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Retired Redlands Fire Captain and Wife Killed in Traffic Accident

Redlands Fire Capt. Darrell Feuerhahn and his wife Debbie were killed Friday night in a traffic accident on Highway 62.

Below is a statement released this morning by Redlands Fire Chief Jeff Frazier:

It is with great sadness that I must regretfully inform you of the untimely passing of Retired Redlands Fire Captain Darrell Feuerhahn and his wife Debbie. They were involved in a traffic accident at Highway 62 and Mile Marker 87, shortly before noon October 10, 2008. Captain Feuerhahn was 52 years old and his wife Debbie was 54.

Captain Feuerhahn proudly served the Redlands Fire Department for 26 years, and had most recently retired on September 7, 2008. He was a founding instructor in the multi-agency truck company academy and accomplished instructor in the fields of confined space, trench, and elecator rescue. In addition to his fire service contributions, he was a third degree black belt and a martial arts instructor.

He and his wife were residents of Yucaipa. They are survived by their son Darrell Jr., daughter Stephanie, his brothers Robert, Karl, and Eric; and four year old twin granddaughters, Harley and Kiera. Darrell Jr. is a firefighter for the San Bernardino County Fire Department and is assigned to Fire Station 2.

Information on memorial services will follow as soon as it becomes available.

On behalf of the entire Redlands Fire Department and the City of Redlands, I would like to offer our sincere condolences to all of Captain Feuerhahn and Debbie’s family and friends.

Jeff L. Frazier

Fire Chief

West Coast 911 firefighting news source – The Sun – San Bernardino

Caltech team mulls worst-case scenario after next big earthquake

CAJON PASS – A magnitude-7.8 quake rips out of the Coachella Valley, heads west along the San Andreas Fault, severs power lines, cuts a hole in the 15 Freeway and knocks out rail tracks – leaving Southern California isolated from the rest of the West Coast.

That is the scenario that a group of Caltech geologists will be studying next month as part of an quake drill – the Great Southern California Shakeout – that will simulate how authorities will respond to the massive earthquake they say is likely to hit the region sometime in the next 30 years.

A major focal point of concern is the Cajon Pass, the 4,500-foot saddle between the massive San Bernardino and San Gabriel Mountains, officials said Wednesday.

Speaking from directly on top of the San Andreas fault line in the pass, near an open desert vista crossed by rail lines, power transformers and the nearby freeway, Lucy Jones, the chief scientist at Caltech’s earthquake center, laid out what the infrastructure destruction could mean for Los Angeles County.

Power transformers, rail lines, the 15 Freeway, oil pipelines and fiber-optic cables all run through the Cajon Pass, one of the few low passes in the mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles County that infrastructure can easily pass through.

The area could be without power for days, or in some cases weeks, Jones said. People on the other side of the pass, in the Victorville area, could be isolated from Los Angeles if the 15 Freeway was breached, she added.

“Most of our lifeline crossings, infrastructure come through the Cajon Pass,” said Dale Cox, a government geologist. “And all of them will sever in a quake of that magnitude.”

The county’s economy could suffer a hit of around $200 billion as shippers struggle to find a way to get goods out of the Long Beach port, said Jones.

The area would not suffer immediate gas shortages, since much of the West Coast’s gas is refined in Los Angeles County. But natural gas pipelines that provide gas to homes would likely be severed, resulting in massive shortages, she added.

Parts of the 210 and 10 freeways in the San Gabriel Valley could also collapse, said Caltrans spokesman Ken Matsuoka. Or, short of that, landslide debris could cover sections of freeway, shutting them down for several days as crews work to clear them out.

Though the worst impact of the quake in the scenario would be to the San Bernardino area, the quake would also cause direct damage to the San Gabriel Valley, knocking down structurally unsound buildings and cutting water pipelines. Homes would be left without fresh water, said Jones.

Fires caused by the quake would be the biggest concern, she said.

“There simply would not be enough firefighters to put out all the fires that were blazing all over the county,” said Jones.

The scenario estimates about 53,000 injuries requiring emergency room assistance – far too many for hospitals to handle, she added.

Scientists have also estimated that one in 16 buildings in the county would suffer serious damage in a magnitude-7.8 quake along the San Andreas fault line.

The Cajon Pass scenario, however, is only one possibility: A major quake could rupture along another fault line, although that would mean less damage to the critical Cajon Pass area.

