IAFF News

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May 15-19, 2017 • Silver Spring, Maryland

Redmond Symposium/EMS ConferenceAugust 6-10, 2017 •  Vancouver, British Columbia

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August 21-23, 2017 •  Kingston, Ontario

Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial
September 16, 2017 •  Colorado Springs, Colorado

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September 18-21, 2017 • Lake Ozark, Missouri

International Burn Camp
September 23-30, 2017

IAFF in Action
Washington state just took another step in leveraging pre-hospital providers to be part of the healthcare solution. Following the initial launch of community paramedic programs, the issue of sustainability quickly emerged. A new law passed this week is a step toward creating sustainable funding for community paramedic/ mobile-integrated healthcare (MIH) programs.
Lexington, KY Local 526 says it is asking council to include money in the city’s upcoming budget to pay for another ambulance, as well as 12-15 people to staff it. Union officials say not having the ambulance creates a ripple effect that takes away from the city's fire and EMS protection. More and more, says President of Local 526 Chris Bartley, all of the city’s ambulances are out on calls at the same time.
Oklahoma City, OK Local 157 member Bryon Cass was just a few months out of rookie school when the Oklahoma City bombing happened. In total, 168 people died, hundreds more were injured and Cass was right in the heart of it. He spent weeks sifting through the rubble, at first looking for survivors, but finding mostly victims. After 20 years, Cass is battling skin cancer. He knows he’s not alone. When asked, he thought of 15 to 20 other fire fighters he knew who fought cancer and lost.
Memphis City Council members are closer to giving all city employees raises. Following the hearing on the police department last week, the fire department had its turn Tuesday before City Council. Memphis, TN Local 1784 said it's glad council members are at least listening to some of the concerns fire fighters have about not receiving a raise in several years. “It makes us feel good that we do have an ear of the council,” Local 1784 President Thomas Malone said. “The fact that they think everybody deserves a little something.”
The Fairbanks City Council voted to award Fairbanks, AK Local 1324 its arbitration package, but now the council must figure out how to fund it. Fire fighters and members of the community urged the council to pass the contract.
West Palm Beach, FL Local 727 member Diana Matty joined the fire service fresh out of high school, in October 1994. She was 18. Work hard and someday you’ll be chief, they told her. “I took that to heart. I’ve been a hard worker all of my career,” Matty said. “I’m sure it was no surprise to people that it was something I always wanted to do.”
Former Columbia, MO Local 1055 member Jeff Strawn, now a fire captain, was shocked to learn how often fire fighters were getting diagnosed with cancer. “It became clear to me that this was an epidemic,” Strawn says. “That’s what it is, an epidemic within the fire service.” Fire fighters are have a 14 percent higher risk than the general population of dying from cancer. And more than 60 percent of line-of-duty deaths of fire fighters are attributed to cancer.
Eleven-year veteran of the Dallas Fire Department and member of Dallas, TX Local 58 William An is slowly recovering after being shot in the arm and the leg while responding to a call May 1.
The Tennessee Professional Fire Fighters Association has been working with state legislators on the “Public Safety Employee Behavioral Health Act” bill. The bill aims to help fire fighters and EMS workers dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.
Vermont legislation calling for workers’ compensation coverage for behavioral health conditions resulting from on-the-job stresses – such as post-traumatic stress – awaits Governor Phil Scott’s signature to become law.
The bruising battles over legislative fixes to failing pension systems in Dallas and Houston could eventually evolve into a statewide war over the kind of retirement funds public employees should be offered. State Senator Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, authored Senate Bill 1752, which would allow voters in Texas cities to decide whether to switch new public employees to defined contribution plans. But officials, police officers and fire fighters in both Houston and Dallas say defined contribution plans will only exacerbate current problems.
Fire fighters see trauma every day. Over time, these events weigh heavily and can lead to behavioral health issues, including substance abuse and post-traumatic stress. The Rhode Island State Association of Fire Fighters (RISAFF) has made help for behavioral health issues a top priority, developing a peer support program available statewide.
Ocean City, MD Local 4269 began its campaign last summer to alter the city charter to give the local binding interest arbitration, which would allow its members and the city to call on a third party to settle labor disputes. Required by Maryland law to obtain 20 percent of Ocean City’s registered voters’ signatures to force a referendum, Local 4269’s petition exceeded that mark by 201 voters.
The family, friends and colleagues of FDNY fire fighter William Tolley, who fell to his death at the scene of a fire in Ridgewood on April 20, gathered Thursday to pay their final respects to the 14-year veteran. Thousands of fire fighters – from New York City and Long Island and as far away as Chicago, Detroit and Louisiana – stood at attention, side-by-side in their dress uniforms, as the funeral procession for Tolley made its way up the street.
A five-alarm fire swept through an apartment house being built in Prince George’s County, Maryland, on Monday, causing an estimated $39 million in damage and saturating part of College Park with so much smoke that a nearby apartment with many seniors was evacuated and the University of Maryland closed. The fire brought a historic response for the county and involved more than 200 fire fighters from across the region.
Fire fighters are dealing with new hazards impacting their safety. Hazards fueled by the fast-growing marijuana industry. Some pot producers are constantly rewiring and remodeling homes, putting fire fighters in vulnerable situations. “We end up with maze-like construction [and] some substandard construction,” said Denver, CO Local 858 member Mark Rudolph. Another concern facing fire crews: locked doors at pot production facilities. “That’s one of our constant watch-outs during an inspection – making sure that all the doors that need to open in an emergency can,” said Rudolph.
