Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Santa Rosa: St. Helena Road escaped pile fire destroys "fire proof" shed

 Santa Rosa shed fire blamed on control burn


A blaze that burned a vineyard storage shed on St. Helena Road started from a control burn on the property that wasn’t quite extinguished.

Fire investigator Cyndi Foreman Monday said the property owner had burned brush on the property during the weekend and thought he’d put it out.

But by late afternoon Sunday that flared up enough to burn again. It spread to the nearby 30 foot by 30 foot rock, timber and metal building. It also burned about a quarter-acre of grass.

Owner Rudy Wenk said he kept equipment in the building for his non-commercial vineyard. He’d also stored some stained glass windows there.

Firefighters were called to the fire at about 5 p.m. It had been burning for some time before anyone noticed.

Rincon Valley, Santa Rosa and Cal Fire firefighters responded to the call.

St. Helena Road is off of Calistoga Road, on the far eastern side of Santa Rosa.

Wenk said he built the shed himself. “I am still a bit in a state of shock. We came up last night to see the place and it is incredible how fire managed to devastate this structure which seemed largely fire-proof,” he said.

Source article: Santa Rosa Democrat - Link

Thursday, February 23, 2012

CA-LNU-Soda Canyon Napa County Wildfire 200 acres, 50% contained

 Update 2-24 0800hrs: 200 acres - 50% Containment, Good progress made overnight.
Update: Fire Perimeter Map added
Update: Per the IC talking to 1442, fire is very active and heating up, down at the bottom of his flank.;
Update: Three homes remained threatened as fire spotted across drainage; and hit the ridge.
Calfire spokesman Daniel Berlant says the blaze, which was reported a little before 1 p.m. Thursday, has consumed about 40 acres in an area of steep hills and thick brush.
Berlant says strong winds are helping to fan the fire, while dry brush has been providing fuel for the blaze. Winds should begin calming.
Soda Canyon Fire
Fire location and Perimeter Map
Incident Name/Type:  CA-LNU-Soda Canyon
  • Last Updated: 2100hrs
  • Date/Time Started: 1232hrs
  • Administrative Unit:  Cal Fire Lake Napa Unit 
  • County: Napa
  • City: Napa
  • Location:  Soda Canyon Road and Silverado Trail, northeast of Napa City
  • GPS: Lat 38.435211 / Lon -122.295692
  • Acres Burned: 35
  • ROS: Moderate
  • Containment: 0
  • Conditions: Steep hills and thick brush.
  • Structure Threats: Yes,  three homes remained threatened.
  • Special Hazards: 
  • Evacuations: Yes
  • Cause: Vineyard Pile Burn Escape
  • Cooperating Agencies: 
  • Resources: 200+ firefighters on scene, Napa County E-2, E-10, E-217, WT-25, LNU Dz 1446, Dz 1442, Crews on order.
    Air Resources:  H104 on scene and reporting 25 acres then & 
  • H101 en route
  • Comms:  
  • Injuries: 
  • Weather Info:  humidity 8% with offshore winds gusting 35+ mph
  • RR Link: http://www.radioreference.com/apps/a...=wp&feedId=865
  • Live feed: http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?sec...bay&id=8555732
  • Agency Link: CAL FIRE  http://cdfdata.fire.ca.gov/incidents/incidents_details_info?incident_id=615

LODD: Seven Marines Dead After Two Helicopters Collide Over California Desert

 Two military helicopters collided over the California desert during nighttime training exercises, killing seven Marines in the latest of several aircraft accidents involving Camp Pendleton troops.
Six of them were from Camp Pendleton and one was from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona.

UH-1"Huey" helicopter. (Lance Cpl. Zachary L. Majors, US Marines)
The crash happened around 8 p.m. Wednesday and involved an AH-1W Cobra that carries two crew members and a UH-1 Huey utility helicopter carrying the other five service members, Lt. Maureen Dooley with Miramar Air Base in San Diego said Thursday.

The aircraft collided in a remote portion of the Yuma Training Range Complex on the California side of the Chocolate Mountains very close to the Arizona border, Dooley said. The exact location hasn't been confirmed.

The crash is under investigation and she had no details as to what could have occurred, Dooley said.

"We're still gathering a lot of details as the sun comes up," she said early Thursday.

It will be at least 24 hours before the Marine Corps releases the names of those killed, Dooley said.

The AH-1W carries a crew of two, a pilot and gunner, and is considered the Marine Corps' main attack helicopter. The UH-1Y, which is replacing the aging version of the Huey utility helicopter first used during the Vietnam War, carries a crew of one or two pilots, a crew chief and other crew members, depending on the mission.

The desert area is favored by the U.S. military and its allies for training because the hot, dusty conditions and craggy mountains replicate Afghanistan's harsh environment and the clear weather allows for constant flying.

Cpl. Steven Posy with Marine Corps Air Station Miramar said Thursday the weather "was pretty mild last night."

Rest of story at: Mercury News - Link  

USFS Pile Burning planned for today - Lake Silverwood and Heaps Peak

 Firefighters plan to burn slash and debris piles in two locations if favorable conditons permit on the Mountaintop Ranger District.

Feb 22, 2012 - Feb 24, 2012
Where: Near Lake Silverwood, firefighters will burn piles at the Cottonwood Fire Station just east of the Lake Silverwood entrance along SR138. Visitors to the State Recreation Area as well as motorists traveling along SR138 will see smoke during the day.

Heaps Peak Heliport Site along SR 18 east of Lake Arrowhead and west of Running Springs. Since this location is high in elevation, not only will motorists traveling along the highway see smoke, residents in both the local mountain communities and the foothill communities may see smoke.

