Thread: FYI in CA
09-22-2004, 05:07 PM #1
- Join Date
- Apr 2003
FYI in CA
There is a speaker in California who may try to peddle his mis-truths across the nation. His name is Bruce Philpott(Google search will get you his bio). It seems that Mr Philpott, an ex-police chief from the west coast has been making the circut speaking to city administrators and anyone else who will listen about the overpaid/underworked firefighters across the country. Below I have included some of his "Models" for the fire service.
Findings include four new models for fire service that:
Eliminate the traditional 24-hour shift where leisure and sleep account for 66%, and on weekends, up to 90%, of their on-duty time.
Convert half of the engine companies to two-person patrol rigs that carry 300 gallons of water and can manage well over 90% of the medical and fire/rescue calls in their geographic areas of responsibility. While on patrol, they also provide a variety of value added services such as graffiti and road hazard removal, field inspections, smoke detector installations, check on elderly, etc.
Increase response to major disasters such as earthquakes by adding 40% more public safety personnel resources to the community in the form of an effective fire auxiliary or reserve force.
Adopt a military model of service, hiring young men and women in the community to serve a four-year contract that pays them a $50,000 bonus at the end of their service.
All of this while maintaining or reducing response times.
A link to the bio:
I have read the 22 page document and it stinks worse than the MSN "Slate" document from late last year.
Just a "heads up" from California.
09-22-2004, 10:25 PM #2
What's the deal with all these ex-cops being "consultants" and going around the country saying how you can improve fire departments by cutting manpower and closing companies. A few years back my city hired a consulting firm,comprised of 2 ex-cops, who wanted to slash us at the throat. We had 2 engines and 2 trucks closed in '91. The union had to pay to get another study to show we needed everything we have. We went round and round and nothing else closed,but we had to fight. Imagine if retired FF's went around to cities saying if crime is down you should cut your police department because they only drive around all day in air conditioned cars and waste gasoline.
09-22-2004, 10:45 PM #3
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
[size=large]mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmUTT![/size]"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
09-22-2004, 11:35 PM #4
MUTT!!! MUTT!!! MUTT!!!!
How could he do such a thing when it's a constant struggle to have to justify everything you need just because some damn city council person, or in this case, some ding dong, who can't find his *** with both hands and a roadmap go around screaming we don't need personnel or equipment just because they want to save money to get re-elected!!
Wow, I feel better! We have a city council person like this. He has the idea to solve everything when really he doesn't know the first thing about this job and what it requires. We have tried to explain things and educate him but that was like talking to a fence post. Now we just tolerate him and let him make an *** of himself with all the things he is trying to change. Give him enough rope, he will hang himself.
Keep your head down and your powder dry.
Altoona Fire Rescue
09-23-2004, 12:06 AM #5
I quote, from the link: "Rather than just listing the facts, this report creates a fictional city and characters."
Doesn't that sound a bit like the presidential race this year? Are these two man patrols to do graffiti removal or check on granny at 0300?
While there can be legitimate questions as to some of the stuff we do, the way to answer it is with real answers...not fictional scenarios.
Hootman, drop me an email @ email@example.com...I might not respond right away (on vacation this week tearing my house apart...literally...so I'm not online as much as usual)...but I'm dying to read this report!IACOJ Canine Officer
09-23-2004, 03:58 PM #6
- Join Date
- Apr 2004
- Bossier Parrish, Louisiana
I am sure that I am going to take a beating for this ..... but here it goes anyway .....
Maybe some, and note SOME, of the above ideas make sense to me.
If you look at your numbers maybe the 2 man-patrol rig concept isn't all that crazy, with the theory being you shut down a that are patially staffed (3 man crews) and take that manpower to fully staff a few less engines running in addition to the patrol rigs. Here at least, a two man patrol rig could easily handle all of our med calls and 90% of our non-medical runs, thereby saving the engines for working fires. And the idea of the 2 man rigs doing inspections, pub ed, smoke detector installations, etc. isn't a bad idea at all.
Asd far as the training of the public to perform task at major diasters... why is that socrazy. In the event iof a major hurricane, earthquake, etc there will never be enough manpower, ao why not train a citizen corp to become a part of the emerghency services to perform LIMITED tasks ?
Just my thoughts.
09-23-2004, 10:30 PM #7
First I havent heard of this and I have to admit, I almost feel
like I need to apologize for this crap coming from my state.
I wasnt able to read the whole 22 page article. (I actually
couldnt find it), but I am sure there are always ways to
where someone could streamline, trim or make a place better.
But, in this case, I am thinking after Fire Storm 2003
and the strength of the IAFF in Cali, this will die down.
Gotta keep an eye on this...Bou
Last edited by CALFFBOU; 09-23-2004 at 10:33 PM.
09-24-2004, 01:14 PM #8
Re: Wow...Originally posted by CALFFBOU
First I havent heard of this and I have to admit, I almost feel
like I need to apologize for this crap coming from my state.
Philpott must not have spent much time watching his own city's FD during his tenure as police chief. Pasadena FD's one of the busiest in the area, they definitely don't spend the majority of their time lounging around the station.Chris Gaylord
Emergency Planner / Fire Captain, UC Santa Cruz FD
09-24-2004, 01:53 PM #9
I think I have found my calling!!! As a former LEO I am going to hire myself out to stupid city council people and slash budgets and personnel of the local PD. See how they like it.
I can see the business cards being passed out. Have a maltese cross built into the company logo. The crap would fly.AKA: Mr. Whoo-Whoo
IAFF Local 3900
IACOJ-The Crusty Glow Worm
ENGINE 302 - The Fire Rats
F.A.N.T.A.M FOOLS FTM-PTB
09-24-2004, 02:50 PM #10
Re: Re: Wow...Originally posted by SafetyPro
Heck, I have to apologize for this coming from my hometown.Resident Chaplain of the IACOJ
09-24-2004, 03:04 PM #11Originally posted by LaFireEducator
I am sure that I am going to take a beating for this ..... but here it goes anyway .....
09-26-2004, 05:01 PM #12
To my surprise he sent the document to me. I have just started reading the mythical city scenario. While we have stations that are slow, the exaggerations are pretty over the top.
He's right at home though. We have a neighborhood here in Orange County where the scenario he projects would fit right in, it's called FANTASYLAND!!Politics is like driving. To go forward select "D", to go backward select "R."
09-26-2004, 07:42 PM #13
In regards to the "military type contact"..the whole 4 year hick bit.....imagine how much "work" you'll get out of a "short timer".....????????!!!!!!IACOJ Member
09-27-2004, 04:03 PM #14
Guys and Girls- So much radical stuff has been going down in
this state since the firestorm of 2003, I dont expect much
too get cut or changed.
Again, I am sorry this clown from my state is attacking the
Listed below is some fresh information...Bou
Governor told to OK fire bills
California's firefighters say they appreciate Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's vocal support following the October fire siege. Now they'd like his autograph - on some pending legislation sitting on his desk. Schwarzenegger, meanwhile, has put forth his own "fire plan" for the state without taking any position on the bills awaiting his signature. Concerned that the political momentum to improve the state's fire protection is fading as time passes, more than a half-dozen fire chiefs and state legislators turned out yesterday for a news conference at the San Diego Regional Public Safety Institute, at the old Naval Training Center next to Lindbergh Field. There, they called on Schwarzenegger to follow through on recommendations made by his blue-ribbon fire commission. Schwarzenegger could start, they said, by signing a package of five bills passed by the Legislature that await his signature. The bills represent the first direct response to the recommendations put forward by the commission, which held hearings in San Diego and throughout Southern California to review responses and failures during the October fires. "The stakes are too high to let this report gather dust on a shelf somewhere in Sacramento," said William McCammon, chief of the Alameda County Fire Department and president of the California Fire Chiefs Association. Dallas Jones, former director of the state Office of Emergency Services, was even more pointed in his comments. "The time has come to get serious about learning the lessons of last year's fires," Jones said. "If we don't, we risk seeing history repeat itself over and over again." (San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/11/04) <http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/m...2m11bills.html>
Lawmakers, fire officials call on governor to sign bills
Fire officials and state lawmakers called on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Friday to sign five bills sitting on his desk that would add firefighters, fire engines, helicopters and air tankers throughout the state to prevent and fight future firestorms such as the ones that devastated Southern California last year. The bills, which were approved with bipartisan support by California's Assembly and Senate, grew from recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Fire Task Force that Schwarzenegger and former Gov. Gray Davis convened after the October firestorms. Among those who gathered at the Regional Public Safety Training Institute in San Diego to urge the governor to sign the bills were: Sen. Denise Ducheny, D-San Diego; Assemblywoman Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego; Assemblyman Rudy Bermudez, D-Norwalk; the former director of California's Office of Emergency Services, Dallas Jones; Bill McCammon, president of the California Fire Chiefs Association and Lou Paulson, president of the California Professional Firefighters. The group said Schwarzenegger needed to sign the bills immediately, despite the state's continuing financial debt, to protect residents from future catastrophes. "The challenge before us now is to act on the Blue Ribbon commission's recommendations and not let this become another report of a fire siege that sits on a shelf in Sacramento while communities burn," McCammon said. Staff members at Schwarzenegger's office said Friday evening that he had not taken a position on the bills yet, and had until the end of the month to sign them into law or let them die. The five bills include: „h Assembly Bill 1611, written by Ducheny, would require four firefighters be assigned to all California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection fire engines year-round, instead of just in emergencies. Ducheny said current staffing levels were three firefighters per engine. „h AB 1588, written by Kehoe, would give the state fire agency the authority to use federal money to buy, recondition, maintain and operate more helicopters and airplanes to fight fires. „h Senate Bill 902, written by Sen. John Burton, D-San Francisco, would authorize the state to buy 150 additional fire engines for the state Office of Emergency Services, to be stationed strategically throughout California. Jones, who ran the office under Davis, said the cost would be $25 million, spent over four to five years. Jones said proponents believe the state can find federal Homeland Security money to cover the cost. „h AB 2406, written by Bermudez, would require all fire agencies throughout California to report response times to the state, which would be available to the public on a government Web site. „h AB 3065, written by Kehoe, would require cities to submit fire safety plans to the state fire agency for review, just as counties are required to do now. Officials said if Schwarzenegger did not sign the bills into law, the state runs the risk of even more devastating fires. The October firestorms killed 24 people, destroyed more than 3,600 homes and 750,000 acres throughout Southern California. In San Diego County alone, the fires killed 16 people, destroyed more than 2,400 homes and 400,000 acres. McCammon said the state has suffered catastrophic fires "in 1972, 1978, 1980, 1985, 1991, 1993 and 2003 ---- the fact is, the fires are getting larger and the threat to lives and property continue to grow exponentially." Jones and others, meanwhile, said fire officials realized the state was still in financial distress. But they said the actions the bills would require were desperately needed to protect the public, and that lawmakers designed the bills to put the least financial burden on the state. In many cases, they said, the state might find federal grants to cover the costs. "These are not pie-in-the-sky recommendations of billions of dollars," Jones said. "You know, a few million here and there can make a difference." (North County Times, 9/10/04) <http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2004..._599_10_04.txt>
09-27-2004, 04:55 PM #15
Re: Some stuff...Originally posted by CALFFBOU
Again, I am sorry this clown from my state is attacking the
09-27-2004, 11:28 PM #16
To Protect and Save
TO PROTECT AND SAVE
TO PROTECT AND SAVE
Note: Definitions are for the purpose of understanding the following document and are not intended to be complete ’Text Book’ definitions.