Uniformed Fire Fighters Association of New York Local 94 member William Tolley died on Thursday after falling from the roof of an apartment building while battling a fire in Queens, officials said.​ Tolley, a 14-year veteran of the department, was part of a group of fire fighters combating a blaze that started in a second-floor apartment in a five-story building in the Ridgewood neighborhood about 2:20 p.m. “His death is a grim reminder of the dangerous work New York City fire fighters do on behalf of our city every single day,” said 1st ​District Vice President James Slevin.
After a years-long battle, Greenburgh, NY Local 1586 member Robert “Bubba Bert” Menstrasti passed away from 9/11-related cancer. His rescue team arrived to Ground Zero within two hours of the first plane hitting the towers. It has been said that Menstrasti was happiest when covered in baseball infield dirt and helping young children and teenagers with muscular dystrophy. “Bert was one of those guys who would’ve driven a 1,000 miles for you. He wasn't just a great fire fighter, he was a great person and we’re definitely going to miss him,” said Fire Chief Howard Reiss.
Although the clock is running out on the legislative session, those fighting for a bill that would provide workers’ comp for PTSD-suffering first responders aren’t deterred. “We’re not going to stop," said Cocoa, FL Local 2416 member Josh Vandegrift, who is heading to Tallahassee this weekend to share his story during Monday’s hearing. “I was stunned, because I can sprain my pinkie on a call and be covered through workmans’ comp. But, seeing my little brother dead in the middle of the street isn’t covered.”
Cincinnati, OH Local 48 is asking for $250,000 in the upcoming city budget to equip all fire fighters with custom-fitted bulletproof vests. The city purchased some at the end of the year, but that only covered 187 fire fighters. Another 660 are needed to cover all fire fighters. The proposal comes after a March incident where a Northside man fired shots at fire fighters who were doing a welfare check at this home. He told police he thought someone was trying to break-in.
The IAFF thanked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale for funding a Public Safety Officer Award to support the families of public safety officers who have fallen in the line of duty. Budget 2017 announced $80 million, starting in 2018-2019, and $20 million thereafter, to support the establishment of this tax-free benefit. It fulfills an election promise and the mandate Prime Minister Trudeau assigned Minister Goodale. General President Harold Schaitberger expressed the IAFF's gratitude at a ceremony on Parliament Hill, flanked by fire fighters and fire trucks.
The Uniformed Professional Fire Fighters Association of Connecticut (UPFFA of CT) held its FIRE OPS 101 at the Hartford Fire Department Training Center Monday morning. State representatives, town councilors and other officials were teamed up with career fire fighters for a hands-on experience. UPFFA of CT described it as a day in the life “understanding a fraction of the physical and mental stress, importance of what we do, as well as the purpose of our actions and requests.” Representative Stephanie Cummings of Waterbury said it was an “incredible experience.”
The IAFF is saddened to report the passing of Jim Fisher. Fisher was one of the co-founders of the Professional Fire Fighters of Utah and paved the way to collective bargaining rights for many Utah members.
Professional Fire Fighters of Maryland (PFFMD) leaders achieved two longstanding legislative priorities on behalf of its membership during the state legislative session, passing bills to modify the pension income tax subtraction and winning collective bargaining rights for Martin State Airport Local 5044 and Charles County Paramedics Local 4658.
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and Fire Commissioner Joseph Finn welcomed the Boston Fire Department’s newest members.​ “I’m proud that today 49 new members will join the Massachusetts fire fighting family, and I’m confident this new class of recruits will carry on the Boston Fire Department tradition of excellence,” Walsh said. “Every one of these recruits is a veteran. We thank your families for supporting you, and we thank you for your service,” Walsh added.
Months after the Ghost Ship blaze rocked Oakland, Alameda is grappling with whether to reinstate its fire safety inspection team.
The Town of Ocean City and Ocean City, MD Local 4269 now have a formal deal. But just because the ink is on the document, it doesn’t mean the union has to like everything in it, which it doesn’t. “The boots on the ground do not feel that the schedule is in the right direction. Nevertheless, we are committed to make this work in the interest of public safety,” Local 4269 President Ryan Whittington said during Monday’s session. “You will hear from me as necessary on the pros and cons, and we will keep you informed of what’s going on in the fire department.”
A proposal to merge Liberty and Girard’s fire departments was dead on arrival after community backlash Wednesday night. Liberty Township, OH Local 2075 President Justin Graham told 21 News earlier that roughly half of his members would probably lose their jobs with a consolidation. Girard, OH Local 1220 President Luke Grunder has expressed concern that having one, central fire station could impact response time by fire and rescue crews.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Allentown fire fighters, finding that Local 302 can negotiate the minimum number of fire fighters on a shift because it has a direct impact on safety. “The testimony and documentary evidence from the arbitration proceedings ... clearly establishes an unambiguous and powerful link between shift staffing and fire fighter health and safety,” Justice Debra McCloskey Todd wrote for the court.
Jacksonville, FL Local 122 has approved a tentative agreement with the city by a vote of 77 percent for and 23 percent against, said Local 122 President Randy Wyse in an email to the city.
Georgia lawmakers passed a bill Thursday to give fire fighters special insurance in case they get cancer from the job. The bill’s main sponsor said it will honor Frank Martinez, an Atlanta fire fighter who died of cancer last year.
The president of Danville, IL Local 429 is calling the mayor’s proposal to cut 16 fire fighters “risky.” “This is a drastic cut to services and a drastic risk for not only our citizenship but for the city’s pocketbook,” Local 429 President Jerry Sparks said Wednesday, a day after Mayor Scott Eisenhauer proposed the layoffs during a budget discussion with city aldermen.
