Lab Fire Shuts Down CDC Georgia Campus

Rubella lab fire likely caused by an equipment malfunction
MIKE MORRIS, The Atlanta Journal Constitution Published Friday, March 27, 2015

A laboratory building on the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's DeKalb County campus was closed Wednesday because of an overnight fire in a rubella lab, a CDC spokesman said.

The fire broke out around midnight in Building 18, CDC spokesman Thomas Skinner said.

"No one was injured and there was no release or loss of containment of any germs," Skinner told Channel 2 Action News in an email.

While the cause of the fire is under investigation, "early indications point to a piece of laboratory equipment that malfunctioned," he said.

Skinner said the building, which houses 470 employees working on rubella, measles, mumps, HIV, meningitis, hepatitis, norovirus and other pathogens, will remain closed as officials assess the extent of damage.

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Former Atlanta Fire Chief Files Civil Rights Lawsuit

Cochran’s lawsuit against city is separate from discrimination complaint
KATIE LESLIE, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Published Friday, February 20, 2015

Former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Mayor Kasim Reed and the city, saying he was terminated last month because of his religion.

Attorneys with faith-based nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom, who are representing Cochran, filed the suit in a U.S. District Court Wednesday. They say Cochran's self-authored religious book, which contained controversial passages about homosexuality, cost him his job.

The lawsuit is a separate legal proceeding from a federal discrimination complaint Cochran filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in January. And it comes on the heels of a Feb. 10 letter sent by U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk and several other Republican members of the Georgia delegation to Reed, saying it "appears" the mayor violated "fundamental principles of free speech and religious freedom" when he terminated Cochran.

Former Atlanta Fire Chief Files Discrimination Complaint

"It was clear he was fired for his faith, and firing a public employee because he doesn't pass a religious test is blatantly unlawful," ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman told reporters on Wednesday. "Think about how dangerous a concept this is, that someone can be fired if their religious beliefs differ from the city's."

A spokeswoman for Reed said the city will "vigorously defend" the decision. The mayor has repeatedly said Cochran's judgment --- and not his faith --- is why he was terminated after serving a 30-day suspension without pay.

"The totality of his conduct... reflected poor judgment and failure to follow clearly defined work protocols," spokeswoman Jenna Garland said in a statement Wednesday.

The decorated fire chief was ousted from Reed's administration in early January for what the mayor said was a breach in protocol in Cochran's decision to publish "Who Told You That You Are Naked?" At issue are passages within the 162-page book that describe homosexuality as a "sexual perversion" akin to bestiality.

Many decry the passages as offensive and anti-gay, while others see it as a valid expression of Cochran's religious beliefs.

Reed maintains that he fired Cochran because the chief didn't have the required clearance from the city's ethics office to publish the book, identified himself as the city's fire chief in its pages and then disobeyed his request to not speak publicly during a month-long suspension.

By distributing the book to a small number of employees, Cochran "risked sending a message to his staffers that they were expected to embrace his beliefs," Garland said.

The city found no evidence during its investigation of Cochran that his beliefs have played a role in his leadership.

The chief, who served under former Mayor Shirley Franklin and President Barack Obama, has since become the poster child for a religious liberty bill now under consideration in the Georgia General Assembly.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Cochran said he filed the legal challenge because of its broader implications.

"While I was fired for my faith ... it's ultimately not just about Kelvin Cochran," he said. "It's about the future of freedom of speech and freedom of religion in the United States of America."

In the 54-page lawsuit, the ADF asks Reed to reinstate the decorated fire chief and compensate him for lost wages.

Atlanta civil rights attorney Lee Parks believes Reed overstepped his legal authority, and what's called "prohibition against prior restraint," in saying Cochran must have received prior approval before publishing the book.

"In other words, the mayor can't issue a memo to the fire department to say: 'Before you [use] Twitter, check with me,'" Parks said.

He thinks Reed's argument that Cochran needed approval from the ethics office before pursuing an outside income venture "only works for them if they can show the outside venture violated ethics code. Authoring a book does not."

Parks, who specializes in discrimination and wrongful termination litigation, said Cochran has a compelling case.

"Do I think what Cochran said makes sense? No; it's despicable," Parks said. "But does he have a right to say it? Yeah, that's the whole point of the Constitution."

