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Alameda Division Chief Failure as the Reason Firefighters didn’t Rescue Zack

Update: July 13th, 2011, 8:00 pm – Responding to a media request, Acting Deputy Chief of Operations Daren Olson declined to provide the name of the Division Chief cited in D’Orazi’s report to Council, citing personnel confidentiality, and saying only that the Division Chief is no longer employed by the City of Alameda.

By Erica Madison

Raymond Zack’s tragically preventable death on May 30th, 2011 has forced the Alameda Fire Department to reveal its negligence and has encouraged the City Council to keep a close eye on the reinstatement of the Surface Water Rescue program.

Last Wednesday evening, during a City Council meeting, interim Fire Chief Mike D’Orazi gave council members a report on the reinstatement of the Surface Water Rescue program. Twenty rescue swimmers are now certified to perform a water rescue; a 14-foot inflatable raft has been purchased. This raft will be held at Station One and there will be a certified rescue swimmer on every shift.

“The raft is on a trailer which will be attached to a tow truck and inflated at all times”, said interim Fire Chief Mike D’Orazi.

Council Members Lena Tam, Doug deHaan and Rob Bonta, all expressed interest in obtaining additional boats to be stored at other stations, however both the City Manager John Russo and the interim Fire Chief pointed out this was not in the budget.

Although the cause of eliminating the Surface Water Rescue program was not discussed at the meeting, interim Fire Chief D’Orazi, did assign blame in the agenda to a Division Chief.

According to the agenda, the closure of the rescue swimmer program was due to negligence of a nameless Division Chief who was assigned to oversee the program. Because of this Chief’s negligence, the Surface Water Rescue program was not reinstated once the funding was provided for fiscal year 2010-2011.

Here is an excerpt of the agenda: “The Division Chief assigned to oversee the rescue swimmer program did not follow through to ensure that the funding and training were coordinated. Eventually the program was deactivated.”

6 comments to Alameda Division Chief Failure as the Reason Firefighters didn’t Rescue Zack

  • Barb

    So will the Fire Department sell the name of this Division Chief to the $20,000 study?

  • 94502

    The truth will bubble up.

  • ralph

    In my dream , someone was being truthful and honnest , may be one day we wil know the truth , maybe .

  • Barb

    It is the Fire Chief’s job to manage the entire department and to see that operations are being carried out properly, as authroized and in this case budgeted and staffed. He or she works through staff to get this done. If it is not getting done, then ultimately the Fire Chief is to blame. If the Union was refusing to work with a specific individual responsible for water training, then Raymond Zack’s death was on them and the entire department. Sure standing around and Photographing someone gasing up their car at the fire pump was probably more fun than receiving the “training” and recertification for water rescues.
    Now they are simply playing the BLAME GAME and the current council is writing a check for $19,500 to help the shift. Add that to the $47,000 we paid to defend TAM’s corrupt activities in sending confidential emails to the fire department negotiators, and FIRE is in deed costing Alameda taxpayers a very high price. Raymond Zack we all owe you for bringing their disrespect and game playhing to light. The Bought and Paid for Council and City “Manager” are just as much to blame.

  • Liz Williams

    It is ludicrous to blame a departed Division Chief for the failure of the water rescue program. The Fire Chief is ultimately responsible as Barb points out. This is just another act of cowardice and more covering up of what really goes on in our fire houses: The union, specifically Dom Weaver and Jeff DelBono, threatens firefighters who volunteer for specialized training because that makes it impossible for the union to demand extra pay and overtime for those duties. Total scam, utter cowards. And, they seem to think we are not smart enough to catch on. Wrong.

  • 94502

    We must throw the bums out.