Burning Questions: course teaches how to investigate a fire

ELKO — The facts, at the outset, were few. A fire had charred the ground, although the cause was unknown.

A lady was camping out of her Jeep Cherokee, hanging out right next to the burn drinking whiskey from a bottle with her small dog on a pink leash.

She even managed to intimidate some of the firefighters . . .

May 22, 2012 — Originally published in the Elko Daily Free Press

ELKO — The facts, at the outset, were few. A fire had charred the ground, although the cause was unknown.

A lady was camping out of her Jeep Cherokee, hanging out right next to the burn drinking whiskey from a bottle with her small dog on a pink leash.

She even managed to intimidate some of the firefighters.

“She freaked us out,” said Elizabeth Gameros, a volunteer firefighter with Storey County since 2007.

The lady wasn’t really crazy and the fire didn’t get out of control because it was set by firefighters as part of a week-long class in fire investigation.

The northern Nevada area is bereft of enough fire investigators and Greg Liddicoat, who was leading the class, wanted everyone to succeed.

Investigating fires is a system, not magic. It is structured so that every fire investigation goes the same way, every single time.

“It’s a systematic methodology,” he said.

Liddicoat said he wanted the students to come away with one thing, more than any other. He wanted them to be able to do a fire investigation the same way time and time again.

“Once you learn it (the system), it becomes easy,” he said.

If they could teach that to their fellow firefighters, fellow police officers, fellow deputies and coworkers, they had probably learned the system right.

“I love this,” Liddicoat said. “I’ve been doing it for 33 years.”

The crazy lady kept on sitting in her chair, her dog wrapping itself around the legs of one of the students who was trying to figure out what she knew and saw and whether she started the fire or could lead him to who did.

Wading through the ashes

The role-playing scenario was part of the fourth day of the fire investigation class. It was meant to take the ducks out of the water and put them in the ashes of a brush fire.

Don Unruh was one of those ducks, or more aptly, one of the deputies with the Elko County Sheriff’s Office, taking the class. Because part of his job is to interview subjects, he wasn’t allowed to do the talking. It was his forte.

Instead, he would be getting down on his hands and knees and searching, often with a magnifying glass, through the remains of the fire.

The class has changed Unruh’s entire outlook on his job.

“I wish I could apply this to cases I’ve already had,” he said, referring to the methodology of the class.

The class, Unruh said, was about investigation, but investigation through a system, often of documentation.

“Document, document, document and map the points,” he said.

“I’m going to apply the methods, procedures and documentation” as a deputy, he said.

The class forces the students to think about even the “tiniest details,” he said.

“It really enforces the need not to shoot from the hip,” he said.

Unruh will be applying the methods he’s learned as an often-times first responder to fires.

“We’re usually the first or second on scene,” he said.

Goodbye, comfort zone

Unruh soaked up the instruction and the methodology and so too did Gameros. She, on the other hand, had to interview the crazy lady and exit from her comfort zone of heat and light and ash to whiskey, people and a small dog.

The crazy lady who freaked Gameros out was actually Liddicoat’s wife, playing crazy for the day, to help the students deal with a real-life scenario.

“It’s good to role-play to get used to dealing with these people,” Gameros said.

Gameros liked the class just as much as Unruh and said she, much like him, will be able to go back to her department and teach the system and methodology she learned.

She already teaches CPR and first aid and now she can add fire investigation to the list.

“I want to help out the (Storey County fire) department,” she said.

If nothing else, the class has been an incredible experience for her.

“I’ve learned so much in the past week,” she said. “The hands-on element is amazing.”

Arsonists, negligent parties beware

“We’re really short,” Elko City Deputy Fire Chief Mike Hecht said. “We’ve only got three (investigators) in the whole area.”

The class will produce more investigators, though it may take up to two years before these students can graduate to investigating fires on their own.

The students must go with one of the current three investigators to a series of fires and get their task books signed off on, Hecht said. The complexity of the fire determines how many more they must go on.

“We won’t have to pull (an investigator) from Battle Mountain or Winnemucca,” he said.

Hecht was co-teaching the class.

Arsonists who don’t want to end up in jail aren’t the only ones who need to realize that fire investigation is a serious matter.

By the policies of most agencies, most fires need to be investigated, Greg Liddicoat said.

“Where the fire starts determines who picks up the bill,” he said.

Fire investigation, and the classes, have been evolving and growing stronger because of the increased costs of fighting fires and the necessity of finding out who will be paying for them.

And if the fire is human-caused, the party may very well be liable for the cost of the fire fighting.

“It’s not getting cheaper,” Liddicoat said. “Negligence can lead to a bill,” he said.

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Burning Questions: course teaches how to investigate a fire as a PDF

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New law requires off-road vehicles to register

ELKO — Off-highway vehicles are ubiquitous in Nevada, from dune buggies on Sand Mountain to hunters retrieving their kills.