Fire Department: A California city or county fire department that operates in a metropolitan, urban or suburban environment as opposed to rural, state or federal fire services. The models described in this document may also apply to many out-of-state departments. Rural fire departments are often staffed with all or partial use of volunteers.
Engine Company: An engine is a very wide but short fire truck that carries 500 gallons of water and hoses for deployment at a fire scene. It has pumps that allow water from a hydrant to flow through it so it can regulate water pressure. It is operated by the "engineer" whose function is to drive the apparatus to the scene and to manipulate the various operating controls, adjusting for the needs at the time. One of the fire fighters aboard is left off at the hydrant before the engine moves to the scene of the fire. He or she attaches the hose to the hydrant and waits instructions from the captain, the crew chief of the engine company, to activate the water flow through the engine once everything is ready.
Truck Company: A truck is a wide and very long fire truck that carries ladders, an elevated water platform, axes and other tools. The personnel on a truck have two functions at a fire scene: 1) Cut a hole in the roof of the burning building to allow heat to escape or ventilate so that the
engine company crew can enter the building with their hoses to extinguish the fire. 2) To conduct salvage operations once the fire has been extinguished. This typically amounts
to using exhaust fans to suck out the smoke and employing shovels and squeegees to
remove debris and any excess water that remains in the building after the fire has been
Quint: A quint is a combination of an engine and truck. It is more compact (shorter) and maneuverable than a truck. It carries water, hoses, ladders, and tools that may be required at the scene of a fire. It also carries other non fire- related tools for a variety of purposes.
Patrol Rig: The patrol rig is a small, very maneuverable mini-engine that carries 300 gallons of water along with a pump and hoses. It also carries tools that are often used at fire and other emergency scenes. It is designed to be on patrol in its designated area when not involved in actual fire fighting or on other emergency calls.
How a Citizen’s Committee Saved Millions and Improved City Services
TRADITION, LEGEND AND MYTH A Story of "Faction"
CHAPTER ONE: THE PROBLEM
Once upon a time, not so very long ago or very far from here, there existed a city named Alta Glen, California. Alta Glen was a pretty large city with a population of 350,000 lying in the foothills north of its much larger cousin, the City of Los Angeles. It liked to think of itself as a "compassionate" city, one that put the needs of its citizens ahead of petty politics. Like most cities its size, however, it struggled with its budget, ever mindful of the need to provide its citizens with the proper amount of municipal services, especially in the areas of police and fire protection.
But there came a time when the city manager, Jack Allright, was given notice by the governor’s office that the city’s $15 million annual share of the state car tax was being rescinded, a situation which would cause one of the largest annual budget crises in Alta Glen‘s history. For days Jack lamented the loss and pondered what he should do. In despair, he reached out to all the heads of his city‘s departments but none had a solution. "It’s due to the new governor’s repeal of the car tax", they all intoned. "It’s his fault we have no money", they carped.
Sitting in on one particular meeting was Fred Goodman, one of Jack’s oldest friends who was also a newly elected member of the City Council and a retired city firefighter. Being new to the council, Fred was not privy to the political infighting that existed in that body and caused internal competition between the individual operating departments, all fighting for their share of the city’s general revenue pie. Goodman, being an independent thinker, thought he might have a solution to the problem and that solution would come directly from the city’s fire department of whose operations Fred had first hand knowledge.
"You know", Fred mused to Jack, "A few years ago, the city council approved a staffing policy that required the fire department to add a fourth firefighter to each engine and truck company at a cost of around $16 million, roughly the same amount we are short, now. I don’t think it has improved the department’s services in any way." Everyone in the room busied himself by doodling on a writing pad or looking elsewhere. No one wanted to touch the hot button topic of meddling with the Fire Department.
Jack recalled aloud that the staffing increase had been approved after the president of the fire union, Captain Jones, told the city council that a new Cal OSHA regulation required that an additional fire fighter be added to fire companies that were normally staffed with three. Jones had said that, when two fire fighters entered a burning building to either perform a rescue or attack a fire, an additional two fire fighters were needed to stand by the entryway of the structure, ready to go, in case of an emergency. Jack also remembered that, in order to get the money for the extra fire fighter per company, he had to take a butcher knife to the library budget, suspend public works projects and reduce very popular recreation programs for senior citizens and the city’s youth…all things that went a long way towards providing the citizens of Alta Glen with the level of service they expected.
Immediately, Jack asked Fred Goodman, who chaired the council’s Public Safety Committee, to head a citizen’s committee to investigate the situation. Goodman proceeded to appoint an ad hoc committee representing a mix of residents and businesses. The first thing the committee did was to conduct a complete audit of all fire calls. When the results came back, Jack and the citizen’s committee were stunned to learn that, in reality, the extra fire fighter made no difference in the fire department‘s ability to deliver the same quality of service to which the community is accustomed.
The substantive breakdown of what each fire call entailed looked something like this:
1) 85% of all fire calls are medical in nature. Engine companies are dispatched to back up the paramedic ambulance that is already equipped with two personnel. Further, the great majority of the calls are in response to one person injuries or medical emergencies that rarely require the assistance of the engine company personnel but, when they do, three are sufficient. When a larger medical emergency does exist such as a traffic collision with multiple injuries, several engine companies are dispatched that provide more than adequate additional staffing assistance.
2) Of the remaining 15% of the calls, even when they are categorized as fire or rescue, most are false alarms or non-emergencies. The rest are small fires involving trashcans, barbeques, cars or dried grass in vacant lots that can easily be extinguished with three fire fighters using the 500 gallons of water that each engine carries.
"But what about structure fires that might endanger whole city blocks?" Jack wanted to know. The findings of the committee showed that, even in a population of 350,000 with a mixture of family dwellings, retail establishments, and light manufacturing, there are less than 20 working structure fires annually. When they do occur, there are multiple engine and truck companies that arrive at the fire within minutes, thereby providing sufficient staffing to satisfy the OSHA regulation.
"Well, what happens when there is a fourth fire fighter on the first arriving engine company?" Jack persisted. Here, too, the committee had the answer. Even where a fourth person exists, the engineer who drives the truck has the responsibility of operating the equipment which pumps and regulates the water flow and, thus, cannot leave the engine to join his teammates. Plus, one fire fighter must remain at the hydrant, usually at the end of the block, waiting for orders to activate the water flow. "One extra fire fighter doesn’t aid the situation in any way. In order to do what the union is suggesting, it would take a minimum of six firefighters for a single engine company to independently attack a structure fire," Goodman concluded.
Furthering their investigation, they discovered that the Cal OSHA regulation to which union president Jones had referred does not require that four fire fighters be on each engine and truck company. Rather, it states that four fire fighters be dedicated to conduct an entry into a structure on fire. "Fed and Cal OSHA have made it clear that they are not in the business of setting minimum staffing requirements on engines and trucks, especially when the average staffing nationally is three". They also discovered that the statement Jones made to the city council that four fire firefighters had to be present before a rescue attempt could be made of a person inside a burning building, was a lie. No rule or regulation, including those of OSHA and the National Fire Protection Association, enumerates how many fire fighters must be present before entering a burning building to save a life.
Because the ad hoc committee believed in conducting a thorough investigation of the three versus four staffing question, they checked with two other cities in Los Angeles County that currently operate with only three on their engine and truck companies. The fire chiefs and city managers of both cities told them that, although they have received a lot of pressure from their respective fire unions, they have not had any problems delivering fire services and protection to their communities by holding to their original number. One city manager said his city did go from three to four firefighters a few years ago for the reasons already mentioned, but had returned to three-person units due to budget issues and that no problems resulted from the reduction.
After the audit and report was submitted, the ad hoc committee was charged with monitoring the new staffing program for the first twelve months of operation. The result? No problems occurred and, by reducing the staffing from four to three the city saved about $11million, annually. (See Appendix A).
CHAPTER TWO: REPRESENTING THE COMMUNITY
At the end of the twelve-month monitoring period, the ad hoc committee was ready to disband, thinking it had no other issues to address. Then, out of the blue, another important issue concerning public safety was brought to its attention by George Carpajian, an original member of the committee. George owned and operated a small, but successful, retail business in town. A week earlier, a rescue ambulance was dispatched to the home of one of his relatives. Five fire fighters, two on the ambulance and three on the engine company, responded. They found George’s uncle, a man in his fifties, lying down in the back yard, semi conscious and struggling for breath. The man and his family were new immigrants from the Middle East and could speak very little English. The five fire fighters on the scene tried desperately to learn from the other family members present if the victim had a prior medical problem and or history but, due to the language barrier, they made no headway. After continuing their efforts for several more minutes, the fire personnel loaded George’s uncle into the ambulance and sped away to a hospital emergency center. The man died while en route. Later, they learned that the man did, indeed, have a history of a known illness. Had the paramedics been able to communicate with him and/or his family members who were present, the problem could have been addressed and the victim‘s life saved.
