Four Killed in New York House Fire

Vestal firefighters faced a report of people trapped on the initial call
Published Thursday, May 21, 2015

VESTAL, N.Y. (AP) — Authorities say a mother and three children have died in an overnight house fire in upstate New York.

Vestal Assistant Fire Chief Bill Stout says firefighters answered a call just after 2 a.m. Thursday in the suburban town located just west of Binghamton on New York's Southern Tier. He says the victims were trapped inside the home, and a 15-year-old boy managed to escape by jumping out a window and running to a neighbor's house to call 911.

The victims haven't been identified.

A statement released by the Susquehanna Valley School District says two of the victims were students and the other two were the children's mother and a younger sibling.

Authorities say the father was not at home.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

WBNG: Four People Killed in Vestal House Fire

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Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

A mother and her three children died inside this Vestal, New York house fire on May 21, 2015 (WBNG image)

Feds Investigate New York Nuclear Plant Fire

Nuclear Regulatory Commission investigates aftermath of Indian Point fire
Published Wednesday, May 20, 2015

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — Federal regulators are investigating why water accumulated in a room of critical electrical equipment after a transformer fire at the Indian Point nuclear power plant.

Fire Shuts Down New York Nuclear Plant

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Tuesday it has sent a team to the plant in Buchanan, New York.

It said water appeared after a May 9 fire that destroyed a transformer, caused an oil spill and forced Indian Point 3 offline. It said the room's electrical equipment, which was undamaged, powers plant safety systems.

The fire was put out by a built-in system as well as on-site and outside firefighters.

A spokesman for Indian Point's owner said water from a sprinkler system flows to a floor drain in the electrical room by design, but did not drain as quickly as expected.

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Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Fire fighting apparatus enters the grounds of the the Indian Point nuclear power plant Saturday May 9, 2015, after a transformer failed at New York's Indian Point 3 nuclear power plant, causing a fire that has been extinguished in Buchanan, N.Y. A spokesman for Entergy says the unit has shut down automatically and is safe and stable. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

Buffalo Plans Firehouse Changes for Female Firefighters

Only six firehouses have separate bathrooms and sleeping quarters
DAVE GREBER, WIVB Published Wednesday, May 20, 2015

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Most of Buffalo’s firehouses are outdated, built decades before the first woman joined the ranks in the early 1980s. Since then, women have been forced to share facilities with the guys.

Everyone agrees that needs to change. But when, and at what cost?

There are 24 female firefighters among the ranks of the Buffalo Fire Department. And that number is only expected to grow, as the city pushes to diversify its force.

The problem, though, is just six of the city’s 20 fire houses are able to accommodate women with separate bathrooms and sleeping quarters.

In most instances, like here at station 4 on the city’s south side, women must share facilities with men.

“It caught me by surprise, so my office filed a resolution asking the city to looking at the buildings that don’t have the facilities already and possibly retrofit those facilities,” said Common Councilman Christopher Scanlon.

“Years ago, you probably only saw a female firefighters here and there,” he said. “But in recent years, the city is preaching diversity, advertising these exams to people of all backgrounds and different genders, so I think it’s important to have these facilities.”

The cost for updating or renovating firehouses varies depending on the source. Firefighter union leaders say houses need major work, and the cost could be in the tens of millions. Councilman Richard Fontana said the upgrades could be done for less than $5 million. The project’s cost and its scope are expected to be discussed in the coming weeks and months.

Buffalo Fire Commissiohner Garnell Whitfield said during a budget meeting last week he wants to make unisex areas that can be shared by men and women.

“I’m not really interested in making dedicated space for women in the department,” he said. “What I’m interested in is providing privacy for all the members of our department.”

Whitfield said new fire houses are updated, and allow for privacy for everyone.



There are other issues as well with some of these antiquated fire houses. Leaky roofs, holes in the ceiling.

“Those are some of the concerns I’ve raised with people in the department. I said we have people going out every day and risking their lives and they’re coming back to their quarters and they don’t have a decent place to rest at night. So it’s something we need to look at, is upgrading the facilities overall. ))

Updating 14 fire houses all at once is not possible. Both Scanlon and Fontana agree the city needs to take a longterm approach.

In the short term, the issue is set to be discussed at a finance committee meeting at 10 a.m., Tuesday in Council Chambers.

It’s the first step in what is expected to a lengthy process.

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In most instances, like here at station 4 on the city’s south side, women must share facilities with men. (WIVB photo)

FDNY Changes Entrance Exam

Department uses consultant recommendations to change physical exam
MICHAEL GARTLAND, The New York Post Published Friday, May 15, 2015

The FDNY has instituted changes to its entrance exam that critics charge will water down standards even more than the hiring of a female firefighter who flunked a fitness test.

