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City Fire

August 24, 2015 - 3:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Fire, batavia.

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August 5, 2015 - 7:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Fire, batavia.

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From this day forward, when city firefighters pass down the hall leading into the aparatus bay to answer an alarm for a fire or medical call, they will pass a picture of Capt. Loren J. Michel, the only city firefighter to ever die in the line of duty.

The memorial to Michel also contains his badge, ID and the page from the logbook of his final call Aug. 5, 1965.

Looking over the mementos of his late friend, Bill Benedict stared at each item intently. It was a sad, sad day, the day he died, Benedict said.

"A lot of sadness that day," he said. "I was there that day. I was driving the aerial truck. I was on the top floor ventilating the roof. After I cut a hole in the roof, I nearly passed out with the gas. It was bad, bad gas."

The structure fire was reported at 402 Bank St. and a resident indicated her two children might still be inside. As acting chief that day, Michel led his crew into the house, kicking down the front door. As firefighters entered ahead of him, a fireball of flames exploded out of the house and Michel apparently inhaled the flames, burning his lungs. His face was also burned.

Michel was not wearing an air pack and staggered out of the house to get some oxygen. Wilbur Hinz, president of the Western New York Volunteer Firemen's Association, helped Michel walk to the truck.

Hinz drove Michel to Genesee Memorial Hospital.

Michel told Hinz to go to his house and tell his wife and daughter that he would be OK. By the time Hinz returned to ER, Michel was dead.

The service today, attended by members of Michel's family, included prayer and remembrances. A plaque was dedicated that will be placed on the outside of the fire hall and a wreath was lain at the grave of Michel in Grandview Cemetery.

The service was intended to recall the kind of man Michel was and his dedication to firefighting. He was an instructor, instrumental in creating the mutual aid and emergency management coordination that is still in place today.

He served the city for 24 years and was an honorary member of every volunteer fire company in the county.

"Capt. Michel's death was a devastating loss to his family, his community and the entire fire service," said Adam Palumbo, president of Local 896.

Palumbo and firefighter Mike Dorgan took the lead in organizing today's service.

Leonard Smatak, a firefighter and son-in-law of Michel's, recalled how this fallen hero devoted his life to serving others.

He shared one story of a structure fire that started with a boy who accidently lit his sister's bed on fire. The alarm was sounded quickly and the house was saved, but the boy was nowhere in sight when it was all over. Firefighters and police began a neighborhood search, but Michel said he would handle matters.

He figured the boy was hiding in the house, and he was right. Soon he and the boy came walking out of the house hand-in-hand. Michel sat the boy on the front seat of a fire truck and had a private chat with him. Smatak said that to this day, that boy, now a man, credits Michel with changing his life.

"To truly honor Capt. Michel in all that you do, do it right the first time, take no shortcuts, do it by the numbers, just as you were all trained to do," Smatak said.

Standing before the memorial, all city firefighters will pass from this day forward. Benedict said he'll never forget his friend or that tragic day.

"He was a nice man, a good leader," Benedict said. "Everybody liked him. He was well respected. We all miss him."

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Firefighter Greg Ireland presents the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of the service.

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Firefighter and Local 896 President Adam Palumbo with opening remarks.

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City Fire Chief Jim Maxwell.

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Firefighter Ryan Hendershott sounds the final bells for Capt. Michel.

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Michael Szustak and Michel Lujan

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Retired firefighter, Capt. Mike Mullen.

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The service pin, as shown above, is the same one city firefighters will wear from now on on their Class A uniforms to honor Capt. Michel and the date of his death.

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The laying of the wreath at Grandview Cemetery.

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Four of the county's volunteer firefighters pay tribute to Capt. Michel.

August 3, 2015 - 5:10pm
posted by Traci Turner in City Fire, batavia.

The City of Batavia Fire Department will be holding a ceremony to remember Capt. Loren J. Michel, who died after helping fight a house fire 50 years ago.

