The Wheeling Fire Department is proud to announce the department has once again earned an American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline® EMS Award. For a second year running, WFD earned the highest honor possible, Gold Plus – one of few departments and organizations to do so in the state.
WFD was awarded Gold Plus for implementing high quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who experience severe heart attacks.
The Wheeling Fire Department has been recognized by the American Heart Association year after year. In addition to Gold Plus this year and in 2020, the department earned the AHA’s gold award in 2018 and 2019, silver in 2017 and bronze in 2016.
“The ability for the Wheeling Fire Department to achieve this type of award the last five years is a testament to the hard work and dedication to the quality care our employees put forth on every shift,” said Fire Chief Jim Blazier. “This year’s award is extra special, given the fact we continued to maintain excellent health care services on top of the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic.”
Every year, more than 250,000 people experience an ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) the deadliest type of heart attack caused by a blockage of blood flow to the heart that requires timely treatment. To prevent death, it is critical to restore blood flow as quickly as possible, either by mechanically opening the blocked vessel or by providing clot-busting medication.
WFD’s highly trained EMT’s and paramedics play a vital role in treating heart attacks and serve as the first medical point of contact. They can save precious minutes of treatment time by activating the emergency response system that alerts hospitals to an incoming heart attack patient.
Additionally, the Wheeling Fire Department’s early activation can give the patient the opportunity to bypass the emergency department and instead go to a specialized department of the hospital, like the Cardio Cath Lab. This way, the hospital is better prepared for the patient.
The Mission: Lifeline initiative provides tools, training, and other resources to support heart attack care following protocols from the most recent evidence-based treatment guidelines. Mission: Lifeline’s EMS recognition program recognizes emergency medical services for their efforts in improving systems of care to rapidly identify suspected heart attack patients, promptly notify the medical center and trigger an early response from the awaiting hospital personnel.
The Wheeling Fire Department is investigating a fire that damaged an apartment building early Monday morning in South Wheeling.
Around 3:06 a.m., firefighters were called to 200 29th Street. When the first responding engine company arrived on scene, they were met with heavy fire coming from the main entrance of the structure. The fire then spread to a nearby carport area and damaged a car. Crews were able to contain the fire to the front of the building and prevent further structural damage.
Everyone inside was able to escape and no one was injured. The fire remains under investigation and an exact cause us unknown.
As the Independence Day holiday approaches, the city of Wheeling’s police and fire departments are reminding residents and visitors not to use or ignite illegal types of fireworks within city limits.
City ordinance 1535.01, enacted in 1981, prohibits any firework that propels into the air that is combustible or explosive, flammable or audible. This includes bottle & skyrockets, roman candles, and sky lanterns.
The ordinance does allow the use of certain fireworks within city limits. They include sparklers, fountains, party poppers, snaps, smoke devices, and various non-propellant noisemakers.
Although multiple types of fireworks can be purchased following a change in West Virginia state law in 2016, they are still not permitted to be used within the City of Wheeling.
“Each year, especially the first week of July, the Wheeling Police Department becomes inundated with fireworks complaints. Thanks to city council’s recent amendment to the fireworks code, anyone who discharges illegal fireworks can face a $500 fine and the seizure of the materials. We are asking everyone to be courteous of others and not ignite these,” said Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger.
The police chief noted that officers will not be looking for people who are buying fireworks or transporting them in the city. All attention and enforcement efforts will be focused on discharging.
Fire Chief Jim Blazier added that fireworks are known to cause fire and serious injury this time of year. “Typically, the days before and around the July 4 holiday are known to be hot and dry. The fireworks ordinance was put in place more than 40 years ago to prevent the destruction of property from fire and reducing serious injuries. We ask everyone to keep their neighbors, pets and friends in mind and to play it safe, even with legal fireworks.”
According to the National Fire Protection Association, 44-percent of injuries related to fireworks are burns to hands or fingers. More than a quarter of fires started by fireworks in the nation occur during the Independence Day holiday.
The Wheeling Fire Department will be flushing all city fire hydrants throughout the month of May in all neighborhoods. The process will take place Monday through Thursday during regular business hours. Hydrant testing will not take place on Friday’s.
The process can stir up sediment resulting in discolored water. Should this occur, run water until it clears before using. Testing is done to ensure the hydrants and lines withstood the winter months and are functioning properly.
