Thread: Losers II

  1. #1
    Senior Member

    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Conshohocken, PA
    Posts
    391

    Angry Losers II

    Here goes again;

    Pennsylvania Firefighters Charged in Firehouse Arson Scheme
    Officials Say Men Schemed to Get Money to Build New Hall
    ............
    LON SLEPICKA
    Firehouse.com News


    When the Isabella, Pennsylvania Volunteer Fire Department burned to the ground, the local ATF started looking into the incident. Now, four members have been charged with setting the fires to collect insurance money in order to build an new station.

    In a news release from the United States Attorney Western District Office in Pittsburgh, attorney Mary Beth Buchanan announced March 18, that Jerry E. Booker, II of Adah, Fayette County Pennsylvania, was arrested following his indictment on a charge of conspiracy to use fire to commit a felony. Thomas Earl Baker, of Isabella, was charged with conspiring with Booker to use fire to commit a felony. An arrest warrant has been issued for Bakerís arrest.

    The indictment, returned by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on March 13, further charged Booker and Baker with mail fraud. Also charged with mail fraud and arrested today were Steven M. Dugan of Isabella, Fayette County and William A. Robison of East Millsboro, Fayette County.

    The three-count indictment named Baker, age 33, Booker, 20, Dugan, 25, and Robison, 22, as the defendants.

    The defendants are all charged with perpetrating a scheme to defraud the Selective Insurance Company, which insured the Isabella Volunteer Fire Department.

    The indictment alleges that the defendants fraudulently attempted to recover insurance proceeds relating to two fires which were set at the Isabella Volunteer Fire Department social hall.

    Specifically, the indictment alleges that Baker and Booker conspired to cause fires at the social hall on June 26, 2002 and June 30 2002. The indictment charges that Booker alone set those fires.

    The purpose of the scheme, according to the indictment, was to enable the fire department to receive insurance proceeds so that they could build a new social hall.

    Earlier stories had the department seeking $500,000 from the Selective Insurance Group of New Jersey.

    Assistant United States Attorney Shaun E. Sweeney, who presented the case to the grand jury, indicated that the law provides for a maximum total sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $75,000, or both for Baker and Booker, and a maximum total sentence of 5 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both for Dugan and Robinson.

    Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in this case.

    An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt.

    The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported the defendants faced hearings March 18 in U.S. District Court, where they will be freed on bond pending trial.


    When are we going to learn.

    George,
    I know that you were working with the NVFC on a strategy to deal with Fire fighters that are fire lighters. What's up?

  2. #2
    Forum Member
    nmfire's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Maryland (DC Suburb)
    Posts
    5,738

    Default Re: Losers II

    Originally posted by glowpop
    Now, four members have been charged with setting the fires to collect insurance money in order to build an new station.
    What the ()&@#. I've heard of civilians setting fires to collect insurance. I've heard of FF's setting fire for the joy of putting it out. But never FF's setting THEIR OWN FIREHOUSE on fire to collect insurance money TO BUILD ANOTHER ONE. "Losers" is a gross undersatement. I can think of a few better descriptors but I would probably get a whipping by the webteam for saying it.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  3. #3
    Forum Member
    PAVolunteer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Dauphin County, PA
    Posts
    1,139

    Default

    By no means am I excusing what these guys did. They should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    However, there is something to be said for the extreme (and unsafe, illegal, stupid) measures volunteers in Pennsylvania have to take in order to get funding.

    ... and here is the link to the original thread on this topic.

    Stay Safe
    Last edited by PAVolunteer; 03-19-2003 at 07:00 PM.

  4. #4
    Forum Member
    nmfire's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Maryland (DC Suburb)
    Posts
    5,738

    Default

    Oh great. Child Pornogrophy too. I can see George Wendt's BP going higher and higher....
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  5. #5
    Senior Member

    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Conshohocken, PA
    Posts
    391

    Default This is not about funding

    PAVolunteer,
    This is not about funding, and funding shouldn't even be brought up on this subject. What they did is not only illegal but also a violation of the publics trust. It perpetuates the long standing public perception that volunteer fire fighters are "nothing but a bunch of arsonist." I quoted that section since just last week I heard that from a citizen in our area.

