A lawsuit filed by an injured firefighter claims that Pennsylvania’s North Bangor VFC in Upper Mount Bethel Township (Northampton County) allowed a “party atmosphere” where firefighters drink and drive apparatus. Tom Shortell with The Express-Times reports that 41-year-old Stuart Mintz and his wife are suing former assistant chief Zachary Romano, the department and others after Mintz was injured when the tanker Romano was driving overturned while they were returning from a parade on July 10, 2010.
On the way to the parade, Romano stopped for a 30-pack of Coors Light in Stockertown, according to the suit. As Romano drove the truck through the streets of Tatamy, Mintz said he saw Romano continue to drink beer, the suit claims. When the truck was towed away, empty beer cans were found inside, according to police.
Romano, Mintz’s superior at the company, was negligent in drunkenly driving the fire truck and for assigning Mintz to ride with him, the suit claims. The suit also claims Fire Chief Frederick Farleigh, Company President Christopher Louszko, former Upper Mount Bethel Township Supervisor Ed Nelson, the company and the township are responsible. All had some supervisory role over Romano and allowed alcohol abuse to become a fact of life at the fire station, the suit says.
Reporter Shortell says he was unable to reach any of the people mentioned in the lawsuit for comment.
Mintz claims in his suit that Romano, who was 20 at the time, had been drinking throughout the day — first at the North Bangor Fire Co. station at 301 Lake Minsi Drive, then while he was driving the truck in the parade and again at a celebration at the Tatamy Fire Hall after the parade.
Mintz says in his suit that they (fire and township officials) all knew Romano “had a history of heavy drinking and drinking and driving,” adding they were, or should have been, responsible for policies governing the fire company and screening applicants.
He also says the fire company created a “party atmosphere”; encouraged members to drink, and allowed them to operate fire vehicles with open containers of alcohol.
Vanessa Coleman, a former captain for the DC Fire & EMS Department who claimed department officials violated her First Amendment rights and ordered her to undergo psychological evaluation as part of retaliation against her has had her lawsuit dismissed.
This is the case that revolves around the major fire at a Mt. Pleasant apartment building on March 12, 2008. Firefighters failed to discover in a timely manner that the fire began in the basement of the building. That failure was blamed on Captain Coleman who was in charge of Engine 21 at the time of the fire. The department’s SOP makes checking of the basement the responsibility of the second due engine. That engine is assigned to the rear of the structure. Capt. Coleman contends the radio traffic from the night of the fire shows her crew was ordered by the IC, Battalion Chief John Lee, to cover the third floor.
The controversy became public about eight months after the fire when the Government Accountability Project (GAP) took on Vanessa Colesman’s case. GAP is a whistleblower protection organization located in Washington. Click here for GAP’s summary of the case.
Many disputes then ensued, as the department tried to figure out what happened and as then-Capt. Coleman made public her position. Chief Lee subsequently accepted an official reprimand. Coleman did not; she fought on.
Some of Coleman’s public comments were incendiary, and her bosses ordered her to undergo a pscyhological evaluation. She called that retaliation and refused. The department fired her in October 2009.
Judge Lamberth goes carefully through each element of the complaint; illustratively, he reasoned:
“Defendants claim that they acted in response to plainitff’s erratic, paranoid, and otherwise worrisome behavior – as manifested in the ‘barrage’ of dozens communications and memoranda which plaintiff documents in her filings in this case. These filings, as well as plaintiff’s other behavior, gave the defendants legitimate concern about plaintiff’s mental state, and her ability to safely command her company.”
On Monday, GAP announced in a press release it was in court that day with Theresa Cusick the former legal counsel for the DC Fire & EMS Department. Here’s how GAP describes Cusick’s case:
Cusick served as FEMS General Counsel until 2007, when she informed an Assistant US Attorney that a FEMS officer – who the attorney had been working with – was under investigation by the Washington, DC Office of Inspector General (DC OIG) for his alleged involvement in a cheating scandal at the FEMS Training Academy. Cusick raised concerns that neither FEMS nor the Office of the US Attorney should rely on the officer until he was cleared of any involvement.
Cusick also blew the whistle in 2007 to the DC OIG that then-Assistant DC Fire Chief Brian Lee ordered her not to communicate with either the DC OIG or the DC Office of the Attorney General (OAG), and attempted to cover up the fact that a fire investigator was being investigated by DC OIG.
After reporting Lee’s actions to DC OIG, OAG and DC Fire Chief Dennis Rubin, Cusick was transferred from her position as General Counsel purportedly at the request of then Fire Chief Dennis Rubin.