Members of Albany, NY Local 2007 spent time at the Capitol last week pressing for the “Fair Share for Albany” campaign, launched last month by Mayor Kathy Sheehan to push for an increase in annual state aid received by the city.
The province of British Columbia intends to move ahead with an amendment to the Firefighters Occupational Disease Regulation under the Workers Compensation Act. The amendment will add presumptions for breast cancer, prostate cancer and multiple myeloma as occupational diseases for fire fighters.
With overwhelming support from Wyoming state legislators, Senate File 89 – Presumptive Disability for Fire Fighters – is now state law after Governor Matt Mead signed the bill March 3.
Norwich Township, OH Local 1723 member Dan Buelow was in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with his son for a volleyball tournament when his attention shifted to a coach. “I saw he was going down. I didn't think anything except to get over there and help,” says Buelow. Buelow performed CPR on the coach and later it was found he had suffered a massive heart attack.
A Superior Court judge said he will decide soon whether to block the state’s overseers from making cuts to Atlantic City’s Fire Department to save the city money. “If you don’t have enough firemen, people are going to die,” said Michael Bukosky, attorney for Atlantic City, NJ Local 198. “You can’t do (staffing levels) on a guess.”
A little more than a week ago, three Republican Connecticut state representatives presented a bill that would remove retirement benefits from the collective bargaining negotiations for recent and future state and municipal employees. If pensions are removed from collective bargaining, a public worker’s retirement future could instead be left to the whim of politics.
The City of Fall River, Massachusetts’s economy has been slow since the demise of the textile industry. With limited available revenue, local government leaders are always looking for ways to delay or cut spending, often meaning Fall River Local 1314 members would have to wait yet another year for safety equipment updates and other resources. That changed after Local 1314 hosted its first FIRE OPS 101 two years ago.
Pharr, TX Local 4213 member Santos Vallejo has never let any life challenges get in the way of his goals. With perseverance and determination, Vallejo overcame his childhood learning disabilities to not only graduate from high school, but to become a fire fighter and children’s book author.
Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) joined several other elected leaders inside the Buffalo Fire Department’s Engine 36/Ladder 13 house on Hertel Avenue to push for passage of a nationwide program that would give fire fighters the opportunity to report their cancer cases, on a voluntary and anonymous basis.
H.B.157, legislation that establishes PTSD as a disease that – when diagnosed in a fire fighter without previous health issues – can be presumed to have been caused by the fire fighter’s service, passed the New Mexico House of Representatives Monday. “Yes, our fire fighters are heroes, but they are also human,” bill sponsor Representative Debbie Armstrong said.
The city has reached a collective bargaining agreement with Calgary, AB Local 255, marking the first time in two decades a deal has been reached between the two parties without arbitration. The one-year contract between the City of Calgary and Local 255 includes a 2.5 percent wage increase for 2017, according to the city.
Fire fighters concerned with a proposed amendment to the state’s collective bargaining laws sent a busload of Bridgeport, CT Local 834 members to Hartford Tuesday. “We’re watching and we’re paying attention,” said David Dobbs, vice president of Local 834. The proposed bill would “remove retirement benefits as a subject matter for collective bargaining by state and municipal employees,” according a summary of the proposed bill.
A city snowplow caught fire Tuesday morning just feet from a fire station. The station, however, had no means to fight the blaze and had to wait for an engine to arrive from a mile away. Syracuse, NY Local 280 used a photo of the burning truck to chide the mayor for cutting department funding four years ago. “Pretty embarrassing when a DPW truck catches fire next to a fire station, but there's no engine housed there thanks to the mayor's budget cuts,” a post on Local 280’s Facebook page read.
Paulding, Georgia, will welcome its first female fire fighter recruit in 10 years after the physical agility test was updated due to new state requirements. In an interview with WSB-TV Atlanta, Jessica Vanegas said her brother was sick growing up and that fire and EMS “were always there and they were always the calm when all the panic was going on, so [she] wanted to be there for somebody else.”
Fire fighters are relieved to hear the federal and provincial government’s announcement that $75 million is being invested to fight the overdose crisis. Vancouver, BC Local 18 Vice President Dustin Bourdeau says he’s encouraged by the funding announcement to fight the overdose crisis. He says more support is needed for mental health.
The Professional Fire Fighters of Eastern Missouri Local 2665 presented a proposal to the Columbia City Council for the first collective bargaining agreement the local and the city have done. Local 2665 Officer Kurt Becker expressed the need for additional staffing of fire fighters in Columbia and said the city is “way below average.”
House Republicans clashed with public union representatives in Missouri regarding a bill fire fighter and police officers said could put a significant burden on their ability to collectively bargain. The bill would force public sector unions to file their constitution and bylaws with the Department of Labor and institute rules on public union officers and employees to file reports on income received from their unions. Democratic Representative Rory Rowland said placing that standard on unions was “beyond the realm of logic.”
Eight Colorado Springs fire fighters, including five paramedics, have already quit the department this year. This spike is forcing some changes for the department and has raised concerns about whether the department will be able to cover everything. “Over my entire career, I have never seen the number of folks we have seen leave our department to go to other departments,” said Colorado Springs, CO Local 5 President David Knoblitt.
Ohio Association of Professional Fire Fighters Secretary-Treasurer Mark Horton was killed in a head-on collision on Sunday while he was traveling southbound on Route 58 just south of Jones Road in his Dodge Caravan. Cody Wallace, 21, of New London, also was killed in the crash. The Ohio Highway Patrol said Wallace was traveling northbound on Route 58 in a Ford Fusion and veered left of center. The patrol said drug and phone use on the part of Wallace are suspected as factors in the crash, which is under investigation.
The Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts (PFFM) cites studies that found fire fighters are eight times more susceptible to Parkinson’s than the general public. Said PFFM President Rich McKinnon, Jr., “Every time we respond to a fire, fire fighters are exposed to thousands of toxic substances. These chemicals attack the nervous system and are linked to such ailments as Parkinson’s. HD 1670, filed this legislative session, is imperative to protecting our members and their families who suffer from this degenerative disease in the performance of their duties as a fire fighter.”
When the Fullerton City Council called a special meeting at the end of January, two items on the agenda had the potential to significantly impact members of Fullerton, CA Local 3421. But those efforts were quickly squashed when 200 IAFF local leaders at the Affiliate Leadership Training Summit in Anaheim showed up for the meeting.
A bill that would overhaul the pension system for fire fighters and police officers in Nebraska’s two largest cities drew criticism Tuesday from their unions, while conservative groups pitched it as a way to keep the plans solvent. The measure pending before a legislative committee would offer a cash-balance retirement plan to newly hired officers and fire fighters in Omaha and Lincoln, rather than a traditional pension. The bill “is going to have a devastating impact on public safety in Omaha,” said Omaha, NE Local 385 President Steve LeClair.
After watching his good friend and fellow fire fighter die of colon cancer, Chris Conner vowed to help other fire fighters find ways to detect the disease in its early stages. Conner, who is president of Bedford, TX Local 3587, worked with Fire Chief Sean Fay and the City Council, and now Bedford is the first in the country to contract with an Indiana-based company, MorNuCo, which provides the ONCOblot test. The test detects a protein in the blood that is present in malignant cells. The Council voted recently to help pay for the tests, which begin in March at the fire department. Conner said the cost will be shared among the city, Local 3587 and each fire fighter who receives the test.
Florida is one a shrinking list of states that have not adopted what’s widely known as the cancer presumption bill. The bill would allow fire fighters diagnosed with certain cancers to collect workman’s compensation benefits. “Getting time off to get treatment and not worrying about getting a paycheck is very important,” explained President of the Florida Professional Firefighters (FPF) Jim Tolley. Last year, lawmakers torched the bill before it could ignite much debate. This year, the FPF is at it again, pushing a new and revised version that limits eligibility to cancer-stricken fire fighters living tobacco-free for five years prior to diagnosis.
Hattiesburg, MS Local 184 members took shelter in the nick of time before their Fire Station 2 took a direct hit from an EF-3 Tornado in the early morning hours of January 21 that destroyed dozens of homes and killed four people.
One of the first fire fighters on the scene when two planes slammed into the Twin Towers has died. The 124th first responder to die from a 9/11-related disease, FDNY Local 94 member Brian J. Masterson, succumbed to a two-year battle with esophageal cancer on January 22. The 61-year-old father-of-three and avid marathon runner, originally from Longford, Ireland, spent months working at Ground Zero after the attack, the Daily Mail reported.
Negotiations over how to reform Jacksonville’s public employee retirement plans continued Wednesday. The city is now offering a guarantee to help unions accept the fact new hires won’t get a traditional pension. But public employee unions are still arguing for rolling new city employees into the state’s pension plan – the Florida Retirement System. But Jacksonville, FL Local 122 President Randy Wyse does think the city’s newest offer is compelling.
First responders are celebrating new hires included in the 2017 city budget plan unveiled this week by Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. The plan allowed for seven new police officers, 35 fire fighters and six 9-11 dispatchers. Akron, OH Local 330 President Russ Brode said the new hires will boost the staff from about 330 to 360. “We need the numbers. For years, we’ve been doing more with less,” he said. “More manpower will let us do much more.”

A press release by Port Chester, NY Local 1971, states that the New York Department of Labor has ruled that the Port Chester New York Fire Department behaved in a discriminatory and/or retaliatory manner when it eliminated the jobs of all eight of the Village’s full-time career fire fighters in June 2016. The ruling marks a clear victory for the eight fire fighters – all members of Port Chester, NY Local 1971 – who claimed village officials fired them in retaliation for speaking up about safety violations that occurred during a fire response.

The request to eliminate three fire captain positions at a time when the department is expected to grow by nearly a third is not logical, according to the president of Warren, OH Local 204. President John Jerina has been a vocal critic of the administration’s plan to reduce the number captains in the Warren Fire Department from six to three. In addition, the city is looking to change a policy that fire investigators must have captain ranks.
A dispute on labor hours between Ocean City, MD Local 4269 and the town of Ocean City has again failed to reach a concrete resolution, following a meeting with a neutral arbitrator. The dispute is over a proposed change to fire fighter and emergency medical service personnel labor hours. The proposal, made in March 2016, would change the hours from 24-hours on duty followed by 72-hours off duty, to a series of 12-hour shifts.
Flanked by members of the Ohio Association of Professional Fire Fighters (OAPFF), Ohio Governor John Kasich signed the Michael Louis Palumbo Jr. Act (SB 27) into law, giving presumptive protections to fire fighters diagnosed with cancer.
In 2010, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a multi-year study that looked at the causes of death and diagnoses of more than 30,000 fire fighters from 1950 to 2010. The study released its data this year, and found that fire fighters are twice as likely to be diagnosed with cancer than the general population.
Friday, December 31, was Stuttgart (Arkansas) Fire Chief Billy Burns’ last day as commander of the Stuttgart Fire Department. Burns is retiring, effective immediately. When the young chief, 39, began his tenure in September of 2012 he fully believed he would wear the chief helmet for years to come. The major reasoning behind his decision is the current mayor and his practices.
