AFPD supports volunteer staffing
Dear Amador County Board of Supervisors,
I am writing to you in response to the many misstatements and unstated facts in Jack Mitchell’s recent article about the Amador Fire Protection District in the Ledger Dispatch (June 26, 2020), especially the allegation that AFPD is trying to destroy volunteer fire fighting in this county. Here is what I know based on my personal dealings with Fire Chief Walt White and AFPD about volunteer staffing in Fiddletown.
After seeing three family members lose homes in Paradise, and after last summer’s long power outages and numerous red flag warning days, I joined with others to find ways to keep our community in Fiddletown safer from fires. We held Town Hall meetings in the Community Center and quickly ascertained that we no longer have any volunteer firefighters left in Fiddletown. Suddenly, staffing our station became job one for the Fiddletown Fire Safe Council.
By chance, I met Chief White at a meeting at Assemblyman Frank Bigelow’s local office, and brought up this need to him. He told me that if he could find a way to build a shower and create sleeping quarters in the fire station, he could staff it with volunteers 24-7. I responded that I thought the Fiddletown community would be willing to raise funds for such a task and I am happy to tell you that the community has stepped up and, with the aid of the local Passport Rotary and the Plymouth Foothills Rotary clubs and Rotary International, we have raised more than $9,000 toward this goal. As a result of this project, I have spoken with Chief White several times. Kayla Dale, AFPD’s community outreach representative, came to one of our meetings and gave a presentation on evacuations during emergencies. I have spoken with her many times as well.
The one thing that I heard over and over again is that AFPD is committed to building a lasting volunteer fire fighting staff. And even though we have not yet commenced construction on the firehouse project, Chief White has come through for Fiddletown already: in partnership with Pioneer Fire Protection District, they are staffing two volunteer fire fighters inside our long empty fire house on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays starting July 3. I learned that they have built the largest volunteer firefighting staff they have had for years, and also learned they are partnering with local non-profits for roadside land clearing and emergency animal evacuations. I also am aware of the SAFER grant AFPD has written to obtain funding to create a new training academy, which would provide free training for 100 new volunteers over the next four years and a career path for those who want it.
Yet in recent days, primarily on Facebook, community members are accusing AFPD of purposely trying to destroy the volunteer aspect of firefighting throughout the county. Mr. Mitchell fanned these flames by writing, “Coming off the cryptic emails and reaching out and investigating the wild claims about AFPD, more than a dozen sources came forward to corroborate, substantiate and define an ongoing battle as, according to all sources, Volunteer Firefighters are being quietly and systematically wiped out.” But Mr. Mitchell did not include all the sources, as he dismissed out of hand the press release sent to him by AFPD detailing all their successful volunteer efforts, which would have doused this flame. (Full disclosure, after seeing such allegations on local Facebook pages, but before the publication of the Ledger article, I suggested to AFPD they put out such a release so people would have the facts about their volunteer efforts. Maybe he missed the memo, so here it is on AFPD’s website and on Facebook.)
One last thing. Some on Facebook are saying it was the recently dismissed volunteer Antonio Moreno, who was bringing volunteer staffing to Fiddletown. The first time I heard Mr. Moreno’s name was in a related conversation I had with Brian Oneto on June 22, when he told me of Moreno’s dismissal. I do not know Mr. Moreno, but I can tell from the backlash that he is much loved in this community. Perhaps he helped train one of the two volunteers staffing our station, I do not know that (the other is provided by El Dorado County’s Pioneer station, as Fiddletown crosses over into that county.) But I know personally that Chief White has been driving this effort for volunteer staffing here.
There is much more I have to say about state requirements for volunteer firefighter training and reasons why volunteer firefighter staffing is dwindling throughout the entire nation, but I will reserve that for now.
What’s wrong with mail-in voting?
I am having trouble wrapping my brain (such as it is) around the argument against absentee and mail-in voting. I feel more at ease voting from my desk at home than I do standing in an unfamiliar place, in a public line, around strangers. History shows we seem to be a democracy of non-voters. As I understand it, in its simplicity, voting by mail promotes voter participation. More people will vote. The more people that vote, the more democratic our country becomes. It is up to the candidate to win my vote. It is not up to the candidate to prevent me from voting. Just a thought.
Reverend Jim Marques
Politicians should not be making law enforcement decisions
The rioting and looting recently seen on TV highlighted a basic problem with city and state governments. In each case where the rioting and looting got out of hand, I noticed politicians were making law enforcement decisions. They don’t have the training or experience. Politicians are inherently incapable of making law enforcement decisions. Wouldn’t it be ridiculous to see a mayor tell the Fire Chief how to extinguish a fire or to tell that Fire Chief to stand down, this one needs to burn. Think of the same for the State or County Health Officer.
The law enforcement function should be taken out of the hands of politicians. All demonstrations, rioting and looting management should rest with the Chief of Police in cities just as the Sheriff is fully in charge in counties. The Chief of Police is the only city official capable of successfully managing these situations.
City Councils should pass ordnances resting full responsibility with the Chief of Police for managing all demonstrations, rioting and looting without interference from the Mayor or any politician. Of course City Councils are not going to do this. This would mean they lose some power. Maybe the State Legislature should take this on and make elected Chiefs of Police uniform throughout the state. This is a possibility worth exploring: making every Chief of Police an elective office, as all Sheriffs are. Each elected Chief of Police would have unfettered power over his or her law enforcement jurisdiction concomitant with their responsibility to their constituents. These career law enforcement people will surely make mistakes, but they and they alone would be responsible for those mistakes. Mistakes and failures are the best ways to learn and grow. We don’t learn or grow from our successes.
‘Amador Legends’ series captured the true Garbarini
Cedric (Clute) did a wonderful job of capturing all that dad was; his love for his world, his community, his family and his beloved Amador Ledger. After 26 years, I still miss him every day! Thank you!
Daughter of Ambrose “Babe” Garbarini, Jackson