Saturday, March 12, 2005

Jeff Responds...


I did not realize at the time that you had a pen name although it would not have changed my response to your posting. 

I have read your explanation and writings about the spokesman-Review. It may be true but it casts a negative light on my local and my department not to mention virtually all locals in the county in the eyes of your members. What they see through those eyes now when anyone mentions Fire District 8 is "oh yeah those guys on the south hill that don't have a clue about being a firefighter", which we both know is not true. All of our people go through the same recruits schools and the same training. You went through academy with Steve Bailey who works for us, I know this because I taught parts of your recruit school. I don't think most of your members know that we do this work together. It has been a great tool to help bond our two departments as well as District 9, 10 and the Valley.

I took your advise and focused on the phrase "our job" and the fact that it is all "our job" but I'm still having difficulty qualifying it when I read the whole passage.

"Heard the call come in for the fire on Ashton - District 8. An engine arrived and then called for Spokane to help and then the Valley. Amazing video and print coverage. But the recent multiple fires in the city were not worth stories in the Spokesman-Review because we do our job and put fires out before they become great videos".

I do understand that you are making a point about the Spokesman-Review. It's easy to see but in order to get there you made my job look really bad. Now when my guys, and I'm sure about 95% of your guys and girls read this what they are going to pick up on is "District 8 sucks". (This may confuse a few as directly above this posting you wrote a note letting your laid off members know that District 8 is is hiring and promoting going to work for us).

I believe that part of the problem is the misconception that everyone outside of the City and Valley are all volunteers. Let me give you a little example of what I'm talking about. Three days ago E81 took an MVA on the city/county boarder in which PL11 responded after our unit. When 11's arrived one of the scene on E81 had the pt extricated and boarded and both crews loaded the pt in the AMB. When it was all said and done one of the city guys (who lives in my fire district) made the comment "you mean there are paid guys in District 8". The District can be faulted for the lack of pub/ed and marketing of our fire district to its citizens but I really would like to see the work spread throughout the city that you aren't the only game in town.

OK back to by point on the volunteers. In your initial posting you did not mention the word volunteer although in your explanation to me you talk to that subject many times. You almost make it sound as if I where defending them in my e-mail to you which I was not. John trust me I understand as well as the professional members from Fire District 9, 10, Cheney, and the Airport that volunteer firefighters do not do this as "their job". In fact we know this way better then you could even begin to understand, as we have to deal with it on a daily basis.  It would be correct for you to assume as you do in your 3rd paragraph that I, as the president of my local, would agree that a fully staffed professional fire departments is preferable over volley's. In a perfect world that would be great. Unfortunately  you are the minority and always will be as a fully paid fire department. That is the reality in today's world.

Thanks for the atta boy on the efforts on the Ashton fire. To answer your question "Have there been any other fires that you've been on where the outcome would have been better, had you responded immediately with multiple apparatus staffed fully by firefighters whose only "job" that day was to be a professional firefighter? Come on John what do you think my answer is goingto be to that. The problem in my District isn't that we don't send multiple apparatus (which everyone does) staffed by fully paid firefighters, heck on the Ashton fire 90% of the people their where paid firefighters, the problem is the fact that my next due station is 10 minutes away. That is why sometimes we need to call for help from our brothers and sisters to the North. And by the way we are more then willing to return the favor when you are short handed. We don't mind covering 11's and 14's when the city is short due to "the big one". Yeah sometimes its a pain in the ass but its all in the name of helping out our union brother & sisters.  

I know that you guys are frustrated with the S-R. We have all been there either with bad press on our dysfunctional board or the fact we can't pass an M&O although, none of the other locals have had to endure the layoff nightmare that Local 29 has had to deal with and the lack of coverage there. I watch and read the local news everyday and know the coverage on your plight is horrible. Sitting at the forum this year listening to Ellie tell the story about the Cowles families distain for the Spokane Fire Department back in the early days makes me think that things haven't changed much. I have told Greg, Mike, and Mark that if there is anything we can do we will be there as I'm sure the other 5 County Locals would be.

Let me end by saying I'm sure that you did offend a few of the professionals from around the area as they probably took your comments the wrong way just as my guys did. For the past 15 years that I have been in the fire service there has always been animosity between the City Fire Department and the rest of the County Professionals which makes it easy for this type of thing to manifest itself into a huge problem. I say its time to beak down the walls that unfortunately still exists between the City and the rest of us. It is imperative that WE START TO COMMUNICATE BETTER AT OUR LEVEL. THE LINE LEVEL. It is ridicules that in today's age we are still having these stupid turf wars/they don't know what the hell they are doing out there BS. I am proud to say that I have many close friend that work for the Spokane Fire Department and we are trying to move together united as one group to open these communication lines. Hopefully this discussion helps us meet this goal. On behalf of your brothers in District 8 I accept your apology and we look forward to working with you on making our relationship better.

