Wednesday, August 29

Jobs Available!!!

Fire Inspector- Extra Help $33.25 - $40.41 hourly Santa Rosa, CA This recruitment is being conducted to fill FOUR EXTRA-HELP vacancies in the Emergency/Fire Services Department. This list may also be used to fill future extra-help vacancies as they occur during the active status of this employment list.

The Iowa Department of Public Safety is currently accepting applications for Fire Inspectors-State Fire Marshal Division: The Department expects to begin its next training academy in late May 2008. The application deadline is November 1, 2007. Minimum qualification and application procedures are located HERE.

Deputy Chief - Fire Inspection Program Jefferson City Missouri SALARY RANGE: $44,340.00 - $52,000.00 Final filing date AUG 31. Click here for more info.

Division Chief / Fire Marshal Marina, California $6717 - $8164 Deadline: 09/20/2007

Firefighter-Paramedic Capital City Fire/Rescue, Juneau, Alaska - Closes 09/18/07 Firefighter-EMT I,II,III - Closes 09/18/07 Deadline: 09/18/2007

Firefighter- Garland Texas 18 & Breathing (oh yes....HS grad or GED) Each newly appointed Firefighter will receive a starting annual salary of $42,876 and $47,271 after one year.For more info click HERE! Deadline for filing Sept 14, 2007.

Fire Inspector II, City of Chula Vista, CA Closes Aug 31. Min Quals: Any combination of experience and training that would likely provide the required knowledge and abilities is qualifying. A typical way to obtain the knowledge and abilities would be two years of responsible experience in a variety of fire prevention work and training equivalent to the completion of the twelfth grade supplemented by successful completion of college level courses in Fire Prevention, Fire Science, Fire Protection, Engineering, Plan Checking, Building Construction or a related field. License or Certificate: Possession of a valid California driver's license. P.C. 832 and California State Fire Marshal's courses in Fire Prevention 2A, and 2B and Fire Investigation 1A and 1B and Fire Inspector II exam within one year of appointment. For more info click here!

Wildfires rage on across Greece

BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Wildfires rage on across Greece
Firefighting teams from across Europe are continuing to battle forest fires raging across southern Greece, which have claimed at least 63 lives.

Some 27 villages have been entirely abandoned and many parts of the Peloponnese peninsula are still ablaze.

The Greek opposition has attacked the government's response to the crisis, calling it "totally incompetent".

Rescuers have evacuated villages in the Peloponnese as the fires threatened to engulf them, but there have been no fatalities since Monday, reports say.

"The fires are still out of control. At the moment there is no threat to the villages, but the direction of the wind is impossible to predict," a fire service spokesman told the AFP news agency.

On Monday, terrified residents in Frixa in the western Peloponnese were airlifted to safety by helicopters after being cut off by fire and thick black smoke.

Isolated villages have been cut off in the region, sparking fears that the death toll could rise further.

The government declared a state of emergency over the weekend as new fires, fanned by hot, gusting winds, continued to break out around Greece.

From heaven to hell

The village of Artamitha in the Peloponnese has become known as the "crematorium", says the BBC's Malcolm Brabant who is in the village near the town of Olympia.

Burnt-out wrecks of cars are testament to local people's bid to escape the flames "in a convoy of death".

Just across the road is a fire engine lying on its side, in which three firemen were killed.

The ground is charred and the surrounding countryside looks as though a bomb has been dropped on the area, our correspondent adds. No birdsong can be heard.

"I've been coming here for the last 15 years on holiday with my children. It was a paradise here and now it is hell," one woman who escaped the blaze told the BBC.

"The fire travelled faster than us when we tried to escape. In 10 minutes, the fires were all over the village."

In one car, a woman and her four children were burnt alive as they tried to flee the blaze. If she had stayed at home, she would have survived as her house was untouched by fire.

Monday, August 27

Histeria: Wheel of History

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Nostradamus spins the Wheel of History and explores events such as the Great Chicago Fire as well as fulcrums, pulleys and screws...oh my!21:21

New York Fire Officers Reassigned After Fatal Blaze Worldwide
According to the Mayor "Inspections are not up for debate."
Three New York City Fire Department officers were stripped of their commands for failing to inspect and plan for a possible fire in the former Deutsche Bank building where an Aug. 18 blaze killed two firefighters, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

Deputy Chief Richard Fuerch, Battalion Chief John McDonald and Captain Peter Bosco of Engine Company 10, the firehouse closest to the building near the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan, were transferred to headquarters, Bloomberg said at a City Hall press conference.

Investigators are trying to determine why Bosco's firehouse failed to inspect the building's water standpipe, which had been broken, every 15 days as law required. The probe will also explore why Fuerch failed to prepare a pre-fire plan for the building under demolition, Scoppetta said.

``These apparent failures in oversight, judgment and responsibility may require disciplinary action,'' Bloomberg said. The mayor said officials are cooperating with separate criminal probes by Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau and New York state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

The officers' reassignments will be temporary until the investigations into the fire are complete, the mayor said.

The fire started because demolition workers tossed lit cigarette butts on to the building's 17th floor, said Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta, who joined Bloomberg at the news conference. The city Fire Marshall ruled out electrical equipment or connections, he said.

``Cigarette smoking was rampant in the building and it was prohibited,'' said department spokesman Francis Gribbon.

Fire Investigation

The mayor said the investigation would seek to answer why the standpipe became inoperable, which left the burning building with no internal water supply, and why it hadn't been inspected, violating city regulations and the contract between the owner of the building, the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., and the demolition contractor, Bovis Lend Lease Co.

``The broken standpipe made it very difficult for firefighters to put water on the fire until they improvised and hoisted hose lines from the street, costing them valuable time,'' Bloomberg said.

Compounding the problem was the presence of plywood and polyurethane placed throughout the gutted building to contain asbestos and other toxic contaminants during the demolition process.

``High-rise fires almost always burn up, not down as this one did,'' the mayor said. ``We suspect that the effects of the negative air pressure system put in place as part of the containment operation pulled the fire down several floors quickly, putting the base of operations on the 14th floor at great risk.''

Failed to Act

Bloomberg said Bosco, captain of Engine Company 10, was reassigned because as commander of the firehouse closest to 130 Liberty Street, he should have ensured inspections of the standpipe were made every 15 days. McDonald, commander of Battalion 1, supervised Bosco.

Scoppetta said Fuerch, a division commander with more than 30 years experience in the department, had failed to act after Battalion Chief William Siegel in 2005 sent him several memoranda requesting that he draft a plan should a fire break out.

`Two Crimes'

John McDonnell, president of the Uniform Fire Officers Association, which represents the three officers, said the building was too hazardous to inspect every 15 days, requiring any firefighters to don protective suits and masks and go through time-consuming decontamination procedures.

``The real problem is that two crimes were committed in that building: someone who removed the standpipe so that water was unavailable, and the people who were smoking in that building,'' McDonald said in an interview. ``Both were criminal and neither fell under the fire department's purview.''

Pre-fire plans should be drafted whenever a demolition or construction site presents unique problems, Bloomberg said. This building, located near the World Trade Center and next door to Engine Company 10, ``where decontamination and demolition require equipment, that makes it a more dangerous situation,'' Bloomberg said.

Black Shroud

The building at 130 Liberty Street, shrouded in black mesh and filled with polyurethane and plywood to contain asbestos and other contaminants, has been vacant since Sept. 11, 2001, when the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed near it.

