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    Default Milwaukee mayor cutting truck crews

    Plan to trim crews angers firefighters
    Harsh exchanges characterize annual meeting

    By LARRY SANDLER
    lsandler@journalsentinel.com

    Posted: Oct. 16, 2007
    Backed by comrades from Washington, D.C., and New York City, Milwaukee firefighters mounted an attack Monday night against attempts to reduce their ladder crews.

    Milwaukee firefighters applaud as Pastor Mose Fuller (left) leaves the podium after speaking to aldermen Monday at City Hall, during the city's annual budget meeting.
    Fire Lt. Al Jansen addresses Milwaukee's Finance & Personnel Committee at the budget hearing Monday night.
    Milwaukee fire and rescue workers converge on City Hall to express concern for proposed cuts in some ladder truck crews.

    At A Glance
    The proposed city budget would:

    Boost spending 4%, from $1.24 billion to $1.29 billion.
    Raise the property tax levy 3.3%, from $220.1 million to $227.4 million.
    The property tax rate would rise 2 cents, from $7.99 to $8.01 per $1,000 of assessed value.
    Also, the average city service bill would rise $22, from $379.48 to $401.48, led by a $9 increase in the snow and ice removal fee, from $12 to $21.
    Firefighters accounted for more than half of the 100-plus people who packed the Common Council chambers for the city's annual budget hearing. They were united in their opposition to Mayor Tom Barrett's recommendation to reduce crews from five firefighters to four on three ladder companies and one engine company.
    Firefighter Kyle Dannies bluntly warned that the change could cost lives.
    "When you bury one of us, that's going to be your responsibility," Dannies told Barrett and aldermen. "And do me a favor: Don't give the flag to my wife."
    Earlier Monday, Fire Chief Doug Holton repeatedly told the council's Finance & Personnel Committee that he did not believe the staffing cut would affect either firefighter safety or public safety. Holton pointed to 10 months of experience since five ladder crews were trimmed to four firefighters each, as well as his experience with smaller crews as fire chief in St. Paul, Minn.

    But the president of the District of Columbia Firefighters Association warned that early safety statistics can be deceptive.

    Washington fire Lt. Dan Dugan said his co-workers were lucky for the first few years after crews were reduced from five to four firefighters in the early 1990s. But in 1997 and 1999, Dugan said, three firefighters were killed and one was seriously burned because their crews were stretched too thin at fire scenes.

    Washington went back to five-member crews in 2001, he said.

    If the cuts go through, "sooner or later, you're going to have to bury one of those firefighters back there," Dugan said, pointing to the galleries behind him.

    New York firefighter Robert Senatore also recalled a colleague who died in a fire because of short staffing on engines. Milwaukee firefighters gave standing ovations to Dugan and Senatore.

    Other Milwaukee firefighters wielded rhetorical axes as sharp as the ones they carry on duty.

    Firefighter Kevin Monaghan noted that the staffing reduction was based on a study of fire departments in similar-sized cities, then listed the sizes of the city councils in each of those cities. He came up with 11, in comparison to Milwaukee's 15.

    "Let's start cutting at the top," Monaghan said. "Which four aldermen would like to step down? We do more with less. Maybe it's your turn."

    And firefighter Scott Vilter, standing just a few feet from Ald. Michael McGee's vacant desk, told the council, "Our rigs staffed with four people work just as well as an alderman working out of jail."

    Speaking to the committee earlier, Milwaukee Professional Firefighters Association President Bobbie Webber said of the cuts: "This is like playing Russian roulette with the lives of firefighters. If it is solely driven by the bottom line, that is problematic."

    Budget chief Mark Nicolini bristled at Webber's suggestion that savings trumped safety in preparing Barrett's 2008 spending plan. Nicolini said he and his staff were "not a bunch of budget buccaneers out there looking for an easy cut."

    After the hearing, Barrett said he understood the firefighters' concerns and added, "If we were awash in dollars, we wouldn't be making difficult decisions."

    Still, Barrett noted, four firefighters is the national average for ladder crews.

