Thursday, November 30, 2006

Commentary about BSO's Contract for Lauderdale-By-The-Sea Fire Rescue Services

It is important to clarify why BSO cancelled its contract with the Lauderdale-By-The-Sea Volunteer Fire Department. The Town Council hired BSO Fire Rescue in October, 2004 to provide fire suppression as well as emergency medical services. BSO’s professionally trained, full time firefighter/paramedics are the Town’s primary emergency responders for all calls, both medical and fire-related

As part of the 2004 agreement, BSO hired the volunteers as sub-contractors. The volunteers were paid by BSO, but the volunteer leadership was responsible for day-to-day volunteer operations as well as discipline of their membership.

During the past two years, several concerns regarding the volunteer leadership have been raised and documented. These concerns involve the volunteer leadership, and its inability to provide the professional direction that the volunteer rank and file clearly deserved. This lack of professional leadership was endangering the lives of all firefighters and paramedics on the scene, as well as residents and visitors.

Much has been said about the VFD’s civic involvement. While BSO supports community service, helping neighbors cannot be a substitute for providing an adequate level of life safety protection. In addition, pulling fire equipment out of service to assist residents as well as fellow volunteers to maintain their own personal property is dangerous. It is important to help one’s neighbors, but not at the risk of public safety.
"... [The Sheriff] was asked to bring in all the other reserve fire status fire personnel. He never brought it in because there are only two." -Town Commissioner & VFD Deputy Chief Jerry McIntee Town Council meeting November 18, 2006

CORRECTION: BSO Fire Rescue is specifically creating the Reserve Unit in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea in an effort to provide the rank and file paid volunteers with a place where they can receive the proper training and learn the proper procedures for fire fighting. It is being created because BSO Fire Rescue realizes that the hard working rank and file of the paid volunteers should not suffer at the hands of inadequate leadership.