Leesburg Today reports that at a press conference this evening in Middleburg, Virginia it was disclosed that a criminal investigation, still ongoing, has determined that close to $500,000 in funds are missing from the Middleburg Volunteer Fire Department. According to the paper’s website, a statement from attorney Ed MacMahon Jr. indicates the money was embezzled over the last three years by Paul Draisey the department’s treasurer. MacMahon is representing the fire department. Draisey committed suicide on April 16. Draisey was also a long time radio personality in Loudoun County.
The money lost includes donations and funds from both the Town of Middleburg and Loudoun County.
The county government will be conducting an audit of the fire department. The results of that audit will be made public at the “first available date,” MacMahon said, but he added there is no indication when that would be.
The board of the volunteer company is hopeful that it can recoup “some, if not all, of these losses” through insurance policies that were already in place, MacMahon said.
On Monday evening the remains of Capt. Michael Quin, USMC will be escorted from Reagan National Airport to Purcellville, Virginia. Capt. Quin was one of seven Marines killed on February 22 when two helicopters collided in Arizona. His father, Brad Quin, is a member of the Purcellville VFC. The department is assisting the Quin family with logistics and meals.
Chris Horan at Purcellville VFC contacted us with the information below in case there are firefighters or others who would like to pay their respects along the route on Monday.
If you need more information you can contact Chief Bob Dryden at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Captain Michael Quin, USMC, of Purcellville Virginia, lost his life in the crash of his UH-1 “Huey” Helicopter on Feb 22nd 2012. We invite the citizens of Purcellville and all of Loudoun County to join us in honoring Capt. Michael Quin upon his return on Monday March 12th. The time of his exact arrival in Purcellville will vary between 8:30PM and 9:30PM. The procession will travel from Reagan National Airport to Purcellville traveling the Dulles Toll Road, to West on Rt.7, South on Berlin Turnpike, Right on Hirst Rd., Left on N. Maple Ave., Right on E. Main Street, to Nursery Ave. to Hall’s Funeral Home.
Everyone interested in paying their respects are asked to line the sidewalk along North Maple Avenue in addition to East Main Street between Maple Ave. and Nursery Ave. Members of the Purcellville Vol. Fire Co. and personnel from the Loudoun County Dept. of Fire & Rescue will be located at 200 North Maple Ave. to pay their respects.
There will be a public visitation on Tuesday March 20th between 12:00PM and 5:00PM at the Purcellville Baptist Church at 601 Yaxley Dr. and a Celebration of Life at the Purcellville Tabernacle at 250 South Nursery Ave. between 6:00PM and 8:00PM. Capt. Quin will be laid to rest on March 21st at Arlington National Cemetery..
UPDATE: We've had an impact with this post. Leah M. Kosin changed the subhead. It no longer reads "Safety personnel". But despite our less than subtle editing suggestion, Ms. Kosin didn't bite. It now reads "Emergency personnel" and there still is never a mention anywhere in the article that firefighters put out the fire. Oh well.
A month ago I found myself in the middle of a discussion on Ray McCormack's Facebook page after Ray wrote the line "Only you can prevent first responder". I was and am in total agreement (but there were a few non-believers also commenting). I also felt more than just a little guilty for having occasionally given in to this form of government speak. A term the news media picked up on and ran with over the last decade.
I used to quietly fight against it and for a long time avoided using the term on TV and in the blog. Being the weak willed person I am, I eventually just gave up and gave in. But Ray's six words were like General George S. Patton slapping that soldier and they sent me back to the front lines on this issue.
Which brings me to the article above from the Leesburg Patch. Reading this story about a house fire on Ferriers Court in Loudoun County, Virginia last night resulted in screams of "No way!" and "Un#&^$%#?#believable" and "WTF" emanating from the World Headquarters of STATter911.com. The neighbors weren't shocked. They are used to hearing such exclamations. But usually it's from Mrs. STATter911.com. This time it was from me.
The outrage started when I read the subhead of the article, "Safety personnel continue to fight fire … ". So, now it is "safety personnel" who fight fires. Not even "first responders". When was someone out there going to tell me it has been changed again? I guess once I retired from the news business they stopped sending me the memos from Liberal News Media Central (as we all know, the place where every reporter, except those working for Fox News, gets their marching orders).
But wait, there was more to feed my growing disgust. In the entire11 paragraphs it never mentioned that firefighters were the ones extinguishing this house fire. Somehow in an article about a fire, the reporter avoided the word "firefighter". The writer used the word "personnel" and the term "fire teams" (more memos I failed to see), but not one mention of a firefighter being on the scene last night. How does this happen?
