The fire started about 7 a.m. Officials say no one was at the station at the time. Several departments responded to help put out the flames, and they’re still working on it. They’re bringing in water, and had to run a water line to a hydrant about a mile away.
At least one ambulance inside the station was destroyed. It’s unclear how many other vehicles were inside – firefighters say they’ll be able to get a better idea once the fire is out.
Gordon firefighters could do little at first but watch as flames destroyed their fire hall Thursday afternoon.
With their equipment trapped inside the burning building, they had to wait until neighboring departments arrived to help.
George Booth, Town of Gordon constable, said the building is a total loss, as are at least six trucks inside, including pumpers and tankers, a snowmobile and other emergency vehicles.
No one was hurt in the blaze that broke out just after noon, he added.
Gordon firefighters responded to a report of a structure fire at the fire hall around noon, Gordon Fire Chief Mike Chmielecki said at a 4 p.m. news conference near the burned-out fire hall. By the time firefighters arrived, smoke and flames were already coming from the metal-sided and -roofed building on Douglas County Highway Y.
Explosions inside the Gordon Fire Station and the resultant fire destroyed the station and all of the fire trucks and equipment early Thursday afternoon, Sept. 19, in the town of Gordon, Douglas County.
Gordon Fire Chief Mike Chmielecki said a report came in around noon of a fire at the station. First responders were met by smoke and flames and several small explosions.
“We were assuming that was part of the equipment on the trucks,” Chmielecki said of the explosions.
The first report said the fire and explosions were the result of lighting from a storm front that had moved into the area, but Chief Chmielecki said the fire started right before the storm had arrived.
A new audit of the D.C Fire Department’s fleet of vehicles shows a critical lack of reserve pumper and ladder trucks with just over half of the ambulances owned by the city available for service.
The audit was ordered by D.C. City Councilman Tommy Wells after FOX 5 revealed the fleet numbers given to the city council last February were false.
After taking weeks to count all of the vehicles in its fleet and determining their readiness the D.C. Fire Department now admits it doesn’t have nearly the ambulances and pumper trucks it claimed to have last February.
City Councilman Tommy Wells says there is money in the budget to purchase new vehicles but he is now more concerned with staffing.
Just before he appeared before the D.C. City Council’s Judiciary Committee last February, Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe and his staff told the council it had 398 vehicles in its fleet including 29 ladder trucks, 106 ambulances and 64 pumpers.
Numbers we now know were false.
In a new report obtained by FOX 5 the fire department now admits it has far fewer vehicles with many of them out of service.
In fact an audit now shows the department has available for service:
56 out of 96 ambulances
37 out of 53 pumpers
And 18 out of 26 ladder trucks.
Those numbers concern Tommy Wells.
“I am putting a whole lot of scrutiny on the maintenance and availability of these vehicles, that’s why we got the audit report and i am going to require another audit report as they acquire and fix vehicles and I will stay on this like a laser beam, they must be accountable to the public for the vehicles they have and the vehicles they have been budgeted for”, said wells.
As chairman of the City Council’s Judiciary Committee, Wells points out the fire department has been given 18 million dollars for new equipment but has been slow to spend it.
“This is why I am putting the focus on the fire department right now we need to be assured that we have the vehicles ready and available that we need to keep the city safe”, he said.
An opinion shared by the firefighters union.
“It calls into question our ability to answer calls on a daily basis”, said union Second Vice President Dabney Hudson, “we are coming up on summertime, summers here, we had our first little heat wave the other day, it’s our busy time of the year and we run significantly more calls in the next four to five months”.
Even more concerning for Wells is the fire chief’s re-deployment plan which would put more ambulances on the street during peak afternoon and evening hours.
“They are way behind in hiring paramedics, way behind in hiring the staffing they need and that’s why I am very, very skeptical about the new staffing proposal they have”, said wells.
According to the fire department’s numbers there are currently 17 ambulances in reserve.
A number the union says should be doubled.
On Monday Morning Tommy Wells says he went to the Office of Unified Communications to listen to 911 calls and see the staffing levels for himself.
Wells says, as of 10:30 he was astounded to see only three out of 39 ambulances were available for service and all of them were in northwest.
Ongoing issues with D.C.’s emergency medical staff came to the forefront Monday after a D.C. councilman toured a district 911 call center and discovered that there were only three medical transport units available for the entire city.
Councilman Tommy Wells said in a statement Monday that the three emergency transport units were also located in NW.
This is not to say that there were no other emergency response vehicles working. During Wells’ visit to the call center at the non-peak time 10:30 a.m., 31 units were on a response call or at a hospital while five of the remaining eight ambulances weren’t available for unnamed reasons.
