Wednesday, December 23, 2009

KVUE Story About Fire Victims

KVUE did a nice piece tonight about yesterday's fire victims--the nine folks who were displaced the day before their son's birthday and just a few days before Christmas. They lost EVERYTHING. So nice to see Austinites coming together to help--including AFD and Local 975's Outreach Fund. Way to go!

Monday, December 21, 2009

AFD and Blue Santa

Check out some of the members from AFD who got up VERY early this past Saturday morning to sort turkeys and chickens for the Operation Blue Santa deliveries. This year, the program will provide food and toys to more than 3,500 families in the Austin area in need. Way to go AFD!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Blue Santa Delivers Tomorrow!

AFD will once again be assisting with Blue Santa deliveries to families in need tomorrow, Saturday, December 19. This is a great opportunity to get a reminder of what the Christmas spirit is all about so if you'd like to help, please contact Acting Assistant Chief Ken Crooks at 825-2233. Thanks to all those who volunteered on this year's efforts!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

City Council Ratifies Contract

Earlier today, the City Council ratified the new collective bargaining agreement with the Austin Firefighters' Association/Local 975. Now the work begins on implementing the contract throughout AFD. We'll be sharing more information with you as we move forward on that process but for now, congratulations to all who worked so hard on the negotiations!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

AFD's Basketball Team

The TCA Warriors basketball team went into double overtime against the Austin Firefighters when things began to heat up. The October 27, 2009 game ended with the Firefighters claiming victory 76 to 71. Members of the TCA Warriors basketball team are high school-age, home-schooled young men, some from Lexington, Texas. The team members of the Austin Firefighters were just that – men who have their own basketball league and whose profession is to protect and defend the people in Austin against fire.

For more information about the AFD Basketball Team, please contact Darren Hyson at

Photo by Becky Dedear of the Lexington Leader.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

City of Austin Employees Wellness Survey Closes Dec. 16

Take action now to get involved in designing the wellness programs and initiatives that can lead to healthier City employees in 2010. There are just a few more days to participate in the Wellness Needs and Interest survey to give your feedback on the City’s wellness programs, PE and HealthPLUS and to gauge interest in future offerings.

The survey only takes a few minutes and already, 1,000 employees have responded. Access the survey at:

The survey closes on Dec. 16 so take a few minutes now to make sure your voice is heard.

Monday, December 14, 2009

2010 Austin Firefighters' Ball

Come join the Austin African American Firefighters Association for our sixth year of hosting the Austin Firefighters' Ball. A wonderful semi-formal evening of food, fun, and entertainment will be had by all! Come out and share a respectful event for all Firefighters and especially those that have fallen in the line of duty. This is a fund-raising event to benefit our scholarship fund and our Association as well serve the Austin community. Door prizes, vendors, professional photographer, and inspiring guest speaker will be on hand. This event is open to all Firefighters and the public. Tickets available at Mitchie's Art Gallery, online, or from Specialist Bobby Johns or Firefighter Preston Curtis.

Cost: $40 per person
Date Saturday, January 16, 2010
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Location: Crowne Plaza Hotel, 6121 North IH-35

For more information:
Phone: (512)857-6469
RSVP on our event Facebook page

Friday, December 11, 2009

First Night Austin Celebration Needs You!

Our very own staff psychologist, Dr. Albert Cantera, is president of the board for First Night Austin, the family-friendly, alcohol-free New Year's Eve celebration held in downtown Austin. This is the fifth year for the city-sponsored celebration and they are in need of volunteers.

If you'd like to learn more about how you can participate, just click here:

Thursday, December 10, 2009

IABPFF Stop Fire Campaign

The Austin chapter of the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters is participating in the national "Stop Fire" campaign, which focuses on educating members of the African American community about fire safety. The Austin African American Firefighters Association is asking that any members of AFD who know of any African American families, neighborhood associations, and/or communities that would like more information to please pass this along and have them contact the AAAFFA (857-6469) to schedule a presentation.

You can read the full press release about the campaign by clicking here:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

7th Annual Senior Holiday Luncheon Rousing Success!

Earlier today, AFD held its seventh annual senior holiday luncheon at the Conley-Guerrero Activity Center in east Austin. The brainchild of Firefighter Tim LaFuente, this event has grown to serve several hundred of our area's low-income elderly each year. For many of them, this is the only holiday celebration they will have. At this year's event, we served 480 plates, more than ever before! Thanks to Tim and his family for all the prep work and cooking, as well as all of the corporate sponsors and AFD volunteers who give of themselves to ensure the luncheon goes off without a hitch.

Many thanks also to the crews from Station 5 and Station 7 who came by to offer free blood pressure checks to the seniors in attendance. They were able to catch the Chief "mid serve" for a quick photo op!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

From today's Daily Texan: Along for the Ride

I know that many of you don't have access to this paper (it's the UT student newspaper), so I wanted to make sure I shared this so you could read it.

Along For the Ride: Firefighters exhibit versatility

By Bobby Longoria
Daily Texan Staff
Published: Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Editor's note: This is the third installment in a series that explores law and order in Travis County.

