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.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

20 Years Ago: The Great Flood of 1993

St. Genevieve, MO

St. Louis, MO -- (June, 1993)  After 2 months of unending Spring rains, Old Man River finally rebelled. Runoff from storms in Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois forces the Mississippi well over its banks. The same river that left behind fertile valleys after hundreds of previous floods, reclaimed the land with savage fury.  Along the Mississippi River in St. Louis, the waters were so high, that they nearly reach the base of the Gateway arch, 5 stories above flood stage.

In the aftermath, experts called it the most devastating flood in US history. During the Great Flood of 93, fifty lives were lost and property damage exceeded $40 billion, making it the third most costly US disaster ever. (as of 1993)

Weather forecasters blamed it on a stalled Bermuda high pressure system, but locals simply referred to it as bad luck. With floodwaters rising at a rate of 1 foot per day, The US Army Corps of Engineers were able to provide adequate warning to communities along each affected river. Some families were forced to evacuate -- others chose to relocate -- but many decided to remain and stand their ground.

In early July 1993, as flood waters crept into low-lying areas, many residents began a race against the clock. But holding back steadily rising rivers wouldn't be an easy task. To be successful, communities needed help.

During these early stages of the flood, hundreds of sandbagging operations were taking place throughout the St. Louis metro area. It was a scene that was repeated in communities throughout Missouri and Southern Illinois. In river towns all along the flood plain, citizens prepared for the worst.

Spanish Lake, MO

 On July 6th, I was given a long-term assignment with a simple mission statement – videotape and photograph the flood. But it wasn't long before word leaked that I had some disaster experience and I was drafted to serve as an aide to Captain Vince Wright (STLFD Squad-2).  It was my job to serve as a liaison between emergency services and FEMA as well as the Salvation Army.

I knew very little about the area, which extended from Hannibal to the North, to Cape Girardeau in the South, roughly the distance between Los Angeles and San Francisco. FEMA provided me with a fire department Suburban, a few old ESSO maps and a cellular phone. I was told to report back on conditions in the field.

Everywhere I drove -- everywhere -- folks were sandbagging. Children, the elderly tourists -- anyone who could fill a bag and toss it onto the levee. On the first day it took me 14 hours to make my rounds. On the second day I was able to shave-off an hour. By the third day, I was assigned to tour the area in a helicopter.

From the air, the Great Flood lived up to its name. It was still early July, but it was clear to emergency personnel that within weeks the Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois rivers would overflow their banks in a very big way.

Chopper Pilot Rich Barkledge and I decide to make this our first stop, and he eases the unmarked Jet Ranger onto a landing zone prepared by local firefighters. Soon after we land, the leaders of this renegade band of baggers stop us cold dead.

"We need sand! We need bags! We need food and cool drinks!” And one final plea, “We desperately need porta-potties!"

Fire service and law enforcement were serving in their best capacity. Keeping the homes secure and the sandbaggers safe. If OSHA or NIOSH were here, though, they'd close this site down in a nanosecond. I made some quick calculations, and noted that the 1000 plus sandbaggers were working in polluted waters on a haphazard dam some 10 feet below the water line.

If a "blowout" were to take place, it would take at least 100 emergency personnel to make rescues and safely evacuate the area. I glanced over at the standby emergency team -- a 4-man engine company, 2-person medic unit, 2 deputy sheriffs, and a retired Salvation Army captain. I shook my head, and never allowed that thought to enter my mind again.

 Wall of Wonder
During the next few weeks, Spanish Lake was to be our "first" and "last" stop each and every day. Like so many, we were convinced that the folks here could hold back the river.

Building the sandbag wall was a monumental task: Hundreds of truckloads of sand were used to fill nearly 2-million sandbags. Medics gave out hundreds of injections to protect volunteers against hepatitis. Relief agencies served thousands of meals. It was a Wall of Wonder, with its own designer, a retired bridge engineer.

The town became the gathering place for international media. In fact, there were more satellite uplink trucks than dump trucks -- more camera crews than firefighters or police officers -- and enough still photographers that a local camera shop was selling film from the back of a rented van.

