The fate of a woman living a home levelled by an explosion Monday is unclear.
Monday afternoon, police and firefighters said they consider her missing, while some neighbours say they think she left the house shortly before the explosion and fire erupted.
The rubble of the collapsed house is unsafe to venture into, say police, so it could be days before investigators can venture inside to search it.
Hamilton Police Staff Sgt. Andrew Dunlop said because of the collapse: "It's unsafe to do anything for a few days."
The house, on Wilson Street at Victoria, collapsed about a half hour after the fire started, said Hamilton Fire Department platoon chief Brian Stark. Firefighters had to call off their search for the occupant.
Southern Maryland Newsnet reports five firefighters were taken to the hospital to be checked out after an engine from the Newburg VFD overturned while responding to a motor vehicle collision. The news site reports at least one minor injury. ScanMD has the audio.
New York Post reporter Susan Edelman, who discovered the trail of racial and hate filled tweets that derailed a few careers in FDNY EMS (including FDNY Commissioner Sal Cassano's son), has been focusing her reporting efforts on classes at the FDNY Academy. Edelman's recent reports were on a female probationary firefighter who was dubbed the "Teflon probie" because of the many chances she had been given to complete a running test. Today, Edelman tells us about the 35-year-old ex-rapper Trilain Smith, a probie who has been punished by Commissioner Cassano for his postings about FDNY.
According to Edelman, the 35-year-old Smith had been previously warned about violating the department's social-media policy for postings of sexually suggestive pictures dressed in firefighter gear. Then the Facebook post seen above occurred which included the line, “These n- – -as try to kill you start to finish!”. Smith was not fired by Cassano but he was barred from the graduation ceremony for his class, lost 90-days pay and had his probationary period stretched from 18 months to five years.
On Aug. 1, three days after his training started on Randalls Island, Smith posted several selfies under the name “King Alex” — including one of him bare-chested in his FDNY helmet and bunker gear and another showing his nude torso over an FDNY patch.
“S- -t is REALLLL!! Body OD sore!” he wrote of the drills. “no real lunch break and mfkaz screaming at you all day long.”
A top officer displayed Smith’s photos and obscenity-laced remarks in a blistering speech to the entire class. He admonished each probie to avoid posting anything that could shame the FDNY.
Using the name “Kieon Ibeast,” Smith posted the N-word diatribe to Facebook on Nov. 19. The repeat offense infuriated brass, who wanted him fired, insiders said.
Smith is part of a class that was hailed Thursday as the most racially diverse in FDNY history. Of the 242 firefighters, 24 percent is black, 36 percent is Hispanic.
Of the grads, he is one of 76 “priority hires,” minorities who took the FDNY entrance exam in 1999 and 2000 but were passed over.
Above is video and radio traffic recorded from the dash-cam in the vehicle of Modesto Regional Fire Authority Battalion ChiefAlan Ernst . It was shot yesterday afternoon at an apartment fire. The video below has an interview with Chief Ernst.
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."
Fire broke out Tuesday afternoon on the roof of a downtown Denver parking garage, causing a big black cloud of smoke to billow over the area and cover neighborhoods in smoke. It left three people injured from smoke inhalation, one of whom was hospitalized.
"On the roof over there, they've got that mechanical room that holds a couple of chillers, and that's what was burning, that's what caused all that heavy smoke out there," said Denver Fire Department spokesman Mark Watson.
The parking garage is next to the Warwick Hotel and the 303 E. 17th office building. The fire did not spread to those neighboring buildings, but the office building was evacuated.
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.
A New York City commuter train rounding a riverside curve derailed and came to rest only inches from the water Sunday, killing four people, injuring more than 60 and sending a chain of toppled cars shaped like a backward question mark trailing off the track, authorities said.
Some of the 100 to 150 passengers on the early morning Metro-North train from suburban Poughkeepsie to Manhattan were jolted awake around 7:20 a.m. to screams and the frightening sensation of their compartment rolling over on a bend where the Hudson and Harlem rivers meet in the Bronx. When the motion stopped, four or five of the seven cars were off the rails in the latest, and deadliest, example of this year's troubles for the nation's second-biggest commuter railroad.
"Four people lost their lives today in the holiday season, right after Thanksgiving," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference. Eleven of the injured were believed to be critically injured and another six seriously hurt, according to the Fire Department.
The train operator was among the injured, Cuomo said.
The National Transportation Safety Board was en route to investigate, and Cuomo would not speculate about the causes of the crash until the federal agency issued its findings. Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Thomas F. Prendergast said investigators would look at factors including the train, the track and signal system, the train operators and speed.
The big curve where the derailment occurred is in a slow-speed area. Several injured passengers told The Associated Press that the train seemed to be going too fast as it took the curve near the Spuyten Duyvil station.
Two Brampton homes were damaged in a fire this afternoon that appears to have started in a garage and spread to the neighbour's house, according to Brampton firefighters.
The two-car garage at 2 Copeland Road in the area of McLaughlin Road and Charolais Boulevard was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived just after 2 p.m. The homeowners were alerted to the blaze by someone pounding on their front door. A couple and their two adult children escaped unhurt.
But the fire spread into the home's second floor bedrooms, and through the roof.
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.
Above is video from Ron Roberts of Monday's apartment fire in Levittown, Pennsylvania (Bucks County) where a pregnant woman and her young daughter were found dead. Police report both had been stabbed. Below is radio traffic from Philly FireFeed.
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."
One person is dead and two others suffered life-threatening injuries after a fire broke out at a church in Ocean City.
Fire crews were called to the 3-alarm blaze at St. Paul's By-The-Sea church on Baltimore Avenue around 9:25 a.m. Tuesday. A fire official says when crews arrived, they saw flames coming from the rectory.
Three people were found inside the church; one died at the scene.
Fire crews called to St. Paul's By-The-Sea Episcopal Church at 3rd Street and Baltimore Avenue at around 9 a.m. Tuesday found fire coming from the rectory. The blaze grew to three alarms, but crews were able control the blaze quickly.
Ocean City officials say one person was pronounced dead and two people suffered life-threatening injuries. One of the injured was taken to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore for treatment. The victims' names have not yet been released.
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.
A child is dead following an apartment fire in Dallas Sunday morning, according to a spokesperson for Dallas Fire-Rescue.
A call for the fire came in around 9:15 a.m. from the Casa Flora Apartments in the 2600 block of Highland Road. When firefighters arrived on scene, they entered the second-floor apartment and quickly extinguished the flames, but the child was not able to get out in time.
Firefighters pulled him out of the unit, where he was pronounced dead.
Arson investigators are looking into the cause of a fire early Saturday at a vacant house in Downey, authorities said.
Firefighters responded to the fire about 2:40 a.m. at the house in the 7700 block of Third Street, said Battalion Chief Ed Haupt of the Downey Fire Department. About half of the structure was destroyed.
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.