National News

Friday, January 20, 2017

Former Arizona hotshot supervisor sues feds, says Yarnell Hill Fire records are being concealed

A former Arizona hotshot superintendent is suing the federal government to obtain aircraft radio transmissions that may help explain the deaths of 19 firefighters in the Yarnell Hill Fire of 2013. Fred Schoeffler alleges in his federal court complaint that the Department of Agriculture has denied a public-records request for recordings and transcripts of U.S. Forest Service radio traffic among employees who were conducting an aerial firefighting study during the fatal blaze. Schoeffler, a former hotshot supervisor in Payson for 26 years, alleges that the Forest Service answered his Freedom of Information Act request by claiming they "did not find any responsive records.
Arizona Republic, & KPNX-TV NBC 12 Phoenix

Dallas pension director blasts city’s plan to end pension as ’worst display’ of ethics she’s ever seen

The executive director of the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System blasted city officials for unveiling an alternative plan that would cast off the failing retirement fund — and thousands of retirees and active workers — and create a new plan. Kelly Gottschalk said in an email to pension trustees Wednesday that she was shocked by the city's latest move. She laid the blame on Chief Financial Officer Elizabeth Reich and City Manager A.C. Gonzalez. "I have to say, that in my more than 25 years in the public sector, this is by far, the worst display of public administration, public integrity, and ethics I have ever seen," Gottschalk wrote. And she said Gonzalez, who will retire in two weeks, is hampering the negotiations.
Dallas Morning News

Three generations of Ohio firefighters share one badge

VIDEO - Three generations of Columbus Fire Fighters, all privileged to wear the same badge. For the Smith family, Columbus Fire badge number 220 was held by Lauren “Grandpa” Smith Sr., since 1948. Years later Lauren Smith Jr., would join the force in 1988. His father passed on the badge to him in 1989. Following in his father and grandfather’s footsteps, Lauren Smith III became a Columbus firefighter in 1999. Today, after 28 years with the badge, in a surprise ceremony, Smith Jr. passed on badge 220 to his son. “It means a lot that I get to honor my grandfather and my father and carry this badge on,” said an emotional Lauren Smith III. “I am so proud of him he’s worked all his life for this,” said Smith’s mother, Kylean Williams. “He has always followed his dad everywhere.”
WCMH-TV NBC 4 Columbus

California fire station evacuated after mercury exposure

The Newbury Park fire station on West Hillcrest Drive was evacuated Thursday evening after a resident brought mercury into the building, officials said. Capt. Ron Oatman, a spokesman for Ventura County Fire, said a resident had vacuumed up mercury after a spill at a storage facility and brought the vacuum bag to the station mistakenly believing firefighters could dispose of the toxic liquid metal. The person came into the building, walked through and used the restroom to wash hands before firefighters realized what was in the bag, Oatman said. The department's hazardous materials team and officials from Ventura County's Environmental Health Division were on scene to decontaminate and test the building.
Ventura County Star

What happens to EMS when Trump, Congress repeal Obamacare?

President Barack Obama began meeting with prominent Democrats in early January to develop a strategy to keep his signature domestic policy, the Affordable Care Act, intact in the hands of a new administration. Vice President-elect Mike Pence and Republican Congressional leaders have been strategizing and meeting since the election to develop an alternative to the ACA. With both parties gearing up for a political showdown after President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, where does this leave the innovative population health projects many EMS agencies have been developing since the passage of the ACA? The ACA gave prominence to two concepts: the Patient-Centered Medical Home and the Accountable Care Organization (ACO). It additionally made the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Triple Aim framework an urgent reality for EMS leaders.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Real ID compliance issues cause headaches for Maine firefighters

Maine firefighters are missing out on a training opportunity at the National Fire Academy this year because the state is not in compliance with a decade-old federal ID law regulating state-issued driver’s licenses. Maine is among 23 states and five U.S. territories not in compliance with the Real ID Act, and the Legislature in 2007 passed a law prohibiting the state from complying with law amid concerns that it would create a de facto “internal passport.” On Jan. 30, some federal agencies stopped accepting Maine-issued driver’s licenses from those entering certain secure facilities, such as nuclear power plants, the U.S. mint and military bases.
Bangor Daily News

