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Press Release Blues!

Baffle_Them_With_Bullshit

So I’ve been considering what I should write about today – just one of things that I started doing every day – it’s therapeutic.  One of the things I have come to truly enjoy is picking apart what Village Officials say by using their own words and data.  And this post will be no different.  This comes at an interesting moment, when Save Carpentersville has acquired the FOIA’d information on the fire department, it’s staffing changes and their ability to respond to our calls.  The more they say, the more it becomes clear that our Village Officials have no idea what they are doing – which would make sense, none of them have any training or education in the Fire Service, and the Manager certainly has no training in Criminal Justice either.  (Interestingly, the one guy that does have education and training, the Deputy Fire Chief, said in an email about a safer grant that getting 4 more people would put us closer to the proper staffing level … right before the reductions of the new “staffing model” took effect … priceless!  The Administration isn’t even listening to it’s own educated Chief!)  This is going to be a long one filled with charts, so please bear with me here.  Let’s dig ourselves out from under this mountain of BullShit!

Today, the village released a Press Release.  The blue writing is the press release from the Village.  Here it is:

Just weeks after the Village of Carpentersville and its full-time firefighters reached an agreement on a three-year contract, Village officials today said the agreement helps it deliver exceptional service to residents while also reducing burdensome overtime costs and generating significant savings for taxpayers without compromising public safety.

FACT CHECK:  The Village claims about reducing burdensome overtime costs are false.  A look at the budgets shows the following overtime budgets and actual expenditures:

Fire Overtime
Year Budget Actual Difference
07-08 130000 130499 499 Over Budget
08-09 154500 172332 17832 Over Budget
09-10 224000 165929 -58071 Under Budget
10-11 213500 161728 -51772 Under Budget
11-12 384099 117050 -267049 Under Budget
12-13 160000 not given yet #VALUE! Undetermined
13-14 160000 not given yet #VALUE! Undetermined

Since Manager Rooney took office, the overtime budget has decreased year after year, AND the actual costs spent have significantly under that.  So – where is the over time burden then?  I’m told that the actual expenditures are expected to be around 60k for this year – which looking at the budget is right in line with the Streets department, but let’s forget that Police overtime budget is $450,967.00.  Using overtime as the “reason” for the service reduction is about as stupid and unimaginative as I can think of.  The mere fact that overtime is present in such a regular manner is an indication that the employer does not have enough full time employees to cover the paid time off benefits like vacations.  Therefore, the way to eliminate scheduled overtime is by increasing the staff members and having a minimum/maximum staffing model.

The fact is, the fire department does not deliver exceptional service to the residents.  The Fact is that response times are important.  The Village will tell us that the average time is less than 5 minutes – which it is when you consider all the calls combined.  We should also consider that it was a strategic goal of the Fire Department this year (check the budget documents on the village website) that greater than 90% of the calls be below 4 minutes – we’re at 4:07 average right now, up from 3:38 before.  What’s more important is how many are above 5 minute s– what percentage – in other words – what chances you as a resident have of getting someone to show up more than 5 minutes after they are dispatched (which doesn’t even include the amount of time it takes a dispatcher to dispatch the call)…. The Fact is, there is now evidence to support the conclusion that our Fire Services have been undermanned for years!  To illustrate my point, here is a chart of the Department’s Actual Response times for calls for Ambulance service. (I’ve also included the percentage of calls above 6 minutes as well .. just to drive home this point)  …

This chart is for The Carpenter Park station (central), where the village is now deploying 5 people.  Notice that the percentage of calls above 5 minute response goes way down!  This proves that 5 people manning the station is what is needed for all our stations!