While we have not been able to find any coverage of Cusick’s day in court, it made news in 2009 when videotaped depositions of Chief Dennis Rubin were released by GAP.
Above is an excerpt of the deposition provided by GAP (more excerpts from the deposition here and here). Below is my coverage of the story for WUSA-TV which includes the response from the DC Fire & EMS Department.
Almost five years after the deaths of FDNY firefighters Joseph Graffagnino and Robert Beddia word comes that Graffagnino’s widow has reached a $10 million settlement with the city and the contractor over safety issues at the Deutsche Bank building. The building caught fire on August 18, 2007 while it was in the process of being demolished after being damaged in the September 11th attacks. The two firefighters became trapped in a stairwell. Firefighter Beddia’s family previously reached a reported $6 million settlement.
Nearly five years after the tragedy, Bovis Lend Lease has agreed to pay Joseph Graffagnino’s widow, Linda, and her two small children $9 million, while the city has signed off on covering another $1 million, documents obtained by the Daily News show.
The settlement still must be approved by a Manhattan Supreme Court justice, which is expected at a hearing set for Monday.
The settlement will mark the final chapter in a painful saga that exposed outrageous incompetence by the contractors tasked with tearing down the wrecked office tower and their government overseers.
At issue is Rubin's claim that the city would contribute 14 percent of his salary (165K) each year. Suderman points out that is a little more than $80,000. The suit is for $150,000.
From Suderman's article:
Rubin says in court records that the District "failed to contribute" the 14 percent and didn't answer his requests for payment in "a substantive and productive manner." Reached by phone, he declined to offer any additional comments.
DC Councilmember Phil Mendelson (below, with Chief Rubin), who had many very public run ins with The Rube over a variety issues including the amount of overtime the department spent, is not sympathetic. Unlike the former chief, Mendelson is talking about the suit:
Mendo says he's miffed that Rubin has the nerve to ask for more money after he "refused to work with the council to control spending" and "refused to respect the budget."
A D.C. paramedic has been placed on leave and an investigation is under way after an 87-year-old woman died at a local hospital.
The incident occurred Nov. 17 when D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services responded to a call for a woman experiencing abdominal pains.
A fire engine and ambulance from Engine Company 11 — located at 14th Street and Park Road NW — responded to the call. According to sources familiar with the investigation, the paramedic who arrived on the fire engine determined the woman's condition was not serious and declined to accompany her to the hospital, despite the request of ambulance personnel that the paramedic stay with the patient.
The ambulance unit took the woman to Howard University Hospital, where she later died of an apparent heart attack. Her official cause of death is still to be determined.
Fire and EMS Chief Kenneth Ellerbe tells WTOP the medic who declined to stay with the victim has been placed on administrative leave with pay.
"I do take this matter very seriously," Ellerbe said. "The employee has been placed on administrative leave pending further action and there is a very serious ongoing investigation."
Howard University Hospital spokesman Ronald Harris says the woman did not die in the hospital waiting room as previously reported, but was seen by a doctor and a cardiologist just before her death. Harris says the hospital is looking into the matter.
The medic in question is a five-year veteran of D.C. Fire and EMS and is classified as an "intermediate paramedic," which is the a grade between emergency medical technician and paramedic.
Ellerbe says he personally briefed Mayor Vincent Gray about the incident.
"The mayor wants a quick resolution to this investigation," Ellerbe said.
The case is similar to the death of David Rosenbaum, who died in 2006 at Howard University Hospital after first responders failed to properly assess his condition and hospital staff failed to provide immediate treatment. An inspector general's report called the Rosenbaum incident "an unacceptable chain of failure."
Rosenbaum's family agreed to drop a $20 million lawsuit in exchange for improvements in the District's Fire and EMS protocol. Ellerbe says part of the investigation will be to determine if those protocols were followed in this latest incident.
A man claims that forcible sodomy is a "prerequisite" for volunteers at the Piermont Fire Department. He says that when his teen-age son volunteered, firefighters "forcibly caused [him] to engage in acts of sodomy, all against his will and consent," and that this "ritual" is "a prerequisite" for all people who want to join.
Mark Bernstein sued the Village of Piermont and three named firefighters in Federal Court, on behalf of his 17-year-old son.
Bernstein claims the village knew about the hazing ritual and "took no steps to prevent this rite of passage and as such acquiesced in its implementation."
He claims that when his son volunteered for the force, in August 2010, he was "battered, physically restrained, pushed, shoved and forced into submission," and that the sexual abuse left him "physically and psychologically ill." It caused him to seek medical and psychological treatment and has left him "permanently damaged."
