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    Post Springfield, Mass. Casualties

    Springfield fire commissioners take two trucks out of service

    (Springfield-AP) -- Springfield fire commissioners have voted to
    take two trucks out of service to help cover a two-point-one (m)
    million dollar budget shortfall.
    Commissioners say they will review the decision monthly with
    hopes that the city will restore the money.
    Firefighters and residents protested the cuts saying they could
    endanger lives.
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    Here we go again...
    Chris Minick, P.E., Firefighter II
    Structures Specialist, MD-TF 1

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    Amazing..isn't it? Here a cut, there a cut, everywhere a cut cut!

    Even after 9/11...and all the talk about first responders being the first line of defense....SORRY...budget cuts!
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    From WGGB Channel 40:

    Budget Cuts Hit Hard
    Springfield Fire Department has fallen victim to recent city budget cuts.

    Two engine companies have closed because of state budget cuts and more may be on the way.
    Last night the Springfield Fire Commission met to talk about the future. Commissioners say, the current $19 million budget is not enough. They say, money spent on overtime because of a lack of manpower, has drained the department's resources.

    Fire officials say, they need more than $2 million to get the department back on track.

    Firefighters say, they have the Mayor's support but he has told them no additional funds are forthcoming.
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    From the Union News:

    Fire board moves to cut costs

    Wednesday, August 7, 2002
    By MIKE PLAISANCE

    SPRINGFIELD The Fire Commission voted 5-0 last night to shut down a ladder truck and an engine truck to confront a $2.1 million budget shortfall.

    Commissioners said they were making the decision with two provisions: that it be considered temporary, to be reviewed monthly, and that efforts continue to pressure city officials to somehow find the money needed to restore the ranks.

    The commission meeting in the Fire Department Headquarters at 605 Worthington St. was packed with firefighters concerned about how the cuts would affect their work.

    The 90-minute session included repeated assertions that none of the money-saving options facing officials was acceptable, and featured a warning from District Chief George A. Stavroulakis that the city is risking disaster by thinning staffing even further.

    "Somebody's going to get hurt here, if they don't get killed," he said. "I'm going to tell you that right now. You better prepare for that right now."

    Stavroulakis, 57, is a 33-year veteran.

    The ladder and engine companies to be shut down will be rotated and chosen by the chief and deputy and district chiefs, officials said.

    This move, which will save $1.9 million, was seen as more palatable than another option to reduce from four to three the number of firefighters to an engine.

    Firefighters union local head Kevin Garvey, Commissioner Rinaldo Santamaria, and Stavroulakis were the most vocal against this for the fear that it would leave too few firefighters to handle dangerous situations.

    Earlier, the district fire chiefs union local said it had accepted a 10-day pay deferral plan aimed at helping the city cope with severe budget constraints. The move will save $40,000 this fiscal year.

    Under the agreement announced this week, each member of the nine-member Fire Chiefs Association of Springfield will work 10 extra shifts during the fiscal year, deferring the pay until the final week's pay before retirement.

    So far, 11 union locals of city workers have agreed to accept the mayor's pay deferral plan, with a total cost savings of $1,651,644 this fiscal year.

    Mayor Michael J. Albano, who has asked all city employee groups to accept a furlough, said he appreciates the district chiefs' sacrifice.

    Local 648 of the International Association of Fire Fighters rejected the furlough plan last week.

    The fire budget for the current fiscal year has dropped to $19,398,077 from the previous year's $21,630,849.

    But, having to deal with the fiscal-year-to-fiscal-year cut comes on top of the shortfall in the current spending plan. The gap of $2.1 million in the current budget is the projected shortage in overtime money based on current usage.

    The most glaring dollar figure discussed at the meeting: the department began the fiscal year July 1 with an overtime budget of $1 million, and in less than six weeks' time, only $418,000 is left.

    The reason for the overtime consumption is the staffing shortage, with the current Fire Department budget funding 342 firefighters compared to the last fiscal year's 410.

    The city budget for the current fiscal year, which started July 1, is $400.8 million. That is $850,000 less than the previous budget.

    Mike Plaisance may be reached at mplaisance@union-news.com Peter Goonan may be reached at pgoonan@union-news.com
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    Seeing how I technically live in a suburb of Springfield, I feel it is my duty and responsibility to help out the Minister of Propaganda on this one.
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    Springfield FD's homepage: http://www.cityofspringfieldmass.com/fire/
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    In my humble opinion- Well looks even I got to vote for Romney this year. To stop that black hole "Big Dig" from sucking funds from fire deparments.
    Ahhhh yes my tax dollars going to a multi billion dollar roadway for some a#^hole commuter (Who should be takeing a train to Boston)to drive even more reckless and faster to work-and that I willNEVER use!

