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Monday, January 16, 2012

The Threat is not Over!

Senate Bill 5/Issue 2 was strongly defeated by a lot of good people who did their home work and got out their friends and neighbors to the polls. The issue is not over or dead at all. Legislators and many well meaning people who were led to believe that there was actually a problem will continue to support legislation to limit bargaining power of public labor unions.

Personally I received a lot of emails pointing out erroneous information which these people believed to be true just because the Governor said it was. I'll try to work through some of these ill presented issues.

First, just because you are a Republican or Democrat and some big high muckity muck D or R says something is so, doesn't mean that it is so. Case in point: We Have To Make Sure that Public Employees are paying their fair share of their pensions. I agree whole heartedly. But when you study the issue and look at the statistics, you find that most of the people who are having their 10% contribution to their pension fund paid by their employer are management employees, not labor.
No one on the "pass Issue 2" side ever brought this out, but it's the truth and you can find the stats to prove it.
The second issue was employees paying at least 15% of their health care contribution. In some cases, employees are already paying 20%. The problems that they all identified may exist, but certainly not in the amounts that were alleged

This whole problem was supposed to save the taxpayers a lot of money and fix the deficit at state and local coffers. I haven't seen one article since the defeat of Issue 2 saying that the pendulum has swung one way or the other.

People who don't know what they are talking about are still wagging their tongues about the pay packages of public employees. This only makes me believe that they wish the had thought of it.

Was their actually a problem?

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Venerable old Engine 2 is now retired.

clip_image002There is a name for people who become attached to inanimate objects but when I Goggled it, there were 5 pages of information so I decided not to look into it. I thought about that because of the old girl in the picture to the left. Greenville Fire Dept.’s Engine 2. There has always been the attachment thing but in the beginning it was with the horses. Cincinnati bought their first motorized fire apparatus around 1910 but never put it in service because they couldn’t figure out which horses to get rid of first. When half of the town was on fire one night, they figured it out. We didn’t have that problem at Greeenville.   Engine 2 was a very welcome sight back in 1972. It was amazing! For the first time we had an engine with seats so we could get ready on the way to the fire. A few years after that, we actually got enough people to do that. Its rated capacity was 1250 gallons per minute but pumped well over that when it was new. After the first rehab it was outfitted with 3 pre-connected 1½ “ hose beds allowing us to yank a line off and immediately begin fighting the fire instead of fiddling around getting it hooked up. There was also pre-connected 2½ “ hose on the rear for added extinguishing power as well as two beds for supply lines. Later large diameter supply hose, 4” and now 5” supply line was added.

Officially it was a 1971 Mack CF series delivered in 1972. It joined a 1958 Mack Aerial Ladder truck on the front line. The Maxidyne Diesel powered it and never missed a lick. At one time almost all of the FDNY apparatus were built by Mack. They were just about indestructible. The speedometer on a fire apparatus only tells half of the story. It tells nothing of the hours spent pumping water on fire scenes. One of the more memorable pumping assignments was the night the Old Darke County Tile Mill on Chestnut burned. It was Friday the 13th. The tinder dry structure caught fire and already had a fire storm going across Chestnut when we arrived. E2 tied up at the hydrant at Chestnut and Bickle Hill which at the time was one of the best hydrants in town. It was pumping all of the pre-connects, supplying an engine from New Madison and deluge gun water curtain down Chestnut protecting those houses. It never missed a lick all night. That was the same day the Darke County Home was hit by lightning Like I said Friday the 13th or when it rains it pours. We were tired that day, the Mack wasn’t.

E2 was on the scene at Corning Glass for every one of the tank breaks after 1972. Since Corning’s fire pumps on their fire loop were capable of over 2000 GPM, E2 usually ended up in the cave area attached to a hydrant and being used as a distribution point. A couple of those tank breaks lasted 8 hours. The need for water sometimes approached around 1500 GPM on those incidents and was so critical that the water plant had to be notified to add a pump on line out there.

Always first in on a structural fire with the attack crew in the back seats, you got a real pattern nailed down in your head approaching the scene. Get the engine stopped past the fire so you all see three sides of the building, emergency brake on, gear shift goes in 5th gear, flip the switch to engage the pump, let out on the clutch and hear the pump kick in. Out of the cab and on the ground the engine was waiting to do its thing. Next you watch for the attack crew to drop the attack line and the sign to charge the line. You’ve opened the tank to pump valve, open the attack line valve, up the engine RPM’s and you can tell when they’re throwing water, gauges move, it’s time to get the supply line hooked up to the pump. One blast on the air horn and the hydrant man flows water, as the water hits the pump impeller, close the tank valve. You made it. Time to see what the inside crew needs, E2 will run itself for a while.

After getting axes, ladders, pike poles and whatever else, you get time to refill the tank for later when the supply line is taken up and things wind down. E2 is still running. By now she’s pumping a couple of attack lines, running flood lights, fans and whatever else. Her compartments have been ravaged for supplies and tools. It’ll be a while to put this all back together.

