Welcome to the IAFF Frontline News Brief, distributed twice a month to IAFF affiliate leaders and IAFF members. We encourage you to forward this news to your members and others in the fire service.

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"Fire Fighters For..." (International Association of Fire Fighters)
"Fire Union Takes on Mayor" (St. Paul Pioneer Press)
"2007 Legislative Conference Will Feature Presidential Forum" (International Association of Fire Fighters)
"Mike Stiffing 9/11 Heroes, Gov Says " (The New York Post)
"SRQ fire chief's resume criticized" (The Herald)
"Richmond tells all firefighters to wear boxers" (Vancouver Sun)
"Newly aggressive FEMA ships out to Hawaii, finds no catastrophe" (Associated Press)
"Firefighting Is Dangerous, But Death in a Blaze Remains Rare" (Baltimore Sun)
"Atlantic City pact may mean firefighter, cop exodus" ( )
"ONE OF US: City's oldest firefighter has a few tips for living a long, healthy life" (The Florida Times-Union)
"Looking for a Hot job?" (Ocala Star Banner)
"Kidney Transplant Builds Bond With Massachusetts Fire Fighters " (International Association of Fire Fighters)
"Firefighter suspended after blowing the whistle" (The Grand Rapids Press)
"City's hot to sell off closed firehouses - for millions" (New York Daily News)
"1st responders: Bart Twp. deaths 'our personal hurt'" (Lancaster New Era)
"NIOSH Establishes Guidelines for the Use of PAPRS in CBRN Environments" (International Association of Fire Fighters)
"Fire hero's legacy" (New York Daily News )
"Chicago Fire Dept. Tests ZigBee-Based RFID System" (RFID Journal)
"Police, firefighters to Rumble" (Albuquerque Tribune)


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MDA gives special recognition and credit to all the hard-working, supportive and enthusiastic men and women of the IAFF across the United States and Canada for their overwhelming support for MDA.





Fire Fighters For...
International Association of Fire Fighters (10/06)

IAFF affiliates and their members are campaigning throughout the United States in support of congressional and gubernatorial candidates in the November 7 elections. Fire fighters in Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Iowa, New Jersey, Vermont, Virginia, Texas and other key states are rallying to elect candidates from both parties who support fire fighter issues. 
(Web Link)
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Fire Union Takes on Mayor
St. Paul Pioneer Press (10/17/06); Gottfried, Mara H.; Nelson, Tim

The first public conflict between St. Paul, Minnesota Mayor Chris Coleman and St. Paul, MN Local 21 has resulted in union leaders proclaiming in a message posted to members on the Local 21 web site that they are prepared for a fight. Local 21 President Pat Flanagan said the union wished to take a vote of no confidence against Fire Chief Doug Holton last spring, but Coleman requested that it wait, and vowed to use an independent audit company to evaluate the department's management. The evaluation is currently being performed, but the union may take the confidence vote in December, according to Flanagan. "Holton may have the mayor in his corner, but we have 400 members of this union," said the message, claiming that Coleman broke his promise. Coleman's deputy chief of staff, Kris Fredson, said the mayor's office has been attempting to reach a reconciliation with the fire fighters, and earlier in the year established a process to address prolonged problems between department management and fire fighters. The message was posted following what union leaders called "the latest blow-up" over a staffing issue that the union believes could hurt public safety.
(Web Link)
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2007 Legislative Conference Will Feature Presidential Forum
International Association of Fire Fighters (10/24/06)

IAFF members planning to attend the IAFF 2007 Legislative Conference should also plan to extend their stay in Washington, DC by one extra day in order to attend an extraordinary presidential forum featuring candidates who will likely make a run for the White House in 2008. Scheduled for March 11-15, 2007, the IAFF will be inviting select top presidential contenders from both parties to participate in this unique forum. "This is a tremendous opportunity for IAFF members to hear from some of the men and women with aspirations to lead our nation," says IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger, who adds that the presentations of the candidates will play a role in the union's endorsement process.
(Web Link)
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Mike Stiffing 9/11 Heroes, Gov Says
The New York Post (10/20/06); Campanile, Carl and Seifman, David

New York City Mayor Bloomberg wants to cut new death benefits to families of retired police and fire fighters who die from Ground Zero-related work illnesses. Governor George Pataki says the law he approved in August is designed to provide survivors of retirees who die from a World Trade Center-related sickness 100 percent of salary and benefits, b ut Bloomberg and the city Law Department say their reading of the law entitles the families to only 50 percent, and that the  100 percent death benefits apply only to active responders -- not retirees. The death benefit was enacted as a result of retired Detective James Zadroga's death from lung disease after working for months at Ground Zero. Pataki's office said the governor was stunned that the mayor was trying to stiff 9/11 families.
(Web Link)
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SRQ fire chief's resume criticized
The Herald (10/24/06)

