A house fire in Jacksonville, Florida has a former firefighter quite concerned about the response from Jacksonville Fire and Rescue. He says the firefighters got there quickly but he was susprised there were only two of them.
Dealing with excessive budgets cuts San Bernardino Interim Fire Chief Paul Drasil called it quits and went on leave until his official retirement date April 15. The 53-year-old Drasil has been on the department since 1986 and has been the interim chief for less than a year. But the chief did not ride off quietly into the sunset.
Citing a lack of support from both the City Council and union leadership as reasons for quitting, Drasil outlined it all in a scathing letter to Mayor Pat Morris.
“I am now held accountable to manage the department, yet the resources I need to do the job have been eliminated by the City Council against my advice and that of the City Manager,” Drasil wrote. “Given the complexity of managing an urban fire department of our size, it is impossible for any fire chief to do so safely and effectively given these cuts to management.”
“From the on-set of my selection as the interim fire chief, the City Council majority has shown a disregard for me and my staff,” he wrote. “It has been made clear to me that I do not have their support or respect.”
Scott Moss, president of the fire union, was reviewing Drasil’s criticism of the union and didn’t have an immediate response.
Drasil said the majority of firefighters were supportive, but not union leaders.
“The continued resistance by the Fire Union’s leadership to engage in a meaningful and productive relationship with Fire Management has also caused unnecessary and expensive hurdles that have prevented effective management of the Fire Department,” he wrote. “Their often selfish behavior over the course of several years has been a detriment to running the department and will continue to be unless there is a change in the Union leadership’s philosophy.”
“Cuts to Chief Ofñcers responsible for overseeing management, fire prevention, training, equipment, and safety programs cannot be made without consequences,” he wrote. “I pray these consequences do not manifest themselves in such a way as to jeopardize the safety of fire department personnel or the public.”
Above is a follow-up story by WNBC-TV which answers the questions many of our readers have been asking about the possible backdraft on Sunday that injured five firefighters in Harrison, New Jersey. There has been lots of discussion over a woman seen in the videos handling a hose and a man on a ladder, both without PPE. This story verifies the answers provided by other readers that these were volunteer firefighters who responded directly to the scene. The answer in the news story comes from union officials who talk about the severe cuts the Harrison Fire Department has faced and its possible impact on this fire and explosion.
East St. Louis, Illinois is one of those fire departments that is extremely underfunded and understaffed. Like Highland Park, Michigan and some other departments we have featured, it responds and handles structure fires with a very small number of overworked and poorly equipped firefighters. As bad as it is, Rob Schield tells us it’s about to get a lot worse. Click here to watch this nicely produced video showing what Rob and his fellow firefighters face on the fireground and throughout the the city. Here’s some of what Rob wrote about the video:
With over 150 firefighters that used to protect this city, only 53 remain due to budget cuts. Unfortunately the East St. Louis fire department is facing laying off 22 more firefighters in May 2013 which is extremely dangerous.
Most fire departments respond up to 5 engines, 2 Chiefs and 15 firefighters to a house fire. Right now only 2 engines and 6 firefighters respond to a structure or house fire in East St. Louis EVERYDAY which is well below the number required by the NFPA. This is not to mention the other fire calls that come in. If layoffs occur, that number could fall to 3 firefighters and 1 engine which will be catastrophic.
It isn’t a pretty picture and once again LeDuff found himself running after a fire commissioner to try to get an interview. Commissioner Don Austin said he was attempting to get permission from Mayor Dave Bing’s office to talk. LeDuff called Mayor Bing’s spokesman wondering why no one would talk to him and was given a very blunt and straight forward answer: “Because we don’t like your show”.
Of course that did nothing to stop LeDuff’s report. The report focused on the impact of last year’s firehouse closings and recent rising insurance rates.
LeDuff with Commissioner Don Austin’s arm. Watch the story for an explanation.
In the end, LeDuff did get a mayor to talk. He ambushed the former officer holder, the one who is again on trial on corruption charges, Kwame Kilpatrick. LeDuff wanted to know what Kilpatrick did with all the money that never made it to the department for capital improvements and equipment. Kilpatrick says the fire department got everything it needed under his administration.
There was a time not that long ago when there was a fire in Detroit, you knew firefighters would be there in a hurry. But that was before the budget cuts.
Since those cutbacks, firefighters are spread dangerously thin and it’s you who may get burned.
“We have a new saying shamefully because the fire department and the city put us in this position that when seconds count, we’re only minutes away,” said Dan McNamara with the Detroit Fire Fighters Association.
Reporter Justin Engel at Michigan’s Bay City Times has been taking a very close look at a proposal to merge the police and fire departments in Bay City. The idea of creating a public safety officer model has police and fire union leaders very vocally leading the charge from opposite sides of this battle. The police, represented by the Police Officers Association of Michigan (POAM), are supporting the merger as are the police and fire chiefs in Bay City. The IAFF is opposing it.
