BCFD Fire Chief Perry Shane resigned his position at the Board of Trustees meeting last night. For more information check the Safety Coalition blog here.
Effective today, you won’t be seeing new posts on this blog. The ex-firefighters started the blog because we felt the situation at the Bridger Canyon Fire Department and the flagrant misbehavior and potentially illegal activity of the Board of Trustees was not well known to the residents of the fire district we served. We felt that, if more people knew about the situation, they might want to do something about it. Now it appears that is exactly what has happened. The Bridger Canyon Fire District Safety Coalition has started an effort to recall the Board of Trustees and a legal investigation of the actions of the board is underway. We like to think that the information provided here helped to spur this effort; the over 19,000 page views on the blog in the last four months suggests that may in fact be the case.
The Safety Coalition has their own website now at www.bcfdsafetycoalition.org and they are putting a wealth of important information on their site. So, there is no need to continue to post relevant developments here.
If the situation changes, we may post again in the future, but that is not anticipated. The ball is in the hands of the Safety Coalition and the fire district residents now. We will be watching the developments and hope they remember that, as we’ve mentioned before, we’re here if you want us.
During a news interview with KTVM today, acting BCFD Chief Dennis Guentzel said the board is “moving ahead the best we can.”
Well, Denny, that’s just the point isn’t it; you and the rest of the board are moving ahead the best you can but you continue to demonstrate that your best isn’t good enough. Canyon safety protection is still minimal. It’s time you realized that the best way to move forward is to resign.
Oh, and before you falsely state yet again that you were blind-sided by events, please go back and review the board’s own audio tapes of the monthly meetings for the last 9 months or so. They contain ample reminders of how many times you were told by the firefighters they were going to have to quit if things didn’t change and how many times members of the community told you they wanted you gone and were willing to pursue a recall to achieve that if you didn’t go voluntarily. It’s all there on the tapes, just listen. Then do the right thing. Please. You’ll sleep better and so will the rest of the district.
A canyon resident and supporter of both the BCXFD firefighters and the Safety Coalition recall effort walked into the gym today and received a standing ovation. He couldn’t figure out why until he realized it was because he was wearing his BCXFD t-shirt.
We were quite heartened to hear this story as it helps us to know how strong our support is out there. But we hope the public realizes that the whole recall effort is not about us, at least not directly. It is about accountability in public officials. It is about wise use of taxpayer resources. But most of all it is about public safety and property protection in the Bridger Canyon Rural Fire District. The ex-firefighters are one of the means by which a high level of safety was achieved in the past and, under better circumstances, are willing to be part of that effort again.
We wish good luck to the BCFD Safety Coalition with their recall petitions. We hope others in the canyon will join in with the Coalition’s effort. We are here if you want us, as we have been for the last four months since our departure from the fire department. You know what you need to do to get us back. Until then we remain proud to have served and ready to serve again.
What’s wrong with this picture is kind of a trick question as there’s nothing wrong with this picture. It was taken this morning, September 12, at about 10:00 a.m. and shows the American flag flying in front of the Bridger Canyon Fire Station. The problem is that, as reported by several ex-firefighters, it looked the same way yesterday morning at this time. As you know, 12 years ago yesterday, shortly before 10 a.m., 341 firefighters and 2 paramedics from the New York City Fire Department died in the collapsing towers of the World Trade Center. In commemoration of the tragedy of that day, September 11th had been declared Patriot’s Day and flags are supposed to be flown at half-mast.
Later yesterday, the flag at the fire station was in fact lowered to half-mast, but we can’t help but see the oversight or forgetfulness on the part of the Board of Trustees that lead to this not being done in a timely manner as being disrespectful and indicative of the true value they place on the resources they control. (You might think it’s not the board’s job to perform day-to-day tasks at the fire station, it’s the responsibility of the fire chief or other officers of the department. But remember the board and the fire department officers are one and the same.)
In the future we suggest the board go to http://www.halfstaff.org and download their handy Android Half-Staff Alert Widget for future use.
Below is a better summary of Monday’s board meeting, gleaned from information distributed by the Bridger Canyon Fire District Safety Coalition. It will interesting to compare this account with the board’s official minutes when they are released.
As for last night’s board meeting, it was quite the spectacle. Five of our members spoke during public comment, and three of those spoke during both public comment periods. There were quite the surprising reactions from audience members. Val Gould stood up and declared that she wanted one speaker to stop talking. Lorraine Conn kept muttering under her breath and then flipped off a speaker as she was returning to her seat.
Mike Conn vacillated between keeping time, interrupting the speaker, and arguing with him/her. Topics that were brought up during public comment were:
- A statement asking the board to publicly clarify why they wanted to get rid of Dan Astrom as chief and pointing out all the innuendo and rumors around this issue would stop, if/when this point was accurately addressed by the board.
- Questions about the new public comment sections and a statement that this new arrangement did not feel as though the board was encouraging public participation.
- Descriptions of the lengths to which residents had to go to get basic requests for information, including FOIA requests from 25 residents. Acknowledgement of an illegal meeting on May 23 by Anne Marie, who stopped at the fire station and found four of the five board members in a meeting.
- A consolidated information sheet with fire fighter information was referred to during public comment. The information was taken from reports the board gave to Coalition members on Saturday. Mike Conn refutes the numbers, however. (We have the reports if anyone wants to look at them. With the exception of the training logs, they are hard copy, over 100 pages, so we would need to arrange a time for you to pick them up, just let us know)
- Denny Guentzel was questioned as to whether he had completed the stress test required of all fire fighters over the age of 60. He had not.
- The May 22nd illegal meeting came up, as part of the public comment section. Denny claimed it wasn’t an illegal meeting, because he wasn’t sworn in until May 29. This is another half-truth. Denny was sworn in on May 29th for his newly elected term, but he was also a board member serving the remainder of Franklin Coles’ term. That term ended when Denny was sworn in, so he was a board member leading up to May 29th.
- A resident/Coalition member expressed lack of faith in the board, given their performance and their failure to address the most pressing issue facing the department–experienced personnel. He pointed out that they spent more time talking about a new printer than addressing this most pressing issue. It was his first board meeting.
There’s a lot to comment on about this report but we’ll confine it to one issue for now, that of Denny Guentzel’s statement that the illegal board meeting on May 22nd wasn’t an illegal meeting because he wasn’t sworn in until May 29th for his newly elected term. Did Denny forget that on May 22nd he was already on the board and had been for months, ever since being appointed to fill Franklin Coles position, and that such replacement appointments last until the newly elected trustee (in this case Denny himself) is sworn in? If his memory is that poor, this is disturbing news indeed since not only does he serve an important roll in managing the affairs of the fire district but is also interim fire chief of the Bridger Canyon Fire Department. Someone with a memory like that has no place in such important positions. If it’s not a memory problem, the alternative is that he just lied on Monday night. It’s hard to decide which of those two explanations is worse.