Additionally, the quake could come from the northern direction of the fault line, rather than the Coachella Valley to the south-east of Los Angeles, said Jones.

That quake could have more of an impact on the San Gabriel Valley, though it could be less dangerous to the county as a whole, since it would not hit the Cajon Pass as hard, she said.

The best thing residents can do to prepare, said Jay Alan of the state Office of Homeland Security, is to be prepared to survive on their own for several days. That means having drinking water, food, a fire extinguisher and first aid kit – at minimum, he added.

“Taking care of yourself for 72 hours should be your goal,” said Alan. “If you can do that, you will be helping your community and helping first responders by allowing them to deal with people in serious trouble.”

To participate in the Great Southern California Shakeout on Nov. 13, go on line and visit www.ShakeOut.org.

West Coast 911 firefighting news source – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Buffalo Firefighters Prepared to Step in if Ambulance Workers Strike

Firefighters are prepared to provide additional emergency services in the unlikely event that workers who provide ambulance service in Buffalo go on strike, city officials confirmed today.

The membership of the labor union representing Rural/Metro Ambulance Services’ workers voted down a new contract Wednesday night.

Negotiators on both sides had worked out a tentative contract over the summer after a strike vote had been authorized. But there have been no signs that the 400 workers represented by Local 375 of the Teamsters Union were getting ready to strike.

“We haven’t heard of any indication that at the moment, this vote has any immediate impact on their services,” said Peter Cutler, spokesman for Mayor Byron W. Brown.

Rural/Metro spokesman Jay Smith said the strike vote had been detailed but declined to give further details.

Union representatives could not be reached to comment.

Cutler said City Hall was keeping close tabs on the situation and that contingency plans have been discussed. City firefighters are already first responders to emergency calls and can provide basic life support services. Cutler said that in the unlikely event Rural/Metro employees stage a job action, firefighters would expand their emergency services duties.

“There’s definitely a back-up plan in place, but we don’t think there will be any need to implement it,” Cutler said this morning.

Fire Commissioner Michael S. Lombardo said about half of all firefighters are emergency medical technicians, while the rest are certified first responders.

“We’re going to do whatever we need to do to make sure the citizens of Buffalo are safe,” said Lombardo, adding that he has been in touch with Rural/Metro officials.

Rural/Metro is Buffalo’s exclusive provider of ambulance service. It also provides emergency medical services to many neighboring localities, including Niagara Falls, Lockport, Medina and the towns of Cheektowaga, Hamburg and Evans.

In July, the membership strongly rejected a proposal advanced by a federal mediator. As the labor dispute festered throughout the summer, Rural/Metro officials downplayed the possibility of a strike. What’s more, they gave assurances that the company would work closely with “municipal partners,” nursing homes and local hospitals to try to avoid service disruptions in the event of a walkout.

Both sides have said over the last few months that they hope to avoid a strike.

West Coast 911 firefighting news source – The Buffalo News

Sacramento Fire Captain Faces Surgery After Suffering Burns

A Sacramento fire captain today is facing the possibility that he must have surgery for burns he suffered fighting a Natomas house fire Tuesday.

Capt. Jeffery Helvin, 39, is in serious but stable condition at UC Davis Medical Center’s burn unit this morning. He suffered serious burns to one hand and burns to his neck and face, said Capt. Jim Doucette.

“It’ll just take some rehabilitation and surgery,” Doucette said.

Three other firefighters were injured in the blaze. Bruce Gee, 26, Christopher Berquist, 30, and Eric Ely, 24, all suffered superficial burns. They were treated at the hospital Tuesday and sent home the same day, Doucette said.

“One of them even wanted to come back to work yesterday,” he said.

The four firefighters were hurt while battling a two-alarm blaze at about 9:30 a.m. at a home on Stilt Court. They had gone upstairs to quell the spreading fire when the flames quickly intensified, Doucette said.

“It sounds like they got caught in some kind of ‘flashover,’ ” he said, referring to the term for an explosive ignition of a room’s contents — carpet, paint on the walls and furniture, for example.

“At least one or two of (the firefighters) jumped out of the windows, and the others made it down the stairway,” Doucette said.

Doucette said cause of the fire is undetermined, though it is thought to have started in the kitchen. No one was home when the fire began.