The fire killed Robert Beddia, 53, of Staten Island, and Joseph Graffagnino, 33, of Brooklyn. The two worked out of the same firehouse, Engine 24-Ladder 5, that lost 11 firefighters on Sept. 11.

The mayor said the Fire Department's deputy chiefs would inspect all buildings that are under construction or being demolished to make sure of adherence to regulations ``regarding fire protection and public safety,'' the statement said.

``Structurally, we need to also put in place mechanisms to ensure that necessary fire inspections of buildings in our city take place as required,'' Bloomberg said. ``Inspections are not up for debate.''

Saturday, August 25

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871--National Geographic Kids Magazine

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871--National Geographic Kids Magazine
The story of a young girl's escape from the blaze. Also from this site links to NFPA and the basic info on the Chicago fire:
Chicago in 1871 was already a big city, bustling with more than 334,000 residents. Its streets, sidewalks, and most of its buildings were made of wood. Hay and straw were inside every barn. To make the situation worse, people used candles and oil lamps.

Fires had been common that year because of the dry weather. The Chicago Fire Department was overworked and underequipped. On Saturday, October 7, firefighters began putting out a fire that wiped out four city blocks. It took them 16 hours. By Sunday evening the men were exhausted. Then around 8:45 p.m., a fire began in the barn of Patrick and Catherine O’Leary.


Human error then made a bad situation worse. One firefighter later said, “From the beginning of that fatal fire, everything went wrong!” A watchman atop the courthouse saw smoke rising from the O’Leary barn, but he assumed it was coming from the previous fire. When he finally realized a new fire was blazing, he misjudged its location. His assistant sent a message to the fire stations, but he mistakenly directed horse-drawn fire wagons to a location about a mile from the burning barn. When the fire department finally reached the barn, its equipment was no match for the blaze. The new fire raged on.

More links:
Web of Memory
Did the Cow do it?
Chicago Public Library

NASA drone aids crews fighting Zaca fire

NASA drone aids crews fighting Zaca fire - Los Angeles Times The unmanned aircraft was used to map the front of the stubborn blaze, which has burned 235,000 acres in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
Firefighters battling the stubborn Zaca fire got an assist last week from a high-flying unmanned aircraft, NASA and Ventura County officials said Friday.

NASA's Ikhana, a Predator B drone adapted for civil missions, flew over the wide-ranging fire zone once in the morning and again in the afternoon of Aug. 16 to map where the flames were heading.

The fire, which has consumed more than 235,000 acres in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, is 83% contained. Incident commanders said they hoped to have full containment by Sept. 7.

Ventura County Fire Chief Bob Roper called the NASA drone a "great tool," because its sophisticated instruments captured images unseen by conventional aircraft.

"It provided intelligence as to where the front was," Roper said in a fire update Friday to the Ventura County Board of Supervisors. "Otherwise we would have been blinded by the smoke."

Ikhana collected data on Zaca and three other wildfires while flying more than 1,200 miles over 10 hours, according to NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base.

Zaca Incident Commander Mike Dietrich of the U.S. Forest Service said he was impressed with its performance.

"The images from the flight demonstrated that this technology has a future in helping us fight wild-land fires," Dietrich said in a statement.

A DC-10 jet was also used several times over the past weeks to dump 12,000 gallons of pink flame retardant with each pass, Roper told supervisors. The plane, which almost crashed in June fighting a fire over the Tehachapi mountains, is privately contracted and is the only one of its kind in the United States, he said.

Though helpful in dousing flames, the jet has limitations that make it a tool, not a "panacea," Roper said. Its girth creates air turbulence for up to 15 minutes, making it unsafe for helicopters and conventional fixed-wing planes to continue their attack, he said.

"Even if there were 20 of them, it would not put the fire out," Roper said. "We have to have crews on the ground."

Roper's report came as the Board of Supervisors approved a proclamation declaring a state of emergency. The action opens the way for Ventura County to seek state and federal reimbursement of its firefighting costs.

Total costs of battling the Zaca fire, which began July 4 near Solvang, are $99.7 million to date. Ventura County's share will be at least $50,000, Roper told supervisors.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has already made similar declarations for Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

The fire no longer poses an immediate danger to communities, but plumes of smoke will still be visible for weeks as firefighters douse a final northwest flank, said Capt. Barry Parker, spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department.

Firefighters Bid One of Their Own Farewell

Firefighters Bid One of Their Own Farewell - New York Times
The firefighters in crisp blue uniforms stood in formation for the second successive day, for the second funeral of a fallen comrade, a day after two more of their colleagues were injured at the same site where these two had perished.

There was grief today at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue, and even some laughter at a few memories of Firefighter Robert Beddia, a 23-year-veteran of the department who died on Saturday doing the work he loved.

The Rev. John Delendick, a fire department chaplain, told the mourners gathered at the ornate church that Mr. Beddia, 53, “didn’t become a firefighter for the money, he didn’t become a firefighter for the glamour.”

“He became a firefighter because of certain values,” the chaplain said.

But along with the grief there was weary frustration and simmering anger at the circumstances that had claimed Firefighter Beddia’s life.

He died on Saturday along with a colleague, Joseph Graffagnino, while battling a seven-alarm fire in the former Deutsche Bank building in Lower Manhattan, which was in the process of being dismantled. Both were assigned to Engine 24 and Ladder 5, based at a firehouse at Avenue of the Americas and West Houston Street in SoHo.

The fire raised troubling questions about why it had taken so long to bring down the 41-story building that was damaged beyond repair in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001.

On Thursday, as Firefighter Graffagnino’s funeral was taking place in Brooklyn, two more firefighters were injured at the building when a worker lost control of a small forklift on the 23rd floor of the building, sending it tumbling down 200 feet to the ground.

The forklift crashed through a construction shed on the ground level, and part of the shed collapsed on the two firefighters.

Both firefighters, Neil Nally, 35, and William Carbettis, 51, of Engine 258 in Long Island City, Queens, were listed in stable condition today at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan. They both sustained head injuries.

Firefighter Carbettis had his spleen removed. Firefighter Nally also had an injured back and right hand, according to a fire official, and could be allowed to leave the hospital today, fire officials said.

At today’s funeral for Firefighter Beddia, there were echoes of the funeral on Thursday for his colleague, Firefighter Graffagnino.

At both, bagpipers played “Amazing Grace” for a crowd of mourners that again included Gov. Eliot Spitzer, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta.

And as a backdrop for both funerals, there were thoughts about the troubled building where all four fighters had been harmed, and about why city officials and building owners can’t seem to get to the bottom of the task of bringing down the condemned building.

Mayor Bloomberg, who said he had never met Firefighter Beddia, said he had been described to him by others as a dedicated professional.

“For 23 years he was a quiet hero,” the mayor said at the Mass. “He rarely spoke, but when he did others listened.”

The mayor also talked about the fire that took Firefighter Beddia’s life.

“This fires raised a lot of difficult questions,” the mayor said, adding that city and fire officials would “investigate to get to the bottom of what happened.”

Such an inquiry, he said, would hopefully “lead to actions to make the Fire Department stronger and safer.”

Firefighter Beddia often drove the fire truck for Engine 24, a post referred to as the chauffeur, but when he was not behind the wheel, he was working with the younger men, firefighters said.