Jack turned the ad hoc committee loose on this problem that involved gaining an understanding of the changing demographics of the city of Alta Glen. Like many cities in the greater southern California basin, Alta Glen has experienced a large influx of new immigrants, the vast majority of whom have very little English language capability. While immigrants often come from all points of the global compass, Alta Glen’s new immigrants have predominately come from the Middle East. A study of how large a portion of the over all population revealed that it was greater than anyone had realized, constituting over 30%. Historical data on immigration shows that it takes two to three generations for English to become the pervasive language of a new immigrant population and most of Alta Glen‘s new residents had only arrived recently. What was most troubling to the fire ad hoc committee was that, despite the growth of the immigrant population in the community as a whole, there were virtually none represented in the fire department. This discrepancy deprived the department of bilingual capability in emergency situations. The committee reasoned that the strong culture of tradition in the fire service as to how new members were added resisted this change.
The members of the ad hoc committee realized that, by not addressing the needs of 30% of their population, they were, in effect, denying them effective medical emergency service. Members of the committee immediately put this issue on the front burner as a special emergency problem that required drastic and quick action. The question on the table was how do we implement an emergency medical delivery system that can effectively communicate with non-English speaking citizens. Jack was clear in his mandate. They needed to solve the problem NOW before any more lives were endangered.
The fire department was put on notice that they had to deliver a solution, ASAP. In response, fire management unveiled a program to create 10 cadet positions whose members would be recruited from the local community. Although this would enable the recruits to enter the pipeline for future fire fighters, for the ad hoc committee this was too little, too late. "Under this program, it’ll take at least 40 years before there are enough members of this population within the overall fire service for it to be effective", George complained. "By that time, the need would have been met as the second and third generations acquire the English skills. The need is now, not in 40 years. Once again the ad hoc committee looked outside of the Alta Glen community for solutions. They found a nationally recognized model in the nearby city of Montera Park that had experienced similar phenomena with the influx of a large, predominately Asian population. Recognizing that it was good business practice for its workforce to mirror its residential population, the City of Montera Park decided to recruit and train a cadre of auxiliary or reserve fire fighters with bi-lingual skills.
When the auxiliary fire fighters were trained, they were added to their engine and truck companies as the 4th person but without incurring the costs such a position would, normally, entail. Many work shifts even had an auxiliary person go along with the rescue ambulance. Montera Park then used the list of qualified auxiliaries as its primary labor pool from which they would recruit full time, regular fire fighters. It took Montera Park 18 months to get the program up and running and the fire chief later said that the quality of the auxiliaries and newly hired fire fighters was as good a group of professional fire fighters as he had seen.
Inspired by the Montera Park model, Jack and his committee set in motion Alta Glen’s new recruitment policy. News of this action reached the Alta Glen fire union, which, at a cost of $75,000, hired public relations and lobbying firms to stop the city from adopting the Montera Park model. The reaction from the community was swift, however. It initiated one of the most powerful grass roots campaigns in memory, bringing together neighborhood associations, business groups, endorsements from city commissions and well respected citizens and informal leaders at all levels. Thankful for the work the ad hoc committee was doing on their behalf and recognizing their own need, the citizens rallied together and the model was implemented.
CHAPTER THREE: WASTED TIME = A WASTED LIFE
Brian Phillips, a retired city resident and also a member of the fire ad hoc committee, was walking his dog in one of the city’s finest and largest parks, located at the extreme north and west side of the Alta Glen community, when he observed an engine and truck parked at about the center of the park. He then saw several groups of fire fighters jogging around the perimeter of the park. Upon closer inspection, he observed one group of men run up a mountain road and, actually, disappear over the horizon. After several minutes, the group reappeared and continued their laps. Brian returned often and observed the same set of circumstances almost every day. Sometimes a rescue ambulance also showed up. The men on it would get out and run the same course. On more than one occasion Brian saw that, after running for about 30 minutes, several of the men were tired, almost to the point of exhaustion, causing Brian to wonder how they could possibly have the stamina to respond to a fire call or other emergency, should one come in.
At home one day Brian was watching the local government channel on T.V. as the city council discussed the possibility of placing speed bumps on a particular road. The fire chief was present and, when it was his turn to speak, he was adamantly against the proposal, stating that speed bumps would impede the ability of his personnel to get to emergency fire and medical calls, promptly. With great emotion the fire chief proclaimed, "Every minute and every second count in the many life threatening situations on which we roll." As he watched, Brian nodded his head in agreement, knowing that most calls are medical and often involve people who are in crises. In those cases, seconds are critical to their ability to live or die. Reflecting on what he had seen in the park, Brian wanted to know how these same firefighters who shouldn’t be forced to slow down for speed bumps could be expected to respond to these same critical medical emergencies in a timely manner when they are out jogging in a remote park about a quarter of a mile away from their rigs, wearing only tennis shoes and running shorts when the calls come in.
At the next meeting of the fire ad hoc committee meeting, Brian brought up this issue. The committee now decided it needed to focus on how fire fighters spend their on-duty time and how prepared they really are to respond to the public’s emergency needs. The committee once again started to compile data from the previous twelve months’ worth of activity logs and other records in order to get a clear perspective. Since each of the 8 rescue ambulances, 5 truck companies and 17 engine companies had their own logs, they decided to shorten the task by randomly sampling enough of the data to accurately reflect a full year’s activity.
From this data, the following picture appeared:
At one time or another during each day, one or more fire stations close down and shut and lock their doors leaving no personnel or apparatus inside. During these times, fire personnel are off on a variety of assignments that include city ceremonies, funerals of police or fire personnel from Alta Glen or other cities, neighborhood block parties sponsored by the mayor or city council members, parades, or special appearances at other civic or community events. While all these events might, indeed, be of service to the community, in no way do they aid in the department’s ability to respond to a fire or other emergency calls. To the contrary, they cause a delay in getting to the scene of emergency calls. (See Appendix B).
Further, investigation of the collected data showed that there were numerous, other, non-fire related activities that might also cause fire stations to close for many hours at a time. One example: On a single day one third of all city stations were closed at the same time so that fire fighters could go to another, designated fire station for the purpose of getting fitted for new boots. When the fire fighters finished, two hours later, another third of the stations closed for the same purpose. The same pattern of closing stations occurred when the fire fighters went to get flu shots, to attend union meetings, or for any number of other events. Incredulous, Jack wanted to know why new boots necessitated whole stations to be shut down at the same time. "Why didn’t they just send you to them?", he demanded to know of the shoemaker who had been assigned to do the measuring. The beleaguered man shrugged and said that, although he had offered to do just that, he had been told that the fire department always did it the other way and planned on continuing to do so. All the members of the committee looked to Fred for an answer. He sadly nodded as he admitted that fire fighters are a very social lot and events like shoe measuring and flu shots give them the opportunity to get together. "To the detriment of public safety?" Brian bellowed. Fred admitted that, viewed in that light, there was no way the practice could be justified. It was just another example of "tradition".
Incensed, Brian vowed to get to the bottom of this but, in order to do so, he needed more ammunition. At the archives of the local paper, Brian discovered plenty including an incident that occurred in the adjacent city of Fernbank. The paper reported on a fire chief who allowed the staff of a complete engine company to take the day before Christmas off and closed the station. His reasoning, despite the fact that fire folks know that house fire occurrences increase significantly around the holidays was, "After all, it’s Christmas Eve." Unfortunately, fire does not know from holidays so, by the time units did arrive, a $700,000 home was completely engulfed and burned to the ground.
That was the final straw. The committee now knew that they were dealing with a larger problem than they had, at first thought. In order to get a handle on the situation they needed to find out exactly how a fire fighter spends his 24-hour shift.
CHAPTER FOUR: TIME AND MONEY
Hearing that the next charge of the fire ad hoc committee was to break down the daily work activity of the fire personnel, another member of the committee volunteered to head up the project. Frank Jameson was well qualified and suited for the task. Not only was he a resident of Alta Glen with a struggling career and family on a tight budget, Frank was also an efficiency expert for a medium size-manufacturing firm also located in the city.
Frank, along with the committee chair, council member Fred Goodman, was able to solicit the aid of most of the members of the committee. They decided to employ the same technique of using a sampling of the daily activity logs to extract the data.
A profile of activities began to emerge from the volumes of raw data. From a descending order of time engaged in the various activities, the following pattern appeared:
ACTIVITY SHIFT HOURS DEVOTED TO ACTIVITY
1. Sleep 8 Hours 2. Standby, waiting for calls 8 Hours 3. Food shopping, preparation and eating 3 Hours 4. Responding on calls 2 Hours 5. Training 2 Hours 6. Miscellaneous maintenance and related duties 1 Hour
(See Appendix C).
The committee noted that personnel on engine companies are busier than those assigned to truck companies primarily because engine companies are also dispatched on every medical call. Fred Goodman characterized the truck as a big, long and expensive toolbox with sophisticated ladders and hydraulic platforms to direct water onto a burning building. At a house fire, the truck personnel’s main function is to chop a hole in the roof to ventilate the heat so the fire can be extinguished faster. Because they also carry the tool known as the "Jaws of Life", truck companies often respond to traffic collisions where metal has to be cut away to free an injured person.
In reporting his findings to the committee, Frank Jameson said that the average time a truck or engine was out of the station on a call was 15 to 20 minutes, noting that the vast majority of calls were false, minor or quickly serviced. Occasionally, the calls lasted for up to an hour or more on incidents such as major traffic accidents or actual structure fires.
The study also revealed that, unlike popular fire lore, on most shifts the fire fighters were able to sleep undisturbed. The highest service call volume occurred Monday through Friday during normal business hours when the city experienced an influx of people who work in its business, commercial and manufacturing districts.
City planners estimate that the population swells to over 425,000 during these peak times. "There are obviously going to be more car crashes and medical emergencies with a larger population within our borders", Frank exclaimed. "The distribution of fire resources should reflect that fact." The committee was perplexed to discover that no consideration was given to distribute resources commensurate with the fluctuation of calls over a 24-hour period or from weekdays to weekend days. The same numbers of fire fighters were on the duty roster each shift, day or night, 365 days a year.
