Some Questions for Fire District Residents to Ask Colleen Carnine

You haven’t read much about trustees Colleen Carnine and Peggy Foster on this blog because we have been focusing on the verbal front for the board, Dave McKee and Mike Conn. But they are very active members of the board as well. Ms. Carnine submitted the information about the fire department that you may have received via email from the BCPOA a short time ago, so you might want to direct these questions about what was said in the email to her.

What was wrong, in your view, with allowing Chief Astrom to return temporarily as chief and allow him to participate in the mediation process?

Are two of the six well-trained firefighters you are referring to Dennis Guentzel and Dave McKee? If so, when did they last attend a training session? Are their skills and knowledge current? Has their knowledge been tested to establish their current skill level as was the standard procedure under Chief Astrom for firefighters returning after a long absence?

If Dennis Guentzel, Dave McKee, and Mike Conn are all on the fire department, every time they meet to train or respond to an emergency call together would constitute a quorum of the board, requiring public notification wouldn’t it? How is that to be handled?

How many of these six firefighters have agreed to don an SCBA (breathing apparatus) and go into a burning building to rescue someone? When was the last time they climbed a ladder with an SCBA and full gear to train for such maneuvers?

What’s the average age of the six firefighters? Have the three that are over 60 years old had their annual required physical as required before even participating in training is allowed?

What is your training schedule going to be like for new recruits? Will it require the same 40 hours minimum training and sequence of proficiency tests before pagers are issued, or will there be a fast track process implemented? If there is a fast track process how well trained will they be?

If the response time is so good by AMR and Bozeman Fire why are we bothering to have a fire station in the canyon at all? Bozeman Fire Department is full of highly trained professional full-time firefighters, with more constant training and continual experience than any volunteers can ever acquire. Why don’t we just rely on them to provide all our protective services? Why bother to train BCFD firefighters in medical skills when AMR is on scene so quickly anyway?

Who is the returning Medical Training Officer? What certifications do they have and are they all up to date? Or maybe that doesn’t matter since AMR is first on scene most of the time anyway.

What happens when our mutual aid partners are too busy on their own calls to respond to Bridger Canyon? What happens when they decide they aren’t providing mutual aid, only unilateral aid? Do they rescind their agreement with BCFD then?

You have painted a good face on all this, but the reality is there is not going to be just “minimal or no degradation” in service to the district. At some point in the future, after you amass a force with a similar number of decades of combined experience and service as those firefighter you just drove out, the same level of service that existed until this week may be regained. But for some time people are going to be left lacking protection, all for the sake of satisfying whatever petty grudge you have been pinging away at Chief Astrom on for far too long and for the treatment the firefighters received for calling baloney on all your retribution efforts.

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11 thoughts on “Some Questions for Fire District Residents to Ask Colleen Carnine

  1. Kent Madin (@kmadin)

    Can you clarify a question of operational policy in the fire department? Given that a volunteer FF’s pager can go off at anytime and given that some of those times the FF may be impaired from alcohol, (or drugs) what mechanism insures Canyon residents and the Chief that only non-impaired FF’s will be engaged in responding? Are all the FF’s teetotalers? Are there guidelines, hard and fast rules, etc? Please don’t take this as anything disparaging about the FF’s. I’m just trying to get my head around how the alcohol issue at the community room became such a poison pill. Because if a zero-tolerance policy is the only outcome acceptable to the FF’s, then it implies that the community at large is not to be trusted to conduct themselves responsibly. And that attitude clearly would be divisive. “We don’t trust you but you should trust us” hardly seems a productive way forward. One can argue that the larger number of participants in community events where alcohol is allowed over the course of a year, say, creates a large danger, statistically. But one can also argue that just one (even mildly) impaired FF on a scene could be a disaster. Again, I want to be clear, I am not indicating distrust of FF’s, but I am asking about the “verify” part of “trust”.

    1. bcfdff Post author

      Kent I believe you’re missing the real issue on the alcohol policy and the conflict surrounding it. But I don’t have time to try and clarify it for you at this point. One thing you might think about though is why don’t they let teachers drink in school? Why don’t they allow drinking at parent-teacher conferences at the school in the evening? I will say that, when I was a firefighter, there were rules in place regarding alcohol use by firefighters but there were no regular or random sobriety or drug tests. I doubt many would have been opposed to that, I know it would not have bothered me. But I’m not sure how it would work if we’re trying to get out the door to an emergency but have to stop and submit to testing first. If the firefighters are to be tested regularly, I think there is also an argument to be made for testing the trustees as well. The decisions they make when “on duty” can have just as much effect on canyon safety in the long run as an impaired firefighter responding to an emergency.

