Four-Alarm Fire Burns Eight Rowhomes in Queens

Buffalo Firefighters Rescue Man from Blaze

Firefighters pulled a man from the second floor of a two-alarm fire
MARK BELCHER, WIVB Published Friday, March 13, 2015

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A man rescued from a burning East side home was taken to Erie County Medical Center Thursday evening. Two firefighters were also hurt fighting the fire.

Fire crews responded to an alarm at the three-story house at 147 Durham Avenue where they found the man in his 50s in a room on the second floor. Officials say an ambulance rushed one man from the house to ECMC; he was in serious condition late Thursday night.

Officials struggled to battle flames, and say it wound up being a costly fire. It damaged roughly $30,000 to the contents of the home and $80,000 to the structure. Buffalo Fire Department sources told News 4 that the injured firefighters recovered and were returned to duty later Thursday evening.

Fire crews say they had to bring in extra equipment and it almost became a two-alarm fire.

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Two firefighters were injured during a house fire on Durham Avenue. (WIVB photo)

Rash of Fatal Fires Agonize New York and Pennsylvania Communities

Four fires, three on Monday, have killed five people
Fatal fires across western New York and northern Pennsylvania have claimed the lives of five people. (WIVB image)
Published Tuesday, March 10, 2015

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A devastating string of fires have plagued communities across western New York and northern Pennsylvania, killing five people.

Investigations are underway in four recent fires, three of which blazed Monday — the last of which burned on Saturday.

Fire rekindles after woman loses life in morning blaze, West Seneca, N.Y.

Firefighters responded not once but twice to a fire on Dirkson Avenue. When they arrived the first time, they stopped it from destroying a neighboring home. It damaged that home’s roof and side. But the second time it broke out, plumes of fire and smoke raised into the air. .

After fighting the fire the first time around they said 68-year-old Bernadine Kowalsk died after she was unable to leave the home. Firefighters did rescue a dog from the blaze.

A fire official on the scene said buried hydrants prevented firefighters from attacking the blaze at full speed. He said their “initial attack” was hampered.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Elderly man, dogs perish in fire, Buffalo, N.Y.

The life of an elderly man and his two dogs were lost after a fire claimed their lives in a south Buffalo home. Firefighters responded to Weyand Avenue in the morning to fight the fire which wreaked havoc on the inside of the home.

Firefighters say they think the fire caused about $100,000 in total damage, but haven’t yet said how the fire started. The cause is under investigation.

Fire claims the life of an elderly citizen, Cheektowaga, N.Y.

Firefighters say a blaze on Pine Circle in Cheektowaga may have been due to a hoarding situation. They say they arrived to the house after a neighbor called 911 Saturday morning.

Despite their efforts, firefighters were unable to save the life of the man inside the blaze. They said it took a toll on their firefighters.

Officials have yet to identify the man who died in the blaze but did say he was an elderly man.

Couple dies Monday in a Potter County town, Bingham, Pa.

Firefighters responded to a morning blaze in the Bingham Township which killed two senior citizens. Officials say Gary Briggs, 67, and Mary Briggs, 70, died in the blaze.

The bodies of the couple were found in the rubble after firefighters put out the fire — which they say was fully enveloped in flames when they arrived.

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FDNY Swears in First Female, Lesbian Chaplain

Reverend Kansfield is the first female and first openly gay chaplain in the department
TATIANA SCHLOSSBERG, New York Times News Service Published Monday, March 9, 2015

NEW YORK - Maybe it is her short, spiky hair, or the cigarettes, which she gives to the men repairing the wiring in her Brooklyn apartment. Maybe it is because she swears. For whatever reason, the Rev. Ann Kansfield does not fit the stereotype of a minister.

Not that she is worried about meeting anyone s expectations for what a clergywoman should say or do.

We shouldn t have to hide ourselves or worry about being judged, said Kansfield, who ministers at the Greenpoint Reformed Church.

In her newest ministry, that self-assuredness is likely to serve her well.