Lt. Richie Quinn of the Fire Department spoke to reporters outside St. Patrick’s today about Firefighter Beddia.

“He was our chauffer, he knew every building inside and out, which was extremely helpful for us,” he said.

Firefighter Beddia’s sister, Susan Beddia Olson, spoke about him before his flag-draped coffin, in the form of a letter to him, which she began by saying, “Dear Bobby,” the name those close to him called him.

“Remember walking me down the aisle?” she asked. “Remember dancing with me at my wedding?

“You are my friend, you are my brother,” she said. “You are my hero.”

Two hours after the funeral mass had begun — as the family and other mourners accompanied the coffin out of the cathedral, from where it will be taken to a cemetery in Staten Island for burial — hundreds still lined Fifth Avenue.

A church bell tolled, and the crowd went silent as Firefighter Beddia was led out of Manhattan, a borough whose streets he knew so well, for the last time.

Thursday, August 23

Tickle Me Elmo on fire

What's wrong w/this picture?

Fitness for duty

Fitness for duty --
Fitness must be a pre-requisite---NOT A HOOP!!!
The Baltimore Fire Department failed recruit Racheal M. Wilson long before she entered a burning rowhouse in a training exercise. It accepted her into a cadet class in 2006, when it probably shouldn't have. Officials overlooked her failings on an agility test and sent her into a live-burn exercise when she apparently wasn't ready to handle it.

An independent investigation of Ms. Wilson's death reaffirmed that many mistakes were made during the training exercise, but it raises new concerns about a firefighter's fitness for duty that shouldn't be ignored.

Ms. Wilson died in the Feb. 9 exercise after she was overcome by heat and smoke and couldn't climb out of a window to escape. A department probe found dozens of safety violations, which led to the firings of the academy director and two other officers and an overhaul of the training-safety division.

But the independent evaluation of the accident ordered by Mayor Sheila Dixon also suggests that Cadet Wilson may not have been ready to enter training. And the question that must be asked is why the department would admit Ms. Wilson after she performed poorly on agility tests.

Firefighting is a demanding, dangerous job, and its newest recruits should be in the best shape, physically and mentally. If not then, when? The department should have an overall fitness standard; resistance to one, either by officials or firefighters, is unacceptable considering the rigors of the job.

Fire Chief William J. Goodwin Jr. rejects the suggestion that Ms. Wilson died because of problems related to her performance on one aspect of a five-part agility test. The safety lapses and mistakes on the fire scene that day - some very basic - were responsible for her death, he says, and we don't disagree.

The department that performed so poorly that day, he says, isn't the one he was raised in. But it is the agency he commands. The investigative report offers a chance to revisit the fitness issue. Can seriously overweight firefighters do their job ably and safely?

The report by Howard County Deputy Chief Chris Shimer also harshly criticized a view in the department that "recruits must be exposed to heavy fire conditions in order to be adequately prepared for the field." That literal trial by fire sounds more like a hazing rite than a professional firefighter's code.

Chief Goodwin should ask Mr. Shimer to return in three months and undertake a performance audit to see whether policy changes ordered by the chief are being followed and the firefighter culture has improved. The work at the Fire Department is not done.

Baltimore Recruit Rescuer, Union Blast Report

Baltimore Recruit Rescuer, Union Blast Report - In The Line Of Duty
Another reason to do the paperwork and make sure your instructors...are really instructors!!!
The supervisor of the Baltimore fire recruit killed in a training exercise rejected yesterday the findings of an independent report that concluded he had abandoned the cadet inside a burning rowhouse, saying his wrists are scarred from his efforts to pull her out of a window.

"I gave everything I could to save her that day," said Emergency Vehicle Driver Ryan Wenger, in his first public account of how Racheal M. Wilson died Feb. 9 inside a vacant rowhouse on South Calverton Road.

"I think about it nonstop," he said, recalling efforts to pull Wilson through a third-floor window. "All I have to do is look at myself to remember. ... I had to listen to her screams."

Wenger, whose father is a battalion chief in the city department, had been assigned to watch over Wilson and others on her crew as they battled multiple fires set by instructors for the exercise.

The report, commissioned by the city's mayor and due to be released publicly today, said Wenger was not qualified to instruct others, went into the burning house without safety equipment and a radio, followed a dangerous order to take the recruits above a fire and left ahead of his recruits.

Wenger, 32, who was accompanied by two fire union leaders, said the report unfairly damaged his reputation and blemished his 10-year career. But he conceded that he was assigned jobs that he does not typically perform. Of his role as an instructor, he said he was "helping out for the day."...

The report found 50 violations of the national safety standard governing how live-burns should be conducted, criticized the department's culture as too rigid and said firefighters should be empowered to question orders when safety is an issue.

Among the findings, the report faulted instructors for setting more than the one fire permitted in such circumstances, for not issuing radios to all the recruits and for not having an adequate backup water supply.

In the interview, Wenger defended his decisions, saying he has been trained to put trust in his co-workers and his superior officers, and he did not want to question those in command.

"In the Fire Department they charge you with insubordination, which is a suspending offense," said Wenger. But he did not dispute concerns raised about his instructing credentials. He had never taught anyone at the academy, and he was asked at the last minute to fill in for an instructor who was burned in another exercise the day before.

"I don't have any certification; I was never asked if I did," Wenger said.

He said that in the exercise in which Wilson died, he was assigned tasks he does not do when he is on the job, such as work with hoses and water supplies.

Wenger is assigned to a truck company, whose members knock in doors and cut holes for ventilation. Firefighters assigned to engine companies are in charge of water supplies, and that was his role during the Feb. 9 exercise.

Four recruits were assigned to him shortly before the drill. "I had no history with the people who I was assigned to," he said.

Lt. Joseph Crest, the instructor in charge of the exercise, told Wenger to expect fires on the second and third floors of the building. But there also was a fire at the rear on the first floor. Crest is one of three commanders who were fired after Wilson's death.

That day Crest told Wenger to take the crew past the second-floor fire and extinguish the one on the top floor, according to the report. A crew behind was to put out the fire on the second floor.

About that order, Wenger said: "It struck me as odd at first. The rule is that you do not go above a fire. Heat rises."

Wenger said he dismissed his concerns in part because he knew and trusted the firefighter who was going to be coming up directly behind him. Also, Wenger said, "I trusted the fire academy, I'm just here helping out for one day."

Wenger was not given a radio, nor did he ask for one. "Look at what the Fire Department is," he said. "The Fire Department has a command structure, I've never had a problem with insubordination in the past, and this wasn't going to be the first."

The team entered the building, and Wenger said he did not notice the first-floor fire.

When he got to the second floor he was confronted with more fire than he expected: "The fire was starting to come after us, it was starting to come down the hallway. The fire kept getting closer and closer to us."

Wenger said he disobeyed an order from Crest to bypass the fire on the second floor and proceed directly to the level above. He said he told Wilson to spray water on that fire.

But she had trouble with the hose, and after several attempts Wenger took it from her and sprayed down the fire himself. "I started to worry about her capabilities," he said.

The two other recruits in the crew were tasked with freeing the hose line on the lower levels and were not with Wenger when he got to the third floor. There he began to feel hot. "I got to my knees," he said in the interview. "I felt like there was heat coming from everywhere."

He had never been on the third floor of the building and had no idea where the windows or escape routes would be. He noticed light streaming though the smoke and put his head out a window to see whether he could determine where all the heat was coming from.

