This is from a fire Thursday evening in the Las Vegas area. The Clark County fire department says two buildings were destroyed at the Sonoma Shadows Apartments at 1750 Karen Avenue after fireworks ignited a fire on the outside of one of the buildings. Fifty people were left homeless. Three residents and a battalion chief were injured at the fire. A pregnant woman was one of those who barely escaped the fire according to news reports.
The only fatality at the fire was a dog, but it was a close call for a cat as you will see in the video above. Sometimes a cat just has to do what a cat has to do.
For the second time since the sick leave controversy surfaced in Clark County, Nevada a firefighter has been fired. The first woman to be promoted to battalion chief in the Clark County Fire Department, Renee Dillingham, is the latest to be terminated. Dillingham had been on the department for 24-years. According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, "Dillingham will be allowed to collect her pension and cash in unused sick leave and vacation."
Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak is leading the fight to expose the costly scheme by a group of 15 to 20 firefighters.
8 News Now obtained e-mails and calendars that showed fire department employees planned sick days in advance, so co-workers could collect thousands of dollars in overtime, call-back, and retirement pay. The abuse cost taxpayers and resulted in an investigation after it came to light.
"By taking a couple of sick days and a couple of vacation days, you get an entire month off, which is what some individuals unfortunately were doing." Sisolak said.
According to a July 2009 e-mail, Dillingham wrote, "Please do not post the August roster with sick. I have added the other roster for posting, and the sick is for you to take home."
In released emails, Dillingham received an email from Battalion Chief Gina Geldbach-Hall that said: "I will be taking off June 10, 17, 19, 21, 23 and 25 (all sick days if I can work it out…). Again, thanks. It is so much nicer having a scheduler I can work with."
County officials believe the "SICK" roster was used to work out the use of sick days weeks or months ahead.
In 2010, Dillingham earned $274,309 in total wages and benefits. That included base pay of $93,000, $7,433 in sick-leave and about $29,000 in call-back pay, which is earned when a firefighter is called in to work within 12 hours of their last shift. Call-back pay equals overtime pay of time-and-a-half plus a county contribution to the employee's retirement account.
There has been an ongoing discussion in our comments section about my recent postings on the issue of cameras being used by the press and citizens at scenes where there is police, fire or EMS activity. Coincidentally, on Friday, this video surfaced, with the help of the Las Vegas Review-Journal's Mike Blasky. It seems to illustrate many of the points I have been trying to make.
Reading the comments on Law Officer's Facebook page over a similar, but less violent confrontation in Florida and the comments on this site, it is clear there are many first responders who aren't really clear about the freedoms provided by the First Amendment. They believe it is perfectly okay for a police officer, firefighter, EMT or paramedic to order someone to shut down a camera when that citizen or member of the press is standing in a public place and shooting something that is in public view. Some believe it is okay for a first responder to make up laws that don't exist and threaten a photographer with arrest or seizure of their camera equipment. All sorts of reasons are used that aren't backed up by any legal authority. They include victims' rights, right to privacy, and claims that shooting a building threatens security. Sometimes it's simply the belief that a camera shooting a first responder doing their jobs interferes with an investigation or operation.
The case of Mitchell Crooks and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Officer Derek Colling should give pause to those who believe any of those are legitimate reasons to interfere with picture taking when the person has not infiltrated a secure area.
In the raw video (above) from March 20, Officer Colling approached Crooks, who had spent the previous hour shooting video of the arrest of burglary suspects across the street from Crooks' home. Crooks was standing on his own property at the time, even though he initially denied it was his home. Ordered to shut down his camera, Crooks refused. The camera toting citizen was wrestled to the ground, battered and handcuffed by the officer.
As Mike Blasky writes, Crooks initially faced charges of battery on a police officer, had his expensive camera seized and suffered a broken nose and possible broken ribs. But things are now looking very different, thanks to Crooks not shutting off his camera and the right people seeing his video. The charges have been dropped by the Clark County District Attorney, an internal investigation of Officer Colling is underway, Officer Colling has been suspended and Crooks got his camera and video back.
Besides Crooks' claim, at first, that he didn't live where the video was shot, there are a few other side issues in Blasky's article that sure are interesting but in the end may not really be the deciding factor in whether Crooks has the right to use his camera in a public place, unmolested by law enforcement. These include a 2002 video of police that Mitchell Crooks shot that made news in California. In that case the video showed two Inglewood officers beating a 16-year-old boy. Blasky also brings up that Officer Colling has been involved in two fatal shootings that were later ruled justified.
If you really think that you, as a first responder, have the legal right to interfere with such picture taking by the press or the public I urge you to read Blasky's entire article and follow this case closely. My view is that Officer Colling has made his department and police officers in general look pretty bad because of such thinking.
This is why I strongly suggest police, fire and EMS departments teach their people what limited legal authority they have when it comes to cameras in public places and to really understand the rights of the people holding those cameras.
I know the actions of Derek Colling don't represent law enforcement in general. I don't want anyone to get the impression that this site's purpose is now for cop bashing or that I'm anti-police. What I am is pro-First Amendment.
There is a real fear/hatred of the press and cameras in general by some who serve the public. That's their right to feel that way. But this video appears to show when that turns into public officials infringing on the basic rights of others it can quickly get really ugly.