    Im not familiar with Springfield. (Except for a few train shows)I got a feeling there next truck will be Quint. If they already dont have one.

    Just my humble thoughts.

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    There seems to be a trend here that I've observed in city paid departments from Maryland and all over the country. The budget is blown by paying overtime to firefighters because these departments are short on manpower. So at the risk of sounding totally stupid, why don't these departments hire the manpower necessary to avoid the overtime costs? What am I missing? Oh, yes, if they hire more firefighters, they'll take on that additional burden of health care benefits, retirement fund obligations, etc. However, they might actually have firefighters who aren't overworked and exhausted, and they might actually be able to create a realistic budget and stick to it. What a concept!
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    Originally posted by dfdex1
    In my humble opinion- Well looks even I got to vote for Romney this year. To stop that black hole "Big Dig" from sucking funds from fire deparments.
    Ahhhh yes my tax dollars going to a multi billion dollar roadway for some a#^hole commuter (Who should be takeing a train to Boston)to drive even more reckless and faster to work-and that I willNEVER use!

    Im not familiar with Springfield. (Except for a few train shows)I got a feeling there next truck will be Quint. If they already dont have one.

    Just my humble thoughts.
    dfdexp, are you from New England?
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    Thumbs up

    I wholeheartedly appreciate input from those members who may be "local" to any article I post. Adze...thanks for the assist! Please keep us up to date, as I'm sure the story will not get a lot of exposure on the national AP wires.

    My rhetorical question...how do these administrations get into that much financial distress, as to cause drastic cuts like this? Is anyone watching the treasury...day to day? This is just so outrageous...and management at it's worst.
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    Smile

    Yes im from Mass. and I turned 18 so im gonna vote.

    On a side note-Capt. Gonzo could tell you the town. I am still wondering how he figured that out-not sure wether to be amazed or scared.

    Take care
    DFDEX1

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    I have been to Springfield a few times. It is your typical Northeast city very old and COMBUSTIBLE. They get their fair share of work and they do it with the fewest companies of cities of it's size in New England. 11 Engines 5 Ladders and a Rescue. No doubt the cuts will hit the city hard. Good Department, Bad Helmets!!! (Salad Bowls)
    dfdex1 - North Shore perhaps???!!!
    Last edited by PuffyNPFD; 08-08-2002 at 10:26 PM.
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    Talking

    I will just say the 1629 problem started in my back yard.
    Last edited by dfdex1; 08-08-2002 at 08:59 PM.

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    My rhetorical question...how do these administrations get into that much financial distress, as to cause drastic cuts like this? Is anyone watching the treasury...day to day? This is just so outrageous...and management at it's worst

    Unfortunately many politicians & policy wonks like to look at the world through rose colored glasses.

    Or in recent years, green colored glasses.

    Some of it starts on the federal level -- we're not running $200,000,000,000 a year deficits anymore. That's something $750/person less for government at all levels to spend (let's remember there's a lot of trickle down federal-->local money). Ok, maybe we're still spending it, but at least now it comes from taxes and not all-but-literally printing money.

    Then there was fatally flawed assumptions made on both the Federal & (most) State levels regarding income tax revenues. The 1990s saw tremendous capital gains in the stock market -- sell stock for a profit, you get whacked for capital gains. Most Federal & State budget plans assumed continued irrational exuberance in the stock market and the resultant income taxes. Now that people are selling at a loss, not only don't you get capital gains to tax, you have losses that's tax deductible. Capital gains aren't the bulk of income taxes, but in states like Connecticut and Massachusetts with relatively affluent individuals and lots of financial service firms it's the difference between balanced budgets and billion dollar deficits.

    In Massachusetts' case the flush income tax coffers led to a income tax roll-back that is also being implemented -- so they're seeing a double whammy of lower taxable income and having to tax it at a lower rate. So one of the places to cut is aid to cities & towns. Mass used to be nicknamed Taxachussets, but they've reduced both State & local taxes tremendously in real terms over the last 20 years -- IIRC they actually pay 8% less of their personal income (inflation adjusted) in local & state taxes today then in 1979.

