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