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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Spokane Fire Department

Dog rescued from Spokane River

The Spokane Fire Department’s technical rescue team pulled a cold and tired dog from the Spokane River Wednesday afternoon in Riverfront Park.

The dog apparently fell down a steep embankment and was spotted swimming in the river near Canada Island, said Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer. “It was an animal in distress,” Schaeffer said. “The only way to rescue the animal safely was to treat it as we would a human.”

Firefighters used their equipment to get down the embankment and save the dog. A harness was fashioned for the dog and firefighter/paramedic Kelly Hoyt held the dog as he was pulled up the steep slope.

The dog appeared tired and didn’t struggle, Schaeffer said. “I think the dog was very surprised and looking for some help,” he said.

The dog’s tags enabled the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service to contact its owner, part-time Spokesman-Review employee Mike McLaughlin. McLaughlin said that the dog, named Dana, was frightened by Tuesday’s thunderstorm and bolted outside while he was trying to come in the front door of his home.

Dana is fine and resting quietly, McLaughlin said, and shows no desire for leaving home again. “She’s pretty worn out,” he said.

Fire department axes jailhouse blood draws

The Spokane Fire Department responds to the county jail for calls ranging from diabetic episodes to overdoses.

But it will no longer offer a service it has long provided there – blood draws.

That's because it's considered a nonemergency service, said Assistant Chief Brian Schaeffer.

“It doesn’t fit into our core mission,” Schaeffer said.

With the elimination of a three-person fire engine company at South Hill's Station 9 last year, the department needs to reserve personnel for emergency services, Schaeffer said.

“It’s going to be important for us to stay in service as much as possible,” he said. “We just don’t have the depth in the system to be without a unit for any amount of time.”

Blood draws make up a small portion of the department's responses to the jail; it did about six blood draws from April 28, 2012 to Dec. 26, 2012.

Others can provide the service, including private companies, licensed nurse practitioners or registered nurses, Schaeffer said.

Responding to the jail for the service doesn’t cost taxpayers extra – they pay for the fire department to be available 24/7 regardless - but fire officials are eliminating a lot of the noncritical services they provide in response to budget cuts.

The department will continue to respond to emergency calls for inmates at the jail, and typically sends a three-person company from Station 3, 1713 W. Indiana Ave., if they are in service and the closest at the time of the call.

“Just because they’re incarcerated doesn’t mean they don’t have a right to emergency response if they need it,” he said.

Garbage truck breaks home’s gas meter

A gas leak evacuated four homes Friday morning after a Spokane garbage truck broke a residential gas meter.

It was garbage day today for a home near Carlisle Avenue and Lincoln Street when a garbage truck clipped their gas meter meter around 8:30 a.m., causing it to leak natural gas from a small half-inch pipe.

Property owner Mark Loe said the mishap caused the basement tenant to wake up unexpectedly.

“He thought the Mayan calendar had finally come true,” Loe said.

Firefighters evacuated four homes as a precaution, but easily turned off the gas valve at the source, according to firefighter Jeff Estes. Meters can easily be damaged, but it’s more common to have digging accidents, he added, like Thursday afternoon incident where a contractor busted a natural gas pipe in the 1600 block of North Cook Street.

Nearby homes were briefly evacuated including a residential day care. Betsy Olson corralled her four grandchildren and four neighborhood kids to Chief Garry Park for some playtime.

This morning’s gas meter damage is the second publicized incident this week involving a city garbage truck. Two trash men were helping a woman move her stuck car when the parking brake on their truck broke sending the massive vehicle down an icy hill into several parked cars.

(The broken gas meter remains on the ground after a garbage truck broke a pipe and started a natural gas leak. | Nicole Hensley photo)

Woman hit by truck downtown, breaks leg

Nicole Hensley photo

A woman's leg was broken after she was hit by a truck in a downtown Spokane intersection this morning.

Around 7:55 a.m., the driver of a truck was turning left on Washington Street from Riverside Avenue and hit the woman, said Spokane Police Officer Brad Moon.

Medics transported her to the local hospital for her injuries. The driver was cited for failure to yield to the woman in the crosswalk.