Deal reached in Deale blown engine controversy: Glenn Usdin provided some interesting insight a few weeks ago on blown engines during pump testing after a 1991 pumper owned by the Deale (MD) VFD suffered such a fate while in the hands of the Anne Arundel County Fire Department shop. Deale and the county went back and forth for a while over who was financially responsible in this case. Now an economical solution has been found. FireTruckBlog.com has the story. Click here.
Threats & other verbal attacks are now a way of life for Clark County, Nevada firefighters: The long and nasty battle over compensation for firefighters in Clark County that resulted in a probe of sick leave abuse has taken its toll. Scott Wyland in the Las Vegas Review-Journal spent time with firefighters, including some named in the probe, and describes the less than warm reception firefighters are often receiving. Here’s the article.
More image problems as the Bee stings Sac Metro FD: An editorial in the Sacramento Bee on Sunday has the title “Sac Metro salaries are a disgrace”. Overtime seems to be responsible for the high salaries. And the Bee thinks this is the problem – “Either by contract or policy, set staffing levels are maintained. If a firefighter calls in sick, another is called in on overtime. Generous overtime boosts already generous salaries.” The Bee fails to discuss or seem to care why those staffing levels are in place. Then there is this shocker – “It’s worth noting that a part of the firefighter’s work day is spent sleeping, watching TV, cooking or relaxing in the firehouse.” It should also be noted the chief of the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District, Bill Sponable, announced his resignation on Friday citing the current economic woes. Click here to read the editorial.
Fireworks cache takes out home: Firegeezer has the story from Blue Springs, Kansas of a man handling some of the large amount of fireworks he stored in his home. The Fourth of July came very early and the man is lucky he was left with only minor injuries. The house is a different story. Click here for the story.
Firefighters dressing in drag, showing their butts & dancing with college girls, all in the name of charity: Of course that headline can only mean one thing. Cincinnati firefighters are back in Fort Myers Beach, Florida for spring break. News-Press.com’s Chris Umpierre looks at this 28-year tradition that has on occasion raised some eyebrows. The picture to the right is by Amanda Inscore, News-Press.com. Click here for the story.
The video above, by Charlie Hannagan at Syracuse.com, is from Firefighter Memorial Park in Syracuse, New York. On this day in 1939 the Collins Block building collapsed taking the lives of eight firefighters and an assistant chief who died three days later. With this memorial service, the Syracuse Fire Department each year honors all of the city’s firefighters who have died in the line of duty. Currently that number is 45.
What isn’t on the video, but is the focus of an article by Hannagan, are the speeches by Chief Mark McLees and IAFF Local 280 president James Ennis. Each man takes the opportunity to remind political leaders and the public that we are the same ”hometown heroes” who were held in such high esteem after 9-11. They address the budget cuts impacting safety and the attacks on firefighter pensions. An important message that needs to be heard all across the country.
But will the citizens and the politicians listen?
It is extremely tough out there right now for firefighters. It isn’t just that you are often losing these economic battles. That’s horrible in itself and is having a devastating impact on scores of departments. It is the image and reputation of firefighters that is also taking a hit. This week alone, on opposite sides of the country, firefighters are making big news with some very unflattering stories about their work ethic (click here and here).
As I pointed out earlier in the week, I am not here to argue the facts of any of these stories. It is the bigger picture that has me worried. Chief McLees and President Ennis are on the right track, but so much more needs to be done. Make sure you read the comments already popping up about their statements to get the full picture of what’s out there.
Today, “the economy has bottomed out. The government has bailed out Wall Street, the banks, the automobile, insurance and housing industries. Firefighters’ pensions are now being blamed for the financial woes of the state and many other states across the nation,” he (Chief McLees) said.
“Are you kidding me? Firefighters’ pensions are the cause? Seriously?” McLees said.
“The last time I checked there was no plaque with the names of bankers who died in the line of duty. There are no statues of Wall Street executives who laid down their lives for total strangers,” he said.
James Ennis, president of Syracuse Firefighters Local 280, continued on the same theme.
“In these extremely difficult economic times, when pundits and others may argue about the number of firefighters needed to safely operate at a working fire, or complain about the pensions and benefits we receive, I remind you of the 45 brave men whose memories we honor here this morning,” Ennis said.
“I ask, and implore, that you assist us from ever having to add yet another name to the wall behind me,” he said.
Ennis then reminded those present that firefighters and retirees face a shortened life expectancy, a greater risk of getting cancer and other diseases because of their continued exposure to smoke, toxins and other byproducts of combustion in the course of their careers.
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.
The annual election of at the Sellersburg Volunteer Fire Department in Clark County, Indiana occurred just five days after the department’s chief was accused of becoming emotional and melting down at the scene of a fatal ambulance crash. The accident killed medic David Grundle last Wednesday and injured his partner.
Chief Greg Dietz came under fire in recent days for his actions at the scene. A law enforcement official called it a “meltdown”. WHAS-TV said there was profanity on the radio and a dispute over a medical helicopter and who was in charge of the scene.
The election tonight means that Grundle will be replaced by 30-year department veteran Boyce Adams on January 1.
Earlier on Monday, Chief Dietz aplogized for his actions last Wednesday. WHAS-TV reports that “Dietz wrote in an email, ‘I have to admit that I lashed out in a manner I am not proud of, as a result of a myriad of emotions at the horrific crash site. I hope that time will heal any strained relationships, as I know that time will help me heal from the loss of David.’ “
This story is a bit different and I’m not sure what to make of it. It involves an investigation that is underway in Clark County, Indiana. It focuses on Chief Greg Dietz of the Sellersburg Fire Department and his behavior at the scene of a fatal crash involving a department ambulance last Wednesday. Here are excerpts from an article by WHAS-TV:
The investigation involves his alleged actions at the scene of an accident in which one of his own employees – a Clark County Emergency Medical Technician – was killed.
