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NEWS
May 13, 2015 | BY VINNY VELLA, Daily News Staff Writer vellav@phillynews.com, 215-854-2513
IT WAS HOT yesterday morning on Kensington Avenue. And the muggy, pre-summer weather was only partly to blame. Just after 6 a.m., a fatal fire tore through a three-story apartment building on the busy thoroughfare near Willard Street as the El roared overhead, officials said. The early morning blaze roused the neighborhood, with nearby residents scrambling to rescue those trapped inside. Fire Department officials say the blaze was "incendiary. " That's the technical term for "set intentionally.
NEWS
May 8, 2015 | By Alfred Lubrano, Inquirer Staff Writer
Gathered outside a hulking, vacant North Philadelphia commercial building, city officials Wednesday announced a joint initiative between the Department of Licenses and Inspections and the Fire Department to inspect derelict properties. The idea is to evaluate dangerous, empty structures larger than 15,000 square feet - so-called mantraps - for the safety of firefighters and the public. Many such buildings, like the one at 3617 N. Eighth St., will be demolished. But the media event, attended by Mayor Nutter, L&I Commissioner Carlton Williams, Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer, and others, also appeared to serve as a forum to bolster Williams as he and his beleaguered department weather a barrage of criticism.
NEWS
April 29, 2015 | BY JOHN F. MORRISON, Daily News Staff Writer morrisj@phillynews.com, 215-854-5573
JAMES McGARRIGLE never claimed to be God, but for the desperate firefighters trapped in a burning high-rise, their air packs running out, the man who led them to safety certainly was a figure of salvation. "When they saw his flashlight, they thought he was God," Jim's family said. Jim had landed by helicopter on the roof of One Meridian Plaza, the 30-story high-rise in Center City, that cold February day in 1991, scene of one of the deadliest fires in city history. A team of three firefighters reported they had become disoriented in the smoke and were running out of air. They died in the suffocating smoke.
NEWS
April 11, 2015 | Inquirer Editorial Board
In a photograph that accompanied stories about Firefighter Joyce Craig's death, her kind eyes suggest she was there for anyone in need. But recent reports indicate that the Fire Department wasn't quite prepared to be there for her. That may be why a deputy fire commissioner allegedly asked a department investigator to alter a tough preliminary report on the West Oak Lane basement fire that led to Craig's death. Fortunately, the investigator, Deputy Chief Richard Davison, wrote that he "respectfully refused" to change his findings.
NEWS
April 5, 2015 | BY VINNY VELLA, Daily News Staff Writer vellav@phillynews.com, 215-854-2513
IF YOU took an ambulance ride between Feb. 1 and Sept. 4, 2012, the Fire Department wants you to keep a close eye on your bank statement. Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer announced yesterday that an employee of Intermedix, a company in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. that handles billing services for ambulance agencies, handed over sensitive patient information for use in a tax-return fraud scheme. The data breach was first discovered in 2012, and, at that time, it didn't appear that local EMS data was affected, according to a statement from Sawyer.
NEWS
April 5, 2015 | By Aubrey Whelan, Inquirer Staff Writer
Billing information for at least 750 patients who used Philadelphia ambulances in 2012 was stolen by an employee of the company that handles such data, the Fire Department said Friday. The company, Intermedix, was first made aware of the data breach, which affected agencies in several states, in 2012, the department said. The thefts were part of a scheme to use the patients' information to file fraudulent tax returns, and the employee is now in jail. In 2012, Philadelphia officials were assured that the breach did not affect them, the department said.
NEWS
March 31, 2015 | BY REGINA MEDINA, Daily News Staff Writer medinar@phillynews.com, 215-854-5985
OVER THE 22 YEARS she's been selling beautifully decorated cakes and other sweets from her North Philadelphia bakery, Denise Gause's loyal customers have consistently offered her kind words, she said. "People would say: 'Oh, I'm so glad you're here. I don't have to bake anymore,' " Gause said yesterday. Or, " 'Miss Denise, I don't know what I would do if you weren't here.' " That contingency plan may have to be revisited by customers of Denise's Bakery on 22nd Street near Cambria in Swampoodle, a neighborhood with few options for baked goods.
NEWS
March 19, 2015 | By Aubrey Whelan, Inquirer Staff Writer
Two Philadelphia Fire Department employees have accepted undisclosed punishment in a sexual harassment scandal that has roiled the department, officials said Tuesday. The employees, whose names and ranks were not released, waived a departmental hearing on the allegations against them and chose to accept punishment, Frank Keel, a spokesman for the firefighters' union, said in a statement. They are among seven - two battalion chiefs, a captain, a lieutenant, a paramedic, and two firefighters - who faced discipline for their interactions with a paramedic who filed a sexual harassment complaint against the department last year.
NEWS
March 17, 2015 | By Jan Hefler, Inquirer Staff Writer
Students, alumni, and staff of the Wyncote Academy, a private school in Cheltenham for grades six through 12, were mourning the loss of their school after a ferocious fire destroyed it Saturday morning. "The school, in and of itself, is a total loss," principal Kerry Leraris said Sunday. "But Wyncote will continue to exist, as it has for 41 years. " She said classes for the school's 65 students would be canceled until Wednesday, when they will be held in space to be leased through the end of the year at Gratz College in Elkins Park.
NEWS
March 12, 2015 | By Mike Newall, Inquirer Columnist
We know enough now about the death of Firefighter Joyce Craig to say that many things went wrong the night she lost her life battling a West Oak Lane basement blaze. It's also clear that Craig's death is wrapped up in a larger problem: The Fire Department needs to recommit to giving its members the training they need and want. Craig's professionalism and bravery are not in question. Neither is the bravery of other firefighters who gave their lives battling fires in recent years: Lt. Robert Neary and Firefighter Daniel Sweeney, killed in 2012 when a roof collapsed in an abandoned factory in Kensington.
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