Citing rats, broken plumbing, leaky ceilings, poor ventilation and run-down equipment, firefighter unions across the state are sounding the alarm about station houses they say receive little attention, saying poor conditions raise safety fears and hurt morale.
“There’s concerns statewide,” said Richard MacKinnon Jr., president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts.
A state law signed by Gov. Charlie Baker last year that enforces standards created in the Occupational Safety and Health Act for all state and local government workers, took affect Feb. 1, forcing municipalities to address the issues, according to MacKinnon. Some stations, where firefighters both live and work, have real safety concerns, he said.
A fire engine breakdown in Woburn recently forced firefighters to respond to calls in a station pickup truck. The station has been criticized for having rat infestations, jammed windows and floor damage during storms. Woburn has taken initial steps toward building two new stations, appropriating $600,000 for a feasibility study.
The Boston Herald
Federal transportation officials are requiring railroads to establish regional response teams along oil train routes following a series of fiery derailments.
The new rule announced Thursday is aimed at having crews and equipment ready in the event of an accident. It applies to oil trains in continuous blocks of 20 or more loaded tank cars and those having 35 loaded tank cars.
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued the rule in coordination with the Federal Railroad Administration. The pipeline safety agency said a review identified challenges that occurred during previous responses to derailments.
"This final rule is necessary due to expansion in U.S. energy production having led to significant challenges for the country's transportation system," the agency said.
In 2014, the agency issued a report detailing the concerns of fire chiefs and emergency management officials in oil train accidents, including that emergency responders were not fully aware of resources available from railroads and other organizations that would be helpful in preparing for such disasters.
California’s most affluent special districts nearly doubled their spending over the course of a decade, while the value of their cash and investments nearly tripled, according to a Southern California News Group analysis of state data.
The figures revive the question many good-government advocates have been asking for decades: Do special districts, which operate largely under the public radar, simply have too much money?
Critics say they do, and argue that their functions should be absorbed into cities and counties that overlap their boundaries.
Special districts say they don’t, insisting they simply safeguard vital infrastructure and are better left alone.
California’s 250 largest special districts had cash and investments worth $47.1 billion when the 2017 fiscal year drew to a close, up dramatically from $17.9 billion a decade earlier, according to data from the State Controller’s Office. That’s a leap of almost $30 billion, or 164 percent.
Total spending, meanwhile, jumped nearly 100 percent — from $27.4 billion to $53.5 billion.
Daily Breeze - Metered Site
Local firefighters claim in a federal lawsuit against the town that they have been denied overtime pay for nearly a decade.
The suit filed Saturday by Chesterton Firefighters Local 4600 also claims that despite assurances from the town that "nothing would change," a policy change was enacted just days after the current labor contract was signed that limits firefighters ability to use four 24-hour periods of earned time off each year, according to the union's attorney, Angela Jones.
"It is important to note that even with the four additional days, Chesterton Firefighters receive less time off than neighboring departments," Jones said.
"The decision to file suit against the Town was a very difficult one and the Union and Firefighters made every single effort to avoid litigation," Jones said in a prepared statement. "Unfortunately, the Town’s representatives have responded in an aggressive and intimidating manner, displaying nothing short of 'bullying.'
An Orlando firefighter fired last year for a positive drug test was given his job back last week, after he argued the cocaine in his system was a result of drinking a tea made with coca leaves, an internal investigation shows.
The positive drug test results, recorded during an annual physical exam in December 2017, prompted the Orlando Fire Department to fire Kevin Reynolds two months later, according to documents released this week in response to a Jan. 4 public records request.
He was found to have committed two violations: use of intoxicants or drugs and a general order on drug and alcohol testing. The policies prohibit department members from using illicit drugs “at all times on or off the job,” the order states.
Records show Reynolds told investigators he tested positive for cocaine because he drinks coca tea, which is consumed in South America to combat altitude sickness.