East St. Louis, Illinois is one of those fire departments that is extremely underfunded and understaffed. Like Highland Park, Michigan and some other departments we have featured, it responds and handles structure fires with a very small number of overworked and poorly equipped firefighters. As bad as it is, Rob Schield tells us it’s about to get a lot worse. Click here to watch this nicely produced video showing what Rob and his fellow firefighters face on the fireground and throughout the the city. Here’s some of what Rob wrote about the video:
With over 150 firefighters that used to protect this city, only 53 remain due to budget cuts. Unfortunately the East St. Louis fire department is facing laying off 22 more firefighters in May 2013 which is extremely dangerous.
Most fire departments respond up to 5 engines, 2 Chiefs and 15 firefighters to a house fire. Right now only 2 engines and 6 firefighters respond to a structure or house fire in East St. Louis EVERYDAY which is well below the number required by the NFPA. This is not to mention the other fire calls that come in. If layoffs occur, that number could fall to 3 firefighters and 1 engine which will be catastrophic.
In Detroit words has come down that box alarms will now consist of two engines instead of three. That’s because the city will be operating with 10 fewer engine companies. Four ladder companies are also being cut. In addition the reduction in companies means 200 firefighters will be reduced in rank and 156 will face lay offs. The union president says one impact will be a significantly older firefighting force.
Here are the list of companies that will be closing according to WJBK-TV – Engines 5, 8, 20, 21, 23, 31, 33, 38, 42 and 47, Ladder 1, 10, 16, 24 and TAC 2. Below are images of Detroit Fire Department orders outlining the cuts that have been making the rounds on Facebook since this afternoon.
Between 5 and 8 fires broke out overnight on Detroit’s east side as fire crews from the west side of the city joined to help extinguish the flames. The first fire started late Monday night and several other fires sparked through early morning.
Just when he thought it couldn’t get any worse, “the city has essentially said I think everybody better make sure they have their own garden hose,” said union president Dan McNamara.
“The citizens of the city are going to suffer because they can say what they want, they cannot justify these closings.”
“Out of a thousand people, we have 18 people under the age of 30, so you’re going to have old people like me riding the back ends, 50-year-olds on the back ends of fire trucks, and less fire trucks taking longer to get there, so guess who suffers,” McNamara said.
The city is responding saying these cuts are going to happen, but 108 of the 156 firefighters being laid off will get their jobs back, they claim, through a SAFER grant and the rest they’re hoping will be able to get their jobs back through attrition. However, firefighters say they’re worried because right now they’re short 300 firefighters.
Bing’s announcement comes just hours after firefighters fought about 16 fires on the city’s east side overnight and early morning. One firefighter was injured in one of the fires. Fires were reported in mostly vacant buildings in the areas of Moran and Medbury, Mt. Elliot and Warren, Hancock and McDougall, Erskine and Chene and Chene and Ferry.
The fire department has 1,257 employees, including 881 firefighters and 248 EMS technicians. According to the city, the department responds to 30,000 fire calls annually, plus 135,000 EMS calls.
In responding to Monday’s layoff announcement, Dan McNamara, President of the Detroit Fire Fighters Association, fired back saying, “These decisions are indefensible”.
“Mayor Bing is now calling for $23 million in cuts from the Detroit Fire Department. In the agreement they backed out of, we proposed up to $31 million in real savings including significant give backs and necessary restructuring, with no layoffs and only closing six fire companies permanently”, said McNamara.
McNamara hopes the city reconsiders the layoffs because he says Detroit’s Fire Department is already a couple hundred fire fighters short of what should be their minimum staffing level.
“We used to tell everybody in the city that if you call us we’ll be there and we don’t know if it’s going to be that way anymore,” said McNamara.
“In fact, if you want a good city — a city where people are gonna live, people are gonna recreate, people are gonna visit you have to have them know they’re safe,” he said. “And with the reductions with us, EMS and fire, it’s just not going to be seen that way.”
Statement from Mayor Dave Bing:
Since I became Mayor, I’ve made public safety my top priority and I’ve said I would protect the jobs of police and firefighters, but fiscal realities have made this untenable.
With my administration continuing to work to fiscally stabilize the City and with recent cuts to the City’s budget, we’re announcing the layoffs of 164 Detroit Fire Department firefighters by the end of July. But my administration has every expectation of being awarded a federal grant to fund and restore 108 of those positions. And many, if not most, of the remaining 56 firefighters are expected to be recalled to the fire department through attrition.
The current 2012-2013 budget also allows for the hiring of Emergency Medical Technicians to bolster the number of EMS staff who responded to 135,000 calls each year, or 81% of the calls to Fire Department.
Until the Fire Department receives the grant, Commissioner Don Austin and his staff have developed a plan to effectively and efficiently maintain the highest levels of fire service for the city’s citizens.
