Bad brakes sent a Memphis fire truck across a parking lot and into a fence while flames ripped through a Midtown apartment complex Friday.
Fire Director Alvin Benson said the truck was inspected by the driver hours before, but there was nothing noticeably wrong with it.“It is an older piece. We have some equipment that dates back to the later 70s,” said Benson.
“Certainly, we have an aging fleet. It’s worn out, beat down and over time responding to emergencies, it needs to be replaced,” said Joe Norman.Norman is with the Memphis Fire Fighters Association.He said the back-up fire trucks are past their shelf life — they are more than 30 years old with too many miles and are a disaster waiting to happen.
An apartment fire this afternoon in Memphis resulted in trapped residents and an unusual incident as one of the fire trucks arrving on the scene apparently lost its brakes and crashed into a fence. The snorkel collision (Rescue 2, using a reserve rig) is in the video above and a different angle in the news coverage below. The firefighters were not hurt and went right to work on the fireground.
Fire crews responded to Madison Avenue and North Montgomery Street after a fire roared to life in the 4 p.m. hour. Thick black smoke was seen billowing outside of the multi-story brick apartment building.
Several people were trapped and an elderly woman had to be rescued from the second floor.The fire was on the second floor of the structure and spread to the third floor.Several firefighters from different fire houses around the city responded to the fire.A fire truck responding to the fire lost its brakes and crashed into a fence and concrete barrier. The firefighters, not skipping a beat, jumped out, geared up, and helped out in battling the fire.
Memphis Fire Department Lieutenant Reginald Davis and his lawyer Brenda Oats-Williams told WPTY-TV that an audio recording of a confrontation last June between Lt. Davis and Deputy Chief Daryl Payton shows the department is covering up what really happened.
The TV station reported last year, shortly after the incident occurred, that Davis told police he was physically assaulted when he confronted Chief Payton about a lack of specialized training for firefighters assigned to the airport fire station. It was Davis who was suspended because of the incident. According to the TV station, Chief Payton was not disciplined and the department has said the investigation of the incident is over.
The entire incident had been one man’s word versus another. That was until last week, when Brenda Oats-Williams says they got a chance to listen to tape recorded conversations made at fire headquarters that day.
“Get your hands off of me!”
“Now what you hear on this tape is Lieutenant Davis trying to call, and fight off Chief Payton at the same time. He’s trying to snatch the phone and Lt. Davis was trying to keep him from taking the phone. That’s when you hear Lt. Davis say, ‘Get off of me, get off of me,’” Oat-Williams said.
We did not hear any actual fighting, but Davis has said he was thrown to the floor where he suffered a sprained wrist and a broken finger.
(Firefighter/paramedic) Avis Langford-Brannon, (Battalion Chief) Beverly Prye and (Battalion Chief) Sandra Richards have been indicted on charges of forgery, tampering with evidence and aggravated perjury.
All three — employees of the Memphis Fire Department — have surrendered to authorities. All three were jailed on bond of $20,000 each; Richards remained in jail Sunday.
The Memphis Fire Department calls it a violation of department policy. A lieutenant snapped a picture he says was for training after an unusual rescue of a five-year-old boy who had a nail attached to a board embedded in his head. The lieutenant says the photo was snapped for training purposes. A paramedic posted the picture to Facebook. Now they both have received four-hour suspensions.
By the way, the irony of this story is not lost on me, so I figure I should mention it before any of you do. By doing this story the TV station makes sure many, many more people see this picture than saw it on the paramedic's Facebook page. In addition, the identity of the child, not made apparent by the picture that was posted, is now clearly known to all (with the permission of his parents). Doesn't excuse anything, but is interesting.
William Land, a ten-year veteran of the Memphis Fire Department, is currently out on bond after his arrest during a fire in his Southaven, Mississippi home (Desoto County, a suburb of Memphis) around 4:00 Saturday morning. Land is charged with interfering with firefighters and failing to listen to police officers when his kitchen caught fire. Officers say Land's 14-year-old son tried to interfere with his father's arrest and was also taken into custody.