Damage to the house is estimated to be at least $150,000, he said.

Doucette said the fire department is investigating why the fire intensified to quickly, in hopes of preventing firefighter injuries.

“We could have lost four guys instantly yesterday,” he said.

Cards and well-wishes for the Helvin and the other firefighters can be sent to: Capt. Jeff Helvin, Sacramento Fire Department, 5770 Freeport Blvd., Suite 200, Sacramento, 95822.

West Coast 911 firefighting news source – Sacramento Bee

Eastern Kentucky University suffers three arson attacks in one day

Fire and police officials are investigating three attacks of arson which occurred Monday on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University.

The first two fires evacuated 200 students from Dupree Hall and injured two staff members.

“This is a multiple serial arson incidence,” said Richmond Fire Department Public Affairs Officer Corey Lewis. “There is something inherently wrong there.”

The first incident occurred around 11:50 a.m. when someone lit a roll of toilet paper and threw it down a trash chute in Dupree Hall, a 11-story dormitory which houses 200 male students.

The chute extends throughout the structure, Lewis said.

“The chute goes from top to bottom,” he said. “At the bottom is large pile of rubbish.”

EKU’s utility personnel managed to extinguish the fire, said Marc Whitt, associate vice president for public relations at EKU.

“No one was injured and there was no smoke or fire damage to the building,” Whitt said. “The Richmond Fire Department was called to the scene to make sure the fire was out.”

Firefighters encountered smoke conditions on numerous floors, Lewis said. They ventilated the dorm and made sure the building was evacuated, Lewis said.

“The chute acts like a chimney,” Lewis said. “That could have made this fire extremely dangerous.”

Just two hours later, a 911 call was received from Dupree Hall again.

Lewis said the fire department responded to the report of a pull station activation on the fifth floor.

“Upon arrival, Richmond firefighters were made aware of a possible rubbish fire,” Lewis said. “Richmond firefighters reported smoke conditions again on numerous floors. Debris was found burning in the stair well between the seventh and eighth floor.”

Whitt said that the second arson was a result of “burning phone books that were found in a stairwell” in Dupree Hall.

“Once again, everyone in the building was evacuated and the fire extinguished,” Lewis said. “Firefighters ventilated the residence hall and performed a room-to-room search to ensure no other fires were burning at that time.”

Two custodians for EKU were treated at the scene of the second fire.

“Two faculty service personnel were treated at the location for smoke inhalation and later taken to Pattie A. Clay Regional Medical Center for treatment of non-life threatening injuries,” Lewis said.

At 8 p.m., firefighters were called to extinguish a third fire they believe to be linked to the two earlier attacks, Lewis said in a press release.

The fire was at the Powell Building, but other details were not released at press time.

The fires are being investigated by the EKU Police Department, the Richmond Fire Department and the Kentucky State Fire Marshals office.

Whitt said there are no suspects.

“Not only was it an inconvenience for the students, someone was injured,” Lewis said. “We are concerned. Arson is a violent crime that kills and injures innocent civilians and firefighters every year. We will take action against anyone we believe to have committed this crime.”

West Coast 911 firefighting news source – The Richmond Register

Blaze destroys Florida businesses

Ann Fairchild and Leslie Moseley grabbed what they could Thursday afternoon as smoke filled Fairchild’s family business, Painters Ice Cream shop in Garden City Beach.

Moseley had just served two customers about 2:30 p.m. when an employee of the adjacent Pacific Beachwear store ran into the ice cream shop and said, “Please call 911; the roof is on fire,” the women said.

In the end, fire destroyed both businesses and two vehicles in the parking lot.

Billowing smoke and flames made worse by windy conditions forced emergency officials to close both lanes of U.S. 17 Business for several hours, and the blaze melted power lines and left nearly 3,000 without power for more than an hour.

Moseley said she was concerned with getting her two customers safely out of the building.

“I grabbed my purse and the register and ran out, but outside you couldn’t breathe, it was so thick; it burnt your lungs,” Moseley said.

Fairchild added: “She quickly served her customers, and they bolted because the ceiling was filling with smoke.”

When firefighters arrived, heavy smoke and flames were coming from the shared roof over the two businesses, said Chief Norman Knight with the Murrells Inlet/Garden City Fire Department.

Passing motorists made multiple calls to 911 to report the fire, which was in the 2100 block of U.S. 17 South, Knight said.