At least 30 Iranian firefighters killed, dozens injured after high-rise tower catches fire and collapses

A high-rise building in Tehran engulfed by a fire collapsed on Thursday, killing at least 30 firefighters and injuring some 75 people, state media reported. The disaster struck the Plasco building, an iconic structure in central Tehran just north of the capital's sprawling bazaar. Iran's state-run Press TV announced the firefighters' deaths, without giving a source for the information. Local Iranian state television said 30 civilians were injured in the disaster, while the state-run IRNA news agency said 45 firefighters had been injured. The building came down in a matter of seconds, shown live on state television, which had begun an interview with a journalist at the scene.
New York Daily News

Seattle Arsonist Martin Pang on the hook for nearly $3M in restitution, other legal costs

Martin Pang, the arsonist who set the deadliest blaze in the Seattle Fire Department’s history, will have to pay nearly $3 million in restitution and other legal costs when he’s released from prison, according to an opinion published Tuesday by the state Court of Appeals. Pang, who is serving a 35-year prison sentence for setting a massive warehouse fire in January 1995 that killed four firefighters in the Chinatown International District, filed a motion in King County Superior Court in August 2015 seeking relief from his legal financial obligations, known as LFOs. In his motion, Pang argued the judge who sentenced him in March 1998 never inquired about his ability to pay restitution to victims’ families or the costs associated with extraditing him back to the U.S. from Brazil, where he had fled after setting the blaze.
Seattle Times

The $243,000 firefighter: Rhode Island fire rescue captain in 2016

The city paid three Providence fire captains more than $200,000 each in 2016 and paid a total of 220 firefighters more than $100,000 apiece during the same period. Fire rescue Capt. Vincent J. D'Ambra had the biggest payout, $243,000, according to a Providence Journal analysis of the Fire Department's payroll, apparently making him the highest-paid employee on the city's payroll. A total of 29 firefighters brought home more than $150,000 in 2016, outpacing Mayor Jorge O. Elorza's $131,300 salary. The top three on the payroll, including fire rescue Capt. Zachariah Kenyon and fire Capt. Thomas L. Cassin III, each collected more than School Supt. Christopher N. Maher, whose salary is $203,000. The three fire captains' base pay was $77,258 and $77,545.
Providence Journal

Audit says former Utah fire authority leaders misued funds; criminal probes recommended

Unified Fire Authority officials should seek criminal investigations of their former chief and deputy chief for a dozen potential violations and attempt to get half a million dollars in reimbursement from them and three other former fire department administrators, said two state audits released Wednesday. The Office of the State Auditor also recommended the UFA file an ethics complaint with the Utah State Bar against the fire agency's former legal counsel, Karl Hendrickson. Former Chief Michael Jensen, who also is a longtime member of the Salt Lake County Council, and Chief Deputy Gaylord Scott put their personal interests over the organization, the audits concluded, but got away with it for the last five years because board members trusted the chief and failed to provide proper oversight.
Salt Lake Tribune

Washington firefighter’s death from cancer considered in line of duty

A firefighter died Tuesday morning from a type of cancer that he likely got because of his job, according to colleagues. Jimmy Hendryx, 47, is Bremerton's first firefighter to die in the line of duty in the history of the department, which stretches back 114 years. Hendrix was an avid bag pipes player, and would often perform at memorials for fallen firefighters and police officers. That includes the ceremonies for the four murdered Lakewood police officers, Pierce County Sheriff’s Deputy Kent Mundell, and state Trooper Tony Radulescu. A firefighter died Tuesday morning from a type of cancer that he likely got because of his job, according to colleagues.
KOMO-TV ABC 4 and Radio 1000

Sign up to subscribe to custom state Daily Dispatch emails for free

click to subscribe