Firefighter Close Calls

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Updated: 26 min 1 sec ago

MORE DETAILS IN TRIPLE DE LODD FIRE

4 hours 14 min ago

No one knows what exactly happened inside the Canby Park rowhome that claimed the lives of three Wilmington firefighters except those fighting the blaze that night.

A year later, though not without difficulty, survivors are beginning to publicly to tell their stories.

It was just before 3 a.m. on Sept. 24, 2016, and two of the firefighters about to run into a blazing home soon would be dead, another would die later from her injuries and others would be hurt.

The first fire truck with water on the scene was Engine 1, driven by firefighter Kevin Weems.

“I knew it was what we would call ‘a good fire,’ meaning it would take a lot of work,” he said.

Flames already were visible from the rear of the building by the time Ladder 2 arrived, and they sounded a second alarm to summon another company as backup.

The building, a two-story, middle-of-the-row structure, was spewing smoke from both floors. The first floor “flashed over” and fire erupted.

Lt. Christopher Leach and firefighter Joseph Ryan entered the front door. Lt. Eric Haley, Lt. John Cawthray and firefighters Brad Speakman and Ardythe Hope began to knock down the fire with water before heading inside.

Buy PhotoWilmington firefighter Brad Speakman talks about his life a year after he was severely injured and burned in the Canby Park fire that killed three of his fellow firefighters.  (Photo: Jennifer Corbett, The News Journal)

“I happened to go past a gentleman who was holding a few kids who said there were people still inside the structure,” Speakman said. Firefighters would later find out this wasn’t true.

The fire on the first floor was extinguished quickly and firefighters finished a search of the living area before moving toward the second floor to continue looking for trapped residents.

Squad 4 arrived and split into two teams. Lt. Burdon Tyson and firefighters Vinnie Denisio and Jacob Craig went to the front of the house to begin searches with Ladder 2. Senior firefighter Jerry Fickes and Terry Tate went to the back of the house.

“There’s a lot of radio traffic and the radios weren’t working that well in that area,” Tate said.

More: Wilmington still grieving one year after Canby Park fire

Weems recalled hearing Leach’s voice over the radio giving a status report from the back of the building. As always, Weems said, he sounded calm.

“We get into a lot of high-stress situations, and the tone of his voice always stayed the same,” Weems said. “It takes a lot to keep your composure in chaos.”

Unable to enter the back of the house because of heavy fire conditions, Fickes and Tate entered an adjoining building to search for trapped victims and spreading fires. Both were using oxygen to breathe because of the heavy smoke, Tate said.

At the same time, a crew from Ladder 2 with support from Engine 5 was moving to the second floor in the burning building. Simultaneously, a group from Engine 1 was attempting to extinguish fires en route to the basement steps.

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Wilmington firefighter Ardythe Hope died Dec. 1 from injuries sustained in a rowhome blaze in September. (Photo: WILMINGTON FIRE DEPARTMENT/SUBMITTED)

Suddenly, the living room floor collapsed. With it went Leach, Speakman and Hope into the still-burning basement.

The other firefighters on the first floor were forced to dive out the front door as the fire conditions from the basement engulfed the first and second floors in more flames.

“I felt the floor starting to go,” Speakman said. “I told my officer the floor was collapsing… It happened fairly quickly and all at once.”

Most of what happened next was a blur for the firefighter.

“It’s hard to say what you’re thinking at the time of falling, but you’ve just got to switch into more of a survival mode at that point,” Speakman said. “I just did what I thought was necessary to get myself out.”

More: In Wilmington, controversy over rolling bypasses continues

Next door, Tate and Fickes heard the news come over their radio.

“I took maybe four or five steps up the stairs to go into the kitchen from the basement, and we heard the mayday,” Tate said. “‘Mayday, mayday. Engine 1 Officer to Command, I’ve lost my nozzleman.'”

Tate and Fickes left the neighboring home and rushed back to the blazing fire.

“It’s like turning on a light switch, from normally searching a structure to make sure there’s no fire extending into this adjacent structure to rescue mode because there’s a down fireman,” Tate said.

“I could hear somebody screaming for help.”

Trying to enter the basement, Tate said he pulled up a thermal imaging camera to try and locate the person calling for help.

“I see a veil of steam come in front of my camera. I can see the color change,” Tate recalled. “That steam came from crews in the front fighting the fire through the collapse.”

Tyson, Denisio and Craig were spraying water from the front door into the basement to knock down the fire and get to the trapped firefighters.

