Tag Archives: Ernie Hargett

Lloyd Ayers has a great idea!


Well not really but for some reason he sure thought it was a good one.  It was also one he pulled before.  In December 2011 Ayers announced mass transfers of the Philadelphia Fire Department Medics.  Now the same misguided hatred of the members of Local 22 has extended to the Firefighters also.

On November 1 2012 Commissioner Lloyd Ayers Issued General Memorandum #12-134  Here is that GM.

PHILADELPHIA FIRE DEPARTMENT
HEADQUARTERS
GENERAL MEMORANDUM #12-134 November 1, 2012
TO : All Officers and Members
REF/AUTHORITY : Deputy Commissioner Operations / Fire Commissioner
SUBJECT : FIREFIGHTER ROTATION – 2013
The Department will initiate an annual Firefighter (FF) rotation process that will facilitate the reassignment of approximately 15-20% of FF’s annually. This process will result in most FF’s serving in any given assignment for approximately five years. This change will ensure that all FF’s have equal opportunity to work in various assignments and acquire diverse skills. Rotation of FF’s will enhance their ability to achieve greater opportunities to facilitate upward mobility through the ranks, if desired. Additionally, by ensuring that all FF’s serve at least one rotation in the busiest battalions during their career, the on-the-job training that results from experience is more likely to occur.
This year’s rotation will include: 156 FF’s who have been in their current assignment for 10 years or more, 57 FF’s of Classes #183 and #184 who are in the same assignment since graduation, and 40 members from each of the graduating classes #186 and #187. The 2013 rotation will encompass 293 members.
The following year will include FF’s who have been in their current assignment for 8 years or more, members of classes #185 and Alpha Class who are in the same assignment since graduation and the remaining 80 members of classes #186 and #187.
This process of opening up assignments by including groups of FF’s with 5 years of service in the same assignment and those with less than 5 years of service will provide a sustainable model that will ensure that the average assignment duration for all FF’s will last approximately 5 years. This will ensure that all members have equal access to the assignments that they deem most preferable to them. Additionally, the Department will benefit from a wider number of FF’s with diverse experiences and opportunities to impact on Fire Prevention, Community Risk Reduction, and participate in the time-tested on-the-job training that enhances personnel development.
All rotating members must submit a memorandum through channels to Car 2’s Office, listing five (5) separate company choices (members should not list the same assignment with a different platoon choice [if applicable] for their next assignment). Members may elect to list their current assignment as a choice but should realize that the purpose of this rotation is to open up assignment opportunities and making such a choice would be considered a low priority for this process. The lists of assignment choices for this rotation are attached. All new assignments will not take effect until after January 1, 2013.
RESPONSIBILITY
It is the responsibility of all Company Officers/Unit Heads to ensure that all members under their command who are scheduled for rotation submit the required memorandum. Members are to list their five (5) choices in order of preference. Members will also list all previous assignments with the most recent listed first. All memos are due by 1700 hours, November 30, 2012. The Department will attempt to accommodate as many requests as possible with the goal of ensuring more members are afforded the opportunity to work in various areas of the city.
LLOYD AYERS
FIRE COMMISSIONER

These lame arguments about training are the same ones used when the Medics got transferred.  Here was Deputy Commissioner Ernie Hargett in December 2011 in a CBS report. “We thought it was good employee development to allow people to move around and work in different parts of the city.”   Obviously the folks at 3rd and Spring garden have not been listening to the fire radio much.  There is not a medic in the city that has not been dispatched to the other end of the city.  That is if there are units available.  So why do this again?

Simple,  Commissioner Ayers is upset that the people he presumes to lead don’t like his style or manner.  In fact he was so upset about the members telling folks that they were being put in harm’s way by the Ayers/Nutter plan for the department that he issued a different memo banning them from saying on any social media other than LinkedIn that they were proud members of the Philadelphia Fire Department.

So whats the big deal?  Well first of all many members have worked for years to get to a station they really wanted.  Once there they stay and learn everything about the area they work.  Shortcuts, Dead Ends, and buildings too.  These firefighters earned the name “Senior” firefighter. This is an informal term used by the firefighters for the guy who is the informal teacher and leader of the company.  He is also the confidant to the officer.  The guy who give the officer the heads up on each member making the once every three-year transition to a new officer smoother for everybody.  His knowledge and experience is the basis of the training for any new firefighter that comes into the company.

Ayers misguided plan is to transfer every senior firefighter from every station in the city.  The guy who can guide the truck to your house faster.  The guy who steadies the ship. If you look at the memo you will see that same comment about training.  But let me demonstrate the stupidity of this plan.

