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Los Angeles Firefighter - United Firefighters of Los Angeles City

The Los Angeles Firefighter Official Publication of United Firefighters of Los Angeles City—Local 112, IAFF, AFL-CIO-CLC VOL. 41, NO. 5 September/Oc...

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Los Angeles Firefighter Official Publication of United Firefighters of Los Angeles City—Local 112, IAFF, AFL-CIO-CLC VOL. 41, NO. 5

September/October 2003

LAFD Fire 3 Families Get Favorable Judgement “Helicopter manufacturer that withheld information from federal agency may be liable for crash.” …2nd District California Court of Appeal, Division 8 The widows of three Los Angeles City firefighters killed in the 1998 helicopter crash may sue Bell Helicopter Textron for their deaths, a court recently ruled. The aircraft’s manufacturer received a favorable ruling from a trial judge two years earlier who ruled that federal law barred the plaintiffs from suing because the LAFD helicopter that crashed was more

than 18 years old. But the 2nd District Court of Appeal disagreed, saying that there was evidence that Bell withheld information from the FAA about five military aircraft accidents that they knew were caused by failure of identical tail rotor yokes, which caused the LAFD helicopter crash. Bell allegedly failed to report previous parts failures and in doing so was not protected by

Tragic crash of Fire 3 on March 23, 1998. Photo by Gene Blevins, CFPA

Fire 3 in action during a brush fire in 1997. Photo by Mike Meadows, CFPA

In This Issue . . . Article . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page(s) Report from the President - Workers Comp Under Fire . . . . 3 Director’s Reports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4-5 New Work Comp Law Affects City Firefighters . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Grieving Behind the Badge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 24th Annual Firemen’s Reunion in Grass Valley . . . . . . . . . 8-9 W.T.C - the Aftermath . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Firefighter Charities - Who to Trust? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Home from the War Front - David Danielson . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Leadership: Some Discredited Theories. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Message from the War Front - Rudy Santiago . . . . . . . . . . . 14 “Thanks for the Memories” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 In Memoriam - Bill Shonborn. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Kudos to City Council and Fire Commission Members. . . . 16

The Los Angeles Firefighter 1571 Beverly Boulevard Los Angeles, California 90026 (#ISSN01907573)

the General Aviation act of 1994. The act eliminates the liability to manufacturers when the aircraft has been in use for 18 years or more. The LAFD helicopter that crashed was 22 years old. However, there is an exeption for withholding information from the FAA. LAFD Apparatus Operator crew member Michael D. McComb, 48 and Paramedics Michael A. Butler and Eric F.

Reiner, both 33, were killed in March 1998, while rushing a critically injured 11-year-old car crash victim from Sun Valley to Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles, about 10 miles away. The child, Norma Vides of Sun Valley, also died in the helicopter crash. LAFD Pilot Steven L. Robinson and Firefighter crew member Dennis Silgen were seriously injured.

The National Transportation and Safety Board determined that the crash was caused when a tail rotor separated from the aircraft in flight “due to a fatigue fracture in the yoke.” Butler v. Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc., C.A. 2nd, No. B152609, June 13, 2003, by Boland. The full text of this case appears in the Daily Appellate Report on page 6547.

LAFD Harbor Museum Dedication On Thursday August 7th, Councilperson Janice Hahn joined LAFD firefighters, family members, and friends to speak at the grand opening of the LAFD Harbor Museum housed at old Fire Station 36 in San Pedro. Ms. Hahn has long been one of the most ardent and vocal supporters of the LAFD, and her heartfelt comments once again demonstrated why she is so well thought of by firefighters and their Union. She especially endeared herself to the many active and retired firefighters who hail from San

Pedro by suggesting that no other community of the City had given so many of its brave sons and daughters to the ranks of the LAFD. Councilperson Hahn restates support for firefighters Only a few short months ago Councilperson Hahn spoke at the dedication of four new fireboats built to protect the Port of Los Angeles. At that ceremony she buoyed the spirits of the firefighters assigned to those boats by pointing out that while

the new vessels were wonderful additions to the LAFD’s capabilities, it was the hard work and dedication of firefighters that has saved lives and property in the harbor over the years. Ms. Hahn went on to publicly state her intention to maintain the current staffing levels on LAFD fireboats. Fire Chief misspoke on reduction in staffing Just weeks after the dedication ceremony the Harbor and Fire Departments entered into Continued on page 5

PERIODICAL Postage Paid at Los Angeles, CA

September/October, 2003

Councilmember Janice Hahn addressing the crowd at the dedication of the LAFD Harbor Museum. Photo by Mike McOsker

Page 2

Los Angeles Firefighter

City Council Honors Firefighters

September/October 2003

UFLAC 2002-2004 Executive Board UFLAC 2002-2004 Executive Board PRESIDENT Patrick S. McOsker, Engineer. . . . . . . . . . . . UFLAC Office SECRETARY Don R. Forrest, Inspector I . . . . . . . . . . . . . . UFLAC Office FIRST VICE PRESIDENT Michael K. McOsker, Engineer. . . . . . . . . . . UFLAC Office SECOND VICE PRESIDENT Stephen E. Norris, Captain II. . . . . . . . . . Fire Station 63-B TREASURER Brian K. Hishinuma, Captain II. . . . . . . . . Fire Station 38-C DIRECTOR Randy W. Beaty, Captain II . . . . . . . . . . . Fire Station 60-B James G. Featherstone, Captain II, . . . . Fire Station 64-A Lawrence D. Fierro, Firefighter III . . . . Fire Station 114-B Paul Gilbrook, Apparatus Operator . . . . Fire Station 47-B Ted Nonini, Firefighter III . . . . . . . . . . . . Fire Station 70-C EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE DIRECTOR Jerry Brakeman, Retired Firefighter Attendant. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . UFLAC Office EDITOR Jim Perry, Retired Fire Captain II. . . . . . . . UFLAC Office

Councilmember Tom LaBonge presents City Council resolutions to members of Task Force 35 in honor of the physical rescue of their fellow firefighters at a structure fire in the Hollywood Hills on January 1, 2003. Front row, left to right, FF Tony Parr, FF Mike Vitar and FF Rio-Bec Hernandez. Back Row, left to right, FF John Garnica, FF Louis Vargas, FF Tom Nyberg, Eng Ray Peralta, Chief William Bamattre, Capt II Joe Castro, Councilmember Tom LaBonge, Capt I Rick Godinez, Eng John Cano and A/O Dave Rogers.

If You See An Error… The Los Angeles Firefighter strives to maintain accuracy and fairness in all stories, graphics, photographs and other copy that appears in our union newspaper. It is our practice to correct errors in the issue immediately following their discovery. If you have a correction or clarification request, please call the UFLAC office at 800-2528352, Ext. 208 or email the editor at: [email protected] ________________

In the last issue of the Los Angeles Firefighter we printed the powerful article and photo of retired Firefighter Brian Prosser hugging a woman from his wheelchair. We failed to credit the photographer, Alex Horvath, Photography Editor for the Bakersfield Californian. Our apologies to Mr. Horvath. Editor


Station Stewards Banks, Michelle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FS-QIS Castro, Joe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FS-35-C Carpenter, Gary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . High Rise Unit Coleman, Joe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FS-47-C Crandall, Michael . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FS-105-A Delgado, Ray . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FS- 42-B Fabela, Dave . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FS-27-A Fletcher, Craig . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FS-109-C Gibson, Jim. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FS-6-A Haro, Ray . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FS-23-A James, George . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . OCD-C Jaminal, Adelino. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FS-68-A Just, James A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FS-69-A Kennedy, Cameron. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FS-15-A Kennington, Tom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FS-3-C Kleckner, Mark . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FS-40-C Merrel, Brett. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FS-4-A Molina, Alexander. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . OCD-A Myers, Ron . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FS-96-A Oropeza, Daniel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FS-1-C Pimentle, Dave . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FS-43-B Powell, Mathew . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FS-85-B Pumphrey, Robert . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FS-34-C Rainey, Tom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FS-80-C Ramsey, Bill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FS-74-A Raya, David . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FS-44-B Riley, Bryan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FS-12-C Ruffino, Bob . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FS-73-A Ruvalcaba, Leonard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FS -17-C Semerjian, Paul . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FS-105-C Smith, Doak . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FS-14-A Sullivan, John . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FS-92-A Souter, Scott . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FS-9-C Sutliff, Steve . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FS-98-C Teeter, Jason . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FS-60-B Torres, Lou . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FS-20-C Uglesich, Michael . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Harbor Industrial Unit

September and October Station Stewards Meetings Time: 7:30 a.m. Prior to Monthly General Membership Meetings

General Membership Meetings

Paramedic Committee Members

September 17 “A” Shift 0900 Hours

David Pimentle Committee Chair. FS-43-B Bill Ramsey . . . . FS-74-A Dave Barnes . . . . FS-86-C Mike Brown . . . . FS-84-A Cedrick Cleveland. FS-38-B Ray Delgado . . . . FS-42-B Jim Gibson . . . . . . FS-6-A Aaron Mungary. FS-47-C Dave Raya . . . . . FS-44-B Paul Semerjian FS-105-C Stacy Taylor . . . . FS-27-C Lou Torres . . . . . FS-20-C

October 29 “C” Shift 0900 Hours UFLAC-Union Offices 1571 Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles Refreshments and free parking Available

These emblems on the masthead of any labor publication certifies that the publication is a member in good standing of the International Labor Communications Association and is bound to observe the ILCA Code of Ethics IAFF and AFL-CIO affiliates have prior approval to reprint or excerpt articles in the Los Angeles Firefighter — Please include credit line. Note: Photos and cartoons may not be reprinted without the expressed written permission of the photographer or artist.

The Los Angeles Firefighter (ISSN #0190-7573) Local 112, IAFF, AFL-CIO-CLC Official Publication of United Firefighters of Los Angeles City is Published Bi-Monthly Periodical Postage paid at Los Angeles, CA Known Office of Publication is United Firefighters of Los Angeles City, 1571 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, California 90026-5798 POSTMASTER: Send Address Changes to The Los Angeles Firefighter 1571 Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026-5798

Union Office Phone Numbers Administration: (213) 895-4006 - (213) 485-2091 - Toll Free (800) 252-8352 Benefits: (213) 895-4990 Code-a-phone: (213) 485-2090 FAX: (213) 250-5678 EAP Office: (213) 895-0910 or (800) 252-8352 EAP FAX: (213) 481-1038 EAP 24 Hr. Help Line Answering Service: (213) 250-1212 Affiliations International Assn. of Fire Fighters, AFL-CIO-CLC California Professional Fire Fighters, AFL-CIO-CLC L.A. County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO-CLC California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO-CLC American Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO-CLC International Labor Communications Association, AFL-CIO-CLC Western Labor Communications Association, AFL-CIO-CLC Los Angeles Fire and Police Protective League Los Angeles Firefighter Newspaper Staff Jim Perry-Editor [email protected] Member of the Communications Workers of America CWA Local 9400, Southern California Newspaper Guild, AFL-CIO-CLC Harry Carter, Ph.D - Staff Writer Aaron Espy - Staff Writer Peggy Sweeney Rainone - Staff Writer Jerry Smith - Staff Writer Contributing Photographers Ross Benson, CFPA Brian Litt, CFPA Bonnie Burrow Juan Guerra, Valley News Service Isaac Burks, LAFD Rick McClure, LAFD Gene Blevins, CFPA Allison Meadows Brian Haimer, CFPA Mike Meadows, CFPA Bill Hartenstein, CFPA Jeff Miller, CFPA Chris Jensen, CFPA Martin Nate Rawner, CFPA Gavin Kaufman Boris Yaro Note: CFPA denotes membership in the California Fire Photographers Association This union newspaper is printed by a union printer on union-made recycled paper.

