OP/ED: Kinnon Proposal 'Outdated'
Malden Firefighters' Union President George Romvos criticizes Ward 6 Councillor Neil Kinnon for proposing the use of hybrid "fire/public safety" officers in this week's city council agenda.
Note: The following was submitted by George Romvos, President of the Malden Firefighters Union Local 902.
Dear Malden Citizens:
Please be informed that the Malden City Council will be meeting on Tuesday, February 5, 2013, at 7:00 p.m., and an item for discussion has been initiated by Ward 6 Councillor Neil Kinnon that is concerning.
Said item reads: "ORDER: The City Council investigate creation of a public safety officer position to function as a hybrid fire/public safety officer, and that all vacancies in the Fire Dept. be hired provisionally with this title. (KINNON)" Hybrid Fire/Public Safety Officer positions are cross-trained public safety personnel.
In other words, Fire Fighters are cross-trained as Police Officers, and Police Officers are cross-trained as Fire Fighters. Under this dual model - an old model that has been phased-out in cities and towns that implemented it nearly thirty years ago and determined it was not the best way to provide public safety services - citizens are left to expect that their Fire Fighters would patrol the streets, abandon their role as Fire Fighters and change from donning their Fire Fighters' helmets and gear to handling a firearm and serving as a law enforcement officer.
Obviously, there are many implications with this old model regarding response-time, training and other liabilities for our community of nearly 60,000 residents. Cities and towns that did away with the model determined that the dual-duty role is not conducive when trying to ensure the best, specialized professional services for the protection of citizens. This public safety, cost-cutting measure remains largely a problematic initiative offered by government officials who are focused solely on cutting services to meet budgetary constraints rather than to properly prioritize government spending to ensure that the most in-demand services in our communities, including Fire Fighting/Rescue/EMS/Prevention are adequately staffed and funded.
That Councillor Kinnon proposed such an outdated model without even consulting the Malden Fire Department or extending the courtesy of a discussion with the Malden Fire Fighters Union Local 902, reflects his continued lack of support of Malden Fire Fighters and shows his lack of knowledge of the expertise that Fire Fighters and our our brother and sister public safety officers, the Malden Police, separately exercise in our daily duties.
It is clear that any government official who would support such an effort lacks the understanding of our line of work, our specialized training, responsibilities and decision-making that we perform 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days each year when responding to incidents and caring for our citizens. Fire Fighters enter our line of work with the intention of serving the public by putting out fires, providing emergency medical aid and educating the public for the purposes of fire prevention. We train, continuously as a unit, to ensure that the best Fire Rescue and Prevention services are provided, and Malden Fire Fighters are recognized throughout the Commonwealth as a highly trained, competent and professional Fire Fighting team.
The irony is that while our Malden Fire Fighters are dedicated to carrying-out our duties and protecting the people, we are made to respond to governmental "fires", in the figurative sense of the word, when certain officials ignore the concerns of our Malden Fire Fighters and refuse to meet the demands of our community for a new East Side Fire Station, increased minimum manning, adequate equipment and safety measures. When will our government officials stop balancing the city budget on the backs of Fire Fighters who are dedicated to protecting the citizens in our community?
For more information and to show your support of the members of the Malden Fire Fighters Union Local 902, please call (781) 321-9119.