Kansfield, 39, was sworn in last week as a chaplain of the New York Fire Department, the first female chaplain and the first openly gay chaplain in a department that for decades resisted efforts to diversify its ranks.

A civil rights lawsuit that led to oversight by a federal court and to a settlement with the city last year has prompted changes in recruiting and led to an increase in the number of blacks and Hispanics graduating from the Fire Academy.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat who took office last year, and his fire commissioner, Daniel A. Nigro, back the efforts, but the city faces a long road in remaking the department to be more representative of New York.

Kansfield is familiar with the sort of institutional resistance that long marked the Fire Department. The New York branch of the Reformed Church in America would not ordain her, despite her being deemed fit for ministry by her seminary professors.

She was instead ordained through the United Church of Christ. (Because the two denominations recognize each other s clergy members, she is able to preach in the Reformed Church.)

The Fire Department currently has seven chaplains: six of them Christian and one Jewish. Kansfield will be the eighth. Chaplains perform a variety of services: They provide counseling to firefighters and department personnel; they perform blessings and invocations; and they assist with notifying families in the rare instances when a firefighter is killed in the line of duty.

The chaplains, who receive a starting salary of about $20,000, work part time and are on call a few days a week. They wear the uniform of a chief, with special brass to signify their chaplaincy, and are issued emergency lights and sirens for their cars, in Kansfield s case, a silver Toyota Prius.

When Kansfield, who comes from a family of firefighters, joins the department, she will be one of three Protestant ministers serving a force that has been predominantly Catholic, which is not unfamiliar.

My whole ministry has been in environments that don t look like me, she said. I live in a predominantly Catholic neighborhood. Their faith is not like mine, and they don t look like me. But that doesn t mean I won t have a ministry with them.

Much of the recent scrutiny of the Fire Department s hiring practices has focused on increasing racial diversity. The class of recruits that graduated from the training academy in 2013 was one of the most diverse in the department s history: 62 percent of the trainees were racial minorities.

But gender remains an issue as well, dating back decades. In 1982, several women brought a class action suit against the department, and that led to a revision of its physical exam and the hiring of women.

As of this year, there are 44 female firefighters in the department, the most in its history, but the number has not risen much over the years and they are a tiny fraction of a force of more than 10,000 firefighters.

Sarinya Sriaskul, a firefighter and the president of the United Women Firefighters, an organization that includes many of the city s female firefighters, said that the department is changing, and that the hiring of Kansfield is a sign of that.

This is a different fire department than just two years ago, and hiring a female chaplain is a step in the right direction, Sriaskul said.

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Lexis Nexis
Copyright 2011 Lexus Nexus. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

FDNY Rescue 1 Celebrates 100 Years

Manhattan Borough President proclaims March 8 as “Rescue Company 1 Day”
Capt. Rex Morris addresses the large crowd commemorating Rescue 1's centennial. (FDNY photo)
Published Monday, March 9, 2015

NEW YORK - FDNY members past and present gathered at the quarters of Rescue 1 on March 8 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the country’s first rescue company.

"The members of Rescue 1 answers the call for help without fail,” Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. “Your dedication and commitment was established a century ago and will continue for the next 100 years."

Firefighters at the company respond to numerous emergencies throughout the city, including large-scale incidents like the East Harlem gas explosion in March 2014 and the window washers trapped outside 1 World Trade Center in November 2014.

They are also known to be innovators, often inventing and developing tools and equipment that are used by rescue companies around the world.

"This is a celebration of everything that makes the Department so special," said Chief of Department James Leonard.

Members of the firehouse have earned more than 60 medals and dozens of citations for bravery.

And 15 members of the company have died in the line of duty over the last century, including 11 on Sept. 11, 2001.

"The actions of the members here show their commitment to the people of New York," Rescue 1 Capt. Rex Morris said. "And their knowledge and training will passed on and will continue to set the standard as we move into the next 100 years."

During the ceremony Manhattan Borough President Gayle Brewer presented the firehouse with a proclamation, officially naming March 8 "Rescue Company 1 Day" in Manhattan.