Firefighters only ignite and burn slash and debris piles under favorable fuel and weather conditions and will terminate burning if conditions change during the project work.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

SAR Technical Rescue Terminology Review: SHORT HAUL RESCUE


Short haul is an emergency rescue tool meant to quickly get an individual out of a dangerous situation and place them in a safe location.

Short haul involves a rescuer being lowered on a rope from a hovering
helicopter, to a victim below.

After the rescuer rigs a harness to the victim, or if injuries warrant, places
the victim in a stokes litter basket, the helicopter lifts both to safety a short distance away.

CDF initiated a Short Haul Rescue program in 1997 to augment the Department’s all-risk emergency
response role in California.

 All CDF helitack crews (about 180 personnel) completed short haul training by early July 1998.

Short haul training takes approximately 50 hours and combines hands-on and practical exercises with classroom training.

Emphasis is placed on the need for teamwork between the pilot, crew chief, rescue
supervisor and the rescuer who is lowered to the ground. Safety of the victim, as well as the fl ight crew, is stressed throughout training.

After passing the course, crew members must maintain their rescue certification by demonstrating their skill level every three months.

CDF crews may only perform short haul rescues:

  • During daylight hours.
  • In good visibility.
  • Only after assessing the risk to the crew and the victim. 
  • when no other timely method of rescue can be performed. 

The Department established this policy in recognition of the high degree of risk associated with this type of
rescue operation.

Source info: http://www.fire.ca.gov/about/downloads/ShortHaul2006.pdf

Public Safety Communications: Congress reallocates 700 mhz spectrum to first responders

Congress approves $7 billion to improve communications for first responders

In arguably one of the most significant events in U.S. public-safety communications history, both houses of Congress today passed payroll-tax legislation to reallocate 700 MHz D Block spectrum to first responders and provide $7 billion in federal grant money for the deployment of a dedicated nationwide LTE network.

“This is going to transform public-safety communications the same way that two-way radio did in the 1930s,” said Charles Dowd, deputy chief for the New York City Police Department. “That’s how big of a change this is going to be.”

This morning, the House of Representatives voted 293-132 in favor of the measure, followed shortly by a 60-36 vote in the Senate to approve the bill, which was the product of House-Senate conference committee negotiations during the last two months. President Barack Obama has vowed to sign the legislation into law shortly after returning from a West Coast trip.

While the focal point of the legislation is to extend the payroll-tax cut and unemployment benefits, the measure includes spectrum-policy language designed to make more airwaves available to commercial wireless operator via FCC auctions — a significant revenue source for the bill — and to address public-safety broadband needs.

With the reallocation of the D Block — the 10 MHz swath of spectrum adjacent to the airwaves licensed to the PSST — first responders will have 20 MHz of contiguous spectrum on which to deploy the proposed LTE network. The buildout of the network will be funded largely by the $7 billion in federal grants that the legislation dedicates for the task, $2 billion of which will be available before any auction proceeds are realized.

Many industry observers question whether $7 billion will be enough money to pay for public-safety LTE deployment throughout the nation, particularly in rural areas. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) had proposed legislation that would have allocated $11 billion for the network buildout, but he expressed confidence that the funding in the legislation will have a significant impact in the future.

“When you put $7 billion into a buildout of something of this nature, the public — if not the whole country — instantly and absolutely understands what is going on, so you can’t stop it,” Rockefeller said yesterday during a webcasted conference. “The point was to start it to the extent that you couldn’t stop it. And we did that.”

Although first responders will gain the D Block spectrum, the bill calls for public safety to return spectrum in the T-Band (470-512 MHz), which is used to support narrowband voice system in 14 of the largest metropolitan areas. Under the terms of the bill, this spectrum would have to be returned to the federal government in 9 to 11 years, and the federal government would cover costs to relocate public-safety systems. However, public safety will be allowed to keep its 700 MHz narrowband spectrum, where first-responder agencies have invested more than $2 billion in recent years to deploy LMR systems.

Other funding in the legislation includes $250 million for next-generation 911 deployments, $100 million for the FirstNet administration and as much as $300 million for research and development of public-safety broadband technology.

Currently, the Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST) holds the license to public safety’s 10 MHz of broadband spectrum in the 700 MHz band. Under the legislation, the license to that swath and the D Block will be held by the First Responder Network Authority, or FirstNet — an independent authority within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) that will have a board that includes significant public-safety representation.

Another aspect of the bill is a provision that allows public-private networking partnerships with entities such as for-profit, according to Brett Kilbourne, vice president of government affairs and legislative counsel for the Utilities Telecom Council (UTC).

Source:  urgentcomm.com - Link 

Tool Tips: How to maximize your locking pliers

Simply swapping out the traditional set bolt on your "Vise-Grips" with an eye bolt adds a tremendous amount of versatility to the tool

