FirefighterCloseCalls.com brought this story to my attention. It’s about a Los Angeles County Fire Department assistant chief who is now under investigation because a TV news reporter says he caught the chief drinking on the job. It’s another reminder that cameras are everywhere.
In this case, I am very interested in the back story that I didn’t find mentioned. What prompted the reporter to do this? One would guess a tip came in from a colleague or possibly someone at the restaurant.
When I was in the news business, I always looked at the real need for a hidden camera (I will admit it usually made me feel a bit sleazy in the few times I used it). What is it going to get that I can’t get with a camera out in the open? What is the value of the story that it would help capture? What wrong are we going to help right by going this route?
I also felt similarly about ambush interviews and tried to do them only when there was no other way to get a public official to talk.
Now to the alcohol issue. Based on a story I posted on STATter911.com years ago about firefighters and drinking, I think I know what the reaction to this story is going to be and how it will be divided (if you have seen any of my presentations, you may know this answer). But I am curious if anything has changed since then. Let me know your thoughts on this story. Don’t be shy.
While the date and time embedded on the video say something different, the description with the clip says this fire occurred Saturday in Allen, Michigan. The fire was at 9011 W. Chicago Road inside a restaurant and antiques store. The video is from the Quincy Fire Department.
Roof operations in Tampa: A smoky restaurant fire at 7212 N. Armenia Avenue on Saturday. This raw video is from Tampa Fire Rescue. Read more here. There is more Tampa news and video below.
Trial for Baltimore mayor starts today: While this is not directly fire service related, Mayor Sheila Dixon has certainly not been a favorite among firefighters. Realistically speaking, even mayors without these criminal problems are having a tough time staying on the good side of city employees in tough budget times. But as you can read in this AP article previewing the trial, Mayor Dixon has had a particularly tough time with her image issues. Some of Dixon’s legal problems stem from allegations she made personal use of holiday gift cards the mayor’s office had asked businesses to donate to the needy. That doesn’t need to be illegal for it to be problematic. And as reporter Ben Nuckols writes it is just one in a series of similar public image problems Sheila Dixon has inflicted on herself.
New York’s Unified Call Taking system cited for dispatch error in deadly Queens fire: The wrong address was put into the computer for the triple fatal in Woodside on Saturday. Firefighters union officials point out the delay and are again pointing fingers at the Unified Call Taking system which has police dispatchers taking fire information from 911 callers. The New York Times has the story.
With a fire station that is only open one week per month what could be next for Gilroy, California?: Gilroy’s Sunrise Fire Station is being shut down three weeks a month to save money (that’s what the article says). Now a council member has an idea how to save even more money. He wants the union to give up minimum staffing of 4 on engines at its two other stations. Read more. The city’s document on the brownouts (or if the newspaper is correct, near blackout) doesn’t indicate the fire station will be closed that often. Here it is.
Tampa Fire Rescue image of crews trying to rescue worker overcome by fumes aboard a Coast Guard ship in drydock. Click the image for the raw video and the details.
Chief & wife at center of tragedy are now in the middle of a potential scandal: It has only been a month since Danny & Stephanie Clark were the first help to arrive at a vehicle wreck just south of Cashion, Oklahoma. They found their daughter dead and six of her friends injured. Now, Danny Clark, Cashion’s fire chief and director of emergency management, and Stephanie Clark, the town’s clerk and treasurer, have been placed on administrative leave with pay. The mayor says they are being investigated for “questionable financial practices”. In that town they aren’t alone with these kind of troubles. Read more.
A little must see video in the what goes up, must come down department: In this case it is the way you come down. A new high-rise rescue rig was very publicly demonstrated recently in Spain and it appears it is not ready for prime time. We also have two companion videos. Click here.
Lots of rescues at Massachusetts 5th-alarm: Firegeezer is all over a fire that destroyed a four-story apartment building in Greenfield, MA. Click here.
Fireground audio illustrates some of the drama from a fatal 3-alarm fire: People waiting at windows ready to jump and water supply issues are evident on the audio from last Monday’s midday fire in Jacksonville, Florida. One of the water problems came from a citizen’s car running over and disrupting a 5-inch supply line. Check it out.
Another all-hazards department. You too can be a FF/Herpetologist: In one town in India the firefighters are getting snake catching lessons because of a rise in the snake population. Not me. That’s where I would be telling them what they could do with that snakes and their lessons. Click here for the details.
Maybe they needed to call a pachydermatologist: Instead they called 911 in Enid, Oklahoma when an SUV collided with an elephant. The plight of that elephant is truly a serious matter that previously caught the attention of federal authorities and likely will again. While that part has little to do with the fire service (other than having to respond to another escape by poor Kamba), there is the interesting 911 call and, in my opinion, an enlightening discussion in our comments section. That’s where a somewhat naive question by Firehouse Zen‘s Mick Mayers forces me to respectfully provide the chief with an anatomy lesson and a fire service reality check. Just trust me. You don’t want to miss this one. Our coverage begins right here.
CO leak at church: Saturday, people started feeling sick at St. Bernard Church in Prince George’s County, MD. Responding crews soon found CO levels at 1300 ppm. Click here.
More from Gary: This was an occupied house that apparently had a natural gas explosion Saturday night. There was a report of people trapped initially. No one was injured. Much of the rear of the home was destroyed by the blast.
“I got a call at 8 a.m. and by the time I got here at 8:10 a.m., there was a lot of smoke and then the flames burst out,” the mayor said as he watched from Cunningham’s restaurant across the street. “It was very dramatic.” A pile of rubble from a collapsed wall covered the gas valve, complicating matters, said Montreal Fire Department chief of operations Michel Gareau.
A gas leak and a burning fire are a dangerous combination, and Gareau cleared everyone out until the leak could be capped.
“We couldn’t close the valve so we had to dig down and find the pipe to shut it off, and in doing so we broke the gas main,” Gareau said.
A before picture of Marco Restaurant. Click the image for the Google Maps Street View tour of the neighborhood.
The restaurant occupied the basement and the first floor of the two-storey brick building. No one was on the premises when the blaze broke out.
Quick work by firefighters saved the adjacent building, a pharmacy, which sustained only smoke and water damage. “In this case, a fire wall did its job and stopped the fire,” Tierney said.