NOTE: The City of Phoenix also lost a police officer today. Officer Daryl Raetz was also pronounced dead at St. Joseph’s Hospital. He had been hit by a vehicle that fled the scene at an incident in West Phoenix (scene video here).
23-year-old Bradley Harper had just finished fighting a mulch fire in south Phoenix Saturday night, when a fire truck and ambulance tried to pass each other on a narrow road. Harper, who was taking off his gear at the time, found himself pinned between the two vehicles.
He would later be pronounced dead following his arrival at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
“When you’re one of us, you really love these people,” said Phoenix Fire chief Bob Khan. “It’s an uncommon bond.”
Phoenix lost two first-responders Sunday as a firefighter who was wounded in a mulch fire died from his injuries and a police officer was killed in a hit-and-run incident in west Phoenix, authorities said.
The police officer, identified as Daryl Raetz, was killed early Sunday in an incident at 51st and Cambridge avenues, just south of Thomas Road. Authorities said the driver of the vehicle that struck the officer fled.
Raetz, 29, was a veteran of the Iraq War, officials said. He was pronounced dead at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center.
Department officials said the firefighter was trapped between two emergency vehicles and was transported to the hospital in extremely critical condition. The Phoenix Police Department is investigating the accident, which happened around 5:30 p.m. in the area of 39th Avenue and Miami Street. The fire department was responding to a fire at a fertilizer company, according to fire officials.
Phoenix police said crews were repositioning several trucks when the firefighter became pinned. It’s still unclear exactly how that happened.
Saturday night firefighters were huddled outside the entrance of the emergency room at the hospital while the young man’s wife and parents waited inside.
Phoenix Fire Chief Bob Khan described the firefighter as resilient. Khan said the 23-year-old had been a member of the department for two years and that he volunteered to be assigned to Phoenix’s busiest fire unit.
Glenn Usdin is on a roll with his FireTruckBlog.com this week. The picture above is of something else that was on a roll. Click here to check out FireTruckblog.com’s story about firefighters at the Oakwood VFD in Putnam County losing their rig while drafting as they tested a pump that had malfunctioned at a fire the night before.
Today Glenn also has the story of the tower that malfunctioned in Green Valley, Arizona during a demonstration for four local citizens who won a contest. The tower quickly retracted about 40 feet leaving some of the citizens and the firefighter in the bucket with broken bones and bruises. Check out the story.
Country music singer Lee Brice was sleeping inside his tour bus with other musicians when it caught fire Saturday around 11:45 AM. The bus had just arrived in Mesa outside Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill when the fire was discovered. Everyone made it out safely.
While I was quite busy yesterday gathering material for a very, very special Thanksgiving Day message that will soon be posted (in it I will reveal something that may shake the world of fire and EMS blogging) two of my blogging colleauges were actually finding dramatic must see videos.
Above is video from Anthem, Arizona that Firefighter Spot posted showing a burning box truck running into the fire engine that was working on extinguishing the flames.
That's Daniel Schmidt on the left in the picture taken by Arizona's Pinal County Sheriff's Office after Schmidt's arrest. The picture on the right was a self portrait by Schmidt as he modeled a helmet from Regional Fire Rescue in Casa Grande.
The picture on the right lead directly to the picture on the left being taken. It is another story of someone being so obsessed with letting the world know their every move through social media they lose common sense (not that there appears there was much there to start with).
Last Sunday, four Kenwood radios, two pick-head axes, a helmet and an LED flashlight were taken from a Regional Fire Rescue fire engine that was parked outside at a fire station in Casa Grande. The stolen items were valued at $1,600.
On Monday, Pinal County Sheriff's detectives distributed flyers throughout the neighborhood in hopes of catching the person responsible.
Deputies didn't have to do much more than that because someone phoned Regional Fire Rescue Chief Steve Kerber that they knew who did the crime. It didn't take Sherlock Holmes to figure this one out. News reports indicate the 23-year-old Schmidt used texting and his Facebook status to let his friends know that he stole gear from the fire department and provided the photographic evidence to prove it.
According to the reports, Schmidt told deputies he was drunk when he stole the stuff from the fire truck. But my question is was he sober when he posted it the evidence on Facebook?
