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Friday, August 22, 2008

Playing the Odds Mentality

You know that mentality that our City leaders have that we can play the odds when it comes to Public Safety. We remove a truck here and move a truck there. Decrease the police officers and firefighters. Consolidate this station and that station. Then we tell everyone nothing will change. This is playing the odds.

This mentality is a lot cheaper than "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". Cheaper to taxpayers, cheaper to the City. Budget cuts are in effect across the Nation. September 11th has worn off. The days of Politicians and Local Leaders realization of the need for more firefighters and more police officers is gone. Now the fight has become local. Only in the face of tragedy do things change anymore. Look at Charleston. Firefighters complained for years seeking change in their outdated system. 9 Firefighters died and suddenly everyone is opening their eyes.

Unfortunately, this playing the odds mentality has seeped into the rank and file of our department. The ideals of needing more firefighters on the trucks and more firefighters on scene have been replaced with "Who Cares" and "We have tried but cannot make a difference". Very true, we have tried to get them to listen. So far they aren't hearing it. I will be damned if I am going to give my life up because the system failed me. Don't take that the wrong way, I am still willing to risk my life for the life of another, that is what we do. However, I am not going to give my life by accepting the odds and going along with Administration.

Through this whole ordeal of budget cuts and future changes, the single most significant moment was when Chief Hoback admitted that he had not seen the Fire-EMS Budget located in the Resource Allocation Plan. That same documentation that we were told he created, one of three as a matter of fact, and our City Manager picked that one. This happened, I was there. It was a moment of clarity.

We all know who is running the department. Call it what you will and use your own analogies, but it is not safe the way things are going. We need change. We need reform.

I took a class recently at the training center. The class was offered on duty and was taught by Retired Chief Poff from Roanoke County. The class was on the art of reading smoke. This class was great. Not only did I learn a lot, but I could tell that the other firefighters with me learned a lot. The case studies on the Keokuk Iowa fire that killed 3 firefighters and the Houston McDonald's that killed 2 firefighters was especially interesting. These case studies were interesting because I remember them. The lessons learned from the fires which took these firefighters could be life saving one day.

With our current and future cuts, consolidation, disbanding of companies we are in a downward spiral. The end is nowhere in sight. We have effectively created a quint concept in some of our stations and possibly more in the future. With 3 firefighters on our rigs, this is a recipe for disaster. The one saving grace is that while we do have fires in Roanoke, we do not have many fires with people trapped. This enables us to not risk quite as much while fighting fires. We still search and are capable of rescue, we just don't have to push the envelope too far regularly. Who can forecast the future? Apparently our City leaders can. Because they continue to cut and play the odds. Just don't let that mentality get a hold of you.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I commend Rhett for saying what we all want to say. I'm not an employee of the city but I still read this blog. Why can't we put this information out there for the general population so they know how unprotected they really are. Not due to the lack of willing and able men/women of our FD but due to the cost cutting administration of our FD. I'm interested in what people would say about it. I seriously doubt most they know just how unqualified our "Chief" is. I'll tell you right now if a certain someone in the FD gets hurt because of his stupidty and blatent disregard for his firefighters safety there will a big legal battle, personally I'm not so scared to go up and give him a little taste of my logic. I hope our local news station gets ahold of this story because if they run it the national news will see it and maybe it would do some good for the administration to see how silly their logic is. Maybe Hoback will see how childish he is acting, he can't ban the outside world!

Anonymous said...

You don't get it. KNOWONE CARES except the Firefighters and their families, because we know what is coming.

The public don't want to hear it, they want to keep there heads under a rock, and the news media could care less about us.

Anonymous said...

Need to somehow advertise this site in a cheap way throughout the valley. This is the only valid information in regards to the Roanoke City Fire-EMS dept.
Not sure how to come up with any advertisin $$ for this site though?

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, it will take something like a smart lawyer to represent a family who has lost a loved one where the initial companies were understaffed. They'll sue on the basis of NFPA 1710 and say-- "well, your department adheres to these NFPA standards, why not this one??" Citizens have already started to sue individual Firefighters (and on up the food chain) responding to pin-ins where the vehicle wasn't stablized properly or c-spine was compromised.

Anonymous said...

as long as this blog stays alive, we have a "paper-trail" as to all the issues with the deartment, the staffing & the inadequacy of the lead officers. We have an "I tried to warn you" with dated proof that one day this would happen. keep this alive & it will eventually come out in the wash

Anonymous said...

Yes, people care - not fire dept, not police dept - just citizens and other city employees.

Try Craigslist for getting the word out about your blog.