According to police, land was upset about the fire department’s response time, and let them know it. They say he wasn't wearing any protective gear, and yet refused to wait outside.
"They kept asking him to leave and he basically told them he wasn't going to leave." (From Southaven PD's Lt. Mark Little.)
Land faces charges of disorderly conduct and failing to obey a police officer, obstructing operations on a fire scene and disobeying an officer on the scene of a fire. His son faces a juvenile summons for disorderly conduct and failure to obey officers.
Pinellas County, Florida fire: The vacant building that used to house the bar Big Ed’s Hideaway in Lealman was destroyed overnight. No injuries were reported in the two-alarm fire. Watch news coverage.
Story in Loudoun County drags on: Reporters seem to keep asking questions but there are apparently few definitive answers as to why the chief of the Middleburg VFD and four firefighters resigned at the same time the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office is conducting an investigation of the department. Click here for the latest.
Firefighters knife under bunkroom pillow may be the third strike: Jordan Jostes says he is getting ready to leave the South Bend Fire Department to join the Marines. But the department may hasten his departure. Backed by the union, Jostes is trying to explain why he would keep a Bowie knife under his pillow at the firehouse. The firefighter doesn’t consider the knife a weapon. The South Bend Tribune reports Jostes has had other troubles including calling in sick while working another job and we reported on an issue of a picture of a patient that ended up on the firefighters Facebook page. Here’s the most recent story.
Picture of the day: Help arrives on a hayfield fire in Witmer, Pennsylvania. Click the image for more.
Chief suspended over PPE issues: This one sure is different. When a newspaper photo showed the chief of the fire department in Friday Harbor, Washington without gear as he backed up an SCBA-less firefighter on a car fire things hit the fan. The chief is now on medical leave after a two-day suspension. Five volunteers, including four officers, resigned saying they had no confidence in the chief. Check it out.
State investigators making sure Stockton, California firefighters don’t practice ALS: A long-standing dispute has forced Stockton out of the ALS business after 34-years. Read the details.
Two from Geezer you should look at: An embezzler is forcing an Indiana fire department to shut down for lack of funds on January 1. Click here for that story. Also, in Plainfield, New Jersey and ambulance crew must have been thinking that medicinal marijuana is part of their ALS protocols. It isn’t. They have been busted. Here’s that story.
Boston IAFF president back on the ladder with eyes on state post: Ed Kelly has made a lot of headlines as the president of IAFF Local 718 in his battles with Mayor Thomas Menino. Kelly is stepping down and hopping aboard Ladder 17, Boston’s busiest. But Kelly isn’t through with the union. He is considering running for president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts. Read more.
Half-million dollars in fire SUVs sit without radios: Right after making headlines about 90 cop cars that sat idle, the fleet services folks in Memphis, Tennessee are having a similar problem with 20 Chevy Tahoes ordered by the fire department. The fire SUVs arrived in May but they still don’t have radios. Check it out.
New Pierce dealer in mid-Atlantic as old one has charges dropped: Atlantic Emergency Solutions is now taking over the territory for Pierce that used to belong to Singer Associates Fire Equipment. Details are here. While we were on the road InsideNova.com had this update on molestation charges against Dick Singer- “Richard Dennis Singer was scheduled to stand trial on 13 felony charges Monday, but prosecutors declared the charges nolle prosequi, meaning they do not wish to prosecute him at this time. The charges can be brought again later.”
Firefighters from Station 39 in Memphis, Tennessee were unavailable for seven hours on Tuesday because the city didn’t have anyone to fix a flat tire. Here are the details from WPTY-TV’s Jeni DiPrizio:
The city used to contract with Around Town Tire and Trucking for tire repairs. The contract was cancelled in May, after the FBI started investigating the tire repair company and its city contract.
Joe Norman is the spokesperson for the Memphis Firefighter’s Association, “To have a piece of equipment out of service for any amount of time is unacceptable. It left the citizens unprotected. To sit there an hour, two hours, five hours is unacceptable and completely ridiculous.”
The Memphis Fire Department used to be responsible for its own truck repairs. Two years ago, the city’s General Services Division became responsible for the trucks and that’s when the contract with Around Town Tire was implemented.
