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    Default Facing cuts, yet again!

    15 OCT 2008

    Firefighters' Union Protesting Proposed Budget Cuts


    MILWAUKEE - Public safety versus public money: that's what some say the battle over the Milwaukee budget is all about.

    Wednesday morning, the Milwaukee Firefighters’ Union says they are fighting for your safety, as well as their jobs.

    The union is making their message known that cutting public safety is not an option. Many firefighters will be protesting at firehouses all over the city Wednesday morning.

    They're fighting two budget proposals, submitted by Mayor Tom Barrett, that make cuts to the fire department. Both include fewer firefighters and ladder companies, something the firefighters’ union says they can't afford.

    After all, they say, the Milwaukee Fire Department has lost 147 firefighters since the 9/11attacks.

    “That's the real question. How much does public safety cost? It's a quality of life issue and it's something we're not willing to compromise,” Union President Bobbie Webber said.

    The council has until November 7th to finalize the budget.
    Video and story here.








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    I feel for you guys Brew and Jasper. It seems every time you turn around you guys are facing more cuts. We just had our truck company cut and come January we will see how things work, not a good time at all. I love how it is always noted that safety will not be affected. What these people don't realize is that is the personnel doing the job that puts out the fire and rescues victims, it isn't the engine or truck. I never understood, nor will ever understand how someone can say safety won't be affected when you will have less people doing more of a workload.

    Then to top it off, you will have to pay OT to people to staff because there are not new people getting hired. It only takes a little bit for the same people cutting to comment about the money and amount of OT that some are working and how much someone is making. Making it sound like firefighters are overpaid and to again look at cuts. The same guys working several days in a row with little rest, but safety isn't affected. It is a nasty dirty cycle that never seems to end. I feel for you brothers and will keep an eye out on your progress, hope things work out for you guys.
    The thoughts and opinions posted here are mine and mine alone and do not reflect the thoughts and or views of city or dept affiliation.

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    Thanks JC, I know you guys are getting hit too.


    It is a shame though, I guess guys don't give a sh*t, unless it deals with getting hired, or a t-shirt, or a light for their vehicle. No one on these boards seem to gives two sh*ts about the hardships these cuts are creating, the lives that are being endangered, save for a very small minority of people.
    Civilian fire deaths in the city have doubled in the 5 years we have had 200 line positions cut, as compared to the 5 years previous to that. Fire ground injuries to firefighters have nearly tripled in that same period of time, and the only threads that thrive are the "when can I get a job".
    On the odd occasion that a thread such as this actually gets some replies, it gets filled with people who think that these cuts are no big deal, or they make excuses for cuts, or just an outright "oh well, sucks to be you".

    Threads such as this one are very disappointing, because it shows just what really is important to the posers and whackers who populate this and other forum boards. Brotherhood my ***.
    Last edited by jasper45; 10-17-2008 at 02:49 PM. Reason: added more points as I got more pissed.

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    Damn, that just sucks.
    So not only are you guys being asked to do with less, but when there is a major incident, or multiple incidents at once, you are going to have to ask your neighbors to bail you out?
    So now their area is unprotected.

    I wonder how much more they will be paying for workmans comp claims, and on the duty injury reports.

    Or even how much a LODD will cost them, between the funeral, his next of kins pension, paying OT to cover his replacement (aint gonna hire no more), and then the lawsuit for cutting adequate staffing which would have prevented his death in the first place!

    Pennywise and pound foolish.

    Best of luck to you Brothers out there who are bearing the brunt of this economic hardship.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jasper45 View Post
    Thanks JC, I know you guys are getting hit too.


    It is a shame though, I guess guys don't give a sh*t, unless it deals with getting hired, or a t-shirt, or a light for their vehicle. No one on these boards seem to gives two sh*ts about the hardships these cuts are creating, the lives that are being endangered, save for a very small minority of people.
    Civilian fire deaths in the city have doubled in the 5 years we have had 200 line positions cut, as compared to the 5 years previous to that. Fire ground injuries to firefighters have nearly tripled in that same period of time, and the only threads that thrive are the "when can I get a job".
    On the odd occasion that a thread such as this actually gets some replies, it gets filled with people who think that these cuts are no big deal, or they make excuses for cuts, or just an outright "oh well, sucks to be you".