By Jimm Walsh
From http://www.firerescue1.com

Locking pliers — more commonly known by firefighters as the brand name "Vise-Grips" — are an extremely handy tool to have readily available. They can be used  for a number of different tasks on the fireground and on other emergency calls.
These tools can be easily modified to increase their effectiveness. Simply swapping out the traditional set bolt with an eye bolt adds a tremendous amount of versatility to the tool.
This simple modification adds the ability to quickly attach a lanyard to the tool. The tool and lanyard combination can be used in a number of different forcible entry situations.
The two main sizes of locking pliers that should be considered for fireground usage are the 7-inch and 10-inch versions. The 7-inch version works well if the locking pliers will be carried as a personal tool.
The 10-inch (or larger) may offer more versatility, but tend to be a bit bulky to carry in your pocket. The 7-inch version typically requires a 5/16-inch x 18-inch thread bolt, and the 10-inch version typically requires a 7/16-inch x 14-inch thread bolt.
The average home improvement store may not have either size eye bolt in stock, but here is the secret: they more than likely have a turnbuckle with the proper size eye bolt. Just keep in mind that one of the eye bolts on the turnbuckle will have a reverse thread.
The lanyard is made from a 6-foot piece of 1-inch webbing and a snap hook. Once the knots are tied in the webbing, it makes an approximately 4-foot long lanyard with handle.
The style of snap hook shown is the preferred style because it can easily be clipped with a gloved hand. Unclipping with a gloved hand will be difficult, regardless of the style of hook used.
Snap hooks with a thumb latch are not able to be clipped while wearing gloves and typically have a smaller opening, making it difficult to work with this size webbing.
Thinner webbing (or rope) with smaller hooks could certainly be used, but they end up being more difficult to "feel" and manipulate while wearing gloves.
The lanyard can be secured to the locking pliers with a rubber band or section of tape for storage. Either one will keep the lanyard neatly stored and can easily be removed when the tool is placed in service.
One of the most popular tasks for the locking pliers lanyard combination is to hold a padlock while cutting with a rotary saw.
Simply clamping the locking pliers onto the body of the lock allows a firefighter to hold tension on the lock to prevent it from bouncing around while cutting. Keep in mind that when faced with a padlock and chain combination, it may be quicker to cut the chain verses cutting the lock itself.
Even when separated from the locking pliers, this lanyard is extremely useful. The most popular use is to control the door during forcible entry operations.
The lanyard can quickly be girth hitched around the knob of an inward facing door. This allows the forcible entry team to control the door during the force, and provides a means to pull the door closed from a safe area if conditions require.
Article Source: firerescue1.com Link

ALCO: Firefighter heat exhaustion during garage fire & tortoise rescue

CASTRO VALLEY, Calif. — A firefighter went to the hospital for heat exhaustion from an early-morning fire today that burned a garage housing tortoises, which escaped slowly but surely, the Alameda County Fire Department said.

The single-alarm fire was reported at 3 a.m. at a detached garage in the 17400 block of Almond Road.

It was extinguished within 10 minutes. A firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion but was not seriously injured and was expected to be treated and released, officials said.

No one was occupying the garage when it caught fire, and the two African tortoises inside got out safely, the fire department said. It appears that a heating pad used to warm the animals and an extension cord that funneled power to the garage are the likely culprits for the fire, which caused about $50,000 in damage.

Source: The Contra Costa Times - By Robert Salonga - Link

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

USFS: Forest Service increases mandatory brush clearance requirement

 The U.S. Forest Service has increased the mandatory brush clearance requirement for homes and structures inside national forests.

The change comes at the request of Los Angeles County supervisors, who raised concerns about brush clearance after the Station Fire killed two firefighters, destroyed 89 homes and scorched 160,000 acres in 2009.

Property owners must now clear at least 100 feet of brush surrounding their land, instead of 30 feet.
CAL FIRE and Los Angeles County already requires homeowners to clear at least 100 feet around their properties.
California Fire News 2011 

Santa Clarita Valley: Two New Fire Stations Opening

East side story: 2 new fire stations set to open in Canyon Country

As the Santa Clarita Valley continues expanding, some long-planned fire stations on the east side of the city are set to open up next month to better serve residents.
The Santa Clarita Valley currently has 12 fire stations throughout the Santa Clarita Valley, but officials are planning to open up five new stations within the next couple of years.
A new station opened last year on Copper Hill, and three more stations are scheduled to open this year, according to Bill Niccum, Santa Clarita Valley assistant fire chief for the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
The first two stations to open this year will both open in Canyon Country and will open around March 1, Niccum said.
While Station 132 at 29310 Sand Canyon Road is replacing a temporary station, Station 128 at 28450 Whites Canyon Road near Plum Canyon Road will be entirely new, with nine new firefighters brought in.
Both of the new Canyon Country stations will house a single engine company with a captain, an engineer and a firefighter for each shift, Niccum said. A total of three shifts will work at each station.
The Whites Canyon Road station will have seven dormitories and two bays for fire engines, Niccum said. The 9,518-square-foot building was built at a cost of $10.18 million.
The Sand Canyon Road station will also have seven dormitories and two bays and is the same amount of square footage as the other station, Niccum said. The station was built at a cost of $9 million.
The two stations both began construction in November 2010, Niccum said. A new division and battalion headquarters on Golden Valley Road is expected to go into service this November.
"What we really like is that all of these stations serve not only the city of Santa Clarita but the unincorporated areas as well," Niccum said. "It really enhances our prompt service delivery to the residents of the Santa Clarita Valley and the surrounding areas."
Both stations were paid for with developers' fees and money set aside in previous years for fire station development, said spokeswoman Stephanie English.
The Whites Canyon Road station is expected to respond to about 1,600 incidents a year, while the Sand Canyon Road station is expected to respond to about 1,300 incidents annually.
"It'll really add a lot of benefit and service to all of the Santa Clarita residents, especially Canyon Country," English said.

Rest of story at: www.the-signal.com - Link

    Monday, February 20, 2012

    USFS Air Tanker Replacement Plan Under Fire

     U.S. Forest Service's plan to replace aging air tanker fleet draws criticism

    The U.S. Forest Service has announced plans to try to replace its aging fleet of privately contracted air tankers used to battle wildfires.

