As the president of IAFF Local 4068 I feel a need to respond to Mr. Toll’s letter in the Jan. 16 edition of the PVT.
I was a volunteer starting in 1998, and although the official list had something close to 75 or so volunteers, there were never more than 20 or so who regularly turned up for calls and even fewer who showed up for trainings. Those few who showed dedication either eventually moved on to other things or tested and were hired as career firefighters.
I was very active as a volunteer, and although I have no reason to doubt Mr. Toll’s claim, neither I nor the half dozen or so active and retired members who I have asked can remember Mr. Toll — except for a shouting match with a former chief that resulted in his being asked to leave.
No union member has ever stated Pahrump cannot support a combination department, in fact we are a combination department. Our volunteers are an essential part of the team and frankly, we could use more of them. Like I have stated before, PVFR volunteers must adhere to the same training standards as the career staff and this takes time and dedication, but it means that they are as effective as any other member of the department.
The best way to think of a combination department like ours is like the military; the full-time firefighters are your regulars and your volunteers your reserves. They do the same job and are essential, but it takes time to get them to where they are needed. Without the full-time members to respond within seconds, disaster is inevitable. The fact is that Pahrump is too large and the 911 volume is far too heavy for a purely volunteer department to work.
Mr. Toll states that 71 percent of firefighters in this country are volunteer and I’m sure he is correct. It’s also true, however, that IAFF firefighters protect 85 percent of the population. Statistics can be interpreted however the reader chooses, so I will leave it at that.
I would also like to address the statement regarding Fallon’s fire department. While it is certainly true they are all volunteer and have an ISO 1 rating in a certain area, it’s also true that the area in question is miniscule. If Pahrump were to do the same thing Fallon did and incorporate one or two square miles with hydrants around station 1, I’m sure the same thing could be achieved, although just like in Fallon’s case, this would not be representative of the overall picture.
In a comment on his own letter, Mr. Toll accuses a professional department of striking, while I have no way of knowing where he is speaking of, or if this is true, I can state that no IAFF department does or will strike and it has been that way for as long as I know. We have too much respect for our community and care far too deeply for our friends and families to put them in any danger. Mr. Toll also accuses his old union of being corrupt, yet he made no effort to speak against it or change anything. To me, this brings serious doubts upon his version of events.
Lastly, I must take issue with Mr. Toll’s statement about judging fire departments by the hydrants in town. While this may be true elsewhere, it shows an alarming lack of knowledge of Pahrump. The hydrants here are owned and maintained by the private utility companies in town. This has led to problems, like Mr. Toll pointed out with his picture, as well as others.
In response, we have adapted as well as possible. Our front-line engines are designed to operate in our area, carrying much more water than a typical engine and being designed to handle the heat better. Our fleet of water tenders are no longer just construction trucks painted red like in the old days, but purposefully built for our needs with pump and roll capability, as well as master streams and cross lays. Even our ambulances carry SCBA (breathing apparatus) and our firefighters carry their turnouts with them so if they happen to have to respond to a fire in one they can affect as rescue if needed.
Pahrump has many challenges and our professional firefighters are here 24 hours a day to protect us. Together with our volunteers, we gladly accept the challenges and work hard to protect our community. When someone speaks with out-dated or false information, it helps no one and damages the men and women who have chosen a life of service as their career.
I would suggest anyone who has any questions or would like more information, should go to www.iafflocal4068.org.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read this.
President/IAFF local 4068