All posts by Chile

Why Did You Cut My Roof!

Do the job of firefighting long enough and eventually you will be posed with the question, “Why did you have to cut a hole in my roof?”

This question will probably be delivered to you by an agitated citizen that does not understand the fundamentals of what we in this career field do to mitigate a fire in their home. Most of them don’t have the concepts of fire behavior, fire attack strategies, tactics or many other fundamentals entrenched into their brain the way fire service professionals do. Therefor, it is up to each individual department to be proactive in the area of educating the public.

In California, San Bernardino County Firefighters have been working on developing a series of videos to educate citizens proactively. The following video is an example of taking such a stance to educate the tax-payer and also provides a training tool for enhancement at the firefighter level.


First Female Engineer among Long Beach Fire Promotions

The Long Beach Fire Department promoted its first female to fire engineer in its nearly 113-year history during its Badge Ceremony Friday.

“This is very overwhelming,” Karen Rindone said to the crowd. “I am very proud to be the first, but that’s not why I did it. I’m a motor head.”

With only five years with the Long Beach Fire Department, Rindone said she was honored to be given such responsibility.

The fire engineer is responsible for performing maintenance on and driving “Big Red,” the department’s fire trucks, to and from emergencies.

“It’s very difficult to put into words. It’s a very proud moment, very humbling and I’m very happy to do it,” she said. “We (women) need a presence in the department, but I think there are far more better women who would do a better job than I would, and I hope they promote so I can drive for a couple of them.”

Dennis Garrett, who has been with the department for 10 years, was also promoted to fire engineer.

“It’s special part, because the engineer is directly responsible for the safe arrival of the crew on scene,” he said. “Being the oldest of five, the big brother, I kind of get to be the big brother of the crew making sure everybody gets to and from safely.”

Garrett, an African-American, aspired to be a fireman as a boy and refused to let anything deter his dream.

“I didn’t see too many firemen who looked like me growing up,” he said. “But I came across this fine gentleman when I was in my 20s and he told me about the fire service which had always been a curiosity of mine and I lucked out. I met the right people and I was very fortunate to end up where I am today.”

Abraham Chira, who was promoted to Fire Boat Operator, credited his family for being the support he needed to be a successful firefighter. Continue reading First Female Engineer among Long Beach Fire Promotions

LA County Firefighters Rescue Trapped Tree Trimmer – video story

Firefighters in Cerritos rescued a tree trimmer who became trapped in a 60 foot palm tree. It happened in the 13000 block of Cerritos around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Rescue crews used a ladder to get to the man who had become trapped by giant palm fronds and was losing consciousness. Inspector Matt Levesque of the county fire department says it took firefighters about an hour to rescue the worker. He was loaded onto a basket and carried down the ladder.

The man was taken by ambulance to the hospital with serious injuries. Firefighters say palm fronds are known for trapping and even killing tree trimmers.

“It’s hard to describe unless you actually see it. But the weight of the palm branches come down and they hold together like a ball, if you will, and they’re so heavy that they can crush them and/or suffocate them,” L.A. County Fire Battalion Chief Dean Douty told KTLA.

The man was actually rescued by a rookie firefighter who is set to be promoted to full firefighter on Friday.


Story and media by KTLA

Visalia FD Haz-Mat Team may cease to exist

Come January, if no public or private entity can be found to foot a $200,000 annual bill, the Visalia Fire Department’s hazardous materials response team will cease to exist.

The department will still have its million-dollar hazardous materials response unit, a mobile lab packed with state-of-the-art protective gear and analytical tools. But the 18 Visalia firefighters assigned to hazardous-materials duty will be reassigned.

That’s a potentially dangerous situation, Visalia Fire Chief Mark Nelson said. The response team’s operational funds cover extra pay for hazardous duty and year-round training on equipment that’s constantly being upgraded in a jittery, post-Sept. 11, 2001, environment, he said.

