ARFF (Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting)

Small airplane made crash landing in field near New Braunfels airport

ARFF Working Group - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 08:09

by SBG San Antonio

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas – Two people were not injured after a small airplane made an emergency crash landing Thursday afternoon in a field near the New Braunfels Regional Airport.

Authorities were called to the regional airport on FM 758 at about 3 p.m. Thursday for reports of a small airplane making a crash landing in a field nearby. Emergency crews found a man and woman inside the plane that crashed at the 3000 block of Westmeyer Road in Guadalupe County.

The occupants told authorities the plane had mechanical problems during the flight. Neither person was injured in the crash, officials said.

The Texas Department of Public Safety and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

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Today in History

ARFF Working Group - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 08:08

31 Years ago today: On 13 April 1987 a Burlington Air Express Boeing 707 descended into the ground while approaching Kansas City, killing all 4 occupants.

Date: Monday 13 April 1987 Time: 21:55 Type: Boeing 707-351C Operator: Burlington Air Express Registration: N144SP C/n / msn: 19209/510 First flight: 1966 Engines:Pratt & Whitney JT3D-3B Crew: Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3 Passengers: Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1 Total: Fatalities: 4 / Occupants: 4 Airplane damage: Destroyed Airplane fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair) Location: 5,5 km (3.4 mls) S of Kansas City International Airport, MO (MCI) (   United States of America) Phase: Approach (APR) Nature: Cargo Departure airport: Wichita-Mid-Continent Airport, KS (ICT/KICT), United States of America Destination airport: Kansas City International Airport, MO (MCI/KMCI), United States of America Flightnumber: 721

Buffalo Airways flight 721, a regularly scheduled cargo flight, was operating between Oklahoma City, OK, and Fort Wayne, IN (FWA), with en route stops at Wichita, KS (ICT), and Kansas City, MO (MCI). The flight to Wichita was routine. En route to Kansas City, the crew deviated from course to avoid thunderstorms, but the descent into the terminal area was routine. At 21:42 flight 721 contacted the TRACON arrival radar controller. The controller directed
the flight to turn to 060 degrees and told the flightcrew that they were being vectored to the ILS localizer for the ILS approach to runway 1.
About 21:47 while the airplane was descending through about 6,500 feet, the first officer, who had been flying the airplane, turned the controls over to
the captain. Buffalo Airways’ regulations required captains to make all the approaches and landings whenever the ceilings and visibilities were less than 400
feet and 1 mile, respectively. At 21:50, after several intermediate descent clearances, flight 721 was cleared to descend to 2,400 feet. At 21:51, the controller told flight 721 that it was “five miles from DOTTE (the LOM), turn left zero four zero, maintain two thousand four hundred until established, cleared ILS runway one approach.” The crew had completed the before-landing checklist, the landing gear was down and locked, and the flaps had been extended to 25 degrees, as required, for landing.
At 21:52:40, the local controller advised flight 721 that it was No. 2 to land and that the winds were zero four zero at eight knots, and that the RVR on runway 1 was more than 6,000 feet.
At 21:52:47, the first officer stated, “Localizer alive.” The first office reported the airplane’s altitude during the descent in 100-foot increments above “minimums (DH)” until the airplane reached the decision height.
At 21:53:07, the first officer called, “Marker inbound.” The flightcrew then received ATIS information “Sierra” which stated that the weather at the airport was in part: ceiling–100 feet, overcast; visibility 1/2 mile, fog; wind 40° at 8 knots. At 21:53:24, the captain remarked, “Already started the approach.”
At 21:53:32, 4 seconds after reporting that the airplane was 200 feet above minimums, the first officer told the local controller that, “Seven twenty-one is the marker inbound.” The local controller acknowledged receipt of the message. At 21:53:41, after receiving a low-altitude alert generated by the Automated Radar Tracking System III (ARTS III) computer’s Minimum Safe Altitude Warning (MSAW) function, the local controller warned flight 721 to “check altitude immediately should be two thousand four hundred, altimeter two nine six one.”
Flight 721 did not respond. However, the captain said “Call the radar (radio) altimeter please.” At 21:53:46, the first officer responded, “Okay, there’s twelve hundred on the (radio) altimeter.” At 21:53:50, the local controller again called the flight and warned, “I have a low altitude alert, climb and maintain two thousand four hundred.” Again, the flightcrew did not acknowledge receipt of the warning. At 21:53:51, a crewmember called out “pull it up,” and at 2153:52, the captain applied power followed almost simultaneously by sounds of initial impact.
Flight 721 struck the tops of trees on a 950-foot-high ridge about 3 nmi short of the approach end of runway 1. The airplane cut a relatively level 750- to 800-foot-long swath through the tree tops about 20 to 30 feet above the ground. The swath ended as the ridge and tree tops sloped downward. The airplane then rolled and turned to the right as it descended into the main impact area 2,000 feet beyond the initial impact site. All four occupants were killed.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: “The Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the captain’s intentional descent below the DH. Contributing to the accident was the breakdown in flightcrew coordination procedures which contributed to the failure of the captain and the first officer to detect that the airplane had not intercepted and was below the ILS glideslope. Also contributing to the accident was the failure, for unknown reasons, of the airplane’s GPWS to provide an unsafe deviation below the ILS glideslope warning.”

