After almost nine months Firefighter/Paramedic Jeffrey Novack has been cleared for full duty by the Baltimore City Fire Department. Novack, from Truck 12, was critically injured, with burns and broken bones, during an April fire at an apartment building next to the firehouse on Liberty Heights Avenue. The good news came today from Baltimore Firefighters, IAFF Local 734. Here’s the message:
IAFF Local 734 photo of Jeffrey Novack's Christmas visit with Lucille Ziglier.
Novack was seriously injured battling a northwest Baltimore apartment fire on April 7, 2010. He pulled one victim, Ms Lucille Ziglier, from the third floor of the building, through the fire, and onto safety. Knowing there were still more people inside, he immediately turned her care over to Paramedics and returned to continue searching. There he located another victim on the third floor. While assisting the victim, Novack became trapped by fire and was forced to jump out of a third story window. He spent many weeks in Shock Trauma undergoing several surgeries. He was then transferred to the Bayview burn center for burn care.
After some fire and medical refresher training, and upon receipt of his new fire gear, FFPM Novack will return to the front lines, protecting the Citizens of Baltimore from his station, Truck Company No. 12 at 3906 Liberty Heights Avenue.
It was an emotional reunion Thursday between an injured firefighter and a woman whose life he saved.
Andrea Fujii explains they met in a courtroom as they both faced the person accused of setting the fire that nearly killed them both.
Lucille Ziglier, 85, finally got to say “thank you” to the firefighter who saved her life.
“If it wasn’t for him, I would not be here today,” said Ziglier.
On April 7, police say Brittany Garcia, 19, started the fire at a Northwest Baltimore apartment building.
According to charging documents, she was upset after seeing the father of her child with another woman.
In court she pleaded not guilty to first-degree arson charges.
Firefighter Jeffrey Novack suffered a fractured hip and burns in the fire. He was in court Thursday to see Garcia for the first time.
“I wouldn’t say I’m mad. I’d just like to see that justice is served,” said Novack.
He ran back into the burning building twice to save two unconscious residents, including Ziglier.
“I don’t think you can match the feeling of what it’s like to save someone’s life,” said Novack.
The union claims rotating fire station closures forced backup to take longer to respond that night.
Within the next couple of weeks the city must find a way to raise tens of millions of dollars to prevent any cuts to public safety. If they don’t, firefighters say it will put their lives and the public’s lives at risk.
Novack says neither injuries nor budget concerns could have interrupted this reunion.
“Just being here and meeting this young lady puts all that out the window and I don’t think about that now. I’m just happy I have her standing next to me,” said Novack.
“And I’m happy to be standing next to him,” said Ziglier.
Novak is expected to make a full recovery.
Garcia’s defense attorney declined to comment on the case. The trial will start in September.
Pennsylvania apartment fire: This fire was reported at 1:45 Monday morning at the Willow Creek Apartments in Ephrata Township (Lancaster County). Two alarms were sounded. Three firefighters suffered minor injuries. It is a fairly new sprinklered building, but news reports indicate the fire began outside, on the balcony of a third floor apartment. Read more.
Update on Baltimore’s Jeffrey Novack: The Baltimore City firefighter continues to recover from many broken bones and serious burns following the April 7 fire at 3910 Liberty Heights Avenue. Jeffrey Novack’s home town paper in Pennsylvania talked with his firefighter/radio reporter dad Al, who provided a lot more details about his son’s condition. Here’s the story.
Ammo takes firefighter’s eye: That’s the latest on Ventura County, California Firefighter Paul Torres. You may recall he was hit on April 5 by exploding ammunition during a house fire. Read and watch the story.
Brain drain in Fairfax County: Darryl Louder is the latest assistant chief leaving the Fairfax County Fire Rescue Department for a chief’s job. Chief Louder is getting about as far away as he can get from us. He’s been picked to run the Contra Costa Fire District in California. Read more. By contrast, Assistant Chief Dave Rohr is staying about as close as he can get to his old office. It was announced earlier in the month Chief Rohr is walking across the street to take over as chief of the City of Fairfax Fire Department.
Video from substation fire: Click here and here for good video of a Pinellas County, Florida electrical substation burning last night and a foam truck moving in to put out the fire.
911 calls from Austin plane crash into IRS office: Austin police released the recordings of the calls about the fiery plane crash into the building housing the IRS on February 18. WUSA9.com’s Emily Cyr loaded them into our player (at the upper right of the blog). You can listen to the calls here, here, here, here, here, here and here. We also have the calls made about the fire at pilot Joe Stack’s home here, and here. Read more.
NIOSH wants Massachusetts to require seat belts for firefighters: One of the recommendations following the January, 2009 crash of Ladder 26 that killed Lt. Kevin Kelley. Read the report.