Members of San Luis Obispo City, CA Local 3523 filed a lawsuit in federal court two weeks ago, accusing the city of miscalculating and underpaying two dozen union members their overtime benefits for three years. According to Local 3523 President Matt Polkow, it is not known how much the fire fighters were underpaid. One of the demands stated in the lawsuit is for a “complete and accurate accounting” of how much overtime pay the fire fighters are entitled, Polkow said.
The city of Hartford has reached a four-year agreement with Hartford, CT Local 760, according to the mayor’s office, and it will go to the city council for approval. The new contract is significant because of the savings it will provide. It's estimated by the mayor's administration and Local 760 that savings will first be noticed toward the end of the current fiscal year to the tune of $1.5 million.
First responders experience tragedies on a daily basis. And those events can take a toll. We’ve learned several local fire departments have drastically changed the way they help fire fighters cope with the stress of the job. “Post-traumatic stress is not a new term,” says Cranston, RI Local 1363 member Scott Robinson. “But it’s probably new in the fire service.”
Dallas, TX Local 58 member Tracy Beard, a dedicated and respected fire fighter, proud husband and father, softball coach and fire station mentor, died Saturday, December 10, following a long battle with ALS.
Missouri Route 66 Fire Fighters Association Local 2921 is growing in strength and numbers by joining forces with other fire fighters in neighboring fire departments.
Vancouver, BC Local 18 is being stretched to its limits responding to a record number of emergency calls and is demanding more full-time staff be hired and an additional fire truck. Firehall Number 2 responded to 1,255 calls in November alone. “They are having a really difficult time, practically that amount of calls is really difficult to manage, it doesn’t allow us to do all of the other things we are supposed to do in our daily routine, for example, training,” says Local 18 President Robert Weeks.
Two new Chula Vista City Council members – Mike Diaz and Steve Padilla – took the oath of office Tuesday night. Diaz and Padilla won their November races thanks in part to an endorsement from Chula Vista, CA Local 2180. “Our Chula Vista fire fighters are extremely frustrated,” said Local 2180 President Darrell Roberts, who added that the Chula Vista Fire Department is woefully understaffed.
Fire fighters in Canada’s easternmost province are celebrating a hard-fought victory with the announcement that Newfoundland and Labrador will amend its workers’ compensation rules to specify that 11 types of cancer are presumed occupational when contracted by fire fighters who have worked a pre-determined number of years on the job.
New Orleans voters have endorsed Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s plan to satisfy decades of owed back pay to city fire fighters, many long retired. They approved a new property tax Saturday (December 10) that will generate nearly $9 million annually for the next 12 years to satisfy a $75 million settlement in a long-standing lawsuit between the city and fire fighters.
Media outlets across Ohio are reporting elf sightings, mostly around firehouses and stirring up a bit of holiday trouble. The elf, whose name is Ash – also known as #OAPFFELF – has been spotted astride ladder trucks, learning CPR and playing with stuffed firehouse dogs.
After two decades of hard work, the Ohio Association of Professional Fire Fighters (OAPFF) successfully lobbied for the passage of a fire fighter cancer presumption law. SB 27, which has been renamed the Michael Louis Palumbo Act in honor of a Beachwood Local 2388 member diagnosed with brain cancer, now awaits Governor John Kasich’s signature.
Birmingham, AL Local 117 presented Camp Smile-A-Mile with a check for $8,000 to help with a new facility for kids with cancer. Over the past 13 years, the fire fighter group has raised more than $100,000 for the organization through its annual Billy Self Memorial Golf Tournament. Self was a Birmingham fire fighter when he died from cancer.
After a nearly decade-long battle, Ohio lawmakers approved Wednesday a bill to help fire fighters battling cancer. The legislation, currently known as Senate Bill 27, will be renamed after Mike Palumbo, a Beachwood fire fighter battling brain cancer.
New numbers provided to the city show that the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service has responded to more overdose and poisoning calls this year compared to the previous five, and has administered 651 patients with naloxone. President of Winnipeg, MB Local 867 Alex Forrest has a clear idea of what’s behind the uptick. “I have no doubt in my mind that carfentanil and fentanyl has increased the numbers somewhat,” said President Forrest in a recent interview.
Republican lawmakers are colliding head-on with Michigan’s most powerful public-sector unions after abruptly introducing bills during the lame-duck Michigan legislative session aimed at curbing billions of dollars in unfunded post-retirement health care promised to police officers, fire fighters and other local government workers.
The Professional Fire Fighters of Georgia (PFFG) – still furious over Governor Nathan Deal’s veto earlier this year of cancer legislation related to their work – have vowed an even stronger comeback for the coming legislative session that begins January 9, including a push to override the veto. PFFG President Jim Daws sent a notice Monday calling on colleagues to contact their state lawmakers to back the effort.
Savannah, GA Local 574 member Michael Curry died of an aortic aneurysm on November 19 while he was preparing to rescue people who fell in the Savannah River after a ferry boarding platform collapsed. On November 27, a walking procession of family, friends, colleagues and city officials trailed behind a Savannah fire truck as it carried Brother Curry’s body through the city he served for nearly 13 years.
Local businesses have teamed up with the Ottumwa, IA Local 395 to make Christmas a little better for kids in need. While low income families often have options in Ottumwa to get a little something to eat, toys are often forgotten. Started by Local 395, “​Sparky Claus” the firedog​ and Local 395 member Josh Chance travel all over the community to collect toys for Ottumwa children.
While most of Wilmington residents were sleeping off their turkey Thursday, city fire fighters and their families protested the practice of putting a fire truck out of service to save overtime dollars. Two months ago, Wilmington, DE Local 1590 members Christopher Leach and Jerry Fickes died while fighting a rowhome fire in Canby Park.
