The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance
Shrimp 'n Grits
Twenty-Seven Reasons why CFD isn’t World ClassLee Walton
With little fanfare and no prior notice, Mayor J. Pericles Riley matter-of-factly delivered a seven-page report to Council members at the Tuesday, September 11th City Council Meeting that listed twenty-seven (27) immediate changes being implemented in the Charleston Fire Department. The list is detailed, comprehensive and addresses many apparent personnel and procedural shortcomings that have been the topics of intense, open debate following the tragic loss of nine CFD firefighters on the evening of June 18th.
Most, if not all, of the CFD action issues, listed individually below, are intended to correct now obvious shortcomings in operational policy that were in direct conflict with or in violation of either or both national and state firefighting regulations and policies. Given all of Riley’s recent self-serving political rhetoric, damage control measures and hollow attempts to defend the indefensible, the public admission that these actions are immediately required appears in direct conflict with his continued assertions that the Fire Department’s senior leadership, training and equipment is still second-to-none and, of course, World-Class.
What’s even stranger about Pericles’ actions is that he kept the City’s Public Safety Committee totally in the dark about these planned revelations at its Monday, September 10th meeting - one day before he presented them as a hand-out at the Council Meeting on the 11th. His actions again demonstrate utter contempt and a total disregard for the emasculated members of City Council and Council’s lawfully established committee structure. His actions also make Chairman Not-so-Gallant and the other committee members look like fools or, at best, an array of potted plants. These recommendations should have been presented to the Public Safety Committee, and arguably, the now defunct, albeit still legally established, Board of Firemasters for review and deliberation before being presented to Council at the recommendation of these committees. To totally ignore the powers and responsibilities of these committees is tantamount to the actions of a tinhorn Banana Republic Dictator! Why should City Council, elected and legally empowered to represent the citizens of Charleston, tolerate such unlawful actions by Pericles?
Why, also has the Palter & Chatter remained completely silent about these sweeping changes that they, in no small part, helped to initiate through a series of reveling, hard-hitting articles covering the aftermath of the Sofa Super Store tragedy? Could it be that Pericles has done a little of his world-class arm-twisting up in the mystical third-floor offices of the Palter & Chatter, or did a certain crony editor return just in the nick-of-time from a trip to California? Nonetheless, it looks like business as usual again at the Palter & Chatter – their fair-haired Pericles can do no wrong.
For those interested in the complete enumeration of the twenty-seven action issues being implemented within the CFD under the absolute power of Pericles, they are as follows:
1. Appointment of Assistant to the Chief
2. Appointment of Safety Officer
3. Selection of Public Information Officer
4. Increase the number of dispatchers from 1 to 2 on all shifts
5. Increase the number of personnel to 3 on duty at all times for ladder trucks
6. Increase staffing on duty in all companies to 4
First arriving officer performs size-up and provides direction to all other personnel
1. First arriving chief establishes exterior Command Post and remains at Command Post
2. Subsequent arriving higher ranking officer may assume command after command transfer process
3. Safety Officer assigned for working fires and hazardous incidents
4. Rapidly implement personnel accountability system with Passport and PAR
1. Continue ICS training for all Department personnel and develop training plan
2. Provide additional training for CFD personnel in Safety, Survival, Risk Management, Air Management, RIT Operations and objective, tactical based operations
3. Incident Safety Officer training for all command officers and HSO training for Safety Officer
4. Assure that all new firefighters are trained and certified according to NFPA Firefighter II course to exceed South Carolina standards
1. Reinforce appropriate use of protective clothing and SC Breathing Apparatus
2. Reinforce use of seatbelts
3. 2-In/2-Out Policy shall be followed at all times to exceed State Standards
4. Reinforce management procedures for off-duty firefighter responses to emergencies
Response & Communications
1. Increase initial response to 3 Fire Engines and 1 Ladder Truck
2. Utilize 3rd Fire Engine as RIT
3. Working fire - dispatch Assistant Chief, 2nd Battalion Chief, 4th Engine and EMS Unit
4. Designate 2nd arriving Battalion Chief as Safety Officer
5. Communication changes will include the elimination of ten (10) codes and the proper use of tactical radio channels
1. Changes in water supply standard operation procedure with near term transition to large diameter hoses
2. Use of 1 ½ Inch diameter booster hose or larger for interior attack and vehicle fires
3. Change to Standard Nozzle Sizes and Configuration and flow capacity for all hand hoses
It doesn’t take much imagination to wonder what different outcome the Sofa Super Store tragedy would have had if the new procedures and requirements listed above had been mandatory, standard operating policy for the CFD on the evening of June 18th. How many of the nine lives would not have been tragically lost? Who is willing to stand in front of the widows, fatherless children or grieving family members and explain why these straight-forward, common sense procedures were not being followed on the night of June 18th?
In light of these revelations and others surely to come, who’s now going to stand by Riley or Rusty Thomas and rationalize their leadership failures that cost the lives of nine brave firefighters? They both need to go now!