Earlier today we told you about an article by Bernard Harris at LancasterOnline.com describing an arbitration hearing last month involving the City of Lancaster and the Lancaster Professional Firefighters Association, IAFF Local 319. As we mentioned in our original posting, the article quotes from a report about the hearing prepared by Mayor Rick Gray’s chief of staff. That report was delivered to the City Council in executive session. The report cited testimony from one of the union negotiators, Lt. Kevin Ressler, who talked about volunteer firefighters being unreliable and not being able to count on them to save your life.
According to Harris, neither Mayor Gray or union president Tim Erb were willing to comment for the original article. President Erb has been in touch with STATter911.com and says the report sent to the City Council takes Lt. Ressler’s response to questions at the hearing out of context. Here is the full response from Local 319:
Shame on the Lancaster Newspaper for printing only small blurbs from the transcripts of the recent contract arbitration. This is not a career vs volunteer issue and once again by not printing what was actually said and it’s meaning, the Lancaster Newspaper has tried to make news rather then report it. When asked if the volunteers were reliable the answer was” No” from Lt Ressler. No mention was made as to what was actually said and the context of it’s true meaning. Should the City and it’s Fire Department on Volunteers, who are working other jobs and have their own commitments to their respective Fire Departments and communities, to come in to supplement the City for inadequately protecting both the Fire Fighters and the citizens of Lancaster? To that the answer was NO! (takes on a whole new light now doesn’t it)? Can you count on the volunteers to save your life? Absolutely not! Now the actual meaning. Can the Fire fighters of the City count on the volunteers to protect their lives in an instant on the scene of a fire when time is of the essence? Absolutely not! There is not a problem between the fine Volunteer Firefighters of this county and the City Firefighters. Reliability and dependability should not ever be confused with . There are many many fine volunteers with outstanding when it comes to doing the job of a firefighter. With all of their own commitments at work and home and in their communities, can they always be upon and on to be available to help? No and they should not be put in that situation The City guys are more than happy to get some assistance when absolutely needed. I would urge you to read between the lines to find the missing pieces whenever a story is written. More times than not the stories you read here should start off “Once upon a time” because that is how fictional fairy tales start. Shame on the Newspaper for once again trying to make volunteer vs career an issue.
There is an interesting article from Pennsylvania in LancasterOnline.com about the arbitration hearing held last month between the City of Lancaster and Lancaster Professional Firefighters Association, IAFF Local 319. The press was barred from attending but reporter Bernard Harris was able to get the report about the hearing that Mayor Rick Gray provided to the City Council. It was prepared by Mayor Gray’s chief of staff. Neither Gray or union president Tim Erb commented for the article.
Here’s an excerpt:
Lancaster city officials claim poverty but are sitting on $9.5 million in reserves.
City firefighters contend their volunteer brethren are unreliable but want to be able to live in areas protected by the volunteers.
The firefighters of Lancaster Professional Firefighters Association IAFF, Local 319, are seeking 5 percent annual salary increases, minimum staffing requirements, increases in bonuses and number of holidays and other items in a new three year contract which should have begun in January.
As it stands, firefighters have to live within a 13-mile radius of the center of town in order to be available for off-duty response. The union wants to extend this radius to cover all of adjacent Lancaster County at the same time the City wants to tighten it to 5-miles.
Part of this issue relates to the fact that there is no automatic mutual aid in place. Before calling in volunteers from surrounding departments the City currently has to call in off-duty firefighters and pay them overtime. The fire chief, Tim Gregg, points out that within a 5-mile radius there are nine volunteer departments (some also have part-time firefighters).
This issue was discussed in the hearing with Lt. Kevin Ressler who is part of the union’s negotiating team:
When he testified, Ressler was asked if volunteers were reliable. “No,” he replied.
He was then asked, “Can you count on volunteers to protect your life?”
“Absolutely not,” Ressler replied.
According to the article, the union is resisting efforts by the city to go to 24 hour shifts with 48 hours off, from the current two days, two nights and four days off.
When I first saw the story above a little more than a year ago, I thought it was unfair to the firefighter who was featured, and missed the real story by failing to track down the people who should be answering the questions. In general, I thought it was a poor job done by the reporter on what was and is a legitimate story.
The person featured in the story is DC Fire & EMS Department Lieutenant Richard Lehan. The report focused on Lt. Lehan's income from the District of Columbia. He was the fire department's top money maker in the overtime category. Similar stories have been done in many cities.
Lehan's feelings about the report were obviously a lot stronger than mine. He filed a defamation lawsuit against WTTG-TV. DC Superior Court Judge Rufus G. King III has now dismissed that suit based on the District of Columbia's new anti-SLAPP law.
SLAPP stands for "strategic lawsuits against public participation". Wikipedia has one of the clearest explanations of a SLAPP I could find:
A lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.
Anti-SLAPP laws are generally intended to protect a citizen's right of free speech and, as in this case, have also been used by the news media to do the same.
Richard Lehan's lawsuit is the first dismissal under DC's law.
Drew E. Shenkman and Charles D. Tobin, with Holland and Knight LLP, have written an article about this case. I have forwarded it to FireLawBlog.com's Curt Varone to see if I can encourage him to translate it into English from legalese in one of his columns. Actually it is not that bad, but Curt, a lawyer and firefighter, will do a better job explaining what this all really means. In the meantime here's an excerpt from the article:
In June 2011, Lehan sued for defamation and defamation per se. He alleged that the station's figures were inaccurate and that the report's use of phrases like "racked up" and "month-after-month" were defamatory. He also alleged that the report that he and his brother controlled the assignment of overtime was false.
The station filed a special motion to dismiss under the District's anti-SLAPP statute, D.C. Code §16-5501, et seq., enacted in March 2011. D.C. is the 29th jurisdiction with a law permitting early challenges to SLAPP lawsuits. Under the D.C. statute, if a defendant establishes the lawsuit arose out of "acts in furtherance of the right of advocacy on issues of public interest," the burden shifts to the plaintiff to demonstrate a "likelihood of success" on the merits. If the plaintiff fails, the statute requires the court to dismiss the lawsuit and the judge may award reasonable attorneys' fees.