Acting on the recommendations of a consultant, PSI Services, the FDNY is reducing the number of exercises that simulate pulling down a ceiling. It is also having supervisors use videos to evaluate trainees not on the time it takes to perform tasks, but on "a minimally acceptable pace of performance."

One FDNY veteran said those changes make little sense.

"The reason they developed a time standard was to make sure standards remain high and are trusted," said the veteran. "A subjective standard would undermine that trust."

PSI also urged the department to reorder the tasks in its functional skills test to "reduce the cumulative fatigue that would occur for a recruit."

The Law Department commissioned PSI to perform the study to guard against lawsuits from women and African-Americans - groups that have successfully pursued suits in the past, one city official noted.

The department came under fire from within more recently for graduating Rebecca Wax from its academy, despite the fact that she failed a key fitness exam.

City Councilwoman Liz Crowley (D-Queens), whose committee oversees the FDNY, noted that some of the recommendations will actually make testing more difficult for trainees, but that those tests will be "more fair."

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Fire Shuts Down New York Nuclear Plant

Transformer fire shuts down operations at Indian Point nuclear plant
Published Monday, May 11, 2015

BUCHANAN, N.Y. (AP) — A reactor at a New York nuclear power plant could be offline for weeks because of a transformer fire and oil leak.

Several thousand gallons of oil spilled into the Hudson River after a Saturday transformer fire on the non-nuclear side of the Indian Point plant.

The plant owner says it could be weeks before the plant's Unit 3 is restarted. The transformer must be replaced.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says transformer oil seeped into a holding tank that did not have the capacity to contain all the fluid. The state Department of Environmental Protection set up booms over an area about 300 feet in diameter to keep the oil from spreading.

The reactor itself has been deemed safe. The plant's other active reactor, known as Unit 2, is still operating.

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Security and fire personnel move about the Indian Point nuclear power plant Saturday May 9, 2015, after a transformer failed at New York's Indian Point 3 nuclear power plant, causing a fire that has been extinguished in Buchanan, N.Y. A spokesman for Entergy says the unit has shut down automatically and is safe and stable. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

Rescue at Buffalo Boarding House Fire

One person was still inside during fire in boarding house
One occupant was rescued from this boarding house fire in Buffalo on May 11, 2015. (WIVB photo)
Published Monday, May 11, 2015

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Buffalo Fire crews battled flames at a home at 262 High Street Monday morning. The fire started around 5:30 a.m. in the house that is used for boarding rooms, where around a dozen people lived.

“I heard something like an alarm clock go off. I figured that’s what it was. Then I heard someone yell, ‘Fire! Fire! Get out of the building!'” recalled one resident, Vincent Purpura. “When I opened up my door, there was smoke all over the place. I ran out the door and then all of the sudden, I saw flames shooting out.”

When firefighters arrived, they found flames coming out the front windows of the home, out the side of the building, and over the peak of the roof. “Very bad conditions here. Rapidly deteriorating,” said Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield. “Lots of fire. It looked like the structure may be compromised.”

The decision was made to pull firefighters out for a defensive attack, but then firefighters got word that a man was still trapped inside. “Rescue One went in the back of the building without a charged hose line, were able to find the victim and bring him out,” Whitfield said. The victim was unresponsive when he was pulled from the building, but fire personnel and paramedics with Rural/Metro were able to resuscitate him at the scene. He was taken to Buffalo General. News 4 is still waiting for word on the man’s condition now.

One firefighter also was taken to the hospital after having a medical emergency while fighting the fire. Whitfield said “one member of rescue one did go down with what looks like a seizure.” The News 4 crew on the scene Monday morning saw the firefighter walk out of the house with support from other firefighters. He was awake and alert as he was taken to the ambulance to be transported to Buffalo General.

Crews estimate the damage to the building is $75,000. One person we spoke to said he only moved in about a month ago, and he lost everything in the flames.

The Red Cross says it is helping ten people after that fire.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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“The” Fire

“If I could have gotten in, I would have gotten in.”

By Billy Goldfeder
Published Wednesday, May 6, 2015

There are lots of discussions these days about firefighting. Some of it is good and some of it leads to head scratching. But that's okay, let’s keep talking and learning from facts, experiences and each other.

