An East Tennessee firefighter is out of the hospital and back home recovering.
On Tuesday, Rural/Metro firefighter Brian Pratts was part of a crew battling a house fire in South Knox County. While working to remove a window, part of the home’s brick facade collapsed on top of him.
“I was laying there, pretty well stunned in that area,” Pratts remembers. “I didn’t lose consciousness but I was definitely dazed. They get me and drug me to a safe area at which time the ambulance crew was waiting to assess me and transport me to UT.”
Pratts underwent surgery Tuesday night on a broken foot. He also broke his thumb and tore several tendons in his foot.
(NOTE: Since Saturday many of our readers are having trouble getting STATter911.com via Google Chrome and Firefox. I am told the problem was quickly solved but that it may take a day or so for Google to recognize and update the listing. Sorry for the inconvenience.)
Video from tnbushwhacker of a fire on January 17 at Mighty Muffler and Brake Center in the 3800 block of Western Ave in Knoxville, Tennessee.
From the description with the video:
There were two cars in the building and some acetylene tanks burning inside the back of the building. You can hear the roof start to give way around 9:55 of the video.
One person was sent to a local hospital for smoke inhalation he suffered in a fire that erupted inside a Western Avenue muffler shop today, according to officials.
The injured worker told Knoxville Fire Department officials that he was using a torch to cut on a vehicle inside a work bay in the building, and that the flame might have contacted the fuel line, according to KFD Capt. D.J. Corcoran.
Knoxville, Tennessee Firefighter Chris Medley called a mayday after his helmet and facepiece were knocked off by a 25-year-old autistic man he was trying to rescue during a house fire Friday morning. According to Knoxville Fire Department Captain DJ Corcoran, both men became trapped in the bedroom of the burning home in the 3900 block of Deerfield Road in Northwest Knoxville.
(Note: In the story above the reporter’s narration inadvertantly makes it sound as if the firefighter is also autistic. That is not the case.)
Corcoran said that Medley went through the front door of the burning home, up the stairs, and found the victim in a back bedroom. Corcoran said the victim became “combative with the firefighter (Medley). He knocked the firefighter’s mask and helmet off” during the struggle. The advancing fire trapped the men, and Medley had to issue a “mayday” call for help.
Engine 17′s captain led other firefighters in the attack to fight the fire back enough so that Medley and the victim could escape. Both Medley and the victim suffered burns and smoke inhalation.
The victim has been transferred to Vanderbilt Medical Center to be treated for 2nd and 3rd degree burns to 15% of his body. Medley suffered minor burns to his neck and ears. He remains at UT Medical Center, is alert and in stable condition, and is expected to be released in a day or so.
Three Nashville firefighters accused of paying for sex and having women strip at a local firehouse resigned Thursday as the fire department and Metro police continue their investigation of the allegations.
Quincy Corbitt, Kerry Sales and Jason Copeland resigned, while Capt. James Overton remains under investigation. Another firefighter, Darrin Bell, was cleared of any wrongdoing.
“Evidence showed that most likely these allegations did occur on multiple occasions, at least three times that we know of, at (Fire Station 24 on Clarksville Highway),” said Deputy Fire Chief Kim Lawson. “Obviously, it’s awful. We think that it’s very disrespectful to the citizens in that area, disrespectful to the Nashville Fire Department, to their co-workers and to the people they work for: Metro government.”
This incident came to light in late August when Metro police responded to General Hospital in regard to a woman who believed that she may have been drugged after visiting the Antioch home of Copeland.
In addition, the 23-year-old told officers that she and two friends had actually been to a fire hall on at least one occasion when Copeland was present to strip for money. There were also allegations of a woman or women performing sex acts for money.
Days later, during a police interview with Copeland, detectives learned that he was being extorted by a friend of the 23-year-old woman.
Copeland reported that he was called by suspected gang member Ray Dontrell Johnson, 26, and told that there would be “blood” if Copeland did not leave $500 at the Clarksville Pike Pizza Hut.
Copeland’s employment was also allegedly threatened by the disclosure of his relationship with the 23-year-old.