Now, my complaints about this story have nothing to do with defamation, though I thought there was a fair amount of innuendo with no smoking gun to back it up. If I had been doing the story, I'm sure I too would have featured Lt. Lehan, the top overtime earner. That's a fact important to the story, especially since his later earnings appeared to violate a DC law limiting the amount of overtime a firefighter or police officer can make.
But since there was no indication in reporter Roby Chavez's story (Chavez is no longer with the station) that Lt Lehan was putting in for overtime he didn't earn, my questions would have been directed elsewhere. Instead of spending a lot of time staking out the quarters of Engine 30 trying to get Lt. Lehan to talk, I would have been tracking down, and if necessary staking out, former Chief Dennis Rubin and his assistant chiefs who were ultimately responsible for how the overtime money was spent. They are the people who should have been answering the questions from the reporter and those raised by the council member interviewed in the report.
It isn't just DC. I have brought this same point up many times before elsewhere in the country. If the firefighter or other public servant is legitimately being paid for hours worked, the focus should not be on the person receiving the fat paycheck, but rather the person writing it.
Obviously Judge King has judged that this TV news story was not defamation. That's out of my expertise (though, when I first heard about the lawsuit from a friend, I expressed doubts about its success). I will, however, judge that it was a poor and misguided journalistic effort.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I have known Lt. Lehan and his brother Ed (also mentioned in the report) for a long time. I like both of them and they both have been kind to me through the years. That said, to my knowledge, I have never talked to either one of them about the story or the lawsuit, and am basing my opinion solely on my experience as a TV reporter who covered the fire service.
In addition, I have some very good friends (or at least did) at WTTG-TV. The station has some wonderful TV journalists on its staff. My comments focus solely on this one story and do not reflect on the news operation as a whole.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said he was "shocked" when he learned of an alleged massive overtime scam by some city firefighters.
According to the city, the scam would involve three firefighters working in concert with each other. Here's how the alleged scam worked:
Firefighter 1 would call in sick even though he wasn't. That would then create an overtime opportunity, at time and a half, for someone at his or her firehouse.
Firefighter 2 would then accept the overtime, but rather than work the shift, he or she would then turn around and sell the shift to Firefighter number 3.
Firefighter 3 would then kick back money under the table to firefighter 2.
The city discovered the alleged scam when a number of firefighters admitted to buying and selling shifts during an arbitration hearing at City Hall.
2 On Your Side obtained obtained a copy of the transcript from that hearing.
One firefighter was asked:
"Did you ever pay for a shift?"
He answered "I paid for about 20 or 30 times, depends on what's available."
Question: 'What are the standard rates for shifts?"
Answer "About $165 for days and $270 for nights."
Question: "Do you have any records of people you have paid?"
"No," he answered.
Another firefighter at the hearing was asked:
"Have you ever received money for an overtime swap"
Answer: "About $250."
A third firefighter testified:
"It's a brotherhood. In some way everyone gets paid."
When asked about record keeping, the firefighter tapped his head and said "it's all in here."
2 On Your Side's Scott Brown spoke with the head of the firefighters union about this:
Scott Brown: "Clearly it seems like there's money being passed back and forth?"
Union President Dan Cunningham: "If that's what the transcript showed, then obviously the firefighter was telling the truth."
Scott Brown: "To your knowledge, do firefighters call in sick when they're not sick?"
Dan Cunningham: "No they do not. I'm not a doctor, but no they do not as far as I know."
Scott Brown: "The payments being made by the firefighters, I'm going to say under the table, do you know whether they're being reported on their tax forms?"
Dan Cunningham: "I have no idea. I don't know if they report it, I'm not their tax person."
The city has turned its findings over to state and federal law enforcement officials.
In asking them to investigate the alleged scam, the city charges that "firefighters are engaged in a practice of abusing and gaming the overtime pay…in order to pad or spike pension benefits for the union's most senior members" before they retire.
Scott Brown: "The city is alleging that firefighters are gaming the system."
Dan Cunningham: "I take exception to that comment, that statement, nobody has gamed the system. People are not calling in sick to create overtime, show me who's been brought up on charges and disciplined for doing that."
Scott Brown: "Any idea what you estimate the alleged scam has cost taxpayers?"
Mayor Byron Brown: "We calculate this could have cost city taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars for each year this is done. It's a great deal of money, it's money that taxpayers shouldn't be paying. If someone calls in sick and they're not actually sick that is wrong."
According to city records, overtime in the fire department went from $4.8 million to $10 million in 2008 and it was that year that the city says it discovered a substantial amount of overtime going to a small group of firefighters.
Scott Brown: "From 2006 to 2008 overtime jumped by 100 percent, why was that?"
Dan Cunningham: "We have 29 fire companies – each piece of apparatus that goes out the door has to be manned with four men if one of those guys was off sick, injured, personal leave day, jury duty he has to be replaced. When you are short 170 guys during that period of time, and if you don't have anybody to replace them, is your overtime going to go up?"
Scott Brown:" Mr. Cunningham says at times the city has been 170 people short within the department?"
Mayor Byron Brown: "He is woefully misinformed. At any given time because of retirements, there will be vacancies, but those vacancies over the last seven or eight years average 20 or 30 vacant positions."
And according to city records, over the last six years the fire department has averaged about 28 vacancies a year.
Scott Brown: "Would like to see criminal charges filed against some of these firefighters?"
Mayor Byron Brown: "I would like to see the practice ended immediately and firefighters who have engaged in this type of practice pay some sort of reimbursement to the taxpayers of this community."
Scott Brown: "And what about charges, or kicking them off the force?"
Mayor Byron Brown: "I personally think that would be for law enforcement to decide."
Scott Brown: "Some people watching this may say the mayor doesn't respect or like firefighters?"
Mayor Byron Brown: "I have the utmost respect for our firefighters- they do difficult and dangerous jobs. Everyday when the bell rings at that firehouse they put their lives on the line for the members of this community. But at the same time, they need to conduct themselves- those that are engaged in this practice – and I would like to think it is a few rather than the majority – they need to conduct themselves in the highest level of integrity because the public depends on them."
Scott Brown: "Do you think the city's allegations hold water?"
Dan Cunningham: "I believe under past practices our members had the right to accept or reject overtime, or ask somebody else if they were interested in working."
