Tuesday, December 28, 2010

CHICAGO MOURNS...

Chicago mourns for two fallen brothers
As others have before
These occurrences are all too familiar
And I pray there be no more

But just as it’s certain that fires will come
It’s certain that more will die
‘cause there will always be people in peril
And firefighters will always try

They’ll try to save an innocent life
Even while risking their own
They’ll try to rescue another in danger
Though their condition be unknown

There’s no such thing as a vacant building
When arriving at a fire
They treat each one as if it were occupied
And the odds rise ever higher

As the homeless overfill our shelters
And they have nowhere to go
Turned away to fend for themselves
No plan for the overflow

Vacant buildings become makeshift homes
For those who have no voice
Trash fires for heat on wooden floors
For those who have no choice

These are the people firefighters seek out
When entering for their search
It matters not what they once were
A residence or factory or church

This happens every day for firefighters
They assume there’s someone inside
Be it Worcester, Charleston or another city
Opportunity and risk collide

These two brave firefighters from Chicago
Have paid the ultimate price
So until we can stop it from happening again
Our respect will have to suffice

Lt. Tom Kenney
Providence Fire Department
12/27/10

Thursday, October 28, 2010

UNION MEMBERS -- BOYCOTT JOHN DEPETRO'S ADVERTISERS

Dear Union Member:

We represent a recently formed but rapidly expanding group of RI union members who are concerned with the lies being circulated by the media regarding hard-working men and women of this state. The latest issue with which we take personal offense (once again!) is the behavior of and the attacks on us by WPRO morning DJ John DePetro.

Mr. DePetro consistently falsely attacks the union members of this state with no regard for the truth. This, despite the blatant disregard he shows on a daily basis for truth, integrity and common decency toward the general public and his scorn for the working people of RI. He clearly has shown in the past, and continues to show via his actions and words, that he thinks that he is above the law and beyond reproach.

His blatant anti-gay statements (like the one that got him fired from his Boston DJ stint) and his falsely-based insults which he hurls regularly at municipal and state union workers (“Providence firefighters #1 on-the-job-injury is hemorrhoids, from sitting on their asses all day”) would be enough to get him fired in most outlets. These libelous comments are exacerbated by his lack of character in his personal life.

He had a well documented case of fraudulent ratings fixing which was swept under the rug by his radio station and the power of his advertisers. For his part in the cover-up of this story he shoved his wife under the bus by accusing her of the fraudulent act. Even with this, however, some sort of influence was exerted to make this investigation of “criminal” activity go away. Reportedly he was recently called to testify in a divorce proceeding as a witness to corroborate his involvement with a married woman and causing the breakdown of her marriage, only to be let off the hook by presumably talking another woman to take the fall in order to protect him.

It seems to us that this is not the type of person a reputable business would want as their spokesman. Therefore, we have asked in the past, and are asking once again for all union members to boycott Mr. DePetro’s advertisers. It is only in this manner that we feel we may convince WPRO-AM to discontinue his employment and remove him (and his immoral and hurtful propaganda) from his bully pulpit and his influence over the citizens of RI.

Below is a partial list of his advertisers which we call on you to boycott at all costs. Please share this information with friends, families and fellow union members.


Paul Masse Auto Group
Top of the Bay Restaurant *
Leonard Hair Transplant for Men *
Miracle Method *
Garage Headquarters
West Fountain Auto Body
Gilmore Furniture
Stephen Levesque Law
Frederickson Farm Greenhouse

In unity,
Tom Kenney

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Independent Party

The Independent Party




I’ve long argued that we need a 3rd political party in the U.S. I called it the Common Sense Party. A party that looked at every issue with a large dose of common sense, rather than political partisanship.


Well, I’ve changed my mind on that – sort of.


I now believe that the answer to our political system being bogged down with those who vote along party lines is more Independent elected officials in our U.S. and state congressional seats. Think about it. Independent Senators or Representatives would be voted in solely on the merit of their political views on the important issues that face our country or our state. Presumably these views would be drawn from a combination of both parties as well as independently thought out compromises of each issue. A Independent would be similar to a moderate member of either the Democratic or Republican Party.


As such, our Independent thinker would hold no loyalties to either party. Our Independent thinker would not contribute to stalemate in our nation’s or state’s capitol. Our Independent thinker would not contribute to the current situation of changing course 180 degrees every election cycle.