    Threads such as this one are very disappointing, because it shows just what really is important to the posers and whackers who populate this and other forum boards. Brotherhood my ***.
    Jasper.. I give three s***s.

    Firefighters seem to get the brunt of budget cutbacks. We have constantly been told we have to more with less, and we have risen to the challenge, only to be slapped across the face again when we are asked to give even more for less.

    The mutts won't hire additional personnel, saying that paying OT is cheaper... then they whine and bitch that OT costs are going through the roof and demand to know why.. duh.. because it's the situation the politicians created.

    Sure.. they'll show up for the photo op to take credit for something... but where are their sorry a**es when the temperature is below zero and you are fighting a fire?

    Whats worse is some of our "so called Brothers" here who state that we should volunteer to work a shift or two to save our communities a few dollars... I wonder if they would volunteer to work for their employer for free to save their boss a few bucks...
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo View Post
    Jasper.. I give three s***s.


    Whats worse is some of our "so called Brothers" here who state that we should volunteer to work a shift or two to save our communities a few dollars... I wonder if they would volunteer to work for their employer for free to save their boss a few bucks...


    Gonzo, Bls, I know there are some here who do care, present company included, but there are not enough.
    Some two-bit volly asks a question about how many lights they should have on their 'whacker-mobile', and it has thousands of views. Post a thread about a line-of-duty-death, or about a job taking cuts, and these same "firefighters" couldn't care-less.


    In our quest to 'educate' the common council about the impact of these impending cuts, we noted some interesting stats.

    2001 is the year we started to see significant cuts to our line-firefighting positions.
    When civilian fire-deaths are compared over a 5 year period, which means 2001-2006, and 1996-2000, civilian fire deaths have doubled in the city since we've been cut. These are the five years before and the five years including the cuts.

    National data for the same time frames show a decline in that number.

    Firefighter injuries in the city, using the same time comparisons have nearly tripled.
    When you use the data paid for in blood by Washington, DC IAFF local-36, who we are all familiar with their cuts during the 1990's. When that data is used, any dollar savings the city saw with fewer guys on their rigs was negated by injury pay, over-time to back fill, and that doesn't even count the brothers who paid with their lives.
    What price tag is put on that? I just don't get it.


    The other aspect that gets over looked, here at least, but generally everywhere, is this isn't about guys jobs. We have lost 200 line firefighting positions here, but no one has been laid off. This is completely and entirely about safety, civilian as well as firefighter. We are making a stink about this because we care as people, and we are concerned about our families, our friends, our neighbors, and those guys who climb on the rigs with us.
    We are all city residents here, so these cuts affect us as much as they affect any other city resident.

    The mayor here, and our chief of department both would have everyone believe that 200 line-firefighting positions can be cut with no impact or change in service. How many people have to killed, or injured in the process of learning? This cost has already been paid for, with blood in other cities.

    Gonz, Bls, Jc, than you for your words of encouragement, they are appreciated.
    Last edited by jasper45; 10-18-2008 at 02:14 PM.

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    That does suck. Having a hostile city administration is a grind. We just got a contract after 3 years of fighting and arbitration. Do you have a good relationship with the Newspapers in Milwaukee? I know here we get smeared any chance the paper can because they are cozy with the city. Maybe you already are doing this, but do you have a PR person for your union to get stories about the increase of deaths and injuries in the paper and what that costs the city?
    Letting the people know what is actually happening?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jasper45 View Post
    Some two-bit volly asks a question about how many lights they should have on their 'whacker-mobile', and it has thousands of views. Post a thread about a line-of-duty-death, or about a job taking cuts, and these same "firefighters" couldn't care-less.