Come July 1, Nevada residents who want to buy an off-highway vehicle, such as an all-terrain vehicle or snowmobile, will have to register it within 30 days after purchase. Residents who already own OHVs will have to register them with the Department of Motor Vehicles by July 1, 2013 . . .

June 23, 2012 — Originally published in the Elko Daily Free Press

ELKO — Off-highway vehicles are ubiquitous in Nevada, from dune buggies on Sand Mountain to hunters retrieving their kills.

Come July 1, Nevada residents who want to buy an off-highway vehicle, such as an all-terrain vehicle or snowmobile, will have to register it within 30 days after purchase. Residents who already own OHVs will have to register them with the Department of Motor Vehicles by July 1, 2013.

OHVs purchased out of state after July 1, 2012, will have to show that Nevada sales tax has been paid on them before they can be titled and registered, according to the Department of Motor Vehicle’s website.

Aye, there’s the rub

“The original genesis is because people were buying (OHVs) out of state with no title and no sales tax,” Off-Highway Vehicles Commission Chairman Paul Jackson said.

An ATV that costs $6,000, at a sales tax rate of 7 percent, costs an extra $420 in sales tax.

OHVs bought before July 1, 2012, will not be required to show proof of paid sales tax in the state.

The commission, which is appointed by the governor, has been working for six years to ready the registration regulations, Jackson said.

With an estimated $2 billion spent in the state on OHV recreation, something was needed to administer and maintain the networks of roads.

“That’s billion with a B,” Jackson said.

The fee, around $30, will exclusively benefit OHV trails through maintenance and signage, he said.

OHVs, after July 1, 2013, must be registered once a year.

The forms to register are on the DMV’s OHV website at dmvnv.com/ohv.

The OHV Commission’s website, with information on the subject, will be live on Monday at nvohv.com.

“No one knows how many OHVs are in the state,” Jackson said.

The regulations Nevada has created will allow people with Nevada OHVs to use their vehicles in states that have similar OHV registration programs, according to the Nevada DMV website.

The blanket fine for failing to register, for new OHVs after July 1, 2012, or for older ones July 1, 2013, is $100.

File by mail

“It’s important for dealers to become licensed OHV dealers,” DMV Public Information Officer Kevin Malone said.

The packet for OHV dealers is on the DMV’s OHV website.

All registration, if not done through a dealer, will be handled by mail, Malone said.

OHV owners should not come into a DMV office because all of the transactions and interactions will be done through the mail or online.

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New law requires off-road vehicles to register as a PDF

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Crushing the Future

ELKO — The Italians do a few things very well: sports cars, food, wine and flirtation.

New to the list is specialty construction equipment, except, not in terms of the machines themselves, which belong to the likes of Sweden’s Volvo and Japan’s Komatsu . . .

June 08, 2012  — Originally published in the Elko Daily Free Press

ELKO — The Italians do a few things very well: sports cars, food, wine and flirtation.

New to the list is specialty construction equipment, except, not in terms of the machines themselves, which belong to the likes of Sweden’s Volvo and Japan’s Komatsu.

What the Italians have done is managed to replace the normal bucket on an excavator with a crusher.

But not just any crusher; a crusher that makes variable-sized gravel and, with a sorting attachment, can make laying gravel down a quick and painless endeavor, especially when in remote areas, MB America CEO Miriano Ravazzolo said.

Another garage story

The Italian who invented the excavator extension worked as a contractor and wondered why no such crusher existed.

Commercial crushers cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, cost tens of thousands of dollars to transport, and days to set up and take down.

In other words, nothing practical for small, short or otherwise curtailed or mobile use existed, Ravazzolo said.

“He produced the first one for himself” 11 years ago, Ravazzolo said. “His buddies said, ‘I want this.’”

Today, the current crushers are far more streamlined than the first prototype.

“After 11 years, they’ve been simplified and simplified and simplified,” he said.

Ravazzolo sought for a quote, and finally paraphrased Mark Twain when he said, “If I had more time, I’d write shorter.”

At 10 years, the crusher has had that extra time and it shows in the increased simplicity of the machine, he said.

Kind of a big deal (in Europe)

Since the crusher was introduced into the market, it’s sold 7,600 models in Europe, Ravazzolo said.

In America, on the other hand, the company has only sold a few hundred units.

Ravazzolo based the American arm in Reno, partially because of its proximity to mining and to its proximity to the rest of the American West.

The crusher’s European success is evident in its share of the market it created 11 years ago: 92 percent.

The company, based in Italy, has branches all across Europe and is especially useful for pioneer trails, he said.

Pioneer trails or roads, those which are being built or built up far from a ready source of gravel and base, often cost much more than normal roads because the gravel has to be trucked in, with associated manpower and diesel costs.

The crusher, brought on to a site with the excavator, eliminates the need to truck in gravel or base for new roads.

“You can pick up material wherever you are and make your own gravel,” he said. “You can crush whatever you want.”