The result would be that the Independents would soon hold the power in the House and Senate. They would be the key swing votes of every piece of legislation being considered for passage. The extremists in each party would have to sway the majority of Independents (presumably the more moderate members of Congress who are more likely to vote strictly on the merits of the bill as opposed to voting along party lines) in order to get their bills passed. This would put the real power in the hands of people who are more concerned with the state of their country or their state – people whose views are more in line with the average citizen.

Friday, September 10, 2010

TEN SECONDS

.


Ten seconds...



Ten seconds is a very long time
When that’s all you have left to live
There’s time enough to make your peace
But not time enough to give…

…to give your sweetheart one more kiss
Or to squeeze her oh so tight
Not time to give your kids assurance that
Everything will be all right

From the moment that I began this job
I’ve prepared myself for this day
So now as He suddenly calls me home
It seems I already know the way

Kaboom, kaboom, kaboom, kaboom
Like a freight train bearing down
I instantly knew how this would end
That’s when I felt His peace surround…

…surround my body, surround my soul
Surround my brothers in arms
I then felt His love, like a giant cloak
Come to shelter us from harm

While answering the call that day
I saw the second plane
It glided through the cloudless sky
Then burst into fire-like rain

It rained down fire, it rained down dust
It rained down bodies, too
It seemed that no matter how much we tried
There was nothing we could do

We knew that the people trapped above
The hole that ripped into the tower
Could never escape, with their mortal lives
Without the aid of His awesome power

I prayed that day, a silent prayer
As I stepped inside the lobby
I knew that without His holy intervention
We’d merely be recovering bodies

We began climbing up the narrow stairs
While others were heading out
And as we passed these frightened victims
Some began to shout…

“God bless you, our brave firemen
You’re heroes to us all”
But we were simply doing our jobs
Just answering the call

We knew when we began the fight
That we all might not survive
But by risking our lives for those of others
We manage to keep our dream alive

Our dream that good always conquers evil
And that God will help get us through
He’ll reward us all with eternal life
Our immortal souls begin anew

I saw the face of God that day
As He led me from this place
His will, not ours, will be done
I try to accept this fact with grace

I understood, at once, that day
What firemen were sent here for
Watch over the endangered as best we can
Of no man could you ask more


Ten seconds is a very long time…

Thursday, July 29, 2010

.................Bridgeport's Tears..................

.





Bridgeport’s Tears

It began as a normal job
Fire showing, second floor
We set out to begin our tasks
Like a thousand times before

Nothing special about this house
Just two and a half story wood
In through the back door
Adjusting pacs, gloves and hood

Though the heat was oppressive
This should be over quick
Engine men place their hoseline
And Ladder men their stick

We all have responsibilities
Which all work hand in hand
Water, ventilation, forcing doors
They have all been pre-planned

On that day search and rescue
Was Ladder 11’s assignment
So up to the third floor
Their company was sent

It looked like a quick stop
As the fire darkened down
But it had traveled upward
As smoke showed, dark brown

Suddenly we heard “Mayday”
Then “Mayday” once again
We all knew that trouble
Had found one of our friends

The Rapid Intervention Team
Was swiftly deployed
To recover our brothers
Before the building was destroyed

Though we got to them quickly
And pulled them to the street
We worked feverishly to save them
On the blazing hot concrete

Saving lives is our profession
The inevitable to postpone
But we just couldn’t pull it off
For two of our own

Nothing left for us to do
But to honor these brave men
The Lieutenant and the rookie
Will serve together again

Firefighters from all over
In a show of respect
Will send off these heroes
Sworn to serve and protect

Thousands of brothers will gather
And they’ll remember for years
The day they came together
To share Bridgeport’s tears


Lt. Tom Kenney
Providence Fire Department

Thursday, June 24, 2010

MINIMUM STAFFING STUDY

Fight for Minimum Firefighting Staffing finally has a valuable tool!

Posted by: tekpfd in Labor on June 21, 2010


Finally there is an unbiased, scientific study which supports what firefighters and firefighter unions have been preaching for years...the size of crews on fire apparatus has a direct correlation to the effectiveness and timeliness of performing essential life-saving operations at residential building fires.

These types of fires (single family residential fires) account for approximately 84% of all fire related casualties in the U.S. each year.