Then another recruit on his team, Stephanie Cisneros, hollered to him. In her interview with investigators, she said that she saw flames coming off her gear.

Wenger said he was relieved that he wasn't "the only one" feeling heat. He agreed they should leave and instantly decided the window was the best way out.

"They teach you to be in control of a rescue situation," Wenger said. "I had no means of calling for help. It was me with the recruits, knowing that in my head I had to get out so I could help them safely."

He pulled through and then grabbed Cisneros. Once she was through, Wilson appeared in the window, yelling. Wenger reached in to get her but he could not pull her to safety.

"I gave 110 percent to help her.," he said. "I looked up the definition of `abandonment.' It is not me."

Eventually his friend, Emergency Vehicle Driver Michael Hiebler, came up to the third floor and helped from the inside to push Wilson out. But it was too late.

Wenger was taken to the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center's burn unit. He had second-degree burns on his wrists, arms, fingers and the back of his neck. It was there that he learned Wilson had died.

"I never went in this thinking anything bad would happen," Wenger said. "I put my confidence and my faith in them that everything would be OK."

Wednesday, August 22

Critics Say Lessons From 9/11 Were Not Followed in Deutsche Bank Blaze

After the Sept. 11 attack at the World Trade Center, an independent consultant studied the Fire Department’s performance and identified a number of lapses amid all the undeniable valor of that day. It said that too many men rushed into the buildings before anyone realized the danger they were in, contributing to the staggering death toll.

The consultant, McKinsey & Company, said the Fire Department needed to use more caution and preparation when it approached such a major, complicated fire, and not send too many men in before it knew what it was dealing with.

Saturday’s fire at the former Deutsche Bank building, which left two firemen dead, presented its own set of challenges, but it also bore similarities to Sept. 11 that went beyond geography, including the fact that the building was a high-rise.

Now, some are questioning Saturday’s response, noting that, at one point, more than 100 firefighters were inside the building even though the fire was out of control and wildly unpredictable — and that those men had to be called out. And they were inside even though, unlike the situation in the twin towers, no workers were trapped.

“Clearly firefighters were sent into a deathtrap,” said Stephen J. Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association. “I think the Fire Department’s position is they didn’t know how bad it was. We certainly need to find out why they didn’t know.”

Yesterday, Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta directed his investigators to determine why the department did not have a plan in place to fight a fire in the building.

Mr. Cassidy made his remarks as the Manhattan district attorney, Robert M. Morgenthau, announced that his office had opened an investigation into the fire to determine if any crimes had been committed. The move extends the prosecutors’ subpoena power to the fire marshals who are working with the district attorney’s office.

Mr. Cassidy also called for an independent investigation of the fire by the state attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo, who said last night that his office had begun reviewing the circumstances of the fire. Mr. Cassidy said the department was “not capable” of doing its own investigation because of its own involvement and its relationship with other city agencies involved.

In a way, it is a debate that goes to the heart of Fire Department culture — rushing into burning buildings, after all, is what firefighters do. And for their part, fire officials said they believed that Saturday’s fire was well managed, and that the department’s response could not be compared to its actions on 9/11.

“This is a fire in a high-rise building; it is not a terrorist attack,” said Francis X. Gribbon, the department’s chief spokesman. “They see the fire, they know where the fire is. They use the protocols in place to fight the fire.”

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg defended the department’s decision to send the more than 100 firefighters up into the building to fight the blaze, saying they bravely improvised in a crisis.

The Deutsche Bank building is being dismantled. Sheathed in black netting and plywood, the floors where the men were trapped had been sealed off with plywood and plastic sheeting, creating a maze that became especially daunting as the building filled with wind-fanned black smoke.

Radio transmissions captured the moment when high-ranking officials ordered all the men out — a striking echo of Sept. 11. With two men down and 29 Maydays coming from hellishly fire-engulfed floors, commanders wanted to do a head count.

The priorities of those in charge of the fire response are crystallized in one transmission: A senior official cursed as he said he did not care about the building, and shouted, “Where are my men?”

Firefighters were trapped without water because the standpipe system — plagued by a shut valve, cracks and a broken pipe — malfunctioned. The two firefighters who died, Robert Beddia, 53, and Joseph Graffagnino, 33, ran out of air. Investigators are focusing on a discarded cigarette or faulty electrical panel as the cause of the blaze.

“This was an unoccupied building,” said a former fire official. “On 9/11 we sent too many people in. McKinsey said that we should not rush men in and, even though the investigation is ongoing, it seems obvious at this point that we still have not learned the lesson that if you’re going to send people in, there should be adequate time and means to get them out.”

Charles R. Blaich, a retired deputy chief who was in charge of safety for the Fire Department at the ground zero site, said the McKinsey report changed how the department managed disasters.

“After 9/11 there were directions that came out from the chief of department that we never get ourselves into a position at these huge disasters where we just blindly assign assets without reasonably assessing what risks we face and what benefits we will achieve,” Mr. Blaich said. “What are we going to achieve by doing this?”

Thomas Von Essen, the fire commissioner on Sept. 11, said he had had many conversations with firefighters who responded on Saturday. He said many felt the operation had moved too quickly.

Mr. Von Essen said it was widely known that the bank building was undergoing a complex and dangerous demolition. He said fire officials should not have been surprised by what the firefighters encountered.

John J. McDonnell, the president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, said he believed the lessons of Sept. 11 had been learned “to some extent.”

“I don’t know if the upper echelons of the Fire Department were aware of the complex nature of the abatement within the building, I mean everyone from the fire commissioner to his staff,” said Mr. McDonnell, whose union represents 2,450 members.

“Were they aware of the complex nature?” he asked. “If they were aware prior to that, maybe there would have been a different fire plan in place.”

He added, “Under a hazardous materials condition, you approach things on a much more cautious level. ”

Firefighters at the scene checked in with commanders, said Mr. Gribbon, the department spokesman. “They were given assignments and they went to work.”

Mr. Gribbon declined to release a minute-by-minute breakdown of the department’s response because he said the department was conducing an internal review that involved listening to radio transmissions, transcribing the tapes, interviews and re-interviews, among other things.

Mr. McDonnell said no one had been prepared to find the stairwell landings blocked by the heavy plywood boards used to compartmentalize buildings where asbestos was being removed. Firefighters had to use an exterior elevator and scaffolding stairs to get up and down.

Jerome M. Hauer, director of the city’s Office of Emergency Management from 1996 to 2000, said it was “unfair” to contrast the department’s operations on Saturday with the findings of the McKinsey report because “I don’t feel that the report was accurate in some of its assessments.”

He said the accountability for what occurred “has to rest” with the building owner and the demolition operators, not with the Fire Department.

Subcontractor at WTC site dropped after fire

The abandoned Deutsche Bank building was filled with hazardous chemicals, holes in the floors and a maze of plastic sheeting that made it a virtual death trap for firefighters.

Yet the New York City Fire Department did not have a contingency plan for fighting a fire there, as is required for every building in the city, city and fire officials said Wednesday.

The building's central water pipe, which was disconnected on Saturday, the day of the fire, and is one of the factors being blamed for the deaths of two firefighters, also was not being inspected regularly as the law requires, city and fire officials said.

"Things didn't go right," Steve Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association said Tuesday. "In the end, we lost two firefighters in a toxic building that's about to be torn down. It's unacceptable that it happened."