Buy PhotoA memorial along the fence of the row home on Lakeview Road in Canby Park where Wilmington Firefighters Ardythe Hope, Christopher Leach and Lt. Jerry Fickes were all killed. (Photo: Jennifer Corbett/The News Journal)

Burned and littered with debris, Speakman said the few minutes he was in the basement run together.

But he now knows Craig, seeing him trying to pull himself up, yanked him from the basement and out the front door.

“He’s my hero, and Vinnie assisted him. But these guys didn’t just stop with me,” Speakman said. “The rest of the guys who were there, they went down and did extraordinary acts.”

Weems helped carry Speakman off the porch and into the street to paramedics. Speakman sustained burns to more than 30 percent of his body, and today still is recovering even though he’s returned to work.

“He was in a lot of pain but he was conscious,” Weems said. “I took his mask off, and I was afraid of what I was going to see.”

Behind the house, Tate and Fickes saw a path open in front of them from water spraying through the collapsed floor, Tate said. Fickes went first with Tate right behind.

“I’ve never entered a structure like this in my entire life working in the fire service,” Tate said. “It looked like somebody turned an orange light bulb on in there.”

Tate and Fickes were stopped by refrigerators that had fallen in front of them. Tate said he looked back to see if their exit route was still clear and noticed something frightening above them.

“The floor joists were on fire,” Tate said. “If they’re on fire, that doesn’t bode well. In that moment, I said, ‘Jerry, we’ve got to hurry up.'”

Tate said Fickes was preparing to climb over the refrigerators, but Tate heard someone calling for help to their left — it was Leach, though they didn’t yet know it.

Buy PhotoKate Maxwell, girlfriend of Lt. Christopher Leach, holds one of his favorite pictures of himself while on the job. (Photo: Jennifer Corbett/The News Journal)

“Chris is a little bit buried in debris. He’s talking, he just couldn’t stand,” Tate said. “I told Chris, ‘I got you, brother.'”

The chaos, debris and tight quarters forced Fickes and Tate to execute what he described as a reverse fireman’s carry with Leach facing Tate and Fickes assisting in holding him up.

Tate tripped and Leach tumbled onto him. They lifted Leach back up. Tate said he was no longer talking but was still breathing.

“As we step back into the center of the garage, I could hear someone yelling from the outside,” Tate said. “‘Get low! Get low! Get low!’ The ceiling is coming down because the floor joists were burning.”

Suddenly, they struggled to see, Tate said, recalling it was “like someone dumped some cream in your coffee, like someone poured salt into the water and stirred it up.”

The yelling from above continued.

Firefighter Jimmy Grieco appeared as if from nowhere, Tate said, and became the fourth person trying to tug Leach to safety. Grieco lost his grip on Leach, Tate said, and grabbed Tate.

The tug-of-war had Grieco pulling Tate and Tate pulling Leach, he said, but Leach was caught on debris. The second collapse came suddenly, sending dining room and kitchen flooring, furniture and appliances onto the men.

Grieco was able to pull out Tate, but Leach and Fickes were still inside.

Tate had burns on his hand, face and back. He didn’t realize this until he was leaning against a firetruck outside and pulled off one of his gloves.

Wilmington firefighters Jerry Fickes (left) and Christopher Leach are shown in a composite image. They were killed Sept. 24 fighting a fire in Canby Park. (Photo: PROVIDED BY WILMINGTON FIRE DEPARTMENT)

Crews found Fickes unconscious and in cardiac arrest. He was removed from the building, turned over to EMS and transported to the hospital where he died.

Hope was removed through the back basement door. She was transported by helicopter to the hospital and then the Crozer-Chester Medical Center in Pennsylvania. She ultimately succumbed to her injuries after more than a 60-day fight with burns on more than 70 percent of her body.

Leach was found in about three feet of debris in the rear half of the basement. He was last to be removed from the building, and Weems said firefighters covered his body with an American flag from a neighboring fire company.

Leach was posthumously promoted to captain. Fickes and Hope were posthumously promoted to the rank of lieutenant.

A year later, the department is still healing.

“It’s a small department, said Wilmington Fire Chief Michael Donohue. “But we are still getting on those trucks every day and doing our job because I believe that’s what Chris, Jerry and Ardy would want us to do.”

