Tag Archives: west coast 911

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.


St. Louis Firetrucks Collide Rushing to Fire

Several times every day, St. Louis Fire Department dispatchers broadcast a radio reminder that, “All persons riding on Fire Department apparatus shall wear seat belts at all times.”

The reason was made dramatically clear about noon Friday when two firetrucks converging on the scene of a house blaze collided at Martin Luther King Drive and Taylor Avenue, tipping one of the big rigs onto its left side.

Seven of the eight firefighters aboard were expected to be released from the hospital Friday night after treatment for cuts, scrapes and bruises. The eighth was to be held overnight at Barnes-Jewish Hospital for observation after suffering a concussion.

A relieved Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson said it looked worse when he arrived. “It was just bad, it didn’t look good. I was really worried for them all.”

But, he said, “If there is one saving grace in this whole incident, it’s the fact that the firefighters were still in their seats and belted in place, which, if you really look at it, probably saved their lives.”

The names of the firefighters were not released. The collision was between Engine Co. 10, based at Kennerly Avenue and Whittier Street, and a spare truck being used by Engine Co. 28, based at Enright and Bayard avenues. Each carried a usual crew of four. No other vehicles were involved.

“We don’t know the exact extent of who did what or which truck hit which truck first,” Jenkerson said at the scene. He declined to elaborate later but said it would be the subject of an accident reconstruction and interviews of all the firefighters.

Buildings at the intersection, which has electric signals, make it difficult to see around the corners. Police said one truck was headed north on Taylor and the other east on King.

Officials say it is always hard for the driver of an emergency vehicle at a blind corner to hear another’s siren and air horns over the sound of his own.

Jenkerson said the department policy is to drive cautiously. “We do not ‘run’ intersections,” he said. “If there’s a red light, we stop and look both ways and make sure you have a clear intersection to proceed through.”

He acknowledged that there is urgency to reach a confirmed fire. “They were trying to get there. You don’t know who’s in these buildings,” he said.

The chief thanked construction workers nearby who heard the impact and rushed to help. He said a department ambulance was already at the fire, about a block away, at Aldine and Newstead avenues.

“I can’t say enough, or give enough thanks or praise to our emergency medics. They did a tremendous job,” Jenkerson said.

The trucks, both heavily damaged, were “quints,” the fire service term for pumpers that double as ladder trucks. The last new ones bought, in 1999, cost about $410,000 each. The department keeps reserve trucks as emergency replacements.

The fire the trucks were headed to was extinguished by other crews. The house had extensive damage.

West Coast 911 firefighting news source – STLtoday

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

Update – 25 dead in Los Angeles train wreck

A commuter train believed to have been carrying up to 222 people during the afternoon rush collided with a freight train Friday, killing eighteen people, injuring 135 and trapping an unknown number of others in a mangled passenger car imploded by its own engine.

Firefighters extinguished a blaze under part of the wreckage and were working hours after the 4:32 p.m. collision to free people from the destroyed commuter car, which was left toppled on its side with the train’s engine shoved back inside it. Two other cars in the Metrolink train remained upright.

The Union Pacific freight train’s engine was also turned onto its side, with the rest of the train splayed out like an accordion behind it.

The crash “made a terrible sound, like a bomb, a huge noise,” said Julio Pedraza, 35, who lives and works at a nearby horse boarding facility. He said he saw passengers emerging from the wreckage, and he and others helped the injured, one with skin peeling off of his forehead.

“They were yelling for help and crying,” Pedraza said in Spanish.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said four people were confirmed dead and 30 to 40 people were injured.

Firefighters treated the injured at three triage areas near the wreck, and helicopters flew in and out of a nearby landing area on medical evacuation flights.

Rescuers worked atop the wreckage and through breaches in the passenger car to reach victims. Dazed and injured passengers sat on the ground and milled about on both sides of the tracks.

Surgeons were sent to the scene.

Dr. Stephanie Hall, chief medical officer at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, said three people in critical condition — two females and a male — were being treated at the hospital.

“They are massive injuries,” she said.

One of the largest medical facilities in the area, Northridge Hospital Medical Center, was told to prepare for the arrival of injured passengers, said hospital spokeswoman Christina Zicklin.

“We are expecting some people. I don’t know the number yet,” she said.

A male passenger told KNBC-TV he boarded the Metrolink train in suburban Burbank and was talking with a fellow passenger when the crash occurred.

“Within an instant I was in my friend’s lap. It was so quick. It was devastating,” he said. The man was visibly injured, but able to walk with the aid of firefighters. The man said he was involved in a devastating 2005 Metrolink crash in Glendale and was talking about it with the other passenger when Friday’s crash occurred.

The trains collided in the Chatsworth area of the San Fernando Valley.

Metrolink spokeswoman Denise Tyrrell said the train left Union Station in downtown Los Angeles and was headed northwest to Moorpark in Ventura County.

“We don’t know if we hit another train or another train hit us,” Tyrrell said.

She said the Metrolink train was being pulled by its locomotive rather than being pushed. The push mode is controversial due to claims that it makes trains more vulnerable in accidents.

The condition of the freight crew was not immediately known.

Union Pacific spokeswoman Zoe Richmond said a freight train usually has a two-person crew.  The freight train involved in this incident had four people on board.

She also said it is common in California for freight and commuter trains to share the same track.

“You see it a lot in California where commuter trains share tracks with freight trains,” Richmond said, adding she couldn’t speculate about the cause of the crash.