(Spokane Police Officer John O'Brien holds an IV while medics tend to a woman with a broken leg after the driver of a truck hit her in a downtown intersection Thursday morning. Nicole Hensley photo)

Shopping firefighter investigates smoke at White’s Boots

Is there a firefighter in the house? When employees of White's Boots smelled smoke this morning at their east Spokane store, there was.

The firefighter was shopping for boots at the 4002 E. Ferry Avenue store and even checked out the smoke for them. He advised employees to call 911 as a precaution, employees said.

Nothing was showing when Spokane Fire crews arrived, but they investigated and found an overloaded heating system. It was shut off to prevent further damage.

Now employees are preparing for a cool day outside and inside.

Troopers in Chism case not punished

The two Washington State Patrol troopers whose botched child pornography investigation cost taxpayers $2.4 million have been transferred off a sex crimes unit but have not faced any discipline for providing false information to a judge.

WSP Sgt. John Sager and Trooper Rachel Gardner are back on patrol and will not be placed on what’s known as a “Brady” list for officers known to have lied on the job, WSP spokesman Bob Calkins said.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

WSP settles Chism lawsuit for $2.4mil

A botched search for child pornography at the home of a Spokane firefighter will cost Washington taxpayers $2.4 million.

 The Washington State Patrol and the attorney for Spokane Fire Department Lt. Todd Chism have settled a lawsuit stemming from the January 2008 search of Chism’s home that found nothing.

Chism and his attorney, Bob Dunn, had filed a $10 million suit against the WSP, which arrested Chism on the charge of child pornography possession. However, the investigation soon revealed that purchase was traced to Chism’s wife’s stolen bank card and the Chisms had done nothing wrong.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Aug. 18: Jury clears Chism of all charges

April 23, 2010: Chism threatened to kill troopers, WSP said

‘Middle-finger salute’ preceded fire

A man accused of trying to light his apartment complex on fire gave a surveillance camera the middle-finger salute before doing so, fire officials allege.

Ian W. Godfrey, 29, said he was angry with a flier being distributed at the HiFumi En Apartments, 926 E. 8th Ave., when he lit one on fire and walked through the building, according to the Spokane Fire Department.

The smoke triggered the apartment's overhead sprinklers. Fire officials suspected arson, and the apartment manager recognized Godfrey from the surveillance video.

Godfrey was arrested that day for attempted first-degree arson. He was released on his own recognizance after appearing in Superior Court Wednesday.

Boy faces arson charge for house fire

A 13-year-old boy has been arrested allegedly setting fire to a vacant home in north Spokane last month.

The boy was booked into Spokane County Juvenile Detention Center after being arrested at Glover Middle School. He was to appear before a judge on Monday, officials said.

Investigators with the Spokane Fire Department say the boy confessed to setting fire to a home at 4218 N. Ash St. on March 30. Crews quickly extinguished the blaze, which was confined to one bedroom and the roof area above that room. The rest of the home suffered extensive heat and smoke damage.

The suspect faces a charge of first-degree arson.

1 arrested for stabbing near fire station

A firefighter standing outside a station at West 1st Avenue and South Walnut Street Friday witnessed a stabbing and treated the victim's head injury, authorities say.

Dean Carr was on the south side of the fire station when he saw a man approach two people who were sitting in the grassy area just south of the station about 6:15 p.m., according to court documents.

Carr called 911 when a fight broke out and saw the assailant pick up two sleeping bags and walk away. He treated the man for a stab wound to the head and identified Richard A. Sala, 21, as the attacker. Spokane police had found a knife with blood on it in Sala's right front pocket, documents say.

Sala, who has previous convictions for assault, said he fought with the couple because he believes the sleeping bags belong to him, police say. He was arrested for first-degree robbery. The sleeping bags were recovered.

Two hours later, another stabbing was reported at 2305 W. Dean Ave. Suspect Kenneth W. Middleton, 32, was arrested for first-degree assault for allegedly attacking a man who was arguing with the man's own wife.

Both men appeared in Superior Court on Monday.

