LODD: Former Milwaukee Fire Department Lieutenant Dies after Fight with Colon Cancer

Firefighter Close Calls - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 08:10

Sad news out of Milwaukee Wisconsin, a former Lieutenant passed away after a long fight with cancer. Lieutenant Kristin Ciganek-Schroeder was diagnosed in 2012 with colon cancer, and fought it bravely for 5 years. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family, and to her brothers and sisters of the Milwaukee Fire Department. Rest easy Lieutenant, we have it from here. JSonline

“Kristin Ciganek-Schroeder would probably prefer you didn’t read this.

The longtime Milwaukee firefighter, mother of three and matriarch to her seven siblings never liked being the center of attention. She would want to hear about you: Your kids. Your job. Your pets. Her cancer diagnosis? No, she really did not want to talk about it.  When she jumped down from a rig in 2012 and felt a sharp pain in herstomach, she thought it was a hernia. Instead, it was stage-four colon cancer. The doctors gave her two months. She made it five years. Throughout it all, her family says, she remained the same person: The sister who stepped in when her parents divorced, becoming a “Mama Bear,” and the person who you always went to for advice.

The wife of Bryon Schroeder, whom she married in a small ceremony after nearly 20 years of dating. The mother who loved taking care of and cheering on their three children, driving the youngest to soccer in Racine a couple of weeks ago even when she had a fever. The animal-lover who took in strays, like the kitten she rescued one night while working for a private ambulance company. She wrapped the kitten in a pillowcase to guard against fleas and named it Daytona. And the firefighter who rose to the rank of lieutenant and led by example, influencing her sister, Sandy Williamson, to join her on the Milwaukee Fire Department. “I really did just want to be like her,” Williamson said. “I wanted to make her proud.” Her colleagues use the same word to describe her: exceptional. “It’s a tough road to be a woman in the fire service,” Deputy Chief Aaron Lipski said.”… Continue Reading HERE

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

U.S. Department of Labor Cites Alabama Auto Dealership after Fatal Fire

OSHA - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 06:00
Dec. 11, 2017 U.S. Department of Labor Cites Alabama Auto Dealership after Fatal Fire
Categories: Safety


Firefighter Close Calls - Sat, 12/09/2017 - 08:58

The driver of a firetruck for Whitney Fire Department in Spartanburg County was fortunately uninjured after having to make a maneuver that resulted in a collision with a tree Friday afternoon.

According to Whitney Fire Department, the unit was called out for a collision with injuries at Austrian Way by Herald Journal Blvd. around 2 p.m. Friday.

When the driver of the firetruck was approaching a hill and then cresting the hill, they saw at least one pedestrian in the roadway at the scene of the collision the unit was responding to.

Whitney Fire then says that the driver’s only option at that point to ensure the safety of the pedestrian and those near the scene of the crash was to run off the roadway. The truck then struck a tree head-on.

The firetruck was removed from the scene and all respondents were reported as being without injury.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

Philly firefighters and cancer: Coincidence or job hazard?

Firefighter Close Calls - Sat, 12/09/2017 - 08:34

When Mike Polek and Joe Olsen, both big, gregarious Philly firefighters, bumped into each other over the summer, they discovered what they thought was an astonishing coincidence.

Olsen said he had just been diagnosed with what his doctor called a rare cancer, and showed off the large red splotches on his arms.

“I looked at his arms,” Polek said. “And the cancer on his arms looked just like the cancer on my legs.”

Both men have mycosis fungoides, a form of T-cell lymphoma in which white blood cells become malignant and attack the skin. Neither man had ever heard of it before being diagnosed.

They wondered whether their cancers might be job-related. The men had never been assigned to the same station. But Polek often gets called to help other stations, so there’s a good chance they had worked together over the years.

For years, researchers have been connecting firefighters’ exposure to burning materials with a higher risk of cancer. The largest study of its kind, released last year by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), examined data on 30,000 firefighters from Philadelphia, Chicago and San Francisco.  It found “modestly increased all-cancer risk compared with the general population.”

