Sunday, May 15, 2011
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Some time ago on NewTV, a story ran regarding the aged and dangerous Newton Fire Department apparatus. Numerous safety concerns were raised about the failing brakes on 24-year-old Ladder 3, as well as the city’s continued failure to meet national safety standards. Fire Chief LaCroix refuted this story, submitting the following statement: “Under no circumstances would I send our firefighters on vehicles that were unsafe.”
His actions, unfortunately, differ from his statement.
In January of 2007 two firefighters were injured on 24-year-old Ladder 4, when Lacroix returned it to service as a spare. In April 2007, he put the same apparatus back in service, which injured two more firefighters. In May 2007, 24-year-old Engine 13 malfunctioned and ran over Lt. Richard Geary, severely injuring him. In the fall of 2008, 24-year-old Ladder 3 had a complete loss of its braking system while on a call to Boston College.
None of these trucks should have been on the road in the first place; they fail to meet NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) standards, which states that any truck 20 years old, or older, and built prior to 1991, should be removed from service permanently.
Chief LaCroix goes on to say, “My highest priority as Chief of the Newton FD is to protect the safety of our firefighters and our residents.”
Let’s look at all the times where this was NOT his priority:
He denied receiving reports of missing and broken flashlights, when in fact he had received many. He took three months to procure new flashlights, and only after public scrutiny at a Board of Aldermen meeting.
After an investigation of the Engine 13 accident exposed the use of substandard chock blocks, it would be another year and half before regulation chock blocks were finally ordered and made available for all apparatus.
Lacroix ignored Dept. of Transportation regulations regarding highway safety vests, until forced by the union to comply.
After four firefighters at Station 3 had asbestos fall on them from the ceiling, Lacroix refused to evacuate the station. He ignored repeated requests – and national standards – to implement a Rapid Intervention Team, until union and media pressure forced him to act.
Not one Newton firehouse has a smoke or carbon monoxide detector. Yet Chief Lacroix has had $98,000 available since October of 2006 to purchase and install these devices.
He ordered the emergency buttons on firefighters’ radios to be permanently turned off, limiting their ability to call for help.
This is certainly enough evidence to contradict the claims that firefighter safety is LaCroix’s highest priority.
City spokesperson Jeremy Solomon responded to the NewTV story by stating that firefighters’ concerns regarding faulty equipment will be addressed by department brass. However, as I mentioned previously, firefighters have submitted numerous reports about faulty equipment which were ignored by LaCroix.
The adversarial relationship that now exists between the chief and the firefighters has destroyed morale. His slow and media-pressured responses to safety concerns causes undue stress and does not serve his firefighters or the community he is sworn to protect.
Five of Newton's fire trucks do not meet National Fire Protection Association standards. Residents cannot afford any of this equipment to fail - today, tomorrow or next month. Residents, please - call your mayor and your aldermen and let them know that Chief LaCroix should be retired, for the safety of all.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Poets contributing to this work include: Patricia Ann Farnsworth-Simpson, John Henson, Sarah True, Mary Ann Duhart, Ive S. M. Evenson, Christina R. Jussaume, P.F. Kosak, Joe Hartman, Michael L. Schuh, William Garret, Helen McMan, Katherine Stella, Erich J. Goller, Dorian Petersen Potter, J. Elwood Davis, Joseph S. Spence, Joree Williams, Kathleen Charnes-Zvetkoff, Linda Mills, Jacquelyn Sturge, Robert Hewett Sr., and Daveda Gruber. A video presentation of these poets can be seen at:
The Firefighters Fund is deeply grateful to these creative writers for using their gifts to help firefighters affected by the tragedy of 9/11.
Book title: Passionate, Patriotic Poetry 9/11ISBN: 978-0-557-10909-8
Purchase a copy at:
Saturday, September 5, 2009
The Firefighters Fund Brings Towns, Restaurants and Residents Together to Honor Firefighters on 9/11
Chef Rodney Moreira & staff at Porcini's, Watertown
The staff at Stellina Restaurant, Watertown
The Firefighters Fund, local restaurants, and resident volunteers join forces to honor first responders on the eighth anniversary of 9/11.
“It is important to, in some small way, pay tribute to the firefighters who risk their lives every day to ensure the safety of every community and every American,” said Jessica Locke, director of The Firefighters Fund and a Watertown resident. “More than one hundred of these brave men and women die in the line of duty each year. We must always remember the sacrifices they make, and never take their service for granted.”
Ms. Locke approached local restaurants, asking them to donate meals to their local firefighters on September 11th. Many local community residents joined in the effort and also contacted restaurants and pledged to help deliver the meals to the firehouses.
This year, twenty-three firehouses will be served, with firefighters enjoying special meals provided by restaurants including: Cabot’s in Newton; The Stockyard in Brighton: Il Casale, Conley’s Pub and Grille, and TCBY from Belmont; Porcini’s, Stellina, and Not Your Average Joe’s in Watertown; Jake’s Dixie Roadhouse, Sadie’s Saloon and Eatery, The Chateau, John Brewers’ Tavern, Watch City Brewery, and The Skellig for Waltham stations; and Outback Steakhouse in Bellingham. In addition, a group of residents from Newton are cooking the dinners for six firehouses in their community.
“The response from the community was overwhelming. Each restaurant contacted gave an immediate ‘yes’ to our request,” Locke continued. “I know it will mean a great deal to these firefighters to know that people are thinking about them on this historic day.”
Ms. Locke created The Firefighters Fund in 2006 to offer alternative healthcare to firefighters suffering from the emotional and physical consequences of working at Ground Zero. She has provided Alexander Technique sessions to first responders in New York City since 9/11, and more recently started a program in Newton. For several years, Ms. Locke has also worked closely with the Newton Fire Department to educate local residents about aging and unsafe equipment, substandard living conditions and other problems affecting the health and safety of the Newton firefighters and the community.
"People don't know how difficult this job is; the stress these men and women are under, and the challenges they face on a daily basis. We need to let them know they are appreciated,” said Locke.
The Firefighters Fund hopes that an annual Firefighter Appreciation Day will be created to promote the message that the safety of each community is dependent on the dedication of its first responders, and that they should be valued – and thanked – for their service..
Ms. Locke concludes: “They are there for us 24/7. We need to be there for them as well.”
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
I never had the opportunity to meet Captain Patrick "Paddy" Brown of Ladder 3, because he died on September 11, 2001. But I had certainly heard of him. He had quite a reputation for being one of the most honored and decorated firefighters in the history of the FDNY. The mention of his name always pained my heart, as though his death had some personal meaning I had yet to understand.
As such, I was not surprised to hear from a woman who had gathered a collection of stories from people who had known, and in many instances worked with Captain Brown. She had been his fiancée. I read the book by Sharon Watts, which hinted at a childhood and young adulthood marred by betrayals of trust, similar to my own. It revealed how he had transformed a difficult and troubling past into a life of determined goodness, sacrifice and dedication – with human failings, to be sure, but when you read of his trials, very understandable.
For anyone who would like to explore the foundations of a true hero, Sharon’s book is a delicate and lovingly compiled scrapbook of memories of a man who should never be forgotten. The book’s title is Miss You, Pat and you can find more information, including how to purchase, at www.missyoupat.org.