Scott Brown: "Are you saying this practice of buying and selling shifts was going on for decades?"
Dan Cunningham: "Yes, three or four or five decades.
The arbitrator ruled that the swapping of shifts was illegal, and in February of this year Commissioner Garnell Whitfield issued an order stating that "there shall be no swapping of overtime…Any member accepting overtime shall report for duty or be considered AWOL."
Scott Brown: "I got to say Dan, people watching this are going to say this is a scam, guys are selling shifts to each other."
Dan Cunningham: "The arbitration hearing says that is no longer legal to do it. Nobody's doing it, nobody's doing it. But in the past it was a legal practice going back 40 years, so I tip my hat to Commissioner Whitfield and the mayor – if that's what they believe they can stop the members from making more money and increasing their pensions that's good for the taxpayers."
It's an interesting statement of fact that reporter Liz Farmer wrote in an article on Wednesday for The Washington Examiner following the latest in a long series of DC City Council hearings on the amount of overtime money spent by the department. The theme of the article was, that despite DC Fire & EMS Department Chief Kenneth Ellerbe cutting overtime by more than 50 percent, the department is still $1 million over the 2011 budget.
It is this sentence that caught my attention when I read the article this afternoon: "Ellerbe in January took over Fire and Emergency Medical Services, a department with a history of overtime being abused and going notoriously over budget."
As I was reading the rest of the article I was hoping to find out who exactly in the department was abusing overtime. That's a pretty big charge to make, so I was looking for something to back up what reporter Farmer presented as fact in this article. I didn't find it.
Overtime paid to firefighters has been a hot button issue in many jurisdictions throughout the country. It is often been being used as ammunition to cut firefighter pay and other benefits. The public doesn't like to hear that firefighters are the highest paid government employees in their town, city or county, especially the way it's often portrayed by those who want to make big cuts in the department's budget. The issue has a tendency to take on a life of its own in a way that is sometimes based more on emotion than fact.
So, Liz Farmer, who exactly in the DC Fire & EMS Department has been abusing overtime? What exactly is that "history" you speak of? Where is the attribution for that statement? Was there some overtime scandal that you aren't telling us about that had firefighters putting in for overtime they didn't work? Was there a scheme to steer overtime to favored firefighters?
Maybe, Ms. Farmer, it isn't firefighters you are talking about. Was it former chiefs who abused the overtime? For themselves? For firefighters? Is Chief Ellerbe abusing overtime when, as he testified, part of that $1 million overrun was to make sure the department was able to handle the earthquake and hurricane that occurred back-to-back?
Could it instead be that the abuse isn't even within the department? Could it be that the City Council or the mayor didn't properly budget enough overtime to meet staffing requirements? Could it be that because the city leaders haven't filled positions overtime is required to keep the fire trucks and ambulances safely staffed?
Not being a reporter on this beat for about 15 months and not following the department in detail the way I used to, I can honestly say I don't know the answer to any of those questions. If you do Ms. Farmer, don't you think you should share it with your readers?
Being over budget on overtime, even on a regular basis, doesn't always mean something sinister is going on. In other words, use doesn't equal abuse. Once a phrase like "overtime abuse" is in the public record, it is often repeated as fact with little in the way to support it. My point Ms. Farmer, is that when you make a charged statement like that you should back it up with some facts for your readers.
For all I know, I may be the only one who is riled by those nine words. I am sure there are a lot of DC firefighters who are much more interested in the other part of Liz Farmer's article. I am referring to Chief Ellerbe's efforts to drastically change the work schedule of firefighters. Here's what Liz Farmer reported on that issue:
Meanwhile Ellerbe outlined his proposal to switch to 12-hour shifts from 24-hour shifts. The proposal essentially would have firefighters working shorter shifts, but more often, reducing the need for overtime shifts.
The department would have to renegotiate the collective bargaining agreement with the union to implement any schedule and pay changes. (Local 36 president Ed) Smith said the two sides plan on discussing the proposal and there is no deadline for reaching a new agreement.
Without the changes it would be impossible to slash overtime down to the council's $2.9 million allotment for this fiscal year without cutting service, Ellerbe said.
Deal reached in Deale blown engine controversy: Glenn Usdin provided some interesting insight a few weeks ago on blown engines during pump testing after a 1991 pumper owned by the Deale (MD) VFD suffered such a fate while in the hands of the Anne Arundel County Fire Department shop. Deale and the county went back and forth for a while over who was financially responsible in this case. Now an economical solution has been found. FireTruckBlog.com has the story. Click here.
Threats & other verbal attacks are now a way of life for Clark County, Nevada firefighters: The long and nasty battle over compensation for firefighters in Clark County that resulted in a probe of sick leave abuse has taken its toll. Scott Wyland in the Las Vegas Review-Journal spent time with firefighters, including some named in the probe, and describes the less than warm reception firefighters are often receiving. Here’s the article.
More image problems as the Bee stings Sac Metro FD: An editorial in the Sacramento Bee on Sunday has the title “Sac Metro salaries are a disgrace”. Overtime seems to be responsible for the high salaries. And the Bee thinks this is the problem – “Either by contract or policy, set staffing levels are maintained. If a firefighter calls in sick, another is called in on overtime. Generous overtime boosts already generous salaries.” The Bee fails to discuss or seem to care why those staffing levels are in place. Then there is this shocker – “It’s worth noting that a part of the firefighter’s work day is spent sleeping, watching TV, cooking or relaxing in the firehouse.” It should also be noted the chief of the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District, Bill Sponable, announced his resignation on Friday citing the current economic woes. Click here to read the editorial.
Fireworks cache takes out home: Firegeezer has the story from Blue Springs, Kansas of a man handling some of the large amount of fireworks he stored in his home. The Fourth of July came very early and the man is lucky he was left with only minor injuries. The house is a different story. Click here for the story.
Firefighters dressing in drag, showing their butts & dancing with college girls, all in the name of charity: Of course that headline can only mean one thing. Cincinnati firefighters are back in Fort Myers Beach, Florida for spring break. News-Press.com’s Chris Umpierre looks at this 28-year tradition that has on occasion raised some eyebrows. The picture to the right is by Amanda Inscore, News-Press.com. Click here for the story.
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.