    First and foremost we should "do no harm". The fact that these people were the leaders of that fire company, simply means that we as volunteers in this state need to reassess what and how we do this business. You cannot talk about funding when in fact your officers and members are lighting off property, particularly if it is for financial gain.

    Maybe the reason these people were having trouble getting funding is because they were a bunch of knuckle heads in the first place. I hear the following from the PA volunteers all the time:
    1. We're broke and we need more money.
    2. You don't ever treat us like "professionals".
    3. Training requirements are so bad that we don't have time to raise funds.

    The truth is:
    1. We are broke because no one in our organizations have ever done long range planning and established long range goals and objectives, financial or otherwise. If you want money from the bank to start a business, do you think the bank will give you money just because you say you need it?
    2. We're not treated as professionals because we aren't! Many in our ranks aren't interested in the fire service mission, especially our leaders. Don't believe me? When was the last time you or your fire service leaders in your community went to a local municipal government meeting and pushed for the adoption of a sprinkler ordinance to include residental properties?
    3. The fact of the matter is that besides the Federal EPA requirements for Right-to-Know, this Commonwealth doesn't require any training, regardless of position. In other words, in PA, you need to do more to qualify to cut someones hair than to be a communities fire chief. THAT'S SCARY!

    Who do you blame for that? I know who I blame for that, US.

  6. #6
    Forum Member
    PAVolunteer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Dauphin County, PA
    Posts
    1,139

    Default Re: This is not about funding

    Originally posted by glowpop
    This is not about funding, and funding shouldn't even be brought up on this subject.
    How do you know? Did you ask them? Why shouldn't it be brought up? They were attempting to get insurance money to build a new firehouse.
    About two months before the blazes, the fire company was told the social hall building needed $6,000 to $8,000 in repairs,
    I'm guessing funding had something to do with it.
    Originally posted by glowpop
    What they did is not only illegal but also a violation of the publics trust. It perpetuates the long standing public perception that volunteer fire fighters are "nothing but a bunch of arsonist." I quoted that section since just last week I heard that from a citizen in our area.
    That is why I said this:
    Originally posted by PAVolunteer
    They should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
    Originally posted by glowpop
    You cannot talk about funding when in fact your officers and members are lighting off property, particularly if it is for financial gain.
    Once again ... why not? Did you ever think that the "financial gain" part of it has something to do w/ funding?
    Originally posted by glowpop
    Maybe the reason these people were having trouble getting funding is because they were a bunch of knuckle heads in the first place. I hear the following from the PA volunteers all the time:
    1. We're broke and we need more money.
    2. You don't ever treat us like "professionals".
    3. Training requirements are so bad that we don't have time to raise funds.
    I'll agree w/ one of those (the part about being broke). In Dauphin County, we're treated pretty well (as far as being professional). As for the training requirements (as you point out below), there are none. It tends to be the other way around - there is no time for training because all the time is spent fundraising.
    Originally posted by glowpop
    The truth is:
    1. We are broke because no one in our organizations have ever done long range planning and established long range goals and objectives, financial or otherwise. If you want money from the bank to start a business, do you think the bank will give you money just because you say you need it?
    Why in the heck should a volunteer fire department ever need to go to a bank for money? When are the municipalities going to recognize that they are getting a free ride and buck up?
    Originally posted by glowpop
    2. We're not treated as professionals because we aren't! Many in our ranks aren't interested in the fire service mission, especially our leaders. Don't believe me? When was the last time you or your fire service leaders in your community went to a local municipal government meeting and pushed for the adoption of a sprinkler ordinance to include residental properties?
    Last week ... and last month ... and the month before that ... and next month. Maybe not specifically for sprinklers, but it might as well be. It sounds like your department has a lot of issues which may or may not be indicative of the typical volunteer department in PA.
    Originally posted by glowpop
    3. The fact of the matter is that besides the Federal EPA requirements for Right-to-Know, this Commonwealth doesn't require any training, regardless of position. In other words, in PA, you need to do more to qualify to cut someones hair than to be a communities fire chief. THAT'S SCARY!
    I will absolutely agree with you there.
    Originally posted by glowpop
    Who do you blame for that? I know who I blame for that, US.
    Agreed ... partially. There are plenty of volunteer chiefs who are in this for the power trip. Sure, they are doing good for the community, but their power comes first. None of them will give that up. The only way for to really solve the problem would be for many of them to give up their power, and all come under one umbrella. That would be a tough sell, though. The state and municipalities are also to blame. All of them (okay, a lot of them) have been getting a free ride, the town hasn't burned down yet, so no one cares - that is until someone burns down a firehouse in an attempt to build a new one w/ the insurance money (purely hypothetical example).