This is the first such study not performed under the direct supervision and request of organizations directly related to firefighting or fire departments. It was conducted by NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) under the supervision of the U.S. Department of Commerce and issued as a finished report on April 28, 2010.

This report positively shows the dangers (to both civilians and firefighters) of cutting staffing in the fire service below the already recognized but not followed NFPA minimum standard of 4-men per truck, as well as the dangers of spacing fire stations too distant from each other.

These potentially fatal cuts are the so-called "tools" our ever-so-shortsighted Governor Carcieri wants to give cities and towns by eliminating minimum staffing levels for fire departments across the state.
Below is the information on the release of the study along with a link for the entire report.



Landmark Residential Fire Study Shows How Crew Sizes and Arrival Times Influence Saving Lives and Property

For Immediate Release: April 28, 2010
Contact: Evelyn Brown 301-975-5661 301-975-5661

WASHINGTON D.C.--A landmark study issued today by the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) shows that the size of firefighting crews has a substantial effect on the fire service's ability to protect lives and property in residential fires.

Performed by a broad coalition in the scientific, firefighting and public-safety communities, the study found that four-person firefighting crews were able to complete 22 essential firefighting and rescue tasks in a typical residential structure 30 percent faster than two-person crews and 25 percent faster than three-person crews.

The report is the first to quantify the effects of crew sizes and arrival times on the fire service's lifesaving and firefighting operations for residential fires. Until now, little scientific data have been available.

"The results from this rigorous scientific study on the most common and deadly fires in the country—those in single-family residences—provide quantitative data to fire chiefs and public officials responsible for determining safe staffing levels, station locations and appropriate funding for community and firefighter safety," said NIST's Jason Averill, one of the study's principal investigators.

The four-person crews were able to deliver water to a similar-sized fire 15 percent faster than the two-person crews and 6 percent faster than three-person crews, steps that help to reduce property damage and lower danger to the firefighters.

"Fire risks grow exponentially. Each minute of delay is critical to the safety of the occupants and firefighters, and is directly related to property damage," said Averill, who leads NIST's Engineered Fire Safety Group within its Building and Fire Research Laboratory.

"Our experiments directly address two primary objectives of the fire service: extinguishing the fire and rescuing occupants," said Lori Moore-Merrell of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and a principal investigator on the study.

The four-person crews were able to complete search and rescue 30 percent faster than two-person crews and 5 percent faster than three-person crews, Moore-Merrell explained. Five-person crews were faster than four-person crews in several key tasks. The benefits of five-person crews have also been documented by other researchers for fires in medium- and high-hazard structures, such as high-rise buildings, commercial properties, factories and warehouses.

This study explored fires in a residential structure, where the vast majority of fatal fires occur. The researchers built a "low-hazard" structure as described in National Fire Protection Association Standard 1710 (NFPA 1710), a consensus standard that provides guidance on the deployment of career firefighters. The two-story, 2000-square-foot test facility was constructed at the Montgomery County Public Safety Training Academy in Rockville, Md.Fire crews from Montgomery County, Md., and Fairfax County, Va., responded to live fires within this facility.

NIST researchers and their collaborators conducted more than 60 controlled fire experiments to determine the relative effects of crew size, the arrival time of the first fire crews, and the "stagger," or spacing, between the arrivals of successive waves of fire-fighting apparatus (vehicles and equipment). The stagger time simulates the typically later arrival of crews from more distant stations as compared to crews from more nearby stations.

Crews of two, three, four and five firefighters were timed as they performed 22 standard firefighting and rescue tasks to extinguish a live fire in the test facility. Those standard tasks included occupant search and rescue, time to put water on fire, and laddering and ventilation. Apparatus arrival time, the stagger between apparatus, and crew sizes were varied.

The United States Fire Administration reported that 403,000 residential structure fires killed close to 3,000 people in 2008—accounting for approximately 84 percent of all fire deaths—and injured about 13,500. Direct costs from these fires were about $8.5 billion. Annually, firefighter deaths have remained steady at around 100, while tens of thousands more are injured.

Researchers also performed simulations using NIST's Fire Dynamic Simulator to examine how the interior conditions change for trapped occupants and the firefighters if the fire develops more slowly or more rapidly than observed in the actual experiments. The fire modeling simulations demonstrated that two-person, late-arriving crews can face a fire that is twice the intensity of the fire faced by five-person, early arriving crews. Additionally, the modeling demonstrated that trapped occupants receive less exposure to toxic combustion products—such as carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide—if the firefighters arrive earlier and involve three or more persons per crew.

