National News

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Houston firefighters ask judge to force city to implement Proposition B ’pay parity’

The Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association sought a court order Tuesday aiming to force the city to pay firefighters the same as police officers of corresponding rank and seniority, one day before Mayor Sylvester Turner and the union are set to discuss ideas for implementing pay raises. The move comes more than two months after voters approved Proposition B, a November ballot measure granting pay parity to Houston firefighters, which would amount to a massive raise that Turner says the city cannot afford. Since the election, firefighters have yet to see their paychecks grow fatter, a delay that has frustrated the union and sown confusion among city workers who face the threat of layoffs. “By failing to give firefighters a date certain for implementation of voter-approved Proposition B, the City of Houston forced Houston firefighters” to seek Tuesday’s court order, fire union President Marty Lancton said in a statement. “With the election two months behind us, Prop B is now the law. It’s past time for Mayor Turner to respect the will of the voters.”
Houston Chronicle

Pennsylvania county considers whether to offer paid time off to firefighters

Paid or unpaid, that is the question. Beaver County officials are considering whether to pay firefighters who are given excused absences for responding to emergency calls under a proposed policy. After a September pipeline explosion in Center Township, Commissioners Chairman Daniel Camp requested the county develop a policy that would allow volunteer firefighters who work for the county to take unpaid time off without penalty if they respond to an emergency prior to their shifts. Last week, Camp asked that the human resources department consider allowing firefighters to receive pay for that time off. “I would say we need to make the decision if it will be paid or not,” Camp said. “Maybe it would entice employees to become volunteer firefighters.” The policy would not apply to departments when there is scheduled shift work, such as the 911 center or the county jail, but only to those who work in administrative offices at the courthouse. Firefighters wouldn’t be permitted to leave a shift to respond to a call, Camp said, unless it were a catastrophic event. Commissioner Tony Amadio, a 45-year volunteer firefighter, said he supports the proposal. “I would never leave work for a fire,” said Amadio, a retired teacher. “But if you’re at a fire, it would be nice to not have to leave to go to work.”
Beaver County Times

New Florida firefighter’s dad couldn’t attend his graduation, so crew brought the ceremony to him

A new Orange County firefighter had barely started his first shift when his crew gave him a surprise from his father and his new Fire Rescue family Monday night. Firefighter Greg Ferone was among the 41 new OCFR’s recruits who graduated Friday at Valencia College. As part of the ceremony, members of Class 84 were honored with ceremonial pins given to them by family members who served in the military, fire rescue or law enforcement. Ferone’s father, Ed, is a retired Army captain who served during the Vietnam War. However, Ed had been hospitalized since November and was unable to give his son a pin. But members of Station 30, where Ferone is assigned, intervened. On Monday evening, Ferone and crew members were told to mobilize on a call. Ferone grew alarmed when he noticed the call was bringing him to his parents’ house. Inside the home were 30 of his OCFR crew mates and Ed waiting to give his son the ceremonial pin.
Orlando Sentinel

’It Means Something to Me’: Ohio Firefighter Saves American Flag From Vietnam Vet’s Burning Home

VIDEO: An Ohio firefighter saved an American flag from a Vietnam veteran's burning home, telling "Fox & Friends" Monday that he could not bear to watch Old Glory be incinerated. Allen Skomer, an eight-year Navy veteran and member of the Toldeo Fire and Rescue Department, was battling the early morning blaze Friday when he spotted the flag on the home's front porch. Skomer said that because the fire was defensive and no one was inside, he was teaching a rookie an extinguishing technique and saw the flag with flames behind it. "That kind of set off a little bell in the back of my head saying 'hey, that's not right,'" he said on Fox & Friends. Skomer then grabbed the flag and brought it to safety a safe distance away, resting it on the bumper of his fire truck. "To me, the flag is a symbol of a lot of the freedoms we enjoy and sometimes take for granted," he said. "Deep down inside it means something to me."
Fox News Insider

3 Firefighters, 1 Police Officer Hurt Responding To Fire In Indiana

VIDEO: Three firefighters and a police officer were injured Tuesday night, when a four-alarm fire gutted a 122-year-old building in Hobart, Indiana. The fire started around 9:15 p.m. in a tanning salon at 3rd and Center streets. Flames quickly spread to the apartments above. Everyone inside the building got out safely, but three firefighters were injured while extinguishing the blaze. Two of them were taken to the hospital for treatment. A police officer responding to that fire also was injured, when his cruiser crashed at 3rd and Lake Park. He had to be cut free from his squad car. The officer’s condition was not available Wednesday morning. Hobart Fire Department Lt. John Reitz said crews were on the scene until early Wednesday morning, battling flames and hotspots. He said the building dates back to 1897, but is likely a total loss after the fire. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
CBS Chicago

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Florida Benefit Proposal Helps Fire­fighters Deal With Cancer

