The District’s fire chief was at a loss Wednesday to explain to a D.C. Council committee why his department sought no money in this year’s budget for trucks and ambulances despite a fleet that is aging and in disrepair.
The city is expected to receive 30 new ambulances this year through $6.6 million allotted after vehicle maintenance and replacement became an issue following a series of high-profile malfunctions. But D.C. Council member Tommy Wells grilled Chief Kenneth Ellerbe about the lack of funds appropriated this fiscal year, which started after problems with the fleet were already well documented.
“There was no money in the budget for this fiscal year for fleet replacement — none. And I’m sure that you will get it in there,” said Mr. Wells, a Ward 6 Democrat and mayoral candidate who heads the council committee with oversight of the department. “But I cannot ignore the fact that no capital dollars were requested to see that you had the trucks and ambulances you needed in this year’s budget.”
Chief Ellerbe said the issue was a possible “oversight” and added that the person in charge of the budget has since retired.
The District of Columbia's Fire Department recently came into possession of 13 new ambulances to supplement the city's aging fleet, but there's one problem: D.C. Fire Chief Ken Ellerbe apparently doesn't know where they're located.
The chief was grilled during an appearance before the D.C. Council on Wednesday, during which Councilman Tommy Wells questioned whether or not the maligned department had a handle on its systemic problems plaguing the agency and compromising public safety.
"I don't see that you are making change yet," said Wells.
Some of the issues at hand include: ambulances with broken fuel gauges and no air conditioning, engines catching fire, brakes working improperly, and not enough ambulances to respond to critical calls.
"Certainly, updating a system that's been in disrepair for 15 to 20 years cannot be accomplished overnight, but at least we have identified a starting point and a path forward," defended Chief Ellerbe, who also touted that response times are down, more paramedics have been hired, and 13 new ambulancecs are currently in use.
But when asked where these ambulances were, he replied that one was being repaired while the other is at the White House. He could not say where the others were stationed.
He also admitted that the only tower truck in the fleet has been out of service since April and should be scrapped.
ABC7 also found that Chief Ellerbe did not know how many of the department’s pumper trucks had passed a safety certification test – and also was unaware that only three out of 23 ladder trucks had passed such a test.
"It doesn't mean that the ladder trucks don't operate. It doesn't mean that they don't operate well. It just means we haven't had somebody go in and test those ladders," he said.
But Ellerbe could not assure firefighters that they are working on safe vehicles. Union officials, who have repeatedly aired these concerns as well as many others, remain frustrated.
"It's going to take a large infusion of money and significant hiring to fix the problems," said Dabney Hudson with the D.C. Firefighters Association Local 36. "I didn't hear that that was going to happen, but we are hopeful that it does."
It was another stressful appearance Wednesday in front of the D.C. Council for Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe.
Ellerbe spent two hours in the hot seat explaining why his department, responsible for Fire and EMS services in the nation's capital, continues to be plagued by problems that strike at the core of its mission.
"Our focus right now is what the city needs," Ellerbe told the committee chairman, councilmember and mayoral candidate Tommy Wells. "From apparatus to personnel."
The D.C. Fire and EMS Department is routinely one of the busiest in the nation. But, according to an outside audit, the department's fleet of fire trucks, engines and ambulances is in a "critical state with chronic long-term management, maintenance and replacement issues."
It appears WJBK-TV reporter Charlie LeDuff has outlasted another Detroit fire commissioner. TV stations in Detroit are reporting this morning that Commissioner Donald Austin is expected to announce his departure as early as today.
Two-years-ago there was a deconsolidation of fire services provided by Reno, Nevada and neighboring Washoe County. The bitter divorce ended with no automatic aid agreement in place and a warning of you will be sorry by Reno Mayor Bob Cashell.
The scenario Mayor Cashell warned of seems to have played out after a fire destroyed the Washoe County home of car dealer Richard West on Saturday. West's home is in Hidden Valley, with the closest fire station six-minutes away, across the line in Reno.
The video above shows the results of the fire. The articles below describe the reaction from leaders on both sides of the county/city line. For a detailed account read the aricle by Anjeanette Damon of RGJ.com (excerpts below).
Hidden Valley is in the unincorporated area of Washoe County, so the call went first to the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District.
The district has a station, number 37, a short distance away. They were on scene within 5 minutes, but with only a two man crew in a "rescue vehicle", essentially a pickup truck with a fire hose..
