National News

Monday, May 20, 2019

Proposal to hire civilian first responders concerns Arizona union

Manpower and resources are at a premium inside the Tucson Fire Department. The city is looking to minimize the high call volume firefighters face. “We are doing this for firefighter safety,” interim Tucson Fire Chief Joe Gulotta said. “It’s having an impact on their health. We’re seeing higher levels of sick leave, we’re seeing increase response times because crews are out of service in different areas all over town.” Gulotta believes one solution is to hire civilian Emergency Medical Technicians to handle some of the low priority calls. “When we have firefighters out on calls that don’t necessarily need that skill set, they’re not available to run those calls that we really need them on,” he said. But this proposal is a non-starter with veteran firefighter Josh Campbell and the union he leads. “Simply putting a civilian first responder into a system that’s already broken is not the solution in our mind,” Campbell said.
KVOA-TV 4 Tucson

Trump threatens to cut millions from fire departments in California after deadly wildfires

Officials in California are crying foul over a Trump administration plan to slash firefighting assistance payments to the state, which could amount to millions of dollars in lost income for fire departments. The U.S. Forest Service, in turn, is accusing the local fire departments in the state of over-billing the federal government as part of a federal-state partnership, the California Fire Assistance Agreement (CFAA), that was inked in 2015 and expires in 2020. The disagreement between state and federal fire officials now threatens to upend negotiations to extend that agreement, which state Fire and Rescue Chief Brian Marshall said is essential to combat not just wildfires, but other natural disasters in California. “Local government fire departments respond across jurisdictional boundaries every day,” Marshall told McClatchy. “We cannot afford for this agreement to expire, that would have a devastating effect on the California wildfire system.”
The Tribune

Connecticut EMS petitions to be included in PTSD legislation

There’s controversy over a bill that restores worker’s compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder for police and firefighters. The bill, as it stands now, does not include the state’s EMTs, and they’d like that to change. They say they want to be included in the PTSD legislation. When tragedies occur in any community, whether it be a mass casualty incident, a deadly fire, or a vehicle wreck, many see police and fire fighters as first responders. Senate bill 164 expands workers compensation benefits now to cover mental or emotional impairment by responding firefighters and police. “It was a little disheartening to see that EMS was initially in this bill and was taken out of it,” said Derrick Caranci, EMT. Now EMS personnel statewide have mounted a petition drive to get make sure they too can be approved for workman’s comp, should they be exposed to a post-traumatic stress incident, such as the mass shooting incident in Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Minnesota paramedics making house calls improve care, reduce costs

The job of paramedic conjures up the image of a someone rushing to an emergency in an ambulance, lights flashing and siren blaring — not Shelly Brown. She's a certified community paramedic with Regions Hospital in St. Paul who drives a Volkswagen Beetle, stops at red lights and leisurely enters clients' homes for check-ins. She's part of Minnesota's small cadre of certified community paramedics, who visit patients at home to help them with transitions out of the hospital and with managing chronic conditions. The early results indicate the house calls improve patient satisfaction and reduce spending on medical care. On a recent afternoon Brown dropped by Charlie and Diane Stuns' place in east St. Paul. Charlie Stuns, 64, suffered a stroke in February. He and Diane Stuns initially declined an offer of home visits when the hospital discharged him. But they changed their minds and gave community paramedicine a try.
MPR News

Self-rescue technology coming to Colorado fire department

Pueblo Fire Departments crews will soon be getting new technology to help them navigate through situations where fires create limited or no visibility at all. The city has set aside $30,000 from a public safety grant match fund to purchase thermal imaging cameras that will attach to firefighters’ self-contained breathing apparatuses. Every firefighting team at the department will be getting a camera, according to Rick Potter, the acting fire chief. The firefighter who is wearing the camera can lift it up and look around for hot spots and other trouble areas in a structure when a fire is producing so much smoke that visibility is severely hampered. “When you’re in a zero visibility condition, you will be able to bring that up to your mask and it will see through the smoke and create heat signatures,” Potter said. “In a very simplistic way, it’s like a night vision camera where at night you can’t see, but you bring that night vision camera up and you can all of a sudden. “There are some limitations, like depth perception, but it does allow you to find hidden hot spots and other things like that.”
The Pueblo Chieftain

