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    Default Chris Kangas Update


    For those unfamiliar with the story, you can do a forum search for Kangas.


    MEDIA RELEASE
    Contact: John G. Tomaszewski
    (202) 225-2011 • john.tomaszewski@mail.house.gov

    KANGAS RULING A VICTORY FOR HIS LEGACY AND JUNIOR VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY

    UPPER DARBY, Pa. (29 Mar.) – On Monday, almost four years after the death of junior volunteer firefighter Christopher Kangas, a U.S. federal appeals court ruled that Kangas is eligible to receive Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB). U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.), vice chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and founder of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, hailed the ruling as vindication for Kangas’s family and the thousands of junior volunteer firefighters across the country. Weldon is introducing a congressional resolution to recognize the Kangas family on their victory and urge that yesterday’s ruling not be appealed.

    In May 2002, Kangas, a 14-year old junior firefighter from Brookhaven Fire Company in Congressman Weldon’s District, died en route to a fire emergency. The Department of Justice (DOJ) ruled that Kangas was not eligible for the PSOB federal benefit provided to public safety officers injured or killed while on duty, because he did not meet the statutory definition of a firefighter.

    Congressman Weldon, a former fire chief from Marcus Hook, Pa. and the fire service’s leading advocate in Congress, testified for Kangas at the initial hearing to appeal the DOJ ruling. He also introduced bipartisan legislation preventing the DOJ from denying firefighter eligibility for PSOB status because of age or duty restrictions as long as the person is an official member of a fire department. The Christopher Kangas Fallen Firefighter Apprentice Act (H.R. 1456) calls for a retroactive application of PSOB benefits from the date of Kangas’s death and would ensure that he and thousands of other junior firefighters across the country receive the recognition and benefits they deserve.

    “The future of America’s fire service is in young people like Christopher Kangas and we cannot let them be forgotten. As the number of volunteer firefighters decline each year, more departments are depending on young people to fill in the ranks,” said Rep. Weldon. “Monday’s ruling is a significant step toward ensuring that our nation’s junior volunteer firefighters will be afforded the same recognition and privileges that their colleague’s already receive. I urge the Justice Department not to appeal this ruling, and for Congress to pass the Kangas Bill.”

    "In order to protect their communities, firefighters have to put themselves in harms way. When Christopher Kangas responded to a fire call and died tragically as a result, he was no different than any of the more than 100 firefighters who die each year risking their lives to protect the lives and property of others,” said Philip C. Stittleburg, chairman of the National Volunteer Fire Council. “Yesterday’s federal court ruling validates Christopher's status as a firefighter and, I hope, will provide some comfort to his grieving family. I urge the DOJ to accept the court's judgment and move swiftly to process the Kangas family's rightful claim to the PSOB.”

    On April 6, 2006, Congressman Weldon will be honored at the 18th Annual National Fire and Emergency Services dinner for his work on first responder issues in Congress.

    ###
    "When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope is to leave the world a little better for my having been there."
    -- Jim Henson (1936 - 1990)

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    "In order to protect their communities, firefighters have to put themselves in harms way. When Christopher Kangas responded to a fire call and died tragically as a result, he was no different than any of the more than 100 firefighters who die each year risking their lives to protect the lives and property of others,”
    Sorry sir, but you are wrong. A child riding their bicycle to the firehouse is very different than a firefighter having to jump out the window of a burning room.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42
    Sorry sir, but you are wrong. A child riding their bicycle to the firehouse is very different than a firefighter having to jump out the window of a burning room.
    You're missing the point -- the intent of Congress was not to assign an age. An 80 year old "firefighter" can die on the scene and get PSOB. If the DOJ says a 14 year old isn't a FF, then there will soon be a time when there's a cap and say a 50 or 60 years old can't be either!

    http://www.ojp.gov/BJA/grant/psob/psob_def.html

    From the PSOB link above:

    Under the Public Safety Officers' Benefits (PSOB) Program, a public safety officer is a person serving a public agency in an official capacity, with or without compensation, as a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or member of a public rescue squad or ambulance crew. Law enforcement officers include, but are not limited to, police, corrections, probation, parole, and judicial officers. Volunteer firefighters and members of volunteer rescue squads and ambulance crews are covered under the program if they are officially recognized or designated members of legally organized volunteer fire departments, rescue squads, or ambulance crews.