“I do take exception to you saying things in such a negative tone and in a negative way”. The words of DC Fire & EMS Chief Dennis Rubin as he scolded Councilmember Phil Mendelson for his line of questioning at a hearing earlier today on the department’s overtime spending. The two have clashed many times in the past and today was no exception.
Mendelson has long complained about Chief Rubin greatly over spending his overtime budget. The chairman of the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary has held monthly hearings focusing on OT and has proposed greatly slashing next year’s overtime budget. The chief believes such a move will mean fewer firefighters, EMTs and paramedics on the street to answer calls.
Today was their first public meeting since Mendelson sent a letter requesting Rubin be investigated for over spending his budget and the chief’s emailed response to the department listing his concerns over the councilmember’s preliminary cuts to the FY 2011 budget. You can read both documents here.
The flash point today came over the department’s upstaffing during the blizzards of the past winter. Chief Rubin took offense to Mendelson calling the snows an ”orgy of opportunity”.
The D.C. Council’s Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary has approved an initial budget that would cut $5.2 million in overtime pay for the fire department, or an 82 percent decrease from the current fiscal year. The move comes in response to projections that the fire department is on track to double its current overtime budget of about $6 million.
Rubin said his department is short-staffed by more than 170 employees, and there is “nothing that anyone can do besides fill the seats with overtime or close a fire company.”
“That’s not a threat … but it’s a statement of fact,” Rubin said.
Nonsense, said Committee Chairman Phil Mendelson, who has been an outspoken critic of the department’s chronic overtime problems.
“It’s a management issue,” Mendelson said. “He doesn’t need more money.”
Road trip to Detroit: Chicago’s Steve Redick made one of his regular trips to Detroit and returned, as usual, with lots of video. The clip above, with fireground audio, chronicles the 3-day visit. You can see Steve’s still images from Detroit here. On the same page you will find links for Steve’s books on rigs in and around Chicago.
Click the image for more pictures from Emmitsburg's Vigilant Hose Company.
Investigators make arrest in Emmitsburg fire: If you haven’t checked in over the weekend you may not have seen all of the early pictures and video from Saturday morning’s fire in the heart of Emmitsburg. The 150-year-old apartment building (former hotel) that houses Stavros Pizza burned. While early news reports indicated careless smoking was to blame, one resident is under arrest, charged with starting the fire during a suicide attempt. In fact, you can hear people talking about a man in custody on one of the fire videos we posted. Click here and here for our coverage.
What’s up Doc? The answer may not be good for your blood pressure: Neil Coplan, an FDNY doctor who occasionally visited fire scenes, receives a $95,000-a-year disability pension because of a heart ailment. The pension was awarded under the same provision that presumes an active firefighter’s heart problems are job related. This one isn’t sitting too well with some people. Read more.
It seems to never end in Flint: WJRT-TV reports there were eight fires Saturday night and early Sunday morning for a total of 20 in three days in Flint, Michigan. One battalion chief says fatigue is setting in for firefighters as they handle this 12-day arson spree with fewer Flint firefighters and reduced resources from neighbors. Click here to watch and here, to read the TV station’s latest story. Here’s our coverage of fires earlier in the weekend, including an arrest in a Friday evening blaze.
Fire report from Prince William County, VA: Click the image to read a report from OWL VFD Chief Jim McAllister on a Woodbridge townhouse fire Sunday evening.
More from the battleground in Colorado over fire and EMS: Today is the day that more developments are expected in Leadville and Lake County over the nasty dispute between the fire department and the Sheriff’s department over who will provide fire and EMS coverage. Firefighters are scheduled to protest at the courthouse this afternoon over the arrest by sheriff’s deputies of a top fire official who had responded to an EMS call at the county jail. This evening there is a special joint meeting of Leadville and Lake County leaders to discuss the incident. Here is the latest. Click here and here for our previous coverage.
No charges in collision of two rigs in Houston that left bicyclist dead: The Houston Police Department has decided not to file criminal charges in the wreck a year ago between Ladder 16 and Engine 7 that took the life of a woman on a bicycle. The final decision is now up to the District Attorney. Read the details. Here is our coverage on the day of the collision.
Houston fire station closed: Speaking of Ladder 16, it has been moved to Station 8 following the closing of Station 16. KTRK-TV reports the building has been shuttered. Not a lot of details other than a report that problems with ceramic tiles coming loose has brought questions about the structural integrity of the firehouse. Here’s more.
A study in fire spread: That’s what Firegeezer calls his look at a fire in West Bend, Wisconsin. Take a look.
5-alarms in Nashville: Five homes were damaged or destroyed in the fire late Thursday night. Check it out.
Blast levels New Jersey home visited earlier by gas workers: In South Amboy two people were hurt in an apparent natural gas explosion that destroyed a home on Friday. The gas company confirms one its people had visited the house 45-minutes earlier, responding to a report of a leak. Here’s the story.
Was anyone on OT during boot drive?: The latest issue in Clark County, Nevada is over collecting money for MD during work hours. The question has also been brought up about overtime money being spent during the boot drive. Click here for the details.
The mature probie: An interesting article about New York’s Syosset Fire Department. Josh Stewart writes about the trend toward volunteers joining the department later in life. Here’s the story.
Did flesh eating bacteria play role in premature death determination?: That’s the word from sources in Prince George’s County, Maryland familiar with Friday’s incident where a man was left for dead in his Glenarden home. While one part of the investigation continues, PGFD officials report the two medics have now been cleared for full duty. Here’s the story.
More from the tragedy in Homewood, Illinois: Through a family friend, injured Village of Homewood firefighter Karra Kopas tells her story about Tuesday night’s house fire that killed Firefighter Brian Carey and left Kopas with burns. Click here. Here is our earlier coverage.
WJRT-TV's tower cam this morning as the rash of fires continues in Flint, Michigan. Click the image for the station's coverage.
A “Dear Firebug” letter: Columnist Andrew Heller in the Flint Journal makes the case that whoever starting setting fires in the wake of layoffs in the Michigan city is not associated with firefighters. Heller wants the fire starter to knock it off before a firefighter or someone else gets killed. Read his column.
And Flint continues to burn: April Fools Day is clearly not a holiday for the arsonist. Five more overnight fires. Click here for the details.