Friday, May 17, 2019

Houston Mayor: ’No layoffs, no demotions’ after judge rules Prop B ’pay parity’ unconstitutional

A state district court judge has ruled the proposition to match firefighter's pay with police officers unconstitutional. Judge Tanya Garrison ruled the city can't pass a law that goes against the state's existing collective bargaining law. Mayor Turner shared the news during the middle of Wednesday's city council meeting. He said Judge Garrison's ruling kicks in immediately and that means no more 29 percent raises for firefighters mandated by Prop B. The Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association said the court's ruling on Prop B is a "disappointment." As of Wednesday afternoon, the union already filed paperwork to appeal the ruling. "The mayor's vindictive, taxpayer-funded campaign against Houston firefighter families continues. While this fight goes on, we will continue to deliver excellent service, be good stewards of city resources, and give back to the communities we serve," the union said in a statement. Mayor Sylvester Turner said Prop B being ruled unconstitutional means there will be no layoffs of firefighters and city workers. There will also be no demotions within the fire department.

North Carolina county debuts game-changing aerial technology

The Sampson County Fire Marshal’s Office has a game-changing piece of aerial technology that allows for more efficient fire suppression and improved safety for those attacking flames from the ground. Sampson County Office of Emergency Management has been the beneficiary of grants from local electric membership corporations, specifically South River EMC and Four County EMC, that were used to purchase state-of-the-art drones. One purchased last year through a South River grant was utilized at a commercial structure fire for the first time Sunday. “That was the first time we were able to deploy that,” said Sampson Deputy Fire Marshal Joshua Deaver. “It was awesome. Being able to actually get up there and see where the heat was coming from was an incredible tool.” In the wake of an unfortunate incident that ravaged a maintenance shop at Jackson Farming Company in the Autryville area, emergency officials said the deployment of a drone equipped with FLIR (forward-looking infrared) was a silver lining that displayed vast capabilities for future response.
The Sampson Independent

U.S. attempt to improve wildland firefighter shelters fails

An effort to develop a better fire shelter following the deaths of 19 wildland firefighters in Arizona six years ago has failed. Officials at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise in a decision on Wednesday said the current fire shelter developed in 2002 will remain in use. The Arizona firefighters had deployed that same type of shelter in 2013, but still died in the blaze. Last year, however, two wildland firefighters on two separate wildfires used their fire shelters and survived without burn injuries, officials said. The National Wildfire Coordinating Group's executive board determined the current shelter combines the most practical amount of protection balanced against weight, bulk and durability. The U.S. "Forest Service conducted an exhaustive search of materials and designs, working with 23 different entities that produced hundreds of different materials and combinations," officials said. Researchers were tasked to create a shelter that could repel radiant heat, which is felt standing near flames, and convective heat, felt if you put a hand into the fire.

45th annual National EMS Week begins May 19th

In 1974, President Gerald Ford authorized EMS Week to celebrate EMS practitioners and the important work they do in our nation's communities. NAEMT partners with the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) to lead annual EMS Week activities. Together, NAEMT and ACEP are working to ensure that the important contributions of EMS practitioners in safeguarding the health, safety and wellbeing of their communities are fully celebrated and recognized. EMS Week brings together local communities and medical personnel to honor the dedication of those who provide the day-to-day lifesaving services of medicine's "front line." Whether celebrated with a company cookout or a catered lunch; an open house, an awards ceremony or even quiet reflection about what it means to be an EMS practitioner, EMS Week is the perfect time to recognize EMS and all that its practitioners do for our nation.

Part-time Connecticut Firefighters to Choose Pay or Volunteer Ability

VIDEO: The Town of Waterford is making firefighters in town decide whether they want to work part-time and get paid or fight fires as a volunteer. Currently the town has overlap between part-time and volunteer firefighters. First Selectman Dan Steward said the issue was raised after a local part-time firefighter requested to be paid for decades of volunteer service, citing a potential violation of an old federal labor law. In response, Waterford’s Director of Fire Services Bruce Miller sent out a letter to 53 firefighters saying “In electing to serve as a paid, part-time member of the fire services, you will not be eligible to volunteer such services. “That’s a significant decision to give up that kind of money but it’s based on my love of the service and the betterment of the community,” said Cohanzie Fire Co. Chief Todd Branche.

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