A spokesperson for the city said there was a temporary agreement with a company to fix flats that ended yesterday. Now, a new “stop gap” measure is in place to fix flats after hours. However no one from city has clarified what that stop gap measure is.
Earlier this month, Mayor A C Wharton hired a consultant to look at problems in the General Services Division. It is also under FBI investigation.
Two very interesting stories about dealing with fires in your own home: The first is from Cocke County, Tennessee where Matthew Whaley is the “Dispatcher of the Year” for how he dealt with a woman reporting her home on fire. That woman happened to be Whaley’s wife. Click here.
Anne Arundel County Fire Department’s Justin Davidson had a rude awakening earlier this week during a visit to his parents’ home in Wallingford, Pennsylvania. While taking a nap, his mother burst in saying the house was on fire. Firefighter Davidson sprang into action. After Davidson, the first first responders on the scene were police who almost arrested the firefighter for failing to listen to their directions and leave the home. Maybe they were the safety police, because Davidson was fighting the fire dressed only in shorts and a T-shirt. Here’s that story.
Two burned on Georgetown University campus: WUSA9.com’s Emily Cyr (who puts those videos in the player on the upper right of this page) has some details on the overnight fire. Click here.
Apparently it was not an official bring your assault rifle to work day: All indications are a Memphis firefighter had nothing sinister in mind when he brought the weapon to the firehouse last week. News reports indicate he just wanted to show off his new purchase. The firefighter received a written reprimand. Here’s the story.
Houston firefighter at center of controversy to go back to work, again: The last time Jane Draycott came back on the job following an incident of hate filled graffiti it didn’t go so well. That was when then Chief Phil Boriskie and other top officials brought the gang at Station 54 together for a meet and greet that quickly fell apart. When we linked to Wednesday’s article about Draycott filing suit against the department, we failed to point out that she is tentatively scheduled to again come back to work on Monday. Read more.
State Supreme Court gives victory to New York firefighters: The Village of Johnson City has been told by the courts to honor the contract with firefighters. According to the ruling, Johnson City officials should have gone to arbitration with IAFF Local 921 before six firefighters were cut last June. Read the details.
Firefighters in San Jose fighting proposed cuts: Claiming response times are already too high, San Jose firefighters are making the case against budget cuts that would reduce the number of fire trucks on the road. They are also pointing out how they believe the city is wasting money that could be better used. Watch the story from our video player. Read more here.
Firefighters grab suicidal woman: Sounds like a pretty dramatic scene in Santa Cruz, California as firefighter teamed up with police to save a woman hanging from a sixth floor balcony. Here’s the story.
Supersize me: A look at how EMS in the Denver area is buying equipment to deal with obese patients. Read the details.
Mill fire in Pennsylvania: PumpFire.com posted this video from the fire early yesterday morning in North Manheim Township at the warehouse for a textile manufacturer. Firegeezer has the story of how firefighters found the fire on the way back from handling a vehicle collision.
South St. Louis 2nd-alarm and mayday: This is from the night of March 8 at 2141 Russell Boulevard. Firefighters brought an elderly man and woman to safety from separate apartments. The Post-Dispatch reports the fire started in the basement and, “One firefighter needed the help of his partner when he became disoriented inside the building and his breathing unit began to run low on air”.
Suspensions lifted for 7 of 12 members of Rockville VFD: In case you haven’t checked in since our last Quick Takes, 12 members of the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department were suspended last week. Three 17-year-olds firefighters were arrested for an overnight visit to the logistics and supply building for Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service. Nine others, including more teenaged volunteers, are under investigation for a gathering at a closed party room at an apartment building across the street from Station 3. STATter911.com talked with Rockville VFD Chief Russell Dawson last night who explains why seven of his volunteers have been allowed to return to duty. Check out our interview.
NEW – Union says charges “trumped up”: There has been a mess brewing in Canandaigua, New York since the decision to cut back on the number of career firefighters. The latest problem is the suspension of two career firefighters over not taking command at a fire from a volunteer chief. Read the details on this issue and a few others.
