What you just heard is an example of A government official misleading the public. I won’t comment on the Fire Commissioners statements. But for the fire in question the first in FIRE FIGHTING APPARATUS arrived on scene nearly FIVE minutes after the alarm was struck. That’s a fact and I have seen the actual timeline with my own eyes. Period. There is no way Engine 68 gets there in under four minutes.
Everett Gillison (a public defender) is unqualified to speak on the subject and has NO credentials in emergency services. He is deliberately distorting the facts at the behest of the Nutter administration. His comments about overtime are COMPLETELY untrue to the point of recklessness. The fact of the matter is that DESPITE the Nutter administrations reckless closing of seven fire companies permanently and the irresponsible random brown outs of three more companies every shift, WE STILL HAVE PLENTY of overtime. That’s because of attrition and our departments refusal to hire new replacements. You simply have to fill the positions needed to function.
In fact we have so much OT that the firefighters don’t want it. Thanks to the DROP retirement program, most of our department is very young. Young firemen like to play ball, drink beer and chase pretty? girls on their days off. Working extra hours and long shifts when you could be at the shore or mountains with your friends on your day off isn’t as appealing as some people think it is. Our work week is long enough to begin with.
The fact is that firefighting is a grind. A dirty, tiresome, tedious, stressful grind where you can be seriously injured in an instant. When overtime comes around a lot of our guys simply don’t want to work. So everything Everett Gillison is in fact untrue. Anyone who reads my blog can get the idea. When I go a couple of days without a post it isn’t because I don’t have anything to say that’s for sure. It’s usually because I’m working and when I’m not I’m often too tired to post. I also have a family, college work and once in a while sneak off to the range. Yeah the life of a big city firefighter… it’s all chicks and bling.
The policy Mr. Gillison refers to in an attempt to justify his incompetence and ignorance is NOT what is going on right now. To understand that we have to go back about a year and a half. The Nutter administration without any rhyme or reason forced seven fire companies to close. No study, no union imput, no community input, nothing. Just arbitrary random shut downs. That was supposed to save the city MILLIONS and it has. But the fire department as a result is now spread “horrifyingly” thin. The firemen who worked in those companies were transferred to other stations to fill existing vacancies. Yet retirements and resignations continue, creating new vacancies. Since we haven’t hired, the increasing vacancies began to build back up. Our overtime has stayed constant as a result.
The closings caused large gaps in our fire protection grid. Now companies have longer and much more frequent responses. In short our work load has been driven way up. Before the closings we could send seven companies to the fire academy a day for training. Now we can only manage two. Since these companies were fully staffed they could be recalled when needed, if things got too busy on the street. WE NEVER LIKED THIS POLICY but since the crews were available we lived with it. Our directive states when the second alarm is struck, training ceases. With these companies now closed, they are simply NOT THERE. The browned out companies are CLOSED. They can’t be recalled or put back in service for a mass casualty or terrorist event for example or an extra alarm fire. With barely enough companies on duty a major event strips coverage city-wide and leaves NO ONE to cover what remains.
We frequently find ourselves covering distand stations in unfamiliar sections of the city. This slows response times even further and adds tremendously to crew fatigue and stress. How well do you know the streets in an unfamiliar area five miles away?
So what Mr. Gillison is saying is a distortion. It’s a distortion average citizens wouldn’t understand unless someone like me explained it to them. The inner workings of any job can be esoteric but when it comes to your life safety and that of your family, you should know the facts. The fact is “rolling brownouts” are not safe. They are dangerous, cause confusion, and are indeed like playing Russian Roulette. This city hasn’t lost any ground. It is still as big as it was before Nutter closed those companies. It still has THOUSANDS of houses, buildings and vast roads, bridges, airports, train stations and river fronts where millions of people work and play. Common sense tells you we can’t be everywhere at once or quickly.
Governments primary mission is to provide for the safety and security of its citizens first and foremost. This administration is failing to do so. AND they are the facts.