The father says every prospective firefighter is subjected to this hazing and that Piermont "manifested a deliberate indifference to these violations of civil rights" and created "a receptive atmosphere for the various acts of pedophilia performed by the co-defendants."
The complaint states: "(S)ometime prior to Aug. 14, 2010, and on occasions too numerous to mention, the defendant the Village of Piermont promulgated, fostered and implemented a policy whereby new arrivals ('initiates') into the position of volunteer firefighter would be subject to a form of 'hazing' whereby fellow firefighters would restrain the initiate's movements, depriving him of his freedom of movement, expose their genitals to the said initiate, and attempt to forcibly cause the initiate to place his hand upon and/or fondle the genitals of various members of the Piermont Fire Department, and/or force the said initiate against his will by dint of duress to sodomize an existing firefighter.
"Sixth: That upon information and belief, the aforementioned exercise of what the defendant The Village of Piermont deemed to be 'hazing' was done to each and every named individual defendant herein and further deemed to be a ritual utilized as a 'rite of passage,' a prerequisite in acceptance into the Village of Piermont Fire Department".
The father and son seek damages for battery, civil rights violations and outrage. They are represented by Richard Gilbert with Levine & Gilbert of New York, N.Y.
Piermont, on the west bank of the Hudson River, is a town of about 2,600. Its median household income of $88,000 is 61 percent higher than the state average, according to city-data.com. Its fire department apparently is all-volunteer. The town budget for fire protection is extremely low; the village has no official website. It decided to create an official website 2½ years ago but the site is still under construction, according to an Internet search this morning (Thursday).
Super Bowl Sunday and Dave is trying to be relevant with a football tie in. It’s about the owner of the Washington Redskins, Dan Snyder. A Super Bowl Champion, no doubt. Certainly not his team since he’s owned it. But Snyder himself is a World Champion. Dan Snyder reigns supreme when it comes to uniting an entire city and region against you. And his most recent moves in the fields of public relations and image management give strong indication that the trophy should be Dan’s to keep.
Anyone who has heard me speak in recent years, or ever dealt regularly with Dave Statter the TV reporter, probably knows my views on dealing with a news organization that has published negative stories about you or your organization. I have a simple message: If you are going to complain about news coverage, complain about the facts of the story. Make sure it isn’t really just the bruised ego or hurt feelings of you or your boss doing the talking. Trust me, it’s good advice.
I never had the chance to share those words of wisdom with Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder. But even if I did run in those circles, history shows it’s advice Dan probably wouldn’t listen to.
I don’t know how much play this is getting beyond the Beltway, but here in Washington over the last few days you can’t go a couple of minutes without reading or hearing another negative assessment of Dan Snyder. These darts lobbed at Snyder are not about the dismal showing of Washington’s football team. Instead it’s about one of the worst examples of how to deal with negative news that we’ve witnessed in a long time. Pull up a seat, there’s a lot to learn from this master of turning a terrible public image into a horrendous one.
It’s as if Snyder purposely pasted “kick me” signs all over his body. Right now, everyone is obliging and kicking him hard. There’s no end in sight. Often, when a public figure is beaten down like this, at some point they might become a sympathetic figure. I don’t see that happening here. Just read the hundreds of comments attached to the articles I’ve linked to and you will see what I mean.
This latest chapter started on November 19 when Washington City Paper’s Dave McKenna wrote an article called The Cranky Redskins Fan’s Guide to Dan Snyder. McKenna is a talented sports columnist who has never been afraid to question authority and the status quo. Snyder’s antics and ethics have long been a favorite topic of McKenna’s.
But the free, alternative paper McKenna works for is not what you would call a major player in the Washington media world. Certainly not something a powerful businessman like Snyder needs to worry about. It’s as if McKenna has been constantly barking away like a wiener dog at the feet of a giant and poweful Great Dane (I would have used Clifford the Big Red Dog here, but comparing Snyder to Clifford might ruin the animated canine’s image for generations of children). This article caused Snyder to do more than just shake off the tiny nuisance and move on. Suddenly Dan Snyder saw McKenna as a pit bull that needed to be euthanized.
Snyder’s plan for handling this was about as subtle and well thought out as the much publicized Redskins’ stadium policy of October and November 2009. That one had security people trashing fan’s signs brought to Fed Ex Field because Dan’s feelings were hurt by a very strong anti-Snyder sentiment following a decade of impulsive, bone head moves in running the team. Management tried unsuccessfully to get the public to swallow the company line that the signs were suddenly a safety issue.
I covered that story and talked to legendary DC sports PR guy Charlie Brotman. Charlie, one of the nicest guys around, and rarely publicly critical of anyone, had some advice for Snyder. Essentially, Charlie told Dan to stop wasting his time by trying to control what people think. These actions were further destroying Syder’s reputation with the public. Instead, Charlie urged Snyder to start reaching out and connecting with the fans. Pretty solid advice.