 There were volunteers from throughout the world, many devoting their time while vacationing in the Gateway city. One couple in particular, newlyweds from Bradford, England, had arrived directly from Lambert-St. Louis International. Another family from Auckland, New Zealand claimed a certain section of the wall for the folks down under. Everyone who worked at Spanish Lake signed their own bag, and that section remains as a memorial to all of the volunteers, who devoted their time and energy to holding back the 500 year Flood.
Three generations of the Scott family, who lived in these homes, kept a constant vigil around the clock. I know, they'd page me at 3 AM to ask for shovels, sand and bags. During the course of 4 weeks, I signed for tens of thousands of dollars in emergency resources, and this was just one location out of dozens.

Losing The Battle

But the floodwaters just kept rising and rising, and the wall couldn't be built strong enough or fast enough. Leaks developed, and the super saturated ground prevented volunteers from working safely. Finally, during the last week of July, the town's Fire Chief gave the order to abandon the effort

To say this was an emotional moment for the volunteers and families is an understatement. After 30 long days, time and hope had run out. No one questioned the decision, though. Instead, volunteers retreated to safer, higher ground, popped open beverages donated by the local brewery giant, and celebrated a victory of the human spirit.

A few days later the river won and floodwaters overran the wall, inundating the church and all of the homes. Over 6,000 people had come here to assist the Scott family, and each year, on the anniversary of the flood, the Scotts send out thousands of cards of thanks.

 Onto Other Problems

This scene was repeated every day for weeks. Grafton, West Alton, Potage des Sioux, St. Charles, Valmeyer – they were all inundated by flood waters, some 20 feet deep.On August 3rd, Captain Vince Wright, Pilot Rich Barkladge, and I were surveying areas downstream of St. Louis from the helicopter, which had become home.

I hear the pilot's voice through the headset, “Guys, we can make it in 15 minutes.”

 As news choppers circled, we dropped down to 100 ft. for a closer look. I stepped onto the skid, and shot that evening's lead national story. The levee had been breeched, and the 24 square mile island was filling so fast, that many residents were trapped.

 Along with a helo from USCG Station St. Louis, we began picking up trapped residents and flying them to the relative safety of the West levee, where the Army had set up an evacuation ferry. It didn't take long for floodwaters to fill farmlands and the town itself. Kaskaskia was gone in less than two hours.

We landed on Main Street to check businesses for any strays. No one in sight. But as we were about to lift-off, we noticed a lone woman with three Holsteins in tow. As was our routine, Vince tossed the coin. And as usual, I lost and got to stay behind.

As the crew lifted the farmwoman to safety, I led the cows to the safest (and highest) place I could find -- the Catholic Church. As we walked down the aisle together, all four mooing, I tied the bovine churchgoers to the main altar. The Coast Guard led them out a few weeks later. They survived the flood, but I doubt that they survived the slaughter house.

Later that day, while returning to the St. Louis Fire Department helipad, we watched as another levee had been breeched, and was quickly overrunning a nicely kept farm. As the owner sat on a nearby hill, he watched as the river swept away his home, furnishings, farm buildings and heavy equipment. I can never forget that scene, nor the lethal blow that Mother Nature dealt that man and tens of thousands like him.


Posted in memory of my partners during the Summer of 1993, Captain Vincent Wright and Pilot Rich Barkledge

Friday, July 12, 2013

An East Coaster's Guide to CAL FIRE

CAL FIRE Station - San Luis Obispo

The Nation's Largest Fire Department Isn't FDNY

SACRAMENTO -- The state of California is protected by 21 CAL FIRE Operational Districts. There are 803 fire stations (228 state and 575 local government), 39 conservation camps, 13 air attack, and 9 helitack bases.

The heart of CAL FIRE’s emergency response and resource protection capability is a force of nearly 4,700 full-time fire professionals, foresters, and administrative employees; 3,100 seasonal firefighters; 5,600 local government volunteer firefighters; 2,600 Volunteers In Prevention; and 4,300 inmates and wards.

