PRETENDING TO HAVE A FIRE DEPARTMENT RESULTS IN NON-PRETEND BURN INJURIES: (AUDIO & A VIDEO)
The below phone and radio call recordings are from March 14 when, as you will recall, Benton Harbor (MI) Fire Lieutenant Doug Bell, was trapped and severely burned in a house fire-he was a crew of 1.
He responded to the scene, arrived, some public safety officers (police/fire cross-trained) arrived after him and he also called for off duty and reserve Firefighters-why they aren't on the first alarm remains to be determined.
YOU WILL HEAR that his "mayday" was actually called in to 9-1-1, by phone, by a citizen who was watching the incident unfold.
Nearly two years ago, Benton Harbor laid off most of its Firefighters to save money and create a "Public Safety" Department where cops are somewhat cross-trained to answer police calls and respond to fires....and the city is apparently attempting to "pretend" to have a fire response system-one that works fine, as long as there are no fires.
THE REALITY is that the community needs to understand the fact that they may have an EXTERIOR fire response, primarily "exposure protection" at best-with a delayed response of additional resources....and odds are, your ***** is gonna burn down. But, the city HAS now saved money.
It's all good. Except for burned homes. Except for a seriously burned Fire Lieutenant.
It's all good as long as no one needs the fire department-because there isn't one....it only "feels" that way. Kinda of like that "pretend" town in this "classic" movie...it FEELS like there is a TOWN, it LOOKS like there is a town...but when it comes down to reality---there is NO TOWN:
We sure fooled 'em!
Lt. Bell underwent skin graft surgery on Saturday and may get out of the hospital as soon as Thursday. Michigan's Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating what happened to Bell and is expected to release its report in two weeks. The organization could fine Benton Harbor and is expected to make recommendations on what to do so this doesn't happen again....which shouldn't be that difficult to figure out.
It will be 4 to 5 months before the Lieutenant can fully use his hands again, and he may require more surgery.
LISTEN TO THE INCIDENT HERE
One person on a fire apparatus is an apparatus salesman-NOT a fire department. Naturally and somewhat understandably, Lt. Doug Bell did what he felt he had to do in order to make a difference-but he ended up paying the price of budget cuts. He also faced what many now face, the difficulty of understanding that when budgets are cut so drastically-no matter how much "heart" we have-"we" can only do so much. With 1 person on a fire apparatus-until other qualified and trained Firefighters arrive, it's deck gun time and to think we can do anything else provides a false sense of community fire protection. Furthermore, if the firefighter is lucky-all they will get is a visit to the burn unit...vs a name reading in Emmitsburg the following year. Thank God that wasn't the case-this time. We wish Lt Doug Bell a successful recovery and also hope that MI OSHA cleans the clocks of those responsible for pretending to have a fire department.