The memorial ceremony will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5 at the City of Batavia Fire Headquarters on Evans Street. A new station plaque donated by the firefighters' association will be dedicated. Members of Firefighters Local 896 organized the ceremony to honor Capt. Michel's sacrifice.

Capt. Michel was the only city of Batavia firefighter to die in the line of duty.

Marty Phelps, firefighter, remembers getting the call for a house fire at 402 Bank St. around 2:30 p.m. on Aug. 5, 1965. Phelps was in the truck going down Ellicott Street on his way to the scene and saw Capt. Michel pointing to the sky.  

"It looked like Pearl Harbor," Phelps said. "The whole sky was black from black smoke and we knew we had a real serious fire."

When they arrived at the scene, a lady almost knocked Phelps down and screamed that her two boys were trapped inside the house. No one knew the boys were watching firefighters battle the blaze from the backyard.

Firefighters started fighting the fire and cut a hole in the roof. According to Phelps, an explosion occured and a "massive fireball" came from the first floor of the house and down the stairway over two firefighters. They couldn't get into the house.

"Capt. Michels was standing in the doorway when the fire came down over the top of two of the firefighters," Phelps said. "The fire was so intense it flipped him and he inhaled the fire, burning his lungs."

Michels was not wearing an air pack and staggered out of the house to get some oxygen. Wilbur Hinz, president of the Western New York Volunteer Firemen's Association, helped Michels walk to the truck.

Phelps recalls the last thing he heard Capt. Michel say before Hinz drove him to Genesee Memorial Hospital.

"He flipped his face back and you could see his face was burned and his eyes were red," Phelps said. "He was gurgling and said, 'I want to see my wife and daughter.' "

Thirty minutes later Capt. Michel collapsed in the emergency room and died due to smoke inhalation. Hinz had gone to tell Michel's wife, Carol, that he was receiving oxygen at the hospital but would be home soon. Hinz returned to find Michel's dead. An autopsy confirmed his cause of death as pulmonary edema.

Capt. Michels served the department for 24 years. In March 1965, he was awarded "Fireman of the Year" for his role as a Genesee County mutual aid instructor for 17 years. 

Currently, a plaque honoring him is outside the fire department. The plaque will be moved inside when the new one is dedicated Wednesday morning.

July 31, 2015 - 12:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in hlom, education, schools, batavia, City Fire.

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Earlier this week, City firefighters paid a visit to the History Heroes summer education program at the Holland Land Office Museum.

Photos submitted by Jeffrey M. Fischer, assistant director.

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July 29, 2015 - 2:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in IAFF Local 896, batavia, Habitat for Humanity, City Fire.

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Today, off duty city firefighters, members of Local 896, are volunteering their time to help work on the Habitat for Humanity house on Oak Street.

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June 26, 2015 - 11:10am
posted by Howard B. Owens in IAFF Local 896, batavia, City Fire.

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Members of City Fire, IAFF Local 896, are in the midst of their annual fundraising effort on behalf of the Muscular Dystrophy Association this morning, asking passing motorist to "fill the boot."  The firefighters are on Main Street and Ellicott Street around Court Street and will be in place until 1 p.m.

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May 24, 2015 - 12:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Fire.

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A city resident turned to the Fire Department this morning for help rescuing a cat whose curiosity, or insatiable appetite, got the better of him and perhaps cost him one of his nine lives. The cat stuck his head in a can and couldn't get unstuck. Engine 15 responded at 7:58 a.m. and firefighters used handheld cutting tools to peel the can open and extricate the feline.

The cat is fine.

Photos and information submitted by Lt. Bob Fix, Batavia FD.

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May 22, 2015 - 12:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Fire, batavia.

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City of Batavia firefighters have been busy with training much of the day, working on accident-scene response and patient extrication in the parking lot next to the fire hall.

Among those getting in more practice time, Matt Pillsbury, the newest member of the department. Originally, from Massachusetts, currently living in Chili, he will soon move to Batavia.

April 28, 2015 - 9:39am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Fire.