Fred Goodman could only say that the fire service had simply evolved that way as a result of the 24-hour shift schedule. "As I said before, tradition runs deep in the fire service and trumps any outside pressure to reform".
With a brother on the police department, Frank Jameson knew that there are more police officers on duty during high demand periods and less when calls are down. Jameson wondered out loud, "This seems so obvious and practical to me. Why are we allowing an extremely costly work force to sleep and relax for most of the time they spend on duty. Tradition is one thing, but how long can the taxpayer allow this non-productive system to continue"?
"Speaking of costly", Fred interjected, "do any of you know what kind of compensation these guys get?" The committee only knew that the fire department was the city’s second largest cost center. Frank said the Director of Finance told him the full ‘cost burden’ of a firefighter was now $150,000. He was surprised at how much the firefighters had gained in compensation and benefits since he retired ten years ago. "Ten of the twenty highest paid employees in the city last year were fire fighters. Some make more than the chief and most of them, receive in excess of $100,000 including overtime. Several pull down more than $225,000 making them, on average, the highest paid workforce at any level of government, including state and federal.
The fire union has developed a very effective technique to increase its annual compensation disproportionate to the economy and the cost of living. Fred called it the 75th Percentile Scheme. "It works like this," Fred said. "Each local union convinces its city council that it should receive, as fair compensation, the rate at the 75th percentile of five or seven comparable fire departments in the area. The union selects departments that are receiving top pay and benefits and have similar (highest quartile) policies set by their respective city councils. It doesn’t take a mathematical genius to figure out that this system will create a never ending leap, year by year, catapulting their salaries way ahead of any other bargaining unit in local government. Pretty clever, huh? Plus local city councils are more than happy to play the game as a quid pro quo for the fire union‘s endorsement."
One committee member thought that the high pay was warranted because of the life-threatening danger that fire fighters face on a daily basis. He referred to a recent newspaper article that quoted the president of the state fire fighters union as saying, "Fire fighting is the most dangerous profession that exists and the people who do it should be compensated well for that". In the same week the City Manager of Alta Glen, in an open budget meeting, justified their high pay, overtime, and benefits by saying, "We must be competitive in the work place in order to retain good personnel".
The more they delved into the issue, the more skeptical of the fire union’s claims the committee became. Now they wanted to find out, along with the issue of supply and demand, just how dangerous the job really was!
CHAPTER FIVE: DANGEROUS LIVING?
Steve Forester, a retired mechanical engineer and resident, volunteered to oversee the research on this phase of the committee’s work. Steve was a computer junkie who prided himself on having the ability to extract data quickly and efficiently from the Internet. Joan Fielding, a human resources director of a large corporation headquartered in Alta Glen, offered to co-chair this research phase with Steve. The question about supply and demand dynamics in the fire work force stimulated her interest.
It didn’t take Steve long to pull together the data he needed. Using "National Occupational Fatalities in the Work Place" data compiled by the National Safety Council, the U. S. Fire Administration, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Steve submitted to the committee the following report:
Over the past 10 years and excluding the deaths associated with the tragic event of 9/11, Steve found that, while fire fighting was a little more hazardous than the average job classification, there were many occupations that were far more deadly.
Far and away, the most hazardous jobs are commercial fishing, logging, piloting aircraft, mining, agriculture, truck driving and work associated with the construction and building trades. Workers who drive vehicles of any kind were also at greater risk, statistically. "I couldn’t find fire fighters until I got way down the list", Steve said. "Not only are their death rates lower than police officers, but only a small percentage of on-duty fire fighter deaths occur while they are actually fighting fires. The largest category of deaths are due to heart attacks and strokes which occur while they are sleeping, lounging around the station or en route to a call. The second largest cause of death is due to traffic accidents. "You have to get down to the fifth cause before you get to deaths occurring while on the "fire ground", to use the exact term found in the data. This is so rare, however, that if you looked at it alone, it would be comparable to the death rate of the average government bureaucrat sitting behind a desk. And in each case, with proper training, these deaths could have been avoided."
"Wow! ", Steve blurted out, "Another urban legend is shattered. But the public still thinks of them as our heroes, don’t they? I mean, who else would replace them? We need heroes." Worried about the public’s reaction, he added, "Maybe we should keep this information to ourselves. No one can benefit from this disclosure".
"OK, but doesn’t this perception factor in to the reason why they receive the highest pay rate and the best benefits of any government work force? Further, how does what is assumed to be true influence the issue of supply and demand?", Joan wondered out loud.
This comment was a perfect introduction for Joan to begin her report. First, she reviewed the amount of training and education required to become a fire fighter. She examined the typical 16-week curriculum at the state certified fire academies and the degree of difficulty and complexity of the job, itself. 11
"In the private sector", she said, "a comparable job would pay about half of the amount fire fighters are getting and the benefit package would be about one-third the value". She checked with the city’s Personnel Department and learned that over 5000 people applied for just three vacant fire positions last year. She was told that most of the applicants were already graduates of state certified fire academies and many held paramedic certificates as well. In order to process such a large number of candidates, the Personnel Department adopted a lottery system, ultimately selecting only a few hundred to be tested. Joan said that she has never seen anything like this in her 23 years in the human resources business. "The likelihood of being hired onto the fire department is, statistically, about as remote as the chance a good high school football player has of reaching the pros." In other words, the available labor pool is far greater than the actual need!
Using a cost-benefit analysis to the job, Joan said, "This job has no equal. In reality the employee works only two, 24-hour shifts per week. The union claims they work three shifts per week but when you factor in vacation, sick and other time off benefits, individual fire fighters really work two shifts per week. The upside of the job is getting $100,000 or more per year. Sleeping, relaxing and eating are further perks. The fact that fire fighters work only a small portion of the time they are "on duty" removes the kinds of work related stress that many others in the work sector experience. In addition, job security, favorable public perception, and a retirement system that allows them to retire at age 50 with 75% to 90% of salary and with lifetime benefits make for a unique and highly sought after job.
"This is such an anomaly that it is mind boggling", Joan said. "No wonder there are so many who want to become fire fighters. It is an injustice to have so many fire academies pumping out certifications with so few openings. People are being misled about the prospect of joining this extraordinary work force." (See Appendix D).
CHAPTER SIX: A MODEL DEPARTMENT
Norman Shrifter, another member of the fire ad hoc committee, is a professor of business administration at a prestigious university in Los Angeles. Since the fire ad hoc committee was beginning to receive some publicity, the chair of a public policy research group called Norman and asked for a meeting. The researcher was Bill Fitzsimmons who had some experience as a fire fighter while serving in the military aboard an aircraft carrier. After his honorable discharge from the military, he got his MBA and went on to own and manage a list of large and successful businesses. He had accepted the position of Director of the Franklin Public Policy Research Institute, a think tank for the university, after an illness caused him to end his lucrative career. Bill had read about the fire ad hoc committee and what it had found, to date and thought that it would be interesting to explore a new model to improve the currently entrenched fire service delivery systems throughout the metropolitan, urban and suburban departments in California. After receiving permission and encouragement from the fire ad hoc committee, Bill assembled a body of retired California fire chiefs as well as rank and file fire fighters who, collectively, had over 300 years of experience in the fire service. He also included a distinguished list of retired city managers. Most of the participants had degrees in higher education. This select group got together for a weeklong retreat at the Franklin Institute and poured over the data supplied by the fire ad hoc committee. Many of the permanent research staff from the institute also attended.
On the afternoon of the first day of the retreat, Bill brought in a newspaper article that quoted a fire union official as saying that the fire service was the domestic equivalent to the "first line of defense" role played by the military, internationally. That got the group to explore the idea of developing a military model for the fire service. The retired fire members of the group estimated that after, about five years, the average fire fighter developed a tendency to become lazy and complacent. Knowing this to be the case in their organization, the military builds into its system a four-year commitment term. In this way they confront, head-on, the issue of stagnation and try to capitalize on the enthusiasm, and dedication that young adults bring to a new job. The committee recognized the parallel and wanted to address it in its recommendations.
After taking into account all the data at hand, the group ended the retreat by designing a new model for the fire service. With the complete support of all those who had participated in the retreat, Bill met with the fire ad hoc committee to share with them the new model.
The new model called for the following:
1) Fire fighters to be placed on ten or twelve-hour shifts, thus removing the sleepovers and communal sharing of the lunch and dinner table.
2) The number of on-duty personnel, at any time, is to reflect the volume demand for calls.
3) Half of the engine companies will be replaced by patrol rigs that carry hoses, tools, and 300
gallons of water. The rigs, staffed with two fire fighters, are to patrol continuously just like
police patrol cars, serving as additional eyes and ears for public safety concerns. While these
rigs and personnel can adequately service over 98% of the fire, rescue, and medical back up
calls, the remaining large engines and truck companies will be staffed and ready to roll on
the occasions that demanded their types of uses. Auxiliary or reserve fire fighters will be
utilized on about half of the new patrol rigs.
4)Most, but not all, of the fire stations will remain in place to house the large engine and truck
companies for major incidents and serve as centers for in-service training for the fire fighters
that would be conducted on the late night and early morning shifts when there is enough
time to devote to intense training modules. The surplus stations can then be used to provide
services to benefit the public like childcare, after school programs, or other community
needs. Some stations could be sold for profit to the city.
5) The fire fighters are to be hired for a four-year stint. When their term is up, they will receive
a bonus of $50,000 from the city either to help fund a college education or to give them a
financial boost when pursuing a career in another field. The most promising fire fighters
will be urged to re-up and considered for a full career in the fire service, moving up to the
ranks to engineer, captain, battalion chief, and beyond.
6) The fire fighters signing up for the four-year tour of duty are to be compensated at the rate
of $30,000 to $40,000 per year plus health and sick leave benefits. (See Appendix E).
Because the participants in the research group thought so highly of the auxiliary program,
they saw no reason to go beyond that body of volunteers to recruit further four-year
positions ."Since the auxiliary pool comes from the community, they will care more about
their positions due to the fact that they live in the community they will be serving", Bill
proclaimed, adding "This plan also addresses the critical need to assure the availability of
bilingual skills necessary at many emergency response situations. As a matter of sound
public policy it is important for a community to have a government workforce mirror the
make up of its population."