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250 die in Algerian plane crash

ARFF Working Group - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 05:37

Hamid Ould Ahmed

April 12 2018 2:30 AM

Witnesses said they had seen a wing catch fire shortly after the plane took off.More than 250 people were killed yesterday when a military plane crashed in a field near Algiers, the capital of Algeria.

Dozens of firefighters, rescuers and military officials worked around the blackened fuselage of the aircraft, which had been ripped open near its wings.

Bits of mangled and smouldering debris were scattered across the field near Boufarik airport, south-west of Algiers. Earlier TV images showed flames and smoke billowing from the site of the crash.

“At around 8am an Ilyushin model military transport plane crashed directly after take-off in an agricultural field that was clear of residents,” Major General Boualem Madi said.

A line of white body bags could be seen on the ground next to the wreck.

“After taking off, with the plane at a height of 150 metres I saw the fire on its wing. The pilot avoided crashing on the road when he changed the flight path to the field,” Abd El Karim, a witness, said.

A total of 257 people were killed, most of them military, the defence ministry said.

Ten crew and other people described as family members died, and a number of survivors were being treated at an army hospital, the ministry added.

Irish Independent

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Plane makes emergency landing

ARFF Working Group - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 05:36

By Staff Reports

Two people suffered minor injuries after a plane made an emergency landing in a field east of Franklin.

Both the pilot and a passenger were able to walk away from the landing on Wednesday afternoon and their injuries were believed to be minor, with mainly cuts and bruises, Sheriff Doug Cox said.

The plane went down near County Road 525E and State Road 44, about half a mile east of the Interstate 65 exit onto King Street in Franklin, Cox said. The incident happened about 2 p.m.

The pilot was forced to land the plane, a single-engine aircraft, due to a fuel problem, Cox said.

Federal Aviation Administration officials were notified of the incident, he said.

Cox said it does not appear that the landing gear was used, but the plane landed on its belly and stayed upright. The matter is still under investigation.

This is the second time this year that a plane has made an emergency landing in a field east of Franklin. On Jan. 19, an aircraft began issuing a distress signal then landed in a farm field southeast of the city. The aircraft wasn’t damaged and the pilot resumed his flight shortly after landing, but the incident prompted an emergency response because the aircraft was issuing a distress signal from the air.

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Today in History

ARFF Working Group - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 05:34

38 Years ago today: On 12 April 1980 a Transbrasil Boeing 727 crashed on approach to Florianopolis, Brazil, killing 55 out of 58 occupants.

Date: Saturday 12 April 1980 Time: 20:38 Type: Boeing 727-27C Operator: Transbrasil Registration: PT-TYS C/n / msn: 19111/297 First flight: 1966-07-01 (13 years 10 months) Engines:Pratt & Whitney JT8D-7 Crew: Fatalities: 8 / Occupants: 8 Passengers: Fatalities: 47 / Occupants: 50 Total: Fatalities: 55 / Occupants: 58 Airplane damage: Damaged beyond repair Location: 24 km (15 mls) from Florianópolis-Hercilio Luz International Airport, SC (FLN) (   Brazil) Phase: Approach (APR) Nature: Domestic Scheduled Passenger Departure airport: São Paulo-Congonhas Airport, SP (CGH/SBSP), Brazil Destination airport: Florianópolis-Hercilio Luz International Airport, SC (FLN/SBFL), Brazil Flightnumber: 303

The Boeing was off course during an instrument approach to Florianopolis and struck a hill. The aircraft was flown by an inspector pilot on a training mission. A severe thunderstorm was active in the area.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSES: Misjudged speed and distance, inadequate flight supervision, failure to initiate a go-around and improper operation of the engines.

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Algeria plane crash: At least 105 dead after military plane ‘carrying 200 soldiers’ crashes

ARFF Working Group - Wed, 04/11/2018 - 04:57

A source claims there were no survivors when the plane crashed into a field near Boufarik military airport, according to reports

At least 105 people are dead after an Algerian military plane carrying more than 200 soldiers crashed just minutes after take-off, according to reports.

The transport plane crashed into a field near the Boufarik military airport near the capital Algiers and burst into flames just before 8am local time on Wednesday.

One report, quoting a military source, said there were no survivors.

Footage posted online showed a huge plume of smoke rising into the air above the site of the air disaster.

Reports said the aircraft was a Russian-made Ilyushin transport plane that crashed shortly after taking off on a flight bound for Bechar in the south-west of the North African country.

Dozens of emergency response vehicles, including at least 14 ambulances, were sent to the scene in Blida province in northern Algeria, ALG 24 reported. 

The report said 200 soldiers were on board the plane for a scheduled hour-long flight.

It said at least 105 people were dead.

A military source told Al Arabiya News Channel that there were no survivors.

Algeria’s Air Force has seen a number of tragedies in recent years.

