The DriveCam video from the crash involving two Tulsa fire engines on September 25 was released this week in the story above by KOTV-TV. This is the one where earlier this month there was an announcement that two firefighters were demoted and three others were disciplined because four of the eight firefighters were not wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash. There were no injuries from the collision and damage to the rigs is estimated at $200,000.
News On 6 found someone had disabled the buzzers that remind firefighters to buckle up, not just on one or two fire engines, but on the majority of Tulsa Fire Department's fleet.
Two fire trucks collided in downtown, both going 25 miles an hour through a blind intersection. Though both had cameras on board, one was pointed down until the collision.
"I know, for me, it was very sickening to see it, first thinking we would have hurt firefighters or citizens involved, but thankfully that wasn't the case here," said Tulsa Fire Chief Ray Driskell.
What's more, the seatbelt alarms had been disabled on purpose.
Then, a wider inspection found most trucks had been tampered with, so that firefighters could go without seatbelts without hearing the alarm.
"I don't think we want to spend the man hours and resources trying to find out who did what, but I sent out a stern email saying, if anyone is found to tamper with any safety device, a ladder truck or whatever, there will be some action taken against those people, because we won't tolerate that," Driskell said.
The blaze was reported at 7:08 p.m. at 310 S. Benson. Altus Fire Marshal Kyle Davis said firefighters found the house fully involved and heavy smoke was reported. He said the blaze was under control within 30 minutes. The department sent five vehicles and 11 firefighters to the scene.
A meteorolgist at KFOR-TV said a short time ago the devastation from today’s tornadoes in Oklahoma will dwarf the infamous May 3, 1999 tornado outbreak. KFOR-TV’s live coverage of the aftermath, and the continuing outbreak is above.
Particularly hard hit is Moore, Oklahoma where there are reports of two schools leveled, with searches of those schools continuing.
Authorities say an elementary school in an Oklahoma City suburb took a direct hit from a mile-wide tornado.
Gary Knight with the Oklahoma City Police Department says there is no word of injuries from the elementary school. Knight says the school suffered “extensive damage” on Monday afternoon. He did not say which school was hit.
Neighborhoods in Moore, Okla., are flattened and blown apart, with shards of wood and pieces of insulation strewn everywhere. Television footage also showed first responders picking through rubble and twisted metal in the suburb south of Oklahoma City.
There were no immediate reports of injuries.
The suburb of Moore was hit hard by a tornado in 1999. The storm had the highest winds ever recorded near the earth’s surface.
More from AP:
A mile-wide tornado churned through the Oklahoma City suburbs, destroying homes for the second day in a row Monday, as part of a severe weather outbreak that was expected to spread in other parts of the Plains and Midwest.
A massive black-and-blue cloud dragged across the landscape just south of Will Rogers World Airport.
Television video showed debris from homes and businesses being carried aloft as the twister rolled through Moore, a community on the south side of Oklahoma City. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
In advance of the storm, the Oklahoma House of Representatives stopped work so Capitol employees could take shelter in the basement. Television and radio broadcasters urged residents to take shelter because the storm’s strength and size.
“We’re just waiting to see what happens. It’s a mile-wide tornado. It’s still grinding out,” said Mark Meyers, a spokesman for the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office. “We are currently on standby for tornado response. Whatever happens, we’ll be ready to respond.”
The strongest winds on earth — 302 mph — were recorded near Moore during a tornado May 3, 1999.
The Storm Prediction Center in Norman had predicted a major outbreak of severe weather Monday in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.
Storms on Sunday killed two people near Shawnee, about 35 miles southeast of Oklahoma City. Gov. Mary Fallin earlier Monday took a tour of the areas hardest hit and she expressed concern that, with power out, Oklahomans might not receive warnings about the new round of storms.
Pottawatomie County Sheriff Mike Booth said a 79-year-old man, who was later identified as Glen Irish, was found dead Sunday out in the open at Steelman Estates, a mobile home park near Shawnee. The state medical examiner’s office said Monday that a 76-year-old man, Billy Hutchinson, was found dead in a vehicle.
The office said both men lived in Shawnee, but the city wasn’t hit by the tornado and it wasn’t immediately clear if either or both lived in the mobile home park, which is near the city.
The altercation occurred in the early morning hours on Thursday after the firefighters had returned from a run. It was during the course of the altercation that Patterson allegedly hit his head on a hard surface at the station.
Communication records showed that an ambulance from the Seminole Fire Rescue responded to the Strother Fire Department at approximately 1:45 a.m.
Authorities say a volunteer firefighter in Oklahoma has died after a fight with another firefighter at the Strother Fire Department.