Both Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau and state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo launched investigations into the fire this week.

Meanwhile, a controversial subcontractor in the project, the John Galt Corp., was let go Wednesday, days after it was revealed that both the city and federal governments had issued it numerous violations for problems including holes in the floor, falling debris and sparks flying near combustible material.

The Fire Department is still investigating how the deadly blaze started Saturday afternoon, city officials said Wednesday.

The firefighters killed, Joseph Graffagnino, 33, of Brooklyn, and Robert Beddia, 53, of Staten Island, will be buried Thursday and Friday, respectively.

Cassidy said for more than a year before the fire, local firefighters were not allowed into the building to do regular inspections because of the poor air quality there. He is asking who was doing the inspections, if not the local firehouse.

Fire Department spokesman Jim Long said the department is looking into why there was no pre-fire plan for the building and why the department was not inspecting the water pipe regularly.

However, even if the fire department was not doing regular inspections of the water pipe, the city building department was, city officials said. According to building department records, only the day before the fire, an inspection showed that the pipe was assembled properly and seemed to be working.

When it was taken apart -- part of the pipe was found lying on the floor after the fire -- remains a mystery, city officials said.

Work on deconstruction of the building was stopped immediately after the fire, and now that John Galt has been taken off the project, it isn't likely to resume soon.

In a letter to John Galt explaining why the company's contract is in default, James Abadie, the principal-in-charge of Bovis Lend Lease, the primary contractor, said: "The numerous citations issued with respect to employee safety and the failure to properly maintain all required site safety precautions are only some areas of concern."

Fire Dept. Did Not Inspect Pipe in Doomed Building

The New York Fire Department failed to visually inspect standpipes in the former Deutsche Bank building every 15 days as required by city rules for buildings being demolished, and had not done any inspections at the building since November 2006, according to records released yesterday by City Hall.

The standpipe system’s readiness to perform in a fire was last checked in November 1996, when the building was a functioning office building, and the system was filled with water and tested with pressure gauges, the Bloomberg administration said. Under fire codes, it is the building owner who must do such water, or hydrostatic, tests.

The Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center stymied plans for the next water test of the system at the Deutsche Bank building, at 130 Liberty Street, in November 2001, and no further testing of the system was required because the building, mortally damaged, was likely to be demolished.

Investigators have zeroed in on the building’s standpipe as they investigate last Saturday’s fire and exactly what led to the deaths of two firemen, Robert Beddia, 53, and Joseph Graffagnino, 33, who were battling it. The standpipe was not operational before the fire broke out, according to an administration news release.

A standpipe valve between the basement of the first floor of the building was shut, and the network of pipes that is supposed to deliver water from fire trucks in the street to the standpipe system’s connections was compromised, officials said. Also, a piece of the standpipe system was missing altogether and was found lying in the building’s basement.

A city official said it appeared that the twice-monthly standpipe inspections that are mandatory for buildings under demolition were never done. It is unclear whether the potential environmental dangers due to toxins in the building kept firefighters from making the inspections, the official said.

Investigators in the office of Manhattan district attorney Robert M. Morgenthau visited the basement of the building yesterday and took photos.

One fire investigator said that the law enforcement officials were struck by how damaged the standpipe was. The investigator also said it appeared that workers had been staying in the basement overnight, in violation of an order to keep people out.

The records released by City Hall — a possibly incomplete list based on “paper records” that the Bloomberg administration has so far reviewed — offered a sober assessment of the Fire Department’s oversight at the building.

They also show that the department was aware of reports that the sprinkler system was not working. That failure is also under investigation. Buildings Department inspectors visited the skyscraper to approve the dismantling of each floor, and determined that the standpipe had been properly capped on the floor below.

A fire official noted yesterday that firefighters were in the building for reasons other than inspections, once when a pipe fell from the building last spring and crashed into a nearby firehouse. Fire personnel were also in the building in August when citations were issued to the contractors, the officials said.

The records also detailed a series of violations that have been issued by the Buildings Department against Bovis Lend Lease, the contractor overseeing the entire demolition project, and the subcontractor in charge of the demolition, the John Galt Corporation.

Bovis was cited on June 6 for a “large amount of combustible material/debris” accumulating. The subcontractor was cited on Aug. 1 because “burning operations,” were causing sparks to fly; and on Aug. 3 for an expired certificate to “store/use acetylene.”

Investigators are focusing on a discarded cigarette or faulty electrical panel as the likely cause of the blaze.

The last time fire officials from Engine 10 — which is in the skyscraper’s shadow — did a “regular surveillance inspection,” in the building was March 31, 2006, the records show.

The Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, the State Legislature’s top Democrat, said he found the lack of recent water tests, “incredible. It’s amazing.”

“This is really a shock that even five years before Sept. 11, much less since Sept. 11, nobody checked that out,” said Mr. Silver, who represents residents of Lower Manhattan. “There are very serious concerns about that. The community has been overwhelmingly concerned about that building.”

The Buildings Department has conducted daily inspections of the floors under deconstruction since March 19, said Kate Lindquist, a department spokeswoman. The most recent inspection prior to the fire was the day before it broke out, she said, when an inspector confirmed that the standpipe was capped on the floor below deconstruction.

It is unclear when anyone from the Buildings or Fire Departments last inspected the standpipe system in the basement, where the broken pipe was found.

“That is one of the questions we are trying to answer,” said Ms. Lindquist. “We are reviewing our inspection reports.”

The law does not require the Buildings Department to conduct comprehensive testing of the standpipe system, she said. But a licensed site-safety manager is required to visually inspect the standpipe and its valves — to ensure they are connected properly — every day, the city official said.

Monday, August 20

Standpipe Flaw Examined in Fire at Ground Zero

Standpipe Flaw Examined in Fire at Ground Zero - New York Times
The Fire Department is investigating whether a malfunctioning standpipe sent water cascading into the basement of the flaming Deutsche Bank tower at ground zero on Saturday, denying water to air-starved firefighters battling the seven-alarm blaze above, including the two men who were killed.

Members of Engine Company 7 said they connected their hose to the standpipe and pumped thousands of gallons into the building, but one investigator said yesterday that the water never made it beyond the fifth floor, leading to suspicions of a cracked or broken valve. The basement, officials said, was filled with water.

Firefighters were forced to spend crucial moments carrying and pulling hoses up the sides of the ghostly black-shrouded building — a scarred remnant of the 9/11 attacks that was being dismantled — as wind-driven flames caught on 13 different floors after snaking up and down through voids and holes.

Officials were still trying to determine the cause of the blaze, suspecting either a tossed cigarette or a faulty electrical panel, but one thing was clear: From the beginning, even before the standpipe failed, the blaze presented a series of unique challenges to those fighting it.

The building had been contaminated by the fallout of Sept. 11 with toxic substances and tiny bits of human remains; insurance fights delayed its fate for years. Asbestos had been removed from the building, and sealed plywood hatches in stairwells divided the floors, forcing firefighters — possibly including the two who died — into the wide-open floors, where they could easily become disoriented.

Containment areas of plywood and thick plastic sheeting meant to keep in potentially dangerous particles sucked in air, fanning flames. Plywood that had replaced windows on the upper floors can be seen burning in photographs.