    Once down to the local level in Massachussets, options are very limited. There are no local income taxes or sales taxes in New England -- with the exception of some minor sources like hotel room taxes Towns & Cities rely on property taxes. Property tax increases are not only significantly limited (max. of 2.5% per year without a voter override in Mass), but affect people on fixed incomes and others in tenous financial shape disproportiantely.

    Many politicians and wonks also lack the willingness to manage tightly in good economic times. It's not all pet projects that take money (pulling up nomex hood), but labor contracts that take up funds. When a city lacks the discipline to either resist the unions (who want more money) or resist the taxpayers (who want less taxes) or both (usually that one) it's a recipe for disaster as you build up long-term imbalance with growing pension liabilities and using overtime to cover shortages. Faced with a budget crunch, something's gotta give.

    If you look at most cities or whatever the equivelant local taxing authority is, the three largest budgets are Schools, Police, and Fire. Public works is usually fourth, and of the three it has the smallest payroll and a lot more things like gravel & pavement to scrimp on. Schools, Police, and Fire don't have much for expenses relative to payroll which probably consumes 80 to 90% of their budgets. So when cuts have to come the place they fall the largest on is the largest departments, and even in those there usually isn't much to cut other than payroll.

    Bad fiscal policy, bad assumptions, and poor management on all levels can add up to a perfect storm like this.

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    In Rhode Island, state law says that municipalities have to pay all education regardless of budget. Translated: If a school dept. is budgeted for 20 million dollars and they spend 22 million the municipality has to come up with the money usually at the expense of other vital services. Is this fair? NO!! In the city where I work the school dept has run deficits of $500,000 to $1,000,000 the last 5 years. Two years ago a bond was passed to build 2 middle schools and a senior center. The city has had 1 middle school and 3 other schools throughout were K-8. They could have gotten away with 1 bigger middle school at 70% of the cost of the 2. They are almost completed and now you have to hire more teachers to fill positions adding more expense.
    The senior center is not a city run entity but to garner votes it was promised and passed. The new senior center will be EXACTLY the same size as the current one only there will be more parking. This when most of the clients are BUSSED there. Meanwhile we have 4 fire stations that are falling apart, all need roofs and 1 has a serious rodent and pest problem. On top of that we are the only career dept. in RI that does not have an exhaust removal system and the buildings are caked with diesel exhaust. The police dept. is in the same building as the infested station and it has the same problems. It was designed for 35 officers and there are 92. However the teachers get 6% raises every year, nights, weekends, holidays and SUMMERS off. And if you are as lucky as the ones in my city, if you have a troublemaker, they will ship him or her to special ed. seriously inflating those costs. And if they succeed in getting there message across GREAT! But if they don't just pass them any way it'll be the next teachers problem, but I'm still getting paid the same plus my 6% raise every year!! The education process in this country is failing us, teachers should have performance based raises. All we do is pour money into the bottomless education pit and get little in return. People criticize us, we do our jobs. Education is the biggest bill in every municipality, however under law spend, spend, spend, you may not get much for it but you gotta pay for it. Accountability is the buzzword here. Don't get me wrong, I am NOT against education. If the American education system worked a lot better I could see paying for it, but we are overpaying for a system that is unregulated and you have to dump money into it regardless of results. As a result of this PORK other city services suffer. But when it comes budget time, we are under the microscope. When the teachers strike (which in Rhode Island is an annual occurence in one or another city or town) not much is said, the attitude is pay'em and get the kids in school. When we are up for a raise, it is questioned. Fair? I don't think so. But hey this is life.
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    Cuts ugly at city firehouse

    Thursday, August 8, 2002
    By MIKE PLAISANCE

    SPRINGFIELD Cutting one engine company in the Fire Department will save money.

    But it also eliminates four captain and 12 lieutenant slots, ending those promotion opportunities and further diminishing morale.

    Transferring the four department inspectors sounds good, as it increases the pool of available firefighters in a time of staff shortages.

    But the law still would require the city to do inspections like those of home smoke detectors and underground fuel tanks.

    Meanwhile, the insurance industry will notice reductions in fire coverage and that might increase premium costs to the city and individual homeowners.

    As officials reviewed money-saving options Tuesday, Fire Chief Gary G. Cassanelli summed up the dread in the room.

    "I wish that we were not here tonight discussing this," he said.

    Instead of cutting one engine company or transferring inspectors, the Fire Commission voted 5-0 to shut down one ladder truck and one engine truck to save $1.9 million this fiscal year. The move will be reviewed monthly.

    The cut was needed to help in avoiding a $2.1 million shortfall in the current budget, which is $19.4 million.

    The trucks to be taken out of service will be determined by department officials on a rotating basis.

