IAFF Media Awards 2008

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IAFF 2008 Media Awards Contest


The International Association of Fire Fighters Media Awards Contest, conducted annually, honors reporting and photography that best portray the professional and dangerous work of fire fighters and emergency medical personnel in the United States and Canada.

Valor and loss were common themes in the 2008 Media Awards Contest, along with the all-in-a-day’s-work acts of heroism that typify professional fire fighters and paramedics. Over print, broadcast and the Internet, these stories come to life from many perspectives.

In addition, these awards recognize outstanding work by IAFF affiliates in communicating with their members and generating public awareness for fire fighters in their respective communities. The stories and photos entered also bring to light important issues that affect the welfare of fire fighters throughout North America.

More than 277 entries were submitted in the 2008 Media Awards Contest.



FIRST PLACE: “Two Heroes Who Made the Ultimate Sacrifice”

A fire on an icy Sunday night took the lives of fire captains Harold Lessard and Thomas Nichols. Four others were injured fighting the St. Boniface fire. The Winnipeg Free Press ran a series of articles about the deadly fire.

Winnipeg Free Press
Submitted by: Winnipeg, MB Local 867

SECOND PLACE: “What It’s Like to Find Children in the Smoke”

Would a fatality have been averted if the Wilkes–Barre fire department had been at full strength? This article probes the alternatives for getting to a realistic minimum staffing level.

The Post Standard
Written by: Sean Kirst
Submitted by: Syracuse, NY Local 280

Circulation Under 100,000

FIRST PLACE: “Trapped: The Story of Nine Charleston Firefighters’ Deaths”

This narrative two-page story examines the crucial first hour of the June 18 Sofa Super Store fire that claimed the lives of nine fire fighters. The building had no sprinklers. The fire started at 7:00 p.m. By midnight, all nine fatalities were known.

The Charleston Post & Courier
Written by: Glenn Smith and Ron Menchaca
Submitted by: Charleston, SC Local  61

SECOND PLACE: “Firefighters Union Chief Says Staffing Is Too Low for City”

Would a fatality have been averted if the Wilkes-Barre Fire Department had been at full strength? This article probes the alternatives for getting to a realistic minimum staffing level.

Citizens Voice
Written by: Denise Allabaugh
Submitted by: Wilkes-Barre, PA Local 104


“Heroes Lives on the Line”

“With fire after fire, some wonder how York’s fire department will hold up,” reads the kicker on this front-page article. By early April, the city’s fire and rescue services had called in off-duty fire fighters eight times.

York (Daily Record) Sunday News
Written by: Ted Czech
Submitted by: York, PA Local 627

“Any Given Sunday”

At FedEx Field, home to the Washington Redskins, paramedics also suit up — on call to assist with patrons, employees, players and officials. “Although the role of a field paramedic may initially appear glamorous, it tests the physical and mental endurance of the assigned providers.”

Journal of Emergency Medical Services
Written by: Mark E. Brady
Submitted by: Prince George’s County, MD Local 1619

“Within Inches”

A routine gas leak in a house turned into something more for four Canby fire fighters. Three were blown out of the garage; another was trapped under the collapsed garage ceiling. Miraculously, all survived.

Canby Herald
Submitted by: Clackamas County, OR Local 1159




FIRST PLACE: “Southland Blazes”

Twelve tough, trapped fire fighters scrambled into aluminum fire shelters on a ridge off Santiago Canyon Road when the Santa Ana winds gave them no break.

Los Angeles Times
Photo by: Karen Tapia-Anderson
Submitted by: Los Angeles, CA Local 112

FIRST PLACE: “City Manager Exits Fire Ops: Fire Attack”

Lawrence City Manager Dave Corliss (second from left) completes a fire attack exercise as part of a Fire Ops 101 event.

Lawrence Journal World
Photo by: Richard Gwin
Submitted by: Lawrence, KS Local 1596

SECOND PLACE: “Aiding Colleague”

A Miami fire fighter who fell 20 feet from a ladder is helped by fellow fire fighters after an explosion blasted the roof off an apartment building.