“This is exactly why we must take a long, hard look at the proposed ambulance redeployment plan. The prevailing issues with our Fire and EMS fleet readiness are of grave concern to me, the Council, and the public,” Wells said in a statement.
It isn’t a pretty picture and once again LeDuff found himself running after a fire commissioner to try to get an interview. Commissioner Don Austin said he was attempting to get permission from Mayor Dave Bing’s office to talk. LeDuff called Mayor Bing’s spokesman wondering why no one would talk to him and was given a very blunt and straight forward answer: “Because we don’t like your show”.
Of course that did nothing to stop LeDuff’s report. The report focused on the impact of last year’s firehouse closings and recent rising insurance rates.
LeDuff with Commissioner Don Austin’s arm. Watch the story for an explanation.
In the end, LeDuff did get a mayor to talk. He ambushed the former officer holder, the one who is again on trial on corruption charges, Kwame Kilpatrick. LeDuff wanted to know what Kilpatrick did with all the money that never made it to the department for capital improvements and equipment. Kilpatrick says the fire department got everything it needed under his administration.
There was a time not that long ago when there was a fire in Detroit, you knew firefighters would be there in a hurry. But that was before the budget cuts.
Since those cutbacks, firefighters are spread dangerously thin and it’s you who may get burned.
“We have a new saying shamefully because the fire department and the city put us in this position that when seconds count, we’re only minutes away,” said Dan McNamara with the Detroit Fire Fighters Association.
At St. Mary’s Parish in Barnegat, New Jersey, family, friends and strangers said goodbye to 12-year-old Kyle McGetrick who died last week after a seven year battle with leukemia. Firefighters from Ocean County, New Jersey and beyond escorted Kyle’s coffin to the church aboard a pumper from Barnegat Fire Company #1.
Many of the same firefighters and fire trucks gathered in December for an impromptu parade in front of Kyle’s home after word got out the end was likely near for the boy who wanted to be a firefighter like his dad Gene.
After the December parade was reported on FireTruckBlog.com, firefighters from around the world sent hundreds of messages and patches to Kyle. Kyle held on for five more months.
Father Ken Tuzeney of St. Mary’s Church, who performed a traditional Catholic service, said that those who have gathered to see Kyle off today, came together in grief to say “thank you” to Kyle, for the difference he had made in their lives touched by his courage.
“We cannot change the wind, but we can change our sails,” Tuzeney said. “Kyle did.”
Kyle’s sister Mariah, 17, shared funny memories of her brother. She spoke about the candles around the room reminding her of Kyle’s warmth.
“You will always be the man of honor on my wedding day,” she said.
Back in December, FireTruckBlog.com first told us of the story of Kyle McGetrick who had battled cancer most of his young life. Being told that the end was near, firefighters at Barnegat Fire Company #1 where Kyle’s father Gene was a member, thought they would do a small parade in front of the McGetrick home. It turned into a very large parade and the FireTruckBlog.com story brought a virtual parade of firefighters from around the world in what may be the most popular fire service web story ever. Firefighters sent hundreds of messages and patches to Kyle.
Kyle bravely held on for more than five months. He passed away yesterday. His father Gene left this message on the Courage for Kyle Facebook page:
Today one of the most precious gifts in my life left to a place where there are no more doctors, treatments, pain and sorrow. For today our family let Kyle jump on his own fire truck to heaven. He taught me as a father the true meaning of love, courage and strength. Kyle fought so hard for the last 7 years with fearless strength and valor that can not be measured or imagined. He fought and faced the enemy o cancer till the very end. Rest now forever my son and feel no more pain. Your will to continue the fight and help other kids will go on by those you touched. I will see you every night in my dreams. Thank you to everyone through the years who have supported Kyle. His mission will continue to help other kids of Barnegat. We love you all. Kyle will always be my little fireman.
I hope many of you heard the interview with 11-year-old Kyle McGetrick last week on Jim Duffy and Anthony Avillo's Fire Engineering Talk Radio show. If, like me, you listened to every word of it, you realize what a remarkable young man Kyle is. Here's the link, in case you missed it.
For those who don't know, Kyle is the son of Barnegat Fire Company Firefighter Gene McGetrick (while overshadowed by his son during the interview, you will find that Gene is pretty amazing himself). Kyle has been fighting an extremely difficult battle with cancer since he was four. The prognosis is not good, but Kyle's outlook and bravery are something to marvel at. During the interview, his father told the recent story of how Kyle wanted to get back home from the hospital right away when having a PICC line inserted into his chest. Rather than wait for an anesthesiologist, which would delay his departure, Kyle insisted on getting it done without anesthesia.