    Losing those two trucks, known as "companies," means there will be fewer advancement positions. This step will hurt the already low morale, District Chief George A. Stavroulakis said.

    "This is an issue," he said.

    Commissioner Rinaldo Santamaria made a proposal. He suggested spreading the duties among other firefighters of those who now exclusively do the duties of arson investigations, public information, the juvenile fire-setter intervention program and smoke-alarm and other inspections.

    Cassanelli and others said such job changes aren't as simple as they sound. For example, arson inspectors must be trained and experienced or their findings won't hold up in court, they said.

    Stavroulakis said insurance companies are watching city fire coverage.

    "You can rest assured we will be facing an increase in insurance rates, (if) we keep cutting the department, cutting the department," he said.

    Cassanelli said while budgetary steps might affect insurance premiums, "It's not a given."

    Firefighters union president Kevin Garvey said it was unfair that cuts were harming firefighters directly instead of also trimming other department areas like administration. But Deputy Chief Jerrold E. Prendergast said the point should be that it is one department and that any cut hurts the whole.

    Mike Plaisance can be reached at mplaisance@union-news.com
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    I'm sure there will be alot of this in Springfield's local news over the next week or two.

    Maybe I should listen to the Springfield radio stations in the morning to hear what the "talk" is. For the brief time I am in my car everymorning, I either listen to a CD or constantly scan radio stations (listening to both Hartford and Springfield stations).
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    Default Meeting to ponder fire budget, safety

    Meeting to ponder fire budget, safety

    Sunday, August 11, 2002
    By PETER GOONAN

    SPRINGFIELD The City Council Finance Committee will meet Tuesday to discuss the Fire Department's budget woes and concerns about how they will affect services.

    The meeting is at 5:15 p.m. at City Hall.

    "I think the issue is a critical one," committee Chairman William T. Foley said. "I just want to work with the mayor to keep the issue on the front burner, to find out what is needed and keep it as a priority."

    Last Tuesday, the Fire Commission voted to shut down one ladder truck and one engine truck due to a shortage of personnel and to avoid a $2.1 million shortfall in the current fiscal year budget, which is $19.4 million.

    The trucks to be taken out of service will be determined by department officials on a rotating basis. Commission members said the cuts are considered temporary and will be reviewed monthly.

    Foley said he has invited Fire Department officials and the city's finance officials to attend this Tuesday's meeting to discuss the situation.

    "We have some safety concerns with the Fire Department and staffing of the Fire Department," Foley said. "I see the department at a critical situation at this point."

    Council President Bud L. Williams said the department's budget situation is very serious.

    Mayor Michael J. Albano has pledged that any new revenue received by the city will be earmarked to the Fire Department. Albano said the city has taken numerous steps to reduce costs, including an early retirement program and hiring freeze, but continues under severe budget constraints due to reduced revenues.

    Foley said he agrees the Fire Department should be the priority for any additional funding.

    "The men and women of the Fire Department, it is certainly important they have the personnel and the equipment to fight fires." Foley said.

    Peter Goonan can be reached at pgoonan@union-news.com
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    Default Short staff concern of firefighters

    Short staff concern of firefighters

    Wednesday, August 14, 2002
    By PETER GOONAN

    SPRINGFIELD - Fire Department officials told city councilors last night that budget cuts and vacancies have hampered its ability to protect the public and its members and has triggered an overtime expense in excess of $700,000 in just seven weeks.

    Fire Chief Gary G. Cassanelli, joined by approximately 25 firefighters and supervisors, urged the council to support the department and its need for additional personnel. Even with the overtime expense, the department has four fire companies out of service this summer due to the budget shortfall, he said.

    "I really am afraid for the future of this department," Cassanelli said. "We are on a downhill slide and we have to stop it."

    Since July 1, the department has spent approximately $100,000 a week on overtime, averaging 15 to 18 firefighters called in for extra duty per shift to meet minimum staffing levels, officials said. The overtime is spread among existing personnel.

    The department's policy is to call in firefighters on any shift that has less than 57 fire officials on duty citywide, spread among the nine stations. The department has 10-hour day shifts and 14-hour night shifts, and there have been approximately 1,700 overtime shifts during the last seven weeks.

    A fire academy began July 1, with 26 new firefighters. The firefighters are slated to begin work in the stations in mid-September, Cassanelli said. The chief said he had hoped to begin the academy in April to bring earlier relief, but it was not possible due to the city's budget constraints.

