1. #1
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    Default Framingham, Mass...Another reporter who just doesn't get it...

    Please help me out here. I think the writer of this went way over board with this. I for one BACK The Framingham Fire Fighters Union 100% on this one. Whether it was Framingham USA or New York USA. A terror attack could happen Anywhere USA. He's just another guy who just doesn't get it...


    Haneisen: Firefighters crossed the line with ad
    By Rob Haneisen
    Wednesday, April 10, 2002

    Blood stained the ground red where the World Trade Center stood in New York City but beneath the rubble where hundreds of firefighters died, the Framingham Fire Fighters Union is looking for some green.

    The union, in its drive to keep open a fire station in Nobscot and protect the jobs of 14 firefighters, is shamelessly using images of Sept. 11 in an advertising campaign.

    On March 30, the union ran an ad in the MetroWest Daily News asking voters to save their fire station. The text of the ad was written over the image of three New York City firefighters raising an American flag over the World Trade Center debris.

    "I designed it myself," said Fire Lt. John Magri, president of Local 1652.

    The text of the ad reads, "Prevent your fire station from closing. Please help and support us. Call your Town Meeting member to express your concern. Your safety is a necessity, NOT a luxury. Because every second counts, count on us."

    Magri and the union are upset about Town Manager George King's proposal to cut the department's budget by 7.19 percent. It's a cut, they say, that will leave the department dangerously understaffed.

    The text of the ad is non-offensive but written over the imagery of the Sept. 11 tragedy it becomes more than a plea for public servants.

    How this is not profiteering from one of the worst tragedies to affect this country is beyond me.

    Since Sept. 11, people naturally look at firefighters with a new found sense of appreciation, a somber appreciation that they have long deserved. These are the men and women who selflessly plunge into burning buildings and save children.

    While this appreciation may be more apparent since Sept. 11, the union should not try to capitalize on the moment for financial gain. This is a disgrace to the firefighters who died and the many civilians who perished in the attack. It cheapens their memory and sacrifice.

    How do you suppose the families of Sept. 11 victims feel when they see the very site where their loved ones died in an advertising campaign? They will feel used.

    While the result of the proposed budget cuts is not being exaggerated, there is a line of good taste and respect being crossed. Holding up the dead for your own personal gain should be where that line is drawn.

    And this isn't the first time the union has resorted to these tactics.

    In summer 2000, while the firefighters' union was embroiled in bitter contract negotiations with the town - negotiations in which Fire Chief Mike Smith was publicly criticized - the union dredged up the memory of six men killed in the Worcester fire tragedy. This was done in a deliberate attempt to sway public sympathy toward the local union during negotiations and to try and portray Smith in a poor light.

    Again, it was a tactic that cheapens the memory of the "brothers" these firefighters claim to respect.

    If a proposed $7.1 million override passes on June 11, the Framingham Fire Department won't have anything to worry about. It will be fully funded and won't have to resort to dirty tactics for at least another year.

    But the union doesn't want to take a chance on the override failing so it is threatening to file a court injunction against the town if Town Meeting is not given the option of funding the Fire Department budget without an override. To not do so would violate the union's contract, their lawyers claim.

    Firefighters, police officers and teachers are not paid a wage that equals the value of their service. I'll give them that.

    But it's no secret that public service won't line your pockets with gold. It's also no secret that firefighting is a dangerous job. To point out the dangers of the profession during public sympathy campaigns seems backward and boastful.

    I don't criticize the union for trying to get what they believe they deserve. I would even be willing to cast aside my innate cynicism and agree the union had the town's safety at heart were it not for the ad. The ad destroys the union's credibility and portrays union members as vultures swooping down on the remains of their brothers looking for scraps to line their pockets.


    (Rob Haneisen is the central regional editor for the MetroWest Daily News. He can be reached at 508-626-3882 or rhaneis@cnc.com.)
    Last edited by E40FDNYL35; 04-23-2002 at 01:29 AM.
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    I don't see how this turd even has a right to an opinion on this.

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    I am with you on this one. I am not a IAFF member, but I support the efforts to maintain or increase staffing. The WTC and Pentagon Incidents brought us in the fire service world to the forefront and many jusrisdictions have used the "T" word to get all sorts of support from governing bodies.

