National News

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Proposed Florida law would grant first responders worker’s comp for PTSD

Break a leg on the job and workers compensation will pay the medical bills and cover lost wages. But suffer emotional or psychological trauma after a failed attempt to revive an infant or hours processing dead bodies in the wake of a mass shooting and you're out of luck. Families of first responders and a bi-partisan group of lawmakers are behind a proposal to include post traumatic stress disorder in workers comp coverage. And they have it in a fast lane in the Senate. "It's like you have a gaping hole, an open wound and they say 'put a band aid on it and go back to work," said Jessica Realin, wife of a retired Orlando Police officer who suffered from PTSD in the wake of the Pulse Nightclub shooting.
Tallahassee Democrat &

Texas firefighters aim to make state senator pay political price for union bill

A Houston Republican is starting to pay a hefty price as she runs for re-election for running afoul with police and firefighter unions in Texas. In the last to Legislature sessions, State Sen. Joan Huffman has sponsored legislation to make it harder for many public worker unions to collect membership dues. Now those groups are responding by funneling big money to help Fort Bend County Republican Kristin Tassin challenge Huffman in a primary on March 6 in one of the mostly hotly contested state Senate races in Texas. Of the $90,000 Tassin has raised for her campaign, $27,000 has come from firefighter unions, most notably $25,000 from Houston Fire Fighters Political Action Fund - Tassin's largest donation. "Our membership was not too pleased with Sen. Huffman," said Brian Wilcox, communications director for the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association.
Houston Chronicle

New York attorney warns firefighter minimum manning dispute could last much longer than hoped

The bitter contract dispute between the city and the firefighters’ union could last much longer than the year deadline that City Council members hope. Syracuse attorney Nathaniel Lambright, who is representing the Watertown Professional Fire Fighters Association Local 191, warned on Tuesday that the labor dispute may not be resolved for another two to 2½ years while it continues through the lengthy appeal process. He made that assessment after a state Supreme Court judge reserved decision on Tuesday on the city’s motion for a stay of arbitration over the “minimum manning” clause, which requires 15 firefighters must be on duty at all times. It’s been the main sticking point during the 3½-year contract stalemate.
Watertown Daily Times

Florida firefighter gets the ax after investigators find ties to motorcycle gang

Hillsborough County officials fired a Fire Rescue medic Tuesday after an internal investigation concluded he had "unwavering loyalty" to the Outlaws Motorcycle Club — the state’s dominant biker gang. Clinton Neal Walker, 33, of Bradenton is the first Hillsborough County employee to be investigated for gang activity under a series of countywide ordinances sparked by Walker’s own arrest last September over starting a bar fight in Key West. The fight came just three months after he was placed on administrative leave for joining another bar brawl in May 2016, this time in St. Petersburg with a city police officer.
Tampa Bay Times and Tampa

Rappers used Kansas fire truck without permission, official says

The Wichita Fire Department has completed an administrative investigation and concluded that no employee gave a rapper permission to use a fire truck in a music video posted to YouTube. In the video, rappers Blue Scrilla and Pj can be seen rapping both inside of and in front of a Station 15 Wichita Fire Department truck. “In this case, employees had no idea,” Wichita Fire Marshal Stuart Bevis said. “The vehicles were parked during work and we were not attending to the vehicle directly. That’s how they were able to get in and use it as a backdrop.” Bevis added that the rappers also went into various stores in Towne East Square for backdrops. “(The rappers) were very good at ambushing the spots and using them as backgrounds,” he said.
Wichita Eagle &

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Video: Texas firefighters barely escape dangerous ’flashover’

Firefighters battling a house fire on the East Side Saturday night were forced to make a hasty retreat through the home's windows as the blaze got out of hand, almost trapping them inside, officials said. According to the San Antonio Fire Department, at least 12 units responded to the 900 block of Virginia Blvd around 7:55 p.m. A fire at a residence on the city's East Side got out of control Saturday night causing firefighters to have to to bail out of the home through the front window. San Antonio Fire Captain Brandon Schultz said the family, who were not home at the time of the fire, had a gas leak in their stove, which ignited. Three firefighters narrowly escaped what Schultz called a "flashover," at the fire's peak.
My San

Florida fire chief rescinds resignation, claiming he was coerced

Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Chief Jeff Collins attempted to pull back his resignation Monday just three days after it was announced. Collins rescinded his resignation in a letter sent from his attorney to county officials, claiming he was coerced and intimidated into resigning his position during a meeting with County Administrator Verdenia Baker, Assistant County Administrator Nancy Bolton and Human Resources Director Wayne Condry. “Mr. Collins was informed that he could either resign or be terminated effective immediately without being informed of the basis of the termination, his rights, or benefits,” attorney Salim Punjani, wrote in his letter to Baker.
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel &

Trends Remain Same in Annual Line-of-Duty Deaths

Taking a look at the 93 on-duty firefighter fatalities in 2017 reveals similar trends from previous years, with cardiac and health-related issues marking a bulk of the fire service's losses. According to numbers provided by the U.S. Fire Administration, the overwhelming physical stress firefighting has on the body remains at the forefront of modern firefighter health and safety. There were 58 line-of-duty deaths last year related to cardiac or other medical issues while firefighters were either on scene at an incident or within the 24-hour span afterward. Given these incidents, many firefighter organizations across the country continue to stress to need for proper diet and exercise to counter the demanding physical nature of the job.

Former California volunteer firefighter suspected in fire truck vandalism

It was the banging about 7:30 a.m. Sunday that caught the on-duty engineer’s attention and drew him to a rear window of the Hopland fire station on Feliz Creek Road. Outside, a woman with an aluminum bat was whacking two vehicles in the parking lot, smashing windows, mirrors and lights, and puncturing all the tires. Battalion Chief Ron Roysum, who watched a video of the incident, said the woman then got into her vehicle, drove to the front of the station and shattered two windows of the station’s training room before fleeing. Rachael Seivertson, 29, a former Hopland volunteer firefighter, was arrested late Sunday afternoon by Mendocino County sheriff’s deputies, suspected of felony vandalism, assault on a deputy, evading arrest and violating her probation.
The Press Democrat

Second-gen Colorado firefighters step down from career ‘few regret’

Wiith the retirement of two familiar faces, Aurora Fire Rescue will lose more than 80 years of firefighting experience at the end of month. And it’s not just the knowledge Capt. Mike Ackman and Capt. Clint Mitchell picked up during their decades spent on the line, training or managing fire crews that Aurora firefighters will say goodbye to this month. It’s also the decades of wisdom the pair of second-generation firefighters picked up from their fathers — Battalion Chief George Ackman and Lt. A.W. Mitchell — who also spent decades in the city’s fire service. As the pair of second generation firefighters look toward life outside the fire service, they both say it’s not the stress of pulling up to a burning house or the rush of saving someone’s life that they’ll miss most.
Aurora Sentinel

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