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Thursday, April 20, 2017

O'Connell: Faulty Fire Trucks An Embarrassment to City

Allentown firefighters at City Council
On Friday, I told you things are so bad at Allentown Fire Department that a pick-up truck is being used as one of the six "engines" responding to fire calls. There are supposed to be two ladder trucks, but one has been taken out of service. On Monday, that remaining ladder truck broke down while smoke jumpers battled a blaze at the rear of 654 N Jordan, endangering both the laddermen and the citizens they serve.

Firefighter Keith Pierce
This problem has been going on for some time. Between 2008 and this year, Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski has slashed the operations budget by 65.52%. Last night, a group of firefighters took their concerns to a packed City Council meeting.

Arriving late, I missed the first two speakers, Jeremy Warmkessel and Adam Perreault. But I was in time to hear Keith Pierce, the safety committee liaison. He is also a rescue engine driver, hazmat team tech and tech rescue operator. He told Council that the entire reserve fleet is now on the front line.If one more vehicle breaks down, enginemen will be responding to fires in a pick up with no water and no hoses.

"In my opinion, it comes down to the fact that we don't have a fleet replacement plan," said Pierce. He added that many of the vehicles being used are 1999 vintage or earlier. "You wouldn't drive your car as much as we drive those fire engines." He said the vehicle breakdowns, combined with a force that Fed Ed has whittled down from 146 to 122, has created a safety risk

Coach Michael Kaminski
"I think it's an embarrassment to the City," responded Council President and Mayoral candidate Ray O'Connell. I think it's a slap in the face to our firefighters, who risk their lives every day.I think it's a slap in the face to the residents, who are at risk."

Controller Jeff Glazier said a new fire engine in planned in 2018, and two more are planned in 2019. But Pierce, who said that "firemen are the ultimate pragmatists," responded that these pipe dreams tend to vanish at budget time. "It's where the rubber meets the road. When those trucks back into the fire station for the first time,that's when we'll count in it."

O'Connell, who said he'd meet with Pierce any time, is concerned that a "tragedy is around the corner. ... Bottom line, it's public safety."

Daryl Hendricks, a former police captain who handled hoses himself and is Chair of the Public Safety Committee said he'd like to join in that discussion. So would Julio Guridy, chair of the Finance Committee. He called the situation "unacceptable" and "deplorable." Roger MacLean said he'sseem the reuests for equipment, and they get cut.

Public Works Director Craig Messinger agreed that "there is a need for it. ... It is a priority"

Daryl Hendricks listens as Ray O'Connell pledges
to meet with firefighters
Michael Kaminski, the well-regarded head boys' basketball coach at Harrison-Morton Middle School said that in 2009, there was a gas break right next to his house."I wouldn't have wanted to walk in that, let alone, have the guts to walk in the street, and I thank you for that,guys. It is the duty and responsibility of the people in front of me here ... and in the administration to make sure something gets done.He questioned what would happen if I fire broke out at the NIZ or the PPL building and there was no ladder truck..

Julian Kern said that, in years past when he worked as a freelancer, two trucks would respond to blazes. Now, "these engines and trucks break down constantly," including one truck that went down while responding to its first fire. He said the situation "is putting the lives of firefighters and the residents at risk." He added that the fire department, however, is "top notch. They are quick at getting on scene. They are quick at fighting the fires. I've watched them in person doing this. They are awesome.These guys deserve to have the proper staff and equipment."

Restaurateur Don Ringer asked, "I thought we were the City Without Limits, is that true? He noted that, just last week, Fed Ed claimed to have $18 million in reserve. "Why can't we use some of that money to buy a fire truck? It saddens me to see those guys, who do a helluva' job, sitting here with garbage."

Dennis Pearson, who just came from umpiring at Notre Dame, said this lack of equipment causes pressure on other communities rendering assistance.

Fed Ed, of course, was absent. He was busy blacking out Right-to-Know requests.

