Showing posts with label firefighters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label firefighters. Show all posts

Friday, January 21, 2011

Bill Proposed To Exempt Firefighters From Jury Duty

RICHMOND -- Because they perform such a vital public service, Virginia law exempts police officers from jury duty. But what about firefighters?

They'd be exempt too under a bill proposed by state Delegate James E. Edmunds II, R-South Boston, and endorsed last week by a House subcommittee.

House Bill 1527 also would apply to emergency medical technicians, rescue squad members and arson investigators. Along with firefighters, they would be exempt from jury duty if they so request.

Firefighters and other emergency personnel often are stretched thin; in a fire department, only a handful may be licensed to drive a fire truck. Requiring them to serve on juries puts more stress on first responders and can undermine public safety, Edmunds said.

"A lot of departments only have one or two who have the license to drive a truck," Edmunds said.

"You can imagine if they were on vacation and there's no substitute, and you have to call somebody from a different department. It could potentially be a life-saving issue."

The issue was brought to Edmunds' attention by the Virginia State Firefighters Association.

On Wednesday, a subcommittee of the House Courts of Justice Committee voted 11-0 in favor of HB 1527. The measure now goes to the full committee for consideration this week.

Edmunds assured the panel that such claims could easily be disproved by simply calling the department.

He said the bill is a fitting recognition for public servants: "It's a small token of appreciation for those who serve.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Firefighters Let Home Burn Because Of Unpaid Fee

-Tennessee--A small rural community in western Tennessee is outraged and the fire chief is nursing a black eye after firefighters stood by and watched a mobile home burn to the ground because the homeowner hadn't paid a $75 municipal fee.

South Fulton city firefighters -- equipped with trucks, hoses and other firefighting equipment -- didn't intervene to save Gene Cranick's doublewide trailer home when it caught fire last week. But they did arrive on the scene to protect the house of a neighbor, who had paid his fire subscription fee.

"I just forgot to pay my $75," Cranick told ABC News. "I did it last year, the year before. ... It slipped my mind."

Later that day, Cranick's son Timothy went to the fire station to complain, and punched the fire chief in the face.

"He just cold-cocked him," Police Chief Andy Crocker told the Union City Daily Messenger. The younger Cranick was arrested and charged with felony aggravated assault, and South Fulton Fire Chief David Wilds was treated and released from a hospital, Crocker said.

Firefighters in South Fulton city are under orders to respond only to fire calls within their city limits, as well as to surrounding Obion County, but only to homes there where people have signed up for a fire subscription service.

Because Cranick hadn't paid his fee, firefighters doused the border of his neighbor's property to protect that house in case the flames spread, but wouldn't help him. He lost all his possessions, plus three dogs and a cat.

"They could have been saved if they had put water on it, but they didn't do it," Cranick told MSNBC.

The fire began when Cranick's grandson set fire to some trash near the house, and the flames leapt up. Cranick said he told the 911 operator that he'd pay whatever fee was necessary, but it was too late.

"I have no problem with the way any of my people handled the situation. They did what they were supposed to do," South Fulton City Manager Jeff Vowell told the Messenger. "It's a regrettable situation any time something like this happens."

But one firefighting expert said the fee system isn't fair to homeowners or firefighters.

"Professional, career firefighters shouldn't be forced to check a list before running out the door to see which homeowners have paid up," Harold Schatisberger, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, said in statement excerpted by MSNBC. "They get in their trucks and go."

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Hundreds Say Their Goodbyes To Firefighter "Hal" Clark

CHINCOTEAGUE -- At 1:58 p.m. Friday, the final alarm was sounded for volunteer firefighter Hal Clark, 54, who died in the line of duty Sept. 24.

Upward of 450 people, including scores of firefighters and rescue workers from Virginia, Maryland and Delaware and some three dozen American Legion Riders, gathered Friday at Union Baptist Church on Chincoteague for funeral services for Clark, who died at Peninsula Regional Medical Center after taking ill while fighting a raging brush and woods fire near New Church.

His death was the first line of duty death on the Eastern Shore of Virginia in a decade.

Clark was president of Atlantic Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company and was a lifetime member of both Atlantic and Chincoteague volunteer fire companies.

Clark was remembered as one of "a very special breed of people" -- firefighters -- who "charge in where angels fear to tread" in a eulogy given by the Rev. Bob Reese, who officiated along with the Rev. Maurice Enright.

"Hal died liked he lived -- loving, helping others," Reese said.

Enright said Clark will be remembered as "the mechanic, the carpenter, the 'Mr. Fix-it,' the cook -- there was so much he could do and so much he would do" for those in the community, such as the time when he and fellow firefighters built a wheelchair ramp at the house of an Atlantic man who needed one.

Among the many charitable deeds Clark was known for were cooking at the annual Chincoteague Volunteer Firemen's Carnival and transporting drinking water to the Chincoteague ponies when they needed it during the hot summers, Enright said.

Despite his own grief after tragically losing his son, Todd, in an accident 11 years ago, Clark continued to give to the community, both as a firefighter and in many other ways, the minister said.

After the 45-minute service concluded, Clark's flag-draped casket was carried atop Atlantic Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company Engine 4-5, preceded by a single motorcycle rider, in a funeral procession that wound its way 12 miles across the Chincoteague causeway from the church to the John W. Taylor Cemetery in Temperanceville.