September/October 2003

Los Angeles Firefighter

Page 3

Report from the President

Photo by Joe Ortiz, LAFD-HS

Pat McOsker

Workers Compensation Under Fire Studies have shown that firefighting is a career choice that takes an average of 7 years off of a person’s life. Recently the Personnel Department hosted an all day “summit meeting” to discuss the state of workers compensation in the City of Los Angeles. The gathering was attended by representatives of every aspect of city government, management and labor, a group of about fifty people in all. Steve Norris and I were there for UFLAC. Councilman Dennis Zine began the meeting by stating that the cost of work comp in Los Angeles had more than doubled over the last seven years. He estimated that the City will spend about $142 million this fiscal year on injured workers. Speaking from his unique perspective as a former Police Protective League Board Member and current Chairman of the Council’s Personnel Committee, Mr. Zine described how rising work comp costs will effect the goals of every department head and labor organization in Los Angeles. The Councilman summed it up nicely saying, “There is only so much money to go around.” Workers Comp is still a bargain for the City Even in its current condition however, workers compensation is a tremendous bargain for the employer. The basic premise of work comp is a simple agreement. The boss agrees to provide injured workers prompt, decent medical care and to continue some level of compensation while the employee is off work. In exchange the employee waives the right to sue for the cost of those things, and to recover damages for negligence by the boss. This “deal with the devil” was worked out between labor and management back in the 1920’s during an era of increasing litigation over worker’s injuries. Ever since then, labor’s challenge has been to protect work comp benefits for their members. …the firefighter’s rule of law. We firefighters have two added reasons to jealously guard our rights under the agreement. The first reason is the firefighter’s rule of law. In our profession the employee

cannot sue a third party for common negligence. The legal theory, or justification is, “you knew the job was dangerous when you took it.” That ties right in with the second reason that firefighters depend so dearly on work comp benefits: Firefighting really is all that dangerous. Firefighting…the most hazardous profession in America As a matter of fact, ours is the most dangerous profession in America. On the average about 100 firefighters die line of duty deaths in this country annually. On top of that, every year hundreds more of our brothers and sisters succumb to ailments classified as duty connected. Studies have shown that firefighting is a career choice that takes an average of 7 years off of a person’s life. In any given year a firefighter is 8 times more likely to get hurt on the job than the average worker. Statistically, each year half of all active firefighters suffer an on-the-job injury. Nobody pays more dearly for the type of work they do, nobody cares more deeply about the work itself, and nobody deserves fair treatment in the work comp system more than firefighters. Pre-designate a work comp doctor As you can imagine, labor and management representatives came to the recent work comp summit with different perspectives. Even so, there were certain things we did agree on. We agreed that the lion’s share of the spike in work comp expense could be attributed to the rising cost of medical care. We also agreed that work comp disputes and appeals are costly for both the City and employees, and that the only group benefiting from these disputes were lawyers. On that issue, we theorized that the City would save money by encouraging each employee to pre-designate a work comp doctor. We suggested that an employee receiving care from a physician whom they know and trust is less likely to dispute the quality of that care. To their credit, the City Attorney’s representative confirmed our theory with statistics, and the

General Manager of the Personnel Department bought in on the concept. On page 6 of this issue we have reprinted an article by attorney Bob Sherwin from our March/April edition of the Los Angeles Firefighter. I encourage you to read it, and to follow Mr. Sherwin’s advice regarding pre-designation of your doctor. Firefighters do not “milk the system” Of course there were areas where labor and management clearly disagreed. Those who administer work comp seem to believe that fraud is fairly prevalent. Steve and I saw that issue differently and said so. We explained that LAFD firefighters have so rarely “milked the system” that the Operations office has almost no work comp “convictions” to show for all of their effort over the years. In fact, the opposite can be said about the average LAFD firefighter. We are more inclined to keep working with injuries than to go off-duty with them. When firefighters do go offduty, they usually press their doctors to allow them to return to the firehouse sooner rather than later. There are several reasons why. We tend to love our profession, enjoy our coworkers and miss the firehouse when we are away. We hate to be perceived as “snivelers” or “wimps“ by our fellow firefighters. We especially hate the light-duty assignments that are more likely to occur the longer that we stay off-duty. And finally, the biggest reason we hesitate to go off-duty and strive to come back quickly is the loss of income due to the loss of overtime opportunity while off-duty. Third party “Cambridge” hired to reduce costs/benefits I contend that bad faith on the part of the employer saves the City more money than fraud wastes when it comes to firefighters. Several years ago, as the price of work comp began gnawing at the budget, the Personnel, Fire and other city departments came under pressure to do something about it. The Personnel Department hired a third party administra-

tor (now called Cambridge) to oversee work comp benefits for firefighters and cops. Although they deny it, I believe Cambridge’s strategy has been to reduce costs by reducing the benefits (care) for injured cops and firefighters. I have seen obvious IOD claims, even those where presumptive laws apply, denied by Cambridge. I have also known Cambridge to pressure doctors into returning injured firefighters to duty early, into rewriting work restrictions so that firefighters can be placed on light-duty, and in a few instances into giving up control of an injured firefighter’s care altogether. Because work comp doctors are paid by the City through Cambridge and receive new business from the City only as long as they remain on a list of doctors maintained by Cambridge, there is real motivation for them to comply. Medical Liaison’s role has changed Even the Fire Department has wilted under pressure to do something about work comp costs. Many of us remember the days when Medical Liaison’s roll in the process was limited to arranging quality care for firefighters and monitoring their duty status. Somewhere along the line management expanded that roll. We are beginning to see a few individuals assigned to Medical Liaison pressuring doctors, pressuring firefighters, and even investigating firefighters in a manner that is more properly the responsibility of Advocates assigned to Operations. So what effect does this “squeeze” have on the average firefighter? Sometimes an injured member who experiences difficulties will contact the union or a work comp lawyer for help. When we are called we assist members by making inquiries on their behalf, and if necessary, walking them through the work comp appeal process, usually with good results. In too many cases though, rather than fight Cambridge or risk conflict with Fire Department officers, firefighters simply give up on their claim. When they do they are forced to burn up their sick

time while recovering, our medical plans eat the cost of their care, and the firefighters learn tough lessons about loyalty and the LAFD family. It was interesting to hear the opinions of management people at the summit meeting. At least one department head questioned why the City would continue to pay cops and firefighters full salary while off IOD rather than the “state rate” of $490 per week. I reminded him that no matter how distasteful it may be to some people (in management), the intention has always been not to penalize a cop or firefighter for the crime of getting injured while protecting the public. Union affiliates working closely together In the coming months, UFLAC will work closely with the IAFF, the CPF and other local unions to protect work comp benefits. This issue is not going away anytime soon. As the recent state budget battle was being waged, our traditional foes in Sacramento considered agreeing to a sales tax increase in exchange for legislation that would significantly reduce benefits for injured workers. More than one of the pretenders to the throne on the Governor recall ballot is out there right now making work comp “reform” the centerpiece of their campaign. Our very good friend here in Los Angeles, Councilman Zine, has it quite right. There really is only so much money to go around. By the same token though, firefighters only get one life, one physical body and one chance for a healthy retirement. Firefighting is a dangerous business and injuries and exposures are inevitable. UFLAC will work with the City to reduce claims through improvements in firefighter safety, health and fitness. At the same time, we will defend at all cost your right to fair pay continuation and quality medical care for IOD injuries. Fraternally,

Page 4

Los Angeles Firefighter

September/October 2003

“A day’s wages for a day’s work”

When things don’t add up…Do it yourself

by Randy W. Beaty Director “A day’s wages for a day’s work”. It is a simple phrase, rich with meaning. Its focus is on “fairness”. But what happens when someone doesn’t receive a day’s wages for a day’s work? I am talking about something that goes well beyond a timekeeping mistake. We know how to fix those. There is an issue now pending before the Department that is revealing and offers some lessons for those familiar with the facts. The story you are about to read is almost unbelievable but true. At the end of fiscal year 2000/2001 our members received a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) retroactive paycheck of 4% reflecting the amount they should have received during that fiscal period. That was the good news. Those paychecks were distributed to members around October of 2001 due to an agreement between the Department, UFLAC and others. At the same time, our Payroll Services Unit was converting over from one software program to another. Data was being uninstalled and reinstalled during this time. It should also be noted that the Fire Department has what is considered to be one of the most complex pay tables in the City of Los Angeles. Accuracy in payment can sometimes be difficult.

Time constraints and misinformation During this same time Accounting personnel were working under a deadline to get checks processed and distributed. Another problem emerged as the Accounting Section relied on information from Personnel Services to provide accurate pay scale information on which to base people’s salaries, bonuses, etc. Not all of that information was accurate. One of the most miscalculated groups was EMS Supervisors. There is a matter now pending before the Department involving 21 EMS Captains and, oddly enough, one OCD dispatcher. These 22 individuals were incorrectly paid during the fiscal year in question. They were provided a retroactive paycheck based on the wrong COLA percentage. Accounting supervisors personally audited all members of the Department after the paychecks were distributed and found that these 22 had been paid, on average, 11% retroactive instead of 4% like the other 3200 of us. Once the Department learned of the perceived overpayments (believed to total over $125,000) the members were asked to pay all of the overpayment back. Four of them did. Two others settled for reduced amounts asking the Department to take into consideration the taxes and pension monies that were paid out of the overpayments. Sixteen others failed to request hearings or make arrangements for repayments with the Department. Some never received the notice for hearings. Others ignored it or were ill advised not to address the matter believing that the City was responsible for the overpayment and not the members. Overzealous and misguided abuse of discretion Rather than direct the remaining sixteen to attend a meeting and/or hearing to

address the overpayment issue, the Department turned their names over to the Office of Finance and Citywide Collections. That Office elected to borrow the letterhead of the City Attorney and threatened our members to make payment in 10 days, or else. The remark made in the letter read, “WARNING - Failure to respond may result in the filing of a lawsuit by the City or referral of your case to a private collection agency that reports delinquent accounts to credit bureaus.” In steps the Union The Union was called and President McOsker got involved. He called the City Attorney’s Office and insisted that members were entitled to hearings on the matter and entitled to be presented with written documentation from the department to support the claim of overpayment. The City Attorney’s representative agreed. She granted a 90-day extension on collections and sent a letter to the department mandating the meetings and documentation. President McOsker then assigned this writer as the sole representative to work with the 22 affected members to resolve the issue. A plan was put in motion to accurately determine what each member was entitled to during the time in question. Preparation for the hearings was under way. The combination of capable people involved, available records and a technical consultant who helped to develop accurate spread sheets made for the foundation of a solid rebuttal. “A day’s wages for a day’s work.” This simple phrase seemed to capture the essence of our argument. Significant reductions attained Hundreds of hours have been invested by these members, the

