Saturday, April 21, 2012

Historic Friends School Heavily Damaged

 by: Lou Angeli

Wilmington, DE (April 17, 2012) -- A major fire at one of America's oldest schools destroyed an auditorium and damaged other sections of the historic facility. There were no serious injuries but the windswept 3 alarm fire caused damages in excess of $1 million.

Talleyville Fire Company (Station 25) was dispatched for an alarm sounding responding with Quint 257. Back at the school teachers and maintenance staff found that there was indeed a fire, calling 9-1-1 with the additional information. New Castle County Fireboard upgraded the call to a full Box Alarm assignment as well as adding a RIT Team and ALS units.

On arrival, Quint 257 found heavy smoke rolling from the roof of the 4 story brick auditorium, part of a complex of connected structures. Talleyville firefighters made their way into the building with a hoseline searching for the source of the blaze. Outside, the aerial ladder was raised quickly in order to give firefighters access to the roof to cut vent holes. Using K12, chainsaws and hand tools, the roof team was unable to cut through slate and copper roofing material. 

"The heat was tremendous," one firefighter said. "I thought my boots were melting."

The 3-man team was ordered off the roof and not one second too soon. Once they had reached the aerial, heavy smoke and flame vented through the roof at the position where they had been standing just moments before.

Arrival conditions: Quint 257 and Engine 253

Talleyville Chief Tom Looney immediately radioed for a 2nd alarm, which included companies from Pennsylvania and the Wilmington Fire Department, Delaware's only career fire-rescue agency. New Castle County EMS responded to provide ALS coverage for fire-rescue personnel. 

As first alarm companies continued to arrive, ladder trucks and towers were positioned at sides A, B and D. Elsmere Ladder-16, Claymont Ladder 13 and Wilmington Ladder-1 joined Quint 257 setting up along the A side while each was fitted with a water supply line in the event that the fire attack became defensive. Tower-11 was assigned to the D side with Ladder-18 covering the B-C side. A collapse sector was established as a precaution.

A firefighter climbs Ladder 13's aerial early in the firefight.

The blaze was difficult to fight. Command was presented with a windowless, brick building with a roof which had been covered with copper and topped of with slate shingles. Inside, non-trussed, thick wooden beams hung high above the audience area making access difficult and providing the fire with plenty of fuel. Winds were gusting to 40mph blowing smoke over North Wilmington and into New Jersey. The roof began to burn with a vengeance.

With collapse eminent, Chief Looney ordered the evacuation of interior personnel and requested a 3rd alarm. The operation evolved into an aggressive exterior attack using elevated master streams from the pre-positioned ladder apparatus.

Engine 165 laid 5" supply line to feed Ladder-16

After nearly 3 hours, the fire was placed under control with many of the companies still working as they checked for hot spots and hidden fire. 2 firefighters were treated by New Castle County Paramedics, then transferred to nearby hospitals for examination. The Delaware State Fire Marshall's office is continuing their investigation.
All photographs:
(c)2012, Lou Angeli, All Rights Reserved 

Monday, April 09, 2012

2 Philly Firefighters Killed in Massive Warehouse Fire

                                                                                                                  photo by: Joseph Kaczmarek/AP

Ladder-10 Officer and Firefighter Killed During Collapse

Philadelphia (CNN) -- Two Philadelphia firefighters died early Monday and three others were injured when the wall of a building collapsed as they battled a five-alarm fire, officials said.

The collapse occurred about 5:50 a.m. as the five were inside a furniture store, said Deputy Fire Commissioner Ernest Hargett Jr.

Four of the firefighters were trapped inside, he said, but the fifth was able to get free. Firefighters were forced to move brick and timber by hand and cut through some materials to rescue the others, Hargett said.

The initial report of the blaze came in at 3:13 a.m., Hargett said. Command requested four additional alarms as the flames burned out of control for two hours and embers set surrounding buildings ablaze.

The firefighters who died were 60 and 25 years old and assigned to Kensington's Ladder-10, Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said. "We have a veteran firefighter and we have a new firefighter," he told reporters. The firefighters' names will be released later Monday, officials said.