If it’s advice Dan Snyder heard, he ignored or forgot it by November 2010 when he came up with the plan to deal with McKenna. Instead of contacting the columnist or his editor about what Snyder thought were great factual errors, Dan, always the businessman, went right for the money. The general counsel and COO for the Redskins, David Donovan, wrote a letter to the investment company that owns the parent company that owns the Washington City Paper. Besides listing all of the ways McKenna’s article harmed Snyder, the letter made clear what damage would come to Atalaya Capital Management if this wasn’t dealt with to the satisfaction of the Redskins owner. And it is this portion of the letter, that stands heads above the rest of the Snyder PR circus, and has Washington abuzz. Here it is:
Dan Snyder’s public relations policy may not be a smart one, but it sure gets high marks for consistency. Just like destroying the fan’s signs when they had bad things to say about Dan, Snyder threatens to crush the news media. And this threat to sue has now become reality, again making headlines.
So, why have I spent all of this time on a blog dedicated to fire and EMS talking about the owner of a football team? Because, whether it’s Dan Snyder and the National Football League or a one pumper fire department in the middle of Snyderville, USA (my apologies to the folks of Snyderville, Utah) your image and how you tend to it matters. The mistakes Dan Snyder continually makes on the large scale are often made on the small scale by fire and EMS departments and the people who run them.
These are basic errors. Ones that any crisis management firm or good PR person or PIO would try to avoid. I’m sure Dan Snyder can afford the best in the business. It’s obvious that, like a few public safety bosses I’ve met through the years, Snyder and his ego think they know far better than the PR pros.
Dan Snyder and the Redskins made sure that a relatively little read article blasting the owner got enormous play, not just in Washington, but around the world. So much so that the City Paper’s server crashed on Wednesday. How often have I cautioned about turning a simple one day story into something much bigger?
Remember this: When your public relations policy is based on the fragile ego of a Dan Snyder, a fire chief or a mayor, you will lose every time.
If the reporter or columnist significantly gets the facts wrong, absolutely get out and fix that with the correct facts. This is something quite important in the digital age where information, accurate or inaccurate, is rapidly repeated over and over again on numerous sites. During a radio interview on Thursday, the Redskins COO David Donovan even acknowledged that very point in justifying their offensive against the City Paper saying, “In the Internet age, when something gets published, and it gets linked to and linked to and linked to — and you can go around the Internet and see the number of times people have linked to that column from the November City Paper.” But as the Post’s Dan Steinberg points out, that article is now getting a hell of a lot more links than it did originally (including now on the ever popular STATter911.com) and no one is really correcting any facts.
If the goal is to set the record straight, wouldn’t a better tactic have been to take the Washington City Paper up on its offer to get the facts out in a Dan Snyder penned guest column?
If it’s the opinion of a columnist you want to change, that isn’t going to happen by heavy handed, thuggish threats (which in Snyder’s case illustrates McKenna’s thoughts about the owner much better than what the sports columnist wrote in the first place).
Settling a score by trying to get a reporter or columnist fired just to keep the boss happy rarely works (again, you better have some facts to back it up). The same goes for the often used tactic of freezing out or not talking to a reporter who doesn’t play the way you want them to. All you will do is ensure your message isn’t heard with the coverage provided by that publication.
The short version of the response from Snyder and the Redskins is to argue that McKenna is out to get Snyder, that McKenna attacked Snyder’s wife, a breast cancer survivor and spokeswoman (an unfounded claim against McKenna that absolutely no one can sense of), and that a City Paper picture of Snyder as the devil is antisemitic.
Let me be so bold as to offer Dan Snyder, or even a fire or EMS chief who may be equally as sensitive, a different way to go. You’ve dug yourself a big hole that you are trying desperately to get out of. You have failed to provide any shoring and the walls are coming in. Stop burying yourself further by attacking the news media with nothing to really back it up except your hurt feelings. Ditch the ego. Write an open letter to the public and have a press conference telling everyone you’ve made lots of mistakes through the years, but this one tops them all. Take a lesson from Gene Weingarten and do this with a sense of humor. Make sure that sense of humor is directed at you. Beg for the public’s mercy, telling them you have learned your lesson and will do better in the future. Go the Hollywood route and tell everyone you will be in rehab for a few months. Then find a Betty Ford type clinic for egoholics and control freaks. You will know you have the right building because the doorway is extra tall and wide to enable those oversized heads and egos to enter.
