fire division

BG police officers and firefighter promoted to leadership roles

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Three Bowling Green police officers and one firefighter were promoted into leadership positions Tuesday evening. “Sometimes we get lost in the numbers,” of running a city and managing budgets, Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter said to City Council members on Tuesday. But the swearing in ceremony for police and fire, she said, provide a connection between the city budget and the people who fill vital roles in the community. “We’re very proud of all of you. Congratulations,” Tretter said. Promoted in the police division were Lt. Mike Bengela, Sgt. Adam Skaff and Sgt. Brian Houser. “They have gone above and beyond the call in so many ways,” Police Chief Tony Hetrick said. “These are the kind of people we look to” for filling leadership roles. Fire Chief Bill Moorman congratulates Tony and Sarah Zmarzly. Tony was promoted to rank of lieutenant at City Council meeting. In the fire division, Tony Zmarzly was sworn in as lieutenant. Fire Chief Bill Moorman praised his service, and recognized the firefighters who filled the back of the council chambers to honor their fellow firefighter’s promotion. Also at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, the new branding initiative for the city was unveiled by Wendy Chambers, executive director of the Bowling Green Convention and Visitors Bureau. The new branding is intended to reflect the city’s energy. “This city is not sleepy. It’s engaged, accepting and hungry for smart growth,” Chambers said. Bowling Green is not what many people think, she added. “We’re better, cooler and more progressive,” Chambers said. Bowling Green is a small city with a big city mentality, she added. The city welcomes diversity, is open-minded, offers a kaleidoscope of activity and is eco-minded. Part of BG branding initiative The new branding effort is intended to show that this is not the other Bowling Green – in Kentucky. “Bowling Green has the guts to break barriers and the heart to bring others with them,” Chambers said. In addition to pushing the message on social media, the Convention and Visitors Bureau plans to look into a series of wearables and…

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Columbia Gas agrees to alert fire division immediately about dangerous leaks

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Columbia Gas officials have agreed to immediately notify Bowling Green Fire Division if gas leaks in the downtown construction area get close to dangerous levels again. “We’ve come to an understanding that they will call us immediately if there is a leak of significant levels,” Bowling Green Fire Chief Bill Moorman said Monday morning. Eleven days ago, a leak occurred in the downtown area of South Main Street, where Columbia Gas is replacing old natural gas lines. By the time the fire division was notified, the leaking gas had reached explosive levels, Moorman said. Last Friday, Columbia Gas officials agreed to meet with Moorman and Bowling Green Public Works Director Brian Craft. City officials wanted to make sure if a similar incident occurred in the future that it would be handled differently by the gas company. “We wanted to make sure we are called immediately,” Moorman said. “If we’re not needed, we can just go home” back to the fire station. When the leak occurred on the evening of Sept. 13, Bowling Green Fire Division was not notified about the gas leak until at least two hours after gas odors were strong enough that some businesses shut down on the west side of the 100 block of South Main Street. Those businesses included Grounds for Thought, Lahey Appliance and Coyote Beads. When the fire division arrived downtown, the smell of natural gas was obvious. Atmospheric tests done by firefighters showed explosive levels of gas. “The gas levels were at a dangerous level,” Fire Chief Bill Moorman said. “It was getting to the point that a spark, anything can really set it off. Pretty much anything ignites natural gas.” The Bowling Green Police Division joined the fire division in evacuating the businesses and residents in the general area of the leak in the 100 block of South Main Street. The street was also closed to traffic to reduce the risks. After the leak, Columbia Gas defended its response. “They followed all their protocols,” Moorman agreed. But city officials are not satisfied with those…


Chicago firefighters, raising awareness about high cancer rates in firefighters, visit BG station

To bring attention to the number of cancer cases among firefighters, a group of Chicago firefighters are on a five-day bicycling journey from their city to Pittsburgh. Along their journey, called “Ignite the Spirit,” the bicyclists made a stop at a Bowling Green Fire Station Tuesday evening. The Chicago firefighters were welcomed by Bowling Green Fire Chief Bill Moorman and members of the BG Fire Division. All proceeds from their ride will directly benefit the “Ignite the Spirit” cancer fund to help members of the Chicago Fire Department. According to the International Association of Firefighters, 61 percent of firefighter line-of-duty deaths from 2002 to 2016 were cancer-related. In Boston, one of the larger departments leading the charge against firefighter cancer, another Boston firefighter is diagnosed with cancer every three weeks, according to their internal figures. Firefighters have a 14 percent higher risk of dying from cancer than the general U.S. population. More about the Chicago firefighters’ efforts can be found at https://www.ignitethespirit.org/


BG still waiting to meet with Columbia Gas about leak

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green city leaders are still waiting for a meeting with Columbia Gas officials about explosive levels of gas leaked into the downtown Thursday evening leading to the evacuation of several businesses and apartments. City officials have concerns since the fire division was not notified until hours after the leak was noticed. By time firefighters arrived on the scene, the gas levels were at “lower explosive limits.” Gas employees working in downtown Bowling Green held a “safety shutdown” meeting today for the crews working in the downtown to discuss Thursday’s leak. Cheri Pastula, communications and community relations manager for Columbia Gas, said the gas crews followed proper procedures. The fire division was notified when the gas company knew the electricity needed to be shut off, she said. The fire division removed the electric meter from the buildings involved. “We have gas professionals that are experienced in emergency response and will notify first responders when necessary,” Pastula said. “All of our policies and procedures were followed appropriately and most importantly, safely.” However, city officials have not yet had a chance to express their concerns. Bowling Green Fire Division was not notified about the gas leak until at least two hours after gas odors were strong enough that some businesses shut down on the west side of the 100 block of South Main Street. Those businesses included Grounds for Thought, Lahey Appliance and Coyote Beads. When the fire division arrived downtown, the smell of natural gas was obvious. Atmospheric tests done by firefighters showed explosive levels of gas. “The gas levels were at a dangerous level,” Fire Chief Bill Moorman said. “It was getting to the point that a spark, anything can really set it off. Pretty much anything ignites natural gas.” The Bowling Green Police Division joined the fire division in evacuating the businesses and residents in the general area of the leak in the 100 block of South Main Street. The street was also closed to traffic to limit the risks. The fire division ventilated the affected buildings and stayed on the scene…