Seminole County Sheriff Shannon Smith says 56-year-old Dale Patterson died at OU Medical Center after the fight early Thursday.
Strother Fire Chief Nicholas Nadeau tells Oklahoma City television station KOCO that Patterson joined the department as a volunteer firefighter six years ago. He says Patterson had risen to the rank of captain and also served as the department’s chaplain.
He says Patterson previously worked as a drug enforcement officer in New Mexico before moving to Oklahoma to retire.
Few details were released about the altercation, but authorities say no arrests have been made. The name of the other firefighter involved in the fight has not been released.
A fire on Sunday afternoon at a law office on West Gentry Street in Checotah, Oklahoma (McIntosh County). The building housed a law office but the police chief, Andy Blizzard, told D.E. Smoot at MuskogeePhoenix.com it had an earlier life as the town's hospital.
Two firefighters, including Blizzard, were treated for heat exhaustion and a third was treated for a minor cut.
“It looks like the fire started high in the back there,” (Checotah Fire Department Assistant Chief Cloyd) Whitmus said. “It was already through the back (of the building), but we were able to save all those buildings.”
Blizzard said there was some discussion about bringing in an investigator from the State Fire Marshal’s Office, but officials saw no need for that.
“We saw no signs that would lead us to believe there was anything going on,” Blizzard said.
In the video below, it appears firefighters improvised in order to get an aerial platform.
Fireground audio & video of mayday with firefighters trapped: Apparently there were only minor injuries after a collapse trapped four firefighters at a fire in a bar and upstairs apartments on Sunday morning in Leslie, Michigan. Click here for our coverage.
FDIC roundup: Click here for a variety of scenes from Indianapolis. They include the piper's version of the mile-high club (trust me, it's clean), some mustache envy and Dave with a CHiP on his shoulder (or at least in the seat next to him). I should have a couple of more videos from NFFF events (9-11 Memorial Stair Climb and Stop, Drop, Rock 'n' Roll) that I will be posted today and tomorrow.
Putting the wet high voltage stuff on the red stuff: Scientists think using water may be old school when it comes to fighting fires. The generator on the rig may be more important than the pump. You may find this shocking but they are looking at the use of flame snuffing bolts of electricity as an extinguishing agent. Here's the story.
Union won't pull controversial ad: Despite a Republican state senator calling it “tasteless” and “appalling”, the IAFF in Oklahoma won't stop showing an ad that asks citizens to oppose a bill that would change how contract disputes are handled for firefighters and police. The controversy is over using an image of the bombed Murrah Federal building. Read more.
The Russians Are Coming, the Russians are Coming: Something about Firegeezer's story of a fire in a former Russian submarine in Providence, Rhode Island makes me think of the 1966 movie starring Carl Reiner and Alan Arkin. Click here for Bill's version.
Consultant's report due on problems at Haverhill Fire Department: Accusations of sick leave abuse and the Massachusetts EMS training scandal are some of the issues the Haverhill Fire Department has been facing. An outside analysis of the department was ordered by the city. A draft report should be ready by the end of the week. Here's more.
Two-alarm house fire at home of cop just five-days from retirement: Paul Bassett on the scene of Friday's fire at 205 Adriana Street in Saddle Brook, New Jersey. The fire was at the home of a Garfield, New Jersey police officer. Craig Roselli is scheduled to retire from the force this week. Read more about the fire.
In Tulsa, Oklahoma, Mayor Dewy Bartlett has issued an executive order that apparently prohibits city workers from campaigning in local elections on duty or off. This comes after a 2009 campaign where off-duty firefighters going door to door apparently had a great impact on city council elections. IAFF Local 176 and the police union say they are now researching options. Both unions are holding off on any detailed comments at the moment.
“It states very specifically that city employees are not to be involved with campaigning,” said Mayor Bartlett.
Before the order, city employees could campaign as long as they did not do so on the clock or in city attire. The mayor, along with city councilors, says this was an oversight by a previous city attorney.
“In this case, state law says city charter position is superior to state law, if they were to conflict,” Bartlett said.
“Let me say I don’t have any disrespect for the firefighters who campaigned years ago,” said councilor Rick Westcott. “They were acting in compliance with what then city attorney Deirdre Dexter said. But I think that she was clearly wrong, and therefore their activities were wrong.”
“There are also federal laws that are at issue. The federal Hatch Act comes into play if city employees receive federal grants and federal funding, and ours do,” he said.
The Hatch Act states government employees can campaign on their own time. Councilors say when a union takes a stance, it crosses that line.
“Anytime you receive federal dollars there are strings attached,” said former city councilor Eric Gomez. “It should’ve been the policy of the city of Tulsa all along.”