    Although the use of air tankers has drawn criticism by some who say the aircraft drive up costs to fight fires and are primarily a public relations exercise, the Forest Service is hoping to replace the existing airplanes — which are on average at least 50 years old — with newer, faster and more cost-effective ones.

    But the Forest Service does not specify in a 12-page modernization strategy when that change may occur.

    The announcement also comes in the wake of a decision eliminating four firefighting helicopters in California and Oregon.

    That decision has angered land owners in those areas, said Chris West, vice president of operations of Pac/West in Wilsonville, Ore., which represents the forest products industry.

    "The landowners are very upset because they won't have the (helicopter firefighting) coverage," he said.

    "Each of these communities and the adjacent wild lands have had a long history of catastrophic wildfire events, and given current predictions of winter precipitation in California, the outlook for the fire season is bleak," West said in an email to the Record Searchlight.

    Rep. Wally Herger, R-Chico, echoes the concerns expressed by West.

    Herger, along with four other Congress members, have sent a letter to the head of the Forest Service voicing their fears.

    "While we agree that tough decisions have to be made in this budget climate, we believe that programs vital to public health and safety should be given priority when determining where to allocate limited federal taxpayer dollars," the letter states. "Having aircraft readily available is critical to keeping fires small and dramatically reducing the overall firefighting costs."

    In its air tanker modernization plan, Forest Service officials said the agency now maintains a fleet of 11 large fixed-wing air tankers provided under contract by private aviation companies.

    The replacement move comes after at least three large air tankers have crashed since 2002, killing eight people.

    Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, who announced the agency's strategy earlier this month, said the aging fleet needs to be replaced with the next generation of aircraft.

    "The effectiveness of air tankers on a wildfire is directly proportional to its speed and load capacity," Tidwell said in a news release. "We need a core fleet of the next generation large air tankers to supplement our boots-on-the-ground firefighters for what we know will be longer and more severe wildfire seasons in years to come."

    Recommendations for the next generation of air tankers include the capability of carrying a minimum of 1,800 gallons of mixed retardant with more than 3,000 gallons preferred and a minimum cruise speed of 345 mph for quick fire response over long distance.

    Other recommendations include the craft being powered by turbine engines, which are more reliable, more fuel efficient, and require less maintenance than older aircraft piston engines, Tidwell said.

    The fleet has decreased in size from 43 in 2000 to only 11 under contract today, and 10 are facing a mandatory retirement by 2021.

    Still, Tidwell said, air tankers provided under contract by private industry "will continue to be essential in effective wildland firefighting."

    But the use of expensive air tankers, which can cost as much as $4,200 per hour to put in the air, has drawn fire by some who maintain they are primarily used to appease the public and elected officials, who think fires are not taken seriously unless attacked by the overhead tankers.

    Timothy Ingalsbee, executive director of the Eugene, Ore.-based Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics and Ecology, questions the traditional use of large air tankers, and the retardant chemicals they drop on fires, saying smaller surveillance craft to map and monitor fires may be more effective.

    "The needs of fire management have gone way beyond the need of fire suppression," he said Monday, adding that the single function of air tankers is too narrow, as well as astronomically high in both economical and environmental costs.

    Background information

    Missoula-based Neptune Aviation now owns the largest fleet of large air tankers in the United States, with nine Korean War-era P2-Vs and a new BAe-146 jet tanker.

    A crack found in January in the wing of one of the P2-Vs grounded that plane. Its sister planes were inspected and certified for use.

    Nevada-based Minden Air Corp. provides two more P2-Vs for Forest Service firefighting.

    Aero Union Corp., which when in Chico was the largest air tanker firm, lost its contract with the Forest Service in a maintenance dispute last summer. The firm, by then based in Sacramento, later went out of business.
    Source: Redding Record-Searchlight - Link 
    California Fire News 2011  -

    RRU: CAL FIRE Confined Space Technical Rescue Saves Puppy

    Firefighters rescued a pit bull puppy Sunday night from a sink hole from a collapsed septic tank in Calimesa, Cal Fire officials said.

    The trapped dog was reported at 8:18 p.m. Sunday in the 200 block of Myrtlewood Drive, south of Avenue L in Calimesa, Melody Hendrickson of Cal Fire-Riverside County said in a statement.

    Four engine crews with 18 firefighters responded, Hendrickson said.

    The puppy was trapped 15 to 20 feet down in a confined space, and the technical rescue was declared complete at 10:12 p.m., Hendrickson said. No injuries were reported.

    "The dog was an 8-12 month old black Pit Bull, weighing approximately 25-30 lbs," Cal Fire officials said in an update Monday. "Once the dog was rescued, it was transported to a night holding kennel at the Beaumont Police Department. The dog was unharmed."

    Source: lomalinda.patch.com Link
    California Fire News 2011 


    USFS: Forest Service almost done reviewing night flying policy

    Forest Service still undecided on nighttime firefighting
    Wildfires Grow In The Bone Dry Forests North Of Los Angeles
    File: A Los Angeles County fire fighter monitors hot spots as he fights the Station Fire August 30, 2009 in Acton, California.
    Firefighters in Southern California are still waiting to find out whether the U.S. Forest Service will help them battle flames from the air, after dark.
    Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell says his agency is almost done reviewing its policy on night flying. In the interim, he says, the Forest Service will "work with our partners that do have the night flying capability, so that they’re available to assist when we have fires in the National Forest. But we’re going to complete our review and be able to sit down and look at what we need to do, whether to move forward or not."
    Tidwell has been under pressure from Southern California lawmakers to change the Forest Service policy on night flights.
    The ban went into effect after a 1977 helicopter crash. Critics say the lack of Forest Service air support during the 2009 Station Fire allowed it to get out of control — two firefighters were killed and dozens of homes were destroyed.

