I'm sure by now most of you have read the accounts of the latest changes that relate to New York City firefighters and how they should respond to calls. Yeah, some eyebrow-raising stuff that really can effect us all either directly or indirectly.
But first, as you also have probably read, on Friday night (6-3-05) FDNY Ladder 27 was involved in a very serious crash that left an off-duty police officer in critical but stable condition with reported head injuries. The firefighters suffered minor injuries.
Who did what is still not clear. But what is clear is this is the first serious FDNY crash since the mayor has accused the city's fire union leaders of deliberately slowing response times to emergencies as part of a "plot" to reopen closed firehouses and increase staffing. The claims are that the firefighters were deliberately stopping at every red light and stop sign to make response times look bad, instead of rolling through them.
Now when I mention "latest" FDNY changes, I am not talking about where the cops now have command over HazMat incidents, over the FDNY HazMat Unit who is probably the most qualified hazmat team in the nation. No, no, no-not that one silly.
This time it's the issue of how FDNY apparatus drivers drive their apparatus when going to emergency calls. At odds are the mayor and the commissioner who wants members to get to calls quickly so that response times remain low. Makes sense.
On the other side are the members and especially someone who I think is one of the most effective union presidents in the USA, Pete Gorman of the UFOA, urging members to drive carefully and to not run red lights or stop signs without stopping and using extreme caution. That protects his members and the public.
Before we go any further, I generally think that we, that means all of us at all fire departments, probably drive too fast going to some calls. And sometimes that's the problem, the calls. Some calls require lights and sirens, for example when we hear "people trapped" etc, we are going to drive a little quicker. OK, a lot quicker.
On the other hand, there are still fire departments responding lights and sirens to carbon monoxide alarms or automatic alarms that have come in three or four times in the past 24 hours. Makes no sense. Kind of like a child/person choking (faster response) and a person with a headache (not as fast of a response).