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National Fire News

South Dakota firefighter dies while responding to wildfire

A firefighter responding to the High Plains fire south of Jewel Cave on Wednesday died of an apparent heart attack. Custer County Sheriff Marty Mechaley reported that Dwayne Hudson of the Argyle Fire Department was a passenger in a fire response vehicle and suffered a medical emergency while en route.
- PUB DATE: 4/19/2019 12:00:00 AM - SOURCE: Custer County Chronicle

House committee tables 'tough love' bill requiring workers’ comp for Montana volunteer firefighters

The state House Judiciary committee tabled Wednesday a bill opening a three-year window for workers’ compensation benefits to be provided for all Montana volunteer firefighters. Senate Bill 29 cleared the Senate Jan. 29 but was not referred to a House committee until last week. The bill calls for all volunteer fire departments in Montana to provide workers’ compensation coverage by October 2022.
- PUB DATE: 4/19/2019 12:00:00 AM - SOURCE: Independent Record

Cancer-Causing Chemical Taints Drinking Water After California's Camp Fire

The drinking water in Paradise, California, where 85 people died last year in the nation’s worst wildfire in a century, is contaminated with the cancer-causing chemical benzene, officials said. Officials said they believe the contamination happened after the November firestorm created a toxic combination of gases in burning homes that got sucked into the water pipes as residents and firefighters drew water heavily, the Sacramento Bee newspaper reported Thursday.
- PUB DATE: 4/19/2019 12:00:00 AM - SOURCE: KTLA-TV WB 5 Los Angeles

Families of two Texas firefighters file lawsuit against makers of safety device

VIDEO: The families of two San Antonio firefighters have filed a lawsuit against the manufacturers of a device that might have saved one of the men and prevented injuries to another, according to a law firm. The lawsuit also names the owner of Spartan Box Gym for allegedly setting the fatal fire at his business.
- PUB DATE: 4/19/2019 12:00:00 AM - SOURCE: KSAT-TV 12 News

Florida firefighters with cancer tell emotional stories as benefits bill passes unanimously

After four years in legislative purgatory, a bill that would grant firefighters cancer coverage — in a stunning reversal brought about by sustained public pressure and allegations of political vendettas — is being fast-tracked to clear the Legislature this year. The bill cleared a key hurdle Thursday morning when the House State Affairs committee agreed unanimously to advance the proposal, after more than an hour of discussion marked by teary testimony and lawmakers’ vocal support.
- PUB DATE: 4/19/2019 12:00:00 AM - SOURCE: Miami Herald - Metered Site

Florida senate panel advances death benefits measure

A Senate panel Tuesday approved a proposal that would set death benefits that would be paid if law-enforcement officers, firefighters, other first responders and military members are killed while on duty. The proposal (SB 7098), sponsored by Sen. Ed Hooper, R-Clearwater, would carry out a constitutional amendment, known as Amendment 7, passed by voters in November.
- PUB DATE: 4/18/2019 12:00:00 AM - SOURCE: WINK News

Smokey Bear gets a new voice for his 75th birthday

VIDEO: Smokey Bear — a pop culture icon better known by some baby boomers as Smokey the Bear — is going digital in a big way for his 75th birthday in an effort to reach younger Americans with messages that go beyond "only you can prevent forest fires." Now, in addition to being a burly, shirtless upright bear in a ranger hat, Smokey is an animated emoji that celebrities — including Stephen Colbert, Jeff Foxworthy and Al Roker — are speaking through.
- PUB DATE: 4/18/2019 12:00:00 AM - SOURCE: Detroit Free Press

New Mexico county, village talk fire station consolidation

Eddy County Fire Services could take over management and operations of the Loving Volunteer Fire Department. The process could take up to two years, according to Eddy County Fire Services coordinator Joshua Mack. "They have to clear up all their financials. We have to go through the State Fire Marshal's office.
- PUB DATE: 4/18/2019 12:00:00 AM - SOURCE: Carlsbad Current Argus Newspaper

Judge denies Detroit fire union's request to halt blood and bodily fluid cleanup

A judge on Wednesday turned down a request from the city's fire union to halt a policy that directs firefighters to clean up blood and bodily fluids at accident and medical scenes. The Detroit Fire Fighter Association filed suit last month asking for an injunction until an unfair labor practices complaint over the newly inked rules could be resolved.
- PUB DATE: 4/18/2019 12:00:00 AM - SOURCE: The Detroit News

Florida House will hear firefighters’ cancer bill after public pressure, payback allegations

The Florida House will reverse course and now hear a bill that would give firefighters cancer coverage, its leader said Tuesday, caving to days of public pressure and recent allegations that the bill had been deliberately held as payback after an ally’s contentious midterm election last year. House Speaker José Oliva, who had previously said he objected to hearing the bill, said in a statement that the “environment has become too toxic to debate the true original disagreement.
- PUB DATE: 4/17/2019 12:00:00 AM - SOURCE: Miami Herald