CONTACT: WFD Bureau of Fire Prevention
City Manager Robert Herron has announced that James Blazier, a 32-year veteran of the Wheeling Fire Department, has been selected as the next fire chief upon the retirement of current chief, Larry Helms, effective July 1.
“James’ education and professional experience is a great fit for the Chief’s role. I believe he will continue the tradition of excellence in fire, rescue and EMS that the residents of Wheeling have grown accustomed while advancing the department,” said Herron.
A life-long resident of Wheeling, Blazier is looking forward to his new role.
“I am both honored and humbled for the opportunity to serve as chief of the Wheeling Fire Department. Having served under the previous three chiefs, I have large shoes to fill. Top priority will be to continue the legacy of service provided to our citizens and visitors to Wheeling,” said Blazier.
A graduate of Central Catholic High School, Blazier began his career with the Wheeling Fire Department in January 1989. He worked his way through the ranks as fire engineer, lieutenant, captain and assistant chief. In his most recent role, Blazier has served the past 12 years in an administrative capacity as training officer, EMS squad training officer and supply manager for EMS and firefighting equipment. Blazier is also a public safety instructor for Mountain State Education Services and is a registered nurse at MedExpress.
Blazier holds an associate degree in manufacturing engineering from Belmont Technical College and earned an associate degree in registered nursing from West Virginia Northern Community College. Blazier obtained a West Virginia adult education certificate; is a West Virginia/nationally certified paramedic and a CPR/AED first aid instructor; is a hazardous material technician level certified; and received several certifications upon the completion of numerous fire training courses through WVU Fire Service Extension, West Virginia Public Service Training and the National Fire Academy.
When he’s not working, Blazier enjoys spending time with family, automotive repair and classic cars, home repair projects and outdoor activities.
The Wheeling Fire Department mourns the loss of retired Fire Chief Cliff Sligar, who died Wednesday, March 17 in Wheeling.
Chief Sligar joined the WFD in June 1955. He served as Chief of the department from 1971 until his retirement in 1995. After leaving the WFD, he was elected to serve as a city councilman for eight years. In all, he gave close to five decades of public service to the City of Wheeling.
Current Fire Chief Larry Helms has fond memories of Sligar. “He was a firefighters Chief. He always had your back; and to me, he always will be the chief of the Wheeling Fire Department.”
Former Fire Chief Steven Johnston, who succeeded Sligar as Chief in 1995 and served in that position until 2007 said, “He was my professional father. He trusted me enough to hire me, and for that, I am eternally grateful. He always made himself available and never turned down a phone call. There was no one more committed to the WFD than Cliff Sligar.”
Sligar shaped the WFD to what it is today. He was instrumental in the department’s paramedic program and updating tactics and strategies on how firefighters would approach a number of fire and emergency situations (just to name a few).
In 2019, Chief Sligar was honored by Mayor Glenn Elliott at his annual State of the City address. Mayor Elliott said in part, “For 40 years, including 24 as chief, Cliff came to work at the Wheeling Fire Department to keep us safe. As chief, he was instrumental in bringing Emergency Medical Services to the Fire Department. Under his leadership, the Department’s investigation division was launched and the Police and Fire Departments combined their communication systems…I have no doubt that our community is safer today thanks to the efforts of Chief Sligar.”
Sligar was met with several challenging emergency situations. In January 1988, an oil spill in the Ohio River contaminated the city’s water supply. A letter to Sligar from then City Manager Mike Nau said in part, “I want to take a moment to tell you how impressed I was with your handling of the recent water crisis. I was dependent upon you throughout this crisis and you certainly maintained my confidence level in dealing with this situation. I have heard many times how fortunate the City of Wheeling is to have such a compatible and qualified individual protecting the public safety of our citizens. I certainly owe you a debt of gratitude.”
Thank you for your service to our country, our city and the Wheeling Fire Department, Chief! You will be missed. Our thoughts are with his wife, Sherry, two children, grandchildren and extended family.
The City of Wheeling’s Fire Department and the American Red Cross Ohio River Valley Chapter are resuming their plans to install roughly 200 free smoke alarms as part of the “Sound the Alarm” campaign.
Wheeling was chosen as one of three West Virginia “Sound the Alarm” cities in early 2020, with a goal to install free smoke alarms in homes to reduce the risk of death and injury due to a home fire. The presence of a working smoke alarm in a home reduces the risk of dying in a fire by 50-percent. The department was hopeful to complete its mission last spring but was halted because of the ongoing pandemic.
