Why all firefighter problems are local

Not all head-scratcher decisions come out of D.C.; here's a look at what some local politicians are doing to give firefighters a swift kick in the shins


We haven't touched on the goings on of local governments lately. And there seems to be a lot going on.

So, let me riddle you this.

I live and work in Dallas. I have worked very hard with unparalleled dedication toward a goal over time, literally shedding blood, sweat and tears.

I have sacrificed holidays and even my health. Now the grand prize I have worked for is in sight and, bam, it’s gone.

Who am I?

Naturally, you guessed that I am a Dallas Cowboy watching Mason Crosby of the Green Bay Packers kick a last-minute, game-winning field goal to eliminate the Cowboys from the playoffs.

You’re wrong.

The mystery person is a member of Dallas Fire-Rescue, who's fighting for their pension lives. You know those silly benefits that the members of the department have worked for and earned? Yes, those.

I’m not even sure where all this stands right now; it seems to change every week depending on who is suing who. One week they can draw their money out; one week they can’t.

A while back, the Dallas folks weren’t allowed to withdraw their money by court order to prevent a mass withdrawal. You know bank runs go as far back as the 16th century and were blamed on English goldsmiths, but I’m sure the local firefighters were somehow involved.

A road to success

Meanwhile, in Danville, Ill., they want to close a fire station. The city, citing a deepening debt, says closing Fire Station 3 will save lots and lots of money.

Naturally, the firefighters, residents and even local industry say it’s a bad idea. This is a shell game because not only are they closing a station, the city wants to reduce the minimal manning from 13 to 10.

Apparently the firefighters in Danville are subject to a call back if there is a major fire. One city official in a meeting said that it was OK if they called back all 43 if there was a fire.

Now this is just a thought, but if there were more people on duty and a closer fire station to the fire maybe the fire wouldn’t get that big. I’m just thinking out loud.

Of course, the city predictably says there is no reduction in service or response time except for one neighborhood.

That problem is going to be overcome by extending a road to the neighborhood. Yes, you read that right, to build a road. OK.

UConn’t be serious?

In New England, it seems the University of Connecticut's affiliate UConn Health wants to close its fire and EMS service. The service has been operating since 1971 and has 16 members.

They respond to 3,000 to 4,300 calls a year depending on what website or article you are looking at. Yes, that’s over eight a day.

The UConn Health cites fiscal pressures. Naturally, the local IAFF says it’s a bad idea. Fire protection response will be taken over by the towns of Farmington and West Hartford.

A Farmington official says Farmington did not initiate the change and is not encouraging it. Wow, that sounds positive. Farmington is almost all volunteer, by the way.

An IAFF member of the West Hartford Fire Department said that West Hartford is not in the business of taking over UConn Health and the best people to handle emergencies are in fact the UConn Health Fire Department — yet another glowing endorsement. Remember we are going to add 3,000 calls annually to what they are already doing.

Admittedly I’m not a basketball fan, but you would have to be in an irreversible coma to not know that UConn boasts an extremely successful women’s basketball program. I’ve looked at the roster, and as fate would have it, there are 12 star athletes listed on this year’s roster. Perfect.

UConn Health already possesses a fire truck so we can staff the apparatus with the women’s basketball team. Instead of scholarships, we can have the ladies man the apparatus in exchange for university admittance.

Now that’s major money saving. After all, that is what this is all about.

Triple double duty

The school gets off not paying out scholarship and gets the fire and EMS stuff done for free. The ladies are very athletic; one player stands 6-foot-5.

We will give her a pike pole and let her do truck work. We can run three shifts of four per shift.

On those occasions when the team plays out of town, Farmington can back in a truck for coverage.

Now, here’s the best part. We can mount a basketball goal in the truck bay so the gals can move the rig out into the snow and practice three pointers in the apparatus bay.

No need for a practice facility. Bam! More money saved. I should become some kind of consultant.

Ridiculous isn’t it? Well, so is not having a fire department on campus.

But there is a hitch. The UConn Health information officer wrote to clarify that the women's basketball players are not enrolled at the UConn Health campus; they are at a campus some 40 minutes away. I'm sure they can come up with a work-around. 

For a change of pace check this out. It seems the local lifesavers in New Boston, N.H. need a new station. They have produced a very nice and civilized video. You can watch it in full below.

It goes into great detail explaining to the public the need and safety concerns for the new station and is very well done. It is worth watching, especially if you try to convince the public of the need for a new station.

Let me hear from you. 

About the author

Will Wyatt, originally from New Orleans, has been in the fire service for about 30 years. Will is a captain at a fire department near Houston. He has held numerous ranks with fire departments including full-time training officer, fire marshal and deputy chief. Will holds a master firefighter certification with the Texas, an instructor certification, pump operator certification and an associate degree from Houston Community College. Will is author of the book, "And a Paycheck, Too!" Check out an excerpt here and follow him on Twitter. Contact Will at Will.Wyatt@firerescue1.com.

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