Trio of firefighters in PA charged with arson: Three young volunteers with the Friedensburg Fire Company in Schuylkill County have been arrested on arson charges. Here’s the story.
A two-year-old firehouse may close: In Dover, New Hampshire the Liberty North End Fire Station opened only two-years-ago after decades on the drawing board. It could soon close because of budget issues. Read the story.
And speaking of Emergency!: The County of Los Angeles Fire Museum wants help in restoring Engine 51 (the Ward LaFrance). Read more and watch the videos.
Budget busting overtime makes news again: I wish I could get time-and-a-half each time I link to a story on a jurisdiction across the country sounding the alarm about firefighter overtime. Palm Bay, Florida is the latest. Let me fill out my time sheet.
DC Fire & EMS crew under review after toddler dies: Several first responders with the DC Fire & EMS Department have been removed from contact with patients while the care they provided to a 2-year-old girl is reviewed. The investigation centers on exactly why the girl was not taken to the hospital during the first call for trouble breathing on February 10th. Nine hours later the child was transported after a second call to 911. She died the next day. This occurred during one of the major snowstorms that hit Washington. Surae Chinn has our story. Read and watch it here.
Firefighter accused of setting his home on fire twice in an effort to get his wife pregnant: I know that is a bizarre headline, but this is a bizarre story. Investigators in Bennington, Vermont say Capt. Ralph Brown Jr. needed money to pay for surgery so his wife could have a baby and decided insurance money was the way to finance the operation. The home caught fire twice. Now Brown, the wife, and another man are facing charges. Read more.
Three dead in 3-alarm Baltimore fire: The fire was reported around 2:00 AM in the 3500 block of Woodbrook Avenue. Two people escaped the home uninjured. Watch the video. Click here for details.
New Jersey firefighter’s decision to quit IAFF brings in the comments: Cherry Hill, New Jersey firefighter Michael Schaffer’s decision to quit the IAFF, rather than face charges over his activities as a volunteer, has people talking in our comments section (Schaffer himself joins in). The response was not unexpected. The only question was how long it would take before it got nasty and personal. Not long. Click here for the story and the comments.
Home of DC/Calvert County firefighter burns: Officials with the DC Fire & EMS Department confirm the home of one of its firefighters was destroyed in a two-alarm fire in Calvert County yesterday afternoon. The fire was at the home of Paul O'Conner in Bayview Hills. The Huntingtown VFD reports O'Conner, who is a member, used his radio to report the fire. Click the image for more details from TheBayNet.com and a series of pictures by Dennis Hook. The Maryland State Fire Marshal's office says the fire was started by a space heater used to dry materials in a shed under a wooden deck.
Another I-Team discovers firefighters make overtime: Contract negotiating time when money is very tight and suddenly everyone realizes the fire department is way over its overtime budget. This has happened in jurisdiction after jurisdiction across the country since the economy went south. We have run a bunch of stories that fit the pattern. The script goes like this. Political leaders say the OT is busting their budgets and often someone leaks the details to a newspaper or TV station. The news media runs the story showing how firefighters are all the top money makers in town. Someone claims there is something fishy going on. The IAFF points out if you hire firefighters and fill all the vacant positions you can then spend less on overtime. Then there is usually the call to lower minimum staffing requirements. Some of that is now going on in Clark County, Nevada. Check it out.
Scrambling to safety: Video from Chile as rescuers rush out of a building because of an aftershock. Check it out.
Former firefighter sentenced for 48 false calls: Caryn Sodaro will get a few more weeks in jail and have to pay $11,000 for her series of false suicide and other EMS calls. Officials say she called them in and then listened to the responses on the radio provided to her by the fire company where she volunteered in Weld County, Colorado. Here are the details.
House fire in Norwich, Connecticut: This fire on Prospect Street was reported around 7:00 PM on Saturday. No injuries, but 23 people have been displaced. The home housed a substance-abuse recovery program for women. Read the details.
Check out latest USAR videos from Haiti and other stories in our player, over here >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Firefighter rap sheets making the news in two cities: We summarize the coverage from two cities as TV reporters look closely at how the fire departments in Memphis and Pittsburgh are handling firefighters who get arrested. Alcohol and drugs are behind many of the arrests, both directly and indirectly.
It’s not just the firefighters Part 1 – Read statements from firefighters about chief who showed up to fatal fire after a few drinks: Tarpon Springs, Florida Chief Stephen Moreno has been suspended after allegations he arrived at a fire after a few drinks, gave orders without checking in with the IC, and had no radio or gear. On top of that, his wife was walking around the fire scene. Read the paperwork, watch and read the story.
It’s not just the firefighters Part 2 – Kentucky chief under investigation resigns: Firegeezer has the story on Chief Paul Barth who has resigned from the McMahan Fire District in Jefferson County. Barth has been suspended since November 24 over money issues that now involve the U.S. Secret Service.
A Steve Skipton photo of Sunday morning's 5-alarm vacant warehouse fire in Gloucester City, New Jersey. Click the image for more pictures from Steve and Ted Aurig at PhillyFireNews.com.
Overtime issue in DC: Another in the regular oversight hearings on overtime expenditures by the DC Fire & EMS Department. There were no fireworks between Chairman Phil Mendelson and Chief Dennis Rubin this time. One reason is that the chief didn’t make the hearing (which did not make the councilmember happy). Read Michael Neibauer’s article in The Examiner last week. Watch the hearing.
Town divided over possible return of firefighters involved in costly gay bashing lawsuit: The possibility of three firefighters returning to the Secaucus Volunteer Fire Department after the town lost an almost $5 million lawsuit by a gay couple who lived next door to Engine Co. 2/ Rescue Co. 1 has brought mixed reaction. The trio resigned after the couple won the suit and are now looking to be reinstated. Read the details.
They blew the #@!* out of the package: That was the case on November 6 in Longview, Washington. A bomb squad disrupted a suspicious package outside City Hall only to find it was full of feces. Now, officials say a retired firefighter left it and tried to blame it on another firefighter. Here are the details.
Firefighters save only ashes and a woman thinks they are heroes: In Albury, Australia a burning restaurant was pretty much a total loss. But it wasn’t quite at that point when the decision was made to send two firefighters in to make a recovery while the fire burned above. All the firefighters returned with were ashes and to a restaurant worker that was just perfect. Click here for the answer to this riddle.
