Archive for the ‘Fire’ Category

ConFire to hold Virtual Fire Prevention Open House this weekend

Friday, October 30th, 2020

Fun, Educational Annual Event Taken Off Concord Training Grounds and Into Residents Homes to Ensure COVID-19 Safety

WHEN: Saturday, Oct. 31, beginning at 8 a.m.

WHERE: Online at www.cccfpd.org/annual-open-house

WHAT: Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire) hosts its Annual Fire Prevention Open House Saturday with a wide array of educational and potentially lifesaving presentations for every member of the family.

This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are taking our normally live and all-day event off the Concord Training Grounds and into resident’s homes using a variety of information-packed videos.

Virtual open house content is available to media for reporting purposes ahead of public release. All open house content will be posted to the Con Fire website beginning at 6 a.m. Saturday.

We’ll appreciate media sharing this unique, COVID-19 inspired virtual event with Bay Area audiences using the attached flyer and linked video content.

ADDITIONAL INFO: Open house video here: http://bit.ly/2020OpenHouseWelcomeVideo

Images of past years’ attendees available here: http://bit.ly/2019OpenHousePics

CONTACT: Steve Hill, PIO, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District, (925) 532-6512

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 expert 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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President Trump approves major disaster declaration for California to help wildfire victims

Friday, October 16th, 2020

Includes grants for temporary housing, home repairs, low-cost loans for uninsured property losses, more

WASHINGTON – Oct. 16, 2020 – 9:20 PM EST – FEMA announced that federal disaster assistance has been made available to the state of California to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by wildfires from Sept. 4 and continuing.

The President’s action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in Fresno, Los Angeles, Madera, Mendocino, San Bernardino, San Diego and Siskiyou counties.  Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

Federal funding is also available to the state, tribal and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures in Fresno, Los Angeles, Madera, Mendocino, San Bernardino, San Diego and Siskiyou counties.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Willie G. Nunn has been named the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area. Additional designations may be made at a later date if warranted by the results of damage assessments.

Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in the designated area can begin applying for assistance by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621- 3362 or 1-800-462-7585 TTY

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News photographer, videographer shares heartbreaking story of young homeless woman living in tunnel below Highway 4 in Pittsburg

Monday, October 12th, 2020

Homeless woman walking barefoot, with firefighters who were there to extinguish the fire in the tunnel beneath Hwy 4. Photos by Art Ray.

Firefighters extinguish fire in tunnel where she’s been living.

By Art Ray

It’s starting to get cooler at night if you have a place to sleep, you can thank God.

I responded to. a working fire in the underpass beneath Highway 4 at Century Blvd. in Pittsburg. When I got there I saw a young, homeless woman, and I do mean young. She was lying down on a nasty mattress behind some metal bars. The arriving firemen grabbed a saw and cut the gate open so they could put a hose on the fire.

What got me was that the young woman remained on the mattress with smoke pouring out of the tunnel. She didn’t have the capacity to get away from the smoke or fire. Finally, she walked out of the tunnel bare foot stepping on glass, rocks and all kinds of dangerous things. As she passed by me, I asked “where are your shoes?” to which she replied she didn’t have any.

The point of this story is not that I went and got her a pair of shoes from the store but that she has some demons that has her early, 20-year-old self, homeless and living under a highway. She didn’t even have the mental capacity to follow my directions and to walk the one block down to the store to meet me to get the new shoes.

Homeless woman painting her lighter with nail polish, the mattress where she slept surrounded by garbage in the tunnel, and a firefighter at the gated entrance to one side of the tunnel below Hwy 4. Photos by Art Ray.

I had to go driving around to find her. When I did find her, she was sitting on the ground painting a cigarette lighter with fingernail polish. When I walked up to her with the shoe bag she never even looked up to me when I gave her the new blue shoes she was fixated on the nail polish and lighter. That’s when I realized that’s there are bigger issues than being homeless. There are thousands of homeless people that are not thinking straight.

After dropping off the shoes I went to meet with the county’s homeless advocate to see if they could help the young sister. He told me he would leave his office and go find her as soon as he got done checking in another homeless person into the newly opened homeless residence the state just bought from Motel 6.

I’m saying all of this to encourage everyone to find a way they can help another human being instead of just complaining about the homeless problem.

Most police departments and counties have resources you can plug into. Maybe you have a warm coat or shoes you don’t wear anymore. Be a part of the homeless solution not a person that finds pleasure in complaining about the homeless. Trust this. Many of the homeless have issues they are battling in their heads. It’s getting cold out. Are you willing to find a way to get involved? Perhaps it’s through your church. Like they say, it takes a village. We are all our brother’s, or in this case, our sister’s keeper.

This is a story that I needed to photograph and tell. I included a picture of the nasty mattress in the filth someone’s daughter or sister was laying on when I arrived. Notice I didn’t include her face so she could retain some kind of dignity.

Art Ray is owner of Bay News Video providing video footage to Bay Area news stations and online media.

video footage to Bay Area news stations and online media.

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Bay Area church with Antioch members sends thank you messages to firefighters, encourages others to do the same

Monday, October 5th, 2020

Photos courtesy of San Francisco Zion Church.

By Greg Bernard

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak that has devastated communities around the world, churches and religious institutions have had to shut their doors and services for several months. Congregants have been unable to gather together to fellowship or worship, leaving members feeling isolated and disconnected from their community.