    If the council agrees, the budget would eliminate 12 firefighters' jobs through attrition, with no layoffs. This is the third year Barrett has sought to trim fire crews, but aldermen have moved slowly. In the 2006 budget, the council agreed only to trims on most engine crews; in the 2007 budget, aldermen supported reductions on only five of 16 ladder crews. Barrett, Nicolini and Holton said that if the reductions they seek are made on three ladder trucks, they have no plans for future crew reductions on the remaining eight.

    Several housing advocates also urged aldermen to boost funding for the Housing Trust Fund to help build affordable housing.

    Barrett's budget allocates $400,000 for that fund - far less than the $2 million expected by the fund's supporters. But the mayor says the $2.5 million that the city put into the fund this year remains unspent, and the city hasn't received any proposals for projects to use the money.

    Milwaukee Public Schools teachers and administrators also showed up to lobby in favor of Barrett's proposal to increase the number of police officers assigned to the schools. They said a pilot program at two high schools this year had worked well.

    Barrett wants to expand the program to 10 more schools. But he chose to fund the expansion partly by counting on the state Legislature to increase shared revenue to the city by $3.6 million, and that increase has now been voted down by both the Assembly and the Senate and dropped from Gov. Jim Doyle's revised 2007-'09 state budget.

    Overall, the budget would boost spending 4%, from $1.24 billion to $1.29 billion, and raise the property tax levy 3.3%, from $220.1 million to $227.4 million. The property tax rate would rise 2 cents, from $7.99 to $8.01 per of $1,000 assessed value, up $2.64 for a median-value $132,000 home.

    Also, the average city service bill would rise $22, from $379.48 to $401.48, led by a $9 increase in the snow and ice removal fee, from $12 to $21. For the average homeowner, the combined tax and fee increase would be 1.7%.

    The council's Finance & Personnel Committee is to consider possible budget amendments Nov. 1 and 2, followed by full council action on the budget Nov. 9. If Barrett casts any line-item vetoes, aldermen could try to override them Nov. 21.

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    .....just waiting for the mutts here to chime in about how this seems fair......
    I am a complacent liability to the fire service

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    Well I am from the Milwaukee area, and I don't think this is right at all. There are plenty of other areas I am sure they can find to cut.

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    OK, Chicago, I know you have complained about the high taxes in Chicago.
    So I ask you and Hazmat to show me where else they can cut. I'm not defending the cuts. But if you are to argue against them then you need to have an alternative solution other than "There are plenty of other areas I am sure they can find to cut." Please, give specifics.

    I know as a tax payer I'm constantly complaining about my high taxes. And what do the community "leaders" cut? Essential services. This while leaving pet projects for bicycle paths and walking trails in the budget. Just once you wish they would do the right thing.

    And one other thing. When does the Mayor all of a sudden become an expert on how to run the FD? If he wants to cut the FD budget he should tell the chief he is losing X% and it is up to the chief to figure out where to cut the money.

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    One must love the point about how the city of Milwaukee has more alderman than other cities its size - yet none of the elected representatives are willing to step down but will ask others to do more.

    Don't you just love the hyporacy of politicians?
    "Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like." Will Rogers

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    Cut services = DEAD FFs and non FFs

    FU Mayor
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomlaumann View Post
    Plan to trim crews angers firefighters
    Harsh exchanges characterize annual meeting

    By LARRY SANDLER
    lsandler@journalsentinel.com

    Posted: Oct. 16, 2007
    Backed by comrades from Washington, D.C., and New York City, Milwaukee firefighters mounted an attack Monday night against attempts to reduce their ladder crews.

    Milwaukee firefighters applaud as Pastor Mose Fuller (left) leaves the podium after speaking to aldermen Monday at City Hall, during the city's annual budget meeting.
    Fire Lt. Al Jansen addresses Milwaukee's Finance & Personnel Committee at the budget hearing Monday night.
    Milwaukee fire and rescue workers converge on City Hall to express concern for proposed cuts in some ladder truck crews.