Everyone wants to be a fire dispatcher: In Lockport, New York, both the police department and the Niagara County sheriff are eager to take over dispatching duties for the fire department. It is part of an effort to free up a firefighter each shift. Click here for the story.
Station 54 where are you?: Actually it should be where is the crew? A shake-up at the Houston fire station at the center of the scandal that helped push Phil Boriskie out of the chief’s office and back into a fire station. Read more.
Firefighter recovering from dog bites following river rescue: LAFD mounted a significant effort from the air and ground to save a dog floating down the Los Angeles River. It took a firefighter dropping from a chopper to save the dog. In the process, Joe St. Georges received some significant punctures on his arm and hand. Read our coverage here and click here for interviews with the firefighter.
Take the bus, but don’t leave the driving to him: There was a major rescue effort in the Nova Scotia River Saturday night after an Acadian Lines bus fell off a bridge in whiteout conditions. The most experienced person involved in this type of rescue operation was likely the bus driver. Driver Ken Mitchell was at the wheel of another Acadian Lines bus that skidded off a bridge into the Baddeck River last February. Read and watch the story.
One we missed: This three-alarm house fire is from Belleville, New Jersey way back in 2009. December 28 to be exact. Paul Bassett sends it along. Paul writes this about the fire at 98 Division- “Fire was in a 2 1/2 story wood frame and appeared to start in the basement and race up the walls into the attic. Belleville was assisted on scene by Nutley, North Arlington, Bloomfield, Montclair and Kearny”. Paul’s still photos from the fire can be found here.
Click here to listen to the emergency radio traffic from the dumpster explosion that killed Firefighter Steven Koeser.
Emergency radio traffic from fatal dumpster explosion in Wisconsin: We have radio traffic from both the fire department and the sheriff’s department as they dealt with the dumpster fire on December 29 that killed St. Anna Firefighter Steven Koeser. Click here for our coverage.
Arbitrator rules for veteran captain after a near collision between a train & fire truck: This is a really interesting story from Billings, Montana. In November of 2008 a fire truck from Station 2 was responding on an EMS run. It was stopped at the railroad tracks to let a train pass. Once the train went by, the rig went around the gates only to find a coal train bearing down on them on the other track. It was apparently a close call, but there was no collision. Captain Ron Martin didn’t report the incident, but the railroad did. After having an assistant chief look into the matter, Chief Paul Dextras put a letter of reprimand into the captain’s file. Captain Martin and IAFF Local 521 fought the disciplinary action and won. The arbitrator sided cited a lack of fairness in how the investigation was handled. Read the details in the Billings Gazette.
You know something is wrong with the contest if this blog got nominated: The FireCritic.com Fire/EMS Blog of the Year 2009 contest showed just how low they could go. STATter911.com has been picked as one of the ten finalists. I am much like Groucho Marx and not sure I want to be a part of something that would have me. My money is still on Firegeezer. But the voting is now underway and lasts until January 12. Click here to vote.
Fire department radio traffic from Illinois plane crash: Fire crews had a tough time immediately finding the crash of a small cargo jet in Wheeling, Illinois. As more information came in, they found the wreckage in the Des Plaines River. Both crew members were dead. Click here for our coverage.
Boston firefighters catch burglar in the act at firehouse: On Monday night Boston firefighters had just returned from a fire to the quarters of Engine 42/ Rescue 2 in Roxbury when they found a visitor inside the firehouse. The man was not an invited guest and had a bag with property belonging to the firefighters. He didn’t get far and at last word was in jail. Read more. Thanks to our New England Bureau Chief Jimmy Daly for the tip.
Looking closely at the roof: In Modesto, California, where Engineer Jim Adams remains in a medically induced coma due to burns over 40% of his body, investigators were back at the scene yesterday of the New Year’s Night house fire. They are trying to figure out why the roof of the home collapsed so quickly sending Adams and Firefighter Jim Clevenger into the fire below. Here is the latest.
House fire in Upton, Massachusetts: Minor injuries to the couple living in the house. The fire broke out yesterday morning. Read details.
NEW – A glimmer of hope in Baltimore hours before a fatal fire occurs with the closest truck company shut down: Overnight in Baltimore a fire in the 3100 block of Presstman Street left one person dead and one injured. Firefighters found them both on the second floor. The PIO for the department confirms the closest ladder truck, Truck 18, was shut down due to rotating closures. The next closest, Truck 16, is scheduled to be shut for good next month. Read more.
This comes a few hours after city leaders confirmed they are now looking for overtime money to help the fire department reduce the number of rotating closures. The new effort to address overtime follows Chief Jim Clack’s proposal to permanently close three fire companies. Late yesterday Mayor Sheila Dixon reduced the number of permanent closings to one (Truck 16). The chief’s plan appears to have stimulated some discussion. Click here for that part of the story.
Think Safety – the monthly planner: Billy Goldfeder tells us about this one -
This is our fundraiser for the IAFC Safety, Health and Survival Section for the holidays and an excellent, and quite honestly, a “dirt cheap” risk management tool that will put a specific FIREFIGHTER SAFETY AND SURVIVAL MESSAGE in front of all of your members-everyday. You can also have up to five lines for your FD info, name, message from you etc imprinted on the front …and will be delivered before Christmas.
Coaching soccer on-duty costs two firefighters their jobs: In North Port, Florida, where a ladder truck crew took the rig three miles from the station so the lieutenant could coach a youth soccer match, two firefighters are out of work. Lt. Robert Combs, who was coaching the team and didn’t respond with the crew on a medical call, has resigned. One of the other two firefighters on the truck was fired. Read the details.