"The results of the field experiments apply only to fires in low-hazard residential structures as described in the NFPA Standard 1710, but it provides a strong starting point," said Moore-Merrell. Future research could extend the findings of the report to quantify the effects of crew size and apparatus arrival times in medium- and high-hazard structures, she said.

The next step for this research team is to develop a training package for firefighters and public officials that would enable them to have both quantitative and qualitative understanding of the research, a project also funded by FEMA's Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.
The study's principal investigators were Averill, Moore-Merrell and Kathy Notarianni of Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Other organizations participating in this research include the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the Commission on Fire Accreditation International-RISK and the Urban Institute.

The report was funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program and released today in Washington, D.C., before the start of the annual Congressional Fire Services Institute meeting that draws top fire safety officials from across the nation.



The Report on Residential Fireground Field Experiments, NIST Technical Note 1661, can be downloaded here: www.nist.gov/manuscript-publication-search.cfm?pub_id=904607

Founded in 1901, NIST is a nonregulatory agency of the Commerce Department that promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

WHEN IS A CONTRACT BINDING?

When is a contract binding?

This is a simple question but the answer seems to be anything but simple. Ask yourself…is your mortgage a binding contract? What about your car loan? Do you have to live up to the provisions of your lease agreement? How about your marriage license?

Don’t get me wrong. You can opt out of any contract to which you are legally bound, but there are absolute consequences. You cannot simply walk away from your contractual obligations and dictate terms that are more suited to your present situation. This is the essence of a “contract” between two parties.

Many older people (including myself) bemoan the fact that we need 20-page contracts in present times when a handshake seemed to suffice in days gone by. This fact seemed to be a sign of our generation transforming itself from a time when a man’s word was enough to guarantee his actions to a time when a man would only deliver the minimal compensation legally required by his signature on a contract. I’ve heard and read many old timers stating that this was the beginning of the end of a time when a person’s moral obligations had any effect on his actions.

It seems that we’ve begun to cross this line of simply living up to our legal obligations. Now, it seems, even a 50-page contract is actually worth less than the paper it is written on. As with many “legal rights” that are eroding before our very eyes, this one is being taken away by our government. The economic times are bad right now. Private industry, federal, state and local governments are all feeling the effects of a massive recession. So are individual households. The state and local governments’ answer to this problem, justifiably, is to cut expenses. It’s the way they are going about it that is wrong.

They (the state and municipalities) are simply choosing to ignore their contractual obligations to their employees. They have the power to enact legislation into law that will give them the right(?) to opt out of negotiations with their labor unions and force their will in a so-called defense of the tax-paying general public. Just look at the situation regarding the Central Falls High School teachers.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for looking for concessions from workers during a financial crisis. After all, I’m a taxpayer too. I have stake in keeping my city and state economically sound. I’ve lived here my entire life and intend to remain here until I die. What needs to be remembered is that the present contracts of state and municipal employees have been negotiated and renegotiated over many years. In good economic times the workers realize increases in salaries and benefits. In poor economic times, such as these, the workers either stand pat or give back benefits to ease the burden on the taxpayers. Despite rhetoric to the contrary these givebacks and freezes have happened on many occasions over the years. In all cases, however, these savings for the employers have been negotiated via a collective bargaining agreement. Neither party has ever had the power to simply force their demands on the other. This is the way of contractual labor agreements. This is the way of commerce. This is the way of civil contractual agreements. This was supposed to be the reason that contractual agreements were preferable to “handshakes”.

I must state that these employees, who are living up to the terms of their contracts, are working people who pay taxes and contribute to the economic health of this state. There are other options available to us in cutting expenses without placing the entire burden on working, productive public union members. We, public union members, are willing to make concessions in order to share the sacrifice we all must make to get through these tough economic times. We’re simply asking that other options be explored and utilized and that we be allowed to be at the table and participate in the discussions without the state and municipalities simply walking away from their contractual obligations to us.

