National News

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Report does not substantiate claims Virginia fire department is hostile to women

The Fairfax County fire department has problems with leadership, communication and the status of paramedics, but it does not face widespread issues with the treatment of women in its ranks, according to a report released Tuesday. The review by county officials comes just weeks after fire chief Richard R. Bowers Jr. announced his retirement amid accusations from a top-ranking female firefighter that women face a toxic atmosphere in the department. Battalion Chief Kathleen Stanley’s resignation in January as interim head of the department’s women’s program sparked the probe.
Washington Post

Authorities: New York Firefighters Set Houses Ablaze, Then Responded to Calls to Put Them Out

Three Suffolk County volunteer firefighters are facing arson charges in connection to nearly a half-dozen recent fires in New York, authorities say. Authorities said Central Islip firefighters Austin Lehman, 19, Stephen Hernandez, 25, and Shawn Key, 27, also put out the blazes they started at five abandoned houses in Central Islip and Hauppauge between October and January. "The individuals involved responded to the fires," said an official at a news conference announcing the charges. "They put their fellow members of the Islip Fire Department in grave jeopardy." "We have been and will continue to fully cooperate with law enforcement officials throughout their investigation. This is a very serious matter and we are extremely shocked and disheartened to learn of these allegations," said a representative for Central Islip Fire Department in a statement.
NBC New York

Texas Fire Union Rejects Latest Negotiation Request

San Antonio officials made another attempt to negotiate a contract regarding health care and wages with the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association Tuesday, but the union declined to appear. The union’s contract ran out in 2014, and its stalemate with the city has lasted for more than 1,200 days. Sitting at one side of a table Tuesday, city staff waited for fire union leaders. The union instead sent an email saying it would not attend. The city has made 10 negotiation attempts, but the union said it will not negotiate as long as a city-filed lawsuit remains in play. The union and city are currently operating under a 10-year ‘evergreen clause’ that allows uniformed employees in the San Antonio Fire Department to receive the same healthcare benefits and other provisions until 2024.
Texas Public Radio

Pennsylvania city council to weed out ’rotten apples’ on fire department

Borough council members publicly voiced support for fire department personnel who are overseeing day-to-day operations, but pledged to weed out a “few rotten apples” as police continue investigating some $54,000 in fireman’s relief association expenses. While speaking to a small group of firefighters who attended a council meeting Tuesday, Council President Lou Pacelli publicly recognized the department for its dedication to the community and assured them that council will maintain a good working relationship with the department. “We have a lot of good firemen in our community — the best,” Pacelli said.

Voters overwhelmingly approve reduction in California fire district board

Voters in the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District chose to reduce the soon-to-be elected board from nine members down to five in a recent mail-in ballot. Although the results are still unofficial, 91 percent of votes had been counted on Tuesday afternoon and over 90 percent of those votes were in favor of reducing the number of directors on the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District’s Board of Directors. More than 12,000 voters from Bethel Island in the north through Oakley and Brentwood down to Tassajara in the south cast their ballots. ECCFPD Fire Chief Brian Helmick wrote an argument in favor of reducing the board’s size, saying that it would make the process more efficient, but more importantly, better-informed.
East Bay Times

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Veteran Georgia firefighter collapses, dies

The Cobb County Fire Department lost one of their own on Monday after she experienced a medical incident. Firefighter Stacey Leigh Boulware, 44, collapsed on Monday at Station 5 in Vinings after returning from back-to-back incidents that included "a full arrest and vehicle accident," according to the department. After collapsing, officials said she was transported to Kennestone Hospital where she passed away following resuscitation attempts. Boulware began her fire career in June of 1999. She had been a long-time member of the Cobb County Fire Hazardous Materials Team and served at several different stations during her tenure. Boulware had successfully completed an annual physical agility test earlier in the day.
WXIA-TV NBC 11 Atlanta

Louisiana firefighter-police officer killed in hit-and-run involving drug suspect

The Zachary firefighter and reserve police officer who was killed Monday night in a hit-and-run will be remembered as a dedicated public servant, said Zachary Fire Chief Danny Kimble. Deputy Fire Chief Christopher Lawton, 41, was killed Monday night when he was run over by a U-haul truck in the parking lot of the Baker Walmart, officials on the scene said. He and another Zachary police officer were working undercover to investigate felony drug charges, East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said. "Chris was a hard worker and a dedicated fireman," Kimble said Tuesday morning. "And a family man, he believed very much in his family." Kimble said Lawton was married with two children. Lawton embodied "just being a public servant, giving back to his community," Kimble said.
The Advocate

Houston firefighters ask judge to force city to verify their pay ’parity’ petition

Houston firefighters on Monday asked a judge to force the city secretary to validate signatures on an equal pay referendum petition that has been backlogged in City Hall for eight months. The referendum would require firefighters to receive the same pay as police officers of corresponding rank. It was first submitted to the city in July but wasn't validated before the November election. In December, leaders of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association sued, asking a judge to give City Secretary Anna Russell 30 days to count and validate the petition signatures. State District Judge Dan Hinde did not issue an immediate ruling after a three-hour trial Monday. City attorneys argued the firefighters’ claim lacks the urgency needed to secure a court order.
Houston Chronicle

18 Years After Sept. 11, Critical Incidents Still Overload Emergency Radios

If you go back and listen to the recording of the Broward County radio dispatch system, you can hear the frustration the voices of police. "I can't transmit for some reason," says one officer. Other first responders echo the complaint. "Just so you know, we're having trouble transmitting," says another person, and more than once, you hear a general plea for users to limit their communications to "10-33 calls" — radio code for an emergency. "All cities, all radios be advised to keep your traffic to a minimum. With each transmission, it's causing it to crash, it's overloaded right now, per Motorola." Motorola Solutions supplied the radio system in Broward County. It's the country's biggest seller of public safety radios, as jurisdictions move increasingly toward digital technology.

Harassment movement hasn’t impeded Cincinnati firefighters’ performance on Florida beach

Starting their 31st year performing at Fort Myers Beach, the Greater Cincinnati Firefighters finds themselves shaking and shimmying in a different atmosphere where the "#metoo" movement and a focus on sexual harassment bumps and grinds up against a playful, sexually-themed revue of mostly burly and buff men. Has this societal change made an impact? Joe Diebold, a retired firefighter who has been with the dancing firefighter group since the beginning 30 years ago, said the men participating don't make harassment-type moves. "We really don't cross into that area," he said. "It's a family-friendly show." Sherri Krimpenfort, on break from her job in Cincinnati, Ohio, was seeing the show for the first time Sunday. "They're raising money for a good cause, they're not degrading women," she said. "If there are women who don't want to watch, they don't have to."

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