Twenty-years-ago today I was in New York with my friend and fire buff extraodinaire Vito Maggiolo. For me it was a memorable trip. It included a blimp crash and a chance to see FDNY in action on a very busy day thanks to fireworks. I intitially wrote about this excursion during the first year of STATter911.com.
The July 4, 2007 column also looked at the problems fire chiefs and political leaders face in attempting to deal with fireworks safety. At the time, DC Fire & EMS Department Chief Dennis Rubin had proposed banning all consumer fireworks in the Nation’s Capital. It didn’t go over so well.
So, being totally devoid of any original thinking at this stage in my careeer, I am repeating, for the sixth time, my annual Independence Day column. Please enjoy the day, celebrate our freedoms and those who helped secure them and, above all, be safe.
My video after Pizza Hut’s Big Foot Pizza blimp deflated and landed on an apartment building at 410 W. 53rd Street in Manhattan on July 4, 1993.
From STATter911.com, July 4, 2007
Independence Day in 1993 was one of the stranger days of my life. I had gone with my friend Vito Maggiolo to New York to experience July 4th, usually the busiest day of the year for FDNY.
In the afternoon we were visiting one of Vito’s friends at Manhattan Fire Alarm in Central Park.
As we were sitting around chatting, the phones suddenly began ringing. We were hearing bits and pieces of only one side of the conversation. But the call takers were asking questions with surprised looks on their faces. We heard: “A what?”; “Where”?; “It’s deflating?”; “Over the Hudson?”.
Vito and I raced south and then to the west toward the Hudson River. We arrived just after the first firefighters and saw Pizza Hut’s Bigfoot Pizza Blimp draped over the side of an apartment building. We watched as the two injured crew members were brought down from the roof.
To me, that wasn’t the strangest part of the day. I would save that description for the nighttime tour of Brooklyn with FDNY’s deputy commissioner for public information. To this day I have never seen anything else quite like it.
It seemed as if fireworks were going off on every street. Barrels of fireworks burned in the middle of many blocks. Bottle rockets struck our car. M-80s exploded in trash can after trash can. The radio blared with reports of neighbor’s homes set on fire by fireworks along with numerous reports of injured people.
On one hand it felt as if I had been transported to a war zone. I’ll admit, being new to this, it was a little scary. At the same time, it reminded me of something very beautiful — one of my favorite movies, Barry Levinson‘s “Avalon”.
I came to America in 1914–by way of Philadelphia. That’s where I got off the boat. And then I came to Baltimore. It was the most beautiful place you ever seen in your life. There were lights everywhere! What lights they had! It was a celebration of lights! I thought they were for me, Sam, who was in America. Sam was in America! I know what holiday it was, but there were lights. And I walked under them. The sky exploded, people cheered, there were fireworks! What welcome it was, what a welcome!
This is the long way around to talk about the story I covered yesterday. But I think it is appropriate, because it illustrates the dilemma with fireworks. For many of us they are beautiful and meaningful. At the same time there are serious dangers.
A task force led by D.C. Fire & EMS has been rounding up illegal fireworks in recent days. At a press conference to announce the seizure of a large quantity of fireworks, I asked Chief Dennis Rubin his thoughts on the fireworks that are currently legal in the District. The ones residents are allowed to buy at the almost 70 roadside stands set up in D.C.
As a reporter, I instantly realized Chief Rubin’s answer was the news of the day. To me it overshadowed the talk of arrests and confiscation. Chief Rubin thinks the time may have come to ban all fireworks in the Nation’s Capitol, except those used in licensed public displays.
The fire chief lit the fuse and the reaction was somewhat explosive. James Peters, a retired D.C. fire inspector who runs four stands, would not believe me when I told him what I had learned at the press conference. Later when he realized I wasn’t making it up, Peters expressed anger. But his reaction was mild compared to a few other stand operators I heard from by telephone after the story aired.
Dennis Rubin says it is all about keeping children and everyone else safe. The fireworks stand owners say show me the statistics that indicate “safe and sane fireworks” are a problem in D.C.
