National News

Monday, September 17, 2018

New York chief’s order keeps volunteers out of burning buildings

A city firefighter's decision to alert the state that volunteers are behind on mandated training prompted the fire chief to forbid the crew of 18 volunteers from rushing into burning buildings. "The training will be upgraded," Mayor Daniel Dwyer said. "We will do it in a couple of weeks." Dwyer said a "disgruntled" firefighter contacted the state's Public Employees Safety Health Bureau to complain about the lack of training, which led to Chief Bill Hummel's decision to sideline the volunteers. The restriction put on the volunteers and not on the 12 paid firefighters reflects an ongoing battle between the volunteers and members of the paid firefighters' union, said Michael Stammel, one of the volunteer firefighters and a Rensselaer County legislator.
Albany Times-Union

Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Colorado Springs honors next wave of 9/11 victims

Sixteen years after the 343 New York City firefighters who died in the collapse of the twin towers on 9/11 were honored at an annual ceremony in Colorado Springs, another wave of victims of the terrorist attack is being added to the memorial wall. Nineteen of the 271 union firefighters whose names were read out at this year’s Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial on Saturday in Memorial Park died of illnesses or conditions associated with the aftermath of the attack when firefighters were called upon to dig through the toxic rubble at what came to be known as ground zero, at first hoping to rescue survivors, then hoping to at least find remains. The numbers are only expected to increase.
Colorado Springs Gazette

Utah firefighter’s death caused by retardant drop from 747

A Utah firefighter battling the largest wildfire in California history was killed last month when thousands of gallons of flame-suppressing liquid were dropped from a Boeing 747 mistakenly flying only 100 feet (30 meters) above the treetops, according to an official report Friday. The pilot and a supervisor flying ahead in a small guide plane led the giant modified jetliner nearly into the trees on Aug. 13 because the pilots failed to recognize that there was a hill in the flight path, according to the Green Sheet report by the state's firefighting agency. Because of the near ground-level release, the retardant struck with such force it uprooted an 87-foot (27-meter) tree that fell on Matthew Burchett, a 42-year-old battalion chief from Utah helping with the Mendocino Complex Fire north of San Francisco.
Salt Lake Tribune

Follow Up: Off-duty Massachusetts firefighter raced to shut off neighbor’s gas amid explosions

It's one of the few bright spots to come out of Thursday's disaster in Lawrence. As his neighbors were evacuating, off-duty Lawrence firefighter Lt. Dave Amero ran house to house, shutting off the gas. Amero said he realized there was a problem when his wife told him their house reeked of gas. "I just started running around, shutting off meters. It was all I could do at the time," said Amero. Moments later, Amero said he heard the explosion that leveled a house on Chickering Road. He soon found out the problem was so much bigger than he thought. "Once I called the fire in and they said they had ten fires going on at once. I had no idea what was going on," said Amero.
Boston 25 News

Private ambulance industry asks California voters to change workplace rules

Few Californians will have any idea why they’re being asked to vote this fall on workplace conditions in the private ambulance industry. But the backstory is a reminder of how ballot measures are the ultimate Plan B for those who don’t get satisfaction from the Legislature. The track record for such efforts is mixed. The key question will probably be whether the proposal’s low profile — so far under the mainstream political radar — makes it seem harmless and easy for voters to support, or too obscure and not worth the risk. Proposition 11 asks voters to give private ambulance companies the power to keep their workers on duty during meal and rest breaks. If a 911 call comes in, those workers could be required to put away their lunch and respond to the emergency.
Los Angeles Times

Friday, September 14, 2018

Teen killed as gas explosions, fires rock Massachusetts towns

A Lawrence teen was killed today after a chimney from a house explosion fell on the car he was in during a series of about 70 explosions and fires in the city and in nearby Andover and North Andover this afternoon that has kept emergency crews working late into the night. Leonel Rondon, 18, was pronounced dead at Mass General Hospital at approximately 8:30 this evening, officials announced. He was inside a car near 35 Chickering Road in Lawrence, the scene of some of the worst blazes. Emergency officials, meanwhile, are urging people to get out of their houses and evacuate their neighborhoods in the three communities as firefighters battle dozens of gas explosions that leveled some houses and set fire to others over a large area. Police are on patrol in Lawrence tonight after power was cut off until officials can determine if the city is safe. "If you smell gas, you gotta get out of your home," Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera told reporters. State police said any residents of the area with Columbia Gas service to their house should "evacuate immediately." State police are reporing 70 fires and gas explosions were reported today.
Boston Herald

Former Washington firefighter sues city for injury he says was caused by understaffing

A former Yakima firefighter says he was injured on the job because the city understaffs its fire squads. The accusation is part of a damage claim the former firefighter, Jerry Elmo Jr., submitted earlier this summer, asking the city for $450,000 in damages related to the injury. City spokesman Randy Beehler says the city doesn’t comment on pending claims or litigation. Elmo, who was terminated in May for an inability to “perform the essential functions” of his job, lays out the circumstances surrounding his injury and the subsequent damage claim as follows: In July 2015, Elmo and his crew responded to a fire in the 400 block of North Fifth Avenue after they had already helped put out a fire in the 600 block of Pleasant Avenue. The response came without rehabilitation — time to rest, cool down or get food and beverage, according to the claim. While fighting the second fire, Elmo was thrown off balance and “experienced two pops” and pain in his hip and groin, which resulted in him being taken to Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital, according to the claim.
Yakima Herald

New York fire chief readies new lawsuit over 9/11 related illness

The ongoing dispute involving Utica fire Chief Russell Brooks and his health started more than a year ago with an application. Citing his diagnosis for chronic lymphocytic leukemia, which he says resulted from responding to New York City to support 9/11 recovery efforts, Brooks applied for benefits outlined under General Municipal Law 207-a. The law entitles firefighters to medical or hospital expenses as a result of on-duty injuries or illnesses. Mayor Robert Palmieri — the city’s public safety commissioner — denied Brooks’ request, however, leading to a number of public spats and several court appearances ever since. The mayor also placed Brooks on paid, indeterminate, nondisciplinary leave the same day his 207-a application was rejected. Brooks sought arbitration to appeal the city’s denial, and in the time since, the status of that appeal for 207-a benefits was unresolved — until about a month ago.
Utica Observer-Dispatch

’What was your most unusual sex act?’ Ohio police, fire recruits asked about sex

Cincinnati police and firefighter recruits are asked to describe their "most unusual sex act" in a questionnaire that can later become accessible to the public. The questions are part of the Fire and Police departments' pre-employment process. They raise concerns for some that new recruits are being asked to divulge private, probing details about their sexual history. "This certainly raises eyebrows," said Mary Turocy, director of public affairs for the Ohio Civil Rights Commission. "Have you participated in a sexual act in a public place?" Cincinnati police and fire applicants are asked. "Location(s) and number of times. ... Explain each circumstance." Another asks: "Not counting self-masturbation or legal sexual activity with a willing partner, what was your most unusual sex act?"
Cincinnati Enquirer &

3 new fire stations recommended for Colorado city

An architectural firm commissioned by the city to assess the conditions at eight Pueblo Fire Department buildings is recommending the department build new facilities at three stations that are in poor shape. The stations that need replacing, according to that architectural firm, are at 425 W. Seventh St., 1325 E. Fourth St., and 31475 Bryan Circle. The station on West Seventh is badly deteriorated and is very close to the end of its useful life, according to Dennis Ross of Pacheco Ross Architects, P.C., the firm the city paid $95,000 to conduct the study. In a report given to City Council, Ross said ongoing repair or meaningful renovation of the station would be a waste of resources. The station at East Fourth is in average-to-below-average condition and very crowded, according to Ross' report, and the apparatus bay is too small for modern equipment. And the station on Bryan Circle is badly deteriorated and close to the end of its useful life, as well, Ross said. As with the West Seventh Street station, Ross concluded that ongoing repair or meaningful renovation would be a waste of resources.
Pueblo Chieftain

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