While most people have tipped their hats to the city and the Augusta Fire Department for their handling of the aftermath of last month’s devastating ice storm, not everyone is singing the city’s praises.
The Augusta Professional Fire Fighters Association sent out a notice to city leaders this week stating that while the organization appreciates the “efforts of our men and women during the recent ice storm,” the group has some urgent concerns about the way some matters were handled.
“As firefighters, we are fully aware of situations that arise during disasters,” the press release states. “We also understand that some of those issues will be exposed and addressed as the disaster quells. It is imperative that Fire Administration or the City of Augusta should be held accountable for this lack of preparedness and should present a solution so that this never occurs again.”
The firefighters’ association lists four major concerns city employees faced during the storm:
1. There was no contingency plan for staffing in place during the worst ice storm in the city’s history. Fire stations were closed down from lack of having said plan in place. “This was a time when the residents of our city needed our assistance most,” the press release states. “The policy used for staffing in normal working conditions does not and should not apply to disaster situations. There must be a contingency plan in place when disaster strikes.”
2. There was no contingency plan in place to transport employees to or from work.
“If a contingency plan was in place for transporting personnel to and from work, it was never discussed nor did it make its way down the chain of command,” the press release states.
There was no contingency plan in place for the welfare of the men and women
working during this time at the fire stations.
“No one in the command staff checked on personnel ensuring their safety and well being,” the press release states. “Most firefighters were not even afforded the opportunity to check on their own families as there were no contingency plans in place to address this.”
Propane-fueled generators at the stations ran out of propane. Stations affected by this oversight had to be closed down and staff relocated.
“Generators being low on propane was reported to the administration via email prior to the storm,” the press release states. “If contingency plans were in place, the men and women of this department were never notified of them.”
The main theme from the press release is definitely that there weren’t proper contingency plans in place to ensure that the firefighters could properly do their job and assist the public during the storm.
As a result, the firefighters are asking for a full review of the entire situation during the storm.
“The Augusta Professional Fire Fighters Association is requesting and demanding an evaluation and assessment of our complete Command Staff and their responsibilities and assignments,” the press release states. “This cannot happen again.”
These demands might make some in the fire administration a little nervous, but when the city faces an emergency like the ice storm last month, preparedness is definitely key.
In related news, there have been reports of more than 20 firefighters who apparently called in sick during the ice storm. Insiders say if it can be proven that these firefighters were simply playing hooky, these individuals may soon be feeling the heat.