Category Archives: National Fire Rescue News

Exclusive: ‘No cuts’ Ohio chief speaks out on dismissal

Editor’s Note: Earlier this month, Ohio Fire Chief Donald Barnes was dismissed after balking at orders from his mayor to make a new round of cuts in the fire department’s budget. The Shaker Heights Fire Department had already been forced to shed four firefighters earlier this year. But when Chief Barnes was then told to slash $250,000 from the department’s budget and lose more positions, he refused. The Chief of seven years was subsequently dismissed by Mayor Earl Leiken. In this exclusive interview with FireRescue1, Chief Barnes speaks publicly for the first time on the dismissal, his fears for other departments in the current economic climate and his plans for the future.

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Fast-moving fire guts Paterson home

A mid morning fire destroyed a 2½ story wood frame home at 272 Jefferson St. on Friday July 10. An alert neighbor phoned 911 at approximately 10:30am to report the fire. Initial police unit on the scene reported heavy fire on the #1 floor. First due fire units arriving just minutes later, confirmed a working fire with heavy fire on #1 and #2 floors and also involving the electrical service wires and the utility pole in front of the structure.

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White firefighters were victims of discrimination, Supreme Court rules

47775580Reporting from Washington — The Supreme Court ruled today that white firefighters who lost promotions in New Haven, Conn., were victims of illegal racial discrimination, holding that employers should not rely on “raw racial statistics” to set aside a fair test. The 5-4 decision clarifies the federal job-discrimination laws for employers, both private and public, and it says that the primary goal of the Civil Rights Act is to remove race as a factor in hiring and promotions. “No individual should face workplace discrimination based on race,” said Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, overturning a ruling by Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor and two other judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York. The ruling says New Haven officials were wrong to set aside the results of a 2003 test after they learned no black firefighters were among the top scorers, and therefore, would not be eligible for a promotion to lieutenant or captain. Continue reading

Fire damages half-century old business in Wayne

An alert passerby notified authorities of flames coming from the second floor of a 75′ X 125′ strip mall at 1459 Route 23 South at approximately 7:45am today, Thursday, June 18. Township companies 5, 2 and 1 were dispatched and the first arriving chief declared a working fire and requested remaining companies 3 and 4 to the scene. The fire was ultimately determined to be largely on the exterior of the building and
was doused quickly by the initial companies on the scene. There was some slight extension to the second floor and to the attic area, and the first floor received some smoke and water damage, but the swift actions of the crews did certainly avert what could have been, a much worse disaster.

The award winning business, Wayne Tile, was started by Bob Westra in 1955 in a garage. A few years later, his two brothers joined him and in 1963, 46 years ago, they moved to this location. They have since added three more locations and built a large warehouse just one block from this location. Their now grown children have taken over much of the active duties.

The fire was brought under control in under an hour and a preliminary investigation by Township Fire Investigator Scott Kooreman, points to the possibility of a lightning strike as the likely cause.

Story and photos by
Ron Johnson – NJMFPA
See more photos at: www.photozonfire.com

Two Philadelphia Firefighters Injured, One Critically

A section of a warehouse roof collapsed during a fire in Northeast Philadelphia late last night, injuring two veteran firefighters as they fell 20 feet to the hard ground.

The blaze broke out shortly before 10 p.m. at an auto shop tucked inside an industrial complex on the 4800 block of Wingate Street in the city’s Holmesburg section.

Firefighters Bob Underwood, 47, and Raymond Rajchel, 54, ascended to the roof to cut out a hole for ventilation, said Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers.

“This roof seemed solid enough. It was covered with asbestos and cement,” Ayers said. “But when they cut it, it gave way.”

Underwood, a 23-year-veteran, was able to break his fall. Rajchel, a 34-year-veteran, landed hard and cracked several bones.

The firefighters were rushed to Frankford Torresdale Hospital. Underwood was treated and able to walk out of the emergency room with his wife, Ayers said.

Rajchel spent most of Thursday in surgery as doctors worked to repair fractures in his arm and ribs, Ayers said.

The blaze, which threw off thick clouds of heavy smoke, was under control in 22 minutes, Ayers said.

It may have been sparked by a battery pack that had been misused and left plugged in, Ayers said.

“We found several violations at the site,” Ayers said, adding the shop was also missing required licences and zoning permits.

West Coast 911 firefighting news source – The Philadelphia Inquirer

Massachusetts Firefighters saved a piece of local Red Sox lore yesterday

An outside section of Salem Diner known by regulars as “Pesky’s Corner” caught fire at 11:30 a.m. by a contractor removing screws with a grind saw, fire Deputy Chief Brian Harrington said.