    I honestly hope that your not labeling all volunteers as "two-bit" vollys. Your post does give that impression. We in the volunteer fire service do take line-of-duty deaths seriously. I personally attended 19 funeral services for FDNY members who died in the line of duty on 9-11. My volunteer department also offered FDNY to use our station to conduct 2 colations for two FDNY funerals which they took us up on. My volly engine company spent 2 days in a South Bronx firehouse covering their district immediately after 9-11 while they were trying to dig their brothers out of the rubble. Not all volunteers are concerned with lights on their "whacker-mobile". While no volunteer i know of enjoys hearing of anyone losing their job; there's not much they can do to prevent cuts and/or layoffs. Don't cast them in a bad light because of the ineptness of your municipality.

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    Gamewell, you have a fairly new register date according to your profile, so I will try to explain it with a bit more detail.
    If you pay attention to the kinds of threads that get going quite often here, they deal with lights for a POV, and what color it should be, pagers, getting kicked out of McDonald's for having a pager on, and whether or not juniors are "real" firefighters. Those seem to be the most long living threads, as well as the threads that get all of the attention.
    I wasn't talking about all volunteers, and you know that. If you read the post again, you will know that I was talking about some whacker, who is more concerned about their lights, or their t-shirts, or their pagers, than they are about real life issues. Do a search sometime about lights, or pagers, and see the number of views and posts, and then compare them to a LODD thread, or a thread about cuts to service. It might surprise you a bit, but it may make it far more clear what I am referencing.
    If you take offense about my referencing a "whacker-mobile", maybe a look in the mirror is needed, I don't know.

    I do honestly wonder if reading comprehension has gone down in the US, as of late. I clearly pointed out that this was not about lay offs, this is not about jobs, it is entirely about safety.
    The people of this community deserve to be told the straight up facts about how they are being placed in danger, and how they are being lied to about it.

    Was I talking about all volunteers? Was it even most volunteers? Was it some volunteers? That is answer is absolutely no. Do I need to make it any more clear?


    but do you have a PR person for your union to get stories about the increase of deaths and injuries in the paper and what that costs the city?

    Lt, absolutely we are. Thank you for the ideas. We have, as a local hired a PR firm. We are buying TV time, adds in the paper, gathering signatures on a petition, and walking door to door in as many neighborhoods with literature to explain face to face what is happening.
    We have city residency here, so we are all city tax payers, and every bit as much a victim as everyone else. You may even be able to argue more so, because we will be the ones injured with fewer members working, or dragging our dead neighbors and friends out.

    This is not about jobs, it is about positions on rigs. No one has been laid off, nor will anyone be laid off. This is purely about safety, for everyone.
    Last edited by jasper45; 10-18-2008 at 05:36 PM.

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    If anyone is curious, here is a link to the report put out by local-215.


    Local-215 PDF Report

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    Quote Originally Posted by jasper45 View Post
    Gamewell, you have a fairly new register date according to your profile, so I will try to explain it with a bit more detail.
    If you pay attention to the kinds of threads that get going quite often here, they deal with lights for a POV, and what color it should be, pagers, getting kicked out of McDonald's for having a pager on, and whether or not juniors are "real" firefighters. Those seem to be the most long living threads, as well as the threads that get all of the attention.
    I wasn't talking about all volunteers, and you know that. If you read the post again, you will know that I was talking about some whacker, who is more concerned about their lights, or their t-shirts, or their pagers, than they are about real life issues. Do a search sometime about lights, or pagers, and see the number of views and posts, and then compare them to a LODD thread, or a thread about cuts to service. It might surprise you a bit, but it may make it far more clear what I am referencing.
    If you take offense about my referencing a "whacker-mobile", maybe a look in the mirror is needed, I don't know.

    I do honestly wonder if reading comprehension has gone down in the US, as of late. I clearly pointed out that this was not about lay offs, this is not about jobs, it is entirely about safety.
    The people of this community deserve to be told the straight up facts about how they are being placed in danger, and how they are being lied to about it.