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

Someone is electioneering. If you would have asked O'Connell lst month, would have he said the same ?

Anonymous said...

All I'm hearing is my taxes going up to pay for piss poor management.

Anonymous said...

Did you vote for new fire equipment during the last city budget requests Mr O'Connell ?

Anonymous said...

The ultimate liar and deceiver "Fed Ed" is the main culprit here, however, the Public Safety committee has to take their share of the blame. And of course, the clueless City Council, must also take their piece of the ill-responsibility too. The whole place is a zoo and "Fed Ed" is the Zookeeper. He submits a budget with no new tax increase, over the years cuts the AFD budget by 62%, reduces manpower by 19.6%, brags about a 18 million in reserves, and council, very asleep at the wheel or texting, approves his budget, [except the Michael Walker issue], and places fire department personnel, the citizens, and out of town employees at risk. You not only have to worry about being shot in Allentown, you have to worry about burning up in a fire! Daryl Hendricks, a former police Captain and chairman of the Public Safety committee and allegedly anti-Fed Ed, is either back in bed with Pawlowski or fundamentally blind, dumb or can't read a budget!

Anonymous said...

More development now = less tax dollars. Only our leaders can does this to the taxpayers and public safety . Morons !

An IAFF Supporter

Anonymous said...

Increased personnel costs do have their effects on other parts of the budget.

Anonymous said...

Where was Mr O'Connell's concern about this before the election? How many years has he been on City Council?

Anonymous said...

7:10 is correct. Crisis management is indicative of piss poor management

Why we need a clean sweep in City Hall and replace all the politicians with Republicans.

Anonymous said...

If Lower Macungie can get away without having a police force and just relying on the state police, why doesn't Allentown just rely on mutual aid if they need it additional ladder truck and just pay the community it came from a few bucks for borrowing it. I think AFD sends too many trucks to routine calls for no reason at all. They need to cut back on all the trucks racing up and down the streets to obvious false alarms and faulty alarms and people making obvious prank calls.

Anonymous said...

How many of these firefighters are making over $100,000 a year with all their overtime not to mention the outrageous pensions some of them will be getting. Why don't we look into that?

Anonymous said...

Mr. O'Connell was a Pawloski clone for years and was also conspiring to dismantle the A.F.D..Mr. O'Hare posts a blog and suddenly all these politicians will promise restore the A.F.D.

Anonymous said...

Kaminski for Mayor!!!

Anonymous said...

RAY!
RAY!!
RAY!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

It amazes me that suddenly Ray O'Connell wants to take care of this now? He has been on council long enough and has ignored the cries of AFD. Ray, if you are reading this or if it is being read to you be any one of your puppets, it is time to retire. Stop acting like you care. It is time to rid City Hall of all the deadbeat council members who have goals for revenge and personal gain. AFD has made it known for years that their budget has been getting cut and the equipment has been failing! AFD deserves better. Allentown residents need to close down the current "Good Ol' Boys Club" of City Council and start fresh.

pathfinder said...

Bernie, While you were late getting to the council meeting you did not miss anything. Keith Pierce was the only fireman to speak at the podium and he just started when you arrived.

Anonymous said...

@12:02 PM...I Second That!!!
Ray, Dude....Retire please. You approved all of Fed Ed's shenanigans and now you want to fight on our behalf?????? You stayed on the side line and did nothing but backed him....

Bernie O'Hare said...

Ray will be the first to admit that Fed Ed had him schnookered. But he hardly stands alone among te candidates in tat category. All of them, at one time or another, played nice with Fed Ed. The reasons I support him are (1) he has a great deal of personal integrity; (2) he understands the City's people like no other candidate because he is out and among them; (3) he supports Allentown's youth (future) like no other candidate; (4) he recognizes the importance of the school district and its relation to the city's future; and (5) he is a tremendous consensus builder; (6) he cares about the city workers and the morale; and (7) stood up to Fed Ed.