The call went out to three better equipped and manned stations, but the nearest was in Sun Valley, its engines and three man crews, fifteen minutes away.
The crews and engines of Reno Fire's Station 6 were but five minutes away on Mira Loma Drive.
Before deconsolidation they would have responded immediately, but a full 25 minutes would pass between the first alarm, and a call from Truckee Meadows to Reno for mutual assistance. That delay is raising concerns about the level of fire protection here and in other unincorporated neighborhoods.
Two years ago amid the debate that ended in deconsolidation of local fire services–the city and the county going their separate ways–Reno Mayor Bob Cashell warned the move would leave unincorporated areas like Hidden Valley at risk.
In the wake of Saturday's fire the mayor was not saying 'I told you so,' but he was saying this fire and the destruction it brought was no surprise.
"We met with Hidden Valley and we met with Caughlin Ranch and explained to them where their services were going to come from and they seemed OK with that. I was told I wasn't the mayor of Hidden Valley and to leave the meeting and so I left."
“I think it’s sickening,” Cashell said Monday. “This family lost all their heirlooms. Go back and check the damn records, it was all spelled out. It’s disgusting. If they had called us instead of Sun Valley first, we could’ve been there in five minutes.
“I think it’s disgusting what the people in Hidden Valley were promised. They got what they were promised. A two-person crew with a garden hose.”
Reno Fire Chief Michael Hernandez said the fire calls into question the county’s fundamental responsibility to provide enough resources, quickly enough to respond to a “typical structure fire.”
Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District Chief Charles Moore defended his department’s response, saying the outcome likely would have been no different had Reno’s four-person engine company arrived first — the fire had too much of a head start on them.
At the time of the deconsolidation, Reno didn’t want to subsidize fire response to areas not in their jurisdiction and the county didn’t want to pay the reimbursement bill Reno was asking for. The county argued their fire crews would help Reno, too, offsetting any perceived subsidization.
Moore said the county waited to ask for mutual aid from Reno and Sparks because they thought they had the fire contained to the garage. It wasn’t until later that they found it had spread to the house.
Lt. Ryan McGovern of Boston Fire Department's Engine 28 is recovering from burns after he fell partially through the floor of a single-family home at 14 Pond Circle in Jamaica Plain around 1:00 Wednesday morning. Above is the radio traffic from Boston Fire Communications during the mayday that was called when Lt. McGovern activated his emergency alert button. Lt. McGovern was able to self-rescue and walked out on his own. He has second and third-degree burns on his thigh and third-degree burns on his left hand and wrist. Lt. McGovern was discharged from the hospital and is reported home for Thanksgiving.
After crews knocked down much of the fire, McGovern was venturing into the dark with a thermal-imaging camera when he suddenly heard “crack, crack” — and crashed through the floor. He kept himself from plummeting into the basement by gripping with his hands and legs, even as embers burned him.
“I knew I was in a bad spot, and to be honest, I didn’t think I was going to come out of the hole,” he said. “I thought I was going to end up in the basement.”
McGovern made a mayday call on his radio, but got no response. He then pressed an emergency alert button on the radio, deploying a rapid intervention team.
Despite being laden with 50 pounds of gear, McGovern managed to pull himself out before the rescue team arrived. He carefully walked out, careful to make sure there were no other weak spots in the floor.
As described in the video above by WTTG-TV/Fox 5 reporter Paul Wagner, there was a new adventure in public/press relations in the Nation's Capital in recent days. During multiple calls to those in charge of dealing with reporters, Wagner says he was told this consultant's report on the state of the DC Fire & EMS Department's fleet did not exist. Of course only a few hours after that claim, The Washington Post described the results of that report in detail. Here's Wagner's summary:
A new consultant’s report is painting a very dim picture of the D.C. Fire Department’s fleet of vehicles and the way it has procured and repaired them over the years.
The report, which two city officials said didn’t exist as of Monday night, is 214 pages long and validates long-standing complaints from the firefighters union.
The report found:
- The fire departments fleet of vehicles is in "overall poor condition."
- The fleet is in a "critical state."
- The neglect spans 15 to 20 years.
- There is poor oversight by management.
The report goes on to say a software maintenance program is vastly underused, uniformed personnel should not be in charge and the entire process should be outsourced to civilian managers.
After Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe gave a presentation to the D.C. Council Tuesday morning, FOX 5 was able to briefly question him on the report.