    At A Glance
    The proposed city budget would:

    Boost spending 4%, from $1.24 billion to $1.29 billion.
    Raise the property tax levy 3.3%, from $220.1 million to $227.4 million.
    The property tax rate would rise 2 cents, from $7.99 to $8.01 per $1,000 of assessed value.
    Also, the average city service bill would rise $22, from $379.48 to $401.48, led by a $9 increase in the snow and ice removal fee, from $12 to $21.
    Firefighters accounted for more than half of the 100-plus people who packed the Common Council chambers for the city's annual budget hearing. They were united in their opposition to Mayor Tom Barrett's recommendation to reduce crews from five firefighters to four on three ladder companies and one engine company.
    Firefighter Kyle Dannies bluntly warned that the change could cost lives.
    "When you bury one of us, that's going to be your responsibility," Dannies told Barrett and aldermen. "And do me a favor: Don't give the flag to my wife."
    Earlier Monday, Fire Chief Doug Holton repeatedly told the council's Finance & Personnel Committee that he did not believe the staffing cut would affect either firefighter safety or public safety. Holton pointed to 10 months of experience since five ladder crews were trimmed to four firefighters each, as well as his experience with smaller crews as fire chief in St. Paul, Minn.

    But the president of the District of Columbia Firefighters Association warned that early safety statistics can be deceptive.

    Washington fire Lt. Dan Dugan said his co-workers were lucky for the first few years after crews were reduced from five to four firefighters in the early 1990s. But in 1997 and 1999, Dugan said, three firefighters were killed and one was seriously burned because their crews were stretched too thin at fire scenes.

    Washington went back to five-member crews in 2001, he said.

    If the cuts go through, "sooner or later, you're going to have to bury one of those firefighters back there," Dugan said, pointing to the galleries behind him.

    New York firefighter Robert Senatore also recalled a colleague who died in a fire because of short staffing on engines. Milwaukee firefighters gave standing ovations to Dugan and Senatore.

    Other Milwaukee firefighters wielded rhetorical axes as sharp as the ones they carry on duty.

    Firefighter Kevin Monaghan noted that the staffing reduction was based on a study of fire departments in similar-sized cities, then listed the sizes of the city councils in each of those cities. He came up with 11, in comparison to Milwaukee's 15.

    "Let's start cutting at the top," Monaghan said. "Which four aldermen would like to step down? We do more with less. Maybe it's your turn."

    And firefighter Scott Vilter, standing just a few feet from Ald. Michael McGee's vacant desk, told the council, "Our rigs staffed with four people work just as well as an alderman working out of jail."


    Speaking to the committee earlier, Milwaukee Professional Firefighters Association President Bobbie Webber said of the cuts: "This is like playing Russian roulette with the lives of firefighters. If it is solely driven by the bottom line, that is problematic."

    Budget chief Mark Nicolini bristled at Webber's suggestion that savings trumped safety in preparing Barrett's 2008 spending plan. Nicolini said he and his staff were "not a bunch of budget buccaneers out there looking for an easy cut."

    After the hearing, Barrett said he understood the firefighters' concerns and added, "If we were awash in dollars, we wouldn't be making difficult decisions."

    Still, Barrett noted, four firefighters is the national average for ladder crews.

    If the council agrees, the budget would eliminate 12 firefighters' jobs through attrition, with no layoffs. This is the third year Barrett has sought to trim fire crews, but aldermen have moved slowly. In the 2006 budget, the council agreed only to trims on most engine crews; in the 2007 budget, aldermen supported reductions on only five of 16 ladder crews. Barrett, Nicolini and Holton said that if the reductions they seek are made on three ladder trucks, they have no plans for future crew reductions on the remaining eight.
    Gee......anyone care to wager these guys get some kind of punitive action taken against them?
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    Quote Originally Posted by HotTrotter View Post
    OK, Chicago, I know you have complained about the high taxes in Chicago.
    So I ask you and Hazmat to show me where else they can cut. I'm not defending the cuts. But if you are to argue against them then you need to have an alternative solution other than "There are plenty of other areas I am sure they can find to cut." Please, give specifics.