    Just a thought here...and believe me I am not supporting the writer...
    Could it be possible that he was reacting to what he has seen and heard as far as negative campaigns. There has been so much in the news about people misleading others with bogous fund raisers and people gaining profit from the use of images and the like from 09-11.
    I realize this is two entirely different scenarios, but he may be confusing the issues. Just a thought.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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    E40FDNYL35,

    I have to say that I agree with you 100%. It seems that the powers that be have forgotten Sept 11, 2001. Many cities, including my own are advancing the idea of cutbacks within the fire departments in this nation. This has been an ongoing problem for years. These so called Mayors, City Managers etc always state that the fire department brings in little or no income and is to costly to the city. Apparently they never figure in lives and property saved by these same fire depatments. You can't put a price on anyones life and it's our duty to protect that life but the powers that be seem to ignore that important factor. Business as usual so to speak. My department has suffered tremendously over the years and I see others that are following this same pattern. It's a shame that these powers have little or no concern for their citizens or their public safety personnel.

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    The part that's sad is that these guys had to advertise at all. The politicians are fast to cut our budgets but then they scream bloody murder if something burns because we're understaffed and using 1960-1970 era technology(or even better, we get sued).

    Ya gotta love the media- we can't win for losing.

    FTM!

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    Your safety is a necessity, NOT a luxury.

    That line says it all right there. It's just too bad that all these people think otherwise, then come down on the fire service when we're unable to perform due to lack of technology, manpower, etc. It's a shame, these people are so close-minded that they think that there is no other opinion than thiers...
    These are my opinions, not those of my career department, my volunteer company, or my affiliates. And by the way, I'm not a Junior.

    Buy me a drink, sing me a song, take me as I come 'cause I can't stay long.

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    I also applaud my union brothers also. I give them much respect for standing up and doing what they did. Often we just take it in the chin, but we all have to learn to stand up and let the public know what is going on with some of us.

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    This writer is a mutt and will not return email. So I have to conclude that he stands by his story. Thats unfortunate because it is written with a definite slant. I also have some thoughts on the department here but will reserve those for another thread.

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    To the ignorant buttheads email 5 min's ago:

    Dear Mr. Haneisen,

    It was with a growing sense of irritation that I read your recent diatribe on the Framingham firefighters efforts to keep the budget of their department from being cut. It seems you feel they're greedy vultures for wanting to keep a firehouse that actively protects their community from closing. You state several times how the union will gain some sort of financial reward for this, but give no facts, although you espouse a great understanding of the dangers of firefighting and fire department budgets. Do you understand that individuals such as yourself demand that these people risk and lose their lives on a daily basis to keep you and your loved ones safe, and then refuse to adequately fund the Department they work for? Have you ever put on an airpack and crawled down a flaming hallway over a rotted floor to save someone you never met?

    These big, bad, greedy union vultures you refer to are those very same people who will risk it all to save you're backside, yet you have the gall to criticize their struggle to keep the funding they need to do that job! You even go on to criticize the use of a picture of their union Brothers of the FDNY who raised the flag on September 11 (I would venture a guess that every one of the firefighters in that photo is as concerned about the budget of the FDNY as the brothers in Framingham are with theirs). If someone is going to pass judgment on this issue, it will be the firefighters of the FDNY, not you.

    If anyone has a right to the benefit of the emotions that photograph evokes, it is the firefighters of this country, every one of which would have been willing to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Brothers from FDNY on that terrible day, even knowing the final outcome. You, sir, have absolutely no right nor qualifications to criticize the efforts of these brave individuals to keep their community safe. No small irony that you seem to have no problem using the images of that day for your own commercial enterprise, i.e.:selling many papers! (By the way, the firefighters of this country see that picture as a symbol of triumph and courage, not despair and loss).

    As the editor for a public information source, you should be ashamed of yourself for the statements you made against these firefighters. Although you have a right to free speech, and may editorialize any way you wish, I find your attitude on this issue misinformed and offensive. You have an obligation to educate the public on the importance of properly funding the people who risk their lives and their families futures to keep total strangers safe, even the ignorant and misguided ones. To do any less is a disgrace, and a direct slap in the face to those you should be thanking for trying to keep you alive.

    Sincerely,
    Dennis Kelly
    Firefighter / EMT

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    Very poignant and direct Dennis.

