According to the New York Post, the woman the tabloid dubbed the "Teflon probie" failed on her sixth try to run 1.5 miles in less than 12 minutes. Thirty-one year-old Wendy Tapia officially resigned on Thursday and according to an FDNY spokesman, will be heading back at her old job in EMS.
Tapia was one of five women among 285 new firefighters who graduated from the FDNY’s Randall’s Island training academy on May 17. The class of EMTs and paramedics was hailed as one of the most diverse ever.
She was assigned to Engine No. 316 in East Elmhurst, Queens, but never worked a shift. After recovering from a foot injury, she went on light duty and continued training for the run. She failed it five times, last on Halloween, clocking 12 minutes 23 seconds.
Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano, at the behest of United Women Firefighters, a group of active and retired FDNY women, gave Tapia another chance to pass the test on Dec. 2. But on the heels of a Post article on her special treatment, Tapia tried again early, and then threw in the towel.
Now comes an article today in the New York Post that claims FDNY has gone easy on at least one recruit from a previous class. It’s a woman the Post is calling the “Teflon probie”. Her name is Wendy Tapia. According to reporter Susan Edelman at the Post, Tapia was one of five women among 285 firefighters who graduated on May 17, but has yet to work a shift in the Queens firehouse where she is assigned. Tapia, claiming a foot injury and then a respiratory ailment, was not able to complete a required running test and is scheduled to take that test again in December for an unprecedented sixth time.
At the end of 18 weeks of probationary training, Tapia failed to run 1¹/₂ miles in 12 minutes without gear, as required by the academy. She blamed a foot injury.
The FDNY let her graduate anyway — and gave her five more deadlines over the past six months to pass the running test.
She failed all five times, insiders said.
Normally, probationary firefighters who fail the running test at the end of academy training don’t graduate — period. They flunk out but can join the next academy class, start over and get another chance to pass the course.
Tapia’s treatment has inflamed male and female colleagues alike.
Tapia was “unavailable for an interview,” the FDNY said.
A spokesman said Tapia “successfully completed every requirement to graduate from the academy except the run — which she was unable to do after sustaining a work-related injury. We have provided her time to recover from her injury and will test her again on Dec. 2.”
What really has me concerned for our society is not the story itself. It’s the outrage. I know I am not a medical professional but even I can see from the comments that many of those writing have contracted COD, Compulsive Outrage Disorder. The main symptom of COD is a severe case of blindness, often permanent. It isn’t just afflicting the fire service. The public in general is greatly at risk because of COD. It has spread so quickly, some people, including me, think it is threatening our way of life.
Compulsive Outrage Disorder was first identified many years ago by St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan. Essentially what happens with COD is you read or hear a headline or an abstract of a story that seems to go against your own beliefs of right and wrong or contradicts the political party or agenda you most identify with. Without even reading the whole story or trying to understand arguments of those who disagree with you, COD sufferers will immediately vent their anger on Facebook, Twitter and Internet forums. This often leaves the COD sufferer blind to the real facts. The facts become much less important than the emotion.
The article was posted by the website Call the Cops. Their banner provides a major clue about the “news” published on the site: “America’s 27th most trusted source of public safety news”. If that doesn’t tip you off, click the “About Us” button to find the following:
This site is a satire of the current state of Law Enforcement, Fire Fighting and Emergency Medical work. Stories posted here are not real and you should not assume them to have any basis in any real fact.
Just about every week someone (or many someones) in fire or EMS sends me a story from Call the Cops that has them outraged.
Even without COD, the problem we face in today’s society is that it is harder and harder to be a good consumer of news. It requires us to be more and more skeptical of what we read and to check further into the real facts. It doesn’t take a satirical website to mislead us. Mainstream news organizations, in the rush to compete with social media when there is breaking news, are getting the major facts wrong in some very important stories. In addition, what used to be labeled “commentary” by news organizations is often disguised as “reporting”, particularly on a number of cable news channels.
But it is almost impossible to be a savvy news consumer when you suffer from the blindness that comes from COD. And it is that blindness that may be causing the most danger to our way of life. Our political leaders and political parties count on that blindness to spread their platforms. It is the principle that most political advertising is based on. It is how they sway the electorate.
It’s not about the facts. It’s all about emotion. This is why the focus is not on the issues that are most important, but on the demonization of individuals. It is a big part of the political polarization of our country. And it is probably not a stretch to say COD blindness is one of the reasons that much of the Federal Government has had a “closed for business sign” on it for almost two weeks.
More so than the general public, those in public safety should have a built-in immunity to COD. You are the ones who are best at checking your emotions at the door when facing some of the most stressful situations anyone has to face. If only there was a way to take that skill and apply it across the board so we can always deal with facts and not the emotion.
My suggestion is to follow the example set long ago by a once well-known member of the public safety family. He wasn’t a firefighter. He was a cop. His name was Sgt. Joe Friday and his mantra was, “Just the facts ma’am”.