Elaborating on the points above, all felt strongly that the two person patrol rigs would be much more flexible and able to maneuver through traffic easier and safer than the wide body engines, especially on the freeways and high volume roadways where congestion can tie up traffic for hours. "We discovered," Jim said, "that the wide body engines and trucks that traditionally respond to these calls often block streets and roadways needlessly, keeping
people from getting around unobstructed. The smaller rigs can, not only handle all of the regular calls for service, but they also have the ability to navigate effectively on the narrow and extreme curves in the roadways found in our hillside residential areas. We discovered that some of the roadways in the hillside terrain actually prohibit the large truck companies from reaching homes that may catch fire."
Knowing that the call demand and new scheduling system would leave the patrol rigs with extra and unassigned time on their hands, the retreat participants came up with a number of value-added "collateral" assignments for them. Unlike the antiquated and traditional model, each city will have the ability to define what kind of active and productive functions these employees can offer the residents. "While we didn’t spend a lot of time on making up a list", Jim added, "We did identify some activities that would serve the best interests of the citizens." (See Appendix F).
CHAPTER SEVEN: THE UNION LABEL
After the week’s retreat to develop a new model for the fire department, Franklin Institute fellow, Raul Ramirez, whose area of expertise was in labor relations, asked the attending fire chiefs and city managers to join him and several full time members of the research institute in a free style discussion. When everyone was sitting in a circular format, Raul looked each member in the eye and said, "You are to be congratulated. The work you have done over this past week is ground breaking. You have reinvented a major operating department in a way that is revolutionary in scope and that improves public safety services while, at the same time, saving taxpayers millions of dollars annually."
The group members were surprised but pleased by Raul’s acknowledgement of their work. Raul took note of their reactions before heading onto the next point. "You know", he mused, "Some cities and counties lead, some follow, and some are never quite able to overcome resistance to any kind of change." He looked out the window as if contemplating a great truth and then turned abruptly to them. "What obstacles do you see that would prevent or obstruct the new model from being adopted?"
Raul felt the temperature in the room drop as each member thought of the same answer to the question. Finally, Richard Becker, a retired fire chief from a middle size department in the Bay area broke the silence. "It will come from one single source and it will come with the swiftness, stealth and force of a military superpower on a third word country". The room erupted into laughter at the use of hyperbole but nodded in agreement.
"It’s the ‘Brotherhood’", Becher said.
A city manager from a medium size city in Orange County further explained, "It’s the union, the all powerful International Association of Fire Fighters or I.A.F.F." This time there was no laughter. Becker had hit the nail on the head.
Raul approached his next question delicately. "You mean the union has the ability to quash this ground breaking paradigm, even though we have clearly been able to demonstrate that the new model delivers a better service at a lower cost?" The question was met with a silence that spoke volumes. "What about the fact that this plan will help many of the community’s young adults in either landing a career in the fire service or preparing them, financially, for a college education after an investment of four years? Doesn‘t that count for something?"
With those words, the room seemed to explode as each member of the committee started to speak out in frustration; recounting incidents they had each experienced. When the room, once again fell silent, the truth of what Richard had spoken was obvious: The fire union, alone, could and would prevent the benefits of the new model from ever reaching the public.
For the next three hours, the group shared their experiences and dealings with the I.A.F.F., at the local, state and federal level. Richard joked that the union’s response to their proposal would surely give new meaning to the phrase, "Over my dead body. Boy, talk about the proverbial 800 pound gorilla…."
While Raul took notes, an aide started to fill page after page of butcher paper, ripping and taping the rapidly filling sheets to the walls. By the end of the session, Raul was despairing that their work all might be for naught. What if the week’s long work couldn’t make an impact on this important public policy issue? He shook off his pessimism and tried to focus as he prepared his report to the group. At the end of the following week, he sent out copies of the completed report to each of the members who had attended as well as to his colleagues and members of the Alta Glen fire ad hoc committee.
Raul started his report with the observation that, "Reasoning, common sense, cost, and the public’s best interest do not always prevail in the political process. Due to the protection of powerful special interests, the use of a ‘best practice’ does not always win." With that as an opening caveat, Raul then dove head long into a description of the fire union and the uncanny power it wields at all levels of government. "The union has demonstrated a power to preserve a system of fire service delivery that hasn’t changed in over 150 years and won’t now, without a political fight of the highest magnitude."
None of this is rocket science. Once the average person gets enough real information, it is easy to understand the workings of the I.A.F.F. The basis for their power lies in the relationship the fire union has with the elected officials who govern the cities and counties. At the start of each election cycle, the "want-to-be" politicians compete for the endorsement of the local fire union. One fire chief boasted that a well known, respected member of the community who was running for a city council seat, had approached him and asked him how she could get the fire union’s endorsement, stating, "I’m told you cannot win unless you have the fire unions support".
The report described how the union would always endorse an incumbent because it knows that an incumbent will win more than 90% of the time. When a council seat is open, the union will endorse the candidate they think will best give them what they want: bigger salaries and benefits, and, when needed, act as a buffer between the union and the city manager’s ongoing quest to cut costs. If their candidate is not elected, however, they will shift allegiances faster than an Afghan warlord to ingratiate themselves with the winner. Their enticements come in the form of offers of money to cancel any campaign debt, hosting VIP receptions, etc. One fire chief quoted in the report admitted that, "City managers soon discover they can’t beat them so, out of frustration, they start to look else where to cut costs.
Raul’s report went on to say that, not only does the union offer large sums of money to a candidate they support, but it will also walk precincts and print and mail campaign literature to likely voters. Each pamphlet clearly carries the message that their candidate "supports public safety". The union can even produce and tape campaign commercials from their own state-of-the-art TV production and print media center in Sacramento.
When these commercials run on local television stations they cement their message with two indelible images: 1) A photo of the candidate standing with several smiling, good-looking fire fighters
(actually professional models) in front of a big, shinny fire engine. 2) A picture of fire fighters in full gear with a menacing wall of fire behind them.
The hidden message comes across loud and clear, "This guy will do our bidding so, if you want your houses to be safe, you’ll vote for him. Since the top priority of any politician is to get elected and then get re-elected, these endorsements often take precedence over the people’s business. Because of the strong, favorable image attached to fire fighters by all segments of the population, virtually all political aspirants desire and arduously seek the endorsement of fire unions. In writing this, Raul was forced to admit, "It may not be the best of all worlds, but it is the one in which we live. Liberal or conservative…it doesn‘t matter, they all want fire union support".
After reading the report a city manager from Sequoia City, a Bay area community of about 75,000, remembered a survey he had conducted a few years earlier. The survey, filled out by nineteen city managers from cities all over California, assessed how they perceive their fire departments. The survey revealed that the union, not by the chief, was running 75% of their fire departments. He immediately faxed it to the Franklin Institute. (See Appendix G).
A week later the fire chiefs met to go over their response to the report. One of the first things they did was to review the faxed survey. Reluctantly, they had to admit the percentage was probably higher than 75%. In an attempt to do a mea culpa, they claimed that they could not affect any change without the approval and permission of the union. If they even tried, the union would meet with their "friends" on the city council to put pressure on the city manager to get the fire chief to back down. Preservation of the status quo, increase salary and benefits and keeping the tradition and public image in place are the primary goals of the fire union.
One fire chief from a large department in Riverside County characterized the fire service as "The Big Lie…. A disconnect between how the public views them and how they actually operate." This opened up a new round of discussion as each fire chief chimed in with his own story. The chief of Alta Glen said that a whistle blower in the ranks had twice collected irrefutable evidence of the union strategizing and operating a city council campaign. In another instance, Fire Fighters used city phones and computers at the fire station while on duty. Normally, this would be viewed as a cause for discipline up to termination in all other city run departments but nothing happened to the fire fighters involved in this instance.
One incumbent candidate ran her entire campaign out of the fire union’s headquarters making them, in effect, her campaign managers. With fire chiefs and upper management succumbing to the power of the union, the report sheds a clear light as to why change has failed to come to a fire service that values "tradition" above logic. The fire culture doesn’t recognize the authority of the chain of command structure one typically sees in a police department, for example. The fire culture has evolved into a big family that closes ranks when it is under scrutiny or perceived attack. With no one body in a position to oversee it, the fire union can pretty much do as it wants. While its first cousin, the police department, is held accountable for its conduct from a variety of sources, including the criminal justice system, the ACLU, neighborhood associations and other community groups, and the press, the fire department has no such institutional watchdogs. In fact, the press is the fire union’s best friend. Newspapers know that the public wants to see their firefighters as "heroes" and they oblige by reporting local incidents in a positive light and by pictorially capturing the essence of an event with fire fighters operating against a backdrop of flames. Thus, the image of the firefighter is constantly reinforced: They arrive fast. They attack the fire like David attacked Goliath. They prevail, saving lives and property in the bargain.
The report, however, opened up a Pandora’s box as, suddenly, everyone seemed to have a story about how the union really operates. (See Appendix H and Appendix I).
Taking all this into account, the fire ad hoc committee of Alta Glen got the city council to create a new city commission whose responsibility it was to serve as an oversight group to insure the performance and accountability for a new and innovative fire delivery system. The support from the community was overwhelming and so a new fire department system was adopted….a system that would not only be cost effective but, for once, would reflect the real needs of the community it serves. (See Appendix J).
The following summary shows the four primary options that the citizens, researchers and experts in the field of fire science developed and their annual cost savings.
SUMMARY OF NEW MODEL OPTIONS AND THEIR RESULTS:
(Cost savings based on a city with eight engine companies and two truck companies)
#1. STAFF BACK FROM FOUR TO THREE FIRE FIGHTERS ON EACH ENGINE AND TRUCK COMPANY -- SAVINGS: $ 5 MILLION
The reduction of staffing from four firefighters to three per engine and truck company would save approximately $500,000 per apparatus, per year. If a city operated eight engine and two truck companies, the annual savings would amount to approximately $5,000,000.