While we don’t know much about the nature of the possible charges, we’ve been told it all centers on a terrible crash that happened Wednesday afternoon.
According to sources, Chief Dietz arrived on the scene and became angry over whether his agency or the Clark County Sheriff’s Office was in charge, especially concerning where to land the medical helicopter.
Clark County Sheriff Danny Rodden confirmed to WHAS the incident is under investigation.
Sellersburg Police Chief Russ Whelan says Dietz worked for 15 years as a volunteer auxiliary police officer.
David J. Gundle, a 50-year-old emergency medical technician from Memphis, was killed Wednesday when an ambulance driven by Erica R. Stoffregen, 26, of Henryville, left the roadway and struck a tree head on. They were responding to a nonemergency call of a welfare check. Clark County EMS is operated by the Sellersburg Volunteer Fire Department.
Gundle was first transported by ground ambulance to Henryville High School and then flown by Stat Flight to Scott County Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Officials said Dietz was upset because of where the helicopter had to land.
“I was told by numerous people that there was profanity used [by Dietz] on the fire radios,” Whelan said. “I understand that emotions were high at the time, but I believe we’re held to a higher standard.”
“He had a meltdown at the scene the other day,” Sheriff Danny Rodden said. “He just made some decisions and did some things he shouldn’t have.”
Thirty years ago, November 21, 1980, the MGM Grand in Las Vegas burned. Eighty-five people died and more than 700 were injured, including 14 firefighters. Here’s how the Clark County Fire Department describes the cause of the fire and the initial response:
It was determined during the investigation that the fire originated in the wall soffit of the side stand in the Deli, one of five restaurants located on the casino level.
The investigators concluded that several factors contributed to the cause of the fire but the primary source of ignition was an electrical ground fault.
From nfpadotorg on YouTube, this two part video (above and below): “Former NFPA fire investigator Dave Demers introduces a documentary chronicling the historic fire MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. The fire, which took place November 21, 1980, was the second largest loss-of-life hotel fire in the United States. The documentary, produced by the NFPA in 1981, examines how the fire began, the local response to the blaze, and how 85 people lost their lives in the incident.”
The employee first observed a reflection of a flickering light and, upon closer inspection, discovered a wall of flame traveling from the countertop to the ceiling. He immediately notified MGM security about the fire and proceeded to secure a hose line and fire extinguisher.
The employee repeatedly attempted to contain the fire but – by that time – the heat, smoke and pressure buildup was so intense that he was knocked down each time he tried to enter the Deli. Realizing the gravity of the situation, he decided to leave the area.
At the same time, other employees noticed the spreading fire and tried unsuccessfully to extinguish the growing flames.
Within six minutes of the time of discovery, the total casino area was involved in fire, at a burning rate of approximately 15 to 19 feet per second!
The Clark County Fire Department received the call reporting the fire at 7:17 A.M. Captain Rex Smith, Engineer Chad Marshal, and Firefighters Bert Sweeney, Toby Lamuraglia, and Ted Singer arrived in Engine 11 at 7:19 A.M. They positioned the 1,500 GPM fire engine at the North entrance of the casino and implemented the High Rise Preplan.
Upon entering the casino, the crew observed black smoke emitting from the Deli. They were only forty feet into the hotel when a huge fireball burst out of the Deli and rolled into the casino, hustling the crew out of the building. The company made it back to the engine as the flames sprang out the front of the entrance.
In Southern, Nevada some firefighters are keeping close tabs on the private ambulances they deal with every day. In Clark County, Las Vegas and North Las Vegas there are concerns that American Medical Response (AMR) wants a bigger piece of the EMS pie than they currently have. Firefighters are making the case AMR isn’t do a good job under its current contract.
AMR General Manager Mike Gorman told the Las Vegas Journal-Review, “AMR is disappointed with what we believe are unfounded political attacks of distortion by the Fire Unions to drive its agenda and to take away private sector jobs. We are extremely proud of our EMTs and paramedics. Our EMTs and paramedics serve the citizens and area professionally, honorably, and provide excellent clinical care.”
The three jurisdictions involved have a dual-response emergency medical system. When a medical call comes in, teams are dispatched from the nearest fire department, and a private ambulance is dispatched too. The fire department’s response time goals are faster: four minutes to eight minutes.
The system allows fire department ambulances to return to duty instead of having to transport patients to the hospital, which can take up a lot of time. But if a patient is in need of immediate care, the fire department will do the transporting.
“I can tell you, point blank, we have no interest in trying to privatize the fire department out of EMS. We value that relationship,”said John Wilson with AMR.
Firefighters are expected to respond within six minutes at least 90 percent of the time. It’s twice that figure for AMR, 12 minutes 90 percent of the time. If they arrive late, they can be fined.
“There are multiple times we see them arrive in 20, 25 minutes, 24 minutes. We don’t know. We can’t control them,” said Hurley.
“It is 4,687 times for the first six months. That is documented through the Ambulance Oversight Committee, that AMR and MedicWest have basically told the committee, ‘We were late this amount of times.’ So, it isn’t the union saying it. It is their records that we are using,” said Fletcher.
But, firefighters say it’s worse than that, alleging the companies play deadly games to make it look like they arrive in 12 minutes, so they can meet the standard of 90 percent.