Hanging the mayor: Oh those funny firefighters. When the order came down to make sure Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton’s photo was on the wall inside city buildings, firefighters at Station 16 duly complied. But now an investigation is underway into who posted the picture next to photos of Osama bin Laden and Adolph Hitler. Read the details.
DC now requires supervisor involvement when a patient refuses transport: That’s the word from Chief Dennis Rubin at a hearing on Friday where he took responsibility for the errors surrounding the department’s interaction with a two-year-old child who died a day later at the hospital. The hearing brought out a woman telling a somewhat similar case involving her asthmatic son. Check it out.
Radio traffic from crash involving DC’s Rescue Squad 1: Three civilians were injured in the Friday morning collision. Click here.
Update on father & son chiefs who battled with other chief as son’s house burned: If you recall the strange story from Franklin Township, Pennsylvania where the dad, son and another firefighter were arrested, you will want to check the update.
Alabama fire engine hits utility pole: The driver was the only one on board when the rig was returning to the station in Meridianville. It ran off the road and hit a concrete utility pole. The firefighter was not seriously injured, but the fire engine is totaled. Read and watch the story here.
Two-alarm fire in Fairfax County, Virginia: 9NEWS NOW’s Greg Guise shot these pictures from the fire Thursday night at an abandoned Chi Chi’s at Springfield Mall.
That was the week that was: I hope we don’t see another like this one soon. As you may have noticed the output from STATter911.com was greatly reduced this week. There are a number of reasons. Most all of them had to do with the close to 40-inches of snow dumped on and around our World Headquarters in two storms this week. Rather than bore you with all of the details (some of them are rather personal about the blog’s editor feeling rather old trying to recover from a spill he took early in the week), the key factor over the last two days has been the restringing of the FIOS cable we mentioned earlier in the week that had been sitting in the middle of the street working just fine from Saturday until Thursday. Putting it in its proper position put us out of business. But hard working Verizon crews finished stringing a new cable at 10:30 Friday night and everything is working just fine waiting for next week’s storm. Cell service is almost non-existent here at headquarters, so my computer’s air card, when it does work inside, is slower than dial-up.
This New York Post photo by Austin Riggs on Firegeezer's site sure caught my eye. There is another picture, video and details of the underground fire that went way above ground in Manhattan. Click the image to take you to Geezer Land.
Virginia’s Bermuda Triangle: That is what I am starting to call the street in front of the headquarters building. We are located at the top of what is like a long semicircle. Coming from either direction, it is downhill to reach my driveway. The angle of descent on the curved roadway, with a gully on each side, has been a challenge for those unfamiliar with these features (and even those familiar). Starting over the weekend, and continuing through Thursday night, a long list of vehicles seemed to be magnetically pulled into one of the ditches. The first vehicle was a pickup truck on Saturday at the height of the storm (just before the utility pole came crashing down a few feet away). Since then we have had a neighbor’s Jeep, two of the large power company bucket trucks and a smaller Cox Cable company bucket truck run off the road and get stuck. Thursday night it was a Virginia State contracted snow plow that failed to navigate these troubled frozen waters. The reason I know this is that it too was sitting in the ditch with its yellow flashing light shining into the STATter911.com complex.
Let me point out that during the two fire calls on my street since last week (the burning power lines and a neighbor’s CO detector activating) the crews from both Engine 418 and Engine 428 (Fairfax County) knew the area well enough to park at the top of the street and walk in. I think for the next blizzard, I will set up a camera just like the guy at the Gregson Guillotine in Durham.
The truth shall set you free: One of the newer blogs in the FireEMSBlogs group we are a part of is called The Fire PIO. It is written by Jeff Bressler, the PIO for the Smithtown Fire Department on Long Island. I have been reading it with a great deal of interest. There is a lot of useful information and Jeff gives his perspective on some of the topics we have long been interested in, like the role of social media and citizen’s armed with cameras. I also liked his look at the Los Angeles County PIO response vehicle.