VIDEO: Florida lawmakers will try once again this year to create a system to help a particular group with a higher risk of developing cancer: firefighters. The Centers for Disease Control found in a study that firefighters are at a 15 percent greater risk of developing cancer than the average person. “When [firefighters] are exposed to various chemicals that are in a fire, it’s more dangerous today than ever,” said Chief Otto Drozd of Orange County Fire Rescue. “If you look at household materials, while they were made from natural materials many years ago, there are all sorts of chemical formulations, and when a fire burns, that is absorbed through the skin.” Those potential cancerous elements then spread from a firefighter’s suit to the truck they’re riding in, to the fire house, and even in their family’s own home. In Florida, firefighters often have to rely on their medical insurance to cover costs, as there is no cancer benefit provision available. Florida Chief Financial Officer and Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis told Spectrum News he is working with several state lawmakers to draft a measure that would create such a system, with hopes lawmakers will pass the bill during their session in March.
Spectrum Bay News 9

After North Carolina house fire and bridge collapse, 6 firetrucks stranded, 1 injured

VIDEO: Buncombe County authorities said a fire truck ended up in a creek on the way to a fire early Sunday morning. Firefighters were responding to a house fire on White Bridge Road, near Upper Flat Creek Road in Weaverville, about 12:40 a.m. Sunday. Firefighters say the home involved was engulfed in flames when they arrived. The Reynolds Fire Department truck had to cross a bridge to access the home. The bridge collapsed, but no firefighters were injured, authorities said. Six trucks became stranded on the other side of the bridge. Crews were able to transport one man from inside the house to the hospital before the bridge collapsed. Weaverville Fire Department Chief Ted Williams said he was relieved to find out no firefighters were harmed in the bridge incident. Buncombe County Emergency Services Director Jerry Vehaun confirms crews got the truck out of the creek Sunday afternoon. They used a crane to get it out; however, it and the five other trucks remain stranded on the other side of broken bridge.

Massachusetts fire department to participate in BFit First Responder Challenge

On Jan. 27, the Wilmington Fire De­partment will participate in the third annual BFit First Responder Challenge at T.D. Garden. The challenge is put on by the Boston Bruins Foundation, and is intended to raise awareness of health and wellness within New England. The challenge is comprised of three divisions: the Fire­fighter/EMT division, the Law Enforcement division, and the Civilian division. During the challenge, participants have the choice of three climbing courses to complete, while other activities are offered for friends and family in attendance. The idea behind the BFit challenge has its roots locally in Wilmington. In 2004, during the NHL strike, Bru­ins players, accompanied by strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides, came to the Wilmington Fire Station to train and observe the daily operations of the department. From there, the BFit challenge came to be. Since the challenge began in 2017, the members of the Wilmington Fire Depart­ment have been the undefeated victors of the challenge. Last year, The Wil­ming­ton Fire Department raised over $16,000, and Wil­mington Firefighter Chuck Taylor held the title for the highest individual fundraiser in the challenge, raising over $7,000.
Wilmington Town Crier

Column: Confronting workplace bullying in the fire service

Workplace bullying is a serious national problem. According to a survey done by the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) in 2017, nearly 20 percent of American workers have personally experienced being bullied at work. Another 19 percent have directly witnessed bullying taking place. More than two-thirds of all workers are certain that bullying exists in their place of employment. The fire service is no exception. Although research specific to the emergency services is still in its early stages, there is no doubt that bullying exists on both individual and systemic levels in many fire and emergency services departments. In 2016, the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) took the initiative to address bullying directly. That year the Bullying, Harassment and Workplace Violence Prevention Task Group was formed to raise awareness about the problem and offer potential solutions. The WBI defines bullying as “repeated harmful abusive conduct that is threatening, intimidating, humiliating [and involving] work sabotage, or verbal abuse.” The IAFC task group defines its mission as addressing bullying, harassment and violence prevention in the fire service. The intention of the group is to treat bullying and associated behaviors as safety issues within the emergency services.

Ohio firefighter issued same badge number as police officer father who was killed in the line of duty

Nineteen cadets from the 34th Fire Training Academy Class took the oath of office in Cleveland on Friday. According to a release, the new firefighters will serve in neighborhoods throughout Cleveland in an effort to improve service to residents. One of the new firefighters is Justin Leon, who is the son of Wayne Leon, the Cleveland police officer who was shot and killed in the line of duty in 2000. Cleveland Fire tweeted that Justin was issued the same badge number-- 1338-- that his father wore for the Cleveland Police Department. "I don't remember a whole lot from my dad, I was 5 when he passed. I've always been told that he was very generous and very helpful and he was always just wanting to do the right thing and that he was always the guy to call when someone needed help," Justin said. Cadet Justin Leon was pinned by his mother, Grace Leon, at Friday's ceremony. "It's almost just like the legacy kind of lives on in a way," Justin said.
Fox 8 Cleveland

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