Police say Ashley Choate was arrested following an investigation into the theft of money from the home of a woman who was found dead in her Portland, Tennessee home on Monday. News reports indicate that Choate was immediately fired from her job at Sumner County EMS and resigned as chief of the Oak Grove Community Fire Department.
Portland Police were conducting a death investigation Monday at a home on Highway 259 near the Tennessee/Kentucky boarder. Detectives say Melissa Humphrey died of natural causes, but they also found cash in a vehicle parked inside the home’s garage.
They say 28-year-old Ashley Choate, a Sumner County EMS worker, arrived by ambulance to assist. When the officers went to collect and hand the money over to the family it was gone.
During the investigation, officers found cash in a vehicle that was in the garage, according to a release from Portland police. When officers went to retrieve the money to turn it over to family members, they discovered it missing.
“Detectives then began speaking with all personnel present on the scene, and discovered that Choate … was the only known person in the garage, unsupervised,” the release said.
According to the arrest affidavit filed against Choate, she confessed to having taken the money, which she said was about $100, but had torn it up and thrown it out the window while driving back home because “she knew she should not have done it.”
A suspected gang member and another man are under arrest in Nashville, Tennessee. Five firefighters are suspended with pay. Police say the case involves an attempt to extort a firefighter by a local gang and charges of sex at the firehouse
Capt. James Overton, engineer Kerry Sales, firefighters Darrin Bell and Quincy Corbitt from Station 24 and firefighter Jason Copeland from Station 11 were placed on paid administrative leave after fire officials learned about the incident.
According to sources, Copeland took three females to Station 24 in the Bordeaux area on Aug. 21. At the station, the women allegedly stripped for money, then performed sex acts.
The case began when a 23-year-old woman on Saturday told Metro Police that she suspected she had been drugged when she went to a firefighter’s home. She also told police that she was at a fire station while someone stripped and another person performed sex acts for money.
When Metro Police questioned the firefighter in the drugging allegation, identified as Jason Copeland, he told them that he was being extorted by a suspected Gangster Disciple gang member for his relationship with the woman.
Deputy Chief Kim Lawson said Sales, Corbitt and Copeland participated in the firehall incident, but Bell wasn’t on duty that day and Overton was asleep.
Metro police spokesperson Don Aaron said the investigation began Saturday when officers responded to Metro General Hospital in regard to a 23-year-old woman who believed she may have been drugged while visiting the Antioch home of Nashville firefighter Jason Copeland.
In an interview Tuesday, Copeland, 32, told police he was being extorted by a friend of the woman.
On Friday, a house at 412 East Drive caught fire about 5 p.m. (Oak Ridge Fire Department Chief Darryl) Kerley said the resident tried to put out the fire with a garden hose, which prompted a neighbor to call 911. He said the fire was caused by an electrical problem.
Just when it looked like there was progress in Obion County, Tennessee there appears to be a major step backward, once again making firefighters the responsible party for bad policy. Obion County, as many of you know, does not have its own fire protection but relies on municipal departments that respond into the county to reported fires at the homes of residents who have paid a $75 subscription fee or on all fires where there is a report of someone trapped.
It was one of those municipal departments , South Fulton, that twice made international news when firefighters did not extinguish the burning homes of two non-subscribers in a 13-month period. After really bad publicity from both cases, that even brought death threats to firefighters, South Fulton changed its policy in March (see video below). The firefighters will now respond to all reported fires in the portion of Obion County it handles and bill non-subscribers $3500 for the response. Not a perfect system, but a step in the direction of taking firefighters out of the middle and not putting them in a position of sitting and watching a home burn.
But Obion County, which has long ignored the local fire chiefs and their plea to institute some sort of fire tax, has now made a change in its agreements with the municipal departments. It addresses two points that STATter911.com and our readers brought up when we first told you about this issue in October 2010. Essentially, the latest issue is about the reliability of the information flow. How do you know for sure if someone is trapped or not if you don’t respond and how reliable is the list of subscribers administered by Obion County?
