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IAFF 2004 Media Awards


The International Association of Fire Fighters Media Awards Contest is conducted annually to honor reporting and photography that best portray the professional and dangerous work of fire fighters and emergency personnel in the United States and Canada. It also recognizes outstanding work done by IAFF affiliates in promoting themselves and communicating with their members and the public.



FIRST PLACE: “Hero finally gets his due”

“Yes, fire fighters have a strange relationship with death. Even after 155 years. Which is why they gather, bagpipes keening, by a little elm in the oldest part of St. James Cemetery on Parliament St. Buried here is William Thornton Hook of Ladder Co. #1, the first Toronto fire fighter to die on duty. He was 22.”

The news feature pays a moving homage to a fallen hero who died in the line of duty 155 years ago. The article talks about the heroism of fire fighters and relates Thornton’s life and death to fire fighters today on the job. The reader can feel the bravery and sacrifice of fire fighters in every line of the article.

The Toronto Sun
Story by: Mike Strobel
Submitted by: Toronto, ON Canada Local 3888

Circulation Under 100,000

FIRST PLACE: Hanging onto life: 75-plus emergency workers fight odds to save 5 teenagers ” 

“The accident triggered the largest gorge rescue in county history, knitting some 75 emergency workers (mainly fire fighters). After 2 hours and 55 minutes of difficult and dangerous effort, they brought all five survivors safely from the gorge…Some have been around a long time. Yet, we’ve never seen a team effort like this… People were just going to get them out, period. It was amazing.”

The article is reconstructed from fire fighter’s recollections of a rescue operation to save five teenagers from the Sand Bank Gorge in Ithaca, New York. It features interviews of the fire fighters and paramedics who saved the teenagers, as well as gratitude for the rescue workers. The two-part article is gripping, comprehensive and keeps readers’ attention. It portrays the professional and dangerous work of fire fighters and emergency personnel in the best light.

The Ithaca Journal
Stories by: B. J. Phillips
Submitted by: Ithaca, NY Local 737

SECOND PLACE: Assembly OKs bill to help firefighters with cancer”

This compelling article discusses the life of a Nevada fire fighter who has put a name and face to Assembly Bill 451. The Bill clarifies an existing state law that certain cancers are occupational diseases for professional fire fighters.

But the 39-year-old fire fighter soon realizes that the bill won’t help him fight against an insurance company or the ultimate battle for his life. This article offers a glimpse into the lives of those who have become cancer victims while trying to do their jobs. It strongly appeals to the senses and brings out the battle of emotions with political realities.

Las Vegas Sun
Story by: Erin Neff, Ethan Miller and William Harnedy
Submitted by: North Las Vegas, NV Local 1607


“Fire fund focus of flap”
The Dispatch
Story by: Tory Brecht and Todd Mizener
Submitted by: Moline, IL Local 581




FIRST PLACE: This photo portrays a daring escape of a fire fighter caught in trouble and the quick thinking of his brother fire fighters who rescued him form a life threatening situation.

Barely visible through smoke at an upstairs window, fire fighter Mike Woodard lowers Bart Bradberry into the arms of a fire fighter on the ground.

“Firefighter Catch” Fort Worth Star Telegram Photo by: Glen E. Ellman Submitted by: Fort Worth, TX Local 440

FIRST PLACE: This is a strong picture of fire fighters at their best in a medical emergency situation. It conveys the strength, protection, and care provided by local fire fighters to all in the community anytime, anywhere.

Sterling Heights fire fighters give emergency aid to two people from Ontario who were injured Christmas Day when the driver of a Pontiac ran a red light on Schoenherr and Utica roads and were struck by another car, police said. Two people were taken to St. Joseph’s Mercy of Macomb hospital, Clinton Township, where they were treated and released.

“Cut Out” Macomb Daily
Photo by: Bill Eisner
Submitted by: Sterling, MI Local 1557

SECOND PLACE: The photo is about unsurpassable bravery of fire fighters who deal with the most dangerous and unexpected situations on the job as seen in the picture where suddenly fire explodes from the windows while fire fighters are taming the blaze on the roof.

