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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Engine 7 to disband

It seems that the common theme the past 8 years, that is as long as I have been here, is that just when you think that the changing has ended, it continues. I am sure that many of my brothers and sisters who have been here longer will say the changes began long before 1999. After all, speaking from both sides of the fence, the Firefighters and Paramedics (including a few EMT's) were thrown into a tailspin during the merger. There were many opinions on the matter, and most people maintain that the merge was flawed from the beginning and didn't stand a chance. Here we are over ten years later and it is evident that there are still band aids on the entire merge. Was it necessary? My opinion is yes, and many will agree. It just wasn't done correctly.

Some of the other issues over the years which left Firefighters thinking "What the hell were they thinking?". For instance removing Engine 1 to Engine 14, Disbanding Engine 12 to create two ambulances, one of those being in the County.

I assure you that I know very well it is easy to be a Monday morning quarterback. However, when most firefighters tend to agree on something, that something is probably well worth listening to the firefighters. That is where the issue lies.

Currently we are just getting ready to settle into our new digs at the new Fire Station 1 Headquarters, closing Station 3 and possibly Station 1 for good. Yet when we are just getting used to the idea of our two oldest fire stations closing, we are thrown for several new ideas.

If you remember, back in September 2005, there was a post about an editorial that Chris Muse wrote poking fun at the fact that if Station 1 caught fire Station 3 would have to be called to put it out (link). His ignorance was commenting on how Ladder 1 doesn't have any water. Well I wonder what he is going to think when the City removes Engine 7 from his station in Old Southwest Roanoke. Then who will put out the Fire Station if it catches fire? After all, Engines put out fires, right.

The plan is to remove Engine 7 from service at Station 7. Currently Station 7 houses Engine 7 and Ladder 7. Engine 7 has been in service since December 13, 1922 and Ladder 7 was added in 1950. In 1998 Ladder 7 received a new truck which is what some would call a Quint. A Quint was designed to accomplish 5 tasks at once; carry hose, pump, water, ground ladders, an aerial ladder. Which is great to get all that equipment to the scene at once, but does little good when you don't have the firefighters to use the equipment. Contrary to popular belief, Firefighters put out fire using different tactics.

When the plan is complete, Station 7 will house Ladder 7 and Medic 7. Ladder 7 is a quint with a 75' aerial ladder and 300 gallons and currently runs around 600 calls a year. It spends a good bit of time in the garage due to certain engineering flaws and I find it hard to believe that it will do much better running at least the amount of calls that Engine 7 runs which is probably in the neighborhood of 1200 calls a year.

The question is why is Engine 7 being taken out of service. The answer is because we don't have the manpower to staff the new ambulance so Engine 7's staff will be split up between Medic 7 and Ladder 7.

We don't have the manpower? What about those six firefighters down at Roanoke County Clearbrook Station 7? They sure would fit the bill at our Station 7, after all they are our firefighters. Whose citizens are we concerned about first?

I know that the firefighters were shipped to Clearbrook to provide coverage for the Pheasant Ridge area, but was it necessary? Not in my opinion. There are many areas that the County needs coverage for in which they cannot provide service and they ask us to cover those areas with mutual aid. You don't see Roanoke County placing County Firefighters in City Stations. Look all around the City, Station 11, 10, 13, 2, and 4 all have standing automatic aid agreements with Roanoke County which are utilized often. Other stations like 6, 7, 8, and 14 commonly run mutual aid with the County. It is working, all the mutual aid and automatic aid have provided the City and County with quicker response times for second due companies. However, the placement of City firefighters in County Stations is unnecessary.

It seems like a no brainer for me. Move the 6 firefighter from Clearbrook to staff Medic 7.

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

what is your and other RFD members' opinions about consolidation of fire/ems services in roanoke co and city? just curious. another question why is there such a shortage of men/women (consider if you left the ones at clearbrook?) is the academy not turning out enough to cover retirements and people leaving for other jurisdictions?

