Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Fire Press Release

Martin Street Structure Fire
Incident #: 2013016963
Date of Incident: 04/22/2013
Issuing Officer: Joel Fielder/Battalion Chief
Narrative:This morning at 2:08 AM Spokane City fire crews were dispatched to 5414 North Martin on a reported structure fire. Engine 15 from the neighborhood fire station arrived on scene first and reported a fully involved apartment on the west end of a single story, Tri-Plex. Engine 15 initiated an aggressive interior fire attack while the first in ladder company crew completed a search and vertical ventilation to remove the smoke and heat from the structure. Additional fire crews on scene assisted with exposure control to make sure the fire did not extend into the adjacent apartments and to a home located to the south of the building of origin. Fire company's responding to this fire consisted of 4-Engines, 2-Ladders, a Rescue truck and 2-Battalions Chiefs for a total of  24 personnel. One civilian was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation and there were no reported injuries to firefighters. Avista responded to assist for natural gas and electrical concerns and Red Cross arrived on scene to assist any displaced tenants.    
Cause:At this time members of the Spokane Fire Departments, Special Investigation Unit will be on scene through out the day processing the scene to determine an origin and cause.
Damage:Fire damage was confine to the apartment of origin with with smoke damage to the adjoining unit.
# Firefighters Responding: 24
Dollar Loss: $ 50000
Other Agencies Responding:
Avista and Red Cross
End Of Release 
For more information on this release please call (509) 625-7002

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Don's editorial in this morning's Spokesman-Review

There has long been confusion about the Law Enforcement Officers’ and Fire Fighters’ Plan 1, especially how it directly relates to Spokane. I would like to take this opportunity to share some facts that are important to know.
First, the LEOFF-1 system was closed Oct. 1, 1977. It was replaced with the current Law Enforcement Officers’ and Fire Fighters’ Plan 2, (LEOFF-2) system. LEOFF-1 has a trust fund that each worker and employer, and the State of Washington paid into. The workers and employers – state and local government – contributed equally, and it was fully funded about 10 years ago. Everyone, including all governments, stopped paying in because the actuaries determined there was enough money to pay for every worker’s retirement until he or she passes away, and still have some left over. There is no tax money going into it now, and there is no expectation any taxpayer money will ever be needed.
When LEOFF-1 was set up to provide for medical coverage, local governments were given a funding source. They had a choice to either use the revenue in their general fund (most of the time, revenue far exceeded expenditures), and promise to pay all current and future bills from that general fund. However, Spokane chose a second option: to put the revenue into a trust fund and separate it from the general fund. Spokane’s medical fund is in the black, and is expected to be fully funded. The city will be able to pay all the expected bills with the funds collected. It is evident that most local governments took in more money than they needed; they just chose to spend it unwisely. LEOFF-1 members do not cost the City of Spokane anything for pension, Social Security or medical. They are the only workers that do not. Once retired, the city will have no obligations for the pensions.
The current LEOFF-2 system differs from the previous system. This fund is also adequately funded, and the actuaries believe no additional tax money will be necessary except the current contribution schedule. It does not have any medical provision and firefighters are responsible for all medical insurance and medical care or negotiates those benefits as part of their compensation. The city does not pay Social Security for firefighters and firefighters do not get Social Security credit. Firefighters pay half of the cost of the pension and the city’s portion is less than if it were paying for Social Security. In 2011, the average retirement benefit for all retired LEOFF-2 was $29,851 per year. The newest retirees – those who have retired within the last one or two years – get a benefit of $39,456 per year.
The other issue brought up in the article was pension-spiking. We are not aware that any has occurred here in Spokane and, importantly, we are adamantly opposed to the practice. It is unethical and abuses the trust of Spokane’s citizens.
I hope these facts reassure you we are ethical and prudent stewards of taxpayer-supported funds.
Don Waller is the president of Spokane Fire Fighter, International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 29