Some city councilors agree with the executive order, but they believe it goes too far. They fear the order can be easily misconstrued.
Joe Piccinini, the chief of the Central Calaveras Fire and Rescue Protection District in Calaveras County, California is under fire following a report that has been released about Piccinini’s handling of his previous job. On July 1, 2009 Piccinini resigned as chief of the Anderson Fire Protection District in Shasta County, a job he took in October, 2007. He had been placed on administrative leave before resigning.
The report, from the Shasta County District Attorney’s Office, makes numerous allegations about Chief Piccinini. But no criminal charges are being filed because the statute of limitations to file charges has expired. So far, his bosses in Calaveras County are sticking by him.
In a report released today (Monday), Shasta County Deputy District Attorney Erin Dervin wrote that there was evidence Joe Piccinini had given alcohol to minorsnumerous times, driven drunk in fire department vehicles and had also used them to remodel his home.
Piccinini’s Gold River attorney, Daniel Thompson, said he’s not surprised the charges weren’t filed.
He said the investigation was based on “hearsay and internal witness testimony” amid a “tide of bias or political agenda.”
Both the Shasta County Grand Jury and an investigator the department’s board hired to look into the allegations found that employees had accused Piccinini of watching pornography on his work computers.
He was also accused of getting publicly drunk in uniform, berating and sexually harassing employees, misusing district property, funds and staff for personal gain, purchasing items without authorization and knowingly furnishing alcohol to a minor.
Among the allegations was that Piccinini had forged a first responder certification from his former employer, the Tulsa, Okla., Fire Department to get a job in Anderson.
Tulsa authorities reported that records the department had were in “shambles” or “garbage” or a “mess,” Dervin wrote.
“We certainly couldn’t prove any fraud beyond a reasonable doubt,” Dervin said.
Deputy District Attorney Erin Dervin wrote in the report that numerous witnesses quoted Piccinini as saying to the minors: “If you’re old enough to die for your community, you’re old enough to drink.”
Piccinini did not immediately respond to a phone message left Tuesday afternoon at Central Calaveras Fire and Rescue Protection District headquarters.
Central Calaveras district board President Bill Schmiett said he had been aware of the allegations against Piccinini since before his district hired Piccinini.
“When we hired him, he told us all about his travails in Anderson Fire Department,” Schmiett said. “We had him super background investigated.”
By the time the Redding Police Department finished the criminal investigation at the request of Anderson police – to avoid an appearance of a conflict of interest – the one-year statute of limitations had expired, according to the report.
Newark, New Jersey house fire: Another one from allhandsgoingtowork. This is from November 17 at 414 South 18th Street. Part 2 is here.
CBS Sunday Morning crew shoots interview with Kelly Walesh and Lexus Koeser at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial on October 3, 2010.
CBS Sunday Morning looks at volunteer firefighters: Peter Greenberg, a volunteer firefighter from Long Island, gave the CBS Sunday Morning audience a look at the nation’s volunteer firefighters. In our role with the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation we hooked producer Kay Lim up with Kelly Walesh and Lexus Koeser at the 2010 Memorial Weekend in October. They are the survivors of Firefighter Steven ‘Peanut’ Koeser of Wisconsin and were featured in the CBS story. If you haven’t seen it yet, click here.
Anne Arundel County, Maryland loses lieutenant in off-duty Thanksgiving Day crash: The Anne Arundel County Fire Department is in mourning following the death of Lt. Elizabeth Nahory. Lt. Nahory died on Thursday in a car crash near her home in Dublin Township, Pennsylvania. Read more here. IAFF Local 1563 has the funeral arrangements posted.
Arson at mosque attended by Oregon bomb plot suspect: A small fire was set at the Salman Alfarisi Islamic Center in Corvallis, Oregon. It is the same mosque once attended by 19-year-old Mohamed Osman Mohamud, accused in the plot to bomb the Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland. Read more.
Maryland firefighters rescue dog and owner: Thanksgiving night found firefighters from both Montgomery County & Prince George’s County rescuing a Belgian Shepherd and its owner from the bottom of a ravine. Here’s the video & the story.
In the middle of all the stupid stuff there are a few gems on the topic of firefighters using social media in the latest STATter911.com animation. Click the image to check it out for yourself.
Dave enters the carnival with his social media policy & so much more (or less): This is my first entry into the First Due Blog Carnival. I figure it will be my last because they will likely ban me for life. They wanted suggestions for a fire department social media policy. I turned this one over to my animated staff. There is actually a serious policy in there somewhere. You just have to wade through the usual conflict that comes with a STATter911.com animation. On top of that there is a response from Roanoke and some investigations into STATter911.com. These have uncovered some dark secrets of my empire, including a recent visit to a Roanoke area hospital (HIPAA rules preclude me from providing more information) and some very interesting pictures from my past. Click here for a complete waste of your time.