In short, heed the words of my friend and former colleague Brett Haber, “The truth that Snyder fails to grasp is that the only way to stop being portrayed as such an unlikable figure — is to stop acting like one.”
Glenn Usdin’s FireTruckBlog.com looks at the lawsuit filed by an insurance company in connection with the January 2009 death of Lt. Kevin Kelley. Lt. Kelley was killed when Boston Fire Department’s Ladder 26 lost its brakes and slammed into a building. The company insures the Mission Hill apartment complex the rig hit. The suit is against the City of Boston and six truck maintenance shops. Lt. Kelley’s family has also filed suit against the same inspection and repair shops. Click here for the coverage from FireTruckBlog.com.
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.
Early video from Tampa house fire: This duplex fire at 7903 N. Brooks Street in Sulphur Springs occurred Sunday evening. Investigators believe a child playing with matches started the fire in a bedroom. There were no injuries reported.
Radio traffic from runaway fire engine with children on board: We have added FireSceneAudio.com’s radio traffic from Saturday’s birthday party in Anne Arundel County, Maryland where a Lake Shore VFC engine took off with eight children on board. The children weren’t hurt. One firefighter was injured after he jumped into the cab. The rig stopped when it hit a tree. Here’s our coverage.
Fundraiser for Baltimore’s Jeff Novack, plus an update from his family: A lot of thanks from Al Novack and his family as he provides an update on his son Jeff’s progress. The Baltimore City firefighter was seriously burned and suffered multiple fractures during an April 7 fire on Liberty Heights Avenue. There is a fundraiser on Thursday. Click here for all of the details.
Click the image for details and a series of pictures by Dennis Walus of this fire yesterday in Detroit.
Fire vs. police, female vs. male: This wasn’t just a contest between fire and police recruits in the District of Columbia, this was a battle of the sexes. It was caught on video at the DC Fire & EMS Department Training Academy. I think you will want to check it out. Click here.
Settlement in U.K. sex suit: We told you last week of the lawsuit Kate Ellis filed in her battle with Hampshire Fire & Rescue. Ellis, who once was on a department recruiting poster, said she slept with her supervisor in an effort to stop harassment at the fire station. That suit has been settled, but a lot more detail is coming out. Read the update.
New definition of “deadliest catch”: We have two examples for you of fishing expeditions that brought back work for firefighters and other first responders. A fishing crew off the coast of Italy snagged a World War II mine. Firegeezer has that story. In New Bedford, Massachusetts a clamming operation dredged up about 100 hand grenades from either WWII or the Korean War. Check that one out.
Fallen Heroes Day: Nita Walden alerts us to the 25th anniversary of Fallen Heroes Day at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens in Baltimore County. It is being held on May 7. Click here for all of the details.
Fall River arson problem: Mill buildings and a few other things have suddenly been catching on fire in this Massachusetts town. Click here.
Watch Philippine firefighters in action: Some interesting video from a fire last week that destroyed 20 homes and businesses. Check it out.
High-rise fire in St. Louis: Video from a fire on the 15th floor of a 31-story building in downtown St. Louis.
A rescue any self-respecting firefighter can relate to: In Naperville, Illinois firefighters had to cut a dog out of a mechanized recliner. Here’s the story.
Did snow storm play a role in decision not to transport little girl who died?: That’s what the grandmother of 2-year-old Stephanie Stephens believes happened. The actions of a paramedic and EMT called to the girl’s apartment in Southeast Washington continue to be reviewed. As we reported yesterday, sources indicate there wasn’t a signed release from the girl’s mother when no transport was made during the first of two responses on February 10. The latest information is in the story above, or click here to read more.
Shootout at the Pentagon: We have the radio traffic from the Arlington County Fire Department and our own video as the medic units arrived at George Washington Hospital following last night’s shootings at the Pentagon. Click here for our coverage and more at wusa9.com.
DeKalb County rekindle?: The same Georgia county where the chief and five firefighters were fired following a poor response to a fire that turned fatal had an interesting situation on Wednesday. There was fire through the roof of a Stone Mountain home after the fire department returned for the third time within 24-hours. The original call was apparently for a dryer fire. Watch the video and read more.
Bus rollover in Arizona: Emily Cyr posted a bunch of videos from the tragic bus crash this morning on I-10 south of Phoenix into our player at the top of the right hand column. Six people died and about 15 were injured. Here’s one of the clips and click here for details.
It’s open mic night at STATter911.com: This could have been me on any number of moments during my years behind a microphone on radio, TV and as a dispatcher. A Chicago Fire Department dispatcher working the radio yesterday forgot to close the mic before saying how she really felt. Click here to take a listen. Feel free to share a similar story in our comments section. Just make sure the expletives are deleted.
