Fire Station Closings

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Ok Ok. It is heating up. We have had several articles and editorials in the past week on the Fire Station closures. Now we have a rebuttal by a black columnist on the whole “Rasist” Fire Department. No I do not think that the plan is racist by any means. Nor do I believe that the department is racist. That being said I can understand why people feel that way. Maybe it is misguided anger at why the City would close down two stations in predominantly black communities and merge them into one. However I do not think that this is in any way racist.
Shanna Flowers you might know something about racism and what it is and what it isn’t, however you know nothing about the fire department. You need to check your facts before you begin writing. Yes it is true that Station 9 once housed a ladder truck and that the Ladder truck for that area is now housed at Station #13. However it was not because it could not fit. The reason that the Ladder truck is at #13 is because a Medic truck was placed into service at station #9 so the citizens would have an ambulance closer to an area which has a lot of EMS calls. Medic 9 is one of the busiest in the city. Yes I believe the plan is to put Ladder 13, Engine 9, Engine 5, Medic 9 all at the new Station on Melrose and 19th because that is what we are told. However has that been set in stone. Will we lose an engine company? Will Engine 5 be replaced with a heavy technical rescue truck that carries no water? Who knows? Obviously the firefighters don’t know, and the citizens don’t know. So what is it going to be. These are the questions that need answers. These are the questions that the newspaper will not ask because they do not know the facts.
Another editorial in today’s paper states that “The city needs modern-day engines in stations that can respond quickly to each neighborhood” I agree. So what does the new consolidation plan have to do with that. Currently 2 stations can respond to their 1st due for calls in the same engines that they will be responding from a new station where both will be housed. The plan does not call for “modern-day engines”. Sure we have “modern-day” engines in service now. However 6 of our engines are 15 years or older. So what do you mean? Are you sure you know what you are talking about? Do you know what the suggested life span of a 1st line apparatus is? Why don’t you look into that one and get back to me.
About the downtown Stations 1 and 3. There are many other possibilities for this consolidation. How much is it worth to the taxpayers to close these stations to build a 3 story building that will cost millions. Why not leave #1 open as a working museum. Station #1 is in very good shape for being 100 years old. Some of the other stations are in disrepair because that was part of the plan. For the past 4 years + the city has neglected these stations (3,5,9) so it would be easier to show how much it will cost to fix and repair them. That is politics at its worst. The citizens deserve better. The Virginia Historical Society has been trying to obtain Station #1 for over 25 years. Well let us look beyond our noses. They listed it as a historical landmark along with Station #6 which is now a police substation and community hall. So here this Society has a working station downtown that has real firefighters, real apparatus, real history and is being operated all of the time. Why don’t they put a display in the station and call it an operating museum?
As for the new station #10. Bring it on. I do not know of any firefighters who oppose this new station being built. The current #10 is not in a good location for getting anywhere. It takes too long to get to the major arteries of the city. So a new station on Williamson Rd. will be beneficial.
If the city is to fully understand what this consolidation plan includes and excludes the newspaper needs to report the facts and demand the facts. We need to ask the right questions so we are informed on the plan and the proposed outcome.
There is an old saying that firefighters are resistant to change. Well if you ask me the firefighters of today are more willing to change if they know what the change is for and understand the change and have cause to change. In this case the firefighters have not been told much except that change will happen. What will change, when it will change, and how it will change is up in the air.
My words are free. So the newspaper can read and learn. Now go out there and ask the right questions for the people you write for.

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