Among the components of the plan:
Better deploying engines from adjacent sectors and using newly installed GPS systems in the engines and rigs to best dispatch fire department personnel;
Conducting thorough risks/gain analysis of interior versus exterior fire suppression;
Increase the use of CERT & Fire Corps to support our firefighters;
And continuing our community fire prevention education.
Again, laying off any of our courageous and dedicated public safety personnel is the last thing I want to do at this point, but I have to face this hard reality. I have every confidence in Commissioner Austin and the men and woman of the Fire Department to maintain their highest standards of fire services and public safety for our citizens.
Lorain, Ohio Chief Tom Brown is pointing to 3 percent raises for the mayor, City Council and other top officials at the same time the city auditor is calling for seven more firefighters to be cut in 2013. The chief is very vocal in his frustration that once federal grant money expires in March, 2013 the city does not seen ready, willing or able to keep firefighter positions currently funded by the grant.
“It’s ridiculous. You go and get grants, and as soon as the financial forecast is looking grim again, where’s the first place they cut?” Brown said after Auditor Ronald Mantini on Monday proposed seven firefighter layoffs in 2013. “I want to vomit.”
Mantini told City Council members that Lorain faces a projected $3 million deficit in 2013. A $1.73 million federal taxpayer grant the department received in March to pay for the firefighters expires in March of 2013. Mantini said retaining the firefighters would add about $600,000 to the deficit when their benefits, wages and pension payments are factored in.
How often have we heard this? City officials want to make significant cuts to the fire department and at the same time tell the public it won't impact public safety. Last night when the Moline, Illinois City Council voted to cut 12 firefighter/paramedics from next year's budget and bring in a private ambulance service, Chief Ron Miller decided he won't be a part of it. The chief sounded the alarm about the impact on the safety of the citizens. City Administrator Lew Steinbrecher said that there is no impact on public safety. Watch the story above from WQAD- TV.
A week after city leaders voted to cut fire department staffing by 40 percent, losing 105 firefighters by March, an apparent "brainstorming" session spun out of control in Hialeah, Florida. That session, according to Hialeah's fire chief, had the department's command staff looking for more ways to save money. One of those ideas was to remove paramedics and their equipment from city fire engines.
Somehow, something as vital as this, accidentally went from an idea to reality very quickly and equipment was removed yesterday. The details of how that happened aren't clear, but the reaction was swift. It not only caught the attention of the press, but brought an email from Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief William Bryson warning nearby cities that Hialeah may be violating an agreement about not cutting services to the point where mutual aid is required on a daily basis.
In addition when the union president, Marco Pico, told reporters that tools were being taken away that could save someone's life, Mayor Carlos Hernandez called it a "scare tactic". So, if the union hadn't blown the whistle, how many believe the "misunderstanding" over the medic gear would have been corrected so quickly? Shouldn't the mayor and the chief be very concerned about a command staff that doesn't know the difference between a brainstorming session and an order?
The mayor and city council have already denounced the union for not making concessions to avoid the layoffs.
As Firegeezer pointed out last week, Mayor Hernandez promised that despite such a drastic reduction in staffing, services to the citizens wouldn't change (look at the article below if you don't believe the Geezer or me that he said that).
The Hialeah fire department stripped life-saving paramedic equipment — including intubation kits to help patients breathe and defibrillation pads to revive children — from its fire trucks Tuesday, only to undo the changes after what the city called a misunderstanding.
The move happened after fire department brass discussed the possibility of doing away with the equipment in the future to save money. That “brainstorming,” said Fire Chief Marcos De La Rosa, was incorrectly interpreted as an order to remove the equipment.
“As soon as I got word, I reversed the course and had those trucks stocked,” he said.
Above are last week's words of wisdom from Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez.
The occupants escaped and one firefighter received a small burn to the face in this fire at 25 Sawyer Road in Weymouth, Massachusetts around 6:00 AM on Thursday. The two-alarm fire involved firefighters from Weymouth, Braintree and Quincy. There was a collapse of the house that you see part of at the end of this video. Local news reports the heat from the fire slightly damaged one of the fire engines parked 50-feet away. Here is part of the caption with the video from angryjournalist on YouTube:
Weymouth used to run 4 engines and 2 ladders. The night of this fire 2 engines and 1 ladder were in service with the first due engine out of service. The house was the last house on a dead end street with no other access.
When firefighters reached the blaze at 25 Sawyer Road, it was already too late to save the home, Weymouth Fire Chief Robert Leary said.
“It had gotten into the house before we arrived,” Leary said of the fire, which started on a side porch. “There was really no stopping it.”
Initially, the firefighting effort was hampered by the malfunctioning of a valve connecting a fire hose to a hydrant. Leary said the outcome would have been the same even if there had been no delay in having adequate water.
