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nfd2004

The Fractured Norwich, Ct fire Service

61 posts in this topic

Approximately 120 miles northeast of New York City is an old New England City called Norwich, Ct. This city lies in close proximity to both the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun Casinos. Its population is about 40,000 people in roughly 26 square miles. It's neighborhoods consist of closely packed multi family dwellings to larger spread out almost rural areas.

 

 This city is protected by one police department, covered by one public works department, has one city hall and one Board of Education system. Yet it's fire department divides this city in half. Part career and the other half all volunteer. The career department covers the older, more densely populated area of about 3,5 sq miles. Within that career department there are some 60 fulltime firefighters operating out of two firehouses.

 

  In the more suburban covered by five totally separate fire districts there are five firehouses. Each of these districts has it's one fire chief and budget all of which operate with a totally volunteer force.

 

  Over the last year and a half there were five serious incidents within this all volunteer fire area. One included a fire in an occupied 2 1/2 frame building. Another included a serious haz mat incident in a food storage warehouse, another an occupied house fire in which a child received some minor burns, another was a grease fire in a Nursing Home.

 

  In ALL of these incidents, the career on duty staffed fire department with it's 12/13 firefighters and batt chief NEVER responded, despite the fact that in all of these incidents they were the closest or second closest fire dept to respond. In one of the house fires, that career firehouse was actually the closest to the fire. Just 1.8 miles away. Yet mutual aid was requested from volunteer departments over 5 miles away and one department outside of the city 8 miles. The department 5 miles away drove right by that career station as the members were training in the parking lot.

 

  In the Haz Mat incident, it involved an ammonia leak serious enough that vapors coming from the windows were first reported as "smoke showing". Yet a Haz Mat Tech Team was requested from another town 15 miles away, while a 4 person trained Haz Mat Team was stationed about 3 miles away. When the officer of the more distant Haz Mat team started to respond, he asked if the closer team was also responding. The answer was "NO" and he then requested them to respond.

 

  After several emails plus a meeting with the then acting City Manager requesting changes be made for the safety of the citizens as well as firefighters, the answer was "No Changes to be made". At that point it was time to go to the newspaper with this story. I just could not sit back and watch this type of behavior continue. 

 

  There were maybe a dozen emails sent to the local city officials, the fire chiefs, as well as the newspaper reporter which started around January of this year.

 

  Here is the story as it was just released. Of course there's much more to the story. It is my hope that the fire departments will work together for the benefit of those they protect. This is the first step and as the article says, "I will continue until positive changes have taken place". (Hope this link works).

 

  http://www.theday.com/local/20160702/norwichs-fire-service-more-fractured-than-ever-officials-say 

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I do not know all the details, but there is enough information in the story to state this is nothing more than a pizzing match.
Once the adults involved realize this, this can be easily solved by those involved.
Anyone who has kids has dealt with similar situations.

But, what are the chances the departments or the local politicians will actually work this out?
If the local press pushes it, they may be forced to find the solution, otherwise this will continue.

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Thank you "10512". Now that this is known public information, should no improvements take place by this city administration, there is a public record of this.

 

As the individual who first contacted this reporter regarding this silly kids game, I have several emails which were sent in much more detail ( I have shared with others ) than was able to be printed in this story. My emails included videos of time as a factor to life safety involving a fire. Everything is very well documented. Based on some of those emails, the city politicians and the local fire chiefs could be held accountable should something go wrong in the future.

 

 There is a long history of such incidents as well. In one case, a civilian died in a fire in 2008/2009 (?) while mutual aid was requested from several unstaffed farther away places. All while a firehouse with 9 fulltime firefighters much closer never responded. The same firefighters that were required to spend 16 weeks, fulltime, in a fire academy to learn the skills of their job.

 

I believe that some of the local politicians realize this is a very serious problem and needs to be addressed. If not, a city along with it's fire departments, led by some of those fire chiefs could find themselves in a very serious position.

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My comment was not meant to take a side, volunteer or paid, or Fire management or City administration. 
In most pizzing matches, the blame and the incompetence, is usually spread out amongst all parties.
I doubt that dynamic is any different in this matter.
It seems this has been going on for a while. The involved parties do not seem to be interested in solving this issue.

Like I said before, unless the media gets behind this and pushes the issue, causing the public to have an opinion, nothing will change.

 

 

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I can assure all involved. I know of ONE Individual who will get involved. His only problem is that he wishes he did this a long time ago. If so maybe one civilian would be alive today instead of dying in a house fire in 2008/2009 (?). That fire got no response from that Norwich, Ct FD by virtue of some imaginary dividing line within the same city. The fact remained that it was allowed to go on and often even condoned by city officials as well as a group of firefighters and their officers.

 

 Add to the fact that the firehouse closest to respond was that Staffed Firehouse with 9 firefighters and 1 Batt Chief. 

 

 I will assure everyone that if this happens again, I will encourage any innocent to take legal action against the city, the fire dept and the commanding officer in charge. My word is here in writing. I have many friends that live here as well who are aware of this problem.  

Edited by nfd2004
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Having lived through a debacle much like the one in Norwich I can only offer this. Once the can of worms has been opened there is no closing the lid again. I say this neither to condone or condemn opening the can, but only to advise that once the genie is unleashed these things take on a life of their own. In that other CT city that faced a mountain of volunteer/career issues which were ultimately "resolved" by a charter revision it is without reservation that I can say no one is happy with the outcome. Some thought the volunteers would be "put in their place"...they weren't, while others thought the career staff would be forced to accept more volunteer involvement...they haven't. In truth there has been a marked improvement in some areas and these are to be applauded. There is continued stagnation in others which is not surprising. In the end when these types of situations arise it is inevitable that, no matter how well intentioned, the messenger always becomes the target and no one gets what they wanted or expected. If Stamford is any example the rift will widen much further before it begins to close so all involved need to buckle up for the ride.

Edited by FFPCogs
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Pete this thing started to blow up after several serious incidents took place with a total lack of concern for it's citizens or the members of the fire depts involved. Basically there was an out right refusal to have that career depat respond no matter how close they were or no matter a fire or a Haz Mat incident. 