When Jim and Anthony were talking about a recent large fire in New Jersey, without missing a beat, Kyle immediately asked them if all the firefighters got home safely. While we are worried about him, Kyle's focus is on the firefighters.
For those who may not be familiar with our coverage of Kyle, the Barnegat Fire Company put on what they thought would be a small pre-Christmas parade of fire trucks in front of the boy's house. Before it was done, 100 fire vehicles from Ocean County, New Jersey went by the house. Then, after Glenn Usdin's FireTruckBlog.com brought that story to the fire service, a virtual parade started as firefighters from around the world sent hundreds of messages and patches to Kyle.
Kyle said he's received more than 500 patches. Kyle greatly appreciates the generosity and loves going through the patches, but said on the radio show that the one from Station 11 (Barnegat Fire Company) is still his favorite. Who can blame him?
Now comes word that you can purchase a Courage for Kyle bracelet.for $5 each. Here is the link.
Kyle would like to tell thank you to everyone who sent patches, shirts, and helmets. He enjoys having his dad reading the letters he received, and loves seeing where all the fire departments are from. Humbled and affected by such an outpouring of support from our brothers and sisters.
But if you want to hear Kyle and his dad tell you themselves, I encourage you to take the time to listen to the interview.
Many of you have been asking for an update on 11-year-old Kyle McGetrick, the Barnegat, New Jersey boy who has been battling cancer for seven years. My friend Jim Duffy, who like many of you read the updates on Glenn Usdin's FireTruckBlog.com and here on STATter911.com, tells me that Kyle will be a guest tomorrow night on the Internet radio show Fireground Strategies & Other Stuff From the Street that Jim does with Deputy Chief Anthony Avillo on Fire Engineering Talk Radio. It starts at 7:30 PM Eastern Time. Here's the link -
If you recall, Kyle's story became known in the fire service around the world just before Christmas when the Barnegat Fire Company arranged an impromptu parade past Kyle's home. Planning for a few fire trucks, once word got out around Ocean County, 100 fire vehicles lined up in tribute to Kyle.
When Glenn posted the article on FireTruckBlog.com a virtual parade began. The original post brought in more than 500 messages to Kyle from firefighters around the world. Veteran fire service Internet gurus believe that article was likely seen by more people in a couple day period than any previous web story directed to firefighters.
Then the flow of patches started from generous firefighters around the world.
Now, thanks to Jim and Anthony, the Barnegat Fire Department, and Kyle's dad Gene, we will get a chance to hear from Kyle tomorrow night. Make sure you tune in. Maybe we will find out just how many patches Kyle received.
Dave Iannone of Go Forward Media believes the story posted Friday on Glenn Usdin's FireTruckBlog.com about the impromptu fire truck parade Wednesday night in front of 11-year-old Kyle McGetrick's home in Barnegat, New Jersey is likely one of the most widely read stories ever within the fire service on the web (Dave, who started Firehouse.com, knows a bit what he is talking about in this area).
It isn't just the tens of thousands who have read the story. Hundreds of firefighters and their families and friends have sent personal messages to Kyle from across the country and around the world. Doctors say Kyle's leukemia can no longer be effectively treated. There are about 400 comments on FireTruckBlog.com from as far away as Australia and Afghanistan. There are also messages for Kyle on the Facebook pages of Firefighter Nation, Firefighters Worldwide, and Glenn's Command Fire Apparatus. Others were called to action through The Secret List. In addition, many of you have sent fire department patches to Kyle (Address – Barnegat Fire Company No.1, P.O. Box 539, Barnegat, New Jersey 08005).
We've been helping our friend Glenn deal with this sudden flood of comments and have been in touch with Gary Brown at Barnegat Fire Co. No. 1. Gary, who has been making sure the McGetricks see the messages, thanks all of those who have reached out to the family and the fire company. Gary also tells us Kyle's dad Gene, a member of the department, is overwhelmed by the support from the fire service in the United States and around the world.
On Friday, Barnegat Mayor Jeffrey Melchiondo and township firefighters paid a visit to 11-year-old Kyle, a Barnegat boy who has been battling cancer for seven years, to issue a proclamation making the youngster the township's honorary mayor on Christmas – and forever mark the day in his honor.
It was the latest gesture in an outpouring of support for Kyle and his family this holiday season. Firefighters from all over the county formed a 92-vehicle convoy that rolled past the McGetrick's house earlier this week, and friends and well-wishers gathered Friday evening to sing carols in their neighborhood.