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  • Plane Skids off Runway at LaGuardia Airport

    Passengers suffer minor injuries after airliner hits berm on edge of Flushing Bay
    KAREN MATTHEWS, Associated Press Published Thursday, March 5, 2015

    NEW YORK (AP) — A plane from Atlanta skidded off a runway at LaGuardia Airport while landing Thursday, crashing through a chain-link fence and coming to rest with its nose perilously close to the edge of an icy bay.

    Photos showed the nose of the plane resting on a berm that separates the runway from Flushing Bay. Passengers saddled with bags and bundled up in heavy coats and scarves slid down an inflated chute to safety on the snowy pavement.

    Delta Flight 1086, carrying 125 passengers and five crew members, veered off the runway at around 11:10 a.m., authorities said. Six people suffered non-life-threatening injuries, said Joe Pentangelo, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the airport.

    Emergency responders are still assessing people, and one person was seen getting into an ambulance at the airport.

    Images show the plane resting in several inches of snow. Passengers trudged through the snow in an orderly line after climbing off the plane.

    Among them was New York Giants tight end Larry Donnell, who said he felt blessed to be safe after the scary landing.

    "I feel fine physically and hopefully all the other passengers did not have any significant injuries," Donnell said in an email. "We were all shocked and alarmed when the plane started to skid, but most importantly, as far as I know, all of the passengers and flight crew were able to exit the plane safely."

    Michael J. Moritz Jr., a well-known Broadway producer, said he was commenting on the heavy snow on the runway when he saw the plane come in for a landing.

    "Landing looked normal, didn't look abnormally rough at all," Moritz wrote in an email. "Once on the ground, the plane lost control very quickly, visibility was low."

    Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines said passengers were bused to a terminal and it is working with authorities to figure out what caused the crash.

    Pentangelo said the plane is apparently leaking fuel.

    Both the airport's runways are closed until further notice, which is standard procedure after such incidents.

    The National Transportation Safety Board is sending an investigator to the scene to secure the plane's flight data and cockpit voice recorders and to document damage to the plane and other evidence, said spokeswoman Kelly Nantel.

    The Delta flight was landing on LaGuardia's main runway — a stretch of pavement that is 7,003 feet long and 150 feet wide. On the right side of the runway are a taxiway and the airport terminals. On the left is a berm, fence and Flushing Bay.

    In 2005, a safety buffer was added to the end of the runway at LaGuardia, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. It was updated just last year. Called an engineered material arresting system, the buffer is typically a crushable material that can extend 1,000 feet beyond the runway. It is designed to slow or stop a plane that overruns, undershoots or veers off the side of the runway.

    The tires of the aircraft sink into the lightweight material and the aircraft is slows as it rolls through the material.

    In the case of Flight 1086, it appears that the jet didn't end in the buffer zone but instead veered off the runway and into the berm separating the airport from Flushing Bay.

    LaGuardia is one of the nation's most-congested airports. It's also one of the more difficult ones to land at due to its close proximity to three other busy airports. When rain or snow reduces visibility, the number of landings slows down. The same occurs during high winds.

    John M. Cox, who spent 25 years flying for US Airways and is now CEO of consultancy Safety Operating Systems, notes that LaGuardia's runway is "reasonably short" but still safe.

    At airports with longer runways, pilots will glide a few feet above the runway and gently touchdown. At LaGuardia, "you put the airplane on the ground and stop it."

    "You're concentrating on getting your plane on the runway and stopped," Cox says.

    The airport has had its share of planes mishaps. In July 2013, the front landing gear of a Southwest Airlines flight arriving at the airport collapsed right after the plane touched down on the runway, sending the aircraft skidding before it came to a halt. Ten passengers had minor injuries. Federal investigators found that the jet touched down on its front nose wheel before the sturdier main landing gear in back touched down.


    AP Airplane Writer Scott Mayerowitz, AP Drama Writer Mark Kennedy and Associated Press writers Joe Frederick and Meghan Barr in New York contributed to this report.

