City representative Steve Ortega was at the scene of the fire and told ABC-7 the burning building belonged to Gerald Rubin, CEO of Helen of Troy.
Firefighters said an official cause for the fire had not yet been determined, but Ortega said he believed the way the fire spread so quickly was due to neglect on the part of the building’s owner.
“This is what happens when we have property owners that don’t take care of their buildings,” said Ortega. “It’s infuriating as an El Pasoan seeing history go up in flames. This is one of the most historic buildings in downtown El Paso, it’s where John Wesley Hardin had his law office, it goes back to the late 1800′s.
It is something that apparently had not been done before in the San Antonio Fire Department. Following the rollover of a ladder truck on the way to a reported fire last November, two firefighters and their captain have received suspensions ranging from five days to 60 days because of the speed of the rig at the time of the crash and that seatbelts were not being used. A fourth firefighter, who remains on medical leave after breaking his neck in the crash, was not suspended. Chief Charles Hood told Eva Ruth Moravec at mysanantonio.com the firefighter’s injuries were punishment enough. The cab of the rig is scheduled to be on permanent display at the department’s training academy.
“Seatbelt issues are cultural issues in the fire service,” Hood said in an interview at his office Wednesday. “I’ve never had to discipline for a driving infraction since I’ve been here, but a strong message needed to be sent to the members of the department.”
“I was taken aback, I was surprised, I was disillusioned, I was disappointed, he said, recalling his emotions as he approached the scene. “It was a surreal experience for me, looking at that truck upside-down.
“I thought, ‘Man, I’m glad they had their seat belts on,’ and as it turned out, they didn’t.”
Full disclosure: I produced this seatbelt message as part of my work for NFFF.
In the days after Ladder 35′s crash, Hood took other steps. Seat belt drills now are required, drivers are getting additional training, and all 1,674 operations employees were ordered to go take a look at the demolished fire truck.
Hood, who admits he didn’t always wear a seat belt as a firefighter in Phoenix, said the desire to get to a scene quickly may cause crews to forget to buckle up. Bulky gear makes it a hassle; firefighters often still are getting dressed while the truck is moving, he said.
But now, he said, the captain or lieutenant on a truck must ensure all firefighters are belted in before they leave, even if it takes an extra 30 seconds.
Firefighter trapped after rig rolls in San Antonio: One firefighter was trapped for about an hour last night as colleagues tried to free his foot after a ladder truck rolled on the way to a call. Injuries to all four on the rig are described as relatively minor.
Firefighter injured in Howard County, Maryland: A firefighter fell fifteen feet down a ravine and was ”mildly injured” last night while tending to a man who was struck by a train in Ellicott City. Here’s more.
From South Carolina, our old friend Pat Walsh sends along this Murrells Inlet/Garden City Fire Department picture from a three-alarm condo fire early Sunday morning. Click the image to learn more about the fire.
Firefighter Chance Zobel: In Columbia, South Carolina they are remembering Firefighter Chance Zobel who was killed over the weekend after being struck by a vehicle while fighting a brush fire on I-20. Click here for the latest. For our earlier coverage on the crash that also critically injured Firefighter Larry Irving, click here.
Pittsburgh firefighter almost falls through the roof: The firefighter was able to catch himself as part of the roof collapsed at a house fire last night. He suffered minor injuries. Here’s more.
Jessie’s (a) girl: Firegeezer has the story of the London Fire Brigade commander who used to be known as Paul and know wants to be called Jessica. The firefighters have been given sensitivity training and a terse warning that, despite knowing this person as a he for quite some time, there will be discipline for those who don’t refer to their boss as a she. I can imagine that a fire station is one of the more challenging environments to try to make this work. Click here for the details.
Firefighter killed in rocket fuel explosion at home: James McGovern, a 22-year-old volunteer with the Longwood Fire Company in suburban Philadelphia died Saturday after experimenting with homemade fuel for his model rockets. Here’s the story.
Two-alarms in Catasauqua, Pennsylvania: Newsworking.org gets some early video from another fire. This one was reported at 2:39 yesterday afternoon. A well-involved home at 10 School Street with exposure problems.
Ammunition cooks: Early raw video shot by a neighbor of a fire Monday morning in Halstead, Kansas. We have a theme going with the videos this morning, Check below for the gun shop fire in Texas.
Engine that failed to pump in Seattle was a reserve piece: The Seattle Times cites sources as saying Saturday’s fire that left four children and an adult dead apparently started in a mattress. The Seattle Fire Department now confirms the engine that failed to pump was a reserve piece. Here is an excerpt from the paper’s story:
The Fire Department, in a written statement, clarified that the first engine to arrive at the blaze — which suffered a mechanical failure and was unable to pump water — was a 1996 reserve engine assigned to Station 18 because the normal engine, a 2008 model, was in the shop for routine maintenance.
Fire officials previously said the 2008-model engine, stationed on Northwest Market Street, had been successfully tested that morning before the fire was reported at 10:04 a.m. Now it is unclear whether those tests were performed on the reserve truck, Engine 81 — listed in dispatch records that day as Engine 18 — or on the station’s regular Engine 18.
The department also confirmed that the engine at Station 9, closest to the apartment fire, was on a nonemergency call to a Wallingford retirement home when the blaze erupted.
The paper reports the number of non-emergency calls from this retirement facility has been an issue. There have been 486 responses to the facility since 2005.
I have always said some of the smartest and bravest firefighters you will find anywhere are in Roanoke, Virginia. This picture by The Fire Critic Rhett Fleitz proves my point. Smart for regularly reading STATter911.com. Brave for doing so in the fire station. Click the image for Rhett's description of what brought about this picture. BTW we are always interested in pictures showing where and how you use STATter911.com. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Union blasts Bourne oath policy: As we mentioned the other day the policy that firefighters must be under oath when political leaders conduct investigations is the latest controversy for the Bourne Fire Department. It has brought a scathing letter from the president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts. Read it.
Clark County commission chairman says he won’t be bullied by fire union ad: The latest from Nevada brings the following quote from Rory Reid, chairman of the Clark County Commission- “The firefighters want the public to think this is about safety. In fact, the only thing at risk is the firefighters’ paycheck and that’s what this is all about.” The union says it is about safety when you cut the county’s heavy rescue and hazmat capability. Read the story.
Ohio captain linked to hidden camera in bathroom: Police have arrested Mayfield Heights Fire Department Captain Daniel Serge after a small digital camera was discovered in a handicapped bathroom at a YMCA. Here’s the story.
Firefighters apparently help fuel Charlie Sheen gossip:” ‘I think it’s Charlie Sheen’s car,’ a firefighter who first arrived at the scene initially told RadarOnline.com.” Now that’s journalism for you. Trying to nail down the all important story of the troubled actor’s abandoned car found running in a ditch on Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles, the rag got an “I think” from a firefighter. Sounds good enough for me. Read it if you care.