In February 2014, 76 people were killed when a US-built Lockheed C-130H Hercules transport plane crashed in a mountainous area near Ain Kercha, south of Constantine Airport.

There was just one survivor on the plane which was carrying military families from Tamanrasset to Constantine, according to the Aviation Safety Network.

In November 2012, all six crew and passengers were killed when a Spanish-built CASA C-295M plane crashed into a hillside near Saint-Germain-du-Teil, France.

Five crew members and 10 people on the ground died when a C-130H Hercules’ engine caught fire and the plane crashed into houses on the outskirts of nearby Blida in June 2003.

The plane had taken off from the military airport in Boufarik moments earlier. 

The Algerian Air Force’s fleet includes Ilyushin Il-78 refuelling aircraft and Ilyushin Il-76 tactical airlift (transport) planes, in addition to other planes and helicopters built in Russia, the US or Europe.

Wednesday’s mass tragedy was one of two fatal crashes involving military aircraft.

In Serbia, an Air Force pilot was killed and a second was injured when a Yugoslav-era Soko G-4 Super Galeb fighter jet crashed near Kovacica, Blic reported.

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NTSB faults pilots, FAA and Hageland in 2016 crash that killed 3

ARFF Working Group - Wed, 04/11/2018 - 04:55

Author: Alex DeMarban

The probable cause of a fatal plane crash near Togiak in 2016 was a crew decision not to divert as bad weather closed in, the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday.

The pilots were flying under visual flight rules into deteriorating visibility, in conditions that require instruments, the board said. They had likely switched off an important warning system that would have alerted them when they began to fly too low, the board said.

The board also said the airline, Hageland Aviation, doing business at the time of the crash as aircraft operator Ravn Connect, and the Federal Aviation Administration didn’t ensure the pilots received proper training.

“This crash involved a well-equipped airplane with not one but two professional pilots on board,” NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said. “But the many layers of protection against controlled flight into terrain failed to protect the pilots and their passenger.”

Among several recommendations, the board called on the FAA to address the lack of technology at many remote airports that makes it impossible for pilots to fly well above mountains using instrument panels. Instead, pilots are often forced to rely on sight and sometimes fly low beneath clouds.

“Until we make those (infrastructure) changes, we are just biting around the fringes,” Sumwalt said.

The crash of the Cessna 208B Caravan happened in the Ahklun Mountains on Oct. 2, 2016, a dozen miles northwest of Togiak. The plane was traveling from Quinhagak when it slammed into a mountainside about 200 feet below the 2,500-foot summit.

Ravn Air Group chief executive Dave Pflieger said in a statement that the company is working “to ensure that an event like this never happens again.”

A new leadership team at the company has increased investment into safety, pilot training and information sharing with other carriers and the FAA, the statement said.

“Our goal with these efforts is to not only prevent future commercial aircraft accidents, but also improve overall aviation safety in Alaska,” Pflieger said.

The crash killed pilots Timothy Cline, 48, of Homer, and Drew Welty, 29, of Anchorage, as well as passenger Louie John, a fisherman from Manokotak.

An NTSB goal in its investigation was highlighting the problem of Alaska crashes involving “controlled flight into terrain,” when a pilot operating an airworthy airplane crashes into the ground or some other obstacle, often in poor weather. Forty people died in 36 such aircraft accidents in Alaska between 2008 and 2016, the board said.

The board also investigated five accidents and one runway excursion involving Hageland Aviation, including an incident in 2013 when a Hageland crash killed four people near St. Marys.

Contributing factors in the crash near Togiak included a Hageland procedure allowing pilots to shut off a warning system that notified them when they flew within 700 feet of terrain.

Sumwalt said such low flying is a necessity in Alaska if clouds are low, but the warning systems create a nuisance and complacency as they repeatedly sound alarms.

“I don’t think the pilots had a choice (but to shut off the warnings) without going crazy and listening to that thing,” Sumwalt said. “They had to inhibit that.”

The problem has been a factor in other Alaska crashes, he pointed out, including the June 2015 crash of a Promech Air flightseeing floatplane that killed nine people near Ketchikan.

Another contributing factor was insufficient training for the pilots to reduce the risk of controlled-flight crashes, the board said.

Hageland had offered the pilots training to avoid controlled-flight crashes based on the guidance of the Medallion Foundation, a nonprofit partnership between the FAA and industry focused on improving aviation safety in Alaska.

But the training was outdated and did not address the specific risks Hageland pilots face while flying under visual flight rules in Alaska’s mountainous terrain, board officials said.

The board issued five new recommendations for the FAA, including that the agency address the limitations of terrain-warning systems. It issued two recommendations to the Medallion Foundation and one to Hageland to address training and improve procedures.

The three-member board approved Sumwalt’s recommendation that the FAA install communications and weather equipment to allow more pilots to fly by instruments.

“If these recommendations can be implemented, and we are going to push for that, they will go a big way toward improving safety in the state of Alaska,” said Sumwalt.