"We told them that we expected to see the challenges they identified in the report. There were 129 recommendations,” said Ellerbe. “We are going to compare those recommendations with other reports that we’ve received, develop a matrix, and make sure all of the recommendations that necessarily fit into our department and our ability to provide service to the city, are managed and met. It's going to take time and we have some short-term challenges, long-term challenges and mid-term challenges. They gave us some short-term solutions, some mid-term solutions and some long-term solutions and we are going to see if we can get them implemented.”
Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells, who has oversight of the fire department, was given the report Monday night and called it an indictment of fleet management and maintenance.
"It shows that there is not an accountable system seeing that they are repaired, accounted for and they are replaced,” said Wells, who is a Democratic candidate for mayor. “Now I know finally the administration is starting to buy new ambulances, buying new fire trucks. I’m not convinced at all, especially after reading this report, that they have a system to now manage and maintain them and to know when they need to buy more.”
Ed Smith, President of the firefighter’s union, had only seen a summary of the report when we talked to him outside the Wilson Building.
"These are things that the union has been sounding the alarm for the last three years and it’s taken a consultant report, a considerable amount of time and three years later for these recommendations to be finally be put to paper,” he said.
Since last March, FOX 5 has documented story after story about the poor condition of the fleet, ladder trucks that failed inspection, ambulances that suddenly caught on fire and ambulances that broke down while transporting patients.
Next week, Wells will hold a hearing on the fleet and says he wants to hear how the chief plans to move forward.
And we plan on staying with this story, and will continue to ask questions and push for results.
Each year thousands of film makers compete in the Doritos commercial Super Bowl challenge. This year a local fire company is hoping to walk away with the $1 million dollar prize!
The Union Deposit Fire Company in South Hanover Township created the 30 second ad seen above for the annual Doritos ‘Crash The Super Bowl’ commercial contest.
The top prize is $1 million dollars. They`re hoping exposure from the commercial will encourage people to volunteer at the fire house; and the firefighters already have big plans with what they`ll do with the winnings.
A Dauphin County fire station's submission for a Doritos commercial contest is in the running to be featured in the Super Bowl and a cash prize that could help revitalize the aging station.
Shot using mostly volunteers and social members of Dauphin County's own Union Deposit Volunteer Fire Company 47, the ad was the brainchild of firefighter and photographer Andy Dresher, who had a career shooting advertisements and in photography. The station's 30 second entry was submitted earlier in the year and revealed along with thousands of other entries in Doritos' Crash the Super Bowl VIII contest, which closed Sunday at midnight.
"I'm actually an independent film producer and have entered the contest three times before this but I never got anything close to what we've been seeing so far," Dresher said. "When I saw the number of views: 11,000 in five days? That was amazing."
The beleaguered D.C. fire department has made strides to correct deficiencies that led to a series of failures this past year, including slow responses to emergencies and broken equipment on ambulances, an outside consultant has found.
A summary of the report obtained by The Washington Post credits the department with purchasing more ambulances and hiring a civilian with expertise in fleet management.
But the report says improvements are still needed in a number of areas. The fleet division, where the greatest progress has been made, remains “understaffed and improperly utilized,” the consultant found, according to a summary obtained by The Washington Post.
Mr. Jones led the Prince George’s County department from early 2009 — returning to the department after retiring as a major with 25 years of service — through December 2010 when incoming County Executive Rushern L. Baker III opted to replace him. But in the short time he headed the department, Mr. Jones routinely found his policies and cost-cutting measures the target of union scrutiny.
“While Eugene Jones served as chief of the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department, we endured many challenges under his leadership,” said Andrew Pantelis, president of the Prince George’s County Professional Fire Fighters and Paramedics Association. “In his short tenure, we witnessed a significant reduction in staffing which resulted in station closures, increased response times and dangerous work practices.”
While Mr. (IAFF Local 36 president Ed) Smith said he was not familiar with allegations made by the county union about Mr. Jones, he questioned the decision to hire from outside the city and the department.
“It’s just strange because when the confirmation hearings were held for Ellerbe, the city was all about hiring from within. It seems a little hypocritical to me that with One City-One Hire, that they went outside,” Mr. Smith said, referring to a program promoted by Mayor Vincent C. Gray to encourage employers to hire D.C. residents.