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    This reporter is a MUTT! On Sept. 11 where did the 4th plane crash?
    In rural Pennsylvania! This area no doubt was protected by commited volunteers who were probably overwhelmed when the rolled up on this call. If a city like NEW York can be overwhelmed, WE ALL CAN. Already the fire service in this country is understaffed and underfunded. By cutting vital services the only people that suffer are the taxpayers!
    As far as using the images of 9/11 and Worcester, I feel that if this is what is needed to jar the minds of the public as to what can happen, anytime, anywhere. I'm sure the brothers who made the sacrifice would want to ensure the safety and survival of the brothers all across this country. Oh and by the way, the public is already forgetting the sacrifice made on 9/11. Stay safe and keep the fight alive!

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    Thumbs down

    Now for his enlightened and articulate reply:

    Mr Kelly:

    Thanks for reading my column.

    I think you missed the point. No part of my column was about safety or the
    fire fighters contribution to a community. The column was about what I
    believed was a poor (and offensive) choice of tactics used by the union to
    keep open a fire station and preserve a few jobs.

    I understand fire fighters being sensitive to criticism, especially about
    their job performance, but if you read my column closely you'll see that is
    not what I'm writing about.

    Thanks for your comments.
    Rob Haneisen
    Let's see now; closing stations and laying off firefighters isn't about safety or their contribution to a community...hmmm.
    Exactly who is missing the point here? This guy's a long lost cause.
    Last edited by DKelly; 04-17-2002 at 02:15 AM.

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    You know this just proves to me that god has a tremendous sense of humour, because this man is a complete waste of skin! Once I have had time to think and am able to articulate myself cleary, in a manner that will be easily understood by someone who obviously have very few functioning brain cells, I will advise him of my thoughts on several things regarding his piece. The first being this:

    How do you suppose the families of Sept. 11 victims feel when they see the very site where their loved ones died in an advertising campaign? They will feel used

    Why... because I did lose family and friends there, as I am sure many of us did. Frankly I am not offended, I don't feel used or anything even closely related. In fact I'm pleased with the way the department used the image, because they using to draw attention to the fact that without them people WILL die. This is not exploitation or abuse of something tragic. It is telling the plain simple truth.

    As I said I need to think so I can speak clearly enough for this individual to get the big picture which he has obviously missed. It isn't that I didn't or don't love the people that died on 9/11, it is that I refuse to accept the fact that their death was for nothing. I don't want or need anyone to tell me how sorry they are for my loss. When you lose something you don't know where it is. I know where my loved ones are, they are in my heart and mind and part of them lives on the lives of ever single person they ever touched. This so-called column and the opinion of this man is what makes me feel used and offended, because he thinks he can justify his opinion by trying to defend me. I have news for him... I am a big enough person that I can defend myself I don't need him to do it, besides if I need help I'd call a FF.

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    Mr.Haneisen:

    I would like to make a comment about your article you wrote on April 10, 2002. Firefighters crossed the line with ad.

    To start off with, On 911 I lost 341 of my BROTHERS, 71 of them I knew there names to say hello to. 12 of them came from my Firehouse on The Upper Westside of Manhattan. I am a Firefighter with the City of New York.


    "Blood stained the ground red where the World Trade Center stood in New York City but beneath the rubble where hundreds of firefighters died, the Framingham Fire Fighters Union is looking for some green."

    This statement is way off base I feel. People have forgotten 911 months ago. Why would a town or city cut its Fire Department Budget at this time in our Country's history? My BROTHERS for Framingham have the right to use 911 as a backdrop to make a point. Anyone that risk there lives on a daily bases to save life can use 911 to make that point.
    Yes, they want to save jobs and make a few dollars more. They deserve it. Fire happens everyday. Most people forget that. Your Firefighters are there 24/7 for you. Please do not forget that.
    Sincerely,


    Ray:

    Thanks for your response. No where in the column did I write about the value
    of fire fighters and the heroic jobs they perform. I don't think 911 makes
    fire fighters more valuable or more important - more revered maybe and
    definitely not forgotten - but in times of tight budgets the nation's worst
    tragedy should not be used to sway emotions. I think the union crossed a
    line of good taste. Public servants such as fire fighters, police officers
    and teachers always want the public to appreciate (more money) the job they
    do and I'll agree that public servants who provide these crucial services
    should be paid more. But the means to an end the union used in this case I
    believed (and many of our readers agreed) was offensive.