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Your FD’s So Called “Culture”…(The Secret List)

ARFF Working Group - Wed, 04/11/2018 - 04:53


This is a no cost opportunity for fire department leadership to look within their own department to answer the question…


Drexel University*, has announced the availability of FOCUS: the Fire Service Organizational Culture of Safety survey. The FOCUS survey was developed through a FEMA AFG Grant and over 130 fire departments helped develop this tool.

Now through a partnership with FDSOA, FIRST will administer the validated FOCUS survey on a first-come, first-served basis to 500 fire departments — career and volunteer. Additional fire departments will be placed on a waitlist and served as resources allow.

 FOCUS is a tool that can predict firefighter injuries and organizational outcomes, such as burnout, job satisfaction, and work engagement. FOCUS administration will provide your fire department with objective data to assess your safety culture. There is NO COST to the participating fire departments.

At completion, your fire department will receive: 

·       Customized data showing your safety culture at both the department and station levels
·       A comparative analysis of your safety culture to other similar departments who have participated
·       Objective evidence to inform safety related policy decisions

PLEASE NOTE: Only one entry per fire department will be accepted (i.e. Chief, Commissioner, Safety Officer). In addition, FIRST strongly encourages departments to involve their IAFF Local, as applicable.

Andrea Davis or Lauren Shepler, 267-359-6059, 336-309- 1411

FIRST website:

Take Care. Be Careful. Pass It On.


The Secret List 4/10/2018-2030 Hours

* The Center for Firefighter Injury Research & Safety Trends (FIRST)


REMINDER—-Can You Help?

2018 is the 20th Anniversary of The Secret List. We are doing a t-shirt fundraiser where 100% of the profits will be split 50/50 between the FirefighterCancerSupport Network and The Ray Pfeifer Memorial Foundation.

Please help us raise the needed dollars for these two very important charities.

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Tenn. EMS providers start petition to ban 24-hour shifts

ARFF Working Group - Wed, 04/11/2018 - 04:51

A petition urging Governor Bill Haslam to create legislation preventing workers’ fatigue has reached over 3,000 signatures

By EMS1 Staff

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A petition was created in the hopes of persuading the governor to create legislation banning 24-hour EMS shifts.

The petition argues that EMS providers are not getting enough rest to be “adequately prepared mentally, physically and emotionally” to treat patients with the current shift lengths.

“Increases in call volumes over the last two decades coupled with the ‘Laissez-faire’ status, that allows for both public and private ambulance services to run both emergency and non-emergency calls when many of the employees have not slept, and in some cases, have not stopped treating patients for 24-plus hours, has created a paradigm of prehospital care that is damaging to the provider, the public and the patients,” the petition reads.

The petition added that the EMS providers are also responsible for the safety of the patient while driving an ambulance, but “doing so while barely able to keep one’s eyes open is comparable and at times worse than driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.”

“Currently, EMS organizations are excluded from restrictions placed on the number of hours that an individual can drive,” the petition said. “In an effort to reduce costs, most private services operate with one EMT and one paramedic. Because paramedics have a larger scope of practice, this creates a dilemma where the EMT may have to drive 100 percent of the time.”

The petition concludes by calling upon Governor Bill Haslam to:

  • Legislate stricter definitions of emergency, non-emergency to prevent administrative manipulation of the intent of the law.
  • Legally protect providers’ right to refuse calls if they feel they are too exhausted to adequately provide care as is common practice in air medical industries.
  • Provide stricter oversight by independent agencies to the working conditions of prehospital providers.
  • Diversify the flow of income to ambulance services by allowing EMS organizations to bill for preventive care services provided in home and to pressure Medicare, and private insurance companies to reimburse for services other than transport.

The petition currently has over 3,000 signatures. To sign, click here.[cub_id]

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Today in History

ARFF Working Group - Wed, 04/11/2018 - 04:49

66 Years ago today: On 11 April 1952 a PanAm Douglas DC-4 crashed into the sea after takeoff from San Juan, killing 52 out of 69 occupants.

Date: Friday 11 April 1952 Time: 12:20 AST Type: Douglas DC-4 Operator: Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) Registration: N88899 C/n / msn: 10503 First flight: 1945 Total airframe hrs: 20835 Engines:Pratt & Whitney R-2000 Crew: Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 5 Passengers: Fatalities: 52 / Occupants: 64 Total: Fatalities: 52 / Occupants: 69 Airplane damage: Damaged beyond repair Location: 18 km (11.3 mls) NW off San Juan-Isla Grande Airport (SIG) (   Puerto Rico) Phase: En route (ENR) Nature: Domestic Scheduled Passenger Departure airport: San Juan-Isla Grande Airport (SIG/TJIG), Puerto Rico Destination airport: New York-Idlewild International Airport, NY (IDL/KIDL), United States of America Flightnumber: PA526A