We have asked on numerous occaisions of those who have disagreed with our position which government agency they trust to be 100 percent accurate in its paperwork and data when you have to make a respond or don’t repond decision? Obion County has the solution in its new agreement. They want firefighters to be on the hook if the information is wrong.
Regardless of whether the homeowner paid the fee, firefighters will respond if someone’s trapped inside. The fear is, what if someone’s inside, no one knows and that person dies?
Another common concern is the database of subscribers. What if by mistake someone who paid the fee is left out and firefighters let the home burn?
Folks in Obion county said both scenarios are very real and very scary.
(Town of Obion Chief Jamie) Evans said he’s required to check the computer database before responding to a county fire. While he’s not responsible for putting names in the database, he fears under the new county contract, he would be responsible if someone’s left out.
“I can’t edit it,” Evans said. “I can’t do anything but access and look at it, so I really don’t think it should be my responsibility to take the blame.”
According to WPSD-TV, Obion County officials had told the chiefs that if there is a time more than 70 percent of county residents became fire protection subscribers they would call for a special election to determine if there should be a fire tax. Chief Evans says it has reached that point. No word yet on the election.
Reports are now that it was Firefighter Kenny Fox, a volunteer Firefighter and Sheriff’s Deputy, who became trapped – and killed in the Line of Duty when the roof collapsed during this mornings restaurant fire in Decatur County, TN.
2 other Firefighters were badly burned and are at Vanderbilt Hospital. Firefighters Jeremy Inman and his brother Randy are being treated for third degree burns on their face and hands. Firefighter Fox’s eldest son was also on the fire scene assisting at the fire and stayed until crews could recover his father’s body. FF Fox leaves behind a wife and three sons.
Reports are that FF Fox heroically pushed his fellow firefighters out of the way as the roof collapsed, trapping Fox inside the Oak Hill Cafe-leading to his death.
FF Fox was also a Sergeant with the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office. His oldest son was also fighting the fire just before 0430 today. The younger Fox ran inside the burning building to try to save his father, but it was too late.
Channel 4 News is being told Fox pushed his fellow firefighters out of the way as the roof collapsed, trapping Fox inside the Oak Hill Cafe.
Fox was also a sergeant with the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office. His oldest son was also fighting the blaze just before 4:30 a.m. on Saturday. The younger Fox ran inside the burning building to try to save his father, but it was too late.
Investigators are still trying to figure out what caused the fire. A memorial fund has been set up to help Fox’s family. You can donate to the Kenny Fox Memorial Fund at Decatur County Bank, P.O. Box 429, Decaturville, Tennessee, 38329.
Memphis Fire Department Lieutenant Reginald Davis and his lawyer Brenda Oats-Williams told WPTY-TV that an audio recording of a confrontation last June between Lt. Davis and Deputy Chief Daryl Payton shows the department is covering up what really happened.
The TV station reported last year, shortly after the incident occurred, that Davis told police he was physically assaulted when he confronted Chief Payton about a lack of specialized training for firefighters assigned to the airport fire station. It was Davis who was suspended because of the incident. According to the TV station, Chief Payton was not disciplined and the department has said the investigation of the incident is over.
The entire incident had been one man’s word versus another. That was until last week, when Brenda Oats-Williams says they got a chance to listen to tape recorded conversations made at fire headquarters that day.
“Get your hands off of me!”
“Now what you hear on this tape is Lieutenant Davis trying to call, and fight off Chief Payton at the same time. He’s trying to snatch the phone and Lt. Davis was trying to keep him from taking the phone. That’s when you hear Lt. Davis say, ‘Get off of me, get off of me,’” Oat-Williams said.
We did not hear any actual fighting, but Davis has said he was thrown to the floor where he suffered a sprained wrist and a broken finger.