Engel’s latest article in the series titled “Price of Protection” was posted this morning and it clearly shows the tension between police officers and firefighters. It should be noted that police officers in Bay City changed their union to POAM from the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) about a year ago. The FOP opposes such a merger of jobs.
For members of the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) — a group that opposes the idea — the police union’s endorsement stirs resentment in people such as Kurt Wagner, president of Bay City’s firefighters union.
Wagner and other firefighter union members across the state say the police union’s leaders are the architects of the cross-training public safety model, a practice firefighter representatives say is aimed both at raiding their department budgets and upping police union membership.
One of the police union’s top statewide officials, meanwhile, says without firefighter cooperation in implementing the public safety officer model in certain municipalities across the state, fire unions won’t have a future in Michigan.
“I’m not afraid to say it,” said Dan Kuhn, the police union’s business agent. “The IAFF is martyring their guys over this issue.
“It’s probably going to lead to the elimination of more firefighters in the state.”
Kuhn said the firefighters union stands in the way of a necessary “evolution” in public safety, driven by dried-up municipal funds no longer able to sustain police and fire departments at long-accepted sizes.
Three Baltimore City fire companies that had been slated to permanently close Sunday will remain open for four more days due to the weather, a department spokesman said Saturday.
Fire officials have decided to keep the three companies open until Thursday morning to help clean up from the storm and aid those suffering from heat-related health problems, said spokesman Chief Kevin Cartwright.
“It’s a common practice for the fire department to increase our manpower due to natural disasters,” Cartwright said.
Firefighters at those companies will also help people suffering from heat-related health problems. The Baltimore Sun reports East Baltimore’s Truck 15, west Baltimore’s Truck 10 and southeast Baltimore’s Engine 11 had been set to close Sunday morning as a cost-cutting measure.
Two other companies had been set to move to new stations, but that move has also been postponed.
Bing’s announcement comes just hours after firefighters fought about 16 fires on the city’s east side overnight and early morning. One firefighter was injured in one of the fires. Fires were reported in mostly vacant buildings in the areas of Moran and Medbury, Mt. Elliot and Warren, Hancock and McDougall, Erskine and Chene and Chene and Ferry.
The fire department has 1,257 employees, including 881 firefighters and 248 EMS technicians. According to the city, the department responds to 30,000 fire calls annually, plus 135,000 EMS calls.
In responding to Monday’s layoff announcement, Dan McNamara, President of the Detroit Fire Fighters Association, fired back saying, “These decisions are indefensible”.
“Mayor Bing is now calling for $23 million in cuts from the Detroit Fire Department. In the agreement they backed out of, we proposed up to $31 million in real savings including significant give backs and necessary restructuring, with no layoffs and only closing six fire companies permanently”, said McNamara.
McNamara hopes the city reconsiders the layoffs because he says Detroit’s Fire Department is already a couple hundred fire fighters short of what should be their minimum staffing level.
“We used to tell everybody in the city that if you call us we’ll be there and we don’t know if it’s going to be that way anymore,” said McNamara.
“In fact, if you want a good city — a city where people are gonna live, people are gonna recreate, people are gonna visit you have to have them know they’re safe,” he said. “And with the reductions with us, EMS and fire, it’s just not going to be seen that way.”
Statement from Mayor Dave Bing:
Since I became Mayor, I’ve made public safety my top priority and I’ve said I would protect the jobs of police and firefighters, but fiscal realities have made this untenable.
With my administration continuing to work to fiscally stabilize the City and with recent cuts to the City’s budget, we’re announcing the layoffs of 164 Detroit Fire Department firefighters by the end of July. But my administration has every expectation of being awarded a federal grant to fund and restore 108 of those positions. And many, if not most, of the remaining 56 firefighters are expected to be recalled to the fire department through attrition.
The current 2012-2013 budget also allows for the hiring of Emergency Medical Technicians to bolster the number of EMS staff who responded to 135,000 calls each year, or 81% of the calls to Fire Department.
Until the Fire Department receives the grant, Commissioner Don Austin and his staff have developed a plan to effectively and efficiently maintain the highest levels of fire service for the city’s citizens.
Among the components of the plan:
Better deploying engines from adjacent sectors and using newly installed GPS systems in the engines and rigs to best dispatch fire department personnel;
Conducting thorough risks/gain analysis of interior versus exterior fire suppression;
Increase the use of CERT & Fire Corps to support our firefighters;
And continuing our community fire prevention education.
Again, laying off any of our courageous and dedicated public safety personnel is the last thing I want to do at this point, but I have to face this hard reality. I have every confidence in Commissioner Austin and the men and woman of the Fire Department to maintain their highest standards of fire services and public safety for our citizens.
At 8 p.m., they went to a two-alarm house fire at 8252 N. College Ave., near Woodward Park and found a garage fire extending into an attic and other parts of the house.