More from the arson to make a baby story from Vermont: This one just seems to get stranger and more complicated each time I check for an update. The police affidavit from Bennington indicates both 34-year-old Stacy Brown’s husband, Bennington fire-police captain Ralph Brown Jr., and her 26-year-old boy friend, Joseph Thomas, plotted to twice set fire to their home and use the insurance money to pay for surgery so Stacy Brown can become pregnant. All three are charged in the plot. It turns out that Thomas also had a fire department connection. An excerpt from TimesArgus.com:
Thomas told Plusch (Bennington detective) he had been a firefighter with the North Bennington Fire Department for two years and in Pownal for a year although, he said, he could neither read nor write.
Prior to this arrest, Brown was already on probation for driving with a suspended license. The latest charge has caused Brown’s suspension from the fire-police and will likely result in a swift termination, according Chief Tyler Hollister. Catch up on the story here, here and here. Also, you know Bill Schumm just couldn’t resist this story. Check out Firegeezer.
A mini-milestone for STATter911.com: Unless all of you just decide to shut-up for the day and give me the cold shoulder I am expecting that we will be posting comment number 15,000 on this blog in the next hour or two. Obviously we have received more comments than that, but some (I am guessing 1,000 or so) weren’t posted due to not meeting even the low standards that I have. As I have mentioned before, the comments section is the part of the blog that brings me the most criticism (even from some of my closest friends). I do enjoy the interaction and the well-thought out writings that aren’t personal attacks. I have learned a lot from your comments, including those critical of the jerk who writes this junk each day.
So, keep them coming. Keep them clean (this blog is still affiliated with the TV station where I am employed). Do your best to play nice. And if you really want to get on the good side of me, toss in some humor when it is appropriate (but I will probably like it even if it isn’t appropriate).
Must see police dashcam video: A Brooklyn Heights, Ohio police lieutenant is on the mend with multiple fractures after he tried to help a motorist who spun out on an icy highway. A second driver did the same thing with his car as the two men in the vehicle’s path tried desperately to get out of the way. This is a video that is relevant to anyone who works road side. Check it out.
A firing offense: I am still fascinated by the story from Colleton, South Carolina where Firefighter/Paramedic Jason Brown was fired over a video he created and posted on his Facebook. Brown says it was done on his own time, with his own computer. It is one of those text-to-movie clips involving a firefighter character. I am sure, like me, you have received, or possibly made, similar videos. We brought this one up Friday in our last Quick Takes and the comments are coming in. If you missed it, click here. By the way, the top video of Firefighter Mike going off on 911 abuse is not the Jason Brown production. It is the other one, in the hospital emergency department.
Gated community’s gates bring lawsuit: An ambulance unable to easily get through an unmanned gate at a community in Beaufort County, South Carolina last April was apparently delayed for up to three minutes. The victim died of a heart attack. His widow has filed suit against fire and EMS crews, along with developers, property management and the property owners association. Click here for the story.
Radio traffic from Maryland plane crash: The pilot was killed as a small plane crashed and burned near homes in Anne Arundel County. Click here.
Close-up raw video from 1987 Boston plane crash & nine-alarm fire: Now retired overnight freelance videographer Bill Harrigan shot this pretty spectacular piece of tape from the crash in Dorchester. Check it out.
A more up-to-date Boston story: Also from Dorchester, Pat Foley was on his way to work at Engine 21 on Saturday. He ended up meeting some of his crew at a fire near the firehouse where they teamed up for the rescue of an elderly woman. Read more.
Pension at center of contract dispute: In Palm Bay, Florida both sides are going in front of a special magistrate in an effort to agree on a contract. Firefighters say they have given enough concessions with wage freezes and are not willing to budge on the pension relief the city wants. Palm Bay officials believe the pension cuts are the “new normal”. Read the article.
Three dead in New Jersey house fire: A young girl and her parents died in this fire in Toms River on Saturday. Read more.
Gary house fire: A Edward Malik video is posted here with the usual many comments the Gary videos seem to generate. Malik’s latest effort (not from Gary), taken early this morning, is below.
Vacant commercial structure in Hobart, Indiana: This fire was at 2nd & East. No injuries were reported.
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.
It’s 11:00 PM, do you know where your firefighters are?: In Raceland, Kentucky we can tell you where they aren’t and that’s the firehouse. Firefighters are quite upset over the town’s order that no one can be in the fire station after 11:00 PM. The town’s leaders instituted the curfew after concerns about firefighters “loafing” and young people congregating at the firehouse. You will want to read this story.
