Three parts of video with radio traffic by James Botham of a house fire at 2416 Bryant Avenue S. in Minneapolis, Minnesota on April 29. At 8:30 into Part 1 is the first report from Engine 17 on the interior that they had lost water. Water is restored but then Ladder 11 reports that the primary line and back-up line on the second floor have no pressure. This is followed by a report from RIT of pumping issues with Engine 17. This conversation continues into Part 2 when the evacuation is ordered at about 1:15.
First responders were sent to 2416 Bryant Ave South shortly after 12:00 p.m. and arrived to find heavy smoke billowing from the second and third floors of the large home. Unconfirmed reports say the fire started on a deck and soon jumped to other parts of the building.
Firefighters attempted an interior attack but were soon evacuated due to a heavy volume of fire. At that point a second alarm was called and crews concentrated on an exterior attack.
On July 3 Emergency Services Consulting International issued a report to the Minneapolis City Council saying that firefighters had been averaging a little less than eleven 24-hour shifts of sick leave each year or 261 hours, while civilian employees of the department averaged 292 hours. For a fire chief that’s a problem, especially when the local paper made note of it in an editorial looking at what ails the department (Star-Tribune Editorial: Sounding an alarm on city firefighting).
We are happy to report that just a couple of weeks later Chief John Fruetel has already cut this apparent sick leave “abuse” by two-thirds. That’s a pretty remarkable job by a fire chief. You would think that Chief Fruetel would be up for fire chief of the year this week at FRI.
How did he do it? It turns out that the chief did what the consulting firm failed to do, he divided the three year totals by three and came up with the correct annual average sick leave usage. The Minneapolis Firefighters Union, which has been very vocal about the department’s staffing cuts, also did the math.
(Emergency Services Consulting International senior vice president Kent) Greene said that shortly after a Star Tribune editorial published that statistic on July 17, he got a call from Fire Chief John Fruetel wondering where Greene got his numbers. Greene said his office reviewed the statistics and discovered the error.
The 261 sick leave hours for firefighters and 292 for all personnel represented three-year totals, Greene said, and the study’s authors had neglected to divide the data by three. Firefighters actually averaged 87 hours of sick leave per year. Since most firefighters work a 24-hour shift, that represents about 3.6 sick days per year.
In a letter last week to Greene that included a spreadsheet detailing the error, Mark Lakosky, the union president, wrote, “For a department that has suffered low morale because of unfriendly political bosses, the last thing we need is malicious lies about how we performed our jobs.”
Joe Mattison, secretary for the union, also told reporter Furst the report’s findings that sick leave use spikes on Saturdays is also a bit misleading, though it’s what at least one council member is now focusing on.
On Tuesday morning Minneapolis Police served a search warrant at Fire Station 19 at 200 Ontario Ave SE at the University of Minnesota East Bank. A 20-year veteran firefighter was arrested along with a woman who was with him at the firehouse and a man who was parked in a car nearby. Police called it part of an ongoing drug investigation. News reports indicate the firefighter had a previous run in with another police agency over drugs.
Lawrence Anthony Wajda, Jr, 42, of Coon Rapids, a member of the Minneapolis Fire Department since 1991, was booked into the Hennepin County Jail shortly after noon.
Officers also arrested Autumn Ronning, 33, after finding her with suspected ecstacy pills. Ronning is being held not only on the narcotics charge, but also on a felony arrest warrant from Ramsey county and an arrest warrant from Anoka county, according to online jail records and the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office.
Suspected methamphetamine was found on Wajda at the time of his arrest, according to police. A 33-year-old New Hope woman, who is not a firefighter, was also arrested at the station in possession of suspected Ecstasy, McCarty said. A 37-year-old St. Paul man found with suspected marijuana in a nearby vehicle also was taken into custody but later released. Wajda and the woman were in the Hennepin County jail on Tuesday night.
This is at least the second time Wajda has been in trouble over drug charges. Next month, he goes on trial in Anoka County in connection with a traffic stop where he was allegedly found with marijuana and a meth pipe on him.
Statement from Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel:
I expect that personnel in this department maintain the highest professional and ethical standards. I have no doubt that the women and men of the Minneapolis Fire Department serve the people of this city with courage, integrity and respect. Unfortunately it is cases like this where the actions of a single individual can cast a shadow on the entire department.
Make sure you listen to this story from two Minneapolis firefighters who fell into the basement of a burning vacant home on November 30. Firefighters were in the process of extinguishing the fire and trying to rescue a man who had broken into the home and set a fire to keep warm. Despite firefighters' efforts, the man did not survive. Firefighter Darick Rhodes and Captain John Chelstrom suffered burns and bruises in the close call where the captain ended up on top of the firefighter on the basement floor.
The burning floor had given way. Rhodes and Chelstrom fell through with fire and smoke closing in.
"It's just like being blindfolded and then being pushed off a ledge," says Chelstrom.