Members of Suncoast, FL Local 2546 are upset that Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport 's new fire chief is not a Florida-certified fire fighter. Union members continued to protest the recent privatizing of fire services at the airport, which replaced 12 Local 2546 fire fighters with personnel from the Arizona-based Rural/Metro Corp. Ed Cluchey, the new chief of the airport's privately run fire department, has an impressive resume, but is not a certified fire fighter with the state of Florida . Michael Stephenson, president of Local 2546, said that even though Cluchey's credentials were "outstanding," Florida certification carries a premium of professionalism. "We won't accept Tennessee 's certification. We won't accept Kentucky 's," Stephenson said.
(Web Link)
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Richmond tells all firefighters to wear boxers
Vancouver Sun (10/24/06); Bellett, Gerry

The Richmond, British Columbia, fire department has prohibited its Local 1286 fire fighters from wearing their own underwear, briefs or boxers while on duty. Both male and female fire fighters are required to wear "mandatory standard" underwear, and it's costing the City of Richmond $16,000 to provide each fire fighter with six pairs. The one-style-for-all Stanfield boxers, which can be easily purchased anywhere, are part of the city's effort to make the department gender-neutral and provide an environment in which males and females will feel comfortable. The department looked at various samples before settling on the Stanfield boxers. Only active fire fighters on Richmond's 215-member force will be required to wear the standardized underwear. Richmond appears to be the first department anywhere to insist on controlling the type of underwear worn by fire fighters.
(Web Link)
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Newly aggressive FEMA ships out to Hawaii, finds no catastrophe
Associated Press (10/18/06); Lindlaw, Scott

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) deployed one of the biggest response teams since Hurricane Katrina hit to the Hawaiian Islands following a 6.7 magnitude earthquake. More than  100 FEMA experts arrived to find no catastrophe. "If Katrina's done anything, it's given us a sense of 'Go!'" said Jeffrey D. Lusk, an earthquake specialist who led damage assessments along the northwestern coast of the island of Hawaii, known as the Big Island. "Err on the side of too much, too early, instead of not enough." Many of the workers brought in aboard the FEMA-chartered plane were kept on standby for tasks as mundane as driving vans and moving boxes. Among them were smokejumpers, the U.S. Forest Service fire fighters who parachute into wildfires. One FEMA official estimated that bringing in the federal workers cost $400,000. FEMA officials rejected the notion that the response was an overreaction by a chastened agency. "When you look at what happened in New Orleans, I don't think you can put too much energy, resources -- too much anything -- into preventing that kind of catastrophe," said Kim Walz, spokeswoman for the FEMA region that includes Hawaii.
(Web Link)
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Firefighting Is Dangerous, But Death in a Blaze Remains Rare
Baltimore Sun (10/11/06) P. 8A; Brewington, Kelly

The recent death of a fire fighter in Baltimore serves as a reminder of the danger involved in battling blazes. Approximately 100 fire fighters lose their lives while on duty each year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, and about a quarter die in a fire. However, the number is considerably below the rate of 350 per year a few decades ago, adds Tom Olshanski, a spokesman for the association. Fire experts attribute the decline to sprinklers and smoke alarms becoming commonplace in homes, helping to reduce the number of fires. They also say training has improved for fire fighters, as well as equipment technology, although toxic materials and plastics are more widespread these days and fires often burn hotter and faster. "Technical advances have made the incidents of fire not as frequent, but they are just as dangerous," explains Stephan G. Fugate, president of the Baltimore Fire Officers Association Local 964. "It goes to show you, there is no such thing as a 'routine fire.'" Allan M. Roberts of Baltimore, MD Local 734 was the second Baltimore fire fighter to die while fighting a fire in the past 11 years.

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Atlantic City pact may mean firefighter, cop exodus (10/20/06); Cohen, Lynda

An arbitrator's ruling on retiree health benefits could have ill effects on Atlantic City, New Jersey's police and fire departments. Police officers and fire fighters who retired after January 1, 2003, will receive 95 percent of their health benefits, according to the ruling, but beginning January 1, 2007, only 75 percent of the benefits will be paid. Atlantic City, NJ Local 198 Vice President Scott Evans, said, "If we lost 35 fire fighters next week, [we] would have some overtime for two or three months. I think our guys could step up to the plate." There are currently three vacancies in the fire department, with 56 fire fighters eligible to retire. The fire chief has received more than 20 intent-to-retire letters. All sides seem happy with the contract, which gives police and fire fighters a 4 percent raise each year for five years.
(Web Link)
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ONE OF US: City's oldest firefighter has a few tips for living a long, healthy life
The Florida Times-Union (10/24/06); Patton, Charlie

