Fire Dispatcher Misrepresented Early Report of Flames From Canyon Fire 2

NICK GERDA, Voice of OC

Patrick McIntosh (right), the interim chief of the Orange County Fire Authority, waits to speak about the Canyon Fire 2 response at the county Board of Supervisors' meeting Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017.

A 9-1-1 dispatcher with the Orange County Fire Authority misrepresented an early report of flames when passing it on to a fire station, according to audio recordings, as the agency faces criticism over the hour-plus delay in responding to the Canyon Fire 2 that later destroyed or damaged about 60 homes.

The recordings of the dispatcher are raising further concerns about the Fire Authority’s initial response to the fire, which is already under scrutiny. Officials at the agency plan to commission an “independent investigation” into what happened, and county officials are considering their own investigation as well.

The call came in at 8:32 a.m. on Oct. 9, the morning of the fire. The male caller told the Fire Authority dispatcher he was driving west on the 91 freeway and saw a fire near where the freeway meets the 241 toll road.

“There is a fire almost next to the top of the mountain,” the caller reported.

The unnamed Fire Authority dispatcher asked if he saw dust, smoke, or flames.

“There is a real fire,” the caller replied.

“Do you see flames?” asked the dispatcher. “Or what is it that you see?”

“Yes, flames. Yes,” the caller replied.

But when the dispatcher reported the call to Fire Station 53, which is near the interchange, he reported the caller “said that there was possibly a fire.”

The dispatcher didn’t tell the station the caller reported seeing flames.

The station staff looked out the windows, but didn’t see a fire, and took no further action until about an hour later when another call came in, according to the Fire Authority’s interim chief, Patrick McIntosh.

The station lacked a fire engine at the time because higher-ups at the Fire Authority sent its engine crew to Northern California earlier that morning, without backfilling the station with another engine crew. Station 53 was the closest fire station to a known fire risk area during a “red flag” warning of high fire risks.

About an hour after the 8:32 call, another person reported a fire near the 91 and 241, and the Fire Authority sent an engine crew to verify the flames, and then activated a fuller response.

“We know that the first call specifically said flames at 8:32,” Supervisor Shawn Nelson said at Tuesday’s meeting of the county Board of Supervisors.

Yet the Fire Authority’s helicopters weren’t in the air “for over an hour,” he said. “That’s not a minor issue.”

“They didn’t take the call serious at 8:30. And the gentleman said ‘fire,’ ‘flames.’ And he was challenged, as if the average people wouldn’t know fire if he saw it,” Nelson said.

Then, he said, the Fire Authority’s response was to “stand outside” and see if they saw any smoke. “On a red flag day, don’t we all know that any sign of smoke could be a major catastrophe in moments?”

“When those winds are gonna blow, you better have people standing by intervening in any call” that mentions flames, Nelson said.

This was “total negligence,” he added.

The Fire Authority’s interim chief has said the call could have been handled “differently,” and that he’s committed to an independent, “unbiased” investigation into what happened.

“If there are opportunities to do our work better,” such as lessons learned, policies, and training, “then we’re committed to that, and I’m committed to that as your fire chief,” McIntosh told supervisors Tuesday after Nelson leveled his criticism. “We will have that review, it will be unbiased.”

McIntonsh said he expects the experts for the Fire Authority’s review will be in place within the next couple of weeks, and that their investigation will take between 60 and 90 days.

Supervisor Todd Spitzer also criticized the handling of the 8:32 call. “For a dispatcher to ask a bulldozer operator or somebody, who’s at [Station] 53,” to look out the window to corroborate whether there’s a fire by the freeway, is “completely inexcusable. It just is.”

Fire Authority officials have said they had received numerous calls reporting fires in the days leading up to the Canyon Fire 2, but that those calls turned out to simply be ash from a prior fire that looked like smoke.

Nelson said it seemed like a situation of “the boy who cried wolf” and the staff were “worn out.”

But, he said, “professionals know better, or they should. And they didn’t.”

Supervisor Andrew Do questioned why Fire Authority management did not ensure a fire engine was on site at the station that’s closest to one of Orange County’s “most vulnerable” areas for wildfires, particularly during a red flag warning.

