Firefighter Close Calls

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Updated: 7 min 55 sec ago


Mon, 12/10/2018 - 19:58

Firefighters weren’t paying attention and hadn’t been properly trained when a brand new $1.1 million fire truck was seriously damaged and put out of service during a training exercise in October, according to a report released Friday.

Fire Chief James Wilson has been directed to immediately establish new standard operating guidelines that also were found lacking after the truck’s 107-foot aerial ladder hit an overhead power line, sending an electrical current that destroyed the truck’s complex wiring systems and sparked a fire on the right front tire.


The South Portland Fire Department’s new ladder truck, right, has been out of service since the October incident and officials have yet to determine whether the million-dollar truck is a total loss. South Portland Fire Department Facebook photo

Under the new guidelines, during any truck training sessions or equipment evaluations, firefighters will be expected to designate a spotter and conduct an “environmental assessment” to note any obstructions in the area that might injure people or damage equipment, City Manager Scott Morelli said.

“While we were extremely fortunate that none of our firefighters were injured from this incident, we may not be so lucky next time,” he said. “To help ensure there is no next time, this report highlights areas we can learn from and improve upon so we can better protect our employees, our equipment and members of the public.”

Morelli said it has yet to be determined whether the ladder truck is a total loss, how much of the damage will be covered by the city’s insurance policy and whether disciplinary action might be taken against the firefighters who were involved in the incident.

“We appreciate the public’s continued patience while these outside entities work to ascertain the damage incurred by the vehicle and what the city’s insurer will cover,” Morelli said.

The investigation was conducted by Louis Cavallaro, the city’s safety coordinator, and Stephanie Weaver, the city’s human resources director. Morelli issued Cavallaro’s report with the names of city employees redacted. By law, names of city employees who may be sanctioned or disciplined are not public until a final written decision regarding discipline has been rendered.

According to the report, the city received the Pierce-brand ladder truck on Oct. 4 and held several training sessions on Oct. 15-18 and 23-26. It was put into service on Oct. 28 as Ladder 45 at the Cash Corner Fire Station on Route 1, near the Broadway intersection.

The incident happened two days later, shortly after 10:30 a.m., during an in-service training session behind the fire station. Firefighters were extending the ladder outward and down when a computer display screen suddenly went blank and flashed a warning message that communication had been lost to the ladder controls.

Firefighters looked toward Skillings Street and noticed the ladder had made direct contact with the highest primary wire, which carries electricity for Center Maine Power Co., the report said.

“We’re in the wires!” shouted one firefighter, who also heard crackling throughout the truck and noticed black smoke billowing from the right front tire. The firefighters fled the truck within seconds to avoid being electrocuted.

Cavallaro concluded that the incident was caused by “a lack of appropriate situational awareness by certain personnel” and “a training deficit of not highlighting the need for a spotter” while operating the ladder for nonemergency uses.

The truck has been out of service since the incident, so the fire department continues to use its 1996 Pierce ladder truck for emergency calls requiring aerial equipment, Morelli said.

Representatives of the city’s insurer, Maine Municipal Association Risk Management Services, are expected to inspect the truck next week to determine the extent of damage and how much will be covered.

Morelli said the truck’s policy provides as much as $1,064,000 in replacement coverage with $1,000 deductible, so there will be enough money to repair or replace the vehicle if it’s declared a total loss.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Mon, 12/10/2018 - 19:55

A volunteer fireman suffered minor injuries after being hit by a truck while he was responding to a fire early Saturday in the Dundee area.

The firefighter, 28, was released after treatment at Cleveland Clinic Union Hospital in Dover, according to Sgt. Robert Simone of the Ohio Highway Patrol.

Troopers from the highway patrol and deputies from the Tuscarawas County Sheriff’s Office were unable to find the truck that left the scene of the crash, which was reported at 12:40 a.m. The collision occurred while the truck was northbound on state Route 93.

The suspect vehicle is a white Ford F-250, according to the sheriff’s department.