They showed 8 News NOW records from 911 calls where AMR’s dispatch switches the designated ambulance two or three times in the middle of a single call. They say that restarts the clock. We were also shown cases where the company dispatchers change the address they are seeking, so it looks like a new call, and they can arrive in time. On some occasions, the unions say, the companies call off the fire department by claiming they are already on the scene even when they aren’t.
In one instance, a nine-year-old boy was in respiratory arrest. The ambulance company called in to say it was already on the scene and told the fire department it wasn’t needed. The firefighters kept going anyway. When they arrived, they found no ambulance on the scene.
Firefighter says helping out at crash scene on sick day cost him his job: An interesting story from Georgetown, South Carolina where a firefighter says he was forced to resign after helping at a crash involving his neighbor during a day the firefighter called in sick. Click here for the story and the comments.
And who says the good old days are gone?: Whether they are true or not, the allegations sound like something from a few decades ago. In Woodbridge, New Jersey town officials claim members of the Avenel-Colonia First Aid Squad had nude dancing and prostitues at parties inside the squad’s building. The allegations are the latest headline in an ongoing battle between Woodbridge and the EMS crew. The squad is going to court claiming it is being defamed by a public smear campaign. Read the story.
Firefighter laughing and taking video while pit bull is shot brings scrutiny but no discipline: In St. Lucie County, Florida firefighters responding to a dog bite call watched as a Fort Pierce cop shot a pit bull. One firefighter caught the action on his cell phone camera. It was also the reaction of the firefighters that made news. Check it out.
Funerals tomorrow in Virginia: Click here and here for funeral details and the latest on the crash Monday that killed Rocky Mount Chief Posey Dillon and Firefighter (and former chief) Danny Altice.
Outer Banks fire department under scrutiny: Having spent many days and nights on the Outer Banks of North Carolina covering hurricanes I was drawn to Firegeezer Bill Schumm’s story about the dispute in Southern Shores where citizens are dealing with a substantial tax increase to fund the volunteer fire department. The town pays the freight, including the chief’s $70,000 salary, but has little say or insight in how the money is spent. Bill is all over this story with interesting video. Click here.
Controversy over not sending the closest units: A double fatal crash from May in Greenbrier, Tennessee is making news because the two closest fire and EMS companies weren’t dispatched on the call. The article indicates the closest units were available and could have been on the scene within two to three minutes. But because the collision was on the wrong side of the Davidson-Robertson County line, Nashville dispatched apparatus that took more than 10-minutes to arrive. Read and watch the story.
Picture of the day: A firefighter in China rescues a colleague caught in an oil slick that occurred after the explosion of two pipelines. Click the image for more.
Maryland fire company sued by woman who can’t get in: On the Eastern Shore, The Crisfield Volunteer Fire Department is being sued by a member of the local rescue squad who has been turned down three times for membership. The department has never had a female member. The lawsuit claims Juanita Nelson was rejected because of the feeling expressed at a meeting, “If we let a female in here, it will never be the same again”. Read the article.
Ad attacks politician for cutting rescue unit. Unit may be needed because commissioner threw fire chief under bus: The battle continues in Clark County, Nevada. An ad by firefighters blames Clark County Commissioner Rory Reid for mothballing the county’s rescue engine and relying instead on the heavy rescue unit from Las Vegas. Reid, who wants to be governor of Nevada, responded, “The ad is false. I have been informed by Fire Chief Steve Smith that this action will not negatively impact response times or public safety.” Read what a local columnist has to say about the battle.
In Tazewell County, Virginia two firefighters from Abb's Valley were hurt when their rig rolled over coming down a hill while returning from a call on Monday. One firefighter was trapped underneath the wreckage. An article indicates there may have been brake problems. Click the image to watch the story.
If it isn’t one thing ..: Bad luck for a Warren, Ohio firefighter didn’t end with his recent lay off from the department. Now, his home catches fire. Read details.
Much more important stuff in Baltimore than our foolishness: At 2:00 Friday afternoon the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (where I do some work) will have a briefing at the Hilton next to the Baltimore Convention Center on a new behavioral health initiative. Please join us. Below are some details from the press release-
The way to help firefighters who have dealt with potentially traumatic events is changing. Much has been learned from the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation’s work in New York after September 11th and following the loss of 9 firefighters at a furniture store fire in Charleston, South Carolina in 2007. A briefing on this new model at Firehouse Expo in Baltimore later this week will answer all your questions as to how-as a chief officer, family member or colleague-you can help firefighters deal with the stress, grief and trauma that often go along with this profession.
YLD is accepting applications for the 2010 scholarship award competition. The application deadline is September 30, 2010. The organization was founded in 1988 in memory of Deputy Fire Chief James G. Yvorra, who was killed in the line of duty. Since that time, YLD has awarded $103,000 in scholarships to members of the fire and emergency medical services.
They don’t make them like that anymore: At antique motorcycle races in Wauseon, Ohio on Friday one of the old bike’s caught fire. It is interesting watching people trying to put it out. But after the fire is extinguished look at how well the motorcycle survived.
Ammunition cooks: Early raw video shot by a neighbor of a fire Monday morning in Halstead, Kansas. We have a theme going with the videos this morning, Check below for the gun shop fire in Texas.