This is from a fire Friday at Friedman Recycling, located along the railroad tracks near 35th Avenue and Lincoln Street in Phoenix. The fire went to two-alarms, forced the shut down of the Union Pacific tracks, caused evacuations of nearby businesses and sent ash over downtown. KPNX-TV reports that it was mostly stacks of cardbord burning in the large storage yard. Wind gusts in excess of 20 mph fanned the fire.
In the two videos below, you will notice the photographer gets on top of nearby rail cars to get his shots.
Tucson Fire Department Station 6 houses MMRS. From department website.
Mark Ekstrum, a 28-year veteran of the Tucson Fire Department, retired two days after refusing to respond to the shooting scene where U.S. Rep. Garbrielle Giffords and 12 others were wounded and six people were killed. The retirement came as disciplinary procedures had been started, according to the Arizona Daily Star. The paper has city memos it received in a public-records request.
The paper reports that Ekstrum was part of a specially trained team that handles mass casualty incidents and was dispatched to the shopping center about 90-minutes after the January 8 shootings. The memos indicate the refusal caused “confusion and delay” as another firefighter had to be picked up from a different station to respond to the call. In statements to the Daily Star the department downplayed the delay issue. The Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS) from Station 6 responded non-emergency to the scene after the last patient was already delivered to the hospital.
In a Jan. 9 report on Ekstrum’s actions, fire Capt. Ben Williams wrote that when Ekstrum first told him he would not go out on the call, “he mentioned something about ‘political bantering’ and he did not want to be part of it.” He said he was acting “for the good of the crew.”
Williams said he told Ekstrum he could not refuse a call for that reason, and then talked to the firefighter privately in his office. He said Ekstrum “started to say something about how he had a much different political viewpoint than the rest of the crew and he was concerned.” Despite being told that was not acceptable, Williams said Ekstrum informed him he was going home “sick,” so they answered the call without him.
In a statement provided to the Fire Department late Wednesday, after he was contacted by the Star about the incident, Ekstrum said he was distraught over the shootings and had no problem with U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who is recovering from a bullet wound to the brain, and even voted for her in the last election.
After the crew returned from the call, Ekstrum was waiting at the station with his wife and asked if he could come in to apologize to the crew, the memo said. The crew accepted his apology, and then Williams talked in his office with Ekstrum and his wife.
“He stated that there were underlying issues regarding the call that brought up a lot of anger and made him ineffective as a firefighter,” the memo said. “I told him that as his captain I had lost confidence in his future ability to perform his duties. He stated that he felt this call was unique and did not think this would happen again.”
UPDATE – Local TV is now reporting 18 people injured in the Tucson shooting. A University Medical Center spokesman now says that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was shot once in the head with an entry and exit wound. She has been through initial surgery and doctors are optimistic about her recovery. This, despite earlier network news reports that Rep. Giffords had died.
UMC reports a nine-year-old child is among the dead.
The surgeon who operated on Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords said he was “optimistic” she would recover from being shot in the head by a man with a semi-automatic weapon outside a grocery store.
Federal law enforcement sources said that John M. Roll, the senior U.S. District judge in Arizona, was shot and killed in the incident. The Pima County Sheriff’s office said that five others including a nine-year-old child had died, and a total of 18 people were injured.
In brief public remarks, President Obama said he had dispatched F.B.I. director Robert Mueller to the scene.
A 22-year old man was taken into custody after being tackled by people in the small crowd after the shooting. One pistol was recovered and it had what police described as “an extended clip.”
The man was identified as Jared Loughner, who appears to have left a trail of Internet postings, including some that express convoluted observations about government. Law enforcement officials said they believed he was a military veteran.
Giffords, who in November narrowly won reelection to a third term, was hosting her first “Congress on Your Corner” event when a gunman ran up and began shooting her and others in her entourage with a Glock handgun, according to law enforcement sources.
President Barack Obama said Saturday that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is gravely wounded after being shot at an event in Tucson Saturday morning.
Arizona law enforcement official say a gunman in the crowd shot Giffords, a 40-year-old Democrat, and a person in the crowd shot at the gunman. The Associated Press identified the gunman as Jared Laughner.
Five others have reportedly been killed after the shooting at a Safeway in northwest Tucson at Ina and Oracle roads.
Arizona state Sen. Linda Lopez, who is at University Medical Center in Tucson, said she spoke to Giffords’ parents and that they said she is in the emergency room undergoing surgery and is in very serious condition.