I know a firefighter who has been at his company over 10 years.  He lives close to the firehouse and is nearing the end of his career.  His name appears on the list of members that Lloyd wants to transfer.  Now for the record he does not work in what is a busy station.  This of course is by design.  He is ready to retire and wants to go quietly.  But under Commissioner Ayers plan he will need to transfer and somebody else will be put in that spot for “training”.  I can tell you from first hand experience this is not the place to go if you want vast experience in firefighting.  The local is a complex one with many tricky roads and other obstacles.  The new guy won’t know this.  That beibng said many of these members don’t want to leave these stations  they are there because they want to be.  Obviously Lloyd Ayers doesn’t!

This plan puts the people of Philadelphia if more danger than they already are.  It will as Union President Bill Gault said about the similar medic transfers, increase response times.  Time you need in a fire situation.

Moral in the department might bottom out, but this author is sure that is the intent of Commissioner Ayers.  He cares nothing about his men only his soiled reputation.  No amount of transfers will ever raise Lloyd to the level of some of the best commissioners the Philadelphia Fire Department ever knew.  In fact  I am pretty sure he just locked up the worst fire commissioner in the country with this move.

Let’s call him and tell him he is wrong again  215-686-1300.

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Doing the Right thing!


Faced with a deadly situation Fran Cheney made a snap decision to aid a woman rapidly being overcome by smoke to save her life.  He did so by putting his own life at risk.  We talked about that rescue here.

But the story only gets better or worse, it depends.  The woman who was rescued wanted to thank Fran and both Fox 29 and 6ABC where there with cameras rolling.  It was a great scene.  The woman gushing over her hero and Fran as is his custom just saying you’re welcome and telling the camera he was just doing his job.  Up until that point he was, he was doing what almost every firefighter in the nation would do but there are those like Deputy Commissioner Hargett who feel he did something either wrong or stupid.  What it was a snap decision by a well-trained and motivated professional to save a victim.  The dangers of carbon monoxide are engrained in a firefighters DNA.  We know the risk.  It was a risk Fran Cheney felt he had to take.

For all you nay sayers out there and to Deputy Commissioner Hargett and Commissioner Ayers here is one of your predecessors comments on the tactic employed by Firefighter Cheney.

“Buddy Breathing” is a standard part of any firefighter’s inventory just like an axe or a ladder.  It’s a generally accepted firefighting tool used anywhere in the world.  To even suggest it was improper is absolutely insane.  That young lady would have died up there on the second floor if it hadn’t of been for Fran Cheney.  In times like that “proper procedures” is purely academic, and instinct takes over.  Thank God Cheney had the instincts he inherited from his Father.  If I was the Boss I would have had Cheney in my office the next morning and awarded him the Department’s Heroism Award on the spot.  Investigation – Don’t be ridiculous!!!

William C. Richmond

That is leadership.

What I will show you is an NFPA statement on Buddy Breathing.  Did you know that neither the NFPA or NIOSH endorse the quick connect buddy breathing devices?  Then they add this to the standard.

The practice of passing the SCBA facepiece back and forth between two users is considered unsafe because highly toxic air contaminants can enter the facepiece during the exchange of the facepiece.

One wonders if the NFPA ever heard of positive pressure self-contained breathing apparatus. Which is now a national standard and when you watch the video Fran mentions that effect when he spoke about passing the mask to the victim.   In the unreal world of government recommendations the victim dying is acceptable.  In the real world of fire and smoke, real firefighters don’t let innocent people die.  They do whatever they can to save them, that is important, especially to the victims.  Listen to this one after she meets her hero.

Oh did I mention that Fran gave his pay for that night (he was working overtime) to the fire victim saying she needed it more than him.

You can watch the reunion here: Hero Firefighter Donates OT To Woman He Rescued.

Once again, and this time I am including the entire company due to a good decision by the Lieutenant in charge of the company, who told Fran to go get the victim. Great job folks and continue to help the citizens of Philadelphia.

So will it be discipline or a medal?  You know what I think.  Stick a pin on his chest even if he doesn’t want it.

I do have a question for my PFD friends.  How many Heroism awards have been given out since 2006?  I really want to know.

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To save a citizen


Here is the scenario.  You have a job that involves saving people’s lives.  It is early in the morning and you arrive at a scene of chaos.  There is a fire in a home and people are trapped.  What do you do?  One firefighter went the extra mile to save a life and did what most would call a heroic act.  He ran into the burning dwelling and up the steps to get the trapped victim.  Finding the victim panicky and in distress he took his self-contained breathing apparatus off and put it on the trapped victim and led her down and out of the house.

