Thread: Fire Act Fraud?

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    Default Fire Act Fraud?

    Whats supposed to happen to equipment that is funded for replacement under a fire grant? Gear that doesn't see the dumpster, packs going to second stations, purchasing apparatus that was to be placed out of service etc. Isn't their some kind of audit that is supposed to be done?

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    Been a couple of years since I was involved with the grants, but there were audits and reports you had to file.

    Eventually, it will probably catch up to them.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

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    There is no requirement for equipment to be trashed, so most keep any gear that can pass a safety check as backup in case any newer sets get damaged and have to go out for service. Rescue tools can be kept as backups/2nd sets on another apparatus, hose, etc, etc. The only requirement is that trucks that the department says they will permanantly take out of service a truck that is too dangerous to be on the road must do so. It can be sold to a broker, private citizen, or sold as scrap but not directly to another fire department to be used as a response apparatus.

    Most of the time we encourage those that get equipment replaced to find someone that has something worse and donate it. I've got plenty of folks that would take 15 year old SCBA because they're using 25 year old ones. Same with PPE, still got departments that don't have any structural gear and would take anything.

    Now if someone claimed they only had 15 year old gear and it was all 5 years old, then there's going to be problems. DHS investigates all complaints of fraud and takes appropriate action when needed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BC79er View Post
    There is no requirement for equipment to be trashed, so most keep any gear that can pass a safety check as backup in case any newer sets get damaged and have to go out for service. Rescue tools can be kept as backups/2nd sets on another apparatus, hose, etc, etc. The only requirement is that trucks that the department says they will permanantly take out of service a truck that is too dangerous to be on the road must do so. It can be sold to a broker, private citizen, or sold as scrap but not directly to another fire department to be used as a response apparatus.

    Most of the time we encourage those that get equipment replaced to find someone that has something worse and donate it. I've got plenty of folks that would take 15 year old SCBA because they're using 25 year old ones. Same with PPE, still got departments that don't have any structural gear and would take anything.

    Now if someone claimed they only had 15 year old gear and it was all 5 years old, then there's going to be problems. DHS investigates all complaints of fraud and takes appropriate action when needed.
    can they sell apparatus to a car lot, who then sells it to a person for use as an emergency vehicle?

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    Only if the car lot is an approved fire apparatus dealer and they do the required updates to the truck in order to sell it again. That's why we're allowed to sell to brokers who can then resell them.

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    so if company A gets a grant because they have a piece thats unsafe, they sell it to the used car lot in town, who transfers it to another local fire chief. He "purchases" it and donates it to his fd. Updates as far as a paint job and a new light bar. Still running calls as a first due unit....

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    The first thing to remember is to do what you stated in your grant that you would do. This is what we put in our grant.

    If the project for a tanker is approved the old tanker will be completely removed from service, all fire related equipment and decals will be removed from it and the remaining truck body will either be auctioned off to a non-fire department entity or sold to a salvage yard.
    That is exactly what we will do. I would hate to see anyone get in trouble for trying to manipulate the system. As for what happens to it after it leaves our care, that can not be my concern and is out of my control.

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    Technically bigMike, that is a kosher thing to do based on the current rules, once the title has changed hands there's nothing the original owner has control over since they disposed of it in a legal manner.

    Now the 2nd department probably isn't going to get a grant to replace it because that's why they ask how long the vehicle has been owned by the applicant. Can't really claim hardship on a 30+ year old truck when you've owned it for less than a year and you have newer ones in the fleet. That's how they're catching the people trying to jack with numbers.

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    Just seems like a big scam if company A gets 750,000 to replace an "unsafe" truck, if that same truck gets sold and used for firefighting again. Oh well, at least I can refuse to climb it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigMike105 View Post
    Just seems like a big scam if company A gets 750,000 to replace an "unsafe" truck, if that same truck gets sold and used for firefighting again. Oh well, at least I can refuse to climb it.
    I couldn't agree with you more: There are some departments that use the vagaries of the rules to tweak things and if a truck was stated as unsafe and is then put back into service with a new paint job and decals only then why was it unsafe for dept "A" ??????

    May not be technically against the rules but certainly wouldn't pass the straight face test if an audit comes up. Could come back to bite someone in the arse if someone from the feds comes checking.
    Would be a shame to have them lose their new truck and know that they will have to call their old truck in as mutual aid because they now don't have one.

