Archive for the ‘Fire’ Category

ConFire reports Antioch had most Independence Day fireworks-related responses

Wednesday, July 8th, 2020

Nearly one month’s worth of grass fires in five-hour period; unprecedented level of fire activity strains resources, limits responses

By Steve Hill, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District

Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire) today made available details of the unprecedented fire and EMS activity, much of it fireworks related, occurring across the District during the Independence Day holiday weekend.

For the five-hour period from 7 p.m. to midnight on July 4, the District dispatched firefighting resources to 63 grass, structure other fires, including those burning in backyards, in dumpsters, and vehicles. For the entire Independence Day weekend, responses numbered 93 for fires with 36 of them in Antioch.

In spite of 60-plus grass, vegetation and other exterior fires burning across the District on the evening of the Fourth, not a single structure was lost as a result of these fires. In one of the most dangerous fires, initially reported just before 11 p.m. in the vicinity of Southwood Drive and Oak Hills Drive in Pittsburg, more than 20 homes were threatened with fire burning to within 30 feet of several. Some 20 fire apparatus and crews worked for more than hour to contain this blaze without involvement of any homes.

 

Of the 13 structure fires occurring over the weekend, three are known to have, and others are suspected of having been, caused by illegal fireworks use. One was caused by a homeowner placing expended fireworks in a garbage can next to their home, which ignited the can’s contents, quickly spreading to the home’s exterior. In the second case, fireworks set off in an adjacent alleyway started a fire in a nearby home. Thanks to quick reporting and fire responses, damage in each of these cases was minor.

In the busiest hours of the weekend, between 9 and 11 p.m. on the evening of the Fourth, dispatchers were stretched to the limit, as were firefighters, by an unprecedented level of calls to the Contra Costa Regional Fire Communications Center. Crews were dispatched to nearly 50 fire incidents alone. At the height of this two-hour period, due to demand for emergency services, Con Fire was forced to limit assignments to all but structure fires to a single fire engine, increasing risks for both residents and firefighters.

Calls for emergency medical services were also up significantly over normal, non-holiday periods with some of this increase likely attributable to fireworks activity. On July 3, ambulances were dispatched on 272 EMS calls, which resulted in 182 patient transports. On the Fourth, 378 EMS incidents were responded to with 232 transported and on July 5, there were a total of 325 EMS incidents responded to with 194 transports made. During a non-holiday period, an average of 200 daily transports would be expected.

Thanks to considerable and costly preparation by Con Fire and other fire jurisdictions, disaster was in large part averted in Contra Costa County. Con Fire’s preparations included adding additional staffing including two firefighting bulldozers, hand crew 12, an additional wildland fire engine and crew, a water tender and crew, an additional battalion chief, an additional dispatcher, and all four fire investigators.

Working with fire agencies across the region, two firefighting task forces were also established consisting of four firefighting apparatus, crews and a chief officer each. One task force was available July 3 and two on the evening of the Fourth. Cooperating agencies included Con Fire, East Bay Regional Parks District, the Federal Fire Department MOTCO, and San Ramon Valley, East Contra Costa, and Moraga-Orinda Fire Protection Districts.

Additionally, the entire Con Fire command staff was on duty in the District Operations Center in Pittsburg and around the District to provide leadership and manage resources throughout the evening of the Fourth.

This weekend’s experience across our District and the County proves beyond any doubt that, in addition to being illegal, fireworks are dangerous, capable especially in current fire season weather conditions of causing maiming injuries and sparking fires that can quickly threaten lives and property. Con Fire urges all resident to avoid the use of any fireworks anywhere in Contra Costa County.

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Contra Costa fire, law enforcement officials warn of dangers of illegal fireworks during Independence Day holiday weekend

Friday, July 3rd, 2020

“all fireworks are illegal in Antioch as well as all of Contra Costa County. In addition to the possible $1,000 criminal fine, fireworks pose an extreme fire danger and can cause traumatic injuries.” – Antioch Police Chief T Brooks

Illegal Fireworks Use Poses Extreme Risk of Grievous Bodily Harm and Catastrophic Wildfires During; Current Period of Critically High Fire Danger

Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire) and local law enforcement agencies across the county, this week warned citizens about the extreme dangers of illegal fireworks during the days leading up to the Independence Day holiday.

