1. #1
    Forum Member
    DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    Aug 2000
    Somewhere between genius and insanity!

    Default A travesty in Benton Harbor, Michigan..

    From Chief Billy Goldfeder's "the Secret List"...

    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.
    By himself.
    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.
    Shouldn't be.
    It will be 4 to 5 months before the Lieutenant can fully use his hands again, and he may require more surgery.

    http://www.wsbt.com/news/wsbt-benton...p3fileSTAFFING OF 1?

    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.
    ‎"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."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

  2. #2
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    FyredUp's Avatar
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    Jul 1999
    Rural Wisconsin, Retired from the burbs of Milwaukee


    Pathetic, insane, and criminal...

    Speedy and complete recovery to LT. Bell.
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
    Millions of people living as foes
    Maybe it's not too late
    To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

  3. #3
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    GTRider245's Avatar
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    May 2005


    Public safety should be outlawed in the United States. Makes as much sense as asking the roads and bridges guys to run radar and write traffic tickets.
    Career Firefighter
    Volunteer Captain

    -Professional in Either Role-

    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    I don't mind fire rolling over my head. I just don't like it rolling UNDER my a**.

  4. #4
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    conrad427's Avatar
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    Jan 2012
    Just south of Canada


    It is hard to imagine what was going through the LT's head when he went in by himself, but I can imagine it was something like "I cant believe the buggers put me in this situation." The powers that be know we are going to try to do our job even if we don't have the resources. It is criminal in my opinion.

  5. #5
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    tree68's Avatar
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    Aug 2003
    Jefferson County, NY USA


    Population just over 10,000, city area about 4.5 square miles. Median income is $17K.

    The population is half what it was in 1960.

    Not sticking up for the public safety model, but I'm betting that before that was implemented, first due response was not more than 5 firefighters. An undated fire department directory lists their paid employees at 13. Another says 14. That works out to three FF's on duty at any given time...

    They just barely had a fire department before.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

  6. #6
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    Bones42's Avatar
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    Mar 2001
    Pt. Beach, NJ


    Paid "department" near me runs 1 guy on a mini pumper. And that's it. He has to call for volunteers to be dispatched for assistance. Recently, they added a 2nd guy running ANOTHER mini pumper.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

  7. #7
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    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Bossier Parrish, Louisiana


    A few years ago I worked part-time for a combination department where there was one firefighter on duty.

    Though the volunteers responded with "us", there were very few of them, and it was not uncommon to respond toa fire by yourself.

    We did have automatic mutual aid for structure fires, but it was about 10-15 minutes away, and you would have to call for it if it was anything other than a reported structure fire.

    There were a few times whereIi was "it" for 15 minutes or more on a vehicle or brush fire. Never had the pleasure to run into that situation on a structure fire, thank goodness.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 03-28-2013 at 09:35 AM.
    Train to fight the fires you fight.

  8. #8
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    Apr 2003
    Bay City, MI


    Unfortunately, this is happening more and more in Michigan, including my department in the near future. Our "Governor" is coercing local governments into this by threatening to withhold state funding unless they combine services. PSO was implemented in Benton Harbor by an "Emergency Financial Manager", who also had the power to dissolve or unilaterally alter union contracts. The "Emergency Financial Manager" act was repealed by a vote of the people last year, only to be replaced by a very similar act by our "Governor". POAM is supporting PSO, as it drives their membership up. To their credit, FOP does not support PSO.
    Hopefully, a speedy and full recovery to Lt. Bell.

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