The beachwear store worker met firefighters when they arrived and told them the fire started in the roof of his building and that no one was inside the businesses, Knight said. The employee said he had been in the attic earlier, and when he went back up there to store another item, he saw smoke.

No injuries were reported, but the beachwear employee, who was not identified, was taken to a local hospital to be checked out, Knight said.

More than 50 firefighters from Knight’s department, Surfside Beach, Midway and Horry County battled the blaze. Myrtle Beach firefighters moved to Surfside Beach to answer other calls in that town during the incident, Knight said.

Because the wind was blowing west, it protected the Vista Plaza Business Center located behind the two destroyed businesses. But the fire spread across Kings Highway into several trees at the entrance of Ocean Breeze Plantation and singed grass in the median, authorities said.

“It was blowing in our favor. We had a large volume fire in a very old building. We had our hands full when we got here,” Knight said.

It was unclear what caused the fire, and investigators were at the scene Thursday evening looking at the beachwear store near the entrance of the building, where the fire was believed to have started, Knight said. It may take a while to determine the cause because of the intensity of the blaze, he said.

“When you have this much damage, it’s tough to determine cause and origin,” Knight said.

About 2,900 people lost power for more than an hour while repair crews worked to reroute power, said Santee Cooper spokeswoman Molly Gore. Gore said at 4:45 p.m. that about 100 people were still without power, but she expected that power would be fully restored by evening.

Several people were without cable and telephone connections at 7:30 p.m. as emergency crews worked to reroute those lines as well.

Owners of the beachwear store could not be reached Thursday evening for comment.

Fairchild said her family has owned the ice cream business in that same location for 19 years. The business employed eight people and was to remain open until Nov. 1, when it would have closed for the season, she said.

“I’m very sad because it is a family business. I don’t know what the future holds now,” Fairchild said.

Many area residents walked up to the businesses to snap photos of the blaze with their cell phones, while

West Coast 911 firefighting news source – The Sun News – Myrtle Beach FL

San Diego firefighters harassment suit goes to jury

A six-man, six-woman jury is set to begin deliberations Wednesday in a lawsuit brought by four San Diego firefighters who allege they were subjected to sexual harassment when they were ordered to participate in the 2007 gay pride parade.

In closing arguments Tuesday, the firefighters’ attorney asked the jury to order the city to pay each firefighter $500,000 to $1 million for the damage they suffered from being taunted by spectators.

But the attorney for the city said the four deserve nothing, that being ordered to drive a firetruck in the parade is no different than being ordered to fight a fire, and that dozens of city employees and officials participated in the parade without claiming any ill effects.

Charles LiMandri, the firefighters’ attorney, said the city violated its own anti-sexual harassment policy by ordering the four into the parade even though they objected and other firefighters had complained about slurs and crude gestures from crowds at previous parades.

The city would never put female employees in a situation where “hand and tongue gestures of a sexual nature” could be anticipated, he told jurors.

“Can you imagine if a woman is working in an office and there’s pornography on the computer next to her, and a supervisor says, ‘Just avert your eyes,’ ” LiMandri said.

Chief Deputy City Atty. Maria Severson scoffed at the firefighters’ complaints. While there were some “juvenile comments,” the vast majority of the estimated 150,000 parade watchers applauded the firefighters and “treated them like rock stars,” she said.

“Four million dollars for being in a parade for an hour and a half?” Severson said incredulously.

During the two-week trial, firefighters John Ghiotto, Chad Allison, Jason Hewitt and Alexander Kane testified that their treatment during the parade left them feeling powerless and violated. The four said they filed a lawsuit when Fire Chief Tracy Jarman refused to apologize for a policy that required firefighters to participate in parades when ordered.

During her testimony, Jarman, who marched ahead of the truck, said the Fire Department has changed its policy to make participation in parades voluntary.

LiMandri noted that the city prides itself on having a “100% response” when employees sense they are being sexually harassed. “Our city, which we love, failed them,” LiMandri said of his clients.

Severson said the firefighters, even if they felt offended by the comments, were sitting in a firetruck that protected them from the crowd.

“We’re not talking about walking or holding a sign,” she said. “We’re talking about sitting six feet off the ground with tons of metal around you.”

