National News

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Oakland can be sued over deadly 2016 Ghost Ship fire, judge rules

An Alameda County Superior Court judge has ruled that Oakland officials have a duty to act when they come across unsafe conditions in buildings such as the Ghost Ship warehouse, which burned a year ago, allowing a lawsuit against the city stemming from the fire to proceed. In his ruling, Judge Brad Seligman permitted some allegations — such as the mandatory duty claims — to stand, while tossing others. The order means Oakland can be held liable for its actions and inaction leading up to the fire that killed 36 people. The city may appeal the decision. Oakland had a “mandatory duty,” Seligman wrote last week, to fix the poor conditions of a building like the Fruitvale warehouse, which had been converted into a residential and performance space without city permission.
San Francisco Chronicle (

Maine chief resigns over ‘unsafe’ firetruck

Medway Fire Chief Jon Buckingham has resigned in response to the town’s failure to replace a firetruck that he says is unsafe. The fire department’s front-line pumper-tanker, a 1988 Pierce, has had repairs to its electrical and steering systems, has body rust and and lost its transmission during pump tests. Buckingham said the truck should be replaced with a new or used truck. “We had several meetings on it and after having the meetings, I have come to the conclusion that the town and I are on two different pages when it comes to the safety of the apparatus and our crews,” Buckingham said Monday.
Bangor Daily News

South Carolina city administrator, fire chief indicted after allegedly knowing fire department building contained asbestos

A Marion County grand jury has handed down indictments against the Marion fire chief and the city administrator, alleging they knew the Marion Fire Department building contained asbestos and allowed staff, volunteers and community members to come inside. According to court documents filed earlier this month, city administrator and building inspector Alan Thomas Ammons and fire chief Ralph Walton Cooper III were each indicted on charges of misconduct in office, conspiracy to violate the Pollution Control Act and violation of the Pollution Control Act. Ammons and Cooper are scheduled to be arraigned Friday at 10:00 a.m. in Marion County, according to the South Carolina Attorney General's Office.
WMBF-TV NBC Myrtle Beach

Iowa city councilman admits to leaking confidential memo on fire chief

A Mason City councilman acknowledged Monday to leaking a confidential memo on the fire chief's employment status. Mason City Fire Chief Al Dyer Jr. was placed on paid administrative leave Nov. 2 pending an administrative investigation. Dyer didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from the Globe Gazette Monday afternoon. Councilman John Lee acknowledged on Monday he provided the memo to a KIMT-TV reporter when the reporter inquired about it when they saw each other in a grocery store. "I take full responsibility. I don't want anyone else to be blamed. It wasn't meant to be malicious or devious. It was just a major screw-up on my part. Call me ignorant and trusting, I guess," Lee told the Globe Gazette.
Mason City Globe-Gazette

Nebraska fire chief pours cold water on steamy calendar of firefighters

Omaha Fire Chief Dan Olsen has put the kibosh on plans for a steamy 2018 charity calendar. Last year’s calendar of shirtless local firefighters was a hot seller. But Olsen said the calendar isn’t in line with the department’s mission statement that calls for its members to act with integrity, professionalism and compassion. “We want you to be able to hang that calendar on the wall at your office or your refrigerator at home,” he said. “That type of calendar doesn’t portray that image.” Those who supported the effort say it was a popular idea that in the past has raised money that benefited the community.
Omaha World-Herald

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Florida fire district may settle sexual harassment suit

A former Greater Naples Fire Rescue District officer who sued the district and its fire chief last year, alleging she was subjected to years of "repeated sexual harassment" by colleagues, could receive $82,500 from the fire district, according to a draft settlement agreement. The district's board of commissioners is scheduled to vote on authorizing a payment of $17,500 from its reserves at its Tuesday meeting, according to the meeting's agenda. The rest of the settlement would be paid out by the district's insurance company, Tara Bishop, the district's deputy director of administration and finance, said in an email.
Naples Daily News

Homebuilders Push Texas Lawmakers To Block Fire Sprinkler Requirements

When every second counts, a fire sprinkler system can be a live saver but most homes in North Texas do not have them. The Texas State Fire Marshal says every home in Texas should have fire sprinklers but state lawmakers have refused to make it a requirement for new homes. In fact, state lawmakers have made it illegal for Texas cities to mandate sprinklers be installed in all new single-family homes. “The statistics tell the story,” said Texas Fire Marshal Chris Connealy. “No one has died in sprinkler occupancy nowhere in Texas.” In 2008, the International Code Council decided every new American home should have fire sprinklers. For 20 years, Texas adopted most of the council’s minimum recommendations but not this one.
CBS Dallas Fort Worth

Update: New York firefighters’ union tries to block new sick time policy

The firefighters’ union is seeking an injunction in state Supreme Court to block the city from a new policy that prohibits firefighters from being called into work when their colleagues call in sick. The City Council last week decided in executive session to establish a new policy that will not allow firefighters to be brought into work when others call in sick, a move that City Manager Sharon A. Addison admitted violates the union contract. The union promptly filed a grievance. The city and the union are in the midst of a bitter three-year contract dispute. The new practice of “not backfilling” sick firefighters began Sunday. But attorneys for the Watertown Professional Fire Fighters Association Local 191 filed court papers seeking the injunction on Monday afternoon.
Watertown Daily Times

Virginia Fire Department Purchases First Ambulance in 50 Years

The Charlottesville Fire Department is in the process of purchasing its first ambulance in more than 50 years. The addition to the department's fleet will help meet a growing demand to provide around-the-clock medical services in the city. The last time the CFD had its own ambulance was in the 1950s. That will soon change as the department is in the process of using leftover money from the purchase of its new ladder truck to buy a new ambulance. The Charlottesville Fire Department was allotted nearly $1.6 million to purchase its new ladder truck, but only spent $1.42 million. Charlottesville City Council has approved using the extra money to buy the new ambulance.

In Pennsylvania for toddler’s cancer checkup, family in wreck gets firefighters’ surprise

It was a routine call for the Springfield Fire Company: a T-bone accident with minor injuries. In the early afternoon of Nov. 6, six firefighters arrived at the Sproul Road entrance to the Target store at Springfield Mall and met the Blackburn family. Mother Krista, father Kevin, 5-year-old Isaiah, and 2-year-old Aria, of Kannapolis, N.C., had been in one of the cars. As someone tended to an injury on Krista’s arm, other firefighters sat on the ground with Aria and Isaiah, trying to distract them with toys. “We talk to people every accident,” said Mike Norman, career supervisor for the Springfield Fire Company. “But this one here, it really sunk in.”

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