National News

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Massive Carr Fire tornado trapped, killed California firefighter, report says

Death came in an instant. And as never seen before in California history. The Redding firefighter who died on July 26 as the fast-growing Carr Fire hit its apex was in fact killed by a fire tornado, the most intense tornado ever in the state, according to a report The Chronicle obtained Wednesday. The monster tornado with a base the size of three football fields and winds up to 165 miles an hour swept down upon Jeremiah “Jeremy” Stoke in mere seconds, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection report. At 7:39 p.m. the longtime Redding Fire Department veteran was driving his Ford F-150 truck down Buenaventura Road in northwest Redding, working on evacuating residents. One minute later he radioed out a “mayday” call saying he was getting burned over, and then his transmissions abruptly stopped, according to Cal Fire’s Green Sheet, the agency’s report on serious injuries and accidents.
San Francisco Chronicle

More than 70 in Connecticut city overdose; police arrest 1 man

As many as 71 people overdosed in the city in 24 hours — many on the Green Wednesday — as emergency crews raced to save lives and one man was arrested as a “person of interest” in the case, police said Wednesday. The man, whom investigators identified only as a person “believed to be connected to at least some of the overdoses,” was found in possession of drugs, police said. The man was out on parole when he was arrested Wednesday and is “known” to police, Police Chief Anthony Campbell said. More than 70 people had overdosed since Tuesday evening from what is believed to be the synthetic cannabinoid K2, which may or may not have been laced with fentanyl, officials said. Dozens of overdoses were reported on the Green Wednesday, Fire Chief John Alston said. As of Wednesday afternoon 34 people had been taken to the hospital citywide and five refused treatment, he said.
New Haven Register

New York fire chief removed after racist post on Facebook

East Syracuse Fire Chief Jim Brewster has been removed as the village's fire chief by its board of trustees after he used the N-word in a comment on Facebook on June 28, according to East Syracuse Mayor Robert Tackman. Brewster has also been removed from his position as the senior caretaker of the fire department, Tackman said. However, Brewster will stay on as a firefighter and a paid caretaker. An investigation by the village revealed Brewster commented, "Maxine gives the word N***** a bad name," about Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) on another user's Facebook post. Brewster could only be removed as fire chief for "incompetency or misconduct," according to section 75 of New York State civil service law and had to undergo a hearing before being removed, Tackman said. A judge recommended Brewster be removed and the board of trustees followed the recommendation, Tackman said.

Consolidation talks heat up for two Washington fire departments

With the impending retirement of Hoquiam Fire Chief Paul Dean Oct. 1 and now a letter of support from the presidents of both the Aberdeen and Hoquiam firefighters unions, discussions between the two cities about consolidating fire and EMS services seems to be picking up steam. The letter was presented to the Hoquiam City Council Monday. “With the upcoming retirement of Hoquiam Fire Chief Paul Dean on Oct. 1, 2018, Aberdeen Firefighters Local 2639 and Hoquiam Firefighters Local 315 have come together to jointly support researching consolidation efforts,” the letter began. “We recognize these efforts have stalled in the past, however, we believe this is a good time to renew those efforts.” The letter was signed by Brad Frafjord, president of the Aberdeen union and Andy Polmateer, president of Hoquiam union, and further urged the cities to consider "putting forth funding to support a consolidation feasibility study by an emergency services consulting firm."
The Daily World

Squabbling over helicopter rescues prompts California county sheriff, fire officials to offer plan for better teamwork

After an extended and potentially dangerous squabble over which agency is better equipped to handle air rescues, Orange County fire and sheriff’s officials said Wednesday they’ve come up with a plan that emphasizes teamwork and will enable safer and more efficient emergency responses. The joint plan emerged following a bitter, months-long feud between sheriff’s deputies and firefighters over rescues that involved the use of helicopters, and which in some cases led to delays in transporting injured people to hospitals. On some occasions, copter crews from both the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and Orange County Fire Authority raced to the same remote areas, leading to mid-air confrontations while patients awaited care. The tangling between the agencies and lack of consolidated efforts in critical situations also drew recent scrutiny of the Orange County Grand Jury. On Wednesday, leaders from both agencies and OCFA board members reiterated how squabbles among air crews do not help patients.
Orange County Register

