National News

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Oregon firefighter positions could get the ax in budget cuts

VIDEO: In 2016, Ashland hired three additional firefighters for the first time since 2001 in response to service demands. Due to a $2 million budget deficit, those brand new positions could be eliminated in the 2019-2021 budget. Ultimately, that would affect service levels in the city and reduce the number of staffed crews from about 10 members to a maximum of nine members. "Anytime you lose people from the fire service that means a service reduction which means we won't be able to provide the same levels of service which could mean increased response times, and increased response times in emergencies is never a good thing," Fire Chief Mike D'Orazi said. D'Orazi wasn't Ashland Fire & Rescue's chief when the additional hires were made, but says those members are invaluable. With the increased staffing from 2016, response times have dropped. At the time, Deputy Chief David Shepherd argued the additional firefighters also cut down on overtime and overworked crews.
KTVL News 10

Texas city sues own fire department

VIDEO: Concerns over title transfers and insurance lead the City of Howardwick to file a lawsuit against the volunteer fire department that protects it. In a recent lawsuit, the City of Howardwick contends a former city secretary improperly transferred the titles of three fire trucks and an ambulance to the Howardwick Volunteer Fire Department instead of to the city. After filing the suit, the city obtained a temporary restraining order to prevent the department from using the fire trucks, saying the vehicles could not be insured through the city without the titles. The city and volunteer fire department reached an agreement: The temporary restraining order would continue until the department obtained insurance on the fire trucks and provided proof to the city. The fire department has since obtained the insurance, so firefighters can use the vehicles... but more issues could arise. That’s because the lawsuit is seeking punitive damages against the department, sufficient to punish it and prevent this from happening again
KFDA News 10 Amarillo

Volunteer fire department in West Virginia restored, shares progress with the community

The Talcott Volunteer Fire Department sits proudly with its engines in line. It was in June of 2016 when the department was closed by state officials who cited lack of crew members and equipment testing. As the community had to rely on other departments as far away as Alderson to respond to calls, Chief Bill Costomiris and board members were forced to build from the ground up to get recertified. Costomiris said that was a feat never reached in the Mountain State. "I am proud to say that this is the only fire department in the history of the state of West Virginia that actually grew out of an old department that was shut down," Costomoris said. "We built a new department out of the same facility using some of the same equipment... it's never been done before."

NTSB: Disconnected gas regulator, unknown ignition source caused deadly 2016 Maryland apartment blast

The National Transportation Safety Board has been unable to determine the ignition source that sparked the explosion in a Silver Spring apartment complex meter room, where natural gas had been building up for at least three hours. Seven people were killed and 65 were sent to the hospital after the explosion and fire at the Flower Branch Apartments on Aug. 10, 2016. In announcing its findings during an NTSB board meeting, the agency announced its probable cause: “the failure of an indoor mercury service regulator, with an unconnected vent line, that allowed natural gas into the meter room, where it accumulated, and ignited from an unknown ignition source.” “Contributing to the accident was the location of the mercury service regulators, where leak detection by odor was not readily available,” according to the report approved Tuesday by the agency.

Some fallen first responders’ children in Michigan not getting tuition aid due to loophole

VIDEO: The wife of a fallen police officer thought she would be getting help - but found out her family won't be getting the benefit of help with tuition bills. A law in the books is supposed to take care of in-state college tuition for the families of fallen officers and firefighters, but there's a loophole that two freshman lawmakers want to tie up to make sure no family is left behind. It's been a tough journey for Yvonne Sawyers-Swanson. In 2004, her husband Mark, a Sterling Heights police officer was shot and killed in his police vehicle. The suspect ran off, and died by suicide before he was caught. She is pushing for legislation that would make sure all children of fallen officers and firefighters who die in the line of duty, have college taken care of at any public university in Michigan. But because of the way the law is written, her daughter Lily, now 16, will not get the benefit.
Fox 2 News Detroit

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Two southern Arizona fire districts to employ new methods to help sick, injured children

