National News

Friday, February 17, 2017

Michigan firefighter facing additional charges in accident that killed 2 fellow firefighters

An Upper Peninsula firefighter who is being held responsible for the deaths of two of his fellow firefighters is now facing additional charges. Micheal Allen Johnson of Baraga is said to be the man behind the wheel on August 27th, 2016, when the Beartown Fire Department bus he was driving suddenly struck the median, killing Alan Schwartz, 25, and James Shelifoe Jr., 23. Six other passengers on the bus were injured in the accident that occurred on I-35 West in Blaine, Minnesota. Johnson, 28, originally faced two charges of criminal vehicular homicide. Now, the Baraga man is facing ten felony counts. Eight charges were recently added after his toxicology report was returned and reviewed by the Anoka County Prosecutor’s Office.
ABC 10 - Ishpeming, MI

Firefighters raced to battle Nov. Tennessee wildfire, only to find some hydrants were running dry

Firefighters from across Tennessee flocking to Gatlinburg to battle a growing firestorm couldn't be sure the fire hydrants they uncapped would provide any water. And within two hours of the mega wildfire reaching the city Nov. 28, the hydrants were running dry. "Water loss occurred in certain areas as early as 8:30 p.m. due to the fact that the intermittent power outages caused interruptions to the pumping stations," Gatlinburg Fire Chief Greg Miller wrote in response to emailed questions. "This causes a loss of water pressure at different areas of the city at different times during the event. This issue persisted throughout the evening and overnight of Nov. 28."
USA Today

New report says there isn’t adequate warning, escape route outside Oroville Dam

Communities just downstream of California’s Lake Oroville dam would not receive adequate warning or time for evacuations if the 770-foot-tall dam itself — rather than its spillways — were to abruptly fail, the state water agency that operates the nation’s tallest dam repeatedly advised federal regulators a half-decade ago. The state Department of Water Resources informed federal dam regulators that local emergency officials “do not believe there is enough time to perform evacuations in the communities immediately downstream of the dam during a sudden failure,” according to a Feb. 8, 2011, letter reviewed by The Associated Press.
The Sun

New York fire chief’s son files discrimination complaint over hair length

The son of Utica Fire Chief Russell Brooks has filed a federal civil complaint against the City of Utica alleging the city violated federal and state anti-discrimination laws. On Dec. 2, John Brooks filed the federal civil complaint saying he was subjected to a hostile work environment at the Utica Fire Department — where he has been employed as a firefighter-paramedic since 2006 — because he requested an accommodation as a practicing Nazirite. A Nazirite is a person who vows to abstain from alcohol, avoid defilement by contact with corpses and does not cut their hair, according to the complaint.
Utica Observer Dispatch

Fire truck drivers: How not to get creamed at intersections

You’re driving your engine to the scene of reported structure fire as part of a multi-company response. You’re navigating traffic on a heavily traveled thoroughfare and you’re fast approaching a controlled intersection. What should you be prepared to do? Stop! That’s the first lesson I always imparted to firefighters when I was teaching them how to drive fire apparatus. In that situation, you are the professional driver and you have to be prepared for the unexpected to happen, I would tell them. You must consider every other driver to be an amateur, especially when they look up in their rearview mirror and it’s filled with flashing red lights.

Update: St. Louis Fire Dept. Instructor Lied about Helping Boston Marthon Victims

St. Louis Fire Department instructor falsely claimed that he ran to the aid of victims at the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Shawn Daniel, a paramedic training officer for the city's fire department, had said he was among the emergency workers who hurried to help the injured. A statement from the St. Louis Fire Department said that Daniel never was on the scene of the bombing and did not provide medical assistance. At one point, the statement specifies that "Daniel falsely identified himself in actual scene video footage as a first responder rendering aid to an injured civilian. The first responder he falsely claimed to be has (subsequently) been positively identified as a Boston firefighter."

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Mississippi fire chief dies at scene of brush fire

A long time servant of Jefferson Davis County and the town of Bassfield died in the line of duty on Tuesday. Bassfield Volunteer Fire Chief Bill Matthews, a retired Marine, was found slumped over in his fire truck on the scene of a brush fire. Mayor Patricia Courtney said a firefighter was manning the hose and called to Matthews to move the truck and got no response. The firefighter pulled Matthews from the truck and began CPR. "They got the ambulance there, but it was already too late," Courtney said. The chief had died as a result of a massive heart attack, Coroner Jim Slater said.
Jackson Clarion-Ledger

2 Omaha battalion chiefs file lawsuit over hiring of fire chief

Two Omaha firefighters sued the city Tuesday over Mayor Jean Stothert’s hiring of Fire Chief Dan Olsen, alleging she failed to follow the correct selection process. Battalion chiefs Robb Gottsch and Dan Stolinski, both finalists for the chief position, asked that a court declare Olsen’s promotion to be void. John Corrigan, their attorney, said the two “feel like their time was wasted during a pre-ordained process (and) feel like the rules haven’t been followed.” Deputy City Attorney Bernard in den Bosch said the city followed the correct procedure. “The process worked the way it was supposed to and we’re sorry the two guys didn’t get the job,” he said. When Stothert announced her selection, she said she followed proper city code. She echoed that on Tuesday.
Omaha World-Herald

Confusion on official procedures could impact Massachusetts fire chief’s situation

A selectman called attention Tuesday night to the town's potentially flawed and confusing policies and procedures, which might come into play in deciding the fate of the town's fire chief, who has been on paid administrative leave for over a month. On Jan. 10, the selectmen alleged Fire Chief Peter Martell did not have the authority or the selectmen's approval to spend $33,814 of town money for a 2017 Ford Expedition. Although the disciplinary session focused on the SUV purchase, the selectmen said that Chief Martell was placed on paid administrative leave for submitting a home electric bill along with departmental bills (which Chief Martell said was an honest mistake) and would be on leave until a "forensic audit" is completed by the town account.
Worcester Telegram & Gazette

Review of Virginia fire department finds workplace bullying

A six-month study of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department found on-the-job bullying, harassment and other problems, issues that were raised after 31-year-old firefighter-paramedic Nicole Mittendorff took her own life last year. No one knows if cyberbullying played a role in Mittendorff’s death, but she had faced online harassment and bullying, possibly by colleagues. An independent consultant examining the workplace culture of the fire and rescue department found that 37 percent of the members it questioned reported either being bullied or witnessing someone who was bullied. More than 23 percent reported experiencing or seeing sexual harassment.
WTOP-AM 1500 Washington

Convicted man ‘prays every day’ for six Kansas City firefighters killed in 1988 explosion

It was a crime that thundered across Kansas City, took the lives of six firefighters, and 28 years later, still resonates as a shattering, life-changing moment for countless people. And on Wednesday, many of those people packed a Kansas City courtroom — and an overflow room with a monitor — for a hearing to determine if Bryan Sheppard, one of those convicted of that crime, will one day walk out of prison. The U.S. Supreme Court granted Sheppard that chance after ruling it is unconstitutional to sentence juveniles to a mandatory sentence of life in prison without first taking into account individual factors in their lives.
Kansas City Star &

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