    Councilors, including Finance Committee Chairman William T. Foley, said they agree with Albano that any new funds this fiscal year must be earmarked for the Fire Department.

    "I assure you there is a serious commitment from the City Council," Foley said. "We will try to do everything we can."

    The Fire Department budget is $19.4 million this year, compared to $21.6 million last year. Cassanelli said that some thought should be given to an override of Proposition 2 to assist the Fire Department.

    Cassanelli said he probably would need 100 new firefighters to bring the four companies back in service for around-the-clock coverage.

    Albano said there already is a $4 million gap that must be made up in the city budget, due to vetoes of state funding by acting Gov. Jane M. Swift. Albano said there are discussions with the unions in an effort to reduce some costs.

    The heavy reliance on overtime is due to the vacancies in the department that include 25 regular retirements and 36 early retirements that were granted this year under the city's early retirement incentive program. In addition, the overtime costs are steeper in the summer due to the heavier vacation schedule.

    The department could spend close to $3.3 million on overtime this year if there are no changes, Cassanelli said. Last year, it spent approximately $2.5 million on overtime, which it afforded as a result of numerous unfilled vacancies, he said.

    Fire Lt. Valentino Larese, among the fire officials gathered at the City Hall meeting last night, said the new firefighters barely make a dent with additional retirements occurring.

    "I'm concerned about my safety and the safety of firefighters that work with me," he said.

    Albano said the city has not been in a position to add firefighters sooner, due to budget constraints, resulting in the heavy reliance on the overtime account.

    "Gary Cassanelli is one of the best financial managers in the city, if not the best," Albano said. "There is absolutely, unequivocally no mismanagement of that account."

    The department was funded for 302 firefighters last year, but has just 241 funded firefighters this fiscal year, including the 26 new members in training. In addition, there are 51 lieutenant positions this year as compared to 58 positions last year, and there are 21 captains, nine district chiefs, two deputy chiefs and the chief.

    Peter Goonan can be reached at pgoonan@union-news.com
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    Default Mayor Albano against Prop. 2 override

    Albano against Prop. 2 override

    Thursday, August 15, 2002
    By BEA O'QUINN DEWBERRY

    SPRINGFIELD Mayor Michael J. Albano said yesterday he is against holding a Proposition 2 override vote, an option Fire Chief Gary G. Cassanelli and union leaders have said should be considered.

    "We will not meet the financial challenges ahead on the backs of our property owners," Albano said. "We must bite the bullet and make the necessary adjustments to achieve a balanced budget."

    Proposition 2 limits the amount taxes can be increased each year to 2.5 percent of the prior year's levy without an override approved by the majority of voters in a community.

    In 1990, Springfield voters passed an override after 1,000 jobs were lost in a similar budget crisis. This year, the city faces a $4 million gap in the budget due to vetoes of state funding by acting Gov. Jane M. Swift. An override vote could add as much as $4.4 million.

    Albano acknowledged that several departments, elected officials and union leaders have approached him to lobby for an override.

    City Councilor Robert E. McCollum, who raised the issue at a public meeting, was unavailable for comment yesterday.

    Cassanelli suggested at a meeting with city councilors Tuesday that some consideration could be given to an override. The chief said the Fire Department budget is $19.4 million this year compared to $21.6 million last year.

    "The mayor is in a better position than I to judge on this, but in bringing up the issue of an override I based that on experiences of 1988 and 1989 when the Fire Department fared well after an emotional outpouring to the citizens of Springfield," Cassanelli said.

    The 1990 vote raised $10.8 million in new property taxes. Funds were earmarked for specific accounts including the Fire Department budget.

    Cassanelli said if an override vote went before the public, then funds raised should be designated solely to the Fire Department budget.

    City Solicitor Peter Fenton said a Proposition 2 override vote must first be approved by the City Council and the mayor before it is placed on a ballot.

    Several municipalities have raised the question including Wilbraham and Hampden, which defeated the measure. Longmeadow voters endorsed a $2 million override in June.

    District Chief George Stavroulakis, president of the Fire Chiefs Association of Springfield, said an override, although not a popular issue, should at least be an option the city is willing to explore.

    Bea O'Quinn Dewberry can be reached at bdewberry@union-news.com
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    Adze, thanks for keeping us updated.
    Chris Minick, P.E., Firefighter II
    Structures Specialist, MD-TF 1

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  23. #23
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    Default 2 fires keep department on move

    This isn't directly related to the budget problems, but it is renewing criticism of the FD's budget cuts.