There is quite an interesting development in South Fulton, Tennessee. South Fulton is the city that became the poster child for “pay for spray” after firefighters refused to extinguish two house fires because the residents across the line in unincorporated Obion County hadn’t paid their annual subscription fee. After the first incident in October 2010, STATter911.com and others who hate to see firefighters put in that no-win situation strongly urged that if you had to have a subscription fire department it was much better to have a policy of putting out the fire and then sending a substantial bill to the homeowner. No matter how negligent a homeowner may be, it’s the firefighters who end looking bad when they show up and do nothing.
FireCritic.com’s Rhett Fleitz insisted that I was on the wrong side of this one and strongly argued that it was okay in this case for firefighters to let a home burn. He wrote that the system operated as it should.
Now word comes from the Wall Street Journal that the leaders of South Fulton are considering a significant change that should avoid the publicity that brought the city and its fire department scorn from around the world. This policy change, expected to be voted on today, sounds very familiar (are you listening Rhett?):
Firefighters in South Fulton, Tenn., have let two homes burn to the ground over the past two years since the city commission started enforcing a rule that the department serve only subscribers who pay the $75 annual fee. The city commission is expected to vote Thursday whether to amend that policy to allow the fire department to put out all blazes and then bill nonsubscribers $3,500 for the service. Paying members wouldn’t be billed.
South Fulton Mayor David Crocker didn’t respond to requests for comment. The town’s fire chief, David Wilds, when asked how the crew reacted as it watched a home burn down, said: “They didn’t like it.”
Let’s hope that the city commission votes in favor of the change and their firefighters aren’t ever again forced to watch someone lose their property without lifting a hose. And before Rhett starts rewriting history about who wrote what back in 2010, here’s his original column and here’s mine.
The news from South Fulton is part of a report that takes a look at the reasons behind subscription fire services. The article, by Timothy W. Martin, also looks at Bell County, Kentucky where a voluntary subscription service was recently started. It’s worth your time to read the entire article.
(Firefighter/paramedic) Avis Langford-Brannon, (Battalion Chief) Beverly Prye and (Battalion Chief) Sandra Richards have been indicted on charges of forgery, tampering with evidence and aggravated perjury.
All three — employees of the Memphis Fire Department — have surrendered to authorities. All three were jailed on bond of $20,000 each; Richards remained in jail Sunday.
While the overall issue of a strict "pay for spray" policy is still very much alive in Obion County, Tennessee and an important subject for debate, a local chief now says the widely reported facts about Monday's incident are not accurate. Union City Fire Department Chief Kelly Edmison says the South Fulton Fire Department was never on the scene of the house fire. Edmison tells STATter911.com the woman whose home was burning saw a fire engine from Kentucky which did not have the authority to act.
According to the version of events supplied a short time ago by Chief Edmison, unlike last year's incident, South Fulton firefighters were not on the scene refusing to douse the flames. It is unclear why South Fulton's mayor or fire chief previously did not, or were unable to, make this clear to the local news media.
Still, even in this latest version of events, firefighters did respond to the call and came within two blocks of the burning home. Following the South Fulton policy, firefighters did not attempt to put the fire out. As we posted earlier today, this is something Chief Edmison and other municipal chiefs in Obion County are trying to change. Below, Chief Edmison explains the details, as he knows them, from Monday's incident and provides more background about the battle over the subscription fire service:
South Fulton NEVER made it to the scene of the fire! I just talked with Chief Wilds moments ago. The call came in as a city run. Fulton, KY shares the state line with South Fulton Fire Department. they have Auto-Aid between the two of them for CITY calls. The call was dispatched to South Fulton as though it were a city run. They were told fire on "Cavitt." Cavitt St. is in the city. Cavitt Lane, is in the county. SFFD responded to Cavitt St. Fulton, KY Fire Department caught glimpse of a South Fulton Police car heading towards E. Cavitt. They in turn followed. SFFD after getting to Cavitt St, they could see the fire (fully involved) and realized the call was in the county, they also knew those trailers were not covered under the policy. They radioed Fulton to stand down as it was a county non covered property. Fulton's truck stopped two blocks short of the actual fire. It was their truck that was seen by witness's NOT South Fulton. I also talked with the Fulton Chief. It bothered them that they couldn't help but them being from out of state and only having authority by South Fulton could not respond after SFFD standing them down. Both departments then returned to quarters. NO one went on scene regardless what any area news media claimed or even what the local paper reported.
