A friend of ours passed details on this week that President-elect Obama took a stand and made it clear what is critical at the local level…and Fire Departments are on that list. As we hear each day of more cut backs across the country for so many FD’s, President-elect Barack Obama provided HIS thoughts during a speech yesterday in Virginia at George Mason University. He commented – "Government at every level will have to tighten its belt, but we’ll help struggling states avoid harmful budget cuts, as long as they take responsibility and use the money to (to chose to) maintain essential services like police, fire, education and health care."
There can be loads of debate on what essential services are (see below for several related stories as well as how Clifton NJ educates their taxpayers), but we interpret that as him realizing that so many local governments will try to slice and dice their FD’s in short sighted choices to "save" money—and then beg the Feds to give them help.
APPARATUS CRASH IN GEORGIA AND MISSOURI:
A Firefighter responding to a crash site near Elkland (MO) yesterday was hurt after crashing the fire apparatus he was driving. The driver, Fair Grove Firefighter Barry Baskin, 37, was wearing a seat belt at the time. He was taken to St. John’s Hospital in Springfield….he received a concussion and some cracked ribs. No one else was in the truck at the time of the accident. He was responding when the right tires of the fire truck went off the right edge of the road….he overcorrected, then went off the left side of the road. He overcorrected a second time, causing the truck to overturn onto the driver’s side.
And in Georgia, we have photos on our home page of a fire tanker that crashed while responding on Friday in Houston County, GA. Houston County firefighter William Barnawell lost control of the fire tanker and the weight of the water inside made it roll over several times. FF Barnawell was injured but is stable.
In Boca Raton (Fl), there is an unusual situation they are dealing with. Several Firefighters, over time, have become sick. A series of medical tests and doctor consultations only intensified the mystery surrounding one specific FF’s health decline. After forming a committee and consulting a doctor, the Firefighters came to an alarming conclusion: Their fire-resistant uniform pants were potentially poisoning them. The initial Firefighter, his doctor, and other current and former firefighters said the cause of the problem is "antimony"–a heavy metal related to arsenic and a key ingredient in the uniform pants the FD issued for more than 15 years as part of their everyday uniforms. We have posted the entire local media story on our home page.
Local governments making short sighted and risky choices related to fire protection and EMS, the news has no shortage of related stories….
In California, the City of Chico sent layoff notices to 5 Firefighters today and cut a 6th vacant position.
In Wisconsin, according to the Milwaukee Mayor, a drop in fire deaths should make everyone feel good that the fire department cuts were the right thing to do. He says the decisions haven’t had any impact on fire safety whatsoever. Well, at least not yet….no different than reducing your personal insurance. As long as you don’t have a problem, there is no problem and you save a few bucks. As long as nothing happens and you don’t need the insurance that you cut. It’s all about choices. On behalf of people who need the MFD, the Mayor chose to cut "their" insurance. When you cut your insurance, it really only affects you and yours. When a city cuts their FD, the choices impact far more than the city hall dwellers who made that decision…especially when "that" fire comes in. And, as usual, the first folks who have to attempt to "make up" that savings are the FF’s on the alarm.
And in Auburn, Maine City Councilor Daniel Herrick who is also a building contractor doesn’t like fire sprinklers being forced on anyone.
Where do you think THIS story is going….
Last week he stated that had no conflict of interest when he proposed changing the city’s fire sprinkler rules for warehouses. "The only reason I’m behind this, the only reason, is to level the playing field with our neighboring city," Herrick said. Auburn has required sprinklers for long time, and some other towns haven’t, and he think it’s hurt his town. Level the playing field? Well….not exactly.
His fellow councilors chose to vote last Monday to NO LONGER require developers to install fire sprinklers when they build warehouses. Contractor/Council Member Herrick argued that the requirement was a hardship on developers. However, Herrick failed to reveal that in November, when he brought the issue up, that he was working on a project that could benefit from the rule change…nor did he recuse himself from any vote on the matter. The new rule will effect him. He’s working as a contractor redeveloping a building that would have needed sprinklers under the old ordinance.
Fire Chief Wayne Werts bravely argued against changing the city ordinance, saying that sprinklered buildings are safer for workers and for firefighters-and he gave positive examples. But Un-Conflicted Councilman Herrick said the old ordinance has made folks not want to build in Auburn. This change gives them discretion. "Besides, we’re not stopping warehouses from having sprinklers," Herrick said. "If they want to have a sprinkler, they can. It’s their choice."
NEW JERSEY FIREFIGHTER EDUCATING THEIR TAXPAYERS:
And finally, while there are so many Chiefs, Unions, FF’s and even Volunteer FF Associations fighting to not get their budgets ridiculously cut, here is one FD local that "puts it out there" for the public to better understand the facts…take a look at Clifton (NJ) FD’s local website: http://www.fmba21.org/
Take Care-BE CAREFUL
The Secret List 1-11-09 / 0830 hours