Category: Out Of Area News

News from outside of Western Pennsylvania

Great Helmet Cam Video of Apartment Fire In Harrisburg


I was sent a helmet cam video from a friend of mine of firefighters responding to an apartment fire in Harrisburg.  I know Harrisburg isn’t in western PA, however the quality of this video and the fire load in the apartment was impressive, so I figured the western PA whackers would enjoy it.

Harrisburg units were dispatched to an apartment fire at 1410 South 15th Street in Harrisburg with people jumping from the 3rd floor.  This fire occurred in the early morning hours of November 14th.

Two Buffalo Firefighters Die

Article from Fire Geezer

Update, 10:40 am:  FF’s remains recovered.  Scroll down.

BUFFALO, NEW YORK, FIREFIGHTERS ARE ON THE SCENE of a 3-alarm fire that has just suffered a partial collapse trapping two FF’s that were inside conducting a search.

TV station WGRZ is reporting that Buffalo Fire Commissioner Michael Lombardo confirms two firefighters did not make it out. He says they thought they heard someone pounding for help in the basement. When they went in for the rescue, the main floor collapsed under them.

A reporter on the scene is saying that the officers on the fire ground fear that the FF’s have perished.

Update, 8 am:
The fire is in a 2-story building that has a delicatessen on the ground floor with living units overhead.  The firefighters went missing shortly after the units began working the fire a little after 4 am.  Some of the local media are reporting that the firefighters have not yet been able to locate the missing two despite breaching the walls in an attempt to get into the basement area where they are believed to be buried under the collapsed floor.

WIVB-TV Channel 4 has two videos reports so far.
This first one has footage of the fire early on at its peak:

This second video has an interview with the Fire Commissioner who tells of the tragedy:

Update, 10:40 am:
The remains of the two firefighters were removed from the fire building at approx. 10:00 am.
WKBW-TV filed this video report on the recovery:

Blaze at New York Fire Hall Damages Engine and Other Vehicles

CAMBRIA, N.Y. — Cambria Fire Chief Dale Heiser could hardly believe it when he heard the call come over his scanner.

About 1 p.m. Monday, the report went out that there was a fire at 4631 Cambria-Wilson Road — the address of the main hall for the Cambria Volunteer Fire Co.

“I thought, ‘No,’ ” Heiser said, shaking his head.

Sure enough, a Cambria fire engine, which was parked in the hall’s concrete garage, had caught fire and was burning, filling the air with smoke.

In the wooden fire hall adjacent to the garage, Third Assistant Chief John Presley and firefighter Tom Kovach were in the kitchen preparing for a dinner when they noticed smoke coming from the garage, according to a sheriff’s department report.

Presley opened the garage bay door and realized the engine pumper was on fire.

“By the time they walked back to take a look, they couldn’t even open the doors,” Heiser said.

The call went out for mutual aid, and fire crews from the other Cambria hall responded, along with crews from Wilson, South Wilson, Wrights Corners and Pekin volunteer fire companies.

Cambria volunteers, who are used to fighting structure fires, were initially powerless on-scene, because they couldn’t get inside the garage to get their gear.

“Of course, it makes everybody nuts because they can’t do anything,” Heiser said. “(They) just stood there watching it burn.”

Heiser said he wanted to thank all the firefighters from neighboring companies for their help.

The engine was parked in the middle of the garage, next to a 75-foot aerial truck and two ambulances.

Crews were able to pull out both ambulances and the aerial truck, but both suffered some damage from the flames and smoke.

The engine pumper suffered heavy fire damage.

Heiser said the pumper is worth about $300,000 and is likely a total loss. The sheriff’s report listed the combined value of the other vehicles at $782,000, pushing the reported damage over $1 million.

Heiser said the company will most likely make an emergency purchase.

The county’s origin and cause team responded to the scene, and the fire is under investigation.