The fire is believed to have started near a water heater in the garage. Two adults and two children escaped without injuries. An all-terrain vehicle and a passenger vehicle were destroyed.
In a story yesterday, KSEE-TV’s Joe Ybarra reports there were seven structure fires in Fresno in a 48-hour period stretching thin resources even thinner. It’s a challenge for former Stafford County, Virginia Chief Rob Brown who has been on the job in Fresno for just three weeks:
The city is facing a $16 million dollar budget shortfall. Engines have been reduced to three man crews and stations are housing one company instead of two.
“With the loss of companies, we are having to send additional resources as back up sometimes as quick as it needs to be so we have to be very careful,” Chief Brown added.
That takes time, valuable time. Especially when homes and lives are on the line.
“Sustainability is what worries me…in the short term we can make this work,” Chief Brown said.
The video above is a compilation of fires in Detroit from FirePhoto.CA that occurred last Friday. While watching it I found the second fire, starting at 1:16 on the clip interesting. The fire is at 3:00 AM in the 3300 block of E. Hancock Street in the first battalion. From what I can tell via the limited view of the camera and no outside information, it appears at some point the application of water on the fire ceases and you hear talk of letting it collapse.
WJBK-TV reporter Charlie LeDuff is back on the case of the Detroit Fire Department and says it is still in bad shape with little hope on the horizon.
At the same time, LeDuff is asking what ever happened to the big green fire truck? That’s the 1983 tower ladder that was donated to the City of Detroit by a Michigan man. The fire department sort of reluctantly accepted it back in September of last year. LeDuff discovered, despite a claim by Commissioner Donald Austin that it could be up and running in a month, the department had no intention of using it. The rig is sitting in the shop.
But LeDuff has found someone who wants that truck rather desperately. He is the mayor of nearby Highland Park whose department is in even worse shape than the Detroit Fire Department. We have been showing you videos recently of the understaffed and under equipped Highland Park Fire Department (here & here).
“I would ask the mayor of Detroit, Mayor Bing, to bring that fire truck here to Highland Park because we definitely need it,” says Mayor Deandre Windom. “Please, please, please, please, bring the fire truck here to Highland Park.”
The mayor says he called Detroit, but nobody would call him back.
Well, Mayor Bing didn’t return my call. Deputy Commissioner Fred Wheeler didn’t return my call. I’m starting to feel like the mayor of Highland Park.
For the love of god, free the big green fire truck for the sake of somebody’s children!
Engine 8 ran into a little snag when their pumps malfunctioned. With the fire being fueled by winds it spread quickly up the interior stairwell to the upper floors. With a lack of water units were forced to stand fast at the front door until they got water. Eventually crews were able to enter the dwelling and fully extinguish the fire.
Companies scheduled to close on July 1: Truck 10 at 1503 W. Lafayette Avenue; Truck 15 at 1223 N. Montford Avenue; Squad 11 at 5714 Eastern Avenue.
Companies scheduled to move on July 1: Engine 33 from 801 E. 25th Street to 1223 N. Montford Avenue; Truck 27 from 2700 Glenn Avenue to 5500 Reisterstown Road; Truck 6 from 1001 E. Fort Avenue to 15 S. Eutaw Street; Rescue 1 from 15 S. Eutaw Street to 1001 E. Fort Avenue.
Three city fire companies will disband, four more must find new homes. It’s part of the fire department’s efforts to do away with rotating closures.
It’s important to note that no firefighters will lose their jobs and no fire stations will be closed. But this is a big shuffle of fire personnel and equipment and some worry it leaves city residents at risk.
“We are going to be there just as quick as we are today,” Jim Clack, chief of the Baltimore City Fire Department, said.
“We’re not laying off any firefighters,” Clack said. “We’re not closing any fire stations. We’re taking some firefighters from one area of the city and moving them to other stations.”
“Obviously, I don’t want to have anybody closed,” said Rick Hoffman, president of the firefighters union. “It makes our job a hell of a lot harder. We’re at bare bones right now. I don’t know how these people sleep at night. … They are gambling with the lives of the citizens of Baltimore and the lives of the firefighters serving Baltimore.”
Under the current plan, 72 firefighters would be transferred and 21 officers would be demoted, including six captains and nine lieutenants. The changes, Clack said, make the department more efficient and could improve response times.
How often have we heard this? City officials want to make significant cuts to the fire department and at the same time tell the public it won't impact public safety. Last night when the Moline, Illinois City Council voted to cut 12 firefighter/paramedics from next year's budget and bring in a private ambulance service, Chief Ron Miller decided he won't be a part of it. The chief sounded the alarm about the impact on the safety of the citizens. City Administrator Lew Steinbrecher said that there is no impact on public safety. Watch the story above from WQAD- TV.