“Why would we leave that particular station inadequate” to address issues that arise, Do asked, adding that it “troubles” him. He also questioned why the Fire Authority “somehow held back” or did not give permission for the Sheriff’s Department to use its water-dropping helicopters on the fire.

McIntosh said his agency’s outside probe would examine those and other issues.

Over 1,000 firefighters – from as far away as Santa Barbara and near the U.S.-Mexico border – ended up battling the flames for days. Four firefighters sustained minor injuries. About 60 homes were damaged or destroyed but no civilians were reported injured.

Additionally, a prison inmate who was helping fight the fire walked away from his team and escaped.

The Fire Authority has not released the dispatcher’s name or said whether he was following policy. The agency’s chief spokesman, Battalion Chief Marc Stone, didn’t return a phone message Tuesday for comment.

Stone has also not returned any of Voice of OC’s calls over the past week seeking information and documents about the fire response.

Nelson questioned Tuesday why it took the Fire Authority over two weeks to acknowledge the 8:32 a.m. report of flames, suggesting its officials only did so after Nelson went public with concerns.

County supervisors are considering having the county commission its own investigation of the fire response, separate from the Fire Authority’s “independent investigation.” Supervisors directed county staff to review options to hire outside investigators.

“There were significant events on that day that let the people that pay for the service down, and I believe we need independent answers so that we understand why this is happening, despite policies that are supposed to prevent this sort of stuff,” Nelson said.

The policies on most of these issues likely “already exist,” but were buried on a shelf somewhere, and “probably weren’t followed,” Nelson said.

“It should be mere minutes to get [a helicopter] in the air…not an extended period of time.”

Nick Gerda covers county government and Santa Ana for Voice of OC. You can contact him at ngerda@voiceofoc.org.

  • verifiedsane

    It’s always politics above function in these publicly funded agencies…it’s never about accountability or transparency…just the same old worn out story being played out time and time again…And we all know “who” pays for bad & dysfunctional government at the end of the day right?

    • Adelaide

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  • As they used to say in the military: frag the chiefs/supervisors hiney.

  • LFOldTimer

    Here we go again with the blame game. Pick on the lowly fire dispatcher!!! lol. Naturally all these overpaid prima donnas will try to absolve themselves of any accountability and divert the public’s attention to an unsworn dispatcher and hang him out to dry! lol. More CYA!

    Can we get the dispatcher’s side to the story? Or is this just another one-sided beat down? Did OCFA put a gag on him or her? No wonder they refused to provide a name that would give the media the opportunity to get an interview with the accused. Beat the dispatcher down in the media then don’t allow him to defend himself.

    During weather conditions that elevated the fire risk to ‘red flag warnings’ if the fire dispatcher told the OCFA station that a caller reported the possibility of a fire in the canyon that should have elicited an immediate response. I read that other calls were received as well. Yet it took OCFA about an HOUR after the 1st call was received to respond??? FAIL!!!!

    Naturally Do, Nelson and Spitzer will side with OCSD in the midst of the brouhaha over the use of the helicopters. The OCSD union gave Do their endorsement and $86,000 for his last bid for reelection where he beat Michelle Martinez 50.2% to 49.8% (a puny .4%!). OCSD bought him a victory. Do knows who his daddy is. Nelson will need the OCSD union endorsement when he runs for a bench position. And, of course, Spitzer will need the OCSD union endorsement when he runs against T-Rack for DA.

    I predict that the investigations will whitewash what actually happened and blame the poor response on inferior dispatcher training and a lack of OCFA firefighters due to inadequate funding. Nobody will get fired or demoted. The recommendation will be more training and to hire 25-50 more FF’s @ average compensations of $240,000!!! Bend over and smile all you county taxpayers!!!

    All you need to do is review the 2008 Freeway Complex Fire investigation of the 300 homes that burned down or were severely damaged around Yorba Linda and Brea. Was anybody fired over that? Nope! Not in government!

    Wash, rinse, repeat…….

