National News

Friday, August 10, 2018

‘Can you feel that pain?’: Families of Ghost Ship victims tell of anguish at sentencing hearing

Kimberly Gregory held up an urn containing the ashes of her 20-year-old daughter Michela as she faced the men held responsible for the notorious Ghost Ship warehouse fire that killed 36 people one and a half years ago. “This is all we have left of her,” Gregory said as a somber Derick Almena and Max Harris listened inside the courtroom at their sentencing hearing Thursday. “Can you feel that pain?” Michela’s aunt, Karen Frieholtz, asked the men. She told Almena and Harris to close their eyes and imagine their own daughter screaming in anguish while she burned. Almena, who has two daughters, and Harris closed their eyes. “I hope you’re both haunted for the rest of your lives,” she said as Harris wiped away tears. Michela’s parents grasped each other in the courtroom’s front row, weeping.
The Mercury News

Third firefighter killed while responding to Carr Fire near Redding

The death toll in what was already the most lethal year for firefighters in California since 2008 increased to five Thursday, when a heavy equipment mechanic was killed after falling asleep at the wheel on his way to the fire lines near Redding, a family member told The Chronicle. Andrew Brake, 40, of Chico died in a single-car crash on his way to work on the Carr Fire, which had already claimed the lives of two firefighters and five other people, including a woman and her two great-grandchildren, and a PG&E lineman, who died trying to restore power to the area. Brake was a six-year veteran of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, working out of the Butte unit in Oroville. The crash occurred about 7:30 a.m. on Highway 99 south of Los Molinos in Tehama County, officials and relatives said.
SF Gate

Lavender Ribbon Report: Best Practices for Preventing Firefighter Cancer Released

The International Association of Fire Chiefs’ (IAFC) Volunteer and Combination Officers Section (VCOS) and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) have partnered to develop and release the Lavender Ribbon Report: Best Practices for Preventing Firefighter Cancer. This report provides 11 actions that can be taken to mitigate the risk of cancer for firefighters. Unfortunately, the topic of firefighter cancer has had a significantly increasing impact on firefighter health and welfare. Great strides have been made by departments and responders everywhere in combating and preventing cancer, but more still needs to be done. The time is NOW to make changes. “We call upon fire service leaders and all personnel to make cancer prevention a priority in your department,” said Chief James Seavey, Sr. board member of the IAFC VCOS, chair of the VCOS Cancer committee, and cancer survivor.
International Association of Fire Chiefs

Former firefighter saves own life, rips leg from underneath loaded truck in Washington

A logging truck driver is recovering after being run over by his own fully loaded truck near Lake Kapowsin in Pierce County on April 16. West used a special set of skills to save his own life, even though he ended up losing a leg. "I basically felt or heard the bones in my leg break," Troy said. As he stood tightening the load of his logging truck deep in the woods, it started to skid, knocking him under the back wheels. "So I spun around on my back underneath and it had already taken most of it off in the first set of duals and that's when I shoved it and ripped my leg off," West said. It was April 16, and the weather near Lake Kapowsin was cold, snowy and windy. The rescue helicopter wasn't going to make it and the nearest paramedics were nearly an hour away. West said he knew just what to do, as co-workers rushed to help him. "I told everybody 'stay calm,'" he added.
KOMO-TV ABC 4 and Radio 1000

Drone helps Illinois first responders find runaway boy

Teamwork between first responder departments in Effingham County and the use of technology helped find a runaway juvenile on Sunday. Police Chief Jeff Fuesting said city and county police officers searched for the youth after first checking several locations where the 12-year-old boy typically was known to be. He was spotted entering a cornfield. According to a press release, the juvenile, who was considered a habitual runaway, was seen running into the cornfield at 3:44 p.m., about an hour after getting the call about the missing boy. He was collected by Effingham County Sheriff's deputies at about 5:30 p.m. Fire Chief Joe Holomy said the juvenile entered the cornfield on Rickelman Avenue, east of Fourth Street. Holomy piloted a drone above the field and the youth was spotted and contacted. The juvenile was taken by Abbott EMS to HSHS St. Anthony's Memorial Hospital for observation.
Effingham Daily News