Union, the Department and even legal counselors. In June, six of the members met with the Department to conduct hearings. Five reached settlements. The Department originally billed them for over $22,000. At the end of the day a total of $1447 was collected from these five individuals. Just around 6% of the amount billed. Why such a significant reduction in the amount collected? There are many reasons. Accounting errors were found, inaccurate information coming from Personnel led to inaccurate formulas being applied to the calculations used to establish payment amounts. Wrong base salaries were in the computer software, etc. The Department modified the request from some members, taking into consideration the taxes that were paid on the overpayment along with the pension dollars that were taken out of the overpayment. Investigation reveals past discrepancies A second issue emerged regarding the Department’s acknowledgement that EMS Supervisors have been incorrectly paid based on MOU Level 8 calculations rather than on Level 9 as called for by the MOU. As a result, all affected EMS Captains have been receiving their various bonuses, (EMT, education, bilingual, etc.) based on the wrong level of pay. This matter is going to be addressed as soon as the other issue is resolved. There will be more to follow here. Changes coming As of the writing of this article many hearings are soon to occur. The Department has recalculated what they are requesting and it is now $87,325. We expect this number will be reduced after the

hearings. The Department has extended deadlines and reduced their requests based on reasonable arguments regarding taxes and pensions and acknowledged errancies. Retroactive checks are being returned to members who overpaid on their bills. Responsible parties have also acknowledged that using a collection agency was completely inappropriate. It is our intention that our members will be retroactively paid correctly and that all monies owed will be rectified in short order. Calculate hours and confirm accurate pay The moral of the story is that all members should be aware of how to calculate and confirm that each paycheck they receive is accurate. Our technical consultant in this case has inspired UFLAC to work toward installing a feature on our Website that will allow members to compare hours worked to their pay checks and confirm if what they received is correct. Officers are asked to assist any members in seeking clarification in matters resolving pay. Don’t forget that of all the City Departments, the Fire Department has the unique distinction of having the most difficult pay scale to apply to individuals. We all have a responsibility to confirm that our pay is correct each time we receive it. That is not easy. Use the new MITS feature on the Department’s web page to see what bonuses each member is receiving. Become familiar with the MOU and FLSA procedures. Have the more eloquent and articulate studiers’ present drills on methods for calculations. Remember that if someone tells you that you owe them money; take the time to confirm it. In the end, all will be grateful. “A day’s wages for a day’s work”. That sounds fair enough.

We will never forget…

September 11, 2001 In honor of all those who perished on 9/11; the firefighters, police officers and other rescue personnel, the workers in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the passengers, pilots and flight attendants on the United and American Airlines flights, and all the innocent victims, our prayers remain with the families and friends of the deceased.

Photo reprinted with permission ©SusanLernerPhoto.com

September/October 2003

Los Angeles Firefighter

Page 5

IAFF Legend Al Whitehead Continues to Serve Landmark Firefighter Legislation

first became law in 1968, gives public employees in California the right to form unions and to bargain collectively.

by Paul Gilbrook Director On Tuesday August 12th Governor Gray Davis signed CPF-supported legislation which clarifies the roll of the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) and empowers employees of a local employee agency or employee organization to challenge a rule or regulation of a public agency in violation of the Meyers-MiliasBrown Act. The MMBA, which

Member of PERB The Governor’s support of this legislation was a significant victory for firefighters throughout California. IAFF President Emeritus Al Whitehead sits on the PERB which was strengthened by the adoption of this law. For the past 21⁄2 years former President Whitehead has been a strong and tireless advocate for the rights of firefighters and other public employees in his roll on that judgment rendering body. UFLAC members will long remember President Whitehead’s moving remarks at the memorial service in 1998 for our fallen brothers Mike Butler, Eric Reiner, and Mike McComb. Equally so, we fond-

Al Whitehead

ly remember the 12 years that he served as the President of our great International Union, his 6 years as the Secretary Treasurer of the IAFF, his 25 years on the Executive Board of the Los Angeles County Firefighters Local 1014, including 12 years as their President, and all that his dedication has meant to firefighters and to the fire service throughout the years.

Many years ago Al Whitehead and Dan Terry of the CPF worked with then Chief of Staff to the Governor, Gray Davis, on landmark firefighter legislation. Together these three advocates helped achieve the nation’s first cancer presumptive law for firefighters. More recently, during Al Whitehead’s watch at the helm of the IAFF, the NFPA’s 1710 Staffing Standard, the Wellness/Fitness Initiative, and Federal Line-of-Duty-Death investigations all came into being. Perhaps most importantly though, under the leadership of Al Whitehead the IAFF’s Federal PAC Fund grew exponentially, and over time it became one of the most politically powerful and effective committees in Washington D.C.

Tireless Advocate Even now at age 73 and in so-called “retirement”, Al Whitehead continues to give like no one else to the brotherhood and sisterhood of the IAFF. Besides traveling weekly between his home in Huntington Beach and Sacramento for his duties on the PERB, Al Whitehead spends many hours each week assisting IAFF locals here on the West Coast with help and advice on their issues. We thank the Governor for signing this important legislation and his continued support of firefighters. We also thank Al Whitehead for all that he has done and continues to do. We look forward to seeing you soon Big Al… holding court in your usual spot down at UFLAC South!

New face on the Union Board…

Commitment to Serve tion placed me sixth for the five Director spots. Appointment to the Board of Directors Due to a retirement on the Executive Board on May 1, 2003, I was appointed to the Board based on the fact that I was the next candidate with the most votes. And again, I am truly honored to represent all of the Brothers and Sisters of this great Union. by Ted Nonini Director My name is Ted Nonini and I am a Firefighter III assigned to Fire Station 70 on the “C” shift. On May 1, 2003 I was honored to be named to the UFLAC Executive Board as a Director. Last year, during the UFLAC Elections, I was nominated to run for a position on the Executive Board. I accepted this nomination with no expectations. The results of that elec-

A running start Since May 1, 2003, I have jumped in with both feet. I have spent time in Sacramento, negotiated for our new contract, been placed on various committees, handled several grievances, and helped out in many discipline cases. Legislation Let’s start with spending time in Sacramento. In both May and July, along with other Board

members, I spent several days in Sacramento lobbying heavily alongside California Professional Firefighters (CPF), for many new laws that were written for firefighters. The laws will not only be beneficial for LA City Firefighters, but also for all firefighters across the state. Along with many Brothers and Sisters across the state, we met many lawmakers, as well as with the Governor. Contract Negotiations Contract negotiations are ongoing and very time consuming. Although we can’t give details, I will let you know that we are fighting for many things. Hopefully, we will soon have success. Grievances Grievances and discipline never seem to end. Many of the grievances are timekeeping issues. At the negotiating table we are attempting to come up

with plans to combat these problems. Hopefully, a plan will be in place soon which will solve many of these issues. Membership involvement Lastly, let me end this by asking you, the membership, to help us out. This is your Union, and we are just your representatives. The more involved that you can get, the better, stronger and more unified our Union can become. So, please make it to some meetings. They are normally the last payday of every

month. Consider becoming a Steward. The Stewards program is where I started. It is an excellent program that allows information to go from the Union to the Station and back. Union involvement helps everyone. Again, thank you for not only having the confidence in nominating me, but also in electing me. If you have any problems, questions, comments, or just want to chat, don’t hesitate to call me at Fire Station 70-C or the Union office. Be careful out there.

Dedication of Harbor Museum Continued from page 1

discussions regarding a reduction of staffing on Fireboat 2. Personnel from Fire Station 112 subsequently notified UFLAC that they had been visited by the Fire Chief who suggested that a reduction of dedicated staffing was inevitable. We immediately contacted City Councilmembers (beginning with Janice Hahn), the Mayor’s Office and members of the Harbor and Fire Commissions. UFLAC has been extremely pleased with the support we

have received from all of those who have heard us on this issue. Councilperson Hahn deserves special recognition for her unwavering commitment to adequate fireboat staffing. Her resolve has paid off. As of this writing Boat 2 is still safely staffed, harbor fire protection has not been diminished, and the pressure to reduce staffing appears to have evaporated. Thanks for coming to both dedication ceremonies Janice… and thanks for supporting the LAFD of the past, present and future.

Drag Race - More Fatalities This one happened on Glenoaks Blvd. near Sheldon St. in the San Fernando Valley. The car pictured was racing with another car when the driver lost control and hit a telephone pole at close to 90 MPH. The driver died at the scene and his passenger died at Pacifica Hospital. Both were teenagers. Photo by Mike Meadows. CFPA

Councilmember Janice Hahn inside the Harbor Museum. Photo by Courtney Chesla

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New Work Comp Law Affects City Firefighters

by: Robert Sherwin Lewis, Marenstein, Wicke & Sherwin Law Firm Last year, the California legislature passed legislation affecting workers’ compensation benefits. These new laws became effective January 1, 2003 and apply to injuries occurring only after January 1. As firefighters, you should become familiar with the more significant procedural changes that will affect the amount and type of benefits you receive if injured on the job. You can avoid the 30 day waiting period if you “pre-select” a treating physician Most of you are probably aware that if injured on the job, and the city accepts liability for that injury, then you are entitled to all medical treatment that is

reasonable and necessary for the effects of that injury. Normally, for the first 30 days from an injury, the city controls your treatment and you must treat with a physician of their choice. After 30 days, you have an absolute right to transfer treatment to a doctor of your choice, assuming you are still in need of treatment. You are not limited to just one change of doctors but may transfer treatment to other doctors so long as your changes are reasonable. You can avoid the 30 day waiting period if you “pre-select” a treating physician, however, to pre-select a doctor, it must be a physician that you have previously seen, not someone you will be seeing for the first time. …the City and Cambridge Integrated Services will minimize the extent of treatment or disability. Previously, in all cases, the treating physician for a work related injury carried a legal presumption that he/she was correct on all issues concerning the injured employee (temporary disability status; level of permanent disability; and need for treatment). It is extremely difficult to rebut this presumption and therefore whoever was

A friend in Good Times and Bad Gray Davis was a stand-up guy for California firefighters before he asked us for one dollar to support his campaign for governor. Began Public Service in 1974 For those who don’t know, Davis first gained statewide notoriety as the chief of staff to Governor Jerry Brown, from 1974 to 1981. During that time, I got to know him pretty well as he was instrumental in helping our firefighters navigate a difficult period in labor-management relations. by Dan Terry President California Professional Firefighters IAFF, AFL-CIO-CLC By any measuring stick you care to use, Gray Davis has been the best friend firefighters have had in Sacramento in at least two decades. Maybe ever. Gray Davis’ history as a friend of our profession extends well beyond his tenure as governor. From the time he was in a position to influence state policy, Davis has been a solid supporter not only of firefighters, but of all working people.

