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Alameda Fire Department Memo Contradicts Department Claims

A memo produced for the media by Interim Alameda Fire Department Chief Mike D’Orazi to defend firefighters’ actions on Crown Beach this past Memorial Day, when police and firefighters watched for over an hour as Alameda resident Raymond Zack committed suicide in the waters of the Bay, would seem to contradict the department’s claims. Action Alameda News obtained a copy of that same memo through a public records request.

In media interviews this past week, Mr. D’Orazi’s defense of his firefighters’ refusal to enter the water to rescue Zack seemed to hinge on the first two paragraphs of the memo, signed by then-Division Chief Dale Vogelsang, reproduced below. The opening of the March 16, 2009 memo reads: “As of this date the Water Rescue Swimmer program is on hold and all previously qualified Rescue Swimmers shall not enter the water for an active incident until further notice. There has not been any formalized Rescue Swimmer training for over 12 months due to funding.”

However, D’Orazi’s claims to the media appeared to ignore the closing paragraphs of the memo, which state that new funding had been approved and that land-based rescue training would resume in 30 to 45 days from the date of the memo – a full two years before Raymond Zack waded into the waters off Crown Beach on May 30th, 2011. The third-last and second-last paragraphs of the memo read: “We have been approved funding to re-certify instructors and train new swimmers. However, until this training is completed, per OSHA requirements, no members may be used as Rescue Swimmers. I [Vogelsang] am currently scheduling time to complete instructor training and land-based rescue training. When this training is complete, the Rescue Swimmers will be re-certified as appropriate. We anticipate training to commence within the next 30 to 45 days.”

Since its release to the media earlier this week, neither the City of Alameda nor the Alameda Fire Department has provided to Action Alameda News any documents that would confirm that training had begun as Vogelsang promised in the March 16th, 2009 memo, or would explain why that training did not commence and run to completion and why there were no land-based rescue certified firefighters on the beach this past Monday.


7 comments to Alameda Fire Department Memo Contradicts Department Claims

  • Disgusted but Alive

    Perhaps they were too busy filming Kapler filling up his gas tanks to take the training?

  • joel

    Shame to these COWARDS , they hide behind a piece of paper to avoid putting their feet in the water , it is a sand bar , every kids play on it during the summer , but a strong healthy firefighter or police offiocer could not , making up all kinds of stories about the man saying among other that he was armed. The sordid side of tghis story is that our fire dept has NEVER , EVER SAVED A LIFE OR A STRUCTURE they are nothing else but leaches or ticks leaving on the back of the residents , while most peoples respect their firefighters here they are in for the money and nothing else ,average salary $150 000 a years and full benefit for life , they then become lobbyist for the political official as in the last election posting vote for Gilmore sign all over town .
    They fell horrible said Capt weaver their Union rep, if so why were there so many cell phone taking pictures of the man walking in water for souvenir …. Cpt Weaver went on a blog last fall saying they could not afford to leave in the city , but they all leave in Cities 2x to 3 x more expensive than here what an hypocrit . we all do most making less than 1/3 of their income.

  • alamedavigilante

    someone should resign…the mayor should demand it!

  • alamedavigilante

    And it was not necessary to SWIM to reach Mr.Zack (he walked out there)So why the interdict about firfighters merely “entering” the water? What about paddling out in a rubber raft?

  • Disgusted2

    D’Orazi’s title should be “Organized Crime Boss”. He has been running the Alameda Fire Dept for years, if not decades. He was Alameda Fire Dept. union president, retired, became AFD union negotiator and now AFD fire chief. Like a mob boss who can run his business from jail, D’Orazi can control the AFD in retirement. Dom Weaver, union president, is “his boy”. D’Orazi has 3 city council members in his pocket, becoming untouchable. The water rescue program was funded, but no training took place because D’Orazi told his boys not to volunteer. Everyone obeys D’Orazi or face harassment, intimidation, fear of getting pushed off a roof, “accidental” injury, or loss of job. Kaplan was fired because he was too hard on the union contract and D’Orazi wanted him out. The ‘sit and watch’ attitude is D’Orazi’s method of extorting money from the City. If the City Council ratifies the union contract, you will know that D’Orazi controls the council and not the voters.
    Get rid of D’Orazi and the AFD. Get the Alameda County (not City) Fire Dept.

  • Gebumst

    Vogelsang, a former Coast Guard officer, came up through the ranks of Alameda Fire all the while telling the county and the union the way things should be. Vogelsang was honest to a fault and outspoken. This past February he was the subject of an action set up by both the county and union to have him removed from the department after he complained that approved training funds should not be re-appropriated for raises in pay and hours.
    As of April 1st, 2011, Vogelsang is no longer with the department.

  • Gebumst

    correction: I meant to say city, not county.

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