The aircraft, named “Clipper Endeavour” took off from San Juan at 12:11 for a flight to New York when the no. 3 engine failed. The prop was feathered at 350 feet and the crew elected to return to San Juan. The aircraft reached an altitude of 550 feet but the no. 4 engine ran roughly and height couldn’t be maintained. To avoid a possible forced landing in a congested area or on coral reef, the aircraft was ditched 11 miles NW of San Juan Airport, 4,5 miles offshore. The rear fuselage broke off behind the bulkhead aft of the main cabin. The plane sank in about 3 minutes.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: “a) The company’s inadequate maintenance in not changing the No. 3 engine which resulted in its failure immediately subsequent to take-off, and b) The persistent action of the captain in attempting to re-establish a climb, without using all available power, following the critical loss of power to another engine. This resulted in a nose-high attitude, progressive loss of airspeed and the settling of the aircraft at too low an altitude to effect recovery,”

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Today is Tuesday the 10th of April, 2018

ARFF Working Group - Tue, 04/10/2018 - 11:51

Here are today’s stories…

Take a good look at the article titled “New evidence in lawsuit filed by family of 4 firefighters who died in Southwest Inn fire”. Use the links provided to get a look at the reports from this fire. Learn something that might save your life some day!

Be safe out there!


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6 killed in plane crash at famed golf course in Arizona

ARFF Working Group - Tue, 04/10/2018 - 11:47


Six people died after their small plane crashed at the TPC Scottsdale Champions Course in Arizona on Monday, killing everyone on board, police said.

Emergency crews responded to the fiery crash site, located just north of the Scottsdale Airport, at around 9 p.m. on Monday, authorities said.

The aircraft, a Piper PA24, crashed and caught fire just after takeoff from Scottsdale Airport, FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer said in a statement.

“At this point in the investigation we can confirm that the flight originated from the Scottsdale airport and crashed shortly after takeoff,” the department said in a statement. “None of the six passengers aboard the aircraft survived.”

The department said it would withhold the identities of the victims until next-of-kin notifications are complete.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the accident.

The golf course was designed by Randy Heckenkemper, and is the sister course of the Stadium Course, where the PGA holds one of its most-popular annual tournaments.

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Toddler hit by oxygen tank on American Airlines flight at DFW Airport

ARFF Working Group - Tue, 04/10/2018 - 11:45


American Airlines is investigating after a 1-year-old boy was hit in the head by an oxygen tank that fell from the ceiling during a flight to Dallas-Fort Worth Airport.

According to the toddler’s mother, 33-year-old Jennifer Zanone of Denver, the incident occurred on American Airlines flight AA126 traveling from Hong Kong to DFW around 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

Zanone said that upon landing, an entire ceiling panel, including a tank full of oxygen, fell onto the head of her son, who was sitting on her lap in seat 35L. She said they were directed to wait for a gate agent to document the incident but that no one appeared.

“We stood there waiting for an agent and our stroller until the captain himself walked off the flight and apologized to us,” said Zanone. “After leaving the gate area, we went to the next customer service area to try to report the incident and were given the runaround for an hour and a half. While the apologies were appreciated, documentation of the incident would have been preferred.”

In an email statement, American Airlines stated that its flight attendants offered to request medical personnel upon arrival but that the request was declined by Zanone.

“American’s primary concern is for the Zanone family and their young child. Our customer relations team has spoken with Mrs. Zanone to offer additional support and obtain details of what transpired at Dallas/Fort Worth yesterday. Customers trust us to take care of them and we take that responsibility seriously,” the statement said.

Zanone said she did decline medical assistance but grew frustrated by what she perceived as a lack of response by the airline after arrival.

“We were offered medical assistance immediately following the incident and we did decline because I didn’t know what the medic could do on site with a jet-lagged, exhausted child, so I chose to monitor himself until I could get him back to his own doctor,” said Zanone.

She said after she posted an image of the fallen ceiling panel to Twitter, the airline responded to her on social media.

“They called me this morning (Sunday) simply saying that they would email me more info. I have not received any emails at this time so I am not certain what additional assistance we were offered,” said Zanone.

In the email statement, the airline said that the aircraft was inspected and repaired by its DFW Tech Ops team. The plane was put back in service on Saturday night.

“Our Dallas/Fort Worth and Tech Ops teams are also working to gather more information and facts surrounding this unfortunate incident,” the statement said.

Zanone has returned home to Denver, and she said her son appears to be OK. She said she has not filed a lawsuit against the airline and is hoping to get a resolution worked out soon.

“He is acting himself today,” Zanone said. “All I want is for documentation of the incident, which the flight attendant assured me would be performed.”

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New evidence in lawsuit filed by family of 4 firefighters who died in Southwest Inn fire

ARFF Working Group - Tue, 04/10/2018 - 11:43

By Robert Arnold – Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON – New evidence was revealed Thursday in a lawsuit filed against Motorola by the family of four Houston firefighters killed in the Southwest Inn fire in 2013.

The lawsuit on behalf of the families of Robert Bebee, Robert Garner, Matthew Renaud and Anne Sullivan filed suit in 2016, seeking punitive damages. Robert Yarborough, who survived the fire but suffered serious injuries, also joined the suit.

The new evidence released by their attorney Ben Hall comes in the form of a report by famed pathologist Dr. Michael Baden, who bolsters family members’ claims that faulty Motorola radios are to blame for the deaths of several Houston firefighters.

Baden’s report states the firefighters who died in the fire died from suffocation. His report also claims the firefighters could have been successfully revived seven minutes after they lost breathable air.