At 96, Phelmer Barber, a retired Jacksonville, FL Local 122 fire fighter, is the oldest living retired fire fighter in the city. His advice for living a long life? "Eat collared greens and cornbread. Don't run around, don't smoke and don't drink." Barber celebrated his birthday October 9, and four days later was honored as  Jacksonville 's oldest living fire fighter during the annual Fallen Firefighter Memorial Service. Barber joined the Jacksonville Fire Department in  May 1944, when he was 33, and spent 24 years with the department before retiring. During his service as a fire fighter, he battled   Jacksonville 's biggest fire since the city burned in the Great Fire of 1901. The Hotel Roosevelt, a downtown luxury hotel filled with people in town for the Gator Bowl, caught fire December 29, 1963. Barber admits he's a little surprised to have lived so long. "But I must be here for a purpose," he said. "He hasn't called me yet."
(Web Link)
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Looking for a Hot job?
Ocala Star Banner (10/20/06); Ives, Millard K.

The Marion County, Florida Fire-Rescue Department is launching a new program which pays the fire college tuition and training for inexperienced but qualified candidates interested in being full-time fire fighters. While these recruits undergo rigorous training in fire fighting and emergency medical services, they also will be paid. The program is part of Marion County 's effort to fill 30 of 60 new fire fighting positions expected to open within the next year. Fire-Rescue Division Chief Bart Walker says, "Many people can't afford to take off work for several months to attend the necessary training. This will give people an opportunity to earn a paycheck, complete the requirements and follow their dream." The minimum qualifications are stringent. Applicants must go through several types of criminal and driving history background checks, take written exams, get physical approval from their doctor, possess a valid Florida driver's license and have a high school diploma or GED equivalent, as well as take a drug test and sign an affidavit that says they have been tobacco free for at least a year. The Fire-Rescue department also hopes the program will attract more minority recruits.
(Web Link)
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Kidney Transplant Builds Bond With Massachusetts Fire Fighters
International Association of Fire Fighters (10/17/06)

Wherever Randy Stein goes, Mike Sawicki is with him. Sawicki, who donated a kidney to his fellow fire fighter at Pittsfield, MA Local 2647, is helping Stein overcome a life-threatening condition. In fact, Sawicki's offer may have saved Stein's life. Stein, 40, was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease four years ago when he contracted an unrelated illness. He was in the hospital when Sawicki made the unexpected offer to donate one of his own kidneys.
(Web Link)
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Firefighter suspended after blowing the whistle
The Grand Rapids Press (10/18/06); Kolker, Ken

Wyoming, Michigan, fire fighter Brian Ilbrink was suspended without pay for blowing the whistle on his department's 19-minute response to a fatal heart attack outside a closed fire station. Ilbrink, at the time president of Wyoming, MI Local 2758 and outspoken city critic, was the only employee disciplined over the city's lengthy response. He says city leaders are sending a message that employees will face discipline if they speak out. "They want to keep things hush-hush," Ilbrink said. "They don't want stuff like this in the public. That's the way the city operates. It puts pressure on them, and they don't like it."  The incident raised questions not only about the closed station, but about a delay in dispatching fire fighters. Wyoming police dispatchers did not notify fire fighters -- the first medical responders -- until 11 minutes after the original 911 cell-phone call, as AMR ambulance paramedics were trying to get into the victim's locked car. The city cited Ilbrink for insubordination, intentional falsification of records or reports, and "action which constitutes conflict of interest toward the city," records show. "People pass away in the city because we're not responding quick enough and we don't have the resources we should have," Ilbrink said. "I had every right in the world to call the press... it's a First Amendment right -- the city can't shut you up."
(Web Link)
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City's hot to sell off closed firehouses - for millions
New York Daily News (10/13/06)

Three years after New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg closed several firehouses to save money, City Hall is quietly preparing to sell several of the buildings for millions of dollars. Three engine companies have been declared "surplus property" by the Fire Department and will be unloaded by City Hall -- even though activists want the buildings reopened. Real estate agents said the firehouses could fetch at least $2 million each from developers seeking to build luxury homes. Before the firehouses can be sold, the plan must go through a public review, which takes at least seven months. Uniformed Firefighters Association of New York Local 94 President Steve Cassidy blasted the city for moving to sell firehouses in thriving neighborhoods. "In this age of terrorism, the fire department should be expanding its assets -- not selling them off," he said.
(Web Link)
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1st responders: Bart Twp. deaths 'our personal hurt'
Lancaster New Era (10/17/06); Stauffer, Laura

Paramedics and fire fighters who responded to the recent Amish school shootings in Pennsylvania will never forget the scene that greeted them in Bart Township . Ian Solodky was one of the first to arrive at West Nickel Mines School . As he surveyed the scene, he saw one young victim. And then another. And another. "Nothing went through my mind," said Solosky of the Lancaster Emergency Medical Services Association. "I knew what I needed to do, and I did it." Solodky and several other first responders are undergoing counseling to help cope with the stress related to images of the 10 young Amish girls who were gunned down by 32-year-old Charles Carl Roberts IV.