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Kelvin Cochran, right,who was fired from his position as Atlanta Fire Chief, listens as his attorney David Cortman answers questions at a press conference at the State Capitol on Wednesday Feb. 18, 2015 where he and his attorney announced that they had filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Atlanta. After a brief statement, Cochran let Cortman answer all questions directed at him. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Ben Gray)

Funeral for Georgia Lieutenant

Video: Georgia Firefighters Allow Warehouse to “Burn Itself Out”

Safe approach taken during fire at Buford warehouse due to chemicals
Plus Media Solutions Published Friday, February 13, 2015

Firefighters outside Atlanta say they're allowing a fire at a massive warehouse outside Atlanta to "burn itself out."

Gwinnett County firefighters said firefighters are taking the approach at the Buford warehouse due to potential plumbing chemicals in the building and its former use as a tannery decades ago.

Fire department spokesman Tommy Rutledge says the building known as the Buford Tannery caught fire Tuesday evening and was already engulfed in flames by the time firefighters arrived.

Rutledge says a former plumbing business had occupied part of the building.

Rutledge says no one was inside the building when the fire began and no injuries have been reported. The cause of the fire is under investigation.


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Georgia Firefighters React to Death of Macon Lieutenant

FireEMS Blogs: Operational Considerations for Residential Basement Fires

Recent events in Macon, Georgia highlight challenges and risks faced at similar residential structures

By Christopher J. Naum
Published Thursday, February 12, 2015

Basement fires in both residential and commercial occupancies are one of the most challenging tactical operations that present numerous risk factors requiring the highest degree of situational awareness, training skill sets and continuous incident monitoring and assessment to gauge building structural integrity, fire behavior and fire dynamics and corresponding crew integrity and performance.

The predictability of performance in buildings on fire in residential occupancies varies based on building vintage (age), methods and materials of constructions and structural support components, assemblies and systems that when under duress by fire within the basement compartment create definable risks, limited operational time periods and the need for well coordinate tactical deployments managed under incident and command time compressions that are concurrently impacted by degrading building and systems resiliency and declining material integrity- which lead directly to compromise and collapse conditions.

The recent events at a residential fire in Macon, Georgia that involved a basement fire and subsequent floor collapse, numerous fire fighter injuries and reports of a firefighter line-of-duty death continues to bring to light the operational challenges and risks facing companies in safely assessing and conducting fire suppression and support deployments at similar residential occupancies and structures.

Preliminary information coming forth from Georgia and a review of county tax –building records indicates the single story residential building with a ranch design and configuration was constructed in 1962 of Type V Conventional Wood frame construction with approximately 1460 SF of area.

Read More of "Operational Considerations for Residential Basement Fires" from Fireground Leadership

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Fire-damaged I-joists where victim fell in a 2006 incident. Note how the vertical web is almost completely consumed (NIOSH photo)

USFA: Georgia Lieutenant Killed in Collapse

Macon-Bibb County fire officer killed and five others injured during house fire
United States Fire Administration Published Thursday, February 12, 2015

The U.S. Fire Administration has announced the official on-duty death of Lieutenant Randy Parker, 46, of the Macon-Bibb County Fire Department on February 11, 2015.

Lieutenant Parker was pronounced dead at Medical Center-Navicent Health and five other firefighters were injured after a structural collapse occurred while fire crews were operating inside of a burning residential structure. According to media reports, the Bibb County coroner said Lieutenant Parker died from burns and smoke inhalation. Three of the injured firefighters are being treated at the Augusta Burn Center; one of the three was in critical condition and airlifted to the Center. The fatal fire incident remains under investigation by authorities.

Tribute is being paid to Lieutenant Randy Parker at
To date, 10 firefighter fatalities have been reported to USFA in 2015.  Year-to-date and annual USFA firefighter fatality reports are posted online at

Fatality status is provisional and may change as USFA contacts State Fire Marshals to verify fatality incident information.

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To date, 10 firefighter fatalities have been reported to USFA in 2015.

Raw Video: Macon-Bibb County House Fire Neighbor Describes Fire That Claimed Georgia Firefighter Georgia Firefighter Killed, Five Others Injured


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