A New Haven, Connecticut firefighter who has a current discrimination case against the department had been charged with bribery in connection with the case. Firefighter Aaron Brantley’s case against City of New Haven, the New Haven Fire Department, Assistant Chief Patrick Egan and Capt. Matthew Marcarelli claims that Brantley was given “nonsensical” assignments to complete while on light-duty. Brantley had suffered an on-the-job shoulder injury.
According to news reports, it was Assistant Chief Egan who brought the allegations to New Haven Police that Brantley attempted to bribe two firefighters to back up his claims and split the settlement with them. Union President Jim Kottage walked out of police headquarters with Brantley and said there may be more to the story.
A source familiar with the matter said the arrest is in relation to a pending discrimination case that Brantley filed with the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities. The case recently was scheduled for mandatory mediation in April.
Brantley allegedly attempted to bribe two minority firefighters to testify that Assistant Chief Patrick Egan and Capt. Matthew Marcarelli discriminated against him based on his race, a source said. He allegedly offered the two firefighters a percentage of any monetary settlement he won.
According to the New Haven Register, Brantley claimed he was being discriminated against when he was tasked with painting fire hydrants, cleaning windows and doing errands, as well as other duties while recovering from an injury. In response, he filed a complaint with the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, the report states.
Attorney Hugh Keefe, who is representing Brantley, said his client has been with the department for eight years, has received several commendations and is a terrific firefighter who saved several people from burning buildings.
On Tuesday, STATter911.com linked and excerpted news coverage of a dispute between town officials in Berlin on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and the Berlin Fire Department. On Tuesday, the Mayor and Council of the Town of Berlin voted to cut ties with the department and cease providing funds. The loss is about $600,000 or a third of the fire company’s budget. Town officials cited continued harassment of career EMS workers and the fire department’s stance that it was the sole employer of the EMS crews.
The Berlin Fire Department denies that the real issue concerns allegations homosexual slurs were used against an EMS worker and instead made the case Tuesday through its attorney that this was an issue of the town wanting to have full control over the EMS crews.
Today the town of Berlin, in Worcester County on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, announced it was cutting ties and stopping all financial aid to the Berlin Fire Company. The monetary loss is about $600,000 or a third of the fire company’s budget. The issue, according to news reports, is a long brewing battle over continued charges of a hostile work environment, discrimination and sexual harassment against career EMS employees assigned to the firehouse.
Mayor Gee Williams told reporters the town would not be a part of this “culture of intolerance and ignorance”. The department’s attorney says the real issue is one of control and not sexual harassment.
The Berlin Mayor and Council on Tuesday announced it will amend its fiscal year 2013 budget to cease all financial aid to the BFC as a result of the organization’s inability to accept basic requirements of the town’s personnel policies to eliminate workplace harassment based on sexual orientation, race and sex of paid emergency medical services (EMS) employees at the Berlin Fire House. The funding support is also being withdrawn from the budget because the BFC has allegedly seriously breached the terms of an employment agreement for paid EMS personnel with the town in effect since 2009.
“Over the past six months, the Mayor and Council have done all that we can within our legal and moral authority to protect the rights of the paid EMS personnel who have been working as leased employees under the terms of an agreement enacted January 1, 2009,” said Berlin Mayor Gee Williams in a press release. “The fire company has been unsuccessful in its attempts to prevent some volunteer members from harassing Berlin’s paid EMS employees in the workplace that the town firmly believes is both unacceptable and illegal.”
Joe Moore, attorney for the Berlin Fire Company, denies that the town’s decision to cut funding is due to harassment allegations. He said the issue between the town and the fire company relates to control.
“The sole matter of disagreement is related to who will control the operations and scheduling matters for Emergency Medical Service for the town of Berlin,” he said. “We did not accede that control to them.”
Paramedics alleged they were being harassed by both fellow EMS employees and Berlin Fire Company volunteers regarding sexual orientation, race and sex. One individual was repeatedly subjected to slurs relating to his perceived sexual orientation, according to a town official who did not wish to be named.
A chaotic scene unfolded outside Middle School 72 in Jamaica, Queens, on Wednesday night as several men who wanted to attend a tutorial workshop for the upcoming FDNY entrance exam were turned away.
These men said it was because they were white. The Workshop was being hosted by the Vulcan Society, a fraternal organization of black firefighters, which apparently only let in people who got a special e-mail.
Many applicants were referred to the Vulcan Society test by Deputy Chief Paul Mannix, who heads a group called “Merit Matters,” which calls for even-handed entry requirements regardless of race.
Image from WCBS-TV.
He said it wasn’t a stunt. “We feel that for your best opportunity to do well on the test the Vulcan’s test is a good test. They hit the nail on the head last time with those unique types of questions,” Mannix said.
Wednesday night’s class was the third in a series of prep exams given by the Vulcan Society. The previous two were integrated. The one Wednesday was the only one from which people were barred from attending.
The New York Post has a story about a confrontation at a tutoring workshop in Queens last night put on by the Vulcan Society for those who are interested in taking the FDNY entrance exam. Police had to be called after tempers flared when a group of about 60 people who are white tried to take part in the workshop and were denied entrance.