Gas leak downtown reached dangerously high levels

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Several businesses and apartments in downtown Bowling Green were evacuated Thursday evening after dangerously high levels of natural gas were detected in the area. Laura Wicks, of Grounds for Thought, said that she noticed the gas smell shortly before 6 p.m. The coffee shop and Coyote Beads, both on the west side of the 100 block of South Main Street, were shut to the public after that because of the gas smell. Owners of those two businesses and Lahey Appliance & TV said Columbia Gas teams were in their stores working on gas lines earlier in the day on Thursday. The natural gas company has been working in the downtown area all summer replacing old gas lines. Wicks said a Columbia Gas employee was on the scene, and told her and Gayle Walterbach of Coyote Beads that he needed to call in more help to handle the problem. However, the Bowling Green Fire Division was not notified of the gas leak until nearly two hours after the smells were noticed, when Columbia Gas called 911. “We were never notified until 8,” Fire Chief Bill Moorman said on Friday. When the fire division arrived downtown, the smell of natural gas was obvious. Atmospheric tests done by firefighters showed high levels of gas. “The gas levels were at a dangerous level,” Moorman said. The fire chief classified the gas levels as being in the “lower explosive limits.” “It was getting to the point that a spark, anything can really set it off,” Moorman said. “Pretty much anything ignites natural gas.” The Bowling Green Police Division joined the fire division in evacuating the businesses and residents in the general area of the leak in the 100 block of South Main Street. The street was also closed to traffic to limit the risks. “Fortunately, after 8 p.m. most of the businesses are closed anyway,” Moorman said. The Columbia Gas spokesperson for the Bowling Green project was not available Friday afternoon, but Moorman said the crew members on the scene Thursday evening said they were having difficulty…


BG Schools takes steps to make buildings safer

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As Bowling Green City Schools students went back to school today, they entered buildings that had been made safer over the summer. Superintendent Francis Scruci reported to the Board of Education Tuesday evening that several changes have been made and are in progress to keep students and staff safe from intruders. All school entrance doors have had 3M safety film installed. The change is not visible to the eye, but the film is designed to slow down anyone trying to break through the doors. According to Scruci, the safety film takes about three minutes to break through – which gives people inside the school time to seek safety and notify law enforcement. Ballistic shields have been added to the large windows in the middle school cafeteria. The district also made some changes in the new wing added at the middle school. Rather than have locker bays in the hallways, which give intruders a place to hide, the new wing has all the lockers lining the hallway walls. Also, the outside doors into the new wing are solid – with no windows. “We’ve taken some steps to make that a little safer,” Scruci said. In order make other school entrances more safe, bushes were removed or cut back outside school buildings. The district is in the process of installing indoor and outdoor surveillance cameras at the buildings, he said. Plans are being made with the Bowling Green police and fire divisions to make weekly walks through the school buildings – in addition to unscheduled visits. A security meeting is being planned with school staff, police and fire personnel, to talk about some type of safety training at the schools. That training may be on the ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evaluate) system, or some other safety program. Scruci and the district’s head of school building maintenance, Chuck Martin, recently attended a seminar on safety and security. Many of the ideas from the seminar had already been identified and were being worked on at the district’s buildings, Scruci said. Scruci said he will be…


BG Board of Education studying school safety options

By JAN LARSON McLBAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City School officials met this week to discuss how to keep students and staff safe. A special meeting was held Tuesday afternoon, with the board going into executive session to discuss safety issues. In addition to the board and superintendent, Police Chief Tony Hetrick, Fire Chief Bill Moorman, plus some teachers and administration members were included in the discussion. “We’re looking at people who are on the ground floor of the issue,” Superintendent Francis Scruci said. “We want to try to be proactive,” he said. “It’s not something you can put on a shelf and forget about.” Because the discussion took place in executive session, Scruci did not reveal any specific details of the safety plans being considered. “This is going to be an ongoing situation,” he said. “We’re going to continue to look for ways to improve safety.” The district plans to explore grant opportunities that will pay for safety measures, rather than attempting a levy for safety expenses. However, grant funding has its limitations. “The problem with grant money is sometimes it’s only for one year,” Scruci said. The district is studying changes to its buildings as well as personnel for safety. “We will explore every part of our partnership with police to improve the safety,” he said. As the district had the new middle school designed and constructed, new safety measures were put into place. “We looked at the original designs and we made some changes to improve safety,” Scruci said. For example, the locker bays in the new addition do not stick out into the hallway, but rather are straight down the hallways. The new doors to the bus area are solid, not glass. And ballistic shields will soon be installed on the cafeteria windows. “We did things intentionally with the design,” he said. As with the other school buildings, “The Boots” will be installed on each doorway to keep out intruders. Scruci said the district will continue discussing increased safety measures with the police and fire divisions. “We’re fortunate to live in a supportive city.”…