The procession -- which included dozens of firetrucks and ambulances draped in black bunting along with police cars, government agency vehicles and private cars -- left Chincoteague Island under an arch created by the crossed ladders of two fire trucks parked at the foot of the drawbridge, one from Chincoteague and one from Salisbury, with a large American flag hanging from the apex.

Fire and rescue departments represented in the procession came from as far away as Greensboro, Md., Ocean City and Dagsboro to the north and Virginia Beach and Hampton to the south.

A crowd including many families with small children and people standing respectfully at attention gathered at the intersection of Chincoteague and Atlantic roads to watch the procession pass by, a process that took some 20 minutes.

Clark was laid to rest at the cemetery with full firefighter honors.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Firefighters Dismantle Police Car To Rescue Cat

VIENNA -- This little kitty went home, but only after police and firefighters partially dismantled a police car to find it.

The naughty feline first woke residents of a Vienna neighborhood with its desperate meowing, then kept police and firefighters busy for much of the night.

She was found under the hood of a car but eluded her rescuers' grasp. The kitten took cover under several other cars before seemingly disappearing , except for her meow.

Firefighters and police finally struck paydirt after jacking up a police cruiser, then following the sound and tracing the wayward kitty to a small space inside the vehicle's floor panel.

But it took half an hour of elbow grease before the critter was nabbed and taken to an animal shelter.
But not before having the last meow.

"It bit my finger!" said firefighter Franz Zehetmeier, who finally collared the cat.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ex-Raven Player Turns Firefighter

Few people could compare being a firefighter and a professional football player, but former Ravens long snapper Joe Maese knows they have one thing in common.

It's called preparation.

"The biggest thing is that you need to be professional," said Maese, a firefighter for Long Reach Station 9 in Howard County. "You go through all those practices, meetings and all of that training. There might be that one fire a year, which is like having that one playoff game, and you had better [have] done your homework and be prepared. If not, you could be in a lot of trouble."

In the NFL, few players make the successful transition from player to another professional career, and even for those who do, it's not always easy. And then there is Maese.

From 2001 through 2004, Maese was the Ravens' long snapper, and he played one season after that in Detroit. Maese always wanted to be a firefighter when he was a child. A career in the NFL didn't become a dream until he was a junior in high school.

"That's all I thought about when I was a kid," Maese said. "It kind of gets in your blood and runs in the family. If you look back, there is usually a history of uncles, grandfathers and fathers who have been firefighters."
In Maese's case, it was his father, Joseph, who has been a fireman in Phoenix the past 23 years. Obviously, Maese hung out at the fire hall with his dad when he was younger, and those impressions were deeply rooted.

"There are a lot of similarities in football and firefighting," said Maese, "especially as far as camaraderie and teamwork. Both are blue-collar in nature because it's physical work. Both can be extremely emotional, but in both sometimes you have to keep the emotion under control."

It didn't take Maese long to learn that as a firefighter. He has been in the department for less than a year, but on his first day on the job he had to answer a call about a teenage suicide.
Since then, he has been involved in his share of fires, nasty automobile accidents and medical assistance calls. That's where the comparisons to the NFL end.

One is a game played by grown men, and the other is about life and death.

"I guess when you've been around this kind of work most of your life, it's easier to walk away from things that happen on the job," Maese said. "I've never been the kind to take work home with me.
"Even when I played in the NFL, I eventually couldn't see myself doing anything different than I do now," he said. "I always knew I wanted to help somebody. It wasn't about money, but doing something constructive with my time."

Maese tried to prolong his NFL career. After Detroit, he spent a year getting various tryouts but couldn't catch on with another team. He even spent a season playing indoor football with the Baltimore Blackbirds.

Who could blame Maese for trying to hang on?

Being a long snapper was an ideal job. He didn't make the big money or have the publicity of a quarterback or running back, but his salary was still larger than the average person's. Besides, a long snapper's body doesn't take the abuse of a regular starter on offense or defense.

Maese traveled the country, stayed in nice hotels and got most of his meals free. The only time he ever got attention was when he messed up, and that didn't happen often, especially when you have a kicker the caliber of Matt Stover.

Maese acknowledges that he made enough money playing pro football that he didn't have to work again. He had a house here in Maryland and another one in Phoenix. But something was missing.

"It's tough to walk away from the game, especially when you didn't have an injury," Maese said. "For years, I just went to work and had a great group of guys to work with, like Matt Stover. You get different tryouts, but sometimes they weren't looking at you, but a kicker."

Even before Maese entered the NFL, he had prepared to be a firefighter. At age 19, he had earned a fire science degree from a college in Phoenix. He got sidetracked from that when the Ravens made him a sixth-round pick in 2001 out of New Mexico.

But soon after his NFL career ended, Maese was back in school, this time at the academy in Howard County. Before joining Station 9, he spent five months training in various areas from swift-water rescue to working with hazardous materials and weapons of mass destruction.

Maese said he expects to spend the next 25 to 30 years as a firefighter. There are still times, though, that he gets questions about playing pro football. He says he is in better shape now endurancewise than when he played in the NFL. At a rock-solid 6 feet 1, 260 pounds, he stands out on a firetruck.

Maese still snaps the ball and he might try out again.

"I've always wanted to live a simple life," he said. "When I was in my second or third year, I only wanted to own a house and truck. If I got another opportunity, I'd consider it."