National News

Friday, August 23, 2019

Florida firefighters say firehouse destroyed by Hurricane Michael now a life or death issue

Dominick and Alicia Rhodes have had blue tarps covering the roof of their Florida home and a firetruck in their front yard since Hurricane Michael devastated their rural inland county 10 months ago. The couple — who have three kids, maintain two full-time jobs and work as volunteer firefighters in their spare time — are now caretakers of one of the Mossy Pond Volunteer Fire Department fire engines because the firehouse where they once stored their trucks and equipment was obliterated by the storm. The three other fire engines and two brush trucks that service this part of the county, a rural area of about 14,500 people a little more than 40 miles inland from Panama City, Florida, rest in other volunteers' yards. Most of the eight members of the all-volunteer fire department balance full-time jobs and families. The lack of a firehouse complicates how they coordinate responding to medical calls, car accidents and wildfires in a part of Calhoun County where the closest ambulance and hospital is a 25-minutes away.
NBC News

Baltimore Fire Department’s Plan To Scale Back Number Of Initial Responding Units Draws Concern From Union

The Baltimore City Fire Department plans to cut down on the number of firefighters responding to initial calls, a move that isn’t sitting well with the firefighters’ union. Currently, five engines, two trucks, two battalion chiefs and a medic unit are dispatched when a call comes in. Come September, though, that number will shrink as the department tests reducing initial responding units to three engines, one truck and one battalion chief. The department hopes this will help medics respond to more calls. “We’re looking at the fact if we can utilize more resources towards ems as far as trying to get ourselves in this position to be able to tend to the people of the city as well as visitors of the city,” said Fire Captain Roman Clark.
WJZ-TV CBS 13 Baltimore

Firefighters Pipes and Drums Band in New York honors lives lost

On August 24th, 2009, the City of Buffalo lost two members of its fire department during a building fire. In the days that followed, firefighters from across the country came to Buffalo to honor Firefighter Jonathan Croom and Lieutenant Chip McCarthy. Members of the Washington, DC Fire Department's Pipes and Drums band played the funerals, and formed friendships with some of the Buffalo firefighters. At the time, Buffalo didn't have its own Pipes and Drums band, and shortly after, firefighters who worked with Croom and McCarthy formed what eventually became the Greater Buffalo Firefighters Pipes and Drums Band. "I'm not Irish, I'm not Scottish. I'm a German kid from Polish Cheektowaga. And I'm playing the bagpipes. But it's because of what happened," explained band manager Michael Kick.
WKBW-TV ABC 7 Buffalo

New club aims to help Pennsylvania students connect to public service careers

A new club at Hempfield Area High School could help bridge the gap between a lack of volunteer firefighters and a younger workforce. The Public Services Club is headed by biology teacher, volunteer firefighter and paramedic Justin Heddinger. The organization will introduce students to careers like volunteer firefighting, police work, emergency management, EMS and 911 dispatchers. “It kind of was a solution of why don’t we start this club … to help gear (students) toward the goals they want, and this way they can learn if they like it or don’t like it,” Heddinger said, adding that the club will give students real life experiences to help make a decision about specific careers. Proposed by Hempfield resident Scott Graham and approved unanimously by the school board Monday, the club is set to start this school year.

Private fire crews assisting with fire mitigation in California

After three consecutive and horrendous years of wildfires, there is an important shift going on this year in firefighting. Cal Fire, Contra Costa Fire, Orinda-Moraga Fire, East Bay Parks, East Bay MUD, Lawrence Berkeley Lab and many others mean to keep their hills firestorm free. As we've covered the enormous brush clearing project stretching 17 miles from Berkeley to Lafayette, we could not help but notice crews wearing gear that reads 'Firestorm'. "You know, they're working hard. They're working long hours. They're you know, away from home usually," Jess Wills, President of Firestorm Wildland Fire Suppression, Inc. The 25-year-old Chico-based company of 300 employees is just one of eight such companies in the nation dedicated to all aspects of preventing and fighting wild fires.
KTVU-TV FOX 2 Oakland