A volunteer told the Post's C.J. Sullivan and Dan Mangan that he wanted everyone to get in but they didn't have enough resources to handle the crowd. The volunteer says the decision was not based on race but on who received a confirmation email from the Vulcan Society.
You will recall that the Vulcan Society, backed by the U.S. Justice Department, won a lawsuit recently, when a judge determined the FDNY's hiring practices are discriminatory.
From the Post:
Paul Mannix, a deputy FDNY chief who is president of Merit Matters, which opposes the reforms as a watering-down of standards, said that in two earlier workshops this week, the Vulcan Society admitted whites.
“It’s incredible in this day and age” that whites were barred last night, said Mannix, who called the Vulcans’ explanation “disingenuous.’’
This is truly a fascinating and different story out of Berea, Ohio. It is a bit complicated and required two readings of James McCarty's article for The Plain Dealer before I understood it. Let me try to explain it chronologically.
In 2010, Williams Phelps, a 17-year veteran of the Berea Fire Department who is black, was offered and turned down a promotion to lieutenant. The reason Phelps gave in a lawsuit recently filed in federal court, is that the promotion, at the time, was based on race and not merit. In that suit, William Phelps refers to the interview for the job he had with Safety Director Kenneth Adams, who is also black. From The Plain Dealer:
"If I promote you first, you need to be able to deal with the situation of being promoted ahead of two candidates who scored higher than you," Phelps quoted Adams as saying. He went on to quote Adams as saying that if he didn't promote Phelps, "people in the community" would ask why he didn't give the job to the black candidate.
Adams rejected Phelps' version of the process, and denied making the statements quoted in Phelps' lawsuit.
This year there have been two more firefighters promoted to lieutenant. Though Phelps says his exam scores placed him in one of the top two in line for those jobs, he was not offered a promotion. Phelps contends now that the promotion is based solely on merit and not the color of his skin, he wasn't offered the job. He believes he was passed over as retaliation for what happened last year.
In addition, Firefighter/Paramedic Phelps, has been one of the faces of the Vote No on Issue 2 campaign in Ohio. Issue 2, which will be decided on Tuesday, is a referendum on Senate Bill 5, backed by Gov. John Kasich, limiting collective bargaining rights for public employees. Phelps lent his face to the ad below that has been seen on billboards around the state.
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A group of firefighters who won a reverse discrimination case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2009 have been awarded about $2 million in damages from the city of New Haven, attorneys said Thursday.
The Supreme Court ruled that officials violated white firefighters' civil rights when they threw out 2003 promotion tests results because too few minorities did well. The firefighters returned to U.S. District Court in Connecticut seeking back pay, damages and legal fees.
Court papers indicate 20 firefighters have accepted offers from the city for back pay, additional pension benefits and interest. A trial was scheduled to start Aug. 26.
Attorneys for the city told The Associated Press on Thursday that the firefighters will receive about $2 million as well as pension improvements and the city will pay their attorneys' fees of about $3 million.
"I think it's a fair offer," said Richard Roberts, an attorney who represented the city. "We're glad we can move ahead and put this behind us."
Karen Torre, attorney for the firefighters, says the process should be completed in a few days.
Torre argued in court in 2009 that the firefighters were entitled to back pay with interest for long-overdue promotions, several categories of damages and attorney fees. She said the firefighters were subject to "the humiliation and economic hardship of prolonged career stagnancy in a rancorous atmosphere fostered by raw racial divides."
The case became an issue in confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who ruled against the white firefighters when she served on a federal appeals court.
A Daytona Beach, Florida newspaper is reporting that Daytona Beach Fire Department Lt. Kristine Gray has been offered and tentatively accepted a deal that promotes her to the number two spot in the department but requires Gray to stay off of fire department property. Gray would also receive $99,000 a year over the next three years when she will reach retirement age. At retirement she should receive approximately $70,000 a year.
Gray currently makes $68,000 year as a lieutenant. In 2007, Gray became the city’s first female battalion chief but was demoted in 2008. Gray claimed the demotion was because of her gender.
City commissioners agreed to the deal at a Wednesday meeting. Gray signed off on it on Monday but has seven days to back out.
After an October 2008 fire at an art gallery on Segrave Street, top firefighters accused Gray of mishandling leadership on the blaze. After an investigation, she was demoted to lieutenant.
Gray, who’s been a Daytona Beach firefighter since 1994, responded by filing various charges against the city with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as well as the Florida Human Relations Commission. She has maintained the fire was handled properly.
Now the city and Gray have come up with a settlement agreement that would bar Gray from pursuing her current complaints or other claims against the city in the future. The settlement states “the city denies all of Gray’s allegations in their entirety.” In return, Gray would be put on paid administrative leave for the next three years, earning more than $99,000 annually for the next three years along with full benefits.