Miami Herald
Photo by: Tim Chapman
Submitted by: Miami, FL Local 587

SECOND PLACE: “At the Peak”

A fire fighter uses an ax to access and ventilate a roof during a three-alarm attic fire. The fire erupted in the shared attics of adjoining homes.

Beach-Riverdale Mirror
Photo by: John Riddell
Submitted by: Toronto, ON Local 3888


The front page of the February 14, 2007, issue said it all: “On this day of sombre remembrance for Captain Harold Lessard and Captain Thomas Nichols, the Winnipeg Free Press and its employees would like to pay tribute to the bravery and sacrifices of all fire fighters.”

Winnipeg Free Press
Photo by: Ken Gigliotti
Submitted by: Winnipeg, MB Local 867


James Mikulecky carries an unconscious four-year-old girl out of her burning house. She was later in stable condition

The Journal Times
Photo by: Mark Hertzberg
Submitted by: Racine, WI Local 321

HONORABLE MENTION: “Rescue at Port Everglades”

Captain Andy Berkowitz (left), Battalion Chief Ed Federkeil (center) and Lieutenant Wes Echevarria hoist a worker who fell 40 feet inside a cargo ship at Port Everglades. The worker suffered multiple injuries and was taken to the hospital.

Miami Herald
Photo by: Michael Jachles
Submitted by: Broward County, FL Local 4321

HONORABLE MENTION: “69 Floors for Julia”

For this annual, sponsored stair-climbing event for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society, fire fighters climbed 90 floors in full gear. They made their contribution to honor a woman who suffers from leukemia and who is the sister of a fire fighter and EMT.

The Issaquah Press
Photo by: Greg Farrar
Submitted by: Eastside, WA Local 2878



FIRST PLACE: “Body Recovery”

Jacksonville fire fighters find the sole fatality in a building collapse after three days of searching.

Photo by: Steve Gerbert
Submitted by: Jacksonville, FL Local 122


Fire fighters assemble their hoses to battle a wildfire blaze.

Photo by: Rick Fernandez
Submitted by: Metro-Dade, FL Local 1403


A Kootenai County fire fighter has his hands full putting out hot spots after a structure fire in Post Falls.

Photo by: Jim Lyon
Submitted by: Kootenai County, ID Local 2856


Photo by: Heather Ardley
Submitted by: Barrie, ON Local 1753

HONORABLE MENTION: “He’s Not Heavy–Just Doing My Job”

Somerville fire fighter Joseph Barry carries an unconscious man to a waiting ambulance. Barry entered the house fire without a charged hose line. The man made a full recovery.

Photo by: James L. Swanton
Submitted by: Somerville, MA Local 76


In a show of community goodwill, Local 1159 shop steward Chip Bryant shows the boys how to muscle a hose to get the job done.

Photo by: Todd Gary
Submitted by: Clackamas County, OR Local 1159

HONORABLE MENTION: “More Pressure Here”

Photo by: Brian Bastinelli
Submitted by: Harrisburg, PA Local 428


FIRST PLACE: “Fire Fighters: At Work, at Risk”

A 2006 house fire took the life of Lieutenant Arnie Wolff. Six months later, Elliott and Vandersnick developed a week-long news feature explaining how the fire department and the City of Green Bay addressed the emotional and physical needs of IAFF fire fighters.

Reported by: Tammy Elliott, Reporter, and Mike Vandersnick, Photographer
Submitted by: Green Bay, WI Local 141

SECOND PLACE: “A Hero Needs Help”

This feature profiles a local fire fighter whose cancer may be work related, and explores the question of whether lawmakers are likely to address such ongoing concerns. As of April, the fire fighter is back on duty.

WPTV Channel 5
Reported by: Chandra Bill
Submitted by: Palm Beach County, FL Local 2928

HONORABLE MENTION: “Fire Fighting: Impact on the Body”

A team of researchers at Indiana University/Bloomington put heart and respiratory monitors on three dozen fire fighters at Station 10. Its goal: to chart the stresses and strains and arrive at life-saving conclusions.