Also in Boston, Globe wants the pay raise slashed: Editorial writers at the Boston Globe are urging the City Council to reduce the 19-percent raise for firefighters over four-years cleared by an arbitration panel that also ordered mandatory drug and alcohol testing. Read the view from the paper.
Two go through the floor in Columbus, Ohio: We have the fireground audio from FireSceneAudio.com and video of yesterday morning’s fire that took the life of a woman and injured two firefighters. Click here.
Audio from Houston crash: You have likely seen the pictures of Houston Fire Department’s Engine 13 following Monday’s crash into the underside of a freeway overpass. Here’s the radio traffic.
Firefighter and son could face murder charges: Now that a 55-year-old man has died from an April 8 beating, a Philadelphia firefighter and his son are expected to be charged with murder. The pair are accused of attacking Mark Wallace and fleeing the scene after Wallace walked in front of their car. Here’s the story.
(NOTE: Following the posting of this story Friday night, IAFF Local 734 released a response to the comments by Baltimore City Fire Department PIO Kevin Cartwright. There is a link above to read that statement.)
As STATter911.com reported early this morning, not only was Squad 40, the engine company from the fire station next door, on another run at the time of the fire at 3910 Liberty Heights Avenue that seriously injured Firefighter/Paramedic Jeff Novack (seen in picture to the left from the North Penn Fire Company website), so was Engine 46, the second due engine. Third due Engine 20, from Walbrook, also wasn’t available because of the city’s policy to close fire companies each shift due to serious budget problems.
This afternoon, IAFF Local 734 issued a press release indicating the injuries to its member and three civilians were impacted by the rotating closures:
We should all be thankful that this event was not as bad as it could have been, despite the Firehouse Roulette that the Blake Administration carried over from the Dixon Administration. Hopefully this shines a light to the Mayor and City Council.
Contacted shortly after the union’s statement was released, Chief Jim Clack told STATter911.com he was aware of its contents. Chief Clack added in an email, “Right now I am focused on helping our severely injured firefighter recover from his injuries. There will be a full investigation into all the factors that resulted in life threatening injuries to one of our bravest and we will learn from it.”
President Bob Sledgeski made statements similar to those in the news release in interviews with at least two Baltimore TV reporters. Baltimore City Fire Department PIO Kevin Cartwright went beyond Chief Clack’s remarks and responded to the union’s allegations in at least one TV interview. Here is more from WBAL-TV’s website:
“The claim that this firefighter suffered injuries because we were not appropriate or adequate or had insufficient units on the scene — I question that,” said Fire Department spokesman Kevin Cartwright.
Cartwright said the city is staring down a $121 million budget deficit and that every department is affected, but he said the Fire Department still has the tools and manpower to do its job effectively.
The fire union disagreed.
“Our Fire Department isn’t getting less busy and they’re also using the fire apparatus and our members to help support the EMS system, which is fine. The problem is, we don’t have the resources to do everything for everybody all the time,” Sledgeski said.
Cartwright said there’s no data to support the union’s theory that the rotating closures of four fire stations per day have negatively affected public safety.
“We have very dedicated and committed members. Every time we get a call, we’re going to respond and we’re going to be there as fast as we can,” he said.
The Novacks from the North Penn Fire Company website.
FF/PM Novack is reported to be in serious but stable condition at the R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center. He has multiple broken bones along with 2nd and 3rd degree burns to his arms.
The press release from Local 734 is providing more details into the firefighter’s actions on Tuesday night as the crew from Truck 12 arrived from the firehouse next door and went to work well before an engine crew arrived. The press release is also critical of statements made by the PIO at the scene of the fire:
Upon their arrival, they encountered a three story apartment building, with fire in a 2nd floor apartment and people trapped on the 3rd Floor. FFPM Novack, and the other men from Truck 12, without hesitation or thoughts of their own safety, entered the burning building to do their job, save people’s lives. FFPM Novack located and removed one victim from the third floor. Outside, he turned the victim over to awaiting BCFD Paramedics. He then returned to the building to search for more victims. At this time, about 9:14pm, the first arriving Engine, Engine 52 from Mondawmin, arrived on the scene and began to extinguish the fire. While searching the 3rd floor again, FFPM Novack became trapped by the fast moving fire. He used his portable radio and transmitted a MAYDAY distress call. Unfortunately, before he could be assisted by the Rapid Intervention Team (a Team of Firefighters on scene dedicated to rescue any Firefighter in distress) he was forced to hang out of a 3rd floor window. There he transmitted another MAYDAY, but the fire was growing too fast. FFPM Novack was forced to jump from that 3rd floor window, or he would have died. Despite other information released by Fire Department officials, he was on the 3rd floor not the 2nd, and he did not fall, he jumped, after saving lives! If more time was spent on the facts then there would be fewer discrepancies.
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.