Firefighter Strikes During the 1970s, there were no fewer than 10 full-scale strikes, as local governments dug in their heels against needed investment in public safety. Governor Brown was bound by law to insure the protection of the public during these work stoppages, but he wanted to do it without appearing to break the strike. Honorable Resolution With Brown’s blessing, Gray Davis and I worked out an arrangement. I’d convince striking firefighters to keep their turnouts handy and agree

controlling the treating physician, was controlling your destiny! That is why the City and Cambridge Integrated Services (the insurance administrator) frequently sends you to certain physicians or medical groups as they know these doctors will minimize the extent of treatment or disability. The law remains the same that in order to pre-select a doctor, he/she must be your “personal physician” The new law eliminates the treating doctor presumption except in cases where the injured firefighter “pre-selected” a treating doctor. In other words, you can still get the upper hand on Cambridge Integrated Services and control your claim, if you pre-designate your treating physician. The law remains the same that in order to pre-select a doctor, he/she must be your “personal physician” who is defined as your regular physician who has previously directed your medical treatment and who retains your medical records. If a physician has seen you on one prior occasion for any condition, that doctor would qualify as a personal physician for pre-designation purposes. to respond in the event of a major fire. Davis, in turn, would keep state resources tucked away on state property, out of sight of the public but ready to respond to protect the public. Thanks to Gray Davis, the public was protected, the job actions weren’t compromised, and the good name of our profession was maintained. As he advanced in the ranks of state politics, Gray Davis continued to show his support for our issues. During his four years in the State Assembly, Davis was a solid vote on public safety and labor issues. As State Controller from 1986 to 1994, Davis consistently supported the position of employees and working people in his votes on the Public Employee Retirement System Board and the State Board of Equalization. And in a show of solidarity with state workers, Davis refused to issue paychecks to members of the Legislature during the state budget crisis of 1992, when the rest of state employees were being paid with IOUs. I bring up all of this history not just out of nostalgia but to make a point. Gray Davis was a stand-up guy for California firefighters before he asked us for one dollar to support his campaign for governor. Unlike other politicians, who are only too happy to hug firefighters when the camera’s turned on, Gray Davis was with us when nobody was watching him. And things have only gotten better since he’s been in the spotlight. How good has Gray Davis been for us? Look at the record. Thirty-six CPF sponsored and co-spon-

Many firefighters ask what type of physician should they pre-designate? Should it be an orthopedic surgeon? An internist or cardiologist? There is no hard and fast answer to that dilemma. A treating physician for a work related injury has the ability to refer you to other doctors to render appropriate treatment. Thus if you pre-select an internist as your personal physician, and your injury is to your back, your internist would be the primary treating doctor and he/she could then refer you to an orthopedist, chiropractor, acupuncturist, etc., for appropriate treatment. Conversely, if you designate an orthopedist, that doctor can also refer you to appropriate specialists as needed (neurologist, internist, etc.) What is critical is that whomever you pre-select as your treating doctor is one that must have seen you at least once prior to any work related injury and that doctor should be familiar with workers’ compensation reporting requirements and permanent disability guidelines. If you select a doctor unfamiliar with the workers’ compensation process, you are inviting trouble as that doctor will not issue reports to Cambridge in a timely manner which could jeopardize your

benefits such as IOD time and treatment. If you pre-select a treating physician and decide later that you would like to change doctors, you may do so even if it is during the treatment process.

sored bills have been signed by Davis since he took office. Retirement benefits, such as 3% at 50 and the 90% PERS cap, were signed by Davis, benefiting state and local firefighters. A 30-year quest to win the protection of binding arbitration took a huge step forward when Davis signed SB 402. Important new presumption laws for can-

cer and blood-borne pathogens were signed by Davis. And the governor OK’ed groundbreaking legislation that insures that all working people are protected from employer retaliation for their off-the-job political and union activities. Governor Gray Davis — A Proven Record A Proven Friend

What if you do not preselect a treating doctor? You still have the right to select a doctor of your choice after the first 30 days from the date of injury, however, that doctor will not carry any legal presumption that his/her opinion is correct. It simply puts you on an even playing field with the City should a dispute arise on your claim and Cambridge sends you to a doctor of their choice for a medical legal evaluation. With the presumption on your side, you control the game! Under past law, the presumption applied to any treating physician, whether pre-selected or not. As of January 1, 2003, the presumption only applies to those personal doctors you pre-designate. There are other significant changes in the work comp laws that will be discussed in future articles. For the present however, be smart and consider finding a good doctor who can treat you if you suffer a work-related injury.

Mutual Aid Brush Fire Angeles National Forestry Units responded to a brush fire on Big Tujunga Canyon Road in the Wildwood area. ANF Battalion 12 requested a brush assignment from LA City Fire to respond to the location along with all available aircraft. Los Angeles City Fire OCD dispatched a full brush response to this location. Arriving units on scene reported 50+ acres running up hill from Vogel Flats where the fire originated. Helicopters from LA City arrived on the scene and worked along with the forest service and LA County units to slow the fire down. The fire was contained to 113 acres, with a loss estimated at $150,000. No structures were damaged and the cause is under investigation. Photo and information by Chris Jensen, CFPA

September/October 2003

Los Angeles Firefighter

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Grieving behind the badge…

Sudden Death Vs Anticipated Death

by Peggy Sweeney Rainone Los Angeles Firefighter Staff Writer There are four main factors that I believe effect our personal reactions to or how we cope with grief. In previous articles, we discussed the following three: • Our emotional relationship with the person who died or the life-altering event • Previous loss experiences • Lessons we learned as children for coping with grief and loss The manner of death (sudden or anticipated) is the final element. No matter how the death occurs, we grieve. However, the manner in which the death happens will influence our grieving process. For example, heart attack, stroke, or a motor vehicle accident are examples of sudden death. When we hear the news of our loved one’s death, we are often shocked and usually do not want to believe what we are hearing. When I received a phone call from a good friend of the family that my dad had had a heart attack and was dead, I immediately dialed my parents’ home because I knew the person who had called must have been mistaken. Sadly, they were not. …a belief that as long as there is life, there is hope When death occurs as the

result of a long-term illness or injury, the levels of shock and disbelief may be less intense then they are with a sudden death. Nevertheless, when someone we love is slowly dying over time because of cancer, heart disease, a brain injury, or Alzheimer’s disease, we may still find ourselves surprised when their death occurs. This is not an abnormal response, but rather a belief that as long as there is life, there is hope. On the other hand, some people find it very difficult to watch a family member or close friend debilitated or suffering a slow, painful death. They may silently pray for a peaceful death; an end to the torment. During the many months that my mother struggled to live, I found myself on what seemed like an endless roller coaster ride. Up one minute when a surgery or medication appeared to correct a problem or ease her pain and tossed down into the depths of despair when efforts to make her well and pain-free failed. Watching someone you love very much die is never easy. For me, Mom’s death— although very painful at times to cope with now—was a blessing for her. Impact on healing our grief What impact do these two types of death (sudden or anticipated) have on us as we begin to heal our grief? Disbelief, shock, denial, and a numbing of our senses may often accompany a sudden death. Some people may be angry, consumed with guilt, or lash out at those around them. Sudden death does not allow us to say a final goodbye or tell the person how much we love them. We think it is too late to ask for forgiveness or to make amends for hurtful things we may have said or done in the past. Following a very traumatic death (the death of a child, suicide, homicide, etc.), our brain and our body acknowl-

edge the fact that we are facing something that is almost too horrendous to cope with. Nature’s coping mechanism Many people will experience a sense of being on “automatic pilot.” They will do simple tasks without any thought. As a mortician, I witnessed this many times. A family member would come to the funeral home to make arrangements. Without any outward sign of emotion—almost robotically— they would answer my questions and give me detailed information concerning their wishes for the funeral and burial. This seemingly detached attitude is perceived by other people as a sign that this person is “coping well” or emotionally unscathed by the death. This is not true at all. It is merely nature’s coping mechanism. Eventually, the pain of grief will descend unmercifully. Although we grieve and have many of the same feelings and emotions as someone who is coping with the sudden death of a family member or special friend, anticipated death gives us the opportunity to complete some of our grief work before our loved one dies. Unless this person is in denial of their imminent death, you can both openly express your feelings and emotions, right wrongs, and make amends. Many people who are dying not only want to do this but find it to be a relief. Due to their particular long-term illness or injury, they may have had to relinquish control over many things in their life. Allowing them to take part in a healing experience such as this will bring both of you comfort and a sense of peace. Assist those in need Some people may also want or need to be assured that their affairs are in order and ask you to help them. Funeral arrangements, legal issues, and concern for surviving family mem-

bers are of great concern to them. Do not hesitate to assist them. The rewards for you in the long run will be well worth your efforts now. We will grieve in spite of the manner in which our loved ones die. Death is death. Grief is grief. Pain is pain. We cannot go back in time and undo events that have happened or take back words that were said in anger or haste. We must accept our humanness. We must learn to forgive and ask for forgiveness. We must love unconditionally. You never know when death will touch your life. Should tomorrow never come, you will have no regrets today. Copyright 2003 Peggy Sweeney Rainone. All rights reserved. About the Author: Peggy, founder and president of The Sweeney Alliance, is an EMT-B and formerly a firefighter and mortician. She has developed and facilitated numerous workshops on coping with grief and post-traumatic stress for professionals and families and has reached out to her community by way of support groups for bereaved parents and children. She offers help to emergency response and public safety personnel through her Grieving Behind the Badge training program. As a staff writer for the Los Angeles Firefighter, both the International Labor Communications and the Western Labor Communications Associations have recognized Peggy for outstanding achievement in the field of labor journalism. You may contact Peggy through her Web site at: www.sweeneyalliance.org or by e-mail: [email protected] ___________ And If Tomorrow Never Comes If I knew it would be the last time that I’d see you fall asleep, I would tuck you in more tightly and pray the Lord, your soul

LAFD Fire 4 was called to assist and transport at a traffic accident northbound 1-5 at the 134 freeways. They were needed to transport a 7-year-old child that was going in and out of consciousness following a traffic accident in which he and his mother where trapped in their car after it collided with a simi truck. Photos and information by Ross A. Benson, ©2003 CFPA

to keep. If I knew it would be the last time that I would see you walk out the door, I would give you a hug and kiss and call you back for one more. If I knew it would be the last time that I’d hear your voice lifted up in praise, I would video tape each action and word, so I could play them back day after day. If I knew it would be the last time, I would spare an extra minute or two to stop and say “I LOVE YOU” instead of assuming you would KNOW I do. If I knew it would be the last time, I would be there to share your day, well I’m sure you’ll have so many more, so I can let just this one slip away. For surely there’s always tomorrow to make up for an oversight, and we always get a second chance to make everything right. There will always be another day to say our “I LOVE YOU’s, and certainly there’s another chance to say our “Anything I can do’s? But just in case I might be wrong, and today is all I get, I’d like to say how much I love you and I hope we never forget, tomorrow is not promised to anyone, young or old alike. And today may be the last chance you get to hold your loved one tight..... So if you’re waiting for tomorrow, why not do it today? For if tomorrow never comes, you’ll surely regret the day that you didn’t take that extra time for a smile, a hug, or a kiss, and you were too busy to grant someone, what turned out to be their one last wish. So hold your love ones close today, whisper in their ear, tell them how much you love them and that you’ll always hold them dear. Take time to say “I’m sorry,” please forgive me,” Thank you, or it’s okay. And if tomorrow never comes, you’ll have no regrets about today... Author Unknown

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Los Angeles Firefighter

September/October 2003

24th Annual Firemen’s Reunion Grass Valley, CA by Jim Perry Editor Another reunion has come and gone but the wonderful memories will be with us until we meet again next year. 312 active and retired members of the LAFD family were in attendance and 61 RV’s were in the campground. The rest of the attendees either live near this beautiful area or were housed in nearby bed and breakfast homes or motels. There are over 60 men and women involved in putting together this annual reunion… far too many to list. Not meaning to slight any one of these unselfish and dedicated men

and women, I must mention a few. Dan and Alice Hostetler along with Frank Cutter serve as the all-around coordinators for this annual event. Barbara Brown coordinates the bus trip to Lake Tahoe for gambling and the boat excursion, and Bud Zink manages the golf outing. The rest of the reunion committee could be seen working all around the campsite wearing their white vests and host badges. Much credit is given to the Los Angeles Firemen’s Relief Association and the Credit Union for their contributions in both food and drink.