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

FATAL FIRE APPARATUS CRASH LEAVES CIVILIAN DEAD AND 4 FIREFIGHTERS INJURED

Thu, 09/21/2017 - 10:01

One civilian is dead and 4 Firefighters have been injured in a crash involving a car and a Louisville (Kentucky) Fire & Rescue fire apparatus around 0845 hours this morning.

Initial reports are that the fire apparatus was headed to an emergency call with lights and sirens, when it collided with a green car. 

According to cops, witnesses, stated that the fire truck was going west on Algonquin in an emergency mode, and there was a green Mercury that was at the corner of McCloskey and Algonquin, apparently at a stop sign. That vehicle went out into the intersection and collided with the fire apparatus resulting in a fatality.

Cops say the fire truck had the right of way, but the spokesman added that there was a stop sign — but no stop light — at the intersection. The Firefighters suffered minor physical injuries. More to follow.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

FATAL FIRE APPARATUS CRASH-FF’s ALSO INJ (The Secret List)

Thu, 09/21/2017 - 09:51

All,

One civilian is dead and 4 Firefighters have been injured in a crash involving a car and a Louisville (Kentucky) Fire & Rescue fire apparatus around 0845 hours this morning.

Initial reports are that the fire apparatus was headed to an emergency call with lights and sirens, when it collided with a green car. 

According to cops, witnesses, stated that the fire truck was going west on Algonquin in an emergency mode, and there was a green Mercury that was at the corner of McCloskey and Algonquin, apparently at a stop sign. That vehicle went out into the intersection and collided with the fire apparatus resulting in a fatality.

Cops say the fire truck had the right of way, but the spokesman added that there was a stop sign — but no stop light — at the intersection. The Firefighters suffered minor physical injuries. More to follow.

Take Care. Be Careful. Pass It On.

BillyG

The Secret List 9-21-2017-1000 hrs

www.FireFighterCloseCalls.com  

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

Munster class highlights cancer rates in firefighters

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 14:19

Click here to see full article

 

MUNSTER — Joe Martin and Ryan Cusack shared story after story and statistic after statistic with fellow firefighters Tuesday night with one shared goal: To scare colleagues into changing old habits and thinking about their occupation’s greatest threat — cancer.

They cited a 2013 National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health study that analyzed cancer in firefighters across three large U.S. cities — Philadelphia, Chicago and San Francisco. The study, in part, found a higher rate of mesothelioma, with researchers concluding the findings were likely associated with asbestos exposure.

“It’s San Francisco, Philly, Chicago, where there are a lot of older houses, right? But those houses on Ridge Road, they’re pretty old, right? Guess what they got? Asbestos. The old farm homes in Griffith. Guess what they got? Asbestos,” said Martin, 32, a veteran Griffith firefighter and lead instructor for the Lake County Recruit Firefighter Academy. “It’s in Munster. It’s in Griffith. It’s wherever you are.”

Martin and Cusack led Tuesday night’s Firefighter Cancer Support Network class at the Munster Center For Visual & Performing Arts designed to educate firefighters about the health risks they face on the job along with practical tips that can minimize exposure to cancer-causing contaminants.

Munster Fire Chief Dave Pelc, whose department hosted the event, said there are several ways departments can invest in the safety of fire crews.

Some are inexpensive, such as providing wipes to quickly clean down after responding to a call. Others cost more, such as equipment purchases.

“It used to be, years ago, you would just leave your gear in the car and go on home,” said Pelc, a 46-year veteran firefighter. “Now, we’re cleaning up (after a fire), wiping down with wipes, rinsing our gear, not bringing it into the firehouse.”

The class focused on education and changes that departments can make in terms of training, operations and equipment to reduce exposures to carcinogens and work hazards.

Cusack, a lieutenant and paramedic with the Crown Point Fire Department, said departments need to take even routine “food-on-the-stove” calls and minor vehicle fires more seriously.

“Why are we risking our health, our retirement, our family’s future? Why are we risking it for a car fire?” Cusack said. “We have all this incredible equipment. Our departments apply for grants, tens of thousands of dollars, just to put an air pack on our back. And we’re not even using it.”

U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, was on hand to discuss the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act of 2017, which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month. It’s now in the Senate for consideration.

The bill, if it turns into law, would provide federal funding to help protect firefighters, and require the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to create and maintain a registry of firefighters diagnosed with cancer.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

FIREFIGHTER SUFFERS HEAT INJURY AT INTENSE COMMERCIAL FIRE

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 08:44

One firefighter suffered a heat-related injury fighting a large commercial building fire that housed three businesses and three apartments Monday in Zionsville, Indiana. Several fire departments were called for aid.