But conflicting reports abound: CNN, FOX and NPR news, as well as KOVA-TV in Tucson, report that the congresswoman is dead; but MSNBC interviewed the Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik and he said as of 12:25 p.m., she was still alive.A
At least four people are dead, University Medical Center spokesman Darci Slaten said. They were among five to seven people who were being treated.
A fascinating video: A delivery man spotted a small apartment fire yesterday in Racine, Wisconsin. Being a good citizen he went inside and started alerting neighbors by banging on doors. Good for him. But as we know, it isn’t just good enough to do that in the modern times we live in. The incident would not have officially occurred if there wasn’t video of the man’s actions. Thankfully that video exists. It is courtesy of the same delivery man. He provides narration, and a couple shots of himself in action. He who is soon joined by a police officer who beats the fire department to the scene. Long ago I predicted, that with all of the cameras and the need to shoot everything, we would soon have a rescue where both the rescuer and rescuee were taking video. We are not there yet. But I think we have officially taken a step closer to reaching my goal.
Strut alert: If you missed it, with the help of Firefighter Close Calls, we have posted raw dashcam video of a vehicle fire this summer in Austin, Texas. It shows a number of small explosions, including struts becoming flying missiles. Click here for the video.
I don’t like Dave Slater: Who can blame him? But that’s one of the many comments sent in about my position on the video of the trooper from Connecticut’s confrontation with a news photographer. I am clearly in a losing battle, but I am going down fighting as I almost single-handedly try to be the protector of our Constitution and way of life. And when I say losing, I’m losing big time. The vast majority of the people writing in think whether a citizen or the press can roll video at an emergency scene is not (or should not be) protected under our First Amendment, but instead is a decision we have handed over to the government in the form of first responders. That scares me for so many reasons. But I answer each one who writes in with a variety of arguments about why that’s not a good idea. I also point out that even though you may believe that’s how it works, the law of the land as determined by the people who formed our government, says otherwise. Maybe what amazes me more is that a news photographer, who is standing with the public and not up close to the working first responders at a fatal crash, is made out to the devil. All you see on his raw, unedited video is a burning car, with the body already gone. Many of the writers indicate the press should not roll video at any scene where someone has died. I know I am an insensitive, biased, former reporter jerk for thinking that our freedoms in this country overrides what offends people. There’s a lot more to what many think are really stupid arguments by me. Read it for youself.
Firefighter in two states and suspected arsonist in both: Both Pennsylvania and West Virginia authorities have neen investigating a volunteer firefighter for possibly setting fires. Charges have already been brought in Pennsylvania. Read the details.
Montgomery County, Maryland firefighter breaks leg while hitting hydrant: The Washington Post reports the lay-out man during an electrical fire in Silver Spring found his leg wrapped in the hose. Here’s a few details.
More fire videos for you: Dayton, Kentucky found five frozen hydrants as firefighter tried to handle two homes burning. Click here. Helmet-cam video from West Plains, Missouri. Click here. Hackensack, New Jersey two-alarm house fire. Click here.
Republican filibuster blocks 9-11 health bill: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg calls it “a devastating indictment of Washington politics, a tragic example of partisan politics trumping patriotism.” Senate republicans blocked the 9-11 health bill in its first key senate vote by “sticking to a party pledge to block anything until the tax deal extending the Bush-era cuts for the wealthy passes”. Here are the details from the New York Daily news.
Tombstone volunteer jumps into action as his own home burns: An interesting story from Arizona about a disabled volunteer firefighter and a fire that destroyed his apartment & his pickup truck. But he went to work trying to keep the fire from spreading. Here it is.
I am sure many of you have seen this 1990 video produced by the Phoenix Fire Department about a close call the previous year for the crew from Ladder 27. Some dramatic video and an interesting story courtesy of YouTube.
A neighbor began rolling about seven minutes before the arrival of the Tucson Fire Department yesterday when a house caught fire at 1341 N. Echo Place. On the video you hear reference to two women who lived in the home who were safe. What isn’t said is that one of those women suffered serious burns while attempting to fight the fire. Indications are this started as a kitchen fire. Click here for news reports about the fire.
Mountain Thunder sparks a major blaze: An annual gathering of motorcyclists in the Catskills was interrupted by a fire at the dining hall of the Blackthorne resort on Saturday. Click here and here for more video and here for Firegeezer’s details about the fire.