    • Cynthia Ward

      Sorry, I disagree with privatizing all fire services. Anaheim has invested heavily in the equipment, training, and professionals to field a Class 1 Fire Department, the tragedy here is that while Anaheim was impacted we were not able to immediately respond due to the location on County open space, and thanks to the turf wars of County vs cities, and then agencies within the County bickering back and forth. Anaheim just upgraded our 2-way radio service to be able to interface with other agencies, is there away AFD can at least monitor all calls that potentially impact Anaheim, along boundary lines, etc? We should not have to wait until the flames jump the freeway and begin burning structures with Anaheim mailing addresses before we can step in to help. I wonder if AFD stations might not have been closer in the first place? Anyone know? I guess I can look that up, huh?

      • LFOldTimer

        The personnel costs would be greatly reduced with private FF and EMT’s. No more $240,000 average compensations. We could easily find very qualified applicants who would be willing to serve the public for 401-K equivalents, rather than for multi-million dollar pensions at age 50-55. 80% of the current costs to run a government-run FD are personnel related (salary, OT, pensions, etc…). No wonder with the cadillac salaries and pensions for a job that only requires a GED or HS diploma for one to apply. What other job pays a six-figure compensation for such a low formal educational requirement?

        Currently they get hundreds of applicants for one open FF position. No private company would operate that inefficiently. And we continue to get major screwups during wildfires that destroy dozens of homes.

        For that kind of money I want fail-safe protection of lives and property. 60 families lost their homes in the Canyon 2 fire.

        Unacceptable.

      • Todnic

        Really Cynthia? You have no idea what you are spewing. Why the OCFA is involved in this at all is because they took the 911 call. It was in Forest service jurisdiction then Anaheim. If they couldn’t assist then why was the Incident Commander ( first onscene, in command) a Anaheim Battalion Chief? You people really should stop posting as you know nothing of what you are talking about. If you live in that area then you should know the fire station across the freeway everyone speaks of is OCFA station 53 in Yorba Linda, the fire was on the south side of the 91 also know as Anaheim Hills!

        • Cynthia Ward

          Todnic, did you miss that I asked a question, and did not state a fact? I was wondering if Anaheim can monitor those incoming calls and become involved sooner rather than later for issues likely to impact Anaheim, even if not immediately in Anaheim. For this you jump down my throat? What is evil about actively seeking more engagement of professional firefighters no matter where the incident originates? If more eyeballs had been alerted early, could we have saved some homes? I don’t know, I am not the expert, but I would put to use the very expensive staff time we taxpayers are covering to provide as much help as possible and feel like we did all we could, then have to play Monday morning quarterback wondering if we could have done more with additional communication and deployment of resources, and to Hell with jurisdictional disputes. Peoples’ homes (and potential safety) were on the line, I don’t care what patch is on the sleeve of those responding, let’s do what we can to get them out there.

    • David Zenger

      “…these overpaid prima donnas will try to absolve themselves of any accountability and divert the public’s attention to an unsworn dispatcher and hang him out to dry! ”

      If you think the name of that dispatcher will ever come out, I think you will find yourself mistaken.

      • LFOldTimer

        Of course. It will all be handled “in-house” away from public scrutiny. But they have to blame somebody other than themselves. The unnamed dispatcher is the easy target. The dog ate my homework sort of thing.

        • David Zenger

          P.S. The cops will never endorse Nelson. Happy to take bets and give high odds.

          • LFOldTimer

            I won’t take that bet. You’d know much better than I.

            But I haven’t seen Nelson oppose an OCSD pay increase or supplemental budget funds. I didn’t hear him speak ill of Hutchens or OCSD after the jail escape or the illegal informant jail scandal. Despite his harsh words for public pensions when he initially campaigned for a supe job has he ever publicly attacked safety pensions after elected to office? Not to my knowledge. In fact, he finagled a way to get a pension for himself. I didn’t think there was any bad blood between Nelson and OCSD. But then I haven’t watched the back room politics either.

          • David Zenger

            Just going for the easier target. Once in a while these tough conservatives have to pretend to demand accountability. It’s sort of like paying your annual club dues.

          • LFOldTimer

            Actually OCSD was the much easier target. A blind man could’ve hit it. But to my knowledge Nelson didn’t even take a potshot at it. The question is “why?”.