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NIOSH Establishes Guidelines for the Use of PAPRS in CBRN Environments
International Association of Fire Fighters (10/24/06)

U.S. fire departments will soon be able to use powered air purifying respirators (PAPR) for respiratory protection in the event of a terrorist attack using chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) agents. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is currently reviewing applications from respirator manufacturers to have their PAPRs tested against the new criteria for certifying PAPRs for use against CBRN agents.
(Web Link)
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Fire hero's legacy
New York Daily News

On the 40th anniversary of the Wonder Drugs pharmacy fire in New York City that killed 12 members of FDNY, fire fighters and citizens visited the memorial to the dozen fire fighters from Engine 16, Ladder 7, who died in the line of duty. Until 9/11, that fire had the dark distinction of being the one that claimed the greatest number of fire fighters in FDNY history. One fire fighter who died, John Finley, comes from a family of public servants. John Finley III, a member of NYPD, attends the annual service with his entire family. "When someone from your family dies defending your city, you just never forget," he says. We should all give thanks for families such as the Finleys who fight our wars and our fires and lock up the bad guys for salaries that will never make them rich.  
(Web Link)
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Chicago Fire Dept. Tests ZigBee-Based RFID System
RFID Journal (10/11/06); Swedberg, Claire

The University of California-Berkeley's mechanical engineering department, along with the Center for Information Technology in the Interests of Society, have developed the Fire Information and Rescue Equipment (FIRE) system in an effort to enable better communication between rescue workers. The Chicago Fire Department, which urged researchers to create the new system after the events of September 11, 2001, is testing the system. The FIRE system relies on wireless sensors that use radio frequency identification (RFID) tags and can be installed in smoke detectors. The sensors can communicate where a fire fighter is located, which helps fire chiefs know when fire fighters should evacuate a building. The system is currently installed in some UC Berkeley buildings, as well as the Chicago Fire Department. Fire fighters will also be able to use an interactive floor map that displays their current location called FireEye. The system was created by UC Berkeley student Joel Wilson and comes attached to a fire fighter's helmet.
(Web Link)
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Police, firefighters to Rumble
Albuquerque Tribune (10/18/06); Gisick, Michael

A federal judge blocked the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, from disciplining city employees participating in the October 20 Rumble in Rio charity boxing tournament.  U.S. District Judge William P. Johnson said the employees' First Amendment rights outweighed the city's concerns over alcohol consumption and scantily clad ring girls. Five Albuquerque police officers and one fire fighter participated. The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico had sued on behalf of two fire fighters. "I'm disappointed that the mayor of Albuquerque wasted so many taxpayer dollars on this," said Pete Camacho, a lieutenant in the Rio Rancho Fire Department who is the event's main organizer. "He would be better off cutting a check to his favorite charity." Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez and Chief Public Safety Officer Nick Bakas threatened to punish or even fire employees who entered the ring. In court, the city argued the event would expose off-duty employees to unsafe conditions and would tarnish the city's reputation. The Rumble includes 15 bouts between police officers and fire fighters.
(Web Link)
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copyright 2006 International Association of Fire Fighters


  • Frontline News Brief - October 11, 2006 more

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International Association of Fire Fighters
1750 New York Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20006


October 25, 2006

The IAFF represents more than 273,000 full-time professional fire fighters and paramedics who protect 80 percent of the nation's population. More than 2,900 affiliates and their members protect nearly 6,000 communities in every state in the United States and Canada. In addition to city and county fire fighters and emergency medical personnel, the IAFF represents state employees (such as the California Forestry fire fighters), federal workers (such as fire fighters on military installations), and fire and emergency medical workers employed at certain industrial facilities.

Sponsored by the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), the Frontline News Brief includes summaries of news articles related to fire fighters, emergency response and the fire service. It is distributed twice a month to IAFF affiliate leaders and members.

For more information, contact:

Jane Blume
Director of Communications
International Association of Fire Fighters
1750 New York Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20006
(202) 737-8484