Tuesday, May 15, 2012

It is what it is

 AFD Chief Tim Nelson

Maybe it's a Holyoke thing, as former Police Chief Anthony Scott was widely known and respected for his "call them as he sees them" soundbites the local media thrived on.  Maybe Fire Chief Tim Nelson picked it up from Scott, or maybe--since Nelson served that rough and tumble city for 29 years--the other way around.

While calling a group of Hampshire College kids "idiots" for climbing up on a high roof, in the rain, late at night, may upset the genteel lily white Wimbledon sense of protocol so prevalent in our little town, it certainly was accurate...and succinct.

As the Chief pointed out three months ago when AFD responded to rescue another idiot, "The guy on the mountain made a bad choice but he had a choice. Those people who truly need our help don't have a choice."

Besides, the Chief had just endured almost three hours of Amherst Town Meeting (waiting to defend fire department equipment requests contained in an upcoming capital article), which would put any sane person in a surly mood.

Cost for the 48 minute rescue:  $550


Anonymous said...

Way to go Chief! everyone is too afraid to hurt feelings these days. I commend him for being vocal, sending a message. This PC lil town needs to grow a set and start being realistic. Quiet ole Amehrst has many problems, crime, and issues larger cities do, no sense hiding it. Keep it up Chief- You are highly respected! Thanks Larry.

Helen said...

That's funny. When I saw it on Fireground 360 last night, I said the same thing to my husband!

Anonymous said...

I think he should be applauded for not saying what he REALLY wanted to call them...

Anonymous said...

This "little" town needs to wake up and relize that its not so little. Good job to the Chief for saying what was needed to be said.

Adam Sweet said...

They were absolutely idiots. Absolutely. Stupid to be up there, stupid to do what they did and stupid to need help. Nobody's questioning that. People (myself included) are objecting to the Chief 1) publicly shaming them and 2) billing them. I think shaming them and billing them is such BS. If you have every Chief of every town publicly shaming people for leaving a pot too long on the stove and starting a kitchen fire, or some drunk driver hitting a tree, or some other act of stupidity, then you'll have a black mark the community. And if you start billing people for every "stupid" thing they do, then people will think twice about calling for help. For example, last year my 2 year old swallowed something that smelled like kerosene to me. I called poison control and they told me to call 911. The ambulance that arrived took us to Bay State and cost my insurance company $900, $250 of which I had to pay out of pocket. You can bet your ass I will think twice before calling them again!

Anyway, I think an official with such a public presence should think twice before using words like "stupid" when he's merely talking about DOING HIS JOB!

LarryK said...

Using "some drunk driver hitting a tree" as simply an "act of stupidity" is probably not the best example to bolster your case.

Brittini Benton was recently indicted for manslaughter and drunken driving, resulting in the death of a 24 year old motorcyclist on the Hadley/Amherst border.

She had a previous record of hitting a tree while drunk driving.

Maybe if a top official had jumped all over her after the first incident she would not have killed an innocent man in the second.

Anonymous said...

Don't do stupid shit and you won't have to worry about being called out as stupid. Pretty simple.

Anonymous said...

To paraphrase George Carlin, maybe we can classify AFD callers as "idiots" and "nincompoops"

Idiots are those who cause dangerous situations through action (climbing on roof).

Nincompoops are those who cause dangerous situations through inaction (forgetting to clean dryer vent).

Both should billed, but maybe at different multipliers.

Anonymous said...

Mr Sweet,
If, in the future, you have to think twice about calling 911 for a possible life threatening issue regarding your child, you will also be classified as an idiot. To say the least...

Ed said...

How the hell does it take 48 minutes, the full resources of the AFD and cost $500 to put a basic extension ladder up against the side of a building and say "Hey F***heads, would you like to climb down or would you prefer to be up there in the rain all night?"

Yes, sending more people than you need -- if they aren't otherwise occupied, is always a good idea. Sending equipment you don't need is also always a good idea as well. And I will not defend an asinine stunt like this.

