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Monday, December 20, 2010

Food for thought

Since I made the switch to this Blogger platform, I've gotten fewer and fewer emails as the chosen vehicle for feedback. In actuality, it was mostly blow back, something I was always very proud of--offending the easily-offended.

Anyway, I chose to publish the following email only because I see it as a starting point. As in, a starting point for some exhaustive research. And if there was one thing I was always good at, it was doing my homework.

Could Wilkes-Barre actually go the way of a mostly part-time fire department? I dunno.

What I do know is, the larger of our neighboring communities have mostly part-time fire departments. And those neighbors of ours also contract out for ambulance service. And they don't have unionized employees trying to fleece them at every turn. Perhaps the taxpayers could use a bit of, ahem, "parity."

So here's that email that got my mind working, that food for thought:

hello Mark; your posting have been less lately, but like always you hit the nail on the head.

Wilkes Barre City needs help! Kingston works very well with a combination of Full time and part-time Fire fighters. Plains Twp works well with full time, part time and works with volunteer companies., Nanticoke and Edwardsville do too. the real answer is a county Fire Dept.......but politics will never let that happen.

Wilkes Barre City Ambulance has been using Part Time Medics for years.
Think of the savings in pension fund contributions. except for the top (Chief) Medics that take a lot of over time.

The time has come to Wilkes-Barre City Fire Dept. to open the door to part time firemen. There are many highly trained people available.
The fore Department needs to realize that regrettably Wilkes-Barre City is Broke!

Pensions are crippling the City....the same quality Ambulance Service could be provided by Tans-med ambulance or Northeast Ambulance service for a fraction of what it cost Wilkes Barre. Both are partial owned by current or retired W-B City Medics. Top pay $34,000.00
a year. No pension or health care. By the way when The City medics are busy.......Guess who provides Ambulance Service.

Law enforcement and The Fire/ Ambulance service are like night and Day. 13 firemen responding on a shift.......there are times when there are only 8 cops on the street....( How many guns encountered just this year??).....there may be more on duty but only eight on the street.

Tough decisions are going to have to be made..................Past mistakes are killing the City. there will be no Bail-out. It is sink or swim time. Maybe more services should be privatized.

As always I enjoy your post..........

Thanks, man.

Let the research begin.



WBFF088 said...

Mark, whoever sent you that E-mail is inaccurate. I'll take them one by one.

1. "Wilkes Barre City Ambulance has been using Part Time Medics for years."
This is misleading, the vast majority of time full time paramedics are on duty. And the only time 'part-time' or Per Diem medics are used are if no full timers are available

2. "The time has come to Wilkes-Barre City Fire Dept. to open the door to part time firemen. There are many highly trained people available."
Do you want to wait for the Engine to be manned if your grand child is seriously injured? You are paying for top notch Fire/ems and police, we just aren't getting it. Plus volunteer dept.s country wide are having sever manning problems.

3. "the same quality Ambulance Service could be provided by Tans-med ambulance or Northeast Ambulance service for a fraction of what it cost Wilkes Barre."
You listen to the scanner, so you know there is a delay getting service from the back-ups. And they charge the Patient much more.

4. "Both are partial owned by current or retired W-B City Medics."
No they are not. NE paramedics is owned By (this is to the best of my knowledge/ excuse my spelling of the names) Mark Henn, Bob Roth and David Pehaska (Sp?). Trans Med by Fred Hommer, The Berlews (Related to but NOT the FF) and the Buckmans. None of witch are or have ever been Paramedics for the city.

5. "13 firemen responding on a shift"
Minimum manning is at 12/ shift.

6. I know you are a strong Leighton supporter but to not point out that he has cost us far more than any arbitration award would be wrong.

Thank you,

Anonymous said...

1. And what is the pay scale of the chief Medics.
2. Kingston requires their new fire fighters to also be medics.
Why does the WBFD require a fireman to drive the Ambulance. Wouldn't it be better to have a second Medic?
3.) If Ambulance service was contracted out, would not the new ambulance service be housed in wilkes-barre and dispatched as quickly?
4.)Transmed/Spellman Ambulance service.......medic chief jude spellman possibly......Northeast.Alan barber
5.)pull the driver off the Ambulance and put him on an Engine. i agree that 12 men a shift is a low number for all of Wilkes-Barre. The pensions given in past labor negotiations are the noose around the city's neck.
6,) Leighton supporter. NOT AT ALL.
A realist I think. the tax base has dwindled, cuts have to be made, Crime has to be controlled. Crime has to be the priority. Kings and Wilkes need full "CAMPUS POLICE" armed trained and working side by side with city officers. Compare salary of a 7 year wilkes barre Police/Fireman with other communities......then compare pension plans.......If crime isn't under control you can forget about the tax will continue to dry up. The city needs to cut jobs across the board......code enforcement, other communities contract it out, parks and recreation....cut them until there is money...........rally the communities to clean up there parks, time the residents show pride asnd responsibility.
The fire department made concessions and yes the mayor approach has not been well. How many chiefs and captains are needed? Towing, property sales,......yep they stink....and times are a changing politicians will be getting their walking papers....The future of WBFD is in the hands of the Union.

I respect the City Firemen....but the well has run dry

Anonymous said...

hey with part time firemen covering sick days and vacation days there would be a lot less overtime paid out. What does the cost of personnel and vehicles add up to for ambulance service per year? It would be nice to see that broke down

WBFF088 said...

1. I am not a Medic and do not know thier pay scale. (There is only one chief Medic).
2. Because after a certain date (@1994) all new FF's have to be EMTs. Why not 2 medics? The best answer is that the police did not want the ambulance (way back in the '70) and the FD stepped up. Other than this keeps the number of FF up in case of a fire.
3. No.
4. Jude Spellman does not own Spellmans/ Transmed His sister and brother-in-law did. Last I heard Alan Barber is a top manager NOT an owner.
5. This is just rearranging chairs on the Titanic. 12 men is 12
men. They could each drive an engine to the fire scene and they
are still just 12 men. Remember the city's own study said 17 per
shift. National standards 16. Leighton 12.
6. There is just too much here to answe rationally, you are all over. Log a name and send me a comment and I will do my best to answer you.
Thank you
Dan Emplit

Anonymous said...

To your credit you answer questions. Residence requirements are unfair......Either all employees should live within city limits or none should have to.
It is time to stream line all services provided by the city. You are correct when you say that volunteer departments have severe staffing problems. So many people are working two or more jobs to make ends meet there is less time to volunteer. The city is in crisis. It is very obvious the mayor does not look favorably upon the fire dept. This forum alows for discussion which is good. I will take another look at your comments. Suggestions, open dialogue, true statistics released,
can only help create a better solution. All departments in the city need to be stream lined and yes some services may need to be eliminated. The only light I see at the end of the tunnel is consolidation.........county wide emergency services. I maybe wrong but once the dominos start falling and more and more communities get destressed status.............It will become a reality. i respect your fight for your job, your department. I suggest the Fire dept start a public information campain but keep it factual...........your union rep and the mayor battlong in press statements only tend to piss of the public more. People are taking wage cuts, loosing jobs, living without social security increases,
strugling to servive. That just can't afford another tax.
Thank you for your continued service....