Does the word "firefighter" now carry such a negative connotation reporters try to avoid it (maybe that's what happens when idiotic political leaders claim prisoners can do your job)? Is "firefighter" somehow politically incorrect? Do young people not know this word or can't relate to it? Please someone, explain it all to me.
My outrage is not directed at the young reporter who wrote this and yours shouldn't be either (but Leah Kosin, if you happen to see this, please get something out of it other than I am an old, washed-up reporter with a bad attitude). This is just a symptom of the problem Ray McCormack so simply highlighted (and in a hell of a lot fewer words than I am doing). It's an epidemic.
To me, this is an issue about firefighters losing their identity and becoming generic. More important, it's allowing others to take the lead in defining who you are.
Yes, I am very aware firefighters now do so much more now than just fight fires. They respond to "all hazards". I get it.
But they always did things other than just spray water at flames. Even back in the day when they were called firemen.
Do you really think anyone has ever uttered these words: "Oh my dear, the cat is stuck up in the tree. Shall we ring up the first responders to get it down"? I didn't think so. But you may hear that someday soon, if you allow the word "firefighter" to die from disuse.
Firefighters are the can-do people the public relies on when it hits the fan. While it may not describe everything you do, and has certainly taken a beating in recent years (some of it self-inflicted), it's a word the public generally thinks of in a positive way. If you treat this word with respect by not doing the stupid things that will further tarnish its image and stand up and say something when reporters or politicians call you something else, I believe the word will continue to serve you well.
Leesburg Today is reporting that Loudoun County (VA) Department of Fire, Rescue & Emergency Management career firefighters were removed from the Middleburg fire station eight days ago and are operating out of firehouses at Aldie and Philomont. The paper reports that details of the incident have not been spelled out, but what both sides seem to agree on is that there have been increasing tensions that resulted in a dispute on the evening of July 13.
From the article published yesterday:
Fire-rescue spokesperson Mary Maguire would only say that the volunteer company "has indicated the career staffing was no longer needed."
Paul Draisey, treasurer of the volunteer department whose son Brad is its president, acknowledged there were "heated" words between the two sides, but said the company did not ask the career staff to permanently leave.
"No one empowered to act on behalf of the corporation, our nonprofit, said to leave," Draisey said. "We have not said, ‘pack your stuff and go.'"
Draisey indicated that the volunteers have beefed up staffing since the career firefighters departed, but Loudoun County Chief Keith Brower told the paper that other nearby companies will be dispatched simultaneously with Middleburg as a backup. Brower also said, "We are willing to go back as they need us."
According to the article, career staffing had been increased at Middleburg's request after a number of volunteers resigned last August because of concerns raised by the Loudoun County Fire-Rescue Commission.
TV stations in DC went back for more yesterday on the fire truck ride heard ’round the world. I saw the story of the DUI arrest of a volunteer firefighter from Hamilton, Virginia featured on network newscasts and even in a London tabloid (even though they did use an FDNY rig to illustrate the story). Unfortunately it is another good example of how the Internet quickly spreads the bad news far and wide. I can think of cases of more outrageous behavior in previous generations that resulted in death or serious injury that didn’t get anywhere near the attention this story did.
The firefighter’s mug shot is now forever on the web and will be very easy to find. That’s not good news for his future. While I try to avoid preaching on the blog, this may be a good lesson for firefighters who have been engaged in similar behavior. Besides all of the physically harmful things that could have come from this incident, the instant destruction of your reputation as it travels the Internet at the speed of light should really give you pause (and, of course, there is the reputation of the fire department).
The stories yesterday focused mostly on the passengers aboard the retired fire engine at the time the deputy sheriff pulled it over. All are or were volunteer firefighters who the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office said had been drinking. Of particularly interest, for obvious reasons, were the off-duty Leesburg police officer and the 19-year-old firefighter.
“Everybody in the vehicle had been drinking,” said (Investigator Vincent) DiBenedetto, saying they were all intoxicated. The passengers were allowed to leave with someone sober and not charged.
“It’s definitely one of the most serious breaches we have. One thing we are expected to do is follow the laws we’re enforcing,” said DiBenedetto.
Leesburg police suspended the officer, an officer sworn to uphold the law and presumably keep drunk drivers off the road.
“Driving drunk in a little Toyota… that’s a dangerous thing,” DiBenedetto said. “When you take a 30 foot long fire truck going 67 miles per hour on what is basically a country road it’s a lot more serious.”