What a picture, plus radio traffic: In case you missed it last week, we added radio traffic to the picture of the Detroit fire engine that was squashed went it went under an over pass that was a little too low. Here it is.
Firefighter says he sees dead Marine brother on his turnout coat: There is a most unusual story from Weymouth, Massachusetts. Firefighter Jason Farrar says after hanging up his dirty gear after a fire a week ago an image appeared on the back of his coat. Some may see smudges of dirt, but Farrar, his family and fellow firefighters see the image of Farrar’s brother Andrew, a Marine sergeant killed in Iraq five-years-ago. Check out the story.
Change of plan on stubborn debris pile fire: In Concord, North Carolina firefighters are no longer going to just let a debris pile that caught fire last week burn itself out. That could take a month. Click here to read and watch the updated plan.
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.
Suspended Spalding County, GA firefighter identified. Report calls for firing over cell phone video of dead woman: The report looking at the July incident where video was taken of the body of a woman inside a crushed car calls for at least one firefighter to be fired. At the same time the local news media has identified the firefighter who was suspended after the incident came to light as Terrence Reid. Here’s the latest.
VA fire chief charged with DWI: NVDaily.com reports that Tim Welsh, who heads Virginia’s Frederick County Fire & Rescue Department, is on administrative leave following his arrest Monday on a DWI charge. Here are the details (more here).
Did cops turn off the sprinkler system at California mall where man had barricaded himself?: As we first told you yesterday the answer to that question is now part of the official investigation into the blaze that heavily damaged the Westfield Galleria in Roseville. Click here to learn what a TV station has determined so far. Also, Fossilmedic Mike Ward, who had suspicisions about the sprinkler issue right away, wonders if this was done to keep the robots from melting. Check it out.
Chief resigns following rebellion by firefighters over winter uniform: In Chelsea, Massachusetts, where the IAFF local and Chief Herbert Fothergill have long battled, the final skirmish came when the chief wrote up almost the entire department for not wearing the winter uniform shirt. Then Chief Fothergill suddenly resigned. More from Boston.com.
Deputy sheriff’s great escape after lighting up: Pretty amazing story from Jackson County, Georgia where a sheriff’s deputy’s propane-powered cruiser caught fire after he lighted a cigarette while responding to a call. Here’s that story.
Refund may be coming for Tulsa firefighter applicants: Before charging $25 a head to 342 people who want to be firefighters the City of Tulsa claims it checked out a lot of the legalities. The one they forgot to look at is whether Tulsa had the authority to do it without a City Council approved ordinance being enacted. Read the details.
Firefighters honored for saving bridge from barge: In New Hope, Pennsylvania four firefighters have been recognized for helping to figure out how to keep a runaway barge from taking out a bridge on a rain swollen river. Here’s more.
Big one in Bucks County. Pennsylvania: Three businesses have been destroyed in this fire at an industrial building in Plumstead Township. It started around noon yesterday and went to four-alarms. There are no hydrants in the area. More video from Newsworking.org. Read more about the fire.
Career firefighter’s aren’t worth the money: That’s the view of a citizen who wrote in support of an editorial in a British Columbia newspaper. Read it for yourself.
Read this list of injuries: An update by Tulare County (CA) Chief Steve Sunderland provides details of the injuries to Engineer Pat Hinds and certainly explains why Hinds was downgraded from serious condition to critical. Hinds and Captain Gary Gregory were struck by a vehicle speeding away from a car fire. Hinds has 18 fractures to his rib cage and many other injuries. Here is the latest from an article by David Castellon at Visalia Times-Delta-
“Both legs are broken, and one knee is shattered,” county Fire Chief Steve Sunderland said of Engineer Pat Hinds, who also suffered a broken arm when he was hit by a Ford pickup shortly after midnight Saturday — along with fire Capt. Gary Gregory — while putting out a fire that had been set in a stripped, abandoned car on Virginia Avenue west of Fourth Avenue in Kings County, near the Tulare County line.
The pickup sped away after hitting the men, and authorities are looking for it and the driver.
Volunteers worried about meeting fitness standards: In New Hanover County, North Carolina volunteers are worried about meeting fitness requirements that will come with a consolidation plan. Click here to read and watch the story.
An agreement in Las Vegas: Not sure what the odds were at the nearby casinos that there would be a contract after so much tension in Las Vegas. Firegeezer has the details.