After 21 years of service to the citizens of the City of Batavia, Captain Mark Mikolajczyk was honored by the City Council on Monday evening with a proclamation presented by Councilman Kris Doeringer. 

April 21, 2015 - 2:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, IAFF Local 896, City Fire.

Press release:

For the third year, in a row City of Batavia Firefighters IAFF Local 896 will be raising funds to provide children in the City of Batavia with brand-new 100-percent American-made winter coats.

Firefighters partnered with the national non-for-profit Operation Warm in 2013 and held the first ever successful Operation Warm coat campaign in New York State associated with the International Association of Firefighters. Since 2013 City firefighters have distributed more than 125 brand new 100-percent American-made winter coats.

For the second year in a row, Local 896 will be raffling off a N6A Sam Houston leather helmet along with four other prizes. All proceeds will benefit the 2015 Firefighters for Operation Warm campaign with a goal of 200 coats for local children. Drawing held Saturday Sept. 5.

City of Batavia Firefighters IAFF Local 896 would like to thank everyone who has supported this great cause over the last two years. For more information please contact Adam Palumbo at [email protected] or visit www.operationwarm.org/batavia

February 10, 2015 - 5:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Fire.

Firefighters clear snow from around a fire hydrant on Clifton Avenue, Batavia. There are some 640 hydrants in the city. A firefighter noted, "I know it's our job, but we can't get to them all." He said it would be great if residents would adopt the hydrants on their streets and help keep them clear of snow. "After all," he said, "it's their property we're trying to protect."

February 5, 2015 - 5:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Fire.

Press release:

With the recent snowfall City fire crews have been out daily looking for buried fire hydrants.

During one trip down a street, they came across an elderly woman attempting to shovel the end of her driveway alone. The crew of Engine 12 stopped to assist her and the moment was caught by a City of Batavia Fire Department Facebook follower.

Over the next 24 hours this photo flashed across computer, phone and tablet screens 10,000 times resulting in 440 likes, 29 comments, and has been shared 16 times! All records since the Fire Department launched its Facebook page in September of 2014.

Chief Jim Maxwell said "He is proud of the men and women of the City of Batavia Fire Department who routinely go above and beyond for the residents of the City."

Lt. Fix who administers the Fire Department's Facebook page said "Since this photo was added, we have received others who have 'adopted a hydrant' in their neighborhood."

Keeping hydrants clear of snow can save valuable time for firefighters arriving at the scene of a fire.

If your neighborhood has adopted a hydrant, feel free to share it with the "City of Batavia Fire Department, NY" Facebook page.

December 31, 2014 - 2:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Fire.

In August, City Fire Chief Jim Maxwell announced plans to equip medics in his fire department with Narcan, a drug that can potentially save the life of a person who has overdosed on heroin or other opiate-based drugs.

Saturday, for the first time, a life was saved in the city when a firefighter administered Narcan to a middle-aged female resident.

The woman apparently overdosed on heroin.

The firefighter, Ryan Whitcombe, said the call came in shortly after noon Saturday for an unresponsive female.

When firefighters arrived, they found the woman unconscious on the floor of her residence. She wasn't breathing.

Whitcombe was informed by others at the residence that the woman may have suffered a narcotics overdose.

After consulting with other first responders, he agreed the best course of action was to administer Narcan, generically known as naloxone hyrdochloride, which he sprayed into the woman's nostrils.

The fast-acting drug did its job.

"Over the period of a minute or two, her breathing started to come back," Whitcombe said. "Little by little her breathing came back to the point where she became conscious and was breathing on her own without assistance."

When a person ODs on heroin or an opiate-based prescription medication, the drug shuts down brain function that controls breathing. The person literally forgets to breath. Narcan stimulates that portion of the brain and the person will start breathing again.

As Maxwell explained to council members in August, there's no known downside to administering the life-saving drug.

"If it's not an opiate overdose, you can't hurt the patient," Maxwell said. "You can't overdose on it or anything along those lines, so if it's a false recognition and they administer it, it doesn't do anything to the patient."