As if the mix of alcohol, firefighters and police wasn’t bad enough. The one woman among the volunteer firefighters inside the truck, is only 19 years old and in the company of a police officer who had to know she wasn’t old enough to legally drink.
UPATE at 6:08 PM: Evening news reports indicate that the four volunteer firefighter passengers on the rig are a 19-year-old female, a police officer in Leesburg and two who are volunteers in positions of authority in Loudoun County.
UPDATE at 2:30 PM: Loudoun County Fire-Rescue Chief W. Keith Brower, Jr. and Fire-Rescue Commission Chair Douglas G. Rambo will be answering reporter’s questions this afternoon about the incident Saturday morning. The department issued a press release shortly after 2:00 PM that added some new information. Here are excerpts (there is a link above to read the entire release):
Early Saturday morning, a deputy with the Loudoun Sheriff’s Office witnessed a retired fire engine owned by the Hamilton Volunteer Fire Company operating in a dangerous manner. Upon learning that there were no active fire incidents in the Hamilton area, the deputy stopped the engine. After a subsequent investigation, it was determined that all five off-duty volunteer firefighters in the engine were intoxicated. The driver, a volunteer with the Hamilton Fire Company, was arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Unauthorized Use of Vehicle. The other four occupants of the truck were released to an officer of the fire company.
The volunteer members of the Hamilton Volunteer Fire Company involved in this incident have resigned. Two volunteers from other companies who were riding in the truck have been suspended while the internal investigation of this matter continues.
The County’s Fire and Rescue Commission, the Department of Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Management, and the Hamilton Volunteer Fire Company are grateful for the prompt action of the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office. The behavior of these individuals does not represent the values of Loudoun’s fire and rescue service and will not be tolerated by any of our volunteer companies or the Department. This incident involved off-duty personnel and a retired fire engine, so fire and rescue readiness was not jeopardized.
At 2:00 Saturday morning in the Hamilton, Virginia area a Loudoun County Sheriff’s deputy spotted a truck weaving on Harmony Church Road. It wasn’t just any truck. It was a fire engine and according to the Ashburn Patch the deputy ”veered into a ditch to avoid a collision with the westbound fire truck”. The Washington Post reports the deputy’s radar indicated the rig was going about 10 mph over the 50 mph speed limit. It turns out, according to the news reports, the 1989 Pierce Lance pumper was being taken for a joyride by the 27-year-old firefighter at the wheel and four other volunteers after a night of drinking.
The vehicle, described as a spare belonging to the volunteer fire department in the Loudoun town of Hamilton, had apparently been taken on a joyride, said Investigator Vincent DiBenedetto, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office.
Sean Swanson, arrested by Loudoun County Sheriff's Office.
After checking for fire calls, the deputy turned his car around and stopped the truck.
Officials of the Hamilton department could not be reached immediately. DiBenedetto said the 1989 truck was not the one kept at the ready at the firehouse to answer alarms.
Sean Richard Swanson, 27, a volunteer with Loudoun Fire Co. 5 was given a series of field sobriety tests and placed under arrest.
Deputies released the other passengers – all Loudoun fire and rescue volunteers who the Sheriff’s Office reported were drinking – to a sober driver following the incident. Deputies released the truck to a supervisor with the Hamilton fire station.
The Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate and will work with the Commonwealth’s Attorney to consider additional charges.
This is a fire from yesterday afternoon on Thornblade Circle in the Broadlands community of Loudoun County, Virginia. As you will see in the video, the videographer appears to be on side C, while the first firefighters on the scene are not visible on side A (but their water soon is). One dog was killed, another dog was badly injured and a teenaged boy apparently was able to get into the front of the house and bring a third dog to safety.
“Upon arrival there were heavy fire conditions with flames up the back of the house and through the roof,” (Battaltion Chief James) Williams explained during a brief interview on the scene.
It took about 30 minutes for firefighters to bring the fire under control, by which time the first and second floors of the single-family home were severely damaged, Williams said. Vinyl siding on the house directly next door was damaged from the radiant heat of the blaze. In addition, embers blowing in the wind ignited small fires in the wooded area adjacent to the home.
Williams said five fire stations reported to the one-alarm conflagration, including Ashburn, Moorefield Station, Lansdowne, Arcola and Dulles South.
Golf course fire in Quebec: This fire was on October 23.