But I like to think that if that ambulance was suddenly more needed somewhere else, they would divert it (and its crew) under the general triage principle of worst emergency gets dealt with first. Likewise, if the engine and its crew was needed, I like to think that Hampshire College Security (who hopefully were on scene) would have been asked to remain and the schmucks on the roof told "we have a fire to go put out, someone will be back for you when we have a chance."

And someone -- possibly a mutual aid crew would deal with the schmucks on the roof, after enough people and equipment had gotten to the more dire emergency.

This is competent fire department management, this is a competent command structure and a department that works as a team and is staffed by professionals. I like to think that we have all of that.

Furthermore, if your guys aren't going out on stuff like this, then they have to do training exercises because if you don't keep your practice and teamwork up, when you really need it you don't have it.

Hence one of two things. Either we have gross incompetence in the AFD or we have an AFD creating unnecessary concern amongst the residents because a competent and professional fire department can (and should) divert and respond to a more dire emergency from the field. If we had a motorcycle accident and bystanders and/or police officers performing CPR in the middle of the street and the entire AFD shift was down to Hampshire College for this, I like to think that they would instantly be re-deployed to the more dire emergency and that someone would get the schmucks off the roof when they got a chance.

One of Jason Vassal's many gripes was that he was taken to the hospital in a police car. I always suspected that was because the third ambulance crew was needed to super-staff the other two ambulances that were then rushing his seriously-injured victims directly to BayState, that the triage principle had cannibalized the third crew.

I always suspected that a police car and mutual aid was all we had left and the UMPD made the decision not ask for that.

LarryK said...

It was not exactly the "full resources of the AFD" as only an ambulance and one firetruck were involved.

And it was dark and raining, so 48 minutes sounds about right.

Anonymous said...

How frightening it must be to look out at a world in which everyone in every line of work is less competent and less smart than you are!

To realize that one is not the smartest man not only in Amherst, but in the regions beyond!

That is the plight of poor Ed.

Somebody's got to do it, and Ed is that man. Thanks for bearing this terrible burden, big guy.

Dr. Ed said...

It is stupid for someone to leave their car (or home) unlocked and with the keys in the ignition. Should the APD bill the homeowner who does this and whose car is stolen?

We all agree this is stupid -- but billing the homeowner for the arrest and prosecution of the thief?

OK, a more difficult one -- 19-year-old undergrad wearing a micro-mini skirt so short that I can clearly tell she is wearing no underwear. She is planning to go to a frat party like that, and planning to get drunk out of her mind.

(I was the faculty adviser and there wasn't an older woman that I could ask (beg/plead) to have the conversation for me.)

I had/have no problem saying that it was stupid for her to even walk across campus like that, and even more stupid to go get drunk in a frathouse in that attire. While there would be one and only one person responsible were she to be raped -- the rapist -- that did not negate the fact that she was taking unnecessary irresponsible risks, in a word was being "stupid" in at least not wearing underwear.

In both cases, there is a clear distinction between doing something stupid and criminal liability. Another example -- it is against the law to go beat people up, but would it not also be "stupid" for me to stand on the (town) sidewalk outside a frathouse (back when we had them) and scream insults at the top of my lungs?

What legal authority does the town have to bill those Hampshire kids? Because they were "stupid"?

How about all the times the AFD has to cut handcuffs off people engaged in various sorts of gay sex acts with unintended consequences? At the risk of being called homophobic, I feel safe saying folk didn't quite think things through as far as they ought to have....

OK, what about the distraught young lady crying because her marriage had been called off? Do you bill her for the time of the officer and the mileage of the cruiser used to drive her home?

I consider this part of the social contract. Larry and I will disagree if the college students are net payers or consumers, but the flip side is how much are you willing to pay for local control?

No, we don't bill for this stuff.

Dr. Ed said...

The ambulance that arrived took us to Bay State and cost my insurance company $900, $250 of which I had to pay out of pocket. You can bet your ass I will think twice before calling them again!

Wow -- that is about three times what I thought they got from an insurance company....

Three things:

1: If they are getting $900 from an insurance company, they are getting at least $1000 from UMass which gives them (and Northampton Fire) 100% payment.