 

After watching this kind of behavior go on I decided to try and do something about it. It just put too many people in danger with no regard whatsoever with their safety or concern. 

 

I kept my own records and ended up going to this reporter after nothing was even considered to change things. This went on for about a year and a half. I finally decided with nothing at all being done by anybody to take on the system myself. No one wanted to get involved. 

 

The only thing I asked for was to send the closest depts. Just common sense. It didn't happen. 

 

I am digging in for the long haul. Even it's its by myself. There is no valid argument for keeping things the way they are today. 

 

If the time comes where there should be one fire dept, then I'll move onto that next plan. 

 

My commitment is to the people of this city. Their lives come first. We can discuss how it should be paid for later. But first things first. 

 

Basically tiny little Baby Steps at first.

Edited by nfd2004
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Willy I have no doubt that you have the resolve to see this through and it is my most sincere wish that things there will change for the better. That said, true productive change can only come about when the considerations of all of the players are given equal voice. There may be many faults with some or all of the departments involved, but each has a horse in the race and needs to be treated as such. Hopefully ALL of the firefighters there will remember that they are firefighters first and try to lessen the divide rather than increase it to promote their own wants. I'm certain that things will change, maybe quickly maybe slowly, but they will change. I can only hope that the needs of the citizens drive those changes and not the whims of politicians or the self serving agendas of the players....otherwise all involved will be losers one way or another

 

 

Anyway, good luck on the road ahead. May your cause be just, your battle brief and the results a benefit to all.

Edited by FFPCogs
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6 hours ago, FFPCogs said:

Willy I have no doubt that you have the resolve to see this through and it is my most sincere wish that things there will change for the better. That said, true productive change can only come about when the considerations of all of the players are given equal voice. There may be many faults with some or all of the departments involved, but each has a horse in the race and needs to be treated as such. Hopefully ALL of the firefighters there will remember that they are firefighters first and try to lessen the divide rather than increase it to promote their own wants. I'm certain that things will change, maybe quickly maybe slowly, but they will change. I can only hope that the needs of the citizens drive those changes and not the whims of politicians or the self serving agendas of the players....otherwise all involved will be losers one way or another

 

 

Anyway, good luck on the road ahead. May your cause be just, your battle brief and the results a benefit to all.

 

Thank you "young man", I appreciate that.

 

Only a few days ago, a new acting Police Chief took over as the commander of this city's police dept. That new police chief wears TWO hats. One as Police Chief and the other as Chief of one of the Volunteer fire departments that responded to an occupied building fire right down the street (only 1.8 miles away) from a career firehouse with nine firefighters and a battalion chief on duty. Yet it was "his" decision to rather call for mutual aid from one volunteer dept 5 miles away, and another 8 miles away (from a different town).

 

 Now we have that same individual as Acting Police Chief, who is hopeful of that permanent position. Is this the kind of leader a city would want to be in charge of it's Police Dept ? A man who was very well aware of the problems that existed within it's fire department, yet did absolutely nothing to improve it. A man who was directly involved in one of the main causes for this newspaper article coming out. And by the way, as it appeared in that newspaper, the story was given front page headlines and also given another Full Page coverage as the story continued.

 

 Here is what I say about this chief of two hats. Every one of us is entitled to make a mistake once in awhile. In this case, there is no doubt that as fire chief he has made a very serious mistake. But no one was hurt. Had that one particular fire been later at night it could very well have been much different. In addition to that, this fire occurred in a community run "Half Way House". A place where people with both mental and physical disabilities stay for recovery. It has very limited staff on duty. I know this because I work a part time job there on the campus where this is located.

 

 So here is a "second chance" he should maybe consider. As Police Chief and Fire Chief, he is in the perfect position to correct a problem that has existed for years within the Fire Service of Norwich (Ct). The timing could not have been better. Let him join in with leading the way in the protection of these citizens from both serious crime and serious fires.

 

  This week, after the holiday, I intend to follow up with our city leaders on the release of this story. I am not about to let it die. In my next email I will suggest to those city officials how I see an individual who could really become a Role Model Leader when it comes to providing the most important services to it's city residents.

 

  As an individual he is free to choose which path he takes. His police position can NOT be held back for the sole purpose of his fire service leadership. However, I do think that should he decide to take what I consider to be the right choice and speak up for improvements within the fire service, he could clearly become one very well respected leader within this city.

Edited by nfd2004
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THEY JUST DON'T CARE ! ! !

 

On Tuesday July 5th, another Working Fire. Only TWO Days after a Front Page headline story was in a local newspaper titled: "Norwich's Fractured Fire Service".

 

This July 5th fire occurred almost across the street from the Occum Volunteer Fire Dept., one of Five Volunteer fire departments within the city, along with one fully paid career staff. On the initial call the assignment called for a response of this Occum Fire Dept, as well as the Taftville Vol  FD.

 

On arrival of that Occum FD Chief he reported a Working Fire and smoke showing. Initally he requested the Yantic Vol FD to man their station as well as the Baltic FD (within the nearby Town of Sprague). Within minutes later he requested the Baltic FD to respond to the fire, as well as the Yantic FD to respond as the FAST CO. While enroute, the Yantic FD was reassigned to go to work on arrival. With the Mohegan Tribal FD (from Mohegan Sun Casino FD) now being assigned as the FAST Co.

 

  Yet, the Norwich Fire Depts Engine 2, staffed with three firefighters is actually 1 1/2 miles closer than that Unstaffed Yantic FD which is six miles from the fire scene. In addition, Norwich Fire Headquarters, staffed with Nine Firefighters and a Battalion chief is the exact same distance as that Yantic Fire Dept with being 6.0 miles from this fire scene.

 

About a year and a half ago, I started documenting several incidents in which the Norwich Fire Department with its 12/13 member on duty staff was closer to several incidents, yet they were NEVER ALLOWED to respond. Those incidents are listed as follows:

 

 1) Grease fire at a nursing home

 

 2) Major chemical leak at a Food Warehouse

 

 3) House fire with children trapped

 

 4) Occupied building fire at a "Half Way House", home to several occupants with mental or physical disabilities

 

 Now we add this apartment fire. It should also be known that in every major event within this city covered by that career firer department, it is ALWAYS one of the local volunteer fire depts. that are used as mutual aid per department policy.