Fire department connection surfaces in FBI probe of Prince George’s County: The name of a former top official of the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department has made the news following yesterday’s arrests of three PGPD officers and others. The Washington Post reports that a liquor store the FBI has moved to confiscate is partially owned by former PGFD Lt. Col. Karl Granzow Jr. In September of 2008 STATter911.com and WUSA9.com reported the FBI searched Granzow’s home and his office in the fire department’s headquarters building in Largo. Granzow and others who were targeted in the 2008 raids have not been charged with any crimes. Federal law enforcement officials say that yesterday’s arrests are connected to the charges brought Friday against Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson and his wife Leslie. Read and watch the 2008 story and the latest on the investigation.
Must see video from the deadly fire in Shanghai: It is hard not to feel the tension as a man slides across a ground ladder used to bridge the gap between burning scaffolding and a tower ladder to narrowly escape the fire in China yesterday that raced through a 28-story building. Scores are dead and injured. Click here for the video. There is more from Firegeezer on the updated death toll and arrests.
Paramedics say they are whistleblowers: Two paramedics in Detroit say they are being disciplined after making comments to a TV crew that rode around with them. The pair testified before the Detroit City Council last night. Watch their story.
Arrangements for Firefighter Chance Zobel: SConFire.com has the details on the funeral for Columbia Fire Department’s Chance Zobel who was killed over the weekend after being struck by a vehicle while fighting a brush fire. The driver charged with striking Zobel and Firefighter Larry Irving does not have a valid U.S. driver’s permit. Read more.
An interesting argument: Should an FDNY lieutenant, forced to retire after many days on the pile following the 9-11 attacks, be an active volunteer firefighter on Long Island? The New York Daily News and John Brown’s former volunteer chief don’t think so. But Brown makes the case that the doctors for the New Hyde Park Fire Department have cleared him for duty while the FDNY docs thought differently and forced him out. Click here for the story.
Indictments in Massachusetts EMS re-certification scam: Five people, including a Boston firefighter, have been indicted in connection with the EMS recertification scandal that has touched a number of jurisdictions in Massachusetts. Click here for the latest.
Closing arguments in case of man charged with Bret Tarver’s death: A verdict is expected this week in the trial of the man accused of setting the supermarket fire in 2001 that killed the Phoenix firefighter. Read more.
Principal refuses to let ambulance drive onto field to get to football player with a concussion: After first denying it happened, a school official confirms a principal blew the call when she failed to let an AMR ambulance drive up to an injured football player. A San Jose Fire Department report details confirmed the information. Instead, the crew had to wheel the gurney three-quarters of the length of a football field to get to the 14-year-old patient and travel the same distance back to the unit. Here’s the story.
I have referred to these stories many times, but the video has not been available in recent years on the Internet. WUSA9.com’s Emily Cyr took care of that problem for us today. The videos from July, 2004 relate directly to the conflagration last Thursday in Manassas, Virginia. NIST discovered that the simple and relatively inexpensive idea of adding a fire barrier under vinyl siding makes a dramtic difference in preventing fire spread when single family homes are built with little space between the structures.
All the way at the bottom of this post is a 10-minute interview conducted on Saturday by WUSA9.com’s Surae Chinn with Loudoun County, Virginia’s Interim Fire Chief Keith Brower. Like City of Manassas Fire Marshal Frank Teevan, Chief Brower was always one of the go-to guys when I was reporting and looking for an expert on fire safety issues. Chief Brower talks at length about how residential sprinklers and the lessons learned from the NIST testing can be the difference between one home burning and a neighborhood on fire.
Amidst a storm a controversy not yet revealed to the public, five volunteer firefighters suddenly resigned. One of those who left his post, is the fire chief.
Board Member Jim Burton of the Blue Ridge District, says it couldn’t have come at a worse time. He says the department is already stretched so thin. Burton wants to ensure residents that they will answer their emergencies.
Paul Draisey is the director of the Middleburg Fire Department. He says allegations of misconduct were brought to the Loudoun County Fire Commission two weeks ago.
An investigation was launched with the help of the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Department. Immediately, three people were placed on administration leave.
Then this past weekend on August 27th and 28th, five volunteer firefighters resigned before the completion of the investigation.
Burton says they will get to the bottom of what happened if there was anything illegal or unethical that took place at the fire house.
Before the scandal, there were 15 volunteer firefighters. Now a third are gone and they are down to 10.
Company 3 is now forced to call on other stations for help. Burton says they could be forced to cut service, which would be the very last resort.
He says they are okay for the next few weeks, but he sees a problem in the longterm if they don’t come up with a solution.
It takes 18 months to recruit, hire and train a paid firefighter.
Because of the vacancies the station has requested eight paid firefighters.