#2. DEVELOP A LARGE AUXILIARY PROGRAM OF VOLUNTEER FIRE FIGHTERS -- POSITION COVERAGE OVERTIME SAVINGS: $ 1 MILLION
The Alta Glen police department has over one hundred reserve police officers who have been certified and meet all state professional police officer training standards thus saving the city millions of dollars in police overtime each year. The present fire department has no reserve. By adopting a reserve program, the city can still staff each engine and truck company with four fire fighters but the fourth position will now be filled by a volunteer member at no extra cost to the city. It can also use them to reduce position-coverage-overtime and save another $1,000,000 per year on a department with eight engine and two truck companies. Each reserve firefighter is required to work at least two shifts per month and maintain training requirements equal to that of regular personnel.
By building up a reserve fire fighter force equal to the level of its police reserve force, the City of Alta Glen will expand its fire resources by approximately 40%. The additional resource of a professionally trained and state certified fire fighter contingency will also be available, en masse, to assist in major disasters like earthquakes. The reserves can also be used to fill in behind the regular force when they are pulled off-duty for such purposes as assisting other agencies in fighting wild land fires, ceremonies, and community events. This will prevent the closure of fire stations that occur now.
#3. REMOVE 24 HOUR, LIVE-IN SHIFT SYSTEM; ESTABLISH TWO-PERSON PATROL RIGGS -- SAVINGS: APPROXIMATELY $ 5.5 MILLION
Public gets quicker response to emergency calls. This is critical because early detection and quick response results in life and property saved. Conversely, late detection and slow response results in larger loss of life and property. In addition, the added value of having fire personnel work full time on shifts as well as conduct and perform a variety of additional services benefits the community in many ways. The plan will also save current costs associated with maintaining live-in quarters for fire fighters with beds, lounge areas, and kitchens. Savings calculated above do not include the lower cost of purchasing the patrol rigs versus the large and expensive engines and trucks nor the additional cost savings to be gained by assigning reserve fire fighters to some of the patrol rigs.
#4. MILITARY MODEL -- SAVINGS: APPROXIMATELY $ 5 TO 7 MILLION
The actual savings accompanying this plan also include such considerations as getting a higher performance with a more youthful work force, less time off taken for injury and disability claims, reducing disability retirements and workers compensation expenses.
Each city desiring to experience cost reductions and added services which improve rather than compromise public safety can accomplish just that, but it will require a vision and commitment to overcome the entrenchment of tradition and culture that has been emblematic of the fire service for over a hundred years.
It should be noted that this plan is not meant to threaten anyone’s present job. To the contrary, all changes can be accomplished through normal attrition. Current staff would continue to receive their full compensation and benefits, although substantial amounts of overtime would be eliminated.
If all the facts you have seen and the stories you have read seem like something from an episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE, the sad fact is they are not. What the citizen’s committee research and investigation did was to turn the spotlight on a problem that has existed, below the public radar, for a very long time. It is a problem that is costing cities and their residents millions of dollars and wasted resources. It is a problem that can be corrected. The models that were drawn up are effective, low-cost ways to surmount the current situation. The cities and the people in this story are fictitious. The facts and examples are not. The solution doesn’t have to be, either.
There are few cities and counties capable of making these changes from inside their existing system. It can, however, be done by a popular citizen-driven group that can muster overwhelming public support and overcome the I.A.F.F. opposition that is sure to follow.
The political system responds to large, popular movements driven by reason and common sense. When the political scales shift, as they have done time and again, the pure essence of democracy can prevail and the general population will reap the benefits. The current budget crisis facing all California cities and counties is a major new factor in the need for change. After all, the public should win once in a while!
As word spread of the success of the implementation of the new models by the City of Alta Glen, other communities began to look at their own fire departments. The following two Cases are representatives of such activity.
Case No. 1: The county area of Los Centro formed its own citizen’s fire committee that represented farming, agriculture and rural areas in the central valley. After meeting with their fire chiefs, the committee concluded that the “2 in, 2 out” requirement in the Cal OSHA regulations had a severely adverse effect on firefighters’ ability to extinguish structure fires in their jurisdictions. In short, they were loosing structures due to fires that could have been saved under the old policy. The Los Centro committee sent a letter to Cal OSHA requesting that rural communities be exempt from the “2 in, 2 out” requirement stating that their fire fighting capability was too sparse to muster 4 or more fire fighters on the ground in time to save most structures. Typically, they operate with 2 personnel on their engine and truck companies. Restoring decades old local control would remove the current requirement that calls for the 2 fighters who arrive on the first engine company to stand by and wait for others to arrive before entering the structure. Since this delay of up to 30 minutes often renders the firefighters unable to save the structure, the fire chiefs all agreed that the arriving first unit, with its 500 gallons of water, was more than adequate and its use, alone, would greatly aid their ability to save burning structures and their contents. The fire chiefs, some in charge of all volunteer departments, some a mix of paid and volunteer, and all fire historians whose personal experience goes back decades, could not recall an incident when a fire fighter on the first arriving engine died due to lack of back up support. The committee members requested that the national fire fighters union furnish them with any data on fire deaths among first responders but, although the union claimed that they had such information, they never produced it. Instead, the union sent a five year old newspaper article which detailed a situation where several fire fighters died during a huge multi-alarm fire involving a non occupied high-rise warehouse in Detroit, Michigan. According to the article, however, it was estimated that there were 150 fire fighters at the scene when the deaths occurred so their claim about first responders’ deaths remained unsubstantiated.
Case No. 2: The City of Brennard, CA. also found a way to adopt its version of the new models. Brennard has a population of 98,000 that is partly urban, partly suburban with retail and manufacturing areas, as well. After reading the report, “To Protect and Save”, several business leaders and civic minded residents of Brennard decided to examine their fire department in the same manner as Alta Glen had done. They especially wanted to take a close look at the performance data and cost effectiveness of current operations in their community and form their own opinions.
Ultimately, the Brennard Fire Committee concluded that their city government structure was unable to run the fire department effectively because:
* The fire chief was too steeped in the tradition and culture of the fire service structure and operations to help guide their deliberations adequately.
* The city manager, although willing, was not able to make any kind of change due to the influence the fire union had over his bosses, the city council.
* The city council would, therefore, not act due to its collective relationship with the fire union, boasting that they had a first class fire department that didn’t need fixing.
The initial committee decided to broaden and continue their study, independent of the city government. More business and residential representatives were added and a couple of large private and public corporations headquartered in Brennard as well as a public academic institution volunteered some of their employees to work, specifically, aspects of the study that fell within the areas of their individual expertise. The Brennard Fire Committee conducted its study over a period of six months. Interestingly enough, due to its size, the composition of its membership, and their growing political influence, the Brennard Committee received the full cooperation of the city council, city manager and fire chief. The resulting document included recommendations to begin pilot programs over the course of two years and then decide on further actions based on the performance and effectiveness of these initial programs. An oversight committee was formed to monitor the progress. The committee estimated that, over the next ten years, the taxpayers of Brennard would save over $35 million, if the full range of current and anticipated changes were made.
Coincidentally, the projected savings were roughly the same amount of money that was needed to fund the city’s obligation to the new public safety pension benefits system that the council had voted in a few years earlier.
APPENDIX "A" (pg. 3)
PROPOSAL: Reduce Staffing From Four To Three Firefighters, Per Apparatus
CURRENT DAILY STAFFING OF APPARATUS (4 fire fighters per truck and engine co.)
17 Engine Companies x 4=………68 5 Truck Companies x 4=………..20 Total: 88 PROJECTED DAILY STAFFING OF APPARATUS (3 firefighters per truck and engine co.)
17 Engine Companies x 3=……….51 5 Truck Companies x 3=……….. 15 Total: 66
TOTAL POSITIONS SAVED PER SHIFT=….….22
ANNUAL COST SAVINGS PER SHIFT=…….. $3,300,000 (22 x $150,000; the Finance Department established this figure as a full cost burden per firefighter)
3 SHIFTS= ………………………………............$9,900,000
REDUCTION IN POSITION COVERAGE OVERTIME= ………. $1,000,000
TOTAL ANNUAL COST SAVINGS=………. .$10,900,000
These savings are prima face. They are also indirect cost savings that would save additional millions of dollars per year: e.g. on-duty injuries, disability claims, early pensions
APPENDIX "B" (pg.7)
EXAMPLE OF NON EMERGENCY EVENT TRUMPING EMERGENCY CALL
INCIDENT 14496: On October 23, 2003, at 2:47 PM, Alta Glen Engine Company 26 was in quarters at fire station 26 when they were dispatched on a call of "smell of smoke" by an employee at Grand Park Library. Grand Park Library and the adjacent Art Exhibition Hall are two of the city’s greatest treasures, housing a unique and rare book collection of architecture and audio forms of music and well known throughout Southern California.
This call type requires a response by two engine companies and a truck company but, in this case, only Truck 26 responded to the call while Engine 26 did not put in an appearance. When Truck 26 got to the library nine minutes later, it discovered that the call was bone fide and found that juveniles were playing with fireworks, although, it was later determined, no fire had resulted. The library employee smelled the burnt powder and, fearing that there was a fire, made the call.
What of the elusive Engine 26? Although originally dispatched, Engine 26 did not respond because two of its required four firefighters were food shopping at a super market half a block away from the station. Normally shopping for food takes place twice a day, for lunch and dinner when the firefighters walk the half block from the firehouse to the market. Had a fire erupted at the library, the dispatch of only a truck company would have been of no value because it did not have the hose or water required to extinguish a fire. Only the engine company would have the appropriate apparatus to extinguish a fire yet, for some reason, a decision was make to allow the firefighters to continue shopping at the market rather than to respond to what the fire department considers to be a "priority and important call."
Sam Edwards, a citizen living near the park, was in the market and saw the two firefighters from Engine 26 when they were shopping. Hearing the truck go by without the follow-up of an engine, he knew something was amiss. To satisfy his curiosity Sam went down to Fire Station 26 a few days later and spoke with the captains of the engine and truck companies. They told Mr. Edwards that two other engines had responded with Truck 26 on the call. The engine companies, they said had come from Stations 21 and 27. Mr. Edwards then submitted a Public Records Act request for the activity logs and discovered that the two captains had not been truthful with him. Neither Engine 21 nor 27 had responded on the call. The only response had been from Truck 26, but it could not engage any fire since it was the wrong piece of equipment for the task.
