National News

Friday, March 16, 2018

Death toll from Florida bridge collapse up to 6 as crews work to clear the rubble

At least six fatalities have been confirmed following the collapse of a pedestrian bridge over Tamiami Trail on Thursday. But at a press conference held Friday morning at the Florida International University Tamiami campus, Miami-Dade Police Department director Juan J. Perez said the names of the people killed in the collapse would not be made public until their families had been notified. Perez implored the media to refrain from revealing the names of the deceased, out of respect to their relatives. He also warned that the final death toll could climb, since the painstaking process of clearing rubble, documenting evidence and removing the dead is still in progress.
Miami Herald

Florida union: Fire rescue chief should take random drug tests with firefighters

Hillsborough County firefighters and paramedics will vote on a new union contract next week that for the first time would require random drug testing. Union leadership says it is up in the air whether the contract will pass, citing growing discord between the rank and file and Fire Rescue Chief Dennis Jones. One thing that might help? If Jones and non-union department leadership agreed to drug testing, too, said Derrik Ryan, president of the International Association of Firefighters Local 2294. "I can tell you this: it would not hurt," Ryan said. "Certainly we have other issues, morale issues, besides drug testing here. But that certainly would not hurt if they fall in line and do this drug test with us."

Texas Firefighters Share Rare Cave Rescue Experience

For many of the firefighters who worked for hours to free a teenager from a North Side cave last week, it was the first time they were required to do so, as cave rescues in the San Antonio-area are extremely rare. On March 8, the San Antonio Fire Department’s technical rescue team was called out to the Robber Baron Cave, which stretches for a mile about 30 to 80 feet underground. Inside the cave, an 18-year-old Lee High School student on a field trip found herself trapped in an area called the Hole in the Floor. “I’ve been here for 13 years and I’ve made two cave rescues” before the March 8 call, San Antonio Fire Department Capt. Brendan Pohlen said. “Most of these guys have been in caves and trained in caves, but for most of them, this is their first cave rescue.”
San Antonio Express- News

Researchers: PPE does not fully protect firefighters’ skin from toxic chemicals

Researchers recently conducted a study that suggests firefighters are still absorbing toxic chemicals through their skin despite wearing full turnout gear. A study conducted by University of Ottawa researchers found that firefighters had anywhere from three to more than five times the amount of toxins in their urine after battling a blaze than they did before. The study, which involved collecting urine samples and wiping the skin and clothing of more than two dozen firefighters, suggests that the chemicals are entering the body from skin absorption. "There's a relationship between firefighters' urinary PAH metabolite levels and the levels of PAHs on their skin, which leads us to suspect that dermal contact may be an important route of exposure," Jennifer Keir, an author on the study, said. Ottawa Fire Department Captain Dave Matschke was named a co-author on the study and said the research is a “big step forward.”

Judge denies New York fire chief’s motion to reargue Ground Zero-related disability case

Utica fire Chief Russell Brooks is back to Square One. A motion to reargue his lawsuit against the City of Utica -- in which he claimed the city rejected an application for benefits offered to responders affected by health conditions related to 9/11 recovery efforts -- was denied Thursday in state Supreme Court in Rome. Brooks has chronic lymphocytic leukemia. He is enrolled in the federal World Trade Center Health Program, which covers the fire chief's medical costs related to his certified World Trade Center-related illnesses. Given that, Brooks said he only is seeking acknowledgement from the city that he is eligible for benefits. "I want justice," he said. "Moreso, this will reflect on the firefighters that went down to ground zero on 9/11. At that time, some of them were very young and, to me, they're still young. They got cancers that young guys don't get. How can I not fight for myself and for them to get justice?"

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Several dead after newly-installed portion of Florida pedestrian bridge collapses

A newly-installed portion of a pedestrian bridge connecting Florida International University with the city of Sweetwater collapsed Thursday. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, there are "several fatalities." The 950-ton section of the $14.2 million bridge at Southwest Eighth Street and Southwest 109th Avenue was installed Saturday. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue officials confirmed that at least six people were injured. Authorities said one was taken to Kendall Regional Medical Center as a trauma alert.
WPLG-TV ABC - Miami & Fort Lauderdale

Georgia Firefighter Named 2018 Ray Downey Courage and Valor Award Recipient

Firefighter Ralph A. Brown II from the Cobb County (GA) Fire and Emergency Services is the recipient of the 2018 Ray Downey Courage and Valor Award. Ralph A. Brown II has been a member of the fire service since 2005 and serves with Cobb County’s Technical Rescue Team, Squad 4 on C-Shift. He joined the technical rescue team in 2011. Since then he has obtained instructor status in technical rescue, extrication, and helo rescue operations. He is a Monroe County Medal of Valor Award recipient as well as a Georgia State Patrol Commissioner’s Citation for Distinguished Service Award recipient. On October 10, 2017, Monroe County Fire Department received a 911 call to respond to High Falls State Park. Two brothers, ages 17 and 12, had fallen from the top of the waterfall.
Fire Engineering

Firefighter who was accused of threatening colleagues files discrimination lawsuit vs. FDNY

A local firefighter who served in the U.S. Navy and had his home destroyed during Hurricane Sandy was sexually harassed and discriminated against for being a black Muslim, a new lawsuit filed against the FDNY alleges. Raheem Hassan, 30, of Staten Island, the fire eater arrested for allegedly threatening to "kill" his colleagues at a Brooklyn firehouse, endured being called a "n-----" and was asked to apologize for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks during his time at Engine 309/Ladder 159 in Brooklyn, according to the civil complaint filed in Brooklyn federal court.
Staten Island Advance

IAFC accepting nominations for IAFC Fire Chief of the Year now through May 20

The IAFC is accepting nominations for IAFC Fire Chief of the Year now through May 20. This high honor recognizes one career and one volunteer fire chief for their leadership, innovation, professional development, integrity, public service and contributions as a whole to the fire service. Nominations will be accepted through the online nomination form from any division, section or member of the IAFC. In addition, nominations will be accepted from members of any state association of fire chiefs and other designated fire service organizations. For a complete list of authorized nominating organizations and other award criteria information, visit the IAFC's Fire Chief of the Year webpage.
International Association of Fire Chiefs

’He betrayed everybody’: Former Maine fire chief sentenced for arson

The former fire chief of Old Orchard Beach was ordered to spend one year behind bars for setting a fire that burned more than 40 acres. Ricky Plummer admitted starting the fire, but we may never know why. In a letter to the court, he said he could not explain his actions. For more than 40 years, Plummer served the fire service, many of them as chief of communities in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Florida. “As chief, I was supposed to set the example. I failed miserably when I caused this event to happen,” Plummer said as he addressed the court. The event Plummer is talking about is a fire in April of 2016 that took more than 100 firefighters nearly 5 hours to extinguish
WLBZ-TV NBC 2 Bangor

Pennsylvania town honors fallen firefighters 25 years later

Some friends forget to call Pittston Mayor Mike Lombardo on his birthday, but they always remember to reach out every March 15. Tragedy struck the Pittston area that day in 1993 when his brother John, 25, a Pittston firefighter, and Leonard Insalaco, 20, a West Pittston fireman, died in a ferocious blaze on North Main Street in the city. Today marks 25 years. A wreath-laying ceremony will be held today at 6:30 p.m. at a monument dedicated to the men on Kennedy Boulevard. A Mass will follow at 7 p.m. at the St. John the Evangelist Church. “Sometimes we say, ‘Lest we forget,’ and then we forget. It’s nice to see people didn’t forget,” Lombardo said. “It’s hard to believe it’s been 25 years.”
Wilkes-Barre Citizens' Voice

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