Two city firefighters found themselves in the middle of the fire while trying to cut a hole in the roof to vent it. The fire blew out the upstairs window and over the top of the firemen.

“Fire Explodes From Windows ” Democrat and Chronicle Photo by: Burr Lewis  Submitted by: Rochester, NY Local 1071

SECOND PLACE: The image portrays the fearless bravery that surfaces and the risks that are taken by the fire fighters everyday on the job.

Intense heat sends Longview fire fighter Eric Hayes backwards over a duct as flames burst from a sawdust hopper outside the wood shop in R.A. Long High School.

Huge Fames, Little Damage” The Daily News
Photo by: Roger Werth

Submitted by: Longview, WA Local 828

HONORABLE MENTION: “Uptown Disaster” Toronto Star Photo by: Peter Power Submitted by: Toronto, ONT Canada Local 3888

Fire fighters scramble to rescue potential victims amid the rubble of the collapsed theatre and the roof of the building to the south, where students of the Yorkville English Academy were trapped.

HONORABLE MENTION: Fire fighters from Lewis Township, Underwood and Neola fight a house fire on Pottawattamie County Road L34, just north of highway 191.

“Fire Devastates Underwood Home” The Daily Nonpareil Photo by: Ben DeVries Submitted by: Council Bluffs, IA Local 15




HONORABLE MENTION: “So Cal Fire” Daily News Photo by: Gene Blevins Submitted by: Los Angeles City, CA Local 112

An exhausted fire fighter in Simi Valley takes rest where he can.

HONORABLE MENTION: “Fully Involved” The Sun Photo by: Larry Steagall Submitted by: Bremerton, WA Local 437

HONORABLE MENTION: “Ventilation Sensations” Spokane Spokesman-Review Photo by: Colin Mulvaney Submitted by: Spokane, WA Local 29

HONORABLE MENTION: Emergency responders carry Eagle County Ambulance District Paramedic Brenda Hazard up 180 feet after she became ill from diesel fumes while helping a Houston man trapped in his semi-truck. The man survived the accident on U.S. highway 6 at the base of Battle Mountain with minor injuries.

“Teamwork” Vail Daily Photo by: Melinda Kruse Submitted by: Vail, CO Local 4138

HONORABLE MENTION: Sylvia Steele, 37, is transported to a waiting ambulance after jumping from a porch roof as fire spread through her Moline home. She first dropped her 3-year-old son, Seth, to Moline police Lt. Greg Heist.

“Toddler Tossed” The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus Photo by: Terry Herbig Submitted by: Moline, IL Local 581



FIRST PLACE: It’s a dramatic portrayal of fire fighters determination and teamwork in fighting the flames. It looks like even the water on the hose is on fire as the flames try to grow.

“Fire Water” Photo by: Kenneth Parkins Submitted by: Des Moines, IA Loca

SECOND PLACE: A brilliant action shot of fire fighters aggressively containing the flames of vehicle

“Overhaul On The Car Fire” Photo by: Jay Williams Submitted by: Torrance, CA Local 1138

HONORABLE MENTION: “First One” Photo by: Chris MickalSubmitted by: New Orleans, LA Local 632

HONORABLE MENTION: Fallen Fire Fighter Photo by: Rick Montemorra Submitted by: Mesa, AZ Local 2260

HONORABLE MENTION: Striker Rescue Photo by: Laura Stewart Submitted by: St. Catharines, ONT Canada Local 485


FIRST PLACE: “When Seconds Count”

For more than a decade, Virginia Beach, VA Local 2924 had expressed concern to the city about the all-volunteer Virginia Beach Emergency Response System. All efforts of professional fire fighters and paramedics were ignored until the local television station, WVEC, broadcasted a six-part investigative report attacking the outdated and failed service. Less than a month after the series aired, the city manager suggested that gaps in the system had reached alarming levels and needed sweeping changes. The report resulted in the hiring of 28 career paramedics and establishment of a staffed ambulance 24/7.