Public records indicate Mr. Jones lives in Beltsville and has registered his consulting business, Systems Emergency Preparedness Consultants, there. D.C. officials did not respond for comment about whether Mr. Jones would move into the District as a condition of his employment.
According to the New York Post, the woman the tabloid dubbed the "Teflon probie" failed on her sixth try to run 1.5 miles in less than 12 minutes. Thirty-one year-old Wendy Tapia officially resigned on Thursday and according to an FDNY spokesman, will be heading back at her old job in EMS.
Tapia was one of five women among 285 new firefighters who graduated from the FDNY’s Randall’s Island training academy on May 17. The class of EMTs and paramedics was hailed as one of the most diverse ever.
She was assigned to Engine No. 316 in East Elmhurst, Queens, but never worked a shift. After recovering from a foot injury, she went on light duty and continued training for the run. She failed it five times, last on Halloween, clocking 12 minutes 23 seconds.
Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano, at the behest of United Women Firefighters, a group of active and retired FDNY women, gave Tapia another chance to pass the test on Dec. 2. But on the heels of a Post article on her special treatment, Tapia tried again early, and then threw in the towel.
Starting on Monday the new assistant chief of operations for the DC Fire & EMS Department is former Prince George's County Fire & EMS Department Chief Eugene A. Jones. The information came from a special order by DC Chief Kenneth Ellerbe that has been posted on the website DCFD.com.
Jones departed as PGFD chief in December 2010.
Below are a couple of interviews I conducted with Chief Jones when I was still reporting.
The DriveCam video from the crash involving two Tulsa fire engines on September 25 was released this week in the story above by KOTV-TV. This is the one where earlier this month there was an announcement that two firefighters were demoted and three others were disciplined because four of the eight firefighters were not wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash. There were no injuries from the collision and damage to the rigs is estimated at $200,000.
News On 6 found someone had disabled the buzzers that remind firefighters to buckle up, not just on one or two fire engines, but on the majority of Tulsa Fire Department's fleet.
Two fire trucks collided in downtown, both going 25 miles an hour through a blind intersection. Though both had cameras on board, one was pointed down until the collision.
"I know, for me, it was very sickening to see it, first thinking we would have hurt firefighters or citizens involved, but thankfully that wasn't the case here," said Tulsa Fire Chief Ray Driskell.
What's more, the seatbelt alarms had been disabled on purpose.
Then, a wider inspection found most trucks had been tampered with, so that firefighters could go without seatbelts without hearing the alarm.
"I don't think we want to spend the man hours and resources trying to find out who did what, but I sent out a stern email saying, if anyone is found to tamper with any safety device, a ladder truck or whatever, there will be some action taken against those people, because we won't tolerate that," Driskell said.
In my career I have seen a fair amount of tension at times between law enforcement and the fire service, particularly over who is in charge. But I am not sure I have witnessed anything quite like the press release that came out early this morning from Sheriff Terry Maketa in El Paso County, Colorado. Sheriff Maketa sent the release in reaction to remarks made by Black Forest Fire Chief Bob Harvey who told a reporter for KRDO-TV last night that the Black Forest wildfire in June "was human caused and appears intentional".
In the release, Sheriff Maketa warned that we should not "buy into" Chief Harvey's "unqualified knee jerk claims". Maketa says Harvey's "comments are nothing more than an attempt to mislead the public and a mere witch hunt". He concludes the release by saying, "Chief Harvey's comments are reckless, irresponsible and lack what is in the best interests of the community following this tragedy". Read the entire press release below.
It's rare for law-enforcement officials to release statements after midnight — and rarer still when the purpose of those statements is to tear one of their peers a new one.
But that's what happened at 12:30 a.m. this morning, when El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa issued a rant accusing Black Forest Fire Chief Bob Harvey of irresponsibility when saying this year's incredibly destructive Black Forest fire appeared to have been intentionally set.
EL PASO COUNTY SHERIFF TERRY MAKETA FINDS REMARKS MADE BY FIRE CHIEF DISTURBING
Sheriff Terry Maketa was shocked to see recent reports in the local news media where Black Forest Fire Chief Harvey was quoted concerning the active investigation into the cause of the Black Forest Fire. On more than one media source, Chief Harvey was quoted as saying the cause of the fire had been determined to be “intentional”.
Sheriff Maketa offered these comments concerning the inappropriate remarks.