One Pike Township firefighter was taken to an area hospital and is expected to make a full recovery, according to WTHR.

Mayor Tim Haak told WTHR, “We’re very fortunate” to not have had more injuries in such an intense fire.” Firefighters kept the blaze from spreading to nearby buildings.

Fire officials believe the fire began in a first-floor restaurant at about 4 a.m. There were no other injuries reported.

Image: WTHR.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

House Approves Firefighter Cancer Registry Act

Thu, 09/14/2017 - 12:37

Click here for full article

 

(September 13, 2017) – On Tuesday, September 12th, the House approved by voice vote H.R. 931, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act. The bipartisan legislation, introduced by Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) and Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-9), creates a specialized national registry to provide researchers and epidemiologists with the tools and resources they need to improve research collection activities related to the monitoring of cancer incidence among firefighters.

Studies have indicated a strong link between firefighting and an increased risk of several major cancers, including colon, lung, melanoma, mesothelioma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, non-melanoma skin cancer, prostate, rectal, testicular, stomach, multiple myeloma and brain cancer. The heightened risk of cancer among firefighters has been attributed to their frequent exposure to a range of harmful toxins.

Unfortunately, studies examining cancer risks among firefighters have been limited by the availability of important data and relatively small sample sizes that have an underrepresentation of women, minorities, and volunteer firefighters. As a result, public health researchers have been unable to fully examine and understand the broader epidemiological cancer trends among firefighters. A specialized national cancer registry would expand access to vital epidemiological data and improve research outcomes.

The bill will now be sent to the Senate for consideration.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

Slain firefighter’s father: ‘I will never think 30 years is enough’

Tue, 09/12/2017 - 17:48

Kate Rodeman sat among friends and family as the letter she wrote to the man who killed her husband was read to a courtroom full of people.

“When you killed my husband, you turned my life into pure chaos,” said Justin Conklin, the Lansing firefighter who read the letter on her behalf. “His death did not only break my heart, it broke all of me and more. You stole our future, the life we could have had.”

Grant Taylor, 24, sat about 20 feet from Conklin and looked down at the table in front of him as Conklin continued to read.

Minutes later, Taylor simply said “no, sir” when Circuit Court Judge Clinton Canady III asked him if he wanted to say anything. And moments after that, Canady sentenced Taylor to 30 to 40 years in prison for killing Lansing firefighter Dennis Rodeman in September 2015, when Rodeman was among a handful of firefighters who were collecting donations for charity.

It’s a sentence Rodeman’s father, Max, thought was too lenient, according a letter Kelly Flory, Dennis Rodeman’s sister, read on his behalf.

(Story continues below video)

Kelly Flory, sister of firefighter Dennis Rodeman, speaks during the sentencing for Grant Taylor.Christopher Haxel/Lansing State Journal

“In my opinion you should have to sit in a cell the size of a coffin and think about your life, where my son is for eternity, never to play with his son,” Flory read. “I will never think 30 years is enough for what you have done to my grandson’s family and mom.”

Then, Flory addressed Taylor herself, often looking at him.

“Coward,” she said. “That is how I refer to you. I can’t bring myself to call you by your name. … So as you sit in your cell every day for at least the next 30 years, which I don’t feel is long enough, and you see your family on regular visits, just remember, we can’t see my brother.

“I feel like you got to choose your punishment and my brother never got to choose how long he’d be alive.”

Buy PhotoDennis Rodeman’s sister, Kelly Flory of Vermontville, middle, hugs Karen Taylor, right, mother of Grant Taylor, who was sentenced Sept. 7, 2017 to 30 to 40 years in prison for Rodeman’s murder. Also pictured is Taylor’s aunt Deb Cook of Lansing, who sat with her sister throughout the hearings for the past two years. “We needed that hug,” Cook said. (Photo: Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal)

Taylor, a graduate of Holt High School and a former Michigan State University student, pleaded guilty but mentally ill last month to second-degree murder and other charges as part of a plea deal with prosecutors. He had faced a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of first-degree murder at trial.

The deal set his minimum sentence at 30 years in prison, but didn’t set a maximum. Prosecutors asked for maximum sentence of 50 years, but Canady went along with the probation department’s guidelines.

Prosecutors said last month after a hearing on the the plea that they met with Rodeman’s family to discuss the agreement before it was offered.