Starting this month and continuing until mid-April, Wheeling Fire Department personnel will install free smoke alarms to anyone living within city limits.
Those wishing to have a smoke alarm installed and receive in-home fire safety and evacuation information are asked to register by calling 304-232-0712. Residents are asked to leave a voicemail message with their name, address, and phone number for a call back from the Red Cross. Before the install date, a representative will inform you of an installation appointment date and time. You must be a Wheeling resident to qualify.
The “Sound the Alarm” campaign, established in 2014, has saved roughly 836 lives by installing more than 2-million smoke alarms making more than 900,000 homes safer across the United States.
The Wheeling Fire Department’s Bureau of Fire Prevention reminds everyone to test their smoke alarm monthly and to replace the batteries during the upcoming ‘spring forward’ time change on Sunday, March 14. The smoke alarms being installed will last for 10 years. Anyone who has a smoke alarm more than 10-years-old should have it replaced.
With frigid temperatures approaching the area next week, the Wheeling Fire Department’s Bureau of Fire Prevention is reminding the public to be cautious during the remainder of the winter season, particularly when using alternative sources of heat.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, two in five wintertime fires are caused by space heaters, as well as most associated deaths and injuries. Fireplaces or chimneys were involved in approximately three in 10 home heating equipment fires.
“Over the last several years, we’ve unfortunately had to fight multiple wintertime fires where the cause came back to a secondary heating source,” said Assistant Fire Chief Deric Jamison. “Space heaters are not intended to be used as a main source of heat and should never be left unattended.”
Space heaters should be kept at a minimum three-foot distance from other objects. Fire professionals also suggest never using an oven or stove burners to heat a home. They also want to remind everyone to always turn heating devices off when leaving a room or a house altogether.
Another issue seen during cold weather snaps is indoor water pipes freezing or bursting. The WFD recommends keeping all indoor areas at a minimum 40 degrees to prevent any possible water damage.
WFD also reminds the public to check your smoke alarm batteries and carbon monoxide detectors regularly. Roughly three out of five fire deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarms or non-working smoke alarms.
The West Virginia Division of Highways advises that, beginning Monday, February 1, 2021, I-70 Eastbound will be closed from US 250 & WV 2 South - 16th Street Exit (Exit 1B) to the Oglebay Park Exit (Exit 2A) in order to begin phase two of the Fulton Bridge Replacement as part of the I-70 Forward Bridges Project. The US-250 North on-ramp to I-70 East will also be closed as a part of phase two. These closures will continue for approximately nine months. All thru traffic is advised to use I-470 as the official detour to reach points East, while local traffic is encouraged to use US-40 Eastbound. Detour signage will be in place to assist drivers in navigating the route change.
Heads up, phones down! Motorists are advised to be alert for changing traffic patterns and to expect delays. Any questions or concerns regarding the I-70 Bridges Project can be directed to the hotline at 304-810-3214. For additional information regarding the project, visit i70forward.com. Inclement weather or unforeseen circumstances could impact the project schedule.
Overall calls for fire and emergency medical services decreased in 2020, the first yearly decline in recent memory, according to the Wheeling Fire Department’s annual statistics released Thursday. The department previously had a record-breaking year for service calls in 2019, however, despite the drop in calls, 2020 brought on several different challenges.
“Last year was quite an up and down hurdle for the department,” said Fire Chief Larry Helms. “Overall, our call volume dropped, including most categories of service. In the spring, people stayed at home, and continued to stay put throughout the year. We believe because of that, people were more attentive to their surroundings, which helped reduce household fire risks. We did not have many severe weather-related events as we did in previous years; vehicle crashes/injuries were down, and medical calls dropped because we think people did not want to go the hospital.”
Chief Helms said one of the greatest obstacles for the department was not day-to-day business, or responding to certain types of calls, but purchasing safety supplies.
“Throughout a normal year, we are stocked with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). However, one our greatest concerns last year, during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic was having enough N-95 masks, gowns, gloves and cleaning supplies. Thankfully, with the help of many in the local and statewide emergency management system, we worked through these issues and are prepared now more than ever for this long-lasting health crisis,” said Helms.
Overall, the total 2020 service calls tallied up at 6,899, down 4% from the previous recording breaking year of 7,204. Fire calls declined by 21%, followed by a reduction of false fire alarms by 19%, mostly because schools, restaurants and businesses were closed for several weeks during the spring stay at home order.