The firefighter was riding to the fire station to respond to a fire reported at 9107 Trail Bottom Road NW.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Sun, 12/09/2018 - 15:02

One firefighter was injured after a fire broke out inside a home near Whitnall and Pine Ave. on Milwaukee’s south side early Sunday, Dec. 9.

According to officials, a chimney fire extended into the surrounding walls of the home. The family was able to make it outside of the home before the fire crew arrived.

One firefighter suffered a cut and was transported, treated and released from a hospital. No other injuries were reported.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Sun, 12/09/2018 - 12:29

A fire believed to have started with a wood-burning stove destroyed a house in the Mendocino coast community of Caspar late Friday night, displacing a man and a woman who lived there and likely killing two kittens that could not be found in the escape, officials and neighbors said.

The couple were aided by two neighbors who came to their rescue before the pair realized how serious the blaze in their two-story house had become.

The woman, who relies on a wheelchair, was still in the house as flames engulfed the top floor and her partner searched frantically for the kittens, having let the two parent cats out already, the neighbors said.

“It was a hairy situation,” said Ritchie Goswell. “But everything turned out OK.”

The fire broke out shortly before 11 p.m. Friday, likely because of flammable materials left too close to the wood stove or because of something that caught fire in the chimney, Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department personnel said Saturday. The flames spread quickly within the South Caspar Drive structure, which was engulfed in flames by the time crews got to the scene.

In the meantime, Marni Doyle Johnson, a neighbor, went out behind her house to turn off her Christmas lights and saw a red glow in the sky. She and her husband were displaced by the 2015 Valley fire in Lake County, “so we’re a little sensitive about fire,” she said.

She called 911 and started driving toward the glow, honking her horn and yelling at neighbors to get their garden hoses primed. When she saw Goswell running in the street, she picked him up and drove him the rest of the way to the scene.

Goswell, 73, has been undergoing cancer treatment for the past eight months and said he’s lost about 70 pounds. “But I still know my strength,” he said, so he didn’t hesitate about running into a burning house.

Johnson, 48, was a firefighter in Marin County about 20 years ago, but back then “I had fire equipment on, safety gear, a hose and a captain telling me what to do — not just running in and grabbing someone in a fully engulfed house.”

But the female occupant, whose full name wasn’t known by the neighbors, did not want to leave, and her partner was desperate to find the kittens before leaving, Goswell and Johnson said.

They were able eventually to part carry, part drag her out, and help her partner escape before the house crashed in on itself, Goswell said.

He hopes to do some fundraising to help the couple out.

“I feel so bad for them,” Johnson said, “because they of course lost everything. It was a scary situation.”

The fire drew 16 volunteer Mendocino firefighters with three engines, two water tenders and a rescue truck, in addition to three Cal Fire engines. Water tenders from fire agencies in Albion and Fort Bragg also helped shuttle water to the scene, Mendocino Fire engineer and spokeswoman officer Sally Swan said.

The structure was a total loss, and a local Red Cross volunteer was called to assist the displaced couple with lodging, Swan said.

A firefighter broke his arm in the effort to control the flames and overhaul the scene to prevent reignition of the fire, officials said. Swan declined to release the firefighter’s name or the name of the house’s occupants.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Sat, 12/08/2018 - 18:09

A fast-moving fire left one person dead Friday.

The Christiana Fire Company was called to the 1000 block of Old Forge Road in the Meadows of Wilton community just before 10 a.m. on December 7, 2018.

“When they arrived, they had flames shooting from the rear of the home,” Assistant State Fire Marshal Michael Chionchio told WDEL “They got into the house, found one victim, removed the victim. Unfortunately that person was deceased.”

One firefighter suffered burns to his hand and head, he is in good condition at Christiana Hospital. A second firefighter suffered an ankle injury. No one else was hurt, according to Chionchio, who couldn’t yet say whether anyone else was inside the home.

Damage to the middle-of-the-row town home and adjacent homes was estimated at $200,000, Chionchio said.

“Definitely difficult, no matter what time of year, but it seems a little harder during this time with the holiday season” he said. “It’s tragic.”

The Delaware State Fire Marshal’s office is working on the origin and cause of the fire currently.