    Then again it would depend on how the exact wording of dept "A's" grant application was written. If they claimed unsafe for firefighting and it would be removed from fire service use, then the feds expect to not see it gussied up with a new paint job and back in service.

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    I don't think I could have much respect for a department that gets a new truck based on a claim of "unsafe" and then pawns that truck off to another firefighter who could be injured or killed using it.Unsafe for you, unsafe for anyone!
    Kurt Bradley
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    Actually it would be on the dealer and the department that bought the truck. The reason it's allowed to go to a broker is they're supposed to fix it in accordance with DOT and NFPA guidelines (manufacture date of vehicle version) before it can be resold. Key word "supposed to".... But once Dept A gets rid of the truck within guidelines the grant program is out of the picture.

    The other option is that departments on their applications put down that the truck isn't truly unsafe. We've done that on several apps and detailed in the narrative that the vehicle was just open cab but mechanically sound for right now and could be used as a decent truck in lower call volume departments as the base for a refurb. Some were sold to brokers and that was done, others went to collectors or scrap because they couldn't be resold. Have to keep that option in there so we're not destroying usable vehicles, but at the same time the safeguards for Dept B getting a grant to replace that same truck are in place too. That's the how long as the truck been owned question. If more departments read the apps to realize they're wasting money buying old trucks trying to jack the system then maybe they wouldn't waste any more money doing it.

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    Default Firefighter Hiring Grant

    Have you ever heard of a City eliminating the Fire Marshall and still claiming it is still keeping its "staffing at pre-Grant levels"? Even the Firefighters are thinking that the lack of Fire Marshall will make their jobs unsafe. Isn't the purpose of the Grants to DECREASE the safety risk and not INCREASE it. Looks like the city has misused the funds by not keeping staff at current levels (expertise). For example, the Inspection activities will now be completed by an Operations Chief that isn't even a certified Inspector.
    The guys are afraid to speak up due to retaliation..any suggestions?
    Signed......Worried in NRH..

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    Quote Originally Posted by DWFAN7777 View Post
    Have you ever heard of a City eliminating the Fire Marshall and still claiming it is still keeping its "staffing at pre-Grant levels"? Even the Firefighters are thinking that the lack of Fire Marshall will make their jobs unsafe. Isn't the purpose of the Grants to DECREASE the safety risk and not INCREASE it. Looks like the city has misused the funds by not keeping staff at current levels (expertise). For example, the Inspection activities will now be completed by an Operations Chief that isn't even a certified Inspector.
    The guys are afraid to speak up due to retaliation..any suggestions?
    Signed......Worried in NRH..
    Alhtough it sounds "suspect" and may in fact be, I believe you will find that the language regarding "maintaining current levels of staffing" will only apply to the actual levels of firefighters responding to the calls. I say that based upon the fact that the SAFER act ( and I am assuming that is the grant program your are referring to) is concerned with compliance with NFPA1710 which is directly related to response staffing at at a call. I could be wrong here but that is my take on it and this may be a loophole that a sharp attorney has spotted. I am not an attorney and this sounds as though it is going to be a legal intepretation call which is outside the realm of what most of us could comment on with any certainty.
    Kurt Bradley
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    If the Fire Marshall wasn't responding on calls as a Safety or Command officer then they weren't included in the NFPA 1710/20 as Kurt mentioned and wouldn't have been included in any SAFER application as response personnel. Therefore they wouldn't be subjected to the "pre-grant staffing" count and could be eliminated without violating any of the SAFER regulations.

    Now if the narrative stated that the FM was part of command/response staffing as part of the argument on how many new positions were needed then they would be dropping below the agreed to level from the award.

    Someone doing inspections that isn't certified is another animal that will get someone in deep. After all if they sign off on something as being "compliant" and a fire breaks out there then there will busloads of lawyers coming into town trying to represent the affected parties in that lawsuit...

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    Quote Originally Posted by BC79er View Post
    If the Fire Marshall wasn't responding on calls as a Safety or Command officer then they weren't included in the NFPA 1710/20 as Kurt mentioned and wouldn't have been included in any SAFER application as response personnel. Therefore they wouldn't be subjected to the "pre-grant staffing" count and could be eliminated without violating any of the SAFER regulations.

    Now if the narrative stated that the FM was part of command/response staffing as part of the argument on how many new positions were needed then they would be dropping below the agreed to level from the award.

