The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health released their report on the fire that took Captain Herbie Johnson’s life. Just to be clear, I am not a big fan of these reports. They always seem to grossly over simplify operations and come to conclusions that in many cases are a real stretch. We all have been to fires that suddenly take a bad turn. Sometimes stuff like this happens. We all do the best we can. However, we all can learn from every fire. We have a duty to learn from every fire. A duty to ourselves and our brother and sisters and to the citizens we are sworn to protect. These NIOSH reports can point us in the right direction.
The Tribune this morning, on its front page, ran the following headline: Department faulted in firefighters death. Veteran captain died in 2012 blaze; federal investigators point to poor communication. We all know how chaotic the fire ground can be. Especially when things start to deteriorate rapidly. Our radio system has been an issue for years. On my last day in the firehouse we were sent to pick up our new digital radios. Now every man has them. Would these radios have helped at this fire? Maybe. Firefighter-Paramedic Mike Imperato wouldn’t have had to shout Mayday at the top of his lungs. Would a radio make a difference. Who knows. I guess the point I am trying to make here is that reviewing what happened is always worthwhile. Reading it in the Tribune not so much. Firefighting is an extremely dangerous way to earn a living. We all know it. We all do what we can to make it a little safer but it will remain a fact that what we do will always be dangerous and unfortunately, no matter how hard we try not all of us always come home.
Manning is another issue touched on in the Tribune report. The NIOSH report states that 2 companies were on a variance. NFPA standards for a big city with high incidence of fire, calls for manning with 5 or 6 members. Our spokesman Larry Langford, stated in the Tribune article that there was enough staff to extinguish the blaze and to manage the chaos. Really Larry? You know that how? Running a man short changes everything. When an Engine Company runs a man short, the officer becomes a firefighter, humping a hose line into the building and heeling his pipeman. He therefore cannot be doing his primary job of safety officer for his crew. He cannot be as sharp in looking out for his men. On a truck you lose one of your search and rescue team members. That means that doing a search takes more time. Taking more time can mean more civilians possibly injured or dead. If a firefighter is down the same applies. Did we have enough manpower on the scene to manage. I guess so. The fire went out. But we lost one of the best fire fighters we have ever worked with. Manning should never, ever be a question in our line of work. Got that Larry? Got that Mayor?
I truly wish that this report hadn’t appeared in the Tribune. But it did. I have absolutely no use for the Tribune. They do not care about the members of the Chicago Fire Department. They prove it every day with their editorial policy. We will use the NIOSH report. We will learn from Captain Herbie Johnson’s LODD. We owe it to Herbie. We owe it to his widow. We owe it to ourselves. Just wish it hadn’t ended up on the front page of the Trib.
Today the Illinois General Assembly voted on their so-called pension reform bill. It was close but it passed both houses and will be signed by Governor Quinn. I can’t say that I am surprised by this at all. Only deeply disappointed. The handwriting has been on the wall for quite some time. We have to understand that no one, especially civilians, give a rats ass about public employee pensions. All they see is that they are paying for them and since most of them do not get anything similar, screw those who do. They don’t care that public employees are also taxpayers who foot the bill and on top of paying what everyone else pays in taxes, also pay a per cent of their salary into their pension. The pension problems are not the doing of public employees. They are the result of a massive mismanagement of taxpayer funds. They are the result of politicians buying the vote of folks who contribute absolutely nothing to society. This is not only an Illinois problem, it is a nationwide problem. I have been saying this for years. We have reached the end of the road. This financial crisis is no longer in our future. It is here now. The sad thing is that what they did to the pensions today will not in any way help Illinois. This state is too deep into dept. Same thing with the feds. The government spends way too much. It borrows most of what it spends and prints money to pay for it. The end is not near. It is here. If nothing else, look at Detroit. Today the court upheld Detroit’s bankruptcy. City workers who risked everything to make that town work are going to take it where the sun doesn’t shine.
Today’s vote by the General Assembly doesn’t affect Chicago Firefighters, Paramedics and Police….yet. But it’s coming. They will tell us that they are saving the pensions. No they are not. They will not rest until they have taken everything we have worked for. And we have no one who gives a shit. We are on our own. Take care of your finances now. Do not count on receiving what you paid for. Remember this day and remember who voted for this. Not that it will make much difference. The cards have been dealt. The game was rigged from the beginning. But who cares…. Those lazy ass firemen and coppers had it coming. Just ask the Chicago Tribune, Bruce Rauner, Tiny Dancer, Governor Potato Head, your neighbor. All I can say is we must wake up to the new reality and act accordingly.
For those of us who have been involved in the fight for our second amendment rights this is a great moment in time. Granted, the law is imperfect. But the fact that we have any law allowing us to carry a concealed firearm is a miracle. Now we have to make use of it. We have a member of the CFD who has been involved in training people in firearms safety for quite some time. He has received the blessing of the Illinois State Police to conduct the classes required to receive a concealed carry card. Paramedic John Pearson is a certified firearms instructor. His website can be accessed at www.cfdshooters.com. The state requires 16 hours of training. This is accomplished in two 8 hour classes. Unless you already possess a ccw card from an approved state and a hunter safety card or other approved class you will need to take both classes. Check with John on his website. It is a great site. Very informative. I am a Utah ccw holder and have a hunter safety card so I will be taking John’s day 2 course. I urge anyone interested in a ccw permit to use John’s expertise. Let’s support our CFD brother. Stay calm and Carry On.
PIC Melanie Howe has a court date tomorrow, Oct.8th at 0900 hrs. This will be at the Illinois Center in room 09-040. PIC Howe was a victim of a battery during the performance of her duties. Local 2 is asking anyone who attends to wear something with CFD/Local 2 on it. We need to support our members and to let the system know that we are not going to take assaults/batteries to our members lying down. If we do not stand up for ourselves who will. Certainly not the city.
The Scandinavian American Police and Fire Association is throwing a party at the Bicardi at the Park. This is the club at Sox Park, otherwise known as the “Cell”. SCAPA recently changed its name to incorporate all first responders. I am joining this club because I believe we need to become closer with our brothers and sisters of the law enforcement community. This is a great way to do just that. The party will be on November 15th, 2013 from 6 to 10 pm. Refreshments will be served. Proceeds will go to the 100 Club, an organization that helps families of first responders who have given their lives in the line of duty. Tickets to this event qualifies new members for their 2013-14 membership dues. For more info and tickets visit www.sapfa.org/event. I will have more info later on and look for the flyers in the firehouses soon.