A refreshing lesson in public information during a crisis: Yesterday, in Woodbridge, Virginia, a student opened fire with a rifle on the campus of the Northern Virginia Community College. The school went on lock-down for more than three hours. No one was hit by the bullets and the gunman was captured very quickly (though there was a long, thorough check for possible accomplices). This left hundreds of students stranded, parents and friends worried, and of course the press, including me, racing to the scene. Well before we even got to Woodbridge, the long time public information officer for Prince William County Police, Sgt. Kim Chinn, had confirmed some basic information and set up an area for reporters, live trucks and cameras. There was no fighting with police to get to that location. The officers at the road blocks were already briefed to let us through. Once there, we were given regular updates with new, relevant information. Much of it important for anyone who had a loved one trapped on campus. We didn’t have to wait for the police chief or an elected official to come tell us what the PIO knew. There wasn’t a big joint press conference where most of the time was spent thanking each other for doing their jobs. It wasn’t about the brass, it was about the information. We weren’t berated because we asked questions or told there would be no more information for hours. The police answered with the information that was available at the moment, with no speculation. The police even encouraged and brought campus representatives out to talk to us. When I remarked to Deputy Chief Barry Bernard how refreshing and unusual the treatment of the press was during this emergency, he made it clear this wasn’t by accident. Chief Bernard pointed out, in a crisis like this, the press is their conduit to reach the community with vital and important information. From my experience, this is not the prevailing philosophy on handling public information in this part of the world. But to me it is one that makes a whole lot of sense.
A warning to firefighters: In Shoreline, Washington firefighters are being warned about a man who assaulted a firefighter and threatened to kill first responders. Police also found a cache of weapons. The man who called 911 for a medical emergency was arrested and released. Read the details.
Houston harassment report: Interesting details from a report looking at allegations of harassment and discrimination in the Houston Fire Department following some high profile incidents. Click here to read and watch the story.
Two from Pennsylvania: Photographer Steve Roth has two photo galleries of recent incidents. One is a dump truck into an SUV and a house in Adams County east of Gettysburg. Click here for the pictures. The other is a commercial building fire in Hanover. Click here.
It was a monster: That’s how a firefighter in Port Tampa, Florida described the 12-foot Burmese python he helped capture. See the video. Read the story.
Boston firefighter to sue police: After being acquitted of criminal charges in a dispute with a girlfriend, Firefighter Wayne Abron is now focusing on police officers he says used excessive force in his arrest. Abron is expecting to file a lawsuit against two Boston cops. He says the incident has left him paranoid about police, including at work. A police union attorney points out that Abron can make those accusations but it doesn’t make it so. Read more.
A reminder about comments: They aren’t going to be printed when they include expletives. I am not personally offended. Just the policy of the TV station. Also, react, state your opinion, but don’t act as the reporter. If you want to go beyond what is already on the record about an incident or topic and provide a whole bunch of new facts, please do so on your own blog. The other option is to send me your tip or information, and if there is time and a way to verify it, I will (I am always interested in tips). While it is not policy, personally I prefer spirited conversations about the facts and not personal attacks. We also do not edit comments. If it is a long, beautiful and thoughtful commentary, but it includes one four-letter word, it will be killed. We encourage comments and are getting close to posting comment number 13,000. Hope this helps explain why your comment may not have made the cut.
And finally … some silly stuff: Dave got away from the blog Sunday night and for a brief moment found himself set up by two of the funniest people in the world at the Kennedy Center Honors. There is even a fire department connection to my story. the video. Check it out.
Baltimore City Fire Chief Jim Clack tells STATter911.com that at a meeting this evening he learned the City Council and Mayor Sheila Dixon are trying to come up with money for the department’s overtime for the rest of the year. This comes at a time when Mayor Dixon has modified the chief’s plan to close three fire companies and continue rotating closings for two others.
The mayor’s decision to permanently close only one of the three companies means the department, without approximately $3.5 million in overtime between now and June 30, 2010, would still have to close at least four companies each day.
Before that meeting occurred this statement from Mayor Dixon was issued from City Hall in the afternoon:
“Yesterday, I listened to Chief Clack’s proposal to permanently close fire companies, and we had a follow-up meeting again today. Both the Chief and I are confronted with the difficult challenge of keeping the residents of this City safe during difficult economic times. We simply do not have the funds to maintain every City service at our historic levels.
Baltimore City Fire Department photo of Chief Jim Clack.
However, I support Chief Clack’s recommendation to close Truck 16 at 405 McMechen Street because that fire station will remain open and will continue to be staffed with a fire engine and a medic unit on site. The nearest truck company to Truck 16 is Truck 10 at 1503 W. Lafayette Avenue, which is 0.76 miles away from the station housing Truck 16. The closure of this truck company will decrease the number of citywide rotating closures from five to four per day.
To be clear, we are facing unprecedented deficits heading into the next fiscal year. Budget cuts to the Fire Department and every other City department will be on the table as we work to develop next year’s budget.”
New – Firefighter burned battling blaze in own home: Williamsburg, Virginia firefighter Mike Trombley and his wife had just put up the Christmas decorations in their Gloucester home on Friday. The next thing they knew the living room was on fire. After hustling the family out of the house, Trombley tried to keep the fire in check while waiting for the fire department. Read the story.
Police and fire together – chiefs announce retirement rather than face budget cuts: In Saratoga Springs, New York, the police chief and the fire chief announced together at an emotional news conference yesterday they were both retiring by the end of the year. Police Chief Edward Moore and Fire Chief Robert Cogan were each going to face staffing cuts of 20-percent or more. They blame city politics for not adequately addressing the needs of protecting the public in tight budget times. Read more.
Investigation underway sparked by firehouse visitor getting lost on the way to the bathroom: A rude awakening for a career firefighter in Montgomery County, Maryland. The firefighter’s bed was mistaken for a toilet by the date of a member of the Burtonsville Volunteer Fire Department. That date apparently turned into a firehouse sleepover. Internal Affairs for Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service has the investigation. Click here to watch and read the story.
Click the image for some must see video from Tennessee as a tanker backs into a man at a church fire.
The doctor is out. DC once again looking for a new medical director: Dr. James Augustine cites health issues for his decision to pull out of the DC Fire & EMS Department after 17 months. That isn’t the only change facing the EMS side. Click here for the details.
Baltimore mayor guilty: Mayor Sheila Dixon is found guilty of taking gift cards intended for the poor. It could force her from office. Read the details.
Woman with firefighter charged in his shooting: We told you yesterday morning about an off-duty Jacksonville, Florida firefighter found shot to death at a gas station. An 18-year-old woman with 21-year-old Emanuel Porter says she didn’t know the gun was loaded when she pointed it at him. Here are the details.
