National News

Friday, September 14, 2018

Teen killed as gas explosions, fires rock Massachusetts towns

A Lawrence teen was killed today after a chimney from a house explosion fell on the car he was in during a series of about 70 explosions and fires in the city and in nearby Andover and North Andover this afternoon that has kept emergency crews working late into the night. Leonel Rondon, 18, was pronounced dead at Mass General Hospital at approximately 8:30 this evening, officials announced. He was inside a car near 35 Chickering Road in Lawrence, the scene of some of the worst blazes. Emergency officials, meanwhile, are urging people to get out of their houses and evacuate their neighborhoods in the three communities as firefighters battle dozens of gas explosions that leveled some houses and set fire to others over a large area. Police are on patrol in Lawrence tonight after power was cut off until officials can determine if the city is safe. "If you smell gas, you gotta get out of your home," Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera told reporters. State police said any residents of the area with Columbia Gas service to their house should "evacuate immediately." State police are reporing 70 fires and gas explosions were reported today.
Boston Herald

Former Washington firefighter sues city for injury he says was caused by understaffing

A former Yakima firefighter says he was injured on the job because the city understaffs its fire squads. The accusation is part of a damage claim the former firefighter, Jerry Elmo Jr., submitted earlier this summer, asking the city for $450,000 in damages related to the injury. City spokesman Randy Beehler says the city doesn’t comment on pending claims or litigation. Elmo, who was terminated in May for an inability to “perform the essential functions” of his job, lays out the circumstances surrounding his injury and the subsequent damage claim as follows: In July 2015, Elmo and his crew responded to a fire in the 400 block of North Fifth Avenue after they had already helped put out a fire in the 600 block of Pleasant Avenue. The response came without rehabilitation — time to rest, cool down or get food and beverage, according to the claim. While fighting the second fire, Elmo was thrown off balance and “experienced two pops” and pain in his hip and groin, which resulted in him being taken to Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital, according to the claim.
Yakima Herald

New York fire chief readies new lawsuit over 9/11 related illness

The ongoing dispute involving Utica fire Chief Russell Brooks and his health started more than a year ago with an application. Citing his diagnosis for chronic lymphocytic leukemia, which he says resulted from responding to New York City to support 9/11 recovery efforts, Brooks applied for benefits outlined under General Municipal Law 207-a. The law entitles firefighters to medical or hospital expenses as a result of on-duty injuries or illnesses. Mayor Robert Palmieri — the city’s public safety commissioner — denied Brooks’ request, however, leading to a number of public spats and several court appearances ever since. The mayor also placed Brooks on paid, indeterminate, nondisciplinary leave the same day his 207-a application was rejected. Brooks sought arbitration to appeal the city’s denial, and in the time since, the status of that appeal for 207-a benefits was unresolved — until about a month ago.
Utica Observer-Dispatch

’What was your most unusual sex act?’ Ohio police, fire recruits asked about sex

Cincinnati police and firefighter recruits are asked to describe their "most unusual sex act" in a questionnaire that can later become accessible to the public. The questions are part of the Fire and Police departments' pre-employment process. They raise concerns for some that new recruits are being asked to divulge private, probing details about their sexual history. "This certainly raises eyebrows," said Mary Turocy, director of public affairs for the Ohio Civil Rights Commission. "Have you participated in a sexual act in a public place?" Cincinnati police and fire applicants are asked. "Location(s) and number of times. ... Explain each circumstance." Another asks: "Not counting self-masturbation or legal sexual activity with a willing partner, what was your most unusual sex act?"
Cincinnati Enquirer &