    I know as a tax payer I'm constantly complaining about my high taxes. And what do the community "leaders" cut? Essential services. This while leaving pet projects for bicycle paths and walking trails in the budget. Just once you wish they would do the right thing.

    And one other thing. When does the Mayor all of a sudden become an expert on how to run the FD? If he wants to cut the FD budget he should tell the chief he is losing X% and it is up to the chief to figure out where to cut the money.

    No.We dont have to give any alternative solutions. That is not our job! We pay most of the idiots a lot of money to figure those things out. Our job is to explain why cutting a man from truck companies endangers the lives of civilians and firemen. We dont know nearly enough about the budgets/operating capacities of other services provided by the city to make a legitimate recommendation.
    Proud East Coast Traditionalist.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nyckftbl View Post
    No.We dont have to give any alternative solutions. That is not our job! We pay most of the idiots a lot of money to figure those things out. Our job is to explain why cutting a man from truck companies endangers the lives of civilians and firemen. We dont know nearly enough about the budgets/operating capacities of other services provided by the city to make a legitimate recommendation.
    Point being, if you can't come up with a solution then you are nothing more than a whiner. The Mayor has given his solution, if you don't like his solution you need to come up with an alternative solution.

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    No he is a fireman, doing what fireman do - putting out fires and making sure that he and his fellow firefighters come home from their job with 10 fingers and 10 toes

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    Having suffered through Holton, my sympathies to my Brothers in Milwaukee.
    Using St. Paul is an asinine example, you can't compare the 2. Having been to Milwaukee, take what we have in 2 1/2 story balloons and make them 3 1/2, for the entire district. It takes a 5 man truck to complete the tasks at hand.
    If truck work wasn't so important and labor intensive, why did Holton add a 2nd truck to our initial alarm assignment for a structure fire?
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChicagoFF View Post
    .....just waiting for the mutts here to chime in about how this seems fair......

    Don't hold up the bus for me, I ain't playin'. I might be an East Coast Volunteer, 1,000 Miles from Milwaukee, but I fully support the Milwaukee Brothers in this. Fires may differ from one to the next, but staffing requirements do not. My usual list of things to do, for a five person truck crew, isn't rocket science, but there isn't a lot of room for added duties either. Here's an Example:

    Driver - Positions rig for proper use of aerial ladder, Does Outside Vent, Outside Utility Control, and one man Ground Ladders.
    Officer - F.E. & Vent
    FF 1. - F.E. & Vent
    FF 2. - Search
    FF 3. - Search

    The Officer and FF1 Work together, as do FF2 and FF3. The Driver is working alone, but he is outside. Now, with this crew, who can you cut and still get the work done? Nobody.
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    Waiting for Jaspers opinion....................................
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    Quote Originally Posted by HotTrotter View Post
    I know as a tax payer I'm constantly complaining about my high taxes. And what do the community "leaders" cut? Essential services. This while leaving pet projects for bicycle paths and walking trails in the budget.
    For someone who spouts off on these forums daily, you are rather uneducated.

    Politician routinely use essential public services (ie Fire, PD) for budget cuts, because they know there will be much attention given to the matter.
    They know people will scream and holler.
    Then the politicians will establish a new tax/levy/bond to pay for the services that were cut.
    People feel good about voting for the new tax/levy/bond, because it's for something they care about.
    Meanwhile, the budget hasn't really been "fixed" in any manner at all.
    They simply increased your taxes.

    Oh, and quit referencing Wikipedia.
    It's full of countless errors and mis-stated "facts".
    Anyone, including 'tards like you, can write whatever they want in it.
    Use the full power of the internet, instead of the first thing that pops up in Google.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mitllesmertz1 View Post
    For someone who spouts off on these forums daily, you are rather uneducated.

    Politician routinely use essential public services (ie Fire, PD) for budget cuts, because they know there will be much attention given to the matter.
    They know people will scream and holler.
    Then the politicians will establish a new tax/levy/bond to pay for the services that were cut.
    People feel good about voting for the new tax/levy/bond, because it's for something they care about.
    Meanwhile, the budget hasn't really been "fixed" in any manner at all.
    They simply increased your taxes.