Despite studies that show a link between fire fighting and cancer, two members of the Goodyear Fire Department report that the process to get insurance coverage is set up for them to fail. “It feels like [the insurance company is] just trying to prove that I did it to myself,” Goodyear fire fighter Gilbert Aguirre told FOX 10. “Like it’s something I did, or my family did. That’s what’s frustrating.”
In Danville, Illinois, in an effort to cut costs, city officials propose closing a fire station next year and reinstating the position of fire chief. Danville, IL Local 429 President Jerry Sparks said that cutting a fire station for the arbitrary reason of concern for the bottom line is ill-advised. Such a decision “absolutely will put citizens at further risk,” said Sparks, adding that it will mean longer response times and fewer personnel at a scene.
When fire fighters run into a burning building it isn't the flames that are most dangerous, it’s the smoke. “Right now, cancer is the number one killer of fire fighters in America,” said Curtis Dunn with the Firefighter Cancer Support Network. Dunn says fire fighters are two times more likely to develop certain cancers.
Savannah, GA Local 574 member Michael Curry died Saturday evening while helping to rescue people after an overturned ferry ramp on River Street sent more than 50 people overboard into the Savannah River. Curry, a 13-year-veteran with the fire department, was helping to transport people stranded on the floating ramp to safety when he collapsed, said Savannah Fire Chief Charles Middleton. He was taken to Memorial University Medical Center where he died from an unrelated medical condition. “The department is in mourning,” Middleton said. “Michael died doing what he loved. He was helping people. We lost a member of our family.”
Dozens of Georgia IAFF members granted a dying wish to one of their own by escorting Frank Martinez, a member of Atlanta Local 134, from a hospital to his home in Forsythe, Georgia, where he is now receiving hospice care. Martinez, 45, has been battling stage 4 colon cancer for several years and is not expected to live much longer. Members from several Atlanta-area locals joined in the solemn procession on November 16 along highways from the Cancer Treatment Centers of America Regional Medical Center in Newnan, Georgia, back to Forsythe.
Mustaches for “Movember” is a national movement to bring awareness to men’s health. For some, it’s more than just sporting facial hair – it’s about bringing awareness to occupational cancer. For Sacramento Metro fire fighters, Movember is helping to break the ice about cancer among their own. According to a new study, 68 percent of all fire fighters fall victim to cancer.
Fire fighters, including some IAFF members, have been dispatched from across North Carolina to help contain wildfires in the western part of the state.
Thousands of motorists daily are seeing this message posted on a billboard along the 215 Freeway in Perris, California: “A pickup truck is not a fire engine.” Sponsored by CAL FIRE Local 2881, the message responds to the Riverside County’s interest in possibly deploying pickup-sized firetrucks, known as Quick Response Vehicles, staffed by two fire fighters. “We’re worried about staffing and then implementing the QRVs throughout the county,” said Local 2881 Vice President Darren Hoopingarner. “A three-person engine and a QRV are night and day in terms of our safety and public safety. There’s no comparison.”
Connecticut Police and Fire Union Local S-15 has been honored with the Connecticut Burns Care Foundation Benefactor of the Year award for its ongoing support of the Arthur C. Luf Children’s Burn Camp , a camp available to children between the ages of eight and 18 who are burn survivors.
Arcadia, CA Local 3440 fire fighters keep tools and equipment for any situation on their engines, and this November will be making room to store “Hope Packages,” backpacks filled with blankets, toiletries, socks and water bottles for the homeless.
The Disney-controlled Reedy Creek Improvement District has rejected a special magistrate’s ruling that sided with Reedy Creek, FL Local 2117 over contract negotiations. Reedy Creek issued a 16-page letter rejecting the magistrate’s decision to the Public Employees Relations Commission. “Their rejection is offensive not only to us and the process, but also the magistrate,” said President of Local 2117 Tim Stromsnes in a press release.
A Fort McMurray, AB Local 2494 member who inspired many Albertans in the past few years has lost his battle with cancer. Bo Cooper was 20 when he was first diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. There was hope in April, when Cooper’s family posted on a Facebook page that nearly 7,000 people follow that his cancer was in remission following that treatment. But late in the summer, Cooper was no longer in remission, and four weeks ago, he began to battle an infection.
The Florida Professional Firefighters withdrew their endorsement of Amendment 1, also known as the Florida Solar Energy Subsidies and Personal Solar Use amendment. A press release from the union said, “It is clear to the elected Executive Board of this organization that our membership would prefer to pursue any future fire fighter safety regulations related to the still developing alternative energy industry through legislative or rulemaking action, as opposed to a constitutional amendment that many believe to be misleading.”
The St. Louis Fire Department gave a demonstration about how fast flames and smoke can get out of control, all while reminding everyone to change the batteries in their smoke detectors while turning their clocks back. Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson said products in the home are usually man-made and the materials can catch fire quickly. He said it’s vital to make sure you change your battery in your smoke detector.
Wilmington, DE Local 1590 member Brad Speakman, who was critically injured in a fire that killed two colleagues, was released from the hospital Thursday. Speakman was released from Crozer Chester Medical Center in Chester, Pennsylvania, to a throng of adoring police officers, fire fighters, supporters and reporters.
After a months-long negotiation process, Las Vegas, NV Local 1285 finally has a new contract that includes cost-of-living wage increases.The Las Vegas City Council unanimously approved a three-year contract between the city and Local 1285. “It was a lot of work, but I think we did come together on a mutually agreeable package,” said Vice President of Local 1285 Todd Ingalsbee.