Mr. Edwards now approached the Fire Chief, who was reputed to be a strong administrator who did not allow "fire tradition" to interfere with how he ran his department. Sam gave him the data and facts as he knew them. The fire chief responded that the call was "within policy"
and the firefighters’ food shopping was a more important use of their time since they were preparing food packages for needy families. Their deed was part of a big public relations campaign held by the Fire Department each holiday season that got a lot of positive local press.
The Chief was not concerned that the two fire captains had lied to Mr. Edwards. He was not concerned that the fire service’s top priority, saving lives and property, had taken second place to a PR campaign. Nor was he concerned that the actual call required a response by at least one engine company and that it would have taken only ten minutes, leaving time for the firefighters on Engine 26 to get back to their shopping excursion with just a few minutes delay. According to the activity log, Engine 26’s previous call had been a medical back up at 11:00 AM and their next call was another medical back up call at 6:42PM. The library fire had been called in at 2:47PM leaving them with a large window of time during which they could have answered the call and conducted their public relations program.
CALL LOG DATA
ENGINE 26- ACTIVITY LOG FOR THE 24 HOUR SHIFT OF 12-23-03
SIX RESPONSES 4 Medical Back Up 1 Smoke Call 1 Stuck Elevator
TOTAL TIME OUT OF STATION:………………………… 78 minutes (1 hour and 18 minutes) AVERAGE TIME OUT OF STATION PER INCIDENT:…..13 minutes TIME AVAILABLE FOR OTHER ACTIVITIES;…………..22 hours, 42 minutes
Appendix "C" (pg. 8)
HOW A TYPICAL FIRE FIGHTER SPENDS A DAY
STATION “A”: DISTRICT= Upper class, residential with some hillside homes
TRANSPORTATION=1.8 miles of heavily traveled freeway
AVERAGE CALL PER 24 HOUR SHIFT= 1
STATION “B”: DISTRICT= Middle class, residential, retail, commercial, manufacturing
TRANSPORTATION=2 miles of heavily traveled freeway
AVERAGE CALLS PER 24 HOUR SHIFT=6
STATION “C”: DISTRICT= Low income, high density multi-residential with manufacturing and some retail
TRANSPORTATION= 3 miles of heavily traveled freeway
AVERAGE CALLS PER 24 HOUR SHIFT= 16
APPENDIX "D" (pg 12)
ANOTHER REASON WHY SUPPLY OVERWHELMS DEMAND
A retired assistant fire chief from Los Angeles County had just taken a fire chief’s position for an East Bay area city. On his second day in office, he got a visit from two fire fighters who were residents of the city and wanted to welcome him. The fire fighters informed him that they worked for the City of Los Angeles, about four hundred miles south. Since they worked the same shift and co-owned a two passenger fixed wing airplane, they flew to work. They would trade schedules with other fire fighters so that they could compress their work schedule. They would pull up to six shifts in a row and be off for the next three weeks.
APPENDIX "E" (pg 14)
COST SAVINGS ANALYSIS WITH IMPLEMENTATION OF THE NEW MODEL ANNUAL SAVINGS: APPROXIMATELY $10 TO $14 MILLION
COST OF CURRENT DAILY STAFFING OF APPARATUS WITH 4 FIRE FIGHTERS
17 Engine Companies x 4=………….68 5 Truck Companies x 4=…………. 20 Total=……………88 ANNUAL COSTS 88 x $150,000 x 3 Shifts= …………. $39,600,000 Position Coverage Over Time………. 4,000,000 Total= $43,600,000
COST OF CURRENT DAILY STAFFING OF APPARATUS WITH 3 FIRE FIGHTERS
17 Engine Companies x 3=………..51 5 Truck Companies x 3=………. .15 Total=…………….66
ANNUAL COSTS 66 x $150,000 x 3 Shifts=………….$29,700,000 Position Coverage Over Time……… 3,000,000 Total= $32,700,000 PROJECTED LEVEL FOR NEW MODEL
Replace 10 Engine Companies with 12 Patrol Rigs Reduce staffing from 3 or 4 on the existing Engine companies to 2 on the 12 Patrol Rigs Leave the remaining 7 Engine Companies staffed with 4 Leave the 5 Truck Companies staffed with 4 (Replace 1 Truck with a Quint)
ANNUAL COST REDUCTION BY REPLACING REGULAR FF’S WITH MILITARY MODEL
Current cost per regular fire fighter: …….. $150,000 Projected cost per new model…………….. $50,000 (Salary plus bonus & benefits) Annual savings per single conversion:…….$100,000
10 Engine Companies with 4 (40 x 3 x $150,000= $18,000,000) or 10 Engine Companies with 3 (30 x 3 x $150,000= $13,500,000)
12 Patrol Rigs x 2 (24 x 3 x $50,000= $3,600,000)
ANNUAL COST SAVINGS
Staffed prior with 4= $14,400,000 Staffed prior with 3= $9,900,000
ADDITIONAL COST SAVINGS
NOTE: Analysis does not factor in additional cost savings due to position coverage overtime
Equipment- Exchange 10, $600,000 engines for 12, $250,000 Patrol Rigs Exchange 10 Engines= 6,000,000 For 12 Patrol Rigs = 3,000,000 Savings: $3,000,000
APPENDIX "F" (pg.15)
LIST OF COLLATERAL ASSIGNMENTS FOR TWO-PERSON PATROL RIGS: 1.Traffic and Community Safety a) Provide additional public safety eyes and ears while patrolling b) Remove hazards in roadway and report potholes and other problems that could create accidents. Relieve traffic buildup from episodes of congestion. c) Trim back shrub outgrowth that obscures traffic signs in neighborhoods d) Remove the unlawful installation of iron bars or grates over windows that
prevent people from escaping a fire
2. Public Safety a) Make calls to parolees who have been released from prison but confined to their homes to
assure compliance with the conditions of their release b) Field support for Anti-truancy program c) Open and close public parks, perform duties of Park Rangers in cities where they exist 3. Work with Business Community a) Inspect businesses for safety during a time of day that does not negatively impact their
operations b) Become the field extension of code compliance, make inspections and report back c) Test fire detection/suppression systems for commercial and multi-residential buildings
4.Interface with City Residents a) Do security check of private homes while residents are on vacation or away for an
extended period of time b) Check on welfare of solitary senior citizens c) Meet with neighborhood associations to represent the city d) Conduct any number of community education projects such as first aid, earthquake
preparedness, and swimming pool safety e) Remove graffiti in their geographical area of responsibility 5.Home Safety a) Ensure that every occupied dwelling within its geographic jurisdiction has two
working smoke detectors (According to national statistics, a working smoke detector doubles a person’s chances of surviving a fire. Nearly half of residential fires and 60%
of fire deaths occur in the 7% of homes with no smoke detectors) b) Make the smoke detector installations, themselves, and then re-inspect each year,
replacing batteries, as needed c) Check each home for the "invisible" lethal danger that annually kills many
unsuspecting victims: Objects/equipment that can absorb oxygen or release lethal
amounts of carbon monoxide (e.g. non-ventilated gas space heaters and furnaces) d) Check that all hot water heaters are at least 18 inches off the floor (Many fatal fires are
caused each year by cleaning solvent or gasoline fumes that are ignited by the pilot light in the water heater. 33
APPENDIX "G" (pg.18)
SUMMARY OF SURVEY BY 19 CITY MANAGERS OF THEIR FIRE DEPARTMENTS AND FIRE DEPARTMENTS IN GENERAL
City managers from 19 cities received a survey and 16 responded. The represented cities had their own fire departments in populations of 25,000 to 90,000. Of the cities surveyed, 16 were from northern and 3 were from southern California. Of the respondents, 14 were men and 5 were women. SUMMARY OF SURVEY FINDINGS
Circle word(s) that best describe Fire Departments in general: __________________________________________________ _______________________ Progressive…………….2 Well Trained…….. 11
Easy Dept to Manage…….0 Status Quo……………13
Under Trained……. 0 Pain-in-the-***-Dept……..8 __________________________________________________ ______________________
__________________________________________________ _______________________ Flexible…………………1 Overworked……….. 1
Positive Attitude…………..2 Inflexible………………11
Underworked……….8 Complaining Attitude……..9 __________________________________________________ ________________________
__________________________________________________ ________________________ Big Picture Orientation…1 Run by the Chief……2
Dept Cost Too Much……..5 Narrow Perspective…. 14
Run by the Union…. .6 Dept Cost Appropriate……1 __________________________________________________ ________________________
__________________________________________________ ___________________Integrated into City Organization…………1 Outside Experience Within Dept……3
Stands Outside City Organization………..11 Department Too Ingrown………… 12 __________________________________________________ ___________________
How would you rate your satisfaction level of Fire Departments in General? __________________________________________________ __________________ Not Satisfied…………12 Somewhat Satisfied…5 Extremely Satisfied………….0 __________________________________________________ ___________________
How would you rate your satisfaction level of the Fire Union? __________________________________________________ ___________________Not Satisfied…………12 Somewhat Satisfied…5 Extremely Satisfied………….0 __________________________________________________ ___________________
What are your perceptions regarding the salary & benefits levels in Fire Departments? __________________________________________________ ___________________Salary Levels: Too low……….0 About right…….7 Too high……..9 Benefit Levels: Too low………0 About right…….5 Too high……..10 __________________________________________________ ___________________
When asked to use their own adjectives to describe Fire Departments in general, they said:
"Under worked and over paid " "Tradition-tied, unchanging, petulant, costly, not innovative. "
"Ingrown, self-serving, whiners, combative, crude, well-trained.” "Great PR, poor investment.
"Fraternal, inflexible, traditional.” "Obsolete, unproductive, costly, effective, difficult. "
"Closed, distant, single focused, bureaucratic, slow to respond except for fires.”
"Tradition-bound, inward focused, alarmist, pro-manpower vs technology.”
"Slow to change, 'righteous', safety and or extra personnel is the answer to everything.”
"There has to be a better way to provide more effective fire protection at a more reasonable cost.”
APPENDIX "H" (pg 19)
EXAMPLES OF I.A.F.F. ACTIVITIES RELATED BY CURRENT, RETIRED FIRE
CHIEFS, & RANK & FILE FIRE FIGHTERS.