The last time the City Council dealt with this issue was in 2004. The bill to outlaw personal fireworks died in committee. But it should be noted that the co-sponsor of that bill is now Dennis Rubin’s boss, Mayor Adrian Fenty.
Historical note: The police chief (not the fire chief) in Washington, D.C. banned all Independence Day fireworks in 1881. That was a one-time only deal due to President James A. Garfield being shot two days only.
It is getting a lot uglier in New York over social media use by those in public safety. Today’s article by Candace M. Giove and Brad Hamilton in the New York Post takes the problem of Social Media Assisted Career Suicide Syndrome (SMACSS) in FDNY EMS beyond the fire commissioner’s son and the lieutenant with the racist tweets.
PLEASE PAY ATTENTION TO THE FOLLOWING: My prediction is this article will be national news by tomorrow and will have reverberations across the country on the use of social media by fire, EMS and police. If you have a similar problem in your own department, my suggestion is to take care of it now before it becomes news. There will soon be reporters everywhere looking for this.
Here’s how the article begins:
The Bad Lieutenant is part of a sick clique.
In addition to uploading racist rants and Nazi nonsense, EMS Lt. Timothy Dluhos also posted pictures of patients, including one of a heavy-set woman with a snarky caption Photoshopped over her wheelchair: “Wide Load.”
Publicizing photos of the ill, injured or dead without permission is a violation of city rules and federal privacy laws, but some first responders can’t resist snapping shots of people they’re supposed to be helping.
The photos of grisly corpses, gruesome wounds or humiliating circumstances provide fodder for mocking and gawking.
You may recall last Sunday’s story where reporter Candace Giove confronted Lt. Dluhos about his hate filled tweets. That’s when Lt. Dluhos, who is now suspended without pay, broke down and cried over the possibility of losing his job. Since then people claiming to be supporters of the lieutenant have targeted Candace Giove with a series of hate filled messages and death threats. Here is an excerpt from the New York Post article by Brad Hamilton:
On Wednesday night, Footer and P-Rock, hosts of an online radio program called “The Red Show,” poured out their admiration for Dluhos.
“I love him,” gushed P-Rock. “He’s a brave motherf–ker, but in the end he’s going to come out fine . . . He’s been cornered as a racist, and that’s not true. Tim’s our guy.”
“The guy’s getting railroaded here,” remarked Footer.
Dluhos called in to thank the radio show for its support. The two hosts then took pot shots at Giove. “Like I said to that dumb c—, ‘He’s out there saving lives!’ ” said Footer.
Then the hosts tried to guess the reporter’s ethnicity: “For me she looked a little yellow, like Middle Eastern. I don’t think she should be allowed to carry a backpack.”
Social Media Assisted Career Suicide Syndrome (SMACSS) seems to be a big problem these days. A week after exposing the tweets that resulted in the resignation from FDNY EMS of the son of Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano, The New York Post is at it again. This time they confronted EMS Lt. Timothy Dluhos about a series of ”racist, sexist, anti-Semitic and anti-Asian comments” on his Twitter feed. Lt. Dluhos broke down and cried.
Susan Edelman and Candace M. Giove wrote they met up with Dluhos on Friday in front of his home. Dluhos is 34-years-old and assigned to the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn. He told the reporters he was sorry and his life is ruined.
In his tweets, Dluhos referred to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg as “King Jew” and “King Heeb”.
* “I’m going to give up racial insults for Lent,” he tweeted Feb. 12. “Jesus that didn’t [last] too long. F–ken chinks can’t drive.”
* “Hahaha! I work with the coloreds,” he wrote in a Feb. 8 exchange. “For 12 years so that s–t just run off on me.”
* “Too bad he didn’t have rabies or AIDS and too bad he didn’t bite King Heeb’s face off,” he tweeted on Groundhog Day, Feb. 2, recalling when the groundhog Staten Island Chuck nipped Bloomberg at an event at the Staten Island Zoo.
* A gold Nazi-era pin with a German U-boat and a swastika is “my most prized artifact,” he boasted on Jan. 30.