    Was I talking about all volunteers? Was it even most volunteers? Was it some volunteers? That is answer is absolutely no. Do I need to make it any more clear?

    jasper45, thanks for your speedy response. The bulk of your post was clearly understandable; it was just that particular paragraph that raised eyebrows; i had someone who has no connections to the fire service read it and he concured with my original position, however now that you've said that you weren't referring to volunteers as a whole, i'll just write it off as poor sentence structure and let it be as such. Aside from that your other paragraphs were precise and to the point.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gamewell45 View Post
    I honestly hope that your not labeling all volunteers as "two-bit" vollys. Your post does give that impression.
    He obviously isn't. He knows well that I am one, and I am concerned for his, and his Brothers well being. He is talking about the "firemen" who come on here and would rather talk blinkies then the troubles facing our profession as a whole.

    I would sooner see all blinkies taken away from us then see another Career Brother loose his job to a Mutt Administrator.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gamewell45 View Post
    The bulk of your post was clearly understandable; it was just that particular paragraph that raised eyebrows; i had someone who has no connections to the fire service read it and he concured with my original position,
    Fair enough. I apologize for any confusion with my statement. Hopefully I can explain with greater detail in the future.

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    Jasper,

    Thanks for posting Local 215's frontline analysis. I hope that it paints a vivid enough picture to help.

    It appears that most municipal fire departments will see significant resource reduction for this budget year (FY09) and next (FY10 - July 2009 to June 2010).

    The budget gurus point out that the local government revenue impact from last month's financial meltdown will be reflected in the tax revenues for FY 2010. Most local government leaders are looking for a disasterous 2010.

    "Donating" time, whether it is being forced to take 80 hours leave-without-pay (Local 1619 - Prince George's County - FY09) to volunteering to work without compensation is neither a band-aid or a good idea.

    In Seattle, Local 27 fire fighters had to take two 25-day furloughs in 1933. In addition to the furloughs, the city closed seven fire stations and eliminated eight engine companies, two hose companies, two squad companies, two fireboats, and one truck company.

    Mike

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    Cool

    Brewcity...There are many volunteers who empathize with your dilemna. I, for one, don't always understand the situation you face as I am from a small rural volunteer department in another state whose main sources of income are tax dollars and fund raisers. I don't feel I could ever have a full understanding of the matter.

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    Jasper thanks for posting the report. It is extremely well presented and I hope it will help the public understand what they are facing. It absolutely baffles me how a fire chief (and I use that term loosely) can advocate cutting firefighters or stands idly by as those positions are cut. I hope everything works out for Jasper and all the brother's in Milwaukee.

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    Jasper, its the history of the fire service that is it's detriment at times like these. The Fire Department has always been the place to get the cuts in big cities. In the rural communities the volunteers are literally out there BEGGING for donations to outfit and run their departments. All along the police, public works, road crews, etc get the equipment and more personnel than they need to do their job. Has anyone on this board ever seen a police department (not auxillary) out flipping pancakes or selling raffle tickets to raise money to buy handcuffs or night-sticks?

    I don't know what to say but that it all sucks. From the city depts to the rural counties the fire department always takes the back seat because, after all, it's not like there are fires all the time, right? Wrong, we know, but unfortunately the public doesn't know.

    I think the ad campaign will be the biggest help. Arbitration, legal fights, etc just make the public think we are protection our jobs for our own sake. Actually getting out there and letting the public know what the department's position is, and what you do for them, and why they need you is what will get things moving in the right direction.
    Last edited by trendle; 10-20-2008 at 10:27 AM.

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    Thats rough, I hope the neighborhood groups take notice and start asking questions.