3 new fire stations recommended for Colorado city

An architectural firm commissioned by the city to assess the conditions at eight Pueblo Fire Department buildings is recommending the department build new facilities at three stations that are in poor shape. The stations that need replacing, according to that architectural firm, are at 425 W. Seventh St., 1325 E. Fourth St., and 31475 Bryan Circle. The station on West Seventh is badly deteriorated and is very close to the end of its useful life, according to Dennis Ross of Pacheco Ross Architects, P.C., the firm the city paid $95,000 to conduct the study. In a report given to City Council, Ross said ongoing repair or meaningful renovation of the station would be a waste of resources. The station at East Fourth is in average-to-below-average condition and very crowded, according to Ross' report, and the apparatus bay is too small for modern equipment. And the station on Bryan Circle is badly deteriorated and close to the end of its useful life, as well, Ross said. As with the West Seventh Street station, Ross concluded that ongoing repair or meaningful renovation would be a waste of resources.
Pueblo Chieftain

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Detroit turns off lights, sirens on some fire runs

The city's fire department is no longer using lights and sirens on all of its runs, prompting the fire union to warn that the new policy could endanger lives. But Detroit's fire commissioner says he has no plans to back down on a strategy that gives discretion to dispatchers, firefighters and EMTs to alert those en route to "go easy," which means they can switch off their lights and sirens to arrive safely. Detroit Fire Commissioner Eric Jones told The Detroit News Monday that disregarding traffic signals and speed limits with the activation of lights and sirens for every single run — even when it's not urgent — is unnecessarily dangerous.
Detroit News

IAFC Discourages the Practice of Self-Dispatch to Emergency Locations

As Hurricane Florence approaches the U.S. continental east coast, the IAFC reminds fire and emergency service leaders to discourage the practice of self-dispatching to emergency response and recovery locations. In major disasters, the fire service needs to be disciplined in its response. First responders must be ready and available to the local communities and—when requested—be ready and available to respond should a call for assistance be received from affected jurisdictions. Those who wish to volunteer in response are encouraged to visit National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster to find member organizations taking volunteers.
International Association of Fire Chiefs

Michigan teen files federal lawsuit over sex abuse by firefighters in Explorer mentor program

A young woman who was sexually abused in a mentor program at Cascade Township Fire Department has filed a federal lawsuit against the township and Boy Scouts of America. Two now-former Cascade Township firefighters - Clem Bell, 53, and Steven Drake, 34 - had relationships with the then-16-year-old girl and exchanged sexually explicit photographs and videos with her. The two men pleaded guilty last year to possession of child sexually abusive material, using a computer to commit a crime and promoting child sexually abusive activity. The fallout extended beyond the two who were sentenced to jail, home confinement and placed on Michigan's sex-offender registry. Fire Chief John Sigg retired after 29 years while Deputy Chief John Shipley was fired from his part-paid position

Fire Investigators Urged to Protect Health

The International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI) has released a white paper that covers best practices related to health and safety, particularly as it concerns cancer prevention. The white paper was put together by the IAAI Health and Safety Committee after it was re-established in 2016 when it was deemed that health and safety practices and protocols for investigators had not been keeping pace with those of firefighters. “Though they rarely receive the recognition of firefighters, fire investigators are typically at more fires than firefighters and for a longer time,” said Jeff Pauley, chairman of the IAAI Health and Safety Committee. “The health and safety dangers of arson and fire investigators are often greater than that of firefighters.”

’Thank you for my second life’: Illinois woman honors firefighters who saved her 10 years ago

Aurora Fire Capt. Brandon Matson said firefighters and paramedics go on hundreds of emergency calls a year, but rarely do they hear back from the people they’ve taken to the hospital. So firefighters at Aurora Station 8 were surprised when they received a request from Aurora residents Lisa and Ted Yee, who wanted to bring them dinner Monday to celebrate Lisa’s recovery from a crash a decade ago that left her with traumatic brain injury. “Thank you for my life and for my second life,” Lisa said with tears in her eyes as she sat in the station’s kitchen and looked up at the people who had extricated her from a wrecked vehicle. On Sept. 10, 2008, Lisa Yee was a passenger in a vehicle that was T-boned at Asbury Drive and New York Street in Aurora. Firefighters and paramedics from Station 8 responded to the crash, transporting her to Rush Copley Medical Center. She was later flown by helicopter to Loyola Medical Center in Maywood.
Aurora Beacon-News

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