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

California lawmakers focus on fire prevention as blazes rage statewide

Amid a relentless onslaught of horrific wildfires, state lawmakers found it easy Tuesday to pinpoint the most important response: Reduce the fuel feeding the conflagrations that have scorched more than 750,000 acres this year. But making that happen, on a meaningful scale, is fraught with problems, they found. “Obviously, we are in — again — one of the most devastating and destructive fire seasons,” Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott told the 10-member bipartisan committee charged with crafting a legislative response by the end of the month. As Pimlott spoke, at least 15 active wildfires were raging from Shasta County to San Diego County, and he wore a black band on his badge memorializing the Utah firefighter killed Monday while battling the Mendocino Complex fires, the largest in state history. “The risks are real; the challenges are real,” Pimlott said.
The Press Democrat

“I thought it was a bomb”: 9 injured in natural gas explosion at Colorado home

Alexander Ponton thought it was a bomb. Debris smashed into Ponton’s car as he drove east on West 4th Avenue near Santa Fe Drive. The 24-year-old Thornton man got out and heard screams for help coming from a six-unit residence complex. It had exploded. Ponton jumped into action, assisting a man and woman out of the rubble who had cuts and scrapes on them. “First when I got out of the car, delirious, you don’t really think to help anyone right away, but when they’re crying for help, it doesn’t matter your situation,” Ponton said. “If I was still standing, I could still go help them out, so that’s kind of what I did.” Nine people were injured in the natural gas explosion Tuesday afternoon in Denver’s Baker neighborhood, according to the Denver Fire Department. Two people were hospitalized — one in critical condition.
Denver Post

Alabama fire chief pushes for city-owned ambulance service

First Response ambulance response times failed to meet Decatur City Code requirements, but the EMS committee on Tuesday did not recommended City Council action or make a finding that the ambulance service had good cause for its failure. Decatur Fire Chief Tony Grande said he’s frustrated at First Response’s failure to meet the requirements of the city code, but noted that some of the failure could have been the result of overly conservative classification of calls as emergencies by Morgan County 911 and by delays at Decatur Morgan Hospital in preparing patients for non-emergency transport from the hospital. Grande also reiterated his preference for a city-owned ambulance service.
Decatur Daily

Driver slams into Houston Fire Department fire truck, gets trapped in crushed car

A driver had to be pulled from his vehicle early Wednesday after he crashed it into a fire truck, according to an official with the Houston Fire Department. The crash happened about 3 a.m. in northeast Houston, near Little York and Maple Leaf. The black Chevrolet Impala drove up under the truck, he said. The vehicle was crushed and the driver's leg was trapped under the dash, so firefighters had to use tools to open the door and pull him from the car. A pumper truck was backing into a fire station, lights flashing, when the driver tried to go around it at a high rate of speed, said HFD District Chief Eric Hutzley. The traffic signal outside the station was flashing a red light, but firefighters who witnessed the crash said the driver "didn't even hit the brakes," Hutzley said.
Houston Chronicle

Massachusetts First Responders Begin Training on Ultrasound Technology

First responders in Foxborough, Massachusetts, will soon be first in the state to carry a new device that has the potential to save lives. Firefighters filled a classroom Tuesday to train on new ultrasound technology. Unlike most ultrasounds in doctor’s offices, the new device is not bulky and the probe can be plugged into a phone or tablet. “It’s like a flashlight,” said Foxborough Deputy Fire Chief Michael Kelleher, who spearheaded the effort to bring it to the community. “We can see into the human body and see what’s going on. It allows making an actual diagnosis as opposed to using our best judgment.” Kelleher said it can help them diagnose everything from collapsed lungs to internal bleeding, which can be critical given the number of highway crashes officials respond to in Foxborough.

Did delayed dispatches at Indiana 911 center affect outcome of emergency responses?

Leaders of the St. Joseph County 911 center near here know thousands of dispatches have been delayed this year because of computer problems that are being fixed. But they still don’t know how long delays lasted, or if they might have affected responses to emergencies such as fires and heart attacks. Officials say that to investigate those delays, data needs to be provided by Tyler Technologies, the Plano, Texas-based software company whose New World computer-aided dispatch system has been riddled with problems since the center started using it in June 2017. During a phone interview Tuesday, Ray Schultz, the center’s executive director, said he hadn’t yet requested data needed from Tyler Technologies. But in reaction to The Tribune’s questions, Schultz sent an email to a company representative to request the data. Schultz suspects it will difficult to get the data from Tyler Technologies, which has come under fire because of problems.
South Bend Tribune

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