Donations can be sent to:

Cambria Vol. Fire Co. Fire Recovery Fund
4631 Cambria-Wilson Road
Lockport, New York 14094

Fake Hydrant Frustrates West Virginia Firefighters

Link to Video and Original Article

Link to Video and Original Article

DAVIS CREEK, W.Va. — In an emergency every second counts, but valuable time was wasted Tuesday when firefighters were left high and dry trying to hook up to a hydrant that turned out to be fake.

Firefighters are still trying to figure out why the hydrant was there. They said some people use them as decoration, but also said it could be used to defraud their insurance company.

It created a very dangerous situation, though, Tuesday morning in Davis Creek. Fire Chief Jeff Snodgrass said his firefighters spent about 15 minutes hooking up to the hydrant and the had to unhook and switch gears to haul in the water.

He said the problem is created because not all hydrants look alike — ones operated by West Virginia American Water are all blue and white. But private hydrants in subdivisions and installed by home owners can be any color of the rainbow.

“People install these for decoration or for the convenience of their pets,” Snodgrass said. “If the fire department is not notified about it, to us — even our trained eye — this fire hydrant looks like a real true fire hydrant.”

Now the West Virginia Legislature is efforting a bill that would require all non-working hydrants to be identified by painting the hydrant black or putting a tarp over it if it’s not working.

The fire department is still trying to figure exactly why that fire hydrant was there. And, so far, they don’t know how the fire started. No one was home at the time.

Albany Firefighters Banned From Working With Community Fire Units

Albany, NY – City firefighters have been banned by their union from working as volunteers in communities where they live. The order, effective Feb. 1, is aimed partially at shielding taxpayers from covering costs of a firefighters hurt while volunteering.

The union’s president, Sam Fresina, couldn’t say Monday exactly how many members of the department the order would affect. But he said it was less than half of 75, the number that has been circulated.

“There are not a lot of people volunteering,” he said.

He sent the letter to all 234 members of the union informing them the executive board decided to enforce a bylaw adopted last year by the International Association of Firefighters, the parent organization, prohibiting volunteering.

“We decided to enforce it because the city of Albany is facing some tough financial times right now, and we are looking to do everything that we can to ease the financial stress,” Fresina said.

“Why is it fair for an Albany resident to take on the financial burden of someone putting themselves in danger by volunteering for another municipality?” he said.

If a firefighter were to get injured while volunteering, he also would lose time on his paid job.

If they refuse to resign from the volunteer company, they can’t be fired, he said. “Whatever happens would be up to the international.”

In the two weeks since the letter, not one firefighter has approached Fresina or leaders of the Albany Permanent Professional Firefighter Union, he said.

Pages of discussion on a local emergency responder Internet message board, have firefighters arguing it is an internal union matter and essentially could affect their ability to be in a better position to bargain with the city.

The edict barring volunteering reflects long-standing divisions within the firefighting community between career firefighters, who work full time for paid departments, and volunteers.

As volunteer firefighters have become harder to recruit and retain, firefighters unions have suggested that those positions should be paid. Increasing the number of paid jobs, incidentally, also would expand the unions’ influence.

Fresina didn’t want to get into that. “It’s a different subject,” he said, adding, “how many volunteer police officers do you see? How many volunteer DPW workers.” What importance do municipalities place on firefighters? he asked.

The tensions are heightened at a time when the faltering economy has spurred small cities with paid departments from Plattsburgh to Lockport to at least consider all or partial volunteer options. Some communities have both paid and volunteers such as city of Rensselaer and the town of Niskayuna.

David Quinn, chief administrative officer for the Firefighters Association of New York, or FASNY, said volunteering is a noble prerogative that dates to Colonial times and should be a personal choice.

“If you do have a paid firefighter living in a suburban community, they should have the choice,” said Quinn, who recently stepped down as South Schodack’s fire chief. “Are you telling them that they can’t protect their own property?”

Mirroring that response is the International Association of Fire Chiefs, a group for career and volunteer officials, which last fall issued a statement supporting “the rights of volunteer, career, or paid-on-call firefighters to serve multiple organizations or communities.”