The proclamation, issued with Kyle, his parents, grandmother and sister looking on, states that because of Kyle's "extreme amount of courage and conviction…it is my wish to appoint this young man as Honorary Mayor of Barnegat Township on Christmas Day, December 25, 2011," and goes on to name the date as "Honorary Mayor Kyle McGetrick Day, to be forever remembered by all the residents of Barengat Township."
While Kyle's story has attracted an enormous amount of attention, we know that firefighters, paramedics and EMTS around the world, as always, have made a special effort to reach out to those suffering and in need during the holiday season (and throughout the year). Here are links to some other stories that have come to our attention. Feel free to send me more and I will add the links.
Glenn Usdin at FireTruckBlog.com/Command Fire Apparatus has a beautiful and sad story from Barnegat, New Jersey where doctors say 11-year-old Kyle McGetrick is in the final days of his difficult life. The son of Barnegat Fire Company Firefighter Gene McGetrick has dealt with cancer for the past seven years. Knowing Kyle's struggle is about to end, the firefighters from Barnegat decided to do a little parade by the McGetrick home on Wednesday night. But when Facebook and phone calls brought the word to the rest of the fire service in Ocean County, little just wouldn't do. There were about 100 vehicles in the parade.
Glenn Usdin's FireTruckBlog.com told us Tuesday about a non-pumping mini-pumper being the first to arrive at a burning Detroit home with a little girl trapped. Three-year-old Ivory Ivey died yesterday after being rescued by firefighters. But WJBK-TV reports the crew from Engine 46, forced to use the small TAC unit because its rig has been down for two weeks, had no water or ladder to assist them in their initial efforts to rescue the little girl. The pump on the TAC unit had been disabled because training on the unit had not been completed. Engine 46 was apparently second due. The first due, Engine 41, was also out of service for maintenance, according to the TV station.
We wondered yesterday morning why reporter Charlie LeDuff wasn't on the case and why there was no response from the Detroit Fire Department to Tuesday's TV story. But LeDuff took over the story on Wednesday and presented it with his usual blunt and direct advocacy type of journalism. Commissioner Donald Austin, who was said to be in meetings Tuesday, went before the cameras with a response on Wednesday, a day after the fire.
Of course, in addition to the tragic death of a child, the big issue here is the poor state of Detroit's fleet and the lack of reserve apparatus that forces the city to use TAC units and pickup trucks to get on-duty firefighters to emergencies. It does not appear Commissioner Austin can just wave a magic wand and fix that problem. The commissioner believes the system worked the way it should considering the cards they have been dealt. From WJBK-TV:
"I believe to the bottom of my heart everything worked as it should," said Detroit Fire Commissioner Don Austin. "Instead of shutting that company down because their apparatus was getting warranty work, our decision was let's keep the manpower available."
"The problem with what happens is something that's been systematic in this fire department for decades. We don't have enough gear. We don't have enough rigs. It isn't the firefighter. The firefighter when we get there, we do everything humanly possible. But when we can't get there or we get there without the tools we need, there's not much we can do," said Dan McNamara, president of Detroit's firefighter union.
The honeymoon appears to be over for the commissioner. If the apparatus situation is not likely to change soon (there was a recent budget cut from the City Council), Commissioner Austin needs to put some effort on a response system to quickly address the stories from LeDuff and others that will follow. If not, he could end up like previous commissioners who found themselves on the bad end of LeDuff's stories night after night.
As I've said before, open the books, be transparent, don't make excuses for the inexcusable and get the bad news out quickly. It isn't Commissioner Austin's fault that Detroit doesn't have working fire engines, but it will soon look like it if he doesn't get out in front of these stories. That means being there the first day reporters are asking questions.
Why give reporters like LeDuff the upper hand so they can tell their viewers they've "uncovered" some scandal? Take the offense. Tell them yourself. A story like this is going to come out anyway.
I imagine with what the firefighters and the people of Detroit have been through all these years they know enough not to expect a new commissioner is going to be a miracle worker who will suddenly cure what's ailing the fire department. But having a commissioner who changes how the commissioner's office and the fire department is perceived nightly on the news would be an enormous step in the right direction.
While Donald Austin has shown signs in his early interviews that he can be that kind of leader, I only give him a C for his reaction to this story (still a great, great improvement over the failing grades of previous commissioners who would still be running from LeDuff). Probably the more important question is will Commissioner Austin's bosses let him be that different kind of leader? Watch this space.
Glenn Usdin’s FireTruckBlog.com (below) first told us about this story yesterday. Now some more details including Denver Fire looking at the possibility of making sure fire investigators travel in pairs. A lone investigator working on two vehicle fires in a west Denver neighborhood soon found his ride in flames eary Wednesday morning.