Carpenter Park Station Year Current 2013 2012 2011 2010
Response 3:14 3:22 3:19 3:07 3:12
Call Ct 28 270 337 306 332
>5Min 1 33 32 21 15
% 4% 12% 9% 7% 5%
<5Min 27 237 305 285 317
% 96% 88% 91% 93% 95%
>6Min 0 12 14 5 4
% 0% 4% 4% 2% 1%
Calls/Mth 35 23 28 26 28
>5 / Mth 1.27 3.45 2.67 1.75 1.25
% 3.57% 15.33% 9.50% 6.86% 4.52%
>6 / Mth 0.00 1.25 1.17 0.42 0.33
% 0.00% 5.57% 4.15% 1.63% 1.20%

Here is the the Lake Marian Station (east side).  This station now runs 3 people – which is either an ambulance or an engine, not both like the carpenter park station.  Notice that it’s percentage of 5 minute+ response times have gone UP! (In 2010, a good number of the senior officers took a retirement package – it certainly seems like losing that experience took it’s toll, but as the new officers have grown and learned, that percentage dropped – until the change that is)

Lake Marian Station Year Current 2013 2012 2011 2010
Response 4:20 3:58 3:49 4:03 4:32
Call Ct 109 1437 1716 1688 1655
>5Min 37 283 296 405 635
% 34% 20% 17% 24% 38%
<5Min 72 1154 1420 1283 1020
% 66% 80% 83% 76% 62%
>6Min 14 131 100 147 310
% 13% 9% 6% 9% 19%
Calls/Mth 138 150 143 141 138
>5 / Mth 46.89 29.58 24.67 33.75 52.92
% 33.94% 19.69% 17.25% 23.99% 38.37%
>6 / Mth 17.74 13.69 8.33 12.25 25.83
% 12.84% 9.12% 5.83% 8.71% 18.73%

Finally we have the West Side station, on Sleepy Hollow Road.  It has historically had the worst percentage of calls above 5 & 6 minutes – and it’s even worse now.  I guess it needs saying – DUH!

SleepyHollow Station Year Current 2013 2012 2011 2010
Response 4:48 4:21 4:09 3:59 4:11
Call Ct 13 311 414 373 357
>5Min 5 96 106 82 80
% 38% 31% 26% 22% 22%
<5Min 8 215 308 291 277
% 62% 69% 74% 78% 78%
>6Min 4 48 60 42 41
% 31% 15% 14% 11% 11%
Calls/Mth 16 33 35 31 30
>5 / Mth 6.34 10.03 8.83 6.83 6.67
% 38.46% 30.87% 25.60% 21.98% 22.41%
>6 / Mth 5.07 5.02 5.00 3.50 3.42
% 30.77% 15.43% 14.49% 11.26% 11.48%

IN OTHER WORDS: VILLAGE OFFICIALS ARE WRONG!  Don’t be fooled into a false sense of security.  If you live on the East or West Sides of the Village there is greater than a 30% chance, 3/10 times that it will take a certified medical vehicle greater than 5 minutes – and sometimes greater than 6 minutes to get to you.  It’s great that the village has invested money in ALS Engines – but they don’t do any good if they don’t get to you.  If they sit in a station unmanned – you aren’t being helped.  Don’t be duped by this Village Administration.  Smoke and Mirrors!

“Job one is keeping Carpentersville safe,” said Village Manager J. Mark Rooney. “The men and women of the Carpentersville Fire Department know that. Under the new labor agreement recently settled, the number of firefighters on staff did not change, and there were no layoffs or staff reductions. In today’s era of fiscal constraints, the Village sees this as a tremendously positive outcome.”

Thank you Manager Rooney!  Out of the horses mouth – Job One is keeping Carpentersville safe.  So – Um – alter the budget accordingly and invest the resources into doing so.  It’s great that the number of firefighters on staff didn’t change.  Too bad the number of vehicles being staffed did.  Duh – 6 vehicles down to 4 or 3 vehicles is a reduction whether the village wants to see it that way or not.  Less vehicles = more time to get to my house and family.

“With the help of a federal mediator during the recent IAFF Local 4790 contract negotiations, both sides agreed to a labor contract that represents a compromise among the Village, our full-time firefighters and our part-time firefighters, but at the same time one that will not compromise public safety or otherwise impact the Village’s ability to deliver the best possible service to residents, “ said Village Manager Rooney.