The deal would bar Gray from ever stepping foot on Fire Department property, or working for the city again. But the settlement included a letter of recommendation from Fire Chief James Bland. Bland, who was not chief when Gray was demoted, wrote in his letter that she was a “valuable member” of the department, she was leaving “in good standing with the city,” and that she’s “ambitious and highly motivated.” If the deal remains in place, the city will rescind the 2008 demotion and the findings on which it was based. All the paperwork in her personnel files related to the demotion would be marked rescinded.
A lawsuit Friday by about 30 black firefighters alleges systematic racial discrimination within the D.C. Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services, claiming that black employees face harsher discipline, are promoted less often and confront a hostile work environment imposed by white supervisors.
The 31-page suit, which lawyers say was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, contains information potentially embarrassing to the department. It refers by name to at least 10 white firefighters accused or convicted of various misconduct. It also refers to black firefighters who committed similar offenses.
In a virtual rap sheet, the suit describes cases in which firefighters have been arrested for stalking, assault and illegal handgun possession; disciplined for fighting or injuring fellow firefighters with knives and plates; and investigated for e-mailing images of their sexual organs to female colleagues and cooking naked in firehouses.
“I have been trying disciplinary cases before the department for years, and time after time, I see that disciplinary actions taken against African Americans are different from disciplinary actions against whites for the same alleged offenses,” said plaintiff’s lawyer Donna Rucker of the D.C. law firm Gebhardt & Associates.
Pete Piringer, spokesman for the D.C. fire department, declined comment Friday, saying officials had not had the opportunity to review the lawsuit.
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a white Mount Vernon firefighter who said he was passed over for promotion because of his race.
Calling it a “far cry” from a case where the City of New Haven, Conn., was found by the Supreme Court to have engaged in reverse discrimination, U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel rejected the lawsuit filed by Joseph Carroll.
Carroll, 50, sued the city in December 2007, five months after his upgrade to lieutenant was stopped when the Vulcan Society of Westchester, a black firefighters’ group, opposed his promotion as violating a federal decree aimed at increasing the number of African-Americans in the department.
In his lawsuit, Carroll claimed he was denied his promotion by the city because the city caved into pressure from the black organization.
His lawsuit appeared to get a lift last year after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a predominantly white group of New Haven, Conn., firefighters whose promotions were rejected after the city threw out the results of a 2003 Civil Service test.
The court ruled 5-4 in Ricci v. DeStefano that New Haven officials wrongly tossed the test after black firefighters did not score well enough for promotion, and the city feared a potential lawsuit.
But Seibel said in her 17-page ruling Friday that unlike New Haven officials, the City of Mount Vernon did not take any steps designed to deny a promotion to Carroll, who was a 19-year veteran of the department.
Mount Vernon officials waited for the city Law Department to evaluate the Vulcan Society’s complaint regarding the consent decree. The Vulcans’ protest came four days before the 2004 test list for promotion expired.
The Law Department did not respond before the list expired, necessitating the use of a 2007 list where Carroll placed lower. The first two firefighters promoted to lieutenant from the new list were white.
“There is no evidence that the delay occasioned by consideration of the Vulcan Society’s objections was a pretext for discrimination,” Seibel wrote, adding that there was no evidence the Law Department deliberately dragged its feet as the old list approached its expiration.
Fatal fire in Bailey’s Crossroads, Virginia: The way relatives describe it, firefighters weren’t likely to save 52-year-old Andy Wang from Saturday morning’s house fire on Paul Street, no matter how fast they got there. Wang’s nephew tells STATter911.com, he smelled smoke and traced it to a basement bedroom where he saw his uncle sitting on the bed on fire. The nephew made sure six other relatives escaped the house. The closest firehouse to Paul Street is Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department Station 410 about 1.3 miles away. At the end of last week, Fairfax County decided not to staff that station overnight following the collapse of the roof over the bay area two weeks ago. For much of the two weeks, Engine 410′s crew had been using the Rehab Unit outside the station as its quarters. The engine is now with Truck 410 at Station 428 during night time hours. The Seven Corners firehouse (AKA Buffalo Ridge) is about two miles further away from the house on Paul Street. Officials say it took five minutes for the first unit to arrive on the scene. Firefighters we have talked to are very eager to again have coverage within Bailey’s Crossroads 24-hours-a-day (they spend most of the daylight and early evening hours in the first-due). Spokesman Dan Schmidt says the hope of county fire officials is that most of the living area at the Bailey’s Crossroads firehouse can be occupied during the next week or two, with a tent outside for apparatus. Click here for the fireground audio from Sunday’s fire.
This sure is different – chief cites grant competition for not allowing newly promoted career captain to be volunteer firefighter: This is a really interesting article from Fargo, North Dakota. The Fargo Fire Department recently promoted Joe Mangin to captain, but Mangin was told to accept that position he would have to resign as a member of the Casselton Volunteer Fire Department (where he had previously been assistant chief). The reason given is that Casselton competes with Fargo for grant money. At least three other Fargo captains are volunteers in North Dakota departments, including two who are chiefs of their departments. The explanation is those departments don’t compete with Fargo for funding. Here’s the story (may require log in).
