By Jim Vannucchi, Director
|A few short weeks ago, while on a detail to a downtown company,
a full box was struck. As I ran to the rig, a probie who was
by my side as we approached the engine said, I cant wait to
go! Is this your first fire too? For the briefest of moments,
my near 20 years of memories within the SFFD came crashing back.
I looked at the probie, smiled, and said, with the greatest
of envy, I only wish it was.
Duty. Honor. Loyalty. Three words that have resonated for over 150 years within that world we call the San Francisco Fire Department. Yet their meaning has lost much as they coursed through our history.
Several days ago, quite by chance, a senior administrator asked
me what I felt would be the single most effective tool to restore
the sagging morale of the SFFD. My initial thoughts reflected
back to the day when I became a San Francisco Firefighter, when
I raised my right hand, swore to an oath, and assumed a public
trust. I knew then that I had entered a telluric of courage and
sacrifice, where uncommon bravery is commonly displayed, where
ordinary people perform extraordinary deeds, and where the unique
bond of trust between firefighters is never violated.
Nevertheless, the answer I was seeking went beyond these 20 short
years. I regressed back even further. To a time of Camelot and
an idealistic young President who envisioned fairness, equity
and freedom. Out of this tragic life came the framework for the
1964 Civil Rights Act. A law that guaranteed equal rights, not
special rights. A law that provided for a level playing field,
not a slanted one. Yet a law that was ill applied to the SFFD
and ultimately turned brother against brother and where betrayal
of ones integrity and friendship was condoned.
With this, I turned to the administrator and said, Its quite
simple. When you administer an examination, whether it be entrance
or promotional, be honest. Allow for review of the test, the answer
key, and the scoring method. Re-establish physical and academic
standards. Hire in rank order. Hire based on merit.
It has been approximately six months since Chief Tobacco assumed
the leadership of the SFFD. His short tenure has taken a positive
and pivotal direction that has far out-distanced his predecessor:
The surveys from the membership have been tallied and will be prioritized as they pertain to the upcoming contract negotiations. Due to stipulation, once we enter negotiations, the contents of these dialogs cannot be divulged. When the negotiating parties agree on the document, it will be presented, in its entirety, to the membership for ratification. With this in mind, I ask that you please be patient while contract negotiations are underway. I can assure you, the Local 798 negotiating team has your best interests at the forefront.