    Rob Haneisen

    Mr.Haneisen:

    I can see we will disagree on this point. The purpose of these ads are to remind the general public that this is not over and in these times we should accept the costs of safety. You and everyone who pay's tax expect to be safe. You want us to be at our very best. AT ALL TIMES. Sorry to say it comes at a price. The ad using 911 hits home. It could be New York or maybe even Framingham. All we want to do is to help. Why would you or anyone question an ad used to help people? It gets to the point. There is no B.S. in this ad. This happened. We are still at war. Do you still feel safe? Being a firefighter I prepare for the worst. Give us the tools and support we deserve. Don't let any town cut our budgets. Remember we will always be there.

    There is a reason we call each other BROTHERS. I could try to explain it to you but you still wont get it. I support my BROTHER from the Framingham Fire Fighters Union 100%. When we where burying my BROTHERS here in New York members from all over your Great State helped us. Write about that. Not how you where offended by there ad. Because we in New York Support them.

    Sincerely,
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    D Kelly and E40L35, thank you for sharing the letters you wrote, and the responses you were given in return.

    It is quite obvious that this Mr.Haneisen has tunnel vision and just cannot see the big picture.

    I think it is this part of his answer that disturbs me the most:

    "I don't think 911 makes fire fighters more valuable or more important "

    If 9-11 does not show this man just how valuable and important firefighters are, and for that matter police,EMS etc, than I fear nothing shall. He'll never understand why we ask for the equipment that we do, or for the town we live in to pass a better budget...Lets just hope it doesnt take another horrifying day like 9-11 to truly open his eyes.

    Lady.
    "Let every nation know..that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty"---JFK, Jan.1961

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    Due to the length of my letter, I'll post his response when I get it instead of posting them together.


    Dear Mr. Haneisen,

    I am writing regarding your April 10, 2002 column: Fire Fighters crossed the line with ad.

    Sir I sat here for a very long time contemplating the words I should use to express my dismay at this article. Frankly I don't think there are any that will accurately depict what you personally have put a good number of people through, as a result of your inconsideration and obvious lack of understanding. Before you jump to conclusions let me make a couple things very clear to you. I am NOT a fire fighter; I do NOT live in the United States. I did have friends and family, BOTH fire fighter and civilian, die as a result of this attack.

    The union, in its drive to keep open a fire station in Nobscot and protect the jobs of 14 firefighters, is shamelessly using images of Sept. 11 in an advertising campaign.

    There is nothing shameless about what the union is attempting to do by using that image. There was no exploitation or abuse there was simply truth. What they are trying to do is save peoples lives. Yes there are jobs at stake, but the plain simple truth is that without the fire fighters there, innocent people are going to die. Fire fighters don't just run into burning buildings anymore. Maybe at one time that was the way it was, but that time is long gone. 14 Jobs might not seem like that many, but when you work as a team, as one large unit, everyone doing their task, 14 is a huge number.

    There was nothing misleading about the campaign, and there was nothing distasteful. It was a simple call for people in the community to come out and be informed, because chances are that most of those people had no idea that there was any plan to axe those jobs.

    How this is not profiteering from one of the worst tragedies to affect this country is beyond me

    I don't see how you could call it profiteering. Raising people's awareness is not profiteering. Public safety is not profiteering. Asking a community to come together to prevent another tragedy that sir is not profiteering. Profiteering would be those people who are selling bloody chunks of side walk on Ebay; it would be those people who are selling FDNY hats and shirts but none of the money is going to the dept, or orphans and widows; it would be people who attack a fire dept if for no other reason than to get their name in the paper, for a headline. That sir is profiteering.

    {COLOR=red]While this appreciation may be more apparent since Sept. 11, the union should not try to capitalize on the moment for financial gain. This is a disgrace to the firefighters who died and the many civilians who perished in the attack. It cheapens their memory and sacrifice [/COLOR]