Chism filed $10M claim as suit proceeds

A suspended Spokane firefighter’s wrongful arrest lawsuit against the Washington State Patrol over a botched child pornography investigation is headed to trial after an appellate court ruling Wednesday.

A three-person panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals says false statements made by WSP investigators amounted to intentional and reckless conduct that infringed on Spokane fire Lt. Todd Chism’s civil rights. The two WSP employees named in a multimillion-dollar lawsuit, Detective Rachel Gardner and Sgt. John Sager, shouldn’t be granted immunity because of their actions, the court ruled.

The ruling was issued the same day $10 million claim was filed against against the state of Washington alleging WSP Troopers Greg Birkeland and Greg Riddell used excessive force when they arrested Chism in a separate incident in April 2010.

Read the rest of my story here.

Burning stolen cars spark brush fire

Two stolen cars were set on fire in the Indian Trial area Wednesday night, sparking a small brush fire.

Spokane firefighters responded to reports of flames and explosions from a remote forested hilltop east of Indian Trial Road.

Crews accessed the area through gates and narrow trail and found the car fully engulfed, with flames spreading to less than an acre of land.

The Spokane Fire Department assisted Fire District 9 in controlling the blaze. No injures were reported.

One car, a 2000 VW Passat, was stolen from a home in the 12000 block of North Hemlock Street on Sunday or Monday.

The other, a 2010 Ford Escape, was stolen from the 600 block of East Lakeview Lane on Friday or Saturday.

Both were taken from garages after the owners left the keys inside, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

The burned cars are pictured courtesy KHQ-TV.

Jury acquits Chism in WSP assault case

COLVILLE – Embattled Spokane firefighter Todd Chism won his latest legal battle with the Washington State Patrol on Thursday when a jury cleared him of all charges stemming from a violent 2010 confrontation that injured him and two Washington State Patrol troopers.

 A Stevens County jury exonerated the suspended Chism of four felony counts and a misdemeanor resisting arrest, stemming from an early-morning melee outside his Nine Mile Falls home on April 6, 2010.

But the jury not only found him not guilty, they ordered the state to pay for his attorneys’ fees.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

May 19, 2010: New prosectuor named in Chism case

April 23, 2010: Chism threatened to kill troopers, WSP said

April 9, 2010: Firefighter Tasered in DUI arrest

Wanted: Info on man who died in river

Police are asking for the public’s help to determine how a 40-year-old man ended up dead in the Spokane River on Friday.

 Keith A. Millheim’s body was pulled from the Spokane River after being spotted under the Sandifur Bridge in People’s Park about 5:12 p.m.

Millheim’s body was pinned by a log “in a particularly treacherous and fast moving section of the river,” according to the Spokane Fire Department.

The “very difficult and technically challenging” recovery was a joint effort by the fire department’s marine unit and Spokane County Sheriff’s Office dive team members.

Police say Millheim was released from Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center on July 25. Investigators are trying to determine where he was and who he stayed with in the days after his release.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Donations wanted for fatal fire victim

An account has been created to raise money for the family and funeral expenses of a 67-year-old woman killed in a fire at her northeast Spokane home last week.

The fire at 4128 E. Princeton Ave. destroyed the home where Inez L. Williams lived.

Family members are hoping to raise funds to pay for Williams' memorial service and burial and for the clean up of the charred remains of Williams’ home.

“Everything’s for Grandma,” said Melissa Hebert, 19.

Williams was an animal lover who knew tragedy well - her other son, Terry Palm, was killed in 2002 in a murder case that remains unsolved.

Williams is pictured in 2008 with a photo of Palm.

Fire officials say Williams died of smoke inhalation July 15 after her cigarette ignited her oxygen supply. Several pets, including at least two dogs, died in the fire.

Donations can be made at any Numerica Credit Union under the account “Memorial account for Inez Williams.”

Victim in fatal fire knew tragedy well

A woman and her dogs died in a fire that ripped through her northeast Spokane home Friday. 

Inez L. Williams, 67, was described by friends and family as an animal lover who had lived at 4128 E. Princeton Ave. for decades.