Fire and law enforcement leaders reminded residents and visitors that all fireworks, regardless of type or labeling, are illegal everywhere in the county. There are no “Safe & Sane” fireworks, regardless of labeling. Additionally, the potential for grievous bodily harm posed by these illegal devices and the risk of causing catastrophic wildfires during this time of extremely high fire danger is great.

With prolonged warm, dry and windy weather leading up to the Independence Day holiday, fire danger is unusually high making fireworks an even greater threat to our communities than in recent wetter and cooler years. Because of these conditions, in the month of June alone, communities across the District have experienced a nearly fourfold increase in grass and vegetation fires. More than a dozen of these were started by illegal fireworks; many have threatened homes and businesses.

“The only safe and sane approach to fireworks in Contra Costa County is to simply not use them,” said Fire Chief Lewis T. Broschard III, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District. “They are uncontrollable and dangerous, illegal, and their use poses the very real possibility of causing wildland fires that could easily destroy homes and threaten lives in this time of critically high fire risk.”

“This year, we have seen a tremendous increase in fireworks-related complaints and calls for service compared to previous years,” said Chief Tammany Brooks, Antioch Police Department. “I want to remind everyone that all fireworks are illegal in Antioch as well as all of Contra Costa County. In addition to the possible $1,000 criminal fine, fireworks pose an extreme fire danger and can cause traumatic injuries.”

“Fireworks aren’t just illegal, they’re dangerous. We want you to keep that and your community in mind as we approach the holiday weekend,” said Concord Police Chief Mark Bustillos. “We wish everyone a happy and safe 4th of July!”

“Already several weeks into what promises to be a high-risk fire season, we want to remind residents of the very real dangers involved with illegal fireworks,” said Lafayette Police Chief Ben Alldritt. “We owe it to our friends, families, and neighbors to be safe and avoid fireworks risks this Fourth of July holiday — the City of Lafayette wants everyone to be safe and avoid fireworks-related accidents and fires.”

“While Independence Day is a time for celebrating, and we wish you all the best on this holiday, the Martinez Police Department remains steadfast in our commitment to public safety,” said Chief Manjit Sappal. “As such, we wish to make it clear that fireworks are illegal and unsafe; they can cause injury and devastating fire-related damage. Please commit to the safety of your family, friends, and neighbors by not using any fireworks.”

“The Fourth of July is a great time to spend with family and friends, but illegal fireworks continue to be a problem in our community,” said Chief Brian Addington, Pittsburg Police Department. “We have already had more than 350 calls reporting illegal fireworks. We have a zero-tolerance policy; if you are caught with illegal fireworks, expect a $1000 fine, or a trip to jail.”

“We know how disappointed people are by the cancellation of the traditional fireworks shows due to COVID-19, but using illegal fireworks instead is not a safe solution. They pose serious danger to those using them, and to the surrounding community, as well,” said Pleasant Hill Police Chief Bryan Hill. “This year, we are encouraging everyone to celebrate at their place of residence, and to celebrate safely.”

“The pyrotechnic powder in most fireworks is extremely sensitive to heat, shock and friction, and in certain circumstances can explode even when you don’t want or expect them to,” said acting Lt. Anthony Mangini, Walnut Creek Police Bomb Squad. “The fire and injury danger from illegal fireworks poses extreme risks for civilians, and also for first responders and our hazardous devices technicians who must dispose of them.”

While public fireworks events around the county have been cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials strongly discourage residents from attempting to replace these events with illegal consumer fireworks use. Instead, residents are encouraged to watch a fireworks display on television or online video, use safe and readily available glow-stick products, or many other ways of celebrating.

Fire and law officials urge residents to protect their homes, families and neighborhoods by reporting all use of illegal fireworks immediately to their local law enforcement agency’s non-emergency phone line. In cases where immediate risk to life or property exists, 911 should be called.

In addition to fire danger, there are significant risks of serious injury or death. On July 5th, 2018, an Antioch resident was severely injured handling a supposedly “Safe & Sane” firework discarded at his place of business. Nationwide, thousands are injured annually, more than half are under 15.