Early video from Alberta, Canada: This was shot in Three Hills. The description indicates it is one of two suspicious fires being investigated by the RCMP.
Fire on the 27th floor with a mayday: We have fireground audio from the fire that began last night in the historic 36-story JP Morgan Chase Building in Downtown Houston. The firefighters had to deal with standpipe issues. At least five firefighters received non-life threatening injuries. Click here for our coverage.
Arresting the flames: A trio of videos showing uniformed police officers handling fire duties. Check it out.
Loudoun County, Virginia company hit with resignation of chief and four others: Leesburg Today reports the sudden departure of the chief and others from the Middleburg VFD may be connected to an investigation by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office. The paper says no details are being provided explaining what this is all about. Whatever the reason the actions have an impact on staffing. Here’s the story.
It depends which way you look at it: A very interesting article that shows the San Diego Fire Department spends more per firefighter ($210,600) than any of the top 15 cities in the country. But at the same time the survey indicates San Diego actually spends less per resident on fire protection than all but two of the departments. Click here for the story and the chart comparing the costs.
A picture by Werner Ennesser at Sunday's event in Arlington County, Virginia.
Lots of pictures from Iron & Steel event: Despite a somewhat controversial start, by all accounts the Iron & Steel Run to the National Capital Region was a wonderful event on Sunday. Click here for video as the group went through Prince George’s County and pictures of the ceremony as the World Trade Center steel was brought to Arlington County Fire Station 5.
Firefighters may soon be allowed to drive ambulances: It is a controversy WIS-TV brought to light in 2008. Now it looks as if Columbia, South Carolina firefighters will soon be considered first responders and be able to get behind the wheel of Richland County ambulances. Check out the update.
Firefighter accused of burglary at his own firehouse: Click here for the details of a break-in at the Pine River VFD in Lincoln County, Wisconsin. Thanks to surveillance video a now former 28-year-old volunteer and two 16-year-olds have been charged.
Know your neighbors: Firegeezer has the story of the meth lab that took out an apartment building in Des Moines over the weekend.
Dispatcher credited with save: A look at the work of a dispatcher who helped guide people to safety during a weekend apartment fire in Austin, Texas. Click here.
Photo by Dustin Sternbeck, Loudoun County Fire, Rescue & Emergency Management.
Just after 5:30 PM yesterday fire and EMS crews from Loudoun County, Virginia were dispatched to 725 Vermillion Dr in Leesburg. Heavy smoke could be scene by many of the responding firefighters as they left their stations.
Because of heavy fire conditions on arrival, PIO Dustin Sternbeck says defensive operations were started. The house was destroyed.
Damage is estimated at $750,000, along with about $5000 damage to the siding on the two adjacent homes.
Two residents and a pet escaped. There were no injuries reported.
In the video below you will see and hear the reaction as neighbors realize the home next door is on fire.
Confirmation today that Loudoun County Fire, Rescue & Emergency Management Chief Joseph Pozzo has been picked to become the new director of fire services in Volusia County, Florida. Chief Pozzo is awaiting confirmation of the appointment by the Volusia County Council, which is expected in early May.
Chief Pozzo had headed the combination system in Loudoun County for more than five years. He sent out a memo to department personnel earlier today explaining his decision to move on.
IAFF Local 3574 is already welcoming the new boss. Click here.
A Gary house fire: The photographer and the first engine caught this house fire early. It was in the 2600 block of East 22nd. No date given.
Firefighters accused of sharing medical records of chief’s wife: From Jackson Township, Ohio, three firefighters are facing internal charges after records from a call where the fire chief’s wife said she was being choked were distributed. Here’s the story.
Chief says firefighters did everything possible in double fatal fire: Chief Stan Smoke in Wenatchee, Washington says an internal investigation backs the actions of firefighters at an apartment fire earlier this month where two elderly woman died. The family of 87-year-old Elsie Reiswig has been wondering why a firefighter who climbed a ladder and talked to the woman at her window didn’t immediately take her down that ladder. Instead, the firefighter apparently climbed back down to drop off tools, “conferred with other firefighters about what to do and then climbed back up the ladder to start taking Reiswig out the window.” By then the woman had walked out through the hallway. She died the next day of a heart attack. Click here for more on Chief Smoke’s findings from the Wenatchee World.