So if you have 27 runs to campus on a weekend, that is $2,700 and if you figure a 3-man crew (which is generous, Lifeline Ambulance has a 2-man crew) and that comes to $900 per EMT.

And unless we are paying firefighters a hell of a lot more than I think we are, $900 pays for a slot (not necessarily the same individual) for the whole weekend. Someone who does a lot more than just haul drunken UM kids across the river.

The town is making a profit -- and why are there the complaints about it?!?!?!

2: As to Adam Sweet's 2-year-old, the fact that they went directly to Bay State and not CDH says something to me that it may not to you. You could have driven the child there yourself -- I probably would have. (I likely wouldn't even have bothered with Poison Control.) My guess is that they either fed activated charcoal and/or pumped the stomach and while I hope your kid was/is OK, this could have gotten quite nasty. If it was kerosene - and I don't know why - had the kid vomited, there is a real risk of pneumonia and other nasty stuff.

3: Then there is Chapter 51A, which I consider a violation of the 13th Amendment. My teaching certificate is in Maine, not Massachusetts, otherwise I would be legally required to forward your statement that you "will think twice" before seeing medical attention for your child to DSS - or whatever Deval is calling it this week.

I think the mandated reporter stuff is bullshit -- but it is the law and I mention that just as a "heads' up."

BTW, I am not faulting you for the 2-year-old getting into something, they do -- but how on earth did you not know what the liquid was?!?! Were there not container(s) which had held it?

Anonymous said...

Dr. Ed said, "How about all the times the AFD has to cut handcuffs off people engaged in various sorts of gay sex acts with unintended consequences?"
Hmm, Ed, since this stuff wouldn't show up in the police logs, how would you know? Hope those cuffs didn't leave a mark....

Dr. Ed, Gulag Escapee said...

LarryK said...
It was not exactly the "full resources of the AFD" as only an ambulance and one firetruck were involved.

That was my initial thoughts too -- but then we have an AFD Chief telling the community that had another emergency occurred concurrent with this, the response to the other emergency "would definitely have been delayed" because of this.

So anything that is going to "definitely delay" their ability to respond to something else is doing so because it is somehow tying up their full resources.

And I still want to know under what law the Chief has the right to send a bill to those kids -- why shouldn't they go to the DA or FBI and allege extortion? How is this different from a formal demand for a bribe?

LarryK said...

AFD would have had the usual Monday night minimum staffing level: 7 professional firefighters split between two stations, Central and North.

The ambulance requires two and the truck at least two, but maybe more.

Leaving only two firefighters covering one of the stations. In the even of a major structure fire, that's not much of a response.

Since Hampshire College is tax exempt and, unlike UMass or Amherst College, contributes nothing for emergency services, I would hope they simply write a check to the town to make this go away.

Dr. Ed said...

AFD would have had the usual Monday night minimum staffing level: 7 professional firefighters split between two stations, Central and North.

I was under the impression that North was largely staffed by the UM Student Volunteer company.

That it had the dorm space and one of the (quite valued) perks of being a good/qualified volunteer was the ability to live there. Something that one might not think of until one realizes the price (high) and quality (low) of other student housing options in town.

I presume they are there in the summertime -- these are ambitious kids willing to take all the "s**t shifts" to build their resumes and a lot of kids are taking summer courses anyway, it is the only way possible now to graduate from UM in 4 years.

Hence, presuming you have three on site (and my guess is a rainy Monday night would have at least five 'home') that brings your de-facto 'rollable' staffing to ten -- seven paid and three UM/Volunteers. And while perhaps not as well trained as the "professional" firefighters, they are a lot better trained than people either realize or give them credit for.

So you still had 5 "guys" that could roll, that is one, maybe two trucks -- you really need two guys on a hose, you really need one guy watching the gauges on the pumper, but this would give you both that and two 2-person hose teams, each with a "professional" on the nozzle.

That is a pretty impressive response for just the first alarm, and while I don't know the AFD protocol for striking the second alarm, anything two hose teams can't instantly knock down ought to count.