The fire department has endured a series of budget cuts during the past eight years because of cutbacks in the town’s spending plans.
In 2003, the fire department eliminated 12 positions through retirements or attrition, and the reductions forced a ladder truck to be removed from service.
In July, 2008, eight more positions were eliminated through retirements and attrition.
The reductions forced another engine truck to be removed from service and the reassignment of personnel at Station 2 on Broad Street to firehouses on Winter Street, Ralph Talbot Street, and North Street.
Anytime you lessen manpower, the chance for accidents and everything, it rises,” said Gary Fire Captain and Union President Raynard Robinson.
Firefighter Eric Acevedo is one of 30 firefighters citywide to get a layoff letter. He got his today.
“It is crushing,” he said, adding it was always his dream to fight fires and he thought it would be a secure job.
Gary officials say a budget crisis made the cuts unavoidable.
Fire Chief Jeff Ward says he fought for his firefighters but the decision came down from above. He says more than 50 firefighters were originally on the chopping block, but they got that number down to 30.
But firefighters say the loss of more than a tenth of the department citywide causes real safety concerns for firefighters and Gary residents.
Chief Ward says he is hopeful a federal safety grant might save those jobs for another two years, but they are waiting to hear if they will get that money.
Some firefighters wonder if other city positions, like that of Deputy Mayor, could have been cut to save firefighter jobs.
The Gary Fire Department in action from an Edward Malik video.
Mayor Rick Gray from Lancaster, Pennsylvania says he is having the city prepare a lawsuit against IAFF Local 319 over what he says is harassment by union members against volunteer firefighters with companies that respond mutual aid into the city. Gray is also threatening disciplinary action. The mayor believes undermining mutual aid agreements impacts the safety of the citizens.
The chief of Manheim Township Fire Department says two of his volunteer, who are also career firefighters (we are told not in the City of Lancaster), have taken an indefinite leave of absence. Chief Rick Kane says he has suspended a mutual aid agreement with Lancaster because of the problem.
Plum Street fire photo by Glenn Usdin.
According to LancasterOnline.com the current and future union president say they are unaware of any harassment and point out they also did not know of any mutual aid agreements. Gray says those agreements aren’t in writing, but are verbal. Battalion Chief Ken Barton, president until the first of the year, believes the city is violating a 1997 arbitration ruling that says they can’t use volunteers unless they first call in off-duty firefighters.
Apparently what has brought this to a head is the breakdown of the city’s two ladder trucks with no replacements in sight. The truck work is now being handled by mutual aid companies.
FireTruckBlog.com’s Glenn Usdin, in looking at the dispute, the economic realities and the equipment issues brings up the point that it is important to have a “Plan B in place for emergency replacement of necessary apparatus”. Click here for Glenn’s commentary.
When fire raged in the first block of North Plum Street early Monday morning, four city firefighters were there in less than a minute.
The house was right behind the city’s fire Station 3. But after the first dozen on-duty city firefighters were at the scene, the next to arrive were firefighters from surrounding municipalities.
One woman died and two children were critically injured, but without the aid of firefighters from Lancaster Township, Lafayette and Millersville fire companies, the situation could have been worse, said city fire Chief Tim Gregg.
Without their help, the flames might have spread down the row of narrow homes, he said.
Which is why Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray was angry Tuesday at what he believes are efforts by some city firefighters to undermine mutual aid agreements between the city and surrounding municipalities.
Gray said some city firefighters have harassed volunteers who have come into the city.
Barton said he believes the city is overusing the volunteers to supplement the paid fire bureau.
“We’re being cut more and more and more, and they want to rely on somebody else come in and save our butt,” he said.
Kane said he believes the volunteers are caught in the middle of a labor dispute between the city administration and the union.
Bait and switch by the news media: If you are like me it will drive you up a wall if newspapers, websites or TV news operations use a fire truck from one jurisdiction to illustrate a story in another jurisdiction. Well, the new site, FireTruckBlog.comby Chief Glenn Usdin, is calling out one newspaper for crossing the continent to screw up its story on a Maryland budget issue. Check it out here.
You may have noticed the link that went up recently on the bar above for FireTruckBlog.com and a feed of the blog’s content in the right hand column. We are working with Glenn to help make sure you know about this great source for fire apparatus news. You’ll want to check it out.
For those of you who don’t know Glenn, he has been in the fire apparatus business since 1974 and curently is President of Command Fire Apparatus, a Lancaster, Pennsylvania, based company providing used fire and rescue vehicles to fire departments across the United States, Canada and for export. Glenn is also a veteran firefighter and officer in New York and Pennsylvania. I think you will find FireTruckBlog.com a good complement to what we do here.
Dennis Walus has a series of photos from yesterday's large fire in Southfield, Michigan. Click the image for the pictures from Dennis.