But there is one posting where I think Jeff left out something extremely important. It is titled, Nothing to Say Says Volumes. Jeff is no doubt right that a no comment when the news is bad probably doesn’t serve you well. But Jeff goes on to give various ways to say no comment or to avoid answering the question the reporter is asking. This is advice I have seen given out in many PIO training classes and it is used by numerous public officials and their spokes people (and in private industry too). My question for Jeff and all of the others who believe this is the way to deal with the press and the public is this: Do you really think you are fooling anyone with evasive answers to direct questions? What happened to the truth? Isn’t that what you owe the public and isn’t it the very best way to handle the crisis created by bad news? It isn’t my job to teach newsmakers how to deal with the press, but from my experience the most effective handlers of crisis communications get the facts out quickly and clearly in an effort to get the story behind them and move on. The ones who blow it let the story drag on in the news for days or weeks. Jeff talks about disarming reporters. You want to disarm a reporter, tell them the truth when the news is bad.
Here is an example from this past week. Last Sunday there was a fire in Arlington where the house started burning when Dominion Virginia Power restored electricity to the neighborhood. That night a Dominion spokesperson said they had no details on the fire but to call them later in the week. I figured I would have to get the truth from the Arlington County Fire Department. I was wrong. Arlington County still hasn’t provided me with details on the cause and I have no idea why. But guess what, a follow-up call to the power company brought me the answer within about two hours. That answer was pretty plain and simple. It basically said it was a rare occurrence, but a crew on the scene screwed up and set that woman’s house on fire. Spokesperson LeHa Anderson explained how it happened and told me how the company was working with the victims to correct the situation. I certainly can’t speak for Ms. Anderson but I imagine she knew this was the only way to get this story behind them.
It has happened again in Memphis: A Memphis firefighter is being questioned about the shooting of his former girlfriend and it isn’t the first time Frank Graham has dealt with this type of issue. Here are the details.
Is it just me, or are we seeing a pattern here?: Click here for some new damage pictures from Wednesday’s devastating fire at Baltimore County Station 6. We have also added a couple of interesting details connected to the history of the firehouse. I count four fire stations in Maryland, Virginia and Delaware pretty much destroyed (though at last word Sykesville’s apparatus bay is usable) and the loss of three engines, a ladder truck, four ambulances, a brush truck, a boat and various other equipment. Pretty soon we are going to be talking big money. In our comments section on the Station 6 fire some point to the hypocrisy of the fire service preaching sprinklers for others, but not leading the way by insisting on them in their own buildings even when they aren’t required. Others wonder about how they are constructing fire stations. Isn’t the local fire station one of the key buildings in your community that you want to survive a natural disaster? One person wrote in a comment, “It should be built stronger than your average retail mega-store”. Are too many corners being cut to save money or is this just a run of bad luck? . Here’s our run down of the lost fire stations.
Snow advice from Wyoming: After writing about the Frederick County, Maryland firefighters whose rig was stuck in a 12-foot snow drift (they were rescued by snowmobile), we received an interesting comment. It comes from a Wyoming firefighter who doubles as a snow plow driver (and isn’t getting much work this season). Click here and scroll to the bottom.
More DC Metro problems: This time is was a derailment that sent the DC Fire & EMS Department to the Red Line. There were three minor injuries at the Farragut North station. Click here for the coverage.
Early video of Santa Rosa fire: A neighbor captured this one, posted it to YouTube but didn’t say where the fire occurred. We were able to trace to a fire in vacant units in a Santa Rosa, California complex late Monday night. Here are details and photos of the aftermath.
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Zone911.com has the pictures from a tanker that ran off the road in Levis, Quebec. This is the same fire department that had wrecks with two quints a few weeks apart in October and November and October of last year. Click the image for more from Zone911.com
Breaking news – 3 children pulled from DC fire: A fire just before 6:30 this morning has sent three children to the hospital. DC Fire & EMS Department PIO Pete Piringer reports all three were rescued from 1920 Naylor Road, SE. At least two of the children are reported in critical condition. The fire was on the second floor in an apartment kitchen and according to Piringer is under control. The children were found in a bedroom. Check in with WUSA9.com through the morning for more. The address is a 3-story apartment building. Click here for the Google Maps Street View.