WXIN Fox Channel 59
Reported by: Gene Cox
Submitted by: Indianapolis, IN Local 416

HONORABLE MENTION: “Just Plane Dangerous”

Who’s on the line when a plane is on fire on a Miami runway? The Broward Sheriff’s Office Air Fire Rescue Team is. This special report shows how they train and prepare for fuel fires and other emergencies.

Reported by: Dave Kartunan, Reporter, and Chris Volz, Photojournalist
Submitted by: Broward County, FL Local 4321


National EMS Week, observed May 20-26, 2007, was the topic of this special FOX news story.

KRIV Fox News Channel 26
Reported by: Priscilla Goodwin
Submitted by: Houston, TX Local 341


FIRST PLACE: www.affi-iaff.org

A local newswire is just the beginning of what can be found on this site. State and national news with relevance to members appears daily. Visitors can quickly link to a voter registration form and a host of other resources.

Produced by: Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois
Submitted by: Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois

SECOND PLACE: www.newbedfordfirefighters.com

The New Bedford waterfront makes a compelling homepage, while eye-catching illustrations on the following page augment several links to help the visitor navigate the site.

Produced by: Brian Gallant, Web Administrator, Fire Fighter
Submitted by: New Bedford, MA Local 841

HONORABLE MENTION:www.burnfund.org

More than 3,600 professional fire fighters from 50 communities in British Columbia and the Yukon are building the Burn Fund’s vision. All the key facts on this 30-year-old charity are easy to find, including the several ways to get involved.

Produced by: British Columbia Professional Fire Fighters Association
Submitted by: British Columbia Professional Fire Fighters Association

HONORABLE MENTION: www.iaff22.org

A vibrant homepage quickly connects to an events calendar and news on other IAFF locals. This homepage even helps members register to vote online.

Produced by: Dave Kearney
Submitted by: Philadelphia, PA Local 22

HONORABLE MENTION: www.iafflocals20.com

Visitors can sign a guestbook and engage in online voting and polling at this site, which serves 15 districts in the state.

Produced by: Florida State Fire Service Association Local S-20
Submitted by: Florida State Fire Service Association Local S-20

HONORABLE MENTION: www.iaff2067.org

Look no further than the homepage to download the union contract, a donation request form or a tuition assistance request form. News and updates for both the local and IAFF reside on the user-friendly homepage as well.

Produced by: Tim McDermott, Webmaster
Submitted by: Norman, OK Local 2067

HONORABLE MENTION: www.uflac.org

With 3,500 members, a lively web site is a given for Local 112. Link to shifts, union news, and even elected representatives from the homepage, as well as get up-to-the minute news.

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


FIRST PLACE: “The Charleston Fire”

Nine fire fighters lost their lives in the Charleston, South Carolina, furniture store fire in June 2007. Correspondent Osunsami and producer Goldberg developed this coverage in the aftermath.

ABC World News
Reported by: Steve Osunsami and Harvey Goldberg
Submitted by: Charleston, SC Local 61

SECOND PLACE: “Life Saving Lesson”

Five family members escaped a burning apartment because a 10-year-old boy knew how to kick open the security bars covering the windows.

WSVN Channel 7
Submitted by: Miami, FL Local 587

HONORABLE MENTION: “Emergency Escape”

“With fire after fire, some wonder how York’s department will hold up,” reads the kicker on this front-page article. By early April, the city’s fire and rescue services had called in off-duty fire fighters eight times.

CTV News Toronto
Reported by: Keith Hanley, Mairianna Bachynsky and Brian Weatherhead
Submitted by: Toronto, ON Local 3888


FIRST PLACE: “Fire Power”

Three television stories posted online relate the experience of reporter Ivanson, who took the Fire Ops 101 training course and then participated in a 24-hour shift. The 24/7 web updating showed her learning firsthand that there’s more to the job than responding to fires.

Reported by: Alyssa Ivanson
Submitted by: Fort Wayne, IN Local 124

SECOND PLACE: “The Charleston Fire Department”

Would a fatality have been averted if the Wilkes-Barre Fire Department had been at full strength? This article probes the alternatives for getting to a realistic minimum staffing level.