Medical calls were down overall by 4% compared to 2019, however overdose related calls were up by 22%. Of the total calls for service – 65% are medically related.
Call types that saw a slight increase were service calls by 13% and good intent calls by 13%.
Calls are categorized by the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) Code Guide. A breakdown of the 2020 calls for service are as follows:
Total Calls for Service: 6,899
The Wheeling Fire Department has serviced the residents and visitors of the City of Wheeling since 1869 and staffs 97 full-time firefighters/EMTs in seven fire stations throughout the city.
Wheeling Firefighters were called to the scene of a house fire at 315 South York Street on Wheeling Island Sunday afternoon, January 3.
An occupant at the address called 911 around 2:43 p.m., and informed dispatchers the house was on fire. When the first responding engine company arrived on scene, flames could be seen coming from the front room and porch area of the house.
Firefighters were able to get the fire under control quickly and rescue two cats inside. No one else was injured. Ohio County Animal Control was called to care for the animals.
Investigators will work to determine a cause.
The Wheeling Fire Department’s Bureau of Fire Investigations announced today the Nov. 1, 2020 fire at Avenue Eats, located at 1201 Valley View Ave has been ruled accidental.
Surveillance video shows the fire started from a heat source coming from the exterior of the building. The fire was not suspicious in nature.
Wheeling firefighters were called the scene of a structure fire just after 5 a.m. Sunday at the corner of Washington Avenue and Valley View Avenue in the Pleasanton neighborhood of Wheeling.
When firefighters arrived on scene, there was heavy fire coming from the rear of the structure and the roof area. The building housed the neighborhood eatery “Avenue Eats” and residential apartments.
No one was hurt and the building is a complete loss.
Based on the initial findings, the fire appears to have started in the rear of the building, however fire investigators have not yet determined a cause and are in the early stages of their investigative work.
This morning, around 4:20 a.m., a fire alarm activation sent Wheeling firefighters to the Booker T. Washington apartments in downtown.
Moments later, a resident of the complex called 9-1-1 to report smoke inside.
When crews arrived, they discovered a fifth floor apartment on fire and with the assistance of police, began evacuating all residents from the building.
Firefighters were able to contain the fire to a single apartment unit and get the situation under control in about 30 minutes. All residents were accounted for and no one was injured.
A fire investigator will work to determine a cause.
Wheeling Firefighters are investigating a fatal fire that occurred late Tuesday evening. Shortly after 9 p.m., firefighters were called to 4224 Jacob Street in South Wheeling after a passerby called 911 to report a house fire.
When crews arrived, heavy fire could be seen coming from the first floor accompanied by thick smoke. Firefighters battled the fire for more than an hour before getting it under control and extinguished.
Two adults were found inside the house deceased. Both will be sent to the state medical examiners office in Charleston, W.Va. for positive identification and to determine a cause of death. WFD’s Bureau of Fire Investigations will work to determine a cause and find the origin of the fire.
The Wheeling Fire Department’s Bureau of Fire Prevention invites the public to take part in National Fire Prevention Week – set for October 4-10, 2020.
This year’s national theme is “Serve up Fire Safety in the Kitchen” and is centered around cooking safety. The campaign works to educate people about the small but important actions they can take to keep themselves safe of injury in the kitchen.
“More people are staying in and cooking from home more because of the on-going pandemic. This year’s theme is a perfect opportunity to focus on the kitchen and the fire hazards that exist with cooking,” said Assistant Wheeling Fire Chief Deric Jamison. “Unattended cooking and not paying attention to what’s happening on the stove is the leading cause of fires in the kitchen.”
One in five home fires start in the kitchen. WFD wants to remind the public of three key safety measures to take if you experience a kitchen fire.
Additionally, burns are very common in the kitchen. Always use oven mitts when handling hot food on the stove or in the oven.
National Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the “Great Chicago Fire” of Oct. 8-10, 1871, which killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures, and burned more than 2,000 acres.
Due to COVID-19, the fire department will not be conducting any tours of its fire safety house or hold open houses at its fire stations as in year’s past. However, informational public meet and greets at the Mount deChantal Kroger and the Elm Grove Reisbeck’s will take place this week with outdoor socially distanced measurements in place.
WFD also reminds everyone to change the batteries in their smoke alarms twice a year – most notably when we change the clocks for “Fall Back” and “Spring Forward.” Fall Back 2020 is 2 a.m., Sunday, Nov. 1.