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Georgia firefighter found dead at station

A DeKalb County firefighter was found dead at a Stone Mountain fire station during a shift change Wednesday morning, an official confirmed to the AJC. Barry Everett, 42, a nine-year veteran of the department, was discovered about 8 a.m. at Fire Station 25 on Rockbridge Road. He was assigned to the station’s B shift, fire Capt. Dion Bentley said. The cause of death has not been determined, he said, and an investigation into what happened is still in the early stages. “There's nothing suspicious at this point,” Bentley told “It's just unfortunate.” The department will announce funeral and procession arrangements once they are finalized.
WSB-TV ABC 2 Atlanta

Oregon Firefighters Honored for Daring House Fire Rescue

In the early morning hours of September 6, 2017, a two-alarm fire erupted blocks away from Clackamas, Oregon, Fire District #1. As flames engulfed a two-story dwelling, Heavy Rescue 305 (HR305) was first to respond. Reaching the top floor, they broke a window and deployed a personal bail-out system to lower a woman to safety as the fire flashed inside. Their courageous actions in a lifesaving rescue are being lauded with the 2018 IAFC Ben Franklin Award for Valor sponsored by Motorola Solutions. Medals of Honor will be presented to Captain Kyle Olson, apparatus operator Andrew Brian, and firefighters Scott Kohler and Matt Towner on August 9 at Fire-Rescue International (FRI) in Dallas, Texas. The IAFC Ben Franklin Award for Valor recognizes firefighters worldwide for their expert training, leadership, heroic actions and safe practices. Named after the nation’s first fire chief, Benjamin Franklin, it is the most prestigious honor a department can receive from the IAFC.
International Association of Fire Chiefs

New Jersey fire station closings jeopardize public safety, firefighters say

State-imposed guidelines on staffing levels and scheduling are causing fire company shutdowns and creating a potential threat to public safety, according to department officials. Chief Scott Evans filed a certified affidavit in Atlantic County Superior Court that details his concerns that the state-mandated changes to the firefighter schedule, as well as department-wide reductions in staff, salaries, benefits and compensation time, are “unsafe and unreasonable” and “will not permit ACFD to efficiently provide fire protection services to the City of Atlantic City.” State Department of Community Affairs spokeswoman Lisa Ryan said Evans’ concerns are being taken seriously and added, “There are differing opinions about what the conditions on the ground are, how they can best be resolved and what steps the Fire Department’s leadership can take to effectively manage staff and resources.”
Press of Atlantic City

New York fire chief resigns amid accusations of theft

Joseph Trama has resigned less than four months into his role as fire chief amid accusations that he stole money from the Irvington Fire Company. The company's board said in a statement last week that Trama had withdrawn or transferred money from company bank accounts in multiple unauthorized moves in July. Trama took less than $1,000 through Wells Fargo accounts and has repaid all of it, company President James Brennen told The Journal News/lohud today. Asked if it was stealing, Brennen said, "My personal gut feeling is yes." Trama, who could not immediately be reached for comment, resigned last week as chief of the Irvington Fire Deprtment, Brennen said.
NY Journal News (

Houston city council puts firefighter pay parity measure on November ballot

Houston voters in November will choose whether to grant firefighters pay “parity” with police of corresponding rank and seniority. After weeks of wrangling over the issue — including angry debates, rare legislative maneuvers and allegations of electioneering — the city council voted unanimously Wednesday to place the proposal before voters Nov. 6. Mayor Sylvester Turner initially gave council the option of scheduling the vote in November 2019 instead, but ultimately pulled that item from the agenda. Still, Turner repeated his concerns about the idea on Wednesday, saying it will cost the city $98 million a year and force layoffs. The mayor said he intends to host a town hall meeting in each of the 11 council districts before November to educate voters on the issue.
Houston Chronicle

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

click to subscribe