Michigan fire spreads thoughout large one-story complex: Firegeezer is all over the fire yesterday afternoon in Southfield, Michigan. When you see it you can’t help wonder how a daytime fire was that advanced with a four-minute response time from the fire department. Click here to watch the video.
“The time for trickery and lies are over. We’re playing with people’s lives”: Those are the words of IAFF Local 428 Union President Eric Jenkins. They are directed at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Mayor Linda Thompson. The union had its press conference yesterday firing back at the mayor’s plan to change schedules and drop people to save $1.6 millions dollars in OT money. Here’s more.
Making the case against massive layoffs in Cincinnati: Cincinnati.com’s Jane Prendergast has the details as more than 200 firefighters packed the City Council chambers last night trying to prevent the layoff of 144 firefighters. Here’s the story.
Union points out what it believes is a cancer cluster at a Pittsburgh firehouse: Nine cancer deaths of firefighters over 13-years at a South Side firehouse has firefighters sounding the alarm. Read the story.
Questions asked after it takes 10-minutes for fire engine to travel a half-mile: It appears Virginia’s Vinton Fire Department had to wait for a crew before responding to a house fire Monday night. The 10-minute response time made it the second engine to arrive at the fire and has reporters asking questions. Here are the answers from The Roanoke Times.
Cops to run day-time fire calls: A shortage of volunteers in Alma, Michigan has the town recruiting police officers to handle fire calls. First they have to be trained. We assume it is something a bit more than “fire safety training” mentioned in this article.
The Fire Critic finds his own must see video: Rhett Fleitz posted this first last night on FireCritic.com. It is from a week ago at 22 SE 9th Drive in Pendleton, Oregon. At the :35 mark the firefighter on the porch roof taking out a window finds it warming up very quickly and is engulfed in flames for a moment. There were no injuries reported. Also from the Fire Critic (my wife came up with and likes the name Fire Cricket better), Rhett shows us just how out of touch with reality he can be with his very first effort at directing a video. The feature stars the two people he most admires and wants to be like when and if he grows up. Please take a look. Rhett produced this video because he is feeling a little left out of the conversation these days and doesn’t think his fellow bloggers pay enough attention to him. Please cheer him up by clicking here and letting him know how much you like his video (even if you really don’t).
Who knew there was a Blue Ball Fire Company outside of Pennsylvania?: This one is in Freeport, New York and it’s fire chief has been suspended for thirty days. All because of blue balls. Blue plastic balls found by Freeport’s mayor in the cab of a fire truck. It is an interesting and unusual story. You don’t want to miss it. Click here.
Collapse video: In case you missed it there is good video of a wall collapse during a fire at a truck parts store with apartments above in Stroud Township, Pennsylvania. There were also some small explosions. Check it out.
Bracing for layoffs in Camden, New Jersey: It’s a busy fire department in a run down city with lots to burn. They haven’t had a recruit class in more than four years. But the plan right now is to lay off 30 percent of the firefighters plus gut the police department. Here’s the latest.
Another house fire in Kosciusko, Mississippi: This is the third one we’ve posted in a month with raw video from Kosyonline.com. Watch the video.
The anonymity of the Internet: Regular reader John Sachen sent this one along and while it is not specifically fire or EMS related it is well worth reading. It is titled, Online Anonymity Breeds Contempt. The New York Times op-ed piece by Julie Zhuo includes this line, “Morality, Plato argues, comes from full disclosure; without accountability for our actions we would all behave unjustly.” The column points out there is no accountability with the anonymity the Internet can provide and society may not be the better for that. Check it out.
Budget trumps need to recruit paramedics: In Montgomery County, Maryland the County Council clearly said no to a plan to raise the pay for paramedics to get it closer to what others in the region are paying. Chief Richard Bowers pointed out that only ten of the last 2600 applicants had ALS training. Here’s more.
Union fighting 24/48 shift change: In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania the mayor says she can save lots of money by moving firefighters to a 24 hours on and 48 hours off shift and cut 12 positions in the process. The issue is said to be $1.6 million dollars in OT. The union has been strongly against this and has scheduled a press conference for later today. Here’s more.
Union president disciplined for refusing to work 72-hours straight: In Winchester, Kentucky a letter of reprimand has been ordered by the Winchester City Commission for a firefighter who refused to work three days straight during a busy period. Raymond Patrick, the union president in Winchester, declined a supervisor’s order last month to keep working though a second extra 24-hour shift. Here’s the story.
Raw video from Prince George’s County, Maryland restaurant fire: The Pizza Hut in Upper Marlboro was heavily damaged around 4:30 yesterday morning. This is Morningside VFD video. Click here for a WUSA9.com slide show.
