Wednesday, September 13, 2006

from "Management"
---I was president of the Alaska Fire Chief’s Association, and was in the middle of an Association conference in Juneau, when during a break, I was being interviewed by a TV news crew…. the reporter asked my views on some recent newsworthy problems that were occurring in Fairbanks.
---A bitter dispute arose between the
Fairbanks city fathers and the firefighters union. I doubt that the reporter knew I was a volunteer, and that volunteers don’t always see eye-to-eye with career fire fighters. But he knew I was a chief, and perhaps he thought that I might make an anti-union statement. I knew that those firefighters up there were making lots of money, and apparently the public – upon learning how much – got a bit frazzled. But I knew a bit more about Fairbanks, too. I knew that when the….pipeline was being built, people across the state were leaving their regular jobs to make big bucks constructing that pipeline. I knew that Fairbanks had dramatically increased firefighter’s wages to keep them there. For the most part, it worked. But there was more.
---Without sounding too scolding, I explained to the reporter that Fairbanks was a city that was “built to burn”. That city was “the last bastion of the Great American Libertarian whose anti-government views fought every attempt at common sense fire code enforcement. Because of this anti-regulation mind-set, the city fathers created a tinder-box city. Then they have the gall to resent paying firefighters who risk their necks dealing with that mess.”
---I ended by saying that “The manning of their department is so low, it’s irresponsible. It’s almost criminal, in my opinion”.
---By the time it was aired, most of my statements had been edited except “Fairbanks
was built to burn”; they “fought every attempted at code enforcement”; and “fire department manning is low.”
I was chatting on the phone with Anchorage Fire Chief Larry Langston. I told him about some of the data I put in the letter (to Fairbanks city manager) and he told me that he had gone to school with the president of the Fairbanks fire fighters union, Dave Rockney. He thought Rockney, who had been under tremendous pressure lately, could use some of the information that I’d sent to the (Fairbanks) city manager. ...