National News

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Jon Stewart, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand help spread word on 9/11 healthcare at New York seminar

Following the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund being permanently extended by the federal government this summer, hundreds of Lower Manhattan community members attended a Sept. 16 informational seminar to learn about access to 9/11-related healthcare. Speakers at the event included officials and advocates, including Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and comedian Jon Stewart. The event was held at Borough of Manhattan Community College, at 199 Chambers St., just blocks away from the World Trade Center. The law firm Barasch & McGarry, which represents more than 15,000 people in the 9/11 community, handed out informational packets on how individuals — including residents, students and anyone who was exposed to W.T.C. toxins — can access full healthcare benefits for illnesses. John Feal, a first responder and advocate, emceed the seminar.
The Villager

Washington woman wins fight to have firefighter husband’s death ruled job-related

"Excellent dad, the best. They don't come any better than him," says Kalina Shouse when asked about her husband Erik. The couple have two beautiful, intelligent, active little girls but Kalina Shouse no longer has the man who helped make them; Erik Shouse died last year at just 40, suddenly and unexpectedly. An autopsy revealed the otherwise healthy firefighter had heart disease. The state of Washington recognizes a number of conditions -- cancers mostly -- as presumptive, meaning a direct result of firefighting. Heart attack is one of them, but only if it occurs within 24 hours of strenuous activity related to the job or within 72 hours of smoke exposure. Neither applied to Erik Shouse but in a pivotal decision by Labor and Industries, his heart disease -- and consequently his death -- was ruled presumptive or, in other words, caused by his job. And that designation entitles Kalina and her children to survivor's benefits.
KIRO-TV CBS 7 Seattle

Fire Pension Board takes action to seize millions it says are owed by Illinois city

Since East St. Louis was freed of oversight from the Illinois Financial Authority in 2013, the city has fallen nearly $2.3 million short in mandated payments to the fund that supports firefighters and their families in retirement, according to an audit. The East St. Louis Fire Pension Board on Monday voted unanimously to recover those contributions from the city through an “intercept procedure,” in which it would petition Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s office to seize state payments to the city and deposit them directly to the pension funds. As a result, East St. Louis could see agencies like the police and fire departments without money for daily operation. According to the 2018 audit by Alton accountant C. J. Schlosser, the city owed $3,358,997 to the fire pension fund, but paid just $2,029,232. The funding shortfall in 2017 was nearly $900,000, the audit states.
Belleville News-Democrat

Oregon fire district launches effort to bring in information on rural access

Responding to a medical call in a rural area outside of town, emergency responders pause for a moment to figure out how they can access a property. By the way, it’s the middle of a moonless night. “We used to do that with our old manual map books and open it up,” Capt. Rich Saalsaa, Philomath Fire & Rescue’s fire and life safety officer remembered. “But at 4 o’clock in the morning and if it’s pitch dark and you’re trying to read this map, it just doesn’t go well.” These days, modern-day technology has closed the book on those old methods and emergency responders can find their way through the help of a computerized database. Philomath Fire & Rescue’s recent equipment upgrades allows the district to input helpful information that comes in handy on a call.
Corvallis Gazette-Times

Dallas Firefighters Rescuing First Responders From Bad Coffee

During a late night of emergency calls last year, Dallas firefighter and paramedic Paul Clarke decided he was sick of drinking bad coffee to keep him alert during shifts. He wanted to create a better brew for himself and his fellow first responders. But before he could, Clarke—an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve—was deployed to Iraq for nine months. But he didn’t abandon the idea. In his free time he developed a concept for a coffee operation that would give back to the men and women on the frontlines back home. “We started pricing out the roasting equipment and working on the brand, the logo, and the art on the packages,” Clarke says. “When I got back, I pulled the trigger on everything.” With the help of two Air Force captains, a fellow Marine captain, his best friend, and his dad, Clarke launched Fire Grounds Coffee Company at the beginning of this year.
D Magazine

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Body of fallen Maine firefighter Captain Michael Bell returns home

The body of the Captain Michael Bell who died Monday in the explosion in Farmington will return home Tuesday morning. Fire Capt. Michael Bell, 68, was a 30-year-member of the Farmington Fire Rescue and died in the powerful, apparent gas-related blast at LEAP Inc., that leveled the building, killing Bell and injuring seven others. Six other firefighters and a maintenance worker were sent to the hospital, as of Tuesday morning five still remain there. A procession of fire and police crews from around the state will escort Bell's body from Augusta where it was autopsied at the Medical Examiner's Office beginning at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. The procession will arrive in Farmington around 10:30 a.m. driving down High Street onto Broadway and back down Main Street to the Farmington Fire Dept. and ending at the Wiles Remembrance Center Funeral Home at 137 Farmington Falls Road.

Scabies Outbreak Affects 20 Maryland County Firefighters

Twenty Prince George's County firefighters have scabies, a highly contagious condition in which tiny mites burrow under the skin and cause severe itching and rashes, fire and health officials announced Monday. Prince George's County Fire Chief Ben Barksdale said 205 employees of the department were tested. The 20 firefighters who have scabies work at 13 different fire stations in the county. Barksdale did not say which stations. Barksdale said there would be no impact to service and there is no reason for the public to worry as no firefighters with scabies would be out responding to calls. As a precaution, the department said it is reaching out to people who may have had contact with the affected firefighters. Scabies can spread rapidly under crowded conditions where close body contact is frequent, such as nursing homes, extended-care facilities and prisons, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

U.S. Honor Flag travels around Utah to honor fallen first responders

The U.S. Honor Flag came back through Utah, making several stops along the Wasatch Front. It travels the country honoring first responders who have given their lives for the community. It has made its way 7 million miles in the last 18 years, starting as a way to honor the hero’s of Sept. 11, 2001. The flag has visited countless schools and been by more than 1,000 gravesides. It represents the fallen and serves as a reminder of the sacrifices of those who currently protect communities every day. On Monday, the group started in Provo honoring fallen Officer Joseph Shinners. 2News attended the ceremony in Draper. A couple dozen police and fire officials gathered outside city hall to remember fallen firefighter Matthew Burchett. It’s the second time the flag has made an appearance in the city.
KUTV CBS 2 Salt Lake City

Connecticut firefighters approve 6-year contract

Firefighters have approved a contract that gives them an 11 percent wage increase over the course of the 6-year agreement, but also boosts the employee pension contribution and limits the number of retirees in a given year. The document between the city and Local 825, IAFF, AFL-CIO has been sent to the Board of Alders, which must act on it by Oct. 21 or it automatically goes into effect. It covers six years with a one percent increase retroactive in fiscal 2019 and 2 percent retroactive for fiscal 2020. Only active employees will receive the retroactive checks, which will be distributed in two payments: half paid within 2 months of approval by alders and the other on July 1. For fiscal 2021 through fiscal 2013, the firefighters will get a 2 percent raise in each year.
New Haven Register

California university team uses machine learning to help tell which wildfires will burn out of control

An interdisciplinary team of scientists at the University of California, Irvine has developed a new technique for predicting the final size of a wildfire from the moment of ignition. Built around a machine learning algorithm, the model can help in forecasting whether a blaze is going to be small, medium or large by the time it has run its course – knowledge useful to those in charge of allocating scarce firefighting resources. The researchers’ work is highlighted in a study published today in the International Journal of Wildland Fire. “A useful analogy is to consider what makes something go viral in social media,” said lead author Shane Coffield, a UCI doctoral student in Earth system science. “We can think about what properties of a specific tweet or post might make it blow up and become really popular – and how you might predict that at the moment it’s posted or right before it’s posted.”
UCI News

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