Last year, illegal fireworks use in the County sparked preventable vegetation fires threatening lives and structures and straining emergency resources needed for higher priority fire and medical emergencies.

For more on protecting homes and businesses from wildfires, visit www.cccfpd.org/wildfireprep.

About Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire) — A recognized fire service leader — Con Fire provides fire and emergency medical services to more than a million people across its 304 square-mile District area, and through mutual aid, in and around the 20 cities and unincorporated communities of Contra Costa County, California. With few exceptions, county emergency ambulance transport services are provided by Con Fire through its unique sub-contractor Alliance model. In 2019, the District responded to nearly 78,000 fire and EMS emergencies and dispatched some 95,000 ambulances, providing exert medical care on more than 74,000 ambulance transports. The District, with 26 fire stations and more than 400 employees, is dedicated to preserving life, property and the environment.

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Injured dirt bike rider in Antioch airlifted to trauma center Sunday night

Monday, May 25th, 2020

Medical helicopter ConAir1 at the intersection of Slatten Ranch Road and Wicklow Way, near the J.C. Penney store in Antioch, prepares to take an injured dirt bike rider to the hospital Sunday night, May 24, 2020. Photo by ECCFPD.

From East Contra Costa Fire Protection District

Antioch: Sunday, May 24, 2020 7:57pm East Contra Costa Fire Protection District personnel from companies E52 and BC5 were called to provide automatic aid with ConFire E381 with an injured dirt bike rider in a field behind Target on Slatten Ranch Road, Medical helicopter ConAir1 transported the patient to our local trauma center.

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ConFire crews battle two blazes in Antioch Saturday, two homes damaged

Sunday, May 24th, 2020

FIre on hill near Danridge Court (left). Photo by Vanessa Hellman. Fire on B Street (right). Photo by ConFire.

By Allen Payton

Contra Costa County Fire Protection District firefighters battled a house fire and grass fire in two parts of Antioch on Saturday.

On the south side of town, about 5:00 p.m., according to Antioch resident Kelli-Jo Kipp, a four-alarm grass fire occurred on a hill on the back side of Danridge Court. It threatened several homes. But, fire crews from four ladder trucks were able to get the blaze under control. No structures were damaged according to witnesses. (See more photos of fire on Facebook).

Two homes on B Street were damaged. Photos by ConFire.

Then, about 7:00 p.m., according to the ConFire Public Information Officer, crews knocked down a two-alarm fire that damaged two homes on B Street. “Three people who were able to exit the structure are being treated for smoke inhalation.” The fire is under investigation.

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Contra Costa Fire seeks public’s help identifying Antioch arson suspect

Saturday, March 28th, 2020

Security camera screenshots of Antioch arson suspect. Photos: ConFire

By Steve Hill, Public Information Officer, ConFire

Contra Costa County Fire Protection District’s Fire Investigation Unit is seeking the public’s help in identifying a suspect in a recent Antioch arson fire.

Anyone with information about the pictured suspect is asked to call the Con Fire Arson. Tip Line at 1-866-50-ARSON (7766).

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ConFire crews battle fire at Dow Wetlands Tuesday evening

Tuesday, March 24th, 2020

Screenshot of video by Ronn Carter on Tues., March 24 showing fire at Dow Wetlands on the west side of the Antioch Marina. All photos below by W. David Monterroza.

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D.A. charges ConFire EMS Chief with embezzlement and possession of controlled substances

Saturday, January 12th, 2019

Richard P. Stephenson

Due to the investigation by the Martinez Police Department, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office charged 50-year-old Martinez resident Richard P. Stephenson with two felonies for embezzlement and two misdemeanor charges of possessing a controlled substance. 

The embezzlement charges relate to Mr. Stephenson stealing controlled substances belonging to the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District in order to support his personal drug addiction. 

An arrest warrant in the amount of $50,000 was issued on January 9, 2019.  Stephenson was arraigned at the Contra Costa County Superior Courthouse on January 10, 2019, the next court date is February 26th.