Flames got around and under the firefighters who died, Robert Beddia, 53, and Joseph Graffagnino, 33. A voice believed to be that of Firefighter Beddia was heard on a radio transmission saying he had run out of air and was trying to follow his hose out. It may have been his last transmission.

“There were problems getting water on the fire,” one official said. “They are trapped and they run out of air because of how rapidly the conditions change, and now they have no refuge and they cannot get out. They now cannot see and they have no air.”

Gov. Eliot Spitzer and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the state agency that owns the building, promised investigations, and an official with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration said the agency had cited the John Galt Corporation, the subcontractor doing the demolition, for 20 serious violations at the building.

At the same time, officials said that results of air test results from around the building were negative for asbestos, but that it would take several days before they knew about other substances.

Residents in the area expressed an array of frustrations.

“You’d think that after six years, we would have learned something, but when this fire broke out, there was no notification system in place, and the people who live around here didn’t know what to do,” said Patricia L. Moore, who lives at 125 Cedar Street, in the shadow of the burned building. “Some of us left the building and some of us stayed, but we’re all concerned.”

Avi Schick, the chairman of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, said the fire was a “perfect storm of misfortune that worked together to turn what is, under any circumstance, a hazardous situation into something that was perhaps even more treacherous.”

Mr. Schick said the mechanism to ensure negative air pressure within the containment areas might have worsened conditions by bringing in a supply of outside air that wound up feeding the flames and by drawing smoke across the floor without fully venting it, since the exhausts have filters designed to trap particles in the air.

“It’s likely that the very measures that were insisted upon by the E.P.A. to protect those on the outside had a less than salutary effect when the fire started, because there were too many pulls on the oxygen,” Mr. Schick said. “And the firefighters paid the ultimate price.” Officials said the fire would delay the dismantling of the building by about three weeks.

Sunday, August 19

BREAKING: 21 students treated in gas leak

BREAKING: 21 students treated in gas leak
Earlier today 21 Virginia Tech students were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning in the Collegiate Suites apartment complex off Patrick Henry Road.

Five females were found unresponsive in one apartment and were flown to hospitals by helicopter, said Blacksburg police Capt. Bruce Bradbery. Two were sent to the University of Virginia Medical Center on ventilators, and the three other were sent to Duke University Medical Center. Four of the young women remain unresponsive; one female transported to Duke has regained partial consciousness, Bradbery said.

The five young women who were sent away via helicopter were all living in the same apartment at 1306 Henry Lane. They were found after a nearby resident called the gas company of the complex to investigate a smell, Bradbery said.

Seventeen other people were taken to Montgomery Regional Hospital for treatment, Bradbery said.

Bradbery said that the level of carbon monoxide to begin indication of symptoms is 25 parts per million (ppm). When the fire department conducted a reading after the building was evacuated, the reading reached 500 ppm. After 30 minutes of ventilation, that reading went down to 200 ppm.

Bradbery said that after a preliminary investigation the leak was caused by a faulty pressure relief valve in the hot water heater. Because the valve was open, the fuel was constantly burning and the carbon monoxide was not ventilating.

In addition, all four doors inside the apartment were closed preventing the carbon monoxide from exiting.

The Blacksburg police received a call at 11:18 a.m. and reached the scene at 11:23 a.m.

There were no carbon monoxide detectors in the building because there is no requirement for them.

The apartment will be sealed indefinitely and investigated thoroughly, Bradbery said. Residents are allowed to enter to gather last minute items. The fire department is providing housing for them in a local hotel.

Fire at WTC was hard to fight

Air-quality tests on asbestos negative
A fire that killed two firefighters in an abandoned skyscraper near ground zero may have been harder to fight because of the protective polyurethane on several floors in the building, Gov. Eliot Spitzer said Sunday.

The former Deutsche Bank office building has been a toxic site since it was damaged on the morning of the 2001 World Trade Center attack, and was in the process of being disassembled. The federal Environmental Protection Agency had required the polyurethane sheets to prevent asbestos and other harmful debris from leaking out, Spitzer said.

The polyurethane in the building "may in fact have made this fire harder to fight," Spitzer said.

Questions about other complications were emerging on Sunday, including why the building's standpipe, or source of water, did not work, forcing firefighters to run hoses up to the 17th floor, where the fire started.

"The standpipe was not operating. We don't know why yet," fire department spokesman Frank Gribbon said.

Two teen parasailors slam into oceanside building in Pompano Beach

Two teen parasailors slam into oceanside building in Pompano Beach -- South Florida
A day of seaside fun turned tragic for two teenage sisters parasailing in Pompano Beach on Saturday when strong winds slammed them into a building and trees, seriously injuring the girls.

The sisters, 16 and 17, were vacationing from the Ocala area, said Sandra King, a spokeswoman for Pompano Beach Fire-Rescue. Both were hospitalized in critical condition; one, if not both, suffered life-threatening injuries, including head trauma, King said.

The sisters were visiting Broward County with a family friend, King said. Authorities did not immediately release the girls' names.
Their family drove down from their North Florida home after the accident, arriving about 9 p.m. The mother, visibly distraught, asked family members to pray with her as they stood briefly in Broward General Medical Center's emergency room waiting area. They declined to give their names.

According to King, the girls went parasailing about 1 p.m. under gray skies. As a boat towed them, they were harnessed to a parachute.

The winds grew stronger, and the boat operator decided to head back to shore, officials said.

A gust then pushed the parachute toward land. With the tow rope still connected to the girls' parachute, the teenagers crashed into the second-story roof of the Beachcomber Resort & Villas, at 1200 S. Ocean Blvd., King said.

The tug of the parachute also dragged the boat ashore, the spokeswoman said.

With the parachute still pulled by the wind, the girls were dragged across the resort roof. At some point, the rope broke.

The girls then fell from the building, and caromed from one palm tree to another. They remained entangled in tree foliage until somebody with a knife came to their rescue, cutting the harness and rope to free them.

Paramedics then arrived. One sister was flown by helicopter to the hospital, and the other was taken by ambulance.

Firefighters die in blaze by ground zero

San Jose Mercury News - Firefighters die in blaze by ground zero
NEW YORK—A seven-alarm fire ripped through an abandoned skyscraper next to ground zero in Lower Manhattan Saturday, killing two firefighters who were responding to the blaze.
Officers at the scene were preventing nearby residents from returning to their homes, telling them that authorities were concerned the former Deutsche Bank office building, vacant since the 2001 terrorist attacks turned it into a toxic nightmare, could fall. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that fear turned out to be unfounded.

The plume of gray smoke that trailed above the site of the World Trade Center raised concerns that toxic substances in the building could be spreading.

Bloomberg sought to reassure residents that the chemicals in the building likely did not present a significant health risk, saying air-quality tests so far showed no danger.

"Having said that, we are extremely careful. We don't want to prejudge anything," the mayor added. Tests were to continue overnight, he said.

One of the firefighters killed was identified as Joseph Graffagnino, 34, of Brooklyn. He was a member of Ladder 5, which lost 11 members on Sept. 11, 2001.

"Today's events really are another cruel blow to our city and to our fire department," Bloomberg said. He said the fire had "expanded our loss."

Also killed was Robert Beddia, 53, of Staten Island. Bloomberg said both firefighters had become trapped, inhaled a great deal of smoke and gone into cardiac arrest.