Engine that failed to pump in Seattle was a reserve piece: The Seattle Times cites sources as saying Saturday’s fire that left four children and an adult dead apparently started in a mattress. The Seattle Fire Department now confirms the engine that failed to pump was a reserve piece. Here is an excerpt from the paper’s story:
The Fire Department, in a written statement, clarified that the first engine to arrive at the blaze — which suffered a mechanical failure and was unable to pump water — was a 1996 reserve engine assigned to Station 18 because the normal engine, a 2008 model, was in the shop for routine maintenance.
Fire officials previously said the 2008-model engine, stationed on Northwest Market Street, had been successfully tested that morning before the fire was reported at 10:04 a.m. Now it is unclear whether those tests were performed on the reserve truck, Engine 81 — listed in dispatch records that day as Engine 18 — or on the station’s regular Engine 18.
The department also confirmed that the engine at Station 9, closest to the apartment fire, was on a nonemergency call to a Wallingford retirement home when the blaze erupted.
The paper reports the number of non-emergency calls from this retirement facility has been an issue. There have been 486 responses to the facility since 2005.
I have always said some of the smartest and bravest firefighters you will find anywhere are in Roanoke, Virginia. This picture by The Fire Critic Rhett Fleitz proves my point. Smart for regularly reading STATter911.com. Brave for doing so in the fire station. Click the image for Rhett's description of what brought about this picture. BTW we are always interested in pictures showing where and how you use STATter911.com. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Union blasts Bourne oath policy: As we mentioned the other day the policy that firefighters must be under oath when political leaders conduct investigations is the latest controversy for the Bourne Fire Department. It has brought a scathing letter from the president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts. Read it.
Clark County commission chairman says he won’t be bullied by fire union ad: The latest from Nevada brings the following quote from Rory Reid, chairman of the Clark County Commission- “The firefighters want the public to think this is about safety. In fact, the only thing at risk is the firefighters’ paycheck and that’s what this is all about.” The union says it is about safety when you cut the county’s heavy rescue and hazmat capability. Read the story.
Ohio captain linked to hidden camera in bathroom: Police have arrested Mayfield Heights Fire Department Captain Daniel Serge after a small digital camera was discovered in a handicapped bathroom at a YMCA. Here’s the story.
Firefighters apparently help fuel Charlie Sheen gossip:” ‘I think it’s Charlie Sheen’s car,’ a firefighter who first arrived at the scene initially told RadarOnline.com.” Now that’s journalism for you. Trying to nail down the all important story of the troubled actor’s abandoned car found running in a ditch on Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles, the rag got an “I think” from a firefighter. Sounds good enough for me. Read it if you care.
Early video of house fire in Tinley Park, Illinois: A neighbor boy with a camera catches this one before firefighters arrive. Listen to the questions asking where is the fire department (did they call?). You can read a few more details about the fire here.
Fire engines, but no fire department: I urge you to take a few moments to watch the videos and read the information about the state of fire protection on Mudge Island in British Columbia. It is a place with two fire trucks and no real fire department. But the citizens have taken the matter, and the hose lines, into their own hands. Some of our readers find what they see inspiring. Other think it is ridiculous. Either way it sure is interesting. Click here.
Another police chief makes the case for taking over the fire department: In Auburn, Maine the acting fire chief feels the bosses showed disrespect toward him and the fire department for failing to include the fire service perspective in the city’s study of combining the police and fire departments. That job went to the police chief who says it could work just fine having public safety officers showing up at fires, putting down their weapons and going in to fight a fire. Watch the story.
Bourne’s back: For a while the Bourne Fire Department in Massachusetts just stayed in the news as the department dealt very publicly with a series of problems (click here and scroll down). The recent quiet from Bourne has now been broken. Two paramedics are claiming an on-call firefighter drove his personal vehicle recklessly through a crash scene on the way to a fire call. The medics says they were almost struck while tending to a patient. Here is the story.
Probation in hazing incident: A judge has given a year probation to three Connecticut firefighters and another person after a hazing incident we had told you about. This is where a 14-year-old member of the Quaker Hill Fire Department, who had pulled a chair out from underneath a firefighter’s girlfriend, found himself bound to a backboard, gagged and shot with an air gun. Here’s the update.
Consulting firm fired because it had never recommended layoffs: In Palo Alto, California a consultant was dropped midway through a staffing study of the fire department. Council members were shocked to learn the firm had never recommended layoffs in any of its previous studies. According to MercuryNews.com, some on the council were hoping the study would pave the way for cut backs. The official reason for the dropping of the consultant is a “conflict of interest”. Check out this line from the article – “they were surprised to learn at an April 20 finance committee meeting that consulting firm Emergency Services Consulting International was affiliated with an international fire chiefs union.” I knew those fire chiefs would eventually unionize.
What happens in Las Vegas may be shared with Clark County: With both Nevada jurisdictions in battles with firefighters over budget issues, leaders hope to share services like hazmat and heavy rescue in an effort to save money. Here is the latest.
CFSI: The Congressional Fire Services Institute’s National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner and Seminars start today. Click here for details.
It is Bonanza time: May 7 is the start of the two day Bonanza Extravaganza put on by the Professional Firefighters of Hagerstown, Maryland (IAFF Local 1605). This event, involving music, gaming, big money prizes and much more has become a real happening. The union says, through a foundation set up to handle the profits from the event, firefighters have given away hundreds of thousands of dollars to non-profits in the community and ”a $40,000 donation to Children’s Village that funded every second grader in Washington County to be able to attend a two day fire and police safety educational program”. Click here to read more background information on the event. Here’s the website.
