National News

Monday, January 27, 2020

Alabama fire chief confirms deaths as fire destroys 35 boats

VIDEOS/PHOTOS: A fire chief in Scottsboro, Alabama has confirmed fatalities in a massive fire that consumed at least 35 boats docked along the Tennessee River early Monday morning. Witness Carol Fuller took video of the boat dock as it was engulfed in flames. She tells us she could hear people cry, but was frustrated that there was no way to rescue them. Scottsboro Fire Chief Gene Mecklaus isn't saying how many people have died. Scottsboro Fire Chief Deputy Rocky Harnen tells WTVC's Aaron Farrar the number of missing, which was 7 earlier, now stands at 8. Chief Deputy Harnen says when crews arrived, there were several people in the water, who crews were able to rescue. Chief Mecklaus said 7 people were hospitalized, and the fire destroyed at least 35 boats docked in Jackson County Park.

New York: Union accuses city of slashing benefits for some firefighters who may become disabled

The union representing full-time Yonkers firefighters is accusing the city of cutting future benefit payments for some fire officials who may retire after becoming permanently disabled while on duty. Yonkers Firefighters, Local 628, International Association of Firefighters, AFL-CIO filed a petition against Yonkers and the state Public Employment Relations Board last month. The petition hinges on whether current members of Local 628 and the Yonkers Uniformed Fire Association are affected by the city’s 2015 choice to stop disbursing night differential, check-in pay and holiday pay to retired firefighters who qualify for certain benefits under state law. Permanently disabled firefighters and fire officers who receive a retirement pension are generally entitled to the difference between their disability retirement and their regular salary or wages until they reach the mandatory retirement age, according to state law.
NY Journal News (

Tactical medics in Ohio seek council OK for firearms when aiding SWAT

Since 1998, the city’s fire department has had a tactical paramedic team that assists the Summit County sheriff’s SWAT team whenever called. With a 2018 change in state law, the nine members on the team and Fire Chief Jeff Funai are hoping that next month City Council will OK the paramedics to be armed during such calls. The council approval could come Feb. 11 or Feb. 25. Team members have paid for their own 9 mm semiautomatic weapons, which Funai repeatedly stressed, would never be carried by Green paramedics when responding to routine medical calls, just on SWAT emergencies. The handguns would allow team members to protect themselves when needed Funai noted that Green isn’t the only community in the region with specially trained paramedic teams working with SWAT units.
Akron Beacon Journal

Sundance: Ron Howard documents aftermath of California’s Camp Fire

Ron Howard knew Paradise, the northern California town devastated by the most destructive wildfire in California history. His mother-in-law had lived there and he had visited the town. He had some understanding of its people. Ten days after what became known as the Camp Fire swept through Paradise, killing 85 people and destroying roughly 19,000 buildings, Howard went to see it. “I've never seen anything like it," he said. A little over a year later, Howard came to the Sundance Film Festival to premiere “Rebuilding Paradise,” a documentary he directed about the aftermath of the Camp Fire, including the colossal cleanup and rebuilding efforts of the close-knit rural community. “It's the story of a community, not the story of a fire," Howard said in an interview. “It's a story of a very cruel test.”
KTVU-TV FOX 2 Oakland

West Virginia city to serve as training site for Quick Response Teams in other parts of U.S.

Huntington is now a mentor site for law enforcement officers and first responders from across the United States who are looking to launch or expand drug diversion programs like those already in place in Cabell County, including the Quick Response Team. “There will be people coming from all across the country, actually coming here to go out with the team and see what we’re doing firsthand,” said Connie Priddy, program coordinator for the Huntington QRT. Those with the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance recently selected the eight locations for the Law Enforcement and First Responder Diversion and Referral Program Mentoring Initiative out of a competitive process. Along with Huntington, the other mentor sites are in Philadelphia, Pa., Colerain Township, Oh., Plymouth County, Mass., Lucas County, Oh., Seattle, Wash., Lake County, Ill. and Pima County, Az.
West Virginia MetroNews