    He was recognized by Brookhaven Township and the Commonwealth of PA.
    "When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope is to leave the world a little better for my having been there."
    -- Jim Henson (1936 - 1990)

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    Bones you just dont get it do you?

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    Quote Originally Posted by CTVFDNJ
    Bones you just dont get it do you?
    So True....Bones and for that matter everyone else out there who thinks that Junior Firefighters don't count I have to tell ya...you're wrong.

    Bones you write:

    Sorry sir but you are wrong. A child riding his bicycle to the firehouse is very diffrent than a Firefighter having to jump out a window of a burning room.

    How so ? You're comparing apples to oranges - Where was it mentioned that Chris Kangas was jumping out a window ?

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    It wasn't mentioned at all that he jumped out a window. What was mentioned was that he was riding his bike to the fire house to standby at the firehouse as that was what he was allowed to do. With this latest ruling, he is considered an "equal" to the FDNY brothers that were forced to jump from a burning room while fighting a fire. I see a big difference there. I think more people should see the difference there.

    And I'm not missing the point at all. I firmly believe that the term "LODD" is getting severly abused nowadays. DianeC, your 80 year old FF example is more proof that the system is flawed. There are many other examples. And to go further, I'd consider a person that is 80 years old and has served with 20+ years very different than a person who has served less than a year and is not even allowed into a fire.

    Can you blankly assign an age requirement? Not really, but how about some realistic fire ground abilities as a measure. You know, like actually being able to actively fight the fire, not serve coffee, not do traffic control, not changing bottles, etc. Yes, that stuff is important does serve a purpose, it just does not strike me as being equal in LODD status.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Can you blankly assign an age requirement? Not really, but how about some realistic fire ground abilities as a measure. You know, like actually being able to actively fight the fire, not serve coffee, not do traffic control, not changing bottles, etc. Yes, that stuff is important does serve a purpose, it just does not strike me as being equal in LODD status.
    ALL duties on a fire scene aid in the fire being successfully fought. Not every firefighter on a scene can be on the hoseline at the same time or in the same place. An LODD is an LODD. How the individual dies on or enroute to the fire/incident scene should not be the issue. The issue is the fact that they were doing their duty as emergency personnel.

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    I agree 100%

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    Bones ...

    Generally I agree with you, but this is not about assigning a value to what they do or the task they were performing. Would it have made any diffrenece if it would have been a FDNY brother who was killed in an apparatus accident while the truck was doing a station move-up? That's a better nonm-essentail tak. Would it have made any diffrence if it was a fire police officer who was 2 miles from the building directing traffic? After all, he couldn't even see the fire. Or a member who just drives and pumps the truck killed by a downed power line? Is he a firefighter.. after all he just yanks valves and watches guages.

    This is not about assigning value to the task at hand or the status of the member. The law is simple ... any recognized member of a fire department. It does not specify "well, just the important ones that go inside". A junior has just as much value as a "regular member", and quite honestly , some have more.

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    any recognized member of a fire department
    and that is exactly why I don't agree with the law.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Default I agree with Bones

    Bones,
    I agree with you, at issue here, is that the youth is being labeled as a "recognized MEMBER of the Fire Department." My concern is, he not a "member" he is a youth in the community that is allowed to participate in a program sponsored by the Fire Department. I am an Explorer Advisor for a Law Enforcement Explorer post. My youth are allowed to ride, but God forbid, if something were to happen to them while they are partaking in the department sponsored ride along program we would not seek any LODD benefits. My Department has a bona fide Explorer program that is sponsored and insured through the Boy Scouts of America. The BSA offers insurance for death and injuries. Another concern is within the article it is stating that the number of volunteers in the fire service is declining and, some departments are forced to rely on "junior firefighters." This is the true problem, if a department is forced to rely on kids to assist them, than they should re-evaluate how they go about thier business. I know some FD's have a "junior firefighter" program, if so, than they ought to be prepared to offer these youths insurance, and benefits. The problem is these youths are just that, youths and they can not be offered benefits because they are to young to be "employed" Any agency that wants to start, or sponsor a junior firefighter, or explorer program should make sure it is chartered and insured by the BSA, or another organization that offers insurance benefits for these types of clubs. I equate this very unfortunate death to that of a child who tragically dies on a football field, or at some other school/civic organization sponsored event. I applaud the effort, and enthusiasim of any youth who is interested in learning more about a profession they may be interested in, but the one thing people need to keep in mind is these are just kids, they are part of a group, or a club that is sponsored by a fire department. They are in no way Police Officers, FireFighters or any other Public Safety Officer. As I said, it is tragic that any innocent youth loses thier life, but it is also tragic that the men and woman who dedicate thier lives to public safety, and pay the ultimate price are compared to, and put in the same category as a 14 year old kid who was riding his bicycle to the fire station.