    Stay Safe

  7. #7
    Senior Member

    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Conshohocken, PA
    Posts
    391

    Default

    PAVolunteer,
    The point of my post was to illustrate the complete loss of focus on the mission of some volunteer fire companies in the Commonwealth, and the out of control leaders who continue to embarress the rest of us who do mean to do the job professionally. The fact that this volunteer fire company's leadership burned the SOCIAL HALL in an attempt to collect insurance to rebuild it, indicates to me that they have completely misplaced the mission of the fire service for self serving means.

    Our club house needs to be repaired, so lets jeapordize the safety of the membership, other public safety officials and maybe our other brother firefighters who come to our aid just so we can continue to party in our club house.

    "I'm guessing funding had something to do with it."

    "Once again ... why not? Did you ever think that the "financial gain" part of it has something to do w/ funding?"

    Because the issue of fire fighters as arsonist, whether for financial gain or not is an issue that goes beyond finances. What now is the likelyhood that they will ever get from the community they were supposed to be serving, the funding that they said they needed. NOT EVER is my guess. But more importantly, the issue of the level of service provided to a community is not up to the fire service to dictate, whether by legal or illegal means. The community sets and establishes the level of protection. If we don't agee with the community then we need to educate the public as to why that isn't satisfactory.

    "Why in the heck should a volunteer fire department ever need to go to a bank for money? When are the municipalities going to recognize that they are getting a free ride and buck up?"

    My point about long range planning and the comment about the bank has to do with how we have conducted our business in the past, and the way that we should be conducting our business now and in the future. I was not suggesting that a fire company get a loan to conduct its business, but if a new business man want to start a business, the submit a business plan to the bank to secure that loan. Government functions these days pretty much the same. Taxpayers are no longer going to just give you money because you say you need it, or because we are a bunch of great guys. You are in a struggle with other public agencies who want a bigger piece of a smaller pie. They all will go to considerable efforts to document what they do, and how much it costs them to do it. They have facts and figures and they can prove how efficient and effective they are. Can you, or for that matter any volunteer fire company in this Commonwealth?

    How many fire calls did you go to last year. How many of those fires were structural calls? How much property was lost last year in your jurisdiction? How much property did you save as a result of your actions? How many vehicle fires did you go to? How many fires were the result of juvenile fire setters? Does your department use a standardized NFIRS system and do you report to your local, County and Commonwealth systems? How many prevention/education programs did you provide to your citizens last year? I can bet that if you have a local police department that the chief of police can tell you much of the same type of information about crime and that they reported it to the Commonwealth and Federal law enforcement agencies, as well as how they reduced it or what they were doing to reduce it.

    Do you have a master fire protection plan that looks at your community from the perspective of demographics, geography, social and economic conditions, and a good fire risk assessment? Have you determined what you will need in the years 2010, 2020, 2030? What conditions, structures, and target hazards might be in your communties in the future and how you plan on dealing with them? If you haven't done this, how do determine what to spend the money on that you do have?

    I know, you don't have any money so you need more. Our company for years played the same game, money came in, but it went out as fast as it went in. At least several months every year it seemed that we had to decide what bills to pay and what ones to let go until we had enough money to pay them. This method of money management stopped when we came up with long range plans. We showed it to the Township Commissioners and we now have money in the bank. Our building is paid off and we have made numerous improvements to the station, and purchased new apparatus. The point is, that township commissions and supervisors are business savy. You have to show them that you are going to spend the money wisely and for items and things that will provide for the protection of the community. So no, our department is not suffering from a lot of the problems similar to other PA departments. We do have a manning problem particularly during the day, but thats another issue, but it is linked to some of the same leadership issues.

