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San Bernardino Firefighters Talk About Mass Casualty Incident

In a press conference where first responders answered questions regarding the tragedy that occurred on December 2nd, 2015, several of the first-in members from the SBFD discussed their actions and team efforts with law enforcement and mutual aid agencies in order to triage and treat patients. The interviews took place one week after the event occurred and gave law enforcement and fire rescue personnel the opportunity to honor the victims and survivors while reflecting on the incident.

San Bernardino Shooting: Calm response, training were key after shootings, tapes show

Worldwide attention is focused on the human toll of the San Bernardino massacre: 14 dead, 21 wounded among the deadliest attacks in recent U.S. history.

But it’s clear that the carnage could have been worse: both killers were heavily armed with assault rifles, pistols, seemingly unlimited ammunition, even explosives. They protected themselves with body armor and apparently detailed planning. Then they escaped.

It might seem police were lucky in finding the killers in just four hours and winning the resulting firefight. But recordings of the emergency radio calls suggest the victory was rooted in training, fast action, good decisions, teamwork, and the eerily calm and deliberate help of dispatchers, firefighters and helicopter crews.

“We do not know if we still have an active shooter,” a police lieutenant radioed just minutes after the killing began. “We supposedly have two down inside. We’ll be making entry.”

Tapes also show that Syed Farook was identified as a suspect almost immediately.

The rescue effort and manhunt unfolded with the speed of a thrill ride and the drama of a Hollywood movie. What follows are merely a few examples.

“We’re monitoring PD’s (radio) traffic,” a San Bernardino fire engine captain announced. “Go ahead and put Engine 4 on that call.”

Moments later, he explained his decision to act without specific orders.

“We’re trying to get hold of the chief,” he radioed. “We put ourselves on this call due to the number of people that are down.”

A sheriff’s dispatcher spread the word.

“San Bernardino has an active shooter,” she told deputies throughout the San Bernardino Valley. “They’re asking for all units that are available. 1365 South Waterman. 1365 South Waterman. Several victims down. We don’t have much further” information.

Ugly details soon emerged, broadcast calmly and clearly.

From an officer at the scene, a description of the getaway car and the danger.

“Four-door SUV, full size,” he radioed. “And they were carrying assault rifles, possibly AR-15s.”

The cast of characters mushroomed. Plans were born quickly and precisely. No words or time were wasted. Unmarked police cars shuttled gunshot victims to paramedics. Officials established two medical treatment areas, one north, the other south of the danger area.

But they couldn’t save them all.

“Sam 15,” a sergeant’s radio call sign rang out. “Per fire (department), we have 12 DOA in the south building.”

Then, they caught a break: the name of a suspected killer and possible details of the attack.

Using call sign Ida 9, an officer announced: “A male … left (the building) ‘out of the blue.’ Twenty minutes later, the shooting occurred. The subject’s last (name): Farook. First of Syed. He matches the physical (description) of one of the shooters.”

Another voice, this one excited: “The witnesses that were in the room (say) two males. They were wearing ski-type masks and had (bullet-proof) vests on.”

Worse news followed prompting all officers to evacuate the target building, already empty of living victims.

“Bomb-arson (squad) has seen a device,” an officer radioed. “They are going to (deal with) it via robotic means. They have pulled out of the building, as well.”

Meanwhile, helicopter crews were rushing some of the most seriously wounded to hospitals.

Other helicopter crews helped hunt for the getaway SUV.

“40King1,” a dispatcher called to one of the search copters. “Can you head towards Tennessee and State in Redlands? Look for a black SUV with Utah plate. It was just seen leaving the area.”

“There’s a black SUV at the light at Tippe(canoe) and Brier, right now,” a copter crewman replied. “It’s got a Utah plate.”

Officers swarmed the area. The gunfight was about to begin.

WARNING: The following audio contains violence that may upset some listeners.

A breathless voice: “Shots fired! One suspect down in the street. Two in the vehicle.”

