An open letter to President George W. Bush:
I am writing as a concerned fire chief. I just read about a 14-year-old boy by the name of Christopher Kangas, of the Brookhaven (PA) Fire Department, who was killed while riding his bike going to the firehouse for a fire call. The U.S. Department of Justice declined his family benefits; in addition, if that is not bad enough, his name will not go on the memorial plaque at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial. I feel this is a great injustice.
This young man volunteered and was killed, and this is the thanks he gets from a grateful country. In our country every day, we complain about gangs, drugs, and kids in trouble, but when we have a kid who is helping his community and is a good kid with responsible parents, we kick him and his parents in the teeth.
President Bush, a terrible injustice has been done. Please help rectify this injustice. Congressman Curt Weldon (R-PA) has introduced the Christopher Kangas Fallen Firefighter Apprentice Act (H.R. 4472). I hope you rush this through so this young man will be honored at this October’s service.
A lot of fire departments in this country rely on the junior firefighter program. The junior members do not fight fires. They perform support activities such as setting up rehab, changing air tanks, being gofers, and staffing accountability boards, to free up the senior members so they can concentrate on firefighting.
President Bush, as you watched the firefighters work at Ground Zero, you realized the brotherhood of the fire service and the importance we place on our brothers. Well, one of our little brothers is down and needs our help. Please help us help him and his family.
To show the importance of the junior firefighter program, I was a junior and made chief. This is my 32nd year as chief. My son was a junior, as were my first and second assistant chiefs. The junior program is building the leaders and firefighters of the future.
President Bush, I know you have bigger concerns than this, but I hope this will not fall through the cracks. It is important to the grieving family and the memory of a 14-year-old boy by the name of Christopher Kangas.
Citizen’s Fire Company No. 1, Inc.
Animal first-aid kits
I would like to clarify Bill Manning’s comments concerning our department’s receiving animal first-aid kits (“From Inane to Insane, Coast to Coast,” Editor’s Opinion, June 2004). These kits were a donation from the animal control division in response to a medical aid call one of our engine companies responded to. The incident involved a police K-9 that was shot by a criminal and needed first-aid treatment. We found that our standard kits do not provide for this type of care. As a result, the animal control personnel donated to us oxygen masks specifically designed for animals. Our fine men and women in blue who have K-9s as their partners are very grateful that we come prepared to render appropriate care to their K-9 officers.
We have not spent valuable training time in animal first-aid training; these are standard first-aid skills. Our department falls under the same circumstances Manning shares regarding other departments; given our workload (incident responses), we also struggle to achieve enough time to conduct the amount of training in many other areas that we believe are vitally important such as the utilization of ICS along with developing a positive, professional relationship with our exceptional police department. Our two departments have trained and worked together on many incidents, resulting in a positive outcome for the community we represent.
San Bernardino (CA) Fire Department
It is great to have a magazine like Fire Engineering and a Web site like Fire Engineering.com to learn and grow with. I lost my older brother Dennis on 9/11 at the World Trade Center. I then joined his fire department in his honor. Thanks to Fire Engineering for the good work.
Nutley (NJ) Fire Department
Editor’s note: On page 113 of the July issue of Fire Engineering, the “Save the Dates” box should have read “FDIC East, Atlantic City, NJ, OCTOBER 25-30, 2004.”