Now, as I have said, I don't like the subscription program. However Union City has operated this way since the early 60's. Currently with a 73% participation in our district. It was the hopes of the 8 city fire chiefs (because there "ain't no COUNTY fire department) that the county commission could be convince to go with a fire tax and contract services from the 8 city departments. They didn't want to pass one and apparently the county residents have choose to remain quiet and not force the issue. The ONLY reason I and the other departments have agreed to go along with the county wide subscription at this time is that it is providing funding for 5 other departments now that have been getting nothing in the past except revenues from their respective cities. Our hopes are that with a 70% collection county wide the commission would favor a tax. Politics now comes into play. We are told that by state law, a county fire tax would place too high of a fee on the farmers. Obion county is mostly agriculture based. Many of the county commissioners are farmers. I'll not say more.
Another note, in fairness to the county, the not responding to non-subscribers is NOT a county policy. That is left up to each city to make that decision. They are only collecting the money for the individual departments.
Until the county residents rise up and demand a county fire tax, I don't see the problem being solved. With 70% county wide supporting the subscription program, you would think they would support a tax which reduces that fee.
Bottom line, the cities are not going to provide fire protection to the county for nothing. We as chiefs have to carry out the policies of our individual governments or we can choose to "go elsewhere." I currently am committed to protecting the City of Union City taxpayers AND the 73% of the county customers in our district.
As was stated above, all cities pulling back to their city limits would probably force the issue. But I believe in my case, our "city fathers" aren't quite willing to do that to the 73% who have supported us for so many years.
We'll get through this; we chief's haven't given up. The fires remain hot; but sometimes the politics burns hotter.
You may recall in October, 2010, when the world became familiar with Obion County, Tennessee and learned about something much of the general public was unfamiliar with, subscription fire service, one person spoke up right away on behalf of the firefighters who protect county residents. He is Union City Fire Department Chief Kelly Edmison.
Chief Edmison wrote a column for STATter911.com and made it clear that the firefighters aren't happy with the system either and have been trying to change it. (During last year's incident we pointed out, instead of trying unsuccesfully to chase the TV news crew from the scene, South Fulton FD should have explained this fact from the start so the public fully understood who was responsible for this system.)
Union City FD also protects part of Obion County through a subscription fee and has policies similar to South Fulton. But Chief Edmison indicated last year his department, once on the scene of a burning home, would have had a different outcome.
Even before last year's fire that the South Fulton FD watched burn, the chiefs had submitted a proposal to Obion County officials to implement a fire tax. Instead, the county went in the opposite direction and expanded the subscription service.
In addition, Wednesday night we showed you the story of Randy Evans with the Obion City Fire Department who also is trying to make it clear the firefighters want this system changed. Obion City firefighters, while not involved in the fire on Monday, have been receiving death threats because of mistaken identity, due to the name of the department (click here for that story).
As for Chief Edmison, he sent STATter911.com the following email Wednesday and asked me to share the latest efforts to get firefighters out of the middle and allow them to do what they are supposed to do. Here's Chief Edmison's update:
First off, the call that SFFD received initially was for an in town structure fire. The particular street has both a “Street” and a “Lane”. The “Lane” portion ended up being in the county. Not the city limits.
Where the County is at this time, is that the whole county has implemented a subscription program (July 1, 2011). As you may remember, South Fulton, Kenton and Union City were the only ones with such a program. The county is now doing the collection of the subscription fees for the departments (with the exception of South Fulton who has decided to continue to collect their own). Countywide right now we are seeing almost 70% participation.
The “Chiefs” hope that this figure will encourage the county at some point to pass a county fire tax and be done with this problem. The current subscription fee is $75 per year. If it were a tax and 100% compliant that fee/tax would probably be down around $55 or $60. How often does a politician have the opportunity to pass a tax, when 70% of the populace are in favor of it AND save them $15 or $20 per year?
