Want LBNL?

Think move AFD (Alameda Fire Department) to ACFD (Alameda County Fire Department). Seriously.

One cannot but think that the recent extreme and unnecessary failures of our AFD (FISC, Crude Oil, Zack) will impact the lab’s decision to locate in Alameda.

One cannot but think the substandard management at the AFD would be an issue for the LBNL. It seems to me that the fact that Mayor Gilmore replaced a qualified chief with an unqualified one would be a red flag for the LBNL team looking at Alameda. Our AFD Interim Fire Chief D’Orazi lacks the qualifications to be a chief officer: see for yourself: the qualifying documents for the AFD management are here.  And doesn’t that mean D’Orazi’s title should be Acting Interim Fire Chief?

And worse:  the two qualified assistant chiefs at AFD recently departed: Fisher and Vogelsang. … Fisher (unexpectedly retired) and Vogelsang (left, no explanation?) were the two assistant chiefs, you know, the kind who took competitive exams to get the job and have the training, experience, and state certifications to be a chief officer?  Yeah, that kind. The kind that matters say to, oh, a national laboratory looking for a new location.

A move to County Fire would better serve all Alamedans and our city AND be attractive to LBNL:

1. At a minimum save the city 10%, likely more (economies of scale, you know, for the ACFD)

2. Immediately provide a properly qualified, organized, and visionary management team

3. Bring the AFD performance standards up to snuff. (Yeah, no more  being told that breathing in friable asbestos and crude oil fumes, and god knows what next!, isn’t toxic! Or that shallow/calm water is too dangerous for firefighters!)

4. Immediately integrate lab-specific response protocols and procedures into the AFD GOBs.  Why?  ACFD has been servicing Lawrence Berkeley National Lab since 2002, and Lawrence Livermore Lab since 2007.

So let’s go people; sign The Petition online here.

To sign a hardcopy, email me privately at: raisinghellforgood (at) gmail (dot) com


About Denise Lai

Alive. Swim (fly is the best). Walking with my dog (weims are the best). Life is good. Would prefer people understood negative externalities and prevented themselves from creating them. Feeling the love anyway. View all posts by Denise Lai

3 responses to “Want LBNL?

  • Ken

    Dear Denise,

    Still awaiting where that savings figure came from with going to Alameda County Fire. Why sign any petition without having concrete facts?

    The past chiefs from Alameda Fire might of had wonderful accreditations, but yet Kapler stole gas and was accused of shaking down a casino and condo complex when he was a chief in Tahoe and is now suing the City for a couple of million of dollars. Vogelsang allegedly was fired for sexual harassment. So much for nice wall-hanging certificates Denise!

    Let’s give D’Orarzi a chance to turn the mess that the past gutting of the fire department that Kapler created. Kapler was Anne-Marie’s lap dog who couldn’t say no to her. Programs that were cut back in the department included training, fire prevention, disaster preparedness, fire and rescue boats, and the rescue swimmer training under Kapler’s tenure.

    Let’s get some other facts correct: Interim Chief D’Orazi retired as a captain, not as a firefighter. The position of a captain is a front line leader of firefighters. Yes, making sure that when the red truck responds to an emergency and things get done right. Your belittling of him is somewhat suspicious as to why he is not qualified to run the department. Within days of his taking over, a rescue boat was purchased and training was re-established for the rescue swimmers. He is able to make command decisions.

    Your promoting of how wonderful Alameda County Fire is based on what? Do you work for them? So what some of AFD’s GOBs that you mentioned are “outdated”. Just because they were written years ago, why would something that is safety or uniform related back then not apply today?

    Denise, here’s my impression of your perceived issues with AFD: You need to get a life and medication might help your problem. This is a fine fire department with many great employees. Sure, like any organization, it has its problems and means to deal with them. I live here and work here and am not worried about the asbestos from the FISC fire, the oil spill in the Bay, or the ability to go into the water. The sky is not falling down in Alameda. I’m sure the smart folks at LBLN are aware of this too in making their decision to come to Alameda.