To transport and support these forces, CAL FIRE operates over 1,095 fire engines (336 state and 759 local government); 215 rescue squads; 63 paramedic units; 38 aerial ladder trucks; 58 bulldozers; 5 mobile communication centers; and 11 mobile kitchen units. The department funds, via contract, an additional 82 engines and 12 bulldozers in six counties – Kern, Los Angeles, Marin, Orange, Santa Barbara, and Ventura. From the air, CAL FIRE operates 23 1,200-gallon air tankers, 11 helicopters, and 13 air tactical planes.

CAL FIRE Super Huey, one of 11 Helicopters owned by the agency.
Helicopters, or rotary-wing aircraft, are used to transport firefighting hand crews into fire areas. They also drop water and retardant chemicals on fires.

 CAL FIRE Website 


Thursday, July 11, 2013

20 Dead, 30 Missing in Quebec Rail Explosion and Fire

Aerial view shows multiple car pile-up in Lac-Megantic, Quebec

Lac-Megantic, QUEBEC -- At least 20 people are dead and 30 missing in an oil train explosion in the province of Quebec, near the border with Maine. According to USA Today, "Quebec Premier Pauline Marois arrived Thursday to tour the site of Canada's worst railway catastrophe in almost 150 years, six days after a runaway oil train demolished the heart of a small town, killing 50 people in a fiery explosion."

The intensity of the explosions and fire made parts of the devastated town too hot and dangerous to enter and find bodies days after the disaster. Only one body had been formally identified, said Genevieve Guilbault of the coroner's office, and she described efforts to identify the other remains as "very long and arduous work."

Investigators are also looking at a fire on the same train just hours before the disaster. A fire official has said the train's power was shut down as standard operating procedure, meaning the train's air brakes would have been disabled. In that case, hand brakes on individual train cars would have been needed.

The derailment is Canada's worst railway disaster since a train plunged into a Quebec river in 1864, killing 99.

CBS Video of the Lac-Megantic Rail Disaster


Boeing 777 Crashes at San Francisco International

Firefighters, Police hailed in Asiana crash (from USA TODAY)

SAN FRANCISCO -- Fire crews say they made repeated searches of the plane after an Asiana crewmember reported that four flight attendants were missing. They used the quickest way to board the aircraft - climbing up the deployed emergency chutes that passengers had used to get out of the cabin. While in the plane, they say, they had to extinguish fires and deal with fuel gushing from the plane's punctured tanks. (read the entire story)


Video of Firefighting Operations following Asiana Crash at SFO

One of 3 Striker 4500 ARFF Apparatus in service at San Francisco International Airport.
Response of a Career

SAN FRANCISCO -- The last major crash at San Francisco International Airport was 45 years ago when a Japan Airlines flight crashed on take off at SFO . The Airport itself is in San Mateo County, 13 miles from the city of San Francisco.  However the three ARFF stations at SFO are operated by the San Francisco Fire Department. SFFD operates 4 ARFF units (3 Striker 4500 apparatus and 1 Oshkosh 3000 ARFF rig), a multi agent tanker/tender, 2 Engine companies, 1 Truck company, 2 Paramedic units, a Command vehicle and 4 watercraft under the command of an Assistant Deputy Chief.  There are an additional 2 Oshkosh 3000 ARFF apparatus in reserve, ready to deployed by off duty crews.


Monday, July 01, 2013

Honoring Prescott's Bravest

19 Prescott AZ Firefighters Perish in Yarnell Wildfire

by: Lou Angeli

During my career, I’ve covered a number of wildland fire campaigns as a video and photojournalist.  One thing I’ve learned is that when Mother Nature whips a firestorm, she does so with a vengeance. 

This past Friday night a single bolt of lightning ignited a blaze, which spread rapidly amid high heat, low humidity and strong winds.  Within 48 hours it consumed the town of Yarnell, Arizona and 19 Prescott firefighters who were protecting it.

I have deep respect for the men and women know as Hotshots, specially trained professionals who are sent into harm’s way to fight these massive blazes.  There is nothing glamorous about their job.  No monster fire engines, no water – just shovels, axes, rakes and a few chainsaws.  Their work is backbreaking as they go about cutting firebreaks to deprive the fire of one or more of the fire triangle fundamentals.

