National News

Friday, October 12, 2018

Virginia firefighter killed, 3 injured after tractor-trailer rear-ends fire truck on Interstate

State police identified the Hanover firefighter killed Thursday night as Lt. Brad Clark. Clark was killed and three others firefighters were injured after their firetruck was rear-ended on I-295 in Hanover County Thursday night. "The trooper's preliminary investigation reveals that Hanover Fire Engine and EMS was on scene providing assistance with a two-vehicle crash with all of its emergency equipment activated, when a tractor-trailer traveling southbound struck the engine in the rear," Hill said. Clark, from Station 6, Hanover County Fire and EMS, died at the scene. Three others were transported to an area hospital: one with life-threatening injuries and two others with serious injuries, Hill said.

Federal agency faults Texas department’s tactics in fire that killed one of its own

A San Antonio firefighter died while battling a blaze in the Spartan Gym last year after the Fire Department failed to safely search the building, keep track of fellow rescuers and adequately ventilate the smoke-filled structure, a federal report released Thursday states. The review by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, an agency that seeks to improve workplace safety, concluded that some of the San Antonio Fire Department’s tactics actually made conditions worse inside the gym where firefighter Scott Deem, 31, died after he became lost. Two other firefighters were injured, one severely. The agency made 19 recommendations about the department’s procedures and practices to attack fires and prevent another on-duty death.
San Antonio Express News

Firefighter Helmet Cam Captures Dramatic California Rescue

VIDEO - A fire in a vacant home in Fresno almost killed a homeless man but firefighters arrived in time to cut a hole in the side of the building and pull him to safety. The dramatic rescue was captured on a video camera attached to a firefighter’s helmet. Fire Chief Kerri Donis praised the heroism of those who saved the homeless man but said the rescue simply underscores the larger problem of too many vacant buildings in Fresno catching fire. That just adds to the workload of one of the busiest fire departments in the nation, she said. On Oct. 4, a fire crew went to a call at 2421 E. Grant Ave., near Belmont Avenue and Fresno Street. Police told firefighters a man was trapped in the subfloor of the vacant home. The fire blocked his escape, but he found a deep crawl space under the floor to escape smoke and intense heat, Donis said. Someone saw “a hand sticking out.”

Massachusetts natural gas explosions: Feds say Columbia Gas issued faulty work orders

Federal investigators probing the deadly natural gas explosions that rocked three northern Massachusetts towns last month are blaming faulty work orders given to the work crews by the local utility. The investigators say Columbia Gas failed to instruct the workers to deactivate pressure sensors when taking an old cast-iron gas main out of service. When those sensors detected a drop in gas pressure in the decommissioned main on Sept. 13, the system automatically increased the pressure in the new, plastic gas main. Within minutes, houses across Lawrence, Andover and North Andover began to explode from a buildup of natural gas. One man was killed when the chimney of an exploding house fell on top of his car. Twenty-one people – including two firefighters – were injured. The preliminary findings by the National Transportation Safety Board do not end the investigation into the incident.
USA Today

Four PSOs to become full-time firefighters in Iowa town

Four public safety officers are being moved to full-time positions at the fire department, and the Cedar Falls Firefighters Association says the transfer violates state civil service law. Scott Dix, Cedar Falls Fire Local 1366 president, announced the move in a press release Wednesday. Dix said the union will legally challenge the move. Cedar Falls Fire Chief John Bostwick said he learned of the press release from the media. “If we’re negotiating, it’s not negotiating in good faith for them to do that,” Bostwick said. The press release is full of half-truths, he said. The four PSOs eventually will be in supervisory positions, but not before they’ve been trained by the shift leaders and the two most senior battalion chiefs.
Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier

Thursday, October 11, 2018

California Firefighters Survive ‘Near Miss’ With Freight Train Battling Oakley Blaze

Firefighters battling a two-alarm blaze at an Oakley tire company early Wednesday were nearly hit by a speeding freight train on tracks they thought had been closed off. The train tracks are only a few feet from the back of the auto shop that the fire began in. The East Contra Costa County Fire District requested for train traffic to be stopped while they fought the fire. Fire management said that Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad confirmed the stop request, but three hours after the fire started, a train still approached and nearly hit the firefighters at “a very high rate of speed,” according to Battalion Chief Ross Macumber. “We’re considering it a near-miss at this point,” he said. “Engine crews were operating on the backside of the structure. The train tracks we were told were shut down, obviously there was a miscommunication or what not, and a train came through, full speed ahead!” explained Richard Bryan, a senior firefighter for the East Contra Costa County Fire District.
KPIX-TV CBS 5 San Francisco

Ousted Maine fire chief loses appeal of termination during tense meeting

A divided Ogunquit Board of Selectmen voted Tuesday to uphold the termination of the town fire chief following a tense meeting that culminated in more than 200 residents being asked to leave. The termination appeal hearing focused on the firing of Mark O’Brien, who had served with the Ogunquit Fire Department for 37 years before he was placed on paid administrative leave in June while town officials investigated complaints about his management style and interaction with his staff. That investigation led to his firing last month, a decision he then appealed. The hearing – held in public at O’Brien’s request – grew tense at times and the chairman ultimately had the audience removed when people began shouting comments at board members after a motion by Selectmen John Daly to overturn the termination failed.
Portland Press Herald

Ambulance company has spent nearly $22M on California ballot measure that could shield it from lawsuits, save it millions

In a ploy that could save the company millions of dollars and potentially protect it from ongoing lawsuits, a private ambulance outfit has poured $21,900,786 to date into the statewide campaign to pass Proposition 11, a measure on the November ballot that regulates lunch and rest breaks for people who work in ambulances. Per the most recent campaign documents filed on Sept. 27, no other donors have given to the Yes on 11 campaign. Ambulance workers say the proposition would change nothing about the way their breaks currently work, their training, or the mental health services they receive. Instead, they say, the proposition is aimed at shielding the Colorado-based American Medical Response Company, known as AMR, from more than $100 million of potential liability in pending and future lawsuits and $100 million in increased costs if AMR has to add employees to cover drivers during their lunch breaks.
Mission Local

Illinois county officials seeing surge of accidental 911 calls from Apple Watches

Officials in Lake County have been seeing a rise of accidental 911 calls from residents' smart watches. When Apple released its new watch about one year ago, it came with a new feature that lets users press and hold a button on the side of the device to call 911 for help. Since then, 911 call centers across the country, and in the Chicago area, have been experiencing a problem with accidental calls. When you wear the watch and bend at the wrist, it can put pressure on the button which will then call 911. It takes about three seconds of pressing the button for the call to go out. It will also alert your emergency contact. The watch will then make a loud beeping noise. Some people don't know that this feature has been activated on their device. Officials in Lake County said these accidental calls are happening more than people may think.

Texas firefighter diagnosed with cancer wins long legal battle

After a long legal battle, a judge ruled in favor of Homer Salinas - a Mission firefighter denied workmen's compensation after he was diagnosed with kidney cancer. "When I went ahead and submitted all the paperwork, the TML, which is the insurance carrier for the city, denied me," Salinas said. The city's insurance carrier claimed that his diagnosis was unrelated to his work and refused to cover treatment costs, but Salinas appealed that decision last November and finally got the answer he'd been waiting for. "We showed them that all the carcinogens, all the hazardous materials that I've been exposed to, all the number of calls," said Salinas. "And the judge ruled in our favor - that our risk was higher than their risk they were trying to fight."

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