Elvis has left the building and jumped into his car with lights and siren. A must see video of a man accused of impersonating a firefighter: This is truly one of the strangest fire stories I have seen in a while. In New Zealand, Elvis Piggot was recently arrested for dressing up as a firefighter and showing up at car crashes in his vehicle decked out with lights, sirens and a fire insignia. Elvis decided to go public with his side of things. It turns out he had been a firefighter in two departments many years ago, but in both cases it ended poorly after just a few months. This is a case where telling your own story may not have been the best idea. Click here to watch this rather interesting video.
PGFD house fire video sparks debate: As if that is a surprise. We posted the video yesterday of a fire two weeks ago in Boulevard Heights, Maryland. There are already more than 35 comments about tactics. As usual, some of the remarks are interesting and well thought out. Some are just about my hose being bigger than yours. Read at your own risk.
Drinking policy for volunteers scrutinized in South Dakota after arrest of firefighter: Two weeks ago a Madison, South Dakota firefighter was arrested on a DUI charge after driving a fire truck to a call. The firefighter had just finished his shift working at a local bar. The arrest has sparked controversy and has prompted a local paper to look closely at drinking policies among the state’s volunteer departments (along with a few other issues). Click here for the article.
Dave’s been a bad boy: Even though I am no longer the one digging up stories about the fire service in the Washington area, some think I shouldn’t be linking or posting stories on the blog from other news organizations that aren’t flattering to firefighters. That’s the reaction of a few after I posted the naked chef story from DC. Here’s the story and the comments.
Community shows appreciation for the work of firefighters: The firefighters and other first responders who handled the Fourmile Canyon fire in Colorado were celebrated by a grateful public with a mile-long parade through Boulder yesterday. Read more.
No parade here – union official wants to know how the public image of firefighters took a dive in the nine years since 9-11: In a battle with New Jersey’s governor over pensions and benefits a letter to the editor from the president of Fireman’s Mutual Benevolent Association Local 46 asks for the public’s support, saying they are the same firefighters who the community looked up to after 9-11. Read the letter.
Some pension relief in Arizona was ignored: Dozens of communities and fire districts in Arizona failed to apply for state tax dollars to offset some firefighter pension liabilities. Here’s the story.
$2 million and 37 firefighters could go in Gary, Indiana: It isn’t a pretty budget picture for the fire department in a city that continues to struggle with money issues. Check it out.
Newspaper profiles one of our regulars: The Southeast Missourian takes a look at Cape Girardeau, Missouri fire training coordinator John Sachen who has been known to lurk on this site. Click here.
One burned in San Francisco apartment fire: A neighbor’s roof top video of a fire during the noon hour in Haight Ashbury on Monday that injured an occupant of a second-floor apartment.
The STATter911.com family heads to Chicago: I guess it is appropriate that the video above is from San Francisco because that is where our journey began on August 6. Currently Sam, Hillary and Dave are in Dubuque, Iowa, heading out today for four days at Fire Rescue International in Chicago. Along the way we saw some spectacular sights and had many wonderful moments. In the coming weeks I plan to share some fire related photos and videos that I gathered during our journey, like the one on the left when San Francisco Fire Engine Tours & Adventures took us on a tour of the city in a 1955 Mack pumper. Because of the travel, as we warned, the blog postings have been reduced. Thank you for your patience and understanding. I don’t expect to get back into my usual unreliable pattern of posting until next week.
One you should attend in Chicago: If you manage a behavioral health program for a fire department or are a chief officer, peer program manager or EAP professional make sure you get to “Focus Group on New Protocol for Firefighter Behavioral Health – Initiative 13″. Its on Friday from 12:30 to 2:30 in room N230a at McCormick Place. If you need more information contact Dr. JoEllen Kelly at email@example.com.
New fire chief in Houston: The Houston Chronicle and other new outlets are reporting Terry Garrison will be the new chief of the Houston Fire Department. Retired after a 30-year-career in Phoenix, Chief Garrison more recently has been doing the chief thing in Oceanside, California and the Daisy Mountain Fire District in New River, Arizona. Read more.
Triple fatal fire in the Charleston, SC area: Around 9:00 last night a mother and her young twin boys died in a fire in West Ashley, a Charleston suburb. The St. Andrews Fire Department and Charleston Fire Department responded. SConFire.com is on top of the story.