Reported by: Jay Lowry
Submitted by: Charleston, SC Local 61


“Benefits Blocked” and “Cause for Alarm”

“Cause for Alarm,” a three-part special report airing in February 2007, reported on fire fighters who died because of faulty safety equipment, including personal alert safety system (PASS) alarms. “Benefits Blocked,” also a three-part series airing in march 2007, explored the fact that no federal dollars had been paid on public safety officer benefits (PSOB) death claims.

Reported by: Bill Dedman


FIRST PLACE: “Merrill Plays Fire Fighter, Part 2”

Chris Merrill, show host, participated in a Fire Ops 101 event for 16 community leaders and members if the news media. He recounts his experience.

KLWN 1320 AM
Reported by: Chris Merrill
Submitted by: Lawrence, KS Local 1596

SECOND PLACE: “Auto Wrecker Fire”

A five-alarm blaze at a Toronto scrapyard involved 90 cars and more than 300 tires. Lori Paris was there to cover it for CFRB radio.

CFRB 1010
Reported by: Lori Paris
Submitted by: Toronto, ON Local 3888


FIRST PLACE: “Political Action Works”

After a local newspaper columnist chastised fire fighters for pursuing the passage of two General Assembly bills, the president of Elgin, IL Local 439 used a “Guest View” column to explain the fire fighters’ side. .

Daily Herald
Written by: John P. Fahy
Submitted by: Elgin, IL Local 439

SECOND PLACE: “Sprinkler law’s time has come”

The city of Toronto must lead the way in making sprinklers mandatory in new residential homes of all types, says this editorial. “It shouldn’t have to be so difficult to get common-sense laws and regulations passed.

Toronto Sunday Sun
Submitted by: Toronto, ON Local 3888


FIRST PLACE: “Fire Fighters for McGuinty” and “Answering the Call”

OPFFA members mobilized as never before to endorse the re-election of Premier Dalton McGuinty of Ontario. OPFFA called on each member to give four hours of time to an election strategy titled, “Answer the Call – Getting Results Means Getting Involved.”

Produced by: Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association
Submitted by: Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association

SECOND PLACE: “Proposition 1 Public Safety Sales Tax Increase”

In the face of a $7.3 million budget cut for the fire department alone, Local 493 created Proposition 1. Its intent: to increase the city’s sales tax by two-tenths of 1 percent, to hire new fire fighters, train paramedics and buy new apparatus. Working together, labor and management won the election with a 67 percent margin.

Produced by:  United Phoenix Professional Fire Fighters Association
Submitted by: Phoenix, AZ Local 493

HONORABLE MENTION: “Toronto Fire Fighters’ Bouncer Program”

The Toronto Professional Fire Fighters Association has popularity down pat. Its Big Red Bouncy fire truck (capacity 10 children) is on call — and free — for community picnics, police barbeques, school fundraisers, festivals and fun all over town.

Produced by: Frank Ramagnano
Submitted by: Toronto, ON Local 3888

HONORABLE MENTION: “Always There When You Need Us”

The Halifax Professional Firefighters ran this commercial to reinforce its members’ critical role as protectors of the community and its citizens. It closes with a group photo of the familiar faces of Local 268 members.

Produced by: Steve Townsend, Michal Ann Cochran and Dave Peverill
Submitted by: Halifax, NS Local 268

HONORABLE MENTION: “Fairbanks Firefighters: Your Professional Union Firefighters”

The 36 fire fighters and medics comprising the Fairbanks Fire Department work 24-hour shifts. That way, the most fire fighters are on duty with the fewest number of employees. This brochure reminds local and state officials and citizens of the value they’re receiving for their tax dollars.

Produced by: Brian Davis
Submitted by: Fairbanks, AK Local 1324

HONORABLE MENTION: “A Staffing Standard for Truck Company Safety in Fairfax County”

Adequate staffing on ladder trucks is critical. This video produced for the Fairfax County board of supervisors shows why each truck should have a minimum of four personnel. The video also was posted on YouTube.com.

