California News

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Fire Threatens Natural Gas Pipeline; Thousands Of Bay Point Residents Evacuated

A power vault fire near a major Chevron natural gas pipeline junction Wednesday night triggered the evacuation of thousands in Bay Point and Pittsburg, officials said. Around 4,000 people were forced to flee from 1,400 homes, officials said. Assistant Fire Chief Terence Carey said a small vegetation fire erupted in the area Wednesday afternoon. Crews extinguished the fire without incident but were called back to the scene when they were alerted to the vault fire. “There is an active fire in the vault,” Carey told reporters Thursday morning. “We are not sending our firefighters in there until we know it is safe.’ Officials said there was “no threat of explosion at this point.” Chevron officials said they were contacted at around 8 p.m. Wednesday to notify them of the blaze.
KPIX-TV CBS 5 San Francisco

Steve Swaney named new chief of Heartland Fire and Rescue

The cities of El Cajon, La Mesa and Lemon Grove Wednesday named a firefighting veteran of more than three decades as the fire chief of the jointly-managed Heartland Fire and Rescue. Steve Swaney will replace Colin Stowell as Heartland’s fire chief, effective Oct. 20, according to the city managers from El Cajon, La Mesa and Lemon Grove. Stowell was sworn in as San Diego’s fire-rescue chief in August after serving as Heartland’s fire chief for two years. Swaney has worked with the City of El Cajon, and subsequently Heartland Fire and Rescue, since 1985. Swaney most recently served as a Heartland division chief, overseeing day-to-day operations of fire stations across the three cities. He has also served as fire chief for the Julian Cuyamaca Fire Protection District and is a Federal Emergency Management Agency- certified canine evaluator.
KUSI-TV San Diego

Cal Fire: Firefighter Suicide Death Toll Up

Cal Fire tells Action News Now that the number of firefighters killed by suicide is higher than those killed in the line of duty. An exact number in Butte County is to be determined, as there remains a stigma against PTSD and suicide. Extended hours and exposure to constant death and destruction can hurt mental wellness. "What happens with first responders generally is they are taught at the beginning to get through it and put emotions aside," says Katy Luallan, a therapist for firefighters. "As they experience trauma, going to accidents, medical calls, and fires, those things start to add up." Nationwide, first responder suicides, in general, are on the rise. 140 police officers took their own lives in 2017.
KHSL-TV CBS 12 Action News Now

New foundation created in honor of fallen Redding firefighter Jeremy Stoke

A new foundation has been set-up in honor of Jeremy Stoke, the Redding firefighter killed on July 26 while fighting the Carr Fire. The Jeremy Stoke Legacy Fire Foundation was created by several Redding firefighters, and Jeremy's wife, as a way to carry on his legacy and create a foundation for the future of public safety families. Through the foundation, Redding firefighters hope to be able to provide scholarships to students pursuing a career in public safety and help public safety families in need. Sam Hunt, a captain with the Redding Fire Department and one of the firefighters involved in creating the foundation, said being part of something like this means a lot after working closely with Jeremy for many years. “It means a lot to me. Me and Jeremy started working together back in ’01. This is a way for me to remember him and be a part of what Jeremy was all about. Loud boisterous, just Jeremy," said Hunt.

Fire chief dismisses two Moraga-Orinda Fire District employees for unauthorized political activity

Two Moraga-Orinda Fire District aides acted without authorization or approval by looking up the addresses of candidates running for seats on the district board and conducting exterior hazard abatement inspections on their property. On Sept. 26, at the Orinda home owned by Division 4 independent candidate Lucy Talbot, the aides posted a 30-day notice to abate fire hazards, which required a large-scale removal of trees. "I was flabbergasted," Talbot said. "It would have required thousands of dollars of expense. As a candidate, I want to be a model citizen, so I reached out to other board members and took it to the chief." Fire Chief Dave Winnacker went to Talbot's house the next day and apologized to her for the actions of his employees. Talbot said the chief did a walk-through of her property and told Talbot that her home was absent any major violations.
Lamorinda Weekly