 

  Each and every one of these incidents have been fully documented. There has been years before of this behavior as well. The time is long gone for talking. Unfortunately I'm convinced it will take a tragic event followed by some legal action to change things. Should such an event happen, I think it is safe to say that it will be the Fire Commander in charge of the scene who will be fully accountable for his/her actions.

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Willy has anyone there in a leadership capacity, volunteer or career, made any overtures in getting everyone in the same room to take a look at modernizing the system there? Now by this I don't mean ordering people to attend and then dictating to them that "this is how it's going to be from now on". Been there done that...it doesn't work. What I do mean is a true round table where the good, the bad and the ugly can be freely expressed so that true productive changes can be mapped out. 

 

I fully understand the forces at work in these situations, but I would bet that most involved know what the problems are just as well as you do. It's not that they don't want improvements, it's just that egos and traditions make it hard for any of them to make the first step. God knows no one wants to show weakness or be labeled a "turncoat" or "sellout". But for the fire service in Norwich to make the changes necessary to provide the best possible protection to the residents, it's the fire service leadership, (career and volunteer) in Norwich that has to take the steps to make it happen...someone has to take that step and once they do other will follow.

 

The other alternative is to try the Stamford model and change the City Charter. Many thought that would be the magic wand that would "fix" everything. Well I can tell you it hasn't. Things most definitely didn't work out the way the proponents of that move thought they would. Politicians won't...can't..fix our problems, at least not in the ways that will actually make us better, only WE can do that. I hope that you can convince your colleagues to leave all their BS at the door and step up to work together to make changes, otherwise you are absolutely right, it will take a tragedy and lawsuits to force the issue...and if that happens I would bet my bottom dollar that no one there will like the results.

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 I started with the First email over a year and a half ago. The days of talking are over. At least as far as I'm concerned. There's been talking going on for years. Certainly within this year and a half everybody is fully aware of the conditions that have existed. Yet despite that we see a total disregard for peoples lives or their property. Two days right after that newspaper story comes out is a clear show of total disregard for any body other than themselves.

 

I have about two dozen emails giving some very detailed facts. We also now have a Front Page article describing a very serious condition which exist. Not only firefighters aware of this now, but so is the public fully aware of it. I also have friends outside the city limits monitoring this as well.

 

 Unless something very positive happens in writing, the next move is to seek legal action in a court of law and hold the Fire Commander fully accountable for his/her actions.  I made that perfectly clear in my most recent email to a few city council members and have asked them to forward that to the chiefs and city officials.

 

If there is anybody on this site that might be willing to offer their suggestions here is a list of Volunteer Fire Departments within Norwich, Ct. You can contact them through their web site. They all need to come up with some very positive quick answers, in WRITING.

 

1) Yantic Vol FD

2) East Great Plains Vol FD

3) Taftville FD

4) Laurel Hill FD

5) Occum FD

 

 

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On Tuesday, July 5th, another fire. TWO DAYS after a front page and a full page article appeared titled: "Norwich's Fractured Fire Service".

 

This fire occurred almost across the street from the first due fire company, the Occum Fire Dept. They along with the Taftville FD were dispatched on the initial call.

 

The Occum Fire Chief, Car 4, was on the scene within minutes reporting "Smoke Showing". He requested the Baltic FD (nearby Town of Sprague) as well as the Yantic FD (within Norwich) to stand by their stations. Within a few minutes, Car 4 requested Baltic to the fire scene as well as Yantic to respond as the FAST Co. While enroute, Yantic was reassigned to go to work and Mohegan Sun Tribal FD was assigned as the FAST CO.

 

Let us just focus on that Yantic FD response as Car 4 requested. Yantic is a fully volunteer fire dept. In this case they are a six miles from the scene. Now lets compare that distance to the On Duty Staffed Norwich FD.

   1) Norwich Engine 2 is staffed with an officer and two firefighters. They are one and a half miles closer than that Unstaffed Yantic FD. The distance Eng 2 needed to respond is 4.5 miles away. While Yantic was farther away at 6.0 miles.

   2) Norwich Fire Headquarters (Squad A, Engine 3, Truck 1, Batt 1) is staffed with nine firefighters along with a Battalion Chief. They are the EXACT same distance away as Yantic, Unstaffed at 6.0 miles away. Yet, this chief felt it was better to call an Unstaffed fire department with no idea of who might show up rather than a fully trained group of on duty firefighters.

 

  Within six miles of this fire the chief had the option of calling a total of 12 on duty firefighters or a volunteer fire dept with UNknown number of qualified firefighters. And in the case of Engine 2, they were even closer. He chose that volunteer dept instead. Which I think goes against every rule in the book.

 

  No talks have worked in the past. I had gotten involved over one and a half years ago, and all city officials as well as each volunteer chief was made aware of the request to make changes. A front page newspaper article confirms there are serious problems going on within the fire service here on as that July 3rd article pointed out called; "Norwich's Fractured Fire Service". It seems clear there apparently is no attempt to change things for the benefit of its citizens, as well as members of the fire service.

 

  I'm afraid the only answer is to follow through with some type of legal action once a tragic event happens. I will support any type of action necessary to hold any Fire Commander fully responsible for their action involving any innocent victims affected. I have also made that very clear to city officials, as well as each volunteer fire chief of these departments.

 

  It should also be known that the Norwich FD has no problem bringing in these departments as mutual aid companies. Seems to be a one way street coming in but not going out.

 

 Interesting that the Taftville FD was selected this year to host the upcoming Connecticut Firefighters Convention. It is considered an honor to be selected for this and the planning often starts two years ahead of time. It brings together about 500 fire departments. It is a major boom to the area hotels and restaurants. Many take part from large city's to the smallest rural areas, volunteer as well as career firefighters alike. Now with this "Huge Black Cloud" hanging over this city, will that have any effect on it's visitors. This convention is scheduled to take place between Sept 15-17th.