“Do not buy into Chief Harvey's claims until it's confirmed by the actual agency that has been the lead of the investigation and will base its findings on indisputable scientific evidence that can withstand the scrutiny of the criminal justice system. Right now that isn't the case. His comments are nothing more than an attempt to mislead the public and a mere witch hunt. Numerous national experts and federal resources have been involved in this investigation and have not and cannot substantiate Chief Harvey's unqualified knee jerk claims. "Human caused" has been known for a long time but this Chief is not involved in the investigation nor qualified to offer legal and scientific evidence. He does not know the point of origin and has been less than truthful about other circumstances with this disaster and just may be merely covering his own mishandling of this event in an attempt to avoid responsibility for allowing the fire to get out of hand. Furthermore, this Chief didn't even know homes were burning at a time several were engulfed and never even requested evacuations of nearby households as the fire rapidly grew out of control, clearly placing citizen’s safety in jeopardy. It's an injustice that he has chosen to jump to these unjustified and inconclusive assumptions without any effort to coordinate with local investigative authorities that have expended extensive resources to identify the cause and manner of this serious tragedy. Chief Harvey's comments are reckless, irresponsible and lack what is in the best interests of the community following this tragedy.”
Normally the idea is to make sure the ladder truck isn't blocked from good access to the fire. This time it was the ladder doing the blocking. It happened Wednesday morning in Mukilteo, Washington. Firefighters were delayed getting to a house fire because the first rig in, a ladder truck, couldn't easily navigate the switchbacks leading to the house. The rig ended up blocking access to the burning home for some time. Thanks to Tom Harkin at thebravest.com for pointing us to this story.
Neighbors said it seemed to burn for 45 minutes before firefighters could start getting water on it. It was then put out quickly, but it was too late.
On their way to the blaze in the 6000 block of 88th St. SW, firefighters encountered sharp curves, narrow driveways and winding roads. We counted at last 10 sharp turns that all the fire trucks had to pass to get to where the fire.
"It's just a series of switchbacks in this area," said Assistant Mukilteo Fire Chief Brian McMahan. "Ladder 23 was coming down one of the switchbacks and got to the point they could no longer make the turn."
At a length one-third longer than regular fire trucks, Ladder 23 responded only because several other Mukilteo fire units were busy at another fire. And because it was the very first truck here, it temporarily blocked all other trucks.
Was it delayed long enough to have made the difference? Mukilteo fire officials can't say yet.
This became an issue two-years-ago after the DC Police Department encrypted its radio channels and the fire department shut down its Twitter feed. While that Twitter feed is back up and police department is very active on Twitter, neither agency kept the public or press informed through Twitter during the early stages of the Navy Yard incident. Here's more from Sommer:
Quander says the department is considering a solution that would leave some traffic open while encrypting calls. He cited dispatch calls to emergency as an example of traffic that could stay unencrypted.
While MPD encrypted its radios in 2011, the push to encrypt fire department radios came only after September's Navy Yard massacre, according to Quander. "It puts law enforcement, first responders, and the public in a very precarious position," he says.
Incidentally, if there's any publicly available evidence that Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis listened to emergency broadcasts during his rampage, LL hasn't been able to find it. Quander spokesman Keith St. Clair tells LL that he's not aware of any either, but says that emergency radio streaming on the Internet is "a potentially huge problem."
The firefighter son of the chief of the District Six Fire Department in Crawford County, Arkansas is accused of raping a female firefighter at the firehouse. The rape victim's father is also under arrest, charged with firing shots at the home where the suspect lived with his girlfriend.
“There was a sexual assault … a rape that occurred at the District Six Fire Department on Pleasant Valley Road,” Crawford County Chief Deputy Jim Damante said. “The female claimed she was raped (by a firefighter) in an office in the building.”
Investigators with the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office arrested the firefighter Monday night. Damante identified him as Jimmy Sullivent III, 34. Damante confirmed that the suspect is the son of Jim Sullivent, chief of the District Six Fire Department.
The alleged victim, Damante said, told her father about the rape, which she said happened around 11:30 a.m. The woman’s father traveled to the residence off Mount Grove Road near Alma where Jimmy Sullivent III was at around 6:30 or 7 p.m., Damante said.
“The suspect was standing outside his girlfriend’s house,” Damante said. “The dad fired several rounds at the house. He hit the house several times and hit some vehicles, then fled the scene.”
The incident began as a dispute earlier in the night between the alleged shooter and the intended target, said chief deputy Jimmy Demonte with the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office. The suspect went to the intended victim’s home and fired seven or eight shots at the house, Demonte said.