    Source article: KPCC - Link California Fire News 2011 

    HEET: San Luis Obispo County Horse Emergency Evacuation Team

    Each fire season, Cal Fire designates San Luis Obispo County as at risk from wildland fires spreading into urban areas. In the 2002-03 Highway 58 and Parkhill fires, the agency reported 2,200 acres, five residences and $110,000 lost.

    That’s when a few concerned horses owners realized their animals were at risk during wildfires.

     Stuart McElhinney said, “There wasn’t a coordinated emergency evacuation system to care for the horses and organize their rescue. We needed a volunteer effort to develop a plan (and to) implement a system.”

    By January 2003, Morro Bay attorneys and Los Osos residents Stuart and Susan McElhinney filed nonprofit paperwork for the Horse Emergency Evacuation Team (HEET). Their mission is to work cooperatively with Cal Fire, the county Fire Chiefs Association, the Sheriff’s Office and CHP to coordinate a first response evacuation plan for large animals.

    They quickly realized they needed to provide the public agencies more than a willingness to serve.

    “We needed to train and develop strong relationships with first responders, first aid representatives and large-animal veterinarians,” Stuart McElhinney said.

    HEET now has 25 members throughout the county ready to train more volunteers. Susan McElhinney is HEET’s secretary, and Stuart McElhinney is communications director. The president is Julie Monser.

    HEET offers training each month in subjects including fire safety/incident command systems, Red Cross disaster services, first aid/CPR, horse handling, trailer handling, large animal rescue and horse triage.

    Over the years, HEET has improved its database by listing more horse owners, developed a site visit protocol to determine the best evacuation plan and identified large animal shelters such as the Paso Robles Event Center.

    Stuart McElhinney said they “now have a 24/7 emergency communication center. Our all-volunteer group keeps costs minimal. Insurance is a major expense. For HEET members to support county first responders, our group must carry at least a million-dollar policy.”

    Susan McElhinney agreed some fundraising was needed to purchase more evacuation and emergency equipment such as the rescue slide HEET has donated for emergency use.

    “We always need more volunteers. Two volunteers must always respond,” she said. “Many thanks for Dr. Andy Dibbern at the Equine Center for making himself available.”

    In the coming months, www.sloheet.org will feature the group’s upcoming training schedule.

    The McElhinneys are proud that after years of slowly developing HEET and training members, the group is now considered the lead agency for large animal rescues in the county.

    Original Story Here: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2012/02/19/1955823/heet-helps-horses-in-peril.html
    More Information: http://sloheet.org/

    Sunday, February 19, 2012

    San Bernardino County electrical substation explosion, fire & heavy smoke

      Transformer Explodes, Causes Fire in San Bernardino County
    Firefighters battled flames and thick smoke early Saturday morning when a transformer exploded in Oak Hills.
    (San Bernardino County Fire Department)

    12:42 p.m. PST, February 18, 2012
    OAK HILLS, Calif. (KTLA) -- An electrical substation exploded and caused a fire early Saturday morning in San Bernardino County, prompting firefighters to use foam put out the flames.

    Dispatchers received 911 calls just after 12:30 a.m. reporting several explosions and heavy smoke coming from the Lugo Substation at the intersection of Escondido Avenue and Whitehaven Street. Firefighters arrived to find a transformer and a large amount of mineral oil on fire.

    The flaming transformer posed the risk that 15,000 gallons of mineral oil could spill out and also catch fire. Southern California Edison (SCE) used excavation equipment to prevent any mineral oil from spilling out of the facility, according to a news release issued by the San Bernardino County Fire Department.

    No mineral oil escaped the area. SCE "de-energized" some of the power lines but there was no loss of power to nearby customers, according to the news release.

    Firefighters used 200 gallons of foam normally used to put out aircraft fires to cool the transformer and put out the flames by about 7:10 a.m.

    There were no reported evacuations and one SCE employee -- who was at the facility when the transformer exploded -- was not hurt, according to the news release.

    SCE investigators are looking into what caused the blast.

    Source: KTLA News - Link

    Berkeley passes police mutual aid agreements

      The five mutual aid memoranda regarding the Berkeley Police Department and other agencies passed by an 8-1 vote. 

    The Berkeley City Council had approved numerous mutual aid memoranda at its November 8th meeting last year. But five of the agreements were held for further review by the city manager and the Police Review Commission (PRC). 

    Berkeley Police Chief Meehan
    The five agreements concerned the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC), the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI), the UCPD, criminal intelligence, and jail operations. 

    Last night’s vote was to approve the five, but to ask the city manager and the PRC to report back to the council on Arreguín’s amendments within 90 days.

    The passage followed lengthy and at times impassioned public comment when dozens of people spoke, many arguing against the passage.

    Councilmembers who spoke at last night’s meeting expressed general support for Arreguín’s approach. But the majority — and both Acting City Manager Christine Daniel and Police Chief Michael Meehan — said they had not had enough time to evaluate properly the amendments, which Arreguín produced this week.

    “We just need more time to even read through it,” Meehan said. “You can certainly pass bits and pieces of it, but I don’t know what the ramifications of it are in every case.”

    Councilmember Kriss Worthington strongly supported Arreguín’s amendments, jokingly suggesting that the work his colleague had done justified raising his councilmember salary from $20,000 to $100,000. Worthington proposed a halfway adoption of the amendments, holding only the NCRIC and UASI items for further review.