This woman had been in the burning dwelling and probably already had severe smoke inhalation.  The firefighter who was hurt only 2 months ago at a deadly fire was fresh off the truck and willing to do anything he had to save a citizen of the city in which he works.  He knew he was going to eat some smoke getting out of there but to save this persons life that was a risk he was willing to take.  The result of this incredibly heroic effort?  The victim and the firefighter wound up in the ER with smoke inhalation.  Both are Alive!

So far I have been pretty vague about this but I wanted you, the reader to get the drama involved here before I talked about the players by name. The firefighter I am talking about is a guy named Fran Cheney.  Fran is the son of a firefighter and is zealous about the Philadelphia Fire Department.  He worked hard to get on this job and has worked hard since he came into the department.  The fire that Fran was injured at in April was the Kensington 5 Alarm blaze that claimed two good mens lives.  Lt Neary and FF Sweeney perished and FF Nally was partially buried whan a section of  the burning building collapsed on the building they were in.  Cheney was injured but able to extricate himself and Nally but they could not find the other two firefighters.  Most people would be inconsolable but Fran knows the deal and he returned to work.  Fast forward to early morning July 4th and the scenario we discussed.  As Fran was in the hospital being checked out this morning Deputy Commissioner Ernest Hargett (You remember smiling Ernie from earlier posts) came to see him and told him that was a “stupid” thing to do.  What a stupid thing to say at that moment! Call the Fire Administration Building and tell Deputy Commissioner Hargett who the STUPID one is, 215-686-1302 is Hargett’s number and you should call his boss Lloyd Ayers at 215-686-1300  let’s tell him that bravery should be rewarded not punished.  Just in case he has any ideas of punishing Fran.

Great Work Fran.

I think you all need to see their faces.  First Pic is a man who cares more about others than himself.

Photo via Fox 29

Now for a guy who cares about himself more than  others.  This is SMILIN Ernie

Yea thumbs up on sensitivity Ernie.  Telling a man who just saved a life he was being stupid?  What would you have done?  There are many in the PFD who would say NOTHING!

A fellow firefighter Ted Quedenfeld added a very interesting thought today  Here  is what Ted wrote to Fran.

After the tragedy at Jasper & York, I’m sure that Fran, like most survivors do in similar situations, asked himself “Why them and not me? Why was I spared?”

Fran…if you HAVE asked yourself that…..maybe last night was why. Get healthy soon Brother.

A great point Ted!

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PFD Racism!


Today, Philadelphia Magazine posted an article which will be published in the April edition, it was entitled “Inside the Philadelphia Fire Department: Did Racial Tension Contribute to One Fireman’s Suicide?”.  It is a great story about a great guy from a wonderful family.  Firefighter Jack Slivinski Jr. committed suicide a few months back.  Jack was the son of a firefighter and a caring human being.  The story in the Philadelphia Magazine can be read here.   I believe the article only touches on the issue at hand.  I also know that Jack Slivinski Jr was not the first firefighter to give black firefighters the credit for the job they do. In stations that people want to work, many of the firefighters white and black are there for a reason.  It is a badge of honor.  Here are a few moments in time from my early career.

The guy I am talking to is Bob Horton.  Bob and I have history.  The guy sitting on the apparatus is Charlie (Doc) Palmer.  I watched Doc extinguish three dwelling fires in one night during the time we worked together, I was driving the engine that night.  These guys wanted to fight fires and what color they were never mattered to me or them.  Now some like Lloyd Ayers would want you to think that this was as far as it goes.  Yea Bob, Doc and I worked together and spent time in the same firehouse for over three years.  But our bond went beyond that.  Here is the second picture.  If one of you comment on the tuxedo I swear I will get even.

That was my wedding day and there is Bob right next to me. He was not a groomsman, he was my best man!  I chose the man I crawled the halls with over my real brothers.  Why?  Because we had a bond NOBODY else had.  We depended on each other and knew we would be there for each other. Black or white we were brothers.

With this in mind I look at the Phillymag article and the comments of Eric (correction  I said Stukes)  Flemming.  I still know Eric and watched him go through the Philadelphia Fire Academy.  I challenge Eric to say I was prejudices or in any way hateful of black firefighters and I am no young guy!  I was there when he was a KID and we talked many times.  For Eric to say the old guys are racist is a load of crap.  He is playing games and playing the politics of the Valiants!  I await your reply Eric.

