National News

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Court upholds minimum staffing decision for Pennsylvania firefighters

The state Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Allentown firefighters, finding that their union can negotiate the minimum number of firefighters on a shift because it has a direct impact on safety. In a unanimous decision Tuesday that affects municipalities with professional fire departments across Pennsylvania, the court rejected Allentown's argument that shift staffing was an issue for managers to decide because of its impact on city finances. The court found that the city had not presented convincing evidence that an arbitrator's award setting the minimum number of firefighters per shift at 25 unduly infringed on its managerial responsibilities.
Allentown Morning Call

FirstNet board votes to proceed with contract, AT&T award expected this week

FirstNet board members today voted unanimously to authorize FirstNet CEO Mike Poth to finalize the 25-year contract this week—an award to AT&T, although the carrier was not mentioned during the special board meeting—to build and maintain the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN). “This is a very, very special day,” FirstNet Chairwoman Sue Swenson said during the board meeting. “It marks the completion of a significant milestone on our strategic roadmap.
Urgent Communications

Audit finds Massachusetts fire chief’s spending was justified

A recent "forensic audit" ordered by the selectmen and conducted by the town account found nothing substantial against Fire Chief Peter Martell. He had been placed on paid administrative leave for 10 weeks awaiting the results of the audit. On Jan. 10, Chief Martell was chastised for spending $33,814 of town money, funds approved by town meeting, for a 2017 Ford Expedition without consulting selectmen and for submitting an electric bill from his home address along with two Fire Department bills. Chief Martell had noted that Police Chief Michael K. Blanchard did the same thing, never consulted the board when purchasing a police vehicle, and called submitting the personal expense an "honest mistake."
Worcester Telegram & Gazette

California battalion fire chiefs get 15.5% raises

Palo Alto’s four battalion fire chiefs will get pay raises of 15.5 percent under a labor deal the City Council approved Monday. Three council members, Eric Filseth, Lydia Kou and Greg Tanaka, objected to the raises. Filseth commended the Fire Department’s good work, but characterized the raises as “excessive” especially because of escalating fire service costs. “I believe that 15 percent is an extremely generous raise for a group that’s already very well compensated,” Filseth said. “We’ve been talking for a long time, a couple of years, about whether we really need to keep using expensive sworn firefighters to do EMT work which accounts for the majority of our service today,” Filseth continued.
Mercury News

Deadly fires spark fight over manufactured home regulations in Ohio

Fire officials across Ohio are backing a proposal by Gov. John Kasich to abolish the industry-controlled agency that regulates manufactured homes, saying the commission does too little to protect manufactured home residents from deadly fires. The Ohio Fire Chief’s Association last week sent a letter to Ohio lawmakers expressing support for a provision in the state budget that would do away with the Manufactured Homes Commission and fold its responsibilities into the Ohio Department of Commerce. The letter says 30 people died in 1,208 manufactured home fires between 2012 and 2016. It says Ohioans are 4.2 times more likely to die in a manufactured home that caught fire than one- or two-family home.
Dayton Daily News

Oklahoma Firefighter Assaulted At Scene Of Trailer Fire

A firefighter was assaulted by a man while on the scene of a travel trailer fire just north of Tulsa early Wednesday. The man was identified as 48-year-old Michael Fisher. The incident happened in the 6200 block of North Wheeling at around 3 a.m. The Turley Fire Department was called to the fire involving a 5th wheel trailer being used for storage. The department said shortly after arriving on scene, Fisher began assaulting one of their firefighters. That firefighter sprayed Michael Fisher with a fire hose.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Three confirmed dead in fire at Oakland building with complaint history

People were hanging out windows and running barefoot for their lives early Monday morning as a fire raged through a three-story West Oakland residential building with a history of complaints, killing at least three people and sending another four to the hospital, authorities said. Three were confirmed dead and one was still unaccounted for on Monday night, according to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office. Several people were hanging out windows as firefighters arrived shortly after the fire started around 5:40 a.m. at 2551 San Pablo Ave., home to 100 residents, said Oakland Fire Battalion Chief Erik Logan. Fifteen people were rescued by firefighters. Others fled to safety by fire escapes, Logan said.
East Bay Times

Hartford Fire Chief breathes life Into diminished department

Milan or Hartford? That was the choice Reginald Freeman was faced with when the job of Hartford fire chief was offered to him more than a year ago. "I was poised to go to Italy for 14 months," said Freeman, who was the fire chief of Lockheed Martin's aeronautic headquarters in Ft. Worth, Texas, at the time. But the lure of helping restore a once-respected fire department to its former status and ending the cratering morale brought on by the string of public embarrassments and the first line-of- duty firefighter death in 40 years won out. "That was my motivation," said Freeman, who kept tabs on the department after he left his position as an assistant chief in 2013 and went to Texas. "I cared, and to me it was evident that the department was much better than it was being portrayed in public," he said.
Hartford Courant

Illinois department leads national study to improve firefighter safety

More than half of firefighters' line-of-duty deaths are caused not by external dangers such as flames or building collapses, but from cardiovascular reactions to the physical stress of the job, experts say. Hanover Park Fire Chief Craig Haigh believes his department can help bring down those numbers as the main test subjects of a 21-month national research project. Since January, and continuing through September 2018, all 52 active Hanover Park firefighter-paramedics have agreed to wear a monitor that measures their physiological responses during each 24-hour shift.
Daily Herald

Texas Chief Finds the Good in Fire that Damaged Station, Destroyed Apparatus

The chief of the Lake Arrowhead, TX, Volunteer Fire Department said his worst nightmare came true this weekend when he received a call that his fire station was on fire Saturday night. Fire Chief Mike Hall was just two bites into dinner when his cell phone rang around 7 p.m. "The ambulance crew called and asked 'Are you alright?' and I asked why and they told me the fire station is on fire," Hall said. “It’s my worst nightmare and I got confronted with stomach went to my feet." He had just driven by the station about 30 minutes before the fire was discovered by a police officer.

GPS in Georgia firefighter’s stolen car led police to alleged chop shop

Several people were arrested and detained Friday after a Clayton County firefighter found his stolen car at an alleged chop shop, Channel 2 Action News reported. The firefighter’s car was stolen outside Fire Station No. 1 in Morrow, where he works. He used an app to find his car, the news station reported. What officials later found was an alleged chop shop at a Forest Park home. This isn’t the first time firefighters have been the target of car thefts or break-ins in metro Atlanta. As many as two-dozen Gwinnett County firefighters cars were broken into in January.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Volunteer fire companies struggle to survive as California county plots future of service

Knights Valley resident Bud Pochini runs his welding business, owns a Christmas tree farm and helps coach high school softball. And for the past 25 years, he has been a mainstay of the Knights Valley Fire Co. volunteers. Fallen trees, neighbors’ medical emergencies, car crashes. Some of the calls are so grim the assistant fire chief wonders why he sticks with it. The simple answer is Pochini is one of only four remaining Knights Valley Fire volunteers, covering all types of emergency calls in a 54-square-mile area. “Who else would do it?” he asked.
Petaluma Argus Courier

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