The last time multiple Philadelphia firefighters died in the line of duty was 2004, Ayers said, and the last firefighter death was in 2006. The cause of the fire was under investigation Monday, Ayers said.


Friday, April 06, 2012

Fire-Rescue-EMS News via LexisNexus and News Aggregators


Wilmington, DE (April 6, 2012) -- It's been a busy week for volunteer firefighters in New Castle County, Delaware, and fire departments across the nation have learned the details thanks to software known as a news aggregator. In this case, the automatic system discovered the terms firefighters, structure fire, injured firefighter on DelawareOnline, the web version of Delaware's News-Journal.

These aggregators make life easy for news editors (TV, radio, print and the web) providing stories and features that may be of interest to specific demographic audiences. A prime example exists right here, Several times each day -- or based on a pre-determined delivery schedule -- news aggregators from major newspapers, wire services and TV stations update fire-rescue news headlines, automatically publishing a story before a site editor has an opportunity to review. Back in the day, these were known as rip and read stories, with the announcer going on the air without ever having previewed the story. Although the idea is similar, the current process is completed electronically in nanoseconds.

Here on my blog, I use the GOOGLE aggregator which sends stories to my email address, and allows me to post or pull.                                                          This is my aggregator section-->>>

Even though it's a Godsend to editors of fire-rescue-EMS websites -- often times those of us who are subjects of a story are thrown under the bus, often being ridiculed by our peers and citizens we protect. Admittedly, there are times, for example when a firefighter is found guilty of arson, that the story is accurate -- simply reporting a statement of fact. Unfortunately, other feeds come from the dregs of the earth -- the yellow journalists. Dennis Smith is cringing because he was not only a firefighter advocate but the consummate journalist.

Last week, The New York Post, long known for its disdain of firefighters, paramedics and law enforcement officers, ran a story with the following headline. "FDNY Retiree Works for NASCAR Fire Crew While Collecting City Disability Pension." The headline writers at the Post are well trained, knowing that if they include terms like FDNY, NASCAR and Fire Crew the news aggregators will kick into action forwarding the story to sites like Fire-Rescue-1, Firefighter Nation,, and hundreds of others. I've been told by adding NASCAR to the title, the story was distributed to thousands of other sites -- mostly country music radio station websites.

I was horrified when I saw that so many fire-rescue sites ran the story, because as a journalist I instantly recognized that the piece was riddled with inaccuracies and fabrications. The paper boasts that they've exposed a hero firefighter, claiming that he asked for a disability pension so he could volunteer as a NASCAR firefighter. Unfortunately, many firefighters and citizens take the Post's false allegations as gospel truth because they aren't savvy to such journalistic tricks or, more importantly, aware of how the disability system works.

The firefighter accused, once assigned to Rescue Company 3, had served at Ground Zero for months determined to bring the brothers home. We know that to be true by simply confirming the story with others. Unfortunately, during his time on the pile, the firefighter sustained long term injuries and the department called him in for testing. Physicians recommended that he be retired and so ruled the Disability Board. One day he was assigned to one of the great Rescue Companies in the USA...the next he's sitting at home at the kitchen table sipping on coffee.
I suspect the Post maintains hard and fast rules regarding release on medical disability. Sitting on the front porch in a rocker is acceptable -- sharing your knowledge through teaching is not. When you retire, is your plan to sit in a wheel chair, watch the flat screen until you flatline?

The conditions of employment with the FDNY are clear, with one of the most important being able to do the job without causing injury to yourself or endangering fellow firefighters. That's what happened to the Rescue-3 firefighter, like thousands of others who were put to pasture in 2002. And like his colleagues the respected member of Rescue 3 had no intention of leaving the job as he was looking forward to having his own command someday. The events of 9/11 changed so many lives, but in particular veteran firefighters of the FDNY.

Without citing specifics or naming names, I've checked with attorneys and the Manhattan Prosecutor's office and firefighters who have been released on disability have done nothing whatsoever to break the law.

"The system was in place long before he took his oath" one attorney said. "If there's a problem, it's not with the's with the pension system."

