VIDEO: In a field traditionally seen as one for men, a crew of female firefighters is hosing down the stereotypes.
The West Carter County Fire Department has the first all-female duty in the region.
The four women that make up the shift are Ashley Perdue and her mother Carol Jones, Amber Hubbard and Krysten Kelch.
As a volunteer fire department, all the women work other full-time jobs outside of their commitment to the station.
These women are on the front lines of fighting fire in Carter County, proving that the job is not just for men.
"You just have to know what you can do and what you can't do and as long as you know that? The sky is the limit," says Perdue.
The four women stay overnight at the station when they are on-call for what they fondly call "girl's night."
"It's a different bond. And we've really enjoyed that," says Jones.
PHOTOS: Kara Rathbone’s story may sound familiar to many firefighters who marched with her Tuesday along Bagby Street in downtown Houston.
Rathbone’s husband, Austin, drives to work from their home in Bellville, about 70 miles away. A seven-year Houston firefighter, he has received scant raises since joining the department, and makes ends meet by installing irrigation systems on the side and working for a small fire department near Bellville, where about 4,300 people live.
“That pay is everything. We have two kids. I have to stay home with them. I have a part-time job,” she said. “…The small amount that we get every two weeks in pay, it doesn't cover what we need.”
Fed up with the pace at which Mayor Sylvester Turner’s administration has carried out Proposition B — the voter-approved November referendum granting firefighters the same pay as police of corresponding rank and experience — the Rathbones joined several hundred others in a march on City Hall where union officials demanded full implementation of the raises and called on Turner to “stop playing games with public safety.”
The Houston Chronicle
The city of Bloomington has been incorrectly billing businesses for fire protection for nearly 10 years, resulting perhaps in the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue.
The current monthly rate, based on the diameter of the water line that serves a business's internal fire suppression system, is $27.20 per inch.
"Due to an oversight (the city) has been incorrectly billing $6.80 per inch for the fire protection charge," said the city in a letter dated March 13 and sent to about 1,200 businesses, including The Pantagraph, to notify them of the recently discovered oversight.
The fire protection charge comes from the city's water department, which was consolidated into the public works department in October.
Public Works Director Jim Karch said Tuesday he does not know how much the error cost the city.
The city’s fire department is testing out a new device that could help drivers using navigational apps steer clear of firetrucks responding to an emergency, helping improve safety for both drivers and firefighters.
The device, a small black box about four inches tall and wide, sends out alerts to drivers about the locations of the trucks to drivers using a navigation app called Waze. The company that makes the device, Chicago-based Haas Alerts, hopes the alerts will eventually be incorporated into other navigational apps as well as heads-up driving displays in cars.
The department installed its first Haas Alerts device, which it is testing as part of a pilot program, on a city fire engine on Thursday. Jackson said that keeping people away from an emergency where fire crews are helps keep both first responders and drivers safe.
Haas Alert’s chief operating officer, Noah Levens, said the company hopes its technology will help prevent collisions between cars and both emergency vehicles and individual first responders.
The Patriot Ledger
The city of Lincoln is asking a judge to throw out the jury’s $1.2 million verdict in favor of a Lincoln firefighter, in part because of how jurors arrived at the amount.
Last month, at the end of a two-week trial, a federal jury in Omaha awarded Troy Hurd, a Lincoln fire captain, $1,177,815.43 for retaliation after he reported discrimination against a female firefighter trainee born in Iraq.
The bulk of the money was for emotional distress — past ($166,500) and future ($930,472) — plus $44,000 for lost wages and $36,000 in past and future medical expenses.
In a motion filed this week, Assistant City Attorney Jocelyn Golden said a city paralegal talked to five jurors and learned that another of the jurors had created a spreadsheet at home and brought his computer in on the second day of deliberations to help them determine damages for future emotional distress.
One juror said "the amount of damages the members of the jury believed was appropriate was millions of dollars apart," Golden said.