Well, its elections again, and of course our city is in the process of their normal routine. My department was fully paid until 1989-1990. At that time, the city was in severe distress, and had to make a move. Since that time, the department has been fully volunteer, except for a career chief. The chief is a great guy, and is always into making the department better. Anyway, the chain of command goes like this:

Chief = Paid
Assist Chief = Volunteer
Driver = Volunteer
Firefighter = Volunteer
Rescue Coordinator = Volunteer
Scuba Coordinator = Volunteer
R.I.T. Coordinator = Volunteer
EMS Director = Paid
Asst Director = Paid

Anyway, 10 years ago, the department had (2) 1967 American La France engines, with in the ballpark of 12 paid fireman.

Today, we have well over 70 active volunteers, averaging 10 firefighters a call. Well, the council wants to appoint a Paid Assistant Fire Chief. We, the firefighters have told city council that we are against this move for various reasons.

Number 1 = No need for the position

Number 2 = It was not offered to the current members...

Now, the fire department is being accused of being racists. In the department, we have 12 woman firefighters, and one african american who has been inactive due to a family illness. Now, the person that made this statement from council is african american. The person, that he wants to put in the position of PAID asst Chief is african american and is also a retired firefighter from the city. When the department went volunteer, he never gave us 1 second of his time to assist us in anyway with the conversion. Now, a paid position is brought up, and he wants to be put in it. This is crazy, and will destroy our department. Our responce time averages 2 minutes for the first engine out the door. We are manned 24/7 with a minimum of a driver, firefighter, Chief, and the on duty EMS crew. EMS is ran by the FD, and is fully paid. Our department runs average of 500 fire calls a year, and 2000 EMS calls. Of the 500 fire calls, approximately 40 are structure fires. Since the inception of the volunteers, we now have a 1990 Grumman 8 man cab pumper, 1998 Amtech/LaFrance Heavy Rescue with CAFS, 2 Hurst Plants, numerous cutters and spreaders. We also have a 1975 Mack TeleSqurt, 2 MiniMod Braun Amb, and 2 Ford Box Ambulances. And now have a SCUBA trailer with the near future purchase of a boat. Also in the budget is $500,000 for a new aieral in the year 2002. This in my opinion is an awsome job over 10 years, not only from the equipment standpoint, but also the man power. We average almost more firefighters per call, than the city had in paid positions.

We have told city council that the position of Paid Asst Fire Chief is asenine, and that there is no need to waste the money. We have also stated that if they will still go on with this position, that they need to explore other options such as current firefighters in the department etc. We bust of butts day in and day out, and now we get a 30" steak knife in the back. Politics SUCK in the fire service. Our chief is a guy that practically lives in the fire department. He is paid Mon through Fri 9a-5p, but puts in more than enough extra time. The city is pretty much trying to get rid of him, as to get this other guy in the door. Of all the members, 99 percent will walk away and hang up the helmet if this move is made. I know this isnt right, but why give the extra time, if you are to be stabbed in the back. It has been made public that we are racists, and that the councilman stated "I will try my hardest to disbanned the FD". The city residents have been hot, and back up the fire department 100 percent. We dont have the time to go out "as Volunteers" and recruit african american volunteers. If they want to volunteer, they know where the door is to get an application. This is just totally nuts.

Anyone ever been in this situation, or have some input...Please do so.

The expresssions made in this article are made by me, and do not represent my Fire Department in anyway.



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John Williams
NRFF1/EMT
Clairton Fire Dept