    Once again, I'm sorry but I think you might need a little education. Financial gain is when you make a profit. Quite frankly sir they don't pay fire fighters nearly enough for the risks that they take, so please don't even attempt to say that the union is "capitalizing on the moment for financial gain". They are trying to stop people from ending up DEAD. Whether it is other fire fighters or civilians. Sacrifice now there is a word that has been used a lot regarding the events of 9/11. You know the thing about a sacrifice is that it's something you do with full awareness, and you do because you want to. I don't remember any of the people that I love calling me the morning of 9/11 and saying to me, "A plane is going to crash into the WTC today and I'm going to die, but I'm going to go to work anyway, because it's my honor to make this sacrifice." I'm sure that I would remember something like that. These men and woman risk their lives everyday, on every call. Not just when they are running into burning buildings. Frankly sir I personally feel your column is the thing that cheapens their memory. I refuse to accept the fact that people I love died for no reason. I am perfectly happy that the union chose to use the photo they did, in fact I consider it to be a testimony to the lives of the people who died 9/11, as well as a show of solidarity amongst fire fighters.

    How do you suppose the families of Sept. 11 victims feel when they see the very site where their loved ones died in an advertising campaign? They will feel used.

    Who, sir, are you to presume to know how I or any other family member will feel? What right do you have to make a statement like "they will feel used"? Did you bother to ask anyone how they felt before you printed this article or did you just assume that in all your years of wisdom you know the way any 1 of 1000's of family members will feel? Let me tell you, I am offended by this article. I am offended by the fact that without any consideration or consultation you attacked a group of people who stand to protect YOU 24/7, and then have the audacity to say that I would feel used, and that what they are doing is for their own personal gain. Let me let you in on a little secret. I don't want or need anyone to tell me how sorry they are for my loss. When you lose something you don't know where it is. I know where my loved ones are, they are in my heart and mind and part of them lives on the lives of every single person they ever touched. I am a big girl and if I need defending I'm sure I am quite capable of doing it myself, and if I can't, I wouldn't rely on the likes of you to do it. I would call a Fire Fighter!

    While the result of the proposed budget cuts is not being exaggerated, there is a line of good taste and respect being crossed. Holding up the dead for your own personal gain should be where that line is drawn.

    Let's just talk about personal gain here for a minute. What are you doing? Aren't you holding up the dead for your own personal gain? From where I am sitting that is how it appears, even though that may not be the way you intended it to appear. Matter of fact it looks like capital gain to me as well. Ratings, publicity, and sales they all work so closely together. Who exactly is it that crossed the line? Certainly not the fire dept or union.

    Again, it was a tactic that cheapens the memory of the "brothers" these firefighters claim to respect.

    You do NOT have the RIGHT to refer to these men and woman as "brothers" in any context. So please don't bother to tell me it was for the story, blah blah blah. It is an insult. Calling a fire fighter a 'brother' is a right that is reserved and one that is earned. You sir will NEVER attain that right.

    There is a passage in the bible that nearly explains the love, dedication, and compassion of what it is to be a fire fighter. Please note I said nearly.

    Jn 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

    The difference is fire fighters lay down their lives for strangers. People they don't know, they have never spoken to, never laid eyes on, and in some cases people they don't like much. The union didn't undermine its credibility you attacked it. Shame on you, I hope you feel horribly guilty when the time comes that you NEED the services of a fire fighter. I fully expect at that time not only a retraction of this ridiculous article, but also a full and public apology to fire fighters world wide, not just in the states. It is their right to use the image of the flag raising to increase public awareness. As people have already started to forget the events of 9/11, I applaud their efforts. They may not be blood related, but they are brothers in a truer sense of the word, because they will ALWAYS be there for each other. Obviously brotherhood is a concept that you can't comprehend.

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    Ok, I may be the lone disenter on this one and not really a disenter, but here's my story. I read this thread and thought about it for a while. As a firefighter, I understand what Framingham was trying to portray and do not have a problem with what they did. I then told 2 non-firerelated people (granted, it was only 2) about the article and the picture and asked what they thought. They both questioned what the WTC has to do with Framingham. I asked whether an article like that would make them vote either way if they had to. Both answered No, there would be more involved than just one ad. I am not supporting this guy, but it would be interesting to see what the general public thinks about the ad.

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    This is the reply I got to the letter I sent him:

    Robin:

    Thanks for reading my column and for your comments.

    The column did not criticize fire fighters nor their role in the community.
    The column was critical of the union's actions. I believe, and at least half of the people who have responded to the the column (including a former chief) agree with me, that the union wrongly used images of Sept. 11 to sway public opinion. This same union also tried to use the Worcester fire tragedy where six brave fire fightrers perished as a way to leverage negotiations with the town for contracts. Sept. 11 does not make fire fighters immune to budget cuts.