Promotion rule changes for New Orleans firefighters, police draw critics

City officials pitched a plan Monday (April 15) to change how promotions are doled out for New Orleans police and firefighters, placing less emphasis on formal test scores while creating a new selection group whose members are chosen by the city’s chief administrative office. Critics, particularly among local union representatives, were quick to frame the proposed rule changes as a gateway for possible abuse, potentially allowing department heads to cherry-pick candidates rather than basing promotions on merit alone.
- PUB DATE: 4/17/2019 12:00:00 AM - SOURCE: NOLA.com

Houston mayor to give fire union finance info as council set to consider 220 Prop B-related layoffs

Mayor Sylvester Turner told the Houston fire union Monday he would provide it with financial data that leaders requested, a sign of progress at a critical point in negotiations between the mayor and union to phase in Proposition B raises for firefighters. Officials from the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association have asked Turner to open the city’s books, allowing firefighters to verify that the mayor’s offer to phase in the pay raises over multiple years honors the terms of the charter amendment, which requires the city to pay firefighters the same as police of corresponding rank and seniority.
- PUB DATE: 4/17/2019 12:00:00 AM - SOURCE: Houston Chronicle

Maine fire departments find ways to adjust amidst shortage of volunteer firefighters

A number of factors have played a role in fire departments being unable to recruit as many volunteer firefighters as in past years, according to two local fire chiefs. Caribou Fire Chief Scott Susi noted that throughout the last decade, he has seen a steady decrease in the number of volunteers that his department is able to recruit and retain for long periods of time.
- PUB DATE: 4/17/2019 12:00:00 AM - SOURCE: The County

911 Emergency Dispatchers: The calm voice in the dark

Most people have heard about the “thin red line” and the “thin blue line,” but what about the thinest gold line in the middle? That thin gold line represents those who aren’t ever seen, but are mostly heard. That thin gold line stands for dispatchers, who act as “the golden glue that holds it all together” when it comes to receiving emergency calls and sending out first responders.
- PUB DATE: 4/17/2019 12:00:00 AM - SOURCE: The Duncan Banner

New Jersey firefighters taking heat for snapping selfies while historic building burns to the ground behind them

Many onlookers pulled out their phones and snapped pictures as flames roared through the roof of the North End Pavilion on the Ocean Grove boardwalk Saturday. But some were firefighters, and they posed for selfies or group photos - some as flames continued to shoot from the historic building that was recently refurbished after surviving Superstorm Sandy.
- PUB DATE: 4/16/2019 12:00:00 AM - SOURCE: NJ.com

California cops, firefighters with PTSD seek workers’ comp coverage for mental health trauma

Recently diagnosed with post-traumatic stress, Sacramento firefighter Joshua Katz isn’t ready to give up on what he calls a ‘dream job.’ He still loves his “fire family,” exciting workdays and having a job that lets him help others. He’d rather take time off to treat his post-traumatic stress with financial support from workers’ compensation than allow his injury to cause an early end to his career.
- PUB DATE: 4/16/2019 12:00:00 AM - SOURCE: The Sacramento Bee

Maine firefighters say town is ‘playing with fire’ with ‘severely understaffed’ fire department

Almost eight years to the day after a three-alarm fire destroyed a landmark building on Brunswick’s Maine Street, firefighters for the town say the department is dangerously understaffed and has been for years. As negotiations about the 2019-2020 town budget begin in earnest, Fire Chief Ken Brillant has proposed increasing his staff by one firefighter per shift — a total of four crew members, which would ensure eight firefighters on duty at all times for the town of approximately 20,000 people — as well as an enforcement inspector to oversee, among other responsibilities, multi-unit inspections.
- PUB DATE: 4/16/2019 12:00:00 AM - SOURCE: Bangor Daily News - Metered Site

Study shows female firefighters’ health needs often unaddressed

Women firefighters, particularly in North America, are less likely to have access to female-specific personal protective equipment and appropriate strength training and conditioning support, according to a new study. In addition, women reported numerous counts of sexism on the job, and others talked about logistical issues such as sanitary conditions and toilet facilities, especially when tackling fires for several hours, researchers wrote in Women’s Health Issues.
- PUB DATE: 4/16/2019 12:00:00 AM - SOURCE: New York Post

Illinois city sues downtown apartment complex over alleged fire code violations

A downtown Belleville apartment complex should be shut down because the owner has not installed a state-mandated fire alarm system and a fire in the complex would have a “catastrophic impact and high loss of life,” according to fire department inspection reports. The reports, which allege multiple code violations, are attached to the city’s lawsuit filed against the owner of the Brede Towers Apartments at 104 N.
- PUB DATE: 4/16/2019 12:00:00 AM - SOURCE: Belleville News-Democrat