Road trip to Detroit: Chicago’s Steve Redick made one of his regular trips to Detroit and returned, as usual, with lots of video. The clip above, with fireground audio, chronicles the 3-day visit. You can see Steve’s still images from Detroit here. On the same page you will find links for Steve’s books on rigs in and around Chicago.
Click the image for more pictures from Emmitsburg's Vigilant Hose Company.
Investigators make arrest in Emmitsburg fire: If you haven’t checked in over the weekend you may not have seen all of the early pictures and video from Saturday morning’s fire in the heart of Emmitsburg. The 150-year-old apartment building (former hotel) that houses Stavros Pizza burned. While early news reports indicated careless smoking was to blame, one resident is under arrest, charged with starting the fire during a suicide attempt. In fact, you can hear people talking about a man in custody on one of the fire videos we posted. Click here and here for our coverage.
What’s up Doc? The answer may not be good for your blood pressure: Neil Coplan, an FDNY doctor who occasionally visited fire scenes, receives a $95,000-a-year disability pension because of a heart ailment. The pension was awarded under the same provision that presumes an active firefighter’s heart problems are job related. This one isn’t sitting too well with some people. Read more.
It seems to never end in Flint: WJRT-TV reports there were eight fires Saturday night and early Sunday morning for a total of 20 in three days in Flint, Michigan. One battalion chief says fatigue is setting in for firefighters as they handle this 12-day arson spree with fewer Flint firefighters and reduced resources from neighbors. Click here to watch and here, to read the TV station’s latest story. Here’s our coverage of fires earlier in the weekend, including an arrest in a Friday evening blaze.
Fire report from Prince William County, VA: Click the image to read a report from OWL VFD Chief Jim McAllister on a Woodbridge townhouse fire Sunday evening.
More from the battleground in Colorado over fire and EMS: Today is the day that more developments are expected in Leadville and Lake County over the nasty dispute between the fire department and the Sheriff’s department over who will provide fire and EMS coverage. Firefighters are scheduled to protest at the courthouse this afternoon over the arrest by sheriff’s deputies of a top fire official who had responded to an EMS call at the county jail. This evening there is a special joint meeting of Leadville and Lake County leaders to discuss the incident. Here is the latest. Click here and here for our previous coverage.
No charges in collision of two rigs in Houston that left bicyclist dead: The Houston Police Department has decided not to file criminal charges in the wreck a year ago between Ladder 16 and Engine 7 that took the life of a woman on a bicycle. The final decision is now up to the District Attorney. Read the details. Here is our coverage on the day of the collision.
Houston fire station closed: Speaking of Ladder 16, it has been moved to Station 8 following the closing of Station 16. KTRK-TV reports the building has been shuttered. Not a lot of details other than a report that problems with ceramic tiles coming loose has brought questions about the structural integrity of the firehouse. Here’s more.
A study in fire spread: That’s what Firegeezer calls his look at a fire in West Bend, Wisconsin. Take a look.
5-alarms in Nashville: Five homes were damaged or destroyed in the fire late Thursday night. Check it out.
Blast levels New Jersey home visited earlier by gas workers: In South Amboy two people were hurt in an apparent natural gas explosion that destroyed a home on Friday. The gas company confirms one its people had visited the house 45-minutes earlier, responding to a report of a leak. Here’s the story.
Was anyone on OT during boot drive?: The latest issue in Clark County, Nevada is over collecting money for MD during work hours. The question has also been brought up about overtime money being spent during the boot drive. Click here for the details.
The mature probie: An interesting article about New York’s Syosset Fire Department. Josh Stewart writes about the trend toward volunteers joining the department later in life. Here’s the story.
Did flesh eating bacteria play role in premature death determination?: That’s the word from sources in Prince George’s County, Maryland familiar with Friday’s incident where a man was left for dead in his Glenarden home. While one part of the investigation continues, PGFD officials report the two medics have now been cleared for full duty. Here’s the story.
More from the tragedy in Homewood, Illinois: Through a family friend, injured Village of Homewood firefighter Karra Kopas tells her story about Tuesday night’s house fire that killed Firefighter Brian Carey and left Kopas with burns. Click here. Here is our earlier coverage.
WJRT-TV's tower cam this morning as the rash of fires continues in Flint, Michigan. Click the image for the station's coverage.
A “Dear Firebug” letter: Columnist Andrew Heller in the Flint Journal makes the case that whoever starting setting fires in the wake of layoffs in the Michigan city is not associated with firefighters. Heller wants the fire starter to knock it off before a firefighter or someone else gets killed. Read his column.
And Flint continues to burn: April Fools Day is clearly not a holiday for the arsonist. Five more overnight fires. Click here for the details.
Trio of firefighters in PA charged with arson: Three young volunteers with the Friedensburg Fire Company in Schuylkill County have been arrested on arson charges. Here’s the story.