“This was the kind of case where you have a tragedy, you have an immeasurable loss, and there are really no easy answers that make sense, in how the justice system can respond,” Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon said in a statement last month.

“We can never truly find justice or ‘closure’ in a case like this, but I believe we do have an approach that allows for mental health treatment, within the secure walls of the prison system, a lengthy sentence that acknowledges the gravity of this offense, and the impact on the victim and his family.”

Siemon didn’t return a message seeking comment after the hearing.

During the hearing, Taylor’s attorney, Stacia Buchanan, discussed her client’s mental health.

“He did not choose this life for himself,” she said. “His mother did not choose this life for him. He was not raised to have this life. Unfortunately, mental illness is a disease like other physical diseases. Up until then Mr. Taylor was a good student, he was going to university, he had a good family. And everything changed for him.”

Taylor’s mother, Karen Cook Taylor, declined to comment after the hearing.

“It’s a hard day,” Buchanan said after the hearing. She declined to comment further.

Taylor will receive credit for two years already served in jail, so he could be eligible for parole in 28 years. He also pleaded guilty to failure to stop at the scene of an accident resulting in death and fleeing from police, and will serve sentences on those charges concurrently.

Related:Full coverage of Grant Taylor case

The crash

In September 2015, Rodeman, 35, was with a handful of other firefighters who were collecting donations for the Muscular Dystrophy Association at the intersection of Cedar Street and Jolly Road. Police have said that Taylor was driving in the area, became angered with the traffic backup from the fundraiser and exchanged words with Rodeman before throwing an apple core at the firefighter and driving away.

Dennis Rodeman (Photo: Lansing Fire Department)

Taylor drove about a mile south, according to court records, before turning around and diving back toward the intersection. Taylor drove at one firefighter, who jumped out of the way, before striking Rodeman, according to testimony. Rodeman later died at a local hospital.

Police have said that Taylor admitted to hitting Rodeman with his truck. He fled the scene and was arrested a short time later near his home, according to court records.

Taylor’s plea came despite ongoing questions about his mental health. His mother twice petitioned to have him involuntarily hospitalized in the years before the crash, saying he had not been taking his medicine and was behaving erratically.

Within two weeks of Rodeman’s death, Buchanan asked that Taylor’s competency to stand trial be evaluated. While he was initially found competent, Buchanan requested a second evaluation about seven months later, in April, 2016.

Competency means a defendant understands the various roles of the judge, attorneys and jury and is able to help with his or her own defense.

Two months after approving Buchanan’s second request, Canady declared Taylor incompetent to stand trial based on the recommendation of the state’s Center for Forensic Psychiatry.

Taylor was returned to competency in June of this year, but remained housed at the forensic center to ensure his competency for trial.

Because he pleaded guilty but mentally ill, Taylor will receive mental health treatment while in prison. He will not return to the forensic center, however, unless the Michigan Department of Corrections requests help housing Taylor. Officials have said that is unlikely.

‘Strength and courage’

Rodeman, a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq, also worked for the Vermontville Fire Department before joining Lansing’s department.

Firefighters from both departments attended many of Taylor’s hearings as the case progressed through the court system.

During Thursday’s hearing the courtroom was so full that a few people had to sit in the jury box.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

Taking Care of Ourselves

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 08:54

Adopting a practical approach to reducing firefighter cancer

Read the full article and video here.

 

Personal accountability, situational awareness, education and strong leadership are familiar concepts in the fire service for reducing line-of-duty deaths. On the second day of the Fire Service Occupational Cancer Symposium, these same themes recurred during presentations, workshops and discussions for preventing the incidence of cancer among firefighters.

Since 1990, the Boston Fire Department has experienced 199 cancer-related deaths, Fire Commissioner Joseph E. Finn told the audience. In May of this year, three more firefighters were diagnosed with the disease and he approved presumptive disability claims for five others due to their cancer. Adopting a proactive approach to preventing cancer has become his mission.

“I hit them on the personal accountability level. Our lieutenants, captains and chiefs aren’t baby sitters. This job comes with a level of personal responsibility,” he explained. “Just because the guy next to you isn’t wearing his mask doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. You need to think about your loved ones – wife, husband, children, boyfriend or girlfriend – before you take that mask off.”
Deputy Chief Bryan Frieders, of the Pasadena (CA) Fire Department and President of the Firefighter Cancer Support Network, called on attendees to take a stand against improper practices and unhealthy behaviors when they see it, from diesel exhaust capture systems that aren’t connected to using tobacco products.