A bridge too far- you will want to see this: This one is certainly an eye opener. From Tulsa, Oklahoma, a driver who just doesn’t take no for an answer. The barricades blocking the bridge over railroad tracks along I-244 meant nothing. But I am sure reality likely set in when the driver found out there was really no bridge there. The road bed had been removed as part of a construction project amd the pickup just was hanging there. Barely. There was a trail of blood showing the driver’s escape. That in itself is amazing. Check out the video.
Lots of suspicious packages & lots of questions: We told you yesterday how brown was the featured color at the Smithsonian’s Hirshorn Museum on The Mall in Washington, DC. Above is some of the raw material put together by WUSA9.com’s Emily Cyr from Monday night’s incident where an errant UPS truck ended about a foot inside the building (much of it shot by DC Fire & EMS Department photographer Vito Maggiolo). It appears the driver had a medical emergency, but it was treated as a potential terrorist incident with bomb squad crews checking out the vehicle and what it was carrying. You will hear a reporter ask on Monday night why the barriers put in front of the museum to prevent car and truck bombs didn’t stop this vehicle. That was followed up on Tuesday with others asking the same questions about the planter/barriers that were placed around all federal buildings in your Nation’s Capital following the bombing in Oklahoma City and the attacks of 9-11. Click here for Bruce Leshan’s report.
Report released in Virginia fire where firefighters couldn’t find woman who was talking to 911: Spotsylvania County released its internal report into the fire that killed Sandy Hill in February. It looks at why Hill wasn’t found until it was too late, despite being on the phone with 911 when crews pulled up and for many more minutes. Click here to read the report and related coverage.
This is a Courier-Mail photo of fitness instructor Tash Bennett. She is not a firefighter. But Bennett is getting more notice about her firefighting efforts than any of you are ever likely to receive. The reason is Bennett did her firefighting topless after a palm tree caught fire where she was sunbathing. Indications are she put on quite a show. Click the image to read and hear about her efforts.
Listen to audio from Connecticut house fire union wants investigated: A battle is underway in Stamford, Connecticut after an assistant chief with the Long Ridge Fire Company canceled automatic aid units before anyone arrived on the scene. It turned out the assistance was needed as fire had taken hold of a 7800 square foot home. Listen to the audio and read more about the dispute.
Blast at training fire in Canada injures six firefighters: It happened at an old farm house in Edgerton, Alberta on Monday as firefighters gathered for the burning of the structure. Here’s how the Edmonton Journal described the explosion-
Hunks of wood, stones and rusty nails flew like bullets; the volunteer firefighters were flattened like wheat before a scythe.
Some as close as six metres to the house fell unconscious. One went down in a hail of debris that broke both his legs and shoulder blade.
Audit clears Tulsa firefighters: A while ago we told you about investigations into why some Tulsa firefighters had records indicating continuing EMS education when they hadn’t taken the courses. The initial state investigation resulted in five people retiring. An audit ordered by the city now indicates the problem was not one of fraud but rather, as one city councilor put it, ”gross mishandling of records”. Click here to read the audit and here for the story.
Unhappy volunteers turning off pagers?: In Fruita, Colorado, a firefighter is qualifiying remarks she made at a Lower Valley Fire Protection District board meeting. Stacy Evans orignally said that unhappy voluteers are turning off their pagers. The comment upset some residents. Now Evans has added it is happening only on non-duty nights where often volunteers would respond in addition to the on-duty crew. Click here to read and watch the story.
New Hampshire arsonist: For the third time in 10 days a building fire has been set along a less than two block section of Manchester’s Myrtle street. Read the story.
Paint factory fire: In the United Arab Emirates a fire on Tuesday destroyed a factory and four warehouses at National Paints in Sharjah. News reports indicate a fire engine burned up in the fire. A firefighter and plant worker suffered minor burns. Read more about the fire. See more YouTube videos.
Check 1:05 in this video: Newsworking.org shot this video around 1:30 Monday morning at 1533 Turner Street in Allentown, Pennsylvania. At 1:05 you will see a third floor room light off as a firefighter is inside near the door to the balcony.
A badly dressed firefighter impersonator is arrested at the scene of that vacant furniture factory in New York: The fire we told you about over the weekend in Salamanca, New York is being called the largest fire in the history of Cattaraugus County (click here for video). A police investigator who discovered the fire says five juveniles are about to be arrested and charged with arson. Besides dealing with arsonists Sgt. Ben Whitmore arrested a man decked out in stolen fire gear at the scene of the fire. Here are details from Rich Place at OleanTimesHerald.com:
Bradley M. Thomas, 30, of Olean was allegedly walking near fire trucks on Rochester Street at approximately 9:52 p.m. wearing blue jeans, an upside-down air pack, a firefighter’s helmet belonging to the Kill Buck Volunteer Fire Department and a firefighter’s jacket belonging to the Salamanca Fire Department, according to Salamanca Police Sgt. Benjamin Whitmore.