Steve Skipton and Ron Trout have lots of photos of the two-alarm fire at Philadelphia International Records. Click the image to take you to PhillyFireNews.com.
The Philadelphia sound is a little smoky: It is where Chubby Checker recorded “The Twist”. It is also where songwriters Gamble and Huff developed the Philadelphia sound. A fire severely damaged the offices of Philadelphia International Records on Broad Street Sunday morning (see picture at left). Firefighters did their best to save Gold Records on the walls and other memorabilia. Read more about this legendary company at Philly.com. I am assuming their knowledge of the music industry surpasses their understanding of the fire service, considering this line in the story – “More than 100 fire personnel from Ladder 5 and Battalion 1 at Broad and Christian Streets responded to the two-alarm blaze … “. Damn, that is one crowded firehouse.
Lost ambulance reports: The Anne Arundel County Fire Department has been dealing for some time with lost ambulance reports from a now abandoned computer database and is also having problems with the software that replaced it. The impact includes failing to provided monthly patient-care reports to the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS). MIEMSS provides free software to the large majority of Maryland’s counties that does the same job. Here’s the story from The Capital in Annapolis.
Reverse Ricci now before the Supreme Court: 6000 African-Americans sued following a 1995 test for the Chicago Fire Department unfairly screened out minority applicants. Their case was thrown out because they may have waited too long to file suit. That issue and more is now before the Supreme Court in a case that had already been before Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Read the story.
Watch our latest videos over here >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
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.
A stove fire in Pennsylvania: That’s how this one was dispatched late last night in the Borough of Wilson in Northampton, County. NewsWorking.org shot the video and provides this description- At 2011 hrs. Wilson fire 24 responds two engines and a truck to a report of a stove fire in a dwelling. Fire officer 2454 arrives and transmits a working fire in a three-story duplex. Engine 2412 arrives and stretches a handline. Ladder 24 positions in a parking lot on side Bravo of the dwelling. The fire rapidly extended vertically to the roof and within minutes, engulfed the entire roof and gutted the dwelling attached on side Delta. Easton City and West Easton assisted at the scene. It took over one hour to bring the fire under control.
Check out our latest videos in the player to the right. New videos of USAR teams in Haiti added this morning.
Did they also stamp the hands of the firefighters?: Dave becomes outraged over the evacuation procedure for Detroit’s Cobo Center after a fire broke out yesterday during the annual auto show. Instead of making sure everyone left immediately, there were apparently some other priorities. Click here.
Retired Scranton firefighter charged with arson: Investigators say that insurance fraud is the motive behind a 2008 arson at an East Scranton apartment building that sent two people to the hospital. Thomas Gervasi, who retired from the Scranton Fire Department in 2001, was arrested yesterday. Read more.
Judge wants FDNY to impose hiring quota: In an effort to make up for an “intentional” pattern of discrimination by FDNY, The New York Post reports a federal judge in Brooklyn has a imposed a temporary hiring quota-
Under the order handed down yesterday, Judge Nicholas Garaufis said he wants the city to hire two black and one Hispanic candidate for every five applicants who pass the test until there are 293 minorities added to the ranks of the FDNY.
An AP photo of Virginia Task Force 1 members at the site of a collapsed hospital yesterday in Port-au-Prince. Check out the player to the right for new USAR videos from Haiti.
Former L.A. County assistant chief takes stand in puppy killing case: Remember Glynn Johnson? He’s the former assistant chief who retired from Los Angeles County Fire Department after a November, 2008 incident where his neighbor’s dog had to be put to sleep. Johnson is now on trial and has taken the stand in his own defense. Read details.
Let’s make a deal: Tulsa’s mayor is offering more last minute deals to avoid laying off 147 firefighters. Of course it involves pay cuts. Read the story.
Firefighter gets money for hearing loss: Broward County, Florida has agreed to pay $50,000 to settle the claim of a recently retired firefighter who says his hearing loss came from 27-years of loud sirens. Click here.
Not a real good plan: A reader tipped me to this story from Santa Fe, Texas but Firegeezer beat me to it. Two former EMS workers are accused of calling in a false alarm as a diversion so they could steal drugs from their former station. Police say the pair went to so far as to make sure police would also respond on the call. But things didn’t quite work out as envisioned. Read more.
House fire in Millersville, Pennsylvania: This is from last Friday. No more info.
NEW – Virginia Task Force 1 makes rescue in Haiti: Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department’s USAR team arrived in Haiti at 4:00 PM yesterday and set up camp at the American Embassy. Lt. Mike Davis tells CNN that a UN worker has been rescued from a collapsed area by the team. Details later.
More drastic cuts coming in Baltimore?: Baltimore City Fire Department Chief Jim Clack told firefighters it is possible that a loss of state money could mean the closing of 9 to 14 companies and a loss of 200 to 250 jobs come July 1. Click here to read and watch the story.
