Friday, January 29, 2010

100 Club of Central Texas Scholarships

Each year, the 100 Club of Central Texas awards Dr. M. James Moritz scholarships to active duty first responders; they are currently seeking applications. Those awarded the scholarships can use the money for tuition, books, and associated expenses at an accredited institution of higher education beginning with the summer semester, 2010. Applications are due no later than February 28, 2010.

For the scholarship application, click here:

For more information, click here:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Another Terrific Job by Support Staff!

From Battalion Chief Doug Kusey. Sometimes, there are no words to adequately say thanks for some of the things our folks do. YUCK!

"Chief Kerr: Late on the morning of 7 January personnel at Station 22 came to work to find Ralph Villeja, Ricardo Flores, and Phillip Martinez investigating the horrible sewage smell issuing from the bowels of the fire station (think dead rats floating in a fetid dung soup). It has been reported to me that all three donned improvised hazmat suits, crawled under the station and, for the next nine hours, labored in the dark cesspool under the station. If you recall, the high temperature in Austin that day never went above freezing. Working as a team, these men dug, diagnosed, and repaired the pipes until, finally, the work was near complete. Sometime between 2100 and 2200 hours they emerged wet, cold and covered in raw sewage. They left the station, only to return first thing the next morning to resume the repairs. (It's my understanding that the pipes are so corroded that each repair led to another break somewhere down line.) By the end of the second day, the repairs were completed and Station 22 was functional again.

"The good work these guys do speaks for itself. Last week they vastly exceeded the scope of their jobs to get the job done. I was so impressed with their commitment to our fire fighters and our station that I'm compelled to report to you how grateful I am for Ralph, Ricardo, and Phillip."

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

In a Disaster? There's an App for That!

Yes, there is an app for EVERYTHING! If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch, you can dowload the new Disaster City Guide app from iTunes at no cost. Find useful information on what to do to prepare for and survive a natural disaster like floods, hurricanes, thunderstorm, tornadoes, and earthquakes. You can find the link to the app here:

Many thanks to BC Warren Weidler for passing this along!

Monday, January 25, 2010

AFD Members Receive Awards from the Department of Defense

In a ceremony at Austin Fire Department (AFD) Headquarters earlier today, four members of AFD were presented with awards by the Texas Committee for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (EGSR). Those individuals are:

• Stephanie Saenz, Human Resources Advisor (28 years of service)
• Battalion Chief Aaron Woolverton, Investigations (18 years of service)
• Firefighter Abe Caruthers (7 years of service; not pictured)
• Firefighter Kregg Phillips (8 years of service)

All four individuals were honored with the Patriot Award in recognition of their extraordinary support to AFD firefighters who serve in the National Guard and Reserve.

“It has always been our philosophy that service to the community doesn’t begin and end with your shift at a fire station,” said Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr. “Whether you are serving your country—or supporting those who do, as these honored individuals—it’s a team effort. And we are incredibly proud of both those in our ranks who are serving in the military, and the fine men and women of the Austin Fire Department who support those efforts.”

The Austin Fire Department has been recognized as a model for other public safety organizations for how they take care of employees serving in the Guard and Reserve without compromising its mission of “preservation of life and property.”

In presenting the award, Texas ESGR Committee Regional Director Rodney McNelley stated, “Chief Kerr’s leadership and commitment to her officers has drawn praise from within the department and throughout the City. The Austin Fire Department’s management philosophy is consistent with the City of Austin’s initiatives on supporting its reservist employees and veterans. This support is a key reason why Austin received the prestigious Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award in 2008.”

The City of Austin’s Veteran Consultant Allen Bergeron works closely with the Austin Fire Department’s military personnel and their management staff. Bergeron stated, “Through effective communication, training, and a sound military reintegration process, the Austin Fire Department has proven to be a fine example of how other employers should support their military employees. Chief Kerr and the entire AFD truly go above and beyond to support their military firefighters and their families. It’s our way of saying ‘thank you’ for their commitment to serve.”

A big round of applause to our award winners; thanks for making us proud!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Flu Shot Clinic Kudos

Read the great kudos letter (below) we received from one of our fellow City employees. We continue to offer the H1N1 shots, conducting additional clincs yesterday and today. For location info on where you can get yours, click here:

Thank you for continuing to make us proud!

Good Afternoon Mr. Ott and Chief Kerr,

I just wanted to send a quick memo to let you know what a fantastic idea to have the flu shots available at the different City locations!

I would also like to thank the Fire Dept. for allowing the firefighters to administer the shots to us. They were very courteous and friendly and did an awesome job!

Talk about saving the City a bunch of money and providing the employees with a quality service; thank you all so much! This was greatly appreciated.


Fran Ashenfelter
Austin Water Utility

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Church of the New Testament Fire

AFD crews did an awesome job yesterday of containing this fire and not allowing it to spread to the church. You can read the story in today's Statesman below. You can also check out some photos from the scene by clicking here:

Great job everyone! Thanks for making us proud.

Crews extinguish fire next to East Austin church

By Isadora Vail
Wednesday, January 20, 2010, 03:05 PM

A residential apartment near the Church of the New Testament was almost destroyed Wednesday afternoon, according to fire officials, and no injuries were reported.

The Austin Fire Department responded to a call about 2: 30 p.m. at 1602 Harvey St., near MLK Drive. Officials said crews arrived to find the apartment, which sits behind the church and on the second story of the kitchen, engulfed in flames.

The fire did not spread to the church, and was extinguished by 3 p.m. A cause has yet to be determined, and damage estimates have not been made.

