2 MARCH 2009
By: Domenick Weaver, President
The implementation of “Brownouts” or Fire Company closures is the latest example of mis-management in City of Alameda policy.
It is the culmination of years of neglect to a cornerstone department, and the result of hiring Fire Chiefs from outside the Department that are unable to assimilate to life, (and politics) on the Island. In the last 10 years there have been 5 men who have worn the badge of Fire Chief. The Firefighters have welcomed each of them with open arms. We have attempted to collaborate on issues and be part of a solution. To create a plan for the future, only to be told some ambiguous excuse as to why there was no follow through or support.
Due to an absence of authority within the department leadership, and a lack of support for required training, specialized programs, and a clear vision for the future, the Alameda Fire Department is comparable to a sinking ship and all lifeboats are filling fast.
The AFD has had significant turnover in the last few years. The newer force of firefighters is eager, highly-educated and initially trained at a basic level that allows them to be able to “hit the street”. However, due to an understaffed and unsupported Training Division, these younger, less experienced, firefighters are not getting the continuing training they need to provide you with the safest service possible.
As some examples:
Our rescue swimmers are all behind with their required training and would be operating at a huge liability to both the City and themselves should they be pressed into service at the next call.
The required on-going Hazardous Materials training is over two years behind.
There is no Fire Department training center, and there is limited access to appropriate buildings to conduct training.
The Fire Department has many unfilled positions. Our Training Division has been reduced and will soon be vacated along with the Disaster Preparedness Officer (which is currently vacant). The City is considering civilianizing / contracting out our Fire Prevention Division. There has been neglect to our fire stations and equipment maintenance has fallen by the way side, as represented by our fire and rescue boats being placed out-of-service.
All this has been going on long before the brownouts. These issues, as well as perceived city hall manipulation with staffing numbers, offer a glimpse into the lack of leadership, poor management, lack of follow through and poor vision that has plagued the AFD for the past several years.
All of the public education effort being made by our firefighters is from genuine concern for the community. Now, we need you to help us to be able to continue to help you.
Please attend our Town Hall meeting on Wednesday March 11th at Otaez restaurant on Webster Street in Alameda. We will have a presentation on what is going on, and what you can do to help us. There, you will be hearing about a ballot initiative sponsored by the Firefighters. It is not asking for any thing new or anything more. It truly is an attempt to preserve what you have available to you now, before it is all gone and you are left to fend for yourselves at your time of need.