President Dave Lowe and Vice President Barry Hedberg and Retired Trustees Bill Goss and Bob Henderson represented the Los Angeles Firemen’s Relief Association. LAFRA Dalmatian’s Fire House store manager Linda Lara and staff were in attendance with a large selection of fire department apparel for men, women and children, accessories and other merchandise. The LAFD Historical Society was also present with a fine selection of LAFD merchandise. President/CEO Mike Mastro and staff represented the Los

Angeles Firemen’s Credit Union. They held informative meetings regarding Credit Union Online operations. Lyle Hall, retired and former President of United Firefighters of Los Angeles City and the Retired Fire and Police Association gave a pitch for both organizations. The deep-pit BBQ luncheon is always the BIG event. Once the meat and veggies are hoisted out of the ground, the wrappings are removed and the carving knives come out. This all-firefighter BBQ crew quickly served 312 plates full of BBQ beef, vegetables, coleslaw, beans, rolls and but-

ter. Ralph Bischofberger’s famous carrot cake topped off the meal. Following the meal, a raffle was held with scores of donated prizes going to lucky ticket holders. I must say that this is not a “Retired Only Reunion” and would encourage all active members of the LAFD to join in on next year’s reunion. Mark Your Calendars: May 17-22, 2004 Photos by Marcel Verdooner LAFD Forensic Photographer, Darleen Dills and Jim Perry

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Los Angeles Firefighter

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Los Angeles Firefighter

September/October 2003

W.T.C. – the aftermath…

Will Help Be Around If You Get Seriously ILL Years from Now? There should be no denial that many rescuers were exposed to a wide range of potential chemical threats. The emotional and physical toll could be incomprehensible for years to come.

by Jerry Smith Captain, LAFD Retired Los Angeles Firefighter Staff Writer On September 11, 2001 and the brutal days and months following the WTC collapse; first responders and other rescue and recovery personnel were facing a horrendous challenge to penetrate an extraordinary pile of rubble… a very difficult task to retrieve dead bodies buried in contaminated building material. A nightmare atmosphere and magnitude of destruction at ground zero will be remembered as a breeding ground for a variety of deadly toxins. What you’re about to read should serve notice that we as a civilized society have a moral and legal obligation to closely monitor those brave workers that placed their own health at great risk while searching for any trace of life and to honorably retrieve the remains of incinerated victims. And what do we have to associate such great calamity with? Nothing! This was the mother, the greatest of all deadly building conflagrations. Medical experts are warning: “We have to be concerned about those who survived and served at ground zero.” Why is there so much concern from the medical community? Do you have any idea about the types and severity of contaminants that may have been released? How about Asbestos, Cement Dust, Cyanide, Dioxins, Lead, Chromium and Other Metals, MTBE, PCBs, etc., etc. Who pays for my medical treatment, and what if I’m forced to leave my job because of failing health as a young firefighter, police officer or

medic…my pension is not enough to support my family, what then? If I die will my spouse receive LODD benefits? Who cares about me for caring about others and putting my own safety in harm’s way to prove my unfettered dedication to public safety at any cost? A report put out by *(Physicians for Social Responsibility) lays it out in hard cold facts for police officers, firefighters, emergency medical personnel, and other responders of the possible dangers that could appear in the months and years to come. I’m no chemistry teacher but I’m smart enough to know had I been working at ground zero, especially in the early going and not using protective gear to protect my lungs and skin I would be overly concerned about my health now and in the future. A NIOSH report states, “Hazard monitoring was conducted at the site but it was not possible to fully access the wide range of potential chemical threats or disseminate information quick enough to assist emergency workers.” Does this mean I could develop life-threatening symptoms that could be lethal six months or 5 years from now? In this writer’s opinion more than enough respiratory symptoms and sickness have already surfaced to warrant necessary federal funding for long term health screening and medical monitoring of fire fighters and other workers who were at Ground Zero. However, you can only hope that our congressional leaders in Washington D.C. stay the course with the growing certainty that many emergency workers were exposed to a variety of toxins. Needing to worry about not being taken care of after you risk your life trying to save others is a most frightening feeling for anyone to endure. Especially after an unexpected illness or injury that is duty related suddenly impacts your quality of life. What Happens To Contaminants in Our Bodies? According to the medical

Guarding Personal Information The four major credit bureaus in the US, Equifax, etc.) will be allowed to release credit information, mailing addresses, phone numbers, etc., to ANYONE who requests it. If you do not want to be included in this release of your personal information, you can call 1-888-567-8688.

Once the message starts you will want option #2 (even though option #1 refers to this email, push #2) and then option #2. Be sure to listen closely, the first option is only for a twoyear period. Make sure you wait until they prompt for the second option, which opts you out FOREVER.

experts, “The health effects of a contaminant are determined by many different factors, including chemical characteristics; the extent, duration, and timing of exposure; and behavior of the chemical in the body. Some contaminants are eliminated soon after exposure whereas others, such as dioxins and lead, can accumulate and remain in the body for months, years or even decades. Some chemicals are stored in various organs or tissues, including blood, bone, hair, and fatty tissues.” Does this not confirm the importance of long-term monitoring? Hypocrisy in our Nation’s Capitol As a responsible writer, I understand my obligation to sponsor fairness and honesty in my personal opinions. Right now I’m disturbed enough to yell and shout about my frustration with a hypocrisy that exists in Washington D.C. Why would anyone that champion’s decency and fairness want to vote against a proposal helping emergency responders and the long-term effects of serious

exposure during the WTC rescue and recovery effort? And why would a senator load up a proposal with amendments that’s sure to be denied by the party majority in the Senate. I believe what I’m trying to say to the congressional leaders in Washington D.C. please set aside your partisan tricks, cut the political circus, and rally behind our nations first responders. If we are seriously at war on terrorism then I ask all politicians to conduct themselves accordingly. At no time has this great nation on the domestic front been so tested, overwhelmed and stressed by one incident that would last so long. I ask my readers to join me and make our concerns known with those that lead and support this great country of ours. What works better than “letters to the editor” in your hometown newspaper? Who knows about the shelf life of America’s greatest domestic disaster on record and the delayed dangers it holds for

the future quality of life for those that worked at ground zero? And that includes rescue workers from other countries who sacrificed their personal safety as well. *Source: http://www.epa.gov/wtc/ben chmarks.htm#list http://www.psr.org/fireReportweb.pdf About the writer: Jerry Smith, a former Los Angeles City Fire Captain and California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services Fire & Rescue Division Assistant Chief, retired from active service in 1987. After 42 years, he remains a “tell it like it is” advocate for firefighter rights and safety. Jerry is also the WebBoard Administrator for the Emergency Grapevine, www.emergencygrapevine.com an “all-risk” message forum for emergency response and recovery personnel around the world. A public safety Website established in August 1997, and a staff writer for the Los Angeles Firefighter.

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Home from the War Front...

David Danielson FFIII/PM FS-46-C Hello Brother Jim, As you can imagine it has been a long awaited day. Coming home via Frankfurt, Germany the most amazing and beautiful image was not seeing the Rhine or the castles of Heidelberg but seeing those amazing blue/green eyes and flowing red hair at the bottom of the escalator at San Diego International Airport. It was indeed good to be home. I have been given 96 hours liberty and then I have requested an additional 3 days Leave. My Executive Officer granted the time without a second look. Everybody has been so wonderful and supportive. Denise and I will be leaving on Sunday for Dallas, Texas. We are planning

future, then we are preparing to be ready at any given moment. Thank you again for your heartfelt support. I have enclosed some photos that pretty much speak for themselves.

to see her family and spend some much needed family time. When I return home I will be continuing to work down in San Diego with my squadron. Flight training has been ramped up with the lessons learned by all of us who have come home from Iraq and we are immediately applying new training techniques. We are planning on 3-month rotations, so if our presence is requested to remain in Iraq or to go elsewhere in the near

On another note… I thought that you might be interested in some email that I have been receiving from Carolyn Blashek. She is the operator of the Los Angeles USO and has started a wonderful program called Operation

Carolyn Blasheck puts together packages of goodies at her own expense and sends them to military personnel overseas. The lawyer-turned-stay-athome mom has single-handedly sent over 370 packages in the last few months to U.S. troops serving in the Middle East. Working alone in her Encino home, Blashek stuffs toiletries, games, books, batteries, toys

and snacks into cardboard boxes before hauling them in her minivan to the post office. She spends about $150 for a load of packages during weekly trips to discount and drug stores. Even as thousands of troops are returning from overseas posts, Blashek said she intends to continue to send the packages indefinitely to those who are still far from home.

Gratitude. It is a care package program to send packages and letters to US Armed Forces personnel operating in the Middle East. I think it would be a great opportunity if you would publish an article regarding the project and see if we can create some support from members of the LAFD to donate their time in support of Carolyn’s project. Thanks again for your support. I have been honored to

receive so many emails from both active and retired LAFD members. It has been an absolute joy. Fraternally, David A. Danielson For more information on how to get involved in Operation Gratitude, call Carolyn at (818) 789-0123, or e-mail her at [email protected] or visit Carolyn’s website at: http://opgratitude.com

David Danielson in Baghdad enjoying the “goodies” sent by Carolyn Blashek via her Operation Gratitude program. Carolyn spends about $150 for a load of packages during weekly trips to discount and drug stores.

