Monday, September 16, 2013

Claymont DE Fire Injures Resident

Quick knock down kept this blaze from spreading to other homes.

Claymont, DE (September 15, 2013) -- A fire late Sunday evening destroyed a single family dwelling in New Castle County, DE, sending it owner to the hospital.

First in companies found heavy smoke and fire showing from the split level home on Honeywell Drive.  Command ordered an upgrade for the box alarm, which brought in companies from Delaware County, Pennsylvania.

The victim, a 59 year old man, was found on the front lawn of the home in an unresponsive condition. Paramedics and EMT's treated him on scene, then transported him to the Wilmington Hospital.  Firefighters aggressively fought the fire, keeping it from spreading to adjacent homes.

Responding companies included; Claymont, Brandywine Hundred, Talleyville, Holloway Terrace, Minquadale and Lower Chichester of Delaware County, PA.  New Castle County EMS also responded along with the Delaware State Fire Marshal's office.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Social Media: Freedom of Speech or Verbal Abuse

TORONTO, ONT (August 27, 2013) -- Just 2 days ago, Toronto Fire Chief Jim Sales announced that 2 city firefighters had been suspended indefinitely for sexist remarks made about colleagues on Twitter. And believe me, these firefighters made some very nasty comments.

Toronto's top firefighter said,  'In the public domain it's important for all of us to demonstrate a positive image of the Toronto Fire Service.'  The same is true for fire departments throughout North America.

With the introduction of FACEBOOK and TWITTER (and other social media sites) what happens behind closed firehouse doors is no longer a well-kept secret. In the past, Fire administrators were very careful about what information was released to the public.  Today, they no longer have the ability to strictly control information flow about department activities.

 In today’s media environment, citizen journalists have the ability to instantly post commentary, images and video of emergency incidents without the necessity – nor the desire -- to interview participants or confirm details. Once a biased story is posted, the onslaught continues as no named commentators weigh in on tactics, staffing, equipment…even personalities of fire officers.
 The information – whether it’s accurate or not – is often available online even before companies take up. The SHARE button allows that same mismanaged story, complete with demeaning comments from arm chair Battalion Chiefs, to be published throughout the fire-rescue community...and seen worldwide. I see it happen every day.

 Fire-rescue agencies need to beat the “citizen journalists” at their own game. In many cities, department PIOs now publish working alarms as they happen, giving readers informed commentary thus heading off biased remarks. It is a wise practice to implement, because the citizen journalist is here to stay – and here to say!

It seems that larger departments are making the greatest strides in social media. But unfortunately, Volunteer agencies have been slow to adopt an effective social media reporting method. Dealing with social media in the volunteer fire service doesn’t require a by-law change or the addition of an elected officer.  Every station has young men and women who are extremely knowledgeable in the ways of electronic distribution, and their input should be sought when determining the best way to deal with social media.  

 The post 9/11 love affair with the fire service is over, and much of that break up can be attributed to negative information published via social media. Fire-Rescue-EMS organizations, union locals and individual departments and agencies need to take advantage of the positive aspects of social media, the most important being the ability to inform the public and influence opinion.  


Rim Fire: California's Worst Wildland Fire Ever

Paint blisters on a wildland Engine while fighting the Rim Fire.
 Rim Fire: Update:

GROVELAND, CA (August 26, 2013) -- The Rim Fire has grown to 160,980 acres with 20 percent containment according to official at CalFire.  Crews made some progress Sunday night fighting the wildfire burning near Yosemite National Park, which has grown to become one of the largest in the state's history.

The fire to threaten several towns, San Francisco's water supply, and historic giant sequoias.
Crews managed to increase containment from 7 percent to 15 percent overnight Sunday, but with the heat of the day only managed to increase containment by an additional 5%.  Even with containment, the fire did continue to grow, however, and is now 234 square miles in size.

