National News

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Los Angeles Firefighters Injured after Roof Collapses at Raging Warehouse Fire

A raging fire destroyed a Boyle Heights import business Wednesday and three firefighters were injured, one critically, when the roof of the sprawling warehouse-type structure collapsed beneath their feet. The fire broke out for unknown reasons around 12:45 p.m. at the Passion Imports building in the 2800 block of East Pico Boulevard. Arriving crews found the structure well-involved in flames with a thick plume of black smoke rising into the air. Crews began pouring water on the structure and worked to vent the roof of the 16,000-square-foot building, with initial reports indicating that as many as a dozen people might be inside, according to Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Erik Scott. A short time later, the roof gave way, and three firefighters who were on top of the building fell inside the burning structure, Scott said. All three suffered burn injuries, with one of them taken to a hospital in critical condition and the other two listed as fair, he said.
KNBC-TV NBC 4 Los Angeles

Houston mayor agrees to 7 percent raise for police weeks before fire pay vote

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner agreed to a 7 percent pay increase for police officers just weeks before a Houston referendum vote to determine whether firefighters deserve comparable pay for similar ranks. Turner announced some of the details of the pay raise at Wednesday's city council meeting. The two-year agreement with police will cost the city $52 million and goes into effect July 1, 2019. Turner has skipped few opportunities to tell the public that the fire referendum vote, appearing on ballots in November as Proposition B, amounts to a 25 percent pay increase for firefighters and would cost $98 million. The HPFFA refutes that number but hasn't provided its own analysis to ABC13. "If it passes, it's going to be ugly," Turner told reporters after the meeting. "There are no good outcomes."
KTRK-TV ABC 13 Houston

New York fire chief resigns amid tensions with volunteers

Rensselaer Fire Chief Bill Hummel resigned Wednesday just hours before volunteer firfighters are set to bring concerns about training and proper equipment to city officials. City volunteer firefighters and county officials say both the chief and an assistant chief have stepped down. While the mayor and the chief have not returned calls for comment, the volunteers believe the resignations are a direct response to growing tensions between volunteers and career firefighters within the city. Michael Stammel is the chairman of the county legislature and a volunteer firefighter for many years. He and others say flaws within the system have recently come to light that show a huge breakdown in communication between Hummel, the volunteers, and paid firefighters. Stammel also says volunteers have not been given necessary training or proper equipment to respond to emergencies.
WNYT-TV 13 Albany

Retiring California Chief Says Firefighters Must Innovate

As Anaheim Fire Chief Randy Bruegman’s retirement approaches, he discusses the future of firefighting and allows that if departments fail to change it could mean fewer men and women prepared to battle infernos. Along with more mega wildfires and tornadoes of flame never seen before in modern history, the chief points out that 85 percent of calls are for emergency medical service. “If we don’t adapt,” he warns, “we’ll be challenged to be relevant and worthwhile.” While we talk, I glance at a collection of fire helmets that attest to the chief’s positions over his 43-year career. I also steal a look at a series of photographs of sooty firefighters that silently speak to heroism, sacrifice and honor. But it’s a photo of a man dressed in red and gold robes that best captures both the chief’s approach to running a fire department as well as the chief himself. That would be the Dalai Lama. Anaheim Fire Chief Randy Bruegman will be retiring and moving to Wisconsin with his wife to be closer to family.

‘Lengthy consecutive sentences’ sought for salon owner in deaths of 2 Missouri firefighters

Prosecutors are recommending an 89-year prison term for the “serial arsonist” who set a fire in her nail salon that resulted in the deaths of two Kansas City firefighters. Thu Hong Nguyen, 46, is scheduled to be sentenced Friday by Jackson Country Circuit Court judge Joel P. Fahnestock. She was convicted of murder, arson and assault in the Oct. 12, 2015, fire in the 2600 block of Independence Boulevard that killed firefighters Larry Leggio and John Mesh. Two other firefighters were seriously wounded. Prosecutors say several victims wish to testify at the sentencing hearing. Nguyen was convicted on six separate counts and will receive a sentence on each. Prosecutors are asking the judge to make those sentences consecutive.
Kansas City Star

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Verizon denies allegations that it’s throttling mobile data for Hurricane Florence victims

Verizon said Tuesday that it is not slowing down or degrading the wireless services of North Carolina residents who have been affected by Hurricane Florence, after a report surfaced accusing the company of "deprioritiz[ing]" mobile data plans. A hurricane victim identifying him- or herself as a Verizon customer posted to reddit Monday saying that it has been days since it has been possible to check Facebook or email from a mobile device in a small town in eastern North Carolina. "We traveled into a bigger town and called Verizon to check and see if there was a data outage," the person wrote. "Only, I was told that my unlimited plan was deprioritized for being to low tier of a plan. But if I upgraded to a higher plan my service would be restored."
Greensboro News & Record

DWI arrest highlights battle between fire fighters union and Texas city

The current collective bargaining agreement between the City of San Antonio and the San Antonio Professional Fire Fighter’s Union expired four years ago. Right now, the first responders are operating on an evergreen plan, keeping the most current contract in place and allowing time to negotiate. But the city says that's not happening. Earlier this month, 31-year-old Jesus Cuevas was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated. Thanks to the current collective bargaining agreement, Cuevas could use taxpayer money to mount his legal defense. "I don't think the average taxpayer knows they pay for the legal defense of a firefighter when they're in a divorce, arrested for something, going through a bankruptcy, child custody case,” said City of San Antonio Director of Government and Public Affairs Jeff Coyle. San Antonio

Pipe Pressure Before Massachusetts Gas Explosions Was 12 Times Too High

The pressure in natural gas pipelines prior to a series of explosions and fires in Massachusetts last week was 12 times higher than it should have been, according to a letter from the state's U.S. senators to executives of the utility in charge of the pipelines. Democratic U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey sent the letter Monday seeking answers about the explosions from the heads of Columbia Gas, the company that serves the communities of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, and NiSource, the parent company of Columbia Gas. "The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has reported that the pressure in the Columbia Gas system should have been around 0.5 pounds per square inch (PSI), but readings in the area reached at least 6 PSI - twelve times higher than the system was intended to hold," the letter said.
NBC Boston

What you need to know about ISO’s 2018 Public Protection Classification

ISO has been developing grades of fire suppression capabilities for communities under our Public Protection Classification program for many years. We recognize there are often questions about the PPC process. This article is designed to help provide a better understanding of our PPC, along with information about some ways fire chiefs can get help with the related process. ISO has undergone significant changes in the last 10 years, and is now a Verisk business. As part of our transformation, we’ve provided extensive outreach to communities under the umbrella of ISO Community Hazard Mitigation. Our related team works to foster an active relationship with fire departments, building departments, water suppliers and community officials throughout the country.

Missouri city manager accuses public safety workers of harassment in pay dispute

Joplin's finance director says critics are trying to force her out of her job, and the city manager says city employees who continue to stir rumors and act disrespectful could face disciplinary action. City Manager Sam Anselm holds fire and police employees responsible for repeated incidents in which he said untruths have been spread and employees have acted out against other city employees, such as the finance director, and the City Council. ... Asked if there is a personnel investigation of the allegations, the city manager said no information would be disclosed because it would be a personnel matter. The president of the firefighters union says the union has not been involved in asking the widow of a police officer to come forward with allegations against the Haases. He said that if individual firefighters have been involved, they have the right to express their own opinions.
Joplin Globe

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