News reports say that the Prescott Hotshots were forced to deploy their “shake and bakes,” emergency tent-like structures meant to shield them from flames after becoming trapped.  Did the fire overtake them? Were they unable to make it to their safe area?  Officials aren’t sure yet but  "something drastic" happened, said Dan Fraijo, Prescott’s Fire Chief.

“Who could not admire these men, who risked their lives to save the lives and property of people they would likely never meet, and lost their own lives in the process. “ an Australian firefighter wrote.  Selfless givers, they were absolute heroes, and deserve to be remembered as such.


Sunday, June 09, 2013

Passings: Thomas A Brooks

Tom "Brooksie" Brooks

Wilmington, DE (June 9, 2013) -- The Delaware Fire and EMS community has lost an experienced colleague and great friend. Thomas A. Brooks, Sr has passed away at the age of 76.

"Brooksie" served in a variety of positions, both administrative and fireline, as a life member of Elsmere Fire Company (45 years) and Cranston Heights Fire Company (35 years), where he also served as one of Delaware's first "paid" volunteers. Tom was a wealth of information when it came to Fire-EMS, likely because of his experience on the street. Although I have no numbers, it would be safe to assume that Brooksie responded to well over 10,000 Fire-EMS calls during his career. 

As a former member of Mill Creek Fire Company, I responded on many mutual aid calls with Tom, and I count him as a valued colleague and good friend. His smile and laugh will be missed. RIP Tommy.

A viewing will be held from 6 to 8 pm on Wednesday June 12th at the McCrery and Harra Funeral Home, 3710 Kirkwood Highway, Wilmington. A Funeral Service will be held at the funeral home at 10:30 am on Thursday June 13th. Burial will follow in the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Bear with full fire and military honors.

In lieu of flowers the family would appreciate donations in Tom’s memory to the Seasons Hospice, 1212 Foulk Road, Wilmington, DE 19803.


Friday, June 07, 2013

Extended Extrication

Christiana, DE -- Firefighters, EMTs and Paramedics treat a patient who was trapped upside down in a small pickup following a single vehicle accident on Northbound I-95 near the Churchmans' Road overpass. Rescue Units from Christiana, Minquas and Wilmington Manor Fire Companies conducted the extrication, then handed the patient over to medics from New Castle County EMS.

photo: Lou Angeli


Thursday, June 06, 2013

Update: 6 Dead, 14 Injured in Philly Collapse

Philadelphia firefighters search brick by brick for survivors and victims at collapse site.
REUTERS Philadelphia, PA (June 6, 2013) -- Engine and Truck Companies are rotated in as Philly firefighters pick through the heaps of concrete chunks, bricks and splintered wood at the collapse scene on Philadelphia's busy Market Street. As of Thursday morning the toll stood at 6 dead and 14 injured with still no estimate of the missing.

Mayor Michael Nutter suggested at a late night news conference on Wednesday that the number of casualties could rise.

"We still do not know how many people were inside the thrift store or possibly on the sidewalk" at the time of the collapse, Nutter said. "If someone else is in that building, they will find them."

Moments after the Mayor made those comments, a 61-year-old woman was pulled from the rubble alive, more than 12 hours after the collapse, and taken to a hospital in critical condition.

The collapse took place when a 4-story building, which was being demolished, collapsed onto the two-story Salvation Army Thrift Store, located next door.


Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Four Houston Firefighters Remembered During Memorial

Memorial participants will march under the tower of honor before entering Reliant Stadium
AP Houston, TX (June 5, 2013 )-- Thousands of firefighters from across the country, many with badges shrouded in black, joined Houston residents Wednesday to honor the four firefighters killed last week in a massive hotel fire.

The Houston firefighters who lost their lives during a building collapse are:

-Captain EMT Matthew Renaud (35) of Station 68
-Engineer/Operator EMT Robert Bebee (41) of Station 51
-Firefighter EMT Robert Garner (29) of Station 68
-Probationary Firefighter Anne Sullivan (24) of Station 68

As many as 40,000 people gathered in Reliant Stadium to remember the four who died Friday - the deadliest day in the Houston Fire Department's 118-year history. Before it began, dozens of fire trucks and emergency services vehicles from New Orleans, Dallas and elsewhere formed a long procession on flag-lined streets leading to the stadium.

