Monday, July 21, 2014

An invitation

As many of you might know, I make my living as a firefighter. Until recently, I was part of the Spokane firefighters union's leadership. My friend Don Waller is now president of the union and he is going to give a presentation on "The Status of Fire and Life Safety Services in Spokane" at The Woman's Club this Wednesday. You are invited. Don is a numbers guy, but he is also a very good public speaker. If you are interested in Spokane and its future (you probably wouldn't read this blog if you weren't) please come to this meeting.

How does Spokane's emergency responses stack up next to our neighbors' and other cities'? What is the funding like in comparison? What ever happened to the fire bond vote? What effect does an adequately-staffed/funded department have on your insurance premiums? What gives the biggest bang for the buck for taxpayers? I am just guessing that this will be some of the subjects covered. Knowing Don, there will be a lot of graphs and charts - all vetted with sources.

If you think you can know what is going on in the city by just reading the paper, you might want to think again. For example, recently, there was a lot of press about funding being restored to reopen Engine 9 on the South Hill. What wasn't mentioned is that when Engine 9 was shut down last year, two-person Rescue 1 moved up from Downtown and became Rescue 9. Now by having one person added to Station 9's roster each shift, Engine 9 is now reopened by jumping these three people off the rescue truck when needed. In other words, there used to be five firefighters - three on the engine and two on the rescue - fully staffing both. Now, there are three that move between the two vehicles for a loss of two firefighters. Perhaps this is a small point, or perhaps not, but it was not one that was even mentioned in the press coverage.

Maybe you've heard about the new Alternative Response Units - the one-person units that now operate on most weekdays and keep the big trucks in the station most of the time on non-life-threatening calls. This was an idea that came from the firefighters' union. Likewise, this was not mentioned in the press coverage.

Please, if you are able to attend this meeting, you will get to hear an unfiltered, unadulterated account of what's really happening and what the future may hold, perhaps making your voice louder in the process. I know Don would be happy to answer any questions you might have or hear your ideas and listen to your experiences.

We who do the work of caring for people on one of the worst days of their lives don't quit caring about them when we hang up our helmets at the end of the shift. I think that will come through loud and clear when you hear Don.


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