West Coast 911 firefighting news source – LA Times – Tony Perry

Augusta firefighter injured during Mill fire

An Augusta firefighter remained hospitalized Tuesday after being injured during a weekend blaze that gutted the Southern Milling Co. building on Twiggs Street.

Lt. Jay Jones was pinned beneath a “deck gun” water cannon and its 1,000-gallon-per-minute pressure stream after the device tipped over, Chief Howard Willis said.

A fellow firefighter, Lt. William Dickerson, was beside Lt. Jones and helped pull the machine off him, enabling him to escape from the stream of water.

“The pump operator shut the line down and the rescue units came running over there, but William Dickerson was right there beside him,” Chief Willis said.

Lt. Jones, who was knocked unconscious, was taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital with deep cuts and a broken leg, ankle and collarbone. He was later transferred to Doctors Hospital, said his wife, Sheryl Jones.

“He has four or five months of recovery ahead of him,” Mrs. Jones said. “But if it wasn’t for Lt. Dickerson, my husband would not be here today.”

Firefighters are like brothers, she said.

“He risked his life to save my husband; that’s just the way they are,” she said.

The cause of Friday night’s blaze remains under investigation, Chief Willis said.

West Coast firefighting news source – Augusta Chronicle

Anhydrous ammonia leak temporarily closes Illinois 121

Illinois 121 near the Kenney Blacktop between Warrensburg and Latham was closed in both directions for several hours Thursday as emergency personnel worked to clean up after an anhydrous ammonia leak at a local fertilizer plant.

Macon County Emergency Management Agency Director Phil Anello said the road was closed from about 8:50 to 11:45 a.m. because of an ammonia leak at the Van Horn Fertilizer plant near unincorporated Heman.

Anello said no injuries or hospitalizations were reported in the incident, and foul play is not believed to be involved. Anello said it was an accident with a faulty valve that caused a large ammonia cloud to form.

The leak triggered a “multiagency, multijurisdictional response,” Anello said.

Warrensburg Fire Chief Keith Hackl, whose department was the lead agency in handling the leak, said 12 to 15 homes downwind from the leak temporarily were evacuated, but the communities of Warrensburg and Latham were not directly affected.

Hackl said Warrensburg firefighters received assistance from many fire departments, including Harristown, Latham, Kenney, Maroa, Hickory Point Township and South Wheatland Township.

The Decatur Fire Department also sent 10 technicians from its hazardous materials unit to help control and clean up the leak, Battalion Chief Michael McGeehon said.

Anello said that while the accident was unfortunate, emergency personnel are often required to respond to similar incidents in the fall, as many farmers look to fertilize their fields with anhydrous ammonia.

“These things happen sometimes, and (farmers and fertilizer sales people) use extreme caution when handling this product,” he said.

He credited the Macon County Sheriff’s Office and Macon County Highway Department with working quickly to secure the scene so emergency personnel could contain the leak without interference from passing traffic.

West Coast 911 firefighting news source – Herald and Review – Illinois

New York Firefighter Injured in Structure Fire

SCHENECTADY — A city firefighter was hospitalized with a severe leg fracture battling a suspicious fire at a home Tuesday morning where a man was shot dead earlier this month, authorities said.

Lt. Michelle Wilson was expected to undergo surgery at Ellis Hospital where she was taken after being hurt in the 4 a.m. blaze at 933 Albany St. Fire Chief Robert Farstad said the cause of the fire is suspicious.

Ulysses Canty, 40, died Sept. 1 after being shot inside a downstairs apartment there. Police said they had no information to indicate a connection.

It was the second fire in the city overnight. At 9 p.m. Monday night, firefighters battled a blaze at 12 Grove Place that fire left 22 people homeless.

Officials said the Albany Street house had several apartments but only one was occupied.

The four residents had escaped by the time firefighters arrived. The home’s ground floor and attic were badly damaged. The fire also caused minor damage to a home at 935 Albany St.

Nearly two dozen residents, including 16 in one apartment, were displaced by Monday night’s larger fire that all but destroyed a two-family building and threatened to spread to neighboring structures.

Everyone got out safely, but a number of firefighters who responded to the blaze nearly got caught inside when something — an explosion or intense burst of flame — occurred, Farstad said.

Despite the number of people living in the building, it doesn’t appear the arrangement violated city codes, City Corporation Counsel L. John Van Norden said.

West Coast firefighting news source – The Times Union