Edited by nfd2004
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Since the Tribal FD was called for a FAST, it must not be purely a volunteer vs career thing. The Tribal FD being a career department and all. It seems to me like the Norwich units would have at least been a better choice for a FAST considering the distance, even if there was some good reason (which it does not sound like) for not calling them on the fire.

 

Out of curiosity, what is the historical reason for the split? Was Norwich once separate towns? Was it once all volunteer and half developed a career department? Is there some natural geographic boundary like a mountain or a river that divides the sections of the town?

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The Norwich FD members are all trained for FAST Co operations. However, the entire city of Norwich uses the Mohegan Tribal as a FAST CO.  The Yantic FD is also trained as a FAST CO. I think one of the reasons that the Norwich FD uses the Tribal FAST Team is because they are staffed around the clock and are able to reach any where in the city fairly quickly. Also the Yantic FD is NOT used as a FAST Co because if there is a fire in Norwich they could be assigned to the fire or relocate into that career dept.

 

But you are correct in thinking that the Norwich FD could have also been used as a FAST Co in this latest fire. I don't remember the Norwich FD ever being called into the Vol Area as a FAST Co. It just doesn't happen. For the Vol area it's either Mohegan Sun or Yantic.

 

In the days of horse and steamer, Norwich was divided. Not by any geographical boundary however. We used to say they followed a drunkin' cow around to set up these boundary lines. The boundary lines go from one yard to the next. Your next door neighbor or across the street neighbor could have a totally different fire department respond to their house. All within the same town with the same services except the FD.

 

In 2009 there was a fatal fire (Lafayette St). Several volunteer fire depts. responded from 6-8 miles away. All while a career dept of nine guys remained in their firehouse less than two miles away. Only a few houses separated that response.

 

  Its a outdated mess and some think that everything is going along just fine as is.

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Just to explain a little better and follow up on the above comment about the FAST Co.

 

Why didn't the Occum FD originally call for the Norwich FD (Staffed), rather than the Yantic FD (Volunteer) for the FAST CO when they were both equal distance or LESS than six miles away ?

 

That is a good question that most of us in the Fire Service today can NOT really understand. Whether it be for a FAST Co response or to become actually involved in the incident, it is hard for me to remember the last time that career dept was called into any of those fire districts.

 

  It is my hope to spread the word way beyond the local city limits or this part of Connecticut, to show the world through that newspaper article and through the use of some fire dept web sites, just how foolish these decisions appear as they are viewed from the "outside world". Perhaps, before some innocent people suffer at the hands of these Fire Commanders, they will come to their senses through the embarrassment of their own decisions.

 

  Let me suggest as I did earlier, your concern and your help could may be just the right words to make these people reconsider. I'm sure you can do that through their web sites. You don't even have to tell your name. Just that your read what is going on and that change is way overdue. With your RIGHT WORDS telling them of these foolish, very outdated decisions, just perhaps, YOU may indirectly save a life that might not have happened otherwise.  

Edited by nfd2004
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10 hours ago, nfd2004 said:

Just to explain a little better and follow up on the above comment about the FAST Co.

 

Why didn't the Occum FD originally call for the Norwich FD (Staffed), rather than the Yantic FD (Volunteer) for the FAST CO when they were both equal distance or LESS than six miles away ?

 

That is a good question that most of us in the Fire Service today can NOT really understand. Whether it be for a FAST Co response or to become actually involved in the incident, it is hard for me to remember the last time that career dept was called into any of those fire districts.

 

  It is my hope to spread the word way beyond the local city limits or this part of Connecticut, to show the world through that newspaper article and through the use of some fire dept web sites, just how foolish these decisions appear as they are viewed from the "outside world". Perhaps, before some innocent people suffer at the hands of these Fire Commanders, they will come to their senses through the embarrassment of their own decisions.

 

  Let me suggest as I did earlier, your concern and your help could may be just the right words to make these people reconsider. I'm sure you can do that through their web sites. You don't even have to tell your name. Just that your read what is going on and that change is way overdue. With your RIGHT WORDS telling them of these foolish, very outdated decisions, just perhaps, YOU may indirectly save a life that might not have happened otherwise.  

Willy what I'm about to say I say with the utmost respect for you. 

 

That you want to help improve your city's fire service is admirable and I'm sure changes are long overdue. That said seeking help from members of this forum or just about any other will lead nowhere. You are alone in your fight and as the messenger it is you who will face the slings and arrows. Others will sit by as you rail against the obvious shortcomings and let you take the brunt of the battle so that the doors will be opened and then they can step forward. Now before anyone gets their panties in a bunch, there's nothing wrong with that....it is how things change. Someone has to lead the charge and clear a path through the minefield so others can follow. My point here Willy is that you have chosen to take on this boondoggle and you will have a long lonely road ahead. And besides that most members here have their own problems and can't or won't involve themselves in a debacle outside of their own areas and not of their own making...and maybe that's for the best. This is a Norwich problem and the solution to it lies in Norwich, with each and every FF, fire officer and citizen in that city, including you. Now the sad truth is you have stood up and brought attention to the situation and that is commendable, but like the proverbial blade of grass that stands above the rest you are now a target for the lawnmower of public and fire service opinion. And you can be sure scorn, derision and ostracism will follow. Such is the lot of the bearer of bad news no matter how true it may be.  

 

Just one last thing, as I read your posts I am struck by, for lack of better terms, the vitriol and animosity they contain. I'm sure some of your colleagues both career and volly up there read these forums and the newspapers and take to heart what they read. While you may feel strongly that some or all of the leaders should be held accountable, it is hard to begin any kind of substantive dialogue when the pall of recriminations hang over any attempts. How do I know this as fact, because I and many other lived it just a very short time ago on the other end of the State. Take a look back through this forum to that other thread about Stamford and you will see what I mean. The specifics may be different but I see you all headed down that same futile road unless you can step above what we were so mired in. 

 

If I have offended you please accept my sincere apologies, that is certainly not my intent, I only wish others to learn for my and our (Stamford's) mistakes so they can succeed where we did not.