      You might want to also quiz the current board about their policy on alcohol and drug testing going forward.

      1. Kent Madin (@kmadin)

        I am happy, in fact would be relieved, to hear the real issue on the alcohol policy. But since that’s not forthcoming, let me just be clear that I am not advocating for drug testing FF’s. I want to live in a community where the FF’s and the community have a level of mutual trust that makes such things unnecessary.

  2. Anne Marie Quinn

    According to Greg Megaard, Deputy Chief of Operations, from the Bozeman Fire Dept, there has been no new commitment between Bridger Canyon Trustees and the Bozeman Fire Dept to respond to Bridger Canyon emergencies. There has always been a mutual assistance agreement if resources are available. Emergency response could be delayed many times a day on Rouse Ave. because of the increase in train traffic. So far this Board has acted very irresponsibly by presiding over a complete breakdown in services. If the Board members are now our FireFighters/First Responders how can we trust that they will act responsibly in an emergency, arriving drug and alcohol free, in fit condition to save lives and property?

    1. Kent Madin (@kmadin)

      Anne Marie, in fairness, the same could be asked of all the ex-firefighters… How did we trust that they would… arrive drug and alcohol free, etc. Trust has been the first victim in this whole affair.

      1. Anne Marie Quinn

        Exactly. The firefighters,however, have proven that they are responsible and competent. The BOT has done the opposite. Given the advanced age of the Board members, the concern is that they are fit enough to be effective in an emergency…for example, being able to run up a hillside with heavy gear. Mike, Dave, and Denny seem by appearance to be in their late fifties and sixties…maybe older. They do not appear to be fit enough to pass a physical or go through the rigorous training required. What is the point of them assuming this role? There is already a great team of highly skilled, fit, competent, dedicated, Bridger Canyon fire fighters who have proven their competence.

    1. bcfdff Post author

      Kent, thank you for expressing your opinion. However we disagree. We certainly hope all these issues are already understood by the community. But even then we feel that every bit of false propaganda they put out needs to be countered every time they put it out. That’s the only way to fight misinformation that we know of. If there seems to be a fair amount of indignation and disgust in the tone of these posts, well, that’s only because we are indignant and disgusted about this whole sad situation.

      1. Kent Madin (@kmadin)

        There are a lot of people on the fence out there, trying to make sense of this. By displaying the same pettiness and disrespectful tone you attribute to the board, you may tip some people away from you.. that’s my main point.

      2. bcfdff Post author

        Kent, you make a very good point and I take it to heart. While this blog is supposed to represent the views of the firefighters who have resigned as a group, the particular tone you refer to is almost all this writer’s doing. It is not reflective of all the firefighters in question. I disagree with your characterization of the posts as petty, however they are to a degree disrespectful to the board. I admit that. But I can’t fake what I don’t feel. That’s one of the major reasons I had to resign, I did not want to work for people I’d lost respect for. Now an undeniably more politically correct and useful approach in regards to convincing those sitting on the fence about the points we are trying to make would be to keep my lack of respect in check. I know that, but I just can’t do it at this point. These board members have carried on poorly for just too long and have made me so angry it has worn down my capability to be civil to the degree I’d like to be. I’m not like that normally and regret that I can’t be more civil at this point. Again, that is one reason why I resigned, I don’t want to be driven to be like that. I’m still like that you might say even though I’ve resigned. Yes, on this blog at least that’s true. But one does not recover from this kind of situation quickly. My choices were to not say anything and let the board continue in their current vein or to speak out however poorly and hope people will look past the attitude and focus on the facts and thus the absurdity of the board’s actions. That’s the best I can offer at this point–to get out the facts and hope something gets done about the situation once more people are aware of what’s going on. I’d gladly sidestep this task if more of the other firefighters were willing to take the time to write on the blog but at this particular point in time, I seem to be the one with the most time to devote to the task. Again, I apologize for the attitude but this is best I can do at this point.

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