Fatal fire near closed truck company puts the focus on rotating closures: Baltimore City Fire Chief Jim Clack makes it clear that it took twice as long to get a truck company to a fatal fire Wednesday morning because of rotating closures. The chief wants the policy to end but needs the money to do so. As we reported yesterday, a discussion of doing just that had occurred among city leaders hours before that fire broke out. Now there is a new urgency to deal with this matter. The Baltimore Sun has a detailed story on the efforts to change the policy.
DC medical director named in $17 million lawsuit: The family of a Northeast Washington man has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the District of Columbia and the DC Fire & EMS Department’s medical director, Dr. James Augustine. This was the case where relatives say Edward Givens died six hours after being told by a medic all he needs is some Pepto Bismol. Dr. Augustine announced he was leaving the department 10-days ago due to health issues. Read more in Matt Cella’s article in The Washington Times.
He wanted the picture for his son: That’s what a Winnipeg firefighter wrote to the newspaper that ran the picture of the firefighter posing in front of a burning house. The firefighter, and another firefighter who took the picture with a cell phone, are under investigation. Read parts of the letter.
Firefighters want cross back on fire department’s hose tower that’s been part of Christmas celebration for nearly 70-years: Another Massachusetts fire department is trying to fight regulations on holiday decorations. This time a cross on a hose tower is the issue. It was ordered removed in 2005 and the firefighters want it back. Read the story from Holliston.
NJ firehouse shut: The Delaview VFC has been ordered closed by Pennsauken Fire Chief Benjamin Patti over procedures that haven’t been complied with involving accounting for public funds. Read the story here and here.
Gary, Indiana house fire with no hydrant: This was early this morning in the 5100 block of Washington. Water supply was reported to be an issue.
Video deposition of Chief Dennis Rubin in lawsuit over the dismissal of the DC Fire & EMS Department lawyer: A whistle blower protection group releases excerpts from the October deposition of Chief Rubin. The city is being sued by the department’s former general counsel, Theresa Cusick, who claims Rubin got rid of her after she told him about a cover-up involving an assistant chief. The chief says she needed to be gone after an expletive filled tirade about his command staff. Click here for our coverage. We have also added the complaint from Theresa Cusick’s lawsuit.
And now you know the rest of the story: Firefighter Close Calls has more on the Tennessee close call video where a man was almost run over a tanker. Apparently there was someone assisting the driver in backing up and the man who was hit has trouble hearing. Here’s the latest.
Chief who was reprimanded for racial slurs has to take back reprimand of union president: You may recall the story last March of South Milwaukee Chief Jay Behling who ended up with 90-days off the job. The chief ended up later issuing his own reprimand against a lieutenant who is the union president who pushed the investigation of the racial slurs and wanted Behling fired. That discipline has been reversed. Read the details.
10 more firefighters who were not part of lawsuit to be promoted in New Haven: Ending some uncertainty, these additional promotions came from the 2003 lists. Read more.
Former firefighter and art thief pleads guilty to assault during police impersonation: You may recall the story of former Waterford, Connecticut volunteer firefighter Charles McDougal. It was learned McDougal was also an art thief on probation when he was arrested for pulling a woman over with his blue light in January and hitting here. He has now entered a guilty plea on the assault charge. Here are the details.
House siren battle: A new firehouse. A new and larger house siren. Not a good mix in one New York neighborhood. Firegeezer has it covered.
Indiana house fire: This is from Lake Station yesterday evening. The fire was in the 2800 block of DeKalb.
Fire captain honored for bringing his own gun to the battle: Truly one of the more unusual fire service stories in some time occurred earlier this year in Palm Beach County, Florida. On Friday, Captain Edwin O’Berry and two shifts of firefighters and medics were honored for jumping into action as a police officer was being beaten near Station 31 on April 8. The man doing the beating had the cop’s gun. Captain O’Berry had one of his own that he just grabbed from his personal car. The man was shot and killed by the captain and another police officer. For his efforts Captain O’Berry received an award intended for police officers. Click here for our coverage.
It appears to me the firefighter at the back of the camper is practicing his PPV techniques at this training fire. This is from a rather unusual video that you can see by clicking the image.
Trooper who fought with paramedic is again back on the street: Oklahoma Highway Patrol’s Daniel Martin was reinstated after a citizen filed an excessive force claim. The latest incident was caught on video, much like the May 24 run-in with Creek Nation paramedic Maurice White Jr. We have the story and all of the videos.
Two-hatters told to take a hike in Duluth: The IAFF local and three Duluth firefighters have parted ways because the firefighters volunteer in a suburban department. Here are the details.