    Jon

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    "Another concern is within the article it is stating that the number of volunteers in the fire service is declining and, some departments are forced to rely on "junior firefighters." This is the true problem, if a department is forced to rely on kids to assist them, than they should re-evaluate how they go about thier business."

    Nobody is saying that a department should rely on junior firefighters for active firefighting operations such as fire attack, rescue and ventilation. However, I see no issues with the fire service using junior firefighters, the same as the use the 55 year old firefighter who no longer is physically able to make entry, to assist on the firground in non-fire attack roles such as filling bottles, making hydrants, lighting, laying lines, filling/dumping tankers and putting appartus back in service. To say that any of these roles are no less important than fire attack simply makes no sense. They are, period, and should be recognized as such.

    Yes it is a tradegy that he was killed responding. But to say that he is not a worthy of a place of honor because of his age simply disrespects the efforts of all junior firefighters.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator
    But to say that he is not a worthy of a place of honor because of his age simply disrespects the efforts of all junior firefighters.
    I'll agree, age has very little/nothing to do with it. The actual activities allowed and being performed are what should matter.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    I'll agree, age has very little/nothing to do with it. The actual activities allowed and being performed are what should matter.
    They don't matter.
    Please see my above post and LaFireEducator's post right below that stating generally the same thing.
    I'm curious to hear a response.

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    Plain and simple, we fought fires successfully for about 105 years without "explorer" tasks being done. The last 5 years we added an Explorer post. If you can't handle fire scenes without someone serving you coffee (a necessary task by your post) then it's time to hang up your hoses. If you have a department that can't get enough manpower on scene that you have to have "untrained, unable to enter a fire building" people performing fireground tasks, you have a bigger problem.

    I won't convince any to think any differently here and I'm not trying. I posted my opinion and have explained it, others have explained theirs. That's fine, I simply don't agree with them. I believe it's an insult to compare this unfortunate person as an equal to other LODD's.

    It's not a slam on him in any way, I didn't know him and only know what was printed in the many threads/columns/articles, etc. He sounded like he was a great kid and had a bright future. It's a terrible loss and there is no way to correct that.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    So Bones, thenm you would have no problem denying a FDNY or Boston firefighter LODD nenefits and honors if he was killed in an appartus accident while responding? How about a station move-up?

    He was responding. I simply don't see the difference. But's that is just my opinion.

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    Sorry Bones, but I've got to agree with all the other folks who are posting on this issue in every respect. To me, the bottom line is that it's really not up to you or to the federal government who is or who is not considered a "member" of an organization or how they staff an incident. It is up to the organization, within the boundaries of their state's laws. If Point Pleasant doesn't consider Explorers to be members of their organization, then fine, that's their choice to make. Brookhaven decided that Chris and his fellow juniors were considered members of their department and that they would be allowed to respond to assist at fire scenes.

    It is indeed sad that some volunteer departments are so short of manpower that they have to rely on junior members to perform routine tasks, but it's a fact of life these days. Volunteers aren't as easy to come by as they once were, and many departments are faced with no choice. If you're from a place that doesn't have that problem, then you should be greatful, but please don't slam places that do. They're doing the very best they can with what they have.

    Regardless of his age, Chris was a member of the fire department. He was killed while serving his community, and he was following the rules. Nuff said.

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    LaFireEducator, FDNY and Boston firefighters fight fires. They are not people that aren't allowed into a burning building. They have been through firefighter training. They are capable of (or have already) actually fighting the fire. Chris did not get that opportunity. You don't see a difference, I do.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Bones, I assume that you were never a junior firefighter.