Acting chief says fire protection is wholly inadequate and tragedy is inevitable: Harsh words from Brian Murphy who took over running the Lawrence Fire Department in Massachusetts a month ago. Murphy says the city is lucky no one died in the late Monday morning fire in a three decker just six doors from the firehouse that was closed in August. Thirty-years-ago when Murphy joined the department there were 44 to 48 firefighters working each shift. Now there are about 20. Read more from Chief Murphy’s comments. Click here for video of the fire.
PGFD on the rescue beat: It has been a busy two days in Prince George’s County. We have video of a couple of unusual rescues. One involves a man who decided he just wanted to stand in the middle of a frigid waterway. It required police to suit up to help the firefighters. Prior to that it was down a 100-foot ravine to rescue a teen who had taken a tumble. You will find those stories here. Also, more information on the ravine rescue can be found in this story from WUSA9.com’s Lindsey Mastis.
By the way, many new videos will show up in the player to the right even before I get to write about them. Emily Cyr and Jillian Coyle at WUSA9.com often post fresh fire & EMS videos from the Washington, DC area and around the country. Please check them out. The player is always filled with 30 of our most recent stories.
With friends like this: In an article at AJC.com about DeKalb County’s departed chief, the point is made by some that David Foster had clashed with his bosses over staffing and was looking to leave before the scandal surrounding the January 24 fatal fire. One politician who indicates he is a Foster supporter might want to choose his words more carefully when describing the chief’s legacy-
“We learned about this after the media. We didn’t know he was going to leave,” said Commissioner Larry Johnson, the presiding officer. “Since he came in, Chief Foster built several fire stations and increased response times.”
Memphis firefighter fired: The focus of a number of news reports in the last two weeks, Memphis Fire Department’s Lawrence Batiste has been fired. A convicted felon when he took the job (after being fired from adjacent Shelby County), Batiste ran into more problems. Here’s more.
Firefighters charged in more than 20-year-old assault against colleague inside firehouse: This story is from Australia where seven firefighters are facing charges in a case from 1989 that allegedly occurred inside a Sydney fire station. A male firefighter claims he was “sexually assaulted, bullied and harassed” and superiors did nothing about it. Read more.
24-on and 48-off was a non-starter in Lancaster, Pennsylvania: We told you yesterday how the mayor pinned the layoffs of four firefighters on the union not providing concessions. Now, the union responds. Click here.
L.A. dog out of pound: Spikey has successfully complete his quarantine and is back with his owner. He’s the dog rescued from the Los Angles River by LAFD’s Joe St. George. Spikey’s teeth left the firefighter with a broken thumb and a lost fingernail (plus some great video to show the grandchildren someday). Here’s the update.
Another cop makes a poor choice in dealing with a man intent on setting himself on fire: Firegeezer recently had the story of the Portland, Oregon officer who thought she was using a fire extinguisher on a man who set himself on fire. Instead, it was a large canister of pepper spray. Now Bill takes us to Perth, Australia where a police officer was trying to subdue a man who was splashing gasoline around the house and himself. The man had gone into the kitchen for matches. He really didn’t have to bother, because a police officer used a Taser. Here’s the story.
Fireground audio of 3-alarm Oregon fire with water supply problems: Click here for the radio traffic from FireSceneAudio.com of the fire in a large vacant early 1900s building at the Fairview Training Center in Salem. Read more.
Report faults firefighters for not following procedures during fatal fire: Four members of the DeKalb County Fire Department, including two captains and a battalion chief remain suspended with pay after a report puts a lot of the blame on their shoulders for failing to find the burning home of a woman who called 911 early Sunday. They did return about five hours later to find the house destroyed and the woman dead. Read the report and more details.
Woman hit by hose falls off fire engine: You had probably seen the earlier story on this one from Cambridge, Massachusetts. A loyal reader and Firegeezer alert us to the update that an 82-year-old woman died when she was hit by hose that fell off the rig as the crew was responding. Click here.
Ambulance with a very bad reputation lives up to its past and burns: The ambulance that helped push New Jersey lawmakers to widen the states “Lemon Law” to include emergency vehicles self destructed yesterday and few are surprised. Click for pictures, video and the to read the story.