    “The public has overwhelmingly testified: ‘Please don’t approve these agreements’,” Worthington said. “I think it’s backwards to approve all the agreements and then come back with proposals.”

    Mutual aid agreements set out the terms of cooperation between different agencies, such as when the UC Police Department requests aid from BPD.

    “I believe we have one of the best police forces in the Bay Area, if not the country,” said Councilmember Jesse Arreguín, who proposed amendments to the staff recommendation on the memoranda. “The issue isn’t the police department. It’s these other agencies.”

    The City Council had approved numerous mutual aid memoranda at its November 8th meeting last year. But five of the agreements were held for further review by the city manager and the Police Review Commission (PRC). The five agreements concerned the Northern California Regional Information Center (NCRIC), the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI), the UCPD, criminal intelligence, and jail operations. Last night’s vote was to approve the five, but to ask the city manager and the PRC to report back to the council on Arreguín’s amendments within 90 days.

    The amendments sought to protect civil rights from what some of the public comments called “the increasing militarization of the police”. On NCRIC, for example, Arreguín proposed limiting the submission of Suspicious Activity Reports to “only those individuals/groups that have been charged with a crime, with the exception of an individual who has solely committed a civil disobedience offense.” 

    The amendments also addressed Berkeley’s policy of being a “city of refuge”: cooperation with the Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) sometimes conflicts with that policy, according to some councilmembers and a number of those who spoke in public comments.

    More Berkeley police mutual aid agreements stories:
    Berkeley passes police mutual aid agreements at this berkeleyside.com link
    or Berkeley passes police mutual aid agreements at this KQED link

    Saturday, February 18, 2012

    CANYON LAKE: Great Shake Out Earthquake Drill Includes Pet Care

     It may seem like an unusual request, but the gated community of Canyon Lake needs homeless people on Feb. 25. And bring your pets.
    It's all part of what's called the Great Shake Out, a simulated earthquake drill designed to keep emergency volunteers sharp and raise the consciousness of the city's residents.

    "We want people to learn from this and know what to do in case of an emergency," said Nancy Carroll, Canyon Lake emergency volunteer manager. "We live on a major fault line and sooner or later we are going to get hit by the big one, just like they were in Chile and Japan."
    Canyon Lake holds disaster drills annually, but this one will be a little different. Organizers are asking that pets be a part of the process.
    Earthquake "victims" ---- really Canyon Lake residents who pretend their homes are uninhabitable ---- are asked to put their pets in carriers or kennels and take them to the emergency shelter at Canyon Lake Community Church.
    It would also help to bring pet food, and dog owners are encouraged to bring a leash.
    "This will be the first time we've included animals," Carroll said. "In a disaster, small animals can end up almost anywhere, so we're asking people to include pets in their emergency plans."
    The drill, which will last from 8 a.m. to noon, will focus on activities at the church emergency shelter, which would be the town's gathering place in case of a real disaster. There will be areas for children, pets, the handicapped, food services, recreation and sleeping.
    The shelter also will include medical care and areas for people with special needs.
    Carroll, who was chosen 2012 Citizen of the Year by the Canyon Lake Chamber of Commerce for her work in emergency planning, said about 10 to 15 residents normally take part in these drills. This time, they're hoping to attract more participants, with emphasis being placed on pets and children.
    "We need more homeless," she said. "Everything will be going on at the shelter."
    Organizers say snacks and light lunches will be provided for participants. Games, movies and outdoor play will be provided for the children.
    The church is at 30515 Railroad Canyon Road.

    Great Shake Out Earthquake Drill Facts: 
    What: Practice earthquake disaster drill with emphasis on emergency shelter for people and pets
    When: Saturday, Feb. 25, 8 a.m. to noon
    Where: Canyon Lake Community Church, 30515 Railroad Canyon Road
    Special note: Volunteer earthquake victims from Canyon Lake and their pets are needed.
    Information: Nancy Carroll, 951-244-8230

    Source: nctimes.com - Link

    Shasta County: Cottonwood man accused of trying to kill ambulance crew

    Calif. man charged with trying to kill EMS crew
    Man was arrested after ramming his pickup into their ambulance outside of a hospital

    REDDING, California — A Cottonwood man accused of trying to kill two paramedics and an emergency medical technician by ramming his pickup into their ambulance outside Mercy Medical Center on Saturday night expressed disappointment when told no one was killed.

    "That's too bad," he said. "Next time I'll drive through the front doors."

    That information is included in a Redding police report issued after the Tuesday arraignment of Joel Michael Haller, 26, in Shasta County Superior Court.

    Haller, who pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, including three counts of attempted murder, remains in Shasta County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail.

    According to the Redding police report, Haller smiled and "nodded his head up and down" when asked by a police officer if he would do it again whenhe got out of jail.

    But he told a witness he would wear his seat belt the next time.

    Haller, scheduled to have a preliminary hearing on Feb. 29, was arrested on Saturday after allegedly plowing his pickup into an occupied and parked ambulance outside the Redding hospital.

    "It was totally intentional," Sgt. Mike Wood with the Redding Police Department has said. "There's no doubt this guy did this on purpose."

    Ironically, police have said, Haller was treated by one of the three men he allegedly tried to harm in the crash.

    According to the police report, Haller's father told police after the crash that his son, who went to the hospital to seek treatment for a headache, has a history of mental illness and has been violent in the past.

    The elder Haller said his son recently served 30 days in Tehama County Jail and had assaulted a sheriff's deputy.