Guest editorial…

Firefighter Charities - Who To Trust? My stomach is in knots and my head is pounding because of my rising blood pressure. I feel fearful and anxious, much like I’m having a heart attack. Am I having a panic attack? Yes, but not the type you are probably thinking about.

by Wendy Norris President Firefighter Ministries (www.ultimatefirehouse.com) You see, in just the last 12 hours I have learned about two firefighter charities that are being run in such a way that they appear to be scams. I heard about one charity on a major fire news Website and I hear about another on Prime Time just a few minutes ago. And personally, I know of two other emergency service charities that seem to be shady. So, why am I feeling panicky?

I am feeling panicky because I am the president of an emergency services charity called Firefighter Ministries. Even though I have worked my backside off for the past few years to make sure that my organization is trust-worthy, honorable, and serves firefighters and EMT’s 100%, for some reason this latest information on shady charities is making me feel bad. Charity scams that involved the emergency services seemed to rear its ugly head when 9/11 happened. Moneyhungry people that ran major organizations were taking advantage of kind-hearted and giving people. Fly-by-night organizations appeared, raised money on behalf of the dead firefighters and police officers and then took off running, never to be heard from again. Well, once those scams seemed to be taken care of, here we are nearly two years later hitting our heads against the same brick wall. It makes me sick that there are people out there who are trying to make a quick buck off the backs of our public servants. On behalf of all of the other

trust-worthy, hard working, and honorable organizations out there that truly do want to use their money to help firefighters, EMT’s and police officers, I would like to share with you some tips on how to choose a charity to support. • Make sure that the charity is legitimate. You can ask the organization for its Tax ID number and then run it through the IRS. • Check and see who is affiliated, who has partnered, or who supports the organization. If other trust-worthy companies and individuals support the organization, it is most likely that the organization is legitimate. • Ask the charity how much of the money it raises goes towards its actual programs. A charity should not use more than 30% of its income on fundraising or administrative costs. Also, the salary of the Executive Director and staff should rival that of other organizations similar in size. • If possible verify that their programs really exist. If they are helping another organization or company, call that com-

pany and ask them if they know of ‘said named’ charity. • A good nonprofit doesn’t just ask for money, they will ask for services, in-kind gifts, and for volunteers. Money doesn’t necessarily make the charity a good one. • Don’t give cash. Always give a check. That way, if you need to, you can issue a stop payment. • Don’t be afraid to ask for a charity’s last filing of their 990 form. The 990 form is an account of what the charity receives and how it is spent. However, be advised that an organization that makes less than $20,000 during a one-year period does not have to file this form. • Ask how long the company has been in operation. The longer the company has been in existence, the more likely it is that they are not just going to take the money and run. • Follow your heart, not your emotions. If you are uneasy about the donation, don’t make it! • If you feel that you have been scammed, you can make complaints to the Better Busi-

ness Bureau, your state’s Attorney General as well as to the IRS. Please remember that there are good organizations out there that really do want to assist our public servants. Running a nonprofit is tough work, especially when the organization is following its mission statement. For those of us who are out there trying to keep our names and our work honorable, remember that honesty is always the best policy. Blessings, Wendy Norris ________________ Editor’s note: Charity scams are nothing new. We have written about them over the years and want to remind our readers that the firefighters union and the Los Angeles City Fire Department does not participate in marketing solicitation scams. If you have questions about anyone soliciting in the name of the Fire/EMS services in Los Angeles, call the UFLAC office at 800-252-8352.

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Los Angeles Firefighter

September/October 2003

Leadership: Some Discredited Theories My mission in this message is much simpler. I want to share a number of discredited styles of leadership that I have experienced, identified, or uncovered. My research, as supplemented by my living life for more than five and one half decades has shown me that there are some real lousy leaders out there. …avoid using any of these styles of un-leadership by Harry R. Carter, Ph.D., Staff Writer Los Angeles Firefighter For the past several years, I have been studying the subject of leadership. Given the frequent email complaints that I receive regarding bad leadership, I have decided that this is one of the most critical areas of fire department operations. As a result of my time in the research mode, I have come to one not-so startling conclusion. Leadership is neither a simple, nor an easy area within which to operate. The pitfalls are many and the dangers immense. During the course of my research and review, I have identified at least a dozen different styles of leadership. Each of these styles is accepted within the world of academic research and writing. Rest assured that there is no common agreement as to the one best way to lead people. Each of these has its proponents and its opponents.

Let me share these prescriptions for disaster with you now in no particular order. I want you to read the following paragraphs carefully. Please review the examples I am listing and then decide how you are going to act. I sure hope that you will see that these are not ways in which you should work to lead your troops. I could be wrong, but I think that you will choose to avoid using any of these styles of un-leadership. I have read that in the world of social interaction there are those theorists who write that it is our environment that shapes who we are and what we turn out to be in life. If we are brought up in a loving and nurturing home, we will be better people, or so the theories state. As you can imagine, the definition of what constitutes being better people in our society is open to much debate. I would like to make a suggestion to you as to how and why certain people act as they

do. I have worked for people who were among the meanest people on the face of the earth. In another time and place, they might have worked on a rack device during the Spanish Inquisition. It is equally possible that they could have worked as jail guards in the Gulags of Russia. Surely they could have gleefully yanked the lever on any number of gallows in state prisons around the world. You would almost think that these folks were “human fertilizer sales people.” These horrible examples of leadership continually treated their people like farm soil. They dumped all over everyone on practically a daily basis. …treating subordinates in a dehumanizing way I have never been able to understand how these people got such a great sense of pleasure from treating their subordinates in such a dehumanizing way. You can almost envision them going home from the firehouse, kicking open the door to their home, striding in, beating their wives, smacking their kids, and kicking their cat, or so it would seem. I have found that research is a truly great tool. People have questions about things, and then they decide to search for the answers. So it has been in the world of the social sciences. It seems that there have been studies that show that

people who were abused and treated badly during their formative years end up acting out their experiences through other people. It is sort of like an example of the Golden Rule gone awry. These people are treating others as they were treated in some convoluted drive to get back at those who treated them badly. These are the folks who end up trying to pay everyone back for how badly they themselves were treated. Sadly, they are usually punishing a new generation for the sins of the old one. This is similar to the theories on the perpetuation of child abuse. People who had no hand in creating the monster become its victims. This is a serious situation How can you be expected to go to work and be productive in such an environment? It is most difficult, because these abusive people are also usually a bit paranoid. They think that the world is out to get them and them alone. If ever there was a self-fulfilling prophecy, this is it. Think about this. If you treat people well, they will usually respond and work well for you. If you are suspicious, treat your people badly, and think that your people are truly out to get you, guess what? Your wish will probably come true. …being nice will make you feel better

Firefighters Rescue/Revive Two Cats

I have found that the only way to deal with people like this is to do your job to the best of your ability, and smile a lot. You cannot control how these people will respond to you, however, you can, within certain limits, control yourself and how you act. Kill these people with kindness. I have found that this really confuses them. Be nice, smile, ask how their family is doing, and in general be a kindly human being. Maybe it will work, and maybe it will not. However, being nice will make you feel better. It will allow you to return home to your family in a safe and sane manner. Above all, leave work at work. Do not burden your family with your work-related problems. There are plenty of at-home problems you can share with your family. Leadership problem There is another type of leadership problem that is quite a bit different from the last one. It has been my experience that a number of people I have seen suffer from the “... no one is as smart as me...” theory of leadership. These people act and think as though they were granted their authority directly by the Supreme Architect of the Universe himself. They refuse to believe that anyone is smart enough to offer them a good idea. These people can be extremely problematic. One of Continued on page 13

Helpful Web Sites The Department of Labor and the Office of Management and Budget say there are 25 new federal benefit programs (and $34 billion annual benefit dollars) available at www.GovBenefits.gov, a Website designed to facilitate the interaction between individuals and government. Social Security Information: There’s a new place to go for a wealth of information abut Social Security’s programs and services: www.socialsecurity.gov The new Web address takes you to a redesigned site that is easier to navigate, more attractive, and more accessible to all visitors, including people with visual impairments or physical disabilities. United Firefighters of Los Angeles City: www.uflac.org Los Angeles Firemen’s Relief Association: www.lafra.org

Los Angeles City Fire companies responded to a reported structure fire at the 18000 block of Lemarsh Street in Northridge. Units arriving on scene reported a one story single family dwelling with smoke showing. Firefighters were able to get a quick knockdown on the fire. Firefighters from 70’s and 87’s were able to rescue two cats that were stuck inside the home during the incident. Photos and information by Chris Jensen, CFPA

Los Angeles Fire Department: www.lafd.org

September/October 2003

Leadership… Continued from page 12

the things that leaders must do is train their replacements. The old three-position rule of leadership holds the following truths at its heart: 1. The leader occupies the position he/she holds. 2. The leader aspires to the next level of leadership or accomplishment. 3. The leader has an obligation to train their replacement so that the work in the organization can continue as people advance through the ranks. Favreau (1973) speaks to this when he states that, “ … officers at each organizational level must take positive action to develop individuals under their command.” (Favreau, pp. 102-103) It makes sense. You must work to become the best leader you can be, and you need to insure that your people are taught to do their current jobs at the highest level of success possible. Then you work to bring them toward the next higher level in a conscious manner. You cannot do this if you live life as though no one was as smart as you. Trust me ladies and gentlemen when I state that there are some really smart people out there. I have met a number of brilliant, highly qualified people during my four decades in the fire service. The most brilliant were the ones who never demonstrated their brilliance at the expense of making someone look stupid. People that continually want

Los Angeles Firefighter

to impress you by telling you how smart they are, really end up wasting your time and theirs. They should spend more time in pursuit of knowledge, because only stupid people tell you how smart they are. Not to mention the fact that while they are telling you how smart they are, they are keeping you from learning. It is easy to deal with people like this. Just nod your head up and down a lot, like a little bobble-head model. Don’t forget to smile a lot. Some people are just plain stupid How they reach positions of authority is still a mystery to me. I can only assume that they married well, or backed the right political candidate in a given election. I can recall a certain situation where a man spent many years as an absolutely mediocre firefighter. I would be hard put to credit him with the where-with-all to be a boil on the butt of a real firefighter. Eventually this individual ends up backing the right political candidate, and making fire captain. This person dresses well and makes a good impression. Although they lack the education and experience to do their job, but they look right and always make the boss and the Mayor look good. Sadly this individual is called upon to handle ever more important decisions, because in true this person is smarter than the boss. The bulk of the department’s members really do not like this person. The fact

that this person never commanded a single firefighter at an incident sticks in the craw of those who have been battling in the trenches for decades. The fire department continues to steam merrily along, oblivious to the latest technological innovations, and oblivious to the emerging trends in the wide array of fire service operational areas. However, this individual cuts a spiffy figure in a dress uniform or a business suit. The saddest aspect of this little tale that I have shared with you is that this person truly believes that they have drunk at the font of all knowledge. In this individual’s mind no one is smarter they are. The reasoning is simple. If they were smarter than me, they would be doing my job. How do you work with this kind of a boss? Avoid them. Do what you are told. Then study like the dickens and work hard to get ahead of them in the food chain. I would also suggest that the earlier techniques of smiling and nodding must be used. These people also love to whisper in the boss’s ear. Some people are purely vindictive animals. They collect hatred as you or I might collect stamps or coins. They lay them up in the treasure-trove of the mind until a time arrives when they can pay back every one who ever treated them badly. It is hard to spot this type of behavior, as people like this are big on making secret plans on

R-E-S-P-E-C-T by Micheal Josephson ©2003 Josephson Institute of Ethics Aretha Franklin reminded us how it’s spelled, but a lot of us need coaching on how to show it. In both personal and political relationships the failure to treat each other with respect is generating incivility, contempt and violence. There’s an important distinction between respecting a person in the sense that we admire and hold that person in especially high esteem and treating others with respect. While respecting others is desirable, respectfulness is morally mandatory. Thus, people of character treat everyone with respect, even those who are not personally respectworthy. The way we behave toward others is an expression of our values and character. Thus, we should treat others with respect not because they have a right but because we have a moral duty to do unto others the way we want them to do unto us.