Compare this to a first alarm from Hadley or South Hadley. Hadley still has (I believe) an all-volunteer fire department which means that someone has to go get the fire truck and everyone else responds to the scene -- you get who you get when they can get there.

South Hadley has two fire districts, I believe each staffed with just one firefighter 24/7 who drives the truck to the scene with everyone else called in from home. They may not even have this 24/7 -- I am not sure.

And there is more: we live in the era of mobile electronics -- the off duty paid professionals can be called in, and as this is both overtime and excitement, not to mention sense of duty, you'll likely get most of them, along with any of the UM Student/Volunteers that you don't already have.

Amherst used to have (and I believe still does have) "Call Firefighters" who aren't fully trained firefighters but have some training and will follow orders. Extra manpower if you needed to, say, carry people out of Ann Whalen or something.

So it was more than just two firefighters left in reserve, I don't think this town was left as unprotected as you might say it was -- but if you are, indeed, right on that -- then I go back to my initial statement of the entire AFD being sent on the Hampster run.

which is it Larry? This is mutually exclusive, either they de-facto "sent the entire department" or there was an engine company in reserve, enough for a from-house roll of an ambulance or the first alarm of a working structural fire.

OK, attack Ed -- whatever -- we need to calm down this hysteria of people likely to burn to death in their bedrooms because AFD is tied up with, in this case, Hampsters on a roof. I know that it is not in the best interests of the union to admit this, nor of the Chief, not when both are seeking more paid professionals and more money to pay them with -- but the reality is that Amherst is blessed with resources in addition to just the paid professionals.

Ed said...

One other thing -- if you figure $1000 UM/UHS payment for a student ambulance ride based on Adam Sweet's $900 and the UM policy of 100% payment to AFD & NhFD and Larry K's 2-person staffing figure -- if you calculate on all of this, you get $500 per firefighter/EMT for each and every drunken UM kid hauled to CDH.

If you figure the cost to the town (including benefits) for a firefighter/EMT is $50/hour, that is still 10 hours of time. And there is no way it takes a full hour to go to CDH and come back -- remember that the UMPD has already done the primary assessment and intercepted the 911 call so there is stuff that AFD doesn't have to do.

10-1=9 -- nine hours of "free" firefighter/EMT paid for by the one hour ambulance run. Calculated this way, 28 runs to campus tied up 56 hours of FF/EMT time, but paid for 1,008 hours of it.

Calculated by the standard UM 37.5 hour workweek (and I know firefighter schedules are different, that is 26.9 weeks or over half a year.

I see a great deal of complaint about the student use of AFD/ambulance services without any mention of the revenue which the town is getting from this. I clearly present how I reached my numbers, and instead of attacking me, if you don't like my numbers, show where they are wrong.

Do this before you start asking students who don't do stupid things like climb up on roofs or pass out drunk in the Mullins Center to pay even more for this.

Anonymous said...

Ed, please check for FACTS before posting. So many things wrong its hard to begin, not that listing them would matter to you.
"I Believe" and "presuming" are not facts.
After all those years in college, don't you know how to do research before making statements?

Dr. Ed said...

Anonymous said...
Hmm, Ed, since this stuff wouldn't show up in the police logs, how would you know? Hope those cuffs didn't leave a mark..

Actually, it has shown up there (in the Bulletin and it might actually surprise you to know that I know how to read.

And I am going to add one more thing here: psychologists state that those who make unfounded allegations about the sexual orientation of others (as this anonymous schmuck did) are themselves unsure about and concerned with their own sexual orientation.

Memory is that it didn't show up in the fire log, but instead the police log with mention of a police request to fire to cut them off.

Dr. Ed said...

Folks, if you want to claim that my facts and figures are wrong, then post your own.

I WAS TOLD by high ranking AFD officers some years back when they had an open-house for UM students considering joining the student volunteer company (which I believe was called Engine 3 at the time) -- we were officially told that students live in those rooms and they showed us a couple of them.

I personally know someone who once was a member of the AFD call force.

If someone wants to post the entire roster of the AFD, including students and call firefighters right on down to the janitors and who plows the driveway, fine. Otherwise, STFU.