Willie Mae Kirk, has attended the non-denominational church since 1965, said the apartment was build the same year. Kirk said the fire was contained to the apartment, but some damage may have been done to the kitchen.

Kirk, whose brother helped build the church, said they plan to replace the damaged apartment.

“When the church was built, the ministers insisted that we have a place where the homeless can stay,” Kirk said. “It was a place for those who really needed a home, and we hope to keep it that way. "

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

More on John Butz: Fox 7 Story

And if you didn't get to see the piece on Friday's edition of Fox 7 news about John and his rescuers, here it is:

Pretty powerful stuff.

Feature Story on John Butz Rescue in Today's Statesman

If you haven't seen this already (or heard the amazing story of what happened 10 years ago), check it out:

Photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez, Austin American-Statesman

Friday, January 15, 2010

AFD in Fire Chief Magazine

An article by Acting Assistant Chief Ken Crooks and Elizabeth Gray appears in the latest issue of Fire Chief magazine. It discusses the data-gathering process employed re: the decision to move Engine 35 to Station 22. If you'd like to read the article, you can see it here:

Thursday, January 14, 2010

AFD Personnel Deploy to Haiti and San Antonio

As part of Texas Task Force One, several AFD members have been selected to deploy to Haiti to assist in the rescue efforts there. This is a HUGE deal, since typically, the only USAR team selected to go outside of the United States is the Virginia team.

AFD personnel who will be leaving College Station today at 9:00 a.m. for Haiti include:

Warren Weidler (Battalion Chief)
Keith Brown (Firefighter)
Travis Maher (Fire Specialist)
Jody Cook (Fire Specialist)
Ron Buys (Engineer)
Russ Kellar (Lieutenant)
Mike Frick (Acting Division Chief)

Additionally, AFD water rescue personnel are deploying to San Antonio for standby due to expected flooding from heavy, severe rains. Those folks include four helicopter rescue swimmers:

Scott Bartell (Lieutenant)
Greg Reddish (Firefighter)
Jeff Deane (Firefighter)
Homero Garcia (Firefighter)

Additionally, a five-person boat team of AFD personnel is being deployed. Members include:

Mike Becker (Captain)
Tommy Wilkins (Lieutenant)
Terrence Oertli (Fire Specialist)
Matthew Avery (Firefighter)
Duane Carter (Firefighter)

Please keep all of these individuals in your thoughts and prayers for their safety while they are gone and their quick return to Austin.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Firefighters Beat Crimefighters in Jalapeno Eating Contest!

Check out the story in today's Statesman re: the jalapeno eating contest held yesterday between the firefighters from AFD and deputies from the Travis County Sherrif's Office. In case you're wondering, we won!

Photo by Ricardo Brazziell, Austin American-Statesman

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Info from the Austin Fire Museum

Please review the information linked below from the Austin Fire Museum--some neat history and info about the 2010 and 2011 San Jacinto Night celebrations.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Statesman Story: EMS vs. Fire Dispatching

If you didn't get a chance to read the story on the front page of today's paper re: EMS and Fire dispatching, here's your chance:

Friday, January 8, 2010

AFD Ranks #1 in CityWorks Academy

Recently, the City of Austin graduated the first CityWorks Academy (CWA) class. The CWA was designed to provide residents with a hands-on “inside look” at how the City does business, and give them an opportunity to meet leaders and discuss issues relevant to the community. Subsequent to graduation, City PIO surveyed the participants about their experience in the class and received overwhelmingly positive feedback; 100 percent of the respondents rated the program as “good” or “very good.” There were 32 members of this inaugural graduating class, with more than 300 Austinites applying to participate!

Here's the best part--AFD received the highest program score from participant evalutions (9.54 out of 10)! Many thanks to all those who supported our role in this Academy and for your hard work in creating an experience the students found so valuable!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Joint Committee Up and Running!

In a historic "first" for the department, the new Joint Committee met for the first time on Tuesday, January 5. The committee, described in Article 6, page four of the contract, is comprised of three representatives from management--Chiefs Dawn Clopton, Richard Davis and Brian Tanzola--and three representatives from labor: Chief Bob Nicks, Capt. Mark Schultz, and FF Kreig Phillips.

Several initiatives from the contract have 60-day deadlines, so the group is off to a quick start and is working hard. Let’s wish them the best as they work toward implementing our contract.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Capitol Village Apartments Photo

Great photo from the Capitol Village Apts. fire yesterday, courtesy of Laura Skelding at the Statesman.

Photo credit: Laura Skelding, Austin American-Statesman

Candlewick Apts. Fire Photos

A few photos from the Candlewick Apts. fire on Burton Drive this past Saturday I thought you might like to see. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Mike Leach and AFD

"Whoa!," you say. "What does the embattled former coach of the Red Raiders have to do with AFD?"

Technically, nothing. But the Statesman did a great editorial this past Saturday, January 2 about Mike Leach that has some applicability to AFD. Regardless of the circumstances and the allegations, the bottom line is that Leach was entrusted with the care of those who play for him and he violated that trust. As a member of the Austin Fire Department, you are likewise entrusted with the care of those you serve--the taxpayers--and those who serve you--your employees. We should all take a lesson from Tech's playbook and remember that.

If you'd like to read the editorial, click here: Statesman Editorial Re: Mike Leach

OEM Calendars are Here!

For those of you who can’t live without it, the free OEM calendars are now available! We have 300 at HQ for those of you who’d like one. First come, first serve!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year! Public Safety Commission Meets Today

Happy New Year! The Public Safety Commission will be kicking off 2010 with their first meeting of the new year, beginning at 4:00 p.m. at City Hall. You can watch it live on Channel 6 or view the video 24 hours after the meeting by going here: