National News

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Five years after blast, West, Texas is rebuilt but emotional tripwires remain

The memories of the blast five years ago that robbed Kirk Wines of his friends and first responder colleagues remain vivid as ever, but he keeps them filed neatly away. The amiable owner of West’s Old Corner Drug Store stays busy filling prescriptions, chatting with customers and minding his emergency pager as a captain of the West Volunteer Fire Department. He will attend the ceremony Tuesday to mark the five-year anniversary of the explosion at West Fertilizer Company that ravaged this town of 2,800 and killed 15 people, mostly first responders. But he is resolved not to dwell on it. He can talk calmly about running to the fire at the plant that night, feeling the force of the explosion and then helping carry wounded firefighters.s remain vivid as ever, but he keeps them filed neatly away.
Waco Tribune-Herald

New questions emerge about retired FDNY firefighter who was refused 9/11 aid while suffering from severe PTSD

New questions emerged Monday about the FDNY’s denial of 9/11-related disability benefits to a retired firefighter who labored at Ground Zero and then suffered severe psychiatric illness before dying in a mental hospital. Joe Battista spent months at the World Trade Center site after the 9/11 attacks and developed serious health issues, and severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder that led to repeated hospitalizations. But the FDNY repeatedly denied him World Trade Center disability benefits. He choked to death on food at a Florida mental hospital on April 5. He was 63. An FDNY official suggested in Monday’s exclusive Daily News report that the department repeatedly denied the benefits because his condition had not been properly linked to 9/11.
New York Daily News

California firefighter mourning unexpected death of wife after giving birth to twins

Nick Reeder's life was just coming into focus last week--four years ago, he found Amanda Sawyer. "We met on an online profile, yeah and we had a blind date and were inseparable after that date. It was love at first sight definitely," said Nick Reeder. Nick says she did it all--mother, worker, wife and she loved that he was a firefighter, even decorating their home with fire memorabilia. They had Layla three years ago and last year, she used fire gear to let him know she was pregnant again. Amanda gave birth to healthy twins last Monday. She met Kelce and Kaia and then took a quick turn for the worse.
KABC-TV ABC 7 Los Angeles

A new generation is shaking up the fire service

Just as fire departments are getting used to working with millennials, another generation is coming along. This generation is significantly different from their predecessors and will require some adaptations in leadership and management for them to contribute to their fullest. The newest generation, born after 1995, is just now entering the workforce. They have been called “iGen” by author and researcher Jean Twenge, an expert on generational differences. In her book “iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy – and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood,” Twenge discusses some key characteristics of this generation, including the fact that these young people are the first to have lived their entire lives connected to the world via the internet and social media.

Massachusetts fire chief scolds neighboring town manager over limit on retirement party publicity

The Auburn fire chief has chastised the Oxford town manager for allegedly prohibiting the use of any town emails or social media to distribute a retirement party flyer for the Oxford fire chief. A retirement party for Oxford Fire Chief Sheri R. Bemis is scheduled for 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday at the Auburn Elks Lodge, 754 Southbridge St., Auburn. Over the weekend, Auburn Fire Chief Stephen M. Coleman Jr. posted on his personal Twitter account: “Sharing this for my friend retired Chief Bemis. After 30+ years with the department the #Oxford Town Manager would not allow any town email or social media to be used to distribute the flyer. That’s a hell of a thanks on the way out. #classless.” On Monday, Chief Coleman said he was told directly by Paul D. Ford, serving as interim fire chief for Oxford since mid-July, that Town Manager Brian M. Palaia told Chief Ford he did not want town resources used to promote the party, including town emails and social media.
Worcester Telegram & Gazette

Monday, April 16, 2018

Legendary, long-serving Pennsylvania fire chief Ed Hutchinson dies

Ed Hutchinson became Greensburg's fire chief when Harry Truman was president and retired 53 years later, and through those decades he was a community leader whose impact stretched far beyond the city's fire halls. “He was not only a fire chief, but a great community servant. I am stunned today,” Greensburg Mayor Robert Bell said Sunday of Hutchinson's death Sunday morning at age 96 at Excela Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg. “Anything that was Greensburg, he had his hands in it,” and he had an impact on Westmoreland County and on the state level as well, Bell said. The current mayor recalled that as a youngster, he would see Hutchinson come to his house and talk with his father, Robert, who also was the mayor then, about how they could work together to improve the city.
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Los Angeles police and firefighters rush to join controversial retirement program

The controversial program that pays veteran Los Angeles police officers and firefighters nearly double for the last five years of their careers received a flood of new enrollees in February, records show. The rush to join the Deferred Retirement Option Plan, or DROP program, coincided with a Times investigation in February that found the program, which was created in 2002 to keep veteran officers and firefighters on the job, allows participants to file workers' compensation claims and then take extended injury leaves at nearly twice their usual pay. Almost half of the participants who entered DROP from July 2008 to July 2017 subsequently took such leaves, The Times found.
Los Angeles Times

FDNY no longer has ‘zero tolerance’ policy for drugs

The FDNY’s “zero tolerance” for drug abuse has gone up in smoke. Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro has quietly abandoned the department’s once-trumpeted policy calling for the firing of anyone caught using illegal or prohibited substances, The Post has learned. In the last month, 26 firefighters who had tested positive on urine tests since 2016 were returned to full duty, insiders revealed. “They give certain guys second chances — as long as you don’t put anyone’s life in jeopardy,” said one of the spared firefighters. “People make mistakes.”
New York Post

Two Texas firefighters, water utility worker injured, hospitalized in natural gas leak

Two Arlington firefighters and a Arlington Water Utilities crew member were injured while responding to a gas leak that occurred Sunday afternoon in central Arlington. All three were transported to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. The extent of their injuries is not known. According to Arlington Fire Department spokesman Mike Joiner, Arlington Water Utilities crews were repairing a water line leak at the intersection of Ditto Avenue and Dugan Street. As they cleared asphalt to begin excavation, an Atmos gas line was impacted. Joiner said the crews stopped work and contacted Atmos Energy and the Arlington Fire Department.
Fort Worth Star-Teleram

Ohio fire department continues to serve untaxed residents

Whenever a fire breaks out in a home within the northern portion of this village, the affected residents can be assured a rescue crew is on the way. Being that the north end of Meyers Lake falls within Plain Township has led to concern among township officials because nearly 200 village property owners are not paying a fire-protection property tax. In other words, village homes that are within Plain Township have been getting fire and emergency medical services at the expense of others. The situation is frustrating Plain Township Trustee Scott Haws. Haws, along with Canton Township Trustee Christopher Nichols, dropped in on a recent Meyers Lake Village Council meeting to address the issue. Most of Meyers Lake falls within Canton Township. Residents in that part of the village are contributing to the property tax that supports the Canton Township Fire Department.
Canton Repository

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