Scuttlebutt 10-12

Flying High

Hillsboro (OR) Firefighter Eric Keim recently got the ride of his life aboard a U.S. Air Force Thunderbird F-16. Keim was selected to ride with the Thunderbirds for his role as Paramedic-in-Charge of a medical call in which then 6-year-old Eliceo Lopez Soto was severely burned in a barbeque explosion accident.

“That was one of the most difficult calls of my career,” Keim said.  Following the flight, he met with Eliceo for the first time since the incident and the boy was all smiles.

The 50-minute ride began at the Portland Air National Guard Base with little Eliceo looking on. Keim’s pilot, Lt. Col. Jason Koltes, pinned Thunderbird pins on both Keim and Eliceo. 


Prevention Attention

Looking for a new way to draw attention to your fire prevention events? Try showing up in a three-wheeled Spyder RT motorcycle. That’s what Quinte West Fire Prevention Officer Robert Comeau is doing. Fire Chief John Whelan spotted the vehicle at a local Ontario Bombardier sales distributor and sure enough, the Bay Marine dealership agreed to donate the cycle for an eight-month trial period.

Comeau takes the Spyder to the Fire Hall, special events and public education seminars. “It drives great and the crowd loves it,” he says.

“Our main goal is to educate the community and spread a strong message about Fire Safety.” If the Spyder helps them spread the word, more power to them.


FEMA Debuts New Characters for Kids

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) welcomed two of their newest “employees” who are charged with serving as ambassadors to America’s youth:  Flat Stanley and Flat Stella.  As a symbol of education and literacy, these characters help educate children across the globe, and FEMA’s Flat Stanley and Flat Stella are helping to teach children and their families about emergency preparedness. 

“Flat Stanley and Flat Stella are great communication tools that are being added to FEMA’s Whole Community approach to emergency management,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. "Reaching out to children, parents of young children and teachers is essential in instilling a message of self-reliance, resilience and preparedness. We are using new media and emerging technologies to target and engage youth in our outreach efforts and incorporating their ideas for preparedness and emergency management.”

Children, with the assistance of their parents, can download and create their own free customized character on the Flat Stanley website ( or through the Flat Stanley Mobile Application.  They can share their experiences creating a preparedness kit and their virtual adventure tour with other Flat Stanley users.

Flat Stanley and Stella also have an interactive space on the Flat Stanley website, and an official e-mail account at FEMA ( where parents and their children can contact FEMA to ask questions or offer their stories.


Ocala Fire Rescue Welcomes Fire Chaplain

Chaplain Joe LaCognata is no stranger to the emergency services profession. The former volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician has also ministered to police and fire departments, currently serves as chaplain to Marion County Fire Rescue and is a member of the Ocala/Marion County Critical Incident Stress Management Team.

“I look forward to getting to know the men and women of Ocala Fire Rescue, and serving our local heroes and the community,” LaCognata stated during a ceremony held at Fire Station #1. With the addition of LaCognata, Ocala Fire Rescue now has two chaplains serving the department.


This Month in Fire History


October 2, 1922

First national Fire Prevention Week proclaimed by President Warren Harding


October 5, 1858, New York, NY

Crystal Palace destroyed by fire


October 8, 1871, Chicago, IL

Great Chicago fire kills 250


October 15, 1984, Washington, DC

US Postal Service headquarters fire


October 20, 1873, Baltimore, MD

International Association of Fire Chiefs founded


October 23, 1989, Pasadena, TX

Phillips Petroleum plant fire


October 29, 1974

Federal Fire Prevention & Control Act of 1974 creates U.S. Fire Administration


Courtesy of NFPA


For details on fires that occurred 100 years ago this month, turn to Paul Hashagen’s “Rekindles” on page XXX.