National News

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Firefighters respond when building with many violations collapses in Brooklyn; 1 injury reported

Cleanup was underway Thursday at a multistory health club shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic that collapsed into a heap of rubble in Brooklyn a day earlier. Videos posted on Citizen app show FDNY trucks, an ambulance, and numerous police officers and other first responders near a pile of rubble and debris where the three-story building in Carroll Gardens used to stand at the corner of Court Street and Union Street. The FDNY said that the call came in around 4:38 p.m. When firefighters arrived, they encountered a man who said he had escaped from the second floor of the building just before it came crashing down. The man was taken to an area hospital in stable condition. There was no indication of an explosion, added FDNY officials. The building is home to a gym, according to a check of the address. The facility, called Body Elite Gym, posted online on June 12 that the building was undergoing repairs while it remained closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
WNYW-TV FOX 5 New York

US Department of Commerce Awards $1 Million for R2 Network, Selects Team to Build Network for Innovation in Disaster Response & Resiliency Technology

Three U.S. Department of Commerce agencies, the Economic Development Administration (EDA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority), announced the awardee of the Accelerate R2 Network (R2 Network) Challenge. The R2 Network Challenge is an interagency program that connects stakeholders in the response and resilience (R2) industries, accelerating the speed at which startups and other organizations can bring innovations to the public safety market, create new businesses and jobs, and support community resilience. The three agencies selected a public-private partnership to establish and operate the R2 Network, consisting of the following entrepreneurs, early stage investors, local government and public safety stakeholders: RapidSOS, ResponderCorp, Orleans Parish Communication District, and the Western Fire Chiefs Association.
U.S. Economic Development Administration

Officials: Alabama students throwing ’COVID parties’ to see who gets infected

Students in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 have been attending parties in the city and surrounding area as part of a disturbing contest to see who can catch the virus first, a city council member told ABC News on Wednesday. Tuscaloosa City Councilor Sonya McKinstry said students have been organizing "COVID parties" as a game to intentionally infect each other with the contagion that has killed more than 127,000 people in the United States. She said she recently learned of the behavior and informed the city council of the parties occurring in the city. She said the organizers of the parties are purposely inviting guests who have COVID-19. "They put money in a pot and they try to get COVID. Whoever gets COVID first gets the pot. It makes no sense," McKinstry said. "They're intentionally doing it." Tuscaloosa Fire Chief Randy Smith told the City Council on Tuesday that he has confirmed the students' careless behavior.
ABC News

Green, Yellow, Orange Or Red? This New Tool Shows COVID-19 Risk In Your County

How severe is the spread of COVID-19 in your community? If you're confused, you're not alone. Though state and local dashboards provide lots of numbers, from case counts to deaths, it's often unclear how to interpret them — and hard to compare them to other places. "There hasn't been a unified, national approach to communicating risk, says Danielle Allen, a professor and director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. "That's made it harder for people," she says. Allen, along with researchers at the Harvard Global Health Institute, is leading a collaboration of top scientists at institutions around the country who have joined forces to create a unified set of metrics, including a shared definition of risk levels — and tools for communities to fight the coronavirus. The collaboration launched these tools Wednesday, including a new, online risk-assessment map that allows people to check the state or the county where they live and see a COVID-19 risk rating of green, yellow, orange or red.
National Public Radio

Nearly 400,000 vehicles on the road could catch fire and there is no fix for the problem

VIDEO: Nearly 400,000 Nissan vehicles on the road right now could catch fire. Nissan has issued multiple recalls about the problem, impacting some Muranos, Maximas, Infinitis and Pathfinders, but the company has no fix for the defect that has burned down vehicles, homes and even caught a car dealership on fire. Drivers whose Nissans have gone up in flames said the carmaker ignored them and took no responsibility for the fires. “It smelled like plastic burning, and I just thought I probably shouldn’t drive it home, even though my house was close by,” explained Ellen Erwin. She said she parked her 2016 Nissan Murano at the community mailboxes in her Texas City neighborhood and started walking home after her ABS light came on. “Within a couple of minutes, it was engulfed in flames,” she said. Ellen and her husband, Julian, said they didn’t know the SUV was under recall. They said they did not receive the recall notice that Nissan claims it sent in December 2019. Even if they had, Nissan said there is still no fix for the problem that could cause the fires in 394,000 vehicles.
KPRC-TV NBC 2 Houston

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

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