National News

Friday, May 18, 2018

Multiple deaths in shooting at Texas’ Santa Fe High School, sources say

Multiple people have died as a result of a shooting Friday morning at a high school in the southeastern Texas city of Santa Fe, two law enforcement sources told CNN. This is the third school shooting in the past seven days, and the 22nd since the beginning of the year in the United States. A suspect in the shooting at Santa Fe High School has been arrested, assistant principal Cris Richardson told reporters near the school. A second person has been detained as well, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said on Twitter. Witnesses described students running from the school as they heard gunshots; they also described hearing an alarm at the school, though the sequence of events wasn't immediately clear.

National Firefighter Cancer Registry Bill Nears Final Passage

It's not just the fire that presents a danger. For firefighters, it's common to be exposed to a range of harmful toxins while extinguishing flames. Some of those toxins have been shown to increase the risk of developing cancer. A bill, which has passed the Senate and is in the House of Representatives, calls for the creation of a national firefighter cancer registry. TThe registry would be managed by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, according to a release from Sen. Charles Schumer. The registry would compile the incidences, make anonymous data available to researchers, and allow for increased collaboration between firefighters, experts and those investigating the links between the profession and the illnesses. Rep. Chris Collins said the House of Representatives is expected to pass amended legislation in the coming weeks.
Poughkeepsie Journal.

Former Arizona fire chief sentenced, ordered to pay restitution to fire district

Former Show Low Fire District Chief Ben Owens will pay $124,656 in restitution to the SLFD after pleading guilty to three felonies in connection with his daughter-in-law Natalie Bingham. Bingham stole about $1.8 million when she was district administrative manager, an amount likely to be the largest embezzlement from a special taxing district in Arizona history. According to the Arizona Auditor General’s Office, she embezzled a little less than $1.8 million in 474 checks written to herself, Owens (her father-in-law) and her fianceé. Owens was the Show Low fire chief for 15 years, from 1998 to 2012, when he retired June 30 of that year. He oversaw the department’s transition from a volunteer to a professional force. Show Low Fire District later combined with departments in Linden and Lakeside to form the Timber Mesa Fire and Medial District.
White Mountain Independent

PAC forms to oppose Texas fire union’s proposed charter amendments after clerk verifies petitions

A campaign to oppose three proposed City Charter amendments backed by the local firefighters union began Thursday with the forming of a political action committee expected to raise “well north of half a million dollars.” The PAC, called San Antonians for Fiscal Discipline, was set up soon after City Clerk Leticia Vacek told the City Council that the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association had collected enough valid signatures on its petitions to force a charter-amendment election. The firefighters union, led by president Chris Steele, launched a campaign in February to gather the 20,000 required signatures on each petition to force a charter-amendment election. In an interview Thursday afternoon, he said “it doesn’t matter how much money the opposition puts out. The issues speak for themselves.”
San Antonio Express News

Las Vegas shooting survivor finally reunited with her rescuer, a retired Los Angeles firefighter

Rosemarie Melanson can barely remember hearing a man speak to her after she was shot in the Las Vegas massacre. She soon blacked out and wouldn't recall anything about the next few weeks. The mother of four would spend six months in a hospital and endure nine surgeries. Last week, she finally got a chance to meet the retired Los Angeles firefighter who her family says saved her life. In an emotional reunion, Don Matthews visited Melanson at her Las Vegas home after her recent hospital release, swallowed up by embrace after embrace from her and her family. "Without him, I wouldn't be here -- no doubt," Melanson told CNN's Erica Hill, who was there for the reunion. It's been a long road for Melanson, starting on that night of terror when a man rained gunfire down on thousands of concertgoers from 32nd-floor windows of a Las Vegas hotel and casino.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Texas firefighter suffers medical emergency causing multi-vehicle accident

A firefighter suffered a medical emergency while driving a firetruck according to a preliminary crash investigation. The firetruck struck five other vehicles before rolling onto its side and coming to a stop. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Lake Travis Fire and Rescue firetruck was traveling southbound on FM 620 on Wednesday, May 16, 2018 when the driver had a medical emergency and lost consciousness. The firetruck drove into the northbound lanes and oncoming traffic. Two other vehicle struck debris that flew from the firetruck following the crash. The firetruck came to a rest on its right side in the northbound bar ditch.
Fox 7 Austin

Wisconsin fire chief pushes for regionalized agency

A fire call Saturday in the town of Campbell sparked La Crosse’s fire chief to ignite the concept of forming a regional department. But Chief Ken Gilliam, just shy of a year into the job, said leaders of La Crosse’s neighboring municipalities extinguished the idea. That means — at times — firefighters closest to an emergency won’t be the first to respond when another agency needs help. “It’s like stepping through a mine field because of past failed attempts at mutual efforts,” Gilliam said. “It’s like people are afraid to even talk about it.” Those charged with leading neighboring municipalities and fire departments say they’re willing to listen to Gilliam, although some have warmed to the idea more than others.
Lacrosse Tribune

Special Report: California fire victims escape after dispatchers say ’There’s no fire in Bangor’

Residents in the small Butte County community of Bangor still tell tales about the night they escaped the LaPorte Fire that burned more than 6,100 acres and destroyed 74 structures. The wind-swept flames sent people scrambling in the middle of the night last October. Some of the fire victims said they were outraged that when they called the fire department to report the fire, many of them were told there was no fire in Bangor. Many of the callers were told what they were seeing was the glow from the Cherokee Fire north of Oroville, and the Cascade Fire five miles south of Bangor. Through a Freedom of Information Act request, KRCR News Channel 7 requested two hours of the 911 tapes from the night of Sunday, October 8 and early Monday, October 9.

AT&T: LTE speeds will double thanks to FirstNet

AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson told an audience at the J.P. Morgan Global Technology, Media and Communications Conference that AT&T will double LTE speeds for its customers in 500 markets this year. "As we exit this year, we will have 500 markets with that full capability in place, where the LTE speeds will double," he said. "Now take that across the entire footprint. Before you've even gotten to 5G, you have now doubled your LTE performance." Stephenson said the work AT&T is doing to build out the FirstNet public safety network will deliver the faster LTE speeds. He said the FirstNet deployment is now underway. "We have to climb every cell site to deploy the FirstNet architecture," he said.

The good and the bad of firefighter behavior and public relations

Multiple 911 calls, the alarm sounds, responding units weave through choking traffic, the first engine reports; "Fire showing from the first floor with people hanging off the balconies above." While bystanders record the events, hoping for the right shot that gives them their 15 seconds of fame, firefighters go to work, make the rescues, put the fire out and go home – all is well in Whoville. Until the next morning’s headlines; "Caught on camera, firefighters fight each other, while building burns." Regardless of the sensational headlines, we need to figure out how to get in front of bad information, if we’re not able to stop bad outcomes in the first place.

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