Customer service debate over crash and gas leak: There is a little back and forth in our comments section over a story by 9NEWS NOW’s Lindsey Mastis following a car crash into a house in Takoma Park, Maryland on Thursday. The family and neighbors believe the fire department could have taken a little better care of a 93-year-old woman after her home was evacuated. Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service has apologized, but also looks at it as a teachable moment for firefighters and the public. The discussion ranges from someone who believe he would rather see his crew help an old man across the street, even if it meant missing a first due house fire, to those who think way too much attention is being paid to customer service. Check it out and join in.
In wake of study, Quakertown VFC has extended an invitation to Quakertown VEMS members to come on over to the other side. Details and link to the report to the right. Quakertown VFC image.
EMS study completed in town where passing incident occurred: You may recall the September controversy over a unit from New Jersey’s Quakertown Fire Company passing an ambulance on the way to a car crash (here and here). From the articles covering that incident it was clear there are long standing problems over EMS service in the area. A study was promised and it has now been delivered. Dr. Harold Cohen at Tri-Data is recommending that Quakertown Volunteer EMS no longer be dispatched on calls in Franklin Township and first responder duties should be handled by Quakertown VFS. Read the entire report. Read the fire department’s response. Read the latest news article.
The thin green line: A neighbor who models his firefighting gear after the star of Probie Days keeps battling away with the garden hose even after the firefighters arrive. Watch the video and see the pictures.
Brothel worker from HBO series confirmed among the dead in Oklahoma City arson: That's Brooke Phillips, AKA Hayden Brooks. She was a member of the staff at Moonlite Bunny Ranch featured on the HBO show "Cathouse". Police have now officially confirmed that Phillips was shot to death inside a burning home where three other people were found dead. She was pregnant. Click the image to read more about the case.
Jury says Fresno fire discriminates and wants it to pay big bucks: A former recruit is awarded almost $2.5 million dollars after a jury determined she was discriminated against while in the training academy at the Fresno Fire Department. Click here.
Mass casualty at high school football game: The moment of a wall collapse at a South Carolina stadium was caught on video. At least 27 students were hurt. Click here.
Save at Maryland house fire is fire marshal’s father: Firefighters in Frederick County were able to find a man in a wheel chair inside his burning home Sunday afternoon. Family members say Joseph McNeal is expected to recover from smoke inhalation. The relative giving that information to The Frederick News-Post is the chief fire marshal for Frederick County, Marc McNeal, son of the victim.
A fight over benefits: Johnston, Rhode Island officials say they can save $635,000 by cutting pension and health benefits for firefighters. As you might imagine the union isn’t sitting still for this one. Click here for the story.
Storage shed with lots of hazards burns in Gary: The call came in as a brush fire yesterday morning. A shed at what appears to be a salvage yard was burning. It apparently had acetylene tanks and a few other things that go boom stored inside. You will see a glimpse of something taking off at 3:38 in the video.
Prepare to be outraged. This is a picture of John Curry, a Florida firefighter who died during a 2007 training accident. His widow wants the operator of a blog from Australia to stop using this picture to illustrate the story of a firefighter child predator. Click the image for the full story.
Cop who handcuffed firefighter is reprimanded: Back in April we told you the story of a confrontation between New Haven Fire Department Lt. Filipe Cordero and Officer Newton Anderson of the police department. Cordero was trying to convince an overdose victim to go to the hospital while Anderson was berating her. It ended with Cordero in handcuffs. The police chief has now counseled the officer. More interesting may be the police internal affairs conclusions about who was in charge of the scene and related issues. Here is the article.
Fire chief accused of assaulting former member: Quentin Fowler used to be a member of West Virginia’s Bradley-Prosperity VFD. Now he’s a member of another department. Fowler claims his former chief came up to him in the parking lot of a local market on Wednesday afternoon and began hitting him. Some of it was caught on video. Click here for the story.
Philly firefighters sue their union: A group of African American firefighters in Philadelphia is suing IAFF Local 22 in federal court accusing the union of being “racially harassing and abusive” to blacks. The suit claims the firefighters have no voice in the union and that the local is being run by a white firefighters organization with the purpose of ending all quota-based hiring practices. Local 22′s president told Philly.com the allegation of the union being racist is “completely not true”. Here’s the complete story.
Color blind firefighter rejected for career service: In Australia a volunteer who has been trying to become a career firefighter is finding that his color blindness is keeping him from living his dream. Here’s the story.
Family blames Baltimore’s mayor for rotating closures: Sheila Dixon is on trial in Baltimore right now. Baltimore’s mayor is also being named by one family as the guilty party behind rotating closures they believe played a role in the loss of a loved one. WBFF-TV has the story.
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.