When questioned about the gear, police say Thomas claimed to be with the Machias Fire Department, which had been on standby, but not dispatched to the scene.
UPDATE – DC firefighter goes back to work in Flint: Flint, Michigan firefighters who had been let go to help balance the budget are returning to the job this week. We are told among them is DC Fire & EMS Department Probationary Firefighter - Paramedic Rob Green, who went home to Flint. The first of the 34 firefighters returned yesterday. Twenty-one are from the lay-offs that occurred in March. Others were cut as far back as 2007. Read and watch the story.
Also in Flint, the City Council has sent the appointment to chief of retired Assistant Chief John Linker back to the mayor’s office. The council doesn’t believe now is the time to hire a new chief and take on the expense that goes with it. Here’s that story.
“We’ve had someone call 911 to say ‘My rectum hurts.’”: Vancouver, Washington Chief Don Bivins with an example of one of the many calls he describes as non-emergency that his department has sent a fire truck to in the past. Chief Bivins wants to stop dispatching Vancouver Fire Department firefighters and paramedics to the lowest-priority medical calls to improve response times. Those calls would still be handled by a private ambulance service. According to the Columbian’s Andrea Damewood, “Examples of non-emergency calls include hip, leg and arm fractures; emergency reactions where someone is not having difficulty breathing; and possible miscarriages in women who are 20 weeks pregnant or less.” Union President Mark Johnston says the plan “doesn’t save any money and people are going to be harmed”. Here’s the article.
Pittsburgh public safety director grilled about city’s snow response: You may recall the strong words from Michael Huss after an ambulance crew didn’t hike in the snow to a dying man’s home. A Pittsburgh City Council task force has been looking into the city’s snow response and ended up issuing a subpoena to Huss after a councilwoman says Huss declined to answer seven invitations to appear. Huss believes the task force is too political and not productive. One question Huss was asked is why he left town to celebrate the mayor’s birthday when there was a major snowstorm bearing down on the city. Read more here. Watch the story.
Man too embarrassed to call for help or take his pants off: Both things would have expedited the rescue of a man stuck in silt along a river in China. Firefighters believe pride added seven hours to the man’s ordeal. Read the story.
House fire in Arlington Heights, Illinois: The Arlington Cardinal reports this started as a fire in the crawlspace around 7:30 PM last night. As fire shot through the roof an evacuation order was given. Above is Part 2 of the video. Part 1 is here.
Tire & muffler shop burns: A fire at 6708 Northeast 23rd Street in Oklahoma City on Wednesday. This is one of many videos from around the country added each weekday by WUSA9.com’s Emily Cyr. They all can be found in our video player over here >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
More on injured Baltimore firefighter: There is a nice article from his native Montgomery County, Pennsylvania that profiles Jeffrey Novack who was seriously injured in Wednesday night’s fire next to the firehouse in the 3900 block of Liberty Heights Avenue. Firefighter Novack, assigned to Truck 12, was forced to bail out of a third floor apartment after rescuing residents. He is in a medically-induced coma to treat burns and other injuries. Sources indicate the two closest engines were on other runs, and the third was closed due to staffing issues. Here is our previous coverage of the fire, including fireground audio of the mayday. Sources indicate this version of the audio, besides compacting the time by removing dead air, misses some key radio transmissions.
Is this a trend? Baltimore police halt CompStat (or ComStat) meetings: This is the famous crime fighting method started by Jack Maple, who brought it to NYPD from New York’s Transit Police in the early 1990s. Since then, police departments and other government agencies, including fire departments, have adopted it as a way to measure performance. Now comes word that the Baltimore City Police Department, which embraced its version of the statistics based management tool more than a decade ago, has suspended the meetings. There are concerns that it has evolved into nothing more than a weekly finger-pointing beat-down session (the fictional version was shown regularly on The Wire) that requires too much prep time by managers. The Baltimore Sun reports on a New York study that showed more than 100 retired high-ranking officers believe it creates intense pressure to manipulate crime figures. Here’ the story.
All PGFD, all the time: There was a time that some people claimed that was our motto here at STATter911.com. Still, this has been a newsworthy few days in Prince George’s Countyl. Here’s what’s been keeping Mark Brady busy-
Governor makes escape from fire followed by lawmakers: A celebration for new members of the Maryland legislature at an Annapolis, Maryland bar last night came to an end when fire broke out. The Baltimore Sun tells the story that Governor Martin O’Malley’s security detail may have been the first to realize the place was burning. Here’s the article.
