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PATCH OF THE MONTH If you have photos you would like to see in our “Patch of the Month” feature please upload them on our website, or email them to


Mobile Fire-Rescue Takes Delivery of New CPR Equipment to Support Rescue Efforts

This patch belongs to Carroll's Creek Fire Department, located in Tuscaloosa County, AL.


Arson Suspect Arrested in Mobile Mobile, AL - Mobile FireRescue investigators have arrested and charged Alex Williams, 19, with Arson 2nd and Burglary 3rd in connection with a house fire located at 909 Minor Street, which occurred on Friday, December 1st at approximately 9:48 A.M. When firefighters arrived they reported heavy smoke and flames showing from the rear of the structure. Investigators later determined that the fire had been intentionally set. Williams was apprehended after a short foot pursuit with fire and police. He later

Mobile, AL - Thanks to the award of a National Fire Act grant, Mobile Fire-Rescue has taken delivery of 37 LUCAS® 3 Chest Compression System devices to better perform CPR in the field and will soon have one of these lifesaving tools on board every fire truck in the department. Up until now only rescue trucks had the devices on board, but now with this acquisition, all trucks on the department will have them. LUCAS® 3 is a mechanical chest compression system that provides compressions at a rate

JUMP TO FILE #010518110 and depth that are consistent with current American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Both portable and quick to apply, the device works by providing continuous high-quality chest compressions which are critical to maintaining blood flow to save a sudden cardiac arrest patient’s brain, heart and vital organs.

The key to cardiac arrest survival is consistent, high quality CPR. While the device is in use on a patient it can free up personnel to allow them to focus on other critical emergency patient care on scene or while in route to the hospital. Studies also show that effectiveness of manual chest compressions can drop rapidly, often only after one minute, due to rescuer fatigue. The total cost of the devices were $692-thousand dollars. - STEVE HUFFMAN

JUMP TO FILE #010518109 confessed to setting the fire. He is also a suspect in several other burglaries in the Toulminville area. Fire investigators are still searching for his accomplice, Calender Stokes, B/F, 36, 4’5”, 195 lbs. Anyone with any information regarding Stokes is asked to call the Mobile Fire-Rescue Arson Unit at 251-402-4407. - STEVE HUFFMAN

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February, 2018




A guide to finding great companies


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Georgia Fire & Rescue


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Lifesaving Resources



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This patch belongs to Chattanooga Fire Department, located in Hamilton County, TN.


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1st Responder News (ISSN 1525-1683) - Vol. 19 No. 2 - South East edition is published monthly, 12 times a year for $36 per year by Belsito Communications, Inc., 1 Ardmore St., New Windsor, NY 12553. Periodicals Postage Paid at Newburgh, NY and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to 1st Responder News, 1 Ardmore St., New Windsor, NY 12553. No financial responsibility is assumed by this newspaper to publish a display, classified, or legal ad or for typographical errors except of reprinting that part of the ad which was omitted or in error. Omissions or erA division of: rors must be brought to the attention of the newspaper during the same month of publication.

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Notice: The advertisements, articles, and letters contained in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of 1st Responder Inc. and Belsito Communications, Inc. Advertisements are sold pursuant to the "space available" and corresponding fee schedule. The mere fact that advertisements are contained in this publication does not express nor imply that 1st Responder Inc. and Belsito Communications, Inc. vouches for the credibility of the claims made in the advertisements or the representations expressed or implied in them.


Christmas Eve House Fire in Knoxville

Knoxville, TN - At approximately 10:30 P.M. on December 24, 2017 units from the Knoxville Fire Department were dispatched to 3733 Frostwood Rd. for the report of a house fire. When firefighters arrived they found a split foyer style home with heavy flames coming through the windows on the (D) right side of the structure, and fire quickly climbing the exterior walls into the eaves. Three residents were inside the home when smoke was detected and attempted to extinguish the fire with a garden hose. The three self-evacuated and called 911, but not before one resident had breathed in enough smoke to be transported to the hospital. The cause of the fire is being investigated.

Game Meat FORK & HOSE CO. a Food Blog by A.J. Fusco

Game meat...just the name alone is enough to scare people off. All too often you hear “I don’t like the gamey-ness” or “it’s always dry”. Fair enough, I mean, we all have had a beef steak cooked to oblivion which was dry and tasteless, right? But that hasn’t stopped us from pursuing the perfectly cooked ribeye, has it?! But I digress… The definition of game meat is the meat from an animal that is hunted for food and not raised on a farm, the most common being venison, rabbit, duck and turkey. Obviously these animals need to be hunted and processed, but not all of us hunt, so what do we do?! Well the first and easiest way is to make friends with someone who does. Many times, these hunters, especially in the case with venison, end up with more meat than they can use so they will be more than happy to give some away….hopefully. The other option is online, but be aware that these are not true “game” meats because due to FDA regulations, these animals are raised on farms. These won’t share the same characteristics as the hunted variety, mainly due to their diet and activity levels, thus usually less “gamey” tasting and less lean. Ok so now we have figured out where to source the meat, but how do we go about cooking it?! Game meat is much leaner than traditional, supermarket varieties. This is because animals in the wild are much more active than the sedentary ones found in mass commercial animal farms. They are constantly walking fields grazing or flying to get to their next source of food. And when muscles get used more often (i.e. legs and thighs), they contain more myglobin, which results in more dark meat and less fat. Because of this,

we have to approach game meat a little differently when it comes time to cook. Here are some tips... -Cook the meat with the appropriate technique! A cut with more connective tissue, like something from the venison shoulder, is best cooked low and slow. This cut will often be labeled as “stew meat,” long braises such as stew and chilis are ideal. The ever-popular venison “backstrap” and tenderloin (no, they are not the same) are super lean cuts with virtually no connective tissue that needs to break down. These do best with dry techniques such as grilling or sautéing. -Add fat! A classic French technique where lean meats are wrapped, usually in bacon, help prevent it from drying out. You must have seen the ever-popular “bacon weave” haven’t you?!?! Another way to add fat is to incorporate it into the dish on its own, such as adding pork sausage to a stew or braise. You can also stuff certain cuts with bacon, sausage, prosciutto….you get the idea. -Marinate. Marinate. Marinate. This will help you in a few ways, with the first being the obvious...Flavor! A quick marinade can make a world of difference by adding flavors that will help “mask” the gamey-ness that many people don’t like. It also helps by breaking down tougher cuts so that they are more tender and enjoyable. Try my marinade recipe for “Venison Stir-fry” below! VENISON STIR-FRY MARINADE INGREDIENTS: -2 Cups Low-Sodium Soy Sauce -½ Cup Rice Wine Vinegar -½ Cup Mirin (sub 1 tsp. Sugar, dissolved in vinegar) -2 Garlic Cloves, crushed -Small knob of fresh Ginger, sliced thin -2 Tbs. Sesame Oil Combine ingredients in a bowl, use half as a marinade and half to use as a sauce to finish the stir fry.

