National News

Friday, November 16, 2018

Veteran Washington firefighter was sleeping when run over by pickup truck at California wildfire

A veteran firefighter who came to California from Washington state to fight the Woolsey fire was left with major injuries when he was run over by a pickup truck as he slept at night in a field next to a fire truck in the Malibu area, the California Highway Patrol said Thursday. Terry Geisleman, 46, of the South Kitsap Fire and Rescue Department of Port Orchard, Washington, received crushing injuries to his chest and the left side of his body, a CHP report on the 11:45 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14, incident said. He was airlifted from the scene at Pacific View Drive, north of Highway 1, to Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Thousand Oaks. A release from the South Kitsap Fire Chief Steve Wright described Geisleman’s injuries as not life-threatening.
San Bernardino County Sun

FDNY retaliated against two EMS lieutenants upset over a new pilot program, labor board rules

Top Fire Department brass retaliated against two emergency medical services lieutenants due to their “union activity,” a labor board ruled, the Daily News has learned. FDNY Lt. Douglas Rondon was “totally restricted” from duty for an entire year after he reached out to his union president for assistance on potential disciplinary charges. At the same time, the union was upset with the FDNY over the department’s new Paramedic Response Unit, which pairs a paramedic with a paramedic lieutenant. The so-called “Fly-Car” pilot program, first launched in the Bronx in 2016, uses FDNY SUVs with advanced-life-support equipment. It is designed to increase response times to emergency scenes. But those vehicles are not used to transport patients – and requires staff to put in added work. Uniform EMS Officers Local 3621 slammed the program, arguing that it should be stopped until details of the work shifts could be negotiated with the labor group.
New York Daily News

How Arizona firefighters are fighting to curb trauma and suicide rates

While it's a scary trend, it's one that's commonly swept under the rug. First responders are now more likely to die by suicide, than in the line of duty. Each year, the number of men and women in the fire service taking their own lives continues to rise, according to the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance. 84 percent of firefighters have experienced a traumatic event while on the job. In 2017, 103 firefighters committed suicide nationally, where only 93 were killed in the line of duty. "The world can be a dark place at times," said Alexander Yates. He's been with the Glendale Fire Department for three years. "We see dark things, and I know a lot of people don't want the nightmares that come along with that."
ABC 15 Phoenix

Wildfire’s destruction of California town creates uncharted credit territory

The deadly wildfire that left the town of Paradise, California, in ruins may become a test case for the municipal bond market. “The situation casts doubt on whether the local government can meet over $3.5 million in annual payments to pension obligation bondholders, CalPERS and retiree healthcare plan participants,” wrote Marc Joffe, a policy analyst with the Reason Foundation. The town of 27,000 found itself in the path of the Camp Fire, a fast-moving inferno that started Thursday morning and engulfed Paradise within hours. An estimated 80% to 90% of the town has burned, said Scott McLean, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the lead agency fighting the fire.

Enough is enough: 5 ways to end bullying in fire and EMS

A lot has been published recently about harassment and discrimination. However, much less is being said about the problems of bullying in the fire and EMS industries. Yet, these problems have equally-serious effects on their victims. I was recently at a state EMS conference and heard a speaker give a very poignant discussion on suicide in EMS. He discussed six different people from around the country who had all committed suicide as a result of their participating in fire and EMS activities. This made me realize that while we spend time talking about the importance of care and compassion of the patients and people we serve, we need to do a lot more to improve the care and compassion we show to our fire and EMS brethren. When visiting clients, I have heard comments such as, “Suck it up, buttercup!” and “This is a fire company; we expect people to have thick skin. If you can’t handle the heat, then get out of the firehouse!”

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Pulse shooting review: Communication failures hampered Orlando Fire Department’s response

When Orlando Police and Orange County Sheriff’s Office tactical teams used explosives to break through the wall of Pulse nightclub to confront gunman Omar Mateen, some Orlando Fire Department personnel — including its arson and bomb squad — thought the shooter was the one who set off the blast. That detail was among several examples of inadequate communication and outdated training policies that hampered the multi-agency response to the June 12, 2016 massacre at Pulse, creating confusion between OFD, Orange County Fire Rescue, police and the Sheriff’s Office, according to a report released Wednesday. The report was produced by the National Police Foundation, which was asked by the Fire Department to review its handling of the mass shooting that claimed 49 lives. The report also credited OFD rescuers for their “professionalism, dedication and bravery,” which it said saved the lives of victims. Among the shortfalls identified in the report: Instead of establishing a central command center, Orlando police and fire commanders set up at separate spots near the scene.
Orlando Sentinel

Third body found among wreckage of Woolsey fire as residents blast California officials about emergency response

As a third body was discovered among the ashes of a home in Agoura Hills, residents in nearby Malibu questioned fire officials about the division of resources and rushed evacuation notices during the Woolsey fire’s devastating march through Los Angeles and Ventura counties. The body, which has not been identified, was found by a cadaver dog searching a burned-out home in the 32000 block of Lobo Canyon Road with law enforcement Tuesday. The remains were found on an enclosed patio or what could have been a bedroom, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. Derrick Alfred of the Homicide Bureau said. The block is on a winding road nestled among charred hillsides directly in the path of the fire as it burned southwest across Paramount Ranch and down the hills that surround Kanan Road.
Los Angeles Times

’A bittersweet moment’: Alabama fire chief retiring after 30 years of service

Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service Chief Charles Gordon is ending his tenure as the city’s 21st fire chief. Gordon, 57, will retire effective Dec. 28 after 30 years with department. However, his last day on the job will be next Tuesday. Gordon joined the department in January 1989 and rose through the ranks until he was appointed chief by former Mayor William Bell in September 2014. “It’s a bittersweet moment,’’ Gordon told Wednesday. “30 years being a part of something, it’s become a big part of my life. I think about and tears come to my eyes.” Gordon likes to tell the story about how it almost didn’t happen, all because of a slip on a balance beam when he was training to become a firefighter. He had completed all of the required tasks – such as running and dragging a heavy dummy – and only had to complete the required walk on an inches-wide beam toting a massive fire hose. He fell off, not once but twice.

Woman’s friendship with Oregon firefighter leads to federal discrimination suit against city

A woman with developmental disabilities who befriended a Portland firefighter but then was ordered to stay away from him and certain fire stations under threat of a criminal trespassing charge is suing the city for alleged discrimination. Brandy Tuchscherer first encountered firefighters while rowing with the Wasabi Paddling Club’s “Special Dragons’’ team. She is in her 30s and on the autism spectrum, according to the federal lawsuit filed by her mother. She considered firefighter Colin McGladrey a mentor and would visit him at different fire stations where he was assigned last year. She told McGladrey of her dream to work as an emergency medical technician and he offered to help her look for jobs, the lawsuit says.
Portland Oregonian, Hillsboro Argus, Oregon

Kim Kardashian’s Private Firefighters Expose America’s Fault Lines

As multiple devastating wildfires raged across California, a private firefighting crew reportedly helped save Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s home in Calabasas, TMZ reported this week. The successful defense of the $50 million mansion is the most prominent example of a trend that’s begun to receive national attention: for-hire firefighters protecting homes, usually on the payroll of an insurance company with a lot at risk. The insurance companies AIG and Chubb have publicly talked about their private wildfire teams. AIG has its own “Wildfire Protection Unit,” while Chubb—and up to a dozen other insurers—contract with Wildfire Defense Systems, a Montana company that claims to have made 550 “wildfire responses on behalf of insurers,” including 255 in just the past two years.
The Atlantic

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