Produced by: Joel Kobersteen
Submitted by: Fairfax County, VA Local 2068

HONORABLE MENTION: “Hero Plaque Program”

Started in 2006, this program garners community attention and media coverage. Members of Local 22, joined by local officials and other agencies, regularly install plaques commemorating fallen fire fighters, since 1871, at the sites where they died in the line of duty. In 2007, Local 22 placed 11 plaques at eight ceremonies.

Produced by: Philadelphia, PA Local 22
Submitted by: Philadelphia, PA Local 22

SPECIAL RECOGNITION: “Commercial for Recruitment 2007”

Film clips of fire fighters in action make this a compelling 30-second recruitment spot, which also encourages a diverse applicant pool.

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




FIRST PLACE (TIE): “Intrepid”

A four-color quarterly magazine, Intrepid offers not only news but also carries first-person accounts of fire fighters making a difference in numerous ways in the Ontario community. District reports help keep readers informed at the most local level.

Produced by: James Coones, Editor
Submitted by: Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association

FIRST PLACE (TIE): “The Vermont Professional Firefighter”

A complete rundown of the Vermont Firefighters Protection Act of 2007 appears in the fall issue of this twice-yearly newsletter. The cover lets readers know up front what features and departments they’ll find inside.

Produced by: Professional Fire Fighters of Vermont
Submitted by: Professional Fire Fighters of Vermont

FIRST PLACE (TIE): “Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona Magazine”

Published three times a year, this magazine is more than “all things Arizona,” with its tribute to the nine fallen South Carolina fire fighters.

Produced by: Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona
Submitted by: Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona

SECOND PLACE: “Local 4406”

A monthly color newsletter, Local 4406 is rich in photos and ads and reports on the locales that its members serve. 

Produced by: Jerry Harder and Rich Lau
Submitted by: Danville, IN Local 4406

SECOND PLACE (TIE):“California Professional Firefighters”

In this quarterly, full-color tabloid, members stay apprised of the most critical topics affecting their well-being. A special legislative edition celebrates the successful conclusion of two decades of work: fire fighters gained the same on-the-job employee protections that police officers and arson investigators already had.

Produced by: California Professional Firefighters
Submitted by: California Professional Firefighters

SECOND PLACE (TIE): “The Los Angeles Firefighter”

Appearing bi-monthly, this color tabloid features attorneys and other experts who explain benefits and concerns affecting local members and their families. A new three-year contract is front and center for the May/June issue, while retirement security takes center stage in the final issue of 2007.

Produced by: Jim Perry and Los Angeles City, CA Local 112
Submitted by: Los Angeles City, CA Local 112

HONORABLE MENTION: “The Hawaii Fire Fighter”

Candid commentary distinguishes this quarterly newsletter. In the June issue, Local 1463 President Robert H. Lee notes, “Sadly, for us, management actually showed and used solidarity much better than we’ve been able to do over recent years.”

Produced by: Hawaiian Islands, HI Local 1463
Submitted by: Hawaiian Islands, HI Local 1463

HONORABLE MENTION: “Backdraft Magazine”

Three times a year, members of Locals 1645 and 1696 get a package of news and features in a full-color magazine that encourages them to get involved and stay involved — inside and outside of their professional community.

Produced by: Salt Lake City, UT Local 1645
Submitted by: Salt Lake City, UT Local 1645


FIRST PLACE: “Philadelphia Fire Fighters’ Union IAFF Local 22 2008 Calendar”

For each month of this calendar, there’s a full-color action photo of a fire or rescue from the same month in 2007. Both IAFF members and the local news media contributed the photos. At the back of the calendar is a Local 22 cut-out-and-fold quick reference card that includes the platoon schedule.

Produced by: Dave Kearney
Submitted by: Philadelphia, PA Local 22

SECOND PLACE: “2008 Calendar of Local Heroes”

This is the third Local 2278 calendar to benefit the Hoosier Burn Camp with a portion of its proceeds. Produced with the support of Jerry’s Photography and numerous local sponsors, the calendar features the names and faces of a number of fire fighters and paramedics as well as kids served by the camp.