The crusher, often with a screener in tow, makes gravel or base that’s up to code for roads, with gravel sizes ranging from 5 inches to a single inch.

Those pesky rocks become the new gravel to travel on.

The whole gamut — from road contractors to utility companies — has been snapping up the crushing buckets in Europe, he said.

Moving on up to the West Side

A water district in California bought its own crusher to help recycle old cement.

The district, in the middle of nowhere, had to dig up and replace old cement water conduits. Before the epiphany of the crusher, they broke up the old pipes and trucked them to the dump.

Now the crews break up the pipes, just as before, but crush them and turn them into the new base for their new pipe system.

The town sees nothing wasted, little trucked in and money saved in fuel costs many times over.

Ravazzolo said the crusher is not for established mines; for those kinds of operations, a dedicated crusher is the most cost effective and efficient solution.

Prospectors, on the other hand, have been paying Ravazzolo extra special attention at the Elko Mining Expo.

Miners aren’t the only market for a crusher; cement companies, looking to reduce their physical footprints and reduce costs, take heed.

Many cement mixing companies use the crushers to process their washout, he said.

The washout, the extra cement that’s been washed out of the cement mixing cylinders, is dropped on the ground and hardens.

With the crusher, this refuse can be crushed and reused in the next batch of cement instead of trucking in that extra load of gravel.

“This is the real recycling,” he said.

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Crushing the Future as a PDF

On the web: http://elkodaily.com/mining/crushing-the-future/article_3a1faaec-b11b-11e1-9dc0-0019bb2963f4.html

 

Jackpot JOP candidate sued for harassment

JACKPOT — An Elko County deputy, who had a temporary restraining order issued against him for two months, is being sued, along with other members of the Elko County Sheriff’s Office and Elko County.

Brad Hester, who is running for justice of the peace in Jackpot, is being sued for damages stemming from alleged stalking, an alleged “unlawful” search and alleged slanderous statements . . .

June 15, 2012 — Published in the Elko Daily Free Press

JACKPOT — An Elko County deputy, who had a temporary restraining order issued against him for two months, is being sued, along with other members of the Elko County Sheriff’s Office and Elko County.

Brad Hester, who is running for justice of the peace in Jackpot, is being sued for damages stemming from alleged stalking, an alleged “unlawful” search and alleged slanderous statements.

Hester won 53 out of the 99 total votes cast in the primary election for Jackpot justice of the peace.

Hester will still face Monica Burt in the general election come November, according to the county clerk’s office.

Richard Pike, the plaintiff, applied for the first temporary protection order against Hester on Nov. 15, and it was extended by Judge Al Kacin on Dec. 14, for two months.

Kacin concluded that Hester conducted an unauthorized and warrantless search of Pike’s workplace with a K-9 officer, according to court documents.

Pike filed a complaint with the sheriff’s office after the warrantless search. Once an internal investigation, prompted by Pike’s complaint, began, Pike testified, Hester began a “stop and stare” form of harassment.

“(Hester) began driving an Elko County Sheriff’s Office patrol vehicle, while in uniform, to (Richard Pike’s)” house and work, “over the span of several months,” seven times a day, often lasting for more than five minutes at a time, according to the lawsuit filed at the end of May.

According to Kacin’s ruling, “It is especially disturbing this conduct occurred after Pike contacted (Lt. Marvin) Morton in an effort to provoke an ‘internal affairs’ investigation of Hester.”

Deputy Sean Munson is also being sued by Pike for allegedly breaking into the Jackpot Recreation Center and searching Pike’s office with neither a warrant nor probable cause.

Munson allegedly conducted the search while acting as the field training officer for the sheriff’s office, while being accompanied by newly admitted deputies. Munson had no permission from the Recreation Center staff to conduct the search, according to the lawsuit.

Sheriff Jim Pitts, Rick Keema, the Elko County Sheriff’s Office and Elko County are being sued, partially because they “breached their legal duty to properly supervise” Hester and Munson, as well as for not properly disciplining them.

Richard Pike asked the court for a temporary injunction to put Hester and Munson on administrative leave without pay, enter an order declaring that Hester, Munson, Keema, Pitts, the sheriff’s office and Elko County violated his constitutional rights, and requested an award for various damages.

Pitts declined to comment and Julie Cavanaugh-Bill, representing Pike, was not available for comment by press time.

1. Jackpot deputy reassigned to Elko — December 20, 2011

2. Judge extends deputy protective order — December 15, 2011

3. Judge examines legal authority in deputy’s restraining order — December 14, 2011

4. Kacin to issue order on deputy — December 13, 2011

5. Jackpot deputy hearing Monday — December 9, 2011

6. Deputy reassigned, investigation under way — November 24, 2011

7. Jackpot coach files for protection against deputy — November 22, 2011

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http://elkodaily.com/news/local/jackpot-jop-candidate-sued-for-harassment/article_b58f73dc-b69e-11e1-9ef1-001a4bcf887a.html