"I jumped up immediately. I turned the nozzle on. I hit Chelstrom the face and I just started spraying away," says Rhodes. "It wasn't going to get us in the basement. If there was a fire in the basement it would have been different. You wouldn't be interviewing me right now."
Both firefighters suffered burns and bruises, which is pretty good, all things considered.
"Could have been worse. Luckily it wasn't," says Chelstrom. And they are both back on the job, ready for the next one.
"I love my job. Why dwell on the bad stuff. I'm going to dwell on the good stuff. Ladder 10 is hollering for us and they drug me outside. I'm like we're good. We almost died but we're good now. I don't want to dwell on the bad stuff," says Rhodes.
House fire in Wheeling, Illinois: Firegeezer.com has the Larry Shapiro pictures and details to go with the video above from what started out as a dryer fire Saturday morning.
Can we laugh at ourselves?: The topic is the first two webisodes of the series Hosed on YouTube (webisode 1 here and webisode 2 here). Did you laugh at Reno 911? For the Firegeezer crowd, how about Car 54 Where are You? Do you believe that Rescue Me makes the public think all New York firefighters are drug addicts, sex addicts, philanderers and wife beaters? The large majority of people who commented so far on STATter911.com about comedian Juston McKinney’s Hosed think it is just a funny series of shorts about a fictional volunteer fire department in New Hampshire. And like all good satire, it has some characters many of us can identify with. Others see it is something more sinister. That Dave Statter is running it because he is anti-volunteer. Does anyone out there honestly think I wouldn’t post them if this was about a fictional career fire department? Some who have written comments to STATter911.com and Firefighter Nation’s Facebook page believe Hosed does nothing but make volunteers look bad. Should volunteer firefighters be off limits to comedians? Bill Carey at Backstep Firefighter put together some of those comments and provides his own unique response.
Raw video from mayday in Southern Maryland: In Calvert County there was a mayday during a house fire on Saturday in Lusby. Raw video shows a firefighter being carried from the building. There is a lot of video to look at with this clip. Click here.
Is a 1997 fire leaving a deadly legacy?: That’s the question being asked in Hamilton, Ontario following the deaths and serious illness of firefighters who were on the Plastimet fire 14-years-ago. TheSpec.com reports the four day industrial blaze had such high levels of hydrochloric acid that metal on fire trucks melted. Check out the story.
Connecticut’s OSHA cites Bridgeport in firefighter deaths: Click here to read what CONN-OSHA listed as violations following its investigation into the deaths last year of Lt. Steven Velasquez and Firefighter Michael Baik. The department is fighting the charges. You will also see that Dave takes a little swipe at the news media coverage of this story.
He does more than make us laugh & stir trouble … he even shows up at a fire every so often: Will Wyatt recently had to go underground after exposing the world to TIMIS in his FireRescue1.com column (click here for the column and the comments). Rather than to organize a telethon to wipe out this awful syndrome, Will just went into hiding. But he surfaced last week at his real job and snapped the picture to the right of a two-alarm apartment fire in Harris County, Texas. If you want to read about the fire and see some video, click here. By the way, Tiger Schmittendorf is the latest to discover that Will’s book And a Paycheck, Too! is quite funny (click here to buy it). Tiger plans to have Will on his Firefighter Storytellers netcast in April (check out Tiger’s other shows, including his recent interview with Fire Chief’s Janet Wilmoth).
Even checking fire hydrants isn’t safe: In Syracuse, New York, a firefighter making sure hydrants are clear of snow found himself threatened by a knife wielding man. Click here for the story.
Two-alarms in Baltimore County, Maryland: The picture at left is from Michael “firepix1075” Schwartzberg from a house fire yesterday in Chestnut Ridge. Click here for his video. Here’s what Michael wrote about the fire-
“Units reported smoke showing while responding, and when units from nearby Chestnut Ridge Volunteer Fire Company arrived they were met with heavy smoke in the rear of the house, where the fire possibly started on a porch. The fire extended into the attic and roof area and flames vented through the roof. Access to the house was extremely limited, making firefighting operations challenging. This area has no fire hydrants, so firefighters had to use a tanker shuttle, bringing water from a hydrant more than a mile away via fire department water tankers.”
Response time concerns in Minneapolis: The union, worried about budget and staffing cuts that have occurred, and possibly more on the way, says 11 minutes is too long for a ladder truck to show up on the scene of a house fire. That’s what happened Saturday on Beard Avenue South. The fire chief says he is looking into it. So is a TV station. Click here to read and watch the story.
Early arrival of photographer for Burrillville, Rhode Island explosion & fire: Matt Gregoire from has the first units on the scene as a garage fire extends to the attached home on Mt. Pleasant Road yesterday. The homeowner was seriously burned. The fire went to a second alarm. More at providencefirevideos.com.
Ambulance fee defeated in Montgomery County, Maryland: In an extremely controversial campaign that pitted career versus volunteer, voters soundly rejected the idea of billing insurance companies for EMS service in Montgomery County. The vote was 135,000 to 116,000. Without the fee, county officials have warned of significant budget cuts for fire and EMS that could include the loss of 100 career firefighter positions. Read details.