Our Chief’s aren’t looking at the subscription program as the “Goal.” It’s merely a step in what we hope will eventually “fix the problem.” Meanwhile, our fellow firefighters continue to take a beating for something they truly aren’t in control of.
Randy Evans has been a volunteer firefighter for 30 years and is a member of the Obion City Fire Department. His department is one that serves Obion County with a subscription fire service but was not involved in Monday's fire that has again put the local fire department's in the news around the world.
Even though it was the South Fulton Fire Department that followed it's town policy of letting property belonging to non-subscribers burn, Obion City FD has been receving hate mail and death threats because of its name. They have been forced to take down the department's Facebook page.
"We've had everything from "I'm going to shoot every firefighter to we're going to burn station to we're not American," Evans said.
But as nasty as these confused callers can be, deep down, this firefighter shares their concerns, since his own department has the same pay for spray policy.
Evans said in addition to a countywide public relations nightmare, pay for spray makes it tough to recruit new, young firefighters. He fears if something doesn't change, you'll see fewer new firefighters and more empty lockers.
"We plead with the county court to turn our hands loose, work with us, give us the opportunity to serve Obion County," Evans said.
It's just sheer luck that Obion Fire Department has never had to turn down a call. But it could happen someday. We asked Evans what he would do if they got a call from someone who hadn't paid the fee. He said he didn't want to discuss that.
Yes, it's deja vu all over again in Obion County, Tennessee. The same fire company, the same TV station and the same subscription fire service have all come together to make news more than a year after the pay for spray policy made headlines around the world.
Yesterday's fire was at the home of Vicky Bell who called 911. The South Fulton Fire Department responded but WPSD-TV reports they kept their distance and watched the mobile home burn because a $75 subscription fee had not been paid.
South Fulton provides fire service to its residents but charges a fee for homeowners living in adjacent unincorporated areas of Obion County. Obion County does not have its own fire department and there is no fire tax. Local fire chiefs in the past have lobbied the county to get them out of the middle, so they aren't put in a position to watch someone's property burn.
In October 2010, WPSD-TV was on the scene with firefighters as Gene Cranick's home burned. The firefighters refused to put water on the home but sprayed a subscribing neighbor's residence nearby. The story was extensively discussed on cable TV by Keith Olbermann and Glenn Beck.
The Memphis Fire Department calls it a violation of department policy. A lieutenant snapped a picture he says was for training after an unusual rescue of a five-year-old boy who had a nail attached to a board embedded in his head. The lieutenant says the photo was snapped for training purposes. A paramedic posted the picture to Facebook. Now they both have received four-hour suspensions.
By the way, the irony of this story is not lost on me, so I figure I should mention it before any of you do. By doing this story the TV station makes sure many, many more people see this picture than saw it on the paramedic's Facebook page. In addition, the identity of the child, not made apparent by the picture that was posted, is now clearly known to all (with the permission of his parents). Doesn't excuse anything, but is interesting.
William Land, a ten-year veteran of the Memphis Fire Department, is currently out on bond after his arrest during a fire in his Southaven, Mississippi home (Desoto County, a suburb of Memphis) around 4:00 Saturday morning. Land is charged with interfering with firefighters and failing to listen to police officers when his kitchen caught fire. Officers say Land's 14-year-old son tried to interfere with his father's arrest and was also taken into custody.
According to police, land was upset about the fire department’s response time, and let them know it. They say he wasn't wearing any protective gear, and yet refused to wait outside.
"They kept asking him to leave and he basically told them he wasn't going to leave." (From Southaven PD's Lt. Mark Little.)
Land faces charges of disorderly conduct and failing to obey a police officer, obstructing operations on a fire scene and disobeying an officer on the scene of a fire. His son faces a juvenile summons for disorderly conduct and failure to obey officers.
Click above to watch story and interview with Chief Richard Collins.