Is there racial tension in the PFD?  You bet.  Is is amplified because white firefighters  don’t want black firefighters around?  Hell no.  One example of the bias of the Valiants is the part of the article that talks about a white firefighter spitting in Lloyd Ayers hat.  How exactly does Ayers know it was a white firefighter? If Ayers hat got spat upon it could have been anyone black or white who did not like his attitude about race.  An attitude that continues today.  Lloyd’s tenure as Commissioner has been marked with many aggressive attacks on both whites and non-Valiant blacks, a pattern that continues.  But at least he got smart enough to start keeping a log.

One wonders if the officer in charge of the engine that failed to yield at the stop sign and sent a police officer and a civilian on a bicycle to the hospital or Rob Wilkins who was arrested and failed to report his arrest,  as was stated in the article in Phillymag is a direct violation of policy, if leniency was given because of membership in a CLUB..  Both are members of the Valiants!  The top spots in the PFD are currently filled, save for Deputy Commissioner of Technical services a position held by one very smart guy, by members of Club Valiant.  That unto itself would be fine if not for the uneven application of the rules that Lloyd justifies by saying he evaluates the circumstances.  In light of the accident that sent a cop and civilian to the hospital and NOBODY was disciplined,  in fact the officer got promoted within 8 months of the accident, we can only surmise that Ayers et al are playing politics with the members of the CLUB!

Racist?  You bet but rampant hate does not exist in the rank and file.  Distrust due to the actions of the leadership?  You bet!

I knew Jack Slivinski Sr and Jr.  both are good men who care about the people and other firefighters.  It was not their race we saw but their dedication. Sadly Lloyd Ayers, Ernie Hargett and many others in the upper level of the PFD see only one color, VALIANT!

Jack Sr and Gerry,  You raised a great guy one who cared about his fellow-man and judged by character not the  color of their face. Thanks Jack for being a great firefighter and Dad and Gerry thanks for showing your son how to care.  God Bless Jack Slivinski Jr. who cared so much for a fellow firefighter that he took his own life because he felt it was his fault another human being died.  That is the mark of a caring human being.  If only Lloyd and his group understood that LOVE!

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What Racism?


(Philadelphia fire chief Lloyd Ayers, at head of table, listens as mayor’s chief of staff Everett Gillison, third from left, makes a point to the PICA board. Credit: Steve Tawa)

There is a picture of two men who are either in denial or outright delusional  Read the story that accompanies this picture at CBS Local

By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Mayor Nutter’s top point person at City Hall took issue today with a consultant’s report that pointed to a “racial divide” in the Philadelphia Fire Department.

Nutter chief of staff Everett Gillison (third from left in photo) disputes Berkshire Advisors’ contention that the department is “rife with racial division” (see related story).   He says that doesn’t square with the view of a majority of the 2,100-member department.

“It seemed to be incongruent with the analysis that most of the people — eighty to eighty-five percent of the people — felt that the fire division was a great place to work,” Gillison told the board of the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA).

Gillison called the assessment “overly broad.”

“I’m not going to say there’s not racial tension,” he added.  “I live in the city of Philadelphia.  I live in America.”

But Gillison told PICA, the state agency that oversees the city’s finances, that people in the fire department mostly get treated “based on their performance.”

PICA chairman Sam Katz (back to camera in photo) said he was under the impression that the racial complaints were in response to discipline and transfer practices within the fire department rather than interpersonal relationships.

How is it that Sam Katz knows more about the situation in the Philadelphia Fire Department than does the Deputy Mayor and the man who is perpetrating some of the many of the acts causing this reaction.  Gillison is cherry picking and ignoring the questions on that assessment that point directly at Commissioner Lloyd Ayers and Deputy Commissioner Ernest Hargett.  Yesterday this blog posted a few statistics that show that it is not only the white firefighters who feel there is a problem.  Let’s use Gillison’s distortions against him.

Let’s begin with these on the transfer process which is controlled by Ayers and Hargett

The transfer process is fair  5.9% agree  79.6% disagree

Transfer decisions are made without regard to race or ethnic background  9.3% agree  73.3%disagree

Transfer decisions are made without regard to gender 10.2% agree 65.3% disagree

Seems like a huge failure in leadership and fairness to me.