 

Good luck as you step into the abyss, may your journey through it be swift and successful for the citizens of Norwich.

 

Stay safe

 

 

 

 

Edited by FFPCogs
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Of course everyone is certainly free to express their opinion on this subject. No one is obligated to write to any web sites either. That is entirely their own choice.

 

I have been a resident of this city for 40 years. 30 of which was a firefighter, including an officer. Prior to that I was a volunteer firefighter in Fairfield, Ct, a combination dept. At that time among a large group of young volunteer firefighters all hoping to become career firefighters. After taking six firefighters test, I finally get the job in a place I knew very little about. I very quickly learn that I have entered into what I refer to as a "War Zone". I am hated by many for the sole purpose of being a career firefighter. I just could not believe how different things were here in comparison to where I came from just about 75 miles away.

 

 In one of the incidents I had mentioned to this newspaper reporter, one volunteer department responding to a house fire drove right by Norwich Fire headquarters while the members were training in the rear parking lot. The Norwich Firehouse was only 1.8 miles away. They could have walked to that fire.

 

  It should also be known that after the first incident involving a grease fire at a nursing home around January, 2015, I personally met, one on one, with the Norwich Fire Chief. He advises me to talk to the city manager. I do and that city manager declines to do anything about it. I also later find out that he is a member of one of the volunteer depts. I advise the Chief I plan to go to the newspapers. He asked me NOT to do that, apparently hoping for some comprise. I also went to the Norwich President of IAFF 892 as well. A Captain at the time, who also asked me NOT to push this hoping things could work out. I respectfully complied with their wish.

 

  Three more serious incidents go on and I advise the chief, the union president, as well as that city manager, that I have written documents involving each incident and how dangerous this is for both civilians as well as members of the fire dept. I tell them that I now plan to go to the newspaper about this. The Chief and Union President still is not in favor of me doing this. But the Acting City Manager, with only four more DAYS in office tells me "Go ahead and go to the paper". I had then told the Chief and Union President that as a 40 year resident and a retired firefighter, I was in the perfect position to tell this story. I owed no one and I was fed up with the total lack of concern for people of this city. "I really didn't care if people liked me or they didn't". I already knew that many already didn't for the sole purpose of just being a city firefighter. In fact, I never put any IAFF Union decal in my 2011 Nisson car window because of that.

 

  As word spreads that I plan to go tell this story, I am WRONGLY ACCUSED of being "Coached" into doing this. That is absolutely UNTRUE. Not one Norwich Firefighter pushed me into doing this. Most just assumed nothing could be done. "I was on my own the entire time" and that is a fact.

 

  I met with that reporter several times. A few times she had questions for me which she uncovered that were never brought up in the article. They could be headline stories in themselves.

 

  In 2009, there was a fatal fire only a few houses from the Norwich FD response area. In that fire mutual aid was called from much farther away from all volunteer departments. At that time, I should have gotten involved and I regret that I didn't.

 

 All I had asked was to have the Norwich FD respond if they were closer than other departments. If that had taken place, there would have been no Front Page story of a "Norwich's Fractured Fire Service".

 

 If any member of this site wishes to send any questions or comments to anyone involved, that is their every right to do so. I can also tell you that throughout the State of Connecticut, as well as Va, Fla, NY, and RI, after the release of this newspaper article, many friends of mine, both career and volunteer, retired and active, from firefighter to chief officers, just can NOT believe that any fire dept would operate under these conditions today.  

 

 Willy D

 Retired Norwich FD

 

Edited by nfd2004
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Here is an interesting video of a fire that occurred a few years ago in Norwich, Ct. This fire occurred in the area covered by the Norwich Fire Dept (career). Of course ALL Five of the city's Volunteer Departments were requested to respond. Yet according to the first few sentences of that newspaper article (Post # 1), if this fire had occurred in the Yantic Volunteer FD, that career Norwich FD would NOT be assigned up to and throughout a Fifth Alarm response.

 

Now what if that Norwich FD did NOT call the local five volunteer fire departments for this fire, but rather companies outside the city and from much farther away. Would that be viewed as a good decision ? It happens in the Volunteer districts within the city, yet no one has been held to answer to that kind of foolish decision.

 

 Anyway, here is that video in which the Norwich FD called for the FIVE Local Volunteer Companies. So should that Norwich FD operate in a similar mode to the five local volunteer depts. ?

 

 Hope this works.

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=of0WF7O3lf4

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Not saying this is the reason but I know there is still a train of thought among some departments that you need to play hopscotch when calling mutual aid. He line of reasoning I have heard is so that you don't deplete an entire side of the county for one incident. Also for fast teams I have heard that some chiefs will not call neighboring departments because they could get too emotionally involved if they had to make a rescue and make unsafe decisions

 

not saying that is what is going on here or that it is right, but it is a potential explanation

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1 hour ago, v85 said:

Not saying this is the reason but I know there is still a train of thought among some departments that you need to play hopscotch when calling mutual aid. He line of reasoning I have heard is so that you don't deplete an entire side of the county for one incident. Also for fast teams I have heard that some chiefs will not call neighboring departments because they could get too emotionally involved if they had to make a rescue and make unsafe decisions

 

not saying that is what is going on here or that it is right, but it is a potential explanation

 

That is very interesting. I'll pass that on. It could possibly be used as a "last ditch effort" to defend some so called Fire Commander the next time this happens. Because yes, "Big Brother is watching". That Big Brother is ready and willing to assist anyone affected by this style of fire ground tactics. City Officials, as well as those Fire Commanders, have been made fully aware of that. Whatever those Incident Commanders decide to do next time could very well put them in the spotlight of some type of legal action.

 

Would that hopscotch plan also cover the reason of not sending that fire dept that was only 1.8 miles away, fully staffed, while calling two other Unstaffed departments from 5 and 8 miles away respectively. What about the Haz Mat incident where a Haz Mat team was called from some 15 miles away, rather than the closer Haz Mat Team only 3 miles away. Might I also add that was fully capable of providing the two in/two out requirement.

