Ahoy! Another “Mutiny at the FD?”

The Ocean Shores firefighters keep saying how busy they are…but apparently not too busy to bang the mutiny drums (via a FB post yesterday)

Ocean Shores Professional Fire Fighters Local 2109

To the citizens, Today it has come to our attention that there has been a request to amend the 2022 budget for the Fire Department. In that amended budget there are no additional firefighter/EMS positions. But there is a request to hire another administrator with the hire of an assistant fire chief. We cannot in any way support the addition of another administrative position until we have adequate staffing for operations. 2020 was our busiest year on record and 2021 is going to be 300+ calls more than last year. We will be at nearly 3000 calls this year and we have a 4-person minimum staffing in our department. Our percentage of calls that are happening simultaneously have increased nearly 50%. Another administrator will not help with that or with staffing the south station.Yesterday we had a van explosion. We had one member fight that fire by himself. The city administrator, Scott Andersen, had to help load hose back onto the fire engine. Until we are staffed to a point where that is not necessary, and our city administrator is not loading fire hose, we cannot support the addition of non-operational personnel.

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8 Comments

  1. Paula says:

    I think our Fire Department is understaffed on all fronts. Perhaps the Union/firefighters need to make their own request to amend the 2022 budget to allow the hiring of operational staff. There is always more to the story and there is more work to he done.

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  2. Peter B. Jordan says:

    I had to think about this awhile. We are blessed with what might be the most professional and competent emergency medical team anywhere. And their record as firefighters isn’t all that bad! Having said that, something is wrong here and apparently has been for some time. Making budget requests to the council is the right and responsibility of the mayor and only the mayor or designee. No employee or employee group has that right or should have that right. Processes have rules, theoretically that prevents chaos. Somehow in the past dozen years that process has gone awry and it needs fixed. The budget request referenced here should have come from the fire chief to the mayor to the council; that’s how the process is supposed to work. If the chief made the request without input from his employees that is his choice, as it is his choice to disagree with them. He runs the department. The mayor has the choice to agree or disagree with any recommendation or request from her employees or infuse her own priorities. She runs the city. Like it or not, that is how the process needs to work and is supposed to work. Government is formed in a pyramid for a reason. To allow employees or their advocacy groups to act outside that process just weakens the process. What would happen if, left unaddressed, we got to a point where every employee, union, association or other groupings were allowed to go to the council with every change they wanted? It seems to me that going outside the process to the public and trying to gain support to counteract their bosses is just wrong in so many ways. It doesn’t mean that their point is wrong, I really don’t know if it is or not, it just means that they are unwilling to follow the process that they work within. I am no fan of this form of government for O/S but I favor chaos less! I think we have here a group of good people who need to be required to work within the established norms; those norms are there for a reason. Did we not just spend about a million dollars to settle a lawsuit arising from some similar issues involving the same department? I don’t think that any individual or group can be singled out for blame here but what bothers me most is that a group who are so exemplary and stringent in adhering to the norms in their medical care and firefighting efforts would think that it is a good thing to make a habit of ignoring the norms of the institution that employs them. It is troubling.

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    1. Odis says:

      Not bad we had two houses burn down 1 human dead 2 dogs dead why no firefighters in town. All avaliable firefighters were driving ambulances to Elma.. If everyone’s insurance knew how we operate in this town no one would get homeowners insurance.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    It seems part of the issue with lack of staffing for fires might be lack of firefighters living in Ocean Shores. I remember when the majority of firefighters and paramedics lived in the city they served. This was a while ago when they all wore pagers. Most had secondary jobs, and worked construction, and when a call went out they dropped there tool belts and immediately tended the call. This was also when there was a expansive volunteer crew that would also respond. I’ve witnessed many fires over the years, and never did there seem to be a shortage of personal as there is now. Maybe a look back in time might help.

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  4. 75observer says:

    I suspect as this story evolves and more communications occur, the outcome will work out for all. Our last budget session was cut short by some council members who didn’t understand what a budget amendment was, although at least one of them had in fact been part of the council that approved every line item. If we had had less grandstanding and more actual work the staffing issues would be better understood. Our fire department is critical to all of us and I was pleased to hear today that at least Eric and Lisa are committed to finding facts before the next meeting.

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  5. Peter B. Jordan says:

    In a tongue in cheek but somewhat related comment: when I came here 55+ years ago we had good drinking water, adequate sewage disposal, adequate public safety, effective fire/medical services, a beautiful fresh waterways system teeming with fish, a functional operating marina, adequate roads, and a maintained jetty. I think the only thing I have gained is a large bill to pay for the new way of doing things. If we do not insist that our government operates within the rules and we begin to let the tail wag the dog the only gain will be in the size of the bill. Let’s not fix blame, let’s fix the specific problem were talking about here.

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    1. Lemmy says:

      55 years ago, you had 1 stop sign and 127 people living here.

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      1. Peter B. Jordan says:

        Lemmy, actually you are wrong on both counts but your core point has merit. My point was that the costs of the essential services has risen faster than the per capita growth while at the same time the monies available to maintain what was there has shrunk at about the same rate. I well understand that growth does not pay its’ own way, if it did our costs would have risen only at inflationary rate or less given that we are not spending proportionate amounts on maintenance. While the city never owned the marina it is nonetheless functionally gone and the waterways get worse every year, only the creature from the black lagoon could love them. The discussion here is whether it is good or appropriate for employees to break the rules if they don’t like their bosses decisions; thereby cutting those charged with making decisions off at the knees. I submit there must be a better way and suggest that those in charge insist that the rules be followed. I don’t much love rules but I have found that it is better to work to change them first rather than just defying them. We have union contracts with our employees which clearly set the rules, both sides should follow them to the letter. We elect bosses here to set the rules, we hire employees to follow them. I hope our elected bosses can resolve this before defying the rules becomes the new normal. Again, these are all good people who just need to work within accepted guidelines for the good of us all.

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