A two-year-old firehouse may close: In Dover, New Hampshire the Liberty North End Fire Station opened only two-years-ago after decades on the drawing board. It could soon close because of budget issues. Read the story.
And speaking of Emergency!: The County of Los Angeles Fire Museum wants help in restoring Engine 51 (the Ward LaFrance). Read more and watch the videos.
Budget busting overtime makes news again: I wish I could get time-and-a-half each time I link to a story on a jurisdiction across the country sounding the alarm about firefighter overtime. Palm Bay, Florida is the latest. Let me fill out my time sheet.
It isn’t letting up in Flint: More vacant building fires in the troubled Michigan city in the wake of fire and police layoffs that started on Thursday. This one is from last night around 10:00 PM at the corner of Oak and Court. Click here for video of a Sunday afternoon fire and details from WJRT-TV. Two more of the fires from early Sunday morning are here and here. And here is one from Saturday. With the city officials openly speculating that the layoffs and the fires are connected, you can’t help think of the early 1980s when Boston was the “arson capital of the world”. That long, ugly and devastating episode had its origins in a group of fire buffs reacting to the layoffs of hundreds of Massachusetts firefighters and police officers. A little history lesson.
Family told for the second time in two days that man was dead: Relatives of George Waters first heard on Friday that the 70-year-old man was dead. That turned out not to be true. Then they heard the same news on Saturday from the Prince George’s County Hospital Center. This time the news was correct. The Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department has two reviews underway looking at why this happened. Two paramedics are sitting on the sidelines as this is sorted out. It is the second such incident for PGFD this year. Here is the latest story. Here is our initial coverage.
Florida chief says better info from 911 might have shaved minutes off door removal to help dying woman: This is a very interesting story from North Fort Myers. Chief Larry Nisbet of the Bayshore Fire Department believes if his firefighters had the same information they had at the 911 center, the crew wouldn’t have waited to remove the front door and help a dying 72-year-old woman. The director of Lee County’s 911 says no policies need to be changed. Here’s the story.
Cops cite firefighter at scene: Not a lot of details of what went wrong at a domestic violence call in Leadville, Colorado leading to a firefighter charged with obstruction. Read what we know.
Listen as firefighters report tornado touchdown: Violent weather yesterday in and around High Point, North Carolina. We have video and pictures along with FireSceneAudio.com‘s radio traffic as things get pretty busy for the 911 center. Here is our coverage.
Jumper from Montgomery County, PA fire: PhillyFireNews.com has a series of pictures from a house fire early Saturday morning in Lansdale. Click here. Read more about the fire.
Raw video, lots of pictures and memories after 5-alarm fire: In Sacramento they are mourning the loss of Iceland, a 70-year-old skating rink. Check it out.
“Useless” firefighter video draws comments: I put this video up to stimulate a little discussion, and it did. A citizen somewhere called the fire department “useless” for laughing off a suggestion they get a cat down from a power pole. The power company ended up handling it. There isn’t anyone arguing the fire department should have done the job, but there are a few making the case that the customer service and PR component might have been better handled (based on the impression of the unknown videographer). Here are the video and the comments.
Friday was Mid-Atlantic train derailment day: We started with the dangling locomotive that almost went into the drink in Chesapeake, Virginia because the bridge was in the “up” position. Click here. That was followed by a derailment in Maryland. While it was posted in our player, we never got to mention the Howard County incident. Here’s that video. Doug Walton at his Howard County blog has details and close-up pictures of the wreckage in Patapsco Valley State Park near the swinging bridge (I used to love that place as a kid).
How can a geezer be only three-years-old?: That’s a lifetime in blogger years. Bill Schumm just celebrated three years at the helm of Firegeezer.com. Congratulations to Bill. What do you get for the third anniversary? More links, of course. There’s lots to choose from, so just scroll down. The most interesting to me is the fire engine in Croatia that lost a battle with a tram. Click here for that one.
Fire in Virginia Beach: We have an early series of still pictures from an apartment fire with an arts store down below on the oceanfront. Click here. Since our posting, FireRescueTV.com added some video to those pictures. Click here.
Early video in Milford, Massachusetts: Cameras were on the scene as a man came out a third floor apartment window while fire raged down below. The three-alarm fire has lots of video and pictures to document it. Here it is.
Apartment fire in Hobart, Indiana: Report of a number of injuries at this fire on Sunday near Hickey and Liberty.
Twenty-three firefighters are scheduled to lose their jobs today in Flint, Michigan. Two fire stations are expected to close this week. Yesterday evening, there were five fires in vacant homes over a four-hour period (some news sites indicate four fires) that left two firefighters injured. Overnight there were at least three more fires.
Three fires burning at once around 4:30 this morning in Flint. From WJRT-TV.
Fire Battalion Chief Theresa Root says all the fires seem to have been set intentionally. All the fires were two story vacant home with fires on both floors. Root says it also seems very suspicious since the fires are happening the day before firefighter layoffs.