 

 Does it work like that if a civilian or several people are trapped in a room above a fire who can't breathe. Their lungs being filled up with heat and toxic smoke and desperate to find a way out ? Would it still be a good idea to put that hopscotch plan into effect even for the closest or next closet department, as was the case in all of these incidents throughout that city.

 

The fact presented also that some chiefs will not call for a neighboring FAST CO because "they could get too emotionally involved" is certainly a new one to me. Would that same rule hold true in a place like New York City ? I was always told that it was the early stages of fighting a fire that firefighters might have the most need for the FAST CO. It's been a while since I attended any fire school but I sure am out of touch to the fire service of today.

 

"v85", please understand that I do appreciate your comment made here. You are only suggesting what could be the reasons for a fire department to operate under these conditions. However, the job of the fire service no matter where it is, is still to save lives and property. Whether those lives are the lives of civilians or firefighters who depend on their Brothers/Sisters to save their lives. That is really what it's all about. People in trouble and dying should certainly receive a much higher priority than worrying about not depleting another side of the city. Or even when it comes to protecting their property. Should a fire dept commander hopscotch a department while the nearby exposure starts to light up.

 

 As I have told many people in the past, "who would you want to respond if it were a close friend or family member in need of some quick life saving action" ? Better yet, what if YOU were the one trapped in that room trying to get out. All while the heat and smoke gets worse by the seconds and you can't breath. And you are unable to find your way out of your own house because the smoke is so thick. My guess is that it would feel like you are in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean trying to find your way back, except you are right inside your own house.

Edited by nfd2004
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No I agree with you. I would not run a fire department like that if I ever got the chance, and I believe it has changed in my area as well. 

 

I believe the historical reason was that by leaving some local companies back, they could guide the farther away companies about local knowledge and hazards.  Of course now with GPS and CAD and computerized preplans that isn't needed as much or at all anymore

 

as far as the fast team thing, I don't know about FDNY but when I was dispatching in Maryland the fast was always the 1st arriving ambulance served as the OSHA two out until the fourth due engine arrived and was the fast. 

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"v85", thank you for your understanding.

 

While I am at it, let me thank this web site for allowing me to tell my side of the story. As I read some of the previous threads on here, I soon realized that I am NOT alone. Other places have similar issues.

 

In most cases I believe it is NOT the peoples safety that concerns some fire service leaders, but rather their own self centered egos that leads them in this direction. And when it comes to the fire service, we all belong to the same club.

 

Any firefighter who has ever been deep inside a burning building can fully understand that is exactly what this thing called Brotherhood is all about - Volunteer or City Paid. "United We Stand - Divided We Fall". The fire service is not designed to serve of our own self serving egos for our own satisfaction. But for every single person out there who depends on each of us to be there for them in their desperate time of need.

Edited by nfd2004
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1 hour ago, nfd2004 said:

" The fire service is not designed to serve of our own self serving egos for our own satisfaction. But for every single person out there who depends on each of us to be there for them in their desperate time of need.

Sadly Willy I think this lesson is lost on more and more people coming in, paid and volunteer alike. Like the rest of society it seems like many now feel that it's all about "me" and what the fire service will do for "me", not the other way around. It is up too us to remind our newer brethren (and the older ones who still don't get it) that regardless of what goes on "out there" they are now a part of something greater where service to others is the PRIME objective. Maybe it can be best summed up like this:

 

To take a few liberties with a famous quote by JFK..."Ask not what the fire service can do for you, but what you can do for the fire service"

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I can only add this relating to this topic. Either a group of people learn exactly what this fire service thing is all about OR when the time comes. somebody just might be forced to learn it the hard way.

 

This does not only pertain to fires either. If some soul is pinned behind his steering wheel screaming he can't breath while he waits for a fire dept to show up, rather than a some on duty staffed one much closer, that might be considered as well.

 

So its not just the guy chocking on some super heated toxic smoke, gasping for air either.  

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39 minutes ago, nfd2004 said:

I can only add this relating to this topic. Either a group of people learn exactly what this fire service thing is all about OR when the time comes. somebody just might be forced to learn it the hard way.

 

This does not only pertain to fires either. If some soul is pinned behind his steering wheel screaming he can't breath while he waits for a fire dept to show up, rather than a some on duty staffed one much closer, that might be considered as well.

 

So its not just the guy chocking on some super heated toxic smoke, gasping for air either.  

I take it even a step further in that besides serving the public when they need us,  be that need great or small, we need to remember to serve each other too. The fire service is a WE thing not a ME thing and when we forget that in our firehouses it not a far stretch until we forget it about those who rely on us out in the streets. Egos and agendas are all about "me" and it seems to me that those things now take precedence over our common mission...and that corrosion of our core values and tradition starts in each firehouse. It starts when we allow the us against them mentality to guide our decisions. It starts when we show favoritism. It starts when we turn our backs on our fellow firefighters because they're not "popular". It starts when the whims and wants of the few become more important than the needs of the many within an organization (paid or volly). Changes in society play a big part in this, but a bigger part is played by each of us allowing the "outside" world's standards to apply to us on the "inside". The oaths some take, the mission statements we all have, the traditions we share are more than just words...or at least they should be, and the only way can only show our commitment to them is through our deeds and actions. 

 

Maybe I'm a dinosaur or a misguided fool or both, but I honestly believe and do my best to uphold all of those things not only in word but in deed. So if it's a fool I am, living in some archaic fantasy so be it, I would rather be a fool who believes in our finest traditions and values than a self serving prick who turned my back on them.

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In this case they have turned their backs NOT only on firefighters, but MORE IMPORTANTLY on the citizens they are assigned to protect. There is even a case where one career firefighter from a different nearby city has posted various statements on the internet going against this career department. All in an effort to defend the local volunteer dept that he belongs to.

 

 Will it take the death of a civilian to change this ? No, because that has already happened. The difference now however is that a newspaper article pointing out a past of no regard for human life by some fire commanders. That in addition to the fact that there is a record of several serious incidents now clearly documented over the last year and a half or so.