Narcan, clinically considered "an opioid antagonist," can also be used to revive people who have overdosed on prescription medications that are opiates.

November 17, 2014 - 12:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, IAFF Local 896, City Fire, Jackson School.

Fire Chief Jim Maxwell and Principal Diane Bonarigo help a student at Jackson School try on a new winter coat at the school this morning.  

IAFF Local 896 gave out about 90 winter coats to students at the school.

UPDATE: Here's some additional info about the coat distribution:

City of Batavia firefighters, Local 896 distributed 90 brand new 100-percent American Made winter coats to children grades K-1 at Jackson primary. This is the second year firefighters have partnered with the national not-for-profit Operation Warm. More than $3,600 was raised to provide the coats. Local 896 would like to thank all who supported this great program. It truly is more than a coat. The coats give children a sense of pride having something brand new and all their own. New coats also promote a healthy lifestyle for children during the winter months and having a positive impact on school attendance.

Firefighter Adam Palumbo

Firefighter Chuck Hammon stretches out his arms to show a student how to test the fit of his new coat.

November 6, 2014 - 8:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Fire.

Press release:

The Group 2 winner of the Fire Prevention Poster Contest received her prize today. Violet March, a third-grader at St. Joseph School, received a ride on a fire truck to school. She boarded the truck at the fire station on Evans Street and from there took a tour of the City on Engine 11. She arrived at school and was greeted by her classmates. The poster contest is in its second year and sponsored by the City of Batavia Fire Department and the City Firefighters Union Local 896.

Top photo: Firefighter Art Smith, Captain Greg Shilvock, Fire Chief Jim Maxwell, Group 2 Winner Violet March and her mother Kelly March.

Bottom photo: Captain Greg Shilvock, Violet March and firefighter Art Smith in driver’s seat. 

November 5, 2014 - 9:15am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Fire.

Le Roy Fire Department's ability to upgrade its rescue vehicle has given City fire the opportunity upgrade its own capabilities.

The Batavia department purchased Le Roy's retired rescue truck for $55,000, which is $12,000 below what the city had budgeted for a new pickup truck and trailer to handle the same duties.

New, the truck goes for about $200,000.

Now dubbed Truck 14 and assigned to special operations, the new vehicle will be used for hazmat, rope rescue, water rescue, swift water rescue, cold water rescue and confined space rescue.

"They're all operations that we don't do very often, but there is always potential for a large need in the city," said Lt. Bob Fix.

Truck 14 will also respond to fire scenes with crew and equipment and serve as a rehab vehicle. It has an awning to provide shelter in heat and will carry water and fans to assist firefighters who need a break during a fight.

Up until now, the city had no vehicle to meet the needs of these operations. Equipment was stored in the fire hall and pulled out as necessary.

Now, everything is ready to roll with little time wasted.

Besides cost savings -- though some of that $12,000 was used to refit the truck to some of the city's needs -- the advantage over a storage trailer is that the trailer would need to be heated in the winter to help maintain the equipment. The new truck fits inside the fire station behind the current ladder truck.

October 30, 2014 - 3:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Fire.

Press release: 

The City of Batavia Fire Department is joining nearly 6,000 fire departments nationwide in promoting the annual Change Your Clocks, Change Your Batteries campaign on Sunday, Nov. 2.

Fire Prevention Officer Lt. Jeff Whitcombe encourages all residents to adopt the simple, lifesaving habit of changing smoke alarm batteries along with the batteries in carbon monoxide (CO) detectors when they change their clocks back from daylight savings time to standard time.

“It’s an easy, inexpensive and proven way to protect your family and your home,” Whitcombe said.

Since 1987 the International Association of Fire Chiefs has joined forces with Energizer batteries to spread the message that non-working smoke alarms are responsible for needless death and injuries. Now 27 years later, thanks to the change Your Clocks, Change Your Batteries campaign, home fire deaths continue to decline.