 Opening and closing prayers were led by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

Investigators at the scene of the five-alarm blaze at the Southwest Inn have said they are focusing on an attic and the kitchen area of a restaurant connected to the motel. Deputy Chief Ed Arthur, who heads the department's arson division, said Tuesday he expected the physical examination of the rubble to take about 10 days but a report of the findings could take months.

"The investigation is dedicated to our heroes, our fallen firefighter friends," he said.


14 Rescued From Philly Building Collapse

 Philadelphia firefighters rush a victim to a waiting medic unit.

Philadelphia, PA (June 5, 2013) -- A four-story building that was being demolished apparently fell onto Salvation Army store in central Philadelphia at about 10:45 a.m. Wednesday, city Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers says.

A witness, Ari Barkin, told CNN that a part of an unoccupied building set for demolition fell onto a one-story Salvation Army building. Debris also hit three cars and a sidewalk, he said.  Another witness, Jordan McLaughlin, told CNN affiliate KYW that a number of people were in the Salvation Army building, and that he helped pull two people from the rubble.

At 12:40pm, two people were still believed to be trapped beneath the rubble, and companies from the Philadelphia Fire Department's Collapse Rescue Team were working feverishly to remove them from the debris. Twelve people had been taken to hospitals.

 “This is an active search and rescue. It’s ... delicate and dangerous.” Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter told reporters.

 "Keep in mind we did not know, and we do not know, how many people were actually in the thrift store this morning when the wall collapsed this morning," and that's why the search continues, Nutter said.

A 2:45pm update revealed that 14 people had been removed from the debris with 13 being transported to local hospitals.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wilmington DE Fire Chief now carrying a firearm

 Chief Anthony Goode

Wilmington Fire Chief Anthony Goode has been carrying a firearm for about a month, saying with increased code enforcement duties he and the mayor’s staff thought he should protect himself.

“Firefighters are always in dangerous situations. You never know what you’re going to be walking into,” Goode said, who was appointed fire chief by Mayor Dennis P. Williams in January.

Goode has been involved in several high-profile code enforcement actions over the past two months, including cracking down on three makeshift clubs run by the Thunderguards Motorcycle Club. While the city’s fire marshals also carry weapons, Goode said his decision to carry will not lead to all Wilmington firefighters arming themselves.

Read the entire story on


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Update from Moore, Oklahoma

Moore, OK (May 21, 2013) -- Firefighters here in Moore are at a premium, so many of the rescue teams are made up of law enforcement, citizen volunteers and off duty medics from the other side of the state. FEMA has a term that it uses to describe volunteers and self responders -- SCUVs. aka Spontaneous Convergent Unaffiliated Volunteers. In rescue circles SCUV is a dirty name but here in Moore the acronym SCUV has been replaced by the term HERO.

Over 100 rescues were made during the night -- many more made this morning. The fire department here in Moore, OK is not very large, but every member is on the scene. There is no off-duty today for them or a thousand other firefighters and rescue personnel who have arrived from Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri. A pair of firefighters wearing FDNY leather made their way to this "pile" in a gesture of repayment for OK's response to the events of 9/11/01.

Law enforcement officers from as far away as Tulsa and Texas are here as well, serving in twin roles today. Their usual job of keeping the peace -- and that of victim rescuer. Many of the first responders lost their own homes, and one I spoke to has a severely injured child who is being treated in Oklahoma City. But they are here doing what they have been trained to do. 


Monday, May 20, 2013

Massive Tornado Stikes Moore, Oklahoma

Highway Patrol: "Hundreds and hundreds possibly trapped"

Moore OK (May 20, 2013) -- Moments ago, a massive tornado ripped through the town of Moore, Oklahoma, just outside Oklahoma City — laying waste in its path and killing at least two victims.

"Children trapped---children hurt" at Briarwood Elementary School in Moore, OK after tornado.  

 KFOR meteorologist Mike Morgan just called this "the worst tornado damage-wise in the history of the world." Morgan estimates the damage to be two-three times worse than that of the May 1999 tornado — the worst ever — which also hit the town of Moore.

