The Main Line is the official publication of the San Francisco Fire Fighter’s Local 798. Opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of Local 798 or the San Francisco Fire Department. Members are welcome to submit Letters or Articles for publication; however the Editorial Board reserves the right to review/edit any submitted material.

One Time At Band Camp
By Mark Sikora
“The American labor force (read: SFFD) is composed of the most uncommon collection of rugged individualists ever assembled for mutual cause. They like to do their own griping and to solve their own problems. They do not want outside help and instinctively resist it” - Jimmy Hoffa (italics ours).

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

First things first. Last month we asked a question regarding BC WDO’s and H-2 firefighter WDO’s. A huge thanks to the hardworking Assignment Office, and the BC’s and Captains who took time out to answer our question. Basically, due to the MOU and the fact that there are not enough permanent Captains, sometimes (rarely) a BC will get a WDO on a day when no H-2’s receive one. We again thank all of you who explained this to us in a calm, rational manner.

On the other hand: a couple of people took great offense to our question. Some went so far as to label us divisive. Excuse us, but we can’t figure out how four or five people getting paid extra instead of one is divisive. Then again, most of us are only H-2’s. Please re-read the question. We asked why, and also stated that we were for everyone making extra money. If anyone ever has any problems with what we say, please feel free to contact us. Our names are at the top of the article. If the only name at the top is Mark Sikora, you can reach him at Station 3 on the B watch. We will discuss anything we say with anybody. Remember though, a discussion involves both talking and listening. Thank you.

Viva Las Vegas

As of today (5/3/01) the Chronicle is reporting that the new Chief of Department is Mario H. Trevino of the Las Vegas Fire Department. Previous to that he was a firefighter in Seattle. Welcome Chief. Don’t take anything you read here the wrong way. We sincerely hope that you can fix the ills of this Department. Unfortunately we can’t conceal our disappointment that someone from within the SFFD (and hopefully a past if not current member of Local 798) was chosen for our top spot. We look forward to working with you.

The Peter Principle or Did Civil Service Abandon Us or Just Fail Us?

The Peter Principle basically states that employees advance to the level of their incompetence. (Once again— no offense intended, except for those who deserve it.)

For years now in the SFFD there have been promotions based on dubious criteria. (It’s kind of like social promotions in public school, where kids are passed on to the next grade even if they can’t actually do the work, just to avoid being stigmatized.) For those who are confused, we are speaking about promotions that were made out of rank order, or promotions made without the benefit of testing, our two year firefighters being promoted to lieutenant ahead of more senior firefighters etc. (Again, no offense, we know the system makes the rules, we just follow them. We are aware that there have not been tests for certain positions in years. We all know if we truly earned the position we have, let your conscious be your guide.)

What we are getting at is this: For years now, Civil Service, Judge Patel, the Fire Commission, and whatever Administration is in charge have made promotions that they deemed necessary to meet certain goals. This meant that the ‘best’, i.e.: highest scoring, most qualified, individual did not always receive the promotion.

Today, by hiring an outside person for Chief of Department, they are saying that nobody who is currently employed in the SFFD is qualified to run the Department. For years then, people have been promoted who are unable, in the eyes of the Fire Commission and Mayor, to lead the Department. This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. We ask again- Did the Civil Service system fail us? Or, did the Civil Service system abandon us?

Blatant Hypocrisy or the Future System?

According to the Chronicle, there were three finalists for Chief of Department. In rank order they were Mario Trevino (who got the job), then San Diego Chief Robert Osby, then our current Chief, Paul Tabacco. (Never mind, for the moment, the fact that there is no possible way that Chief Tabacco comes out third out of three candidates in any test.)

What did the Mayor and Commission do? Why, they hired the number one candidate. Isn’t this what most Local 798 members have been after for years? Promoting in rank order off a list developed from a test that was audited by Local 798? Wow, what a concept. We guess it’s good enough for the Chiefs job, but it doesn’t matter for lieutenants, captains, battalion chiefs etc.? Let’s hope hiring in rank order is something Chief Trevino carries over from his hiring to the entire department, then we can stop all these arguments about rule of the list, rule of three etc.

Station Thirty Six Six Six

While we usually enjoy and agree with most of the writings in the Gurney Gazette, an article this past month left us sour. (Yep, more than usual.)

We understand completely that there were problems (some of which continue) when the merger first occurred. We know that some firefighters and some medics were not receptive to the merger or each other. This was a two way street with ‘bad seeds’ on both sides.

What we don’t understand is the publishing of the resignation letter from a medic who had worked at Station 36 and, quite obviously, not liked it. There were, more than likely, problems from people on both sides of this issue. By publishing that letter though, the entire house is cast in an unfavorable light, with no means of defending themselves.

Unfortunately, we can’t comment first hand on the happenings at Station 36 because we can not work there. (But that’s an entirely different gripe).

What we do know is that Station 36 is made up of one of the hardest working group of men and women in the SFFD. They are a busy company that goes the extra mile by volunteering to be trained in Hazardous Materials Response. They are a centrally located company that responds to fires and medical calls in all the busiest parts of the City. Because of their heavy workload and their stunning work ethic they are a close knit bunch. This may contribute to the perceived problems of new people in the house, including, but not limited to, medics.

Bottom line, Engine 36 is a first rate company that deserves better than to be bad mouthed in the Gurney Gazette or any other publication without the chance of responding in kind in the same issue.

Blood Sweat and Beers

Local 798’s recent Blood drive saw over 140 firefighters donate. Thank you for showing up and contributing. We desperately need more people at the July Blood Drive. We have over 1500 employees and should be able to get over 200 pints donated every drive. There is a constant critical need for blood in the Bay Area. It only takes about thirty minutes to donate and Local 798 provides food and beverages afterwards. Please make a concerted effort to show up in July. If you have any questions contact Bob Arzave at Station 2, Romy Scott at the Airport, or Mark Sikora at Station 3. Thank you and please try to be there in July.

Thank You Chief Tabacco

Last, but not least, we would like to say thanks to Chief Tabacco. You did a great job under trying circumstances. We all believed that you had our interests and concerns in mind as you went about your job. We appreciate your concern and dedication to duty. We are sorry that the Fire Commission and Mayor did not see fit to reward your commitment and loyalty with the big job. Good luck and God bless.

Deviant Diversions

While we are truly appalled and sorry that Chief Tabacco did not get the Chiefs job, we do, take some sick perversion in waiting for the sycophantic stampede to begin. All aboard the Las Vegas Express.

Welcome to San Francisco Chief Trevino, good luck and God bless.


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