National News

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Dallas Fire-Rescue’s chief named sole finalist for gig at Texas A&M

After a little more than two years on the job, Dallas Fire-Rescue Chief David Coatney appears to be headed for the exit. Coatney on Tuesday was named the sole finalist to become director of the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, also known as TEEX. State law requires the university and Coatney — who officials say energized the Dallas department and made major strides in promoting safety measures — wait 21 days before making the deal official. Coatney said the position, for which he was recruited to apply, was too good to pass up — even though "the timing of this was horrible." He bought a house last year in Dallas, thinking he'd be in North Texas for a while. "I really planned to stay here five to seven years," Coatney said. "But my leadership team, they're in a position where any of them could take the helm right now."
Dallas Morning News

Virginia firefighter lost leg in crash that killed colleague during Tropical Storm Michael

While Virginia firefighters are mourning the loss of one of their own in a fatal crash, the injuries of another are just now coming to light. Lt. Brad Clark died Thursday while responding to an emergency call as the remains of Tropical Storm Michael swept over Central Virginia. The 43-year-old firefighter was killed when a tractor-trailer struck the fire truck Clark and three colleagues were standing outside of on the shoulder of I-295. Clark died at the scene while two of his colleagues were transported to VCU medical center with life-threatening injuries. One of those colleagues was on his first day on the job when the tractor-trailer slammed into their fire truck. He was supposed to graduate on Thursday night, but the accident changed everything. Now, sources tell WTVR that that firefighter had his leg amputated in order to save his life.
WTKR Channel 3 News

Stretched thin, Minnesota volunteer fire crews sound the alarm

When Greg Malmquist became a firefighter in Lake Elmo more than three decades ago, many volunteer fire department rosters listed just a handful of surnames. Sons served alongside fathers and brothers and uncles, and most often stayed in the department for decades. “Times have changed,” said Malmquist, now the fire chief in Lake Elmo and the only full-time member of the department. Even after adding paid part-time, on-call positions in 2016, his roster — only half full — looks more like a “revolving door,” he said. As recruiting and retaining volunteer firefighters becomes increasingly difficult, several metro area fire departments have been forced to add full-time positions or are making plans to do so. In a state that ranks second in the country for its reliance on volunteer firefighters — more than 97 percent of all departments have all or mostly volunteers — fire chiefs across Minnesota are seeking better ways to ensure 24/7 fire service as they try to market their openings.
Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune

Colorado firefighter leaving Mexican hospital with the help of Congressman

Army veteran and Lafayette firefighter Lt. Jason Oliver took off for Cancun last week to celebrate his anniversary with his wife Maigan. Just three days into their weeklong tropical vacation, however, Jason Oliver was confined to a Mexican hospital bed rather than a poolside cabana. Trained as paramedic firefighter, Oliver said he began to notice some troubling neurological symptoms Friday and was taken by ambulance to the local hospital for a checkup. Following a CAT scan the doctors found Jason's brain had spontaneously started to bleed. The doctors told the couple the tests would cost $3,000 and it would cost an additional $6,000 a day for him to stay in the intensive care unit and continue to be monitored.

Fate of California volunteer fire department comes down to 24 signatures

Whether the Julian Cuyamaca Fire Protection District will dissolve and be taken over by the county comes down to a couple dozen signatures. On Tuesday morning, 615 signatures of registered voters who live in the district were submitted during a rare “protest hearing” at a meeting of the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO). The residents are trying to overturn a decision last month by LAFCO to transfer control of the county’s last volunteer fire department to the regional Fire Authority. LAFCO is responsible for overseeing changes to local governmental boundaries, including the formation, consolidation, merger and dissolution of special districts. If all the signatures are valid, they represent 26 percent of the registered voters in the 52,000-acre district and as such would force an election to decide the ultimate fate of the volunteer department.
San Diego Union-Tribune

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Atlanta agrees to $1.2M settlement with former fire chief

The city of Atlanta has settled a lawsuit with a former fire chief over his firing for a book containing passages which some saw as anti-gay. The Atlanta City Council approved a settlement agreeing to pay fired Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran $1.2 million. In 2013, Cochran wrote a book about his Christian faith titled "Who Told You That You Were Naked?" for a men's Bible study and gave it to around a dozen subordinates he said had either requested copies or shared his beliefs. The city suspended Cochran and then fired him in January 2015, with Mayor Kasim Reed saying he fired Cochran because the chief violated policy by promoting the book on the job.
WAGA-TV Atlanta MyFox 5 News

Cal Fire cadets fired for drinking will get their jobs back

Most of the California state firefighters who were fired last year because they drank alcohol during a training academy will return to work in 2018, according to Cal Fire and their union. Cal Fire in April announced that 17 firefighters would be dismissed from state service because they violated a code of conduct during their seven-week academy by drinking alcohol after hours. They’re supposed to stay sober through the training, except on weekends. Cal Fire agreed to reduce the punishment to an eight-month suspension for eight of the firefighters, the department said. Two of them receive a one-year suspension instead of dismissal. Two more cadets are still fighting their punishment and are expected to appear before the State Personnel Board next month. The others resigned or did not contest their dismissals.
Sacramento Bee

Washington firefighter’s invention will close bedroom doors in house fires

VIDEO - It was his daughter’s nighttime habits that turned Joel Sellinger from a firefighter into an inventor. "She'd fall asleep. I'd go shut her door. I'd wake up in the morning, and her door would be open because she had gone to the bathroom or gotten a drink of water," he said. Keeping bedroom doors closed in your home when you go to sleep is critical in keeping your family safe. Sellinger, an Everett fireman, sees it all the time. Twin 3-year-old girls survived an apartment fire earlier this year because their bedroom door was closed. Sellinger was on the scene and took photos of the damage. One picture clearly shows the scorched, blackened outside of their bedroom door. The inside portion looks almost untouched.
KING-TV NBC 5 Seattle

Rhode Island firefighters’ sick pay under scrutiny

The city has suspended an improper practice at the Fire Department involving calculations of unused sick time and payment for that time to firefighters, according to Mayor Joseph J. Solomon. “Activities that may have occurred in the past, when brought to the attention of our fire chief and myself, were suspended way back in July,” Solomon said. The situation involved an agreement that was improperly implemented, and the city’s suspension of the practice triggered a grievance, Solomon said. He would not provide more specifics, saying that the issue is now a legal matter, subject to arbitration, and he is also waiting for reports from auditors. A spokesman for the firefighters union, Michael Carreiro, said the firefighters filed a grievance after Solomon halted a monthly credit that firefighters received for unused sick time, based on a “side agreement” with the previous administration of Mayor Scott Avedisian.
The Providence Journal

Firefighters Sue California Gas Company Over Massive Leak

Firefighters who worked in and around the site of a massive natural gas leak sued the Southern California Gas Co. on Monday, saying the utility knowingly let them be exposed to dangerous levels of toxic chemicals. A blowout in a well at the underground Aliso Canyon storage field about 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of Los Angeles was discovered on Oct. 23, 2015, and took nearly four months to cap after spewing immense amounts of methane into the air. It was the largest known natural gas leak in United States history. First responders said they went to the storage field and nearby communities without any protective gear because they were assured by Southern California Gas that there was no danger, according to the suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. In fact, the utility knew that the gas contained cancer-causing benzene and formaldehyde, according to the suit.
KNBC-TV NBC 4 Los Angeles

Sign up to subscribe to custom state Daily Dispatch emails for free

click to subscribe