Honors for Tom Carr: As many of you already know from other sources while Dave was distracted by his intimate relationship with the GPS lady, our friend Tom Carr, chief of the Charleston Fire Department (mentioned above), has been named by Fire Chief as the 2010 Career Fire Chief of the Year. A much deserved honor for a man I first met when he was a lieutenant in Montgomery County, Maryland. While we are at it, congratulations to Timothy S. Wall of the North Farms Volunteer Fire Department in North Wallingford, Connecticut who is the 2010 Volunteer Fire Chief of the Year.
Iron and Steel doesn’t make it to Washington but will come close: This weekend steel from the World Trade Center will be escorted to the Pentagon. You may recall the dispute that surfaced in June after the organizers and the DC Fire & EMS Department did not come to terms for this event (click here). The Arlington County Fire Department, under the leadership of Chief Jim Schwartz, stepped in and will host the event. Click here for the weekend schedule.
A much better view of the CNG bus burning in Maryland: We have now posted almost seven minutes of continuous raw video from Friday’s Metrobus fire in Anne Arundel County. It begins just before the first engine pulls up. Despite offering a better representation of what was there when firefighters arrived, I am not sure it is going to change too many minds in our comments section. What could have been an interesting discussion over the use of master streams in this type of situation has turned into the type of Internet free-for-all that can cause brain damage ( if taken too seriously). I just want to apologize ahead of time in case you stumble upon it. Much more interesting is the updated video.
Chief fired over disposal of stillborn babies: We have reported on fire chiefs being fired for many, many reasons, but this is one we have never heard before. WBRC-TV is reporting that in Odenville, Alabama Chief David Davis claimed he was just following protocol when he flushed twin stillborn babies down the toilet. Mayor Buck Christian fired Davis and the Odenville City Council unanimously approved that decision.
But it’s the news media’s fault in Detroit: Thank goodness for the Geezerman. At least Firegeezer Bill doesn’t leave his readers high and dry while he goes gallivanting across the country. Clearly a man with a much better work ethic than I have, Bill Schumm has been posting some great stories at Firegeezer.com. The most disturbing one comes from Detroit. On August 9 I shared the story about Mayor Dave Bing’s administration’s issues with media ride-alongs and attempts to create a new policy. You may recall in the same posting I also disagreed with a documentary producer’s opinion that the news media is the problem in Detroit (at the same time supporting the producer’s efforts to show us the firefighters of Detroit). Well, the nasty news media is at it again. This time they have the nerve to tell people that 31 of 45 ambulances are broken. A TV station shows some people, like the recently injured Detroit firefighters, who didn’t get to the hospital by ambulance. Here’s Bill’s well written look at this tragedy.
Security guard as firefighter didn’t work out so good: In Utica, New York Saturday night firefighters arriving at a State of New York State office building for an automatic alarm were waved off by the security guard who said it was just another malfunctioning alarm. There had been several in the last week. The firefighters were heading back to the station when they were redispatched for a fire in the computer room that did significant damage. Read more from UticaOD.com.
Backdraft in Tempe, Arizona?: Fire officials say the firefighters were very lucky the injuries to three firefighters were minor during a fire in a 1940s house Sunday morning. Some are describing it as a backdraft that blew a firefighter out a door, split a block header, broke casement windows, and damaged the front door. Here’s more.
Firefighter wins residency battle: A hearing officer agrees that Michael Ortiz is following the rules that he live in Lynn, Massachusetts. But Ortiz has other issues to deal with in efforts to keep his job. Read the details.
Firehouse Expo: It was great seeing lots of people in Baltimore. If you scroll through Firegeezer, The Fire Critic and Fire Daily you will see some of the antics in Booth 738. You can also hear some of them on Firefighter Netcast. FossilMedic Mike Ward also writes about the controversy over the damage done a year earlier at the city’s Hilton Hotel adjacent to the Convention Center. Also, thanks to our good friend Mike Legeros for his usual wonderful pictures (like the one to the right).
Helping firefighters cope: At Firehouse Expo on Friday, as part of my work at the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, I sat in on the briefing by Kansas City, Missouri’s Richard Gist on the new ways to help firefighters deal with potentially traumatic events. If you have the opportunity to see this at Fire Rescue International or elsewhere, do so. It is a lot less clinical than you would imagine and further makes the case that one size doesn’t fit all. Dr. Gist, with the help of Vickie Taylor of Prince William County, Virginia, lays out a fairly direct and uncomplicated plan for fire departments to move in this direction. Glenn Smith writes about it in Charleston’s Post & Courier.