Fear in Flint: No overnight report yet on Flint, Michigan, a day after a series of nine fires in vacant building. The fires came hours before the first layoffs of 23 firefighters took place. The two firefighters injured in those blazes were among those on the layoff list. Two firehouses are scheduled to close today, leaving just four stations. The mayor reacts to the fires saying they appear to have been set for some ”perverted political purpose”. With fewer firefighters and police to deal with an arsonist on the loose, residents aren’t happy. Read the story here and here. Watch the story.
Firefighters and mayor battle it out in Wilkes-Barre, PA: The latest on the reduction of minimum staffing and closing of companies as the two sides square off very publicly at a city council meeting. Here’s the story.
Sex, fire and presidential politics all come together in North Carolina: A significant fire has hit the courthouse in Chatham County which has been the site of a dispute over a video purportedly showing John Edwards in a sexual encounter. Even though his story doesn’t mention that fact, you know Firegeezer had a gut feeling there was something sleazy in there (he finds those stories even when he isn’t trying). Most important is that Bill has the video and the fire details. Click here.
Deputy chief awakened from daylight nap shoots woman: Police say the woman tried to burglarize the home of Philadelphia Fire Department Deputy Chief Robert Wilkins yesterday. Apparently not understanding that some people work shift work and sleep during the day, the woman soon was on the receiving end of the chief’s gun. Click here for the story.
F-bombs by chief officer to other chief officer found offensive and lead to discipline: In Clearwater, Florida, Division Chief Richard Riley, formerly of the Washington, DC area, gets three days off for they way he handled a problem with another chief officer. But it is clear by the article in the St. Petersburg Times that problems run a little deeper than a few four letter words in a department that has long had some well publicized unrest. Here’s the latest.
Another firm apparently turned down medical flight that led to crash: Click here for coverage of yesterday’s helicopter crash that killed a crew of three in Brownsville, Tennessee.
PALS recert records lead to firings in Trenton: We forgot to give you this one yesterday, but there is trouble for a group of paramedics who are being accused of falsifying pediatric ALS certifications and have been fired by Capital Health Emergency Medical Services. Read the details.
This is different: It is a time lapse video of a day in the life of the Leesburg Volunteer Fire Company in Loudoun County, Virginia. It was put together by Photo 601 Steve Kusterer.
This is clearly a mistake: In the spot where you normally would find a compelling fire video, I am giving you a bunch of talking heads this morning. Some are people you may know by name or the blog they write (you will see that most, like me, have a face for blogging). They were all at Friday night’s fire and EMS bloggers meetup at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor as part of EMS Today. Besides the bloggers (they had a special area taped off just for us, but I think it was meant to keep us from mixing with the sane people), it was nice to hang out with the folks from JEMS, FireEMSBlogs.com and George Washington University who sponsored the event. If you want a complete run down of who was there and all of the scoop, check out the posting from a man of great stature in the blogging community (don’t be fooled by the pictures), The Fire Critic, Rhett Fleitz. After almost three years of communicating via some sort of electronic means, the hardest working man in the blogosphere and I were finally in the same room. But I was immediately a great disappointment to Rhett, when I was unable to make good on my promise to introduce him to one of the “VIPs” in the room. The person kept avoiding me, which fits with Rhett’s quote that “some love to hate Dave” (I’m not sure I like me either). Well, enough of us patting ourselves on the back and let’s get on with the news.
UPDATE – Bensalem, Pennsylvania medic Daniel McIntosh dies while dealing with suicidal patient: From Bucks County, Firefighter Close Calls and The Trentonian report the medic was stabbed while dealing with a suicidal patient during a call around 7:00 PM last night. But there are also some possibly conflicting reports about what happened, including a police officer indicating no weapon was involved. The latest information from Philly.com is that McIntosh had a head injury received while chasing after the mentally ill man. But the cause of death will not be released until the autopsy has been completed. We do know the 39-year-medic later died. He leaves behind a wife and two young daughters. McIntosh was a medic for the Bucks County South SWAT Team. He also recently took a job as a part time police officer for Hulmeville Borough. Read and watch the story here, here and here. Also, check JEMS Connect, PhillyFireNews.com and Bensalem EMS.
The razor’s edge: If you haven’t read the story from the Florida Keys about one of the most unusual causes for a vehicle collision, you will want to. Truly a classic that will be retold for generations. Check it out.
One giant leap by Dave Statter: I somehow made a connection between the above must read story to the must see video from Erie, Pennsylvania where an SUV’s left turn took priority over a fire engine responding to a call. Probably poor taste and not journalistically sound, but I did it. So watch the video.
And then there’s this quote: We never really had a quote of the week category, but we started it on Saturday and we are already retiring the trophy. If you haven’t checked it out you will want to see Chicago Fire Commissioner John Brooks public defense to a sexual harassment charge. Click here.
