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.”