Philly Fireman Taking Heat for Charlottesville Post

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The Philadelphia Fire Department and Mayor Jim Kenney have spoken out against what they called a “reprehensible” photo posted by a Philly fireman after the Charlottesville rally.

The fireman, John Deluisi, shared on Facebook a photo of himself holding a burning tiki torch and wearing a hat with a Confederate flag on it. The caption read “Headed to VA,” where dozens were injured and one woman was killed this past weekend as a result of violence spurred by a gathering of white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

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Is Philly Doing Enough to Save Cardiac Arrest Victims?

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L to R: Philadelphia student athletes Danny Rumph and Ryan Gillyard died 10 years apart of the same heart condition. | Photos courtesy of Marcus Owens and Twitter

Last April, 15-year-old St. Joe’s Prep student Ryan Gillyard collapsed while jumping rope at his football team’s conditioning workout. Gillyard had undetected hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a genetic disease that made his heart muscles abnormally thick, interfering with that organ’s ability to pump blood.

When the Inquirer covered the teenager’s death four months later, it became clear that an automated external defibrillator — the portable medical device that could have delivered a lifesaving shock to Gillyard’s body — was available at the practice field where he fell, but wasn’t used during the emergency. “The reason,” the newspaper said, “was unclear.”

Ten years before Gillyard died, another star athlete with the same condition collapsed during a pick-up basketball game at a Mt. Airy recreation center. The building where 21-year-old Danny Rumph was shooting hoops didn’t have a defibrillator. On Mother’s Day 2005, Viola Owens watched helplessly as her only son passed away. It took 31 minutes for an ambulance to arrive on the scene. By that time, it was too late.

In 2013, with some help from the fire department, Owens installed defibrillators in all 150 of the city’s recreation centers. But many Philadelphians still don’t know how to use those devices, or how to administer CPR. More often than not, studies show, bystanders like Owens are powerless when the unthinkable happens. And what good are emergency response tools if few people know how to use them? Read more »

Kenney Is Officially Ending Brownouts

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Mayor Jim Kenney will officially put an end to one of his predecessor’s most controversial policies tomorrow.

A spokeswoman for Kenney says he will announce Thursday that he is eliminating the fire department’s policy — known as “brownouts” — of temporarily closing a handful of fire stations each day in rotating neighborhoods.

In 2010, former Mayor Michael Nutter’s administration began using brownouts as a way, it said, to save almost $3 million a year amidst a budget crunch. Nutter insisted that brownouts did not compromise residents’ safety and called critics’ suggestions to the contrary “unnecessary hysteria.” Over the last 10 years, the number of annual fire deaths in Philadelphia has dropped by 77 percent. But the firefighters union fiercely argued that brownouts put citizens in harm’s way.

Kenney, the son of a firefighter, promised to end brownouts during his mayoral campaign. When the firefighters union endorsed Kenney last February, it cited his opposition to brownouts as one of the reasons it supported him. Read more »

This Is How Public Unions Should Respond When Their Members Screw Up

Left: Joe Schulle speaks about the death of Philadelphia firefighter veteran Joyce Craig Lewis on Tuesday, December 9, 2014. Right: Marcell Salters' controversial Instagram post.

Left: Joe Schulle. Right: Marcell Salters’ controversial Instagram post.

Joe Schulle, the president of the Philadelphia Association of Fire Fighters – Local 22, seems like a good guy. He’s a fierce advocate for his union, which represents Philly’s firefighters and paramedics, but he balances that advocacy with the knowledge — which we sometimes forget — that his members aren’t just another special interest group: They’re also public servants.

Good on him for remembering.

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Pa. Flags Lowered for Philly Firefighter

Updated with news of funeral scheduling. 

Gov. Corbett has ordered that flags in the state be lowered to half staff in honor of Joyce Craig-Lewis, the Philadelphia firefighter who died Tuesday morning in the line of duty.
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UPDATE: Deceased Firefighter ID’d as Joyce Craig-Lewis

Firefighters enter a burned-out home in the aftermath of a fatal fire Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014, in Philadelphia. A firefighter was trapped in the basement of the burning row home early Tuesday, becoming the first female member of the Philadelphia Fire Department to die in the line of duty, officials said. The 11-year veteran was part of the first company deployed to a fire in the basement of the home in the city's West Oak Lane neighborhood at about 3 a.m. Tuesday, fire commissioner Derrick Sawyer said.

Firefighters enter a burned-out home in the aftermath of a fatal fire Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014, in Philadelphia. A firefighter was trapped in the basement of the burning row home early Tuesday, becoming the first female member of the Philadelphia Fire Department to die in the line of duty, officials said. The 11-year veteran was part of the first company deployed to a fire in the basement of the home in the city’s West Oak Lane neighborhood at about 3 a.m. Tuesday, fire commissioner Derrick Sawyer said.

[Update: 12:32 p.m.] The deceased firefighter has been identified as Joyce Craig-Lewis, Mayor Nutter said in a noon news conference.

Craig-Lewis was an 11-year veteran of the department, one of 150 women serving. She is survived by two children, a 16-year-old-son and 16-month-old daughter, as well as her parents, two sisters, and a brother.

She graduated from Dobbins High School, and later went on to be certified as an emergency medical technician.

“She loved her job. She was a highly-trained firefighter who served in some of the busiest stations in the city on behalf of our citizens,” Nutter said.

“The fire department, one of the best in the United States of America… has suffered a tremendous loss. That loss extends to all Philadelphians.”

Philadelphia Fire Commissioner said Craig-Lewis was helping fight a fire in the basement of the residence.

“Those that know anything about basement fires knows that basement fires are a challenge,” he said. “During this firefight, the incident commander commanded the first arriving company to withdraw from the basement. After the withdraw, they realized that Firefighter Craig Lewis was missing… They were not able to get her out before she passed.”

He added: “I know she was a great firefighter. I know she gave her life protecting the citizens of this city.”

[Original: 7:10 a.m.]

Sad news this morning: A Philadelphia firefighter died battling a blaze in the West Oak Lane neighborhood overnight — the city’s first female firefighter to die in the line of duty. She was not immediately identified.

Mayor Nutter was speaking live from the scene this morning:

Philly Fire News added some details:

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Another Warehouse Fire, Another Tax Delinquent

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The listed owner of the vacant warehouse at 2412 N. American Street where a four-alarm fire injured three people overnight owes $11,023.55 in back taxes on the property, and a total of about $20,500 on at least three other parcels in the city, a Philly Mag review of city records finds.

According to city records, the warehouse’s owner is Richard Paynter. The records — which on occasion can be incorrect — show that Paynter hasn’t paid taxes on the property since at least 2007.

There are no recent records of safety or maintenance violations at the site, but another lot owned by Paynter in West Philadelphia has racked up 13 violations in recent years.

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