IAFF Media Awards 2003

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IAFF 2003 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: Someone’s Hero

“But, Loretta says, ‘when October came and went,’ marking the one-year anniversary of the transplant-when donor and recipient families may contact each other directly-she was surprised that she hadn’t heard from the Olsens. Then in late November, the hospital’s marrow donor coordinator called the Epps family. ‘Miss Epps?’ she said. ‘I just have to tell you that the donor died. He was killed on September eleventh.’”

This moving story honors New York Fire Fighter Jeff Olsen, who was killed on September 11, 2001, for not only his bravery as a fire fighter but his off-the-job devotion towards helping people, strangers and friends alike. Olsen’s bone marrow donation saved youth Richard Epps, a year before the New York fire fighter’s tragic death. The article recounts the gripping story of when the Epp family got the chance to meet the Olsens, and Jeff’s fellow fire fighters. This story is a mix of miracles and tragedies and tells the tale of one fire fighter who will live on through his compassion for humanity.

Family Circle Magazine
Story by: Heather Millar
Submitted by: UFA Local 94, UFOA Local 854

SECOND PLACE: When Help Must Arrive In The ‘Golden Hour

This article provides interesting details about the newest and often fastest way to respond to emergencies, helicopter, in Miami, Fla. The story covers the county’s unique rescue transportation and draws attention to the significant amount of training and dedication that are necessary to run this operation. The article describes real life examples in which, as is required in all fire and rescue departments, personnel are required to respond immediately to a call and be prepared to provide assistance without knowing what they may be facing.

The Herald West
Story by: Lila Arzua
Submitted by: Metro Dade, FL Local 1403


“Trial By Fire”
London Free Press
Story by: Marissa Nelson
Submitted by: London, ON Local 142

“Cops, firefighters put big money behind initiative” 
The Seattle Times
Story by: David Postman
Submitted by: Seattle, WA Local 27

Circulation Under 100,000

FIRST PLACE: Fatal Fire Inquest

 “Imagine if you will that the Hamner station was properly staffed with full-time fire fighters, that they didn’t have to delay their departure from the station to page out volunteers and that they had the most recent, efficient and effective life-saving and fire fighting equipment that is available today. My daughter Asha-Jade would be enjoying her kindergarten class, my son Ellias would be relishing his Grade 1 class and my grandmother would be carrying on with the things she liked to do. Imagine that your children or grandchildren perished in the fire that day. Then later you learned that a transition board didn’t implement critical recommendations that were laid out by agents of the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office. Was this expert advice not important to the City of Greater Sudbury councilors?”-Quote from Bobbi McLean, mother of Asha-Jade and Ellias.

The news stories relating to the fatal fire in Hamner, Ont. involving the death of two children and their great-grandmother emphasize the importance of safe fire fighter staffing. The stories are effective in time-lining the efforts of family members and other affiliates to increase the number of fire fighters hired and make sure that safety standards are strictly enforced in all fire departments. These stories unearth a critical dilemma that, if solved, would save lives all across North America.

The Sudbury Star
Stories by: Denis St. Pierre
Submitted by: Sudbury, ON Local 527

SECOND PLACE: Blood Brothers

This article discusses a growing fear among rescue personnel: contamination through needles. Fire fighters, as first responders, are particularly susceptible to Hepatitis C. The importance of fire fighter awareness and protection against on-the-job infection is illustrated through the struggle of a former rescue worker that was diagnosed with Hepatitis C. This article provides important information regarding the effects and dangers of blood-borne diseases and offers a glimpse into the lives of those who have been infected while trying to do their jobs.

Cincinnati Magazine
Story by: Timothy J. Condron
Submitted by: Norwood, Ohio Local 445


“A Wonderful Gesture” 
The Patriot Leader
Story by: Mark Fontecchio
Submitted by: Stoughton, MA Local 1512

“Response Times Ride On Levy”
The Columbian
Story by: Jeffrey Mize
Submitted by: Vancouver, WA Local 452

“A Day In The Life Of…” 
Derry News
Story by: Shelley J. Thompson
Submitted by: Derry, NH Local 2620 and Derry Fire Officers Local 3834




FIRST PLACE: Fire fighters of Spokane, Wash. work quickly to ventilate the roof of a house fire. Fire fighters are shown walking toward danger in order to gain control. This photo is an up-close depiction of what fire fighters face on the fireground on a daily basis.