Yeah, see above.  I find it interesting that the Part-Time members ratified an extension to their contract 2 days before the mediator “helped” the village and full time union, when the part time members were in the middle of an existing in full-force contract that wasn’t due to expire until 2015.  (September 10th special board meeting) Hmm .. couldn’t possibly be any issues there right?  What’s interesting though is that the rest of this is actually true!  The agreements didn’t compromise public safety or otherwise impact the Village’s ability to deliver the best possible service to residents.  The Village Officials and Trustees did that ALL ON THEIR OWN!

The new labor contract, which the IAFF Local 4790 members fully ratified in September, provides a two percent per year raise to firefighters. It also provides a 7.14 percent raise to lieutenants the first year, followed by a two percent increase the second and third years.

The additional cost to the Village budget for the three-year contract was projected to be over $800,000 if the current, less-efficient scheduling of staff continued unchanged. As a result, Village Manager Rooney directed Fire Department management to take steps to deploy both full- and part-time firefighters in a cost-conscious manner without compromising public safety.

Again, see above, The Village Manager who DIRECTED the fire department management – again, i don’t think the village manager has training or education to determine how to direct the fire department, Did compromise public safety.  Perhaps he should have hired a FIRE CHIEF instead of promoting the POLICE CHIEF to oversee the fire department.  Just saying.  Either way, as part of it’s budgeting process, one would think that the budget would account for average cost of living adjustments – I mean, the departments that make up administration all accounted for raises this year – why didn’t we do this with the Union departments?  Were the Trustees so naive as to believe that the unions would give concessions again like they did 3 years ago?  Come on residents – wake up – our Trustees are obviously clueless, and they are being lead by a guy who is looking more and more like he’s got a hidden agenda!  I know that the $800,000.00 number is wrong, but it will take some time to get the evidence to prove it.  Please bear with me on that one.

“Both full- and part-time firefighters are required to pass exactly the same state certification to become Firefighter 2, and all of the full- and part-time emergency medical technicians and paramedics are certified by the Illinois Department of Public Health,” said Village Manager Rooney. “These certifications ensure that we have trained and qualified personnel on all of our responding equipment. By staffing our fire stations with fully qualified personnel and managing overtime more effectively, the Village will save over $300,000 during the three-year term of the contract.” The Village has benefitted from a combination of qualified full- and part-time firefighters for decades. In fact, 26 of the 32 full-time firefighters first served as part-time Carpentersville firefighters. The new plan continues to rely on both. The Village currently employs 29 part-time firefighters and pays them an average of $15.55 per hour. The average wage for a full-time firefighter is $30.04 per hour. With a roster of fully qualified part-time firefighters, the Village has flexibility in scheduling and can limit recalling full-time firefighters at their average overtime rate of $45.06 per hour.

Wow … this one is going to be fun.  What all those certifications mean is that you have people that all passed a state test.  My kids could pass it – it’s written at an 8th grade reading level and requires a 70% grade to pass.  Where the Manager’s statement goes wrong is the word “Trained.”  Folks – Manager Rooney has directed the Fire Department to take a Ranked Officer (Lieutenant) and the other full time member out of the west side station (when the manning has dropped) and put them at the central station .. with ANOTHER Ranked Officer (Lieutenant.)  In that experienced officer’s place is a part-time member, who’s only training required is what he says above – Firefighter II, Paramedic.  Part time members are excellent firefighters, but that is the job they are trained for – firefighting and fire suppression, not tactics and strategies and not how to properly lead a company of firefighters.  The Manager is putting personnel with no requirements for training in Fire tactics and Strategy or any experience in them into a spot WITH the liability of making decisions that may affect YOUR life – any of you folks on the west side like that idea?  The village maintains flexibility – but compromises the safety of the firefighters AND the public at the same time – WAY TO GO!