WDEL has also reached out to the Christiana Fire Company for comment.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Sat, 12/08/2018 - 17:09

A squatter was seriously injured when he jumped from a second-story window and a firefighter suffered a shoulder injury in a fire at a vacant downtown hotel early Saturday.

Las Vegas, Clark County and North Las Vegas firefighters responded to the vacant building at 232 S. Seventh St. after dispatchers received calls at 2:40 a.m. that smoke was coming from a two-story boarded up vacant motel.

When firefighters arrived, several squatters were seen running from the building. One of them jumped from a second-story window to the sidewalk below and was seriously injured. The person was transported to the trauma unit at University Medical Center. Police were told by squatters that left the building that there may have been additional people still inside the burning building. A second alarm was then requested to bring additional resources and personnel.

Firefighters had the fire under control in about 20 minutes. A quick search of the building found one other uninjured person inside the building.

One firefighter sustained a shoulder injury and was transported to at UMC.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. The building, which had no active utilities connected, is being used by squatters according to people who work and live in the area. There have been fires at the property in the past. Fire crews were expected to remain on scene for several hours dousing any remaining hot spots to prevent a flare up of another fire.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Sat, 12/08/2018 - 13:03

The Blissfield Township Fire Department caught on fire around 6:30 this morning.

According to the Blissfield Fire Chief Dale Fruchui, there was heavy smoke and fire in the attic and in the truck bay.

Riga, Palmyra, Deerfield and Madison Township Fire Departments were called to assist.

Three firefighters were transported to the hospital for smoke inhalation, but we’re told they’re okay.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

There is heavy damage to many of Blissfield’s rigs. So much so, they’re all out of service until further notice.

“I’m relying on neighboring departments to help us out,” Chief Fruchui said. “We’re going to be working on getting some of them back in service, trying to regroup and go from there.”

He hopes by the end of the day he’ll have at least one engine and one ambulance back in service, but until then he’s relying on neighboring departments to keep the community safe.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Sat, 12/08/2018 - 06:45

An Atlantic City firefighter was injured when he fell through a hole on the second floor while fighting a fire inside a building near Texas Avenue School.
Flames were blowing out of three windows as firefighters who had just left a nearby call arrived to the 2600 block of Centennial Avenue at about 7 p.m., Chief Scott Evans said.
The fire started on the second floor, but had dropped down to the first before firefighters arrived. Evans believes that the fire was likely burning for a while before anyone was called. The home was vacant.
But the firefighters’ aggressive approach contained the flames to the building, saving three connected structures, Evans said.
It was under control within 45 minutes.
One family was displaced due the electricity being shut off and some smoke damage, he said.
Shaun Moore, who was acting captain for responding Engine 4, fell through a hole in the second floor, but was stopped by his air tank, Evans said.
Fellow firefighters then helped get him out.
Evans, who was with Moore at the hospital, said it appeared to be a knee injury. They were awaiting test results, but he believed the 12-year department veteran would be going home.
The cold weather made the conditions hazardous.
“It was slippery,” Evans said. “The water was freezing.”
He estimated more than $100,000 worth of damage, and said the building was likely a complete loos.
Three engines, a ladder company, one rescue and a chief responded, bringing 22 firefighters to the scene.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Fri, 12/07/2018 - 19:32

A 2-year-old boy was killed and four other people — including two firefighters — were injured Friday in a fire on Detroit’s east side, officials said.

The fire happened around 1:15 a.m. on the 13000 block of Mackay Street. It’s near the border of Detroit and Hamtramck.

Nicole Taylor said her heart is broken for her little boy, Khamari Livingston, who was killed in the house fire at her boyfriend’s house. Her 3-year-old son, Ahmond Johnson, suffered from smoke inhalation.

Khamari Livingston (WDIV)

Taylor left the home to work her overnight shift at Cadillac Planting in Warren, police said. Two hours later, she got a call to get to Children’s Hospital.

“They let me to go see Ahmond,” Taylor said. “I kissed them. They led me to a room. I knew that Khamari wasn’t here.”