A dispatcher her voice totally composed asked the crucial question: “Location, please.”

Breathless voice: “San Bernardino and, uh, Shedden (Drive), I think it is.”

“San Bernardino and Shedden,” she confirmed.

Again, the word went out to surrounding police agencies. Help needed. NOW!

A sheriff’s sergeant immediately recognized the location and ordered his deputies toward the sound of the guns.

“In the south (part of the) city,” 14 Sam radioed his dispatchers. “Is anybody in that area? Have them respond Code 3 (lights and sirens) 999,” shorthand for top priority: Officers need IMMEDIATE assistance.

Then, excited voices from the firefight.

“We need a BearCat,” one officer announced, asking for an armored vehicle.

“We need some support over here,” came another voice. “We’ve got multiple, multiple shots fired!”

Was the helicopter crew listening, and racing to help?

“40King,” the pilot replied with his call sign. “I am. I’m copying traffic. My partner is transitioned in the back seat with an M-4 rifle. But I’m going to be flying the helicopter and working the radios all at the same time. Go with the last information.”

The information and the situation was scary.

“We’re at San Bernardino and Shedden. San Bernardino and Shedden,” radioed Nora 2. “We can see one guy down. There’s one guy in the back of the car. And we need that BearCat … Have the BearCat come to us.”

round the world, everyone knows the rest. The police won. The suspects died within hours, not days or months, of the massacre.

Experts will pick apart the events of that day.

But the recordings suggest many people did their best. Quickly. Decisevely. Effectively.

Press Enterprise



Police are now searching for a black sport utility vehicle that fled the scene of a mass shooting that left up to 20 people injured inside of a San Bernadino social services office on Wednesday morning, federal law enforcement sources told the Los Angeles Times.

A San Bernardino police spokeswoman also confirmed there “are fatalities,” but was unsure of how many people had been killed.

At least three suspected shooters fled the building after gunfire erupted, according to the sources, who requested anonymity because the investigation is active and ongoing.

It is unclear if the people inside the vehicle are witnesses or suspects.

Police also used a robot to detonate a “device” found inside the building, according to the sources, who also said investigators were assembling a battering ram to gain access to the office complex.

The San Bernardino Fire Department said the shooting took place in the 1300 block of Waterman Avenue, near Orange Show Road.

Sgt. Vicki Cervantes, the San Bernardino police spokeswoman, told reporters at the scene up to three shooters were reported inside the Inland Regional Center. Officers have not secured the building and are going door to door.

The suspects, she said, are heavily armed and were possibly wearing body armor.

“It’s a very active scene,” Cervantes said. “It’s very fluid.”
Television news footage showed police officers and firefighters at the scene as well as people being escorted out of the area.

Officials said they received a call about a shooting about 11 a.m.

One man whose wife worked in the building told KABC-TV that at least one gunman walked into the center and opened fire. She was able to lock herself in her office.

“They saw bodies on the floor,” he said.

The office where the shooting took place, the Inland Regional Center, provides services to disabled people and others in need.

The organization’s website states: “Inland Regional Center was built on the foundation of three core values — independence, inclusion, and empowerment. In following these core values, we hope to help provide each individual with a service system that helps identify and eliminate barriers for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families so they can closely live a typical lifestyle.”

The shooting rippled across San Bernardino.

Tom Brown said he and countless other employees and customers at San Bernardino Golf Club were on lockdown Wednesday.

“We’re not allowing anyone on the golf course. We got a big helicopter sitting in the middle of the No. 1 fairway,” Brown told The Times. “We’re several hundred yards away from the area. We can see fire and SWAT from here, but we’re not allowed to go any farther.”

Brown said his coworker said she heard gunshots nearby.

Meanwhile, the bus company that provides transportation for San Bernardino City Unified School District is offering its buses to transport victims and witnesses of the shooting, said district spokeswoman Linda Berdere.

