National News

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Louisiana deputy chief dies after being struck while working at accident scene

The deputy chief of the West Feliciana Fire Protection District was killed Wednesday morning north of St. Francisville while responding to a crash on U.S. 61, according to State Police and Fire Protection District No.1 of West Feliciana. Deputy Chief Russell Achord, 48, of St. Francisville, was responding to an 18-wheeler that had run off the side of U.S. 61 due to icy conditions when the driver of a Dodge Ram pulling a trailer, crashed into the first scene, striking Achord, said State Police spokesman Senior Trooper Bryan Lee. Achord died of his injuries. Lee said 51-year-old Robert McCoy, of Tallulah, lost control of the Dodge Ram as he approached the crash scene on the icy road. Fire Chief James Wood, of Fire Protection District No. 1 of West Feliciana Parish, said the pickup crashed into the 18-wheeler and another emergency vehicle, hitting Achord and other first responders.
Baton Rouge Advocate

Phoenix Fire Department increasingly taps taxis to take 911 callers to hospital

In Phoenix, not every medical 911 call results in an ambulance ride to the hospital. Sometimes, the fire department calls for a taxi to take the person to the hospital instead. The number of taxi rides is growing — overwhelmingly so for people in poor neighborhoods — as fire officials wrestle with more calls and limited resources. The little-known operation, known as the taxi-voucher program, is billed as a way to tend to medical transports not deemed emergencies. Taxi vouchers are paid for by the city and cost a fraction of an ambulance ride.
Arizona Republic, & KPNX-TV NBC 12 Phoenix

Texas Department Places ’Blocker’ Apparatus in Service

Firefighters and other responders working on some of the busiest stretches in Texas now have an added level of safety with apparatus that were recently placed in service. The Irving Fire Department has placed two “blocker” apparatus in service and the department will be adding three more blocker units in the coming months. The department covers 39 miles of major thoroughfares and responds to an average of 850 accident scenes that require blocking annually. Fire Chief Victor Conley said, “It took two years to get that program going, but it’s been great.” Irving currently operates from 12 fire stations housing 12 engine companies, five truck companies and 10 mobile intensive-care units protecting 237,000 residents in 67 square miles.

The effect of repeated exposure trauma on firefighters

Many research studies have focused on firefighter mental health challenges due to a sinAcross the country, firefighters are responding to fewer fires but are increasingly called upon to provide Emergency Medical Services (EMS), perform search and rescue, and react to hazardous materials incidents and natural disasters. They come across a wide variety of tragic situations that play out in or around their homes, along highways, and in every other conceivable part of their communities. RET — the cumulative effect of regularly caring for the broken bodies and wounded minds of victims and their families — is thought to have a negative psychological impact on firefighters’ own mental health.
U.S. Fire Administration

California Supreme Court refuses to reinstate San Francisco firefighters’ award

The state Supreme Court refused Wednesday to reinstate a San Francisco jury’s $3.7 million damage award to 15 firefighters who claimed age discrimination in the city’s scoring of a 2008 exam on promotions to lieutenant. The Superior Court jury agreed with the firefighters in 2013 that the Fire Department’s exam unit had weighed some parts of the test more than others, and ranked the test-takers, in ways that were unrelated to fitness for the promotion, and that had an adverse effect on applicants older than 40. Jurors awarded the 15 plaintiffs damages for lost pay and emotional distress.

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 &

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