Anonymous said...

people are leaving because we dont pay them enough. Sounds like we're loosing another one too! I thougt things would change when the new chief came to bat. Guess not?

Anonymous said...

The anonymous comments are allowed but preacher flitz is editing us and not wanting to post things that are not supportive of his views.

Anonymous said...

Fleitz does a top notch job keeping track of all this stuff. This site is light years beyond most other Fire EMS sites around. I don't knock him for checking the posts. It's his name on it. I would check them, too. If that's too hard...make your own site.

I have to believe that if the city wants those guys out there in Clearbrook at the expense at an old school station then they are looking to merge services in the future. Maybe a long way in the future but that has to be their goal...why else would they do it?

Anonymous said...

Well let me throw in my hat. The city as has management that only see's $$$ dollars and cents. The fact that the city goes outside the relm of itself and ask others to make decisions for them is what puzzles me. The city pays managers, fire chiefs and other department leaders good money to make decisions regarding their departments. Why does the city continue to ask for studies and spend countless $$ on the very things they are paid to do in the first place? We as the fire dept. are going along with a plan that someone else told the fire chief and city to do, and the city has hired the people to do just that.


Now, No it does not make sense that we continue to give the county our service in exchange for two (2) yes count it (2) medic trucks into garden city and the ridge. We have managers ( not fire chiefs) in charge of our very lives. Yes I said it, with the exception of one in the office their are no others there that have been in my shoes. The fact is that with the fate of E7 in question, the men are who will suffer, maybe not today or tomarrow but we will be doing more with less on every fire in that section of town. I dont care how you play with the numbers, its more with less. And they simply do not see that. Not to mention this engine services the city managers house as well as the assistant managers. More with less. More with less.

Anonymous said...

Why would the county want us to stay? Look at the people we have sent out there over the years and the problems some of them have caused.

Anonymous said...

The men are what count at engine 7 and the lives of the citizens and the surrounding fire companys are at stake. The Chief does not see it that way. Maybe on fires in that area the chiefs will lower the bridge across the moat and leave the New Castle on Elm to come help.

Anonymous said...

So, let me see if I understand...,

New stations, not the men, are what what save lives and put out fires. The City needs to continue spend money building stations.

If we build enough of them we wont need any firefighters and each new Chief can get his name on a plaque on a wall some where.

Thats what really counts!

Anonymous said...

Your exactlly right, the stations count. Let's face it, with increased revenues it's getting harder and harder to maintain budgets. I can see why the city looks to save money. Two stations for one. So instead of fighting the inevitable, why not fight for maximum staffing. If we fight from the beginning, before the whistle blows we might have a chance. Anything else is just a waste of time. You know it as well as I.

Anonymous said...

well i have been told by a Roanoke Co. capt. that he and other county firefighters would rather the city stay in city stations and the county stay in county stations.

Anonymous said...

And you know the ? about the city and county mergeing. what chief will step out of the way for the other. I don't see that. The chiefs are to ambitious. But there are not many men that would.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if our department will ever get back to the good old days when men were excited about getting this job and would take pride in it? It seems to me that the job has lost some of its statue and people treat it like any other job taking the honor out of it. I know that the majority of people we work with do this job because they love it, but I think we might need to step back and look at our job and realize we have the best job their is!!

Anonymous said...

yeah some of use have the best job others are on the medic truck everyday.

Anonymous said...

I say bring the men back from county 7 put them on medic unit 7 at station 7 with the engine. Move the ladder truck up to station 4 for a year or two till we get station 7 rebuilt and bring the ladder back! Its hard for me to think that NO ONE HAS BROUGHT THIS UP ,But if you remember when we got the quints ADMIN SAID it was not about man power and geting rid of engines,It was about having a truck in front of a burning house that had water and a pump. But 7 or 8 years later they want to take out engine company 7. Chief Hoback has said if they do this plan with engine 7 they will leave extra manpower on the quint,And they will for a few years until they get a tight budget year and where do think the first cuts will be?? You got it the Extra men on the Qunit!!! This is the fight! Its MANPOWER not stations.But i can hear big Ralph now, Well times have changed and we dont need engine 7 anymore and i know more then you, And we are not lieing to you when we got the quints we said we would not cut engine co, But there is a new chief in town and again times have changed and i know more then you so we choose to get rid of the engine and not listen to our firefighters AGAIN! In a few year we will have another tight budget year and we will have to cut funding and they will come for our extra men on the quints. And they will make the same excuxes as before.But never will they ever admit it was a lie! Does anyone want to take a bet on this one????