Enough of the silliness, now back to the stuff that matters - watch the wires!!!: There were two incidents in two days were a ladder and a tower made contact with power lines injuring eight firefighters. One in Delavan, Wisconsin and one in Houston, Texas. Everyone survived. In the Wisconsin case two chiefs disagree over whether there should be an investigation. We have details, pictures and video on both, plus a look back at two other incidents. Here is our coverage.
Static electricity behind fatal car fire: Fire at a gas pump in Lower Allen Township, Pennsylvania is being blamed on static electricity. No sign of cell phone use. Smoking was also ruled out. Here is the story.
Philly recruiter denounced for email outlining plan to break rules in efforts to increase minority applicants: Captain Troy Gore says he immediately sent out an email denouncing his own scheme to allow minorities to apply to be a Philadelphia firefighter after the deadline closed. Despite that, Captain Gore is now on paid leave and has been denounced by the Valiants Club Inc. , the African American firefighters organization that has long challenged the department’s hiring practices. In fact, the president of the Valiants, Kenneth Greene Sr., leaked the email to the Philadelphia Inquirer. It also turns out that Gore had planned to challenge Greene in the next election. Read more.
How it is supposed to work – citizen sings the praises of first responders even though the had a 45-minute response time that stretched to almost three-hours before transport: We have already heard horror stories about questionable EMS responses in Pittsburgh and Washington, DC during the recent blizzards. Here is a different view, where fire, EMS and private citizens in Loudoun County, Virginia beat the expectations of the public in their response through five-foot snow drifts in an effort to help an elderly woman who had fallen and broken her hip. Check it out.
See, I told you: I have no clue if it is true, but I saw this coming. You may recall what I wrote last week about how the current goings on in Clark County, Nevada fit a pattern all over the country as overtime is targeted by political leaders looking to cut budgets. Part of that pattern is a claim of abuse of the system by firefighters. That piece of the puzzle was detailed yesterday in the Las Vegas Sun where there are claims firefighters are “gaming the system” with sick leave abuse translating into more overtime. Click here for the latest.
Sources tell STATter911.com two Loudoun County firefighters were fired today almost four weeks after a noose was found inside the car of a black firefighter. The two firefighters had been on suspension with pay since the December 4 incident at Station 5 in Hamilton.
Sources familiar with the incident indicate the career firefighters, both white, thought it was a harmless prank when they put the noose inside the vehicle of a firefighter who worked on the same shift. That vehicle was parked in the lot of the fire station.
According to the sources, who are not authorized to speak officially for the department on this matter, the firefighter who was the victim, while angry, did not immediately complain about the noose. When the lieutenant who supervised the crew became aware of what happened he reported it to his superiors.
We have contacted officials with the Loudoun County Department of Fire, Rescue & Emergency Management for comment, but they have not yet responded. When STATter911.com first reported the incident on December 14, Chief Joseph Pozzo confirmed it had occurred and was being investigated. Chief Pozzo wrote in an email, “When the Department learned of the allegation we took immediate action”.
One of the firefighters terminated had just finished his probationary period in November.
On December 6, two days after first dealing with the noose incident, Chief Pozzo was faced with another serious incident involving a career firefighter. In that case, a phone call to Station 6 in Ashburn was perceived as a bomb threat. The call was traced to Station 2 in Purcellville. The firefighter being investigated for the threat is still on suspension with pay and has not been told what punishment he will face, if any.
For the second time in a little less than 24-hours a townhouse has burned in Leesburg, Virginia. The most recent fire was reported just after noon at 111 Hancock Place.
Unlike yesterday’s fire, first arriving firefighters had to help resident’s to safety. 9NEWS NOW’s Greg Guise reports a woman was brought down a ladder from a second floor window on Side A. Three other people were helped out of an adjacent home.
A firefighter suffered a concussion from falling drywall. The firefighter has been treated and released. Two residents were taken to the hospital with what are described as injuries that are non-life threatening.
Click the image for a slideshow of pictures by neighbor Judy Echeverria.
Firefighters called a second-alarm shortly after arriving on the scene.
Greg describes the structure as an end-of-row duplex type townhouse. (From the photos they appear to be built back-to-back with a similar row of townhomes.)
Loudoun Fire-Rescue Services PIO Dustin Sternbeck reports 11 people from four homes have been displaced by the fire. Two of the homes were a total loss.