    I hope that the readers of this blog who have favorable experience with AFD will take the time to post.

    Ken Jeffery
    Alameda Fire (Off-duty)

  • Denise Lai

    Hi Ken,

    I’m still trying to get documentation to show this 10%+ number. Suffice it to say the public doc requests by law take 10 days, often take longer, 30. This 10% number is pretty standard, however, for fire agencies being integrated into larger ones; simple and repeated economies of scale. It would be best if ACFD could give a presentation at City Hall showing the cost and performance numbers they’ve seen for cities that have integrated into county.

    Kapler’s accreditations were not wonderful. And his performance was, IMO, abysmal. I called for his termination without pay in 2009. And let’s keep our facts straight: rescue swimmer training was not cut in 2009; the funding was there, right there in the budget for all to see. If you know why the firefighters did not accomplish this training at that time and water rescues were not reinstated within the 30 or so days the memo that year stated, please let me know. Thanks.

    I agree with you: management at the AFD has been abysmal at best. Not one chief since 2009 was able to rewrite a single GOBs to ensure public and environment safety. What the heck do they do all day?! At least D’Orazi knows the names of the regional and state agencies to engage during toxic events. Kapler couldn’t even name BAAQMD or the CalEPA if his life depended upon it.

    I haven’t belittled Mr. D’Orazi one bit. I’ve said he is friendly fellow and probably had a fine career as a firefighter, and now I know I should say captain (thank you for the correction). And that he obviously is skilled at training basic levels of some firefighting classes. What I have said is that he is not qualified for the job (relative to what’s standard in the industry for a fire chief in charge of a city of 74,000). That’s not a derision. That’s a fact. Who I have a problem with is Mayor Gilmore. Her actions replacing a qualified chief with an unqualified one puts public safety at increased risk and may even sabotage the LBNL’s consideration of The Point location (and that is an uneducated opinion). Moreover, there is simply no reason to forego a recruitment process to find a visionary chief with recent training and experience in contemporary and professional firefighting standards, with consecutive years as a chief (experience), etc., etc.

    The reason that “something that is safety or uniform related back then” does not apply today is: 1. changes in firefighting standards 2. improved procedure and protocol standards. For instance, in the AFD Water Rescue GOB, there is zero information about tides, about conditions in the varying bodies of water, ICS during mutual aid, and most importantly there’s no identification of mutual aid agencies that fit the varying bodies of water (the only mutual aid agency is USCG; there’s nothing in there about ACFD, OFD, SLFD, EBRP, etc., all of whom can be engaged, and whose available teams/equipment are published daily by ACFD in their sitstat report). Optimizing our fire response can only be done by optimizing our GOBs. While that will allow performance based management, the other side of the coin is this: it will give firefighters the process and procedures to outperform. More than other kinds of jobs, I think individual firefighters find pride in, and enjoy, outperforming. Our city should do all we can to make that possible. Getting the best outcomes is what we should be focused on: for the firefighters in their daily job and to maximize the protection of public and environment safety.

    Clearly you do not live in the West End. If you did, you’d be worried about the 50,000+ square feet of friable asbestos that we and our children inhaled and is in our soil. You’d be relieved that the recurring Wall of Stink, of toxic crude oil fumes, no longer wakes us up in the morning. Marine Starlight is in the courts now over this; BAAQMD slapped them with the stiffest fine possible, public nuisance. Asbestos and crude oil are very serious pollutants to our bodies and environment; Kapler’s failures to protest us will result in disease and suffering in our future, especially the little kids who stayed home that week and were not evacuated and still have asbestos in their yards.

    I agree with you: I’m certain we have many fine firefighters and paramedics here. What I’m also certain of is that the fire management and the department GOBs are both so outdated and substandard as to be wholly impossible to correlate to, to cause, the fire department to be well-run and up to today’s standards.

    Ken: thanks for the discussion.

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