National News

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

‘God was with us that day’: Crews recount rescue of Texas firefighters surrounded by brush fire

For about 10 minutes, Emergency Services District 1 firefighters Jessilyn Davis and Lt. Brannon Stengel found themselves surrounded by a brush fire April 11 in western Travis County. The winds, which had shifted toward them, and 20 percent humidity that day only made matters worse. They tried to stay positive, but Stengel said in the backs of their minds, they thought they had come face-to-face with the blaze that would take their lives. “With the the wind, it would just travel through the coastal grass faster than I could run,” Stengel said. “And the cedar trees and all the other fuels were dry, so the fire spread pretty rapidly.” The visibility was so low, Stengel said, “you could barely see your hand if you held it out in front of you.”
Austin American-Statesman

Former Rhode Island fire chief escapes prison but must repay taxpayers for illegal pension

A judge has sentenced the former fire chief of the Coventry Fire District to three years of probation and ordered him to repay nearly $200,000 for fraudulently receiving retirement benefits. Paul Labbadia, 52, of North Providence, pleaded no contest in January to three counts that he filed false documents to obtain a public pension. During his sentencing Friday, Superior Court Associate Justice Netti Vogel also removed one year toward his pension credits that the state says he lied to obtain. Vogel said she was trying to balance a man who worked for years in public safety with someone who committed a crime that violated the public's trust. "It's a tale of two men," Vogel said.
WPRI-TV Providence 12

Judge rules Illinois city violated contract with firefighters union

Firefighters are breathing a sigh of relief after a nearly year-long struggle. The Mattoon Fire Department will have to hire a handful of new firefighters. It's after a judge ruled that the city violated their contract last year. The fire department is supposed to have more than 30 firefighters, but right now they're at 24. The city says this is all because of money problems, and they plans to present a budget that's not balanced for this year at their council meeting tomorrow night. Officials say they've been trying to cut back on city staff to close the deficit, but firefighters say enough is enough for cutting down their employees. As firefighters have left the Mattoon Fire Department, there's nobody new to fill their shoes. After a judge's ruling, that will change. "We knew we had a really good chance, our contract is extremely cut and dry with the language."
WCIA & WCFN-TV CBS 3 Champaign

Woman turns to Indiana firefighters for help with stoned raccoon

People turn to firefighters for help during all kinds of emergencies, but this one might actually be a first. Wayne Township firefighters woke up in the middle of the night to a woman frantically pushing their doorbell. "As many times as the doorbell on the firehouse was pushed, the firefighters were quite certain that something bad was going on outside," said Wayne Township Fire Capt. Mike Pruitt. The woman was upset and saying she needed treatment. Not for herself, but for her pet raccoon. The reason? She said the raccoon had been exposed to a large amount of marijuana.
WTHR-TV NBC 13 Indianapolis

Texas Firefighter Rushed to Save Woman in Plane Blast

A firefighter from Texas is being lauded for his heroic efforts after he helped pull a fellow passenger back inside a plane when she was sucked outside during an emergency landing Tuesday in Philadelphia. According to the Daily Mirror, Celina firefighter Andrew Needum was nearby when debris from the engine explosion on Southwest Airlines flight 1380 ripped a hole in the window where 43-year-old Jennifer Riordan was sitting. Riordan had been sucked outside the aircraft before Needum and another passenger, Tim McGinty, rushed to pull her back inside. "When we saw the window was gone somebody saw the lady out of the window so just tried to get her back in and wasn't strong enough," McGinty told reporters afterward. "A fireman from Celina, Texas, jumped in there and helped and between the two of us we were able to get her back in."

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

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