While we are talking we need to not lose focus of the fact that there are those fires where we must decide immediately what to do. Unless you really are not ‘into the job’ (career, volunteer-whatever, as John Salka says) you have, in the back of your mind is the understanding that the next fire may be “The” fire. It's why we plan, train and train. And train some more.

When we get to “The” fire we must rapidly size-up the scene, looking at the conditions and needs while keeping in mind our immediately available resources.

There was a horrible dwelling fire in Baldwinsville, New York last Sunday that I want to pass on to you. It was “The” fire to the members of this fire department.

Two-year-old Nora Lamirande was napping inside her upstairs bedroom Sunday while her mom and four-year old brother were outside in the nice weather. The brother ran to a neighbor's home and his mother followed after. When she looked back to return home she saw her home, with her little girl inside, on fire.

The Fire

Neighbors called 911 immediately. The Baldwinsville firefighters responded fast; really fast. Neighbors tried to help until the first fire department unit arrived, which did so within three minutes. Neighbors first tried to rescue the little girl but the fire was too heavy and the smoke too thick. Fire investigators said the fire started in the kitchen because of something on the stove.

Baldwinsville Firefighters responded in minutes. Impressive response times for any FD.
1431: Dispatched
1434: On Scene
1434: Working Fire Transmitted
1434: Second Alarm Transmitted
1435: Crew goes in and finds child on second floor inside a crib
1439: Firefighter (Deputy Chief) collapses on front lawn after handing off child for treatment

40-year veteran firefighter Deputy Chief Anthony DiGregorio was the first to arrive and attempt entry, but the fire conditions stopped his heroic attempts. He tried his best and he gave it his all. He made a difficult, but no other option, decision to wait for the engine company that was on the way, while he sized up the fire and determined exactly what to do when companies arrived.

Chief DiGregorio told the media "I didn't want that child to die alone. People know me. I would have... if I could have gotten in there; I would have gotten in there."



Chief DiGregorio told Engine 7 to hit the stairs with their line. The fire conditions were extremely heavy but there was a baby inside and a family on the front lawn. Engine 7's crew, led by Lieutenant Corey Perkins did just that, protected the stairs. They needed a way to get in, and get out, if at all possible. Ladder 2's crew, with Lieutenant Tony Harper, went up the stairs behind DiGregorio and Battalion Chief Tim Kennedy, also on the scene, to protect their means of egress.

After chiefs DiGregorio and Kennedy found the baby, thanks to the engine and truck crews, they removed her and handed her over to EMS. Chief DiGregorio collapsed on the front lawn; a superhuman attempt in a beyond human situation where the fire conditions were extremely oppressive. Chiefs DiGregorio, Kennedy and their companies did what they did based upon decades of experience and decades of training noting that the two go hand-in-hand. When we follow this example, when “The” fire comes in, we apply our very best in a battle that we sometimes win and sometimes don't win. It is not always within our power.

The loss of a victim is never easy.
The loss of a child victim goes beyond that.
While this is about as tough as tough gets, those Baldwinsville firefighters can hopefully find some level of peace knowing that they did what firefighters are expected to do, and they did their very best.

Hearing and then reading about the loss of this child hit me.

Middle of the day?
How can that happen?
All the questions go through our minds.

I'm a Dad and I'm a Poppie. I LOVE being a Dad and a Poppie. They are my two without question most important jobs. If you are a parent or a grandparent you know the love and feeling of "I would do anything for these kids" and when you are a firefighter, it multiplies and emotionally explodes in numerous dimensions especially when you hear about “The” fire. In this case the Baldwinsville Fire Department members experienced “The” fire with all the emotions that go along with it, as parents and as firefighters.

The fact regarding the cause of the fire is that food was left on the stove. We have all done it, but this time it resulted in a horrific outcome for the family. There is another fact also and that is that the Baldwinsville firefighters did their very best. As firefighters we often feel that our best (solid training, rapid response, etc.) is not enough. Sometimes it isn't but it's all we can do when faced with “The” fire.

Our condolences to everyone involved in this very tough situation.
 

Deadly van Buren Fire Weights Heavily on Hearts

Deadly Van Buren Fire Kills Two-Year Old

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When we get to “The” fire we must rapidly size-up the scene, looking at the conditions and needs while keeping in mind our immediately available resources. (CNYCentral image)

USFA: New York Firefighter Collapses at Fire

Poughkeepsie firefighter experienced cardiac problems while at a structure fire
United States Fire Administration Published Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The U.S. Fire Administration has announced the official on-duty death of Firefighter Timothy Gunther, 54, of the Poughkeepsie Fire Department, on May 5, 2015.

