California News

Friday, December 14, 2018

Sonoma County disbanding its fire department to beef up regional agencies

The dismantling of Sonoma County’s 25-year-old Department of Fire and Emergency Services continued this week as the Board of Supervisors shifted two of its key roles — hazardous materials programs and fire prevention — to a different county agency. Next month, another major division — emergency management — will be broken away from the department and moved more directly under the control of the county administrator. The moves stem from long-running discontent within the fire services community over a county agency that had little more than an administrative role, overseeing volunteer companies across the region. Its annual budget was $10 million — $2.4 million which went to firefighting oversight with more than half the money going to department salaries, with many positions filled by retired firefighters already getting a pension .
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

911 call logs reveal terrifying moments at onset of Camp Fire

At 6:33 a.m. on Nov. 8, a Butte County dispatcher answered what was among the first emergency calls in what would become the deadliest wildfire in California history: A “powerline transformer sparked and there is a fire,” the Magalia caller reported. By just after 8 a.m., residents of Concow and Magalia were phoning in a panic — some of them trapped and needing rescue and others frantically alerting authorities to parents and grandparents in harm’s way, according to Butte County dispatchers’ logs. “Her grandfather is at the location fighting off the fire but can not get out,” a dispatcher wrote of an 8:10 a.m. call regarding a man on Green Forest Lane in Concow. A minute later, a call came from a resident on Hoffman Road: “Caller advised her house is on fire and she can not get out. Her mother is stuck and she can not move her. Call had disconnected. Dispatch tried to call back and it was a busy signal.”
San Francisco Chronicle

New Moraga-Orinda Fire District board defies tradition, elects Danziger president

The three newly elected, union-supported members of the Moraga-Orinda Fire District governing board made an immediate impact Dec. 5 by shattering tradition and electing newcomer Steven Danziger as president of the district board of directors. A stunned silence followed director Michael Donner's motion to nominate Danziger, and when Room No. 7 of the Orinda Community Center sprung back to life, speakers bashed the action as dangerous and irresponsible. One member of the public stoked the fears and the rhetoric that suffused the November election campaigns. "I find it disturbing," he said. "I'm concerned with the idea that the union is taking over the board and taking over the fire district." Possibly sensing a runaway train heading his way, Local 1230 President Vince Wells attempted to quell the uprising. "I don't want this election to be the union versus other candidates," Wells said.
Lamorinda Weekly

UC San Diego Fire Station Approved by San Diego City Council Committee

The City of San Diego’s Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee has voted unanimously in favor of approving construction of a fire station on the University of California San Diego campus. The fire station, a first for the campus, would be built as a partnership between the City of San Diego and UC San Diego, with the goal of serving the needs of the growing university, as well as the local surrounding community. Members of the Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee who voted to approve the proposal included San Diego councilmembers Chris Cate, who serves as committee chair; Barbara Bry; and Georgette Gomez. Committee member and San Diego City Councilmember Lorie Zapf was not present for the vote.
UC San Diego News

Fire at vacant Cathedral City building causes $1.5 million in damages

Investigators told News Channel 3 they now have an idea where last night's fire burned. They narrowed it down to two small rooms and a hallway. The building was vacant, so no injuries were reported. One of the last businesses to occupy the spot was a marijuana dispensary about 3 to 4 months ago, according to battalion chief Robert Allison of the Cathedral City Fire Department. Allison estimates the fire caused about $1.5 million in damage and is working with two Palm Springs firefighters and one other Cathedral City firefighter to determine a cause. “The roof that came in is on top of all the evidence, so now we have to peel that back and then the insulation and the drywall and work our way down to the floor and what was originally there when the incident started,” Allison said.
KESQ-TV Channel 3

Thursday, December 13, 2018

San Francisco firefighter dies in crash on way to work

A San Francisco firefighter died in a head-on car crash early Wednesday morning, officials said. Around 5:30 a.m., Steven Pacatte was driving to work behind a Recology garbage truck along a foggy Occidental Road in Santa Rosa, California Highway Patrol officials said. While traveling eastbound toward Piezzi Road, Pacatte attempted to pass the truck by driving his Chevrolet Silverado in the westbound lane and collided with an oncoming Chevrolet Suburban. The garbage truck hit Pacatte’s truck after the first collision, officials said. Pacatte had worked for the Fire Department for nearly three years at stations 3, 14 and 48, fire officials said. He had also recently provided mutual aid at last month’s Camp Fire in Butte County. “Please keep Steven’s family and friends in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time,” the Fire Department said in a statement.
SF Gate: San Francisco Chronicle