Anonymous said...

You are right it is a fight. Is the union going to spend the money to save manpower like they did trying to save a station that needed to be replaced, from what I have heard the answer is NO. Is it just me or has our two executive officers gone soft?

Anonymous said...

It's not that our union officers have gone soft, they have gone south. Downhill. They seem too consumed with other things to be concerned with union members petty concerns. This has been an ongoing problem. You can listen to them say that their focas isn't the state and how they do so much for you locally by phone calls to different people around the city, but they don't fight for the majority of the union and don't fight for the medics who we continue to loose for better pay. There are city council members who couldn't care less about firefighter concerns from the way the union carries itself. and this could be why there is a "watch out for myself" mentality in the fire department because nobody is looking out for us. The question is whos going to show us the support we want the new chief or the union because whoever does it will probably get the majority of firefighter loyalty. And from the comment before, don't worry about cut backs if we get a tight budget, we can't keep firefighters here now, do you really think theres a chance we will be fully staffed to the point where they would have to cut back?

Anonymous said...

You can say that again. The union officers don't care about manpower, especially about medics because they are all firefighters. They think medics are just that "medics", not firefighters. Medic is a dirty word in Roanoke City. As Rhett states in the post "most people maintain that the merger was flawed and ten years later there are still band aids on the entire merger". However, most of the medics that ride the box everyday are not "backdoor". We are ALL firefighters. The merger happened long ago, and this crap needs to stop. The union needs to look out for ALL of us.

FireFleitz said...

I have never stated anything along the lines that our medics are not firefighters. I am not sure where you get that information. The comment on the merger was not a medic/non-medic statement. It was a broad generalization about the entire merge as it occurred and how the men felt about it at the time, taking into account how things have panned out.

I feel as though I need to clarify one other remark. As far as the manpower, Station 7, and Station 1 options are concerned as regarding the Union; you might want to check your facts on what someone told you and look into what was actually discussed at the last meeting. Maybe you shouldn't be so easily duped.

As for the money the Union spent on the fight for Station 1, how much did they spend?

As for "where do think the first cuts will be?? You got it the Extra men on the Qunit!!! This is the fight! "

I couldn't agree more.

AS FOR THE COMMENTS, I WILL SAY THIS: I appreciate the better attitude with the latest comments. This I can deal with. I don't have to agree with you. I don't have to like what you say, You don't have to sign your name, but I do appreciate the comments remaining mature and cordial.

Thanks and welcome back

Anonymous said...

No, you did not say that medics are not firefighters. I was trying to make a point about manpower. Medics are manpower and the union doesn't fight to keep them. Therefore, they do not and will not fight for manpower. The rest of my post is my opinion based on the coments I have heard around the stations.

FireFleitz said...

I have heard the same things around the station and I do not understand where it started.

As far as the manpower comment, I don't understand where the basis for this argument comes from.

First off, we aren't losing any manpower right now, but I agree that down the line anything can happen.

The last time that the City tried to cut manpower from the Fire Department was probably in 2002- 2003 maybe when City Council tried to get rid of the 5th firefighter on Ladder 1 as well as some Sheriff's positions and police officers. The Union was strong that day in the auditorium of the Civic Center for the City Council meeting. The meeting was moved because it needed a larger venue due to the size of the expected crowd. The Union representation was around 60-70 that day to the best of my recollection and due to our presence and that of the Sheriff's Deputies and Police Officers we were all able to keep our positions.

