2012-12-22 / Editorials & Letters

It’s time to speak up

Editor:

From Beacon reports based on public documents, most of us know about the serious problems at the Buckeye Lake Fire Department: slow or no response; unfilled paid shifts; and poor leadership. The failure of the fire levy is evidence that we know the problems. Thanks to voters, we have an opportunity to improve Fire/EMS service.

I applauded the mayor when he appointed an advisory committee while others saw it as passing the buck.

The committee volunteers should be thanked for their time and effort, but they need to dig deeper. It appears they believe whatever they hear from the department leadership. Council seems to be following this example. Everybody would benefit if they would simply speak to ALL paid and volunteers members. A few weeks ago, Captain Toby Miller told volunteers they would be training outside of the fire house the following week because he didn’t want any of them talking to council members meeting there the following week.

At a recent council safety committee meeting, council member Barry Heron asked, “What percentage of the time does the fire department get out the door and a second (crew member) doesn’t show up?” Chief Leindecker sat silent while Captain David Ruton initially responded that he didn’t have a percentage. Eventually, he said, “Ten percent.” We certainly know that’s not accurate!

At another meeting, Chief Leindecker claimed he hasn’t had any problems filling the schedule but they have had problems recruiting volunteers. He’s correct about the recruitment issue. Many good volunteers have left BECAUSE of poor leadership (Leindecker, Ruton and Miller) and concern for their own safety. Police and fire personnel work in teams when emergencies arise. The team is only as strong as its members.

At a recent kitchen fire in Cranberry Bay, Hebron and Millersport responded but BLFD was a no show. Why are we paying taxes for a local department and not financially supporting those that DO ARRIVE ON THE SCENE...TRAINED, PREPARED, PROFESSIONAL and READY TO SAVE A LIFE? Why isn’t our council investigating the cost of partnering with another department and sharing costs? Our mutual aid relationship with our neighbors is so one-sided that it’s embarrassing!

Several times now, council has discussed Chief Leindecker’s failure to carry out the Mayor’s directive changing our dispatch protocol at the 9-1-1 Center by requesting mutual aid after three minutes. Council Member Kaye Hartman has complained several times publicly about the delay in that critical change. Most recently, Mayor Baker said he “was waiting on the Advisory Committee.” News flash to the mayor: People could die in the meantime!!! STEP UP MAYOR AND BE A LEADER!!! The buck stops with YOU.....not an advisory committee.

Captain David Ruton has been the road block to this change even though he publicly pretends to do whatever the mayor and council desire. It appears that saving “runs” are more important to him than saving “lives.” I wonder if that’s related to his previous plan to start billing for runs right after the levy passed.

Chief Leindecker presented Ruton’s new 7-step plan to get the responders out the door in three minutes. Council’s safety committee responded by saying “it’s a step in the right direction” and recommended starting the new procedure. If only council and the mayor understood that it’s the very same procedure they’ve been doing except for Step 3 - “volunteers shall mark responding with their portable radios....” If only they would talk to EVERYBODY at the station and stop believing the leadership lies!

Residents ... NOW is the time to be heard! Your vote at the polls should have been sufficient. Unfortunately, we have a mayor and a council that just simply doesn’t “get it!” Time is of the essence here. Why should it take an hour to get a stroke victim to the hospital?

There are some very good and dedicated people at the fire department but they can only rise as high as their leadership. Sorry to say but the leadership level is poor at best. If the residents could only sit beside me at these meetings, they would see for themselves that it’s like the blind leading the blind.

We have a mayor whose only interest is tearing down houses. It shouldn’t be any surprise....he told us during his campaign...his one and ONLY issue was tearing down blighted houses. Did any of us expect him to be so “hands off” when it came to our public safety? NO. Our council president

Charlene Hayden has repeatedly been hostile in response to the levy defeat. She was highly criticized during public comment at the last safety committee meeting by several residents regarding her interpretation of the levy results. Nothing new for her - she’s always “killing the messenger” instead of listening to the message. This time the messengers are the voters but her hostility remains steadfast.

I’ve heard plenty of private remarks expressing disappointment, fear, anger and anxiety about the shortcomings of the Buckeye Lake Fire Department. Well, NOW is the time for residents to voice their concerns publicly! If our family members are the victims in a future emergency and we haven’t done all we can to make things better, then we need to share some of the blame. As I stated in a previous letter, the newly elected Mayor Baker said to me regarding the fire department, “I wouldn’t want them to come to MY house.” Yet, this is the only individual who could make a change ..... immediately!

Residents should not settle for just a few individuals speaking out on their behalf. The mayor and council need to hear from as many as possible....whatever the opinions are, lets hear them!

Peggy Wells
Buckeye Lake

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