A man is reported to be in serious condition after being rescued from his Coney Island home yesterday morning by the crew from FDNY's Ladder 161. It is one of 20 fire companies on the chopping block. Union officials say the ladder crew arrived on the scene within six-minutes of the fire at 3194 Bayview Avenue. Eight of the fire companies on the closing list are in Brooklyn. None of the articles had an official response from the city.
"This person would clearly not be alive if Mayor Bloomberg had his way," said President Steve Cassidy of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, "What happened early this morning should show the administration that these companies are vital in every neighborhood and should not be closed."
Cassidy also said that the backup company, Ladder 169 arrived 6 and a half minutes after 161 and that if the were the primary responders, today's blaze could of had a far more bad outcome
WCBS-TV says it has a partial list of what may be as many as 20 fire companies in New York that could be closed under Mayor Michael Bloomberg's budget cutting plan. Click above to watch the story.
Also in FDNY news, Glenn Usdin's FireTruckBlog.com takes a look at the expansion of the "Modified Response" program. Queens has been following the procedure since October and now Brooklyn and Staten Island will as well.
There is a column in yesterday’s Las Vegas Review-Journal by John L. Smith that is well worth reading. Some of it may be true, none of it may be true, or all of it may be true. It really doesn’t matter at this point and I am not here to argue those issues. Why I think you should read it is because it sums up the perception many political leaders and a portion of the public have of firefighters today. The column gives Smith’s view of where the image of Clark County firefighters currently sits following a long, ugly battle over wages and benefits.
Ten-days-ago I was in Phoenix speaking at the IAFF and IAFC Labor-Management Initiative (LMI). Besides my talks on building reputation equity, I did a lot of listening. I was quite impressed with the group there. A lot of fire chiefs and union leaders who realize they need to be working together as much as possible to deal with the continuing assaults on their budgets and ultimately their safety. At the same time firefighters are looking at what this movement attacking pensions means for their economic future. And fire chiefs are concerned that pension losses could reduce their ability to hold on to people they’ve spent a lot of time and money to train. I encourage you attend LMI next year.
But back to this column. It will be easy for many of you to read it and be angry. Some will say screw John Smith for being anti-firefighter. That visceral reaction is understandable. Unfortunately this isn’t just Smith’s impression and it isn’t just isolated to one county in Nevada. Hopefully after you calm down you will realize this is what you are up against and you need to do something about it.
I am hoping smart fire service leaders across the country are looking at this and trying to prevent it from happening in their communities. Working together as labor and management, as those in Phoenix were doing, is a probably a good way to start.
The real challenge is figuring out how to connect with your community to help them see that firefighters are still the same people who were their heroes almost ten-years-ago when the unthinkable happened.
Consider that love affair a thing of the past. County firefighters and their union representatives have only themselves to blame. By their arrogance and greed, they invited the scrutiny and criticism of their hog-fat contract that haunts them now that an arbitrator has sided with Clark County in its contract negotiations with International Association of Firefighters Local 1908. (The new contract calls for $7.4 million in wage and benefit cuts. The union had offered $6.1 million in cuts.)
The department fiddled while Southern Nevada’s economy burned. Union president Ryan Beaman has the unenviable task of trying to spin an embarrassing defeat in a positive light. Good luck, pal.
If they’re ever going to repair their badly damaged image, county fire representatives should start by accepting responsibility for their own mistakes. The greed and arrogance hang heavy in the air.
County firefighters are forfeiting more than salary and benefits. They’re throwing away the trust and respect of the public.
Mayor Rick Gray from Lancaster, Pennsylvania says he is having the city prepare a lawsuit against IAFF Local 319 over what he says is harassment by union members against volunteer firefighters with companies that respond mutual aid into the city. Gray is also threatening disciplinary action. The mayor believes undermining mutual aid agreements impacts the safety of the citizens.
The chief of Manheim Township Fire Department says two of his volunteer, who are also career firefighters (we are told not in the City of Lancaster), have taken an indefinite leave of absence. Chief Rick Kane says he has suspended a mutual aid agreement with Lancaster because of the problem.
Plum Street fire photo by Glenn Usdin.
According to LancasterOnline.com the current and future union president say they are unaware of any harassment and point out they also did not know of any mutual aid agreements. Gray says those agreements aren’t in writing, but are verbal. Battalion Chief Ken Barton, president until the first of the year, believes the city is violating a 1997 arbitration ruling that says they can’t use volunteers unless they first call in off-duty firefighters.
Apparently what has brought this to a head is the breakdown of the city’s two ladder trucks with no replacements in sight. The truck work is now being handled by mutual aid companies.
FireTruckBlog.com’s Glenn Usdin, in looking at the dispute, the economic realities and the equipment issues brings up the point that it is important to have a “Plan B in place for emergency replacement of necessary apparatus”. Click here for Glenn’s commentary.
When fire raged in the first block of North Plum Street early Monday morning, four city firefighters were there in less than a minute.