            I remain suspicious that Nelson trash talked OCFA, supported the use of OCSD helicopters for what are traditional OCFA responsibilities while ignoring the OCSD scandals. Has he ever called Hutchens out for any of her mess ups? Not that I recall. But if you’re aware of one please educate me.

            Btw, I support OCFA in the helicopter brouhaha. As it stands today, OCFA is tasked with emergency medical response and fire fighting/prevention. So when medical response is required OCFA should have primary responsibility and shouldn’t have to race an OCSD helicopter to the scene then squabble over which agency attends to the injured. OCFA helicopters don’t follow stolen cars down the freeway during a police chase or search for search for escaped criminals, do they?

          • David Zenger

            But there’s a reason our “conservative” Republicans don’t touch “law enforcement” – either the DA/Sheriff, or the OCDS. Nobody wants to get on the wrong side of “the law” come election time.

            Maybe Nelson is hoping the cop unions will leave him alone. That’s wishful thinking now that there’s nothing he can do for them.

          • LFOldTimer

            I don’t disagree with you that conservative politicians have helped create our police state. But it doesn’t stop there.

            It’s the liberal Democratic majority party in Sacramento that has bent over backwards to please the interests of law enforcement, David. They control the vote. They gave the cops their 3%@50 pensions that has put the state on the road to bankruptcy. They gave the cops their “Police Officer Bill of Rights” which has shielded them from public scrutiny. I read that the California legislature has even approved giving police dogs pensions after their service time has elapsed. lol. No joke.

            So I wouldn’t single out the conservatives here. It’s a bi-partisan problem and has been around for many years. Most of the safety union ‘donations’ go into liberal Democrat pockets in California.

          • David Zenger

            I didn’t single out conservatives. That’s why I put the word in quotation marks.

            I can’t think of a single Republican in OC who voted against the 3@50 either in the legislature or on a city council.

          • LFOldTimer

            It’s Tom Daly – an OC liberal Democrat – who just proposed more pro-police legislation that would give RETROACTIVE worker’s comp to the OCSD cops who were off-duty at the Las Vegas concert shooting. So the California taxpayers will get billed for actions taken by off-duty California cops while in other states with zero police powers if the legislation passes. Maybe even in other countries. Who knows?

            No doubt in my mind that the liberal Democrat majority will give it their full blessing. That’s the power of public safety endorsements and contributions.

            I can’t think of one liberal Democrat who voted against SB400, the 3%@50 bill, in Sacramento in 1999. That’s because none did.

            It goes both ways, David.

    • Bill Colver

      So which firefighters did something wrong? From what has been reported, it seems the issue lies with the OCFA leadership and their dispatch protocol.

      • LFOldTimer

        All of them get paid way too much for the job they do and for the formal education required to do the job.

        Are you aware of another $240,000 average paying job that only requires a GED or HS diploma to submit an application where you can sleep, shop at Ralphs, work out at 24 hour fitness and watch tube all on the employers (taxpayers) dime?

        It’s time to get rid of the public safety unions, privatize the fire and medical response systems – thereby saving the taxpayers billions of dollars and avoiding these acts of incompetence that put the public and their properties in great peril.

        Privatization would mean paying the FF’s half of what they get today and not losing an ounce of quality.

        It’s so simple it’s stupid. But it would never happen because the unions have the politicians in their back pockets.

        • Bill Colver

          Still doesn’t change the fact that firefighters did a great job containing damage. So far it looks like the leadership and the dispatchers were incompetent.

          I’m betting those whose homes were saved couldn’t care less how much the firefighters were making.

          • LFOldTimer

            I’m not sure what the dispatcher did wrong. Even if he said there was a “possible” fire in the canyon during red flag conditions it should have resulted in an immediate response to investigate.

            It’s easy to sit back and claim the FF’s did a great job unless you walk in the shoes of one of the 60 families who lost their homes or were forced out due to severe damage, knowing that it happened because the FD messed up. Especially after the Freeway Complex Fire failure in the same general area.

            Taxpayers would be happier w/ $130,000 privatized FF’s putting out the fire than $240,000 government FF’s. Especially if they didn’t mess up.

          • Bill Colver

            It’s also easy to criticize firefighters unless you walk in their shoes in real time.

            I’m sure the investigation will reveal who did what and when.