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

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    Emergency vehicles line up outside of a terminal at LaGuardia Airport in New York, Thursday, March 5, 2015. A plane from Atlanta skidded off a runway at the airport while landing Thursday, crashing through a chain-link fence. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)


    FDNY Marks 40th Anniversary of Telephone Company Fire

    Smoke from landmark five-alarm fire caused long-term health effects for many firefighters
    Fire Department City of New York Published Friday, February 27, 2015

    Active and retired FDNY members gathered at Headquarters on Feb. 27 to mark the 40th anniversary of the Telephone Company fire.

    “This fire reminds us all of the real dangers of the job,” said Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro, who was among the firefighters who responded to the fire.

    Chief of Department James Leonard, whose father worked as a switch operator, said “I’ve never seen smoke like that, conditions were brutal. It tested the skills, training and ability of all members responding that day.”

    The FDNY was called Second Avenue and 13th Street at 12:25 a.m. on Feb. 27, 1975.

    The fire was at the New York Telephone Company’s main switching centers, housed in an 11-story building constructed in 1924. It started in a large cable vault located in the cellar that contained 488 telephone cables, with anywhere from 400 to 2,700 pairs of lines and covered in either lead or polyethylene.

    Firefighters encountered numerous structural obstacles when battling the fire, including a partition in the building made of steel and wire glass used to protect the switching equipment from dust, as well as windows made of wire glass in heavy metal frames that were sealed shut and covered in sheets of Lexan plastic or metal screens. On top of that, heavy, acrid smoke poured from the building and around 30,000 square feet on each floor was covered in wires that glowed and radiated tremendous heat.

    “It was hard to find the exact location of the fire due to the thick smoke,” retired Firefighter Dan Noonan, Ladder 3, said. “There was zero visibility.”

    The fire knocked out phone service, including 911, to more than 173,000 homes and businesses.

    It escalated to five alarms, and 700 firefighters from 72 units rotated to fight the fire for more than 16 hours before it was placed under control just before 5 p.m. Nearly 300 of those firefighters were injured.

    While no firefighters were killed at the fire, many suffered long-term health effects from their exposure to the smoke.

    “Because of this landmark fire, we knew we had to do better,” Dr. Kerry Kelly, FDNY’s Chief Medical Officer said. “We needed to get it right.”

    She said the long-term health effects of the fire, including cancer and other diseases, inspired the FDNY’s Medical Office to create the World Trade Center Medical Monitoring Program after 9/11 to better treat both active and retired members.

    “We strive to do more,” Dr. David Prezant, FDNY’s Chief Medical Officer, said. “We now know the dangers and are focused on prevention.”

    Everyone attending the commemoration lauded the heroism of the members who responded that day, many of whom were in attendance.

    Firefighter Noonan said, “The valor was in the finest traditions of the Fire Department.”

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    FDNY members respond to the Telephone Company Fire on Feb. 27, 1975. (FDNY photo)

  • FDNY Responds to Building Collapse in Manhattan

    FDNY and FDNY EMS respond to a collapse in Midtown that injured one person
    Firefighters watch as others work to shore up the outer shell of a midtown Manhattan building that was in the process of being demolished when it partially collapsed, injuring at least one person, construction workers said, in New York, Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015. Rubble from the building damaged a yellow school bus parked on the street. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
    Published Thursday, February 26, 2015

    NEW YORK (AP) — The outer shell of a midtown Manhattan building that was in the process of being demolished has partially collapsed, injuring at least one person.

    Construction workers say the collapse Wednesday afternoon sounded like an explosion. Rubble from the building damaged a yellow school bus parked on the street.

    Firefighters are using drilling equipment to examine the wreckage.

    Police say one person injured in the collapse on West 57th Street has been taken to a hospital in serious condition.

    The city Buildings Department planned a news conference on the collapse later Wednesday.

    The incident happened the day after a construction worker at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn was crushed to death when several steel beams fell on him.

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


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


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