“It’s time to get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” said Frieders. “This is a leadership issue from the rookie firefighter all the way to the seasoned chief. It takes every single person to be part of this, to make the coalition stand. We will not tolerate this bad behavior, this indiscretion that we know is killing us. Are you ready for that?”
Understanding the unique dangers of fuel loads that occur in modern fires can help firefighters take precautions against toxic exposures. Dan Madrzykowski, a research engineer with UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute, illustrated the stark contrasts between fires in homes of today and those of 30 years ago. The polystyrene and other synthetic materials used in everything from furniture stuffing and upholstery to tables and cement board burns far faster, hotter and produces more toxic vapors than the wooden furniture with cotton and wool upholstery.

In side-by-side videos of burning traditional and contemporary couches, Madrzykowski noted that the contemporary couch began to drip and puddle within minutes of ignition. “If this were on a highway, we’d call for HAZMAT but because it’s in a house it’s what we expect,” he said.

While furnishings, fabrics and building materials and designs aren’t going to change, knowing strategies for how to battle these fires, as well as steps to take to decontaminate afterwards, can help reduce exposure to carcinogens.

Chief Charles Hood, of the San Antonio Fire Department, shared some of his personal experiences about the deaths due to cancer of three firefighters from his department, as well as the cancer-related deaths of many others from his days with Phoenix Fire Department.

“Cancer is something we must take personally,” he said. “As a fire chief, I don’t have a lot of control over what happens when my members get sick. What I can do is love those family members who have lost their firefighter.”
His call to action to everyone attending the symposium was clear: “It is up to you to walk out of this room and take this passion back with you to make things better. We have a long way to go, but the cup is half full because of your commitment.”

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

EMS MEDEVAC CRASH – MULTIPLE LODD’S

Fri, 09/08/2017 - 14:09

A Duke University EMS helicopter has crashed in Perquimans County (North Carolina) leaving 4 dead. It went down around 1145 hours this morning in an area of Swamp Road and Sandy Cross Road. The crash area is in the northeastern area of North Carolina.

Our condolences to all those affected. Rest In Peace. More to follow.

Take Care. Be Careful. Pass It On.

http://www.dukechronicle.com/article/2017/09/report-duke-helicopter-crashes-in-eastern-n-c-four-dead

http://wavy.com/2017/09/08/downed-helicopter-perquimans-county/

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

7 1st RESPONDERS SUEING TEXAS CHEMICAL COMPANY

Fri, 09/08/2017 - 06:40

Seven first responders injured after explosions at the troubled Arkema chemical plant in Crosby are now suing the company for at least $1 million in damages.

On Thursday, barely a week after the first blast of decomposing chemicals rocked the small town, Houston lawyers Kimberley Spurlock and Misty Hataway-Cone launched a legal battle in Harris County court, accusing Arkema of gross negligence.

Despite past flooding events and advance notice of the impending destruction of Hurricane Harvey, Arkema “ignored the foreseeable consequences of failing to prepare,” the suit claims, leaving trailers of volatile chemicals susceptible to explosion after flooding knocked out the electricity and ability to cool the heat-sensitive compounds.

The first of nine trailers of organic peroxides exploded early on the morning of Aug. 31, landing a number of first responders in the hospital following exposure to fumes from the chemicals, which ignited and left a 40-foot plume of black smoke that officials later compared to a campfire.

“Although the explosions had occurred, no one from Arkema alerted the first responders who were manning the perimeter of the arbitrary mandatory evacuation area,” lawyers said Thursday in a press release. “Immediately upon being exposed to the fumes from the explosions, and one by one, the police officers and first responders began to fall ill in the middle of the road.”

Emergency medical personnel arrived on scene, and were overcome by fumes before even exiting their vehicles, lawyers allege.

“The scene was nothing less than chaos,” the lawsuit claims. “Police officers were doubled over vomiting, unable to breathe.”

The seven first responders at the center of the new legal action were all on scene for “that chaos and those toxic fumes,” according to legal papers. Fifteen Harris County deputies and eight EMS personnel, including Crosby’s EMS chief, were hospitalized due to exposure to the fumes.

The legal claim specifically calls out company officials Richard Rowe and Richard Rennard for holding press conferences at which they “repeatedly denied that the chemicals were toxic or harmful in any manner,” the lawyers write. “Plaintiffs relied upon these representations and suffered serious bodily injury as a result.”