Early house fire video: A neighbor began shooting and narrating a few minutes before the fire department arrives at this house fire last Wednesday on McKendree Lake Drive in Lawrenceville, Georgia (Gwinnett County). Click here for Part 2 of the video.
Ohio firefighter shot: Police are investigating a home invasion robbery that left East Cleveland Firefighter Jonathan Alexander in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the back. Three men have been arrested. Click here to watch the story.
FDNY radio traffic from Ferry crash: FireSceneAudio.com has the audio of the operations during the mass casualty incident at the Staten Island Ferry on Saturday. Click here.
FDNY didn’t have street on its maps: The New York Post reports that Van Nostrand Court in Queens has now been drawn in on some maps used by the FDNY after an incident a week ago where firefighters took 37 minutes to get to an EMS call. A Flushing Hospital EMS crew coming from a further distance also apparently had some difficulty in finding the address but beat the fire engine in. The patient died. The family does not blame the firefighters but thinks there needs to be some changes made. Here’s the story.
Quick Takes: There was so much news on Friday and early Saturday we did a rare weekend Quick Takes (it is also because you didn’t do one on Friday, dummy). If you missed the large fire in Salamanca, New York, the raw video of the fire at a Maryland congressman’s property, the Jet Ski rescue in Tennessee and much more, click here.
Explosions caught on video: An early security camera video shows two explosions at a house in Taiwan and some early video of fire department operations. Check it out.
Fallen Phoenix firefighter honored: On the site where he died nine years ago, a learning center has been dedicated to the memory of Firefighter Bret Tarver. Read the story.
Firefighter smoking ban banned: An arbitrator has thrown out a smoking ban for firefighters in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin saying it is overly broad. Read details.
Two-alarms in Virginia Beach: Both Firegeezer and Martin Grube at FireRescueTV.com have coverage of a two-alarm apartment building fire early this morning. Recently I have been enjoying looking through Martin’s History of the Virginia Beach Fire Department that he sent to STATter911.com’s world headquarters. Click here to find out more about the book.
Red light district: Firefighter Close Calls just posted a video reminding us how many drivers out there are apparently doing things besides operating the vehicle when they are behind the wheel. It is a compilation of mostly red light runners that has been out for a while on YouTube, but is well worth a second (or first) look. Click here.
Insurance premiums rising: In West Virginia volunteer fire department officials are complaining about sudden jumps in premiums for workers’ compensation insurance. In at least one case it has doubled. Here’s the story.
Engine & ladder truck damaged at 3-alarm fire in Atlanta: Lots of fire and some water supply issues made for a difficult time for Atlanta firefighters on Sunday as they battled this fire in an apartment building under construction. Two rigs suffered damage from the heat.
More raw video of early rescues at Manhattan 7-alarm fire: We started following this one before midnight with the live audio and the first citizen YouTube videos. We now have lots more video (including another view of the early rescues and a spectacular HD clip at the height of the fire) from the fire at 283 Grand Street that left at least three resident and two dozen firefighters injured. Fireground audio has also been added. Click here for our coverage. Also, WUSA9.com’s Emily Cyr put together a slideshow of images from the fire.
Annapolis chief reluctantly suggests cutting staff: Chief Doug Remaley admits it will reduce response times, but sees cutting staff as a better alternative than slashing supply and training budgets. Read the story.
Some must see vintage video: I am sure many of you have seen this 1991 video from Springfield, Massachusetts showing a very close call for a firefighter from Rescue 1. I hadn’t. It is well worth a second look.
Controversy in Baltimore over firefighter’s injury and PIO comments: IAFF Local 734 has been cranking out the press releases as one of its members, Firefighter/Paramedic Jeffrey Novack is on the mend from last week’s fire at 3910 Liberty Heights Avenue. The union makes the case that “firehouse roulette’” played a contributing role in the injuries to Novack and civilians rescued from the apartment fire next to the firehouse. PIO Kevin Cartwright questions that claim and becomes the subject of a follow-up press release. We have all the details here.
Second-alarm in Perth Amboy, New Jersey: Raw video from a fire on Friday, plus a recent demonstration on staffing for the political leaders of the town. Click here.
Two-tiered troubles: In Flagstaff, Arizona the Daily Sun’s editorial board looks at various possibilities for the future of EMS responses in tight budget times. This comes after the paper ran recent articles looking at how fire, police and Guardian Medical Transport all have a role in EMS. Here’s the editorial. The articles are here and here.