No one was injured, but the home and some vehicles sustained damage from the fired shots, he said.
5NEWS is not releasing the name of the father who police say fired shots, in order to protect the identity of the alleged rape victim.
I know this will story sound just like one of those fake articles by the folks at Call The Cops, but it isn't. It also isn't April Fools, so I am going to have to believe what I am reading from multiple news reports out of Kilgore, Texas last week. Financial struggles at the Meadowbrook Golf Course has city leaders ditching the management company that was running the facility and putting it under the control of the City of Kilgore Fire Department.
"The city is subsidizing several thousand dollars every year on this. We're fortunate enough as a fire department to be able to enhance and come out and assist the current staff," says Kilgore Fire Chief Johnny Bellows.
On a voluntary basis, firefighters will staff the course clubhouse.
"We're here to make this course run a little bit better and more efficiently. If the people we bring out to the course are needed, we're able to send them out also. They'll be here two at a time, and then they rotate during the day," Bellows says.
In two man shifts, on-duty firefighters will be assigned to Meadowbrook, but not to perform traditional firefighter duties.
"We'll do maintenance work, we'll help out with the chef if we need to serve tables, wait tables, help out with the janitorial services. We do not in any way jeopardize the safety or our response to the community," says Bellows.
For firefighters, its not bad duty.
"We are so excited about it, to be able to come out and intermingle with the community and have the community see us, we're really looking forward to it," says Kilgore firefighter Kelly Vestal.
Fire Chief Johnny Bellows said he and the two other highest ranking chiefs will have their offices at the former country club. Adding three firefighters to the department will allow a crew to also make Meadowbrook its base, he said.
“We actually will be pulling them from the stations,” Bellows said. “In a way, we can almost call this Station 4.”
Except, instead of reading, sleeping or otherwise occupying themselves between emergency calls, the Meadowbrook fire crews will help in the restaurant or where needed, Bellows said.
“If we need to help clean the restaurant and set the tables, we’ll do that,” he said. “Maybe we’ll take orders. I’m excited. Our firefighters are excited. And they definitely are going to have smiles on their faces and greet people that come out to the course.”
The club restaurant might undergo the most significant change. Historically a fine dining venue, it will be renamed the Firehouse Bar & Grill and take on a sports bar atmosphere, Sellers said. Expect three-alarm chili, he added.
The two firefighters, per shift, will be pulled from the fire department’s on-duty backup response team to serve as wait-staff and pro-shop attendants.
“This will not impact response times,” (Kilgore City Manager Scott) Sellers noted.
Assigned to the back-up response team, the two firefighters will only need to respond to incidents if an emergency requires more manpower than Kilgore’s three fire stations can field at a given time. When necessary, the pair will leave the golf course to assist the rest of the department’s complement of firefighters, their Meadowbrook duties filled temporarily by either KFD administrative staffers (newlyhoused at the course) or other personnel at the facility.
“The administrative fire staff currently at City Hall, they will be moving to the golf course, which will provide three bodies up there at any given time to assist,” Sellers explained. “This is a great, great utilization of the resource of our firefighters who are an asset to the city, to the community. They don’t have to be stationed at any one place, per se, while they’re waiting for that fire to occur. They can be anywhere – they might as well be at the course helping.
At about 5:00 PM EST, Washington Times Reporter Andrea Noble reported on Twitter that the wounded firefighter was in surgery. Noble also says that the firefighter is a captain in the DC Fire & EMS Department.
Police say that two firefighters appeared to have been assaulted and one of them was shot.
The incident happened at the 2000 block of Bruce Place, SE around 3:00 p.m. on Saturday when the two firefighters were approached during an attempted robbery. One of them was shot and taken to the hospital with reportedly non-life threatening injuries, police said.
WHAM-TV reports that a 1978 fire that killed 10 people at the Greece, New York Holiday Inn and injured 37 others is again a very active case. Greece Police Chief Todd Baxter says he wants justice to be served.
Recently the police department searched the Greece Ridge Fire Department and the offices of Fire Chief Bud Phillips. Phillps was off duty the night of the fire. At the time he said he was driving by, saw the flames and called for help. The police chief told WHAM-TV what they found was "pretty significant" and there is now a 50/50 chance of solving the case. Click here to watch the story.
Below is some earlier news coverage about the fire investigation that includes a 1978 interview with Bud Phillips.