            How do you know if a privatized fire department would have reacted any differently. The compensation level is irrelevant to this issue.

          • LFOldTimer

            Most people would jump at the chance to “walk in their shoes”. Who wouldn’t want to work 2 days a week (3 days for OT) and get paid for shopping at Ralphs, working out at 24 Hour Fitness, watching tube, playing cards, BBQ’s, etc…for an average compensation of $240,000 and a multi-million dollar pension at 50-55? It’s like a frat house of wealthy government workers. No wonder each opening gets more than 500 applications, So don’t make it sound like there’s a shortage of people who want to join the frat house.

            Most government investigations only disclose what they want the people to know. The Grand Jury investigation of the jail informant scandal was a perfect example of a typical government whitewash.

            We already know that it took the OCFA nearly an hour to respond to a reported fire in the canyon. That delay allowed the fire to spread out of control and take out or severely damage 60 homes. An investigation can spin those facts. But it can’t change those facts. OCFA is to blame – any which way you try to spin it.

            Incompetent employees in a privatized fire department would actually get fired for their incompetence. It’s practically impossible to fire somebody in a government job who’s protected by the unions regardless of his or her incompetence level or the damage their mistakes cause. Those familiar with government employment know this. So there’s an accumulation of incompetence and shoddy job performance in government because the workers know their jobs are teflonized by union protections. This attitude would not occur in a privatized system because the workers would know they could lose their jobs for incompetence or substandard performance. See the difference yet?

            “The compensation level is irrelevant to this issue”

            It certainly is relevant to those of us who care about how our tax dollars are spent. We resent paying huge salaries and benefits (pensions) ($240,000 for the AVERAGE FF – over $300,000 for the AVERAGE executive FF) for incompetent performances. If we could hire privatized workers and cut those compensations in half while gaining more competent and reliable fire service it would be a HUGE WIN for public safety and for the taxpayers.

          • Bill Colver

            So your concern is more about how much firefighters are paid versus how well they did their jobs during this particular incident.

            That wasn’t hard to figure out.

            You seem to know a lot about a job you’ve never done. So you really don’t know if they are worth what they are paid or not.

          • LFOldTimer

            Naturally you failed to specifically respond to any of the factual points that I made in my comment. You gloss over them and start to turn the discussion personal when you don’t have a good counterargument.

            I know your style from previous communications.

            Not much has changed.

          • Bill Colver

            That would assume you have some sort of first hand knowledge of the incident. Which you don’t.

            What someone was being paid at the moment they are doing their job is not relevant to how well they are doing their job.

            You’re trying to deflect the argument to one of compensation. Which is not the issue here.

          • LFOldTimer

            Oh, now those who weren’t actually with the dispatcher at the dispatch center when the calls came in reporting the canyon fire or at Fire Station 53 when the information was relayed aren’t credible since we have no “first hand knowledge”? lol.

            That reminds me of OJ’s supporters who claimed those who weren’t at the murder scene and didn’t actually witness the death of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman had no right to pass judgment on OJ. lol.

            It’s obvious what sort of performance OCFA displayed. They showed up to the fire an HOUR LATE, which resulted in an uncontrollable wildfire that took out or severely damaged 60 homes. OCFA does not dispute those FACTS. Snap out of it.

            As I clearly indicated in my comments – pay is ONE issue. I noted several issues – most of which you avoided in your responses. In a debate when a person avoids a relevant issue brought up by the opposing party it generally means he has no satisfactory comeback.

            Not trying to deflect anything. You need to reread my comments. You’re the one who refuses to respond to my specific arguments that supersede the pay issue (which is also a relevant part of the discussion. I explained that already).

          • Bill Colver

            I haven’t disputed the point that there might have been some poor decisions made. I am disputing that it was done by the firefighters. I’ll wait till ALL the facts are available.

            You are not a credible source.

          • LFOldTimer

            I don’t actually need to see the smoke rise from the barrel of a smoking gun to figure out who did what to whom.

            You don’t play fair. I respond to all your comments. You refuse to respond to mine.

            So I will end this discussion.

          • Bill Colver

            I will still wait till all the facts are in. Unless you can prove some sort of expertise that gives your opinion something more significant than an anonymous post using a stupid name.

