New York Firefighters’ Union Vows to Restore Ambulance Service

Lockport board had voted to drop fire department’s ambulance service due to costs
THOMAS J. PROHASKA, The Buffalo News Published Friday, August 8, 2014

LOCKPORT - The president of the Lockport Professional Fire Fighters Association vowed Wednesday that the union will force the city to restore Fire Department ambulance service.

But while the legal battle plays out, union President Kevin W. Pratt said, he's sure the city will turn over ambulance service to a private company, so he had plenty of suggestions for the Common Council, aimed at making the private service as much like the Fire Department's as possible.

Pratt attended the Council meeting to read aloud a letter he delivered to the city's attorney a few days ago, promising, "We will challenge this with all available legal means."

Pratt asserted that the ambulance service is bargained-for union work and can't be unilaterally done away with by the city.

The Fire Board voted, 4-1, July 22 to drop the Fire Department's rescue service, which the city has had for 40 years, because of the city's financial crisis.

Mayor Anne E. McCaffrey said last week that she expected the Council to vote Wednesday to issue a request for proposals from ambulance operators, but that wasn't on the agenda.

Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano said the task of preparing such a document had proved more complex than he expected. McCaffrey said she wasn't sure whether the delay would keep the city's two ambulances operating past Sept. 1, which she had named as the likely effective date of the switchover.

Pratt said the city needs to insist that any private operator dedicate two ambulances to Lockport, because if only one were available, the city would be left uncovered by out-of-town hospital transfers, which is a major revenue source for private operators.

He said the city should insist on a response time of four minutes or less and that the ambulances be staffed "at paramedic level." Pratt said the contract should include sanctions if "national standards are not met."

Former Alderwoman Diane M. Tuohey, noting that 30 of Lockport's 36 firefighters are paramedics, said the city really should add a third ambulance to take advantage of that and make more money in ambulance fees. Those fees are the fourth-largest revenue source the city has, at about $600,000 a year. Only property taxes, sales taxes and state financial aid are bigger.

However, McCaffrey has said, and Pratt concurred, that the two ambulances would have to be replaced in a year or two at a cost of about $300,000.

The city has been trying to cut Fire Department overtime, which has cost nearly $500,000 so far this year, by reducing minimum staffing from nine to seven firefighters per shift. Although the city won a court ruling allowing that, the change won't be instituted until the ambulances are parked.

McCaffrey told the audience at the Council meeting that she expects the State Comptroller's Office to release an audit on the city's cash flow situation soon, since the city has already sent in a response to the draft version. A second audit on other aspects of the city's finances also is being prepared by the state.

Wednesday, the Council reiterated its intention to apply to the Financial Restructuring Board for Local Governments, a state agency, for fiscal advice and possible grants or loans of up to $5 million. The board can serve as the hearing panel for binding arbitrations sought by fire and police unions.

The Council passed that measure in December, but McCaffrey said the Comptroller's Office advised her that it might be best to redo it, since the city has changed mayors and Council presidents this year.

McCaffrey said she and City Clerk Richelle J. Pasceri are compiling the documentation needed for the application and plan to send it by Friday.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com

Comment Now: Post Your Thoughts & Comments on This Story

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


New York Firefighters Battle Multiple Fires Overnight

Approximately 75 firefighters responded to fires in six different locations in Tonawanda area
Goundry Street fire is one of nine fires overnight in North Tonawanda and the City of Tonawanda on August 4, 2014. (WIVB photo)
Published Tuesday, August 5, 2014

NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) - Firefighters have been called to nine fires at six locations Tuesday morning. Fortunately, no injuries have been reported.

“Someone is setting fires in North Tonawanda and the City of Tonawanda and we don’t know who is it right now,” said Chief of Police William Hall.

Firefighters were first called to a fire on Zimmerman Street around 11:30 p.m. Monday. It appears a pickup truck parked between two houses caught fire and then spread to surrounding homes.

Shortly after that fire, firefighters were called to another fire on Ganson Street. Our News 4 photographer on the scene saw a car on fire in the driveway, that spread to two nearby homes.

WIVB Photos: Nine Fires Overnight

Following that fire, crews were dispatched to Goundry Street. The fire started in a vehicle around 1:45 a.m. and spread to an eight-unit apartment building. Four of the apartments were occupied.

Neighbors told our News 4 photographer that the fire was near the rear of home, and then there was an explosion. The City of Tonawanda Fire Department assisted in battling the flames. It took crews hours to fight the fire.

Firefighters said the fire was suspicious, but never said if it was intentionally set.

Residents of the apartment building spoke to News 4 about their experience.