The house was right behind the city’s fire Station 3. But after the first dozen on-duty city firefighters were at the scene, the next to arrive were firefighters from surrounding municipalities.
One woman died and two children were critically injured, but without the aid of firefighters from Lancaster Township, Lafayette and Millersville fire companies, the situation could have been worse, said city fire Chief Tim Gregg.
Without their help, the flames might have spread down the row of narrow homes, he said.
Which is why Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray was angry Tuesday at what he believes are efforts by some city firefighters to undermine mutual aid agreements between the city and surrounding municipalities.
Gray said some city firefighters have harassed volunteers who have come into the city.
Barton said he believes the city is overusing the volunteers to supplement the paid fire bureau.
“We’re being cut more and more and more, and they want to rely on somebody else come in and save our butt,” he said.
Kane said he believes the volunteers are caught in the middle of a labor dispute between the city administration and the union.
First of all, I am a bit late on this story due to my other duties over the last few days. The Fire Critic, Firegeezer (Bill goes deep on this one, giving us lots of background) and Firefighter Close Calls already have posted this video from Xenia, Ohio. In it, two council members, John Caupp and Dale Louderback, speak out and vote against buying seven sets of firefighter turnout gear through the Ohio Cooperative Purchasing Program. It is their belief that firefighters should buy their own PPE and cops should buy their own ballistic vests. Especially in the tough economic times that caused Xenia to lay off firefighters this year.
Looking at the video is it clear to me that it’s more than just the X in both Xenia and Xinos that’s the common element between this video and our other big fire department budget story of the last two weeks. As I am sure most of you recall, Connie Xinos wants to balance the Village of Oak Brook, Illinois budget (a wealthy community with no property tax) by firing one firefighter each month until the union agrees to modify its current agreement to allow staffing and pension cuts. Xinos added, referring to the wife of a fired firefighter:
“Maybe they’ll sue us. Maybe they’ll win something three years from now. She’ll leave him. He’ll be out of the house. The dog will be dead and the kids will be out on the streets.”
Warning: The rest of this column is kind of a personal message from me to Mr. Xinos, Mr. Caupp and Mr. Louderback. There’s no need for anyone else to read it.
Mr. Xinos, I imagine a man with your soft-spoken and easy charm is not lacking friends. But just in case you are, I want you to think of STATter911.com as your own personal eHarmony.com. No upfront fees. In fact, the service is completely free. And I believe STATter911.com has already found your soul mates for life (strictly platonic, of course).
Really what I am offering is kind of a video service for those who don’t have a best friend. Connie, just click above and I think you’ll agree that you could be looking into a mirror rather than a YouTube video.
I even have a suggestion for a first date for you fun loving guys. How about a trip to Emmitsburg, Maryland? It’s a gorgeous little town in the Catoctin Mountains. It’s just south of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The people there are lovely.
Fall is a great time to visit this area. How about the first weekend in October of next year? A year from now. I promise you the wait will be worth it.
I know how thrifty you three are, so why not carpool it to Maryland?
Connie will pick up John and Dale. Connie it’s on your way, but I already know what’s bothering you about this. No need to worry, I am sure they will chip in for gas (actually let me rethink that part).
Either way I am certain you guys will have plenty to talk about. I imagine by the time you turn south on Route 15 in Pennsylvania you will have solutions for many of society’s ills.
I have good news for you budget conscious men. I will be glad to pick up your hotel rooms in Maryland. I mean it. My treat.
I have more good news for you to save some money. While you’re in Emmitsburg I will be your personal tour guide.
The first stop has to be Gettysburg. There’s lots to learn there. Talk about being a leader during tough times. But you guys have shown those aren’t lessons you really need. Connie, I guess you would agree that John and Dale have inspired their own troops by toughening them up. Letting them know if they really must have protective gear going into battle, they should just buy it themselves. I am sure that’s what many of them did during the Civil War.
And John and Dale, I think you both will be greatly impressed with Connie’s leadership when he was in that fierce battle with the 11-year-old girl. I can assure you it wasn’t Connie who went home and cried that night.
By the way, while we are in Emmitsburg there’s a big event in town that weekend that I would love for you three to see. It draws about five or six thousand people each year. But there’s more good news. It’s free of charge. It won’t cost you a dime. I know money means more than anything to you guys. You’ve made that clear.
While there you should really take take the time to meet some of the men, women and children who will be at that gathering. I’ve been going for years and I always find it an extremely impressive group (but in a much different way than you three impress me).
Just do me one little favor. It’s simple. When you meet them, take a close look into their eyes.
That’s it. Nothing more. Just take a close look into their eyes.
Let me be the first to admit I was wrong. Having watched the videos from the last two council hearings where DC Fire & EMS Chief Dennis Rubin appeared before the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary, I thought there was a major improvement in the relationship between the chief and Chairman Phil Mendelson. It looked like after more than a year of very public bickering there was no longer any significant fire or smoke showing and this blaze had finally been contained.