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Firefighters in New York will be paid nearly $1 million in back pay

City firefighters will be paid nearly $1 million in back pay connected to the five-year contract dispute with the city. City Comptroller James E. Mills said Wednesday that the payout for the retro pay and health benefit deductions will be “just a couple of thousand dollars short of $1 million.” The payouts — scheduled to go out on Aug. 28 — will bring the city current to the contract through July 1, 2016. Firefighters are receiving 1.5 percent salary increases for years 2014-15 and 2015-16, under results from a so-called “interest arbitration” ruling that came out in late June. Daniel Daugherty, president of Watertown Professional Firefighters Association Local 191, said he thought the payout figure was going to be more like $700,000. When told the actual amount, Mr. Daugherty said, “I’m a little surprised. I didn’t think it was going to be that much.” Fire department members can either pick up their checks at the fire station or have them delivered by mail, he said.
Watertown Daily Times

Chaplaincy service for firefighter 1st responders started in Washington state

“We have a duty to those who put their lives on the line daily,” states, a newly formed service and website being stewarded by local Firefighter Chaplain Cole Massey to support first responders in Southeast Washington. “It is our desire to meet every call or need as it arises. Donations help provide First Responders with the support and care they deserve,” the website states. Free support will go to all first responders and their spouses in Walla Walla, Columbia and Umatilla counties. “The purpose of Southeast Chaplaincy is to meet first responders and their spouses where they are. What is their stress level and how can we help get that down? How do we lower the rate of first responder suicide, divorce and job burnout?”
Walla Walla Union-Bulletin - Metered Site

When disaster strikes, a search website for first responders will save lives

When Mount Vesuvius erupted almost 2,000 years ago, it took hours for a single message from Pompeii to reach rescuers 18 miles away. Today we have the opposite problem during disasters: too much rapid information from many sources, with consequences just as fatal for some people. Engineers at the University of California, Riverside are working to change this with a tool that searches real-time text, photo and video from social media and surveillance cameras alongside data from sensors, like fire detectors and security alarms. With the tool, for example, firefighters could search the terms “fire” and crowds” in a particular location and time and receive data from multiple sources. The research, supported by a $1.2 million National Science Foundation grant, aims to develop a single search interface across all potential sources. The group’s goal is to make a functional tool—a website similar to Google—that can search keywords.
UC Riverside News

Alaskan firefighters worry about wildfire danger with hunting season set to begin

Hunting season is set to begin this weekend and there is concern about hunters traveling near wildfires currently burning in the Willow area. Alaska Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Corri Feige said at a news conference Wednesday that officials are considering closing the Willow marsh, also called the Willow swamp. It's a spot officials say is on the front line of the Deshka Landing Fire — and a big moose hunting area. "So we have a real concern that we could have hunters in the area who either become trapped by an advancing fire or a shifting fire," Feige said. "Or that we could have the potential for firefighters to inadvertently be injured or shot downrange of someone hunting big game." It is a concern shared by Alaska State Troopers.
KTVA-TV CBS 11 Anchorage

Texas fire rescue short nine firefighters, overtime mandatory

West Texas’ oil boom is bringing prosperity to many organizations throughout the region, but for Odessa Fire Rescue, it’s turning up the heat. Staffing Odessa Fire Rescue has been a struggle since oil took over the city. To make up the difference, firefighters are burning the candle at both ends. First responders answer the call of duty every day to save Odessans who need their help. But now it’s the department itself who needs a lifeline. “Right now, we’re suffering like everybody else with hiring people,” Captain Marc Brown said. Brown explained not long after the recent oil boom erupted,Odessa Fire Rescue lost three firefighters. Ten years later, that gap in the department has only widened. Now the department is short nine first responders. So few, OFR doesn’t even have the minimum number of staff members they need. To make up for it, overtime is now mandatory.
KOSA-TV CBS 7 Odessa

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