National News

Friday, March 22, 2019

Tennessee mom, daughter part of first all-female firefighting crew ’hosing down’ stereotypes

VIDEO: In a field traditionally seen as one for men, a crew of female firefighters is hosing down the stereotypes. The West Carter County Fire Department has the first all-female duty in the region. The four women that make up the shift are Ashley Perdue and her mother Carol Jones, Amber Hubbard and Krysten Kelch. As a volunteer fire department, all the women work other full-time jobs outside of their commitment to the station. These women are on the front lines of fighting fire in Carter County, proving that the job is not just for men. "You just have to know what you can do and what you can't do and as long as you know that? The sky is the limit," says Perdue. The four women stay overnight at the station when they are on-call for what they fondly call "girl's night." "It's a different bond. And we've really enjoyed that," says Jones.

Houston firefighters march on City Hall over Prop B ’pay parity’ raises, layoffs

PHOTOS: Kara Rathbone’s story may sound familiar to many firefighters who marched with her Tuesday along Bagby Street in downtown Houston. Rathbone’s husband, Austin, drives to work from their home in Bellville, about 70 miles away. A seven-year Houston firefighter, he has received scant raises since joining the department, and makes ends meet by installing irrigation systems on the side and working for a small fire department near Bellville, where about 4,300 people live. “That pay is everything. We have two kids. I have to stay home with them. I have a part-time job,” she said. “…The small amount that we get every two weeks in pay, it doesn't cover what we need.” Fed up with the pace at which Mayor Sylvester Turner’s administration has carried out Proposition B — the voter-approved November referendum granting firefighters the same pay as police of corresponding rank and experience — the Rathbones joined several hundred others in a march on City Hall where union officials demanded full implementation of the raises and called on Turner to “stop playing games with public safety.”
The Houston Chronicle

City underbills business fire protection fees for 10 years in Illinois

The city of Bloomington has been incorrectly billing businesses for fire protection for nearly 10 years, resulting perhaps in the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue. The current monthly rate, based on the diameter of the water line that serves a business's internal fire suppression system, is $27.20 per inch. "Due to an oversight (the city) has been incorrectly billing $6.80 per inch for the fire protection charge," said the city in a letter dated March 13 and sent to about 1,200 businesses, including The Pantagraph, to notify them of the recently discovered oversight. The fire protection charge comes from the city's water department, which was consolidated into the public works department in October. Public Works Director Jim Karch said Tuesday he does not know how much the error cost the city.
The Pantagraph

Massachusetts city tests new device to help drivers avoid firetrucks

The city’s fire department is testing out a new device that could help drivers using navigational apps steer clear of firetrucks responding to an emergency, helping improve safety for both drivers and firefighters. The device, a small black box about four inches tall and wide, sends out alerts to drivers about the locations of the trucks to drivers using a navigation app called Waze. The company that makes the device, Chicago-based Haas Alerts, hopes the alerts will eventually be incorporated into other navigational apps as well as heads-up driving displays in cars. The department installed its first Haas Alerts device, which it is testing as part of a pilot program, on a city fire engine on Thursday. Jackson said that keeping people away from an emergency where fire crews are helps keep both first responders and drivers safe. Haas Alert’s chief operating officer, Noah Levens, said the company hopes its technology will help prevent collisions between cars and both emergency vehicles and individual first responders.
The Patriot Ledger

City seeks to overturn Nebraska firefighter’s $1.2M jury verdict, calling damages ’excessive’

The city of Lincoln is asking a judge to throw out the jury’s $1.2 million verdict in favor of a Lincoln firefighter, in part because of how jurors arrived at the amount. Last month, at the end of a two-week trial, a federal jury in Omaha awarded Troy Hurd, a Lincoln fire captain, $1,177,815.43 for retaliation after he reported discrimination against a female firefighter trainee born in Iraq. The bulk of the money was for emotional distress — past ($166,500) and future ($930,472) — plus $44,000 for lost wages and $36,000 in past and future medical expenses. In a motion filed this week, Assistant City Attorney Jocelyn Golden said a city paralegal talked to five jurors and learned that another of the jurors had created a spreadsheet at home and brought his computer in on the second day of deliberations to help them determine damages for future emotional distress. One juror said "the amount of damages the members of the jury believed was appropriate was millions of dollars apart," Golden said.
Journal Star