“The new scheduling model was recently tested and proved viable,” said Carpentersville’s Director of Public Safety Al Popp. “The Fire Department responded to two separate structure fire incidents in the past week, both of which had response times under three minutes. In the first incident on Alameda Drive, a fully-involved garage fire was extinguished before extending to the detached home. In the second instance on Sedgewick Street, a significant chimney fire was extinguished by Fire Department crews before the fire could spread to the roof and contiguous structure of the single-family residence. With automatic-aid assistance, we were able to respond to the Sedgewick Street fire while simultaneously responding to four other calls for service. We will continue to assess the daily demands for service and adjust as required.”

Yes, it was recently tested – ON US the Residents!  Thank you Director of Public Safety Popp???  What DPS Popp doesn’t happen to mention is that in both instances, EVERY Resource within 5 miles from those locations was depleted – the Village could not have handled another call without a significant response time from towns like Elgin, Hoffman  Estates, Barrington or maybe Algonquin IF they would give us another resource vehicle, since they had already sent resource vehicles to those incidents.  I was listening to both instances.  Our safety as residents was COMPROMISED.  In fact, at the time of the Chimney fire referenced above, every single staffed vehicle in East Dundee, West Dundee, Carpentersville and the Rutland-Dundee FPD was in Carpentersville working 5 separate incidents simultaneously.  Previous to their “tested” staff model changes – There would have been an additional 3 vehicles to cover more calls coming in instead of 0.  The Radio that night was buzzing with the Battalion Chief changing vehicle assignments between calls to try and cover everything coming in, reducing each of the working company’s capabilities on the scene of the emergency where they were!  The end result is that the safety of the responders and the residents was compromised from the top down.

bullshit-meter

The Village also announced that it is enhancing its first responders’ ability to provide emergency medical services by adding Advanced Life Support technology to the engines at two of its stations and will soon add this equipment at its third station. Advanced Life Support equipment enables first-responding crews to perform advanced skills such as indepth patient assessments, cardiac monitoring and evaluation, defibrillation and advanced airway maintenance so that a patient can be stabilized before being transported to the hospital.

 

“The overwhelming majority of calls for fire service in Carpentersville are calls for emergency medical assistance, not for fire suppression,” said Director of Public Safety Popp. “Our firefighters now have advanced technology and equipment at their fingertips so we can deliver the right kind of services at the right time.”

Thank you for stating the obvious Director of Public Safety Popp.  BUT THIS DOES THE RESIDENTS NO GOOD WHEN THE VEHICLE THAT YOU JUST SPENT MONEY ON TO MAKE ADVANCED LIFE SUPPORT IS SITTING IN THE STATION UNMANNED!  And what advanced technology are you talking about?  Defibrillators – been around for years!  The Village owns a 20 year old vehicle sitting at the west side station being used as a reserve, which was front line until late last year – where is the new technology?  Computers – again, they’ve been around for years.  Smoke and Mirros again.  But, I suppose when you have no training or understanding of the fire service, it’s the best you can come up with for the Village Manager’s press release.

Clearly the Administration in our town would have us believe that they are doing the best they can, spending our money wisely and that the employees in the Village who are speaking up are somehow unsatisfied with their lot in life.  That they are speaking up because the village gave them what they wanted in a union contract.  That they are hurting for money and they want to cause the administration pain and suffering, and they are just scaring us small, insignificant, stupid residents into asking questions.  What Chief Schuldt said years ago about the Fire Department needing to staff it’s stations with 5 people each wasn’t a joke … it’s what our village needs and what our residents deserve.  Proper staffing for both police and fire is the primary mission AND JOB ONE! of the this village.  Village Officials – get over yourselves, the time to tell the public the truth is long since past.  There really isn’t a good reason why you have done this – it isn’t about the money, it’s not about the over time, and it is compromising the safety of the residents.

I’ve also had a chance to read the news article that came out today – and well, i think the above just about covers that article as well.  Besides, the reporter was only giving what both sides said – let us all decide for ourselves who is right.

The Digging has begun and the things that our Village board doesn’t want exposed will be.

See You All on the 19th of November, At Village Hall Board Room, 6:30pm!!!!!

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