Layoffs and staffing in Cleveland: A judge has issued a temporary restraining order keeping the Cleveland Fire Department from implementing a staffing plan to account for Monday’s layoffs. Here’s the update.
Goldfeder has a lot to say on a few recent stories: The story we ran yesterday from Monroe Township, New Jersey where the volunteer deputy chief has been suspended for six months after sending around a petition to save the jobs of the department’s two career firefighters caught the attention of The Secret List. Combined with the other recent story about the replacement of Buffalo’s fire commissioner, Billy Goldfeder is talking about how tough times make some people stand up and be counted. Read his commentary.
Then there is the issue of training in Arizona. With state funding cut for certification and accreditation that had been done by the State Fire Marshal’s office, Goldfeder is wondering if some priorities are wrong in Arizona and on the federal level. You can read that one here.
Federal judge says FDNY discriminated: “A federal judge ruled on Wednesday that New York City intentionally discriminated against black applicants to the Fire Department by continuing to use an exam that it had been told put them at a disadvantage.” That’s the opening line in an article by Al Baker in The New York Times. Read more.
Discrimination & retaliation claim in Philly: “A white Philadelphia firefighter who settled a racial-discrimination case against the city last year filed another federal lawsuit yesterday, saying the fire commissioner and his top aides had retaliated against him for going to court.” That’s how an article by Robert Moran begins in the Inquirer. Read more.
Firefighters respond second time for fire in the same house, but it definitely wasn’t a rekindle: Firefighters in East Hanover Township, Pennsylvania recognized the house that was burning in front of them Wednesday morning. They had fought a fire in the same house five-years-ago. Click here for the story.
Fire in Stoughton, Massachusetts: Firegeezer has video and details from a fire that burned a large 1890s era home and the efforts by neighbors to save an elderly woman who lived there.
A big time out: A broken sprinkler line forced the evacuation of FedEx Forum during the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers game Monday night.
Raw video from deadly basement fire in DC: DC Fire & EMS Department photographer Vito Maggiolo was on the scene Monday night at 9th and Kennedy, NW as firefighters attacked a fire in the basement of a boarded up home and found a victim. Attempts to revive the woman were not successful.
Must see video of extrication by neighbors: One of our regular readers points us to this story from Ft. Lauderdale where a man was purposely run over by the driver of a car. Neighbors jumped in and not only held the driver for police, they joined an arriving cop in lifting the car off of the victim. Click here to see the story.
A timely call in Richmond: Also from VAFireNews.com, the story of a house fire as snow was falling late Friday night in Richmond. According to Lt. Shawn Jones, the department’s PIO, crews were ordered out of the home about 60 seconds before there was a partial collapse of the roof. Click here for details.
Who ya gonna call? Sal, of course: Credentials aside for a moment, Cara Buckley of The New York Times believes the name alone may have been reason enough for Chief Sal Cassano to be appointed FDNY’s new commissioner. Check out her reasoning.
A big issue for the new commissioner: Watch the story of a lawsuit from a man burned trying to do the job of firefighters by attempting to rescue his neighbors in Queens from a burning home. The suit says the fire department was delayed because of an error involving the Unified Call Taker system.
Former battalion chief loses sex discrimination and retaliation lawsuit: A jury ruled in favor of the Kanas City (MO) Fire Department in a lawsuit by Kathleen Kline, a former battalion chief. Read details.
Judge orders New Haven to promote firefighters: Operating under the instructions from a Supreme Court decision, a U.S. Distict Court judge has ordered the promotion of 14 firefighters. The judgement officially finds the City of New Haven violated the rights of a group of white firefighters after two promotional exams were tossed out five-years-ago. New Haven officials say they will follow the order “as soon as practical”. Watch the video above and read the latest on this closely watched case.
NEW- EMS crew officially passed over for fire company: The conflict between New Jersey’s Quakertown Fire Company and Quakertown VEMS came to light for most of us after a passing incident between a firetruck and an ambulance went bad (click here & scroll down for previous coverage). A recent Tri-Data study determined the fire company was best at providing EMS for Franklin Township. Now Franklin Township has made it official. Read the latest.
Los Angeles County chief says 21-years is enough: Chief P. Michael Freeman is not the longest serving chief in Los Angeles County’s history. It would take another 6-years to reach that record. But Chief Freeman says it is time to go. Already allowed to serve beyond the normal mandatory retirement age of 60, the chief says he wants to spend more time with his family. Chief Freeman came to Southern California after 24-years with the Dallas Fire Department. Read more.
Chief Gene Doherty of the Revere Fire Department is in trouble with his mayor after letting a firefighter use Ladder 2 for a ride to the chapel.
A very unusual situation in New Jersey leads to chief’s resignation: There are a lot of unanswered questions surrounding the Fair Haven fire chief’s plunge into the Navesink River Sunday night. It happened after Shaun Foley hit a pole while driving the chief’s vehicle. Foley was rescued after a 45-minute search that included the U.S. Coast Guard and New Jersey State Police. Foley, who faces drunk driving and other charges, has now resigned. Here’s the latest. And here’s what was reported earlier in the day.
