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Alameda Deputy Fire Chief Says Budget Cuts Are Not the Reason Man Drowned

By Erica Madison

In a telephone interview with Alameda’s acting Deputy Fire Chief Daren Olson, the Deputy Chief said the Fire department’s budget cuts in no way impacted their decision to watch 52-year-old Raymond Zack drown.

For a week now the fire department has been stating that the surface water rescue program which was cancelled in 2009, prevented the firefighters from entering the water. But subsequently, Action Alameda News revealed documentation showing that fire department did have a budget set aside for water rescues.

“We do have money for the year 2011-2012, which was put into the budget before the incident (drowning) happened, said Deputy Fire Chief Olson.

When Deputy Fire Chief Olson was asked if this program was what prevented firefighters from entering the water he said no.

“The man was fully clothed and about 100 yards out. It was hard for us to evaluate him (Raymond Zack). We didn’t know if he was dangerous.”

It seems the new official statement regarding this tragedy is not to blame it on finances, but on Alameda County EMS protocol, which gives a person who is a competent adult the right to refuse medical attention.

So even though the firefighters on the scene were unable to evaluate Mr. Zack from 100 yards out in the bay, the firefighters were still able to evaluate his state of mind as he stood fully clothed in the water.

Nevertheless, Deputy Fire Chief Olson did say that the Fire department is working on changing how future incidents are handled.

The surface water rescue program will provide the training firefighters need to become certified for water rescue. The money set aside for this program is for the program only. Firefighters who receive training will not receive a pay increase.

“They’re firefighters, and they’re not going to get paid more for doing their job”, said Deputy Fire Chief Olson.

5 comments to Alameda Deputy Fire Chief Says Budget Cuts Are Not the Reason Man Drowned

  • Note that budget documents from the City of Alameda’s website, in the finance department section, contradict Olson’s statement, and show that there was budgeting for water rescues in the ’09/10, (after the March 16, 2009 memo) ’10/11 (current), and ’11/12 fiscal years.

  • Bob

    How many excuses can they make for what happened?

  • Liz Williams

    Wow, he is really grasping at straws. As much as I want him to keep coming up with flimsy excuses because they are so easy to refute. I wish he’d shut up. The city’s liability grows each time he opens his mouth. As a city, we can’t afford Deputy Chief Olson.

  • Liz Williams

    This is all becoming clear to me now: our firefighters are psychic! This explains so much.

  • joel

    Flip flop , flip flop , flip flp , next they will say the crew dispatched was allergic to salt water .
    Truth is the AFD is made of people not leaving in the community , no interest in the community , by the way they are supposed tp leave within 20 mn response time , how is it possible coming from Lafayette , Fairfleid , Brentwood , San Ramon . oh an that paper captain Weaver the one that said if Mattarese or Dehaan were elected has reamained very quiet , GUILTY TRIP CPT WEAVER ……You men simply Murdered a man watching Him slowly die for an hour . Alameda do not need Fireman like that . We can take care of it ourselvers .

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