Facebook shooting threat by firefighter against politician leads to trouble: We have been telling you about the problems in Clark County, Nevada and how County Commissioner Steve Sisolak is leading the charge to cut OT and compensation for firefighters. Sisolak is also concerned about on-duty MD fund raising. Now comes word of the Facebook posting by City of Las Vegas Firefighter Joy Sager saying she wanted ”to shoot Sisolak in the (groin)”. The mayor has called for justice. Sager, involved in the charity work, has written an apology. Read Sager’s letter. Here’s the story.
The fine print in the grant that will help Flint has some worried: Flint, Michigan is getting a SAFER grant to rehire firefighters recently let go and others. But can the troubled city meet the staffing requirements of the grant? Read the details.
An ounce of prevention is apparently not worth much in this budget cycle: What did that Franklin guy know anyway? It isn’t like he and his most famous saying about fires had to face a massive recession like we have dealt with. The latest budget proposal in Mesa, Arizona calls for the elimination of the entire fire prevention and life-safety education units. Read more.
Citizen says it is just fine to cut fire department minimum staffing: This column in a California newspaper shows the perception firefighters are often up against when it comes to budget cuts. In it, a man named Bob Moss explains why he didn’t sign a petition by Palo Alto firefighters to freeze staffing levels. Here is an excerpt-
Fact: The proposal on the table is to cut the required number of firefighters on engines by no more than one person. There will still be plenty of staff to respond to 911 calls. Cutting the number of people on an engine, say from 4 to 3, will have no impact on 911 response times — it may even be a bit faster as it will take less time for three people to get onto the engine than four.
Code thieves?: Thieves who stole radios and other equipment worth as much as $20,000 from an Edmond, Oklahoma fire truck being serviced also got the map book with the codes that allow access to gated communities. Read the story.
Fired DeKalb County captain reinstated: Tony Motes, one of those fired after a botched response to a house fire that turned fatal, won his appeal. Read what it means.
Fallout over gas company’s union negotiation in Fall River: There is debate in the Massachusetts town over whether the installation of locking devices on critical valve shut offs by New England Gas will impact its reponse to help fire crews with gas shut downs in an emergency. The company is doing this to prevent tampering during union troubles. Here’s the story.
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.
Follow the arrow to the player at right for new videos >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
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.
The information flow in your Nation’s Capital: We have two stories for you this morning with connections to the DC Fire & EMS Department and how the District of Columbia government communicates with reporters and, in turn, the public. Both cases seem to follow the same pattern: a reporter uncovers something that on the surface doesn’t seem right; the fire chief or his spokesman provides very limited answers, shedding little light on what actually happened; more information is uncovered by reporters; the initial action is reversed; and in the end the department never fully answers what this was all about.
A Steve Skipton photo from a four-alarm fire in Burlington, New Jersey Sunday afternoon that damaged seven homes. Click the image for more pictures and details from PhillyFireNews.com.
In one of these cases, the aborted donation of a fire truck and ambulance to a resort town in the Dominican Republic, it took ten months before reports from two DC City Council committees provided some transparency. The council determined policies were ignored, but no laws broken. The DC Fire & EMS Department, which appears to have had a secondary role in all of this, continues to refer all questions to Attorney General Peter Nickles. According to the Washington Examiner, Nickles believes the investigation was a “waste of time and a waste of government resources in what became a very political series of actions”. Despite this case now seeming to be closed, Chief Dennis Rubin still faces a little scrutiny by at least two reporters who have compared emails released in the reports with his sworn testimony at a council hearing last April. Click here for that story.
Then there is the story of the Sarasota County, Florida fire chief who remained an employee of the DC Fire & EMS Department while in his new job. In this one, there is no council investigation shedding light on the issue and there is still no indication anyone in the DC government is willing to explain why this arrangement was made, other than to allow Kenneth Ellerbe to be eligible to take home a more favorable retirement package. Through sources, we learned that Ellerbe, who was a deputy chief, resigned from his DC position on January 15. A department spokesman then confirmed that information on Friday. Click here for the latest.
No delay on information here - a battalion chief & two captains are among those fired in Georgia: Pretty quick action in DeKalb County. A report issued in a botched response to what ultimately became a fatal fire and four firefighters were let go. All of this happened within about five days of the fire. Click here for the latest.