Another fired DeKalb County, Georgia firefighter makes the case for reinstatement: William Greene goes public in his efforts to get his job back after being fired with four others following a botched response to help an elderly woman who said her house was on fire. Greene says he was not given complete information by dispatchers. Read the story.
Mayor’s fund raiser attracts firefighters: We have shared with you a number of stories about the relationship between North Providence Mayor Charles Lombardi and his firefighters (click here and scroll down for a recap). If you have read any of them you know that if a large group of firefighters showed up at a fund raiser for Lombardi it wasn’t because they were invited. There were about 250 firefighters with picket signs outside the restaurant last night. Click here for the story. Watch the video.
How sad: During a retired firefighter’s funeral in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, burglars broke into the home the firefighter shared with his brother. Read more.
Union called out for stealing story of 1953 fire: A paranormal researcher who had written a story in 2008 on the 55th anniversary of a nursing home fire that killed 33 people says IAFF Local 2427 reposted that same story on its site. The author says her name wasn’t on the story but credit inhstead was given to someone affiliated with the union. Here’s the story about the story, that we are crediting to TampaBay.com.
Man’s duck story apparently doesn’t hold water: The man admits he set the fire inside the Ride the Ducks building in Seattle. But the story about why he did it might quack you up. (Seriously, what kind of an idiot writes this junk?) Here’s the story.
Steering the rig: It is drill day at STATter911.com. Do your know your apparatus? See how these steering and driving tips from the Los Angeles Fire Department apply today. Click here for Part 2.
Firefighter handcuffed & put in cell, but it is the sheriff’s deputy who is facing charges: An interesting turn of events in that dispute in Colorado between the Lake County Sheriff’s Department and Leadville/Lake County Fire Rescue. The prosecutor has decided not to file charges against Battalion Captain Dan Dailey in connection with that March 27 EMS run at the Lake County Jail. Instead, Deputy Steve James has been charged for interfering with the work of Captain Dailey. Read the details.
Click the image for the slideshow from yesterday's house fire in Glen Echo, Maryland. The link for the raw video is to the right.
Raw video from Maryland house fire: WUSA9.com’s Greg Guise and Bruce Leshan were on the scene of yesterday’s house fire in Glen Echo. Here’s the video.
Read report into Los Angeles Fire Department disciplinary problems: “Despite repeated vows to reform the way it handles costly discrimination and misconduct complaints, the Los Angeles Fire Department relies on a disciplinary system plagued by poor documentation, uneven punishment and a lack of clear guidelines, according to a new city audit.” That’s the summary by the Los Angeles Times of the new 220-page audit and report. Click here to read the entire report and here for the article.
Questions about another DeKalb County fire: Too early to tell which way this one will go, but the damage was done long ago on the PR front and DeKalb just can’t catch a break. Neighbors claim they had trouble getting through to 911 to report a house fire this week. They also insist firefighters couldn’t find the hydrant behind bushes across the street, delaying a water supply. The fire department says there are indications the times by the neighbors are wrong and that there was no delay with the water. Of course this comes in the wake of the fiasco that shook up the department after firefighters couldn’t find a burning home until it was way too late. Here’s the latest.
Retired firefighter volunteers to ride browned-out unit: A 53-year-old former Chicago area firefighter/paramedic makes a pitch to San Diego’s mayor to help staff units closed each day to save money. It will likely take more than this one guy to run as many as eight engines shut down each day. Check it out.
Firefighters picket taxpayers: Specifically Atlanta firefighters have been in the face of the Fulton County Taxpayer Association which is taking a strong stand over the pension benefits enjoyed by the firefighters. Here’s the story.
In Clark County, Nevada it never ends: The battle over overtime and overall compensation continues. The latest article has emails that the Las Vegas Sun reports shows the union resisting efforts to allow a promotional exam to fill vacant positions for engineers. Here’s the story.
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.
Two from Washington State – TV crew stumbles onto house fire & a rekindle: A reporter and photographer from KOMO-TV in Seattle spotted the smoke and beat the firefighters from Marysville, Washington to the scene of this house fire on Saturday. Read more in this account from the reporter. Click here for an extended version of the video above showing much more of the firefighting operations. About 25 miles to the south on I-5, there was a house fire around 7:30 Monday night in Lynwood that left a man critically burned. Firefighters saved the man’s reptiles but reported the house was full of debris. Some of that debris wasn’t completely extinguished and about 2:00 Tuesday morning the fire took off again. Watch the story.
Big Love meets Backdraft: That’s one way to describe the story unfolding in twin polygamous communities along the Arizona – Utah border. Investigators say a central figure in their fraud and misuse of funds probe is the fire chief for the two towns. His home and four fire stations were among the places raided yesterday. Here’s what we put together on the story.
A former Martin County (FL) firefighter and his twin brother are accused of stealing drugs from an ambulance parked at a hospital. Security cameras caught the theft. Click the image to read the story and watch the video.
Primary & secondary searches fail to turn up elderly woman, eventually found in the bathtub: Firefighters in Northwoods, Missouri didn’t find the body of Gail Banks until her godson went looking for her hours after the fire at her home was extinguished. Read and watch this story.
County commissioner who criticized firefighter pay gets more security: In Clark County, Nevada Steve Sisolak has been leading the charge over firefighter overtime and compensation. Sisolak says the number of harassing phone calls is increasing. Read more.