But one church has found that the best way to re-engage members is to get them involved in giving back. San Francisco Zion Church, a Christian church that serves the Bay Area, held a letter-writing campaign for the firefighters of the Greater San Francisco Bay Area this past weekend. Members who participated in the letter-writing campaign hailed from cities and counties across the Bay Area and Northern California: from Contra Costa, Solano, Alameda, San Francisco, and as far as Sacramento.

Local church members and their children wrote cards for the brave men and women who have been fighting the State’s worst wildfires in over a century. Some of these heartwarming letters found their way to Contra Costa’s Fire Departments. The words of encouragement were warmly received, with some firefighters commenting that it was the first public appreciation they’ve gotten for their service in the fires.

Their next major volunteer campaign will be in collaboration with the Red Cross. According to the World Health Organization, blood donations have been in short supply since the beginning of the pandemic. As a result, San Francisco Zion Church resolved to partner with the Red Cross to host a series of blood drives. The first of these drives will begin in November.

 

“We’ve received over 30 recognitions from local businesses and neighboring cities in the Bay Area in the past few years for our volunteering,” says Adam, a resident of Antioch and member of San Francisco Zion Church. “Next week, we’re raising support for the families affected by the fires and reaching out to the elderly who suffer the most when they are socially isolated from their family members. With everything that’s going on right now, there’s so much need for volunteers.”
For the past five years, San Francisco Zion Church has been active in volunteering and helping people throughout the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Members of the church hope that their volunteerism and donation drives will encourage other churches and organizations in the area to gather together and contribute.

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Frazier to introduce bill to combat major cause of greenhouse gas emissions in California – wildfires

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020

Challenges CA Air Resources Board to “pause and think” about effectiveness of Cap and Trade program

Jim Frazier

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Fairfield) announced today that he plans to introduce legislation in the upcoming session to fundamentally change the way California reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

  “While I believe the work the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has been doing is laudable, we need to shift gears and address the main cause of carbon emissions in California, and right now, that is unquestionably wildfires,” said Frazier. “The data is undeniable and staggering.”

  According the U.S. Geological Survey, in 2018 alone, the wildfires in California were estimated to have released emissions equivalent to roughly 68 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. By contrast, after seven years of reduction efforts from Cap and Trade funded projects to date, is estimated to be 45 million metric tons – at the cost of billions of dollars.

  Frazier went on to say that he believes CARB needs to “pause and think” carefully about their programs and overall efficacy of the resources devoted to them, and reprioritize Cap and Trade dollars to address the immediate threat and environmental devastation that wildfires are causing. In addition to the further advancement of global warming, these fires result in property damage, loss of life, economic peril, and long-term health issues.

  “The science and statistics of the devastation that wildfires are causing are not just limited to the land. These fires are pumping more pollution – far more toxic – than the burning of fossil fuels, and we must take a critical look at how we dedicate our precious financial resources to their reduction.  As we know, wildfires are a major contributor to the advancement of global warming.”

  Frazier will introduce a bill this December.

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Con Fire graduates Fire Recruit Academy 55, adds 5 Probationary Firefighter-Paramedics to ranks

Saturday, July 18th, 2020

Con Fire Academy 55 Crucible Conclusion, Eagle Peak July 16, 2020. Photo by Con Fire.

New Probies first to graduate under pandemic conditions

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

Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire) announced Friday the graduation of its Fire Recruit Academy 55 and the addition of five new probationary firefighter-paramedics to the District’s ranks.

The already experienced firefighter joined Con Fire three months ago from their assignments at other well-respected fire jurisdictions. As firefighter-paramedics, they now join and bolster the District’s paramedic ranks supporting its Advanced Life Support (ALS) status with paramedic staffing on every apparatus.

Academy 55 was the first in Con Fire to be conducted entirely during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in significant challenges related to requirements for social distancing, health monitoring and protective equipment.

“I’m especially pleased to welcome this accomplished group of five new firefighter-paramedics who chose to join Con Fire from assignments in other fire jurisdictions,” said Lewis T. Broschard III, fire chief, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District. “After their just-completed rigorous fire recruit academy training program they are exceptionally well prepared to step into new roles later next week as probationary firefighter-paramedics in fire stations across our District.”

“As members of this lateral academy, we sought out Con Fire because we wanted more, we wanted to be the best,” said Probationary Firefighter-Paramedic Matthew Pagan. “We have worked hard, trained hard and studied hard to get to today and that is why we came to Con Fire; we wanted tougher, we wanted stronger and we wanted it to be challenging.”

The graduating recruits underwent a physically and mentally challenging 12-week course of instruction using the latest firefighting and training techniques. In addition to basic structure firefighting techniques, recruits honed wildland fire, rescue, automobile extrication, hazardous materials and other techniques they can be expected to put to use in their first assignments.

Immediately prior to graduation, the recruits participated in the traditional end-of-academy “crucible” exercise, a realistic 48-hour period designed to replicate what they will soon face in actual shifts In their assignments as Con Fire probationary firefighters. The crucible exercise included numerous simulated incident responses and concluded with deployment to a training wildfire fire atop Mt. Diablo’s Eagle Peak, which required a six-plus mile hike in full wildland fire gear.

The graduation ceremony was virtual except for a limited number of family members and was held at Con Fire’s training grounds in Concord. Each graduate was “pinned” with their firefighter badge and sworn in as a probationary firefighter-paramedic.

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 expert 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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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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