National News

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Ohio jury: 2 men guilty of arson, murder in death of firefighter

A homeowner and his nephew were found guilty Wednesday of aggravated arson and murder in the death of a 28-year-old Hamilton firefighter. Lester Parker, 66, and William Tucker, 49, of Richmond, Kentucky, face 15 years to life in prison when they are sentenced. The jury reached the verdict shortly after resuming deliberations about 9 a.m. Tuesday. Investigators linked Parker and Tucker to the Dec. 28, 2015, blaze that resulted in the death of Patrick Wolterman. Prosecutors accused Parker of soliciting his nephew to set the blaze in exchange for pills. Prosecutors claimed Parker wanted money from the home's insurance policy. Closing arguments were made Tuesday after a week of testimony. The jury got the case late Tuesday afternoon and deliberated for about an hour before stopping for the night.
WXIX-TV FOX 19 Cincinnati

Washington fire department selects first woman assistant chief

For the first time in city history, the Spokane Fire Department will be led in part by a woman. “Since 1884,” said Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer. “It’s exciting. It’s progressive.” On Monday, city officials announced Trisha Wolford would work as the department’s assistant fire chief. The position was previously held by Schaeffer, who was promoted to fire chief in May following the retirement of Bobby Williams, who worked as fire chief for 28 years. “I can’t think of a better place to support the efforts of our firefighters, leaders and city officials,” Wolford said in a city news release. “I look forward to being a part of this vibrant community and working alongside the men and women of the Spokane Fire Department.” Wolford, who will transition into her new role in Spokane in a few weeks, comes from the Bozeman Fire Department in Montana, where she held the position of deputy fire chief since December 2015. While there, she was responsible for operations and activities of the fire investigation division.

Containing factory blaze daunting task for New York firefighters

After the first of two explosions rocked the Verla International factory at 10:15 a.m. Monday, dozens of firefighters – some paid, most volunteers – raced to the scene on Temple Hill Road. They found chaos. Employees poured out of the burning building. They were using multiple exits, and many didn’t speak English, said Chris Sweeney, chief of the Vails Gate Fire Department. Four City of Newburgh firefighters entered the cosmetics plant to search for employees who weren’t able to escape on their own. Ed Klouda was among a group of Vails Gate firefighters who pulled up alongside the building in a ladder truck, then headed toward a rear entrance to join the search. The fire grew rapidly, the heat intensified, and within minutes the firefighters began to retreat, Sweeney said. That’s when the second explosion hit, at about 10:40 a.m.
Times Herald-Record

New arson charge for woman accused in Missouri firefighters’ deaths

New charges have been filed in connection with the October 2015 arson fire that killed two Kansas City firefighters. Thu Hong Nguyen, the 45-year-old woman accused of starting that fire, now faces a new arson charge for allegedly setting a 2013 Lee’s Summit blaze for which the cause previously had been ruled to be undetermined. Both fires began in nail salons that Nguyen managed. In a separate indictment unsealed Tuesday, her boyfriend and business partner at the Kansas City salon, 51-year-old Nhat M. Pham, was charged with insurance fraud in connection with that fire in the 2600 block of Independence Boulevard.
Kansas City Star

Management vs. discipline: Know the difference

Have you ever struggled to defend yourself after a simple conversation or suggestion you have given as a manager to improve an operation or a process? Has that conversation taken on a life of its own? Has a conversation like that ever been perceived as discipline? I have found that in today’s environment, there is often confusion between the activity of management and the action of discipline. My intention is to help shed some light on the importance of why organizations need to intentionally address the difference between the two. If the differences between the two are brought to a conscious level, there should be much less confusion and organizations should be able to operate more effectively.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

1 dead, 33 injured after explosions, fire at cosmetics plant in New York

Emergency crews responded to the scene of an explosion and fire that killed one man and injured more than 30 people, including firefighters, at a manufacturing plant in New York's Hudson Valley. The explosion happened at around 10:15 a.m. Monday in the north section of Verla International -- a business that makes cosmetics, primarily nail polish. It's located at 463 Temple Hill Road in New Windsor in Orange County. The Orange County Executive's Office reports that the Medical Examiner was requested at 7:40 p.m. for a deceased man at the Verla Costmetic plant. He had previously been reported missing.

