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Friday, May 30, 2008

This is what we do...

I was reading this story on FireGeezer (link) and it got me thinking about another story I had read recently. Basically, the point is that no matter what we do on duty or off duty we are always Firefighters and EMT's. We do it because we love it, we do it because people's lives depend on it, we do it to serve, and servants we are. Sure, we may not be rescuing victims from the 9th floor of a high rise on an aerial ladder every day, but we eventually we will have our day. That day will define us and it may come several times in our career. When that day comes, we will not look around for our pedestal, we will not look for the microphone, we will not seek opportunity to tell our story, nor will we seek or expect praise. We will pick up the equipment, get the truck in service and head back to the station with our brother and sister firefighters to get ready for the big one. Much like we do every day, we will be ready for whatever emergencies are given to us that day, and we will mitigate them as we have done for years.

This is who we are. We do it because we want to be a part of a greater good. We want to make a difference, we want to be a part of the team. We don't do it to be called heroes and we do not consider heroes. Many Firefighters will tell you that Heroes are the burn victims at burn camp or the kids at MDA camp who suffer from Muscular Dystrophy. Heroes we are not. We are mere mortals.

We do it because we love doing it. The adrenaline rush helps too.

And you are waiting for my point...Here it is.

We do our jobs, we do it very well. We pride ourselves on the great job we are able to do. The only thing we ask in return is a decent salary and benefits as well as the proper gear and equipment to do our jobs. For us, our salary could be better, and the benefits could certainly be better. I have talked about that in the past and will in the future I am sure, but I would like to discuss something else.

For years now, we have had to make up for deficiencies in our department. Take away an engine here, move a station there, run more calls, do more public relations, install car seats, pre-fire plans, test and retest hydrants then paint them too, run calls into the County, run calls into Salem, train on your days off, reduce an engine and ladder truck down to a quint, do the job of 6-8 guys with only 3, follow the rules that we want when we want you to, remember unwritten rules that from 20 years ago.

The saga continues. I am sure that the Chiefs could show up in any station and hear some bitching about all of the recent events, but they will never hear the complete truth. That is what I am here for. The Firefighters of all ranks are disgusted. The morale has hit an all time low. The Department is falling apart at the seams. The Firefighters who have had to keep the Department held together for so long are fed up. All of the cuts, bullshit, retaliation, boneheaded moves, stupid judgement, mismanagement, micromanagement, and otherwise unsound decision making that the firefighters have lived with for so long and still kept the department running might actually ruin the department. The Firefighters can only hold back the flood gates for so long. Once the defenses are breached, the department will go down the tubes.

Firefighters are already looking at Roanoke County for a potential place to go work. Salem is looking very good as well. It is no longer about going to another department for more money and the same problems, it is now about going to another department to get away from the heap of problems which continue to pile up in our department.

Even the bootlickers are curling up. They are quickly realizing that the boots they are licking are starting to smell. The unease downtown is easily seen. Nobody knows what the hell is going on. The County doesn't want to give up the 6 at Clearbrook...Well duh.

Firefighters are realizing that all of this overcompensating for poor planning and decision making is not worth it. Administrators are scurrying around like contestants on Survivor trying to form alliances for when the shit hits the fan to ensure they aren't voted off the island. I would be scared of my name being on any pieces of paper downtown due to the potential audit of the Fire Department's spending habits.

As for us, we will continue to be the best, but don't blame us if we fail. We tried to tell you and you and you...but you didn't listen.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

And to top if off for all you outsiders looking in, now we are no longer checking hydrants, we stopped doing preplans, training has stopped (except for in house), no more public service events, no riding territory or any thing of that nature. To the store and back and thats all unless we have a call. Why? The fuel budget is Waaaaaaaayyyyy over spent. Go figure

Anonymous said...

Budget is way overspent. What is this I hear about a City FD financed golf tournament a while back? Is there any truth to that. Money to send City firefighters to play golf, but no money for fuel, salaries, etc....?

Anonymous said...

If the dept. is so broke then why is Altman going to the National Fire Academy for 2 WEEKS!!! Pretty sad state when we are losing positions, fuel is over budget, morale is at an all time low.....now we send someone who has never really fought any fire (dont get me wrong....he is good at the position he is in) to the NFA for 2 weeks??
Im just glad to be no person of any importance and show up and do my job the best I know how and dont have number 2 breathing down my neck, no pun intended....or wait, pun intended.
Sol Rosenberg

Anonymous said...

To add to this, I have heard several firefighters, GOOD firefighters are activly looking for other jobs, not just in the county or Salem, but anywhere. These guys were going to be the future of this department, ones that actually have intelligence, common sense, and a good work ethic. Several that I can say I have been proud to work with.
When will it end? Just like in other departments that have no true leaders, it will only end when people die.
I'm glad that I won't be here when it happens.

Anonymous said...

not defending anything those butt munchers dowtown are doing... but NFA is a funded trip, the department isn't paying for that... well the gas up there and that's it. Hey any education for those guys is good. Maybe they'll see how real departments are supposed to be run and they'll do it and not cut us.

EAT IT said...

Mayor memorial $60,000.00, New Park next to The City Jail $160,000.00, NOT collecting unpaid downtown taxes $1,000,000.00, Watching the CITY go under, PRICELESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

FYI, 2 weeks at the National Fire Academy cost the City $224 for a meal ticket (3 meals a day for 14 days). Everything is free; dorm room, class registration, and books. The US Dept of Homeland Security (NFA) actually reimburses students for their travel. They either give you a free plane ticket or they pay for your vehicle mileage.