“Hazards change as the world changes,” said Visalia Fire Department Capt. Karl Krauss, who heads up the hazmat unit. “You never know what you’re up against.”

Hazmat calls are broken into levels, with “A” requiring maximum protective gear, equipment and precautions. The lowest response-level is “D.”

“You can always scale back after you get a sample of whatever it is you’re responding to and find out whether it’s actually hazardous,” Krauss said.

During the last four years, however, “A”-level calls have been few.

Visalia’s hazmat unit responds to an average of five “A”-level calls a year throughout Kings and Tulare counties, most concentrated along busy Highway 99. Such calls have involved overturned tanker trucks and leaking diesel engines.

Overall, the unit has responded to about 100 calls a year — most of which could be handled by regular crews, Nelson said.

Story and Photo by Visalia Times / newstip submitted by anonymous

Visalia Firefighters save home

Onlookers using hoses and shovels Tuesday helped keep an east Visalia grass fire in check until firefighters arrived.

Construction workers Robert Zepeda, 29, and Abel Gonzales, 35, were remodeling a home in the 2800 block of Goshen Avenue near Lovers Lane when the fire broke out about 1:15 p.m. Zepeda stationed himself at the northeast corner of the property and kept flames away from a fence with a hose, while Gonzales kept flames from leaping to Goshen Avenue.

“We heard popping and crackling in the back, and then saw flames coming right at us,” Zepeda said. “We grabbed [garden] hoses and boom-boom-boom, did what we could.”

Ashley Willingham lives in the home being worked on by the men.

“Thank you for saving my house!” she said.

Ben Boonstra of Visalia, who was passing by in his pickup, stopped and helped shovel out a firebreak after calling 911. An off-duty firefighter from Springville also stopped to help, Boonstra said.

Visalia Fire Department Capt. Darrin Hughes said such help from citizens is welcome, but that caution and common sense should prevail.

“They did the right thing, and they called 911 first before grabbing a hose,” Hughes said. “But if the fire gets too big, just get the heck out of there.”

A fence just to the west of Willingham’s house was blackened, but the two homes nearby were untouched by flames, witnesses and firefighters reported.

The fire may be connected to a nearby utility pole and an old irrigation pump connected to it, said Charlie Norman, battalion chief for the Visalia Fire Department.
Story and Photo by Visalia Times / News-tip submitted by anonymous

Murrieta Traffic Collision Involves Motor Home Off Bridge

murrietta_MHMurrieta – The Murrieta Fire Department remains on scene of a traffic collision this afternoon involving a single vehicle over the side which occurred at approximately 4:00 p.m. today. The vehicle, an approximately 38′ Class A motor home, was traveling northbound on Washington Avenue, just south of Brown Avenue, when it left the roadway and crashed off the bridge into Murrieta Creek. The driver was the only occupant of the vehicle and suffered moderate injuries. He was transported to a local hospital for treatment by American Medical Response personnel.

During the accident the motor home clipped a 3 inch steel natural gas line running under the bridge and the vehicle remains suspended from the bridge while representatives from Southern California Gas Company work to shut off the gas. There was no rupture to the gas line and there is no natural gas leak at this time, however the gas must be rerouted before the motor home can be moved to prevent accidental ignition.

Gas Company personnel anticipate the work being completed within 4-5 hours. Washington Avenue remains closed between Douglas Avenue and Hawthorn Street. Fire Department and Police Department personnel will remain on scene until the gas line has been repaired and the motor home removed.

Photo courtesy of Division Chief Gary Whisenand, Murrietta FD

Contract talks between LA City and Fire Union Heats up

LAFD40cullomContract talks between Los Angeles negotiators and the city firefighters union are heating up, and not in a good way.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa today ripped into the city firefighters union, calling the labor leaders “irresponsible’’ for posting warning signs in neighborhoods where rescue unions and ambulances have been temporarily shut down as part of the city’s cost-cutting measures.

Fifteen fire trucks and six ambulances are being pulled out of service daily on a rotating basis citywide. All fire stations remain open and staffed.