Ahmond is stable, police said.

Ahmond Johnson (WDIV)

Fire investigators believe the fire started near the dining room and kitchen area before quickly spreading upstairs.

Ahmond and Khamari were sleeping upstairs when the fire started. Taylor’s boyfriend tossed Ahmond out a window to safety, but no one would reach Khamari, according to authorities.

“He said my boyfriend told him to jump, then he went back in to get (Khamari) and flames started coming up,” Taylor said.

She said she lost another son a few years ago and Khamari was the gift that followed that storm. Now she’s going through heartbreak again.

“He helped me keep living on,” Taylor said.

A 20-year-old woman was pulled from the home by firefighters and is in critical condition, officials said.

Two Hamtramck firefighters suffered second-degree burns to their ears and faces when they and Detroit firefighters were pulling victims out of the fire, according to fire officials. The firefighters were treated and released from the hospital, officials said.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Fri, 12/07/2018 - 18:35

Authorities say an Oklahoma City firefighter suffered a few injuries while battling a second fire at a vacant apartment building.

Overnight, firefighters were called to an apartment building near N.W. 23rd and Portland after flames were seen coming from the second story.

Crews were able to quickly get the fire under control, and no injuries occurred during the blaze.

On Friday morning, Oklahoma City firefighters were called back to the building for a second fire. While battling that blaze, investigators say a firefighter was injured.

Officials with the fire department tell News 4 that a firefighter fell through a second story floor due to damage from last night’s fire.

Authorities say suffered back and shoulder injuries, but is expected to recover.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Thu, 12/06/2018 - 20:06

Crews are still at the scene of a fire that broke out at the Oman Temple Grenadier Club in Flint.

They were called to the 3500 block of Saginaw Street north of Pasadena around 3:30 a.m. Thursday.

Authorities say the fire started on the second floor.

The fire caused the club’s roof to collapse.

One firefighter had to be treated after receiving an electrical shock while working to put the fire out.

No other injuries were reported.

The Michigan State Police’s fire investigative unit is on their way.

No word yet on the cause.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Thu, 12/06/2018 - 20:04

A fire destroyed a row home in Center City on Wednesday night and left a Philadelphia firefighter injured.

The fire erupted around 9:30 p.m. in the 1700 block of Pine Street.

Viewer video sent to Action News showed heavy flames shooting from a four-story home.

The firefighter was injured when an air conditioning unit fell and hit him on his head.

He was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Thu, 12/06/2018 - 20:01

An incendiary fire that is under investigation injured a Joplin resident on Wednesday night and caused minor injury to a firefighter in an explosion caused by the blaze.

Douglas Hull, 54, one of six residents at 301 S. Pearl Ave., was injured by burns and smoke inhalation and was taken to Freeman Hospital. He later transferred to a Springfield hospital burn unit, according to the Joplin Fire Department.

Captain Scott Hubler sustained a minor injury in the explosion when he was hit by a piece of shrapnel, according to Chief James Furgerson. He said Hubler was treated at the scene and returned to duty.

Firefighters responded at 6:25 p.m. and found the garage and rear of the two-story house heavily involved in flames. All of the residents had escaped the blaze.

Eight units and 18 firefighters brought the fire under control in about 60 minutes. They were on the scene a total of about 3 1/2 hours.

The chief said there is severe damage to the house, which will probably be a total loss. The residents are displaced and are receiving temporary housing assistance by the Red Cross.

The fire appears to be from an incendiary cause and is under investigation by Joplin police and the fire marshal, according to the chief. METS Ambulance assisted fire and police at the scene.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Thu, 12/06/2018 - 19:59

A basement fire that sent smoke billowing through a single-family Glen Rock house Thursday night injured a borough firefighter, though not seriously, responders at the scene said.

Colleagues from several departments joined borough firefighters or provided backup to the South Maple Avenue blaze.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Tue, 12/04/2018 - 21:00

A federal investigation reviewing the 2016 fatal shooting of a Maryland firefighter found that 911 public safety call takers did not warn first responders that the possibility of guns had been reported at the scene and that volunteer firefighters were not wearing a common uniform the night of the incident that made it clear who they were.