One resident said, “How can it happen? That was the first thing that came to my mind.”

Another resident said, “Who would do something? How would it happen? Who would do something like that? I don’t think they realize that everything we own is gone, we can’t get anything back. It’s a good thing nobody was hurt, everybody is safe. We’re all out, everything can be replaced.”

n a completely different situation, firefighters were called to Enterprise Avenue in the City of Tonawanda.

Investigators don’t know who started the fires. They are talking to witnesses to learn more.

“Evidence is being collected that might lead us to get some kind of description. There are people that saw suspicious people in the area,” said Chief Hall.

The assistant fire chief said he does not believe this is a copy-cat situation from the fires last month on 5th Street.

A firefighter on Goundry Street spoke about the connection between the fires. “They’re all under investigation right now, and they all started in a similar fashion. “

If you have any information on the fires, call 911 or 692-4312.

Comment Now: Post Your Thoughts & Comments on This Story

New York Firefighters Battle Multiple Fires Overnight

Over 2,000 9/11 First Responders Diagnosed with Cancer

New York City hospital tally raises the total number of the ill to 2,518
In this Jan. 8, 2001 file photo, a rescue worker wearing a dust mask, peers through a cloud of dust created by an excavator at the World Trade Center site in New York. A decade’s worth of study has answered only a handful of questions about the hundreds of health conditions believed to be related to the tons of gray dust that fell on the city when the trade center collapsed, from post-traumatic stress disorder, asthma and respiratory illness to vitamin deficiencies, strange rashes and cancer. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Published Tuesday, July 29, 2014

NEW YORK - More than 2,500 of the responders to the 9/11 attacks and Ground Zero workers have been diagnosed with cancer as a result of their exposure at the site.

The New York Post reported that the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City recently tallied 1,655 responders in the World Trade Center Health program who have cancer as a result of their work at Ground Zero. The 1,655 is among the police, hard hats, sanitation workers, other city employees and volunteers under the program's supervision.

That number rises to 2,518 when paramedics and firefighters are included -- the FDNY announced 863 cancer patients in their last tally Friday.

"I'm hoping they rush more cases like mine, where we're not expected to last long," said a retired FDNY captain who received an expedited payment of $1.5 million to treat lung disease and inoperable pancreatic cancer.

"They couldn't take it out without killing me," the 63-year-old former firefighter said. "I was a very active guy. Now there's not much I can do."

He commandeered a city bus on 9/11 and closed the Brooklyn Bridge so he and his team could get to the towers to join the search and rescue efforts.

"I knew that day that a lot of us would get sick," he told the Post.

Only 881 of 1,145 claims for compensation from the VCF for cancer have been approved. The rest remain under review. Those who qualify for payouts from the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund won't receive the rest of their money until 2016 -- 15 years after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The VCF expects many more victims and their families to come forward before the October 12 deadline for cancer-related claims. They did not comment on how many have died.

According to NYC.gov, all claimants must file within two years of their diagnosis for a 9/11-related illness and all applications must be submitted by October 3, 2016.

Comment Now: Post Your Thoughts & Comments on This Story

Lexis Nexis
Copyright 2011 Lexus Nexus. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Five-Alarm Fire at Bronx Supermarket

One Dead, Several Others Injured in New York Bus Rollover

Multiple companies responded to crash on I-87 north of Albany
MICHAEL VIRTANEN, Associated Press Published Friday, July 18, 2014

NORTH HUDSON, N.Y. (AP) — A Canadian tour bus carrying 56 people rolled over Friday in upstate New York, killing one person and injuring others, police said.

The bus traveling from Quebec City to New York City for a three-day tour rolled over at about 7:30 a.m. on Interstate 87, also known as the Adirondack Northway, according to Josiane Grimard of JaimonVoyage.com, the tour operator.

State police said several people were being treated at hospitals for mostly minor injuries. One person was airlifted from the scene.

Grimard had no word on the cause. She said the vehicle used for the tour was owned by a subcontractor, Fleur de Lys. The subcontractor did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Multiple local rescue squads responded to the scene 90 miles north of Albany, where the bus was on its side in the median.

Essex County Emergency Services Director Don Jaquish told the Adirondack Daily Enterprise that several people trapped inside the bus had to be removed by emergency personnel.

"I'm sure a lot of them crawled through the top hatches because the bus was on its side," he said.