Members of the Austin Fire Department are best known for facing flames and even death in fire emergencies, but the department responds to a variety of events beyond fire control.
Firefighters are the jack-of-all-trades in critical emergency situations, serving as the first responders, along with Emergency Medical Services and police officials.
“When the alarm sounds, we all have to get into a different mode,” said Station 1 Cpt. Lonnie Owen. “You never know what you are going to see. If they don’t know who to send the problem to, they send it to the fire department.”
AFD Station 1, located downtown, was established in 1938 and is a special-operations unit that responds not only to fire calls, but technical and water-rescue calls as well. The station rotates firefighters across three shifts, each comprised of 15 members who undergo off-site medical, fire and rescue training on a routine basis.
According to the AFD 2008 annual report, Station 1 made 7,674 emergency response runs with its two engines and one quint, a hybrid engine with a 75-foot aerial ladder. The department responded to 2,767 fire, 54,797 medical, 499 rescue and 1,238 hazardous materials incidents. AFD’s 1,079 uniformed members had an average unit response time of 4.56 minutes.
Shifts last 24 hours, followed by two days off, but some firefighters may work beyond that on overtime.
“Even though there is not always a positive outcome, the satisfaction of being able to help when you can is very gratifying,” said Stephen Truesdell, president of the Austin Firefighters Association. “It’s very hard. It impacts the other family members, having someone be gone for 24 hours at a time. You really try to leave stress at the station, but you can’t always do it. Sometimes it carries over with you into your personal life.”
Dave Rossorelli has been a firefighter at Station 1 for nine years, and within that time, he has responded to incidents that can keep some firefighters awake at night.
“It’s hard being on scene, seeing someone who was in a car wreck and didn’t make it,” Rossorelli said. “Just thinking about their family — they don’t even know what’s happened yet. You are the first one to see this. Some of that gets hard to take.”

On Saturday night, Station 1 responded to a fire in a south Austin apartment complex that resulted in two deaths. Flames engulfed the building from the ground up and were extinguished by more than 10 fire trucks.
In the past 26 years, 152 Texas firefighters have died in the line of duty, four of which occurred last year. But AFD has avoided any deaths in the line of duty since 1977, when Specialist Nathaniel Kindred died of a heart attack.
According to the State Fire Marshal’s Office, of eight investigated on-duty deaths since September 2001, five were caused by heart attacks, which remain the leading cause of on-duty deaths among Texas firefighters.
Each firefighter is required to work out for at least one hour during their shift in the station’s gym. When not training, firefighters pass the time by performing routine maintenance checks of their equipment, taking required online classes, watching movies and conversing with one another.
“You come to work with your buddies. You know they got your back, and you got their back — you’re good to go,” said firefighter Keith Antista, who has been with Station 1 for five years and has a family of three. “[My wife] is going to be by herself about 72 hours with hardly any relief from the children, so she gets a little stressed out.”

Although some firefighters will be away from home this Christmas, they still make time to bring their families together. This Thanksgiving, firefighters and their families came to the station for a potluck dinner. Plans for this Christmas include a visit from Santa and a gift exchange at the station.
AFD Lt. Scott Bartell works at Station 1 and has been a firefighter for 20 years. He said the camaraderie of the station and his family of three helps him cope with the added stress.
“You may laugh about [severe incidents] at the station, but you may go home in tears. You may go home and you fall apart,” Bartell said. “For us, running into burning buildings and doing rescues — it’s what we look forward to. It all boils down to the public safety.”

Monday, December 7, 2009

Kudos to Engine 22-C

From Paul Mallon and Eric Finkelstein, paramedics from Medic 12 (Faro Lane):

"On 11/30 at the Forest Hills apartment complex at Anken Drive/Willow Creek Drive, we ran with E22-C on a 22yo male who had two stab wounds to the chest after a 10+ person brawl.

"For as chaotic as this call was, these folks brought their 'A' game. When we arrived, occlusive dressings had been placed and the crew was preparing backboard. In spite of a dark parking lot, screaming family members, many bystanders, and a crime scene to preserve, they were self sufficient and instrumental in the very successful egress of this patient. They allowed for a 7 minute on scene time!

"This was also the first time we have had AFD drive...I must admit I was skeptical in the past of this policy change but with FF Suzanne La Follette at the helm, the ride was very nice. FF Julie Hall was in the back with Eric and I ,and we were able to accomplish many interventions including ventilating our near unresponsive patient; this would not have normally been possible. Lt. John Green and Driver Wess Gunn also made sure that we had everything we needed prior to departure. This experience has made me a believer in the AFD driver option.

"This is just one of many calls Eric and I have run with this crew; it is always a pleasure."

Way to go, folks!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Kruger's Discount for Emergency Services Personnel

All right, people, you can't use the excuse that jewelry is too expensive when shopping for that special someone in your life this year! Kruger's at Barton Creek Mall is offering emergency services personnel a special 20 percent discount on any non-sale item.

They did not specify an end date nor whether this discount could be used by civilian members of the department, so you should probably call and ask. Their number is 327-6660.

Remember, a girl can never have too much jewelry--that's why God gave us two ears and 10 fingers!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Blue Santa Breakfast

AFD had a commanding presence in last weekend's Chuy's Children Giving to Children Parade, with several apparatus and members of the department participating. Here's a shot of us beginning the parade route, turning onto Congress with the Capitol backdrop...inspiring!

Continuing on with our support of Operation Blue Santa is the Blue Santa Breakfast tomorrow, Friday, December 4 at Hill's Cafe (4700 S. Congress). It starts at 5:30 a.m. and wraps at 10:00 a.m. If you've never been to this event, it's a real treat and worth the early morning wake-up call! If you go, please bring a new unwrapped toy or a cash donation for entry. There will be a wide range of items available for a silent auction.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Engine 50 to Engine 13

The Executive Team has received a request to change Engine 50 to Engine 13. You might think we don't have an Engine 13 (or Station 13, for that matter) due to'd be wrong! There is a storied history behind our non-use of the number 13. If you'd like to read about it, just click here:

Have thoughts about this idea? Let us hear from you! E-mail Michelle DeCrane at

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Phone Book Recycling

You'll start to see new phone books soon--the City has included phone books in their single-stream recycling program so be sure and recycle your old ones in the big blue cart once your new ones arrive. Every little bit helps!