“I think they’re trying to make a point and I think they’re going about it all the wrong ways. They need to make a point to elected officials regarding layoffs by communicating their ideas. They’re using an illegal and dangerous act to try and make a point. They need to act intellectually and professionally with options and compromise.”
Flint Journal reporter Laura Angus attended yesterday’s press conference with Mayor Dayne Walling. Here are excerpts:
With the city unable to reach cost-cutting agreements with police and fire unions, planned layoffs will go into effect barring a last-minute deal.
Along with the staffing cuts, the city will also shutter two of its five fire stations Thursday — Station 3 on the city’s north side and Station 8 on the south side.
With 65 city firefighters left on the job, some outcounty fire chiefs have expressed concerns that the city will need added help from outside departments if Flint is overwhelmed with fire calls.
The city is developing a plan so it can call in off-duty fire personnel and equipment before relying on the countywide mutual aid fire agreement, said Walling.
Firefighter union president Raul Garcia accusing Walling of union busting on Wednesday and said he is planning to organize his own recall effort against the mayor.
“He doesn’t care about the city, that’s it,” Garcia said.
Walling said the city will continue to be safe and praised the work of the city’s police and firefighters, calling them “the best in the business.”
“This is not easy but we can no longer afford to live outside our means,” he said.
The red pin to the north is Station 3 and the one to the south is Station 8. Both are expected to close this week. Click the image for more details on the map prepared by the Flint Journal.
In an effort to close a projected $121-million deficit in FY2011, Balitmore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has proposed some drastic cuts. These include slashing 900 positions, involving 600 layoffs. This is just an early round in the budget wars. The mayor says she is still looking for other revenue possibilities to offset the shortfall and avoid some of the cutting.
Baltimore Fire Department picture of Chief James Clack.
As for the fire department, Chief Jim Clack has sent a message to the department outlining the cuts and his views on the budget. Here are some excerpts:
We are projected to lose a total of 166 positions, with 154 of those positions coming directly from the closure of seven fire suppression companies. This cut represents almost 10% of our workforce and 13% of our fire companies. As of the end of February 2010, there would be 91 temporary layoffs of our newest members. This number of layoffs would be reduced by the beginning of the new fiscal year based on retirements and other personnel attrition, but there is no way for me to avoid some layoffs if the current proposed budget is adopted.
In addition, there could be eight Captains, 22 Lieutenants and several more PO and EVD jobs eliminated. This would require temporary demotions of the most recently promoted rated members and effectively “kill” the promotional lists for rated members.
These cuts simply go too far. We are past the point where efficiency measures and working harder will make up for the lack of money to run the fire department. I have expressed my sincere concerns to the Mayor regarding our budget cuts. I know she gets why this proposed budget is not acceptable and she has made it clear to me that public safety funding will be the first area of the budget to be restored if new revenue can be found.
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.
Five firefighters tumble into the basement: Only two of the firefighters who ended up in the basement when the first floor collapsed at an Anne Arundel County, Maryland house fire yesterday afternoon were sent to the hospital. Neither has life threatening injuries. The video above is from Sky9. I have edited it so all of the shots are in chronological order. The mayday was over when the chopper arrived. The video begins with the Maryland State Police helicopter ready to take off with one of the injured firefighters. You can click here for the slideshow. You will find the fireground audio and many more details about the three-alarm fire here.
Read controversial letter captain read to returning Houston firefighter: The letter that apparently helped push Houston Fire Department Chief Phil Boriskie out the door has now been released. Click here to see the four page document that was presented by Capt. Brian Williamson to Jane Draycott on the day she returned to Station 54, six months after making accusations about racial and sexual grafitti in the women’s locker room. The letter, read aloud to Draycott, Chief Boriskie and others, listed reasons why the crew did not want Draycott back at the firehouse. Also, an investigator in the grafitti case says, that despite news reports, Draycott and another female firefighter are not suspects in the case. Click here, here and here for the latest.
“That is all bogus and lies and fabrications” – FDNY EMTs tell their side of the story: Two EMT/dispatchers for FDNY are scheduled to be back to work today after being accused of not providing medical help to a dying woman while on break at the Au Bon Pain near the dispatch center in Brooklyn. For the first time Jason Green and Melisa Jackson tell their story. Click here to read the details.
More from Haiti: Virginia Task Force 2 has been making news in Haiti. The team was heading back to its base on Tuesday when it was flagged down and brought to what used to be a three-story home. There they rescued a boy and girl who had been in the rubble for seven days. Here’s the story. You can follow VA-TF2 on its website and Facebook page.