Fred Henning was holed up inside the paralegal’s office where he works with his wife, about a block from the scene of the shooting. Henning said they were standing outside as helicopters swooped over the area, but fled back into the building as police began to flood the area.

“We just came inside because it could be stray bullets, who knows?” Henning said. “We did mill around outside for a while but we decided the better plan was to stay in. We’re stranded in here … we’re in an office building.”

The block where the shooting took place is home to a number of businesses, Henning said, including a three-building complex that houses his office and roughly 140 others. The street has been completely shut down.

“I see squad cars like you won’t believe,” Henning said.

Times Staff Writers James Queally and Paloma Esquivel contributed to this report.

Read original story on the Los Angeles Times

9 Believed Dead In Chopper Crash


Courtesy Carson Helicopters
Courtesy Carson Helicopters

Nine people missing following a firefighting helicopter crash in Trinity County are presumed to be dead, the Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday.

Four firefighters were badly burned in the crash, which took place at about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday about 15 miles northwest of Junction City, west of Redding.

The chopper was operating under contract and was carrying 13 people — including 11 firefighters and two crew members — at the time it went down.
Ian Gregor, spokesman for the FAA, said the nine missing people are likely dead. Sharon Heywood, a Forest Service supervisor, confirmed fatalities but did not offer specifics.

Three of the injured fire personnel — including the pilot — were at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento and were listed in critical or serious condition.

The fourth firefighter remained at Mercy Medical Center in Redding and was listed in serious but stable condition.

The firefighters were hurt when their Sikorsky S-61 helicopter crashed near the north end of the so-called Buckhorn Fire, which has burned nearly 25 square miles.

The large, yellow helicopter was operated by Carson Helicopters, which has offices in Grants Pass, Ore., and Perkasie, Pa.

Bob Madden of Carson Helicopters said his company operates a large fleet of Sikorsky S-61 choppers.

“We don’t know what occurred,” Madden said. “We haven’t examined the aircraft yet. We’ve never had a copter go down due to firefighting efforts.”

Carson Helicopters said the Sikorsky S-61 can transport 18 firefighters and drop up to 1,000 gallons of water via a bucket suspended from the bottom.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board were investigating.

Firefighting News by

3 Alarm Mulch Fire Morris County New Jersey

It’s happening mulch too often!

On July 19, firefighters from 13 municipalities battled a raging inferno, as well as outside temperatures nearing 100 degrees, in this quiet community of Whippany in Hanover Township, N.J.

The fire, which began around 3:30 pm, originated near the center units of a six-unit townhouse structure and quickly spread to several of the units.
Three units were badly damaged or destroyed by the blaze and the remaining units received varying degrees of smoke, water or fire damage.

Fire companies kept rotating crews throughout the steamy afternoon, to give firefighters the opportunity to recuperate from the intense heat of the day and of the fire. It took crews nearly three hours to bring the fire under control. Two firefighters were transported to a nearby hospital with heat-related conditions. They were treated and released the same day.

A preliminary report by fire officials names ‘mulch under a porch’ as the fire’s most probable point of origin. A thorough investigation by local officials, in conjunction with the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office and the Morris County Sheriff’s Department Arson Squad, is underway.

Mulch fires have become a widespread area of concern for just about every fire department in the northeast in recent years. Decorative mulch has become a popular item for landscapers as well as the homeowner, to enhance one’s property. The problem lies in the fact that mulch is shredded organic matter. This organic matter, over time, starts to decompose. Water trapped underneath helps to speed up the decomposition process. This decomposition process produces heat. Once the temperature produced from within, heats the dry surface material to its kindling point, spontaneous combustion can occur and you have a fire. The general public; and probably most landscapers; have little or no knowledge of this. They tend to place the mulch around bushes and shrubs or through flower gardens that are adjacent to the house or garage. If a fire occurs, it can and most often does, involve the structure; causing loss of property and even loss of life. Spontaneous combustion is not the only problem. All too often, people don’t think when they discard a lit cigarette into the bushes or garden containing mulch, before they enter a public building. This is a growing problem now that you can no longer smoke in most public buildings in New Jersey.