    Simply put, the union went overboard. They didn't need to use Sept. 11 - and yes, they used it - to remind the public of what a great service they provide and why their budget and jobs should be preserved. This would be like a teachers union using images from the Columbine High School shooting as a reason to keep class sizes small and preserve education budgets under the guise of closer student supervision would prevent school violence.

    Rob Haneisen

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    Dear Mr. Haneisen:
    You have pointed out to many who responded to your article that they missed the point of your article.
    Quite simply, you missed the point of the 9/11 as a backdrop. The union didn't do it for them; they did it for you and everyone like you within their jurisdiction. The amazing thing about firefighters is that they get scrutinized and criticized by people like you every day and when you are sitting there in the twisted wreckage of your vehicle-you see, you were in a hurry to get to a story that wasn't and lost control-they will treat you like their mother! They treat every one that way! They recognize that every one has an opinion. If they crossed the line by using 9/11 to raise local awareness, then you certainly crossed the line by using your position as a news reporter to slant public opinion. And I find that more disturbing than a bunch of guys trying to keep a fire station open.
    Would you have had the same reaction to a vollie department using the same imagery for a pancake breakfast? I didn't think so.
    Remember that we fight what you fear!
    If you can't say something nice.........
    Last edited by ChiefReason; 04-18-2002 at 09:31 PM.

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    I too was bothered by him saying 911 dosen't make firefighters
    more valuble. I was also bothered by the (more money) thing, when
    a fire dept. asks for more money is it not well deserved money.
    Why will we pay a baseball player 3 million dollars to play a game,
    but will pay maybe $40,000 to a person who risks his life everyday
    to save someone elses life and or property. Fire Dept. budgets should be the last thing to succumb to budget cuts. This
    man dose not realize buildings and cars and anything else we
    as firefighters encounter change everyday, therefore we must
    change with it or become victim to it.

    That picture is no longer just a symbol of 9-11, it is a symbol
    of the courage of the firefighters, and a symbol of the love we
    as U.S. citizens have for our country. Anyone who would find
    it offensive in an ad to save a firehouse has obviously never
    truly seen what fire can do.

    Also the comment on saving a few jobs, this is not a dept. store
    these are jobs that we can't afford to get rid of. The few who
    will lose their jobs may be the few that aren't there when they are
    needed most. Then when the people scream and hollar that the F.D.
    wasn't there, we can respond "Don't you remember you got rid of it."

    Maybe these so called powers that be should take a look at what they
    are getting paid, but then they may realize they get paid way to
    much for what they do. It is them who's job or pay should be getting
    cut.
    Last edited by MikeF25; 04-19-2002 at 06:19 AM.

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    Very well spoken Mike. I have yet to reply to his reply of my original letter to him But I think when I do, I will point out the fact that HE has missed the point of my letter and of other letters that were sent to him. Perhaps I'll mention the fact that if they want to cut costs, some of the powers that be should 'eat it' and risk the lives of FF or the public by removing jobs that are essential.

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    Haneisen: Rank-and-file are good; it's the union that's bad

    By Rob Haneisen
    Friday, April 19, 2002

    Contrary to e-mails and phone calls I've received from around the region, around the country and even outside our nation's borders, I don't hate firefighters.

    It just so happens that in Framingham, firefighters are represented by a union that put them in a bad light by using images of Sept. 11 to protect their jobs and a fire station threatened by budget cuts.

    In my last column on April 10, I wrote about Local 1652 employing scare tactics to preserve the jobs of dues-paying firefighters. This, I said, was akin to profiteering from one of the worst tragedies to affect our country and is shameful behavior.

    About half of you agreed with me. The rest of you were either furious, flabbergasted or deeply offended.

    I received e-mails from New York City firefighters, a firefighter in Texas, someone who had lost loved ones on Sept. 11, the president of a firefighter organization in Boston, plus scores of local irate readers.

    The angry readers demanded a retraction, an apology and an explanation as to how I could possibly attempt to wound our nations' great heroes.

    There will be no apology and no retraction, but a bit of explanation.

    Most of the criticism focused on the jobs firefighters perform and suggested that they are the true experts on how public safety should be funded. Angry readers told me preserving firefighter jobs and keeping the Nobscot station open was part of keeping up the war on terrorism.