Sam Bennett falls short in my eyes bc she polarizes people. Despite his minority status, Dave Jones is detached. Charles Thiel is a money man who has engaged in a sleaze campaign to buy off other candidates. Siegel needs more seasoning but is great.

Any one of them is better than Fed Ed.

pathfinder said...

Bernie @ 12:48 Your synopsis of Ray O'Connell is right on the mark! As stated elsewhere, Sam Bennett is a phony. She bankrupted May Fair. She failed in may previous business attempts before that. Her money grab attempt with Properties of Merit are so well documented that nothing more needs to be said. I also agree that Josh Siegel will be a good candidate in the future with some seasoning. I wish he was running for City Council to get that experience.

Anonymous said...

Allentown is too busy with other things. It's not like firefighting is an essential city service or anything. Oh wait ...

Anonymous said...

Give Fed Ed a break. Moody teaches students to avoid words that start with "f" and end in "uck."

Anonymous said...

@pathfinder...LOLOLOLOL, Sam did what to Mayfair???? So you don't read the Morning Call, but in case you do... Read the article that they wrote on The Best financial period of Mayfair years was when Sam Bennett ran Mayfair. They made money during the years of her leadership. You people crack me up. If you're going to attack someone, get your FACTS straight!!!!

Anonymous said...

I think that the communities that actually fund their fire departments deserve to have their equipment available for THEIR communities when they need them, NOT covering for the city because the city administration has been asleep at the wheel!!

Anonymous said...

http://www.mcall.com/entertainment/lehigh-valley-music/mc-five-things-that-led-to-the-demise-of-allentown-s-mayfair-20161219-story,amp.html The real story on Mayfair in case anyone is interested in the truth.

Anonymous said...

Hey Ed.....your trolling is showing

Anonymous said...

In your obviously expert opinion, how can you tell a call is an "obvious" false alarm or an "obvious" prank call?

Anonymous said...

Come on Eddie boy........this excuse is weak

Anonymous said...

The management designs and economic dysfunction is just a matter the dynamics of political pandering. There are many venues that are backstage at this point in time.
Fiscal awareness is the circus played with counsel members too, in this right to know requests. This is and has hampered the abilities for the effectiveness of any and all except for the corner office on the fifth floor!

Anonymous said...

Can anyone tell me and the residents of Allentown how many firefighters live in the city??
Just give me a percentage, not a number.
Thank you.
Does the new president of the union live in the city??
John Stribula did and I thank him for that and always respected him.
He was tough, but fair and he still lives in Allentown.

Charlie Sch said...

I did some research online today. There are many fire departments that had severe reliability with KME trucks built circa 2008 to 2013, which are the Allentown trucks that keep breaking down. Some of the biggest problems are with the Navistar engines. A number of cities have sued KME. One had a settlement agreement in which KME agreed to reconstruct the trucks. Boston blamed KME truck breakdowns for contributing to the death of two firefighters.

Anonymous said...

I attend almost every city council meeting and if the Mayor would attend as he should since Fran is no longer around, we could get ANSWERS.............
City council might be bad, but they cannot EVEN get answers from him.
The new Mayor needs to be at every city council meeting, not just the one to present his/her budget.
An indictment is coming.Please come SOON.

Anonymous said...

Would it be more practical to lease fire trucks instead of buying them??
Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

City employees in Allentown and Bethlehem don't live in the city., It is a real shame as many qualified city residents are passed over due to some favors.

Julian Kern said...

I don't know what the percentage of Allentown firefighters who live in the city is but I know several Allentown firefighters and they live in the city. As far as the President of the I.A.F.F Local 302 union he does live in the city according to his business card he gave me last night at the city council meeting.

Anonymous said...

First of all, not many of these firefighters make $100,000. Also, who cares what they make while they are protecting your ungrateful behind. I'm sure all of us family members wouldn't mind if you took their place at every call. Especially with this lack of equipment. We like when our husbands, fathers, brothers, etc. are home safe, instead of running i to burning buildings. Then there are all the holidays they miss. Kids sports, dance recitals, weddings, birthdays, etc. Memories that can't be remade. Don't run your mouth if you don't do the job, or don't reap the consequences of the job.