Oceanside Fire Department Welcomes 17 Babies in One Year

PHOTO - The Oceanside Fire Department set a record with 17 babies born to wives of firefighters from July 2017 to July 2018. "This is the most babies at one time we've ever had," said Fire Captain Tim Scott of the Oceanside Fire Department on Wednesday. Scott said after a different fire department posted about the number of babies born to them that year, Oceanside decided to count their numbers. The 17 babies are from 17 mothers, with no twins in the mix. The families are thrilled their children will be able to grow up together. Oceanside Fire Department has 8 stations. When the department is fully staffed, there are about 100 members.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Palo Alto firefighters, police brass get raises in new contracts

Palo Alto's firefighters will receive significant salary increases between now and 2020 as part of a new three-year contract agreement that will also require them to contribute more toward their pension and health care costs. The new contract, which the City Council approved on Oct. 1, grants three separate 3 percent salary raises to the 88 employees who are represented by the city's main firefighter union, International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1313 (IAFF). The first takes effect in the first pay period after the contract adoption; the next two increases would kick in in July 2019 and in July 2020. In addition to the immediate 3 percent raise in base pay, each firefighter is also receiving a 2.5 percent raise that the city is characterizing as "market adjustment," with the intent of bringing local salaries to market median. The 2.5 percent raise also kicks in immediately.
Palo Alto Weekly

Fate of Julian 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 - Metered Site

Retiring firefighter praised for service in Mill Valley

Michael St. John, a battalion chief with the Mill Valley Fire Department, is set to retire this month after more than three decades fighting fires. Colleagues on Monday recognized St. John for his dedication to the community, noting that he has served as commander of the hazardous materials team, director of Mill Valley’s community emergency response team and a volunteer unit leader for Marin Search and Rescue. He has been lauded for his success as a teacher who has trained hundreds of firefighters and rescuers in how to effectively respond to emergencies. “Chief St. John’s real success lies in the people he affected — the people he made, trained, created, prepared, engaged and led,” Mill Valley fire Chief Tom Welch said Monday at a City Council meeting, where the retiring firefighter was honored for his lengthy career in the community.
Marin Independent Journal

Sprinkler system gives firefighters a big leg up on blaze at Modesto cabinet company

A fire-suppression system worked well Tuesday morning at a business off Yosemite Boulevard and Mitchell Road, likely saving firefighters a lot of work and the building a lot of damage. The fire was in a dust-collection hopper on the exterior of Sierra Casework, on the 200 block of Spenker Avenue. The company is less than half a mile from Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District Station 31 on Mitchell Road. Initially, there was heavy smoke from the fire, Stanislaus Consolidated Capt. Mark Jacobs said. But the sprinkler system kicked in and quickly knocked down the flames, and the smoke had largely dissipated upon crews’ arrival. “We have several of these cabinet shops in our district,” Jacobs said, “and these (dust fires) are pretty common. Throughout the cabinet shop are a bunch of vacuum systems, and the main port sucks all the dust out here and they discard it.”
Modesto Bee

2 Injured—1 Seriously—in Mission Beach Ice-Cream Shop Blaze

A fire engulfed second-floor residential units above a Mission Beach ice cream shop at dawn Tuesday, injuring two people — one seriously — while causing an estimated $600,000 worth of property losses. The blaze erupted for unknown reasons about 6:50 a.m. in a rooftop storage area on the mixed-use building in the 700 block of Ventura Place, near Belmont Park, according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. A city lifeguard at the nearby beach spotted the smoke and flames, ran over to the burning two-story building and knocked on residents’ doors, awakening them and telling them to evacuate, said SDFRD spokeswoman Monica Munoz. Medics took a seriously injured resident to UCSD Medical Center in Hillcrest. Television news crews captured footage of emergency personnel performing CPR on the stricken man while rolling him to an ambulance in a stretcher. It took firefighters about a half-hour to extinguish the flames.
Times of San Diego

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