Two fire districts in southern Arizona will become the first in the area to put to use new methods to help sick or injured children. Golder Ranch Fire and Northwest Fire District's firefighters will train to use the Handtevy Pediatric Emergency Standards. The standards will allow for firefighters to act quicker and more efficiently when it comes to treating the smallest patients. "As we're even en route to the call the dispatchers are giving us information that we have a little one on scene that's having trouble breathing, they can give us the age so we know that they are five years old, so we can use all our Handtevy information to dose out medication even before we get on scene," said Adam Jarrold, with the Golder Ranch Fire District. In the past firefighters made decisions for treatment based on the weight of the child, but with the standards, firefighters will now get the age of the child and then make treatment decisions based off the weight range that child can be.
KGUN 9 Tucson

New Mexico fire department to create EMS division

For years, most of the Santa Fe Fire Department’s work has not been fighting fires but delivering emergency medical services. It’s finally working on a long-awaited reorganization to better reflect that. When Fire Chief Paul Babcock took over the department in the fall, he made it a priority to create a new EMS division alongside the operations and support services divisions. He is in budget discussions to fill out staffing to oversee emergency response, training and data management, as well as outreach and diversion services to some of the city’s most vulnerable residents. The division’s head, Assistant Chief Greg Cliburn, started with the department as a firefighter/EMT in 1998, and became the medical officer in 2014. “Our call volume has gone up. The health-care system locally has become richer and more complex,” Cliburn said. “I’m excited. I’ve advocated for this pretty much throughout my time as the medical officer.” Cliburn says the number of calls for service has risen from about 8,000 a year two decades ago to about 16,000 a year now.
Santa Fe New Mexican

‘The weakest link’: Why your house may burn while your neighbor’s survives the next California wildfire

The sky was turning orange and the embers were flying from the Camp Fire when Oney and Donna Carrell and Donna’s father sped away from their Paradise home. “I thought, ‘Oh, well, the house is done,’ ” Oney Carrell said. A few days later, they learned otherwise. The Carrells’ home survived the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history with a couple of warped window frames, a partially charred down spout and a stubborn smoky smell inside. Most of their neighborhood was destroyed. A guest house in their backyard, where Donna’s father lived, was reduced to ashes, along with a couple of sheds. Yet their beautifully restored 1940 Studebaker sat untouched in the garage. The arc of destruction the Camp Fire carved through Paradise was seemingly random: Why were some houses saved and others incinerated? As millions of Californians brace for another wildfire season, a McClatchy analysis of fire and property records shows the answer might be found in something as simple as the roofs over their heads — and the year their house was built.
The Sacramento Bee - Metered Site

First responders hope for change in Alabama’s retirement system

If the state of Alabama doesn’t update state law regarding the public employees retirement system, it may end up having a negative impact years down the road for the Vestavia Hills Police and Fire departments, leaders from both departments said. In the 2012 legislative session, the Alabama Legislature changed the way employees were classified, with employees starting their jobs on or after Jan. 1, 2013, classified as Tier 2 employees and everyone else as Tier 1. With that came a change in retirement benefits, with Tier 2 employees receiving a lower monthly benefit into their pension, not being able to convert sick time into the pension and having to be 56, with 10 years of service, before receiving retirement benefits. Tier 1 employees can retire after 25 years of service at any age, or at age 60 with at least 10 years of service. “It’s a disaster waiting to happen,” Police Chief Dan Rary said. Rary and Vestavia Hills Fire Department Battalion Chief Shawn Jackson said they want the Legislature to pass a law allowing municipalities to opt back into Tier 1 benefits. It should not be mandatory, Rary said, but cities need the option to take care of their employees.
Vestavia Voice

Pennsylvania city considers tax break for firefighters

Lower Burrell Council is exploring a local tax incentive for city firefighters to boost their thinning ranks and properly reward their community work. Councilman Joe Grillo is looking at city firefighters forgoing the city’s earned income tax or other possibilities. A course for young firefighters is also under consideration. “It’s a great thing to offer firefighters,” Grillo said. He is not sure exactly what type of tax incentive will be offered as he and the solicitor are reviewing the possibilities before city council takes up the measure. Act 172 of 2016 gives municipalities the option to offer a real estate or earned income tax credit to active members of volunteer fire companies and nonprofit emergency service agencies. Each municipality may choose to offer an earned income tax credit, a real estate tax credit, or both, according to the Pennsylvania Governor’s Center for Local Government Services.

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