Unless I missed your point of not fighting to keep manpower, if so please clarify.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I was talking about the medics leaving for more money. I guess I am not sure how to say it. Other than the might be leaving for reasons other than money.

FireFleitz said...

Ok, sorry about that. That is a big issue. The issue has many facets and the Union is addressing many of these issues right now. The issue about medics leaving for more pay is a lot bigger than just medic pay. The problem actually goes all the way to the rank of Battalion Chief if not higher. Right now the City is looking into increasing the pay for BC's. Unfortunately they are not looking at more, but it is a start.

As far as the Union goes, I don't like using this forum as an outlet as my role as a Union officer.

Rest assured that there are many dedicated persons working on your pay and benefits as we speak. In the end it is still up to City Council buying our pitch that we deserve for instance more pay and/or more realistic insurance premiums.

Anonymous said...

thanks Rhett maybe I can talk to you about this at work because I have a lot to say and your site is not the place to say it. I think you guys for trying to get us better money and insurance. But I think I see things from a different point of view.

FireFleitz said...

This sounds good to me. I am always willing to talk. I can explain things, as well as learn certain points of view. I will be at 13 tomorrow, feel free to call me anytime.

Plus I have always wanted to meet anonymous, just kidding.

Anonymous said...

As Captain Fochtman says CRY ABOUT IT!!. umm correct me if i am worng, but most of the young guys that left the city there excuses vary some were pay,some wanted to go back to school to do a different job, some just wanted to go home and work where they grew up.95%of the exit interveiws were postive of the department if anything was said bad about the department in the exit interview it was about ONE CHIEF! The fire service is a very noble job,its a calling and no mater how you got here you either want it our you dont, Back in the day guys wanted to be a firefighter and take the good with the bad, put in 30 years and retire,But today this new generation does not care about that,they will jump ship in a sec for a few more dollers, or they are told buy there wife they are moving and for some reason they dont have the balls to stop it! And alot of the guys that have left tried or did come back after they found out that the grass is no greener on the other side. Some guys we took back others were a pain in the ass and we did not take back.Either way times have changed!!! IS Roanoke fire ems at fault? Is the fire service at fault cause we increased our services by adding EMS to save lives and keep jobs?(nation wide) Or is it that men have changed and dont care for the job like they used too>??? We have our problems but men are not just leaving over that, the excuses vary.Alot of guys that left for money just dont get it, Yeah but in the long run it will hurt them, You stay here time goes by you get your time and retire,you jump ship here and there you will work till your 60 trying to get your time in some where, I ll take this job here and retire a young man with money in my pocket! Nuff said about this move on to the next topic Rhett! And by the way,Roanoke Fire EMS STILL ONE OF THE BEST DAMN JOBS IN THE WORLD!!! Because it a very noble job and you knew taking the job you would never get rich doing it!!!! So stay or go i dont give a shit just stop crying about it,Cause guys there are a couple 100 in line wanting the job who think it's a job worth having.Ill end on this,TO THE INTERVIEW BOARD.Forget about college degrees and forget about some guy that came from some other state and start hireing guys that grew up right here in southwest virginia! And please explain in depth what EMT-I Is and what a EMT-I does so there is no confusion after recruit school.If i hear one more guy say i was hired to be a firefighter and i did not really know what a emt-i was, and i dont want to be in this class, I think i will choke them! You took a job that said you would have to take EMT-I and you did not run home and research it, Ummm sounds kinda dumb to me. Have a nice day!!!

Anonymous said...

potty mouth!

Anonymous said...

hey I love my job. All I am saying is that some things could change to make everyone happy. Find some middle ground and help everyone out. And after the interview board explains what an EMT-I is maybe they should explain what an EMT-B's job is. Basic does not mean driver.

Anonymous said...