While engaged in rescue and suppression duties at the scene of a residential structure fire, Firefighter Gunther began to experience cardiac related symptoms. Firefighter Gunther was treated on scene and transported to Vassar Brothers Medical Center where despite all efforts, including surgery, Gunther’s conditioned worsened and he succumbed to his injury.

Tribute is being paid to Firefighter Timothy Gunther at http://apps.usfa.fema.gov/firefighter-fatalities/
 
To date, 33 firefighter fatalities have been reported to USFA in 2015.  Year-to-date and annual USFA firefighter fatality reports are posted online at http://apps.usfa.fema.gov/firefighter-fatalities/fatalityData/statistics

 
Fatality status is provisional and may change as USFA contacts State Fire Marshals to verify fatality incident information.

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To date, 33 firefighter fatalities have been reported to USFA in 2015.

FDNY Passes Recruit Despite Failing Physical Test

Male and female firefighters upset over graduation of recruit who could not pass test
SUSAN EDELMAN, The New York Post Published Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The FDNY for the first time in its history will allow someone who failed its crucial physical-fitness test to join the Bravest, The Post has learned.

Rebecca Wax, 33, is set to graduate Tuesday from the Fire Academy without passing the Functional Skills Training test, a grueling obstacle course of job-related tasks performed in full gear with a limited air supply, an insider has revealed.

"They're going to allow the first person to graduate without passing because this administration has lowered the standard," said the insider, who is familiar with the training.

Upon graduation, Wax would be assigned to a firehouse and tasked with the full duties of a firefighter.

Some FDNY members are angry.

FFN Discussion: FDNY Fitness Fail - What are YOUR Standards?

"We're being asked to go into a fire with someone who isn't 100 percent qualified," the source said. "Our job is a team effort. If there's a weak link in the chain, either civilians or our members can die."

Wax's graduation comes as the city celebrates the FDNY's 150th anniversary and as the department is under pressure by the de Blasio administration to hire more women.

Only 44 of the FDNY's 10,500 firefighters are female.

While Wax fell short, two other female probies in the graduating class passed the FST with flying colors.

"They're kicking butt. They're doing better than 50 percent of the class," the insider said. "When they get assigned to a firehouse, they'll be welcomed with open arms because they've done what everyone else has gone through."

But those women aren't pleased about Wax's treatment, either.

"A lot of the girls in the field are pissed because they feel like they're getting lumped into the same category of a female getting special treatment and not meeting the same standards as the males," the insider added. "It devalues what the women in the field have accomplished."

In the FST exam, probies must breathe through a mask attached to an air tank while carrying up to 50 pounds of gear.

They must climb six flights of stairs, stretch hose lines, raise ladders, perform tasks that simulate breaking doors and pulling down ceilings, and drag dummies through tunnels with no visibility. They must complete the course in 17 minutes, 50 seconds or less.

Despite many attempts over the Fire Academy's 18-week training course, Wax completed the test just once - but it took her more than 22 minutes, the source said.

FDNY Firefighter Candidate Prep: CPAT

FDNY Firefighter Candidate Introduction to Probationary Firefighter School

FDNY Fire Academy: Physical Training Session 1

FDNY Fire Academy: Physical Training Session 2


Under the FDNY's new hiring policy, probies must earn at least 75 percent on the combined requirements of academics, hands-on skills and physical fitness.

Wax had a high grade-point average on her academics, which officials determined offset her FST deficiency, the insider said.

Last December, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro told a City Council hearing on the FDNY's efforts to recruit women that he had changed FST requirements to lower obstacles.

"We still grade the people. You can still fail it if you go beyond the time, but you're not automatically failed from the program," he said.

He also indicated he wanted to act before a possible sex-discrimination lawsuit after the city paid $98 million to settle a lawsuit that accused the FDNY of discriminating against minorities.

"We must no longer wait for a judge's ruling to tell us what fairness means," Nigro said.

United Women Firefighters, an organization of FDNY women, objects to the FST test, contending it unfairly bars females.

Wax had previously received another break to join the FDNY after pleading in June 2011 for a City Council bill that raised the age limit from 29 to 35 for applicants like her who first took the entrance exam in 2007. A hiring freeze imposed by federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis in the discrimination suit put them in limbo.

"I want nothing more than to be a New York City firefighter," Wax, then 29, had testified at a hearing.

Nigro, questioned by The Post during an FDNY anniversary celebration at a Midtown firehouse Saturday, refused to comment on Wax's fitness failure.

"Every one of our 305 probies have passed and will be graduating Tuesday," he said. "She has met the requirements."

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