          • Todnic

            I will also end the discussion. Like a typical Liberal, LFOldTimer wants to throw gibberish out there with no way to back anything up and when you are offered the chance to hear another side you shut them down. I don’t have the time to sit here and type a 5 or 6 page narrative to counter your false information so just keep putting out your false views and we will laugh from our side. Sounds like you tried to be a police officer or firefighter and didn’t make it so this is all done out of jealousy and hatred.
            SCARY!

          • LFOldTimer a liberal? I really must laugh my gluteus maximus off on that one.

          • LFOldTimer

            I don’t think Todnic knows the difference between a liberal and a conservative, Dweeze.

            But I bet he’s qualified to be a FF. lol.

          • Todnic

            LFOldTimer,
            Just curious where you get your information? You made a comment earlier about how fire and police only have a HS. diploma. What’s your educational level? With your so called facts that are all untrue, im guessing you are uneducated? Educated people wouldn’t put comments such as yours out there without knowing the true facts. Im willing to meet up and have a conversation about any statement you have made and put the true facts right in front of you.

          • LFOldTimer

            Be specific. What information? What facts that I gave do you want sourced? I’d be happy to oblige.

            All you need to do is call OCFA and ask the Human Resources Dept what formal education is required to test for a FF job. A GED or HS diploma is all that’s needed. Or go look at an OCFA FF application. Do your own research.

            My education level is unrelated to the topic under discussion.

            Specifically, what facts that I provided do you think are untrue? Put up or shut up.

            And what gives you the impression that you’re so special that someone would spend from their time day and meet you to listen to you jabber over nonsense? lol.

          • I did a search on what CA firefighters are paid. discovered the following:
            (Copied & Pasted)
            What is the average salary of a firefighter in California?
            Average Firefighter Yearly Salary in California. Firefighters earn a median salary of $66,260 per year. Salaries typically start from $36,860 and go up to $100,520. Learn more about the Firefighter job market for salaries of real jobs in your area.
            Firefighter Salary in California – Sokanu
            https://www.sokanu.com/careers/firefighter/salary/California/

            It seems to me that you searched for the highest report of pay from an ANTI UNION organization where many members are Lincoln club members or former members

            How much does a firefighter in Orange County make?
            UnionWatch.org reports that the average firefighter in Orange County, California pulls in total pay and benefits of $234,000 per year, making them among the best-paid public employees – and, for that matter, among the best-paid of any kind of employees – in the country.Oct 3, 2013
            Does the average Orange County firefighter make $234,000 per year …
            https://www.aei.org/…/does-the-average-orange-county-firefighter-make-234000-per-ye…
            Search for: How much does a firefighter in Orange County make?

          • LFOldTimer

            I constantly have to do this to set everyone straight, Dweeze.

            Here’s a link to the 2016 OCFA compensations taken directly from their website OCFA.org.

            http://ocfa.org/Uploads/Transparency/OCFA%20Salary%20Compensation%202016.pdf

            Scroll down to Fire Apparatus Engineer (regular FF), Fire Battalion Chief and Captain. Total compensations are shown in the far right hand column.

            Check it out for yourself. Afterwards get back to me and let me know whether you think those numbers are egregiously excessive. I remind you that all it takes to test to be a OCFA FF is a GED or HS diploma.

          • I read the spreadsheet, I noticed that the firefighters that earned over $200,000 a year worked a LOT of overtime some averaged, yes averaged, 78 hours a week. based on a 52 week year, most likely did not take a vacation.
            It seemed they listed earnings for every County Employee, and I am not about to calculate the numbers for all firefighters.
            I do recall the argument made for $200,000 a year Deputy Sheriffs, that the overtime is cheaper than hiring, training & paying benefits for new hires. I suspect it is the same argument made for firefighters
            When you talk about privatizing I think about evaluating non union backhoe operators, I recall specifically one hillbilly claiming, “I can drive that thing” first test was loading the machine on a ramp truck, had I not stopped the idiot, he would have driven it off the side of the truck.
            I believe there was a day without professional firefighters, they called them volunteer firefighters, when there was a fire, they all were called in to fight the fires, usually the buildings were destroyed awaiting firefighters getting to the scene.
            I do agree that the system for county employee pensions is not in the public interest, but who negotiated them? In my union all members are paid an hourly amount into a pension fund, final award depends upon hours & years worked.