Women make Houston history: In case you missed it, in the middle of continuing issues over its dealings with women firefighters, the Houston Fire Department had its first all female engine crew running last week. Check it out.
Another firefighter arson case: There seems to be a lot of them making the news again. This time it is in Central City, Pennsylvania where a firefighter has been arrested for a fire in a vacant structure Saturday morning. Here’s the story.
Government agencies in twin polygamous communities along the Utah-Arizona border were served Tuesday with search warrants seeking evidence on suspected misuse of public funds, authorities said.
Photo by Mark Havnes, Salt Lake Tribune
The Mohave County Sheriff’s Office said warrants were served at fire stations and private residences in Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah.
“There’s an investigation being conducted by the county attorney’s office at this time for a possible misuse of public funds and fraudulent schemes at the fire department and possibly the city government,” Sheriff Tom Sheahan told The Associated Press.
Sheahan said the allegations were specific to City Manager David Darger and Fire Chief Jake Barlow, both in Colorado City. Telephones messages left for the two officials were not immediately returned.
No one was arrested, and Sheahan said officers were expected to wrap up the searches later in the day.
Investigators were looking for documents and computers files, including financial records at both the offices and homes of Barlow and Darger, Sheahan said.
The twin communities are home to members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, an embattled religious sect that follows Warren Jeffs, a church leader serving prison time after being convicted of rape as an accomplice in the marriage of a 14-year-old follower to her 19-year-old cousin.
Management of the twin towns and the FLDS have been under increasing scrutiny since 2005, following allegations of an increase in underage marriages and misuse of a church property trust.
Five warrants were served in Colorado City — three at fire stations and one each at the homes of Darger and Barlow. The lone Utah warrant was served on the Hildale fire station.
Sheahan said officers had to forcibly enter one home after residents refused requests from police to open the doors.
A Washington County Sheriff's Office vehicle ata Hildale, Utah fire station today. Photo by Jud Burkett, The Spectrum
Salt Lake City attorney Rod Parker, who represents the FLDS, said he had not yet seen the warrants and was unclear about the scope of information being sought.
The FLDS founded the twin towns in the mid-20th century, and its members make up the majority of residents, operate most businesses and work in all levels of city government and services.
The FLDS practice polygamy in arranged marriages, a tradition tied to the early theology of the mainstream Mormon church. Mormons denounced the practice in the 1890s.
The faith is engaged in a protracted legal battle with the attorneys general of Utah and Arizona for control of the $110 million church trust.
Jeffs, 53, resigned as president of the FLDS church in 2007 but is believed to remains the faith’s ecclesiastical leader.
He is currently in Mohave County Jail awaiting two criminal trials related to the underage marriage of sect girls. He is already serving two consecutive sentences of five years to life on the Utah conviction of rape as an accomplice.
In 2008, Texas authorities raided an FLDS ranch in Eldorado. More than 430 children were temporarily in state custody after the raid, which also resulted in the filing of criminal charges adjacent a dozen sect men, including Jeffs.
It was unclear how the fire department would respond to emergencies while the operation was underway, said Barlow, reached by telephone.
“They will not let the volunteers into the stations or the offices where they are taking information,” said Barlow, reached by telephone. “This is over the top for anything they have the right to do. They are interfering with the public safety of thousands of people. I’m trusting that the staff and battalion chief have it under control.”
However, investigators had fire personnel move their equipment outside the buildings so they could respond to any calls that may come in.
Barlow said that over the past two years the department has complied with numerous subpoenas for information by Arizona authorities based on an unspecified allegation.
The warrants apparently authorized removal of computers and records and, while the investigation was launched by Arizona officials, were signed by judges in both states, said Rod Parker, a Salt Lake City attorney. Parker does not represent the fire department but has represented other FLDS members in court matters.
The Colorado City Fire Department serves the Utah side of the community through an interlocal agreement. In addition to the main station, there are three substations — two in Colorado City and a third in Hildale. The fire department has about six full-time staff and 100 trained volunteer emergency medical technicians, firefighters and paramedics.
Onlookers, including some of the department’s volunteer firefighters, gathered outside the main station this morning, photographing and videotaping the operation. Many other residents were driving by the station.
“We’ve always been good for the county and the state and now they want us to go away,” said Brian Meldrum, a volunteer firefighter.
Glen Jeffs, also a volunteer firefighter, said authorities were “on a fishing trip looking for something.”