"I am surprised because I believe the truth is in the statements of the witnesses that night," said Greece Ridge Fire Chief Bud Phillips. "I think 35 years is a long time."
"I understand why people don't want to help people now – but as I've told all of our people: if they found themselves in the same position that they would do the exact same thing, and I would do that exact same thing today," said Phillips.
Sources tell us police took the hard drive from Chief Phillips' computer.
"The stuff they took from here I think most of the stuff they already had," said Phillips.
Phillips told us police also took the department's annual yearbook and 85th anniversary year book that has a section about the fire.
This is an unusual story from Volusia County, Florida where WESH-TV reporter Claire Metz had gone to the home of a 911 center employee to get the woman's side of the story in connection with her suspension over an error involving a fatal heart attack call. Metz says she went to Shauna Justice's door without a camera or microphone and was met by Justice holding a gun in her hand.
Metz had gone to the home of Shauna Justice to get her side of the story. Justice was suspended because her superiors said she was using her cellphone in September while her dispatch trainee took a call. As a result of that call, emergency responders ended up at the wrong address, and the victim suffered a heart attack and ultimately died.
Justice was arrested after the incident involving the WESH 2 News crew at about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. She was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and held on $1,500 bond.
Justice opened the door with a gun in her hand, pointing it at Metz's head, cursing at her and telling her to leave her property, according to Metz.
"The gun was no more than a foot or two from my head, and Ms. Justice held it on me until I backed away to our truck," Metz said.
Bad brakes sent a Memphis fire truck across a parking lot and into a fence while flames ripped through a Midtown apartment complex Friday.
Fire Director Alvin Benson said the truck was inspected by the driver hours before, but there was nothing noticeably wrong with it.“It is an older piece. We have some equipment that dates back to the later 70s,” said Benson.
“Certainly, we have an aging fleet. It’s worn out, beat down and over time responding to emergencies, it needs to be replaced,” said Joe Norman.Norman is with the Memphis Fire Fighters Association.He said the back-up fire trucks are past their shelf life — they are more than 30 years old with too many miles and are a disaster waiting to happen.
Take the time to read this article by Amy Brittain. It’s about Martha Rigsby, a woman who is legendary in the DC Fire & EMS Department. Rigsby is the most frequent user of 911 in the entire time 911 has been in operation in the Nation’s Capital. According to Brittain, 911 has been called for Martha Rigsby 226 in this year alone with 117 trips to the hospital by ambulance. This been going on since 1977.
After all of this time the District of Columbia government is finally taking some action to reduce the amount of resources Rigsby ties up each year. They have gone to court seeking a guardian for the 58-year-old woman.
One thing that sticks out in this article is the detail in which department officials are willing or able to talk about Martha Rigsby. There is no explanation on how they are navigating HIPAA regulations to be able to talk with a reporter about Rigsby’s situation. I don’t recall such openness from the DC Fire & EMS Department about any specific patient since HIPAA’s been around.
These are “uncharted waters,” said David Miramontes, medical director of the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department.Public documents and legal proceedings detail Rigsby’s 911 habits and assessments of her mental state and medical problems. They also reveal continued concerns from D.C. officials about the impact of one woman’s troubles on public-health and safety resources.
According to testimony during the court hearings, Rigsby’s calls follow the same general pattern. She feels faint and collapses. About 40 percent of the time, she dials 911 on her own. Other times, she’s out in the District when passersby see her fall and call for help, the testimony indicated.About 55 percent of the time, she refuses to be transported in an ambulance and signs a waiver allowing emergency responders to leave.
According to court records, Abayomi Jaji, a psychiatrist with the city’s Department of Behavioral Health, said that Rigsby continues “to place herself in real danger of bodily injuries from falls under the claim of ‘seizures’ or ‘Narcolepsy,’ which have never been correlated with medical findings.”Jaji also said that Rigsby lacks the mental capacity to take care of herself as evidenced by “almost every other day calls to 911.”
An apartment fire this afternoon in Memphis resulted in trapped residents and an unusual incident as one of the fire trucks arrving on the scene apparently lost its brakes and crashed into a fence. The snorkel collision (Rescue 2, using a reserve rig) is in the video above and a different angle in the news coverage below. The firefighters were not hurt and went right to work on the fireground.