Mug shots of Jerry Engle (l) and James Martinez provided by PGFD.
“When you are the best fireman in the county and you come from Kentland, I mean, yeah, everyone’s going to try to knock you off the pedestal.”: The words of Probie Days author Jerry Engle, talking with STATter911.com in May. That interview came just a day after a raid by fire investigators of the Riverdale VFD and the home where Engle was living. Engle is now in the Prince George’s County jail on arson charges (a return visit for Engle who there on unrelated charges in July). Engle was indicted Thursday along with James Martinez, a career firefighter in Montgomery County. Both men were members of Riverdale in March, 2008 when a vacant house was set on fire down the street from the Riverdale VFD. Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey and PGFD Chief Eugene Jones say the investigation is still active with more arrests possible. Sources indicate the investigators are looking at a list of fires that includes more than just homes and apartments that were vacant. We have updated our coverage from yesterday adding an official statement from Riverdale VFD , the press release from PGFD and more. Click here.
Volunteer recruitment in “rural” Prince George’s County is down: I use the word “rural” in quotes because the Route 381 corridor in the southern part of the county isn’t quite as rural as it used to be and that appears to be the problem. Despite PGFD touting recent records on volunteer recruitment, the fire companies in this part of the county point to declining numbers of firefighters. Zoe Tillman at Gazette.net has the story.
$20 to kill a firefighter: That’s the sad truth from Detroit where it has surfaced that the man accused of starting the fire that killed Firefighter Walt Harris was paid $20 to burn down the home. Read the details.
Geezer cranking them out: Firegeezer Bill and his partner FossilMedic Mike had a very productive Thursday. Lots of good stories. Click and scroll. I particularly liked the pictures of the two derailments at the same bridge.
Sleeping dispatcher update from Ohio: We told you recently about the Warren County 911 director who resigned in the controversy of a dispatcher who may have been dozing as a call came in that was a key to a high profile murder case. The call taker’s discipline and more details have now been revealed. Read the story.
Dispute over how to pay OT settlement: We have been following the story from Louisville on the recent settlement of a 9-year dispute over firefighters overtime. Now questions are being raised over how the city will pay out the almost $45 million in back pay. Read the story.
Inside the Command Post: It has been a while since we have checked in with this continuing series of videos from San Bernardino, California
Some light being shed in Bourne: The police chief now finally says Lt. Kelli Weeks, seen in a CapeCodOnline photo, was spotted at a drug surveillance site. But there is conflicting information about whether there was ever a criminal probe of the former charity calendar Ms. October 2008. There is also new information on Lt. Weeks' husband. Deputy Chief Paul Weeks has now been taken off of full duty status and is on administrative leave pending a preliminary hearing on a rape charge. Click the image for the latest from the Bourne Fire Department.
DC fire investigators get blasted by the city’s own lawyers: The latest people taking a shot at the DC Fire & EMS Department are the lawyers whose job it is to defend the department in a lawsuit over the April, 2007 fire at the Georgetown Library. Washington City Paper’s Jason Cherkis has the emails from the Office of the Attorney General wondering why fire investigators can’t produce the notebooks and other documents that have long been requested in the case. In one email, a city attorney writes, “This is a 13+million dollar law suit. Enough for DC to hire many firefighters, or lawyers for that matter (or avoid layoffs or furloughs). Is there nothing that can be done to get this information?”
Another city lawyer wrote, after hearing that notebooks don’t exist, “If indeed there are no notes or diagrams, both for the purpose of trial preparation and to respond to the motions for sanctions, can the investigators explain why they did not follow the national standards? Is it that they weren’t trained on these standards, or they forgot, etc.?”
Canary in a coal mine: The sensitivity of birds to carbon monoxide is why canaries were used as crude CO alarms in mines. It is apparently why 23 out of 24 birds in a Rockville, Maryland house died during a fire early yesterday morning. Click here to read and watch the story.
Fire chief accused of fondling police dispatcher gets pension: Former Truro, Massachusetts fire chief E. Thomas Prada resigned in March, 2008 shortly after he was accused of grabbing the breasts of an on-duty police dispatcher. Prada had been the part-time chief for 20-years and a call firefighter with the department for 49-years. A retirement board ruling now allows Prada to keep his pension. Read more.
At 4:00 this morning, firefighters in Frederick County, Maryland responded to the Exxon on Route 85 near I-270 and found a vehicle, fuel pump and a man on fire. Click the image to read the story from WUSA9.com.
Almost 40-year battle over LODD: An interesting story how a 26-year-old Santa Barbara County firefighter collapsed and died in 1970. His widow has now gone to court to in an effort to reverse the retirement board’s ruling that the death was not service related, even though Mark Common’s name is on the California Firefighters Memorial.
Despite strong firefighter opposition, Menino gets record 5th term in Boston: Read the details. Union president vows to continue the fight. Click here.
Three cops among seven injured in house fire: Five people were helped from the burning home in Lynn, Massachusetts Tuesday night. Read the story. Watch the story.
Four firefighters hurt at garage fire: A variety of injuries as fire spread to two garages in Pelham, New York. Here’s the story.
This house in Modesto, California was raided last week because of a pot growing operation. Now the place has been torched. Click the image to read and watch the story.
Mayor outlines plan to pay back OT to firefighters: Louisville’s mayor explains how he is coming up with the $45 million to settle that years long suit over firefighter’s overtime. It is expected that 800 former and current firefighters will share in the money with pay-outs ranging from $100 to $120,000. Read more.
L.A. geyser: No fire engines disappearing on this one, but nice pictures of a water main putting on a show. Click here.
A call for 9-11 video: Greg Jacobs with Siskel/Jacobs Productions has asked me to pass along this request for video-
The producers of the Emmy-winning documentary 102 Minutes That Changed America are seeking amateur and professional video from 9/11 in and around Washington, D.C. for a forthcoming National Geographic Channel documentary. That includes footage of buildings being evacuated, man-on-the-street conversations, home movies of people responding to the news, saved phone messages, etc.—anything that helps illustrate not just what happened, but how the day felt. If you have or know of any such material, please email email@example.com.
Fiery truck crash on I-95: Click here for details of an overnight wreck in Fairfax County Virginia near the Lorton exit. Video shot by Rob Barrett.