The Bottom line is that you guys can complain all about it, but when it comes down to it We need to stand together as a union. I would like to say another thing about that. The guys who want someting done need to stand up. WHERE WERE YOU When WE as a union needed YOU. WHERE WERE YOU? Off doing your second job, WHERE DOES YOUR TRUE COLORS RUN?? The fire service and the RFEMS dept. or what???

Anonymous said...

Preach on Brother!!!
What Ya Gona DO,..Brother!!!
Let me tell ya somethin Mean Jean.....I think you boys ought to stand together...BROTHER

Anonymous said...

This is for the longest poster a couple up from here...

I think you are coming across wrong because of your broad generalizations. Points in case:

1. Not ALL of the young guys are willing to jump ship for more money. I, for one, will be here until I retire and I know plenty of guys that will be.

2. Hire the candidate that interviews best. Don't hire him b/c he grew up in Roanoke, or b/c he is the captain's/chief's/your buddy's son. What does it matter if he is out of state or has a degree? If he is a good candidate then hire him.

3. A devoted fire fighter (employee) still has the right to question his department (company). Call it b!tching if you want to but if he is willing to do something about it then give the guy some credit, even if you disagree with him.

I agree with:

1. Its still the best job in the world

2. If people are still complaining about the "I" thing and didn't take the time to look up what it entailed when they applied then that is ridiculous. (I just haven't heard anyone actually say this--yet)

Just my $.02

Anonymous said...

I totally agree that its the best job in the world! I'm going to retire from here! I have no complaints at all really. Where can you make this kinda money for 120 days a year? Less than that after you take the vacation they give you! After my 4 day I cant wait to get back to work...why? because I love it!! We're not going to get rich doing this so most DO work another job to pay bills and put food on the table. If the second job gets in the way of a few union meetings then so be it. The welfare of my family and putting a roof over their head is more important to me. I KNOW I'm being represented well at the meetings I cant make. So... 4 posts up, why are you crying about B's being drivers? You are obviously a medic and should know that our paid units are ALS. So guess what? You ride in the back and the B drives! Shocker huh? Thats how its been for years. You're getting paid for it. What more do you want? Earn your money and quit crying.

Anonymous said...

In the "medic's" defense NOT all calls are or need ALS care. I was formerly a cardiac and it gets old having to run the BS calls that the B could easily manage. Does your agency mandate that the call be ALS all the time? Sounds like a cheesy way to make the City more money.

Anonymous said...

No I am not a medic I just belive that part of a B's job is taking care of the bls pts. And no the medics are not paid to ride in the back they are paid to provide ALS. So if no one needs ALS, BLS is fine. Maybe if the medics got some help and a pat on the back they would stick around and not look for more money. Ask yourself this, Who runs more calls?

Anonymous said...

And someting else if you think the medics should "earn their money" the way I see it if you can't do your job(taking a BLS pt)you are not earning your money. I know you don't feel comfortable in the back. Only one way to fix that, climb in and shut the doors. And if you think I am wrong that is OK just remember your job no matter how much you or I may not like it is 80% EMS and 20%fire.

Anonymous said...

Not mine!

Anonymous said...

I asked my self that, you know the "who runs more calls" question... and I have two answers. The BLS and ALS guys on the same medic truck run the same ammount of calls!!! That one was easy. The other answer is...you get PAID to have that MEDIC patch on your shoulder and get paid more than me so you should run more calls. Again, dont cry about it. YOU signed the contract. :)

Bug said...

Has anyone noticed the license plate on the engine at the top of the page. The one next to the title. -Bug :)

Anonymous said...

I want my Birthday OFF.!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

It seems like the BLS (driver), does most of the work anyway.They always have too clean up the Medics mess,vomit,urine,trash,blood you know missed IVs.

Anonymous said...

YOU may be a janitor, but I am an Emergency Medical Technician that provides basic life support. This is my last post on this subject. If you don't see that I am about helping out my brothers who work very hard and not about getting out of work, then I can never make you or anyone else see it.

FireFleitz said...