Now: 49 of the 75 trapped hildren have now been rescued at elementary school however the Moore Regional Hospital is destroyed. Radio traffic: Firefighters are awaiting EMS units to transport injured kids to Childrens Hospital of Oklahoma in OK City.

Cecil County - Ladder-4

Northeast Fire Company's LADDER-4 captured during Newark, Delaware's 2013 Memorial Day Parade. Ladder 4 is a 2009 Seagrave Marauder II 100ft rear mount aerial and covers the central section of Cecil County, Maryland.

photo: Lou Angeli

Dallas Firefighter Killed Following MAYDAY Transmission

 DALLAS (AP) — A firefighter's body was recovered Monday several hours after he called for help because he was trapped in a condominium complex blaze.

Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman Jason Evans did not immediately release the name of the man, whose body was pulled from the rubble after a frantic, hours long search during the six-alarm blaze in northeast Dallas.

"From where they thought the firefighter was there was pretty much an assembly line of debris, coming where guys were just handing back debris," Evans said.

The fire was reported shortly before 3 a.m. Monday at the three-story condo complex, Evans said. A U.S. flag covered the firefighter's body when it was located and removed.

Two firefighters were transported to a hospital with injuries that were not believed to be life-threatening. Five residents were rescued from the fire and two were treated for minor smoke inhalation, Evans said.

Authorities are trying to determine what sparked the fire, Evans said.

He declined to release details about the firefighter's call for assistance, saying it was a very sensitive matter to victim's family and to the department.

"It's not something that you'd want to hear, you'd want to forget it," Evans said, at times choking back tears during a news conference.


Full coverage at FirefighterNation 

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Local Bank Purchases Ontario EMS Choppers

by Lou Angeli

WILMINGTON, DE (May 3, 2013) -- Delaware's Wilmington Trust Company has purchased 2 never-used AW139 Helicopters from Ontario's Medevac provider ORNGE for a cool $10 million per ship. In fact, the 2 choppers (like me) never made it across the Canadian border and were stored at the AgustaWestland's facility in North Philadelphia for over 2 years. 

 Wilmington Trust holds the note on Ornge's fleet of 12 AW helicopters, and some say the term "purchase" should read "repossessed" considering the medevac provider was given a year to sell the choppers but were unable to do so. In fact, the 2 surplus AW139's were never outfitted for EMS use and were fitted as corporate aircraft.

Read the backstory and learn how ORNGE came very close to being grounded.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Kennett Fire Company -- New Delivery

New Delivery: Congrats to my friends at Kennett Fire Company (Station 24) Kennett Square, PA. The Department has taken delivery of a 2013 Kenworth/US Tanker 3000 gallon Stainless Steel tanker. The chassis is a KW-T800 with 500 HP Cummins power plant. The pump is a Hale QMAX 2000 gpm pump. Check out the department's VERY unique apparatus on their website:

Apparatus of the Day, April 23, 2013

Apparatus of the Day: Engine-20, Holloway Terrace Fire Company, New Castle County, DE
2005 -E-One Glider Kit. Additional information at the department's website.

photo by: Lou Angeli

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Extreme Weather Firefighting

When the goin' gets tough -- the tough get goin' !
by: Lou Angeli

 As weather experts debate the effects of global warming on North American weather patterns, the "B" shift members of St. Louis Squad-2 don't really give a damn. Winter is on them, and the simple fact of the matter is it's getting cold.

Cold weather makes America's most dangerous occupation even more hazardous. Statistics show that most serious fires occur during the winter months, when homes and businesses are sealed tight, and supplemental sources of heat are being used.

Granted, a few areas of North America are "temperate" and experience consistent weather patterns throughout the year. But unless you're a firefighter in Key West, McAllen (TX) or Phoenix, chances are you've already noticed that hot, muggy days have been replaced by cold, windy nights. And fighting fires in below freezing weather isn't fun.

This year, winter came early, and with vengeance to the Prairie Midwest. With temperatures hitting the single digits, and wind chills exceeding minus 40 below, serious fires have caused millions in damage, and claimed a number of lives.

Fighting fires in cold weather is part of everyday life for firefighters in the upper Midwest. And what they’ve learned is that this constant exposure to Mother Nature's brutal side has made on thing clear. The cold takes it toll - on personnel and equipment.
 During the next few weeks, the Arctic cold will dip well into the continental US. And even though we know it's likely to happen, Old Man Winter takes those of us in the lower-48 by surprise every time. 