Mayor and fire department director finally talking in Memphis: With the TV station into its second week of stories on hiring practices at the Memphis Fire Department, city officials are now answering some questions about the arrest of 80 firefighters over the last five year. Click for the mayor and here for Director Alivin Benson.
Fire department takes $128,000 loss on new fire engine that was just too big: Pennsylvania’s Lawrence Park Fire Department (Erie County) sold its new, 37.9-foot-long Pierce Dash Pumper just 17-months after getting the $510,000 rig. They found Engine 284 too big for the township’s alleys. And the sale has caused some controversy. Read the story.
Omaha heating up again: Loyal reader Ron Young points us to some stories out of Omaha where there has been controversy over a proposed new fire boat and other items being purchased from a special fund. Click here for that one (and an earlier article here).
The news never stops in Bourne, Massachusetts: Just when we thought things might calm down after the resignation of Lt. Kelli Weeks, there is even more controversy in the Bourne Fire Department. The acting chief now has some allegations against him. Click here for that story. Also, the firefighters’ union has some harsh words for how the town selectmen handled the Weeks affair. Check it out.
Another blue light special: In Des Moines police say a Grand Junction volunteer firefighter apparently wants to also be a volunteer police officer. The cops say 29-year-old Richard Collogan was pulling people over with his blue light. Read the details.
It is not the CNN employee I expected to do this: If there was ever someone from CNN who I could easily see an old firehouse in New York to live in, it would be my friend, and fire buff extraordinaire, Vito Maggiolo. But the story at HuffingtonPost.com isn’t about Vito. It’s about Anderson Cooper paying $4.3 million for such a privilege. Click here for the story and pictures.
Watch our latest videos over here >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
UPDATED – Close call in Fairfax County, VA at scene of now double fatal fire: (Click here for slideshow from fire.) PIO Dan Schmidt confirms the bodies of two men were found inside a burning home on Heming Avenue in North Springfield this morning. Earlier three firefighters from Station 422 ran into trouble when the kitchen floor began collapsing around them. Other firefighters assisted them in getting out safely. Schmidt says one firefighter has been hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries. All firefighters were accounted for. The fire was reported around 6:40 AM. We will have more later, including video.
Dead, not dead: Firefighters in Prince George’s County, Maryland thought they were doing body recovery early Sunday morning on I-95. The “body” in the burned out car started breathing and things quickly reverted to a rescue operation. We have the details, fireground audio, and a timeline. Click here for our coverage.
More PGFD news – Shake-up at the top: In November, Chief Eugene Jones said about Lt. Colonel Victor Stagnaro, “You are growing into the leader I always believed you had the capacity for” as he gave the 24-year veteran “a rare and prestigious” department award. Yesterday, Chief Jones gave Stagnaro something else: his walking papers. According to Chief Jones, Stagnaro “indicated his intent to retire”. But numerous other sources familiar with what happened at the Largo Government Center tell STATter911.com the chief’s executive officer presented Stagnaro with a letter telling him his last day is February 12. Click here for more on this story.
Close Call #1: This is the "before" picture a neighbor snapped just prior to two firefighters falling through the roof of this burning Phoenix home on Monday. The firefighters were not injured. Police say the house was set on fire by an 18-year-old who had assaulted his parents. Click the image to see more pictures and watch the story.
NEW – Virginia Task Force 1 heading home Thursday: That’s the plan today for the return of the urban search and rescue team from Northern Virginia. They have been in Haiti for two weeks and are now assisting with humanitarian efforts after helping to rescue 16 people who were trapped in the rubble of the earthquake.
More from Memphis: A TV station is into its second week of reports on the Memphis Fire Department. WLMT-TV has been looking at the department’s hiring practices, the number of firefighters who have been arrested and allegations of discrimination over who gets to keep their job and who doesn’t. The latest installment is here. Click here to see what you missed earlier.
New talk of major FDNY cuts: Firehouses and firefighters are again being discussed for possible cuts as mayor’s staff and the new fire commissioner meet on budget issues. Read more.