1) In order to get the vast amount of money needed to finance its political investments, fire unions create non-profit corporations and hire private, for-profit companies to solicit donations from the public. The private companies give the public the impression that the money is going to worthy community causes such as athletic programs for disadvantaged youth. After the for-profit company takes its 60% slice of the pie, the remaining money goes straight into the union‘s war chest to fund its various political and legal activities. In some cases, a small amount goes to local programs.
2) When necessary, the union musters all of its current and retired members to appear at city council meetings when a vote or discussion is made about issues impacting their salaries, benefits, and other causes that affect their interests. Their appearance alone is enough for the city council to justify its continuing vote of support.
Unions also develop resource lists of citizen support. Compiled from a "Citizen Satisfaction Survey" union members hand out when responding to calls for service, the survey cards come with postage-paid return envelopes. Mailed to the union headquarters, they get categorized and computerized so that, when they are needed, select members are contacted and asked to write letters, sign petitions, or show up at city council meetings to support their local fire fighters in their continuing struggle against the menace that wants to "Compromise Public Safety". Many citizens get duped, unaware they are acting upon union propaganda and not sound policy.
3) A few years back, five off-duty fire fighters were water skiing at Parker Dam on the Colorado River. Several had to leave the next day to pull a shift at work. Reporting to work at 8 am the next morning, the returning fire fighters noticed that one had called in sick. Knowing where he was, they decided to play a joke on him. While still on duty, two, including an elected member of the union, drove a city pick-up truck back to Parker Dam, a five-hour trip, each way. When they arrived their buddy was jet skiing. They harassed him and coddled him until he agreed to go back with them. Unfortunately, however, as he was putting his jet ski on the trailer, he strained his back. When the tardy fire fighter returned to the fire station he reported his injury as having occurred on duty and took a work-related injury leave for two weeks. With position coverage overtime and therapy for his lower back, the jet ski excursion cost the city over $15,000.
4). One fire chief decided to conduct more training at the station-house level to keep overtime costs down. Although fire fighters are often assigned to training days at a central training facility, he well knew that much of the training could just as easily be given while on shift in the station house. He calculated that since the training mostly entailed reading and watching videos, he would save about $700,000 per year in position-coverage-over-time and maintain resource
readiness for emergency response. Several days later, the union president visited him and denounced the new policy. A heated debate ensued. Ultimately the union president shouted, "The $700,000 is our money. It belongs to us".
The fire chief told him he was wrong, that the money belonged to the taxpayers. Shortly after that encounter, the union president said that the fire chief was going to be fired. Within a month, the assistant city manager, Orlando Rodriguez, appointed a group of citizens to review some of the policies of the fire department. A long time friend of the union president chaired the first meeting. During the meeting, he said without reservation, "Okay, we all know why we are here. We are going to recommend the termination of the fire chief". One member of the committee was not privy to the true purpose of the group and was shocked by what he heard from the committee chair, calling it a lynching without cause. He sent his response in writing to Rodriquez with a notice that he could not participate in such a blatant and disgusting process, and resigned. He got no response and, within six months, the fire chief was gone.
5) Jack Hutton was a fire fighter who received a lower back injury and went on light duty. It took him many months before he was able to stabilize his injury. Before he could return to work, however, the city acted upon a due process provision on disabilities, and retired him. In a few more months, Jack was fully recovered and applied for reinstatement. Because the union president did not view Jack favorably, he was denied duty status. Even though Jack could have retired financially sound with his tax-free disability pension, he wanted to work. In frustration he applied for a deputy sheriff position with Los Angeles County. He went through the entire physical screening process with flying colors and was hired. He now is receiving two paychecks, one as a disabled fire fighter and one as a full duty deputy sheriff. Although it was never discussed openly, the fact that Jack was African American reinforced the belief that the union president was prejudiced against blacks. An irony in all of this is that this fire union president had played a large role in the state fire union’s effort to reelect the governor and as a result, was appointed State Fire Marshal. The chief intoned, "This guy doesn’t know squat about administering the Office of Fire Marshal. Plus, he has a reputation for hard drinking, and for the last decade he worked at a fire station that responded to less than one call per day. In addition, he seldom conducted any kind of in-service training for his crew. He chose to use his time in the captain’s office running the affairs of the union -- local and state level. But he was rewarded for helping deliver the vote to the governor." He may still hold the position to this day.
APPENDIX "I" (pg 19)
I.A.F.F.’S INVOLVEMENT IN ONE OF THE MOST COSTLY THREATS TO
PUBLIC SAFETY IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
The fire chiefs all agreed that, during the past decade, the I.A.F.F. made one of the most costly decisions regarding public safety when it drove through the "two in-two out" requirement that was inserted into the OSHA standards. The I.A.F.F. reasoned that, if the standard required at least four fire fighters to enter a burning building -- two enter while two remain ready to enter in case of an emergency -- local governments would have to hire more of them, thus increasing their membership and power. This strategy worked in many cities and counties throughout California when Cal OSHA adopted the same language as Fed OSHA. Because of it, many local governments were left with strained budgets that caused them to reduce or cut service programs that had been deemed "essential" in the past. In some cases, local governments decided to cut back staffing to three on each engine and truck company because they figured out that even with four on an engine, the requirement could not be accomplished. (See Chapter Two for a more thorough explanation).
Metropolitan, urban and suburban fire departments can easily have a second engine or truck company on scene within a minute or two after the first arriving, giving them the resources to meet the standard. The real problem arises in communities that do not have the population and fire resource density of those departments. These are, typically, the more rural departments that often staff their engine and truck companies with one to three fire fighters and whose stations are spread out over a larger geographical area.
A mid-state fire chief told of a case in point: A Fresno fire fighter, living in Clovis, one day discovered that an attic fire had started in his home. He called 911 and within a few minutes a Clovis fire engine showed up. The three fire fighters got off the engine and stood next to the apparatus. The off-duty Fresno fire fighter shouted, "This is my house! "Get going! Put the fire out quick!" The Clovis fire fighters told him that they could not make entry due to the new standard and had to wait for additional resources to arrive. While waiting, the house burned to the ground.
Another fire chief told a similar story. He had been at a conference of fire chiefs and was playing golf with a chief from a rural fire department. They began to discuss the effects of the new "two in-two out" Cal OSHA standard. The chief from the rural department said that he had just authorized a new training module for his personnel to retrain them to stop fighting fires when they arrived at structure fires. They staff with two on each engine and truck company and do not have the capability to muster four to dedicate to entry for many minutes from the first response. "I can’t believe it has come to this", said the rural fire chief. "I have got to retrain my fire fighters to watch a structure burn to the ground while the postman and neighbor can go in with a garden hose and try to extinguish the fire. We have always had the
ability to size up each fire we roll on and make a determination as to whether or not it is safe to enter. That is what we are paid for. What ever happened to local control? This is crazy."
When Cal OSHA was having its public hearings on the new standard, a citizen spoke up on behalf of the rural departments and challenged the I.A.F.F.’s attending top brass to produce one instance where a fire fighter had lost his life making entry as a first responder on a structure fire. The union said it would supply the OSHA board with examples. They never did. When the union brass searched their files, they could not identify one single incident in the state of California where a fire fighter lost his life when the first engine attacked a structure fire, regardless how many were on the apparatus. In the final analysis, it didn’t matter. The I.A.F.F. had done its lobbying and the standard was approved. "Its all about timing." said the rural fire chief. "If you can get to a fire soon enough, you can extinguish it with little manpower. But if you wait too long, it doesn’t matter how many resources you have on the fire ground, the structure will turn to ashes."
At this point, a quiet and unpretentious member of the Franklin Institute got up and walked to the front of the group. He said that in his former life he was chief counsel for the State of California, Department of Safety and Health. He gave his name as Paul Sandman. He said he was present at an I.A.F.F. meeting, sitting in the back of the room in 1996 when the Director of Safety and Health for the I.A.F.F., Phil Ryan, said that after the I.A.F.F. set as a goal for that year to get the two in, two out, staffing standard into the OSHA regulations, he had met with Chuck Francis, then assistant secretary of Labor under the Clinton Administration. Ryan told Francis that if the Clinton Administration did not put the "two in-two out" rule into the OSHA regulations, President Clinton would not receive any financial or other support from fire unions for his reelection campaign. In twenty-four hours Ryan got his reply. The proposed standard would be inserted into the OSHA regulations. Sandman added that the "two in- two out rule" was never part of the original proposal in the new standard. Therefore, placing it in later violated legal procedure and was, therefore, illegal and should not have been permitted.
After the standard was adopted, the I.A.F.F. sent out instructions to their local union affiliates on how to get local governments to add personnel to their rigs, even though they knew that increasing to four didn’t serve the purpose, anyway. They lied but no one objected. City councils were more than happy to please the local union that aided them in their last election.
APPENDIX "J" (Pg 19)
PROFILE OF PEOPLE INVOLVED IN RESEARCH AND
DEVELOPMENT OF REPORTS
SEX Male: 22 Female: 7
MARITAL STATUS Married:………… … 81%
Children at home:… 43%
Children turned adult: 37%
HIGHER EDUCATION Bachelor Degree:…… 85%
OCCUPATION Current or former fire service professional: 60% Professional in Public Policy Research and development:……..12% Professionals in other disciplines:……… .. 14%
Private Citizens:………………………….. 14%
Last edited by scfire86; 09-27-2004 at 11:33 PM.Politics is like driving. To go forward select "D", to go backward select "R."
09-28-2004, 01:00 AM #17
I got him to send me a copy of one of his reports. Interesting how firefighting is not considered as important a public safety activity as law enforcement. What really shines through is the envy of how firefighters have been effective at acquiring better wages and working conditions. It is a long report. I am going to submit for the entire board. I would submit to him that all the changes he proposes for firefighting (4 yr contracts, low pay, bonus plans upon separation) could just as easily be applied to the PD. And as is typical. A firefighter is easily replaced by an auxiliary.
And the more I read it. There is a certain bitter undertone.
Pardon the bad spacing. It was a .pdf file that was copied and pasted.Politics is like driving. To go forward select "D", to go backward select "R."
09-28-2004, 01:04 AM #18
SCFire- I have been trying to get a hold of you. Can you please
give me an email? Thanks, Bou
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