Wow, we sure have gotten off topic. I guess no one cares that they are getting rid of an engine company.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for getting off the subject Fleitz, but money is the big problem. From top to bottom! Yes the Medic mostly rides in the back, thats part of their job. The FF-EMT driving the medic truck runs the same call as his partner, and yes cleans alot, thats part of their job. It's both of their job to work with each other and to know what the other needs. You can learn alot from riding with a good medic (the old guys).If you like the medic part of the job and feel comfortable, try for the EMT-I, but don't force someone with no time to take it, how safe is that!! Guess thats a whole other subject. Everyone has a different job just like driving the Engine and riding the seat is the LT's job. The Capt. rides the seat on the trucks and sometimes on the BC car. When you give the EMT-I a raise and not the rest of the ranks it throws the whole pay scale off. Everyone knows how to fix the problem so lets do it !! Rhett alot of people care about the possible Engine cutting. This just most of looked like a good place to talk about other subjects. Our BAD!! Wish Admin. would let the cat out of the bag and let everyone know what's up. E-7 and L-7 need to stay IN SERVICE, in a few years there is going to be a big hole in SW & NW by 10th St. if we don't. Thanks Rhett for opening this back up. I still love my job, hope you do!

FireFleitz said...

No harm done. I was just having a little bit of fun. Keep on, I enjoy the conversation. I agree with you as well.

It is like I was telling someone earlier, if they had come out and said that Station 1 was closing a year or so ago we would be over it. But here it is a month until the new station opens and nobody knows for sure if the Ladder is going over or not. It isn't like we can't handle honesty. Same thing with E7. The thing that gripes my ass is that the guys are still at Clearbrook. Taking an Engine out of service cause of manpower to staff a medic truck when we have guys in a County station is not an option.Period.

Anonymous said...

It's obvious you have hit a nerve here Rhett. Unfortunately, engine 7 will be put out of service even though if asked, every firefighter/LT/Capt. in the dept. would agree that the guys at Co. 7 should be brought back to staff M7. Again unfortunately, politicians, not worker bees make the decisions around here, and City/County cooperation looks good for Accreditation. That's our reality.

The Real Issue:
Why are people leaving our Dept? It's not pay. Read the posts above and notice when the aggravation and bickering back and forth seemed to start. PEOPLE ARE LEAVING BECAUSE THE MEDIC TRUCKS ARE NOT ENJOYABLE TO RIDE. PERIOD. Riding a Medic truck 70% of the days you come to work will eventually cause you to look at other careers or depts. that don't have medic trucks. This is the truth. Now it's easy to sit back and say "Tough S**T, you signed the contract or you get the money", but that's not a solution, that just shows you don't have to ride a medic truck.

Now what? This is where we as Union Members need to put our heads together and come up with solutions. The Medic trucks are an essential part of our Dept., but how can things be changed so people aren't getting 'burned out' on them. 99% of people that have left this Dept. in the past 5 years have left Medic companies. How do we solve this problem?

Anonymous said...

I think the first step is to stop paying a fortune to these out of state consultant companines to come and tell us what WE need to do...and listening to them! This department has functioned just fine for along time without their oponions. We could have used that money to buy some turnout gear! My is falling apart and I cant get a new set to save my life!!

Anonymous said...

Thats True about the turnout gear. I feel the men are just fine with the old stations and riding the medic truck. If Fire admin and city counsel would pay a little more attn. to what the men could use instead of cutting men and building castles, we might be in better shape. (I know Im DREAMIN), but seriously How much turnout gear and new TIC cameras and other essential eq. could 9 million buy. How bout Dale Stover budget that for a change. We are loosing an engine co. and that means the fireman and citizens are more at risk, I dont care how you play with numbers (Grigsby, Hoback, Altman) men are at risk and your Risk Assessment Plan SUCKs and you know it. DO THE RIGHT THING. And thats the bottom line.

Anonymous said...

amen

Anonymous said...

I feel that what happend in PWC and their FF death could very well happen in our fine dept. and the risk of that is going up due to this E7 cut.