Roanoke Fire-EMS Department being led down a path fewer are taking

Comments: 0

I have had a lot of time to think about the events which have unfolded in Roanoke in relation to the Budget cuts. The thoughts I have often turn to realization that the people we have talked to about this situation do not grasp the issue at hand.

The remembrance of September 11, 2001 is lost to our local politicians down to our Fire Chief. The understanding that it is not possible to comprehend the worst disaster ever has been shaken off by even the media. September 11th stands for a lot of things, the point I would like to make is that not even the FDNY (which has close to 12,000 members) could not even prepare for what happened. I am not saying that a situation like what happened on September 11th in NYC could happen here, however most forget what happened only 3 hours away at the Pentagon. Could we have handled that situation. The disaster at the pentagon is easily overshadowed by the World Trade Center incident, but lest we forget about it.

It is unfortunate that the ones who pull the strings have forgotten about the potential disasters in which we must be ready for at any given moment. I am sick of those people living life playing the odds with the citizens and visitors we are sworn to protect. Shame on them.

Kyle Wilson died in the Line of Duty doing his job searching for people who his crew thought were trapped in a residence. This is how we work. We don’t sit outside and call their phone number to see if anyone is home, we react. This reaction we train for. The painful realization of the outcome because of that trained reaction by Kyle Wilson and his crew could have happened to any one of us. Were there problems? Of course there were. I have never been on a fire that didn’t have problems. Even the ones we call bread and butter are not that easy.

The point is that if we screw up, someones life could hang in the balance. We don’t get to play the odds. When we show up on a house fire, we don’t roll the dice to see if someone gets to live, we do our jobs…and we do it damn well.

The Charleston FD is going through changes much like after Kyle Wilson’s untimely death. Charleston FD lost 9 Firefighters in a fire. We have a system put in place to investigate incidences such as these and report the findings. Kyle Wilson’s fire has been very beneficial to his Firefighters he left behind. That is a hard pill to swallow. It took his death for the string pullers to recognize the need for reform within the Fire-EMS Department. I wonder if that gives Kyle’s friends and family closure? I can tell you that if something happens to one of my brothers or sisters and reform is mandated due to the investigation it will not sit well with me. Especially after we tried our best to show that the budget cuts are putting the odds against us.

Charleston’s events have created a report which calls for reform in the department. That same department which the firefighters said it was only a matter of time, yet the Chief stood by the system.

Do you see what I am getting at. Anything can happen anywhere at anytime…and we will be called to unf^%$ it. Do you feel prepared?

A message to the news media. You guys missed this event by a long shot. I was there, I was interviewed. If you truly wanted the story, you would not have reacted the same way City Council did. You should have interviewed the Chief and then interviewed us. However, you decided to take the high road. Do you really think that 250+ Firefighters who are sworn to protect you while you are at work, the citizens and visitors in Roanoke would just make this up.

We may not all have degrees, or spend weeks away fattening up our resumes, but we know what is going on. We are the ones on the front line. We are the ones who train to react and allow our actions to be led by experience, training, and knowledge.

This job is being ruined by people who are not in touch with our reality. This job is being ruined.

It is unfortunate that our firefighters seem to have lost all respect for our Fire Chief and others near. The Fire Chief’s position was created to manage the department. This person was almost always promoted from within and new the rank and file of the department. That closeness created a checks and balances system so that the Fire Chief would not lead his subordinates astray. Nowadays, Fire Chiefs have become the middle man between Downtown and the Fire-EMS Department. This should not have been allowed, yet it is a product of our City Council and City Management.

A lot of people have brought up the fact that our Fire Chief came from the EMS Department. I really could care less. The problem I see is that if our EMS system failed, we have a larger EMS Department in town who would be more than happy to help out. That department is Carilion Clinic Patient Transport. Their system has more ambulances and more personnel who are EMT’s or Medics. However, if our Fire Department crapped out we are screwed. Sure, during the day we could get some help from Roanoke County…but at night we are pretty much it.

I don’t like to dwell on what if’s or worst case scenarios, but we are being managed by the mentality of “That will never happen”. HUH? To me, in my line of work, the mentality which will keep us ready for the next emergency wins.

On top of all that…All during the budget cuts I got phone call after phone call after phone call about how the Chief did not want to make the cuts. Even to the point of insinuating where to find the information to prove that the budget cuts could not and should not be made. It amazed me at how many people believed that the Fire Chief did not want to make the cuts. What interviews were they watching? I do not blame them for wanting to error on the side of the Fire Chief. I believe that they truly wanted to believe that their Fire Chief did not want to make the cuts. But I watched, and I listened, and I worked diligently to prove that the budget cuts were wrong, dangerous, and irresponsible. Yet, even the City Council members who doubted it asked him if it would change anything and he said no.

What does this mean? Well it means that one of two things are going to happen. 1) Nothing will happen and our Firefighters will continue to make up for deficiencies in our department. These same deficiencies which we have been supplementing for who knows how long. OR 2) Something will happen to shock our leaders in the Department and Roanoke City to understand that we were right all this time. That we were not making this up and that it was wrong.

That something could be many things.

I assure you one thing. It has changed…everything has changed.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!