The lawsuit claims the faulty radios caused an 18-minute delay in firefighters reaching their trapped colleagues.


Dr. M. Baden Report on SW Inn Firefighters’ Deaths

HFD Captain Bill Dowling was also critically injured during the fire and eventually died as a result of those injuries.

Back in 2016, Motorola responded in a statement that read in part, “We want to reiterate our sympathy toward victims of the May 2013 tragedy and remind that an independent report after the fire listed numerous potential contributing factors. Since the fire, Motorola Solutions has worked closely with the Houston Fire Department to improve training and understanding of operational capabilities, as well as to provide system enhancements.  We stand behind our equipment and support our Houston customer.”

Final Report

A final report, detailing the events that led to the death of the firefighters, was released in 2015 by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

After a line-of-duty death, NIOSH conducts its own independent investigation to check for contributing factors to the incident and to make recommendations to prevent future deaths.

The 108-page NIOSH report found eight contributing factors to the deaths of firefighters, including:

  • Fire burning unreported for three hours
  • Delayed notification to the fire department
  • Building construction
  • Wind-impacted fire
  • Scene size-up
  • Personnel accountability
  • Fireground communications
  • Lack of fire sprinkler system

Three-hour head start

As Channel 2 Investigates has previously reported, investigators believe the fire actually started around 9:00 a.m. on May 31. Employees say they smelled smoke throughout the morning, but the first call to 911 came after noon, when black smoke started showing through vents and flames first became visible. The NIOSH report found the hours of smoldering allowed the fire to spread to an area above the first floor, unnoticed.

Wind-driven fire

Adding to the danger that morning, strong winds gusting to 20 mph made visibility on the scene difficult and affected firefighting tactics. A high rise building next to the fire scene also created a wind break, sending high winds channeling on both sides of the Southwest Inn. Intense heat and smoke continued to grow as crews arrived and hampered their efforts.

15 minutes, 29 seconds

The NIOSH report found that 15 minutes, 29 seconds elapsed from the time of dispatch to the roof collapse that killed four firefighters. In the 20 minutes following the collapse, command staff and rescue teams sent into the building frantically tried to locate the missing firefighters. The report states: “At this point in the incident, radio communications were severely hampered due to significant radio traffic, which overloaded the radio system.” Trouble with radio communication made rescue attempts even more difficult. The report found crews were attempting to account for every firefighter on the scene, but “due to issues with the radio system, it took the accountability officer 44 minutes to complete the PAR (personal accountability report).”

Roof design

The report goes into significant detail about the roof design of the Southwest Inn and how the initial design and subsequent remodeling played a role in the roof’s collapse within 16 minutes of the first crews arriving on the scene. The collapse trapped the four firefighters under layers of roof debris, making it difficult for rescue teams to find them inside the building. A secondary wall collapse trapped another team of firefighters, who were later rescued.

The investigation revealed that the roof of the Southwest Inn had three layers of roofing material, with layers having been added during remodeling projects. The report states:
“When re-roofing occurred, instead of removing the existing roof materials, the new roof was placed on top of the existing roof materials. The roofing material consisted of asphalt shingles installed on ½-inch thick plywood roof decking, which was nailed to the top chords of the trusses. Clay (cement) tiles were added to the roof on Side Alpha for decorative purposes.”

When rescue teams rushed in following the collapse, they had to cut through the roofing material with chain saws and crawl through windows to reach trapped firefighters.

Actions taken by HFD since May 2013

Immediately after the Southwest Inn fire, then-Chief Terry Garrison initiated a recovery committee from all ranks within the department to review the incident and make recommendations to prevent another loss of life.Garrison reported a summary of changes within the department to NIOSH.

A communications and technology work group met with Motorola to review radio problems discovered during the fire. Changes were made in the radio system, and radio procedures were updated to improve emergency communications during major incidents. The department worked to update overall performance of the new digital radio system across the city. Equipment was added to improve communication within buildings. The city hired more people in the Office of Emergency Communication to improve incident communications.

A new city ordinance was drafted to address buildings with poor communication. It outlines new requirements that property owners and management companies will need to address to meet the standards set for firefighter safety.
New technology was added to help the incident commander track assignments at a fire scene.

HFD redesigned and updated equipment used by rescue teams sent in to save trapped firefighters. Standard operating guidelines for these teams were updated.

HFD is considering the use of helmet cams to perform on-scene video recording, and the department has secured grant funding to upgrade mobile data terminals (MDT’s) in each emergency response vehicle. HFD also introduced a program that gives chiefs in the field electronic building assessments and real-time information on structures as they respond.

The department also began new training in February 2015, which includes a compilation of fire behavior research conducted by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Recommendations from NIOSH report

Many of the actions taken by HFD address the 15 recommendations for fire departments nationwide made by the NIOSH report. The recommendations are detailed in the full report, which you can read here.

The post New evidence in lawsuit filed by family of 4 firefighters who died in Southwest Inn fire appeared first on ARFFWG | ARFF Working Group.