Recent surveys conducted for the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Consumer Products Safety Commission found that 96 percent of all homes have at least one smoke alarm, but only 75 percent have at least one working smoke alarm. Almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

Smoke alarm failures usually result from missing or dead batteries or disconnected wires. The peak time for home fire fatalities is between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. when most families are sleeping. A working smoke alarm can provide the critical extra seconds needed to get people out safely.

According to the NFPA, the maximum life cycle of a smoke alarms and CO detectors is 10 years from the date of manufacture, not the date of installation. Beginning in 2002, all smoke detectors must have a manufacture date marked on the outside of the smoke alarm. If your smoke alarm does not have a manufacture date, then it is older than 10 years and must be replaced. The City of Batavia Fire Department recommends purchasing smoke alarms with 10-year lithium batteries. All smoke and CO alarms should be tested monthly.

Along with working smoke alarms and CO detectors, home escape plans are another way families can avoid injury or death in their homes. By identifying at least two different escape routes, families can practice the plan together – before an emergency strikes. Practicing the plan helps educate younger children to the danger of hazardous situations and the importance of recognizing that the sound of a smoke alarm or CO detector signals a potential hazard in the home.

“Changing the battery in your smoke alarms and CO detectors, along with developing and practicing a home escape plan, are three of the best ways to protect your loved ones and yourself from fire and carbon monoxide poisoning,” Whitcombe said.

The City of Batavia Fire Department has a free smoke alarm and battery installation program.

“We have installed hundreds of smoke alarms and batteries over the past 20 years and will continue to do so until everyone who needs them has them,” Whitcombe said.

For information about the free smoke alarm and battery installation program, City of Batavia residents should contact the City of Batavia Fire Department at (585) 345-6375.

October 24, 2014 - 4:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Fire.

Press release: 

With a $100,000 grant from the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, the City of Batavia Fire Department will help expand local emergency response teams and first responders throughout the County with equipment and training to reduce and respond to water emergencies.

The money will equip and train all first responders in Genesee County, to include 17 fire departments, five law enforcement agencies and three EMS agencies with water rescue awareness training and a basic water emergency response bag. Attica Fire and Police departments were also included with this grant.

In addition, this grant will also allow the City Fire Department to provide an annual water safety seminar for Genesee County residents to include topics such as: pool safety, open water safety, flooded road safety and what resources are available in Genesee County if you have an emergency.

“In our rural setting it is most likely that a police officer will arrive on location first,” said Lieutenant Bob Fix of the City Fire Department and Special Operations officer responsible for securing the grant. “With the basic kit and training supplied by this grant, an officer will be equipped with the knowledge and equipment to call for more advanced help and to try and effect a safe shore-based rescue.”

The City has been providing some level of water rescue protection for more than 50 years with minimal training and mostly donated equipment. Recent events in the City and Genesee County over the past several years have prompted more training and better equipment in order to provide adequate and safe response to residents.

City Fire Chief Jim Maxwell said, “We are pleased to have been awarded this grant through the New York State Homeland Security Program. These funds will be utilized by City Fire and Genesee County first responders to enhance water rescue response capabilities across the county. We would like thank the 24 area fire, EMS, and police agencies for their support of this initiative which will provide basic water rescue kits to emergency response vehicles throughout the county.”

All fire departments in Genesee County participate in the Genesee County Mutual Aid Plan. While the City of Batavia Fire Department will be the technician-level responders, it is important that local first responders throughout the county are trained and equipped for the initial response. A tiered-response partnership not only dramatically increases the capabilities countywide, but does it safely and effectively using manpower from throughout the county.

October 2, 2014 - 4:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, IAFF Local 896, City Fire.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and as city firefighters do annually, they are donning special T-shirts while on duty to recognize the fight against breast cancer.

Pictured with six firefighters today are Toni Funke and Kristen Gonter, breast cancer survivors.

From left are Capt. Mark Mikolajczyk, Chuck Hammon, Adam Polumbo, Nathan Kinne, Jeff Whitcomb and David Adams.

The IAFF Local 896 will make a donation to a breast cancer organization this month.

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