    2 fires keep department on move

    Saturday, August 17, 2002
    By MIKE PLAISANCE

    SPRINGFIELD Fire destroyed a home at 160 Plainfield St. in the Edgewater Apartments complex last night and prompted renewed criticism that budget cuts have left the Fire Department too thin to protect the city.

    No injuries were reported in the blaze, to which firefighters were called at 6:46 p.m., Fire Department spokesman Dennis G. Leger said. He said the fire was caused by unattended cooking.

    Also, around 11 a.m. yesterday, heavy smoke engulfed Murray Hill Avenue and Franklin Street from a fire in a vacant home at 50 Murray Hill Ave.

    One firefighter was treated on scene by ambulance personnel for heat exhaustion. Arson investigators were trying to establish a cause for the fire, which started in a first floor room in the back right of the house.

    At Plainfield Street, Luz Nieves, 35, who said she has lived in the two-story apartment at 160 Plainfield St. for five years, watched in tears as firefighters battled the blaze.

    She lived there with her three daughters, Lee Sandra, Lucy Mar and Liz Marie, all of whom have the last name Santana, she said.

    Leger said the Red Cross was scheduled to be at the scene to help the family.

    With six engine trucks, three ladder trucks and a rescue vehicle at the scene, only two engines and two ladders were available for the rest of the city, Leger said.

    Jose Claudio, who lives near Edgewater Apartments, at 101 Lowell St., has been criticizing Mayor Michael J. Albano for the budget cuts. He was at the scene consoling Nieves.

    Claudio, a member of the New North Citizens Council, a neighborhood advocacy group, said he believes proper funding of the Fire Department, restoring the out-of-service trucks, would have let firefighters get to last night's fire faster.

    Shortly after firefighters got on scene at Murray Hill Avenue, a decision was made to have them come out of the structure and fight it from the outside for safety reasons. Lt. Neil Hawley said that the fire was made more difficult by the old construction, which spreads fire through the walls quickly; a slate roof which holds the fire in; and asphalt shingles which burn like gasoline.

    Roussa Soffan and her daughter Mona Soffan had some anxious moments when they smelled and saw the smoke coming toward their house, which is next door and very close to the house on fire.

    Roussa's husband Mostaffa Soffan uses a wheelchair and the two women could not carry him out alone. They said that two men, who they didn't know, rushed in and carried Mostaffa out, while they got his wheelchair outside and wheeled him away from the heavy smoke.
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    Default Firefighters seek department funds

    Firefighters seek department funds

    Saturday, August 24, 2002
    By BUFFY SPENCER

    SPRINGFIELD About 80 firefighters, some joined by their children, held an informational picket in the North End yesterday asking Mayor Michael J. Albano to allot more money to the Fire Department.

    Asked about the picket, Albano said, "Their next picket should be in front of "the little Statehouse" asking the governor to reconsider her vetoes." The 'little Statehouse' is an informal name for the state office building on Dwight Street.

    The pickets circled in front of the North Main Street fire station from 10 a.m.-noon, carrying signs and distributing a handout called, "It's about safety yours and ours."

    Many cars traveling along Main Street honked in support or cheered the firefighters, and some residents joined the picket line.

    State Rep. Cheryl Rivera, D-Springfield, came to the site, as did representatives of the New North Neighborhood Council.

    "We're all behind the firefighters," she said. "We plan on going to every picket line they do."

    Kevin Garvey, president of Local 648, International Association of Fire Fighters, said that there will be a picket at another fire station next week, although the place and time has not been set.

    "We're not going away. Budget cuts have hit the Fire Department harder than any other department in the city," Garvey said. "We feel we are being treated unfairly."

    Garvey said the union does not accept Albano's response that it should take its concerns to the state. He said although members understand the decrease in state funding, they do not believe the money the city has in its budget has been divided fairly.

    Albano said, "No one in elected office has a stronger record on public safety than Michael Albano."

    Firefighter George Romvos said the cuts in the department are irresponsible and unacceptable.

    "It feels good to have the support of the people," he said as he walked the picket line.

    Garvey said the union has sent a letter to the National Basketball Association explaining that it might have an informational picket at the opening of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in late September. The letter explains the union's concerns, he said.

    Buffy Spencer can be reached at bspencer@union-news.com
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  25. #25
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    Adze, thanks for the update and hang in there, Bro.
    Chris Minick, P.E., Firefighter II
    Structures Specialist, MD-TF 1

    These statements are mine and mine alone
    I.A.C.O.J. Building crust and proud of it

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