Fire crews responded to Madison Avenue and North Montgomery Street after a fire roared to life in the 4 p.m. hour. Thick black smoke was seen billowing outside of the multi-story brick apartment building.
Several people were trapped and an elderly woman had to be rescued from the second floor.The fire was on the second floor of the structure and spread to the third floor.Several firefighters from different fire houses around the city responded to the fire.A fire truck responding to the fire lost its brakes and crashed into a fence and concrete barrier. The firefighters, not skipping a beat, jumped out, geared up, and helped out in battling the fire.
This contoversy over a subcription fire department in Surprise, Arizona gets a little complicated. It involves Rural Metro, a for profit company that has filed for bankruptcy. It occurred in an area that is more than 20 miles from Rural Metro’s closest fire station. Rural Metro was also the second fire company to arrive to the fire in an area where there is no written mutual aid agreement. It’s also a location where, according to KSAZ-TV, Rural Metro only recently began marketing its subscription service.
A state senator told the TV station fire service coverage in rural areas of Arizona is a mess and has called for oversight.
Rural Metro charged $1500 for each of the two fire engines it provided and $150 per hour for each of the firefighters.
I urge you to watch the video above and read the entire article from Jill Monier at KSAZ-TV about the fire that destroyed Justin Purcell’s home. Here’s an excerpt:
The bill shows one truck stayed on scene for six hours, a second truck was there for four. Each truck included three firefighters.
“Those numbers are set based on 65 years on tradition buying equipment, training, operating a fire service,” said Colin Williams, public information officer for Rural Metro.
“In this case, firefighters responded, they did receive mutual aid from other departments.. once fire is knocked down and brought under control, Rural Metro units provide the overhaul and do essentially the mop up, if you will — that takes a significant amount of time and resources,” explained Williams.
Surprise firefighters were on the scene within 13 minutes. It took Rural Metro 24 minutes to get there.
The unidentified EMT captured on video restraining a bystander at a sick call is no longer employed by Mobile Medical Response (MMR) in Saginaw, Michigan. The EMT was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation shortly after the October 22 incident in the parking lot of a Family Dollar store. The man being restrained is a cashier with the store, Gregory Barnett, who said he had been trying to direct traffic around the incident when the confrontation occurred. So far, the EMT’s version of the events has not been explained and the video did not show what lead up to Barnett being on the ground.
MMR has never had a situation like this in our 20 years of service and over 900,000 patient interactions. MMR employs over 500 individuals across 10 counties who take our core values of professionalism, respect, integrity, dedication and excellence to heart. This is an isolated incident.
The employment relationship between MMR and the employee involved no longer exists.
Reporter Johnson could not reach Barnett for reaction to the latest development, but this is what the cashier had said previously:
Barnett said he heard someone from MMR say something to him on the day of the altercation, but he was focused on the traffic and wasn’t paying attention.
“The second time, he said, ‘You’re in my (expletive) space,’ so I turned around and asked him, ‘What’s up?’” Barnett said. “He came at me and bumped into me, so I pushed him, and then he threw me to the ground.”
A former Howard County (MD) Department of Fire and Rescue Services battalion chief, Kevin Buker, is suing to get his job back. Buker’s lawyer, Edward Robson, contends that Buker’s First Amendment rights were violated when Buker was fired in March after posting comments to his personal Facebook page while on duty January 20th, a month after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. Here are excerpts from the article by Arthur Hirsch, The Baltimore Sun:
Edward S. Robson, Buker’s lead lawyer, said the county made it “very clear” in his termination notice that “the reason they terminated him was because of the substance of his comments on Facebook,” not because he was spending time on social media while on duty.
Howard County Solicitor Margaret Ann Nolan said in an email that “the employment action taken did not violate the law; the specific arguments in support of that defense will be set out in our written response filed in court.”
Using his personal Facebook page that did not identify him as a member of the county fire department, the court document says Buker posted: “My aide had an outstanding idea. … Let’s kill someone with a liberal … then maybe we can get them outlawed too! Think of the satisfaction of beating a liberal with another liberal. … Its almost poetic.”
One of Buker’s Facebook friends, Mark Grutzmacher, responded online, saying, “But … was it an [assault] liberal’? Gotta pick a fat one, those are the ‘high capacity’ ones. Oh pick a black one, those are more ‘scary.’ Sorry, had to perfect on a cool idea!”
Buker “liked” Grutzmacher’s comment, adding, “Too cool, Mark Grutzmacher.”