    As far as communities getting a free ride, I hear this often, but when a fire company member is involved in arson for whatever motivational reasons, the community isn't getting anything free. It loses big time every time. If you want the money you have to prove to those that you serve that you are capable and accountable. You can't be either when you have arsonist amoungst you. That is why you shouldn't be talking finances first. You need to clean house and then we can honestly go before those who control the purse strings, and say, we've cleaned house, have taken these steps to ensure that it can't happen again, and then ask for the money.

    Sorry it was so long. I'll get off my soap box now.

  8. #8
    Forum Member
    PAVolunteer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Dauphin County, PA
    Posts
    1,139

    Default

    Originally posted by glowpop
    The point of my post was to illustrate the complete loss of focus on the mission of some volunteer fire companies in the Commonwealth, and the out of control leaders who continue to embarress the rest of us who do mean to do the job professionally. The fact that this volunteer fire company's leadership burned the SOCIAL HALL in an attempt to collect insurance to rebuild it, indicates to me that they have completely misplaced the mission of the fire service for self serving means.
    Agreed ... I think we're arguing about the same thing here ... just going about it in different ways.
    Originally posted by glowpop
    Our club house needs to be repaired, so lets jeapordize the safety of the membership, other public safety officials and maybe our other brother firefighters who come to our aid just so we can continue to party in our club house.
    I never said that it made sense, or justified what they did ... all I'm saying is that I'm sure part of the reason they did it was because they saw no other way to get the money that they need.
    Originally posted by glowpop
    Because the issue of fire fighters as arsonist, whether for financial gain or not is an issue that goes beyond finances. What now is the likelyhood that they will ever get from the community they were supposed to be serving, the funding that they said they needed. NOT EVER is my guess. But more importantly, the issue of the level of service provided to a community is not up to the fire service to dictate, whether by legal or illegal means. The community sets and establishes the level of protection. If we don't agee with the community then we need to educate the public as to why that isn't satisfactory.
    Agreed, to a point. It is up to us the level of protection that a community needs. As you said, it is also up to us to convince the public, and the administration of that.
    Originally posted by glowpop
    My point about long range planning and the comment about the bank has to do with how we have conducted our business in the past, and the way that we should be conducting our business now and in the future. I was not suggesting that a fire company get a loan to conduct its business, but if a new business man want to start a business, the submit a business plan to the bank to secure that loan. Government functions these days pretty much the same. Taxpayers are no longer going to just give you money because you say you need it, or because we are a bunch of great guys. You are in a struggle with other public agencies who want a bigger piece of a smaller pie. They all will go to considerable efforts to document what they do, and how much it costs them to do it. They have facts and figures and they can prove how efficient and effective they are.
    Agreed.
    Originally posted by glowpop
    Can you, or for that matter any volunteer fire company in this Commonwealth?
    Absolutely.
    Originally posted by glowpop
    How many fire calls did you go to last year. How many of those fires were structural calls? How much property was lost last year in your jurisdiction? How much property did you save as a result of your actions? How many vehicle fires did you go to? How many fires were the result of juvenile fire setters? Does your department use a standardized NFIRS system and do you report to your local, County and Commonwealth systems? How many prevention/education programs did you provide to your citizens last year? I can bet that if you have a local police department that the chief of police can tell you much of the same type of information about crime and that they reported it to the Commonwealth and Federal law enforcement agencies, as well as how they reduced it or what they were doing to reduce it.
    Yes, I can. If you really want, I can go get the Chief's report to the Township Board of Supervisors. That report (with information gathered from thousands of other reports) would answer every question you asked (with the exception of "value of property saved" - that is way too subjective - unless you agree that we save $300 million of property every time we go to an AFA at the hospital/school of medicine). We report to the township and to the county.
    [QUOTE]Originally posted by glowpop
    [B]I'm guessing, though, that this is not your point. Your point is that there are way too many departments that are not able to answer these questions.
    Originally posted by glowpop
    Do you have a master fire protection plan that looks at your community from the perspective of demographics, geography, social and economic conditions, and a good fire risk assessment? Have you determined what you will need in the years 2010, 2020, 2030? What conditions, structures, and target hazards might be in your communties in the future and how you plan on dealing with them? If you haven't done this, how do determine what to spend the money on that you do have?
    Yes. This is due to the fact that our first due area covers the #1 terrorist risk in Dauphin County. We have a 20 year plan on replacement of apparatus, gear, SCBA, and buildings. Again, this is not your point.
    Originally posted by glowpop
    I know, you don't have any money so you need more.
    Fortunately, this is not the case. As you, we are the exception to the rule.
    Originally posted by glowpop
    Our company for years played the same game, money came in, but it went out as fast as it went in. At least several months every year it seemed that we had to decide what bills to pay and what ones to let go until we had enough money to pay them. This method of money management stopped when we came up with long range plans. We showed it to the Township Commissioners and we now have money in the bank. Our building is paid off and we have made numerous improvements to the station, and purchased new apparatus. The point is, that township commissions and supervisors are business savy. You have to show them that you are going to spend the money wisely and for items and things that will provide for the protection of the community. So no, our department is not suffering from a lot of the problems similar to other PA departments. We do have a manning problem particularly during the day, but thats another issue, but it is linked to some of the same leadership issues.
    Sounds like you guys are in pretty good shape. Fortunately, we are in the same boat. In late 2002, we actually came up w/ a plan to replace 4 pieces of apparatus as part of a leasing plan which would actually save the township money compared to the payments being made right now. They said no (w/ no reason given). I guess they are not too business savy. When I hear the plight of companies in Upper Dauphin County who have to sell chicken and hold Bingo every weekend simply to literally put fuel in the apparatus, it makes me sick. This is the problem. I'm not talking about fire companies not having money to buy the latest TIC, or a new engine, or leathers ... it's about fuel. It's about basic needs, and basic operations. No company needs a ten year plan to justify funding to put fuel in the apparatus.
    Originally posted by glowpop
    As far as communities getting a free ride, I hear this often, but when a fire company member is involved in arson for whatever motivational reasons, the community isn't getting anything free. It loses big time every time. If you want the money you have to prove to those that you serve that you are capable and accountable. You can't be either when you have arsonist amoungst you. That is why you shouldn't be talking finances first. You need to clean house and then we can honestly go before those who control the purse strings, and say, we've cleaned house, have taken these steps to ensure that it can't happen again, and then ask for the money.
    Agreed!