Fire officials are investigating how the fire at the double-wide trailer began, but the woman’s niece, Kim Staggs, said her aunt had large oxygen tanks in the home and often smoked in bed.

Read the rest of my story here. Williams’ son, Terry Allen Palm, and his girlfriend, Angela Walsh went missing in 2002 in a case that remains unsolved. Read more here.

(Williams is pictured in 2008 with a photo of Palm.)

Arsonist confesses after burning self

Authorities say a man confessed to setting a building adjacent to a downtown Spokane apartment complex on fire early Saturday as retaliation for the occupants “jumping him” a few days ago.

Israel Barrera, 29, called Spokane police to confess and ask for treatment to second-degree burns he sustained while setting the fire at 411 S. Maple St., Officer Tim Moses said in a news release.

An investigator with the Spokane Fire Department arrested Barrera at a hospital for first-degree arson. He sustained after sustaining burns caused by a “flammable vapor explosion,” from using of an accelerant, according to a fire department news release.

The home was unoccupied at the time and Barrera was the only person injured.

There is significant damage to the house due to the use of accelerant and residents will not be able to occupy it, police said. Damage is estimated at $40,000.

Local firefighters climb stairs for charity

The Spokane Valley Fire Department was the top department in a firefighter stair climbing competition in Seattle last weekend.

The Spokane Fire Department placed 8th out of 118 departments. A team of 47 Spokane firefighters participated in the annual Scott Firefighter Stairclimb, which raises money for blood cancer research through the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Spokane firefighters raised more than $23,000, nearly twice what they raised last year. Results for this year are being calculated. Donations can be made here. Last year's competition raised more than $780,000.

About 1,300 firefighters participated, climbing 69 flights of stairs and 1,311 steps at the Columbia Center in downtown Seattle.

Several local firelighters placed in the top 30, including Paul Kimball and Mark Knokey of Spokane Valley, Steven Harms of Spokane County Fire District #9 and Jason Keen and Eric Ross of Spokane City

Complete results can be found here.

Chronic DUI suspect Batty arrested again

A retired Spokane firefighter with a history of impaired driving and a conviction for vehicular homicide was arrested again Thursday after a state trooper smelled alcohol on his breath.

David W. Batty, 55, of Elk, had a blood alcohol level of twice the legal limit for driving when he was stopped for speeding about 11:30 a.m. at milepost 310 on U.S. Highway 2, according to Washington State Patrol.

Batty was arrested for felony drunken driving because of a conviction in 1993 for a fatal, alcohol-related car crash on the same road.

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Michael Price set Batty’s bond at $5,000 today and prohibited him from driving and from consuming alcohol.

“Apparently Mr. Batty’s had some alcohol treatment on a couple of occasions, and, regretfully, it doesn’t appear to have taken hold,” Price said. I’m sure Mr. Batty is a nice gentleman, but I’ve got some real concerns about him being out there driving a vehicle with his inability to control his alcohol consumption.”

Deputy Prosecutor George Gagnon said he wasn’t concerned that Batty was a flight risk.

“We’re more interested here in community safety,” Gagnon said. “He’s already killed one person.”

Batty was rehired by the Spokane Fire Department after serving time in prison for vehicular homicide but was on medical leave when he caused a crash in January 2007 that killed three people. He was not charged in that crash but never returned to the Fire Department.

Batty’s latest DUI conviction came after he was stopped in July 2008 and tests showed he was impaired on prescription drugs and alcohol. He was sentenced to nine months in jail in 2009 for felony drunken driving.

Batty told police on Thursday that he had two drinks early that morning and had taken four prescription medications.

His public defender, Derek Reid, said Batty is in “significant pain” because of a back injury.

Unmanned fire engine rolls into home

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A parked Spokane Fire Department engine with nobody at the wheel rolled into a home where firefighters were making an aid call.

Fire Chief Bobby Williams said the truck had been parked about 100 yards from the home Wednesday night. Shortly after medics walked inside, they heard the crash.

KXLY-TV reported the engine knocked down porch supports and punched a hole in the living room wall.

No one was hurt. Investigators are trying to figure out how the runaway truck made the trip down the street, over a curb and hit the home.

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