    In his police report, officer Justin Duval said he spoke with the younger Haller in the hospital's emergency room after the crash and asked him whether he rammed the ambulance on purpose.

    "That's obvious," the officer reported Haller as saying.

    When Duval asked him whether he had seen the paramedics in the ambulance, "Haller looked at me and chuckled but failed to answer my question," the police report said.

    The men in the ambulance were Gregg Franz Herrman, 26, an emergency medical technician from Redding; Drew Alan Barnett, a 29-yearold paramedic from Redding; and Ryan Michael Samualson, a 35-year-old paramedic from Fortuna. Herrman was treated for back pain, while Barnett and Samualson weren't injured, police have said.

    In November Haller was arrested by Tehama County deputies on suspicion of battering a peace officer while deputies conducted a welfare check on him at his Cottonwood home, the Record Searchlight has reported.

    At 7:49 p.m. on Nov. 3, two Tehama County deputies were checking on Haller's welfare when he threw a rock at them but missed, according to the Tehama County Sheriff's Department.

    Haller also kicked shut a cruiser door as another deputy was trying to get out of the car, deputies have said. He faces three counts of attempted murder.

    Source:  Record Searchlight - Link

    Friday, February 17, 2012

    Heads Up: Bakersfield man is in jail for allegedly cooking and eating cats.

      Man Charged For Allegedly Cooking And Eating Cats: Jason Louis Wilmert Arrested In California
      BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — In a case that has shocked even investigators, a California man is in jail for allegedly cooking and eating cats.
      Jason Louis Wilmert is being held in the Kern County Jail on charges alleging animal cruelty and using a pet or domesticated animal for food. Both charges are misdemeanors.
      Neighbors called sheriff's deputies when they heard cats wailing and screeching at the 36-year-old's house in the Bakersfield suburb of Oildale.
      Sheriff's spokesman Ray Pruitt says he has "never seen anything like this."
      Pruitt says investigators found evidence that led them to believe "he had the intent to use a cat for food," but he couldn't comment directly on the evidence. The case has been sent to the district attorney.
      Wilmert is scheduled for arraignment on Friday.
      Source: newsnet5.com - Link
      Photo Credit: Photo by Deb Lee/WEWS

    CAL FIRE's Ready Set Go Video: Get Ready Before Fire Season Begins

    CAL FIRE wants to help prepare residents and their home for the possibility of a wildfire, how to prepare, and when to evacuate.

    Defensible Space
    Defensible space is essential to improve your home’s chance of surviving a wildfire. It’s the buffer you create between a building on your property and the grass, trees, shrubs, or any wildland area that surround it. This space is needed to slow or stop the spread of wildfire and it protects your home from catching fire – either from direct flame contact or radiant heat. Defensible space is also important for the protection of the firefighters defending your home.

    Defensible Space Zones
    Two zones make up the required 100 feet of defensible space.

    This short video will show how easy it is to develop a 3-step plan to prepare for what’s to come… Ready, Set, Go!

    California’s wildland firefighting force recommends residents prepare a Wildfire Action Plan before the fire season begins.
     Cal Fire offers advice to Californians living in the wildland /urban interface via http://www.readyforwildfire.org/defensible_space

    San Bernardino County: 1 dead in explosion and fire that destroyed a Fontana home

    San Bernardino County authorities are investigating an explosion and fire that destroyed a Fontana home and killed a man inside.
    Authorities say the blast shortly after 9 a.m. Thursday blew the garage door 40 feet across the street and the fire destroyed the two-story home.
    Houses on either side were damaged.
    Firefighters needed more than a half-hour to douse the flames.
    Coroner's officials say a 50-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene but his name has not been released.

    Read more here: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2012/02/17/1952531/1-dead-in-fontana-house-explosion.html#storylink=cpy

    Source: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2012/02/17/1952531/1-dead-in-fontana-house-explosion.html

    San Bruno: Pacific Gas and Electricity doesn't understand its negligence

     Outraged San Bruno officials claim PG&E delaying settlement of gas-line disaster

    A year and a half after a natural gas explosion in San Bruno killed eight people, indignant officials in the devastated city on Wednesday accused PG&E of delaying efforts to resolve the city's financial claims against the utility.

    "We are very frustrated that PG&E doesn't understand its negligence was responsible for the biggest natural gas disaster in our nation's history," San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane said at a hastily called news conference. "We will not let that happen."

    Commenting directly to the company, he asked, "why can't you take care of us?"

    But PG&E officials -- who said they met with San Bruno officials as recently as Tuesday -- denied talks have stalled with the city over compensation

    following the Sept. 9, 2010, blast, which killed eight people, injured dozens of others and destroyed or damaged 108 homes.

    The city's demands, which are separate from the dozens of lawsuits filed by individuals seeking financial damages, are part of a growing litany of expenses that PG&E faces in the wake of the explosion. The total cost will depend on the outcome of the suits, whatever regulatory fines are levied against the company and the extent of pipeline repairs PG&E makes. But some analysts have estimated that PG&E's San Bruno-related bills could reach several billion dollars, though it's unclear how much of that might be borne by its customers.

    The ruckus Wednesday also highlights the uncertainty over how long it will take to satisfy the claims of the various victims.

    Shortly after the explosion, Johns vowed to "do what's right to help rebuild the community" and PG&E established a $70 million trust fund to fix city property destroyed in the disaster as well as a separate $100 million fund to help residents affected by the blast. But in December last year, San Bruno officials formally began negotiating for additional money to possibly create a scholarship fund for children in the blast-ravaged neighborhood, build a memorial, set up youth sports leagues or establish mental health resources for city workers, Ruane said. The dispute with PG&E centers on those recent demands.