Thank You,


P.S. Please do put all of our correspondence including this one in the order they were written on the site. I think it will help open some eyes. Thanks again John.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Local 29 E-Board Member, John Griffith's response to previous post by Local 3711 President Jeff Wainwright...


Let me deconstruct the sentence in question: "An engine arrived and then called for Spokane to help and then the Valley. Amazing video and print coverage. But the recent multiple fires in the city were not worth stories in the Spokesman-Review because we do our job and put fires out before they become great videos."

Focusing upon the phrase "our job" - I used it in the very literal sense. Like you and some in your district, city firefighters are professional firefighters, that is we are paid because it is "our job" to be firefighters. The big difference is that in the city, we are all paid (professional) firefighters - it is all of our "job." And as dedicated, proficient and experienced as your volunteers may be, firefighting is not their "job." I say this not to denigrate their volunteerism in the community, but to point out that your volunteers make their living in other ways than being firefighters for District 8.

And I would assume that as, Local 3711 President, you would agree that a fire department that is fully staffed by professionals is preferable to one staffed by a combination of professional and volunteer firefighters, or all volunteers.

I applaud your efforts at the house fire, and it sure sounds like all that was done could be done. I'm certainly not in a position to Monday-morning-quarterback you or your crew's efforts. But let me ask you this: Have there been any other fires that you've been on where the outcome would have been better, had you responded immediately with multiple apparatus staffed fully by firefighters whose only "job" that day was to be a professional firefighter?

When I wrote this blog entry, I had just come home after a 48 hour shift with three working structure fires. They were all (to varying degrees) saves. No story in the paper. In the wake of our layoffs, I found it frustrating that our citizens are shielded (via the Spokesman) from knowing what their tax dollars provide, in terms of fire protection.

Yesterday, we were first-in on a garage that was fully involved, in a tightly packed neighborhood with countless exposures. Again, today - no story. I know that, if we were a lone engine company (professional or not) responding to this fire, it could have been a lot worse. And the S-R would have had some great copy.

In closing, let me apologize if I offended any of your members. That was not my intent. In a nutshell, what I was trying to say was: 1. Fire departments that are fully staffed by professionals will make more stops than those staffed with volunteers, 2. The Spokesman-Review is not interested in stops, but in the fires that aren't stopped.

As a professional firefighter, IAFF Local President and reader of the Spokesman-Review, would you disagree? If you would like to meet to talk more about this issue, I would be more than happy to oblige.


John Griffith (AKA Bill Foss)
Local 29 E-Board Member

District 8, Local 3711 President Jeff Wainright objects to posting of 3-1-05...

Good Morning Brother,

This morning when I got to work the shift getting off of my engine company (E81) let me know you had posted a note on the L-29 site that they took as a "Bash" on District 8 and in particular my engine company. The quote that made them a little hot under the collar was posted on 3-1-05 and goes something to the effect...

"An engine arrived and then called for Spokane to help and then the Valley. Amazing video and print coverage. But the recent multiple fires in the city were not worth stories in the Spokesman-Review because we do our job and put fires out before they become great videos"

Now I should probably take this as a "Bash" to as I was the Lieutenant on that engine company that called for the help right off the bat that afternoon. The part you are missing from this story to your members is that the fire started in the basement and from the time of the first 9-1-1 call until I was taking a line off the rig to the front door was less then six minutes, oh and did I mention that my size-up consisted of "we have heavy fire out of the basement, the main floor is almost fully involved and we have fire from the windows on the second floor A-side". Try to keep in mind that I gave this size-up about 5 to 5 1/2 minutes after the first 9-1-1 call was received. How many times have you been on a fire 2 in the afternoon on a sunday, with 3 people at home and working smoke detectors that are monitored by ADT in the house and you arrive to find this scenario. Does something sound a little fishy to you. My point is this house was gone before we ever got the call and my 3 person engine company as well as every other responding company did everything they could to make the out come as good as possible.

I read your posting and I understand that you are probably trying to make a point about that rag of a news paper and all that slow news day for the local TV news stuff that goes on but I would contend that your brothers to the south actually "do their job" everyday and do it the same way that you do. We also have house fires that are "good stops" you never hear about because they are stopped in the first room and the news never even shows up. In a day in which we (all of the professional IAFF Fire Departments and Districts) are trying to work more closely together and foster new camaraderie between our neighboring brothers and sisters my members find it a bit disheartening when they read postings and other printed material that use them as the county whipping boys.

My hope is that you where just "bashing" the news media and did not mean to down grade my guys dedication to the fire service and to the image we try to portray of ALL professional firefighters across the county. If your intent was to "Bash" my guys then we probably need to sit down and have a discussion. Hope to hear from you soon.


Jeffrey P wainwright, President
International Association of Fire Fighters 3711
State Representative for Washington
International Association of Fire Fighters AFO-CIO-CLC

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Newsletter deadline

If you have something you want in the newsletter, please get it to me on, or before, March 25th. Thanks, John