I freely admit that I don't have accurate cost breakdowns for ambulance runs, and all I can do is make reasonable guesses. If someone wants to post the annual salary and earnings (including overtime) of all the firefighter/emts (which *is* public info), if someone wants to post all the "roll" and "available" times for *all* (not just some) of the UM ambulance runs, great. Otherwise, STFU.

If Hadley has suddenly decided to loosen its Yankee pursestrings and staff its Fire Station 24/7 with 3/5/50 or whatever number of guys per shift, post that. Likewise South Hadley and Granby and Leverett and Shutesbury and such.

If you want to compare yourselves to Northampton, present the rationale which goes beyond just population. Hamp has how many miles of I-91, how many do you have? Hamp still has heavy industry, ranging from the Coke plant to the periscope plant to other stuff -- Amherst has no industry. Hamp has a hospital, a jail, Hamp has at least three grocery stores, Amherst has half of one. Hamp has neighborhoods of old wooden buildings close together, Amherst not so much.

If my figures are wrong, present the right ones. What we have right now appears to be fear mongering and I have a real problem with that. We have a Chief who is telling people that the safety of the entire town was jeopardized by sending 5 firefighters down to Hampster but that wasn't the whole shift, but apparently it was. While not.

Calling me names accomplishes nothing. I understand that the union wants more money and the Chief wants more toys -- fine. It is the same thing that the DOD did for years and how we wound up $100 hammers and $500 toilet seats -- and F-22s that we don't dare let fly after having retired all the F-14s and there might possibly be some issues with that....

Post your facts, all the facts and not just the "cherry picked" ones, or shut the **** up.

Dr. Ed said...

And what IS the AFD protocol for striking the second and third (etc.) alarm? What is the mutual aid protocol, at what point are other FDs rolling in (or in the converse, AFD rolling out?

Who covers Amherst?

No, I neither have intention nor time to go be filing Sunshine requests and the rest for all this information. But if you want to argue that 7 on a shift isn't enough, you really need to open up all your books and present all the info. Not just cherry pick...

Anonymous said...

So Following along with Eds General logic, I could post a bunch of stuff I have heard, or imagine, or suppose about him and then he would have to come back with proof? Cool!

Anonymous said...

Ed said, "And I am going to add one more thing here: psychologists state that those who make unfounded allegations about the sexual orientation of others (as this anonymous schmuck did) are themselves unsure about and concerned with their own sexual orientation.

Memory is that it didn't show up in the fire log, but instead the police log with mention of a police request to fire to cut them off."

and memory serves that the bulletin didn't say anything about sexual orientation, nor would it, so you might want to think about your accusations. assuming that only homosexuals would use handcuffs is way off base and quite unfounded. so you might also want to reread your first statement there.

Anonymous said...

Look at the towns website, under fire dept. it states all kinds of facts. And there are links to the permanent, call and student sites that will keep you informed too.
By the way, nobody said the students dont live at north, chill dude.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Ed sure does sound like the north end of southbound Mr. Ed.

Anonymous said...

whether ed is gay or not really has nothing to do with the topic here.

what was that topic again?

Anonymous said...

ed... you don't have TIME to file sunshine requests? really?

i'll bet it's all the time you're spending on writing that book, huh?

Anonymous said...

I don't beleive in taxation without representation. Until Amherst gives up on the Town Meeting system of government, which effectively disenfranchises students, I don't think any of the universities/colleges should fork over a penny.

Anonymous said...

Ed said, "I personally know someone who once was a member of the AFD call force."

OMG, so do I! Lets start a club!

Ed said...

Well, I read it in the Boston Globe (good enough a cite for you leftist schmucks?) that the AFD isn't going to be able to bill the Hamsters after all. See

And ignoring most of the barbs, I have to ask one thing: *IF* it is agreed that there are trained UM student/volunteer firefighters living in the North station, then why the f*ck aren't they available to help fight fires?

And if they are, which they are, then why aren't they considered part of the resource which is available to help fight fires?

I love this Alice-in-Wonderland world known as the Brave New People's Republic of Amherst....