Letter From The Directors ...
By Michael Walsh, Director
Recently I attended both Station 5 and Station 7 retirement banquets. Looking out I saw the true backbone of a Fire Department that once was. Most of my mentors and heroes were in attendance. These were dedicated people that taught the firefighting craft with skill and purpose. The Fire Department had Chiefs and Officers that didn’t have to command respect because it was earned long before they achieved rank. Firefighters that took great pride in everything they did. The room was full of the guys that put out the fires in the Fillmore and the Mission and in retirement still carry the same tradition that made this job great. Then it came to me, what happened to that Department? Traditions are eroding while each administration tries so desperately to bring back those that are lost to time. At the podium stories about everyday lives in the Firehouse were told, tongue in cheek. The young firefighters were brought back to that time when most members in the Department had a nickname. There were no feelings hurt when you were affectionately
given a moniker that lasted as long as your career. Nobody was written up or reprimanded because the names usually fit pretty well. These guys were true professionals and when they worked a fire it was great teamwork as the Chiefs orchestrated the whole movement. The Chief in command didn’t need help running fire ground operations. There were no Hydrant Police on overtime to make sure you had the Ames valve in place before pumping operations began. Support Service was just that, Support. Roofs were opened, rescues were made and fires went out. The Chief of Department didn’t respond until a third alarm was struck knowing that the incident was in good hands. It was very rare to see both Rescue Squads at a fire. Special Operations didn’t have a command structure. There was no atmosphere of Ratting Out your fellow brother or sister for using profanity. What happened? These guys built a legacy, a foundation for all of us. The credit union was started and staffed by Firefighters to help the families of the Department. Mandatory SCBA rules were instituted to protect our own. Teamwork, camaraderie and a strong sense of humor made it all work. Every fire company had its own identity with a cast of characters that could fill journals with stories that couldn’t be made up. The union was solid and everyone was a member. Working conditions were built not torn down. As a group we can only hope to fill those boots that have gone before us. Our traditions need to be saved and continued. It was these traditions that made the San Francisco Fire Department great. Good luck in your retirement a job well done.

Health and Safety met again and things are moving forward in some areas. The Staph hand sanitizer has made its way to all worksites. There are some issues regarding standard operating procedures for the decontamination process of this sanitizer. I am currently testing the Turn Out procurement procedure, more to follow. There have been some questions regarding SCBA compliance issues I brought that up at the Health and Safety meeting and we are currently looking into those points.

The new Apparatus Committee has met on three occasions. The committee is working on correcting the specifications on the Pumpers that landed us with the current purple Fire Engines that have many problems. More than a month ago the committee had agreed to send out a questionnaire to suppression personnel regarding apparatus, the survey apparently died on a desk downtown. Yes it’s true the new buggies are pickup trucks with camper shells; go figure at least they are red. The buggies were not a product of the current committee.

Feel free to contact me via telephone or e-mail walshfordirector@aol.com


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