Those flaws and others contributed to the fatal shooting of Prince George’s County firefighter John “Skillet” Ulmschneider while he answered a 911 call to check on someone’s welfare, according to the fatality investigation report released last week by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

In light of the findings, federal investigators recommended police departments, not fire departments, handle initial calls for a welfare check. Investigators also recommended public safety agencies make sure first responders ask for and get important safety cautions — such as that weapons may be present at a scene — as they are dispatched.


Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Tue, 12/04/2018 - 20:52

A vehicle hit a fire truck at the scene of a crash in Vandalia Tuesday morning.

The initial crash happened around 6:45 a.m. Tuesday in the northbound lanes of I-75, just south of U.S. 40.

Authorities say a pickup truck rear-ended a car. No one was injured in that crash.

Crews arrived, with a fire truck blocking the right lane of traffic on I-75 NB.

While the fire truck was parked to block that lane, a vehicle sideswiped the fire truck. There were some firefighters in the truck when it was hit.

No one was injured in that crash.

Authorities continue to block the right lane of I-75 NB to investigate the crashes and eventually clear the scene.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Tue, 12/04/2018 - 09:48

A Florida Highway Patrol trooper was seriously injured while investigating a crash along Interstate 95.

Lt. Alvaro Feola said Trooper Mithil Patel was standing near the northbound lanes early Monday when he was struck by a car.

Video recorded by WPEC, the CBS affiliate for Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast, captured the entire incident. It shows Patel speaking with another man on the side of I-95 when a black Audi spun out of control and started barreling toward them.

Patel can be seen pushing the man, whose back was facing I-95, out of the way before he was struck. The impact sent him flying into the air and landing on the ground.

Several workers who were cleaning the debris from the previous crash rushed to help Patel.

Feola said Patel was taken as a “trauma alert” to St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Mon, 12/03/2018 - 12:47

Officials say a firefighter was hospitalized after falling through the floor while battling an apartment fire. Four other residents also had to be taken to the hospital.

It happened at the Polo Club Apartments at 414 Ashley Creek Ct. off Hambrick Road.

According to Capt. Dion Bentley with the DeKalb County Fire Department, fire crews responded to the call around 8 p.m. after getting reports of the fire with a possible entrapment.

When firefighters got to the scene, the breezeways of several units were already consumed by heavy smoke and 30-foot flames, cutting off exits for families trying to get out. Bentley said one person was forced to jump from the second floor of one of the units in order to escape. Shannon Fikes said she had just gotten home after working a 10-hour shift and was sleeping when she woke up to the scary scene.

“I had laid down and I heard a lot of commotion, and I went to open the door and all I saw was flames,” Fikes said.

In an instant, Fikes said she knew she had no choice but to close the door, run to the patio balcony and jump from the burning building into the bushes below in her bare feet.

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“I just knew I had to get out,” she said. “I just had to get out of there, because I didn’t want to die that way.”

“I just thank God my daughter wasn’t there,” Fikes added, noting that it would have been difficult for the teen to escape because she was on crutches from a previous injury.

But she said she and her daughter Makayla lost everything – and doesn’t have renter’s insurance.

“I just thank God that we have our life. That’s more important than material things,” Fikes said.

Bentley said once fire crews got there, they immediately worked to confirm all 18 units were empty of residents before they started working to contain the flames. It was during those moments when one of the firefighters fell through the floor of one of the units, triggering a “mayday” call. Crews were able to get to the injured firefighter in less than a minute.

“Luckily, he did just have an ankle sprain,” Bentley said. “So, he is OK, and is being transported to the hospital.”

Four other tenants had to be transported to the hospital for minor injuries, like smoke inhalation.

At least 30 people were displaced as a result of the fire, which burned through 19 units. The Red Cross is responding to offer help to those displaced.

The official cause of the fire is still under investigation, though some residents told 11Alive that they believe a generator being used at one of the units was the source of the fire.