Today in History

ARFF Working Group - Tue, 04/10/2018 - 11:41

8 Years ago today: On 10 April 2010 a Polish Air Force Tupolev 154M crashed near Smolensk, Russia, killing all 96 on board, including Polish President Lech Kaczynski.

Date: Saturday 10 April 2010 Time: 10:41 Type: Tupolev 154M Operator: Polish Air Force Registration: 101 C/n / msn: 90A837 First flight: 1990 Total airframe hrs: 5143 Cycles: 3899 Engines:Soloviev D-30KU-154-II Crew: Fatalities: 8 / Occupants: 8 Passengers: Fatalities: 88 / Occupants: 88 Total: Fatalities: 96 / Occupants: 96 Airplane damage: Destroyed Airplane fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair) Location: ca 1 km E of Smolensk Air Base (   Russia) Phase: Approach (APR) Nature: Official state flight Departure airport: Warszawa-Okecie Airport (WAW/EPWA), Poland Destination airport: Smolensk Air Base (XUBS), Russia

A Tupolev 154M passenger jet, operated the Polish Air Force, was destroyed when it crashed on approach to Smolensk Air Base in poor visibility. All on board were killed in the accident, including Polish President Lech Kaczynski.
The airplane departed Warszawa-Okecie Airport (WAW), Poland at 07:27 local time, carrying Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife, several Members of Parliament, President of the National Bank of Poland Slawomir Skrzypek, Chief of General Staff Franciszek Gagor, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrzej Kremer and a number of passengers and crew members.
During the flight the crew was in contact with air traffic controllers at Minsk, Moscow and Smolensk. The crew also was in contact with the crew of a Polish Air Force Yakovlev 40 passenger plane that had landed at Smolensk Air Base 90 minutes ahead of the Presidential flight.
At about 10:14 the flight descended through an altitude of 7500 m. Minsk Control radioed that the visibility at Smolensk Air Base was 400 m due to fog. The same conditions were transmitted to the crew when they contacted the controller at Smolensk. About 10:25 the pilot of the Yak-40 on the ground at Smolensk radioed that horizontal visibility was 400 m and vertical visibility about 50 m. Shortly afterwards they reported that an Ilyushin 76 transport plane had diverted to an alternate airfield after two attempts to land.
The crew continued preparations for an approach to runway 26 at the Smolensk Air Base. The cockpit door was open and during the approach there were two passengers present on the flight deck.
Meanwhile, visibility worsened to 200 m. This information was transmitted to the crew at 10:37. The crew requested permission to carry out a ‘trial’ approach to decision height (100 m) and asked the controller to expect a go around.
About 18 seconds before impact the terrain awareness and warning system (TAWS) sounded: “Pull up”, followed by an aural warning: “TERRAIN AHEAD”. About 5 seconds before impact the autopilot and autothrottle were disconnected in order to execute a go around. The airplane contacted upsloping terrain at a distance of about 1100 meters from the runway and 40 m to the left of extended centreline. The aircraft height at that point was 15 m below the level of the runway threshold. The left wing struck a large tree causing the airplane to roll inverted. The Tu-154 crashed and broke up.

Probable Cause:

The immediate cause of the accident was the failure of the crew to take a timely decision to proceed to an alternate airdrome although they were not once timely informed on the actual weather conditions at Smolensk “Severny” Airdrome that were significantly lower than the established airdrome minimal descent without visual contact with ground references to an altitude much lower than minimum descent altitude for go around (100 m) in order to establish visual flight as well as no reaction to the numerous TAWS warnings which led to controlled flight into terrain, aircraft destruction and death of the crew and passengers.

According to the conclusion made by the pilot-experts and aviation psychologists, the presence of the Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Air Forces in the cockpit until the collision exposed psychological pressure on the PIC’s decision to continue descent in the conditions of unjustified risk with a dominating aim of landing at any means.

Contributing factors to the accident were:
– long discussion of the Tu-154M crew with the Protocol Director and crew of the Polish Yak-40 concerning the information on the actual weather that was lower than the established minima and impossibility (according to the Tu-154M crew opinion) to land at the destination airdrome which increased the psychological stress of the crew and made the PIC experience psychological clash of motives: on the one hand he realized that landing in such conditions was unsafe, on the other hand he faced strong motivation to land exactly at the destination airdrome.
In case of proceeding to an alternate airdrome the PIC expected negative reaction from the Main Passenger;
– lack of compliance to the SOP and lack of CRM in the crew;
– a significant break in flights in complicated weather conditions (corresponding to his weather minima 60×800) that the PIC had had as well as his low experience in conducting non-precision approach;
– early transition by the navigator to the altitude callouts on the basis of the radio altimeter indications without considering the uneven terrain;
– conducting flight with engaged autopilot and autothrottle down to altitudes much lower than the minimum descent altitude which does not comply with the FCOM provisions;
– late start of final descent which resulted in increased vertical speed of descent the crew had to maintain.

The systematic causes of the accident involving the Tu-154M tail number 101 aircraft of the Republic of Poland were significant shortcomings in the organization of flight operations, flight crew preparation and arrangement of the VIP flight in the special air regiment.

In a separate investigation , the Polish Committee for Investigation of National Aviation Accidents concluded the following:

Cause of Accident:
The immediate cause of the accident was the descent below the minimum descent altitude at an excessive rate of descent in weather conditions which prevented visual contact with the ground, as well as a delayed execution of the go-around procedure. Those circumstances led to an impact on a terrain obstacle resulting in separation of a part of the left wing with aileron and consequently to the loss of aircraft control and eventual ground impact.

Circumstances Contributing to the Accident:
1) Failure to monitor altitude by means of a pressure altimeter during a non-precision approach;
2) failure by the crew to respond to the PULL UP warning generated by the TAWS;
3) attempt to execute the go-around maneuver under the control of ABSU (automatic go around);
4) Approach Control confirming to the crew the correct position of the airplane in relation to the RWY threshold, glide slope, and course which might have affirmed the crew’s belief that the approach was proceeding correctly although the airplane was actually outside the permissible deviation margin;
5) failure by LZC to inform the crew about descending below the glide slope and delayed issuance of the level-out command;
6) incorrect training of the Tu-154M flight crews in the 36 Regiment.

Conducive circumstances:
1) incorrect coordination of the crew’s work, which placed an excessive burden on the aircraft commander in the final phase of the flight;
2) insufficient flight preparation of the crew;
3) the crew‘s insufficient knowledge of the airplane’s systems and their limitations;
4) inadequate cross-monitoring among the crew members and failure to respond to the mistakes committed;
5) crew composition inadequate for the task;
6) ineffective immediate supervision of the 36 Regiment’s flight training process by the Air Force Command;
7) failure by the 36 Regiment to develop procedures governing the crew’s actions in the event of:
a) failure to meet the established approach criteria;
b) using radio altimeter for establishing alarm altitude values for various types of approach;
c) distribution of duties in a multi-crew flight.
8) sporadic performance of flight support duties by LZC over the last 12 months, in particular under difficult WC, and lack of practical experience as LZC at the SMOLENSK NORTH airfield.

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Today is Monday the 9th of April, 2018

ARFF Working Group - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 08:50

Here are the stories to start the new week…

Be safe out there!


The post Today is Monday the 9th of April, 2018 appeared first on ARFFWG | ARFF Working Group.

Helicopter Crash In Pennsylvania Near Smethport, 2 Dead

ARFF Working Group - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 08:48


A helicopter crash near Smethport, McKean County, Pennsylvania, killed two people onboard Sunday afternoon.

The incident took place at 5:15 p.m. EDT when the helicopter went down in a remote wooded area off East Valley Road in Smethport. There were three people onboard the aircraft at the time, including the pilot.

While the pilot sustained fractures and was flown to a nearby hospital for treatment, the other two passengers were fatally injured in the crash, McKean County Coroner Mike Cahill confirmed. The identities of the deceased have not been released as the police are yet to inform the relatives of the victims.

According to reports, the aircraft was being used in a power line repair or construction project. The cause of the accident is not yet clear.

Multiple search and rescue units from Smethport Fire Department, Port Allegany’s Star Hose Company and from Eldred and Norwich Townships were dispatched by the 911 center in McKean County as soon as the police were alerted about the crash.

JoEllen Wankel, a reporter from the Bradford Era, who was near the crash site when the incident happened, said the rescue teams had a difficult time reaching the spot as it was located in a remote area, cut off from proper communication channels.

According to Erie News Now, the helicopter which crashed belonged to J.W. Didado Electric Company in Akron, Ohio. No other details are available at the time.

The post Helicopter Crash In Pennsylvania Near Smethport, 2 Dead appeared first on ARFFWG | ARFF Working Group.

Two soldiers killed in Apache helicopter crash at Fort Campbell

ARFF Working Group - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 08:47

By: Michelle Tan

Two soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division’s 101st Combat Aviation Brigade were killed late Friday when their AH-64E Apache helicopter crashed at the local training area on Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

The incident happened about 9:50 p.m. Friday, the 101st Airborne announced Saturday morning. The crash is under investigation.

The names of the two soldiers will not be released until their families are notified.

The crew was conducting routine training at the time of the accident, according to the 101st Airborne. There were no other casualties.

Fort Campbell Fire and Emergency Services are on site and recovery operations are ongoing, officials said.

“This is a day of sadness for Fort Campbell and the 101st Airborne,” said Brig. Gen. Todd Royar, acting senior commander of the 101st Airborne Division and Fort Campbell, in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families during this difficult time.”

Friday’s crash comes on the heels of a difficult few weeks for military aviation.

On March 14, two Navy aviators were killed when their F/A-18F Super Hornet crashed during a training flight in Florida. A day later, seven airmen were killed when their HH-60 Pave Hawk crashed in western Iraq during a routine transit flight.

On April 3, two more crashes occurred. A Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier crashed during takeoff in Djibouti; the pilot ejected and survived. Later that day, a Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crashed during a training flight in California, killing the four crew members on board.

And on April 4, an F-16 from the Air Force’s Thunderbirds crashed near Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, killing the pilot.

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