* He repeatedly Photoshopped an image of an unnamed black teen — putting a Hitler mustache on one photo and a surgical mask on another with the caption, “I’s be a doxter.”
It comes less than a week after The Post exposed the vile racist and anti-Semitic tweets posted by Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano’s own EMT son. Joseph Cassano, 23, who quit the next day.
I imagine the statute of limitations is long expired on this one. Above is one of three 1990s videos posted to YouTube yesterday by Edmund J. Haemmerle III (the43k) riding along with FDNY’s Ladder 123 in Brooklyn. The best part is at :24 into the video as Ladder 123 leaves quarters and tries to navigate through traffic. According to the description, the officer used the PA for a very direct message to one driver.
Below are the other two videos. Make sure you check out the firehouse tour. Enjoy this look back to almost 20-years-ago.
Neighbor Sidney Mott posted this to YouTube Wednesday with no details.
Always good for an answer to life’s unknowns, BackstepFirefighter.com‘s Bill Carey tells me this fire was in fact on Wednesday and occured at 1441 Pacific Street, near Nostrand and Atlantic on Box 948.
This is one I missed from from November 28 that FirefighterSpot.com recently posted. The video from Me Bradus shows FDNY’s initial attack at an apartment fire in the 200 block of 7th Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
Video from NYRRT84 of a two-alarm fire yesterday evening at 124 57th Street in Brooklyn. The fire was in the basement of a warehouse. There were at least two maydays reported and, according to the New York Post, five firefighters hurt. You will hear on the video attempts to confirm one of the maydays and the order to pull firefighters from the basement for a head count and to regroup.
FDNY spokesman Jim Long made the position of the department very clear to the New York Post asking questions about Firefighter Anthony Harper’s claims he is being ostracized because he’s a vegetarian. Long calls it “nonsense”, telling reporter Philip Messing, “Firehouses across the city have individuals who are vegetarians or who have special diets — i.e., food allergies, etc. — and they are accommodated all the time.”
But Firefighter Harper believes his problems began two-years-ago at Ladder 146 in Greenpoint, Brooklyn when he decided constant firehouse meals with chicken or meat dishes were not good for his health. Harper says opting out of those meals didn’t sit well with fellow firefighters who he says also harassed him about his food choices. Harper believes this all resulted in him being transferred to a desk job at headquarters, is impacting his chances for promotion and caused him to be the only FDNY firefighter written up because he couldn’t get to work from his Staten Island home after Hurricane Sandy.
Will FDNY begin attacking residential basement fires from the exterior through windows rather than interior stairs? Is opening the roof in the initial stages of a fire in a row house a priority? Which is more important to do first, search and rescue or putting water on the fire?
The FDNY is hoping to find the answers to these questions and more as they start burning 20 rowhomes filled with furnishings tomorrow (Monday). An article by Joseph Goldstein in the New York Times, says the materials we now furnish our homes with has FDNY seriously questioning some of its longstanding tactics on residential fires. Goldstein writes the concern is that the use of plastics in things like sofas and mattresses has changed the way a room and its contents burn and that firefighters may need to change the way they approach such fires:
With more plastic in homes, residential fires are now likely to use up all the oxygen in a room before they consume all flammable materials. The resulting smoky, oxygen-deprived fires appear to be going out. But they are actually waiting for an inrush of fresh air, which can come as firefighters cut through roofs and break windows.
Mr. Cassano, the fire commissioner, acknowledged that “ventilation may be hurting people in the fire if we don’t ventilate properly.”
Goldstein interviewed Stephen Kerber from Underwriters Laboratories. UL is taking part in the experiments along with the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Kerber told Goldstein that firefighters always assumed venting meant cooling but they are finding ”that venting doesn’t cool and allows for things to get much hotter”.
And there’s more:
The experiments will test whether another approach, sticking a nozzle through a basement window, is more effective. The Fire Department has long been inclined to fight fires from inside residences, rather than through open windows, based on a belief that the outside method will drive the fire toward other areas of the house, where occupants might be.