    Oh, and quit referencing Wikipedia.
    It's full of countless errors and mis-stated "facts".
    Anyone, including 'tards like you, can write whatever they want in it.
    Use the full power of the internet, instead of the first thing that pops up in Google.
    Exactly what I am saying. But instead of crying and screaming about it give them another place to cut. Imagine going to the taxpayer and saying "Instead of cutting essential services how about we got out the new bike path that no one will use." I'm telling you that if you go to the taxpayer and show them how to cut taxes while maintaining the same level of service you will be the heroes of the town. It isn't rocket science, even you should be able to figure that out.


    I typically don't rely on WIKI except as a good starting point. Many of the articles point to references that can be used. BTW, where have I referenced Wiki in this thread.?

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    Go figure...the first place they always look to cut, the truck

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    Quote Originally Posted by hwoods View Post
    Driver - Positions rig for proper use of aerial ladder, Does Outside Vent, Outside Utility Control, and one man Ground Ladders.
    Officer - F.E. & Vent
    FF 1. - F.E. & Vent
    FF 2. - Search
    FF 3. - Search

    The Officer and FF1 Work together, as do FF2 and FF3. The Driver is working alone, but he is outside. Now, with this crew, who can you cut and still get the work done? Nobody.
    the problem is multi-fold:
    1) The NFPA (the legal precedent for many fire standards) says 4 men on the engine and 4 men on the truck is acceptable.

    2) Everyone says cutting a man will cost lives. ok, playing devils advocate, does that mean a FD that runs 6 on the engine and 6 on the truck will never suffer a LODD? and even better, why aren't more departments fighting for 6 man crews, and if they do have 6 man crews, can they back up the claim that more men will save more civilian lives? and more so, does that mean a FD that operates 6/6 will have fewer fires and have fires go out more quickly? and if not, why not?

    and the really big one

    3) we will do it with 4. and 3. heck, some departments operate with 2 man truck companies (don't ask me why). Even though they cut staffing, we make the best of a bad situation and still do the searches, and still go inside and put the fire out.

    We don't refuse to go interior due to lack of manpower.

    We don't write a one room fire off and surround and drown because of lack of manpower.

    We have a job to do, and even though we might not have the manpower, or equipment, or the money to do the job perfectly, we still find a way to get it done. At the end of the day, the fires still go out. We make the best of a bad situation, and find a way to get the job done.

    and until that changes, we will keep ending up in these situations.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 37truck View Post
    Go figure...the first place they always look to cut, the truck
    Ya know, I recall hearing the terms truck company and ladder company back in FF1. But isn't a term we use around here. We have pumpers and tankers. Can someone give a brief on what these various companies are.

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    Generalized, and very briefly....

    First due truck:
    Primary search of the fire floor.
    Determine the life hazard and rescue as required.
    Locate and confine the fire.
    Ladder building as needed.
    Control horizontal ventilation of the fire area.
    Attempt an examination of the cellar for fire.
    Pending arrival of the second truck company, assume responsibility for the entire dwelling.
    Primary search of the perimeter.
    Roof ventilation of flat roof buildings.

    Second due truck:
    Primary search of all floors above the fire floor.
    Reinforce laddering and removal operations when necessary.
    Roof ventilation if needed (peaked roof).
    Insure roof ventilation (flat roof).
    Examine above the fire and exposures for extension.
    Insure that the cellar is examined for fire.
    Shut down utilities. Exercise caution when searching for the electric panel.
    Secondary search of perimeter.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    Generalized, and very briefly....

    First due truck:
    Primary search of the fire floor.
    Determine the life hazard and rescue as required.
    Locate and confine the fire.
    Ladder building as needed.
    Control horizontal ventilation of the fire area.
    Attempt an examination of the cellar for fire.
    Pending arrival of the second truck company, assume responsibility for the entire dwelling.
    Primary search of the perimeter.
    Roof ventilation of flat roof buildings.