The editor of STATter911.com clearly needs to seek out Dave Dodson for some much needed training because he completely missed the signs that there was a major fire still brewing in the walls and ceiling. It appears the blaze is rapidly extending and even Chief Rubin admits it has the potential to cause great damage.
Right after the last rather civil hearing Phil Mendelson sent a letter to the city’s chief financial officer asking for Chief Rubin to be investigated for failing to live within the department’s budget. Mendelson has been holding monthly hearings on the department’s overtime expenditures in addition to the committee’s regular oversight hearings.
Now STATter911.com has received an email that Chief Rubin has sent to his department outlining some serious overtime cuts in the FY 2011 budget made by Mendelson’s committee. In it the chief explains his views on how things got to this point and provides details on how firefighters and anyone else can sign up to testify at the next overtime hearing, scheduled for Wednesday. Click here to read the entire memo.
Tire & muffler shop burns: A fire at 6708 Northeast 23rd Street in Oklahoma City on Wednesday. This is one of many videos from around the country added each weekday by WUSA9.com’s Emily Cyr. They all can be found in our video player over here >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
More on injured Baltimore firefighter: There is a nice article from his native Montgomery County, Pennsylvania that profiles Jeffrey Novack who was seriously injured in Wednesday night’s fire next to the firehouse in the 3900 block of Liberty Heights Avenue. Firefighter Novack, assigned to Truck 12, was forced to bail out of a third floor apartment after rescuing residents. He is in a medically-induced coma to treat burns and other injuries. Sources indicate the two closest engines were on other runs, and the third was closed due to staffing issues. Here is our previous coverage of the fire, including fireground audio of the mayday. Sources indicate this version of the audio, besides compacting the time by removing dead air, misses some key radio transmissions.
Is this a trend? Baltimore police halt CompStat (or ComStat) meetings: This is the famous crime fighting method started by Jack Maple, who brought it to NYPD from New York’s Transit Police in the early 1990s. Since then, police departments and other government agencies, including fire departments, have adopted it as a way to measure performance. Now comes word that the Baltimore City Police Department, which embraced its version of the statistics based management tool more than a decade ago, has suspended the meetings. There are concerns that it has evolved into nothing more than a weekly finger-pointing beat-down session (the fictional version was shown regularly on The Wire) that requires too much prep time by managers. The Baltimore Sun reports on a New York study that showed more than 100 retired high-ranking officers believe it creates intense pressure to manipulate crime figures. Here’ the story.
All PGFD, all the time: There was a time that some people claimed that was our motto here at STATter911.com. Still, this has been a newsworthy few days in Prince George’s Countyl. Here’s what’s been keeping Mark Brady busy-
Governor makes escape from fire followed by lawmakers: A celebration for new members of the Maryland legislature at an Annapolis, Maryland bar last night came to an end when fire broke out. The Baltimore Sun tells the story that Governor Martin O’Malley’s security detail may have been the first to realize the place was burning. Here’s the article.
Facebook shooting threat by firefighter against politician leads to trouble: We have been telling you about the problems in Clark County, Nevada and how County Commissioner Steve Sisolak is leading the charge to cut OT and compensation for firefighters. Sisolak is also concerned about on-duty MD fund raising. Now comes word of the Facebook posting by City of Las Vegas Firefighter Joy Sager saying she wanted ”to shoot Sisolak in the (groin)”. The mayor has called for justice. Sager, involved in the charity work, has written an apology. Read Sager’s letter. Here’s the story.
The fine print in the grant that will help Flint has some worried: Flint, Michigan is getting a SAFER grant to rehire firefighters recently let go and others. But can the troubled city meet the staffing requirements of the grant? Read the details.
An ounce of prevention is apparently not worth much in this budget cycle: What did that Franklin guy know anyway? It isn’t like he and his most famous saying about fires had to face a massive recession like we have dealt with. The latest budget proposal in Mesa, Arizona calls for the elimination of the entire fire prevention and life-safety education units. Read more.
Citizen says it is just fine to cut fire department minimum staffing: This column in a California newspaper shows the perception firefighters are often up against when it comes to budget cuts. In it, a man named Bob Moss explains why he didn’t sign a petition by Palo Alto firefighters to freeze staffing levels. Here is an excerpt-
Fact: The proposal on the table is to cut the required number of firefighters on engines by no more than one person. There will still be plenty of staff to respond to 911 calls. Cutting the number of people on an engine, say from 4 to 3, will have no impact on 911 response times — it may even be a bit faster as it will take less time for three people to get onto the engine than four.
Code thieves?: Thieves who stole radios and other equipment worth as much as $20,000 from an Edmond, Oklahoma fire truck being serviced also got the map book with the codes that allow access to gated communities. Read the story.