The fire is less than a mile from yesterday’s townhouse fire at around 1:00 PM on Artillery Terrace. Both homes are off of Edwards Ferry Road NE on opposite sides of Route 15 .
Pictures provided by Loudoun County Fire-Rescue Services.
Firefighters in Loudoun County, Virginia say there was a good deal of fire inside a Leesburg townhouse when they arrived shortly after 1:00 this afternoon. In a press release, Loudoun County Fire-Rescue Services PIO Dustin Sternbeck writes that crews began defensive operations on the home at 1533 Artillery Terrace and called for a second-alarm. Other firefighters conducted searches and checked for extension in adjacent townhomes.
The people who lived in the burning home had already escaped by the time firefighters arrived. There were no injuries.
Two adjacent homes were damaged. Sternbeck says the cause of the fire is being investigated and damage is estimated at $600,000.
Baltimore County house fire: I was in the Chestnut Ridge area Sunday, but a little too early in the day to take in this fire on Nancy Lee Court (it would have also been bad form to leave my parent’s 60th anniversary party). Michael “FirePix1075″ Schwartzberg was there and took this video. You can click here to see Michael’s still images and read his account.
Pranks put three jobs in jeopardy: STATter911.com learned yesterday that three career firefighters in Loudoun County, Virginia are suspended as internal and criminal investigations continue into two unrelated incidents that apparently were meant as pranks. In the first, on December 4, officials confirm there are allegations that two white firefighters put a noose in the car of a black firefighter. In the second, some horseplay on the phone resulted in what someone thought was a bomb threat and caused the partial evacuation of a fire house. Read and watch the story.
Guess who drew the short straw? The rookie, of course. Nathan Williams, one of the newest firefighters in San Luis Obispo, California was sent in to shut the water after a hydrant problem. Click the image by The Tribune's Jack Hindmarsh for more details and pictures.
Woman who is former FDNY lawyer is in the running to be next commissioner: A lot of talk in New York about Mylan L. Denerstein. Denerstein used to be the FDNY’s deputy fire commissioner of legal affairs and is now on the short list to be the next commissioner. Read all about it here and here.
Are background checks and psychological evaluations worth it?: That question is being asked in Maine which has had some recent bad headlines because of firefighters accused of arson. The discussion is over the cost in dollars for the return and the cost in losing firefighter candidates who might not want to go through the process. Read more.
Fire chief and township manager will not be punished for keeping sex offender on department: An interesting story from Plainfield Township, Michigan. City officials decided not to take any action against the chief and manager after an on-call lieutenant was arrested. The two men knew that Jeffrey Hawkins was a registered sex offender. It came to light when Hawkins was charged a month ago with soliciting sex with minors online. Read more.
Video of EMS actions inside liquor store prompts investigation: In Atlanta, an investigation is underway after a TV station showed surveillance video from inside a liguor store to fire department officials. The question is whether the first responders properly evaluated a man who was shot, before declaring him dead. Here is the latest story. Here is the original story and video. More from AJC.com.
Two white career firefighters in Loudoun County, Virginia are suspended with pay after a noose was found in the car of a black firefighter. Loudoun County Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management Chief Joseph Pozzo, while not providing details, confirms an investigation is ongoing. In an email to STATter911.com Chief Pozzo wrote, “When the Department learned of the allegation we took immediate action. . Employees under investigation are not currently assigned to any public duties.”
Sources familiar with the investigation, but not authorized to speak for the department, confirm the incident occurred the first week of December at the Station 5 in Hamilton. According to the sources, the two firefighters, one of them a rookie, put the noose in the car of their fellow firefighter. The black firefighter discovered it and brought it into the station. The sources tell us that the firefighter who was the victim was not happy, but did not pursue a complaint involving the incident. We are told the lieutenant of the station became aware of the noose and reported it to his superiors.
The two firefighters, now under suspension, face the possibility of losing their jobs. They are currently on administrative leave with pay.
A third career firefighter in Loudoun County is suspended in an unrelated incident that occurred a few days later. A call came into Station 6 in Ashburn on December 6 that was perceived as a bomb threat. According to sources the phone call was traced to Station 2 in Purcellville. A career firefighter from Purcellville who had apparently been involved in some prank phone calls back and forth between the two fire stations is under investigation.
Chief Pozzo replied responded to STATter911.com’s questions about this incident via email:
LCFR did receive an allegation that what you have described occurred. As with the other incident when the Department learned of the allegation we took immediate action. This matter is also currently under investigation. The employee under investigation is not currently assigned to any public duties. As the matter is under investigation I cannot comment any further.