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Quick Takes

5th alarm in New Jersey: A fire in an industrial building just before 6:00 PM on Saturday at 1275 Bloomfield Avenue in Fairfield. There are four more parts to this video. Click here. Details can be found here. More video is here.

The information flow in your Nation’s Capital: We have two stories for you this morning with connections to the DC Fire & EMS Department and how the District of Columbia government communicates with reporters and, in turn, the public. Both cases seem to follow the same pattern: a reporter uncovers something that on the surface doesn’t seem right; the fire chief or his spokesman provides very limited answers, shedding little light on what actually happened; more information is uncovered by reporters;  the initial action is reversed; and in the end the department never fully answers what this was all about.

A Steve Skipton photo from a four-alarm fire in Burlington, New Jersey Sunday afternoon that damaged seven homes. Click the image for more pictures and details from

A Steve Skipton photo from a four-alarm fire in Burlington, New Jersey Sunday afternoon that damaged seven homes. Click the image for more pictures and details from

In one of these cases, the aborted donation of a fire truck and ambulance to a resort town in the Dominican Republic, it took ten months before reports from two DC City Council committees provided some transparency.  The council determined policies were ignored, but no laws broken. The DC Fire & EMS Department, which appears to have had a secondary role in all of this, continues to refer all questions to Attorney General Peter Nickles. According to the Washington Examiner, Nickles believes the investigation was a “waste of time and a waste of government resources in what became a very political series of actions”. Despite this case now seeming to be closed,  Chief Dennis Rubin still faces a little scrutiny by at least two reporters who have compared emails released in the reports with his sworn testimony at a council hearing last April. Click here for that story.

Then there is the story of the Sarasota County, Florida fire chief who remained an employee of the DC Fire & EMS Department while in his new job. In this one, there is no council investigation shedding light on the issue and there is still no indication anyone in the DC government is willing to explain why this arrangement was made, other than to allow Kenneth Ellerbe to be eligible to take home a more favorable retirement package. Through sources, we learned that Ellerbe, who was a deputy chief, resigned from his DC position on January 15. A department spokesman then confirmed that information on Friday. Click here for the latest.

No delay on information here - a battalion chief & two captains are among those fired in Georgia: Pretty quick action in DeKalb County. A report issued in a botched response to what ultimately became a fatal fire and four firefighters were let go. All of this happened within about five days of the fire. Click here for the latest

Chaplain who is friends with fired top PGFD official quits: Alvin Graham didn’t like some of the policy issues he was dealing with involving the chaplain corps even before Lt. Col. Victor Stagnaro received his walking papers a week ago. But it is clear Stagnaro’s firing was involved in Graham’s decision making process. It was Stagnaro who recruited Graham for the volunteer post nine-years-ago and the men are close friends. On Friday, Chaplain Graham turned in his car and other Prince George’s County property. Here are the details.

Firefighter detained in Haiti: Drew Culberth is a Topeka firefighter who went to Haiti on a different kind of rescue mission. Culberth and nine members of his church are now being held over issues surrounding the group’s efforts to bring 33 children back to the United States. Here’s the story.

Fireground audio from mayday at deadly Brooklyn fire: Five residents died at a fire early Saturday in Bensonhurst. Thirteen firefighters were hurt, including one who became entangled in a collapsing stairwell. Click here for our coverage.

Injured firefighter tells his story from the hospital: Firefighter Cory Broich is recovering from serious injuries after a car struck him while he was working a collision scene in Clearwater, Minnesota last Tuesday. Click here to read the latest. Here is our earlier coverage of the story, including the radio traffic.

Tulsa firefighters vote to stop job layoffs: Concessions that include a more than five-percent pay cut and furlough days were agreed to by Tulsa firefighters in an effort to prevent 147 from losing their jobs. Here’s the latest.

Regrouping in Houston: The Chronicle looks at the challenge facing Acting Chief Rick Flanagan and starts the article by recounting the recent past-

Racist graffiti, threats, profanity and a noose hanging in a locker; claims of harassment and a culture of accepted sexism, evidenced in part by a topless female firefighter posing in panties on a widely distributed calendar.

It seems the firefighter protest in Belgium was a bit kinder and gentler than the one in Spain. I guess it is hard to get angry in the middle of a foam fight.
It seems the firefighter protest in Belgium was a bit kinder and gentler than the one in Spain. I guess it is hard to get angry in the middle of a foam fight. Photo from the Daily Mail.

Cop mixes up pepper spray and fire extinguisher containers - plus much more from Firegeezer: Bill takes a look at the awful story from Portland, Oregon as a police officer tries to snuff out the flames of a man who set himself on fire. Click here. (I saw this story and was certain I used it in Quick Takes on Thursday or Friday, but I can’t find it. Now which one’s the geezer?)  

Bill also has a look back to a 1956 fire in Anne Arundel County, Maryland that killed 11 people.

And he has the video of the clash between protesting firefighters and police in Spain.  Which reminds me of the great pictures from Brussels that most of us missed more than a week ago, where a firefighter protest involved spraying police and everything else with foam. Check it out.

Fire truck hit by flying object, Part 1: In this case it was a bullet as a St. Louis crew returned from the repair shop. Here’s the story.

Fire truck hit by flying object, Part 2: In this case it was shrapnel from dozens of exploding acetylene and propane tanks at a Flint, Michigan auto salvage business. We have video, pictures and details. Click here.

And more explosions from another Michigan auto salvage firm: The Flint fire was on Saturday. In Detroit, 24-hours earlier, there was a similar fire at an auto salvage and parts business. It went to three-alarms. Click here for fireground audio, video and pictures.

Call taking and dispatching in Florida: takes a close-up look at 911 operations in Collier County. Video, pictures and story can be found here.

Fire at a dairy farm: Click here for details and pictures from Adams County, Pennsylvania.

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