Fired DeKalb County captain reinstated: Tony Motes, one of those fired after a botched response to a house fire that turned fatal, won his appeal. Read what it means.
Fallout over gas company’s union negotiation in Fall River: There is debate in the Massachusetts town over whether the installation of locking devices on critical valve shut offs by New England Gas will impact its reponse to help fire crews with gas shut downs in an emergency. The company is doing this to prevent tampering during union troubles. Here’s the story.
PGFD second-alarm: Despite all of the controversy, they still fight fires in Prince George’s County, Maryland. This is Chief Spokesman Mark Brady’s video of a fire yesterday afternoon at a storage facility in Landover Hills. The report was for smoke coming from a storage locker in the 3800 block of 64th Avenue. Brady says the firefighters found heavy smoke coming from a whole row of lockers. Two firefighters injured their hands during overhaul. One was sent to Baltimore for a hospital that specializes in hand trauma.
You will want to read this – Father & son, chief & assistant chief, both arrested during fire at son’s home: The man whose house was on fire Sunday in the Village of Powell in Monroe Township, Pennsylvania was not happy with the way firefighters were going about their business. That man ended up on the wrong end of a state trooper’s stun gun and was arrested. So was his father. The two men are the ranking officers of a neighboring fire company. Check it out.
An amazingly tragic series of events: I will let you be the judge of whether justice was served with the rapid fire news that keeps coming out of DeKalb County, Georgia. From, by all accounts so far, a very flawed response to an elderly woman’s call for help, to a report by fire officials, to the termination of three officers and a firefighter, to the immediate resignation of the fire chief took just eight days. I am sure there is something, but nothing comes immediately to mind of any other fire service incidents that compare to how quickly and severely this one was handled. We have the latest from Georgia with yesterday afternoon’s sudden departure of Chief David Foster. Click here.
Steve Skipton once again on the scene: Click the image for Steve's series of pictures at PhillyFireNews.com of a fire yesterday afternoon at 768 Division Street in Camden, New Jersey.
A must see interview with an injured firefighter: We mentioned this yesterday, but hadn’t yet watch the video from our sister-station. Click here to watch the interview from Cory Broich’s hospital bed. The Clearwater, Minnesota firefighter has been hospitalized since last week after being struck by a vehicle on I-94. The firefighter has a number of operations ahead on his badly mangled legs before he will be able to attempt walking again. He talks about trying to crawl away to avoid being hit again. You will also see Firefighter Broich with his five children who can’t wait for daddy to be home again (could be three weeks).
Command “badly let down” firefighters: That’s one of the conclusions of the investigation in Australia of the deadly “Black Saturday” fires from a year ago in Marysville. Read the latest.
Mayor says he didn’t do it: In Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Mayor Rick Gray says the standoff with firefighters about layoffs is “not my decision”. He puts that at the feet of firefighters. Read more.
Mayor says he did it: In Chillicothe, Ohio, Mayor Joe Sulzer says he ordered Chief Bruce Vaughn to reprimand two firefighters who spoke up about issues at a council meeting. The mayor says speaking in such forums about policy issues is “a management right”. The firefighters say it is also a union right. Read more about the dispute.
Drugs and alcohol in Boston: Random testing is still at the center of a long contract dispute, but there already is a more limited program in place for Boston firefighters. One TV station investigated and shows the results from the drug and alcohol screening of new employees and those who show signs of impairment. Click here.
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UPDATED – Close call in Fairfax County, VA at scene of now double fatal fire: (Click here for slideshow from fire.) PIO Dan Schmidt confirms the bodies of two men were found inside a burning home on Heming Avenue in North Springfield this morning. Earlier three firefighters from Station 422 ran into trouble when the kitchen floor began collapsing around them. Other firefighters assisted them in getting out safely. Schmidt says one firefighter has been hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries. All firefighters were accounted for. The fire was reported around 6:40 AM. We will have more later, including video.
Dead, not dead: Firefighters in Prince George’s County, Maryland thought they were doing body recovery early Sunday morning on I-95. The “body” in the burned out car started breathing and things quickly reverted to a rescue operation. We have the details, fireground audio, and a timeline. Click here for our coverage.
More PGFD news – Shake-up at the top: In November, Chief Eugene Jones said about Lt. Colonel Victor Stagnaro, “You are growing into the leader I always believed you had the capacity for” as he gave the 24-year veteran “a rare and prestigious” department award. Yesterday, Chief Jones gave Stagnaro something else: his walking papers. According to Chief Jones, Stagnaro “indicated his intent to retire”. But numerous other sources familiar with what happened at the Largo Government Center tell STATter911.com the chief’s executive officer presented Stagnaro with a letter telling him his last day is February 12. Click here for more on this story.