The charges filed against Richard Stephenson include:

  • Count 1, Embezzlement by Public or Private Officer – Felony
  • Count 2, Embezzlement by Clerk, Agent or Servant – Felony
  • Count 3, Possession of Fentanyl – Misdemeanor
  • Count 4, Possession of Midazolam – Misdemeanor

Case information: People v. Richard Paul Stephenson, Docket Number 01-188454-3

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ConFire Chief Jeff Carman named state Fire Chief of the Year

Saturday, October 20th, 2018

Fire Chief Jeff Carmen (center) is joined by County Supervisors and members of ConFire staff on Oct. 9, 2018. Photo by Daniel Borsuk

Also honored by County Supervisors

Fire Chief Carman

By Daniel Borsuk

During their meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 9, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors honored Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Chief Jeff Carman for receiving the Ronny Jack Coleman Fire Chief of the Year Award from the California Fire Chiefs Association (CalChiefs).

Carman was presented the award at the association’s annual conference in Sacramento on Friday morning, Sept. 28.

The California Fire Chiefs Association established the award in 2000 to recognize an outstanding member of the state fire service leadership community. The award recognizes a single individual who is a role model for all fire chiefs in the state as demonstrated through leadership and management locally, regionally and statewide.

“The prestigious Ronny Jack Coleman Fire Chief of the Year Award recognizes our member who is a role model for all fire chiefs statewide,” said Jeffrey Meston, President Elect, CalChiefs and Chief, South Lake Tahoe Fire Department. “And, owing to his leadership, and the accomplishments of his district under that leadership, I am pleased to award Jeff Carman this year’s Fire Chief of the Year award on behalf of CalChiefs.”
Carman leads a 400-member ConFire in providing fire and emergency medical response to more than 1 million people in a 304-square-mile area in Contra Costa County.

During his nearly five-year tenure, the chief and his staff have reopened four stations that were closed during the recession, staffed the fire rescue boat, and improved overall fire response times. They also planned and executed implementation of the Offices of Emergency Services Type 2 Hazardous Materials Response team, and developed and expanded a joint venture with the Sheriff’s Office helicopter program for short-haul rescue and firefighting.

Chief Carman and his staff were also created a unique 911 emergency ambulance system called Alliance, a private-public partnership with AMR, which supervisors credited for saving tax dollars and providing improved response times.

“I’m honored to accept this award on behalf of the men and women of our district whose dedication, professionalism and selfless service have made all our accomplishments possible these last five years.,” said Jeff Carman, Fire Chief, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District. “I’m also thankful for the leadership and vision of our county administrator and his staff, and our incredibly supportive fire board members who have, together, created the collaborative environment essential to our success on behalf of the citizens of Contra Costa County.”

Supervisor Karen Mitchoff said Carman has been a “strong voice on statewide mutual aid” at a critical time of large, widespread fires.

“I really appreciate the leadership you have demonstrated, to bring ConFire out of a very challenging situation,” Supervisor Candace Andersen said.

Carman added, “I’m eager to continue our work here, and with my fellow fire chiefs, across the state, to challenge the status quo and continue to drive change in how we deliver better and more effective fire and EMS services to the citizens of our state.”

About Contra Costa County Fire Protection District

Contra Costa County Fire Protection District is a recognized fire service leader providing fire and emergency medical services to more than a million people across a 304 square-mile area, in and around the 20 cities of Contra Costa County, California. In 2017, the District responded to nearly 74,000 fire and EMS emergencies and provided expert medical care in the conduct of more than 75,000 ambulance transports. The District with 25 fire stations and nearly 400 employees is dedicated to the preservation of life, property and the environment.

About California Fire Chiefs Association (CalChiefs)

CalChiefs is a professional association whose vision is to be the voice of the California fire service covering the spectrum of fire and EMS delivery, actively engaging in legislation that affects service delivery throughout the state, including national issues. CalChiefs membership includes leaders at all levels from the more than 800 municipal fire service agencies and fire districts (paid, combination & volunteer), state and federal government agencies, and corporate fire brigades operating in the state of California and associated colleagues from fire service support organizations and vendors. 

Allen Payton and the Richmond Standard contributed to this report.

 

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