National News

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Virginia first responders ‘pushed and kicked’ while responding to a deadly motorcycle crash

Virginia Beach Fire and EMS employees were “pushed and kicked” Monday night while trying to save the life of a motorcyclist, officials say. When firefighters arrived in the 900 block of Atlantis Drive in the Seatack community shortly before 9 p.m. “an unruly crowd gathered and rapidly grew in size and out of control, surrounding the scene,” according to a Virginia Beach Fire Department daily briefing report obtained by WAVY-TV 10. As firefighters tried to treat the man involved in the crash, several were “pushed and kicked” the briefing said. The victim ultimately died from his injuries on the way to the hospital, according to Virginia Beach Police. However, the report goes on to say that some from the crash scene followed an ambulance to Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital and began to “jump on, kick and hit multiple EMS vehicles causing damage.”
WAVY-TV NBC 10 Portsmouth

Firefighter interviews detail terrifying explosion in Maine

VIDEO: The state's final report about the Farmington explosion, obtained by the CBS 13 I-Team, reveals what firefighters experienced in moments just before and after the blast. They’ve never spoken about it publicly, but their interviews with investigators detail the terrifying ordeal and their brave actions that day. The explosion happened while firefighters investigated the report of a possible gas leak, but according to transcripts of interviews with responding firefighters, they didn't smell gas when they arrived. Firefighter Joe Hastings told investigators: "We couldn’t smell any propane, we smelled nothing. I was getting no reads whatsoever." Until they got to the basement, when Hastings said: "When I got to the basement, finally on the ground level the alarm went into full alarm at 100 PPM which our max is at." Hastings said they were going to cut the main “in hopes to not have any electricity spark.”
WGME-TV CBS 13 Portland

California supervisors cut firefighter overtime to address budget crunch

The Kern County Board of Supervisors took a series of steps Tuesday to address a looming budget crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. One of those steps included passing a $3 billion preliminary budget for fiscal year 2020-21, but the most prominent may have been the reduction of firefighter overtime benefits that the County Administrative Office said exceeds federal labor standards. The reduction came as part of a contract supervisors voted to impose on the local firefighters’ union after impasse negotiations between the two parties failed. County officials said the move was necessary to help eliminate a structural deficit within the Fire Fund that’s grown over the years to $9 million. The issue has been a sore spot for many years, with the county paying overtime for sick leave and vacation, beyond standards set by the Fair Labor Standards Act. Under the new deal, firefighters would only receive overtime if they worked beyond a 40-hour workweek.
The Bakersfield Californian

New pre-alert system for firefighters helps limit health issues

EaseAlert is a pre-alert system designed to alert firefighters of an emergency before the alarm sounds in their station. It was created by young entrepreneurs Blake Richardson and Elezar Tonev with the goal to reduce stress and improve efficiency for firefighters. “My dad has been a firefighter most of my life. For years I would see him come home from work every third day just stressed and exhausted. I was seeing the toll that firefighting was taking on him first hand,” Richardson said. After doing some research, Richardson learned that the toll had a bigger impact on firefighters than he thought -- with heart attacks and an alarming number of suicides being leading causes of death. “Of course, firefighting is a very stressful job. We can’t change the inherent nature of the job,” Richardson said, “but what we can change is the alerting process and that’s where EaseAlert comes in.”
WCJB-TV ABC/CW+ 20 Gainesville

For first time in 73 years, Connecticut town’s fire departments officially merge into one

For the first time in 73 years, the town’s fire and EMS departments will operate as one unified department beginning Wednesday. The unified department, the result of merging the Coventry Volunteer Fire Association and the North Coventry Volunteer Fire Department, will be known as the Town of Coventry Fire/EMS Department. It will be made up of volunteers. Ahead of that milestone, town officials Monday held a swearing-in ceremony in Patriots Park for the new interim fire and EMS officers. Bud Meyers, who serves as fire marshal and had been chief of the North Coventry Volunteer Department, was approved by the Town Council on April 20 to become the new unified department’s interim fire chief. He was sworn into that role Monday. “I am looking forward to working with these officers and members of the unified department,” Meyers said today. “We have three core values — dedication, teamwork, and respect.”
Journal Inquirer