Close Call #1: This is the "before" picture a neighbor snapped just prior to two firefighters falling through the roof of this burning Phoenix home on Monday. The firefighters were not injured. Police say the house was set on fire by an 18-year-old who had assaulted his parents. Click the image to see more pictures and watch the story.
NEW – Virginia Task Force 1 heading home Thursday: That’s the plan today for the return of the urban search and rescue team from Northern Virginia. They have been in Haiti for two weeks and are now assisting with humanitarian efforts after helping to rescue 16 people who were trapped in the rubble of the earthquake.
More from Memphis: A TV station is into its second week of reports on the Memphis Fire Department. WLMT-TV has been looking at the department’s hiring practices, the number of firefighters who have been arrested and allegations of discrimination over who gets to keep their job and who doesn’t. The latest installment is here. Click here to see what you missed earlier.
New talk of major FDNY cuts: Firehouses and firefighters are again being discussed for possible cuts as mayor’s staff and the new fire commissioner meet on budget issues. Read more.
911 system in DC getting scrutiny after gun is pulled on council member: A fire truck was the first on the scene to assist Council member Yvette Alexander last week when she interupted an armed robbery. There are questions about the accurate relay of information and the timeliness of the response. Read more.
Close Call #2: Three firefighters inside as explosion lifts roof off home during fire in Wells, Minnesota. The chief says he was blown 3-feet out of a door. The firefighters weren't hurt. Click the picture by Brie Cohen for details and more pictures from the Albert Lea Tribune.
Former Columbus, Ohio firefighter who killed dogs walks out of hearing because of TV camera: The latest on David Santuomo, who left the two dead dogs in a dumpster behind a firehouse in December, 2008, is that the Civil Service Commission dismissed the appeal of his firing because the former firefighter wasn’t present. News reports indicate Santuomo got up and left when he saw the camera being set up. You may recall Santuomo executed the dogs because he didn’t want to pay kennel fees while on vacation. Read more.
LAFD defends dog rescue: The Los Angeles Fire Department stands by the decision to commit resources to last Friday’s dog rescue in the L.A. River that left a firefighter with dog bites. Read more. Earlier coverage here and here.
Mayor is shocked: Paramus, New Jersey Mayor James Tedesco is also a volunteer firefighter. Responding on a call for a downed power line, the firefighting mayor touched a fence that had come in contact with the wire. He is okay. Read more.
House fire in New Jersey: This is from yesterday in Oradell in Bergen County.
In case you missed it, there is now a longer version of the video showing a fireball shooting out of a Baltimore rowhouse. Click the image for the latest.
NEW – More videos of USAR teams in Haiti: Check the video player at the right. WUSA9.com’s Emily Cyr just added a bunch of new clips of some of the USAR teams in action as they continue searching and digging through the rubble in Haiti.
Motive unknown after police captain charged with stealing the fire SUV: This story is quite bizarre. The third in command of the Manassas Park Police Department in Virginia has resigned after being arrested on charges of stealing a command vehicle from the Dale City VFD in Prince William County. The SUV was parked at the OWL VFD where the annual installation banquet was underway. Click here for all of the details known so far.
Radio traffic after rig overturns in Kentucky: All three firefighters were belted when the fire truck hit power poles and landed on its side early Saturday morning in Goshen. They’ve been released from the hospital. Click here for the audio and details.
Drunk dialing or harassment: That’s the question being asked in Hammond, Indiana. A top fire department official is accused of calling the home of a top union official with some phone calls that weren’t all that friendly and apparently mentioned the union guy’s wife in a sexually explicit way. It apparently happened after the union official encouraged members to attend a City Council budget hearing. The fire chief says it happened off-duty and was between two grown men, so it shouldn’t be an issue. The union isn’t dropping it. Here’s the story.
See the firehouse. See the red arrow. The red arrow points to the building that burned in North Bergen, New Jersey early Saturday morning. Guess which firehouse was closed because of budget cuts? Click the image for pictures and details from FirefightingNews.com.
Keeping felons out of the fire department: In Richmond, Virginia the City Council is considering closing a loophole that could allow convicted felons to become firefighters. Click here for the latest.
Two videos from Gary, Indiana: A basement fire and a car fire from Saturday. Check them out.
Digital problems: Our sister publication in Ohio takes a look at how critical messages from firefighters are being lost in transit via digital radio systems. Here’s the story.
FDNY cuts out volunteer ambulance squads: Firegeezer has the story about the apparent stealth policy change on dispatching New York’s volunteer ambulance squads. Click here.
Somerset, New Jersey house fire: Here’s the description with the video of this 5:54 AM fire on Sunday on Patton Drive - Video is of fire condition upon arrival of first due apparatus Squad 27, from East Franklin. Squad 27′s crew upon arrival hit a hydrant and stretched a 2 1/2″ line and blitz fire for an exterior attack. Chief 27a assumed operations, while Chief 25a was command. All crews worked for 4 hours to extinguish the blaze, clearing at around 10am.