In response to a statement written by the Public Information Committee of the Garden City board of trustees regarding the ongoing debate about the fire department and a recent report analyzing its operations, Lt. Peter Clancy, president of Local 1588, which represents Garden City’s professional firefighters, would like to clarify several points:
* There was no intent of scurrilous inaccuracies or innuendos - our actions were based on correspondence received from village administrator Mr. Schoelle stating "The Village Board of Trustees has directed that I have recommendations 6 and 8 implemented immediately." This information was confirmed through a phone conversation and a face-to-face meeting with the chiefs. A copy of the correspondence has been provided to the GC News and Patch. We will make the correspondence available to any person wishing to view it.
* There has never been or will there ever be a refusal to work with the volunteers. We feel volunteers are an integral part of the department and their service to the community is priceless.
* The Board of Trustees is correct; the data for the report did come from the fire department. It must be pointed out that the fire department was not the sole source of the data. There lies the cause for inaccurate information.
*Chief James of ICMA group did meet with the career firefighters; much of the information provided to him was not represented in the final report.
* Lt. Clancy was misquoted when the Board of Trustees said The Lieutenant stated the closing of the outlying stations was approved and implemented. What Lt. Clancy did say was that the Board of Trustees has taken action on recommendation 6 - the closing of the satellite stations. He stood corrected only because he perceived giving direction to the chief to implement or give input was taking action. Otherwise recommendation 6 would have been in the group with the other 12 remaining recommendations.
* Once again we took out an advertisement based on the correspondence from Mr. Schoelle and confirmation from the chiefs that the directive would be implemented immediately.
* We followed procedural protocol. A meeting was held on Aug. 7 with the chiefs to discuss the report and the implementation of recommendation 6 and 8.
Recommendation 8, the passing of dispatch to Firecom had already been implemented on Aug. 6. The chiefs confirmed that they were in receipt of the directive to immediately implement recommendation 6, the closing of the satellite stations at night.
* Our statement was courteous, respectful, professional and compassionate. It made no unfavorable remarks. It did not criticize or attack. There were no demands, just an offer of our services and an implored request. It showed concern for the residents, the properties and all firefighters. Everything in our statement was purely meant to inform, it is based upon the correspondence received from Mr. Schoelle and confirmation from the chiefs.
* We are disheartened as to how the statement given at the village board meeting by Lt. Clancy could be so misconstrued.
The career firefighters have sworn to serve and protect the residents and properties of the Village of Garden City and we will continue to do so to the best of our ability.
The following is Lt. Clancy's original statement, read at the Aug. 16 village board of trustees meeting:
My name is Peter Clancy. I represent the career firefighters of the Garden City Fire Department. The board of trustees in performance of their duties, acting in the best interest of the village and its residents, commissioned the International City Managers Association to conduct an evaluation of the fire department. These results of the evaluation were received by the village in a report of which we have been made a copy.
There are 14 recommendations within the report. The board has decided to take action on two of these recommendations. Recommendation #6 is the closing of the satellite stations and recommendation #8 the passing of dispatch to Firecom. After review of the report we find the information you used as a basis for your decision inaccurate.
It is with this reason we offer our services to provide an evaluation between the information provided in the report and the information we have compiled. We realize no municipality is immune to the financial crisis that contiues to plague our nation but unmanning firehouses and reducing staff is extremely dangerous.
Staffing reductions and station closings will jeopardize public safety. Our highest priority, first and foremost, is to serve and protect the residents and properties of the village, ensuring their safety to the best of our ability.
Second is the safety of your firefighters - not just the career members - all firefighters, volunteers included. I implore you as it is your public responsibility, to examine the results of the ICMA report for its accuracy before implementing any recommendations. Thank you.
Reaction? Let us know in the comments.