Twenty homeowners also asked to be added to the suit according to the lawyers. The Crosby residents claimed to have seen balls of tar fall in their yards and some claimed a tar-like substance covered their roofs after the explosions.

The suit also asks for a temporary restraining preventing Arkema from destroying photos, documents and records relating to the chemical behind the fire.

The Chemical Safety Board announced on Aug. 31 it would be investigating the Arkema explosion. In a statement from board chair Vanessa Allen Sutherland, one aspect of that investigation would be the implications for emergency response efforts.

An Arkema spokeswoman Thursday afternoon promised the company would release a statement later in the day.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

DOUBLE LODD – GERMANY – APPARATUS CRASH

Fri, 09/08/2017 - 06:39

Two firefighters were killed in an operation on the Autobahn 2 in Brandenburg deadly. The helpers were called at an early Tuesday morning to an accident near Brandenburg on the Havel, as the police communicated.A semitrailer train hit a fire car accident at the accident site. This turned around its own axis, tipped over and buried the two firemen among themselves. The 23-year-old and his 38-year-old colleague still died at the accident site. The truck driver was injured.

The emergency personnel were first called to an accident with a small carrier. The driver had ridden the transporter onto a semitrailer, was pinched and severely injured. For the rescue operations, the police and fire brigade blocked the right and the middle lane.

About an hour after the first accident, a 55-year-old truck driver wanted to pass the left-hand lane at the accident site. For still unsettled cause he caught with his truck a police car, which stood for securing on the middle track. The semitrailer came to sway and bounced against the fire-weaving car. It tipped over and buried the two men under him.

“I can not put myself in the situation of the comrades, who had to see what happened with their comrades,” said the layer leader of the Brandenburger professional fire brigade. The forces, which were in use, were replaced and supervised by pastoral caretakers.

Since the second accident, the motorway has been blocked between the Brandenburg and Netzen junctions in the direction of Berlin. The rescue work should continue until 1 pm.

In the morning hours, there were miles of traffic jams. As the suspension was to continue for several hours, cars were returned to the last exit. An expert was on site and took the investigation into the cause of the accident.

Flags at half-mast

On public buildings the flags were set half-mast on Tuesday. “It is a tragedy that is difficult to grasp for me,” emphasized Prime Minister Dietmar Woidke (SPD). “They wanted to save lives, they themselves were killed.” That made him infinitely sad. At the Landesfeuerfeuerwehrschule in Eisenhüttenstadt (Märkisch-Oderland) was conceived with a silence minutes of the dead comrades.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

FIREFIGHTER STRUCK WHILE DOING MDA… AGAIN

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 19:45

A Baltimore County fire lieutenant was injured after being hit by a vehicle during the “Fill the Boot” charitable fundraising drive.

Authorities say this happened just after 11:15 a.m. Sunday, near Rossville Boulevard and Pulaski Highway.

Firefighters were out collecting money for Muscular Dystrophy Association’s “Fill the Boot’ campaign, when the fire lieutenant was struck by a vehicle. The victim was taken to a hospital to be treated for non-life threatening injuries.

No further details have been released about the wreck.

The Baltimore County Police Department is investigating the crash.

The “Fill the Boot” campaign will continue, though the fire chief reminds personnel to be safe while collecting

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

NASHVILLE FIREFIGHTER SUFFERS MASK PROBLEM AT FIRE – TRANSPORTED TO HOSPITAL

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 19:31

A Nashville Fire Department firefighter was hospitalized after battling a blaze at a home near Percy Priest Lake early Tuesday morning.

No one was inside the home on Timber Ridge Drive when it caught fire. Half of the house was destroyed.

(For more updates on this story and free news alerts for your neighborhood, sign up for your local Middle Tennessee Patch morning newsletter.)

The firefighter was taken to the hospital after he experienced problems with his breathing mask. He is expected to fully recover.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

MAYDAY – FIREFIGHTER TRAPPED ON ROOF!

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 10:40

The top floor of a Worcester three-family home was destroyed by a fire on Labor Day.

Firefighters responded to a call around 4 p.m. for active flames at a building on Farwell Street.

Officials said heavy smoke poured from the top floor of the building, with winds adding intensity to the fire and causing it to spread.

At one point, a firefighter got trapped on the roof while battling the flames. “We were trying to get a hole in the roof because the fire had already got up into the attic,” Deputy Fire Chief John Sullivan said. “One of our firefighters got separated from the ladder and fire engulfed that ladder.”