    Apparently these critics never took a civics lesson in high school. There are a series of checks and balances in place in government to protect against one group having an unfair advantage. In other words, firefighters, police officers and even teachers should not get a free pass during tough budget times just because the service they provide is traditionally underfunded and under- appreciated.

    There was nothing in my previous column about how cutting these positions would hurt public safety. There was nothing in my column about putting Nobscot at risk. But it was those points that many critics chose to make.

    I know cutting firefighters and closing a station potentially puts the town at risk. But that was not the point of the column. The tactics employed by the union - asking for public support in a paid ad with words written over the image of firefighters raising an American flag at the site of the former World Trade Center - were just plain wrong.

    The union did not need to use the Sept. 11 image to make its point. After the tragedy of Sept. 11, does the union honestly believe that firefighters are not admired? So why the need to remind us?

    To clear the smoke, I do support the firefighter budget being fully funded by an override. But if the override fails, the fire department and everyone else should find a way to make do with less.

    Their contract says differently. Yesterday the union was in court arguing that their budget should be funded no matter what because of mandatory staffing levels. I'll let the courts work this out but it likely won't matter because I believe voters will resoundingly pass the override.

    To be crystal clear: Firefighters do a great job; it was their union that did them a disservice. Many readers, including at least one retired firefighter, agreed.

    But it was interesting that most readers who agreed with me were so subdued.

    "Just between you and me, you were totally right about the union," wrote one reader.

    People apparently are afraid to say anything negative about firefighters lest they appear unpatriotic.

    Sept. 11 does not give firefighters or their unions a free pass on criticism. The nation grieved with firefighters at the loss of their colleagues and loved ones but it does not mean the nation should have a blind eye when a firefighter union trespasses on good taste.

    Here's an example of what another union could do that would be equally offensive.

    What would the public's reaction be to an ad placed by a teachers' union lobbying against layoffs? Fine. Now what if the text of that ad says laying off teachers creates higher numbers of students in classrooms which affects both student performance and, ultimately, student safety? Again, fine.

    Now take that text and place it over the image of students being shot and killed in the Columbine High School massacre. Scare tactics and a disgusting use of images. That's how the public would react.

    Local 1652 should consider itself lucky the public is reluctant to criticize anything connected to firefighters, otherwise the reaction to the union's ad campaign might have been stronger and more widespread.


    (Rob Haneisen is the central regional editor of the MetroWest Daily News. He can be reached at rhaneis@cnc.com or 508-626-3882.)
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    Angry What a jerk!

    I'll bet that this mutt Haneisen is offended by "Smokey the Bear" posters!

    "He's offensive to bears and other forest animals! I know this because I asked a circus bear and a squirrel who lives in my back yard."
    Living the dream...

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    I said it before and I'll say it again... He is a waste of skin!

    Apparently he doesn't grasp the concept of mandatory staffing levels. I bet he would scream the loudest if he was in an MVA or something and had to wait more than 4 minutes for a rescue to show up.

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    Framingham is a neighboring community to us. It is a really diverse community. Theoretically, it is town, but it should be a city. Politically, it is run by a town manager and budgetary items are voted on at town meeting. It has it's tenement areas, it has it's multi-million dollar estates. It has a downtown area as well as a major shopping area on Route 9. It has two highways that transect it (the aforementioned Rote 9 and the Massachusetts Turnpike), along with Route 135, the roadway of the Boston Marathon.

    For years, the Framingham FD has played the loaves and fishes game, miraculously stretching their budget to enable them to continue serving their citizens. They used to run the ambulance service at the EMT-I level, until some MUTTS voted in a private ambulance company.
    They still respond to every medical call, providing patient care. That was a bright move by the mutts, the FFD brought over $1.5 million a year to the town!


    In the situation of cutting the FD budget, the town would be breaking the contract agreement that they negotiated with the the Framinham Firefighters. It would be the only contract that would be broken.

    The Framingham local has two members that are part of the New England USAR team. One of them is a acquaintence of mine, both of them were activated for the WTC incident went to NYC to help.

    The Framingham Firefighters did win a victory...a court ruled that their contract must be funded and that the town will have to find a way to do it with or without an override of Proposition 2 1/2. Of course, the "mutts" are trying to pit the FD against the cops, teachers and God knows who else.
    ‎"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

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