 

 Let me also add this, and Pete "FFCogs", you will understand this much better than others here will. Several years ago I was writing on a web site and commenting on some of the statements made which to me were totally inaccurate. I was contacted by that Norwich Career Chief at the request of some of the local volunteer fire chiefs. This was a fire chief that through a completive testing process came from another state. He had asked me to "tone it down" because as chief he was hoping to improve relations among the career and volunteer fire depts. I had never worked for this chief and I basically told him that I was not about to stop telling what I know to be true facts.

 

 My point is that if anybody tried to work with these individuals it was this chief. And if anybody read my earlier post here you also read how he tried to discourage me from going to the newspaper to report these incidents. Apparently it was his hope to try and continue to try and work things out after the first incident. That was unsuccessful and when three other serious events happened, it was time for some retired firefighter and citizen of this city to do something about it.

 

 Now as you read this, I also ask you to keep in mind the fact that I was a volunteer firefighter for five years as well. Coming from a very progressive combination fire dept that to this day, still functions using a group of volunteer firefighters. Of course not as many as there once was, just by the virtue of todays society beyond our control.

 

  In addition as some may know, I have a brother who retired from the Bridgeport (Ct) Fire Dept as Battalion Chief. He spent his entire career on the busiest companies in that city during a time when Bridgeport was burning every single day/night. Although not directly within the Norwich limits, his story is one of a nearby volunteer fire dept he joined. If I were the chief, I would think we had just won the lottery getting a guy like this. But that didn't happen at all. Apparently the chief there wanted no experienced career firefighters or chiefs around. As a result he no longer belongs to that small town fire dept. My brother was retired and willing to donate his time. He also lived within a quarter mile of that firehouse. He was willing to offer them his services but they apparently would rather not have it.  

 

  I can't put the blame on the Norwich politicians for that one. A place that has nothing to do with the issues involving the Norwich FD.

 

  What I find so different is how many volunteer fire departments throughout the state feel so different. For my friends throughout the state, as well as outside the state, who are volunteer firefighters there is a mutual amount of respect we share among each other. Just NO RESPECT for each other right here in my own neighborhood.

Edited by nfd2004
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After being involved and knowing the system for a very long time, it is my opinion (only opinion), that there was a conscious effort by those involved in the leadership of the Five Volunteer Companies to make the case that "they can prove" to this city, that they are perfectly capable of providing fire service WITHOUT ANY USE of those Career Firefighters.

 

I also believe it was also in the plan to eliminate twelve of those firefighter positions by closing an engine company and reducing the manning on another. They apparently were also working with one or two city council members, as well as one or two outside CAREER Firefighters who went against their own brothers so they could continue to be the heros within their volunteer organizations. In fact during one budget hearing earlier in June, one council member used many facts that seem to point in the direction of one particular OUTSIDE CAREER Firefighter. However, just as expected the Norwich Fire Chief had all of his facts well prepared to present countering those comments. That's how sure the members of that Norwich FD were that this Outside Brother Firefighter would be used against them.

 

 Then after that first recorded incident involving a nursing home, apparently most of my opponents thought this "old retired dinosaur" really has NO IDEA what he's talking about and we (Volunteer Chiefs) could just "write him off".  When the second serious incident occurred with no response from that closer, fully staffed fire dept., another email was sent out. This time word is, "I am going to the newspaper no matter who tells me not to". Between the time of my scheduled appointment with this newspaper reporter and this second incident - TWO more serious incidents get added to the story.

 

 When I do finally meet with that reporter we talk for about two hours. I remind her that she is certainly entitled to hear from the other side and she advises me of such. She tells me that she will be heading to the dispatch center to get some facts related to these incidents so she can start with the story. The next week she contacts me and shows me an email she received. It is apparently from someone who works there and that email basically states: "When you showed up to get the facts, (named individual) was in a PANIC MODE after you left". She was apparently referring to one individual that wears TWO Commanders hats and was directly involved in one of the incidents reported. To this day, I still have no idea who that person reporting this was. However I did see the email claiming to be J. Citizen who apparently was fully aware of what was going on.

 

 The reporter was instructed to come back in about a week to get those detailed reports. Once she did get that, those facts conflicted with facts I had given her. Through further investigation those documented facts conflicted with other witnesses and fire dept reports.

 

 That story was never mentioned. If that were true, that could very well be a MAJOR story in itself.

 

 I will add this as well. I have offered this story to readers of this site in light of what has been going on as posted with some other fire depts. Hopefully stories like these can be avoided BEFORE getting to this point. This is a perfect example how being a fire chief trying to maintain some type of ego has turned around putting them as the main cause of a serious problem. These were the Chiefs that were "Voted in" by their own membership. A leader they chose who is willing to put their own lives at risk rather than call that career fire dept. And now, not only are their moves being watched by some old retired guy who once was a part of this outdated system, but after that newspaper story, maybe those moves are now being watched by many more individuals OUTSIDE of the local fire service.

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Yesterday (7/21) I was contacted by the Norwich Fire Chief. He wanted to tell me that he believes there is some very positive action being taken to improve the system. He did not give me any specifics.

 

 Perhaps a large front page, plus an additional full page coverage had something to do with that possible improvement.

 

 Perhaps the fact that as of this moment, should those Norwich Firefighters NOT be called to a serious incident some Fire Commander could be held totally accountable for his actions resulting in some legal action against him.

 

 In the past, I have witnessed hand shakes and agreements that were broken at the next incident. This time it will be in writing, clearly spelling the type of actions that must be followed. If not followed, then be removed from that position. In addition a possible legal battle,

 

  I have witnessed discussions by five career chiefs and several elected volunteer chiefs. Also six or seven separate Union Presidents between several different volunteer fire chiefs over the years. Sit down and talk, talk, talk and more talk with absolutely nothing accomplished. What a waste of time all that was.

 

  Only difference is "this time" a newspaper story told citizens within the city, as well as those with family and friends living and working in that city, of a group of firefighters willing to turn their backs on its people rather than make a serious effort to protect them. Firefighters who were apparently willing to go against every rule in the book.  