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

New York City mayor wants disciplinary records for firefighters and correction officers posted online, just like police

It’s not just cops’ disciplinary records that should be shared with the public -- firefighters’ and correction officers’ histories should be posted online too, Mayor de Blasio said Monday. Now that the state has repealed a part of the 1976 state civil rights law known as 50-a, there is no reason for any city agency to shield relevant records from the public, de Blasio added. “I want transparency across the board,” the mayor said in response to a question from the Daily News. The NYPD for roughly 40 years had made short summaries of cops’ disciplinary records available to reporters. But in 2016, the department began to withhold even that meager information, and argued that the 50-a clause prevented them disclosing such details -- a position that was widely criticized by police reform advocates and the media.
New York Daily News

Asphalt tank erupts into flames in New Jersey, forces evacuations

VIDEO: A fire at an asphalt processing plant resulted in a hazmat situation and evacuations in Camden County, New Jersey early Tuesday. Officials said a large tank containing asphalt began to smolder around 12:45 a.m. at Blueknight Energy Partners on the 200 block of Water Street in Gloucester City. Neighbors said they woke up to a loud bang and their homes shook. Kathy Geiser said she spent all morning in her car with her son worried about their home and neighborhood. "He came running downstairs screaming that he heard an explosion and the asphalt plant around the corner caught fire," said Geiser. "It's scary. It's only a block away." The Gloucester City Fire Department responded to the blaze along with other fire crews. A hazmat unit was also on the scene.
WPVI-TV ABC 6 Philadelphia

First responders in Illinois get $3.5M in grants

A total of $3.5 million was awarded to 154 fire departments, districts and EMS providers through the Small Equipment Grant Program. The Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal and Gov. Pritzker announced the OSFM received 540 applications, requesting around $12 million in funding during this grant period. The Small Equipment Grant Program was established to provide grants of up to $26,000 for the purchase of small firefighting and ambulance equipment. The purpose is to allow eligible applicants the opportunity to purchase small equipment that they may otherwise not be able to purchase, according to an announcement on Monday. Most Illinois fire departments, fire protections districts, township fire departments, and stand-alone, nonprofit ambulance service providers were eligible to apply.
WIFR-LD CBS 23 Rockford

The US has 4% of the world’s population but 25% of its coronavirus cases

The United States has long prided itself as the world's shining beacon. But its current status is a much darker one: the globe's leader in coronavirus cases. More than 125,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the US, and more than 2.5 million Americans have been infected. American life has been irrevocably altered by the worst pandemic in a century. And as the country struggles to reopen, cases of COVID-19 have surged again -- this time in young people and in states that had previously avoided the brunt of the virus. Here, in dollars, percentages and — most tragically — lives, is the pandemic's devastating toll on the US. The US death toll is more than twice as high as that of the country with the second-highest death rate, Brazil. That South American country has reported more than 57,600 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University's global case count.

Florida city touts new fire engine

PHOTOS: City officials invite area residents to join them next week in a celebration of the Fort Walton Beach Fire Department’s new fire engine. City officials used $530,000 in half-cent sales tax money to pay for the 2020 engine, which can pump 1,500 gallons of water per minute and carries a full complement of firefighting, rescue and emergency medical tools and equipment. The public celebration for the engine is set for 9 a.m. July 11 at Station 6, which is at 5 Hollywood Blvd. NE. The event will include a ceremonial wash down and push in of the vehicle, as well as a dedication to a special guest. Attendees will be required to wear face coverings, which will be provided to those who don’t bring their own. Fort Walton Beach officials said in a news release that the new engine will be fully staffed with four firefighter-EMTs and paramedics each shift and is licensed to provide advanced life support medical care.
Northwest Florida Daily News

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