    Whole story at: Mercury News - Link

    Thursday, February 16, 2012

    Central Valley: Eight agencies fight almond hull fire at Patterson dairy

    According to the Mountain View Fire Department, the fire broke out around 11 a.m. Dampened by the recent rainfall, the almond hulls got hot and started smouldering.

    Firefighters called for other agencies to bring water tenders to the site, since there is no piped supply to the area.

    The fire spread to two other piles before it was extinguished about 1 p.m., but no buildings were damaged or injuries reported.

      Florida: Electric cigarette explodes in man's mouth

      Electric cigarette explodes in Fla man's mouth
      Division Chief Joseph Parker: "The best analogy is like it was trying to hold a bottle rocket in your mouth when it went off"

      PENSACOLA, Fla. — A faulty battery caused an electronic cigarette to explode in a Florida's man's mouth, taking out some of his front teeth and a chunk of his tongue and severely burning his face, fire officials said Wednesday.
      Tom Holloway, 57, of Niceville, was trying to quit smoking so he was puffing on the device Monday night when it blew up, fire officials said. Officials have not publicly identified the victim. But a Facebook page under his name was filled with well-wishers commenting on the injury and database searches matched his address with his name.
      "The best analogy is like it was trying to hold a bottle rocket in your mouth when it went off," said Joseph Parker, division chief for the North Bay Fire Department. "The battery flew out of the tube and set the closet on fire."
      Parker said fire investigators do not know the brand of cigarette, type of battery or age of the device. It appears the battery was rechargeable lithium because a recharging station and other batteries were in the room, he said.
      Parker said he has forwarded information about the blaze to the fire marshal's office to include in any databases on the devices. But Parker said he has yet to hear of any similar instances.
      Fire Chief Joseph Miller said the victim contacted the department on Wednesday to thank firefighters and told them he was recovering at a hospital in Mobile, Ala.
      Thomas Kiklas, co-founder of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, said the industry knows of no problems with the cigarettes or batteries exploding.
      Kicklas said the cigarettes include a small battery and cartridge. The battery is designed to generate an electric charge when the device is inhaled. The charge sets off the vapor in the cigarette tube.
      Kiklas cited a federal report that found 2.5 million Americans used electronic cigarettes last year.
      "There have been billions and billions of puffs on the cigarettes and we have not heard of this happening before," he said.

      Source: Link 

      SFFD: Official Double LODD report

      Lt. Vincent A. Perez and Firefighter Paramedic Anthony M. Valerio were tragically killed in the Line of Duty last June when they were caught in a flashover. The SFFD internal safety investigation report on that June 2, 2011 fire
      Download Safety Investigation - 133 Berkeley Way .PDF here

      LAFD: Van Nuys Major Emergency Structure Fire Injures 2 LA Firefighters

      VAN NUYS - Over 125 Los Angeles Firefighters extinguished an enormous fire in a 150' x 100' one-story commercial building in just under two hours, where two Los Angeles Firefighters were injured.

      Just after 5:00 pm on Wednesday February 15th 2012, firefighters arrived to find fire blowing out one unit of a strip mall, located at 6600 North Van Nuys Boulevard. Waves of additional firefighters were requested.

      Extensive amounts of smoke could be seen for miles as it lingered low to the ground due to a heavy marine layer and slowly pushed south by light winds.

      The structure located was of older construction with a conventional roof, parapet, and a common attic space. The open area under the roof allowed fire to rapidly spread across the tops of three business before hitting large division walls, halting the advancement of the flames.

      Shortly into the extended battle, firefighters switched into a defensive attack. Truck Companies quickly finished cutting holes on the roof with chainsaws. Fire blew through the roof forcing firefighters to rapidly exit. Firefighters on the ground used large 2 1/2" hose-lines along with ladder pipe operations, where copious amounts of water was sprayed from the end of extended aerial ladder trucks, capable of 2000 gallons per minute, into the structure.

      Three separate stores were damaged, doing business as: First Bargin Center, Birrieria Luita, and El Pantalon.

      The blaze was fully extinguished in one hour and 53 minutes before any adjacent buildings were damaged.

      Two firefighters received minor injuries and were transported to local hospitals in fair condition.

      The dollar loss is still being tabulated and the cause is under active investigation.

      Dispatch Info: 6600 N Van Nuys Bl, Van Nuys
      Wednesday, February 15, 2012
      TIME: 5:07 PM
      INCIDENT #: 0926

      Dispatched Units: E239 T39 E81 E102 E288 E88 T88 RA88 RA889 EM14 BC10 BC14 E100 E39 RA39 E289 E89 T89 E7 E90 RA100 E83 RA83 E278 T78 E298 T98 E273 T73 DC3 SQ21 EM15 EM17 EM9 BC12 UR88 BC5 AR2 RT83 EA1 RM2 E87 E60 E93 E287 T87 E305 T105 E237 T37 BC17 BC18 AR23 RA7 RA99 RA60 MD1
      Official Report .pdf: http://xa.yimg.com/kq/groups/2838244/1446758011/name/021512-0926.pdf
      Information Source:  http://www.lafd.org/blog.htm

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      ****REMINDER**** Every fire has the ability to be catastrophic. The wildland fire management environment has profoundly changed. Growing numbers of communities, across the nation, are experiencing longer fire seasons; more frequent, bigger, and more severe, fires are a real threat. Be careful with all campfires and equipment.

      "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer." --Abraham Lincoln

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