“These findings contribute to the evidence of a causal association between firefighting exposures and cancer,” the study said.

There are about 1.1 million volunteer and career firefighters in the U.S.  They encounter a complex mix of chemical vapors from burning fuel and various synthetic materials. Known carcinogenics such as asbestos, arsenic, benzene, chromium, diesel fumes, carbon monoxide, dioxins, and polychlorinated biphenyls are all common at fire scenes, especially in areas with old buildings and heavy industry. But new materials may also add to risks.

“When I came on the job in 1974, we dealt with a lot of older construction,” said Ed Marks, president of Philadelphia Fire Fighter and Paramedic Union Local 22. “Now, you have sofas that are sprayed with synthetics, you have PVC pipes. They burn at a higher temperature. And we’re learning now that the smoke and toxins they give off are a problem.”

Polek, 43, has been burned while fighting a fire. He has suffered other job-related injuries like a torn rotator cuff and is on sick leave as he recovers from shoulder surgery.  Now, he is faced with cancer of uncertain origins.  But he says the cancer won’t stop him from working.

“I love my job,” said Polek, of Engine 63 in East Oak Lane. “It’s my second family.”


Philadelphia Firefighter Mike Polek, at his home in Far Northeast. He has mycosis fungoides, a form of T-cell lymphoma.

Olsen, 49, said that he, too is able to continue working at Engine 18 in the Northeast.

Patients with mycosis fungoides have a good prognosis with the proper care. But for now, cancer treatments leave Olsen exhausted.

Firefighters “really want to go to work,” Olsen said. “It’s a strange but true fact of a firehouse.”

Robert Daniels, the lead author of the NIOSH study, said that the findings “suggest firefighters are at higher risk of cancers of the digestive, oral, respiratory, and urinary systems when compared to the general population.”

But the connection is far from a slam-dunk he said, explaining that more studies are needed. “The effects we observed were small and therefore should be cautiously interpreted,” he said.

Connecting cancers to specific environmental exposures is extremely difficult for many reasons. There are hundreds of different kinds of cancer. And there are at least that many potential toxins in the environment.

Timothy Rebbeck, an epidemiologist at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said studies suggest cancer clusters can occur with firefighters.  But is it the job that prompted the cancer? Or did the firefighters smoke, or have chemical exposures completely unconnected with the job?

And, he said, it’s almost impossible to link a single event, such as a fire, to a specific cancer, because it can take years for cancer to develop.

“There’s a latency in the time from an exposure to when a cancer gets diagnosed,” Rebbeck said.  “And that can be very long.”

Tony Sneidar, deputy commissioner of logistics for the Philadelphia Fire Department, said he believes there is “a significant [cancer risk] increase to firefighters compared to the civilian population.”

“My take on the way the [NIOSH] study was written is that it gave the facts, but it minimized the cancer risk,” said Sneidar, who suspects the risks actually are greater.

The fire department already requires use of self-contained breathing apparatus to reduce exposure to fumes, and is installing exhaust systems in firehouses to remove diesel fumes.  It is also buying $10,000 washing machines that remove chemicals, particulates and gases from clothing.

“We have a huge task to educate, train and provide equipment,” Sneidar said.

One of the biggest safety initiatives includes buying second suits for all firefighters. In the past, firefighters would walk around in their suits long after a fire and reuse gloves and hoods that could be contaminated with chemical residue or asbestos fibers.  Some firefighters would go home without showering first.

Pennsylvania law says firefighters can receive workers compensation if they can prove their cancer was caused by job exposures, but such claims routinely get rejected because it’s so difficult to make that connection.

Meanwhile, firefighters like Derrick Moffett, 36, are left to wonder if the work they love is compromising their health. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2016.

“When the doctor told me, I jokingly asked for a second opinion,” Moffett said. “The doctor said, ‘You don’t have time for a second opinion.’” He had to have a testicle removed.

The father of seven served on a special crew for Engine 33 in Bridesburg that responded to chemical fires. As part of that, he was assigned to a foam unit, which uses a chemical blanket to suppress fire.