    Someone doing inspections that isn't certified is another animal that will get someone in deep. After all if they sign off on something as being "compliant" and a fire breaks out there then there will busloads of lawyers coming into town trying to represent the affected parties in that lawsuit...
    Thanks Kurt.
    Definitely a lot of political shinanigans going on. It is too bad because now it just isn't safe for the guys anymore. It is sad that the Chief has fallen victim to politics instead of doing the right thing for the guys and making sure that they are safe.
    Last edited by DWFAN7777; 07-26-2010 at 10:18 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DWFAN7777 View Post
    Thanks Kurt.
    Definitely a lot of political shinanigans going on. It is too bad because now it just isn't safe for the guys anymore. It is sad that the Chief has fallen victim to politics instead of doing the right thing for the guys and making sure that they are safe.
    Although I can certainly sympathize with your situation and in principle agree that politics should not be involved in decisions involving public safety, I would caution you that "until you have walked a mile in those moccasins" and worn the mantle of "the buck stops here" you may wish to temper your gut reaction that this decision was made without due regard for safety of the line officers.

    I am not criticizing your view here but IMHO the issue may be far more complex than you realize and the current state of the economy is "forcing" decisions for Chiefs in departments across the nation, that under different economic circumstances would never have been considered otherwise. These are very, very tough times for the administrators of departments who must serve "many masters" and who themselves are being placed in untenable positions of complying with orders from above to "slash and burn" their budgets and dealing with conditions for which no other tenable option exists. I beleive I would be grateful that your Chief did not let the "axe" fall at the front line officers and extend the benefit of the doubt here that when considering all aspects, this may have been the cut least likely to effect continuity and the safety of operations.
    Kurt Bradley
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    Quote Originally Posted by ktb9780 View Post
    Although I can certainly sympathize with your situation and in principle agree that politics should not be involved in decisions involving public safety, I would caution you that "until you have walked a mile in those moccasins" and worn the mantle of "the buck stops here" you may wish to temper your gut reaction that this decision was made without due regard for safety of the line officers.

    I am not criticizing your view here but IMHO the issue may be far more complex than you realize and the current state of the economy is "forcing" decisions for Chiefs in departments across the nation, that under different economic circumstances would never have been considered otherwise. These are very, very tough times for the administrators of departments who must serve "many masters" and who themselves are being placed in untenable positions of complying with orders from above to "slash and burn" their budgets and dealing with conditions for which no other tenable option exists. I beleive I would be grateful that your Chief did not let the "axe" fall at the front line officers and extend the benefit of the doubt here that when considering all aspects, this may have been the cut least likely to effect continuity and the safety of operations.
    Yes, there is a lot more to the story than you know. Unfortunately, there are not enough pages to quote all of the facts. There were many other options that could have been taken. The decison was purely political and none other. When the President of the IAFF says that he no longer feels safe without the Fire Marshal's plan develoment review, natural gas expertise, adherance to code and REFUSAL to rubber stamp inspections makes it clear that the chief did not consider the safety of the firefighters or make the proper budgetary decision. In addition, the Fire Marshalls office brought in an additional $500k this past year above the budgeted amount in permit fees. The FM put a plan in place that reduced False Fire Alarms by 50%. Assistant Chiefs with poor job ratings and probabtionalry actions were not considered for layoff. Pure Political BS. Excessive Average response times that go against town ordinance were brushed under the rug. The citizens shall suffer as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DWFAN7777 View Post
    Yes, there is a lot more to the story than you know. Unfortunately, there are not enough pages to quote all of the facts. There were many other options that could have been taken. The decison was purely political and none other. When the President of the IAFF says that he no longer feels safe without the Fire Marshal's plan develoment review, natural gas expertise, adherance to code and REFUSAL to rubber stamp inspections makes it clear that the chief did not consider the safety of the firefighters or make the proper budgetary decision. In addition, the Fire Marshalls office brought in an additional $500k this past year above the budgeted amount in permit fees. The FM put a plan in place that reduced False Fire Alarms by 50%. Assistant Chiefs with poor job ratings and probabtionalry actions were not considered for layoff. Pure Political BS. Excessive Average response times that go against town ordinance were brushed under the rug. The citizens shall suffer as well.
    Well, that is truly unfortunate but, it appears it would not raise sufficient ire to warrant a violation of the terms of award. Be careful guys, extra vigilance is certainly warranted.
    Kurt Bradley
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    http://www.firehouse.com/news/top-he...ant-questioned

    Interesting twists, of course it is the media, who knows what is really going on.

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    If they are quoting the application where it mentioned building condition sounds like a big difference between narrative and reality....

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