As of now, the Albany department is down 21 positions, and under a hiring freeze by Mayor Jerry Jennings, to help balance the budget, it doesn’t appear those jobs will be filled anytime soon.

“We’re down 21 positions right now … we’re doing more with less, and our goal is to fill those 21 positions and get back to 260 so that we can more adequately protect the city,” Fresina said.

“This is nothing against volunteers,” he said. “This is simply us enforcing an international bylaw for the purpose of taking care of our residents. People in city of Albany pay our salaries, and it’s incumbent upon us to give them the best possible service that we can.”

Fresina said he has spoken to neighboring unions and was told they “don’t have an issue because they don’t have volunteers.”

Shawn Morse, a Cohoes firefighter and past president of that department’s union, said if volunteering “caused any problems in our organization, then we would take a stance but we have so few it hasn’t caused us any problems.”

Cohoes has four volunteers, he said, two of whom live outside the city and two of whom live in Cohoes and volunteer in neighboring communities.

Albany Fire Chief Robert Forezzi declined comment, saying it was a union thing and he hadn’t seen the letter.

Several local volunteer fire chiefs declined to take a position Monday, noting they weren’t looking to pick fights with their city counterparts.

Inaugural Response: An Inside Look

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The phone rings constantly these days in District of Columbia Fire Chief Dennis Rubin’s office.

There are a multitude of details to tend to before the arrival of millions of visitors from around the world anxious to be part of history next week when the first black president is sworn in.

Planning for the inaugural events started six months ago. John Donnelly and Henry Lyles — both special operations officers — have been at the table representing the fire department’s interest. Federal and city officials also have been crafting a response plan second to none.

“This is an exciting time, but a work-intensive time as well.”

In recent months, more and more people have become involved in planning what many are calling the largest national security event in history.

Rubin agrees with that summation. And, believes this is just the beginning. “With the excitement he (President-elect Obama) is generating, we think we’ll be seeing other events that may attract a million or so.”

At arm’s reach on his desk is a white binder “2009 Presidential Inauguration.”

Every agency has developed its own document according to their specific responsibilities. “One plan overlaps another plan, but they all fit together in a tight way.”

While there have been many briefings to keep the public informed about parking, street closures and security issues, there are a multitude of details that Rubin says have to be kept close to the chest.

While he can’t say how many extra EMS and fire personnel will be in the city that day, Rubin said they’re grateful to have the cooperation of nearby counties, involved with the National Capital and Baltimore area Council of Governments (COG).

The chief said working through COG is the only way to guarantee that the responders are qualified. “We can’t have freelancers. If someone showed up from another state to volunteer, we’d have to say: ‘thanks, but no thanks.” We would have no idea how to determine who they are or if they are really certified.

“There are just too many unknowns to allow that to happen.”

Three ambulance strike teams — personnel with 18 transport units — from across the state will be headed to the Nation’s Capital next week. The effort is being coordinated by Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS).

Jurisdictions sending support in that capacity include Allegany, Baltimore County, Charles, Frederick, Howard, St. Mary’s and Aberdeen Proving Grounds.

“It’s been quite an undertaking,” said Jim Brown, MIEMSS public information officer. “A lot of people have volunteered to participate.”

Personnel who are coming in to lend a hand have undergone certain security clearances. Vehicles also will be cleared.

MIEMSS also will have staff working along side of D.C. fire and EMS officials as well as in the hospital coordination center, Brown said.

Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) will open its emergency operations center Jan. 17. There, state officials will be keeping tabs on what’s happening across the state as well as in Washington.

Transportation officials have warned motorists to be ready for extensive delays. Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley also suggested people not travel on the major highways around the Nation’s Capital next Tuesday unless they absolutely have to.

MIEMSS officials also will be keeping track of bed status at various hospitals throughout the area. That’s done through CHATS (County Hospital Alert Tracking System), Brown explained.

Rubin said hospital officials have been involved in the process, and are gearing up with their own response plans.

“We want to have a 30 minute turnaround time at the hospitals. That’s so we can get the ambulances back out on the streets.