Produced by: Monticello, IN Local 2278
Submitted by: Monticello, IN Local 2278

HONORABLE MENTION: “Omaha Professional Firefighters 2008 Calendar”

Sponsored by ING Financial Advisers, this calendar denotes A, B and C shifts with color-coded date numbers, and paydays are already in place! Station addresses and phone numbers are easy to find on the inside back cover.

Produced by: Dave Uhlig
Submitted by: Omaha, NE Local 385


FIRST PLACE: “Firefighters Protection Act of 2007”

The Vermont legislature passed S. 194 to recognize the relationship of cancer to fire fighting. This brochure lays out not only what a fire fighter needs to do to prevent cancer but also first steps to take if diagnosed with cancer.

Produced by: Professional Fire Fighters of Vermont
Submitted by: Professional Fire Fighters of Vermont

SECOND PLACE: “California Professional Firefighters 2006 Annual Report”

This four-color annual report gives legislators and opinion leaders an accessible, comprehensive look at CPF’s work on behalf of fire fighters and their families. It also goes to all locals and more than 1,600 fire stations. You can also see it online at www.cpf.org.

Produced by: Lou Paulson
Submitted by: California Professional Firefighters

HONORABLE MENTION: “The Combat Challenge Team”

Stamina. Strength. Power. Speed. Aired on Palm Beach County channel 20, this video profiles Local 2928’s combat challenge team. The state’s defending champion “combat athletes” show how they train and stay in shape – and why.

Produced by: Derek Wiley
Submitted by: Palm Beach County, FL Local 2928


Archived photos and voice-over narration tell the story of the Middletown Fire Department and Local 336, from their beginnings in 1848 as a 130-man volunteer fire department.

Produced by: David Von Bargen
Submitted by: Middletown, OH Local 336

HONORABLE MENTION: “Heroes of Today, Heroes of Yesterday”

The 111-year history of the Chapel Hill Fire Department comes to life in this multimedia museum exhibit, which opened August 23, 2007, at the Chapel Hill Museum and remains as a permanent exhibit. Local 2580 supported the exhibit and film, which benefited largely from the collecting and archiving efforts of member Christopher Bradley.

Produced by: Chris Bradley and Traci Davenport
Submitted by: Chapel Hill, NC Local 2580

HONORABLE MENTION: “Response Times Do Make a Difference”

This flyer describes the dangers of closing fire stations due to budget costs. It compares two residential fires to show the time that can be lost waiting for a secondary responding unit.

Produced by: Mark Treglio
Submitted by: Jacksonville, FL Local 122


FIRST PLACE: “Last Alarm”

A view from above depicts the solemnity of the funeral for William Grant, the first Chicago fire fighter killed in the line of duty since 2000.

Fire Engineering
Photo by: Michael D. Ryan
Submitted by: Chicago, IL Local 2

SECOND PLACE: “Overhaul”

Shattered window panes reveal a fire fighter combating a school maintenance building fire.

Genesee County Fire Wire
Photo by: Jay Lynch
Submitted by: Batavia, NY Local 896


Captain Ken Walton rescues an unresponsive dog from a smoky house fire. The dog was successfully revived in the rescue squad.

The Daily Kenoshan
Photo by: Earlene Frederick
Submitted by: Kenosha, WI Local 414


More than 25 agencies participated in a disaster drill on a closed runway at Raleigh-Durham International Airport. Arriving units found dozens of “victims,” many of them portrayed as seriously hurt, in and around a commercial jet.

Photo by: Michael J. Legeros
Submitted by: Raleigh, NC Local 548

HONORABLE MENTION: “Rescue at T2 Laboratories”

Fire fighters transport a victim of a laboratory explosion on Jacksonville’s north side. Exploding fuel tanks, flying metal and towering flames led to four fatalities and widespread evacuations.

1st Responder Broadcast Network
Photo by: Steve Gerbert
Submitted by: Jacksonville, FL Local 122