House Fire” The Spokesman Review Photo by: Brian Plonka Submitted by: Spokane, WA Local 29

FIRST PLACE: Local 2598 fire fighter attacks a house fire in Dale City, Va. The photo frames a lone figure, encased by smoke. The image portrays the risks that are taken and the bravery that surfaces in the everyday lives of fire fighters.

 “Local 2598 Fire Fighter Wrestles House Fire” The Potomac News
Photo by: Dylan P. Moore
Submitted by: Prince William County, VA Local 2598

SECOND PLACE: A Toronto fire fighter rescues a victim of carbon-monoxide fumes from her home. This image shows fire fighters carrying out their mission: to serve and protect the citizens of their community. The woman in the picture is completely dependent on those called in to help. This photo conveys the strength and protection provided by a community’s local fire fighters.

“Saved…From Killer Fumes” The Toronto Sun Photo by: Dave Thomas Submitted by: Toronto, ON Local 3888

SECOND PLACE: Los Angeles City Fire Department’s forest service helicopter emerges through heavy smoke as it drops water onto a burning forest. A red fire can be seen through the massive clouds of white and gray smoke. The image of the helicopter magnifies the painstaking difficulty of defeating nature’s overwhelming force.

“National Forest fire in Los Angeles City” Fire Rescue Magazine
Photo by: Chris Jensen
Submitted by: Los Angeles, CA Local 112

HONORABLE MENTION: “A fire fighter appears at the window of a house still burning” The Spokesman Review Photo by: Colin Mulvaney Submitted by: Spokane, WA Local 29

HONORABLE MENTION: A fire fighter from Racine, Wisc. breaths through a protective mask in an effort to revive a man caught in an electric fire.

“Electrical Fire Claims Life” The Journal Times Photo by: Mark Hertzberg Submitted by: Racine, WI Local 321



HONORABLE MENTION: “Box Fire” The Fort Worth Star Telegram Photo by: Glen E. Ellman Submitted by: Fort Worth, TX Local 440

HONORABLE MENTION: A wounded deer is lifted from a hovercraft after fire fighters rescued the animal from a river of ice. The deer was transported to a local veterinary hospital to be treated.

“Deer Rescue” The Chronicle Journal Photo by: Sandi Krasowski Submitted by: Thunder Bay, ON Local 193

HONORABLE MENTION: “Detroit Jewish Newspaper Fire” Free Press Photo by: Bill Eisner Submitted by: Southfield, MI Local 1029

HONORABLE MENTION: An 11-year-old boy is rescued after falling through the ice. A Claremont fire fighter is shown reaching out to pull the youth to safety.

“Ice Rescue” The Eagle Times Photo by: Wayne Carter Submitted by: Claremont, NH Local 1571

HONORABLE MENTION: Massive flames are fought by Fort Worth, TX Local 440. Three fire fighters aim a hose directly at the fire in an attempt to conquer it.

“Overwhelming” Firehouse Magazine Photo by: Glen E. Ellman Submitted by: Fort Worth, TX Local 440



FIRST PLACE: This particular image was noted as one of the best photos submitted for an award. The hardships of intensive labor and emotional stress are seen in the faces of both men resting after removing their protective masks. The image is compelling in its ability to capture the true nature of the job.

“American Fire Fighters” Photo by: Craig G. Whitney Submitted by: Palm Beach County, FL Local 2928

SECOND PLACE: Smoke filters rapidly out of a roof after being ventilated by two Everett, Wash. fire fighters. A reflection from the sun beams down upon the image casting a holy impression of fire fighters.

“Two Fire Fighters on Smoky Roof II” Photo by: Jason Brandvold Submitted by: Everett, WA Local 46

HONORABLE MENTION: Fire trucks and ambulances are shown on-scene in Santa Cruz, Calif. as the image of a fire fighter on a stretcher flashes in the center.

“Fire Fighter Overcome” Photo by: Neal Aronson Submitted by: Santa Cruz, CA Local 1716

HONORABLE MENTION: Fire fighters and medical personnel on the scene of a motorcycle accident in Vista, Calif.

“Motorcycle Accident” Photo by: George Lucia Submitted by: Vista, CA Local 4107

HONORABLE MENTION: An engine is shown decked with flowers and gifts in honor of fallen fire fighters.