It is the author’s opinion that a standard could and should be established as to a ‘safe distance requirement’ when using or placing organic mulch near or around a structure, and should furthermore be enforced under local and state building codes and fire codes. Bags of mulch should have a printed warning on them alerting the user to the potential danger of use AND storage. Landscapers should be made aware of the possibility of fire damage to a customer’s home and should be held accountable for any damages incurred by improper placement of the mulch within the “safe zone”. Fire departments throughout the country should take the opportunity of Fire Prevention Week to educate the public in their seminars, school fire awareness demonstrations, pamphlet handouts and fund drive letters; as to the potential dangers of organic mulch. The State of Virginia has begun addressing the problem with free pamphlets from the Department of Forestry. Mulch Fire Information

If even one life is saved, then it’s all worth it, because it’s happening mulch too often!

Photos and story by
Ron Johnson

Summer Season Brings Rash of Arsons

When it comes to fires in the city of Fresno, Investigator Gerry Rodriguez has a job to do.

“My job is to find out how it started,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez is part of the Fresno City Fire Department’s Arson Investigation Unit; a team that sees little downtime, especially here in the Valley.

“As you know, we’re 5th in the nation in the number of arson fires. So we have a significant problem. I’d say about half of our fires are arson related,” Fire Marshal Kerri Donis said.

Chief of Investigations Don MacAlpine says statistically juveniles make up the majority when it comes to those involved with fires, whether it’s because curiosity or less-than-smart choices.

But the recent rash of arsons goes way beyond childhood mischief.

“When it comes to downright arson, they’re being more than curious, they’re being downright malicious, they’re being willful,” MacAlpine said.

What they’re also being are criminals.

“We don’t take that lightly. We’re not quick to want to put a juvenile into custody. But we will and we do when appropriate,” MacAlpine said.

Like the case this week when police arrested a child believed to be responsible for six arsons.

And fire officials say kids make up a significant portion of their caseload right now; intentional and not.

“School’s out. For some reason, kids, juveniles are fascinated with fire. You’d be surprised how many we get that are juveniles and just out of curiosity,” Rodriguez said.

“I’ve had many people arrested for homicide, great bodily injury, major fire damage and their statements are, I never intended for it to do that. I just wanted to make a statement,” MacAlpine said.

It’s a statement fire officials want to prevent and they say parents have the power to do it by talking to their kids if they notice an unsettling sudden interest in fire.

“Certainly don’t want kids to continue down that course and then all of the sudden the house is now on the ground because they wish they would have said something earlier,” Donis said,

For Gerry Rodriguez and the rest of Fresno City’s Arson Team, as long as fires are set, the workload never ends.

“You have to document everything you did on scene.”

It’s a tedious task both in and out of the office.

Something a lot people might not realize is this rash of arsons can also affect them as homeowners or business owners.

The reason being, if you have a certain number of fires and/ or arson’s in your area, your insurance is likely to go up.

The Fresno Fire Department also has a Juvenile Fire Education Program where kids can learn early on about the dangers of fire.

Fire officials say they’re also continuing to look for the person or persons responsible for a rash of arson’s at Bullard High School over the last few months.

Anyone with information is asked to call the investigations unit at 621-4444.

Fresno Firefighter Honored for saving life

Fresno firefighter Steve McGary was honored in a ceremony at the Senior Citizens Village for rescuing resident Richard Parsley, 74, from a burning apartment. Fresno City Council member Mike Dages presented McGary with a proclamation for “Steve McGary Day”.

Parsley was asleep in his one-bedroom apartment May 5th when a lighted cigarette started a fire in a wastebasket that burned a desk and the carpet. Parsley was overcome by smoke but managed to set off an alarm. A neighbor who heard the alarm called 911.

When fire crews arrived, from a medical aid call in the complex, McGary rushed into the apartment without his breathing aparatus and carried Parsley to safety.