DeKalb Fire Department posted pictures from when the building was fully engulfed in flames on their Facebook page.

The pictures show how large and destructive the fire was at it’s peak.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Sat, 12/01/2018 - 19:47

One man is dead and three firefighters hurt after flames destroyed a home in Lackawanna County.

Firefighters say both they and family members tried to get the man out of the home but to no avail.

Flames broke out just before 1 p.m. Saturday at the home on Main Street in Dalton.

The Lackawanna County coroner tells Newswatch 16 a 31-year-old man was killed in the fire.

Dalton’s assistant fire chief says when crews arrived, the house was already full of flames. They believe the fire started near the home’s gas meter. That was followed by an explosion.

The coroner says the victim had medical problems that confined him to a bed. First his family, then firefighters made attempts to get him out of the burning home, but the fire spread too quickly.

Three firefighters were taken to the hospital. There is no word on their conditions.

A state police fire marshal has been called in to investigate the fire.

A spokesperson for the American Red Cross says the organization is helping four people who need food, clothing, and somewhere to stay.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Sat, 12/01/2018 - 18:23

A group of Dallas firefighters who rescued other firefighters during the devastating condo fire earlier this week are now sharing their incredible story of what happened.

Everyone survived the 4-alarm fire in northeast Dallas Tuesday morning. That includes the three firefighters who got trapped when a ceiling collapsed on them.

“We are very fortunate to still have three firefighters with us and not talking about funeral arrangements,” said Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesperson Jason Evans.

The trapped firefighters put out a mayday call and members of a Dallas Fire-Rescue rapid intervention team went in and rescued them.

Members of the team said they had been on the scene for about two minutes and hadn’t even fully walked around the building when they heard the mayday call.

Team members respond to every two-alarm fire in Dallas, but mayday calls from firefighters are very rare.

Capt. Keith Massingill said he’s been on the department for 20 years and this was the first time he performed a mayday rescue. He said his daily training just kicked in.

“As soon as we heard the mayday go out, we activated what we call our rapid intervention team. This is a team of 10 people. They were set up and staged and so as soon as we heard it, myself and Lt. Hooker came back to their location and basically just made sure everyone had heard it, knew we had three firemen missing and basically said, ‘Let’s go,” Capt. Massingill said. “That’s where you fall back on your training. Let’s go. Everybody knows what to do.”

The rapid intervention team climbed a ladder to the second floor. The third floor had collapsed on one side, and the fire was burning directly above them.

“There was fire coming down the top of the hallway so we went below it,” recalled Massingill. “We did take a charged hose line so Jon was able to keep the fire pushed back.”

“You have a lot of heat and smoke where you can’t see anything,” said firefighter Jon Keller. “You put your hand right here and you can’t see it.”

The rescue took less than 10 minutes.

“They were so hot that they were forced to the ground. Face masks were blacked out from the heat, singed,” said firefighter Josh Mihalyi. “They had no orientation to where they were whatsoever.”

“Being in that situation is very hard emotionally. So going through thinking that last couple of minutes your alive is really hard,” Keeler said. “So you have the physical aspect and the mental aspect. They were pretty spent when we were able to get them out.”

Capt. Massingill is a third generation Dallas firefighter.

“I’m super proud. All I can say is everything went right,” he said. “That’s because we train hard and what God wanted to happen that day.”

The firefighters attributed their success to cooperation and an air supply that allowed them to continue breathing after they went into the building.

Although every firefighter is equipped to help, what separates this team from the others is the fact that they have the availability, training and resource to perform these rescues. More and more departments across the country are beginning to establish such teams.

It took about 100 firefighters to put out this fire at the Cambridge Park Condominiums on Audelia Road in Dallas. About 60 families were displaced and the building was destroyed.

DFR is crediting the work of the rapid intervention team for the fact that no one died in what could’ve been much worse.

The dictionary defines a hero as “one who shows great courage.” But the firefighters don’t think the term applies to them.

“I just say I’m doing my job,” Keeler said.

All three firefighters were taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation and minor injuries. They have all three been released are doing well.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety