At Least 36 Displaced In Carbondale Fire

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County (Photo Wikipedia)

The fire alarm was piercing, but it had sounded plenty of times in the 15 years Mary Gerzie has lived in Building L of Carbondale’s Summit Garden Apartments. What really frightened her was the thick black smoke that billowed into her apartment when she opened her door.

Then came the shouts of “get out of here.”

Mrs. Gerzie, 72, was one of at least 36 people that were taken out of the apartment complex and into the lightly falling snow Friday morning while firefighters worked to stop a fire on the first floor, said Carbondale Fire Chief Chris Pezak.

“The smoke was so intense,” said Chief Pezak of the fire that damaged part of the building around 8 a.m.. “It was very thick black smoke.”

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/at-least-36-displaced-in-carbondale-fire-1.1593134

Mohnton Firehouse Feud Flares

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The rift between Mohnton‘s fire crew and the social club that oversees it was years in the making.

But the catalyst, both sides agree, was a dispute over the Friendship Fire Company No. 2 of Mohnton’s stand selling waffles and ice cream at Gov. Mifflin Community Days.

The fire crew and social club clashed over where fundraising proceeds should go and who should be allowed to volunteer at the stand. Simmering tensions between the two factions boiled over, leading to the first of back-to-back suspensions of Fire Chief Allen Detwiler.

Now Detwiler and his volunteer engine crew are asking borough government to separate the department and social club.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=520511

Firefighters investigating Back-To-Back Fires In Harrisburg As Possibly Related Arsons

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Harrisburg resident Michael Bordner had just put his eldest daughter to bed in his home at 2042 Susquehanna Street when, just after midnight Monday morning, chaos erupted.

“I laid down at about midnight and then, at about 12:15, I heard all the alarms going off in my home,” he said.  “At the same time I heard my stepfather saying ‘Get [your daughter] grab the dog; we have to get out, there’s a fire!'”

Bordner’s stepfather, Tim Bucher, who was visiting the house Sunday night, had woken up only moments before when he noted a strange smell and bright light emanating from the row house next door at 2044 Susquehanna Street.

“I peeked out the third floor window because something didn’t smell right,” Bucher recalled, almost from a daze Monday morning as firefighters stomped up the ruined stairs to Bordner’s home.  “It didn’t smell like a fire, but when I looked out the window and looked down I saw flames coming up from the floor below.”

Read more:  http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/07/firefighters_investigating_bac.html#incart_m-rpt-2

Detroit’s Davos: Op-Ed Piece From The NY Times

Map of Michigan

Map of Michigan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ONCE a year, business and political leaders from metropolitan Detroit travel to an island resort that bans all motorized vehicles and talk about the regional economy.

For me, memories of childhood vacations at that resort, Mackinac Island — the ferry ride, the fudge shops, the horse-drawn carriages — are primarily olfactory.  In the unlikely event I’m ever again hit with the dueling scents of confectioner’s exhaust and horse manure, it would probably trigger some kind of Proustian flashback.

For years, Michigan’s business community seemed bent on flashbacks of its own, to the days when the Big Three automakers towered arrogantly from the safe confines of an insular culture.  But now its buzzwords are “innovation,” “entrepreneurship” and a “21st-century global market.”  This week’s Mackinac Policy Conference has positioned itself as a sort of Midwestern Davos, with a roster of marquee speakers, including Michelle Rhee, Jeb Bush and the hosts of “Morning Joe.”

The topic on everyone’s mind will be the fate of Detroit, which was placed under state control in March by Gov. Rick Snyder.  The governor, a Republican, is attending the conference, and four of the candidates running for mayor in November are scheduled to speak there today — among them, the front-runners: the excellently named former police chief Benny Napoleon, and Mike Duggan, who has a serious shot at becoming the first white mayor of Detroit in 40 years.

Read more:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/30/opinion/detroits-davos.html?_r=0

Fire Response Time Questioned In Wilkes-Barre

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — While children crawled through the city’s fire safety trailer at Kirby Park eight days ago, a homeowner on Almond Lane waiting for an engine to arrive from across town used a garden hose in an attempt to douse flames.

The fire, started by spontaneous combustion of grass clippings in a plastic recycling container climbed up to the second floor, causing damage inside and out before firefighters extinguished them.

“They got it,” said Greg Freitas, vice president of the city firefighters’ union.

But the damage could have been minimized with more firefighters and equipment available, a long-running sticking point with the International Association of Firefighters Local 104 which has seen the minimum staffing level reduced by more than one-third over a 10-year period.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news//503886/Fire-response-time-questioned-in-W-B

Reading Wants Altered Deal On Hiring Firefighters

The city, afraid that a $4 million grant to hire 30 more firefighters may force it to lay off many of them in two years, is asking federal officials to modify the deal to let it hire only 20.

But the costs and repercussions of either plan still aren’t fully known, and City Council on Monday again tabled an ordinance that would allow the city to hire either number.

“Council must understand what are the numbers,” Council President Francis G. Acosta said. “I want to see them in black and white. I’m not supporting this without the numbers.”

But council and the city must act soon; the deadline to accept the grant is March 8.  Council has no voting session before then, but said it would call a special meeting if necessary.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=455099

Reading Weighs Accepting Grant For More Firefighters

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsyl...

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsylvania area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  We can’t predict the future. Take the money, hire the people and hope for the best!

Spending a $4 million federal grant to the city is not as easy as it seems.

The problem is not what the grant would do – hire 30 new and badly needed firefighters for the next two years, adding more personnel to each truck – but what happens to those firefighters when the grant expires.

Fire Chief David Hollinger and City Council labored over the issues Monday night.

On the positive side, the grant does not require the city to keep the grant-paid firefighters after the grant runs out in March 2015.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=443754

Arson Suspected In Pottstown House Fire

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN, PA — A fire call at a home in the 900 block of Spruce Street Sunday night is being investigated as arson.

According to Fire Chief Richard Lengel, a call came in for 967 Spruce St. around 9:06 p.m. Sunday, and when firefighters arrived, they found several fires set throughout the property.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20120827/NEWS01/120829459/arson-suspected-in-pottstown-house-fire

Scranton To Return Part Of ‘Free Money’ For Firefighters

After learning the hard way that closed fire stations can slow responses to fires, city officials last month celebrated an almost $8.2 million federal grant that would pay for recalling laid-off firefighters and hiring more.

Now, they plan to reject about a third of the money.

The grant was enough to pay for calling back 29 laid-off firefighters plus one on military leave and for adding 20 new firefighters – a total of 50 – for two years, but Mr. Doherty decided to decline the money for the new firefighters because the city could not afford to keep paying them after the two years and because the city would have to pay unemployment benefits when they were laid off.

It is unclear whether the city will be able to afford to keep all the other 29 after two years.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/scranton-to-return-part-of-free-money-for-firefighters-1.1331750

Allentown Sees 42 Firefighter Retirements

English: City of Allentown from east side

Image via Wikipedia

Allentown officials knew a staggering number of city firefighters would retire in 2011, it was just a matter of how many.

Fire Chief Robert Scheirer predicted months ago that some 50 firefighters would retire before the union’s contract that contained a generous pension clause was set to expire Dec. 31, echoing a similar mass exodus six years ago in the police department.

Now that the paperwork has settled, city officials say 42 firefighters left in 2011 — nearly one-third of the department usually staffed with about 140 firefighters. That’s by far the most firefighter retirees in one year, second only to the departure of 80 police officers six years ago.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-allentown-pa-firefighters-retire-20120104,0,7856335.story

Harrisburg To Layoff 10 Firefighters

Recreation of the flag of the city of Harrisbu...

Image via Wikipedia

Mayor Linda Thompson announced today that she has formally notified 10 city firemen they will be laid off early in 2011. 

Mayor Thompson has also announced the closure of one fire station.  This will leave Harrisburg with 74 Fire Department employees and one less fire station. 

The union, Local 428 of the International Association of Fire Fighters has cost saving ideas that could save $1.5 million dollars and avoid layoffs or closing a station.

Council is still reviewing Thompson’s $6.9 million dollar fire budget.  They should complete their review on Monday.