            I am not positive what it is now, but when I was in the Army almost 40 years ago a retirees pension was based on number of years of active federal service and a percentage of gross base pay rate at time of retirement.
            I recall many retirees upon retirement would get DAC or DOD civil service positions and also retire from that service, collecting 2x 4 & 5 digit pensions a month.

          • LFOldTimer

            Gee, Dweeze. I didn’t know that you’re such a cheerleader for HS
            educated government workers who get paid for sleeping, shopping at
            Ralphs, working out at 24 Hour Fitness, watching tube, playing cards,
            having BBQ’s and make as much or more than medical doctors who have over
            10 years of higher education and come out of school with $400,000 in
            student debt. Naturally it’s all other people’s money compliments of the
            taxpayers. The scam wouldn’t be possible if not for the corrupted ‘pay
            to play’ system between the dirty unions and the politicians.

            All
            the dirty FF jobs are done by prison inmates brought in to fight the
            widfires. Surely you’ve read recent articles about that. 200 prison
            inmates fought the Canyon 2 fires while 60 homes burned down or were
            severely damaged. The FF’s didn’t want to get their hands dirty.

            The OT system is a scam. The FF’s trade days so they can max out on OT. Besides, who approves the OT and how much of it is legitimate? Remember. They’re playing with other people’s money. They don’t care how much is spent. They can always just reach into the taxpayer’s wallets to grab some more.

            FF’s should work 3 shifts. But that wouldn’t let them scam the system like they do today. They wouldn’t be able to sleep and get paid for it. It’s called ‘Dozing for Dollars’.

            Privatized workers work much harder than unions workers since they know their jobs are at risk if they are slackers or incompetent. Everybody knows that it’s practically impossible to fire government workers no matter how lazy they are.

            So the difference between a private and public worker is that a private worker can get fired. As a result the private worker works harder and is more competent. 90% of the workers in this country are private workers. It’s time for the lazy government workers to get privatized too.

            I thought that you told us that you were in the Navy at one time. Now you were in the Army? When you were in the Army did you get OT? Of course not. They paid you a fixed salary and not a dime more regardless of how many hours you worked. A FF is supposed to be a government public service job. Why don’t they play by those same rules?

            All government pensions should be eliminated. 90% of those in the economy who fund the government are private workers with 401-k’s. What makes a government worker so special to collect a fat pension at age 55 until they die at age 80? The government employment system is a total scam.

          • 1. As I have pointed out a couple times before most firefighters have college degrees. It may be true that the minimum requirements may have a HS diploma requirement, I believe that is so relatives of politicians (GG) that flop out of college can get a good job.
            2. How many doctors will run into a burning building to save lives? I know my GP with a Santa Ana practice lives in a Newport Beach Mansion with a private attached pier for his large Yacht. I am certain he earns much more than $100,000 or $200,000 a year to afford that multi million dollar residence. A surgeon in California makes over $350,000 to around $550,000 a year with the average of about $460,000.
            3. I have never stated I was in the Navy, I jokingly say I would rather have a sister work as a street walker than have a brother in the Navy. I did make a lot of extra money when I was in the Army doing TDY, Temporary Duty.
            4. My last 3 years in the Army I was a security inspector. I regularly evaluated guard personnel. there are 3 types, Military Guards, Employees of Contractors, and Direct Hire. Next to Military the direct hires were the more efficient/desirable as contractors had a tendency to hire the cheapest people they can find, (many had felony convictions) often many were found sleeping on their post. Both had some cases of pilferage of supplies contractors more than direct hire.
            5. You seem to have a major chip on your shoulder in regards to unions. Instead of complaining about the expense of union benefits over “private” companies maybe you would be better off complaining about the poor quality of non union workers and their lack of benefits. From 1979 through 2010 I worked as a union rental equipment operator. one day I can be working for a union contractor and the next for non union. on many if not most non union jobs most workers could not even speak English. (I understand it is worse now than before).
            6. As I stated many times before, Unions job is the obtain the best contract for their members, Remember a Union is NOT a corporation, at its core it is a negotiating and enforcement of labor agreement. the problem is not with the unions doing their jobs it is the elected officials that agree to the agreements.
            that said, I also have stated I do not believe the pensions of public employees were good for the public. I believe our pension plan is best, employers pay xx dollars for each employees hours worked into a pension fund. after 35 years, or at 65 years of age you determine your credits earned, and are paid a pension determined by credits earned, (which are reported to you quarterly).