    Second due truck:
    Primary search of all floors above the fire floor.
    Reinforce laddering and removal operations when necessary.
    Roof ventilation if needed (peaked roof).
    Insure roof ventilation (flat roof).
    Examine above the fire and exposures for extension.
    Insure that the cellar is examined for fire.
    Shut down utilities. Exercise caution when searching for the electric panel.
    Secondary search of perimeter.
    OK, so your truck companies would be our pumper/tankers performing initial attack, Search and Rescue, ventilation, or whatever. Ladder companies obviously carry many ladders for lot's of things.

    So a truck would carry the equipment as listed under a pumper?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tomlaumann View Post
    Earlier Monday, Fire Chief Doug Holton repeatedly told the council's Finance & Personnel Committee that he did not believe the staffing cut would affect either firefighter safety or public safety. Holton pointed to 10 months of experience since five ladder crews were trimmed to four firefighters each, as well as his experience with smaller crews as fire chief in St. Paul, Minn.
    You know, just once I'd love to hear a Fire Chief stick up for his people, and not worry about pleasing the powers to be!!!

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    Default Ok Trotts

    I agree I should have provided reasons/other areas to cut, otherwise most post doesn't hold any weight.

    having said that, how about we quit planting these elaborate flower gardens down fond du lac avenue where it is run down, no one gives a crap about it, yet we have city workers working on it weekly just to keep up the appearance. Who is paying for that?

    How about the fact that this past summer they ripped up that same road about 8 times leaving it down to one lane for countless weeks, causing multiple accidents, and chaos up and down that road.

    How about every time I drive by the police station on that same road, I see (I kid you not) about 20 unused police cars/trucks/motorcycles/vans/ whatever, just sitting there not doing a damn thing. If they are not in use, sell em, heck sell two for every truck company he was going to take a guy off of and you got your money right there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HotTrotter View Post
    Point being, if you can't come up with a solution then you are nothing more than a whiner. The Mayor has given his solution, if you don't like his solution you need to come up with an alternative solution.

    Hey waterhead...did you not read this part???

    Firefighter Kevin Monaghan noted that the staffing reduction was based on a study of fire departments in similar-sized cities, then listed the sizes of the city councils in each of those cities. He came up with 11, in comparison to Milwaukee's 15.

    "Let's start cutting at the top," Monaghan said. "Which four aldermen would like to step down? We do more with less. Maybe it's your turn."

    And firefighter Scott Vilter, standing just a few feet from Ald. Michael McGee's vacant desk, told the council, "Our rigs staffed with four people work just as well as an alderman working out of jail."
    FTM-PTB

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hazmat91180 View Post
    I agree I should have provided reasons/other areas to cut, otherwise most post doesn't hold any weight.

    having said that, how about we quit planting these elaborate flower gardens down fond du lac avenue where it is run down, no one gives a crap about it, yet we have city workers working on it weekly just to keep up the appearance. Who is paying for that?

    How about the fact that this past summer they ripped up that same road about 8 times leaving it down to one lane for countless weeks, causing multiple accidents, and chaos up and down that road.

    How about every time I drive by the police station on that same road, I see (I kid you not) about 20 unused police cars/trucks/motorcycles/vans/ whatever, just sitting there not doing a damn thing. If they are not in use, sell em, heck sell two for every truck company he was going to take a guy off of and you got your money right there.
    Yup!!! Now you are talking... And not for nothing, I've seen the same thing at the local Sheriffs department. I was wondering exactly the same thing. Makes no sense at all. Like you said, all of those flowers and plants..Who really cares? Are they really needed. Can em. Matter of fact, I laughed about that this summer. We have a local city that is crying about poverty, no money, can't balance the budget. Yet there they are planting flowers and shrubs on main street and maintaining these beautiful parks. The flowers and crap need to be planted every year. And who really cares, a few of the rich folks with more money than god.

    I know the big killer for us in this little town is the cost of Medicaid, makes up 50% of my tax bill. Sickening at best.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by FFFRED View Post
    Hey waterhead...did you not read this part???



    FTM-PTB
    Sure did Jello Brain.

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