She was rebuilt 3 or 4 times, each time saving the taxpayers a ton of money. If ever there was a piece of equipment that the City of Greenville got there monies worth out of this was it. Built like a Mack Truck wasn’t just a saying. Guys all over the US who had a Mack Fire Truck will tell you that. I don’t have a piece of the truck but I’ve got something as good as that. When E2 was delivered it actually came through a local dealer, Harvey Hole Mack in Versailles. Holes were very proud of the Mack Trucks they sold and real proud that there now was another fire truck besides the one Versailles had. All of the firefighters got a replica of the famous Mack Bulldog tie tclip_image004ack. It was a little different; he had a fire hat on his head. Not many of those around anymore. I know where mine is. Mack doesn’t make fire trucks anymore so there won’t be another one. Boy, the one we had sure was a dandy. Forty years on the line. That’s a pretty good record. I hope the new ones last that long. See you around you old double clutcher.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

More on theValue of Exercises

I recently served as a controller for an exercise up in New England.  This was a combined exercise based on the dispersion of Anthrax.  This in itself makes it a terrorist incident.  Present at the exercise were fire, EMS, Hospitals, Emergency Management………and one lone policeman.

Unfortunately this is not an exception but pretty much the rule when it comes to exercises, law enforcement just doesn’t show up most of the time. Although in most every case, the training of our law enforcement officers is the highest anywhere, the hole that is left by their absence in these types of exercises will surely be felt in the event of a real incident. When we have an incident, we are all only as strong as our weakest link. In the case of Anthrax, it becomes a public health incident as well as a criminal incident and he way it is handled and investigated can put the lives of a lot of people in jeopardy real quick.

The investigation of an incident of this type originates in public health. The symptoms of an Anthrax incident are unfortunately the same as that of the flu and the real problem may go undetected until the right test is performed in a lab. Without this treatment will be lacking and there is only a 48 hour window for detection and treatment. Once the actual anthrax problem is discovered and based on the number of patients involved, law enforcement needs to be brought in. Investigation of this type of infection is carried out by public health investigators called Epidemiologists.  Law enforcement should work very closely with these folks so that the right questions are asked of the right people and they should only be asked once.  This all takes training and coordination, use of ICS on both sides and the absence of turf battles.  Let’s hope the next time there is a little better participation.

Tabletop Exercise in Connecticut

Last week I served as a controller for a tabletop exercise held in Manchester, CT.  It was an excellent time to see how other parts of the country operate and deal with some of the same problems that we have here in Ohio.  This exercise was centered around a deliberate distribution of bacillus anthraces or Anthrax.  Since there are numerous colleges and universities in the area there was ample targets to disperse the agent for maximum affect.

Anthrax is one of those things that exists in our atmosphere all the time but has little affect unless it is concentrated and inhaled or enters the body through a cut or abrasion.  In this case there was contamination by both ways.  The people of the area dealt with it as best they could.  Tabletop exercises are designed to see if plans already in place are adequate or need to be upgraded.

A functional exercise is scheduled later I June.  Functional exercises are a bit more complex where players actually deal with a problem doing everything but the actual response. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A bit about collective bargaining.

Around 1971, Greenville Fire Fighters all joined the International Association of Fire Fighters.  Soon we asked for and received the recognition as the bargaining agent for fire fighters in Greenville.  This came on the heals of two consecutive years with the city giving us a $1.00 a week raise and the cost of living raising substantially more than that.

Because we stuck to our guns and maintained our integrity, all city employees in Greenville enjoy a comparable wage to other municipal workers in our area and City enjoys a good relationship with it’s employees.  Gov. Kasich seeks to destroy that situation by the passage of Senate  Bill 5.  Make your voice heard.  Call, write or email your senator or representative in Columbus and tell them no on SB 5.

Don’t try to fix something that isn’t broken.


Engine 2 is now retired


Greenville’s good old engine has finally answered it’s last alarm.  For almost 40 years, Engine 2 served the citizens of Greenville.  It was built by Mack Trucks and delivered in 1972.  Soon after Mack stopped building fire trucks.  Many departments relied on this tough bunch of trucks including FDNY.   Columbus had  a number of tiller type ladder trucks built by Thibault and powered by Mack tractors. It’s a shame that such an American Company as Mack stopped building fire apparatus.  We were lucky in this area because of Harvey Hole Mack in Versailles being a local dealer and supporting us.  I’ll assemble some shots of Engine 2 and post them next.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thoughts today

I've neglected this blog for a while with too many other things going on.  A lot has happened recently.  Greenville Fire has a new apparatus in service. Quint 2 replaces Engine 2 the grand old dame in service since 1972.  Engine 2 was the first out for around 30 years.  It was one of the last engines that Mack built entirely. Because Quint 2 was purchased with federal grant money one of the stipulations was that E-2 be retired from the fire service.  It is now stored at the City Garage and will soon be offered for sale.
Senate Bill 5 as proposed will limit collective bargaining by government workers at all level and do away with binding arbitration.  The governor says that this has strapped the local governments and should be abolished.  The most important thing to look at here is whether or not there will be something put in it's place so that employees have some option to deal with administrations, city councils and school boards.  We'll wait and see on this.


Weather for Greenville