Chaplain who is friends with fired top PGFD official quits: Alvin Graham didn’t like some of the policy issues he was dealing with involving the chaplain corps even before Lt. Col. Victor Stagnaro received his walking papers a week ago. But it is clear Stagnaro’s firing was involved in Graham’s decision making process. It was Stagnaro who recruited Graham for the volunteer post nine-years-ago and the men are close friends. On Friday, Chaplain Graham turned in his car and other Prince George’s County property. Here are the details.
Firefighter detained in Haiti: Drew Culberth is a Topeka firefighter who went to Haiti on a different kind of rescue mission. Culberth and nine members of his church are now being held over issues surrounding the group’s efforts to bring 33 children back to the United States. Here’s the story.
Fireground audio from mayday at deadly Brooklyn fire: Five residents died at a fire early Saturday in Bensonhurst. Thirteen firefighters were hurt, including one who became entangled in a collapsing stairwell. Click here for our coverage.
Tulsa firefighters vote to stop job layoffs: Concessions that include a more than five-percent pay cut and furlough days were agreed to by Tulsa firefighters in an effort to prevent 147 from losing their jobs. Here’s the latest.
Racist graffiti, threats, profanity and a noose hanging in a locker; claims of harassment and a culture of accepted sexism, evidenced in part by a topless female firefighter posing in panties on a widely distributed calendar.
It seems the firefighter protest in Belgium was a bit kinder and gentler than the one in Spain. I guess it is hard to get angry in the middle of a foam fight. Photo from the Daily Mail.
Cop mixes up pepper spray and fire extinguisher containers - plus much more from Firegeezer: Bill takes a look at the awful story from Portland, Oregon as a police officer tries to snuff out the flames of a man who set himself on fire. Click here. (I saw this story and was certain I used it in Quick Takes on Thursday or Friday, but I can’t find it. Now which one’s the geezer?)
Fire truck hit by flying object, Part 1: In this case it was a bullet as a St. Louis crew returned from the repair shop. Here’s the story.
Fire truck hit by flying object, Part 2: In this case it was shrapnel from dozens of exploding acetylene and propane tanks at a Flint, Michigan auto salvage business. We have video, pictures and details. Click here.
And more explosions from another Michigan auto salvage firm: The Flint fire was on Saturday. In Detroit, 24-hours earlier, there was a similar fire at an auto salvage and parts business. It went to three-alarms. Click here for fireground audio, video and pictures.
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.
There are only seven employees in the town of Cashion, Oklahoma. From the two videos above it is starting to sound like the town should be called ”Cashion carry”.
Liz Hurtensen is one of the locals interviewed about the latest news. She has some experience with scandals like this. Hurtensen used to work for the town until she got into her own trouble and freely admits to KSBI-TV that she is paying restitution to Cashion.
KWTV-TV image of Cashion Fire Chief Danny Clark
Then there is the former police chief who was recently charged with conspiracy and fraudulent training certification.
And now, in an apparently unrelated probe, Cashion’s fire chief/emergency management director and clerk/treasurer are on paid administrative leave for what the mayor calls “questionable financial practices”.
The chief, Danny Clark, and the treasurer, Stephanie Clark, happen to be married. You may recall their names (we did, but it appears the local news folks didn’t).
It was one month ago that we told you about a tragic situation the Clarks were involved in. According to news reports, the couple was the first to respond and arrive on the scene of a motor vehicle collision south of town just before 4:00 AM on Sunday October 4. An SUV carrying seven teenagers had run into a tree. A 16-year-old girl was dead on the scene. She was Kalee Jo Clark, Danny and Stephanie Clark’s daughter.
I am gathering KWTV-TV reporter Dave Jordan, who appears to be an excellent reporter (he broke the Oklahoma trooper – paramedic scuffle story) and explains this one nicely, was unaware of the previous story involving the Clarks. Jordan did report, “When NEWS 9 went to the Clark’s home, no one was there. Signs of love and support from a local church were displayed in their front window.”
One has to wonder if those signs could possible be referring to the loss of the Clark’s daughter.
“What elephant? I don’t see no elephant.” That was a line from Jimmy Durante (ask your parents, grandparents or Firegeezer). Luckily Bill Carpenter did see the elephant and swerved while driving with his wife on a road in Enid, Oklahoma.
Carpenter believes if it had been a direct hit they would have been a goner with 4500 pounds of elephant coming through the windshield. Instead it was a glancing blow that cracked the animal’s tusk as it ripped through the side of the SUV.
Imagine you are on the receiving end of the 911 call and hear that someone has just hit an elephant with their vehicle on U.S. 81.
The elephant is Kamba, who escaped from a traveling circus that had come to town. Since the Carpenters are okay, the serious side of all this comes from In Defense of Animals which believes the circus life has not been good to Kamba and cites a previous escape during a tornado in Kansas.