 

  I hope whatever it is that this Chief and the Volunteer Chiefs have in mind will finally work out.  As I see it, they really have no choice. Lets put these years of old outdated thinking behind us with a future towards what way ALL firefighters can best serve the public.

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In an effort to keep the membership advised as to what is going on here, I would like to pass on a majority of my latest email which was sent to a couple of city council members and asked to forward to the other city officials as well as the five volunteer fire chiefs involved. I sent this on August 3, 2016 and this is what I said.

 

Quote:

 

 It was one month ago today, on Sunday July 3, 2016, that the New London Day Newspaper gave Front Page coverage to an article titled; "Norwich Fire Service More Fractured than Ever".  That story woke many citizens up to what some did NOT believe was going on here. Just how citizens, as well as firefighters lives, were being put at much higher risk. All because of a resistance to call a group of career firefighters by some local volunteer fire chiefs.

 

It has now been one month since that article first appeared. And here are a few facts on just how things have progressed.

 

 1) Exactly two days after that article appeared there was a working fire in the Occum section of the city. Once again, just as had been well documented over the last year and a half - NO Norwich Fire Department units were allowed to respond.

  Occum - Response to this Working Fire was:

    Occum FD

    Baltic FD

    Yantic FD

    Mohegan Tribe FD (FAST Co)

 

 2) Another incident - Comfort Suits Hotel on Otrabando Ave - Occupants stuck in an elevator.

      Yantic FD

      East Great Plains FD Ladder 55

 

3) Another incident - Fire Alarm at the Bowling Alley - 188 West Town St.

      Yantic FD

      East Great Plains FD Ladder 55

      Taftville FD Tower 25

 

  My first meeting with then City Manager, Mr John Bilda, over a year and a half ago was completely Unsuccessful in an attempt to get those Norwich Firefighters to respond. A few months later and after THREE MORE serious incidents, I go to the New London Day Newspaper which gives FRONT Page coverage to this story. Our leaders of the fire service are exposed with having NO CONCERN at all for the safety of it's citizens, or firefighters as well. Then only two days after that article on July 5th, another working fire with no changes made.

 

  Now within one month already three additional incidents, although two, only minor in nature at the time. This type of action leads me to believe that this city is NOT ready for any changes within it's fire department. Are these Fire Commanders aware that there is a fully staffed fire department that is trained and ready to respond ? Do they understand that they are requesting assistance from Unstaffed fire departments with basically no idea who will show up ? Do they understand that there is such a thing as "Lead Time" when it pertains to fire apparatus arrival time ?

 

  Most importantly, Do any of us want these kinds of decisions being made by these Fire Commmanders if it involves our own family and friends ? Are you, as city leaders, willing to put your own family members at risk so that a group of Fire Commanders can go against every rule in the book ? Would these same Fire Commanders be willing to put their own family members and friends at risk without regard for their safety ? Apparently for no other reason except to maintain their own status. Are these the kinds of Fire Service Commanders we allow to run our fire departments ? Is this the kind of leadership we all deserve ?

 

  So should we all just face the sad reality that somebody has got to get hurt or die before the next step can be taken. I believe that would be the FIRST Step of the FINAL Step. My guess is that No court of law will rule in favor of a Fire Commander who refused to call for a fully staffed group of firefighters. Fire Commanders whose decision in the initial stages, just might have caused a very different outcome. Then I ask those fire commanders, "Is it really worth it".

 

 Do these people really understand what can happen ? Are they willing to testify in a court of law just why they did NOT call those Norwich Firefighters and instead called farther away fire departments. Where those members must first drive to the fire station before they are even able to respond. Is a judge going to consider the fact that "a volunteer fire department is within the national standard response of 10 minutes for 90 percent of the calls" (as quoted from one Volunteer Chief in that New London Day story). Will any judge accept that as being okay with the loss of a life, when there is a group of firefighters much closer within the same town.

 

 Let's Role Play here:

 

 1) First - You are the judge. So what do you think ? Did that Fire Commander do the RIGHT thing by NOT calling for those Norwich Firefighters ? Do you rule in his favor stating that this death is acceptable.

 

 2) Second - You are now the victim who lost their home and family member - Now as the victims family member "What do you think" ? Do you hold this Fire Commander responsible  for the death of your own family member, along with the loss of so many personnel belongings ? Do you think that the fully staffed and trained group of on duty firefighters might have made a difference instead of calling for a group on volunteer firefighters farther away.

 

  That seems to be where we are now. No progress and still very willing to put peoples lives in danger, rather than ever consider calling for those Norwich Firefighters. Also calling for those Norwich Firefighters must be done IMMEDIATELY to have any positive effect. That is the time they are needed. Not after the fact. I was quoted in that newspaper story as saying: "Every day that goes by is one day closer to this happening". That is also a fact.

 

 I have tried to do the best I can to improve the publics safety concerning our fire department. I have saved every email I sent out. I was wrongly accused of being "coached". A newspaper reporter told the story as she got it. Yet we continue to allow a small group of individuals who apparently don't have a clue just how other members of the fire service view their actions. This handful of individuals have had plenty of time to make some very positive changes. Apparently no one has any control over their actions. The time has come when I see the only answer as being handled through our legal system. I believe it will come down to a large property loss or injury, perhaps even someone loosing their life when that individual Fire Commander will be held responsible for their own actions.

 

  City Council members Bill N., and Joanne P., I want to say "thank you for all that you have tried to do and your understanding". As well as the other members of the city council who understand the serious issue here. But this is a city being held hostage by a handful of defying individuals, who have absolutely no concern for anybody except themselves. They are willing to put each and every one of us at risk to satisfy their own needs. However, I will promise you this. the next time one of them makes the wrong move, I will do my very best to make sure they are dealt with in the proper manner through a court of law.

 

  End of Quote.

 

  Let me also add that I made mention of the fact of proven conflicting details on the 911 Dispatch reports when shown to me by the reporter. As well as one unknown person calling herself "Jane Q. Citizen" sending an email to that reporter stating that after she left and filing for a FOI requesting those dispatch records, one individual was reported to be in  a "Panic Mode". She named that person who has ties to at least one or two of those original four serious incidents reported.  

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