Jaquish said the bus was filled with college-age students and their relatives. Grimard said it was not a college-sponsored tour.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comment Now: Post Your Thoughts & Comments on This Story

Associated Press
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Investigators look over the scene of a bus accident on Interstate 87, also known as the Adirondack Northway, in North Hudson, N.Y. on Friday July 18, 2014. Officials say a Canadian tour bus carrying more than 50 people rolled over, killing one and injuring others. The tour operator says the bus was traveling from Quebec City to New York City. Josiane Grimard of JaimonVoyage.com says the bus crashed at 7:30 a.m. She had no word on the cause. She said the vehicle was owned by a subcontractor. (AP Photo/John DiGiacomo)
A Canadian tour bus carrying 54 people from Quebec City to New York City rests on its side after rolling over on the Northway in the Adirondacks in Essex County, N.Y., Friday, July 18, 2014. New York state police spokeswoman Darcy Wells had no word on possible injuries or deaths. (AP Photo/Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Catherine Moore)


Popular FDNY Charity Calendar No Longer All-Male

11-year veteran was discouraged from trying out because of her gender
Published Wednesday, July 16, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — The FDNY calendar has a new look.

For the first time, a female firefighter appears in the famed charity calendar of hard bodies.

Danae Mines (duh-NAY'-uh MYNZ) of Engine Co. 60 in the South Bronx is Miss March. She signed calendars in Times Square on Tuesday.

The 11-year veteran booked the part after attending an open call for firefighters last year. She says she was discouraged from trying out at first because of her gender.

Mines is one of only 41 female firefighters in the department.

The Calendar of Heroes celebrates the 150th anniversary of the fire department and features pictures of attractive firefighters for every month of the year. It went on sale Tuesday for $15.95. Proceeds go to the FDNY Foundation, which promotes fire safety education.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comment Now: Post Your Thoughts & Comments on This Story

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

In a photo provided by the New York City Fire Department, firefighter Danae Mines autographs a copy of the 2015 Calendar of Heroes, which features her as Miss March, Tuesday, July 15, 2014, in New York's Times Square. Mines, of Engine Co. 60 in the South Bronx, is an 11-year veteran, one of only 41 female firefighters in the department, and the first female firefighter to appear in the famed charity calendar of hard bodies. (AP Photo/FDNY)

Fire Destroys Restaurant Owned by New York Terror Suspect

Blaze destroys Rochester restaurant owned by suspect who plotted to kill troops
Published Tuesday, July 15, 2014

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — A fire has destroyed a New York restaurant owned by a man charged last month with plotting vengeance attacks against members of the U.S. military and the Muslim community.

Local media report that firefighters responded late Sunday night to a report of a fire at the former Mojoes Restaurant in Rochester.

Firefighters had to break down the boarded-up door of the building to get inside. Officials say the restaurant's interior was destroyed.

In June, the restaurant's 30-year-old owner, Mufid Elfgeeh, was arrested after federal prosecutors said he bought two unregistered guns from an FBI informant. Investigators say he plotted to kill returning U.S. troops for American actions overseas and Shiite Muslims over the civil war in Syria.

Elfgeeh, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Yemen, is being held in Monroe County Jail.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comment Now: Post Your Thoughts & Comments on This Story

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

In this July 13, 2014 photo, firefighters check for hot spots in the vacant apartment above the former MoJoe's eatery on North Clinton Avenue, in Rochester, N.Y. The restaurant is owned by Mufid Elfgeeh, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Yemen who was charged last month with plotting vengeance attacks against members of the U.S. military and the Muslim community. (AP Photo/Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, John Spaulding)

Six Burned in Fire Inside NYC Rockefeller Plaza Observation Deck

Embers from burning camera equipment fall onto victims below
Published Monday, July 14, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City fire officials say six people, including a child, suffered slight burns when a piece of camera equipment caught fire inside the observation deck of 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

A fire department spokesman says the fire started just after 7:30 p.m. Sunday and was under control about a half hour later. He says the injuries were caused by embers from the fire falling onto the victims.

Five adults at the scene refused medical attention and the child, whose age was not immediately known, was taken to a nearby hospital. No word on what caused the fire.

The 70-story, Art Deco-style GE Building opened in 1933. It is the centerpiece of Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan and home to the NBC television network.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comment Now: Post Your Thoughts & Comments on This Story

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

This photo provided by Nico Rodriguez shows a firetruck near the observation deck of 30 Rockefeller Plaza after a piece of camera equipment caught on fire in New York, Sunday, July 13, 2014. New York City fire officials say six people, including a child, suffered slight burns. A fire department spokesman says the fire started just after 7:30 p.m. Sunday and was under control about a half hour later. He says the injuries were caused by embers from the fire falling onto the victims. (AP Photo/Nico Rodriguez)

Brooklyn Fatal Fire Highlights Hoarding Dangers

Apartment where FDNY officer died was filled with clutter
The casket of Lt. Gordon Ambelas is unloaded off a fire truck during his funeral at the Church of St. Clare in the borough of Staten Island, Thursday, July 10, 2014 in New York. The Fire Department of New York is mourning the death of the lieutenant who became trapped while looking for victims in a public-housing high-rise blaze, the first to die in the line of duty in more than two years. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Published Saturday, July 12, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — Another danger lurked as fire and smoke swept through the upper floors of a Brooklyn public-housing high-rise: junk.