“In Honor Of” Photo by: Scott LaPrade Submitted by: Leominster, MA Local 1841

HONORABLE MENTION: “Fire Fighter from Engine 8 waits for water next to a burning building” Photo by: Ray E. Cline Submitted by: Baltimore, MD Local 734


FIRST PLACE: “Two Firefighters Look Back”

 “Mr. Byrne said that the public response to firefighting had snapped back to the pre-Sept. 11 days. ‘All that awe and reverence is over,’ he said. Now, he said, people-like rubberneckers after a car wreck-want to know if he was working on Sept. 11. ‘A lot of times, I just tell them no,’ he said.”

The Chief Leader
Story by: Deidre McFadyen
Submitted by: UFOA, NY Local 854

SECOND PLACE: “Rubber Baby Perishes In Attempted Rescue By Sweaty Journalist” 
Tyler Morning Telegraph
Story by: Jacque L. Hilburn
Submitted by: Tyler, TX Local 883

HONORABLE MENTION: Arbitration Proves Fire Department is Understaffed” 
The Jamestown Post Journal
Story by: Brian Boehm
Submitted by: Jamestown, NY Local 1772


FIRST PLACE: www.spff4027.org

This web site is an excellent model for all local affiliates to follow. It provides important local information while promoting a strong union message as well. The site incorporates news and information from both the local and International levels. Other significant features on the site include a history of the local fire department, charities sponsored by fire fighters, a page for fallen fire fighters and a discussion board. This web site has relevant and up to date news stories and promotes a strong connection between the local union and its members.

Producers: Jamie Bigler, Mark Pelfrey
Submitted by: Springdale, OH Local 402

SECOND PLACE: www.iaff27.org

This web site presents an appealing display of graphics that are easy to follow. The Local’s newspaper is posted as a link on this site, with the current issue already available. A “labor links” feature provides key access to important labor organizations and international affiliates. The web site is an exceptional example of resources for local fire fighters. It combines interesting and useful information with a strong message promoting membership in labor unions.

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


Produced by: John Dropchuk
Submitted by: Hamtramck, MI Local 750

Produced by: Syracuse Fire Fighters Association
Submitted by: Syracuse, NY Local 280

Produced by: Rocket Webmedia
Submitted by: UFA Local 94

Produced by: Gene Butcher
Submitted by: Cary, NC Local 4103


FIRST PLACE: “Report From Ground Zero”

The voices, faces and last words of terrorist attack victims are brought to life by surviving NYC fire fighters as they tell their stories of what happened seconds before the buildings collapsed. This report, based on a best-selling novel by retired fire fighter Dennis Smith also included moving film footage. Respect, pride and sadness can be seen on every one of the survivors faces as they recount a day that they will never forget.

ABC Television Network
Produced by: Lloyd Kramer, Tom Yellin, Liz Mermin, Kenneth Levis
Submitted by: Newark, NJ Fire Officers Local 1860

SECOND PLACE: “Nightline: Brothers on Holy Ground”

Interviews from active members of the FDNY recount the legendary nobility and courage of NY’s fallen fire fighters while delving into the emotional aftermath of those who survived 9/11.

ABC Television Network
Produced by: Mike Lennon
Submitted by: Los Angeles, CA Local 112


“Dangerous Roofs” 
Produced by: Lisa Fletcher, Julie Jones, Adam Symson
Submitted by: Phoenix, AZ Local 493

“Fire Fighters Foundation Investigation” 
News 12 New Jersey
Produced by: Walt Kane
Submitted by: Prof. Fire Fighters of New Jersey


FIRST PLACE: “September 11 Forever Burned Into Fire Fighter’s Memories”

“I probably think about it more so now than just after. There doesn’t seem to be a day that goes by that someone doesn’t ask me about being there. Certain things trigger the memory, too. I will never, ever, forget it. I appreciate my family more now; I hug and kiss my kids more often. I know now how easily, how quickly, everything can be taken away from you.” -Quote from Lt. Mike Cutro, member of Oswego, NY Local 2707

Story by: Steve Yablonski
Submitted by: Oswego, NY Local 2707


“Three Injured In Chattanooga, TN Gas Main Explosion” 
Story by: Bruce Garner
Submitted by: Chattanooga, TN Local 820

Note: The judges did not award a second place in this category


FIRST PLACE: “Cincinnati Fire Fighter Health and Fitness”

A new fitness program is tested on members of the Cincinnati Fire Department. The importance of training and keeping in shape is seen as pounds of equipment are loaded onto fire fighters’ backs as they enter a fire. The members who tried out the new program showed progress within weeks.