“It’s physical and emotional,” Moffett said of his cancer. “It’s a big war to fight.”


Philadelphia Firefighter Derrick Moffit, at his home on Jackson Street in the city’s Wissinoming neighborhood. Moffit has testicular cancer.
Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Firefighter Close Calls - Sat, 12/09/2017 - 08:31

A firefighter tending to the Lilac Fire at a large ranch in Bonsall was injured Friday evening when a tree fell on him.

An unidentified Cal Fire crew member was pulled out of the Ocean Breeze Ranch on West Lilac Road on a stretcher at about 6:30 p.m. Friday after a tree fell on him, according to the Cal Fire Public Information Officer.

The extent of the firefighter’s injuries was not made available.

Crews were in the Bonsall area tending to the 4,100-acre Lilac Fire that sparked the previous day, tearing through communities near the intersection of Interstate 15 and state Route 76, before spreading to the west.

Two other firefighters have been injured battling the blaze. One suffered from smoke inhalation and another had a dislocated shoulder.

The Ocean Breeze Ranch is located on the outskirts of Bonsall, a woodsy back area full of communities known for their farms and ranches.

Animals have been killed in the two-day firefight and dozens of homes have burned to the ground.

Two horse trainers were seriously burned trying to save horses from stables in the area Thursday morning.

The fire was 15 percent contained Friday evening, but it continued to threaten approximately 1,500 structures.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Firefighter Close Calls - Sat, 12/09/2017 - 08:29

We regret to pass on that two Law Enforcement officers (Fire Officer & FBI Agent) were struck and killed in the Line of Duty while standing on the shoulder of I-270 in Montgomery County, Maryland as the first arriving to the scene of a traffic crash.

Around 2200 hours one of the officers stopped on I-270 near the single-vehicle crash. He requested assistance and used his car to block the damaged vehicle from oncoming traffic. Both men moved over to the should of the fast lane when a southbound vehicle began to approach them.

The driver of that vehicle swerved to avoid hitting vehicles in one lane and ended up hitting the officers. Both men were thrown over the jersey wall to the northbound side of I-270, where it appears at least one of them was then struck by a northbound vehicle.

One officer died on the scene and the other was transported to Suburban Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The driver and one passenger in the vehicle that struck the men were taken to Suburban Hospital.

A second passenger in that car was taken to Shady Grove Hospital. The driver of the northbound vehicle that struck one of the men reported no injuries.

Montgomery County Fire PIO Pete Piringer said that a Deputy Chief fire marshal and an FBI agent were killed in the crash.

“Sadly, @mcfrs learned this morning of the untimely passing of Sander Cohen,” . Cohen was a Lieutenant with the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department and a Deputy Chief with Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office, Maryland State Police.

Police said there is no indication of alcohol involvement in these crashes. The causes of the initial crash remain under investigation. No charges have been filed at this time. Much more to follow.


Once again a tragic reminder of the risk we have when operating on roadways. Our condolences to the Maryland State Police, the FBI, the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department and the Montgomery County Fire Rescue Department.


Please check for free online Traffic Incident Management training for all fire/EMS, law enforcement and related personnel.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Firefighter Close Calls - Sat, 12/09/2017 - 08:23
The Secret List We regret to pass on that Charles “Charlie” Patterson, a Firefighter with the Bowie (Texas) Rural Volunteer Fire Department (since its inception in 2007), died in the Line of Duty on Thursday after experiencing a cardiac event on Dec. 1 while working a house fire. A graveside service for the 60-year-old is planned for 2 p.m. on Dec. 9 at Lindale Cemetery north of Bowie. The family received friends from 6 to 8 p.m. on Dec. 8 at the White Family Funeral Home. Patterson collapsed in the front yard of a structure fire on State Highway 59 the department was working the morning of Dec. 1. Firefighter Patterson was working a hose line when he collapsed with pain in his chest.  Emergency medical personnel were on the scene and provided immediate care.  Patterson received further treatment at Wise Health Care System in Decatur. While he made some improvement he had remained in critical condition. Patterson served many years on the Salona VFD prior to the formation of the Bowie department. Our condolences to all those affected. Rest In Peace.
Categories: Fire Service, Safety