    In my department, I am a member of the department. I can tell you right now that I dont spend my time getting coffee for guys. I don't feel that I am a part of a club, or group of kids that like to play firefighter once in a while. I do my best to learn as much as I can, and preform at my very best each time I am either at a drill or at an emergency scene.

    When I hear the tones drop, I go to the firehouse. I put on my gear, get in the truck, and preform to the fullest extent that I may. I'm not pushing a hose line down a hallway, but I can tell you that i'm certainly at the front door making sure that line keeps getting fed to the guys inside. I am a junior FIREFIGHTER. Just because I'm not on Rescue 2 in the FDNY dosen't mean i'm an insignificant stain on the fire service fooling around and being useless. I get on the truck, and I do what needs to be done to get the job finished. I dont care about the LODD benefits, but I would like a little respect for my efforts and the work that I do. You are certainly entitled to your opinion and I respect it, and our rights to agree to disagree.

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    Keep doing what you can you are respected in your dept. our juniors are held to a higher standard and are respected for there dedication and there willingness to do as told a lot of our members started as juniors

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42
    LaFireEducator, FDNY and Boston firefighters fight fires. They are not people that aren't allowed into a burning building. They have been through firefighter training. They are capable of (or have already) actually fighting the fire. Chris did not get that opportunity. You don't see a difference, I do.

    Soooooo what you are saying is... someone like me, who has been in the dept. for 23 years, held several positions like capt and asst. chief. should not get the benni if I get in a MVA on the way to the firehouse and die, because I do not go in or pull hose anymore because of a heart attack I had 2 years ago at the age of 36. Man, by your standards a good 75% of us volly guys would not get the benni.

    I must say on this subject you seem to be very narrow minded. The Jrs in my dept work very hard around the hall and on the fire grounds. They pull just as much hose, just not inside. They do a hell of a job on extirior operations, and over haul once it is safe. They do what ever is asked, and are a great asset to our dept. And I would venture to say that they do alot more work on the fire ground then alot of the older members. As a matter of fact our Jrs are so dedicated and such a valuable part of our company that one won our departmental Fireman of the year award. Not for a lack of worthy candidats but because he does such an outsttanding job at the alarms , drills, and around the hall. And if, God forbid, something should happen to him on the way to the firehouse for an alarm, he would be just as much deserving of the death benni as someone on FDNY.

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    nitsusa, wrong. I was a junior. And I still teach juniors and explorers. And it was back when juniors were free to do more than what they are now.

    ducken, if you read all my posts, you will see that is exactly not what I was saying. I am not saying a ff who gets in an MVA and is killed does not deserve LODD status. I'm not saying that because you are doing some exterior duties you don't qualify. I'm not saying that at all. What I'm saying, is that someone who has not yet had the chance of becoming a FF, because they have not gotten the training, they have not been allowed to fight a fire, they have not been given full priviliges, is not the same as a person that has. I am saying that my mother, who is on ladies auxiliary and serves refreshments at large calls, God forbid she passes away, does not deserve LODD status. I'm saying the department photographer, who has never been a FF but is given a title to allow him closer to fire scenes to take pictures, does not deserve LODD status.

    The fact that he was killed riding his bike is no different than someone killed driving their car, or running to the building, etc. I'm not saying how he was killed is involved with this at all.

    The part I disagree with is the fact that he, who was not trained/certified/experienced is being considered an equal to those that are.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Well we will have to agree to dissagree. IMO it is a shame someone would keep this from his family, when he was responding to an alarm to do his duty to his comunity. Be it pulling hose for water supply, helping with rehab, helping fill air bottles, and I am sure racking hose. We all know Jrs are good at racking hose ;-)

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    Bones i read your comments and my stomach hurts im laughing so hard, By your logic, a firefighter that dies at a residential house fire does not deserve to be on the same fallen firefighters memorial as the FDNY from the WTC are on? by that logic of yours, there will not be another name put on that memorial until theres (god forbid) another national tragedy in which a firefighter leaves us.

    You are a Joke bones, a very funny one at that.

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    you sir, are the joke-you came on here and immediately started causing fights and making yourself and your own department look like poo. you are a troll-go away!

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