Warming tents and first aid stations will be set up throughout the city. Some buildings also will be open to provide shelter for visitors.

When the ambulance crews arrive for their briefing Tuesday morning, a D.C. firefighter or EMT will be assigned to their unit.

Virginia also is sending crews to assist. Ambulances from as far away as Richmond are headed this way.

Rubin said all stations across the city are being beefed up next week. “We run about 400 to 450 calls a day. We have our citizens to take care of in addition to these visitors…”

He said everyone in the department knows how important it is that things go smoothly, and that they are prepared.

The first big test of the operations will occur Sunday when nearly a million people are expected to turn out for a concert and fireworks on the Mall.

Command staff from other cities will be shadowing local officers next week. Rubin said they are anxious to learn how it’s done.

Because of their close proximity to Washington, personnel from Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties will be busy come Inauguration day.

“We have been planning for quite a while, getting all of our marching orders from downtown,” Pete Piringer, public information officer for Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services, said..

Montgomery will be sending specialized personnel and apparatus into the city on the big day.

Piringer said at least three EMS units will be sent to the district. Montgomery County’s Urban Search and Rescue Team will be put on standby. Personnel from the National Medical Response Team will be stationed in D.C. under the direction of the fire department. County bomb squad personnel will be assisting as well.

Prince George’s County will not be providing any equipment or personnel on Jan. 20, says PIO Mark Brady, but crews there will be busy nonetheless.

Brady said preparation efforts began in November, and have become more intense as Inauguration Day nears.

“It’s really come to a heated pace now. I have attended a minimum of two inauguration meetings or conferences calls every day of this week.”

Brady said his department’s main focus will be transportation issues. Bridges and roadways going into the district from Virginia will be closed, which means lots of traffic will be attempting to come in through Maryland.

“There are several Metro stations that we anticipate will be extremely crowded, long lines of people waiting to go downtown. We expect it to start around 3 a.m.”

He said the county will have an operation center monitoring traffic. And there will be plenty of close-by inaugural activity for responders to stay on top of.

“Balls are going on at FedEx Field, the National Harbor and just about every major hotel in Prince George’s County,” he said.

Although Jan. 20 is a holiday in Montgomery County, fire officials have made sure to provide extra resources that day.

“Because of the current fiscal climate, we have to be prudent about overtime,” Brady said. So, officials are relying heavily on volunteer firefighters and EMTs to provide additional manpower.

Brady said his county’s operations center will be partially activated and essential personnel have been alerted that they should be ready to be called into service at a moment’s notice.

Moving people out of the county and into D.C. is as big a priority for Montgomery County as it is for Prince George’s.

Piringer said that officials there have been coordinating with police and transportation officials to make sure everything goes smoothly.

“Most of our operations will be related to people and traffic,” he said.

He said station up-staffing is planned, and crews that are sent elsewhere will be supplemented with volunteers at various places. Additional staff will also be on hand at the county’s communication center.

Most personnel will be working 24 hour shifts on that day, as usual. Specialty units will be working 12 hour shifts and some people will be prepared to work 72 hours as needed.

“Whatever it takes,” Piringer said. “People are prepared for whatever is necessary.”

Link to Original Article and Video

Motley Crue’s Favorite Strip Club Up In Ashes.

California A fire on Thursday burned through the roof of The Body Shop, a landmark West Hollywood strip club mentioned in a Motley Crue hit. The blaze was reported at about 6:46 a.m. Thursday at the one-story club on Sunset Boulevard, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said.

Firefighters don’t believe anyone was in the building at the time of the fire and were investigating its cause.

It took about an hour to douse the fire, which was mainly confined to the attic, fire inspector Frank Garrido said. One firefighter suffered a minor injury.

The Body Shop, which has been in operation since the 1960s and bills itself as the longest running strip club in Los Angeles, is one of several clubs mentioned in the 1980s Motley Crue anthem to the strip clubs of America, “Girls, Girls, Girls.”

Link to Original Article – FireFghtingNews.Com