Employee Receives Court-Ordered Restitution After Justified Whistleblowing Action

OSHA - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 06:00
Dec. 8, 2017 Employee Receives Court-Ordered Restitution After Justified Whistleblowing Action
Categories: Safety


Firefighter Close Calls - Wed, 12/06/2017 - 19:57

The number of Kansas City firefighters getting injured on the job has risen sharply in just one year’s time, according to KC STAT data produced by the city. The total hours of leave related to injury in 2015 were 20,271, and in 2016 that number rose to 34,392. The number of calls firefighters and EMTs are responding to has also climbed. The total number of calls ambulances responded to jumped to 21 percent between 2013 and 2017.

In that same time, fire crews were taking 19 percent more calls.
One firefighter said, “the more times you get on a truck to respond to an accident, the more likely you are to get hurt.” That is something Captain John Locke said he knows all too well.
He responded to two fires on the same day back in February 2015.
“We had gotten everything knocked down and hit hot spots and floor gave in,” said Locke, who has undergone three surgeries. “I called the health advocate, and she said, ‘You’re off the truck.’ She called the chief.”
He had a torn ACL and a full knee replacement.
Locke is one of more than 47 percent of KCFD firefighters who were ill or injured in 2016. That percentage is much higher than the 14 other cities it was compared to in the KC STAT data.
Local Union 42 Secretary-Treasurer Tim Dupin said staffing numbers may be playing a role in the jump since they have not kept up with the demand.
“There’s been no increase in staffing. Our people are working harder. They’re tired, and they’re beat up,” said Dupin.
KCFD confirmed they have not hired more people, though they would like to. However, that’s not in the budget.
Dupin also said he believes some of the departments KCFD was compared to have physical therapy built into their departments.
Others have doctors, therapists and even mental health specialists who are integrated into the departments.
Deputy Fire Chief James Garrett said the department is analyzing the whole system.
Data shows injury rates were going down until 2015 when two firefighters were killed, and from that point climbed upward. It had been 15 years since KCFD had lost a firefighter on the job.
“We’re looking at other departments who have gone through other incidents,” said Garrett. “This phenomena came to our attention and we are studying it right now.”
Garrett said this will help them understand why the spike happened, so they can reduce the number of hours firefighters spend injured.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Firefighter Close Calls - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 20:37

A 51-year-old woman had to be pulled from her vehicle with the Jaws of Life after her car collided with a Detroit Fire Department truck on the city’s west side.

The crash took place about 7 a.m., said Deputy Fire Commissioner Dave Fornell. Firefighters were in the area responding to a call about a fire in a dwelling. It turned out to be a false alarm.

In the course of trying to reach the fire, a fire truck and the woman’s four-door vehicle crashed on West Seven Mile, just east of Evergreen. Firefighters jumped out of the truck and used the Jaws of Life to free her. It took about 10 minutes to pull the woman from her vehicle, Fornell said.

Medics then transported the woman to Sinai Grace Hospital. She suffered “multiple fractures” and was in serious condition at last report.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Firefighter Close Calls - Mon, 12/04/2017 - 21:02

A Dallas firefighter was hospitalized early Monday after battling a fire at a vacant home in southeast Dallas.

The fire was reported about 3:30 a.m. in the 550 block of Neomi Avenue, near Pemberton Hill and Elam roads, Dallas Fire-Rescue said in a news release.

The fire had engulfed the home by the time crews arrived. During the hour it took to extinguish the flames, a firefighter had to be taken to a hospital for hand burns, officials said.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Firefighter Close Calls - Mon, 12/04/2017 - 21:00
Firemen hospitalised with burns, staff off work after mammoth Ashburton feed factory blaze 

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Firefighters are dampening hot spots before the Ashburton factory fire can be fully extinguished.

Two firefighters remain in hospital with burns and staff have been told to stay home after a massive blaze ripped through a South Canterbury factory.