Again, it’s not because they deserve it, but because doing less would diminish our own character. That’s the message in an old story about a politician who caught himself being drawn into mudslinging and namecalling. Once he realized he was lowering himself to his opponent’s level, he stopped and said, “Sir, I will treat you as a gentleman, not because you are one but because I am one.” It can take a lot of self-control to be respectful to people who are nasty, dishonorable or disrespectful to us. Still, our inner sense of integrity should help us resist temptations to “fight fire with fire.” As Lily Tomlin said, “The problem with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.” Listening… A Vital Dimension of Respect Yesterday I talked about the nature of respect and our spe-

cial obligation to treat others with respect. The virtue of respectfulness is demonstrated by being courteous and civil, and treating everyone in a manner that acknowledges and honors their essential human dignity. An important but often neglected aspect of respectfulness is the simple act of really listening to what others have to say. Respectful listening is more than hearing. It requires us to actually consider what is being said. That’s hard when we’re sure we’ve heard it all before, are not really interested or don’t think much of the person talking. It’s even worse when we simply act like we’re listening when all we’re really doing is waiting for our own turn to speak. The fact is that most of us don’t listen very well, certainly not all the time and especially with the people closest to us. Kids are especially adept at tuning out their parents, but parents are equally skilled at

Page 13

how to get back at the world. Just remember that they cannot keep their plan secret forever. Their urge to make life miserable for others will never be fulfilled until they can begin turning down the thumbscrews on other people. Once they begin to show themselves, treat them in a manner much like the abusive bosses mentioned earlier in this missive. Surrounded by “yes” men Lastly, let me share one of my favorite discredited theories on leadership. I say this because it is the one under which I operated for so many years in the City of Newark. Quite simply there are those people who suffer from what I have come to call the “Ivory Tower Syndrome.” These are the people who reach the top of their organization and then gather people around them who mirror their incredibly insipid selves. They search out people whose favorite word is, “yes,” and then build an ever-increasing circle of such people around them. In this way, a good idea has as much chance of making it to the boss as a doughnut has at a law enforcement conference. All attempts at independent thought among their subordinates are seen as assaults on the tower. Study hard and never forget from whence you came It may be that there is only one way to win this war. You have to work to become the

ignoring or dismissing as foolish or irrelevant what their kids have to say. The disrespectfulness of not listening is most apparent when we are being ignored or patronized by others. As when someone we are talking to rolls his eyes back in a show of impatience or contempt, or fake interest is betrayed by a vacant stare or wandering eyes. We all want to know that what we say and think matters. But if we want others to care about what we say, we need to show we care about what they say. Like all the important virtues, we teach respect best by demonstrating it. So listen up! It will make people feel better and you may even learn something. Respect means knowing when to back off… I’ve talked before about the ethical obligation to treat others with respect by attentive listening. Today, I want to talk about the flip side of respect, the duty to back off and accept the fact that while others should listen to us, we can’t demand they agree with us. Such unreasonable demands are especially prevalent where a person in a position of authority (like a boss or parent) lectures, criticizes, sermonizes or even berates an employee or child well past the point of legitimate communication. But

king in charge of the tower. I caution you that this is not a short-term solution to the problem of poor leadership. This is a cause to which you must commit yourself. It will involve years of study, struggle, and sacrifice. However, that is what you must do. There will also be the landmines of easy opportunity along the way. Avoid selling your soul to reach the pinnacle of power. People that do this end up hating themselves. The danger in this theory involves the potential for you to forget where you came from. You must rivet the thought into your brain that you want to reach the top so that you can create an environment wherein people can grow and prosper. I can tell you this, but you must make it a part of your soul. Please think long and hard before embarking on this lifelong journey. The road to success is long. The road is hard. There are many twists and turns that can throw you off course. Just think of the joy that will come to you and the members of your department when you get to experience that moment when you all stand together on top of the mountain. Just remember that the view from the top of the mountain can be thrilling and rewarding, only as long as you bring the people in your department along for the ride. Otherwise, you will end up as a lonely and frustrated monarch, wandering around through a crumbling castle of your own creation. The choice is yours, choose wisely.

it isn’t only people of authority who engage in bulldozer conversational tactics that seek to impose an idea on someone else. The common thread in disrespectful communications is that they go beyond reasonable attempts to inform or even persuade — they become harangues. It’s as if the speaker is engaged in a campaign to beat us into submission rather than simply convey a point of view. So he or she pummels us with repetitive opinions, complaints or demands. And if we don’t give the desired response, the speaker simply restates the point more loudly or aggressively. Telling these ardent opinionators that we understand their position, that we’ve really heard and considered what they had to say, rarely stops the onslaught because the only way some people will believe that we understand their point is if we agree with it. They can become so self-righteous that they truly believe that disagreement with them is proof of confusion, ignorance, stupidity or closed-mindedness. No one has a right to impose his opinions on others or to demand that he be listened to until he is done. The moral obligation of respect requires that we learn when to back off just as we learn when to listen.

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Los Angeles Firefighter

September/October 2003

Message from the War Front...

Rodolpho “Rudy” Santiago Apparatus Operator FS-90-B Hi Jim, First of all I want to thank you and all of my brother/sister firefighters for the support you have given to all of us over here. It is greatly appreciated. Also for the write-ups in “The Los Angeles Firefighter,” it is very heart warming. Now for news from the front...on the ground. As Brother David Danielson expressed his view from the air, it is a little different down here on terra firma. The scenery is very bleak as you cross the desert without any landmarks and just slight hills that are really sand dunes. If you don’t have a GPS, with you forget

about ever coming back. As we traveled the motorway leaving the desert, it was little faster going even with all of the military traffic. The roads where completely void of any civilian traffic except for the occasional Bedouin herding his flock of sheep or his herd of camels. As we passed by in our massive convoys going north they would stand and watch, I’m sure in wonderment of all the equipment. Friendly Crowds As the days passed we would see more and more people coming out to the road to wave and smile at us. In some of the towns that we drove through, the kids would come out running to greet us as we passed. with waves, salutes and victory signs. I would look the crowd over while my crew would be watching the windows and roof tops. I could see the joy in the eyes of the mothers as their children jumped up and down. A few of the towns were a bit eerie because the people just about mobbed us to shake our hands and thank us. In one little area where we were we adopted a little girl and her family. As we passed we would

stop and give them food and water. The last time we stopped, the mother was in the window of her mud hut. The sparkle in her eyes as we dropped off the last of the supplies that we would be able to give them is something that I will remember for the rest of my life Unfortunately there are still factions that neither what us or the coalition here or don’t want to change from the old regime. I can tell you that looking into the eyes of those people and seeing the joy in their faces, I feel good about what we have done here. As Brother Danielson stated, “it looks like one of the Prophets will step out of the shadows and give a prophecy at any moment.” I pray that if they do it will be for peace throughout the region. On a little side note, the boy may be away from the fire department, but the department isn’t out of the boy. A couple of weeks ago we had an electrical fire in one of the tents. We only have dry chemical extinguishers for fire protection here and the tent was starting to go. As I arrived on scene and tried to get the guys organized, our Marine brothers showed up with their P-19. The wire

“I’ll take it from here”

between our camps stopped them so I grabbed the hose line and off I went. Let me tell you, that felt great! I finally gave up the hose to the Marine firefighter but not until the main fire was out. I went over and gave him a UFLAC sticker for his rig and had a picture taken with him that I will send to you. Until then, fraternally yours, Rudy Santiago

Editor’s note: I had the pleasure of working with Rudy and a task force of firefighters working in a feature film titled, “All Night Long” back in 1980. The movie featured Barbra Streisand who played the wife of a firefighter (actor Kevin Dobson) and also starring academy award winner Gene Hackman. While we were teaching Dobson how to tiller the truck, Streisand rode with us while we trained the versatile actor…Perry

“Thanks for the Memories!” Bob Hope was one of our guests when United Firefighters of Los Angeles City, Local 112 hosted the 1972 IAFF Convention in Los Angeles. Top left photo shows IAFF

President William ‘“Howie McLennan” presenting Hope with an Honorary Firefighter’s helmet during the convention banquet. Also shown is former Fire Commissioner Johnny

Grant, also know as the “Honorary Mayor of Hollywood.” Union firefighters mourn the loss of both Hope and McLennan who passed away recently. Photos by Jim Perry

Actor Kevin Dobson learning to tiller the back end of LAFD Truck 88 with Appartus Operator Rudy Santiago driving. Photos by Jim Perry Then UFLAC President Don Wallace greets boxing legend Sugar Ray Robinson at the 1972 IAFF Convention in Los Angeles.

Left to right, Former Union President Bill Wheatley and his wife Libby, former Union President Bill Shonborn and his wife Frances, and the Union Secretary Ida Goldenberg and her husband Fred are shown at the 1972 IAFF Convention in Los Angeles.

Rudy Santiago, Barbra Streisand and a Dalmatian “Fire Dog” that rode on the truck during the movie.