Produced by: David Alan, Dawn Stovall, Michael Valentine and WVEC
Submitted by: Virginia Beach, VA Local 2924

SECOND PLACE: “United As One”

This news feature is about the California Depart-ment of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF), CA Local 2881’s show of bravery in battling wildfires. The feature also talks about a California Professional Firefighters-sponsored bill # 899 to expand binding arbitration rights to local 2881 so that CDF fire fighters have the same rights and earn better salaries as other local fire fighters. The story includes interviews of prominent IAFF leaders from California, including retired CPF President Dan Terry and Local 2881 President Robert Wolf.

FireStar Productions
Produced by: Dan Terry, President
Submitted by: California Professional Firefighters


“Fire Boats” 
News 12 New Jersey
Produced by: 
Leron Kornreich
Submitted by: Professional Fire Fighters of New Jersey

“Looking For My Brother” 
Boston Film Festival
Produced by: John Kenney, Rick Kneif, Eric Carlson
Submitted by: Hyannis, MA, Local 2172


FIRST PLACE: www.iaff136.org  

The Dayton, OH Local 136 web site is a well developed communication tool that promotes the IAFF and brings local union news and information to members. The site encourages fire fighters to become involved in the IAFF and creates awareness of the benefits of unionism. It includes information about the health and safety of fire fighters, and provides current and comprehensive news and information on issues that affect fire fighters every day. The site also brings fire fighters closer to the public by offering recipes and home safety programs, as well as listing upcoming activities.

Producers: Larry Ables
Submitted by: Dayton, OH Local 136

SECOND PLACE: www.uflac.org 

The Los Angeles City fire fighters’ web site is an informative, interactive, effective, and easy-to-navigate web site. It provides relevant union news and International-related information to fire fighters and promotes union activism. The site has very methodically used simple graphics and pictures to create an excellent layout.

Produced by: Mikel Bullis
Submitted by: Los Angeles, CA Local 112

HONORABLE MENTION: www.spff4027.org 
Produced by: Jamie Bigler and Mark Pelfrey
Submitted by: Springdale, OH Local 4027

HONORABLE MENTION: www.iaff18.org  
Produced by: Vancouver Fire Fighters Union Local 18
Submitted by: Vancouver, BC CANADA Local 18

HONORABLE MENTION: www.cdffirefighters.org   
Produced by: Rich Carvalho and Bill Tomkouic
Submitted by: California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection  Local 2881

HONORABLE MENTION: www.l416.com   
Produced by: Indianapolis Metropolitan Firefighters Local 416
Submitted by: Indianapolis, IN Local 416


FIRST PLACE: “October Wildfires”

This entry is about KUSI-TV’s continuous live coverage of Cedar Fire in San Diego County in October 2003. The news team stayed on air for up to 19 hours a day, tracking the path of the flames, reporting the valiant efforts by fire fighters to control the blazes, and relaying vital instructions from public safety officials to citizens on evacuation routes and more. The video is indicative of the support that KUSI Television regularly provides to the members of San Diego, CA Local 145.

KUSI Television
Produced by: News Department
Submitted by: San Diego, CA Local 145

SECOND PLACE: “Uptown Theater Collapse”

This live news coverage is of a rescue operation launched by Toronto fire fighters and paramedics to find seven students trapped under the rubble when the Uptown theater collapsed into a neighboring school in downtown Toronto. The news highlights the meticulous emergency search and rescue operation launched by fire fighters in the most precarious and dangerous of conditions.

City TV/Cable Pulse 24
Produced by: City TV News Team
Submitted by: Toronto, ON Local 3888


FIRST PLACE: In firefighters we trust, but what about our chief ”

 “Trust is a powerful word in the fire fighter service. Once the trust is lost, confidence is lost. You can no longer function as an effective team. Why can’t we as firefighters, our nation’s first responder to any disaster, have the same trust in our elected leaders and administrators.”