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February, 2018


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In memory of those who gave all

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1st Responder Newspaper honors and remembers emergency responders lost in the line of duty

Indiana: Scott A. Compton, 55 Rank: Firefighter/EMT Incident Date: November 10, 2017 Death Date: November 11, 2017 Fire Department: Greenfield Fire Territory Initial Summary: Several hours after working on the scene of a three-alarm commercial structure fire at an auto body and glass company, Firefighter/EMT Scott A. Compton fell ill at home and died from a nature and cause of fatal injury still to be determined.

Indiana: Kendall James Murphy, 27 Rank: Firefighter Incident Date: November 10, 2017 Death Date: November 10, 2017 Fire Department: Montgomery Volunteer Fire Department Initial Summary: Shortly after arriving on the scene of a motor vehicle crash, Firefighter Kendall James Murphy was struck and killed by another firefighter who was responding to the same accident scene in his privately owned pickup truck. The second firefighter, who was allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol registering a blood alcohol level of 0.21 percent, was arrested and charged with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated causing death, and reckless driving. California: David Todd Moorman, 50 Rank: Captain II Incident Date: February 5, 2017 Death Date: February 5, 2017 Fire Department: Los Angeles City Fire Department Initial Summary: On February 5, 2017, Captain II David Todd Moorman worked a 36 hour shift during which he fell ill. Captain Moorman's last call was a vehicle fire at 0530hrs. After this incident, his duty shift ended and he went home. Within an hour of Captain Moorman arriving home, he suffered a medical emergency and collapsed. A family

member witnessed the collapse and immediately began to render first aid, including CPR, until responding units from the Ventura County Fire Department arrived on scene and initiated medical care. Captain Moorman was transported to Los Robles hospital in Thousand Oaks, California, where, despite all of the valiant efforts to save him, Captain Moorman was pronounced deceased a short time later. New York: Robert A. Fitch, 60 Rank: Firefighter/Safety Officer Incident Date: November 27, 2017 Death Date: November 28, 2017 Fire Department: East Herkimer Fire Department Initial Summary: Firefighter/Safety Officer Robert A. Fitch responded with his fire department to a technical rescue call for a person who became stuck on some cliffs while attempting to rescue their pet. After the call, Firefighter Fitch returned home and during the night succumbed in his sleep to a cardiac related injury.

Massachusetts: Stephen Frye, 59 Rank: Fire Chief Incident Date: December 5, 2017 Death Date: December 5, 2017 Fire Department: Montgomery Fire Department Initial Summary: Fire Chief Stephen Frye collapsed while operating on an initial attack line at the scene of a late night two-alarm chimney fire that destroyed a residential structure. Fire Chief Frye was treated immediately on scene by fellow responders and transported to the hospital by a Hilltown ambulance crew where he was pronounced deceased a short time later. The nature and cause of fatal injury are still to be determined.

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February, 2018



MFRD Hosts Second Annual Fire Awards and Recognition Ceremony Murfreesboro, TN - Murfreesboro Fire Rescue Department hosted its Second Annual Fire Awards and Recognition Ceremony on December 11, 2017 at Patterson Park Community Center. The ceremony, which honored JUMP TO FILE# MFRD employees, 010518106 community members and citizens, also paid tribute to deceased members of the department. The night began by recognizing the three Fire Trainees that recently graduated from the Tennessee Fire and Codes Academy, and the Firefighters who celebrated their one year anniversary with MFRD in 2017. Five personnel were pinned by their family members or other designee for promotions they received during the year. Stephen Ellison, Jeremy Morris, Jon Parsons and Lance Sutton were promoted to Engineer, and Chris Mikolon was promoted to Captain. MFRD’s Firefighters of the Month were then acknowledged for “going above and beyond the duties of their job descriptions". From November 2016-July 2017, the recipients were Firefighter Davis Sanders, Chaplain/Captain Lee Douglas, Captain Tony Lehew, Engineer Alvin Brandon, Engineer Chad Davis, Firefighter Ben Honeycutt, Firefighter Ryan Battle, Firefighter Sam Bennett, Captain Nora Smith, Engineer John Flynt, Engineer Chase Martin, Firefighter Joshua Jackson, Firefighter Leon Isaac, Firefighter Jeff Clementi, Firefighter Beau Doss, Engineer David Simms, Engineer Chad Davis (again), Firefighter James Ray and Firefighter Adam Ross. Lehew, Brandon, Davis, Honeycutt, Battle and Bennett also received Life-Saving Commendation pins for their Class A uniforms. At the end of 2016, this crew was responsible for making a difference in the lives of two families two shifts in a row. Life Saving Awards were given to two crews responsible for saving the lives of two patients who suffered multiple injuries in motor vehicle accidents. The first crew (Captain Jamie Bigelow, Firefighter Greg Burt, Firefighter Alvarez Constant, Firefighter Tiara Green, Captain Jason Hayes, Engineer Lionel Holladay, Firefighter Dustin Hopper, Firefighter Alan Jakes, Engineer Jeremy McCullough, Firefighter Ray Robinson, Engineer Lance Sutton, Firefighter Benjamin Thorpe and Engineer Eugene Todd) responded to a motor vehicle accident January 4th where six-year-old Camden Collins was the only survivor. Doctors told Camden’s grandmother, now legal guardian, that first responders removing him from the vehicle in a professional and skillful manner and keeping him stabilized kept him from fatal injury or paralysis. The second crew (Captain Mike Adams, Engineer Chris Ayers, Firefighter David Branch, Engineer

Richard Crick, Engineer Stephen Ellison, Engineer Kevin Leonard, Firefighter Duane O’Donnell, Engineer David Simms and Firefighter Shandreah Womack) responded to an accident involving Murfreesboro Police Officer Matt Stern on July 31st. With special thanks to the crew, Stern (who sustained several serious injuries and underwent multiple surgeries) is now well on his way to making a full recovery. Several groups and members of the community were also honored for various reasons. The ChristyHouston Foundation, Inc. and Stones River Woodworker’s Club received “Community Partner” awards. The plaque for the ChristyHouston Foundation read, “with sincere gratitude for your partnership with Murfreesboro Fire Rescue in support of our continuing efforts to provide life safety to our community.” Stones River Woodworker’s Club’s read, “for your contribution to Murfreesboro Fire Rescue’s efforts to preserve the heritage of our department for the benefit of the community.” New Vision Baptist Church and the Murfreesboro Muslim Youth were recognized for their contributions to the community in support of public safety during preparations for the rally on the square in October. They each received “Community Service Awards.” Two citizens received plaques for their “selfless and brave actions which contributed to the health and safety of the members of [their] community". Josh Picklesimer, a student teacher at Siegel Middle School, assisted a student with an airway obstruction by performing the Heimlich Manuever. Coincidently, the young girl was choking on a pickle! When MFRD arrived on scene, she showed signs of distress, but had no trouble breathing or speaking. Josh learned the life-saving skill as a seventh grader at Siegel Middle. Amy Nolen, an employee of Consolidated Utility District, was driving with coworkers on Warrior Drive returning to Consolidated Utility District from lunch. A Riverdale High School student suddenly pulled out of the parking lot and into the path of a fully loaded dump truck which happened to be a couple of vehicles in front of Amy. With a thundering crash, both vehicles went airborne, twisting and crashing into the deep ditch on the road’s edge. Amy immediately pulled her vehicle to the side of the road and ran to the crash site. The student’s car landed upright and Amy was able to pull her out and to a safe distance from the incident. Fortunately, there were no others in the vehicle. The dump truck landed on the driver’s side. Fluid was leaking from the truck. The windshield was partially broken and the driver appeared unconscious. Fearful the truck might catch fire, Amy started kicking in the windshield. She noticed a shovel just inside the cab, grabbed it, and began busting out the windshield to free the driver who


Josh Picklesimer with Fire Rescue Chief Mark Foulks and Deputy Chief Roger Toombs.


Amy Nolen with Fire Rescue Chief Mark Foulks and Deputy Chief Roger Toombs.


Life-Saving Group #2 (L to R): Fire Rescue Chief Mark Foulks, Captain Mike Adams, Engineer Chris Ayers, Engineer Kevin Leonard, Firefighter Duane O’Donnell, Engineer Stephen Ellison, Engineer David Simms, Firefighter Shandreah Womack and Deputy Chief Roger Toombs. (Not pictured: Firefighter David Branch and Engineer Richard Crick).

was conscious, but dazed. When the windshield finally gave way, Amy helped the driver release his seatbelt and started pulling him from the truck. First responders arrived on site and took over. Amazingly, there was very little injury to either driver.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, five members of the department who passed away in 2017 were remembered by friends, family and co-workers. Captain Thomas Adams, Captain Larry Bratcher, Supply Clerk Roy Fugate, Assistant Chief

Frank Joyce and Engineer Tommy Underwood all had a single rose placed in their honor on a set of turnout gear as the Honor Guard rang the bell to signify their “last alarm". - MFRD


February, 2018

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If you have photos you would like to see in our Drills feature, please upload them on our website, or email them to

Rossville, TN - After many days of arctic temperatures across the mid-south, the Fayette County Technical Rescue Team recently completed operational readiness exercises in ice rescue training using some of their unique and specialized rescue equipment, such as mustang survivor suits.

“Although we typically train in cold water rescues a couple of times per year, it is a very rare occasion in the mid-south where we can complete full ice rescue training when lakes and ponds are completely frozen over,” said Commander Kevin Snider. “Having completed an ice rescue technician class several years ago in Manchester, New Hampshire, I can honestly say that the recent conditions in the mid-south were similar and provided a unique opportunity for our Team to get some additional hands-on experience,” remarked Snider. The training consisted of providing Team members with the knowledge and skills necessary to safely operate and manage

operations at ice rescue incidents, including scene assessment, resource identification, hazard recognition and the initiation of the rescue response plan, along with basic and advanced rescue techniques. Since the Team’s inception in 2010, the Team has completed over 125 activations, deployments, and operational readiness exercises from Dyersburg, Tennessee to Byhalia, Mississippi and everywhere in between. The Team has literally spent thousands of volunteer hours in operations all across the mid-south during the past eight years.

For additional information about the Fayette County Technical Rescue Team and the accomplishments and benefits that they have provided to the mid-south since 2010, check out their website at or visit them on Facebook at - KEVIN SNIDER


Officials Say Duplex Fire in Murfreesboro Started with Christmas Tree Murfreesboro, TN - Officials say that a duplex fire at 2566 Concord Court that occurred just after 3:00 P.M. on Saturday afternoon, January 6th, started with a Christmas tree. The residents called the fire in to Dispatch and stated that the Christmas tree was on fire and quickly spreading. Ladders 1 and 6, Rescues 7 and 8 and Engine 4 arrived on scene and discovered that fire had consumed the entire room. According to Acting Battalion Chief Mark McCluskey, the left side unit received heavy fire, smoke and

JUMP TO FILE #010918104 water damage, but the right side unit only received light smoke damage and a hole in the wall for firefighters to ensure that the fire did not extend to the other unit. Three residents were displaced and offered assistance from the American Red Cross. It is unknown just how the Christmas tree caught fire; however, the National Fire Protection Association reports that one of every three home Christmas tree fires are caused

by electrical problems. A heat source placed too closely to a tree causes roughly one in every four of the fires. MFRD would like to remind the community that it is important to get rid of a live tree after Christmas or when it becomes dry. Dried out trees are an extreme fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage. The tree should not be placed outside against the home either. For more information on safe practices with Christmas trees, please visit - MFRD


FCTRT Ice Rescue Training.


Homeowner in Knoxville Calls in House Fire Knoxville, TN - At 4:45 P.M. on December 30, 2017 units from the Knoxville Fire Department were dispatched to 6310 John May Rd. for the report of a residential fire, called in by the homeowner. When fire crews arrived they found smoke coming from the eaves and attic area near the chimney. Firefighters quickly pulled siding from around the chimney to expose the flames that were climbing into the attic. The fire was contained to the area mentioned, with no injuries reported.

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February, 2018


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February, 2018

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Bridgestone Americas Donates Emergency Response Trailer to Murfreesboro Fire Rescue Department Murfreesboro, TN - Bridgestone Americas, Inc. made a special delivery to Murfreesboro Fire Rescue Department (MFRD) on December 21, 2017 with a 53-foot fully enclosed emergency response trailer, and a new set of Bridgestone tires. MFRD is the host agency for the Middle Tennessee All- JUMP TO FILE# Hazards Incident 010218102 Management Team, a component of the Tennessee Fire Chief’s Association Statewide Mutual Aid System. This donation underscores Bridgestone’s commitment to promoting safer communities through prevention and readiness for emergencies. The unit will be utilized for the command staff’s work in developing the incident action plans, and the trailer’s canopy can be used for operational briefings for all responders. Additionally, the trailer will be beneficial to MFRD to use on major incidents within the city limits, as well as special events and mass gatherings across Middle Tennessee. “The trailer is perfectly designed and fully equipped for the work of the incident management team,” said Fire Rescue Chief Mark Foulks. “We are extremely grateful to Bridgestone for the donation. It is a life-saving asset for MFRD and our regional and state partners.” City Council voted to approve the donation on Thursday, November 30, 2017. The trailer was delivered to Fleet Services on December 21, 2017. Once a few modifications are completed, the unit will be transported to Station 10 on Veterans Parkway where it will be stored until it is called for action. About Bridgestone Americas, Inc.: Nashville, Tenn.-based Bridgestone Americas, Inc. (BSAM) is the U.S. subsidiary of Bridgestone Corporation, the world’s largest tire and rubber company. BSAM and its subsidiaries develop, manufacture and market a wide range of Bridgestone, Firestone and associate brand tires to address the needs of a broad range of customers, including consumers, automotive and commercial vehicle original equipment manufacturers, and those in the agricultural, forestry and mining industries. The companies are also engaged in retreading operations throughout the Western Hemisphere and produce air springs, roofing materials, and industrial fibers and textiles. The BSAM family of companies also operates the world’s largest chain of automotive tire and service centers. Guided by its One Team, One Planet message, the company is dedicated to achieving a positive environmental impact in all of the communities it calls home. - MFRD


(L to R): Captain/Shift Training Officer Tracy Summar, Wilson County Fire Chief Jeremy Hobbs, Deputy Chief Roger Toombs, Fleet Services Director Jack Hyatt, Bridgestone Response Team Leader Chuck Tarver, Fire Rescue Chief Mark Foulks, and Bridgestone Response Team Communications Officer Jim Goffos.

Bridgestone representatives surprise Fire Rescue Chief Foulks with a new set of tires for the trailer.


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LOCAL 1492

Firefighters arrive to find heavy fire showing at the Sterling Chase Apartments in Stone Mountain.

Two-Alarm Apartment Complex Fire in Dekalb County

Stone Mountain, GA - On the evening of January 7th, Dekalb County Fire & Rescue crews were dispatched out for an apartment building fire at the Sterling Chase Apartments on Ashley Place in Stone Mountain. Dekalb County had reports of a working structure fire with possible entrapments. Emergency crews were alerted for the call just after 5:00 P.M. that evening. Responding crews could see heavy smoke from a distance as they approached the scene. Firefighters arrived to find heavy fire conditions that were rapidly spreading. Crews were relieved to find that all occupants were able to safely evacuate the structure prior to their arrival. Firefighters made an aggressive attack on the blaze, but were hampered by the fast moving flames. Command was quickly established and a second-alarm was requested on the call. Firefighters battled the blaze for nearly a half hour before gain-

JUMP TO FILE #011018114 ing control and bringing the fire under control. Firefighters used multiple hose lines and ladder pipe operations from several ladder trucks to battle the blaze. Crews were committed on the scene well into the evening conducting overhaul operations and extinguishing hot spots. Sunday’s fire ripped through nearly a dozen units at the apartment complex. The building appears to be a total loss, but no injuries were reported during the incident. The American Red Cross was called in to assist the residents displaced by the fire with shelter and food. Fire investigators were on the scene and able to find that a fireplace was the point of origin for the fire. - WILLIAM KING

February, 2018



February, 2018

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Fire Fatality on Carolyn Path in Rockmart Rockmart, GA - At approximately 7:06 P.M. on December 27, 2017 Paulding County Fire & Rescue units were dispatched to a residential structure fire located on Carolyn Path in Rock- JUMP TO FILE# mart (cross street 010218124 Old Brock Road). Engine 7, the first arriving unit, found the house to be fully involved in flames and initiated defensive operations. Crews were unable to enter the home due to heavy fire conditions.

Battalion Chief Matt Schultz presenting award to Firefighter/EMT Kim Austin.

JUMP TO FILE #122817105 her NPQ Apparatus Operator.” “Firefighter/EMT Kim Austin has tried to make the shift/department look good in every way possible and has been in the holiday spirit.” “Kim has spent her own money to obtain decorations for



BCES Announces Employee of the Quarter Bryan County, GA - Firefighter/EMT Kim Austin has been named the “Employee of the Quarter” for the fourth and final quarter of 2017. Firefighter/EMT Kim Austin was nominated by several BCES members and below are direct quotes from those whom nominated her. “Firefighter/EMT Kim Austin always has a 'can do' attitude and is currently working on obtaining

Once the fire was brought under control, the body of a male, believed to be in his mid-60’s, was recovered inside the home. The victim has not been positively identified yet and has been transported to the State of Georgia Crime Lab where an autopsy will be conducted. Due to the nature of the fire, the State of Georgia Fire Marshal’s office was called in and their personnel are handling the investigation. At this time, no cause or determination of the fire’s origin has been released.

trucks and the station for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.” “Firefighter/EMT Kim Austin also is always willing to stay and help with things around the department. Parade, Recruitment Team and Overtime shifts.” Congratulations to Firefighter/EMT Kim Austin! - FREDDY HOWELL




If your department has photos you would like to see in our “Departmnt Profile” feature, please upload them on our website, or email them to ®

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February, 2018

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Dead in Six Minutes VIDEO REVIEW

Video reviews by John Malecky

DEAD IN SIX MINUTES The biography of Dr. Stanley MN Zydlo Jr, MD and the Creation of the modern Paramedic and EMS System By Paul Ciolino Available from: FSP Books & Videos 188 Central Street, Suite #4 Hudson, MA 01749-1330 1-800-522-8526 E-mail: Price: $20.00 This book is soft cover, measures six by nine inches and has 271 pages. It should go without saying that we know what paramedics are and the EMS system.

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It is probably not commonly known about when and where it started. This book will clear that all up. It is the story about the doctor who created them. He started the movement in Chicago back in the 1970’s and it included several surrounding towns outside of the city. It is a biography written by a friend who is not in EMS but who admired Dr. Zydlo who was, in the least, an exceptional person and professional. It takes you not only through his life, but through his burdensome journey to introduce this new concept for emergency medical care. As with many new ideas, this was criticized and fought tooth and nail by countless doctors, nurses and even fire chiefs as an example. The doctor, however, was relentless in his quest to provide yet another means of saving human life. It was by pre-hospital care. There are twelve chapters and an epilogue, all titled. Each starts out with a passage made by a famous person whom I recognize, as well as people I did not know, but nevertheless spoke words of wisdom. Throughout the book you will read about tragedy and miracles. You will read about a number of emergency service workers and firefighters who distinguished themselves for the ideal of saving lives. You will read about Ambulance 15 of the Chicago Fire Department stationed in a poor, bad neighborhood that never stops producing medical calls. You will read about statistics regarding shootings, stabbings, drug overdoses and what have you all of which contribute to a never ending production line of patients. It goes without saying that this book is a must for anyone who works in EMS and wants to know where it all started. For that matter, it is a book for anyone interested in what EMS is all about. It is also a salute to Doctor Zydlo and the men and women who dedicated themselves unconditionally to saving lives, many times at the risk of their own! Some of the chapters are a little longer than others, but nevertheless it is a book that is hard to put down!


Jackson fire investigators on scene.


Mother Burned, Two Toddlers Die in Jackson House Fire Jackson, GA - On the afternoon of December 15, 2017 around 2:30 P.M., Jackson Fire was alerted to the 100 block of Valley Road for a house on fire. The first arriving engine reported heavy fire from a one-story brick residential structure. Crews made an aggressive attack on the fire. Two young children, ages 2 and 3, were pronounced dead at the scene. Their mother was taken to the Grady Burn Center in Atlanta

JUMP TO FILE #123017108 after suffering severe burns. According to Georgia Deputy Insurance Commissioner Jay Florence, the fire started from an outlet in the hallway of their home. The mother said she woke up surrounded by fire. Police deputies rescued the mother through the back door before firefighters ar-

rived, but could not reach the children due to the intense conditions. According to firefighters, there was no sign of a working smoke alarm. Three other children were at school during the fire. Fire Investigators spent hours going through debris in the days following the fire. - SHANE SHIFFLETT


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Marietta, GA - Cobb firefighters on the scene of an apartment fire on Old Concord Road on December 28, 2017.

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Looters Set Fire to Macon Gas Station


Cobb Firefighter pictured giving oxygen to cats moments after they were rescued from a recent house fire in Marietta.


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Macon, GA - Just after 2:00 A.M. on November 24, 2017 Macon Bibb Fire was alerted for a grass fire at Pacecar Express located at 2243 Shurling Drive on Macon's eastside. When firefighters arrived they found the building in flames. The fire was contained and the store suffered extensive smoke and fire damage throughout. Reports stated that looters broke a window to gain entry to the building. Merchandise was scattered from the store to a local neighborhood. According to the owners, the store had just recently reopened.

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1st Responder Newspape er features EMERGENCY SERVICES RELA ATED TATTOOS


Southern Manatee Fire & Rescue Responds to Fatal Fire in Senior Village "This is my husband, Josh Ramsdell's, EMS tattoo. He has been involved in EMS for 12 years, working for Missisquoi Valley Rescue in Vermont. He has worked his way up from a junior member during his senior year of high school, to his current position as Vice President of the company! Before retiring, his father was on the rescue squad, and his mother was a dispatcher. As a hobby, his father, Greg Ramsdell, often submits pictures and articles for 1st Responder News. EMS runs in his blood! 99024 is his Vermont State EMS number."

Bradenton, FL - Shortly after 9:00 P.M. on Friday night, December 22, 2017 Southern Manatee Fire & Rescue responded to a fire in Woodland Senior Living Village on 301 Blvd. East. On arrival they found what appeared to be a room and contents fire. The building was evacuated while suppression and search were taking place. Once the fire was knocked down, firefighters found a deceased 77-year-old male. The fire is under investigation. This was Manatee County's second fatal fire in two days.


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New Smyrna Beach, FL - Always an honor for New Smyrna firefighters to bring Ronald McDonald to the annual "Lights of Love" McDonald’s holiday event!

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February 15 - 18, 2018 Portland, Maine


POTUS Makes Surprise Visit to Southern Florida Fire Station




West Palm Beach, FL - In December, President Donald Trump made a surprise visit to West Palm Beach fire station to thank the First Responders for their hard work and sacrifices. After his visit the president later tweeted, "Just left West Palm Beach Fire & Rescue #2. Met with great men and women as representatives of those who do so much for all of us. Firefighters, paramedics, first responders - what amazing people they are!"

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The fire had a head start on firefighters.


Fatal House Fire in Myakka City Lake County Fire Rescue EMS Chief Dan Miller.


Lake County Fire Rescue EMS Chief Completes Professional Designation Process Tavares, FL - Lake County Fire Rescue Emergency Medical Services Chief Dan Miller has successfully completed a process awarding him the professional designation of Chief Fire Officer (CFO). The Commission on Professional Credentialing met earlier this month to officially confer the designation, making Chief Miller one of only 1,279 CFOs worldwide. The program is designed to recognize individuals who demonstrate excellence in seven measured components including experience, education, professional development, professional contributions, association membership, community involvement and technical competence. In addition, all applicants are required to identify a future professional development plan. The CFO designation program uses a comprehensive peer review model to evaluate candidates seeking the credential. The Commission on Professional Credentialing awards the designation only after an individual successfully meets all of the organization’s stringent criteria. “Achieving this designation signifies Chief Miller’s commitment to his career in the fire and emergency services,” said Lake County Fire Rescue Chief Jim Dickerson. “Chief Miller has been pursuing this professional achievement for a year, and the

Myakka, FL - On Wednesday afternoon, December 20, 2017 Myakka City Fire and Rescue was dispatched to a report of a house fire on Singletary Road. As units pulled from their stations, a column of smoke was already visible. The house was well set back off the road on an unimproved road. The first unit on scene reported that the building was al-

JUMP TO FILE #122017121 ready on the ground. A neighbor advised the Incident Commander that they believed the occupant, a handicap male, may still be in the building. Firefighters cooled the rubble and pulled the sheet metal roofing

to locate the occupant. Remains were found, but still need to be identified before the name is released. East Manatee Fire & Rescue assisted at the scene along with Manateee County EMS. The fire is under investigation by the Manatee County Sheriff's Office and the State Fire Marshal's Office. - WILLIE CIRONE

JUMP TO FILE #010218104 process is very challenging. He has worked hard for this designation and we are extremely proud of his accomplishment.” Chief Miller became a volunteer firefighter soon after graduating high school in 1996. He has been a career firefighter with Lake County Fire Rescue for 20 years, and has an Associate of Science degree in Emergency Medical Services from Valencia College and a Bachelor’s degree in Fire Department Administration from Waldorf University. He is also a graduate of the Emergency Services Leadership Institute. “You spend your whole career training and going to class, teaching other firefighters and working in the community, so it is nice to be recognized with this distinction,” said Chief Miller. The career firefighters of Lake County Fire Rescue protect county residents and visitors in an area covering approximately 1,200 square miles, with nearly 70,000 residences and up to 2,000 commercial properties. For up-todate news on Lake County Fire Rescue, visit,, or - ELISHA PAPPACODA

Engines and Tenders shuttled water to the scene.


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Return of the BAC-DROP An increasingly popular option within retirement plans for sworn employees is BAC-DROP (Benefit Actuarially Calculated DROP). As attractive as forward DROP is for both employees and employers, it is not without its limitations. So as an alternative, actuaries created BAC-DROP, a less complicated off-shoot of traditional DROP, with a lump-sum payout. BAC-DROP- Benefit Actuarially Calculated DROP- a provision in public sector plans which allows an employee to have lifetime monthly benefits actuarially reduced, along with an immediate reduction in creditable service, in exchange for a one-time, lump sum payment; also known as Reverse DROP.

With BAC-DROP, the employee can effectively delay entering DROP until the actual date of retirement. The pension is modified retroactively as if the employee had elected DROP in prior years. In this way, the employee receives an immediate lump-sum, without an employment commitment. It’s an arrangement that allows the employee to turn the clock back, typically up to five years. Sample BAC-DROP: Fire Chief Smith has 30 years of service with City X and a final average salary (FAS) of $100,000. The terms of the plan allow him to retire with an annual pension of $88,500. Rather than collecting his full pension, he decides to BAC-DROP 4 years and receive a reduced pension. His years of service are consequently lowered to 26 years and his final average salary adjusted as well (also typically lower). His new pension is calculated as if he had entered the DROP 4 years ago. Let’s assume his newly calculated FAS is $91,000. This yields a pension of $71,000 and an immediate lump sum DROP payment of $284,000 (not accounting for earnings/interest, or COLA).

Most BAC-DROP arrangements reimburse the employee for the pension contributions made in the years “BAC-DROP’d”. This policy is consistent with forwardDROP. So in the previous example, say Chief Smith had been putting 10% of his annual salary each year toward the pension plan. Over a 4-year BAC-DROP period, his pension office calculates his contributions were $38,000. This amount will be distributed to him (along with a nominal interest payment typically) as a direct taxable distribution, or as a rollover to an IRA or other qualified plan.

BAC-DROP Advantages From an employee’s perspective, the most attractive feature of BAC-DROP is its immediacy. Once reaching normal retirement age, an employee is eligible to BAC-DROP and separate from

service immediately. Unlike forward-DROP which has the uncertainty of a future time commitment of employment, BAC-DROP arrangements remove uncertainty over the future. An employee can effectively customize his pension by choosing an exact number of years to calculate a DROP payment and pension. Additionally, interest rates used to calculate lump sums from BAC-DROP tend to necessarily be fixed since the employee has the benefit of hindsight. In this way, the employee doesn’t have the uncertainty or risk of a self-directed investment plan, or of a floating interest rate. Similarly, disability insurance is a moot point under BAC-DROP insofar as workplace coverage, since the employee separates as soon as administratively possible. Whereas forward-DROP requires an employment commitment, BAC-DROP requires none. It is this fundamental feature of BAC-DROP that is not so attractive to employers. Surprise retirements are common and this leads to challenges in terms of orderly recruiting and hiring. Whereas forward-DROP lends itself to orderly retirement transitions, BACDROP lends itself to disorderly surprises. Although an employee in forward-DROP can retire at any point, the ever-increasing DROP payment at the “end of the rainbow” acts as a powerful incentive for the employee to remain on payroll. Whether to elect forwardDROP or BAC-DROP For those jurisdictions that offer employees both forwardDROP and BAC-DROP at normal retirement age, additional financial planning aspects need to be considered, including: ● The employee’s willingness to continue working- the stress and nature of the job may be overriding factors for an employee not to commit to a forward-DROP.

● The employee’s risk tolerance and financial assets- all things being equal, the greater an individual’s investable assets, the more flexibility they have in accepting a lower pension under BAC-DROP. This is particularly true if they also have a sound balance sheet, with minimal debt. Conversely, someone with inadequate savings and a higher appetite for risk would favor a forwardDROP, preserving their full pension, while accumulating money in DROP.

● The employee’s relationship status (single vs. married)- a single person may be more inclined to take risk by electing a more aggressive payout option, since joint payout options would be unavailable. Consequently, the trade-off in electing forward-DROP may be acceptable given a higher risk preference. ● The employee’s feelings

about the future: economy, personal circumstances, etc.- this factor is particularly important if the employee’s choices for the investments are either self-directed or pension-based, rather than a fixed interest rate.

As a final point, it is important for an employee considering BACDROP to confirm with the pension office the benefit levels in place for their particular BAC-DROP date. Perhaps the current multiplier is greater than the one used in previous years. There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to both kinds of DROP and making a mistake can be costly. All of the different rules present potential pitfalls, so leveraging a financial professional who specializes in DROP is essential. With proper planning, exiting from DROP should be a smooth process. Consider contacting us to discuss your specific situation so we can design a comprehensive, customized plan for you and your family. - RICHARD PALMER, CFP® VICE PRESIDENT, INVESTMENTS, RAYMOND JAMES

Rick Palmer is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and a recognized specialist on DROP at the DROP Consulting Group of Raymond James. His team manages money for sworn employees and hosts educational seminars on DROP. He can be reached at: 2905 Bayshore Blvd Tampa, FL 33629, (866) 347-4482 and ©2017Raymond James& Associates,

Inc., member New York Stock Exchange/SIPC Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® (with

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Miami Beach Firefighters to the Rescue!

Miami Beach, FL - On December 15th, Miami Beach Firefighter Fiorito and Lt. Sanford were waved down by an elderly resident who was worried about her blood pressure. She was anxiously trying to get to Station 1. They checked her out, and provided her with reassurance and someone to walk home with.


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Fill the Boat Toy Drive a Resounding Success in Seminole Seminole, FL - On Saturday, December 16, 2017 the City of Seminole Professional Firefighters Local 2896 held a “Fill the Boat Toy Drive” at the Semi- JUMP TO FILE# nole Wal-Mart. This 010518107 year’s Toy Drive was a resounding success with over $10,000 worth of toys, games, bicycles and cash donations collected over an eight hour period. Coordinator for the event, City of Seminole Fire Rescue District Chief Lance Volpe, stated “Through the generosity of the residents of Seminole, under-privileged children from the Saint Vincent DePaul Society homeless program will have a Happy Holiday season”. Chief Volpe wishes to thank everyone that came out on Saturday and contributed an item or cash for this extremely worthy cause. This year’s toy drive was also supported with generous contributions from the Seminole Elks, and promoted by Beacon Publications, Baynews 9, ION Tampa Bay and WFLA News Channel 8. The men and women of Seminole Professional Firefighters Local 2896 wish everyone a Safe and Happy Holiday Season. - BRAD DYKENS


Serving as a Santa’s Sleigh, City of Seminole Fire Rescue Marine 29 sits overloaded with $10,000 worth of toys, games and bicycles in front of the Seminole Wal-Mart at the end of the day on Saturday, December 16th. Pictured in the photo is City of Seminole Fire Rescue District Chief Lance Volpe.

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Ocala Fire Rescue Announces Passing of Off Duty Firefighter Ocala, FL - It is with great sadness that Ocala Fire Rescue announces the passing of Firefighter/Paramedic Kevin Christopher Hart. Hart passed away unexpectedly, while off duty, on Saturday, January 6th, 2018; he was 41-years-old. He is survived by his wife and daughter. Beginning his career of service at the age of 18, Hart served in the United States Army’s 82nd Airborne Regiment, as a Ranger, completing his career as a deco-

JUMP TO FILE #010918107 rated veteran with honors including a National Defense Service Medal and Army Service Ribbon, among others. In 2005, Hart joined the ranks of Ocala Fire Rescue, as a firefighter. He continued to serve honorably for nearly 13 years. - OCALA FIRE RESCUE


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This patch belongs to Charlotte County Fire/EMS, located in Charlotte County, FL.

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Miami Fire Rescue Responds to Boat Explosion FORT LAUDERDALE FIRE RESCUE

FLFR Saves Occupant and Pet Cat from House Fire Fort Lauderdale, FL - On the evening of December 14, 2017 crews from the 16th Battalion responded to 848 NE 62nd Court for a reported structure fire. The first arriving unit declared a Working Fire with moderate smoke showing. During the primary search, one victim was found in bed in a rear room. Crews pulled the victim out of the structure and brought them to the waiting medical rescue where they were rushed to Holy Cross. One cat was also saved during the search and was given oxygen by firefighters. The fire is under investigation.


Miami, FL - On January 2nd just before 1:30 P.M., Miami FireRescue (MFR) was dispatched to reports of a boat explosion at the C&F Marine Dealer and Repair located at 2115 NW 12th Street. MFR 911 dispatchers received numerous calls of heavy smoke blanketing the streets and flames threatening several dry docked boats. When fire crews arrived, they found a 24’ boat on the water fully engulfed in flames. The vessel was tied off next to a 50’ dry docked tour boat that was also burning. Firefighters maneuvered numerous fire lines through thick smoke and several boats to extinguish the

JUMP TO FILE #011118101 flames and provide exposure protection for the stored boats and the office building. Some boats on the water were relocated with the assistance of employees. During this operation, additional calls were received for a possible fire at the house directly across the river from the incident. Crews responded and determined no fire was observed, but smoke was covering the home. The residents were temporarily evacuated for their safety. Within 30 minutes, the fire was under control and all employees

were accounted for. According to an employee, the boat owner was fueling the vessel when the fire ignited. He was able to get off the boat just before the explosion occurred, escaping serious injuries. Fire Investigators determined the 24’ boat was destroyed; the 50’ vessel sustained heavy interior and exterior fire damage and several other vessels sustained minor burning and smoke damage. Firefighters assisted with ventilating nearby homes affected by the smoke. There were no reported injuries and the cause of the fire is under investigation. - IGNATIUS CARROLL JR.


