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.