WTC Museum opens; family members voice concerns

Family members of some of the World Trade Center (WTC) victims whose remains have yet to be identified are not pleased with some of the decisions made by administrators of the National September 11 Memorial Museum at Ground Zero. The Museum was opened at the end of May, for the first few days exclusively to WTC survivors, victims’ family members, and first responders.

Many family members of those lost on 9/11 whose remains have not yet been identified have been unhappy with the decision to house the unidentified remains in the Memorial Museum, which the family members view as a “commercial setting.” The father of a firefighter lost on 9/11 objected to the fact that any family member, whether the loved one’s remains have been recovered or not, had to walk past tourists and the Museum store on the first floor on their way to visit the repository. Family members prefer to have the remains in an aboveground tomb in the Memorial Plaza.

This position became even more adamant when the 9/11 families learned that a private party was held at the Museum for supporters during that first week. In some cases, they and some responders were asked to leave the Museum so it could be “cleaned” (some came to interpret “clean” as prepare for the party). This news caused the unhappiness of some family members to evolve into disgust and for family members to refer to the activity as “dancing on the victims’ graves,” “callous,” “despicable,” and “un-American.”

The 9/11 families do not agree with the location of their loved ones’ remains-behind a wall in the basement of the Museum-which, they say, is “hidden” and will not be noticed by the visitors walking by. These family members are asking for an aboveground repository with an eternal flame so those lost can be shown proper respect.

The repository at the WTC Memorial is under the jurisdiction of the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Line-of-Duty Deaths

May 1. Lieutenant Jeffrey B. Newland, 50, North Port (FL) Fire Rescue: aortic dissection suffered on April 23.
May 10. Captain-Safety Officer David W. Millett, 62, Norway (MN) Fire Department: cardiac arrest.
May 17. Fire Crew Supervisor Ted F. Drake, 62, Wyoming State Fire Division, Newcastle: heart attack.
May 25. Fire Apparatus Driver Operator Robert Fogel III, 58, Baltimore (MD) County Fire Department: heart attack.
May 26. Deputy Chief David Fiori, 59, New Britain (CT) Fire Department: fell ill on May 25.
May 30. Battalion Chief John “Mac” McDonald, 54, Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling Naval District Washington Fire and Emergency Services Central Battalion, Washington, DC: cause unknown.
Source: USFA Firefighters Memorial Database

Homeland Security’s Johnson keynotes at CFSI dinner

Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Jeh Johnson delivered the keynote address at the Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) 26th Annual National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner in Washington, D.C., on May 1. The dinner followed a day of seminars covering a broad range of important federal issues, according to CFSI Executive Director Bill Webb. Seminar presenters included association leaders, federal officials, and members of Congress. The theme of the event, attended by nearly 2,000 fire and emergency service officials, was “Cultivating Relationships.”

In his address, Johnson pledged to expand the department’s relationships with the fire and emergency services. “The department will continue to listen to the fire service to better understand your needs and concerns,” he said. The DHS, he added, is committed to the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response and the Assistance to Firefighter Grant programs, which, he noted, have helped fulfill the needs of fire departments across the nation. Johnson also commended U.S. Fire Administrator Chief Ernie Mitchell for the leadership he provides at the federal level.

Awards to individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the fire and emergency services were also presented at the dinner. This year’s honorees included the following:

 