Stanislaus National Forest spokesman Jerry Snyder said crews are being helped by the fire's movement into less forested areas and cooler temperatures caused at least in part by the shadow cast by the large plume of smoke from the blaze.

About 4,500 structures and Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, the source of San Francisco's famously pure drinking water, remain under threat.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Rim Fire Expected to Grow to Epic Proportions

Firefighters from coastal Monterey, California watch as the Rim Fire burns out of control

by: Lou Angeli

GROVELAND, CA (August 25, 2013) – The fast moving Rim Fire on the northern border of Yosemite National Park grew by an additional 7 square miles overnight as more and more firefighters from throughout the western states arrive to flight the blaze.

The fire, one of the biggest in California history, now covers 210 square miles and is just 7 percent contained. Officials fear that the blaze will spread even faster as strong south winds, expected to be as high as 30 mph, arrive later today.

The fire has grown so large and is burning dry timber and brush with such ferocity that it has created its own weather pattern, making it difficult to predict in which direction it will move.

Current Map shows Yosemite Nat'l Park to the east.
"The wind could push it further up north and northeast into Yosemite and closer to those communities and that is a big concern for us," said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF).

Yosemite National Park officials are taking no chances as they cleared brush and set sprinklers to protect two groves of giant sequoias. About three dozen of the giant trees are affected.

"All of the plants and trees in Yosemite are important, but the giant sequoias are incredibly important both for what they are and as symbols of the National Park System," said spokesman Scott Gediman.

Despite the efforts of 2,672 firefighters, backed by planes and helicopters, the raging fire is threatening water supplies and electrical generating plants, which supply the city of San Francisco. In anticipation of failures, Governor Jerry Brown yesterday ordered a state of emergency for San Francisco and other communities in the bay area.

InciWeb reported that the Rim Fire will continue to exhibit large fire growth due to extremely dry fuels and inaccessible terrain. The report continued; rapid fire growth and extreme fire behavior are hampering suppression efforts.

Additional aerial resources such as high volume MAFFs and VLAT DC-10 air tankers making drops in advance of the fires spread toward the Highway 108 corridor.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

2 Alarm Fire Strikes Wilmington at Midday with Maydays

A RIT Team member clears a doorway for firefighters working on level-2.

Wilmington, DE (August 22, 2013) -- A noonday fire at 4th and Orange Streets went to 2 alarms, after a stubborn blaze in a condemned 200 year old building put city firefighters to task. The fire was deep seated and spreading quickly when Deputy Chief Michael Donahue called for the 2nd alarm around Noon.  That call brought in the WFD's entire on duty force. including:

-Skyboom 2,
-Squad 3,
-Engine 5,
-Engine 6,
-Ladder 1,
-Tower Ladder 2,
-Engine 25. (Talleyville)

In addition, St Francis EMS, New Castle County Paramedics, Office of L&I and Trooper-4 were on scene.

Talleyville Firefighters stand-by to move into the fire structure and conduct overhaul operations.

Following mayday calls, Deputy Chief Donahue ordered evacuation of the buildings and companies transitioned into elevated master streams operations. 3 firefighters were injured, including D/C Donahue -- 2 were transported to Wilmington Hospital by St Francis EMS and County Paramedics.

County companies covered Wilmington Stations as re-called city firefighters restored their own companies using reserve apparatus.

The fire building is 200 plus years old and was condemned by Licenses and Inspections about a year ago for a number of violations.  According to the owner, he was working to bring the structure up to code when the fire broke out.

"I've lost everything," said owner Michael Gross as he hugged his wife tightly. "Everything we own was in in there."  The building had been in his family for 4 generations.

St. Fran EMS personnel take vitals on a firefighter complaining of dizziness.
Many Wilmington firefighters had mentioned that this was a blaze they all knew would eventually happen. In recent months, Wilmington Fire Marshall's Office and Licenses and Inspections have been following the letter of the code closing down nearly a dozen businesses.

The fire department was at full staffing at the time the blaze broke out. No companies were in bypass for the day.