Benjamin Franklin is responsible for the first fire company in Philadelphia. These firefighters were sometimes known as Benjamin Franklin’s Bucket Brigade. They would meet monthly to discuss different techniques to fight fires. IGNATIUS CARROLL JR.

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Bob Long


WORKING FACES If you have photos you would like to see in our “Working Faces� feature, please upload them on our website, or email them to

Incident Commander Mike Keegan and Firefighter Anthony Harla review the burn map during a control burn in Sarasota held in December. CIRONE PHOTOS


Congratulations to Orlando FD's three firefighters who graduated from the 2017 Smoke Diver, a six day physically and mentally challenging program focusing on air consumption/management, stress inoculation, search & rescue and survival skills; all done under high stress situation. Forty-five candidates signed up for Florida Smoke Divers 2017, 21 made the cut to start the program and five graduated. Out of the five, three were Orlando firefighters.

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Where is the Joy? Chaplain’s Corner Didymus McHugh

I spoke to someone who was telling me how to get better. He told me that all I had to do was concentrate and work and get myself healthy. The thing that he forgot was that no matter what we do in life, we need to make sure that we have something in life that brings us joy. What is life if we do not have something that makes us happy? It's mundane, boring, frustrating, depressing. What are things that can bring joy to us? How about spending time with our children or significant other? We get pleasure spending time with friends, or working on hobbies. I know people who have model trains, play baseball or basketball, coach children in sports. One thing that brings me joy is helping people. I have seen people who have gone a negative way in life because they have lost all the ideas about joy. Since there was no joy, they turned to using substances to make them happy or to help them just cope with life. But they needed to be reminded what brought them joy when they were younger. Some people like to draw or paint when they were a child, so maybe they can express themselves through art now. Some people play musical instruments. I know some people in emergency services who perform professionally. There is so much that can bring us joy. How many firefighters enjoy doing fire prevention with the children, or doing the Santa run? How many parents have joy just by watching their children sleeping quietly in bed? There is nothing like seeing a child at peace, no matter the age. We also know a song that states "Joy to the world the Lord has come". Many firefighters do not actively go to church but we should remember that He has given us joy. We have a personal relationship with God. He loves us so much that He sent His son to die for our sins. God delights in our existence. We bring Him joy. And hopefully you thank Him for the joy that you have. If you do not have any joy in your life, ask Him to show you, to remind you the times in life where you did have joy, or ask Him to bring Joy into your life. Stay safe, Didymus McHugh

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Fire Chief Douglas E. Riley Sworn-In to Lakeland Fire Department Lakeland, FL - The Lakeland Fire Department’s new Fire Chief, Douglas E Riley was officially promoted Friday, January 5, 2018, at a ceremony held at Fire Station 1. Fire Chief Riley was JUMP TO FILE# sworn in, in the com- 011018106 pany of family, friends, and colleagues. Fire Chief Riley is the ninth Fire Chief at the department in its 101-year history as a career fire department. More about Fire Chief Riley: “Douglas Riley was hired as a firefighter with the City of Lakeland on March 9, 1987. Throughout his career he has held the following positions; Driver/Engineer (March 1992), Fire Lieutenant (January 1995), Battalion Chief (June 2004) and most recently Assistant Chief of Operations, which he has served as since January 2010. Douglas graduated from Lakeland Senior High School in 1984. He earned Associates degrees from Polk Community College in both Fire Science and Nursing. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor’s degree in Business in 2012. In addition to his degrees, Douglas holds certifications as a Registered Nurse, Paramedic, Fire Officer I, Fire Instructor, and Fire Inspector. He is a graduate of Florida State University’s prestigious Certified Public Manager program and the Florida Fire Chiefs’ Association’s Emergency Services Leadership Institute. He is also certified as a Florida Public Employer Labor Relations professional. Douglas is a member of the Florida Fire Chiefs’ Association as well as the International Association of Fire Chiefs. He currently serves as the Statewide Emergency Response Plan (SERP) Coordinator for Polk County, Florida. He has attended classes at the National Fire Academy (NFA) in Emmitsburg, Maryland on several occasions. First in June 1996 where he participated in a two-week Hazardous Materials Operating Site Practices class. He returned to the National Fire Academy in April 2016 where he participated in a mock hurricane disaster exercise at the Emergency Management Institute. Douglas completed a six-day New Fire Chief course in May 2017 at the NFA. Most recently, Fire Chief Riley was recognized for his selection to participate in the International Association of Fire Chiefs Leadership cohort of 20 leaders from across the fire service, selected out of hundreds of applicants nationwide. Douglas has been married to his wife Robin for 33 years. Together they have a 28-year-old son, Taylor, who is a certified Firefighter / Paramedic, whom currently serves as a Fire Inspector / Investigator at the Lakeland Fire Department. Douglas is also a devoted doggy-dad to Gid-

get, a nine year-old Shih tzu he considers a member of the family. Douglas’ faith is very important to him and his family; they are members of the Family Worship Center in Lakeland, FL. Aside from work, Douglas enjoys spending time with his family, camping, traveling, and going to the beach. In regards to his promotion, Fire Chief Riley shares “I am both humbled and honored to be afforded the opportunity to lead our great fire department into the future. My entire career has been in dedicated-service to the Lakeland community and I look forward to serving the men and women of the department, with compassion and pride, as we continue to provide exceptional service to the citizens of our great city.” Congratulations to Chief Riley! The department is excited about what is to come under his new administration. - LAKELAND FIRE DEPT.

Fire Chief Douglas E. Riley being sworn-in to Lakeland F.D.


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DRILLS/TRAINING If you have photos you would like to see in our Drills feature, please upload them on our website, or email them to

Miami, FL - MDFR crews are constantly training to keep skill levels at their peak. In this scenario, personnel from Station 30 in Miami Shores practice laddering up a multi-story dwelling, which would likely be necessary in the event of a fire. Station Capt. Dan Bolline, Rescue Lieutenant Jason Falzone and veteran Driver/Engineer Charlie Reid take the younger firefighters through the steps required to put a ladder on the structure quickly and safely.


Incident Commander of the burn, Mike Keegan, briefs firefighters on the burn block, hazards and weather.



The area had not received rain in the past 16 days as Firefighter Jason Snyder lays fire down.

Engine 15-104 holding the line.


Florida Forest Fire Service Conducts Control Burn


Sarasota, FL - In December, Florida Forest Fire Service conducted a 45-acre control burn at the Sarasota Water Dept. well fields off of Verna Road. The well fields is a 1,900-acre block of woods which supplies 2-million gallons of water a day to Sarasota. Firefighters burned unit #5 which backed up to a housing development, adding to the complexity of the burn.


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Large Fuel Spill Requires Hazmat Response at Fort Lauderdale International Airport Fort Lauderdale, FL - Shortly before 1:00 P.M. on January 7th, Broward Sheriff's Office Fire Rescue received a call for a fuel spill at Gate E10 of Fort Lauderdale International Airport JUMP TO FILE# (FLL). 010718104 Upon their arrival, airport rescue firefighting (ARFF) units reported that several hundred gallons of jet fuel had spilled during a refueling operation involving a Jet Blue commercial aircraft. Much of the fuel had already leaked into a spill drain, which contained much of the fuel. Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue hazardous materials units responded to the scene to assist with securing any excess leaking jet fuel and overseeing foam operations which was implemented to suppress any vapors. No injuries were reported. - MICHAEL KANE




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February, 2018

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1ST Responder Newspaper - SE

February, 2018


From Fire Victim to Fire Defender: A Story 50 Years in the Making What triggered my relentless hunger for anything fire service related? Many of us old-time firefighters get that question a lot. I have served in many capacities in the fire service, UMP TO FILE# from firefighter to J011118100 emergency medical services, rescue captain, and chief of my local volunteer fire department. I am also a fire “buff” (enthusiast) and the official fire photographer for the nation’s largest fire conference—FDIC International. I am currently a fire department dispatcher and 911 call taker. Fifty years ago, on January 11, 1968, it was a cold, brisk, gloomy winter morning much like it has been recently. The night before, on my 13th birthday, some relatives came over our house in Hasbrouck Heights for a small birthday party. My mom, Josephine, managed to bake my favorite cake even though she was recuperating from a cancer operation. I went to bed with a smile on my face and some gift money, with no idea what the day ahead would have in store for me and my family. The next thing I remember was my dad waking me up early; I was an altar boy and had to serve at the 7:00 a.m. mass at my local Catholic church. Dad dropped me off in his 1963 Chevy Corvair, which had little or no heat with the engine in the rear. Father Paterson was the priest that morning, which was great: Not only was he friendly, but he had the record for the shortest mass! As the daily service started, Father Paterson waved me over and whispered: “Do you know where the electrical box is?” He instructed me to go turn on the rest of the church lights, since it was too dark with partial lighting. I found the panel and threw the switches to the position the rest of them were in. I ran back to the church and was met with laughter and complete darkness! I had shut all the switches to the OFF position! Father Paterson was laughing along with the rest, and we couldn’t make eye contact the rest of the service for fear of laughing. Little did I know I would see the priest later that day under much different circumstances. After church I went off to the adjacent parochial school to my eighth-grade classroom. Meanwhile, my older brother, Peter, was at home, getting ready to go to his high school, which was one block from our home and afforded a view of our house because of an open baseball field in between. He went to the kitchen and smelled natural gas. He went to tell our recuperating mother and she rushed Peter out the door to school and called the utility company at 8:15 a.m. By 8:50 a.m., the odor was getting worse, and she called a neighbor, Fred Moll. As he exited

his house to come over, he saw the roof of our house lift off like a flying saucer, followed by a fireball and a deafening noise. Our mother was in that house! My brother heard the explosion as well and could see our house on fire. He ran home. The fire chief of neighboring Lodi pulled up and saw our mother on the ground. Another neighbor, Frank Ercolino, noticing her hair was on fire, threw her down and used snow to douse her flaming hair. The Lodi chief took her in his vehicle to Hackensack Hospital. Our mother had been standing in the center of the house on the ground floor. The house had exploded around her. She fought her way to the front door and smashed through the storm door. She had beaten death’s door twice—once with the cancer and now a second time. As my class started, I remember hearing the volunteer fire department’s horn tower blowing madly. Neighboring fire departments were responding, and the police were inundated with calls of a terrible explosion on the Hasbrouck Heights-Lodi border. With all the screaming sirens, you didn’t have to be a firefighter to know something terrible was happening. I went to the window and saw an ominous black cloud of smoke rising from the vicinity of our house. Later someone reminded me that I said, “Man, that looks like where my house is.” Our teacher shooed us away from the window to resume class, and the PA announcement interrupted with: “Will student Anthony Greco please report to the principal’s office with his coat and his bookbag?” I was thinking, “Oh no, what did I do now? My parents are going to kill me!” When I got to the principal’s office, my uncle Dominick was there. I thought, “Oh, this looks bad. What is my uncle doing here? Did my mom take a turn for the worse?” My uncle explained that there had been a fire at our house and took me to the scene. 127 Ottawa Avenue. My house. There were fire trucks everywhere. Hoses on the street. Lots of noise. The gas utility company was fervently digging up the street. When I got closer to the house, it appeared to be gone except for one staircase. Parts of the structure had been blown next door. Our refrigerator was lying in the backyard. I had a hard time comprehending what I was seeing. My mom’s new 1967 Ford Fairlane 500 was in the driveway with live wires down on it. I found out later my dad narrowly missed serious injury when he went to move the car—he was in shock on his arrival at the scene and did not notice the live wires. The gas utility had dug a hole about 20 feet down in front of the house and found a cracked pipe feeding gas into the house. A young detective at the scene, also a volunteer firefighter, ordered the pipe handed over to him before

the utility could take it away. It was evidence that the leak started outside and filled the house with gas. Later I remember walking into my mom’s hospital room and seeing her all bandaged up. She was going to be okay. That image still gets to me 50 years later. Then reality set in: We were homeless, with just the clothes on our backs. We would split up and stay at my uncle’s and grandmother’s houses for the time being. Then, Father Paterson and Father Kukura showed up and told my father they were taking me and my brother out for a few hours. They took us to a shopping mall and a salesperson at Gimbel’s completely outfitted us from new underwear to shoes to coats and hats. I was confused: Was I living through a tragedy or was it Christmas? The townspeople also pulled together, with fund drives through the VFW, the mayor’s office, and the Catholic church. I remember sitting in church when they announced: “The second collection is for the Greco family” and 500 people were staring at us. A week later, my dad got a call from Leroy Fisher, the pastor of a Baptist church in Englewood who owned a large excavating company. He volunteered to remove all the debris from the fire scene with his equipment at no charge. A lit-

tle wary, my dad agreed, and the man showed up with some serious heavy equipment to do the job. The only thing he asked in return was for my dad and uncle to attend one service at his church. They gladly did. My mom recuperated from her injuries, beat cancer, and lived to age 84, dying on Christmas Day 2011. My dad died three years after that. They got to see grandchildren and great grandchildren and rebuilt their home on the same lot of their former home—all electric, no more gas for them!

You never quite forget an event like my family experienced. To this day it makes me think about fire victims and their losses. Will they be okay? Is there anything else we can do for their family? PROVIDED

### Anthony Greco is a fire department dispatcher, a 911 call taker, and a longtime volunteer firefighter. He can be reached at - ANTHONY GRECO


February, 2018

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