          • LFOldTimer

            1. The basic formal educational entry requirement for an OCFA firefighter is a GED or a HS degree. That is a blatant admission that a GED or a HS grad has the formal educational training to fulfill the duties of a FF. Otherwise the entry educational standard would be a college degree. You have to agree with that. It’s a fact.

            What other job that only requires a GED or HS degree do you know pays on average $240,000 in compensation, which is within the top 5% of income earners in Orange County?

            So you believe that the GED/HS diploma requirement is there to benefit the kids of politicians and other fire department employees who don’t have college degrees? Do you think the GG FF is the only person who has benefited from this low educational standard? Why do you think a sizable percent of FF’s have blood relatives in the same occupation? Coincidence?

            2. You must watch too many FF rescue shows on TV. Only about 10% of the FD calls are fire calls. The rest are medical calls. I have seen house fires before. I’ve never seen a FF run into the house on fire. Where do you get this stuff? Have you ever heard of a OCFA FF dying on the job from running into a fire or fighting a wildfire? I haven’t. A family practice physician with 10 years of higher education and $400,000 in student debt makes, on average, about $175,000. Much less than an average OCFA FF with a high school degree.

            3. I thought I recalled you saying that you were once in the Navy when we discussed the vet’s cemetery in Irvine. Thanks for the correction.

            4. In my experience the union workers were much lazier and more incompetent that non-union workers. The reason is simple. Non-union workers are easily fired for being lazy or incompetent. Union workers have union protections against termination. An obvious example is government. Anybody willing to acknowledge the truth knows that government workers have absurd job protections. I’ve known government workers with personnel files as thick as a phone book who kept their jobs due to union protections.

            The FF occupation is not even listed as one of the top 10 most dangerous jobs in America. Being a taxi driver, a roofer, a garbage man, a logger or a fisherman is more dangerous. Should we pay all of them $240,000 too for risking their lives to provide a service in a chose job?

            5. I resent unions that protect lazy and incompetent workers and have driven huge compensations funded by the taxpayers for a mediocre work force. The government pensions are bankrupting the nation. Anybody who pays attention knows that. Some government workers make more money from pension benefits than they made working. And a county pension for an ordinary worker is paid at age 55, when they have 25 years of life expectancy left. There’s no private company that pays those absurd benefits. It would go bankrupt.

            7. Labor unions have outlived their usefulness. They protect the lazy and incompetent and ensure that they get paid top dollar.

          • Can you tell us where in the entire world there exists a privatized fire or police force?
            Private Ambulances yes, but I would prefer a firefighter paramedic respond to an emergency involving me or mine than a low budget private provider.
            Example: I had back surgery at Hogue Hosp. in NB my doctor refused to release me when there was no one to care for me, (I lived alone) so they had CARE transport me to a private care facility in CM, less than 2 miles away. CARE tried to charge me $700 as a co pay after my Union medical Plan already paid them $200 (payment in full), for the TAXI ride.

            Also, in this case remember Hind Sight is always 20/20.

          • LFOldTimer

            I haven’t researched all the FD’s in the world, Dweeze. But I bet FF’s in most nations don’t get close to what a FF makes in OC. They are paid in the top 5% of all wage earners in the county. Average comp = $240,000. How many people do you know rake in that kind of money and retire at 50-55 with a multi-million dollar pension?

            I already linked their compensation schedules from the OCFA website for you to review.

            Private FF who aren’t unionized would be willing to work for MUCH LESS than we pay the government FF’s. You should know that. it’s the unions who are in cahoots with the politicians (pay to play) who inflate the compensations. Why should they get multi-million dollar pensions at 50-55? What other workers collect those fat benefits? A FF with a HS diploma makes more than a family doctor for Christ sakes!!!