Full photo coverage HERE

photos: Lou Angeli


Thursday, August 08, 2013

Toronto Paramedics and Firefighters at odds over Medical Calls

Toronto Paramedic and Firefighter - working as a team

TORONTO, ON (August 7, 2013) -- The Toronto Star's Rachel Mendleson reports that concern from Toronto firefighters over being removed from dozens of urgent medical calls is a “smokescreen” to protect jobs, when “what patients need are more paramedics,” according to Geoff MacBride, president of the Toronto Paramedic Association. 

Ed Kennedy, president of the Toronto Professional Fire Fighters’ Association, dismissed these assertions, calling MacBride “a broken record.”

Read the entire story -- what's your take?

Toronto Paramedics Union wants to change the city's Pre-Hospital medical service from Toronto EMS to Toronto Paramedics
Read why


Sunday, July 28, 2013

LifeNet 64 and LifeNet 61

LifeNet 64 touches down at Christiana

Christiana, DE -- LifeNet-64 descends to the pad at Christiana Hospital's Trauma Center outside Wilmington.  The crew was transporting a trauma code patient who was involved in a serious motorcycle accident south of Middletown, DE.  LifeNet-64, along with 2 other BK177's, is operated by Air Methods under contract with Christiana Care.  "64" is based at Georgetown Airport in Sussex County covering lower Delaware and the Eastern Shores of Maryland and Virginia. (photo: Lou Angeli)

N117J -- LifeNet 61's new ship
N117J has been placed in service as LifeNet-61 operating from Christiana Hospital in New Castle County, Delaware.  Medevac for Christiana is contracted to Air Methods of Englewood, CO.  The "new" ship is painted in the corporate colors of Christiana Care and includes the hospital's new circle "C" logo.  In the background is the reserve unit for LifeNet 61.
(photo: Lou Angeli)


Friday, July 19, 2013

Detroit Seeks Bankruptcy, Facing Debts of $18 Billion

"Things are bad here in Detroit. Very bad."

 by: Lou Angeli

DETROIT. MI (July 18, 2013) -- Once the nation's 4th largest city, the broken, and now broke, city of Detroit is asking for bankruptcy protection. How did this happen and what's it mean for Detroit's Bravest? Well a DC-based "emergency manager," Kevyn Orr, has petitioned a federal judge to allow him to take Detroit into the largest bankruptcy in American history. The media paints Orr as the man who views taking away pensions and health benefits as a broad based right, without any limitations.

According to Teresa Sanderfer, Secretary of the Detroit Fire Fighters Association, IAFF Local 344, "Things are bad here in Detroit. Very bad." She adds "And things will be getting worse before they get better."

During the past few weeks, Orr has been trying to persuade creditors to accept pennies on the dollar and unions, especially IAFF 344, to accept cuts in benefits. But talks have broken down and Orr has decided to take the city into bankruptcy.

In a New York Times report, Mr. Orr has said that as part of any restructuring he wants to spend about $1.25 billion on improving city infrastructure and services. But a major concern for Detroit residents remains the possibility that services, already severely lacking, might be further diminished in bankruptcy. 

What does Bankruptcy mean to Firefighters?

In a letter to members of IAFF Local 344, Sanderfer asks firefighters to remain solid and united.

"Just like we do on each shift, we have each other and each other’s backs." she wrote on the Local 344 Facebook page. "And with only that going for us – because our rigs and our equipment are falling apart around us – we’re surviving truly life threatening situations on the job every day."

City Council President Pro Tem Andre Spivey residents that they needn't worry about the impact of the filing immediately. "City services we provide will not be shut down," Spivey says. But he adds there will be challenges.

The unusual process of bankrupting a huge American city may take from 90 days to one year. Detorit has lost more than half of its population over the last 60 years. In 1950, it was the fifth-largest city in the country with a population of around 1.8 million. Today its population is estimated at just under 700,000.