The crash happened in an area where the tracks form a “U” shape, about 2,500 feet wide. At the top of the bend is a 500-foot long tunnel that runs beneath Stoney Point Park, popular with climbers for its large boulders.

The toppled passenger car was part of a Bombardier BiLevel coach, commonly used for regional railways from Seattle’s commuter rail Sounder to New Jersey Transit. Each double-decker car is about 16 feet high and 10 feet wide and can seat up to 160 passengers, depending on its configuration.

West Coast 911 firefighting news source – Associated Press

Three Buffalo firefighters injured battling structure fire

Three Buffalo firefighters were injured this morning battling a fire that started in a vacant East Side home, the latest in a long list of firefighters hurt while responding to fires in vacant or abandoned city buildings.

The blaze started just after 5 a.m. in an unoccupied, two and one half-story frame house at 21 Herman St., off Broadway, according to Buffalo Fire Department officials.

The fire caused $20,000 damage to the building, and its cause is under investigation.

The fire spread to the houses on either side, at 15 Herman and 23 Herman, before firefighters were able to bring it under control.

The house at 15 Herman sustained $42,000 total damage, while 23 Herman sustained $22,000 damage.

Three firefighters were taken to the Erie County Medical Center with injuries that didn’t appear to be serious, a fire official said.

Though the cause of this fire is not yet determined, vacant buildings are attractive targets for arsonists.

In 2007, 60 percent of Buffalo’s arsons were set at vacant and abandoned buildings, according to a recent Buffalo News analysis of city fires.

Twenty-seven firefighters were hurt while battling those fires, including Mark P. Reed, who nearly died while fighting a blaze in a vacant Wende Street house last year. Reed later lost a leg because of his injuries.

West Coast 911 firefighting news source – The Buffalo News

Five firefighters injured in blaze

Firefighters Michele McCutchen, Simeon Hammett and Capt. Tom Geisler, all from Baltimore City Engine 30, rest after helping to fight a four-alarm fire that engulfed two 11-unit apartment buildings in the Queens Ridge Apartment Complex in the Woodlawn area. Five other firefighters were injured. (Sun photo by Amy Davis / March 3, 2008)
Reported on March 4, 2008…..
A four-alarm blaze in the Woodlawn area yesterday afternoon destroyed two apartment buildings in a residential neighborhood and sent five firefighters to the hospital with heat exhaustion, burns and other minor injuries, Baltimore County fire officials said.
Continue reading Five firefighters injured in blaze

New Technique Could Save More Firefighters’ Lives

DENVER (CBS4) ― More people die in house fires than wildfires. More than 80 percent of fire fatalities happen in homes and there is no place more dangerous than the basement. The stairs create a chimney effect making it tough just to get down there … too often, firefighters don’t come out a live. North Metro Fire hopes a new rescue technique will change the odds.

While North Metro Fire Rescue was training for basement rescues, a basement floor collapsed under a firefighter in Westminster, trapping him in a burning crawl space.

“My heart dropped. It hit the floor,” said Derik Minard, Westminster Fire Battalion Chief. “It was an immediate, we have to rescue one of our own, situation.”
Continue reading New Technique Could Save More Firefighters’ Lives

Rescue team works to save fall victims

RUNNING SPRINGS – Rescuers worked Tuesday night to free at least three people and a firefighter who fell several hundred feet down an ice chute and into a creek.

The people had been near Hunsaker Drive and Encina Way and fell some 200 to 300 feet, said Tracey Martinez, San Bernardino County fire spokeswoman.

One person was able to climb to the top, get to a nearby home and call for help, Martinez said.

The call came into county dispatchers about 6 p.m.

Fire supervisor Jaime Vilches said the person called authorities about a half-hour after the group fell into the creek.

A county fire Heavy Technical Rescue Unit and sheriff’s Search and Rescue personnel responded to the scene.

A firefighter had tried to climb down to the stranded hikers, but fell about 100 feet and was injured, Martinez said.

“We’re not sure how bad the injury is, but we know it’s not life threatening,” Martinez said.

By Gina Tenorio SBSUN.com

Fire Museum plans heating up

BELLFLOWER – Long ago, a 1925 Engine 23 Stutz roared down the streets of this city.

Photo Courtesy of conceptcarz.com

At the time, Bellflower had its own fire services before it began a contract with the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Many years later, a group of current and retired firefighters acquired the engine, stowing it away in a South Gate warehouse.

Now, that historic Stutz may return to the city, as well as 45 other fire engines and trucks dating back to the 1860s.

The City Council’s decision this past week to allow the association to set up shop in town is the start of a three- to five-year, $25 million project involving support from some major players, including Supervisor Don Knabe and Long Beach restaurateur John Morris.
Continue reading Fire Museum plans heating up

Paramedic Dead in Store Shooting

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A gunman in a jacket, tie and baseball cap wordlessly opened fire inside a Wendy’s during the lunchtime rush Monday, killing a paramedic who had gone back to fetch the right toy to go with his child’s meal and wounding five others. The 60-year-old shooter then committed suicide.

he 42-year-old victim, Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue Lt. Rafael Vazquez, who was not in uniform, had met his wife and child at the restaurant during a break in training down the street, Deputy Fire-Rescue Chief Steve Delai said. The family had gotten their food and walked out, but Vazquez returned because the wrong free toy had been included in the kids’ meal, detectives said.
Continue reading Paramedic Dead in Store Shooting