There have to be many other options to curb expenses. RI continues to spend almost 10 times the national average on Welfare benefits per person. We spend much more than the median national average on many other social programs. We continue to pay exorbitant salaries to paid mercenaries coming into this state to run our schools and other state and municipal agencies. We also foot an unfair tax burden supporting an increasing illegal alien population due to our perceived status as a haven state for illegals. We also are victim to huge tax breaks given to institutions and businesses during good economic times which should be renegotiated during these tough times.

These are but a few of the problems that need to be addressed in order to right our course financially. I’m sure that there are many more possible solutions that our leaders could come up with that would more evenly distribute the pain of the possible cure. I don’t propose eliminating social programs or benefits for those in need nor do I believe that tax-exempt institutions or corporations with unfair tax breaks foot the entire bill. I simply wish that the solution be more evenly distributed across the board as opposed to simply on the backs of hard working state and municipal workers.

I also wish I knew which of my contracts were real and which were simply illusions.

Tom Kenney

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Political Lies Regarding "Mandates"

I’ve recently heard a number of stories on the news that make me irate as a working man and a taxpayer.

The first one had to do with record breaking profits over the last two quarters on Wall Street. These profits were primarily realized by the already wealthy and this money will not be spent on consumables which would contribute to the rebound of our economy. Also there was the story of some large financial institutions which took federal stimulus money to bail out their shabbily run businesses. These institutions were paying back the federal government. That should be good news, but the reason they were paying the money at this time (early December) is so that they could pay out multi-million dollar bonuses to their upper management personnel which is forbidden under present arrangements of the stimulus package for companies that still owe Uncle Sam money. I guess they’re back to business as usual.

A grant writer for the State of RI and URI illegally diverted over a million dollars of grant money earmarked for the state and the university to his personal account. God knows if we (the taxpayers of RI) will ever recover the full amount of money stolen.

Then there’s the case of our governor. He still wants to lower the capital gains tax and lower the highest tax rate for the wealthiest of Rhode Islanders. He feels that this would be fair, even though the state is in a huge financial deficit.

His solutions to this, however, speaks to the total disconnect he (as a wealthy person) has to working men and women. He shifted the biggest part of the problem to the cities and towns, and in doing so has probably guaranteed that each and every Rhode Islander will see increases in either their real estate tax or their rent. The governor comes from a business background where creative bookkeeping can avoid financial disaster – at least temporarily. Money that was supposed to be paid to the cities and towns is now being kept by the State to cut its deficit. Never mind that it was promised to the cities and towns and already had been used in their budgets. In the business world contracts are made to be broken.

He then proposes to cut unfunded mandates from municipal contracts. Minimum staffing requirements for police and fire and requirements for bus monitors are the most concerning to me. Anything that allows short-sighted politicians cut back on public safety is a recipe for disaster. I’ve served the citizens of Providence for thirty years as a firefighter and I know without a shadow of a doubt that if the mayor had the authority to shut down four or five fire companies on a single night to save on overtime he would do so without hesitation. The same holds true for running the police night shift with only four or five patrol cars in the city. As for bus monitors, people have such short memories. Before the requirement for monitors there had been a number of fatal instances of little children being struck and killed by their own buses. Since the implementation of this “mandate” not a single child has been injured by a school bus. Such short-sightedness for such a miniscule amount of financial savings seems unconscionable to me.

“Mandates” has taken on such a negative connotation in recent political debates in this state. “Mandates” are simply laws that require a “minimum” level of consideration for safety factors - nothing more and nothing less. If any citizen is na├»ve enough to think that some cities or towns would keep such positions filled if given the opportunity to opt out of the requirements imposed on them by these “mandates” they are in for a big surprise. Governments only live up to the minimum requirements imposed by “mandates”, contracts or current political pressure by their constituents.

If you, as a citizen, truly believe that bus monitors, firefighters and police officers are merely positions created to provide cushy municipal jobs with job security for those who are politically connected then by all means support the governor’s irresponsible attempt to pawn off the state’s budget woes to the cities and towns and his equally irresponsible suggestion that we eliminate these “mandates” which are in place to guarantee “minimal” public safety considerations.

If you understand that these positions (and “mandates”) truly contribute to a safer environment for our citizens safe from the political budgetary whims of a politician’s pen then please contact your legislator and demand that the state find another way to balance the budget. Tell them that you won’t sacrifice the safety of your family, your children or your grandchildren to make up for past political mismanagement.

Tom Kenney