National News

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Firefighters seek rough parity with police in virus aid efforts

Police and firefighters weren’t forgotten when Congress passed a $2 trillion coronavirus relief package in March. Within a week of the law’s enactment, aid began flowing to states and cities through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program, run by the Justice Department. Much of that aid goes to police departments across the country, which have received more than $143 million so far, according to a CQ Roll Call analysis of grant recipients. But firefighters, who were promised $100 million, have yet to get a dime. The Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, requires a cumbersome peer review process for grant awards that can take months. The result has been a frustrating wait for money designed to help fire departments buy personal protective equipment, thermometers, sanitizer sprayers and other material needed to fight fires during the pandemic.
Roll Call

Firefighters battle spectacular five-alarm blaze in California

VIDEO: A tenacious fire fueled by an estimated 1,000 plastic crates containing tomato products burned for at least seven hours Tuesday in east Stockton, growing to five alarms as it sent a massive black plume of smoke into the clear morning air visible for miles in all directions. No structures were involved and no injuries were reported at the Mizkan America tomato-processing plant known for its Ragu and Bertolli pasta sauces near the southwest corner of Waterloo Road and D Street. One firefighter was transported to an area hospital suffering from heat exhaustion, according to the Stockton Fire Department. a quick attack, but the fire continued to grow. Several factors hampered their ability to quickly put out the blaze and that allowed it to spread to the plastic tomato crates in the middle of the pallet yard, according to Deputy Fire Chief Shannon Lewis.
The Record

First responder bonus checks in New Hampshire spark controversy

New Hampshire was the first state to offer all first responders “hazard pay” bonuses for being on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. But unlike Gov. Chris Sununu’s other relief initiatives, few states or the federal government have followed this one. And the $300-per-week bonuses for New Hampshire’s firefighters, police, EMS and corrections officers have drawn controversy. “Governor Chris Sununu you should be ashamed of yourself; to not include the doctors, nurses, hospital personnel, those who are keeping people safe at home on hospice and caregivers providing needed personal assistance, let alone the cashiers at grocery stores,” Gayle Spence Davis posted on Facebook recently. “I have no idea who gave you this advice, but you have been horribly misguided. We are on the front lines every day and frankly, you do not really care. Open up the economy a little more and see where that lands us.”
New Hampshire Union Leader

Arizona leaders release FEMA model that predicts COVID-19 cases, deaths

Weeks after learning there is a federal Arizona-specific model, Arizona’s top public health official released the model in an online blog post on Tuesday. Dr. Cara Christ posting in a blog post, that FEMA has authorized them to share the models publicly. The report release May 7 has a number of graphs and data charts that are specific to Arizona. Christ wrote in the blog, “This model previously predicted our peak resource utilization to occur around June 11, assuming our mitigation strategies were lifted at the end of the current Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected order on April 30. That order was extended through May 15th and was just recently lifted. The most recent model, dated May 7 predicts, even with the mitigation strategies lifted, that our current resources, including inpatient beds, ICU beds, and ventilators, are sufficient to meet a healthcare surge due to COVID-19.“
KNXV-TV ABC 15 Phoenix

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Warehouse Fire Devastates San Francisco’s Fishing Industry

A huge fire that tore through a warehouse on San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf has destroyed fishing gear used to deliver about two-thirds of the city’s fresh seafood, threatening to disrupt the upcoming Dungeness crab season, local fishermen said Sunday. The fire erupted before dawn Saturday and wiped out the warehouse the size of a football field near the end of Pier 45. Larry Collins, who runs the San Francisco Community Fishing Association, estimates that thousands of crab, shrimp and black cod traps worth up to $5 million were lost in the blaze. He told the San Francisco Chronicle the numbers could be far higher since port officials changed the warehouse’s function into a storage facility in February because it lacked proper fire sprinklers. “Pier 45 is the heart and soul of commercial fishing out of the Bay Area,” Collins said. “To take a hit like this, it’s a bad one. Most people don’t think about where their salmon, crab or black cod come from, but that’s where: It’s Pier 45.”
KNTV NBC 11 San Jose

Pandemic Could Boost Case for Iowa First Responders’ ’Essential’ Status

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold, Iowa's first responders say the state should no longer hold off on declaring Emergency Medical Services an essential service. That status is something EMS workers in Iowa have sought long before COVID-19. Being declared "essential" would require ambulance service across the state, instead of relying on a patchwork of volunteers, agencies and providers. Mark McCulloch, deputy chief of EMS for West Des Moines Emergency Medical Services, says he thinks the current crisis will prompt those who have resisted such a move to reconsider. "The understanding of how important and how critical our services are, I think, is increased," he states. McCulloch says the lack of guaranteed emergency medical services is especially a problem in rural parts of Iowa, where younger adults are moving away and reducing volunteer ranks.
Public News Service

Fire truck adorned with flag tips over in Pennsylvania

VIDEO: A fire truck, adorned with a large American flag, tipped over shortly before 11:30 a.m. Monday in Plumstead Township, Bucks County. The view from Chopper 6 showed the truck on its side in a parking lot. The extended ladder was on the ground, stretched across the roadway in the area 4040 Ferry Road. The flag was attached to the ladder. Officials say the truck was placed outside the fire company to display a flag over Route 611. When the crew went to reposition the truck the vehicle tipped over. The ladder struck a car on Route 611. "Unfortunately a vehicle was traveling southbound on the road at that time underneath the tower, the tower hit the roof of the vehicle. There were two occupants in that vehicle that had minor injuries that were taken to the hospital and should be getting released shortly," said Lt. Richard Frederick of the Plumstead Township. Police confirm there were minor injuries in the incident.
WPVI-TV ABC 6 Philadelphia

There is ’little evidence’ coronavirus is under control in most states, report says

The spread of the novel coronavirus has not slowed in 24 states, according to a new model by Imperial College London that forecasts infection spikes as more people travel and leave their homes in the coming weeks. Why it matters: Nearly every state across the U.S. has taken steps to reopen their economies partially or completely, including some regions and industries that are deemed "low-risk" for spreading the virus, per a New York Times analysis. What they found: Texas, Arizona, Illinois, Colorado and Ohio are at the highest risk in the college's model — which has not yet been peer-reviewed — followed by Minnesota, Indiana, Iowa, Alabama and Wisconsin. The researchers predict that deaths over the next two months could exceed the current national death toll by more than two-fold, if transmissions continue to rise as less social distancing is enforced. They emphasize that rapid testing, contact tracing and behavioral precautions are crucial to slow the spread.

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