The article cites two well known tragic fires related to modern furnishings and ventilation. One is the Sofa Super Store fire in Charleston that took the lives of nine firefighters five-years-ago. The other is the fire last year that critically burned Firefighter Robert Wiedmann at a Crown Heights brownstone.
One chief involved in the experiments told Goldstein he doesn’t expect the findings will lead to an abandonment of aggressive interior firefighting but will alter the way ventilation is done.
This is from the afternoon of Sunday, April 29 in the Brooklyn neighborhood known as DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). Video taken by neighbor Chris Frank. Thanks to Vito Maggiolo for alerting us to the video.
An FDNY spokesman tells us the fire was brought under control at 6:39 p.m., mostly using foam. A Con Ed spokesman confirms there were no injuries, and no customers were affected with outages as a result of the fire, which broke out around 5:15 p.m. Witnesses reported hearing an explosion, which the spokesman attributed to the sound of oil igniting. The cause remains under investigation.
Forty-seven-year-old Lieutenant Richard Nappi of Engine 237, a 17-year veteran of the FDNY, died during a fire reported around 1:00 this afternoon at a warehouse on Flushing Avenue in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. Lt. Nappi was a Bronx native who lived in Suffolk County. He has a wife Mary Anne, a 12-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son. According to a statement from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Lt. Nappi overheated, suffered exhaustion and collapsed.
A veteran city fire lieutenant died of an apparent heart attack on Monday afternoon while battling a three-alarm warehouse blaze in Brooklyn, the authorities said.
Fire Lt. Richard Nappi, 47, was commanding a hose line at the fire, at 930 Flushing Avenue in Bushwick, when he began feeling dizzy, Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano said. He soon went into cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead at Woodhull Medical center at 3:32 p.m., the authorities said.
“This is a very tragic day for New York City,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said at a news conference at Woodhull. “Someone who devoted his life to keeping us safe is no longer with us.”
I am sure many of you recall the video we showed you last September of the attempted rescue of a motorcyclist trapped under a car in Brooklyn when the hydraulic spreaders in the hands of a member of the NYPD Emergency Services Unit didn’t do the trick and the car came crashing down? This occurred while firefighters were attempting to use an air bag to lift the car (click here). Now Bill Carey at BackstepFirefighter.com has come up with a new example of FDNY and ESU sometimes working at cross purposes.
It happened yesterday during a partial scaffolding collapse on East 66th Street in Manhattan. ESU had a police officer rappel off the roof to reach the trapped workers. FDNY handled it in a different way. They opened a window and let the men and the police officer inside the building.
According to WNBC-TV, one of the workers thanked ESU Detective James Coll (interviewed in the stories below) for coming to their aid sending him an email that read, ”You did the most courageous work and I really can’t thank you enough for risking your lives to save us. Thank you again and God bless you.”
Chief Massucci, 48, a 22-year veteran, said firefighters wound up aiding the officer, too. They pulled him in through the same 17th-floor window because he could not climb back up the building’s facade and most likely did not have enough rope to reach the ground, the chief said.
My friend Bill Carey at BackstepFirefighter.com found this interesting video and between the two of us we are going to give the video a lot more views than it deserves. The person taking the video thinks he has a 60 Minutes style expose. To me and many of you, we might as well be watching paint dry.
Shocking news, as noted in the description oberstd9 put with the video-
Five fire fighters of Brooklyn, NY ladder co. 255 take a joy ride in a fire truck to grocery shop at a Brooklyn Shop Rite.
While the man behind the lens knows an injustice when sees one, he doesn't know the difference between an engine company and a ladder company.
As Bill notes, read the comments with the video and you will see just out how outraged this man is.
The good news is that there aren't a lot of people joining him in his displeasure with FDNY on this one. There were only 15 views in 17 days when Bill found it.
Still, the video is a good lesson for everyone. I brought this up three weeks ago when I spoke at the graduation of Arlington County Fire Department Recruit Class 68. While talking about social media ethics, I pointed out that it isn't just what firefighters do while on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter that can cause problems. They will also be under the watchful eye of citizens with cameras on every response and everywhere they go who will be uploading what they find. This is something previous generations of firefighters just didn't have to deal with.