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Firefighter Dies While on-Duty at Philadelphia International Airport

A veteran Philadelphia firefighter has died after suffering a medical emergency while on duty with the engine company assigned to Philadelphia International Airport. Firefighter Michael Bernstein died at the hospital around 1:50 Wednesday morning after being found unresponsive while on duty at Engine 78, "C" Platoon at PHL, the fire department and fire union said. He was 46. Fellow firefighters found Bernstein and administered CPR after he failed to respond to an assignment in the terminal early Wednesday, Philadelphia Firefighters Union Local 22 said. Bernstein served at various fire companies over his 22-year career with the Philadelphia Fire Department. He is survived by a wife and three children. Mayor Jim Kenney remembered Bernstein as a dedicated public servant and ordered all City of Philadelphia flags to be flown at half-staff for the next 30 days.
NBC 10 Philadelphia

House plan offers additional protections for Michigan first responders

State Reps. Ryan Berman, Brandt Iden and Jeff Yaroch have introduced a plan to stiffen penalties for criminals who threaten or carry out targeted attacks on first responders and corrections officers in Michigan. Berman, who serves as a reserve police officer, said attacks on law enforcement officers and other first responders have increased over the past few years, creating a need for stronger protections. “Our first responders put their lives on the line each and every day to protect the public,” said Berman, of Commerce Township. “It’s upsetting to think anyone would become a target just because of the uniform they wear, but that’s the unfortunate reality for too many of our emergency personnel.” The new legislation would protect law enforcement officers, corrections officers, firefighters and emergency medical service personnel by providing additional deterrents against crime. Under the plan, anyone who is found to have committed a violent felony targeting a first responder would be subject to two additional years in prison, served consecutively with any other penalties.
Fox 47 News

Fight against opioid crisis takes toll on New Hampshire’s first responders

VIDEO: First responders are on the front line of New Hampshire's drug epidemic every day, and the trauma they experience dealing with the victims often follows them home. Manchester police, firefighters and EMTs described the consequences of compassion fatigue Tuesday to U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan. "Certainly in my 35 years on the job, I've never seen this much death," Manchester Fire Chief Dan Goonan said. During a roundtable discussion, officials told Hassan that their fight against the opioid crisis is taking a toll. "The impact of this epidemic on children, that is what's bothering these first responders the most, because having parents with addiction has become the norm for some of them," Hassan said. Officials with American Medical Response said they had to deal with the suicide of one of their own in December. They said it's a reminder that the trauma first responders deal with at work doesn't stay there.

North Carolina cities: Separation pay for firefighters, EMS costly

A first responders' advocacy group is pushing for a new benefit for retired firefighters and rescue squad workers — one currently enjoyed by retired police officers — but municipal officials across the state, including in Elizabeth City, warn it will be hard to pay for. The Parity For First Responders legislation, House Bill 278, and its companion bill in the Senate, Senate Bill 179, would grant a separation allowance to firefighters and emergency medical services personnel who retire with 30 years of service. If they retire at age 60, they would only need 25 years of service, according to the proposed legislation. Currently, that benefit is available only to law enforcement retirees. The text of the legislation also states that the earliest firefighters or EMS personnel could collect the benefit would be July 1, 2024. The benefit would vary based on the salary someone retires with, but would be around $1,000 a month per retiree, according to Brian Lewis, a lobbyist for the Professional Fire Fighters and Paramedics Association of North Carolina.

County leaders approve $4.6 million fire services reorganization in California

In a move described as “generational change,” Sonoma County supervisors Tuesday unanimously approved a $4.6 million plan to reorganize volunteer fire departments and boost staffing at four tax-supported fire districts. The approval followed positive comments from a dozen fire agency representatives in the audience, a sharp contrast from an earlier proposal that generated animosity within the fire services network. The plan, which includes placing 11 volunteer fire companies under unified management, is aimed at undoing the longstanding balkanization of county fire services, with more than three dozen volunteer companies, fire districts and city departments providing emergency medical services and firefighting at uneven levels as many struggle financially and lack sufficient volunteers. Getting them to move toward consolidation, the ultimate goal of the two-year plan approved Tuesday, required a departure from decades of tradition and rural independence.
Petaluma360 & Petaluma Argus Courier

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