Fire chief says no: Corning, New York Chief Stephen Monroe is retiring after 10-years as chief because some of the things he has been asked to do by the city manager conflict with his style of principle-based leadership. The chief is not going into detail publicly but the thought is much of it has to do with budget cutting. Firegeezer has this interesting story.
Timing is everything: A success story in the case of a one-year-old child who stopped breathing yesterday in Prince George’s County, Maryland. A Kentland VFD engine crew, just back from a three-hour brush fire, was sent on the call. Before they got very far, the call came to them as a car blocked the engine’s path. Inside was the child. Firefighter/EMT Fred Caramiello was able to quickly dislodge an obstruction and get the choking infant breathing again. Click here to read the press release from PGFD Chief Spokesman Mark Brady.
The brotherhood: My blogging brother Rhett Fleitz, who I seem to be willing to throw under the bus at a moment’s notice, takes a look at what the term brotherhood means for firefighters. Check it out at The Fire Critic.
Leadership- A Question of Character: As you would expect, Ben May in his Firehouse.com column goes a lot deeper than shallow Dave did in his recent posting about leadership and honesty. Ben looks at Osceola County Fire Rescue where, besides honesty, they talk about things like patience, kindness, humility, respectfulness, selflessness, forgiveness, accountability, and commitment. Here’s Ben’s column and an interesting view of servant leadership.
Road trip to Detroit: Chicago’s Steve Redick made one of his regular trips to Detroit and returned, as usual, with lots of video. The clip above, with fireground audio, chronicles the 3-day visit. You can see Steve’s still images from Detroit here. On the same page you will find links for Steve’s books on rigs in and around Chicago.
Click the image for more pictures from Emmitsburg's Vigilant Hose Company.
Investigators make arrest in Emmitsburg fire: If you haven’t checked in over the weekend you may not have seen all of the early pictures and video from Saturday morning’s fire in the heart of Emmitsburg. The 150-year-old apartment building (former hotel) that houses Stavros Pizza burned. While early news reports indicated careless smoking was to blame, one resident is under arrest, charged with starting the fire during a suicide attempt. In fact, you can hear people talking about a man in custody on one of the fire videos we posted. Click here and here for our coverage.
What’s up Doc? The answer may not be good for your blood pressure: Neil Coplan, an FDNY doctor who occasionally visited fire scenes, receives a $95,000-a-year disability pension because of a heart ailment. The pension was awarded under the same provision that presumes an active firefighter’s heart problems are job related. This one isn’t sitting too well with some people. Read more.
It seems to never end in Flint: WJRT-TV reports there were eight fires Saturday night and early Sunday morning for a total of 20 in three days in Flint, Michigan. One battalion chief says fatigue is setting in for firefighters as they handle this 12-day arson spree with fewer Flint firefighters and reduced resources from neighbors. Click here to watch and here, to read the TV station’s latest story. Here’s our coverage of fires earlier in the weekend, including an arrest in a Friday evening blaze.
Fire report from Prince William County, VA: Click the image to read a report from OWL VFD Chief Jim McAllister on a Woodbridge townhouse fire Sunday evening.
More from the battleground in Colorado over fire and EMS: Today is the day that more developments are expected in Leadville and Lake County over the nasty dispute between the fire department and the Sheriff’s department over who will provide fire and EMS coverage. Firefighters are scheduled to protest at the courthouse this afternoon over the arrest by sheriff’s deputies of a top fire official who had responded to an EMS call at the county jail. This evening there is a special joint meeting of Leadville and Lake County leaders to discuss the incident. Here is the latest. Click here and here for our previous coverage.
No charges in collision of two rigs in Houston that left bicyclist dead: The Houston Police Department has decided not to file criminal charges in the wreck a year ago between Ladder 16 and Engine 7 that took the life of a woman on a bicycle. The final decision is now up to the District Attorney. Read the details. Here is our coverage on the day of the collision.
Houston fire station closed: Speaking of Ladder 16, it has been moved to Station 8 following the closing of Station 16. KTRK-TV reports the building has been shuttered. Not a lot of details other than a report that problems with ceramic tiles coming loose has brought questions about the structural integrity of the firehouse. Here’s more.
A study in fire spread: That’s what Firegeezer calls his look at a fire in West Bend, Wisconsin. Take a look.
5-alarms in Nashville: Five homes were damaged or destroyed in the fire late Thursday night. Check it out.
Blast levels New Jersey home visited earlier by gas workers: In South Amboy two people were hurt in an apparent natural gas explosion that destroyed a home on Friday. The gas company confirms one its people had visited the house 45-minutes earlier, responding to a report of a leak. Here’s the story.
Was anyone on OT during boot drive?: The latest issue in Clark County, Nevada is over collecting money for MD during work hours. The question has also been brought up about overtime money being spent during the boot drive. Click here for the details.
The mature probie: An interesting article about New York’s Syosset Fire Department. Josh Stewart writes about the trend toward volunteers joining the department later in life. Here’s the story.
DC Fire & EMS crew under review after toddler dies: Several first responders with the DC Fire & EMS Department have been removed from contact with patients while the care they provided to a 2-year-old girl is reviewed. The investigation centers on exactly why the girl was not taken to the hospital during the first call for trouble breathing on February 10th. Nine hours later the child was transported after a second call to 911. She died the next day. This occurred during one of the major snowstorms that hit Washington. Surae Chinn has our story. Read and watch it here.