Fire based EMS to remain in Sheboygan, Wisconsin: It was a narrow victory separated by 500 votes but a move to take EMS from the Sheboygan Fire Department and farm it out to the private sector was defeated. Chief Jeff Hermann sees this as a victory for the citizens. Read more.
Child born hours after mother escapes fire that killed two other children: A pregnant woman suffering from smoke inhalation gave birth shortly after escaping a fire in Norman, Oklahoma. The fire took the lives of two young children and injured others in the Larkins family. Here’s the story.
Video of a 1989 close call in Phoenix: Video and lessons learned in an old video from Phoenix showing the crew from Ladder 27 falling though the roof of a home with a lightweight truss roof. Here’s a look back.
No love here: As expected, the man accused of stealing a helmet from Boston’s Ladder 26 isn’t getting much sympathy from STATter911.com readers. If you haven’t seen it, here are the video and the comments.
Reasons to laugh: I offered an olive branch to my friend and mutual tormentor Fire Critic Rhett Fleitz yesterday and sang his praises for giving us a reason to laugh (other than at him) with a great video posted yesterday showing the cops view of fire and EMS on the scene of a highway crash. Click here if you haven’t seen it (it’s worth the time). The good will didn’t last long because Rhett’s good friend, and our fellow blogger, Willie Wines, went and ruined it all by having us once again laugh at Rhett Fleitz, the King of the fire/EMS blogs. Long live the king. If you are really bored, but need a really good laugh, click here.
A serious blog: While I am wasting your time with the foolishness above, over at Firegeezer.com they take their fire and EMS news seriously. Geezer and FossilMedic have a bunch of good postings, including the latest from the strike in London and an update on Roseville, California shopping mall fire and sprinkler controversy. Click here and scroll down.
Another community surprised by firefighter OT: In what as been a pattern in recent years, a news organization is doing a story how firefighters are making as much money as top city managers. This time it’s Long Beach, California where some firefighters and officers have doubled their salaries by working a lot of overtime. Here are the details.
Minneapolis concerns: Firefighters talk about past and future cuts and how it impacts fireground operations and safety for citizens and firefighters. The story is illustrated by a deadly fire in April. Here’s more.
Lots of fire coming out of what appears to be a detached garage at 35th and Garfield in South Minneapolis this afternoon. No injuries were reported and the fire did not spread to nearby homes or garages. The fire made local news due to the smoke being seen for miles around the city.
“Now is the time to change. The eyes of the citizens are on us.”: The words of Spotsylvania County, Virginia County Administrator Doug Barnes as he announced new minimum training standards for firefighters. This comes following internal and external reports describing significant issues during a February 5 house fire where firefighters could not find a woman who was on the phone with 911. According to Barnes, “Our goal is to move away from on-the-job training for officers and incorporate other training mechanisms to bolster our officer development and training.” Spotsylvania is also dealing with recent allegations of sexual misconduct at two volunteer stations. Dan Telvock with the Free Lance – Star broke all of these stories. Here’s his latest report.
Florida firefighter is shocked during ladder demo in front of campers: In Osceola County a firefighter received an electrical shock in front of 30 children at a camp when a ladder touched a power line. The firefighters were demonstrating their skills. The injured firefighter was flown to Orlando Regional Medical Center and is expected to survive. Read and watch the story.
Dozens dead in hotel fire in Iraq: When you hear 29 people died in Iraq (one report has it up to 40) an electrical short is not likely to be the first thing that comes to mind as the reason. But that’s been listed as the cause of a hotel fire Thursday night in the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah. Read more.
This holiday weekend there have been a number of reports of seriously injured firefighters and a firefighter killed during a large fire in Texas. Here are four incidents that have been brought to our attention.
Click the image to see Steve Skaar's series of pictures at ExtraAlarm.org as Minneapolis firefighters rescue one of their own who dropped onto a porch roof from the attic because of deteriorating fire conditions.
Both Captain Dennis Mack, a 19 year veteran, and Firefighter Jacob LaFerriere, a 9 year veteran, have second and third degree burns and are being treated at a burn unit.
Firefighters burned setting up fireworks display: In Idaho, three firefighters from the Mountain Home Fire Department were burned while setting up the town’s annual fireworks display at a local golf course on Saturday. One of the fireworks exploded in the hands of a firefighter. All had been initially treated and released, but the firefighter holding the shell had first, second and third degree burns and was expected to go to a burn center for more treament. Read and watch the story.
Delaware firefighter revived: As crowds were returning from fireworks in Dewey Beach late Sunday night there was a call for a house fire. WGMD reports It turned out to be some bushes set on fire by consumer fireworks. But at the scene a Seaford firefighter went into cardiac arrest. Bike medics were able to get through the traffic and continue treament started by fellow firefighters. After being shocked twice, the 60-something man regained a pulse. Read more.