About 50 firefighters from 19 crews from as far away Timaru and Christchurch spent hours containing the blaze at SealesWinslow’s factory on the Hinds Highway, near Ashburton, on Monday night.

Half of the 5000-square-metre building was ablaze when firefighters arrived at the scene about 7.45pm. The fire was under control by about 10pm on Monday, but 12 hours later deep burning fires were still causing issues and smoke continues to billow from the site.


Most of the damage was to the packing and storage shed.

One firefighter received burns to the legs, the other to the neck, from embers. They were still in hospital. A third firefighter who suffered burns has been discharged.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) South Canterbury assistant commander Mike Johns said two fire investigators were on site trying to get to the bottom of what caused the fire. It was expected fire crews would remain on site all day.

“We are sort of in clean-up mode now and exposing a lot of hot spots and extinguishing them using a digger,” Johns said.


The twisted metal remains of the SealesWinslow’s factory on Tuesday.

What was originally called in as a fire in pallets about 7.30pm turned out to be one of the biggest fires Mid Canterbury’s volunteer firefighters had faced in recent years.

“It was a large scale fire; they’re not very common in this size,” Johns said.

“We’re unsure of the cause at the moment but we’ve got two fire investigators here delving into it and crews from Christchurch and Timaru are supporting the volunteer staff from the area.”

Erin Tasker/Stuff

Firefighters were expected to be at the scene dampening down hotspots most of Tuesday.

Accessing water to douse the flames was the biggest issue on Monday night.

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“We had to source our water out of irrigation ponds and used a lot of tankers.”

Johns said he arrived at the scene about 8pm.


Three firefighters were taken to hospital with burns.

“It was an inferno. It was a huge scale structure fire and all we could do was pour water on it in the hope of containing it and stopping it from spreading,” Johns said.

“We managed to stop it getting into the rear third of the building.”

SealesWinslow has been wholly owned by Ballance Agri-Nutrients since 2013.

Play Video

Erin Tasker / Stuff

Firefighters remain at the scene of Monday night’s large fire at Winslow, dampening down hot spots.

“There were two staff on site at the time of the fire, and they are both safe”, Ballance spokesman David Glendining said.

The plant employs 18 staff.

“We will be assessing the site over the next few days, but at the moment we are asking our staff to stay at home,” Glendining said.

Erin Tasker/Stuff

Smoke was still rising after the Monday night blaze.

He said reports suggesting the plant was “destroyed” were wrong.

“There are a number of buildings that we will be assessing for damage, but the primary damage is to the packing and storage shed.”

With the majority of Mid Canterbury’s volunteer fire brigades on the scene on Monday night, crews were brought in from as far as Fairlie to man the district’s empty stations.


Firefighters battled the large fire at SealesWinslow feed plant just south of Ashburton.

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Flames and thick black smoke rises from Sealeswinslow which supplies pellet feed to farmers nationwide.

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Firefighters are battling a large blaze at the SealesWinslow plant near Ashburton.


About 50 firefighters were at the scene.


Emergency services were called to the fire about 7.40pm on Monday.


The fire covered at least half of the 5000-square-metre processing plant.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Firefighter Close Calls - Mon, 12/04/2017 - 16:35

While fighting three fires in a busy 24 hours, Brockton firefighters confronted a bizarre situation early Sunday.

As firefighters battled a blaze on North Montello Street after midnight, they found a bleeding 27-year-old man lying on a floor. Officials said he had more than a dozen stab wounds.

When they tried to help him, he became aggressive, injuring two firefighters, the fire department said.

At about 12:30 a.m. Sunday, the police and fire departments received a call reporting at a mattress fire at 749 North Montello St.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Firefighter Close Calls - Mon, 12/04/2017 - 16:33

A firefighter and an El Sobrante resident were injured Sunday in a fire at a single-family home, officials said.

Unattended cooking on a stove caused the blaze, said Robert Marshall, fire marshal of the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District.

Crews from the Richmond, Pinole and El Cerrito fire departments also responded to the fire on San Pablo Dam Road about 4:30 p.m. The blaze was brought under control half an hour later, Marshall said.

