National News

Friday, June 22, 2018

Michigan city mulling controversial proposal that would dismantle fire department

The city of Muskegon has received and is reviewing a controversial proposal to contract fire service from Muskegon Heights, officials said recently. But a vote on the deal, which calls for the city of Muskegon to dismantle its fire department and contract fire service from Muskegon Heights, is still more than a few months away, said Muskegon City Manager Frank Peterson. The proposal would have Muskegon purchasing fire service from Muskegon Heights for a period of 10 years, with an average cost of $3.6 million for each of the first three years. That's compared to the approximately $3.5 million the city currently pays for its own department. Peterson addressed the deal during an update to the Muskegon City Commission. He also updated the body on when they might get a chance to review the proposed contract, and on the status of negotiations between the city and the firefighters union.

Massachusetts firefighters agree to new contract after threatening to picket mayor’s house

The city and the firefighters’ union tentatively agreed to a new contract Thursday, one day after the union threatened to picket outside Mayor Paul Heroux’s house. The pickets have been called off and a cookout the mayor had planned will be held as scheduled Saturday afternoon. Heroux said the threat of picketing had nothing to do with him agreeing to a new contract, but union President Jacob Springs said he thought it moved the process along. “It absolutely had nothing to do with it,” Heroux said of the agreement and the picketing threat. “The seeds were set weeks ago.” Springs said the prospect of pickets did impact negotiations. He said that since the union said it was going to picket, the city put a canceled bargaining session back on schedule and then agreed to a new deal at that session.
Attleboro Sun Chronicle

Fire Authority Rejects California City’s Demands

With a ticking clock growing ever louder in the background, the Orange County Fire Authority rejected several demands made by Irvine that would keep the city in the fold as a voting member of the regional emergency coalition. “Basically, Irvine was told to pound sand,” said County Supervisor Todd Spitzer, who sits on the Fire Authority board of directors. This throws the ball back into Irvine’s court. The city is expected to weigh its next move on Tuesday, June 26, just four days before a June 30 deadline for deciding whether it will stay or go. The problem is this: Thanks to property tax formulas that were locked in decades ago, Irvine pays far more to the Fire Authority than it gets back in services. Depending on how you factor it, Irvine’s over-payment could be as much as $23 million a year, or as little as $5 million a year.

Washington firefighter-EMT Walmart shooting hero comes forward: ’This was a traumatic experience’

The man hailed as a hero for halting a gunman's wild rampage outside the Tumwater Walmart store came forward Wednesday and said he fired his weapon only after it became clear that the gunman might injure or kill more innocent victims if he weren't stopped. David George, who is an emergency medical technician with the Oakville Fire Department and a pastor at the Oakville Assembly of God, described his harrowing experience at a Wednesday news conference in his hometown. He said he initially wanted to remain anonymous, not out of shame or regret, but to maintain the "dignity and integrity" of his ministry in Oakville.
KOMO-TV ABC 4 and Radio 1000

Embattled former Louisiana fire chief announces plans to retire

Steve Krentel, whose leadership at a Covington-area fire district has been under assault since last fall, will retire as of Sept. 1, he told the St. Tammany Fire Protection District 12 board of commissioners in a letter Thursday. Krentel, whose wife was killed nearly a year ago, said in a phone interview that he had always planned to retire as soon as he was eligible to do so. His departure is not the result of efforts by some other firefighters to oust him, he said, but he added that the "headaches" at work are making it easier to leave. Krentel was demoted from his position as fire chief by the board last month. A week later, the board announced that they had found merit in two of a long list of complaints lodged by firefighter Tom Williamson.
The Advocate

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Arbitrator rules in favor of demoted Ohio fire captain

An arbitrator agreed a veteran Toledo firefighter was erroneously demoted from captain to a line firefighter after the administration said the captain used “poor judgment” at a fatal fire scene. The arbitrator, Mark Glazer, ruled this week that Capt. Kim Hood be reinstated as captain with seniority. “Local 92 is extremely pleased with the ruling,” Donato Iorio, an attorney who represents the union, said. “It’s unfortunate we had to go through this process.” Captain Hood, who has served nearly 25 years with the department, received a written reprimand before she was demoted because she did not immediately send a crew into a structure fire in January, 2017. A woman at 1957 Bakewell St. told firefighters a man inside the home was on fire. Battalion Chief Robert Krause arrived at the scene shortly after, ordering firefighters into the structure.
Toledo Blade

Florida City’s First Female Fire Chief Reflects On Her Career And Looks Forward To The Future

On July 1, Rhoda Mae Kerr will pin five brass bugles on the collar of her Fort Lauderdale Fire and Rescue uniform—the number symbolizes her rank, and five is the highest. On that day Kerr will also make history as the department’s first female fire chief in its 106-year history. Kerr comes from a lineage of firefighters. Her great-grandfather was a firefighter in New York during the horse-drawn era; her grandfather was a volunteer fire chief in New Jersey; and her father was in the state forestry service, a firefighter in that capacity. Even with her family history, Kerr says joining the fire service didn’t cross her mind until she grew bored as a PE and health teacher at the high school and middle school level. “I think it’s in my blood,” she says. “It just took a while for it to manifest itself.”
Fort Lauderdale Daily

New York town’s mayor responds to fire department controversy

Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri’s office released another statement Wednesday in response to reports on the conduct of former temporary fire Chief John Kelly, who resigned from his position last week amid allegations of professional misconduct. Kelly — appointed interim chief last July in place of Russell Brooks, who remains on administrative leave — stepped down to become a deputy chief after an investigation into text messages sent between Kelly and 23-year-old Carmen Ambrose, the son of Deputy Chief Mark Ambrose, that make references to watching pornography and other lewd acts that occurred on fire department property. Carmen Ambrose is known to have sought recruitment into the Utica Fire Department. Other media outlets published the text messages last week, while Mark Ambrose released a statement Monday detailing his side of the story.
Utica Observer-Dispatch

Connecticut volunteers vote to end fire service to town after 75 years

A fiery uproar in the town of Morris could have left residents without a volunteer Fire Department. A statement from the department was released Tuesday announcing that its members had voted to “cease providing fire, rescue, and EMS services,” as of June 30. The statement noted that the decision was not made lightly, but came after the department felt it could not come to a “reasonable working relationship with the town administrators.” Fire Department President Virginia Steinway said Tuesday that the department and the Board of Selectman spent more than a year trying to draw up a contract. She said a recent decision by First Selectman Tom Weik not to fund fully the state-mandated annual physicals for volunteers was the last straw.
Connecticut Post

Illinois city appeals ’unprecedented’ pension award to family of firefighter who died from cancer

Buffalo Grove officials announced Wednesday they are challenging a decision to award a full line-of-duty death pension to the widow of a 51-year-old Buffalo Grove firefighter, arguing not enough evidence exists that his fatal colon cancer was related to his work. The full pension award for Kevin Hauber’s wife, Kim Hauber, and their four children represented an “unprecedented” claim and marked the first award of its kind in Illinois after the Buffalo Grove Fire Department Pension Board determined earlier this year that Kevin Hauber’s cancer was caused in the line of duty, village officials said in a statement. But the board’s decision on a 3-2 vote back in March was made with the “absence of clear evidence or research proving that firefighting has a direct or indirect causal relationship with colon cancer,” officials said.
Chicago Tribune

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