Sullivan said they were able to deploy another ladder to get the firefighter out safely without injury.

All the occupants made it out of the home safely, but one person was seen being taken away in a stretcher.

There is no word yet on what caused the fire.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

2 PA FIREFIGHTERS HURT AT APARTMENT FIRE

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 07:16

Authorities say four people, including two firefighters, have been hurt in an apartment fire in Clifton Heights, Delaware County.

The blaze broke out before 8:30 a.m. Monday in the 300 block of North Sycamore Avenue.

Video from Chopper 6 HD showed flames and thick smoke coming from the roof of one section of the three-story complex.

More than a dozen residents were seen standing outside a number of adjacent units.

Police tell Action News two people, a teenager and an adult, were hurt escaping the fire.

Their injuries were described as non-life-threatening.

In addition, two firefighters were treated for injuries also described as non-life-threatening.

ction News is told two children were dropped from windows into the arms of rescuers on the scene.

Neither child was hurt.

Fire officials believe the fire was sparked by a young child playing with a lighter found underneath a bed in one of the units.

A full investigation continues.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

MEMPHIS FIREFIGHTER INJURED AT FIRE

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 13:41

A fire fighter was injured and a family displaced after a fire broke out at an apartment complex overnight.

It happened around 11:30 p.m. Sunday at the Hunters Ridge Apartments in the 3000 block of Kettle Creek Drive.

WREG was told the fire started in one apartment, sending smoke billowing into the family’s residence below.

The American Red Cross is helping that family.

The fire fighter’s condition has not been released.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

MD FIREFIGHTER AIRLIFTED TO BALTIMORE – STRUCK BY RIG

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 13:40

A Salisbury firefighter is currently being treated at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore after being accidentally struck by a fellow fire fighter.

The accident happened on Bell Creek Drive around noon on Sunday.

A City of Salisbury spokesperson said the firefighter was laying out blue hydrant markers on the road when another fire fighter, who was driving a fire engine, accidentally struck the victim.

The injured firefighter had to be airlifted to Baltimore following the accident.

The firefighter’s condition is currently unknown and they are still working to notify the firefighter’s family.

We will continue to monitor this situation and post updates to our website and Facebook page as we learn more.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

11 FDNY FIREFIGHTERS INJURED AT FIRE

Sun, 09/03/2017 - 12:57
Around 200 firefighters battled a stubborn fire that started inside a restaurant on the ground floor of a Tribeca building, then quickly shot up through the roof, leaving 11 firefighters injured in hours-long fire fight, officials say.

It’s not yet clear what caused the fire that started inside the restaurant at 24 Murray St., near Church Street, at around 6:30 p.m. The fire rose to the top of the building, and flames could be seen shooting out the roof and windows.Huge plumes of black smoke billowed into the sky, and the acrid smell of smoke carried as far as Brooklyn.

Firefighters battled the five-alarm fire for four hours before it was finally knocked out. Eleven suffered minor injuries, mostly from fatigue and exhaustion, officials said. Some were seen being taken away on stretchers.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

MS FIREFIGHTER STRUCK AT CRASH SCENE

Sun, 09/03/2017 - 12:56

A Shady Grove firefighter sustained minor injuries responding to an accident on Friday.

Shady Grove Volunteer Fire Dept. responded to the accident involving an 18-wheeler and a car when a firefighter down call was made and an ambulance requested, according to a Jones County Fire Council press release. The accident occurred at Hwy 15 and Trace Road.

A passing vehicle had rolled into the door of the firefighters truck, pinning his legs as he retrieved gear from his truck. Emergency responders quickly removed the trapped firefighter, and he was transported to a hospital via ambulance as a precaution.

The driver of the accident was transported to the hospital with unknown injuries. The cause of the accident is unknown.

 

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

CALIFORNIA BATTALION FIRE CHIEF KILLED IN CRASH RETURNING FROM FIRE – LODD

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 08:29

We regret to pass on that Santa Lucia District Battallion Chief Gary Helming was killed in a crash yesterday morning while coming home from operating at the Railroad Fire in the Sierra National Forest.

Chief Helming was a California native who started working for the Forest Service more than two decades ago as a seasonal firefighter. He worked other agencies before returning to the Forest Service to serve as battalion chief in 2013 in Santa Maria. 

Our condolences to all those affected. Rest In Peace.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

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