  • James M. Shannon, president of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), received the 2014 CFSI/Motorola Solutions Mason Lankford Fire Service Leadership Award. Shannon, a former member of Congress and an attorney general for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, retired as president of the NFPA this June, after serving for 12 years. Among the accomplishments for which he was cited was the 2002 study, “A Needs Assessment of the U.S. Fire Service,” a joint project with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The study assessed the needs of the U.S. fire and emergency services and has been a major research resource for major fire service organizations on Capitol Hill. Shannon also spearheaded the Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes.
  • The Office of the State Fire Commissioner for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and a partnership between the Oklahoma Council on Firefighter Training and INTEGRIS Heart Hospital were co-recipients of the 2014 Senator Paul S. Sarbanes Fire Service Safety Leadership Award, supported by State Farm Insurance and VFIS. Under the leadership of Edward A. Mann, the Office of the State Fire Commissioner developed and implemented the “Courage to Be Safe” program, the first line-of-duty death training course in Pennsylvania, which is now a mandatory training requirement for all fire service members in the state. The Fire Commissioner’s office has been making grants available to departments that have completed the program. The Oklahoma Council on Firefighter Training and INTEGRIS Heart Hospital developed the Healthy Heart Program for Oklahoma firefighters. In this pilot study, 100 firefighters between the ages of 44 and 66 years of age at risk for potentially life-threatening cardiac events were identified and will be followed up with testing and treatment. Four firefighters were found to be at “high risk” for life-threatening cardiac events. They received potentially life-saving treatment. The program also helped raise awareness about the risks of cardiac events among the entire Oklahoma fire service, which will be involved in the next study phase.
  • Mary Marchone of the National Fire Academy received the Dr. Anne W. Phillips Award for Leadership in Fire Safety Education.
  • Three recipients received the Excellence in Fire Service-Based EMS award, cosponsored by the MedicAlert Foundation. The winners were as follows: Volunteer category, the Cullman County (AL) Association of Volunteer Fire Departments; Career category: the Memphis (TN) Fire Department; and Combination category: the Howard County (MD) Department of Fire and Rescue Services.

NVFC program focuses on behavioral health

The objectives of the new National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) Share the Load™ support program are to bring behavioral health to the forefront of the fire service and “to break the stigma around behavioral health issues, open up the dialogue in departments, and provide resources departments and emergency personnel can use to prevent tragedy,” according to the organization.

The NVFC, in partnership with American Addiction Centers, has created the Fire/EMS Helpline, which is free, confidential, and available 24 hours a day/seven days a week to firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and their families. The helpline may also be offered by departments as an Employee Assistance Program. The helpline is available at 1-888-731-FIRE (3473). Additional information is at www.nvfc.org/help.

Other components of the program include an online resource center of organizations, tools, training to help individuals and departments address these health issues, a newsletter, and outreach materials.

New organization for public safety infection control officers

The newly established nonprofit National Association for Public Safety Infection Control Officers (NAPSICO) will assist public safety leaders, departments, and designated infection control officers (DICOs) in developing and managing an effective infection control program. Federal law requires that every fire department, ambulance, and emergency response organization have a DICO. Information on NAPSICO is at www.napsico.org.

State College of Florida establishes scholarship

Students enrolling in the associate of science (AS) in fire science technology or the bachelor of applied science (BAS) in public safety administration degree programs at State College of Florida (SCF), Manatee-Sarasota, for the 2014-15 academic year will have an opportunity to compete for the first Fire Chief Mark Souders Memorial Scholarship. Souders was chief of the Bradenton (FL) Fire Department; past president of the Florida Fire Chiefs’ Association; and a former director of the SCF AS in fire science technology degree program. He died in 2011 at the age of 55 from a heart attack.

Tim Hyden, training and safety officer for the East Manatee (FL) Fire Rescue District, was among the many positively influenced by Souders. Hyden, who said he wanted to give something back in gratitude for his educational opportunities, instituted the award. He funded the first Fire Chief Mark Souders Memorial Scholarship with the $1,500 prize money he received for being named SCF’s Outstanding Baccalaureate Graduate and $500 of his personal money. Hyden, a 22-year veteran of the East Manatee Fire-Rescue District, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public safety administration.

Souders, Hyden explained, played a vital role in developing the BAS in public safety administration and in homeland security degree programs. Hyden said, “Mark Souders was a great role model who always advocated pride in professionalism and the need for higher education in the fire service. His commitment to raising the bar for fire service personnel has been an inspiration. Souders’ influence challenged me to expand my knowledge and enhance my work in the fire service through higher education.” Hyden plans to pursue a master’s degree in organizational leadership while continuing to work for the East Manatee Fire Rescue District.

Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston welcomed the news of the scholarship and noted that the fire department was accredited during Souders’ tenure. Assistant Chief David Ezell noted that Souders was dedicated to improving education for the fire service community. He added, “The goal is to achieve a sustainable scholarship program in perpetuity.” Information on the program may be obtained by contacting Allison Nash, SCF Foundation Inc., at (941) 752-5390.

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