A New Orleans judge has sided with the city over one point of a deal hashed last year over fire fighters’ pay and pensions, approving a less generous interpretation of how quickly fire fighters will accrue retirement benefits.
Roanoke County, VA Local 3194 is hoping to raise awareness and reverse a startling trend. “We’ve been seeing an increase in cancer rates in our fire fighters. The research has shown that it’s comprised of combustion and diesel exhaust,” said Local 3194 Vice President Greg Sazono.​ Taking preventative measures like washing boots, jackets and pants is one way to lessen the risk of getting cancer.
The once-expired $1.67 million Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant has been accepted by the city of Jackson. Starting in February, the city will hire nine fire fighters for two years with the federal grant. Though the final extension on the grant expired October 23, the Federal Emergency Management Agency helped the city get around the issue.
Hawaii Local 1463 is calling for Fire Chief Manuel Neves to step down following recent safety concerns. The call comes as new video of a helicopter rescue at Diamond Head that left a fire fighter injured clearly shows a rescue basket hitting a utility pole seconds before the fire fighter fell from it. This accident came just three months after another fire fighter, Cliff Rigsbee, died in a rough water training accident off Waikiki.
Alycia Foti, daughter of Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA) of New York Local 94 member Robert Foti (Ladder 7), is well on her way to becoming a doctor, thanks in part to the IAFF W.H. "Howie" McClennan Scholarship.
Conroe City officials got a taste of smoke Friday as they spent a day in the life of a fire fighter. For the second time in the last few years, Conroe, TX Local 2731 hosted Fire Ops 101 – a day where Conroe council members, city staff and Texas legislator’s offices got a glimpse of what it’s like to fight fire for a living.
A routine call for a Phoenix, AZ Local 493 member turned into something very personal. Derek Dee was heading to a not breathing call last month when he realized the address was his parents’ house. He got there and saw his 71-year-old father, unconscious and on the floor. Dee’s dad had suffered a stroke, but due to Dee’s quick thinking, along with neighbors who helped perform CPR, his dad is alive today.
Reedy Creek, FL Local 2117 declared a victory this week as a special magistrate sided with it on several contract issues. Local 2117 has had no contract for almost two years because it has not been able to reach agreement with the Disney-controlled Reedy Creek Improvement District. Magistrate James Stokes’ decision noted the history of bargaining between the union and the district “appears to be a long and turbulent one.”
Jeff Holt – a member of Newport News, VA Local I-45 – was diagnosed as a child with primary sclerosing cholangitis, a liver disease that ultimately results in the need for a transplant at some time. That time is now. Local I-45 has organized a golf tournament on November 6 to raise funds for Holt and his family, and is reaching out to local businesses and the community to continue to lend a hand.
The veteran fire fighter who committed suicide Saturday aggressively fought post-traumatic stress disorder for years, his father said. Before his death, Indian River County, FL Local 2201 Battalion Chief David Dangerfield, 48, made a Facebook post about the perils of PTSD for fire fighters and advised family and friends of fire fighters to assist their loved ones with getting help.
Mechanical issues with the Petersburg Fire Department’s aging fleet has caused leaders to use outdated, 40-year old engines and even borrow a truck from a neighboring jurisdiction, according to the Petersburg, VA Local 2773.
Colorado Springs, CO Local 5 is speaking out critically over proposed pay raises in next year’s budget. All City employees had their pay frozen in 2016 and Mayor John Suthers is calling for a two percent across the board increase in 2017. Local 5 issued a news release Monday calling attention to the compensation plan the City developed with help from consultants and an appointed committee three years ago.
As solar energy expands across Florida, fire fighters say uniform rules on the installation and maintenance of solar panels are necessary to keep first responders safe in case of emergencies at places producing solar energy. That’s why the Florida Professional Firefighters are the latest group supporting the constitutional amendment to promote solar energy production throughout the Sunshine State.
Some say Houston fire fighters now need the extra protection of bullet proof vests due to an uptick in active shooter threats. Last week’s shooting spree near West U triggered the idea to equip fire department personnel with the extra layer of protection. “We’re the first ones on the scene usually, so we really need to be equipped with the equipment that makes us safe,” said Houston, TX Local 341 member Alvin White.
Attempts by the town and Palm Beach County, FL Local 2928 to reach an agreement on benefits have once again hit a standstill. Town officials and representatives of Local 2928 met Monday morning to resume labor negotiations. Four topics in particular have been in dispute: promotions, vacations, pensions and unpaid days off known as Kelly Days. “Look at the turnover numbers,” said Local 2928 member Damon Patrick. “We’ve lost roughly 70 people since May 2012. We have too much turnover, and we have an experience problem in the department. It’s because we’re not competitive.”
Forty-four burn survivors from the United States and Canada gathered for a stay sponsored by the IAFF Charitable Foundation, which paired a fire fighter as a mentor to each of the teens at Camp Wabanna in Edgewater, about 35 miles east of Washington near the Chesapeake Bay. The campers each brought a counselor from their local burn camp.
An FDNY fire battalion chief killed by debris from a house explosion last week was remembered Saturday as a hero and a dedicated family man at his funeral service attended by thousands of fire fighters, elected officials, friends and family. Michael Fahy’s wife and two of their three young children spoke tenderly about him at the Roman Catholic Mass at the Annunciation Church in Yonkers.
Hundreds gathered outside, waiting in wind and scattered rain for the opportunity to pay their respects to Senior Fire Fighter Jerry Fickes. The public viewing was the first of a two-day service honoring the Wilmington fire fighter, one of two who lost their lives in a Saturday blaze.