Crack pipes found at fire that hurt ex-Knicks player: Dean Meminger was pulled unconscious from the burning Bronx home Sunday. Now there are reports crack pipes were found in the house, but a cause of the fire has not been listed. The 62-year-old former New York Knicks player is currently in critical but stable condition. Read details.
What's Missing? Fire service press does what Google couldn't.
Offensive use of fallen firefighter’s picture is removed: Score one for the fire service online community. When I spotted the story by WFTV-TV about the misuse of Volusia County fallen firefighter John Curry’s image on a blog in Australia, I had little doubt that the fire service community would be outraged and attempt to do something about this problem. The original article indicated that Google was unable to provide help without a court order. Firehouse.com soon picked up the story and I alerted Billy Goldfeder, knowing full well that his outrage would turn into a message on The Secret List. One of Billy’s readers noted that the blogger hadn’t uploaded the image but essentially embedded it from FireEngineering.com. That person and Billy were instantly in contact with PennWell. Late yesterday PennWell simply removed the picture from its site where it was being very legitimately used. This automatically removed it from the Australian blog where John Curry’s image had been posted to illustrate an article about a former firefighter who is a sexual predator. STATter911.com readers alerted me late last night and early this morning it was gone. Thank you Bobby Halton and company. Click here to read our original story (interview with Kristen Currry now added) and here for the posting on the Secret List.
Fire Engineering Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Bobby Halton sent in this comment about the removal of the image-
We here at Fire Engineering were very upset to learn how inappropriately this link was being used. It did take considerable effort and a few hours to get it done given the way all this electronic gadgetry works however we got it done. I have never seen a more offensive use of photo in my entire career. Thank you for the kind words however we here at fire engineering felt we had a moral obligation to remove this more than anything else.
Your friend, Bobby
UPDATED – Firefighter told to park his SUV elsewhere because of anti-Obama bumper sticker: This may be a slippery slope for the Hartford Fire Department in Connecticut. Deciding what kind of bumper stickers can or can not be on a firefighter’s car when parked on the firehouse property could turn into a full time job and could help keep some lawyers employed. Check out the story and the offending bumper sticker here. Once there scroll down to read the comments where the issue seems to have united some polar opposites on the political spectrum. An interview with Firefighter Mike Di’Giacomo has now been added to the story.
Second time around: Click the image for a series of Zone911.com pictures by Vincent Fradet of the latest wreck of a new quint in Levis, Quebec. This time a crew member was seriously injured as was the driver of the vehicle the rig collided with. It was less than a month ago that the other new E-One overturned.
NEW- Timing is everything: In Canandaigua, New York city officials were discussing plans to cut firefighters and close stations. Around the corner an apartment fire broke out, which itself is around the corner from a fire station. Click here for the story.
Someone admits to withholding autopsy results from NIOSH: Yesterday we told you there were a lot of people saying “not me” as reporters tried to figure out who refused to turn over autopsy reports to NIOSH. NIOSH recently released its investigation into the deaths of two Boston firefighters, but without the documents could not address the widespread media reports the autopsies showed drug and alcohol use. Now the state’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner says it believes it didn’t have the authority to overrule requests from the families not to release the reports. Here’s the update.
More courts – Agility test does not discriminate against women: Lexington City, Tennessee’s requirement that candidates handle a 24-foot ladder is not discrimination, according to an appeals court. Here’s the story.
Another Bourne investigation: Officials in the Massachusetts town have hired a private investigator to try and help sort out the multiple messes. Click here for the update.
If you want just the facts on the Jeffrey Boyle case out of Chicago, just click the image to read and watch WLS-TV's coverage.
My kind of town – columnist takes on judge who granted fire lieutenant/arsonist his pension: Jeffrey Boyle, a former Chicago Fire Department lieutenant, served two years of a six year sentence for a series of arsons. He had entered a guilty plea to eight fires but told investigators there were 20 in all. The Firemen’s Annuity & Benefit Fund of Chicago thought Boyle was a good candidate to have his pension denied. On Friday a judge thought otherwise. Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass, who has closely followed this case, has a special honor for the judge. Boyle’s main argument was that he didn’t set the fires with city equipment or on the department’s dime. Click here.
Super Bowl TV star/firefighter/accused arsonist gets reduced charge: Do you remember the case of the Pittsburgh area volunteer firefighter/college student who set a couch on fire on live TV during last year’s Super Bowl celebration (if you don’t, here it is)? He is now a former firefighter and college student. He also had his charges reduced following completion of a program for first time offenders. Click here to read and watch the update.
Jewish EMS crew claims discrimination over beards: In Baltimore County a discrimination complaint has been filed by volunteer EMS members of Pikesville VFC. All three are Orthodox Jews who say shaving their beards is against their religious beliefs. Watch the story. Read the story.