WAKE UP !!! said...

I heard Hoback went up to the National Fire Academy to pick Altman up, lets use some more fuel!! Don't leave the City and go to the County, that's just jumping from one pan to another. Hear they want to buy another 75 ft. Ladder Truck. Come on people 100ft. or more, thats not hard to remember. You should just fix up L-7 and L-13 if your going to do that crap!

Anonymous said...

I heard he lost his drivers license and can not drive City cars. Maybe that's why he has to be picked up.

Anonymous said...

You painted an accurate picture Rhett. There are so many things wrong that it’s hard to address only one point. Let me address the budget. The city manager has controlled city council and has been incredibly financially irresponsible. They blame the national economy for the cities financial problems and shortsightedness. That’s convenient but it is their fiscal irresponsibility that is to blame. They keep cutting city services to subsidize the shortage yet continue to spend and allocate monies elsewhere. It’s a matter of record. Look it up. They just gave $700,000 to Raleigh Court Health Care, $60,000 mayors memorial and still haven’t collected from the 500 businesses that owe personal property tax money of a million or so, and are still cutting us. It’s crazy.

Our department is similar on a smaller scale. We have a fuel restriction now, don’t train or do pre-fire plans or study territory as we have no money for fuel. I hear they are 3 months behind on the electric bill at #1. Who screwed up the budget? Oh yeah, it’s the economy. We see the financial trends but the money people are surprised by it? Uh, time for an audit. I can’t believe one person did it.
Instead of the water authority flowing, painting and tagging hydrants with their numbers, we were volunteered to do it. How many hours did we spend doing that project? How much did that cost in fuel, man-hours and wear on the trucks? The water authority is on the phone; they say thanks.

How about running engines and ladder trucks on EMS calls? Sure, if there is an ALS call, if a life is in danger, send the big trucks. But most of the calls are BLS and do not require fire apparatus or that many responders. If the 1st due ambulance is not available, a fire engine is sent automatically with the responding ambulance. This policy is to project short arrival times. The fire engine is a large vehicle definitely not needed and its personnel are often not needed either. There is no priority dispatching. We run big trucks on BS calls. How much is this poor decision costing us? How much does it cost to send fire trucks to calls that only need an ambulance? We run them up and down the road for something an ambulance, blazer or pick-up truck could do. No wonder they’re falling apart around us. Its ok, they’re cheap (NOT).
They want fewer fire trucks and more ambulances. Sure, get more ambulances if you want, but we can’t operate as a fire department without the adequate number of fire apparatus and personnel. Management would have us pull up, watch it burn and protect the exposures.
OK, I guess I just don’t want to accept that we are just an EMS department that runs fire calls.
No real firefighter can with good conscience accept it.
They are already planning to stick us with another Quint (manpower reducer) and will cut more positions. Where does it end?

Ok, back to the budget; when the till is full, any idiot can handle the money. Someone charged with handling a budget should spend wisely and anticipate financial futures. Somehow in the city and in our department, responsibility and accountability seem to be missing.
ghost

Anonymous said...

there is no budget problem in the city which dictates we be downsized. it is just that big red and grisby have no respect for us or what we do. They see emergency services as a minimally necessary expense that can be reduced. Hoback was made chief without earning it because he like ralph would do anything they say. no ethics no sense of right or wrong.
When we have citizens, fire or police lives lost due to the foolishness of these people, I suggest you turn loose the meanest lawyers you can find on all of them and the council members that do not support emergency services.

BIG RED said...

SICK OUT,SICK OUT,SICK OUT,SICK OUT,SICK OUT,SICK OUT, SICK OUT, SICK OUT,SICK OUT,SICK OUT,

Anonymous said...

its amazing, if we ran our personal finances the way the city runs a budget, they would call us idiots. i hear that aluminum wheels would be a little more expensive on the trucks but that they would save a lot more in brake repair because they dissipate heat better. but repairs come out of someone elses budget so we dont care. helloooooo it all comes from taxes so dont gripe when you run out of money. can i have a raise now

Anonymous said...

OK, in response to the comment about Altman loosing his liscense...

Isn't that one of the requirements to be employeed in the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department? To have a valid Virginia driver's liscense?

If it is true, whether for medical reasons or any other reason, no liscense would mean no job for the rank and file.

Anonymous said...

Dont quote me on this, but I believe you have to have a license to be a certified EMT or above, that is why you lose your job if you get DUI, cause then you are not an EMT, but..... if you are high enough ranking then that is not part of your job description - someone correct me if I am wrong, going off memory here.

Anonymous said...

No what I understand is you can not drive an EMS vehicle in the state of VA if you have a DUI. He can not have a drivers permit and still be an EMT or EMT-P. An EMS vehicle includes any vehicle that carries EMS equipment Medic truck, Engine, Ladder, RS-1, and I would geuss B1&B2. I know if it has a white pice of paper that makes it EMS certified it is one.

Anonymous said...

Why don't everbody leave altman alone he has serious medical problems. why kick a dog when he is down, if you want to get on somebody chief 1 @ 2 make good targets.

Anonymous said...

well if altman is as bad off as you say than he has no bizz being on a firetruck much less in a fire.

Anonymous said...

Free the Clearbrook 6. Bring our people. Oh and tear down this wall.