911 system in DC getting scrutiny after gun is pulled on council member: A fire truck was the first on the scene to assist Council member Yvette Alexander last week when she interupted an armed robbery. There are questions about the accurate relay of information and the timeliness of the response. Read more.
Close Call #2: Three firefighters inside as explosion lifts roof off home during fire in Wells, Minnesota. The chief says he was blown 3-feet out of a door. The firefighters weren't hurt. Click the picture by Brie Cohen for details and more pictures from the Albert Lea Tribune.
Former Columbus, Ohio firefighter who killed dogs walks out of hearing because of TV camera: The latest on David Santuomo, who left the two dead dogs in a dumpster behind a firehouse in December, 2008, is that the Civil Service Commission dismissed the appeal of his firing because the former firefighter wasn’t present. News reports indicate Santuomo got up and left when he saw the camera being set up. You may recall Santuomo executed the dogs because he didn’t want to pay kennel fees while on vacation. Read more.
LAFD defends dog rescue: The Los Angeles Fire Department stands by the decision to commit resources to last Friday’s dog rescue in the L.A. River that left a firefighter with dog bites. Read more. Earlier coverage here and here.
Mayor is shocked: Paramus, New Jersey Mayor James Tedesco is also a volunteer firefighter. Responding on a call for a downed power line, the firefighting mayor touched a fence that had come in contact with the wire. He is okay. Read more.
House fire in New Jersey: This is from yesterday in Oradell in Bergen County.
We told you the other day that there was more to the story of the recent arrest of Memphis Fire Department Firefighter Lawrence Batiste on burglary, assault and drug charges. Batiste had been hired by Memphis despite being fired as a Shelby County firefighter because of a felony conviction he failed to disclose (Watch Parts 1 & 2 above from WLMT-TV).
WLMT-TV has been looking closely at the Batiste case, but reporter Jeni DiPrizio has widened her investigation. In a follow-up report (Part 3 & 4) she shows how more than 80 firefighters have been arrested in the last five years and that many have stayed on the department despite some serious charges.
DiPrizio showed a list of those arrested, the charges and any administrative actions taken. STATter911.com received a copy of the same information that we are told was released under a Freedom of Information Act request. I have attached the document in the form it was provided with the exception of the names of the employees. Since I am not doing the original reporting on this issue, I did not feel comfortable as being the source for those names (some names are in the report by the TV station).
One great irony in all of this comes in Part 5 and Part 6 of the series by reporter DiPrizio. It is the story of Michael Todd Highfill. Highfill is suing the Memphis Fire Department for discrimination, saying he was fired for failing to pass a test in a timely manner (he was one point off). Highfill claims others have been given many more chances when having the same problem and more serious problems (like arrests).
Highfill was hired by the Shelby County Fire Department, the very same department that fired current Memphis Firefighter Lawrence Batiste because of his felony conviction. Seems the departments made an unintentional swap of firefighters.
Memphis Fire Department Director Alvin Benson has been quiet throughout the TV station’s week-long coverage. He apparently is planning to sit down for an interview next week.
By contrast, Pittsburgh Fire Chief Darryl Jones has been quite vocal about the number of arrests involving his firefighters. As we previously mentioned WTAE-TV “ran a criminal background check on all 630 Pittsburgh firefighters and found that, in addition to recent criminal cases that have made news, there are many others that have not.”
Here ‘s what reporter Jim Parsons found in Pittsburgh:
Court records reveal that a total of 53 Pittsburgh firefighters have faced criminal charges. Half of those cases — 26 in all — were drug or alcohol related. Some of those cases go back years. But Team 4 found 14 criminal cases against firefighters that are less than three years old, and 11 of those 14 cases are drug or alcohol related.
That pattern seems to hold very true in Memphis where drugs and alcohol seem to be behind many of the arrests.
Where Lawrence Batiste has been the face of the story in Memphis, Captain Frank Becker Jr. has played a somewhat similar role in Pittsburgh. Becker was arrested on DUI and cocaine charges in December and had another alcohol arrest last summer.
Becker’s brother, who is also a Pittsburgh firefighter, was involved in a serious alcohol related crash a-year-ago.
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.