Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Where is the fire?

If anyone thinks that they see a pattern on this blog, they may be correct if they have guessed that we are opening discussions on every department in the city of Alexandria. In the spirit of self-analysis, I will admit that I am off-base on some things, but I am going to throw a ball fairly often or I would be a lazy pitcher. I am looking for you to call 'em when they are bad and throw your two cents in. No offense intended and none taken.
Now to the subject at hand. I had visited a fire station a couple of years ago and discovered a very sad, but interesting circumstance. After some small talk, I was shown a pumper truck with a hole in the tank that was not allowed to be repaired for budgetary reasons. So, you say, big deal, just hook up to the hydrant. Great advice except that the adapter (est. cost $120.00) to connect the supply hose was kept on the ladder truck and, by God, the city was NOT going to buy another one for the pumper.
The firemen on duty were fairly satisfied with their pay and scheduled raises as their union has been fairly good negotiators at the state level and taken mandatory pay raises out of the hands of local officials (which was wise). To me, the Fire Department appears to be well staffed, trained and equipped. I form this judgement because I do not hear anything to the contrary. I will admit this is a faulty way of making a judgement because that is what I thought whenever the story about the adapter was relayed to me. I was also reminded that failure to perform as intended leads to loss of life in their business. Any observations?


bird said...

If we're in a budget surplus situation how can the non-repair of a fire truck be due to budgetary issues? On top of this the City can participate in grant application processes which either fund the full cost of a new truck or match up to a certain amount for new trucks depending on which grant they apply for. Makes me think the new administration is asleep at the wheel already. How many mayoral assistants does he have now?

Spanky said...

Let me clear up the time frame. The visit I paid to the fire station happened a little over two years ago and I do not know the status of the firetruck today. The facts I relayed are indicative of how business has been done in the past and rather foolishly to say the least.
We are in a budget surplus situation in teh operating budget only. The Capital Outlay budget is short 62 Million Dollars on projects that were budgeted in 1996 and to date have not been completed. I am quite sure the figure will be greater as additional Capital expense is calculated for inflation and deferred maintenance of infrastructure.
Fast Track is a money grab for one major pet project, and that is Versailles Boulevard. The money accrued to date in the Capital Outlay account is what was budgeted for Versailles expansion alone, therefore the Fast Track signs posted on various small maintenance projects are part of the smoke as in smoke and mirrors while used to placate the public. So where is the 10% to 50% match going to come from to fund new equipment purchases if a grant is available?
Also, you can bet the new administration is wide awake with a firm grip on the wheel as well as I am sure he is hiring enough assistants to deal with the skeletons that keep falling out of the closets - however great that number becomes.