WCPO Channel 9 Cincinnati
Produced by: Carol Williams, Gretchen Macknight, Steve Tsuleff
Submitted by: Cincinnati, OH Local 48

SECOND PLACE: “Sounding The Alarm”

This news story promotes fire safety for the public, investigating standard fire alarms used in houses all over the country that may not be loud enough to wake younger children. Families reaction times are put to the test as mock fires are staged in their homes. The results are unsettling to both the fire fighters and the families, leaving much room for improvement.

Produced by: Susan MacDonald, Tammy Elliott, Kent Wainscott, Cary Edwards, John Lazarevic, Norm Hunnicut
Submitted by: West Bend, WI Local 2025


“Fallen Fire Fighters, WPG Remembers” 
Produced by: Rob Wozny
Submitted by: Winnipeg, MB Local 867

“New Faces of Fire Fighting” 
Produced by: Andrea Lopez
Submitted by: Colorado Springs, CO Local 5

“Tanker 130 Crash” 
Produced by: Timothy Ill
Submitted by: Reno, NV Local 731


FIRST PLACE: “The Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire”

This publication does an excellent job of providing information about all aspects of professional fire fighting across the state. It covers local as well as International news and promotes a strong pro-union message. This small magazine gives fire fighters access to political information and presents the content in an appealing and professional manner.

Produced by: Bethany Blake
Submitted by: Prof. Fire Fighters of New Hampshire

SECOND PLACE: “Burning Issues”

This is a relatively small publication that packs a big punch. It provides local fire fighters with a monthly newsletter that is well-organized and worthy of praise. It discusses politics, legislation, and events that all support varying fire fighter needs and interests.

Produced by: David Carson
Submitted by: Memphis, TN Local 1784


“South Fire District” 
Produced by: South Fire District
Submitted by: South Fire District, CT Local 3918

“Houston Fire Fighter” 
Produced by: HPFFA Submitted by: Houston, TX Local 341

“CPF Newspaper” 
Produced by: Kristina Crawford
Submitted by: California Professional Firefighters

“The Union Fire Fighter” 
Produced by: Local 1014 Executive Board
Submitted by: Los Angeles County, CA Local 1014


FIRST PLACE: “Windham Fire Department Takes Action”

This video gives a thorough explanation of what fire fighters do every day on the job. It also recognizes staffing as one of the most important challenges that the fire fighting community faces. Testimonies from citizens are given, providing crucial responses from those who know how important it is to have the proper amount of fire fighters in an emergency situation. This public service announcement effectively tackles the issue of staffing and relays the message with a convincing presentation.

Produced by: Windham Professional Fire Fighters
Submitted by: Windham, NH Local 2915

SECOND PLACE: “2002 Burnaby Fire Fighters Public Relations Campaign”

In August 2002, Burnaby fire fighters combined their efforts to gain media exposure with their local town centre to promote a PR/Charity campaign. Their ability to work together raised a substantial amount of money for people in need, while at the same time provided valuable recognition for the Local throughout the community.

Producer: Lougheed Town Centre, Burnaby Fire Fighters
Submitted by: Burnaby, BC Local 323

SECOND PLACE: “Uncommon Courage”

With simple a vision that started in 1991, California Professional Fire Fighters unveiled their memorial wall in 2002 that lists the names of 855 fallen brothers from California. Paid for by private contributions, the wall honors those who have had their lives taken in an attempt to protect their community.

Produced and Submitted by: California Prof. Firefighters

Produced by: Ryan B. Jarrell
Submitted by: Louisville, KY Local 345

HONORABLE MENTION: “Habitat For Humanity” 
Produced by: Gary Benson, Jeff McMenemy, Tom Cole
Submitted by: Phoenix, AZ Local 493

Produced by: Capt. Rob Sorenson, Eng. Mike Perry, PIO Tom Francis
Submitted by: Jacksonville, FL Local 122


FIRST PLACE: “Firehouse Remote”

WCPN 90.3 Ideastream
Reported by: Kim Fox, Jack Helbig, Renita Jablonski, April Baer, David Barnett, Jeff Carlton, and Karen Schaefer
Submitted by: Cleveland, OH Local 93

SECOND PLACE: “Grizzly Gulch Fire-Saving Deadwood, South Dakota”

South Dakota Public Radio
Reported by: Charles Michael Ray
Submitted by: Rapid City, SD Local 3959


“Woodbine Racetrack Fire” 
CFRB 1010
Reported by: Bob Komsic
Submitted by: Toronto, ON Local 3888