Anonymous said...

What does it matter how many live in the city? Honestly, I'm grateful that they get up and protect all the ungrateful scum of this city without even living here. They could stay in their own cities, townships, boroughs, etc. and you could have a selection from the actual city of Allentown being the ones "protecting" you. Seriously a stupid point to make idiot.

Anonymous said...

Well since jobs like firefighters are hired according to their civil service exam scores, there are no favors to be given there...

Anonymous said...

Who cares if they don't live in the city. They are the ones protecting it, so leave them be, before they all quit and we are left to have these uneducated scumbags protect us!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

to 6:06 pm
did they not fall under the good graces of the city pension proCUREment process that has so many under aged children that are wet behind the ears collecting on the unsurmouting fix under current administration? Take for instance counsil person McCleen, I am very sure because of current administration he bareley gets a stiped comparable to the criminals that have drank from the blue koolaid bugjuice vat!

Simple mathmatics, play with the criminals or suffer with those that don'''t?

Anonymous said...

A close look at Sam's resume shows it to be long on campaigns, short on experience.
O'Connell is a proven administrator who can hit the ground running.
Ray is the leader for this transition into a functioning allentown.

Anonymous said...

@6:06pm

Let's be honest, how many times are firefighters 'running into burning buildings?' Don't try to scare people or embellish things.
As far as missing kids sports, dance recitals, birthdays and such, that's your decision to be a firefighter. You also get plenty of vacation and sick days which I'm sure you take advantage of.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I had lunch today with a volunteer firefighter. His unit actually assisted Allentown on Tuesday by bringing in a vehicle that can refill air tanks on site. It was quite an education. The first and foremost responsibility of a firefighter is to rush into a burning building and save lives. When a building is burning, they don't assume it is unoccupied, but go in there. They look for things like a car parked in the driveway or a tricycle to tell them that someone might be in there. It is a dangerous job that requires more courage and discipline than any other civilian job I can think of, except for police officers. Every day, they put their lives on the line for ungrateful assholes like you.

Anonymous said...

Allentown Council needs to reach out to Kovatch in Nesquehoning to see if they can help them out with getting some firetrucks. They are the number 3 manufacturer of them in the world and I am sure they will help them as good neighbors.

Anonymous said...

Allentown has KME vehicles. Not very reliable

Bernie O'Hare said...

That's an area in which I'd defer to anyone. I'd want the firefighters to have a big say in whatever vehicles are purchased.

Anonymous said...

why is city council trying to blame the Mayor for this, They are the ones who pass the budget, They are the ones who cut all the services to make themselves look good to other so they can get re-eleced!

you need to vote all incumbent Allentown City Council People out of office and start new with people who care about the city, not life long politicians.

Julian Kern said...

@8:21 PM...I agree with your statement. City council is just as much to blame for this as the mayor. They review the budget, can make amendments, vote on the budget, and are suppose to be the voice in our local government for the residents.

Anonymous said...

Bernie in regards to your comments about David Jones being detached maybe you aren't aware that he serves in the community in a variety of capacities in addition to his 10 years on the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners and 12yrs as a local Pastor he serves on several boards that effect the lives of young people. Specifically the LCCC Foundation; Communities in Schools: Lehigh Valley Financial Literacy Center and is the Ex Director of the Lehigh Valley My brothers Keeper Initiative that has provided career mentoring opportunities for over 800 inner city youth in the last year. I challenge you to identify an elected official who has that record of community service. As Lehigh County's veteran Dem on the board he has demonstrated the ability to be his own independent voice by challenging even the Dem Executive. This has earned him the respect of Rep, Dem and all County officials. You seem to want to relegate Commissioner Jones solely the color of his skin. Without regard to his professional business background as a Global Director of Talent Development for Averydennison a fortune 300 company.