National News

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Shouting match between South Carolina Fire Chief and councilman follows vote on planned ordinance

VIDEO - It has been a rough month for first-responders in rural Berkeley County. A few weeks ago a firm hired to assess 26 volunteer departments released its findings from an independent fire study and determined, what a lot of those departments already knew, they are underfunded, understaffed and under pressure. Then at Monday’s Berkeley County Council meeting an ordinance was introduced that would add more county oversight related ambulance service at rural departments, the agenda said the measure would ensure patient safety and the sustainability of Berkeley County EMS. That was the tipping point for one local fire chief, who said he felt double-crossed.
The Berkeley Independent

Arizona town faces losing two-thirds of its firefighters amid budget crisis

Roughly two-thirds of the firefighters in South Tucson have now indicated they will resign by the end of the month, leaving residents of the small city wondering if there will be enough personnel to adequately respond to emergencies. A former South Tucson firefighter claimed that due to the mass resignations there are two days next month where only one Fire Department employee is scheduled to work on a specific shift. The claim could not be independently verified. City Manager Sixto Molina said it was too early to tell which firefighters will be working specific shifts next month, noting the city is working quickly to find replacements and persuade some firefighters not to leave the department.
Arizona Daily Star

Congress Restores Medicare Ambulance Add-On Payments

On Feb. 9 passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (H.R. 1892) which funds the federal government through March 22 and raises government spending limits. H.R. 1982 also contains several provisions which address challenges facing the fire and emergency service. H.R. 1892 contains some of the most significant EMS reimbursement reforms that Congress has enacted in several years. This legislation restores the Medicare Ambulance Add-On Payments which provides up to 22.6% additional payment for patient transports but had expired on December 31. This restoration of these additional payments is retroactive to January 1 and is authorized to continue for the next five years.
International Association of Fire Chiefs

FDNY Marks 60 Years Since Fatal Paper Company Blaze

Sixty years ago, Firefighter Donald Blaskovich left a theatre where "The Dark at the Top of the Stairs" was staged to witness an all-too-real living hell. The 85-year-old FDNY retiree, a member of the now defunct Engine Company 13, is the last firefighter alive to have fought the deadly blaze at the Elkins Paper Company on Wooster St. near West Houston St. on Feb. 14, 1958, in a part of the city once dubbed "Hell's 100 Acres." It was a heartbreaking Valentine's Day for the FDNY: Two firefighters and four fire patrol officers -- New York Board of Fire Underwriters employees whose job was to run into burning commercial buildings to salvage as much equipment and property as they could -- were killed when the building collapsed.

Nebraska mayor calls firefighters soda can alerts "unnecessary"

Mayor Jean Stothert said she first saw the "soda can" alert when she watched our KETV report. Some firefighters place pop cans on top of a printer that activates when emergency calls come in--causing the pop cans to fall to the floor making a loud noise. "When I saw the cell phone video, I was very disappointed firefighters want to give the idea to the public their safety is at risk," Mayor Stothert said. "Just showing one mobile video is inappropriate because it didn't tell the whole story." Mayor Stothert said it's "unnecessary" for firefighters to use the pop cans because there are procedures when the fire station alert system goes down. Those procedures include state of the art portable radios every firefighter carry 24 hours a day.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Tennessee firefighter killed, 2 others injured in house fire

One firefighter was killed and four other firefighters were injured while battling a house fire Monday evening in Lawrenceburg. Multiple fire departments from across the region began fighting the fire around 4:30 p.m. at a home in the 500 block of Hood Lakes Road. The home collapsed and a county-wide mayday protocol was established, meaning a firefighter is in danger or injured, just before 8 p.m. Three firefighters were trapped inside the collapsed home and air was fed into the structure until they were rescued at 8:09 p.m. The fallen firefighter was identified as 11-year veteran of the department, 38-year-old Jason Dickey. The two trapped firefighters and two others were taken to Southern Regional Medical Center. Two have been released, one is expected to be released later Tuesday and a Captain remains in critical condition.
WKRN-TV ABC 2 Nashville

24 hours in the FDNY firehouse that never sleeps

It's long past midnight in Flatbush, Brooklyn, and firefighter Mark Merrell of Engine 255 is explaining to me why medals aren't important and being called a hero doesn't matter all that much. "What you try to achieve is for somebody to say, 'you're a good fireman.' That's probably the biggest compliment you can get," he says. "And that don't come easy." The firehouse kitchen erupts in laughter. Mark smiles, because it's a tough crowd and he knows I know that. But I'm spending twenty-four hours with the firefighters of Engine Company 255 and Ladder Company 157 -- one of the busiest firehouses in New York - and I'm ready for pretty much anything.

Pay, staffing and overtime: Why some South Carolina firefighters aren’t happy

Horry County firefighters are leaving and moving to other departments like Myrtle Beach with complaints of too much overtime and low pay, according to Rob Mullaney, president of the Horry County chapter of the International Association of Firefighters. “A lot of the problems are staffing,” he said. “Our turnover rate is ridiculous and you’re losing a lot of mid-level and senior guys to departments, starting over at departments because the benefits are better, the pay is better, the longevity with the pay is better.” In January, the county fire department changed its mandatory overtime rules, breaking down the overtime lists by personnel type instead of relying on one list with all different types of personnel to fill each vacancy that comes up.

Update: Registered sex offender steps down as Pennsylvania Fire Chief

In an interview with JET 24 Roger Gilbert Junior confirms that he has officially resigned as Fire Chief of the Spartansburg Fire Department. Gilbert says he has been a Spartansburg volunteer firemen for 25 years, starting as a junior fireman. He spent five years as assistant chief, before being elected chief a year ago. In 2001, Gilbert pled no contest on charges of sexual assault on a four-year-old girl. Gilbert served his sentence. He said since his release he has had the full support of the Spartansburg Fire Department and the community. But, after recent reports in The Corry Journal were picked up by wire services and reported throughout the country, his family began to get death threats.

Florida firefighters and researchers unite to fight an invisible killer

Samuel Eaton isn’t afraid of many things. A battalion chief for the Palm Beach County Fire Rescue, the 52-year-old has made a career of charging into burning buildings and coming out in one piece. But thinking toward his upcoming birthday, he’ll tell you he’s deeply concerned. Eaton lost one of his best friends, a retired fire captain in the department, last year at 53. After two decades on the force, it wasn’t a house fire or a collapsed lung that eventually killed Butch Smith. It was cancer, an invisible killer that stalks victims for years before revealing itself, often contracted by firefighters through microscopic carcinogens that latch onto fire gear or their skin.
Miami Herald

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