Five or six other firefighters were taken to a hospital but were expected to be released, Bloomberg said. No civilians were hurt.
Construction crews had already dismantled 14 of the building's 40 stories—reaching the 26th floor on Tuesday. Some firefighters used stairs to reach the burning upper floors of the building, just steps from where 343 firefighters lost their lives in the 2001 terror attacks.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known. Smoke pouring from the burning building was visible from midtown Manhattan and the New Jersey side of the Hudson River. Fire officials declared the blaze under control late Saturday.

The acrid smell of smoke, which hung over the neighborhood for days after Sept. 11, returned to lower Manhattan along with the wail of emergency vehicles. More than five dozen fire vehicles, with more than 270 firefighters, responded to the blaze as pieces of burning debris fell from the building to the streets.

Residents said they weren't allowed home even to rescue their pets.

"We heard this crackling," said Elizabeth Hughes, who saw the fire start from her rooftop deck across from the tower. "And then a huge fire that went up three floors fast. It was massive. ... Oh my God! I can't even go in and get my cats."

By late Saturday evening, nearby residents who had been evacuated were told they could return.

The 1.4-million square foot office tower was contaminated with toxic dust and debris after the World Trade Center's south tower collapsed into it. Bloomberg said the chemicals in the building did not present a significant health risk.

Efforts to dismantle it were halted by a labor dispute last year, along with the ongoing search for the remains of attack victims.

City officials announced in June they had completed recovery efforts at the structure. More than 700 human remains were found at the site.

Errol Cockfield, a spokesman for the Empire State Development Corp., which is overseeing redevelopment at ground zero, said authorities were investigating whether the smoke at the scene could pose any environmental danger.

Saturday, August 18

Future of mine rescue effort uncertain after cave-in kills three

Evening Echo: News
The search for six miners missing deep underground in the US was abruptly halted after a second cave-in killed three rescue workers and injured at least six others trying to tunnel through rubble to reach them.

Huntington Mayor Hilary Gordon said: “It just feels like a really hard blow to swallow after all we’ve been through the last week and a half and everyone trying to hope in their own individual way.

The setback yesterday came on the 11th day of the effort to find six miners who have been confined at least 1,500 feet below ground at the Crandall Canyon mine in Utah state. It was unknown if the six were alive.

All rescue workers were evacuated from the mine and work underground was stopped...

“The seismic activity underground has just been relentless. The mountain is still alive, the mountain is still moving and we cannot endanger the rescue workers as we drive toward these trapped miners,” said Bob Murray, chief of Murray Energy Corp., the co-owner and operator of the Crandall Canyon mine.

Mining rescues after 10 or more days aren't unheard of. Two miners were rescued in May 2006 after being trapped for 14 days following a collapse at an Australian mine. In 1968, six miners were rescued after 10 days in West Virginia. But the Aug. 6 cave-in released low-oxygen air into the working area of the mine. Downward pressure on the walls sent chunks of coal flying like bullets through the shaft.

Discussion: When do you stop a rescue effort?

Friday, August 17

Teens' debut sex interrupted by fire

Teens' debut sex interrupted by fire |
A TEENAGE couple having sex for the first time were interrupted when candles set fire to the girl's attic bedroom and forced them to flee naked from her parents' house, German daily Bild reported today.

The girl had wanted to create a romantic atmosphere for the occasion. But when the room suddenly became engulfed with flames, they had to make a hasty escape.

The couple, both 18, were pictured naked in the paper among the burned wreckage of the attic.

A charred teddy had survived but the fire wrecked the entire top floor of the house causing around $168,000 worth of damage.

Now that's hot!!! roflmao

Boy dies in car window accident

BBC NEWS | UK | England | London | Boy dies in car window accident
A five-year-old boy has died after his neck became trapped in an electric window of his family's car.

Michael Dury is thought to have been playing with his brother when the accident happened outside the family home in New Addington, south London.

Ambulance crews tried to resuscitate Michael but he died at St George's Hospital in Tooting on Wednesday.

His parents, Wendy and Paul Dury, paid tribute to the "very lovable child" who always "brought a smile to everyone".

A police spokesman said: "The incident is being treated as a sudden death. Police are providing support for the family and will prepare a report for the coroner in due course."

Wednesday, August 15

Police fault firefighter in fatal accident

Police fault firefighter in fatal accident -
WATERBURY, Conn. --A city firefighter ran a red light without making sure an intersection was safe in the seconds before a fatal collision between two fire trucks in May, police have concluded in their investigation of the crash.

Firefighter Joseph Fischetti, who was seriously injured in the accident, drove through the red light without taking proper precautions as firefighters responded to a kitchen fire on May 19, the police report says.

Capt. John Keane died three days after the accident from head and internal injuries. He was a passenger in the engine truck driven by Fischetti. Both men were thrown from the vehicle when it smashed into a ladder truck at Route 73 and East Aurora Street.

The police investigation also found that four firefighters in the engine truck were not wearing seat belts, in violation of state law and fire department policy. The report said Fischetti did not take the most direct route to the fire, choosing a route he was more comfortable with.

Investigators said the engine truck had brake problems, but that did not contribute to the accident, which injured several other firefighters.

The Waterbury state's attorney's office will be reviewing the police report and decide whether charges are warranted.

Fire Chief Michael Maglione told WTNH-TV on Tuesay he was still going over the report, but added the findings were not a surprise. He said emotions are still running high three months after the accident.

Exhaust gases blamed for deadly car fire

News 10 Now | 24 Hour Local News | ALL NEWS | Exhaust gases blamed for deadly car fire
STEUBEN COUNTY, N.Y. -- New York State Police say a vehicle fire that killed two Steuben County children started when exhaust gases leaked through a hole in the car floor and ignited the interior.

State Police say Melissa Johns, 25, of Savona, was driving west on I-86 Tuesday afternoon when her 1999 Kia caught fire. Troopers say the car was in flames before she could get to her 18-month- and four-week-old children.

They say erosion or a faulty weld could have let in the gases that started the fire.

"Circumstances as it was caused the hole in the floorboards and then eventually the gases ignited the carpet and loose items on the floor," said Michael Case, New York State Police Sergeant.

Emergency responders say another driver stopped Johns from going back to the car to get the children and responders say the car was too far gone for them to make many rescue attempts.

Man dies after setting himself on fire in hotel

Man dies after setting himself on fire in hotel --
WEST SIDE - A man fatally burned himself Tuesday in a hotel on Chicago's West Side after apparently using rubbing alcohol on his body and then lighting a cigarette, authorities said.

Firefighters were called to the 4500 block of West Washington Boulevard about 11:15 a.m. for a report of a fire in one of the guest rooms, Chicago Fire Department spokeswoman Eve Rodriguez said.

Companies arrived to find the victim still in his room with severe burns on his head and torso.

"The victim was using rubbing alcohol on his upper body and then lit a cigarette," Rodriguez said. The man, Otis Jenning, 52, was taken to Loretto Hospital and pronounced dead at 12:11 p.m. The death appeared to be an accident, police said.

For a are idiots setting themselves on fire w/rubbing alchohol.

Lawn mower catches fire, blaze destroys home | 08/15/2007 | Lawn mower catches fire, blaze destroys home
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. --Danny Fendley started more than just his mower Tuesday afternoon when he tugged at the machine's pull chord.

The mower "exploded," starting a fire that soon destroyed Fendley's home in the hot, parched conditions.

