National News

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Los Angeles fire chief raises concerns about ’divisive’ workplace incidents involving firefighters

The Los Angeles Fire Department has experienced a series of "divisive" workplace incidents in recent months, including at least one debate between firefighters over protests by NFL players, according to a letter to the agency's employees. In a two-page letter posted Friday, Fire Chief Ralph M. Terrazas said his agency has experienced "on-duty heated discussions regarding the perception of a lack of patriotism by NFL players" who have kneeled during the national anthem. In a separate incident, firefighters from different ethnic backgrounds had a "near physical altercation" after someone showed up late to work, Terrazas wrote. In yet another, the department received complaints about "a perceived lack of sensitivity" toward non-white firefighters during an investigation.
Los Angeles Times

Florida firefighter overcomes fear of heights to assist in high-rise rescue

VIDEO - Two members of the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department on Tuesday detailed how they assisted in a stunning high-rise rescue. JFRD engineers Patrick Schneider and Justin Smith both played important roles in rescuing two men dangling on the side of the BB&T Bank Building in downtown Jacksonville early Monday evening. Schneider told News4Jax that it was the first time he ever responded to a call like the one that came in about 5 p.m. Monday. "I just grabbed as much gear as I could -- rope, rigging, bags -- (and) headed to the roof," Schneider said. "They looked like two ants hanging there. All you saw was their boots dangling. It's something I've never seen before. A million emotions are running over you. And that's what we do -- we fall back on our training to suppress that and just do your job."
WJXT-TV CBS 4 Jacksonville

Texas firefighters union targets city manager salary, tenure

The San Antonio Professional Fire Fighters Association on Tuesday announced a campaign that, among other things, targets the city manager. Calling it the “San Antonio First” campaign, union boss Chris Steele said his organization is partnering with others — ranging from the COPS/Metro Alliance to former local tea party president George Rodriguez — to seek voter signatures on three separate petitions, all calling for changes to the city charter. The union is seeking a charter amendment that would force the municipality into arbitration rather than litigation when there’s an impasse over collective bargaining agreement negotiations between the city and its public-safety unions.
Conexion SA

IAFC Organizing Fire Operations Conference in Middle East

The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) today announced it is organizing the first International Fire Operations Conference, April 10-12, 2018, at the Ritz-Carlton in Manama, Bahrain. The prestigious event is being organized in collaboration with Saudi Aramco, a Saudi Arabian national petroleum and natural gas company based in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The International Fire Operations Conference will offer fire service officers and personnel the unique opportunity to explore leadership development and education sessions covering many operational components of the fire service.
International Association of Fire Chiefs

9/11 responders’ health treatment and monitoring threatened by Trump’s budget plan

Hidden in the fine print of President Trump’s latest budget proposal is a detail that could directly impact 9/11 first responders: The reorganization of the federal agency that oversees their health treatment and monitoring. Currently, the World Trade Center Health Program is housed within the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. That agency, in turn, is under the umbrella of the Centers for Disease Control. Under the 2019 fiscal year budget for NIOSH put forth by the White House, that agency will be carved out of the CDC and placed within the National Institute of Health. The WTC Health Program will remain behind — within the CDC.
New York Daily News

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Two New York firefighters injured after wall collapse at commercial fire

Two city firefighters were injured Monday when a wall collapsed while multiple fire crews were battling a massive blaze in a large storage building on Newell Street. The two unidentified firefighters were taken by ambulance to Samaritan Medical Center, one on a stretcher. Fire Chief Dale C. Herman confirmed one of the injured firefighters was later transferred to a Syracuse hospital. The extent of the injuries and their conditions were unknown Monday night. Their families were notified, Chief Herman said. Shortly before 6 p.m., crews were called to the sprawling building at 108 Newell St. that sits behind Derouin Plumbing & Heating Inc. and next to Adirondack River Outfitters.
Watertown Daily Times

Virginia fire chief announces retirement amid complaints about handling of sexual harassment

Fairfax County’s fire chief announced his retirement Friday, a little more than a week after county officials said they would investigate allegations that the department had failed to curb sexual harassment. Richard R. Bowers Jr. has received high marks during his five-year tenure for the department’s firefighting work, but was dogged by complaints and a handful of lawsuits claiming that women were mistreated in the ranks. Bowers’s last day will be April 30. The chief declined to comment, but county officials said Bowers offered to retire after a meeting this week with the county executive, who expressed frustration by the Board of Supervisors with the pace of progress in changing the culture of the department. Still, Sharon Bulova (D), the chairwoman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, praised Bowers’s work.
Washington Post

Out of Station nightclub fire’s ashes, tougher building codes arose in Rhode Island

In 2003, John Bernardo worked occasional nights as a DJ in bars throughout the state, hired to bring in people who wanted to dance and buy drinks. After Feb. 20, 2003, the night 100 people — including two of his friends — were killed and more than 200 injured, many severely, in the Station nightclub fire in West Warwick, that all changed. “The business really dropped off after that,” he said. “Entertainment nights at bars and grills, they said, ‘It ain’t worth it.’” For a DJ that was bad news, but from the perspective of his day job as an electrical safety engineer, he said it was a long time coming. Today, Bernardo is the president of the Safety Association of Rhode Island and the owner of his own building-safety consulting company. He said the changes in the state’s fire code enacted after the Station tragedy turned Rhode Island’s fire safety rules from arcane and confusing to a modern code that was more easily understood and enforced.
Providence Journal

How South Carolina first responders are trying to save their own

Emily Avin was supposed to come home that day in September. Her parents had arranged it: Avin would move back into their country home in the small Florence County town of Pamplico, where she grew up playing softball and cheering for her high school football team as the mascot. It would be a break, for a month or so, from her job as a paramedic, a career the young woman loved but now found emotionally draining. She worked one last 24-hour shift in Aiken. Afterward, instead of driving across the state, Avin called her mother upset. Sue Ann Avin detected hopelessness in her daughter’s voice. “Emily, you’re not thinking about doing anything to hurt yourself, are you?” Her daughter, a tough woman who wore her blond hair cropped short, tearfully promised she was OK. The two ended the call the way they always did.
Charleston Post and Courier

At least $2M in damage after fire destroys New Jersey rescue squad building, ambulances

Four members of the American Legion Ambulance Association in Woodstown escaped unhurt Monday after an early morning blaze devastated their squad building and caused at least $2 million in damage. The blaze broke out around 4 a.m. and destroyed five ambulances and caused significant damage to a sixth, officials said. Firefighters, some of whom arrived to the scene on Maple Court within three minutes of the blaze being reported, found heavy flames on the right side of the building, Reliance Fire Company Chief Jeff Bowling said. Four ambulance association employees were on duty in the building when the fire broke out. Oxygen tanks mounted in the ambulances exploded as the blaze intensified.

Follow Up: Veteran Los Angeles cops and firefighters can work one shift, then collect double pay for years

A program that allows Los Angeles cops and firefighters to collect their pensions and salaries simultaneously at the end of their careers was originally hailed as a no-cost way to keep the most experienced officers on the job. But six years into the program it was clear there were serious problems, including reports that aging officers with bad backs and aching knees were joining and then immediately going out on long injury leaves — sometimes for years — at essentially twice the pay. So leaders of the police and fire unions, scrambling to preserve the program in 2008, proposed a seemingly simple solution: require everyone entering to be on active duty.
Los Angeles Times

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