Treasurer’s Report
By Tom O'Connor, Treasurer
Outside forces continue to try and cripple the SFFD, but to his credit, our new Chief is doing a commendable job keeping most of them at bay…unfortunately though, it is inside forces, such as the EMS Division, that pose even greater problems in the days ahead.

Provisional appointments should be in the works shortly, with Chief Trevino’s 10-point system being the basis of his criteria. The plan is rumored to be currently stuck in the Department of Human Resources, but that should not be a major hurdle. Provisional appointments are made at the sole discretion of the Chief, and giving Human Resources his framework was just a courteous gesture on his part.

Other outside forces such as the Civil Service Commission also continue to meddle in the SFFD’s affairs, with attempts being made to alter the selection process for promotions once a test has been finally

administered for higher ranks. The commission is trying to impose a banding scheme that would essentially be “rule of the list”, which is a polite way of saying, “we’ll hire who we want based on secret criteria.” Every other agency and department in the City of San Francisco has “rule of three scores” as it’s selection criteria for promotional exams. Why the Fire Department, the most diverse department in the City, has to have a different standard imposed upon it is anyone’s guess. Your Union has called for maintaining “rule of three scores”, but the commission is still determined to tinker with our promotions. In fact, the commission had a “closed door” session last week with three city attorneys… Let’s see what they come up with next.

The long-dreaded audit finally hit the press, with barely a whimper heard throughout The City. Watch out now for the back room deals where the politicos try and make cuts in the Department. So far Trevino has held his ground and will not give up any frontline jobs such as firefighters, officers, and chiefs. In fact, the response to the audit from our administration was quick, concise, and done very, very well. Fire Department opponents will be hard-pressed to make any drastic cuts in this current “pro-fire” climate and with an administration so rapid to respond.

As long as we are on the topic of quick responses, there is one agency outside the SFFD that is not too quick in its responses…the EMSA. In a recent “EMS in the City” newsletter, Dr. John Brown wrote that the “one and one” pilot program is doing fairly well, but he is calling for an extension of the pilot program for six more months. Now, just why is a doctor with the Department of Public Health meddling in the affairs of our department, especially when he has no knowledge of fire suppression needs? Why is his analysis of the pilot program based solely on ambulance protocol without any suppression protocols additionally analyzed? It is time for the SFFD to determine its own destiny and allow outside agencies to advise or suggest but not to determine our configuration, and ultimately, our central mission. If Doctor Brown wishes to analyze our pilot program, he should do so with all the data necessary, not just the data provided by the EMS section.

If the doctor’s analysis of the program wasn’t enough to get your goat, wait until you read about their “strategic goals to create an aeromedical program.” Look for their “aeromedical policy and procedures” to be released this spring calling for helicopters to transport patients in a city overrun with narrow streets and overhead wires. We currently have overworked paramedics carrying the whole EMS system on their backs, running 12-25 calls per shift, and the EMSA is actually focusing on “aeromedical protocols.” Perhaps we should just outfit our current medics with Jetpacks and let them respond off of the firehouse roofs and ditch the ambulances completely.

Inside forces also continue to plague the department, with the EMS Division’s handling of the “one and one” pilot program being our biggest problem in the days ahead. When the pilot program was being redrawn, (the first program called for two probies on each rig), there were no trucks getting up to 23 runs per day, no trucks responding across 4 Battalions for medical calls, and two trucks in the Sunset and Richmond would never respond to the same medical call (leaving both neighborhoods without any ladders). Under the original negotiations for the pilot program, the EMS division provided stats that each truck would only have an additional 2.5 runs per watch, and no big holes would be left in suppression coverage. Well, they were wrong on both counts. Why Truck 11 would respond to Polk St. for a “shortness of breath” and then later, One Embarcadero for a nosebleed is a mystery. Why ALS Trucks are responding with two medic ambulances is also a mystery. The entire point of medics on trucks was to get them the same training that firefighters received, not to run medical calls all over the City in a 65,000-pound vehicle that was not designed for 20-25 calls per day. The only time a truck was supposed to respond to a medical run was if the engine was out, or a one and one ambulance was responding in that truck’s first alarm area. (Hats off to some of our rescue captains for canceling trucks when they are not needed. Unfortunately, these rescue captains were reprimanded by EMS honchos for being proactive.)

What is happening now is a complete debacle, and the EMS chieftains better realize this quickly…What this pilot program is beginning to show is that the “one and one” ambulance is the Achilles heel of the entire Fire/EMS system. If every ambulance was “one and one”, what do you think that would do to our engines? The entire fire suppression force would be criss-crossing the City trying to chase down a fleet of improperly staffed ambulances. The “one and one” ambulance may work in other areas of California, but this pilot program is certainly beginning to show stresses upon our system. And the one thing our system does not need is anymore burdens placed upon it…


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