Ghost Ship defendants ask for landlords, fire officials arrest for deadly fire

The attorneys for the Ghost Ship defendants are asking the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office for an unusual move — to arrest the warehouse landlords and fire department officials for the deadly fire. Attorneys for Derick Almena and Max Harris announced the motion to compel the arrests on Tuesday, asking for a laundry list of arrests that includes the Ghost Ship warehouse landlord Chor Ng and her two children, Eva and Kai, who served as building managers. Almena and Harris are awaiting trial on 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter each for the deaths of the people who perished in the Ghost Ship warehouse fire on Dec. 2, 2016. Besides the landlord family, the list names several members of the Oakland Fire Department, including Capt. George Freelen, who testified in the case’s preliminary hearing last year that there was a high fire load at the warehouse when he and others entered inside.
East Bay Times

Selma appoints Petersen as fire chief

With four generations of fire-fighting in the family, Selma’s acting fire chief seemed the logical choice for the job. City Manager Teresa Gallavan announced Dec. 5 that Rob Petersen has been appointed as Selma’s new fire chief as of Dec. 8. Chief Petersen has served the City of Selma for 18 years, including the past six months as the acting fire chief upon outgoing Chief Mike Kain’s retirement. “We are proud to appoint Chief Petersen to this position,” Gallavan said. “[His] experience and expertise in fire operations and management, along with his passion for serving the City of Selma, will make him an outstanding leader for the department. Chief Petersen is team oriented with a vision that will help the Selma Fire Department expand and build upon its outstanding service to the residents of the City of Selma.”
Hanford Sentinel

Santa Barbara County upgrading aerial firefighting capabilities with Firehawk helicopter

The aerial firefighting capabilities of Santa Barbara County will take a big leap forward with the purchase of a used Sikorsky HH-60L Black Hawk helicopter from the National Guard. County supervisors approved the purchase on a 5-0 vote waiving the competitive bid requirement, allowing the Fire Protection District to acquire the military-grade helicopter at a fraction of the cost of a new Black Hawk. Third District Supervisor Joan Hartmann said she has a personal interest in the purchase because she was evacuated during the Windmill fire. “The only reason our house didn’t burn down was the aircraft,” Hartmann said. Interim Fire Chief Michael Dyer said the helicopter will cost less than $1.73 million, noting Cal Fire just purchased two new Black Hawks for between $20 million and $25 million each.
Lompoc Record

Possible Burglar Rescued 2 Days After Getting Stuck in Grease Vent of Bay Area Restaurant

A possible burglar had to be rescued from the grease vent of a vacant Chinese restaurant in the Bay Area after being trapped there for two days, authorities said Wednesday. Around 9:30 a.m., firefighters and deputies responded to a reported lockout in the 700 block of Bockman Road in San Lorenzo and heard a man moaning in the building, according to the Alameda County Fire Department. The man explained he was stuck in the duct of the hood system above the stove, officials said. A photo showed his head and body were coated in thick brown grease, his arms crossed over his head as he struggled within the small confines of the space. More resources were sent to the vacant restaurant, and about 30 minutes later, the man was extricated from the grease vent.
KTLA-TV WB 5 Los Angeles

Fresno Fire, Police Department team up to determine if two arsons, drive-by shooting are connected

Fresno Fire is teaming up with Fresno police to see if three separate incidents are connected - two arsons and a drive by shooting all within a 6-month span. Surveillance video, obtained by Fresno Fire investigators, shows the night this southeast Fresno home was targeted by arsonists. Footage captured from two security cameras in the neighborhood show the moments a truck parked in front of the home on east Atchison was intentionally set on fire. Shortly after the flash you see the suspects take off and neighbors run to the front door to alert the family. Fresno Fire investigator Jay Tracy says this isn't the first time they've been called to the home. "Two arson fires and a drive-by shooting it garnered a little bit more of our attention were working with the Fresno Police Department on the drive-by shooting incident," Tracy said.
KFSN-TV ABC 30 Frenso/Visalia

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