    Stay Safe

  9. #9
    Senior Member

    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Conshohocken, PA
    Posts
    391

    Default Grants

    PAVolunteer,
    I think we're on the same page.

    The volunteer fire service in PA has done little to change this problem. While I don't doubt that there are fire companies out there that have a hard time putting fuel in the trucks, part of that problem stems from the fact that many feel that we are "nothing but a bunch of arsonists", even if that particular company hasn't had any problems with their particular members.

    A year or two ago, Govn. Ridge or Schwieker through the State Legislature provided a grant program to almost every fire company in the Commonwealth. Every company got about 9Gs. Not a lot but I'm sure it went far for many companies out there. Shortly after the grant money went out, three fire fighters in the western end of the Commonwealth, were arrested for arson. I know for a fact that many of the House Representatives and some State Senators, were livid, because of the irrate phone calls that they received from their constituents.

    And this is only one reason that there is a block of citizens that feel upset and abused by the fire companies. There isn't a year that goes by in this Commonwealth that you don't hear of a fire fighter/officer that hasn't been arrested/convicted of embezzlement or some other illegal act, and many more accussed for unethical behavior.

    There are ways that we can reduce this problem. I don't have the web site available right now at my fingertips, but the State Police have a site that for $10.00 you can check an individual for criminal history. For a few bucks we can check on the credit history of any member on any of the credit history web sites available. Some counties have websites that will allow you to check their past as well as active criminal and civil history's of corporations and individuals as long as you have just the name of the corporation or person.

    Audits for every financial account need to be done every year and every time the administrative financial officer changes.

    There are ways to make sure that we have members who are there for the right reasons. If we don't do our job when they first apply, and for some officers routinely, then we reap what we sow.
    Last edited by glowpop; 03-21-2003 at 10:27 AM.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts

Log in

Click here to log in or register