Autopsy report withheld from NIOSH: A bunch of new NIOSH reports on firefighter fatalities have come out. The one on the Boston Fire Department’s loss of two firefighters at a restaurant fire is not really complete. NIOSH wrote in the report that it was aware of allegations of alcohol and drug use by the fallen firefighters, but its investigators were denied access to the autopsy reports. Click here to read the reports from Boston, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
They are back to rolling up their sleeves in Haverhill: Firegeezer told us about Haverhill, Massachusetts Chief Richard Borden putting a halt to H1N1 shots for his troops last week. The chief said he did so to make sure all of his department could get the shots and was concerned about not being in the loop for the decision making process. These issues that stalled Monday’s shot have apparently all been resolved and the firefighters started getting the shots yesterday. Here’s the latest.
Update on firefighter trapped when garage door came down: Both the local paper and Firefighter Close Calls have the latest on a Hooksett, New Hampshire firefighter who was hurt Monday night during a fire at a firm housing lawn mowers and other garden equipment. A mayday was called by the injured firefighter’s officer after “an overhead door came down as he had just stepped inside the large metal clad building with heavy fire conditions”. Goldfeder says full PPE likely helped save the day on this one.
Mystery odor brings out the troops: The Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service in Maryland found a bunch a people complaining they were sick at a grocery store yesterday afternoon. They blamed it on a smell that suddenly filled the store. Six people went to the hospital and much of the shopping center was shut down for a few hours. Watch the story. See slideshow. Read the story.
FMs shut doors on community arson meeting because of overcrowding: The Seattle Fire Department met with Greenwood residents last night about a series of arsons, but the interest was so high they had to close the doors. A second meeting was held so everyone could hear the details. Who can blame the people for wanting to know more? There have been 14 set fires in their community. Some of the arsons caused significant damage. Read more about the meeting. Read details of the investigation.
Apparently this was the goal, but the timing was off: It takes a while for the photographer to get to the scene on this one in Paterson, New Jersey last night. The best we can tell from a brief news report and the description on YouTube is that a demolition crew working on getting rid of an 8-story office building at a hospital complex left for the day. It was then that the building decided to save the crew some work and a big part of it came down on its own. According to the photographer, this brought in a very big response from a whole lot of agencies. If you want the full tour, here’s Part 2.
NTSB report finds fault with pilot, air traffic control and search operation: Having listened to the search for Maryland State Police Trooper 2 very early on Sunday morning, September 28, 2008, it was obvious that something wasn’t right. This was just not supposed to happen again. I had covered the search in the fog for Trooper 3 on a Sunday morning 23-years earlier. No one knew that pilot and medic were missing until the relief crew discovered the chopper wasn’t in its hanger in Frederick. The search was centered in Carroll County, but the wreckage was found in Baltimore’s Leakin Park, long after the crash occurred. That accident eventually brought a new fleet of helicopters and technology that was supposed to allow SYSCOM to keep track of the choppers at all times. Clearly that system failed. On top of that, as we first reported two days after the crash of Trooper 2, there were serious communications failures between, MSP, SYSCOM and Prince George’s County. The NTSB has now addressed these issues. In its preliminary report, released yesterday, not only do investigators place blame for the deadly crash, they have some very specific findings about the search and rescue operation. Click here to read the report and our coverage.
A decent or indecent proposal? You be the judge. There is a lot missing to this story in both the web and TV versions. All I get from it is that a Selden, New York firefighter staged a car crash, fellow firefighters lured his girlfriend in to hold an IV bag and she walks away with a ring. Please tell us more. Click the image to watch the brief story.
Graphic allegations in suit filed by two female firefighters: Both firefighters have been on leave from the fire department in Westbrook, Maine for more than a year. They are claiming discrimination, defamation and retaliation. There have previously been demotions, suspensions and reprimands for seven firefighters in connection with this case. Here is an excerpt about the suit from an article on KeepMeCurrent. com-
The complaint by Kathy Rogers and Lisa Theberge makes claims about inappropriate conduct in the department, including masturbation in the fire station and inappropriate touching of victims while being transported in a rescue vehicle.
North of the border: LAFD just finished another training session for firefighters from Mexico. Click here.
The proposal includes a pay reduction of 10.5 percent, the elimination of holiday bonus pay and the reduction of other bonuses, requiring firefighters to pay an additional 5 percent of their health insurance premiums. Also eliminated would be three positions: an assistant chief, a deputy chief and a division chief.
Ex-wife and her new husband charged in firefighter’s murder: We told you earlier of the suspicious fire in West Virginia where the body of Rockingham County, Virginia firefighter Dennis “Chip” Taylor and two others were found. Taylor’s ex-wife and her current husband are now in custody. Read the details.
An unusual one from FirefighterCloseCalls.com: A new firefighter came out of a burn building in Spalding County, Georgia and began being verbally abusive and made threats against fellow firefighters. According to the account in Firefighter Close Calls he then ran into the roadway and grabbed the mirror on a woman’s car. He ended up going to the hospital with road rash. I haven’t a clue. Click here for the whole story.