 But It's A Dry Cold, Chief
Try telling that to firefighters in Indianapolis, who are accustomed to relatively stable winter weather. Last year by mid-December, they were operating in the coldest air to hit the area since 1887. Just South of Indy, in Bargersville, Indiana, the town experienced 12 consecutive days of sub-zero weather. Years of training and experience hadn't prepared these Johnson County firemen for this type of firefighting.

Generally speaking, North of the Mason-Dixon line, departments are better prepared for the hardships of cold weather. But when the alarm sounds, and the thermometer is stuck at zero, neither a firefighter's training or protective gear can block out the effects of the biting cold. So how do firefighters in Minneapolis, Green Bay and Chicago deal with the cold? Many have developed a contingency plan - one that stresses "firefighter safety".

Using Common Sense

Once on the fireground, firefighter safety becomes a primary consideration for command. While Engine Company members concern themselves with fighting the fire inside the structure, ladder and support company members are busy fighting the elements, working on slippery surfaces and icy ladders.

Firefighting in cold weather still requires getting water to handlines and master streams and moving H2O is one of the most difficult tasks in winter firefighting. In icy temperatures, leading off from a frozen hydrant or pond may waste valuable minutes. That's why it's important to pre-plan wintertime water supply operations.
In Porter County, Indiana, members of Center Fire & Rescue rely on large diameter supply lines and tanker shuttles to provide adequate water. Planning officers know that it's difficult enough to secure water under ideal situations. But when the weather turns cold, the job becomes much more difficult. So they've preplanned for the worse case scenario, matching mutual aid companies with their own resources to get the job done. Mutual Aid also plays a vital role during "working" assignments, especially when one factors in RIT teams and firefighter rehab.
Important Cold Weather Tips

Fighting fires in cold weather isn't only uncomfortable for front line personnel, it's damaging to equipment as well. Here are some tips from departments around the country, that may prove useful during cold weather incidents in your area:
  • Avoid coming up DRY, by initiating a hydrant "Pump-Out" plan
  • Apparatus maintenance is crucial! Make sure that tire chains or other traction devices are available for all first-in units
  • Develop a "contingency plan" with the authority or agency responsible for road maintenance and service
  • Develop SOP's regarding "dry-pump" vs. "wet-pump" operations. Things to consider are response time, pump design and normal ambient temperature in the station.
  • Carry a supply of salt, sand or oil-dry to enhance footing and reduce the possibility of falls
  • During heavy snowfalls, apparatus may be forced to operate "away" from the fire building. Extra lengths of attack line should be added to preconnects to compensate for the additional stretch
  • Following knockdown, when handlines are in standby, partially opened control valves will allow water to flow and prevent freezing.
  • Make sure that all waterways for monitors or deck pipes are dry, to avoid any freezing or clogging effects resulting from ice or slush
  • Follow the manufacturer's recommendations regarding the cold weather use of SCBA. Don't allow water to seep into regulators or emmission valves
  • And finally, ensure that extra turnout gear is available, especially gloves. It's recommended that personnel wear layered clothing, rather than bulky articles.
It’s no secret that ours is a unique profession. We're called upon to perform a number of important time crucial tasks in a wide range of weather conditions. So whether we're working in desert heat - or arctic cold, our mission is always the same. To save the folks inside, and perhaps save their home.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

New Video Training System for Firefighters and EMTs

Wilmington, DE (January 17, 2013) -It's needed -- let's do it! From the producer of the Firehouse Video Training System and contributor to American Heat (that's me) a new short-form video training series for firefighters and EMT's. I've been tossing this idea around for abou...t a year now, but it became a reality today after agreeing on a distribution source.

Need your help to determine topics and choose subject matter experts.

Seeking content partners to help develop this series of 8-12 minute videos dealing with firefighting and EMS basics. Also searching for on-camera presenters. Be assured that the production quality will be first-class and the training information topical and up to date.

If you have an interest in educating First Responders or assisting on camera with hands-on demonstrations, please message me.