City Fires; Chief “Retires”

By Art Goodrich
The Moline, Illinois city council, on the advice of the city administrator, plans to cut 12 firefighter/paramedic positions and privatize EMS in the city. Immediately after the decision was made, Chief Ron Miller announced his resignation/retirement. See associated links:

http://www.wqad.com/news/wqad-moline-fire-chief-resigns-101811,0,346191.story

http://www.fireengineering.com//articles/2011/10/il-fire-chief-resigns-after-ems-privatization.html

http://www.firefighterclosecalls.com/news/fullstory/newsid/147661

So that you might afford me some relative credibility, let me say that Moline is one of the "Quad” cities, I am but mere minutes away and over the years, I have come to know many firefighters from the Quad City area. They are a hearty and committed bunch. They are not a very vocal bunch unless pressed and very few run afoul with the law. They take their profession very seriously and many have started and retired from their departments.

First of all, I am of the opinion that the Moline city administrator presented information that grossly understated the impact that the decision would have on Moline residents.

Did I say grossly understated?

Now that I think about it, he never mentioned the negative impact to services; he only mentioned the positive impact to the city budget.

I honestly don’t think that many residents of Moline ever had a clue as to how much bang for their buck a firefighter in their city was giving them.

Let’s see; there would be water rescue, hazmat, technical rescue, juvey firesetter intervention programs, fire prevention, fire suppression, paramedic level emergency medical response and oh yeah; add mentors to their junior firefighters.

Their city administrator expressed his unhappiness with many firefighters who live outside the city limits, but it seems that past city negotiators haven’t included residency requirements in their collective bargaining agreement, so why all of the fuss now?

And besides; many firefighters are involved in their home communities AND the city they work. Plus, they reach out to surrounding communities.

When I was active, Moline FD’s Operation Prom Night program received wide recognition for their firefighters, who, in the beginning, reached into their own pockets to buy equipment. Did I mention that Bill Grambling and crew did it on their own time? Stop by sometime and I’ll show you a video of our Operation Prom Night production that would not have been possible without them.

You know darn well that Mr. City Boss is already thinking about closing a station. You cut 12 jobs and all of a sudden, you don’t need all of those stations, right? That’s why they call them “bean-counters”. Their common sense and their logical thinking don’t amount to a hill of beans!

You should travel to Moline and visit the “downtown” and riverfront. Between whiffs of dead carp, you can smell the money. Actually, if you know what a construction project costs in Illinois, you can see it for yourself. Plus; they just increased garbage collection fees by a couple of bucks a month. Gotta keep the curbside services going, but public safety? Please refer to “dead carp” comment.

I have to wonder how many of the private ambulance employees will be at the river’s edge throwing sandbags the next time the Big Muddy floods? Firefighters are there along with the other volunteers throwing bags, helping to treat those hurt while doing so and all the while, demonstrating their commitment to their city.

Chief Miller was hailed for standing up for his principles by stepping down. It was obvious to me that he wasn’t fond of his “bosses” for their lack of public safety priorities.

Though he made a strong statement by resigning, I have to wonder if it wouldn’t have been bolder on his part to stay and fight for a better future for the Moline Fire Department.

I’ll admit that when you reach my age, your passion for your work is still there, but your energy level and enthusiasm isn’t as high as it once was. And you can’t drink enough 5 hour Energy to get it back.

I know Chief Miller and his fire department still cares as much today as they did 30 years ago about providing the best services to their city. Unfortunately, the city “leaders” believe that they can cut into that service without affecting said services.

Chief Miller will be proven right, although he will be retired.

And a congenial relationship between fire department and their city will become contentious.

But hey; at least Moline won’t be littered with yard waste. The city picks it up for “free”.

How’s that for value added?

TCSS.

The opinions and views expressed are those of the article’s author, Art Goodrich, who also writes as ChiefReason. They do not reflect the opinions and views of www.fireengineering.com , Fire Engineering Magazine, PennWell Corporation or his dog, Chopper. This article is protected by federal copyright laws and cannot be re-produced in any form.