Some evacuations were lifted as cooler weather gave fire fighters a boost in their struggle with a wildfire burning through dry brush in a remote area of California’s Santa Cruz Mountains. The fire, which has burned more than 4,100 acres, or about 6 1/2 square miles, was still threatening more than 300 structures Thursday.
New York City’s fire commissioner says a blast that took the life of a battalion chief also injured nine other fire fighters and six police officers. Commissioner Daniel Nigro says two civilians and three Con Ed workers also suffered minor injuries in the Bronx house explosion. The explosion Tuesday morning killed Local 854 member Michael Fahy, a 17-year veteran and the son of a fire chief.
An FDNY battalion chief was killed and several others – including seven police officers — were injured when a drug lab inside a Bronx house exploded early Tuesday, officials and sources said. Fire fighters responded to the house after someone in the neighborhood reported what they thought was a gas leak around 6:20 a.m. But when fire fighters entered the house, they found what appeared to be a homemade drug laboratory and immediately requested police. The explosion occurred around 7:30 a.m. as police and fire fighters were walking in and out of the home after evacuating it.
The turmoil that erupted in Charlotte, North Carolina, after a fatal confrontation between a police officer and a citizen on September 20 is subsiding. Charlotte Local 660 members report that several objects were thrown at their fire apparatus at the unrest’s peak, but no fire fighters were injured.
Anne Arundel County Professional Fire Fighters Local 1563 partnered with Best Buddies of Maryland to host five area students with intellectual/development disabilities in a “Fire Fighter for a Day” event at the training academy. Local 1563 members taught students about how they put out fires, rescue people and treat medical emergencies.
Fire chiefs from the United States, Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom participated in the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Urban Fire Forum (UFF) last week at NFPA headquarters in Quincy, Massachusetts. NFPA President and CEO Jim Pauley welcomed the chiefs and provided an overview of the association’s strategic plans, reinforcing the critical role urban fire service leaders play in reaching those goals and initiatives.
A Wilmington, DE Local 1590 member who was injured in a deadly blaze Saturday was upgraded from critical to stable condition Sunday at Crozer-Chester Medical Center's burn unit. But his colleague, also from Local 1590, continues to fight for her life. Brad Speakman was upgraded to stable condition Sunday, according to a Crozer-Chester spokeswoman, but fire fighter Ardythe Hope remains in critical condition.
According to the IAFF, 20 percent of fire fighters are dealing with PTSD, the same level as combat veterans and twice the rate of the general public. “We need to, as an industry and society, recognize the sacrifices and toll that takes on those people and make sure we get them the resources they need to address pretty significant issues that are associated with stress,” said Kurt Becker, District Vice President of the Professional Fire Fighters of Eastern Missouri Local 2665.
Voorhees Township Committee is taking steps to investigate claims of mismanagement made by the union representing the township’s fire fighters and EMTs against the fire district’s Board of Fire Commissioners. According to Mayor Michael Mignogna, the decision comes as International Association of Fire Fighters Local 3249 and other residents have been raising concerns against the Board of Fire Commissioners and Deputy Fire Chief Michael Wharton, who serves as the highest ranking officer in the district.
Two Wilmington fire fighters were killed and two more critically injured when the first floor of a burning row home collapsed early Saturday morning.
After years of financial trouble for Central Coventry Fire District, RI Local 3372, voters have passed a balanced budget and the district’s board of directors says it has cleared most of the millions of dollars the district had accumulated in debt. It was announced that the pension fund was now almost funded to 80 percent, meaning fire fighters could benefit from cost-of-living adjustments in the near future. Local 3372 President Ron Preston said he was “extremely happy” voters had passed a budget, adding, “I think it’s a positive step in the right direction to healing this district.”
Another wildfire, likely sparked by a downed powerline, broke out and forced the evacuation of buildings on a large central California military base where another blaze has been burning all week, officials said. The new fire broke out at 2 p.m. Wednesday on the north side of the coastal, mostly undeveloped Vandenberg Air Force Base is unrelated to the older, larger fire that’s on the south side, base officials said.
Ventura County, CA Local 1364 member Ryan Osler was killed and another fire fighter was injured early Wednesday in a rollover crash near Lompoc as the pair were hauling water to the Canyon fire at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The fire fighters were assigned to a water tender by the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services and were headed to the 12,353-acre wildfire when the rollover crash occurred, said Local 1364 member Mike Lindbery, spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department.
Meridian, MS Local 52 sent a letter to Mayor Percy Bland Wednesday morning detailing a “Vote of No Confidence” in Fire Chief Anthony Clayton and Deputy Chief Ricky Leister. Eighty percent of the Meridian Fire Department participated in the vote over the last week and, of those who voted, 99 percent voted no confidence in Clayton and Leister.
The Broken Arrow Fire Department is getting closer to its goal of hiring 20 new fire fighters. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded the fire department a $1.49 million SAFER grant to hire 11 new fire fighters, according to a press release from the city.
Fire fighters stationed just two doors down from the Pulse Night Club say it took a while to realize the scope of what was happening that morning, but they rose to the occasion to save lives. “I've been to hundreds of shootings over my 35 years but never to this extent,” said Lt. Davis Odell.
The Professional Fire Fighters of Alabama (PFFA) is fully engaged in an effort to educate the public about the dangers of PEW Charitable Trust-influenced pension reform to eliminate the current defined benefit retirement plan and move to a cash balance plan.
Stephen Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA) Local 94, has been appointed by New York City Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro as executive director of the New York City Fire Pension Fund – a new position established by the approval of “corpus” funding by the state legislature. Corpus funding authorizes the Fire Pension Fund, currently part of the FDNY, to be spun off as a separate entity from the fire department.