So, why didn’t the closest team go to Haiti first?: There are some unhappy people in Florida over the fact that the Miami-Dade USAR Team, sitting within easy striking distance of Haiti, didn’t get the first call. There was a time they would have been at the top of the list. But Miami-Dade was dropped from that list after an audit revealed it had overbilled the federal government for some of its trips in the 90s. Specifically, it was an effort to hide the cost of overtime for firefighters to backfill the positions of team members who were deployed. It is a cost the federal government now reimburses. The fire chief says that all happened under old management and wants to see the team back in the first-call category for international responses. Read the story. Watch the story.
Felon hired in Memphis may be tip of the iceberg: A Memphis, Tennessee TV station has been all over the case of Lawrence Batiste a firefighter currently facing a variety of charges including domestic violence, assault, drugs and alcohol. WLMT-TV reports that Batiste was hired by the Memphis Fire Department despite being canned by the Shelby County Fire Department when a previous felony was discovered. But it appears the Memphis Fire Department will be facing more scrutiny. STATter911.com has seen FOIA documents that indicate this problem goes beyond FF Lawrence Batiste. Here’s the latest story.
Captain accused of pretending to be a Klan member is fired: Accusations that he used a pillow case to pretend to be a member of the KKK and made a racially insensitive remark have brought the dismissal of a Captain Robert “Danny” Heil at Pleasure Ridge Park Fire Protection District board in Kentucky. Read the story.
147 firefighters told to be at a meeting Friday about layoffs: That’s the story from Tulsa. Click here.
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.
Stick this in your stocking – layoff notices go out two days before Christmas: Thirty-eight firefighters are among 100 in public safety who were sent layoff notices yesterday from the city of Cleveland, Ohio. The mayor says force reductions are planned for January 11 if a four-percent pay cut isn’t agreed to by the unions. There would also be reductions in rank for supervisory personnel. Read the details.
Firetruck rollover in France: Firegeezer has the picture and story over a crash that killed one firefighter and injured two others. Click here.
An orange jumpsuit may be in your future: I wonder if the owners of an Oakland, California fortune cookie company left behind that message after vacating the building that used to house the business. It seems a marijuana grow operation took over the Chinatown spot. A fire in the building brought the discovery. Here are some details.
Firefighters didn’t need a fortune cookie to help make this discovery: A fire in a mobile home brought a little something extra. Just outside firefighters found what is being described as the first still discovered in Etowah County, Alabama in more than a decade. Read more.
Replacement for chief who quit over layoffs: Remember the story in Saratoga Springs, New York where both the police and fire chief announced their retirements over concerns about safety following budget cuts? Fire Chief Robert Cogan’s last day is Friday and his replacement, Bob Williams, is a third generation firefighter whose father was once chief of the department. Read the details.
Click the image from KLAS-TV in Las Vegas to watch the station's live coverage of a large fire in an apartment complex yesterday morning.
BC house fire: From Surrey on Sunday at 96th Avenue and 154th Street. Read details.
Deputy chief gets what burned firefighter couldn’t: More on the Sarasota County, Florida fire chief who is still on the rolls of the District of Columbia Fire & EMS Department. No one is yet saying who made the deal to allow Chief Kenneth Ellebee to remained employed in DC while working in Florida. Also, a look at a critically burned firefighter, Joe Morgan, who couldn’t get such a deal. Read more.
A detailed police report from a recent investigation of a fatal Boston firetruck crash concludes that a Fire Department contractor installed the wrong parts on the ladder truck’s brakes several months before the crash and that firefighters who were not licensed mechanics repeatedly adjusted the brakes in violation of national safety guidelines.
The contractor replaced a brake chamber and brake pads on Ladder 26 with “unsuitable’’ parts in spring 2008, which decreased stopping power significantly, according to a copy of the report obtained by the Globe.
Support for silenced union prez: There was a protest last night in Johnson City, New York over the suspension without pay of Captain Marty Meaney. Meaney is accused by the mayor of insubordination after speaking to the press and at a public meeting. Read the story.
A sad day in Grand Rapids: Twenty-two firefighters are losing their jobs. Plans are already underway to try and soon bring back at least some of them. Click here for the latest.
No drinking on the job for firefighters apparently needs to be legislated: It is in a charter amendment proposed in San Francisco along with one to increase a firefighters work week from 48.7 hours to 52. Read more.
Friendly comment reminder: I have had to kill a number of long comments in recent days because of expletives. I know you spent a lot of time writing to STATter911.com and I appreciate it Most of it was nice reading for me, but if you want others to see your comments, leave out the $%#3# four-letter words. Also, I promise I won’t pick up a hose or ladder (as if I could without ending up in traction) if you don’t do the reporting. State your opinion on the stories all you want. If there are new facts, send them in as tips and I will see if we can get to them. Thanks.
House fire in Turlock, California: WARNING!!! A warning that the neighbor/photographer narrates this one with some pretty salty language. A lot of expletives.
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.