Houston Chronicle
Story by: Robert G. Parry
Submitted by: Houston, TX Local 341

SECOND PLACE: “An ordinary, yet extraordinary day
Star Tribune
Story by: Jeremy Norton
Submitted by: Minneapolis, MN Local 82 


“With every breath” 
The Telegram
Story by: Russell Wangersky
Submitted by: St. John’s, NF Canada Local 1075


FIRST PLACE: “Sinister Side Effects”

CBC Radio, Halifax
Reported by: 
CBC Radio Halifax
Submitted by: Halifax, NS Local 268

SECOND PLACE: “Contract Firefighters”

Oregon Public Schools
Reported by: Pete Springer
Submitted by: Portland, OR Local 43


“Firefighter Strike Anniversary” 
WGLT Public Radio
Reported by: Charlie Schlenker
Submitted by: Normal, IL Local 2442

“Bloor Street Gas Explosion” 
CFRB AM 1010
Reported by: Bob Komsic and Sylvana Aceto
Submitted by: Toronto, ON Local 3888


FIRST PLACE: “Backdraft”

The look and feel of this magazine, as well as the information covered, speak of excellence among union publications. It features remarkable presentation, quality and creativity. The content is solid in delivering pro-union messages, news, and information from across the International. The magazine presents the local’s news with a flare and includes useful information on politics, legislation, and events of interest to fire fighters.

Produced by: Salt Lake City, UT 1645 and Salt Lake County, UT Local 1696
Submitted by: Prof. Salt Lake City, UT Local 1645

SECOND PLACE: “The Los Angeles Firefighter”

This is a well-rounded and energetic news publication, covering a variety of news, information and photos related to local fire fighters and fire fighters from across the United States. The newsletter is appealing and very professionally organized.

Produced by: Jim Perry
Submitted by: LA City Local 112 

HONORABLE MENTION: “The Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire” 
Produced by: Bethany Blake
Submitted by: Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire

Produced by: Monica Blum
Submitted by: Seattle, WA Local 27

HONORABLE MENTION: “California Professional Firefighters” 
Produced by: Dan Terry
Submitted by: CCalifornia Professional Firefighters


FIRST PLACE: “AB 2065 PR Campaign”

The AB2065: Health and Care Facilities Fire Protection is an extremely successful public awareness and support campaign initiated by Torrance fire fighters regarding the lack of fire protection in health care facilities. The campaign asks for public support for the passage of the AB2065 bill making it mandatory for residential care homes to install automatic sprinklers and automatic fire alarms under California regulations. Due to this successful AB 2065 campaign, the bill was passed by the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee in April 2004, and is now before the Assembly Appropriations Committee. The bill was proposed as a result of a fire in December 2002 at the Anchor Guest Home in Torrance, California, where three senior citizens perished due to excessive smoke inhalation.

Produced by: Robert Gebel, Jay Williams and Michael Freige
Submitted by: Torrance, CA Local 1138 

SECOND PLACE: “The worst moment of your life are the most important minutes of our day”

Portsmouth fire fighters joined with City of Portsmouth schools and police department and others to create the Portsmouth Emergency Preparedness Guide. The 28-page guide talks about potential emergency situations and how the city’s fire fighters and other emergency response workers are prepared to deal with them.

Producer: Bethany Blake
Submitted by: Portsmouth, NH Local 1313

SECOND PLACE:  www.stayingalive.mb.ca  ”

This clever, informative, interactive and attractive web site, “Staying Alive,” was created in cooperation with the Winnipeg Firefighters Burn Fund. It promotes public safety education through information, interactive games and exercises.

Produced by: Shane Ferguson
Submitted by: Winnipeg, MB Local 867

SPECIAL JUDGES AWARD: “2004 Milk and Cookies Calendar” 
Produced by: Dan Terry
Submitted by: California Professional Firefighters

HONORABLE MENTION: “History of the Parma Fire Department” 
Produced by: Lt. Tom Tesmer
Submitted by: Parma, OH Local 639

Produced by: Charles Anderson, Lori Culbert, Ian Smith, Nick Procaylo, Katie Bird, and Shelley Fralic
Submitted by: Vancouver, BC Local 18

HONORABLE MENTION: “Fire Collage Day 2003″
Produced by: Joseph A. Arnold and Douglas W. Stern
Submitted by: Cincinnati, OH Local 48

HONORABLE MENTION: “IAFF’s Memorial Day — We Will Never Forget”
Produced by: Dave Grzetich and Roxann Grzetich
Submitted by: Lockport, IL Local 1544 

HONORABLE MENTION: “Fire Safety and Challenge”
Produced by: Burnaby Firefighters Local 323
Submitted by: Burnaby, BC Local 323