At some point bad news will happen to almost every fire department and it will likely bring those pesky reporters to the door asking tough questions. This week it is Osceola County Fire Rescue's moment in the spotlight after Firefighter Douglas Werk was arrested and charged with breaking into the home of an elderly woman he had taken to the hospital and stealing her guns. This may be a pattern of behavior. WESH-TV reports, "Detectives said Werk may have been scouting out homes to burglarize" and that the firefighter was already on administrative duty after the Osceola County Sheriff's office investigated him for snooping around a different property in February.
The response by a fire chief faced with this situation is crucial to how quickly the issue can be put behind them and the department moves on trying to restore its reputation. Too often the chief won't talk to reporters or let anyone in his department come clean about what happened. "It's a personnel matter" or "it's under investigation" are some of the lame excuses used as cover to keep from telling the truth. Usually this makes a bad situation worse, stretching a one day story into multiple days and turning a small brush fire into a conflagration. What can be incinerated in that fire is the department's image and any good will it has built up in the community.
Osceola County Fire Rescue Chief Richard Collins apparently doesn't subscribe to the bar the doors and circle the wagons theory. While I have no idea what transpired with reporters prior to his TV interview about the arrest of Werk, the chief's on-camera performance was damn near perfect. Chief Collins not only talked about the arrest but confirmed the February investigation that prompted Werk's removal from the firehouse. Collins made it clear to WESH-TV that even the possibility of wrongdoing taints the department. Here are some quotes from the chief:
"If these allegations are proven and he is convicted, it's a disgrace to the community, it's a disgrace to our department and quite frankly it's a disgrace to our profession as firefighters."
"Our folks do a great job. The actions of this individual, if proven to be true, are not reflective of our department, our agency."
Contrast this leadership style to some of what we have shown you from elsewhere around the country. Do you recall the Long Island fire company that did everything it could to avoid talking to a reporter about a Confederate flag in the firehouse and then prolonged the story when the department eventually decided to have the flag removed? (Click here.)
How about the Obion County, Tennessee case that made news around the world after firefighters didn't put out a fire in the home of a man who wasn't on the department's subscription list? That chief actually had a good story to tell about the local fire chiefs trying to change the antiquated system. Instead of talking about that with a reporter, the department tried to have the local TV news crew removed from the scene. (Click here.)
Probably the best lessons on what not to do have come from the two previous fire commissioners in Detroit who were constantly seen running from or avoiding a reporter asking questions about difficult issues. In fact, Detroit had a case somewhat similar to Osceola's when a wallet stolen from a citizen's home ended up in a Detroit firehouse. Instead of putting that incident quickly behind them, the failure to do the right thing at almost every level of the department resulted in the very public firing of Commissioner James Mack and a deputy. (Click here.)
Look at these stories and then tell me who you think has the right idea about dealing with bad news.
This past Tuesday I gave a presentation for the IAFF-IAFC Labor Management Initiative sponsored by Virginia Professional Firefighters and we talked about these very issues. Anyone who has heard my talks knows my position: Get it out; Get it right; Get it behind you. I have a feeling the next group to hear me speak will likely see Chief Richard Collins pop up in the middle of my PowerPoint.
An explosion around 2:00 this afternoon at a munitions plant known as Kinematics Research in Oakland, Tennessee (about 30 miles northest of Memphis) has left one worker dead and a firefighter injured. A report from the scene indicates the firefighter was hurt after being hit in the head as projectiles continued to explode.
Our old friend Rob Shuff, a proud West Virginian (despite what they used to say about him in the various firehouses where he would drink coffee), alerted us to Monday’s hotel fire in Logan. One firefighter was hurt and the Aracoma Hotel heavily damaged. WOWK-TV has extensive coverage. Here are a few details:
The hotel was home to several businesses and mostly used as an apartment building. At about 8:30 p.m., parts of the hotel collapsed.
According to the American Red Cross, it is estimated that 60 people who have been staying at the hotel have been displaced by this fire. The Red Cross is assisting those people at this time.
The Aracoma Hotel is considered a historic landmark. It is best known for being a stop on President John F. Kennedy’s campaign tour in 1960.
Crews were able to get the fire under control around 10:30 p.m. but remained on the scene overnight. About eight fire departments responded to the blaze.