Firefighter accused of setting his home on fire twice in an effort to get his wife pregnant: I know that is a bizarre headline, but this is a bizarre story. Investigators in Bennington, Vermont say Capt. Ralph Brown Jr. needed money to pay for surgery so his wife could have a baby and decided insurance money was the way to finance the operation. The home caught fire twice. Now Brown, the wife, and another man are facing charges. Read more.
Three dead in 3-alarm Baltimore fire: The fire was reported around 2:00 AM in the 3500 block of Woodbrook Avenue. Two people escaped the home uninjured. Watch the video. Click here for details.
New Jersey firefighter’s decision to quit IAFF brings in the comments: Cherry Hill, New Jersey firefighter Michael Schaffer’s decision to quit the IAFF, rather than face charges over his activities as a volunteer, has people talking in our comments section (Schaffer himself joins in). The response was not unexpected. The only question was how long it would take before it got nasty and personal. Not long. Click here for the story and the comments.
Home of DC/Calvert County firefighter burns: Officials with the DC Fire & EMS Department confirm the home of one of its firefighters was destroyed in a two-alarm fire in Calvert County yesterday afternoon. The fire was at the home of Paul O'Conner in Bayview Hills. The Huntingtown VFD reports O'Conner, who is a member, used his radio to report the fire. Click the image for more details from TheBayNet.com and a series of pictures by Dennis Hook. The Maryland State Fire Marshal's office says the fire was started by a space heater used to dry materials in a shed under a wooden deck.
Another I-Team discovers firefighters make overtime: Contract negotiating time when money is very tight and suddenly everyone realizes the fire department is way over its overtime budget. This has happened in jurisdiction after jurisdiction across the country since the economy went south. We have run a bunch of stories that fit the pattern. The script goes like this. Political leaders say the OT is busting their budgets and often someone leaks the details to a newspaper or TV station. The news media runs the story showing how firefighters are all the top money makers in town. Someone claims there is something fishy going on. The IAFF points out if you hire firefighters and fill all the vacant positions you can then spend less on overtime. Then there is usually the call to lower minimum staffing requirements. Some of that is now going on in Clark County, Nevada. Check it out.
Scrambling to safety: Video from Chile as rescuers rush out of a building because of an aftershock. Check it out.
Former firefighter sentenced for 48 false calls: Caryn Sodaro will get a few more weeks in jail and have to pay $11,000 for her series of false suicide and other EMS calls. Officials say she called them in and then listened to the responses on the radio provided to her by the fire company where she volunteered in Weld County, Colorado. Here are the details.
‘You’ve got to get out of your truck and you got to go there’: No, this isn’t a comment about the DeKalb County, Georgia house fire that cost firefighters their jobs. This is the public safety director talking about Pittsburgh EMS. A pretty unbelievable story where an EMS crew wanted the patient, a man who died following 10 unsuccessful calls to 911 over three days, to walk to them during a snow storm. City officials believe Curtis Mitchell would still be alive if things had been done properly. Here’s the story.
PGFD animal rescue: Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department video and pictures from a rescue operation in a storm drain that brought a dog to safety. Click here.
Must see mayday video: This is a follow-up to a story we brought you at the end of January of a firefighter bailing out of a second floor window during the search for an elderly woman at a Randolph, New Jersey house fire. Helmet-cam video of the firefighter’s escape is now posted. Check it out.
Going out in style: A UK firefighter on the final day of his 25-year career rescues a woman from her burning bedroom. Read the story.
The fireground audio that goes with the picture of the day: If you have seen the picture of the infant being dangled from a window of a Bronx apartment building, you will want to listen to the radio traffic that goes with it. Click here.
‘We cannot continue to pay them at the rate we are paying them’: The words of Clark County, Nevada Commissioner Steve Sisolak who says firefighters make too much. He says on average benefits and salary equal $180,000. Click here for the story.
Boston lieutenant in road rage has past: We first told you yesterday about what police believe was an alcohol fueled road rage incident involving off-duty Boston Fire Department Lt. Paul Souza. Boston.com reports this isn’t a first for Souza.
Riding with Engine 16: Reporter Surae Chinn gets a close-up view as DC firefighters try to navigate the snow clogged streets of the Nation’s Capital. Here’s the story.
Stick this in your stocking – layoff notices go out two days before Christmas: Thirty-eight firefighters are among 100 in public safety who were sent layoff notices yesterday from the city of Cleveland, Ohio. The mayor says force reductions are planned for January 11 if a four-percent pay cut isn’t agreed to by the unions. There would also be reductions in rank for supervisory personnel. Read the details.
Firetruck rollover in France: Firegeezer has the picture and story over a crash that killed one firefighter and injured two others. Click here.
An orange jumpsuit may be in your future: I wonder if the owners of an Oakland, California fortune cookie company left behind that message after vacating the building that used to house the business. It seems a marijuana grow operation took over the Chinatown spot. A fire in the building brought the discovery. Here are some details.
Firefighters didn’t need a fortune cookie to help make this discovery: A fire in a mobile home brought a little something extra. Just outside firefighters found what is being described as the first still discovered in Etowah County, Alabama in more than a decade. Read more.
Replacement for chief who quit over layoffs: Remember the story in Saratoga Springs, New York where both the police and fire chief announced their retirements over concerns about safety following budget cuts? Fire Chief Robert Cogan’s last day is Friday and his replacement, Bob Williams, is a third generation firefighter whose father was once chief of the department. Read the details.
Click the image from KLAS-TV in Las Vegas to watch the station's live coverage of a large fire in an apartment complex yesterday morning.