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    Brother Jasper, I would like to be able to post here some good news or even a bit of encouragement. But having suffered under Holton, I can't. He was nothing more than a chop master and yes man for the Mayor. Lucky for us he left before any permanent, unrecoverable damage occurred.
    I wish you guys the best of luck in your battles and I know L21 will be there to assist in any way.
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    BrewCityFF,

    The firefighters in Detroit can definately feel your pain. When I retired in July "05" there were 1240 firefighting personnel. As of this month the staffing is at 870 (population stands at 900,000 right now) and still falling with no replacement of vacant positions. Injuries are way up and closing 10-12 companies a day is normal. It's not uncommon to hear dispatch say there are no available companies when chiefs ask for extra staffing at incidents.

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    damn, the D/C beat me to it
    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo View Post
    Firefighters seem to get the brunt of budget cutbacks. We have constantly been told we have to more with less, and we have risen to the challenge, only to be slapped across the face again when we are asked to give even more for less.
    and as "unfirefighter" as it might sound, we continue to do it, and we wonder why we keep getting targetted for cuts
    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo View Post
    The mutts won't hire additional personnel, saying that paying OT is cheaper... then they whine and bitch that OT costs are going through the roof and demand to know why.. duh.. because it's the situation the politicians created.
    you noticed that too huh? thought it was just me....

    I hope it doesn't take a death to force the politicians to realize that the cuts are a bad idea....
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

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    Default I feel your pain

    I hate threads like this and with good reason, I just get angry because I can't really do much about it. The cuts in staffing are dangerous and the politicans don't care because they can't see beyond the budget cycle. I wish I could do more than say "I feel for ya!" here's hoping that the situation improves!
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrParasite View Post
    as "unfirefighter" as it might sound, we continue to do it, and we wonder why we keep getting targetted for cuts

    No, it doesn't sound "un-firefighter", it sounds like what we are supposed to do, and how we are supposed to act. A run comes in and we take care of it. We are supposed to go to work and do our job, regardless of circumstance.

    We are tired of just trying to do more with less, mostly because it doesn't work. We know the pain of Detroit, or Trenton, or Gary, because the same thing, if not worse happens in those cities every single day.
    I am glad we are finally saying out loud what needs to be said, and that is that politicians, along with some of our chiefs are more worried about dollars, or their jobs, or staying in office term after term, than they are about the lives of civilians and us.
    Case in point here, Chief Douglass Holton budgeted an 8% pay raise for himself in this budget, along with an aide position for the departments PIO. We know where Chief Holton's priorities are, and that is not with his firemen.


    Hopefully, with the research that went into producing local-215's power point, it will be blatantly obvious that doing "more with less" does not work.

    The real research has been going on in Washington DC, Detroit, MI, and Gary, IN for a number of years, and I know there are more out there. That research has been etched in blood, and burns, and broken bones.
    Washington DC proved that any budget savings accrued, at the expense of no less than five-man truck companies, is quickly negated by line-of-duty workman's comp payouts, or worse, line-of-duty-deaths. This doesn't even take into account the civilians who are hurt or killed by these very same cuts. What value do they have? Or, are flowers in the boulevards more important than the lives of our residents?


    In any event, I just wanted to say thanks for the support. Local-215 is by far not the only local being subjected to dangerous staffing cuts. There are many of us in all of our departments who are feeling this pain, daily. Let's put a stop to this, and force our politicians to be wise with budgets, rather than foolish.

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    Sorry to hear about the budget cuts. There is some talk about the same thing in my department.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jasper45 View Post
    No, it doesn't sound "un-firefighter", it sounds like what we are supposed to do, and how we are supposed to act. A run comes in and we take care of it. We are supposed to go to work and do our job, regardless of circumstance.
    you misunderstood (or maybe I was unclear, if so I apologize).

    We constantly do more with less. As I have said before, we do the same job with fewer men, fewer companies, and less money. and then we get cut again. and we do it with fewer men, fewer companies and less money.

    As the DC said, we do more with less, and rise to the challenge, and get cut again. because we always do find a way to rise to the challenge, and get the job done, politicians say they can cut us again, and do, because we continue to rise to challenge and get the job done.

    it truly is a vicious circle.
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

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