September/October 2003

Los Angeles Firefighter

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In Memoriam

Bill Shonborn LAFD Fire Captian, Retired Former President - Life Member of UFLAC Local 112 IAFF, AFL-CIO - CLC Born: September 16, 1915 Appointed LAFD: May 26, 1941 Service Pension: January 9, 1972 Died: June 23, 2003

Bill Shonborn was my early fire department union mentor, inspiration and very dear friend. I joined the union while I was a rookie in the Fire Academy in April 1961. Bill Wheatley was the President and Bill Shonborn was Secretary-Treasurer and editor of our union newspaper. Shonborn later became our union president and was not only instrumental in several major historical achievements, but he unselfishly and skillfully trained several firefighters to continue a very difficult union battle for the benefits we enjoy

today. I was most fortunate to complete my apprenticeship as a union newspaper editor over 32 years ago under the very capable tutelage of Bill Shonborn. He was one of the pillars, if not the foundation that built our very successful and highly respected Union. This page is dedicated to the memory of Brother Bill Shonborn and should serve as a little reminder to those who knew Bill and also as a history lesson for our membership who came on the job long after he retired…Jim Perry, Editor

Memories of Bill Shonborn by his son Robert… My Dad: Bill Shonborn was born William Albert Charles Schoenborn on September 16, 1915 in Marytown, Wisconsin. He was born in a room above the Marytown Tavern that his father owned at the time. Bill spent most of his early years working on the dairy farm his parents purchased after selling the tavern. In high school Bill was a basketball and track star at Kiel High School in Kiel, Wisconsin. He was on the AllEastern Wisconsin basketball team and went to the Wisconsin State finals in the intermediate hurdles. From Woodworker to Fireman A woodworker by trade, Bill moved to California in the 1930’s and eventually settled in Los Angeles. Bill was appointed a fireman on May 26, 1941 and promoted to captain on March 30, 1949. During his time as a firefighter, Bill fought in some major, well-publicized fires in Bel-Air and Watts, but his personal career highlight was supervising the laying of the first foam blanket during the emergency landing of a com-

mercial airliner. On October 30, 1957, United Airlines Flight 101 safely landed “wheels up” at Los Angeles International Airport. Following his retirement, Bill tried lawn bowling and as with most things he tried, he excelled at his new sport. He was the Southwest Division Champ several times and became involved in the American Lawn Bowling Association rising as far as National Secretary. Bill met and married Frances Anita Kingston on September 25, 1938. The very next year their daughter Carol was born followed by his son’s, Bill Jr., Bob and Mike. Frances passed away in 1998 after a long battle with cancer. Bill is survived by all four children and their spouses, seven grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and one great-great-granddaughter. Chased Down a Burgler My most vivid memory of my Dad (and I have the newspaper article to prove it actually occurred) was the day my Dad caught two burglars in our home. Upon being surprised by our return, the first

Resolution The following resolution (and cake) was presented to Captain Bill Shonborn by the crew that worked with him at old Engine 17 - A Platoon in appreciation for all of his work in achieving the 56-hour workweek for platoon duty firefighters. Prior to this historic change in the workweek schedule, platoon duty firefighters worked a 62-hour workweek. That was accomplished by each firefighter needing to work six (6) extra 24-hour shifts per year. They were called “Coded Duty Days” and appeared as letters of the alphabet on the LAFD Platoon Duty Calendars. Each member was assigned a letter signifying the extra shifts they were required to work.

WHEREAS William C. Shonborn of the Los Angeles City Fire Department, and a member in good standing of Local 112 of the Professional Firefighters Union; and WHEREAS William C. Shonborn did devote his time and energies in an uncommon and unprecedented effort for the benefit and good morale of his fellow firefighters; and WHEREAS He was a most powerful influence upon the Los Angeles City Council for the favorable passing of the much desired fifty-six hour workweek for City firefighters; now therefore, be it RESOLVED That the entire membership of the Los Angeles City Fire Department, and in particular, the members of

Fire Station Number Seventeen on the “A” Platoon do hereby extend their heartfelt gratitude and sincere appreciation to Captain William C. Shonborn. Signed this day: August 2, 1968 Bruce Smith Mike Ziemann William Plotkin Gene Miller Forrest Shrode Elwyn Moore James Atkinson Gary Salyer John Verdone Frank Brainard Alfred Raine Woodrow Kastner Ralph Wheeler (Battalion Chief) Robert Knipscheer “In deepest appreciation”

Tribute to Bill

Bill Shonborn was the Secretary-Treasurer of Local 748 in 1967 when I approached him about helping defeat Sam Yorty’s attempt to pay Police Officers 5 1/2% more than Firefighters. Bill welcomed my offer to help and mapped out a strategy of visiting editorial directors of the major newspapers and television stations to lay out our case for retaining “pay parity”. Bill’s plan worked. Later, he told me that the Local had a Director’s vacancy on the Board and encouraged me to run for the open slot. I won the spot and began a wonderful 15-year career of advocating for L.A. City firefighters. Bill Shonborn was my teacher, mentor and fun friend. His grasp of social and political history matched my interests exactly. He was generous with his time and his talents. He

spent untold and unknowable hours crafting plans and writing reports which justified firefighter salaries and benefits. He was equally strong in advocating for and producing documents to justify individual rights and implement policies and processes to protect firefighters from, too often, uncaring and arbitrary management decisions. As Secretary-Treasurer and President of Local 748, Bill Shonborn laid the groundwork for what became first Professional Firefighters, Inc, Local 112, which then absorbed the “Fire Side” of the Fire and Police Protective League and became United Firefighters of Los Angeles City (UFLAC). Without Bill Shonborn this consolidation of the Union and the League into one strong voice would not have occurred. Firefighter’s current benefit packages would be vastly different (lower). Bill would be the first to caution me about giving him these credits. He would point out the many fine union men who had preceded him and the

amazing strengths of his Board members. I heartily acknowledge others contributions, but Bill Shonborn has died and I will miss his husky warm laugh and his wise counsel. He deserves all the credit today. Bill Shonborn was the smartest man I ever met. He had the best memory for facts and dates of anyone and could recite CAO reports from the day before to twenty years previous. I learned how to lobby the Council and run a meeting from watching Bill. He was smart, kind, funny and informative to a fault. His wry sense of humor generated smiles and belly-laughs. His presentations at Council Committees and in the City Council Chamber were masterpieces of historical data coupled with policy initiatives that inevitably led to convincing the Council to support our issues. His work is the reason we moved from the 62hour workweek to our current 56 hours, one of the greatest benefits L.A. City firefighters ever won.

man jumped from a second story window. The second man tried to follow, but my Dad grabbed him by the arm as he jumped. My Dad held the burglar out the window for what seemed like an eternity, but was only five minutes, before the man managed to wiggle free and finish his

decent to the ground. Imagine my utter astonishment when my Dad jumped from the window and proceeded to chase the burglar through the backyard, over the wall, down the alley, through a neighbor’s yard, across the street, until my Dad finally cornered the burglar in another yard.

Wrong Move by the Burgler I didn’t see the next part myself, but I understand that at this point the poor fellow took a swing at my Dad…big mistake. When my Dad was finished with him, the police arrived to take the burglar into custody.

by Don Wallace, Captain II LAFD Retired Former President, UFLAC Local 112

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Los Angeles Firefighter

September/October 2003

Kudos to the Fire Commission The Fire Commission meeting of August 5th marked the end of one of the most productive terms ever served by a Fire Commission President. At that meeting President Jay Grodin stepped aside and then nominated new President Corina Alarcon. Immediately after Ms. Alarcon’s unanimous election, Mr. Grodin was nominated and elected to replace her as the Commission Vice President. In effect, these two very capable

public servants swapped positions on the Fire Commission. UFLAC wishes to thank Mr. Grodin for the manner in which he has led the department for the past two years. His leadership style has been one of inclusion and cooperation. During his term Mr. Grodin consistently addressed the concerns of rank and file firefighters to an extent that we at UFLAC had not seen before.

There are many examples large and small of former President Grodin’s positive contributions to the LAFD. Second to none is the return of Inside Firefighter staffing on LAFD Trucks that occurred during his watch as President. As much as anyone, Jay Grodin made that happen. Without Fire Commission support an LAFD staffing increase would have been nearly impossible. With it, we were able to begin put-

ting firefighters back in place to save lives and property in communities all across Los Angeles. Thank you Commissioner Grodin. We look forward to your continued dedicated service to the people of L.A. At the same time we welcome new Commission President Alarcon to her role with complete confidence that the people’s Fire Department remains very much “in good hands”.

Firefighters friend…

Alex Padilla Re-elected City Council President candidate that young and untested would not have been given the endorsement of firefighters. Alex’s situation was not normal. His interview was one of the best ever given to your Executive Board. He was and is exceptionally bright, articulate and sincere. His connection with his community was impeccable, and his commitment to working people was unquestionable. We saw him as someone who was clearly “going places”.

On July 1st, longtime UFLAC friend Alex Padilla was re-elected by his colleagues on the City Council to serve another term as their Council President. Their recognition of Mr. Padilla’s talent is an honor that holds much more than symbolic significance. As the Council President, Alex serves on the Executive Employee Relations Committee with the Mayor, makes the Council committee assignments, creates the agendas for Council meetings, and to a large extent controls the debate and action of the City Council at those meetings. Our union’s candidate from the start UFLAC is especially proud of and pleased with Councilman Padilla’s re-election. Six years ago we endorsed Alex in his successful bid for the 7th Council District. That race was the first attempt at public office for the then 24 year old, unknown, recent M.I.T. graduate. Normally speaking, a

City Council President Alex Padilla addressed the membership at the July Union meeting. Photo by Pat McOsker

Making us look good Councilman Padilla has made your Executive Board look smarter than we are ever since. For six years he has been fair, honest and supportive of firefighters and public safety, and he has been a great leader for the people of the 7th Council District. We look forward to the final two years of his term at the helm of the City Council. Congratulations Alex, and here’s to your very bright future.

All in the name of charity…

Councilman Dennis Zine “Roasted” Councilman Dennis Zine was honored by the American Diabetes Association at their recent 2nd Tribute Dinner and Roast. In addition to being a board member of the San Fernando Valley Chapter, Councilman Zine has been actively involved in the American Diabetes Association’s organizing committee and helping to raise funds for them.

Councilman Dennis Zine on his “Throne.”

Chris Schauble, co-anchor of “Today in L.A.” on NBC Channel 4 was the Master of Ceremonies at this fun-filled dinner. Many elected officials, community leaders and friends joined in on the roast. With the sale of tables for the dinner and ads for the tribute book, Councilman Zine helped raise $80,000 for the event.

Commissioner Jay H. Grodin Jay Grodin is a Managing Partner in the WKM Group and serves as counsel for White and Case in Los Angeles. Prior to practicing law, Grodin served as a Special Agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and as a Deputy Sheriff in Los Angeles County’s Sheriff’s Department. Jay Grodin graduated from the University of Southern California, and received his Juris Doctorate from Boalt Hall Law School at the University at Berkeley.

Commissioner Corina Alarcon Corina Alarcon serves as the President of the Larkspur Homeowners Association, and is the founder and President of Women Advancing the Valley Through Education, Economics and Empowerment, the largest transitional home for battered women in California. Alracon lives in Sylmar.

A new baby boy for…

Councilmember Wendy Greuel UFLAC President Pat McOsker, Councilman Dennis Zine, Carla McOsker and Los Angeles Firefighter newspaper editor Jim Perry.

Photos by Jim Perry

Standing left to right, Andy Fox, President of the Chief Officers Assn. (and former President of UFLAC) and Los Angeles City Council President Santos Luna and Fire Commission Alex Padilla. Sitting is UFLAC President Pat President Corina Alarcon. McOsker and his lovely wife Carla.

For the first time in almost 20 years a Los Angeles City Council Member has given birth to a baby while in office. Wendy and her husband Dean Schramm are the proud parents of Thomas Weston Schramm who came into this world on the Fourth of July, weighing 7 pounds, 2 ounces. All are doing well and Wendy is still able to attend her regular City Council Meetings.