I’ve always seen the fire department as an insurance policy. Sure, it’s wasteful, unnecessary and all that—until you need it! Kind of like the military.
I am willing to pay taxes to highly trained, professional folks who will arrive when I most need them. I do, however, see a need for more scrutiny.
Thank you so much for this article. A few months ago, I heard a similar story on NPR about the duplication between firefighters and ambulances in Boston. And then [last] week, I actually witnessed the same thing here in Portland. Responding to a minor medical emergency [was] a big red fire truck, an ambulance and a police car. Could the waste of resources in a time when money is scarce be any more obvious?
After years in the fire service serving as a battalion chief, I know a little about the needs at the emergency scene. The emergency scene is all about staffing. For a medical emergency, it is important to have people and equipment necessary to complete the task rapidly. There may be extrication from a vehicle or bathroom. Special tools are usually required for such rescues. The typical SUV has no room to carry such equipment.
The public unions are all overpaid—especially when retirement benefits and health care are taken into account—compared to similar workers in the private sector. This issue is causing major budget problems in state and local governments all across the country. On the right we have the rich not paying their share of taxes; on the left we have the unions extorting unreasonable pay. They are equally bad. Firemen have gotten a free pass because they are all-American and wholesome and occasionally save some lives, but they deserve some scrutiny too.
LIGHT RAIL AND THE CRC
I am a supporter of the Columbia River Crossing concept in general. However, I don’t support the light rail’s inclusion in the project [“Throw Voters From the Train,” WW, Sept. 26, 2012]. The reason is the I-5 corridor between the Columbia River and Portland has little to do with the people who could possibly ride the light rail. The real issue is the interstate traffic crossing the current bridge daily. The light rail would do nothing to relieve this congestion. I also believe the people of Clark County are far less likely to consider using alternative transportation methods.
In our story last week about the wasteful practices at Portland Fire & Rescue (“Burning Money”), the last name of Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen was misspelled. WW regrets the error.
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