Of course, what I've just noted in these previous paragraphs were never included in the NY Post story. Why would they? As I mentioned earlier, the writer is tasked to develop a story based on the headline -- not by truth and accuracy. And it's that headline that places sites like on my "never return to list." (No reflection on you Chief Eisner)

In all honesty, I must give props to Fire-Rescue-1 because not long after the original Post story appeared, senior editor Rick Markley asked me to post my OP ED onto FR1's online edition. Here on FirefighterNation I posted the same OP ED, once again with positive results. Guess what? wouldn't allow me to post -- but they did allow our brother firefighters to respond to the NY Post article. That's when I became disgusted and angered.

Here's a sample of responses which appear on

Reader: "You can talk all about this crap about being assigned to Rescue 3 for FDNY (so what?). The guy is a piece of sh!t and should be in jail."

Reader: "Not all fireman abide by the honesty creedo.......there are alot of public safety personnel that are in these jobs to see what they can get for themselves."

Reader: "Let's not kiss this guy's ass because he was a fireman. There are no SAINT's riding on any fire trucks in this country. This guy deserves to lose his disability."

None of the responses listed here are informed. I asked the individuals via email to site some of the specifics from the story and as I suspected they could not. Their entire opinion regarding Firefighter Cliff Stabner was formed based on what an aggregator told them -- the story's headline.

I urge the major Fire-Rescue websites and the dozens of excellent emergency services bloggers, to keep an eye on their aggregator feeds. Stories about the convicted arsonist need to be shared so other departments can learn how to weed out the stray member. But to publish a one-sided, factually incorrect story isn't fair to Cliff Stabner -- nor the remainder of us who ride the jumpseat for a living or as an avocation.

Your comments are invited.


Monday, April 02, 2012

NY Post Continues to Defame FDNY Hero

Lewes, DE (April 2, 2012) -- Cliff Stabner has done nothing wrong! He is a former soldier, law enforcement officer and NY City EMT. As a firefighter he was assigned to the most prestigious firefighting unit in North America, FDNY's Rescue-1. The New York Post has this information on hand, but won't reveal it because it doesn't support their comical headline. 
"Disability Duplicity" 
 Who says there are no second acts in American lives? FDNY pensioner Cliff Stabner retired as a “disabled” city smoke eater in 2003 and — presto chango — is now working as an emergency responder . . . at a NASCAR speedway in Delaware.  New York Post Editorial
Like thousands of others rescuers, Cliff was injured at Ground Zero and in 2002 placed on disability by CITY physicians and a CITY board. He never requested to be taken off the job! Why would he? His life was the FDNY. The Post suggests he hired his own attorney to petition for his dismissal, which is a fabricated notion.

To be quite honest, I'm the only person with actual hard evidence of Cliff's role at the speedway. Pictures. I'm a photographer who covers many of the races at Dover and I have specifically covered Cliff -- and the infield safety crew -- in the past. I have never seen him run onto the track to rescue trapped drivers. I learned that as a VOLUNTEER, he drives a utility truck which carries rescue tools, but is mostly involved in training other firefighters and rescue personnel.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion in this matter, therefore my comments won't include attacks on individual posters. However, to those of you who sit in the easy chair passing judgement on a good man based on a story that the Post never attempted to confirm -- I urge you to take a few moments and perhaps do a little research of your own.

If you're going to serve as Judge and Jury, conduct a proper investigation. I believe that you will find that without a doubt, the problem is with the system -- not Cliff Stabner. Apparently, politicians have been aware of the problem for years, because as the Post noted last Tuesday, "The controversial new pension law approved by Gov. Cuomo and the state Legislature slashes disability pensions for new firefighters by 50 percent."

On September 11, 2001, Cliff Stabner was an American hero -- assisting in the rescue of Captain Jay Jonas, the crew of Ladder 6 and a civilian who were trapped in a collapsed stairway of the North Tower. Today, the law firm known as the New York Post -- always known for their editorial acumen and honesty -- steals a family's good name without ever confirming the source of their tip.