National News

Thursday, May 24, 2018

ACLU files discrimination charges against Virginia fire department, county and union

In its first federal sexual harassment complaint of the Me Too movement, the ACLU has filed charges against the Fairfax County and the fire department. The charges are being filed on behalf of two of the highest-ranking women in the Fairfax County Fire Department. The national civil rights organization is accusing Fairfax County leadership of retaliation over sexual harassment complaints. The charges are the first step in filing a federal lawsuit over the treatment of women in a fire department renowned for its emergency and fire response. “Harassment, cold shoulder, people messing with my office. My computer not working,”said Kathleen Stanley. “They’re trying to force me out. There’s no other way to look at it,” said Cheri Zosh. Battalion chiefs Cheri Zosh and Kathleen Stanley are the two highest-ranking women in the Fairfax County Fire Department. They are two of only three women battalion chiefs. Zosh has been in the department 24 years, Stanley, 27 years.

South Carolina fire chief helps save 2-year-old after near drowning at pool

A two-year-old is alive after a near drowning at an Upstate swimming pool. And it's thanks in large part to an area fire chief, who was the first to arrive on the scene. The emergency unfolded at the Hartwell Villas pool Tuesday around 5 p.m. But luckily, that was the same time a hero happened to be nearby and heard the call for help. Randy Bratcher is the Chief at Anderson City Fire Department as well as Williford Volunteer Fire and Rescue, which serves the Lake Hartwell area. Bratcher, also a trained EMT, was heading home when he heard the call come across, asking for assistance at a possible drowning at Hartwell Villas. He thought he'd be arriving to a busy emergency scene, but when he pulled up, the parking lot was empty and all he saw was two frightened young women holding their two-year-old cousin, who the chief described as lifeless.
WCSC-TV Charleston Live 5 News

Florida deputy fire chief resigns as report on sick leave abuse is released

A months-long probe into abuse of sick leave within the fire department concluded this week with the resignation of a deputy chief and the release of an internal review. The city paid $93,816 in unearned or unauthorized sick time, benefits and incentives over the past five years, according to the review. On Monday, days after the report was completed, Clearwater Fire & Rescue Deputy Chief Steven Strong resigned in lieu of being fired. He was named in the review as the supervisor of a former logistics manager who changed his address to one in Key West and told peers he was going sailing — yet stayed on the city’s payroll. "He (Strong) simply didn’t do enough on his part to ensure that the sick leave rules were being followed," City Manager Bill Horne said Wednesday. Strong, a 13-year employee who made $115,230 a year, could not be reached for comment. He is the second employee to resign amid the fallout.
Tampa Tribune and (Tampa Bay Online)

Pay cuts for misbehavior and dozens of dismissals: Is Cal Fire’s crackdown going too far?

A new professional standards program at Cal Fire is giving the department a mechanism to hand down discipline in a consistent manner across the state for the first time in its history. It’s racking up pay reductions, suspensions and dismissals at a rate that rivals scandal-plagued 2014 – the year when an instructor at its fire academy murdered his mistress and brought intense scrutiny on the department. The program’s advocates says it is long overdue, but the sudden application of harsh discipline is surprising firefighters and raising concerns that Cal Fire is unnecessarily wasting its investment in employees it spent years training. Take the crackdown on academy cadets last fall who at different times after hours had a drink at Amador County bars. Thirty-one of them were dismissed from their jobs and 12 more were suspended for not reporting on their peers.
Sacramento Bee

Chicago firefighters trapped in rubble during apartment building fire

Two firefighters were buried in rubble during a fire in Rogers Park Wednesday. Officials said roof work was in progress at an apartment building on the 6100 block of North Hoyne Avenue, which set off the fire. Several firefighters were climbing the stairs to access the fire when the stairs collapsed, causing three of the firefighters to fall. Two of the firefighters were buried in rubble after the fall, but another group of firefighters were able to free them. The injured firefighters were transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
WLS-TV ABC 7 Chicago

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Texas Asst. Chiefs talk about responding to school shooting scene

Chris Anderson looked forward to sleeping in Friday morning. As assistant chief for Santa Fe Fire and Rescue, a volunteer fire department, Anderson's plans changed when the phone rang minutes before 8 a.m. "I never would have thought this would have happened to our community," Anderson said. It did happen. Santa Fe High School, straddled along Highway 6, became the site of the nation's latest school shooting. Seventy five fire fighters comprise the city's volunteer organization. Twenty six of them, over a third, responded to the scene Friday. It's what they do. It did happen. "It's way different than anything else that we've had to handle," said Assistant Chief Jim Cargile.
KPRC-TV NBC 2 Houston

Maryland county launches PulsePoint app connecting anyone CPR trained with nearby heart attack victims

If you are one of the thousands of Anne Arundel residents with CPR training a new phone app can alert you to a nearby heart attack or another cardiac emergency in a public place. The county activated PulsePoint Monday, an app that will notify CPR certified residents who sign up to participate and provide the location of public automated external defibrillators — a portable device that checks the heart rhythm and can send an electric shock to the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm — they can grab on their way. “The PulsePoint program increases the chance that a CPR trained bystander who may be closer than a first responder can take action to save a life,” Fire Chief Allan Graves said at a news conference launching the system at Anne Arundel Medical Center.

Mississippi firefighters stand in for injured co-worker at son’s graduation

Joey Kauppi already knew his Dad wouldn't be able to attend his graduation from George County High School last Friday night. What he didn't know was who would. Gautier firefighter Lt. Dan Kauppi was seriously injured in an accident a little over a month ago. On his way to work, Kauppi's truck left the roadway on Gautier-Vancleave Road and overturned, ejected Kauppi from the vehicle. The accident left him with a badly damaged knee and head injuries, including bleeding in his brain. After being taken to Singing River Hospital, he was transported to the University of South Alabama Medical Center in Mobile and is now at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, which specializes in spinal cord and brain injury rehabilitation.
Mississippi Press (Gulf Live - South East Mississippi)

Accused Washington firefighters push back on bullying allegations

An investigation into complaints of bullying and sexual harassment at Spokane Fire Department Station 2 found five officials violated city policies. Yet the investigation is being criticized as one-sided and thus, incomplete, by those named in the report and the union that represents them. The city’s Human Resources Department issued a report April 27 following a two-month-long investigation that named Battalion Chiefs Don Waller and Darin Neiwert, and Lts. Patrick Walsh and Daniel Krouse, as well as an unnamed driver with the department. ... Waller said Monday he believed the report did not include key facts. “I believe in the process, and I’m just anxious to get to the Loudermill where the full story can come out,” Waller said, referring to a disciplinary hearing required under the firefighters’ collective bargaining agreement that has not yet been scheduled. “I think the report was based more on emotion than facts at this point.”

How to avoid the most common active shooter training mistakes

Active shooter training exercises are becoming more commonplace across the country; which is a good thing. However, without proper planning, many of these well-meaning exercises leave the responders no better off than before or possibly even worse. A strong, multi-discipline exercise design team, a solid exercise plan and buy in from the responding disciplines are critical ingredients for success. Use these lessons from active shooter exercises I have observed to develop best practices for designing, implementing and executing a worthwhile, productive and enlightening exercise to better prepare all of the emergency responders for the – once in a career – horrific day. The following active shooter incident (ASI) training exercise observations are all real. Read the scenario and pick out what’s wrong before reading my commentary.

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