He was trying to start the mower in the garage of his two-story brick home in the north Atlanta suburb of Johns Creek when the machine burst into flames. Before Fendley could extinguish the fire, it had spread all over the garage.

Then his wife tried to toss a can of gasoline out a window as the blaze spread, but she missed, spreading the fuel "everywhere," he said.

The flames engulfed the house in less than a minute. The two escaped without serious injury.

Lawn Mower Safety PSA

Tuesday, August 14

Rookie fireman prank

South African prankster Leon Schuster sets the scene for mayhem with tampered equipment and a rookie fireman and explosives trainee.4:41

Dane Cook talks about Firemen and Policemen

Adult language. 2:12

Firefighter Combat Challenge

Firefighters test their skills in this annual competition. 4:10

Playgrounds shut after a freak fire

Playgrounds shut after a freak fire | - Houston Chronicle
ARLINGTON — Arlington school officials have temporarily closed 20 playgrounds after a spontaneous combustion fire at a school playground last week.

Security video from Anderson Elementary School showed the fire breaking out with no sign of arson or other vandalism. Officials blamed Thursday's fire on the spontaneous combustion of the decomposing wood fiber surface of the playground.

Authorities say recent heavy rain left some material soaked, then it began decomposing in this month's hot weather.

Superintendent Mac Bernd says pea gravel will replace the wood chips on those playgrounds.

The changes are expected to be made within two weeks. Texas children prepare to return to classes Aug. 27.

Cat avoids house fire by wedging into couch - Pet Health -

Cat avoids house fire by wedging into couch - Pet Health -
WEST ORANGE, N.J. - A New Jersey cat may have only eight lives left after it survived a house fire by hiding in the couch.

Firefighters initially thought the feline, who belonged to one of the tenants in the two-story house, had been killed by flames and smoke Saturday night. But after putting out the blaze and surveying the damage, they found the cat wedged into the couch.

“To our amazement, it had survived,” Fire Chief Peter Smeraldo told The Star-Ledger of Newark. “They should change that cat’s name to Lucky.”

No one was injured, and the cat’s owner, who was ecstatic to have the animal back, took the cat to stay at a relative’s house.

Friday, August 3

Los Angeles Fire Department all 'aTwitter' over Web 2.0

Los Angeles Fire Department all 'aTwitter' over Web 2.0
August 03, 2007 (Computerworld) -- The Los Angeles Fire Department has been the toast of the blogosphere in recent weeks after its efforts at using the micro-blogging site Twitter came to light.

Twitter allows users to post short (140 characters or less) notes. The fire department uses Twitter to post information about fires or other emergencies that it is responding to. These messages are then sent to users signed up to receive the information on their mobile devices.

During the May fires in Los Angeles' Griffith Park, for example, the LAFD received press inquiries from the BBC and from news media in Prague, the Czech Republic, by way of Twitter, said Brian Humphrey, LAFD's public information officer. Humphrey maintains the Web 2.0 technology with another department spokesman, Ron Myers. The pair work 12-hour shifts to update the blog, send out twitters and other duties.

Government agencies are not usually known for using cutting-edge technology, but the LAFD has immersed itself in various Web 2.0 projects, including a blog, a real-time alert service, a Flickr photo site and a live Internet radio show.

Instead of a traditional phone interview with Computerworld, Humphrey and Myers suggested the interview take place live on the department's BlogTalkRadio channel. BlogTalkRadio is a free, Web-based tool that allows anyone to host a live Internet radio show and take callers from the phone. The shows can then be made available as a podcast via RSS and iTunes. Or the hosts can place a BlogTalkRadio flash player on their site or blog so users can listen to the radio broadcasts. The entire Computerworld interview with Humphrey and Myers is available here.

Humphrey said the department began looking at Web 2.0 technologies after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. While those stranded at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans were certainly hungry and thirsty, "they were dying a little bit at a time from a lack of information," he said. "They thought they were on their own Gilligan's Island."

The LAFD uses four attributes to characterize the success of Web 2.0 tools: desirable, beneficial, justifiable and sustainable.

"We can no longer afford to work at the speed of government," he said. "We have responsibilities to the public to move the information as quickly as possible ... so that they can make key decisions."

Interest in the LAFD's effort has grown; its blog just logged its 1 millionth visitor this year, and photos on its Flickr account have been viewed 500,000 times in the past year, Humphrey said. The department has made widgets available with content it produces and uses RSS to allow more users to subscribe to updates.

But the most popular effort has been the Twitter account, which now has about 190 followers who can receive Twitter updates from a mobile device. For example, a Twitter will report that a structural fire is being battled by 30 firefighters, or that a car accident has occurred. It reads like a dispatch log of sorts from the calls the department receives and answers.

"The idea for us is that not everyone who is in need of information in times of distress will be sitting in front of a computer," Humphrey said.

While no funds have been earmarked for these projects, and Humphrey and Myers spend time on and off the clock working on them, the LAFD has more than 80 Web 2.0 projects in the pipeline that it is testing.

Humphrey advises other government agencies testing the waters of Web 2.0 not to fall into a common misconception about the technology: That it will allow an organization's voice to be heard louder, more clearly and over a greater distance.

Instead, "having this Web 2.0 presence ... allows us to listen more clearly and more accurately over a greater area," he said. "It is all about getting much more feedback [from the public]."

But the department's journey to the Web has not been without its challenges. As Humphrey, a 22-year veteran of the department who has a propeller placed under his fire helmet in his office likes to note, "I don't have a problem running into a burning building ... but stepping out into the Internet was very intimidating."

Fire set by grounded boy killed his brother

A 15-year-old boy who killed his little brother by setting fire to the family home as revenge for being grounded, was sentenced to at least ten years imprisonment today.

Matthew Stringer, who was 14 at the time, had been caught stealing thousands of pounds from his older brother and was angry at the punishment dished out by his family who had also confiscated his Xbox computer console.

Stringer poured white spirit in the hall and stairway of his house in Wombwell, near Barnsley, before igniting the fire with a match. Sheffield Crown Court heard that he watched “impassively” as his panicked family tried to escape the house.

His mother, sister, two elder brothers and one of their girlfriends, who was six months pregnant, were forced to jump from upstairs windows to escape the blaze. One of the older brothers broke both his ankles and his badly burned mother spent a number of months in hospital as a result of the fire on November 3 last year.

In the rush to flee the burning building nobody noticed that the youngest brother Adam was still in his room. His body was found by firefighters in his badly charred bed, he died of smoke inhalation while sleeping under the covers still wearing his brand new headphones.

The court heard that Stringer’s behaviour had deteriorated in the months leading up to the fire. In October he told a friend at school that he was planning to burn down his house to kill his mother after she had grounded him.

Since his parents separated in August 2005, Matthew Stringer had lit fires in a skip, a field and a garden shed. He had also used a cigarette lighter to cause burns to his hands.

I 35 Bridge Collapse Minneapolis Local News Coverage

Security video camera that catches part of the bridge as it collapses.

Local news coverage an hour after I 35 bridge collapse.

For more on this story:
Divers impeded in search for dead at collapsed bridge
Minnesota Bridge Probe Focuses on Undetected Flaws (Update1)
Minnesota bridge called "deficient" in 1990
Tens of thousands of U.S. bridges rated deficient; repair costs estimated in the billions
Disaster response described as good
An all-or-nothing design
Bay Area bridges deemed safe