One of the house’s four occupants complained of smoke inhalation but was treated at the scene and released. A Contra Costa County firefighter was hospitalized after injuring a lower extremity “relatively severely,” Marshall said, but he is expected to make a full recovery.

The fire, which started in the kitchen in the back of the house, caused roughly $300,000 in damage, Marshall said. The property is uninhabitable and will be red-tagged, he said.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

High-rise buildings and the use of elevators during a fire

NFPA - Safety Source - Mon, 12/04/2017 - 07:08
High-rise buildings have garnered significant attention in the fire safety world over the years. Because of the nature of high-rise buildings, a great number of people have to travel great vertical distances on the stairs to evacuate in an emergency.
Categories: Safety

U.S. Department of Labor Cites West Virginia Contractor After Employee Injured in Roof Fall, Proposes Penalties Totaling $86,916

OSHA - Mon, 12/04/2017 - 06:00
Dec. 4, 2017 U.S. Department of Labor Cites West Virginia Contractor After Employee Injured in Roof Fall, Proposes Penalties Totaling $86,916
Categories: Safety


Firefighter Close Calls - Sat, 12/02/2017 - 20:28

Two firefighters were injured as they battled a blaze that left a fellow firefighter homeless on Saturday morning.

The Lewis Township house at 371 Trent Road, owned by Williamsport Bureau of Fire firefighter John “JJ” Lyons, was destroyed by flames, smoke and water. Lyons, 33, who has been living in the Union County home for six years with his wife, Jessica, and their daughter, Jilline, was solemn as friends, family and co-workers gathered outside his house with food and water to help search the debris for salvageable possessions and board up broken windows.

“I don’t know where to go next,” said Lyons. “We’ll figure it out. That kind of stuff can be replaced.”

Lyons, who said he will be staying with family, has been a Williamsport firefighter since 2007, but has been volunteering since he was 14 years old in Centre County. He was out hunting on Saturday, but he got a message from fellow firefighters that he needed to return home.

‘A brotherhood’

Brian Harrison, assistant chief of the Warrior Run Fire Department, is friends with Lyons and said it’s a different feeling rushing to a house of a fellow firefighter.

“It’s not the greatest feeling, let me tell you,” Harrison said. “Being a firefighter is a brotherhood.”

Harrison and firefighters from 10 fire departments responded to the three-alarm fire at 10:46 a.m. It was brought under control at 11:59 p.m.

“When we arrived, we could see smoke coming from the building,” he said. “We waited for the first engine to arrive to help knock down the fire. The fire was under control in a little under an hour.”

Neither cause nor origin could be determined Saturday. Harrison said the state police fire marshal was coming to the scene on Monday to investigate.

Donations being accepted

Firefighter Sherman Heaster, who has known Lyons since he started at Williamsport, is organizing a fund drive for the Lyons family.

“Any donations can be made to the Williamsport Fire Department, 440 Walnut St., Williamsport, 17701, care of the Lyons Family,” Heaster said.

Friends also set up a Facebook page called “JJ and Jessica Lyons Fire Donations,” and are also directing people to send donations to Williamsport Fire Department.

Tina Dymeck, one of the curators of the page, said online that their phones have been ringing non-stop with people wanting to help.

Lyons said he is grateful for the support.

Two firefighters injured

Harrison declined to release the names of the two injured firefighters, but said the Warrior Run volunteers experienced minor injuries. One was transported via ambulance to Geisinger in Danville for an arm laceration and the second was taken to the hospital by his wife for a knee injury, he said.

An investigation is also being conducted to determine how their injuries took place, Harrison said.

Those responding to the scene included fire departments from Warrior Run, Muncy, Milton, White Deer, Turbot Township, Potts Grove, Washingtonville, Hughesville, Montgomery and South Williamsport.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Firefighter Close Calls - Sat, 12/02/2017 - 20:26

Wagon 4 was struck by a civilian vehicle this evening while blocking at another incident. No reported injuries to the crew of W4. This is why we use apparatus as blockers to help protect members at incident scenes. (Credit to the original photographer)

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


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