But the United Firefighters of Los Angeles City posted a “brownout closure map’’ on the union’s website, annoying the mayor even more. Union officials have been locked in negotiations with the city since before the labor contract expired June 30, and talks continued today with no success.

The city is asking firefighters to accept a cut in pay and benefits to help the city close a $530-million budget gap, including a $52-million budget cut at the Fire Department.

“We’re in an economic crisis that’s unprecedented,’’ Villaraigosa said this morning. “All we’ve asked them is to take a small cut. The leadership of that union has refused to do that, so they are engaged in the irresponsible — let me repeat — the irresponsible activity of putting signs in front of fire stations scaring the public …. I think you can tell, the public isn’t responding. They get it. They see it. They recognize that that kind of scare tactic is unacceptable.’’

Firefighter union President Pat McOsker defended the warnings, saying the public “has a right to know about the closure of fire companies and ambulances’’ in their communities, since the action will delay response times and could lead to “more deaths.’’ McOsker said it was unfair to ask firefighters to take a pay cut when most civilian workers are not being asked to do the same.

Story by LA Times

Firefighters unload against 1,200-acre Coffin Fire

LEWISTON – Air tankers and helicopters swooped over Lewiston on Thursday, halting the human-caused Coffin Fire from advancing into the Trinity County town.

“Having aircraft on a fire on steep terrain like this is critical,” said David Shew, a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman. “Without that support from the air, it makes the work on the ground much more difficult.”

Fire commanders had vowed to “paint the hillside” fire-retardant red Thursday in an aerial assault they hoped would protect homes. On Thursday, air tankers dropped more than 55,000 gallons of retardant, following the 119,000 gallons dropped Wednesday, Shew said.

Pilots’ efforts, aided by weather and fuel conditions that kept the blaze from spreading quickly, appeared to have paid off. Shew said the air tankers and helicopters kept the fire from spreading Thursday across fire lines first etched Wednesday.

As of Friday morning, the Coffin Fire was estimated at 1,200 acres and was 50 percent contained, Cal Fire officials said.

The fire should be fully contained, or encircled in a fire line, tonight and out Tuesday, he said.

“There is about one mile still to build around the perimeter of it,” Shew said Thursday evening.

Two firefighters were injured Thursday in the blaze. One suffered a small cut from a chain saw, and the other suffered a heat-related injury. Both injuries were considered minor, Shew said.
Story and photo via The Record Searchlight

Shu Lightning Fire in Alameda County 70% Contained

CAL Fire Patch.JPGA strike team of 22 firefighters from Cal Fire’s Madera-Mariposa-Merced Unit departed Thursday to help fight the Corral Fire in Alameda County, according to Karen Guillemin, Cal Fire spokeswoman.

The strike team also included firefighters from Fresno County, Guillemin said.

The 3,000-acre fire was reported Thursday around 3 p.m. east of Highway 205 and south of Highway 580, near Altamont Pass, according to Cal Fire’s Web site. The fire was about 10 percent contained around 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

Cal Fire Battalion Chief Mike Van Loben Sels said air tankers were dumping water on the head of the blaze and slowing down the spread of the fire, which was moving in a southeasterly direction toward Interstate 580.

The interstate, however, was not closed, and there was no sign the fire or the smoke were affecting traffic, Van Loben Sels said about 4:40 p.m.

He said the fire has threatened several ranch houses in the area, but no damage to structures had been reported. No injuries had been reported.

Guillemin said the firefighters from the Madera-Mariposa-Merced Unit were initially sent to help with efforts fighting the 2,800-acre Lockheed Fire in Santa Cruz County, but they were diverted Thursday afternoon.

Around 42 firefighters from Cal Fire’s Madera-Mariposa-Merced Unit remain in Shasta County, fighting the 17,623-acre Shu Lightning Fire. That fire, which started Aug. 1, is about 70 percent contained.
Merced Sun Star