By Chris Roberts
By Joe Eskenazi
By Albert Samaha
By Mike Billings
By Rachel Swan
By Erin Sherbert
By Joe Eskenazi
By Albert Samaha
What an uninformed cheap shot this was:I read with great dismay and disgust the column written by Matt Smith concerning the San Francisco Fire Department ["Hosed," April 30]. I am not sure if Mr. Smith lives in the city; however, he finds it very easy to justify the elimination of fire companies. Now, which ones should we close? The one near his house?
We can close some near the center of town, but that is where most calls are dispatched, usually to attend to someone under the influence of something. Or we could close a company in the more residential areas? Of course, these are the areas that have the higher rate of taxpayers that end up paying for the "unfortunate" members of our society.
It is also very easy for Mr. Smith to criticize a department he knows absolutely nothing about. I'm sure he didn't ride with any of the fire companies or medic units while writing this fairy tale. It's easy to think that firefighters sit around all day when you've never been with a fire company. (And of course, Mr. Smith's time card that he turns in to the SF Weekly is for 40 solid hours of work; I wouldn't want to think he took a long lunch, chatted around the water cooler, or stopped to read a newspaper.) I'm also sure that at his job, he attended classes that pointed out he was almost certain to die a very horrific death in the case of a chemical or biological attack on the subway system.
As for overtime costs, he has some valid points. The idea that overtime can get away from the department is true. However, don't live in the past; look at the present. The overtime costs and budget problems for the SFFD are due largely now to the extremely top-heavy administration and the ongoing failure of the paramedic program. He should have checked out how it takes five paramedic captains to teach a CPR class to people trained in CPR their entire careers. You want to find fat in the department? It's very easy to find. However, don't cut the front-line troops so that the bloat of headquarters can continue.
Fourth-generation San Franciscan and proud member of the SFFD
The minute we close a firehouse, we'll need it:I live in S.F. and am a fireman. I love the city and my job protecting it. Let me just say that fires do not happen every day and, yes, we shop and cook, etc. But make no mistake about it, in three minutes (our average response time) my fellow firefighters and I could be in the bowels of hell.
That is my job and I am fully prepared to do it. Most of what Matt Smith wrote was not based on fact and was written to cast heat and not light on the SFFD. Here are a couple other facts: This is one of the most densely populated cities in the country, on or near some of the more active fault lines in the world. The Fire Department and Police Department are not meant to make the city money; they are there in case they are needed. And if we take them away, they simply won't be around when we need them.
Everybody wants us there when they need us, but curses the cost to the city. I have an idea: Let's spend another $250 million on the homeless and close some firehouses. I'm sure the homeless will jump right in and help when a crisis arrives.
Getting toasted:Smith refers to "happy hours" in San Francisco firehouses. As a retired San Francisco firefighter, I can attest to the heavy on-duty drinking that took place on a daily basis in the city's firehouses during my career.
Did this jeopardize public safety? You bet it did!
Thanks for cracking me up:Andrea Renee Goode's piece on the local tryouts for America's Most Talented Kid on NBC was one hilarious article ["Show Time for Rug Rats," Dog Bites, May 7]. Not only did the author tell the entire story, but she used language that we can all relate to. Well done, SF Weekly! I truly enjoyed this review!
More from Ms. Goode, please:I truly enjoyed reading this column. I felt like I was there to see the performances. I would like to commend Ms. Goode on this article. I hope to get to read more from her soon.