The fire that started Wednesday and consumed thousands of wooden pallets and damaged buildings was under control and cleaned up by 2 a.m. Thursday morning.
Almost 100 firefighters worked on the second-alarm fire in Phoenix for nearly eight hours
The fire started in stacks of the wooden pallets that surrounded an industrial building near 43rd Avenue and Roeser Road in Phoenix, Public Information Officer for the Phoenix Fire Department, Captain Tony Mure, said.
Firefighters arrived at the fire around 6 p.m Wednesday afternoon and according to Mure, they were able to tame the fire around 9:30 p.m.
The crew also heard explosions while trying to calm the flames. Mure said that is likely because there are chemicals and solvents in industrial areas.
The pallets surrounded the building and Phoenix Fire Department Chief Frank Salomon said pallets are used to hold barrels containing chemicals and can be dangerous. Once the pallets burn, the smoke can be very dangerous to breathe in because of the chemicals.
Firefighters were at the scene mopping up ashes and making sure all the fire was out until around 2 a.m.
A couple of buildings, a tractor trailer and multiple fork lifts were damaged due to the fire, Mure said.
Employees of the companies were in the building at the time.
No injuries with employees or firefighters were reported.
The fire was hard to put out apparently due to the high winds and the shortage of water in hydrants, Mure said.
43rd Avenue between Broadway Road and Southern Avenue were closed down while the fire was still burning.
The Phoenix Police Department’s internal affairs unit is investigating an incident early Friday in which an officer temporarily handcuffed City Councilman Michael Johnson as the councilman tried to check on a neighbor whose South Phoenix home was on fire.
Police Chief Jack Harris and City Manager David Cavazos scheduled an 11 a.m. news conference at City Hall to discuss the incident, which is being investigated by the police department’s Professional Standards Bureau.
Johnson, a former police officer and homicide detective, said in an interview Friday morning that he believed the police “abused their power” in the incident.
The officer who cuffed him has not been identified.
“Where there is misconduct or perceived misconduct, we as a police department would take this very seriously,” said Assistant Chief Jeri Williams, who oversees all patrols on the south side of the city. “If this had been anyone else in the community, we would have PSB investigate this as well.”
“I don’t believe the officer recognized the councilman,” Williams said. “The arresting officer perceived (that) the councilman wasn’t doing what he asked him to do, but (the councilman) was told by Fire that he could speak to occupants of the residence.”
Phoenix Fire confirmed that department officials gave Williams the go-ahead to proceed into the fire scene to check on the neighbor.
The Phoenix Fire Department received a call at 4:07 a.m. that flames were coming from a single-family residence near 18th Street and Darrel Road, north of Baseline Road. The fire was extinguished at about 4:30 a.m.
Somewhere within that time frame, Johnson, a 21-year veteran of the Phoenix police force, was woken up by the lights and sirens and walked outside to investigate. He was told not to get near his neighbor’s home but to stand in front of his own house, which he said he did.
When a fire battalion chief arrived, Johnson said, he asked if he could approach the blaze two houses down. He said he was concerned about his neighbors’ safety. According to Johnson, he was given permission by the battalion chief to move closer.
Two police officers were standing nearby as Johnson approached. According to the councilman’s version of events, one of two began pushing him back with a hand to the chest. Johnson said he pleaded with the officer, saying he had permission from a battalion chief to be there and didn’t understand why he was being pushed away.
“The other officer was calling him by his first name, telling him to calm down,” Johnson asserted.
As Johnson pleaded his case, he said, the officer told him, “That’s not the way we do it out here,” then put him face down on the ground and cuffed him.
“I was just trying to check on my neighbor. I wasn’t interfering with anything,” Johnson said.
Johnson, who is recovering from prostate surgery, was left face down in handcuffs for roughly 10 minutes until several other fire department officials approached and recognized him, prompting his release. When police asked him to stand, Johnson said he told them he could not because of his recent surgery.
Mariama Thiam-Demba, 58, a neighbor who has lived in the area for more than 10 years, corroborated Johnson’s version of events.
“He came out of his house to see what’s happening in the neighborhood, and he was accosted by police. It’s not right,” Thiam-Demba said.
Johnson, who spent part of his police career covering the same precinct where he lives, later was joined at his home by Williams and Cavazos.
“I requested, and the chief requested, that we investigate what happened,” Williams said.