Yes, there were always people in the community complaining that firefighters used the fire truck to go to the grocery store. But now these folks have the visual proof and can't wait to share it with the rest of the world. It is important to be prepared for this by making sure firefighters don't confront the fire paparazzi and, in turn, make things much worse.
Also, my suggestion is fire chiefs should be proactive and confront this head on before the video vigilantes arrive. If you allow your firefighters, EMTs and paramedics to shop with the rigs, provide an explanation on your website and in community meetings. Let the people you serve know up front what your policy is and why it is that way. It will take the wind out of the sails for a lot of these people.
Personally, when I am at the grocery store I am always happy to run into the firefighters who protect me. But I am also not mad at the world thinking public servants only want to screw me and waste my tax money each and every day.
A STATter911.com reader alerted us to this much better video of the attempt to remove a motorcyclist from under a car in Brooklyn on Thursday morning. This is the one where a member of the NYPD's Emergency Services Unit (ESU) tries to lift the car off of 21-year-old Karam Rampersaud using hydraulic spreaders under the rear of the Ford Taurus but the car comes crashing back down. New York officials have told reporters that Rampersaud died because of the original accident and not the mishap with the spreaders.
Here's what I see in this latest clip. (Feel free to correct me if I miss something or use the wrong terminology, particularly when it comes to ESU.).
This video begins more than three minutes before firefighters and police arrive. Engine 225 and Ladder 107 are on the scene first. Two firefighters from the engine walk over to evaluate the scene. One takes a close-up look at the victim and the other appears to set the emergency brake on the car. The officer from Ladder 107 comes up, takes a quick view and speaks to his crew. They appear to immediately begin setting up for air bag operations.
Forty seconds after the arrival of the firefighters an ESU REP (Radio Emergency Patrol) vehicle arrives followed about 15 seconds later by an ESU truck (similar to a heavy rescue squad). Within 50 seconds of their arrival ESU is deploying the spreaders under the rear of the Taurus as the firefighters appear to be continuing to set airbags.
Only a minute after he pulls up on the scene, the ESU officer already has the back raised (far from the four feet witnesses described), but seconds into the lifting the vehicle comes off the spreaders and slams back down. It looks like a bit of a close call for an ESU member on the drivers side of the vehicle placing cribbing (the same officer also appears to have moved aside FDNY equipment placed on that side of the vehicle).
After a bit of commotion the ladder officer appears to talk with two of the ESU officers and airbag operations continue with involvement of both firefighters and police officers.
At 9:45 into the video, about 6:40 after FDNY's arrival, the rescuers begin pulling the victim from under the car.
The incident has many in our comments section talking about the working relationship between FDNY and the police department's ESU. There have been some very public battles through the years.
Below is a NYPD video called Inside the NYPD: Emergency Services Unit.
I have been looking unsuccessfully on the web for a detailed listing of primary responsibilities for ESU and the official working relationship between ESU and FDNY at scenes similar to his one.
UPDATE: A STATter911.com reader has sent along a document (2009 version) outlining the Citywide Incident Management System (CIMS) for New York. It is attached. It lists the "primary agency" for auto extrication as "NYPD/FDNY (First to arrive)".
FDNY is listed alone as the "primary agency" for confined space rescue, elevator incident or emergency, entrapment/impalement, fire and structural collapse.
An ESU REP at a recent fire in Brooklyn. Click above for the video.
Both the FDNY and the NYPD were on the scene of an accident in Brooklyn yesterday that is making headlines in New York. It happened around 8:45 AM
on Loring Avenue and Forbell Street in East New York when 21 year old, Karam Rampersaud, on a motorcyle, was run over by a Ford Taurus and became trapped underneath the vehicle.
From the video it appears an NYPD Emergency Services Unit crew member is handling the lifting of the vehicle when the car suddenly comes back down.
Police and fire officials have been giving indications to reporters that Rampersaud died from the injuries during the original crash.