The 19th-floor apartment where the blaze started last weekend was piled with it, fire officials said, creating a minefield that's being looked at as a potential factor in the death of a New York City firefighter, the department's first in the line of duty in more than two years.

FRM/FFN: FDNY Lieutenant Fatally Injured in Brooklyn Fire

Lt. Gordon Ambelas' death July 5 came amid what some officials say is an uptick in fire calls complicated by clutter, conditions the FDNY code names "Collyer's Mansion" after the infamous 1947 case of two brothers found dead amid the floor-to-ceiling clutter in their Harlem brownstone.

Up to 5 percent of the population has a hoarding disorder, the American Psychiatric Association estimates, and firefighters say it shows up when entryways, hallways and rooms are blocked by piles of stuff — knickknacks, electronics, clothes, boxes, papers and garbage.

FRM/FFN: Tactics for Battling Fires in Hoarder Homes

"We find it more common today because people have more possessions," said New York Assistant Chief Jim Hodgens, who heads the city's fire academy. "People have two, three TVs. People have more clothes today. I think as a society we have more stuff. ... It complicates the search."

The U.S. Fire Administration does not track hoarding-related fires, nor does the National Fire Protection Association. But there is no shortage of news accounts of fires where junk has played a role.

This week, a woman died in a blaze that tore through a New Jersey row house where firefighters had a hard time reaching her second-floor bedroom because of an extreme amount of clutter on the stairs.

In Portland, Oregon, in April, neighbors were unable to save an elderly man in his burning home because he had too much junk blocking the doors. Fire officials said they were hampered by "extreme clutter/hoarding conditions."

In Manchester, New Hampshire, in February, firefighters said they had trouble getting through knee-deep clutter during a blaze that killed a 72-year-old in her home.

"The front porch was loaded with things. The rear porch was loaded with things every room in the house, the stairway," District Fire Chief Mark Pelletier told WMUR-TV. "Just picture that, trying to walk in that under normal conditions but with full gear on trying to stretch a hose line. It hampered us drastically."

Privacy laws and red tape prevent authorities from fully knowing or understanding the dangers of their buildings and neighborhoods. Fire departments can inspect commercial structures but are often powerless to check residences for hazards.

"We can't just go in and tell someone to clean their apartment," said New York Deputy Commissioner Frank Gribbon.

Instead, they have focused on training firefighters for the Collyer's Mansion call, with its potential for more intense heat and faster-spreading flames.

The FDNY recreates cluttered conditions at its fire academy and updates firefighters on the latest tactics. Dispatchers also note hoarding conditions they learn about through 911 calls or other sources, though Gribbon said that happens infrequently.

Other departments have implemented similar training and protocols.

Communities from Maine to Arizona have also created task forces to develop hoarding mitigation protocols. In some jurisdictions, the panels include mental and public health professionals.

New York fire officials declined to discuss the fire that killed Ambelas in detail citing an ongoing investigation, but did acknowledge the apartment was "heavily cluttered with debris and belongings."

The fire department did not say whether it was aware the apartment was cluttered before the fire started, apparently from a pinched air conditioner cord. The New York City Housing Authority, the owner of the 21-story Brooklyn building, would not answer the question either, citing the investigation.

The tenant, 51-year-old Angel Pagan, was not at home when the fire began. A telephone number for him was repeatedly busy. In interviews after the fire, he expressed sympathy to Ambelas' family. He denied that the apartment was cluttered to excess.

Neighbor Noreida Santiago, 64, said Pagan's apartment was "full of stuff," including multiple air conditioners and furnishings he got on the street.

"Anything he would find, he would bring into his house," she said.

National Fire Protection Association firefighting expert Ken Willette said he believes awareness of the fire dangers of hoarding has grown but that what constitutes a problem is often a matter of the owner's perspective.

"What we view as clutter," he said, "they view as prized possessions."

___

AP reporter Vanessa Alvarez and news researcher Rhonda Shafner contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comment Now: Post Your Thoughts & Comments on This Story

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

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - New York