A third of Washington volunteer fire department resigns

In Onalaska, the volunteer fire department is dealing with an emergency of its own. Brothers Chris and Craig Franklin say small town politics are putting everyone in jeopardy. "Now I am standing here, watching everything fall apart," said Chris. "I'm worried for my safety, my family's safety, and the safety of all the citizens of Onalaska." The reason he's worried is because a third of the firefighters who make up the volunteer department have resigned. "To lose these people who are resigning, it is not going to work," said Craig. It started when Fire Chief Andrew Martin lost his title during Thursday's Fire Commissioners' meeting. "I wasn't given any heads up. I didn't even know I was the employee under review," said Martin.

Some Florida police, firefighters, engineers allegedly buy fake college diplomas

It takes years of study and a fortune in tuition to earn a college degree, unless you take the kind of shortcut former Tarpon Springs Fire Chief Rick Butcher did. Instead of cracking the books, Butcher simply went online and bought his BS degree from Almeda University, one of the world’s most notorious diploma mills. “It just seemed like an opportunity and I took it,” Butcher said. “And it wasn’t worth taking.” “The school doesn’t exist. It’s smoke and mirrors,” said retired FBI agent Allen Ezell. “It’s never been real anywhere.” Ezell should know. Before retiring from the FBI, Ezell spent 11 years busting diploma mills. He’s written a book on degree mills and even recently purchased his own degree from Almeda, as further proof of the school’s ongoing diploma scam. “I paid about $1,000 plus a $50 fee,” Ezell said.

Homeowner, nephew take stand in Ohio firefighter murder trial

Hamilton homeowner Lester Parker and his nephew William “Billy” Tucker, took the stand Monday in their own defense in the arson and murder trial for the 2015 death of Hamilton firefighter Patrick Wolterman. Parker, 68, and Tucker, 46, of Richmond, Ky., are charged with arson and murder in the fire at Parker’s Pater Avenue home that killed Wolterman on Dec. 28, 2015. Both men denied any involvement in the deadly fire. Prosecutors say Parker was “under water” financially in the fall of 2015 and hatched a plan to set the house on fire for insurance money. Tucker agreed to light the fire in exchange for pain pills, according to prosecutors.

Two parents, four kids killed in rural house fire in Illinois

Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle says the six people killed overnight in a house fire in rural Dixon included two parents, four children, a cat and a dog. Sheriff VanVickle says at this time no names or ages are being released. The school district where the children attended has been notified. Neighbors tell 23 News the area in unincorporated Lost Nation is a very close community where everyone knows each other. Ogle County Coroner Louis Finch says autopsies will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday. Finch says the bodies were so badly burned that he will rely on dental records to identify the victims. Speaking to the Associated Press, Captain Isaac Dimming of the Dixon Rural Fire Department says there was no way the firefighters could enter the home because it was fully engulfed. He says the bodies of the six people were not found until the fire was brought under control.
WIFR-TV CBS 23 Rockford

Cal Fire captain’s plan saved more than 2,500 homes from Sonoma fire

Fifty-foot flames flaring down Agua Caliente canyon in the earliest hours of Oct. 9 were about to devour the Mission Highlands neighborhood and race into the backyards of Boyes Hot Springs. That’s when Glen Ellen Cal Fire Capt. Sean Jerry studied the situation from a crest on High Road and said, “OK, this is what we’re going to do.” What followed involved a bulldozer driving up asphalt roads and bursting into the canyon to dig a firebreak while Jerry and other firefighters set a back burn below it that kept the fire within a few feet of reaching 66 Mission Highlands homes and 15 minutes away from the thickly populated Springs area with 2,500 homes. “It would have been there –– 100 percent,” he said. But they stopped it.
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

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