Executive Fire Chief Clifford Gilliam, a department spokesman, wrote in an e-mail that nothing from the report had been redacted.

Davison declined to comment.

Rather than asking Davison to remove anything, Gilliam said, Wilson had called Davison to "discuss the content and method used to collect information contained in the critique."

Gilliam said Wilson was concerned that Davison had collected questionnaires instead of written statements to conduct his investigation.

"Deputy Commissioner Wilson counseled Davison to ensure all of the information contained within the document was accurate," Gilliam wrote.

Gilliam said Wilson never used the word redact during the conversation.

Although Fire Department officials have called Davison's report a first step in a larger investigation, Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer said earlier this month that as a result of the report's findings, the department would add more training for its members. Officials have promised that a more thorough report on the fire is forthcoming.

Joe Schulle, president of the Local 22 Philadelphia Fire Fighters' and Paramedics Union, agreed that the report is incomplete, but for other reasons. Schulle said the department had not given Davison the information he needs to complete a full report, including radio transmissions from commanders on the scene.

Schulle called the department's response "disingenuous" and said that the intent behind Davison's logbook entry was clear.

"Chief Davison is a smart, educated man who knows what the word redact means," he said.

Schulle said the entry in the logbook -- and the department's reaction to it -- raises disturbing questions about its investigation of the incident.

"If [Wilson] was willing to ask Chief Davison to alter the report, did he speak to any other [department] members that were giving interviews, and did he ask them to modify their statements?" Schulle said. "The real concern for me is, do we want to get to the bottom of what happened, or do we want to just protect the city? And based on the [logbook entry], it appears our main goal here is to protect the administration."

Gilliam said the department had not counseled any of its members regarding what to say to investigators about the fire.

Besides the department's own investigation, the Fire Marshal's Office and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, a branch of the CDC, will also issue reports.

Craig, who was killed in a West Oak Lane basement fire Dec. 9, was the department's first female firefighter to die in the line of duty.

Davison's report on the night of the fire at 1655 Middleton St. identified delayed responses and tactical errors -- poor communication, late and lost ladder companies, and confusion at the scene.

Accounts from a firefighter on the scene, department sources, and radio records from the night of the fire show that Craig's Mayday alarm sounded for 18 minutes before she was pulled from the house, and that she was found by chance.

Those accounts also suggest a significant amount of time elapsed before commanders realized Craig was unaccounted for.

The report also identified what appeared to be poor communication on the scene.

"It has been repeatedly documented that not knowing who is actively operating on the fire ground, what they are doing, and where they are doing it is contributing to firefighter deaths," Davison wrote.

In his report, Davison also stressed a need for "back-to-basics" training for the department's firefighters, including Mayday response training for officers.

Davison wrote that firefighters need to be trained in how to fight basement fires and how to properly ventilate a house during a fire, a crucial tactical skill that can ease smoky conditions inside a house and help other firefighters navigate the building.
Aubrey Whelan / Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

Please buckle your seat belt

April 02, 2015
Firefighters speak out after held hostage by co-worker - PA

ELKINS PARK, Pa. — Firefighters are speaking out for the first time after police say they were held hostage by a co-worker in the basement of a Montgomery County firehouse Tuesday.

Paul Jordan, 25, was taken into custody after a standoff situation at the La Mott Fire Company, No. 1 on Penrose Avenue in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, officials said. The ordeal began around 10:40 a.m. when Jordan, who investigators say was armed with a 9mm handgun, fired a shot into the wall of the building, according to police.

"He wasn't himself," said Mark Logan, president of the La Mott Fire Company. "He didn't look like himself. He didn't act like himself." Logan says Jordan was a volunteer firefighter at the company and was angry because he had just been fired, telling his co-workers that he had no reason to live.
NBC Philadelphia

Please buckle your seat belt

April 02, 2015
Blaze destroys 112-year-old Jefferson Hills restaurant - PA

Firefighters battle a blaze at the Old Large Hotel in Jefferson Hills along Route 51
(Keith Hodan | Trib Total Media)

Firefighters take a break after extinguishing an overnight fire at the Old Large Hotel in Jefferson Hills, Wednesday, April 1, 2015. The three alarm blaze caused heavy damage to the restaurant along Route 51.
(Keith Hodan | Trib Total Media)

A black and gold banner advertising $2 draft beers during Steelers and Penguins games hung largely untouched Wednesday over the glass nameplate of the Old Large Hotel in Jefferson Hills.

But the flames, smoke and water from a three-alarm fire destroyed the interior of the 112-year-old establishment located near the intersection of Old Clairton and Oak roads.

One firefighter was injured during a partial roof collapse in a portion of the building. She was taken to a local hospital, said Allegheny County emergency management coordinator Alvin Henderson Jr., but her injuries did not appear to be serious.

Another firefighter was treated on the scene for a finger injury.

Fire started in the restaurant and bar on the first floor just before 4 a.m. and spread quickly after fire crews arrived, said Jefferson Hills fire Chief Andrew Tomer. He said the fire raced up the walls and into the attic of the three-story building.

“It kept getting worse,” he said. “It was a stubborn fire.”

Henderson said the fire does not appear to be suspicious.

“Good food and good people,” neighbor and longtime patron Kenneth Frazier, 63, said of the business. “It will be sorely missed.”

The original Old Large Hotel, named for the former town of Large, was built in 1903 as a stage coach stop along old Pa. Rt. 51.

Joyce Schmidt, president of the West Jefferson Hills Historical Society, said the business housed antiques and original phones from centuries past, including an original bottle of Monongahela Rye Whiskey made locally in the late 1700s.

She said she is saddened by the loss of the history.

The fire caused a two-hour delay for West Jefferson Hills School District, whose school complex sits about a mile from the fire scene.
By Megan Guza /

Please buckle your seat belt

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

Please buckle your seat belt

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

Please buckle your seat belt

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)

Please buckle your seat belt

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

Please buckle your seat belt

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 /

Please buckle your seat belt

Fire Line

Kolbs Home    To NYS Fire Departments    To Teaching and Training Courses    To Fire Reports    Email
To Kolb