Firefighters quelled the small blaze, which could have been much worse had winds been moving in the other direction.

“We’re lucky the winds didn’t hamper in any way, (the section on fire) was not on the windward side,” Harrington said.

The section of Salem Diner that resembles a Streamliner railcar is a hangout of former Sox shortstop, coach and manager Johnny Pesky.

Pesky, 89, is a frequent customer of the diner along with a close group of friends. Pesky and company have been frequenting the diner for a decade after their previous hangout in Swampscott closed. Their area of Salem Diner was dubbed “Pesky’s Corner.”

The name is familiar with another Pesky namesake, Pesky’s Pole, the right field foul pole at Fenway Park.

Firefighters learned of the storied nook by customers who had been inside when the fire started.

“They said, ‘You saved Pesky’s Corner,’ that’s where he sits, at the end of the building,” Harrington said.

Responding firefighters opened up the section of the diner and found “quite a bit of fire,” according to Harrington.

A spark or hot piece of the sawed-off screw ignited the building’s framing. Firefighters brought in two lines, one to the diner’s basement and another outside. The fire was knocked down within minutes, but firefighters were on scene for almost an hour checking for hot spots.

The health department responded as protocol, but Harrington said he expects the diner to reopen today or tomorrow.

“Structurally, it’s OK,” he said.

West Coast 911 firefighting news source – The Salem News

Eastern Kentucky Firefighters Accused of Arson

Two current and one former Eastern Kentucky firefighters are accused of allegedly creating more work for firefighters by setting blazes in Pike and Knox counties.

Christopher C. Little, 30, of Pike County, James Adam Yeager, 20, of Knox County and Walter D. Brown, 23, also of Knox, were arrested and charged with arson after they allegedly started fires in their home counties this week, the Kentucky Division of Forestry said Friday.

The fires could have benefited Little and Yeager financially by creating more work for them. The two were employed part-time by the state and paid on an hourly basis.

Both have been dismissed.

Brown was an emergency firefighter last year before his dismissal, according to a Kentucky State Police press release.

“We don’t know the reasons why people start arson fires,” said Leah MacSwords, spokeswoman for the Division of Forestry. “I have a hard time believing people start fires so they have to do the backbreaking work to put out the fire. That can’t be the only motivation.”

MacSwords said the state Division of Forestry, which employs about 400 firefighters a year, hires and trains part-timers primarily for the fire seasons: Feb. 15 through April 30 and Oct. 1 through Dec. 15, MacSwords said.

Little, who had worked for the state since October, was arrested early Friday after the Division of Forestry received several calls from residents in Hellier in Pike County who allegedly saw him setting the blaze, MacSwords said. Forestry officials immediately notified the Kentucky State Police post in Pikeville.

“We were able to get there and take care of it quickly,” she said.

This week’s arrests aren’t the first time firefighters have been charged with setting fires in Kentucky.

In August 2005, six volunteer firefighters in Lincoln County were charged with torching a historic, unused school building and two unoccupied houses. The county fire chief said the six may have been seeking a thrill or creating something to do.

Later that year, two seasonal firefighters with the state Division of Forestry were charged with setting wildfires in Bell County.

And in 2006 in Laurel County, police charged four men — one a volunteer firefighter and three former firefighters — with setting a series of blazes over two years that burned hay bales and structures.

There have been similar cases elsewhere. Officials in Pennsylvania are pushing for psychological screening for prospective firefighters as a way to identify those who might start fires.

Little was being held Friday in the Pike County jail. His bond had not yet been set and details about his arraignment were not available.

Yeager, who has worked for the state since February, was arrested late Thursday after forestry officials received a tip that a person was starting fires in Coldstone. It was later found that it was an emergency firefighter.

Yeager is charged with willfully setting fire to land he does not own, a Class D felony that carries a possible one- to five-year prison sentence. It is not clear how many acres were burned.

The arraignment for Yeager is set for Monday in Knox District Court.

Brown was arrested after a tipster reported seeing someone suspicious after a fire started in the Valentine Branch area of Knox County.

In Kentucky this year, 1,394 wildland fires have been reported by the state Division of Forestry, more than 60 percent of them attributed to arson. But it’s rare for firefighters to be accused of setting them, MacSwords said.

“We’ve never denied there’s a possibility that the … people who work for us have set fires,” MacSwords said. “But, I don’t want the actions of these … individuals to reflect on the dedication of all the other hundreds of firefighters that are out there. They are risking their lives …and breathing a lot of smoke to protect the people of Kentucky.”

West Coast 911 Firefighter News Source – Lexington News