Surely Everett Gillison and Lloyd Ayers saw these questions before they met with the PICA board.  Obviously Katz did which is why he made the closing comment on the issue of race and punishment

Disciplinary decisions are made without regard to race or ethnic background 10.1% agree  77.7 disagree

Now what Gillison was trying to make out as a lack of racial tension was answers like this

Fire Department employees are professional  71.5% agree  10.3% disagree

Fire Department employees treat Philadelphia residents and visitors with respect 81.8% agree 5.9% disagree

Once again for clarity the makeup of the respondents is as follows

Caucasian 63%

Black    24%

Hispanic  5%

The margins are bigger than any of these numbers.

You bet the majority of the professional firefighters in Philadelphia  not only care about the people of the city but they care about their fellow firefighters.  When you are crawling down a hallway making the front bedroom whether or not the guy with you is Black, White or Hispanic is not important.  What is important is that they want to be there and they know how to do the job.  To most of the men and women in the firehouse this is not race issue.  To a select few of power-hungry men it is.

I am not sure why Gillison is providing cover for Ayers and Hargett but the proof is out there and we can expose them for who they are!

 

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Don’t Get Hurt!


For 22 years of my life I went to work with the prospect of getting either injured or killed on any given day.  I was a Firefighter in the City of Philadelphia and have had stupid thinks happen to me once or twice.  I got burned at a grass fire (wind kicked up blowing hot ash in my face, what a dumb injury).  Was stuck on a third floor with heat building from the fire below (out the window we go).  I have had ceilings fall on me, water dripping from charged electrical wired shocking me and other stuff that at the time was simply annoying but in the right circumstance as any firefighter will tell you could turn into a shit storm in a heartbeat.  I know of at least three guys who had walls fall on them to varying degrees of injury from third degree burns to a fractured skull or a shattered knee.  Only one of these men was no longer able to fight fires and left the department due to his injuries.  During my 22 years in the department 19 men died as a result of fighting fires.  Think about that.  This is not what you would call a safe job.  Almost everyday, for the people of Philadelphia, one or more of these guys do something incredible to save someone.  Running past a fire and up the stairs to rescue a victim is not unheard of, it is, to the men and women of the fire service what we do.  But we do have something Joe Citizen does not.  Personal Protective Equipment.

Let’s have a look at some of it.

 

As you can see the protective equipment provided and mandated by the NFPA should provide what is called an encapsulated environment for the firefighter to work in.   It allows the firefighters to operate in the environment for a longer period of time provided there is no direct flame contact or excessive heat buildup.  Here is the key.  Direct contact with flame due to flash over or even a backdraft (not quite like the movie but still bad) can leave the material used useless and very quickly cause a burn injury to the firefighter. Heat buildup will not be noticed until it is too late, due to the insulation properties of the equipment  Here is the label from a FireDex hood (the style used in the City of Philadelphia)

So FireDex relieves themselves of responsibility for any burns by putting this label inside the hood.  Read bullet points one and two again.  You bet firefighting is dangerous,  And you can rest assured that people will get hurt doing it.  So the question then is this.  If the equipment has potential to fail why would the Philadelphia Fire Department treat injured Firefighters like they did something wrong.  There is a General Memo issued by Ernest Hargett Deputy Commissioner and Lloyd Ayers Commissioner pretty much says that you are guilty of a sin until the department decides you are not, if you get burned.  This policy is enforced by Battalion Chief  Costo.  Let’s meet the players.

Here they are

Commissioner Ayers

Deputy Commissioner Ernest Hargett

Battalion Chief Costo

Don’t they look happy.  Here are three guys who decided that the men and women of the Philadelphia Fire Department go out everyday and try to get burned.  Their mission in life is to make it impossible for the people in the trenches to do their job out of fear of punishment.  I have spoken with one firefighter who was burned and he told me that BC Costo told him flat-out he thinks he is lying about the method of injury.  Why would it matter, a burn is serious and painful injury and not one firefighter I know would willingly expose themselves to that pain for any reason.  One officer I spoke with said that this method of injury evaluation and the General Memo it is based on is causing members to second guess themselves and will eventually lead to the loss of life of either other firefighters or the citizens of Philadelphia.  Here is that harsh GM

 

Once again let’s go back to the label.  You can be burned through the hood without damage to the hood.  What part of this does Battalion Chief Costo, Deputy Commissioner Hargett and Commissioner Ayers not understand?  No they would rather punish the people that go the extra mile for the citizens of Philadelphia.

Let’s go folks write the Fire Commissioner and tell him you think he is being unfair to the people that put their lives on the line everyday and protect YOURS!

Write or call

Fire Administration Building
240 Spring Garden Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123

215-686-1300

Just ask for the Commissioner  or ask for Ernie he looks like a nice guy  (Thumbs up Ernie)

If you wan to see the video about the Dupont materials you can see it here

 

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