Friday, January 24, 2020

2 people killed in explosion that rocked northwest Houston

VIDEOS: Broken windows, busted garage doors, and plumes of smoke could be seen from a northwest Houston neighborhood rattled by a large building explosion. According to area residents, the explosion happened around 4:20 a.m. Friday at Watson Valve Services, which is about half a mile away from their homes on Rockcrest road and Stanford Court. Nearly every house in the area had extensive damage, including blown-out windows, damaged garage doors and more. “(The explosion) knocked us all out of our bed, it was so strong,” said resident Mark Brady. “It busted out every window in our house. It busted everybody’s garage door in around here … and closer toward the explosion over here, it busted people’s roofs in and walls in, and we don’t know what it is … It’s a warzone over here.”

13 Detroit firefighters, 4 sergeants charged in house fire photo

An official with the Detroit Fire Department said 13 firefighters are facing department charges for a photo that surfaced on New Year's Day that featured them posing in front of a burning house in Detroit. The Detroit Fire Department official was not authorized to go on the record about the 13 firefighters but told FOX 2 they are charged with exhibiting ignorance of the rules or orders. Additionally, 4 sergeants who were involved have also been charged with failure to supervise or take the appropriate action. Detroit Fire Commissioner Eric Jones released a statement saying that the appropriate discipline would be doled out. The picture was posted on social media on New Year's Eve and featured the firefighters posing in front of a burning home on South Green Street in Detroit with a caption that says, "Crews take a moment to take a selfie on New Years!"
WJBK-TV FOX 2 Detroit

Cleveland Fire Department takes steps to improve arson investigations

The Cleveland Fire Department is taking steps to better protect your neighborhood while possibly saving you money, improving how it responds to suspicious fires. "It's very unusual for somebody to have more than one fire in their life," said Chief Chris Posante, Cleveland Fire Investigation Unit. However, in Cleveland, serial arsonists are keeping the city’s recently revamped investigation unit busy. In 2019, the department investigated 349 fires. "For the city of Cleveland, arson's a problem. Some of these people we've identified had four and five fires," Posante said. One of the biggest factors fanning those flames is insurance fraud. "It's an arson for profit scheme," Posante said. In their ongoing effort to crack down on those criminals, the firefighters—turned police officers—are adding new equipment to better execute their investigations.
WEWS-TV ABC 5 Cleveland

New York mayor meeting with health, emergency officials on plan to tackle potential coronavirus cases

Mayor Bill de Blasio will meet with health officials on Friday to discuss the city’s response to any potential cases of the deadly coronavirus, which has shut down parts of China and led to fears of an epidemic. The mayor will meet with members from the Department of Health, NYC Emergency Management, the FDNY and the NYPD on Friday morning to talk about how the city will respond if the virus makes its way to the city. New York City is home to some 8.6 million people and health officials are taking a proactive approach to responding to the disease. Many people are traveling this week for the Chinese Lunar New Year, which begins Saturday. A case has already been reported in a man in Washington State; officials said they’re monitoring 43 people he had contact with.
WINS 1010 AM

Ohio: Newcomerstown’s early bucket brigade

Just think that over a hundred years ago there was no cellphones, no 911 emergency system, no fire department as we know it today! If your home caught on fire, you had to rely on whoever happened to be nearby to help you extinguish the fire, then hopefully you were within reach of a pump, or a water resource. Nowadays the village of Newcomerstown is in the very capable hands of the Newcomerstown Emergency Rescue Squad & Division of Fire when it comes to the need for fire control and rescue. Early records indicate that the village had a volunteer fire department well before 1870. The very early fire-fighting process consisted of a bucket brigade which was comprised of volunteers and whichever citizens were nearby, and available to assist. The brigade would use water from the Tuscarawas River, Ohio-Erie Canal, or Buckhorn Creek.

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