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Pasco's two-person fire crew is too risky

Fire crew of two is just too risky

Pasco County's population has too many risk factors to staff only two firefighters on a fire engine. Those most at risk: children younger than 5, seniors and those living under the poverty line. Add to these risk factors today's economy, and you have a recipe for disaster.

It is not uncommon to find multiple families sharing a home with a handful or more of children. These homes are usually renovated in a makeshift style to accommodate the new needs. For example, many convert garages and porches into bedrooms. Making matters worse, exterior doors to these areas are usually blocked with furniture and other storage, so escape from a fire would be difficult. If that is not bad enough, the majority of these homes don't have a working smoke alarm. The lack of a working smoke alarm allows the fire to grow undetected and significantly reduces the occupants' chances of survival. These are just some examples of the many challenges Pasco County firefighters face.

Moreover, there is not a fire department in the Tampa Bay area that serves a population similar to Pasco County that staffs its fire engines with two firefighters. Being ultimately responsible for public safety, the county commissioners must intervene and prevent this dangerous practice from occurring.

Dennis DeSalvo, New Port Richey

Firefighters' pay should not be cut

Why should firefighters have to take a pay cut when their work has not been faulted and they have not misused their money? Is it their fault that the leaders of our county have squandered away four to five years of real estate boom money coming into the county? And now, the same leaders want to tell the people that save their lives to take a pay cut.

Is it the firefighters' fault that they are the lowest-paid firefighters within 27 other districts? And now you want to pay them less? It is questions and concerns like these that have caused 90 of the 390 firefighters in Pasco to apply to leave for surrounding areas that pay more than Pasco. If we continue these actions, we will not have to cut the jobs — the firefighters will leave on their own.

There are county ordinances that already limit the way the firefighters get paid, unlike the other services in the county. If we can review the seemingly outdated ordinances to reflect the current need of the county, then maybe we can keep our firefighters here in Pasco.

The firefighters, and police officers, should be the very last thing to be touched when it comes to budget cuts. There have got to be ways to cut the budget without putting the citizens in jeopardy. Pasco could be heading down a very steep slope if we do not have adequately funded and staffed fire stations. The bare minimums are not adequately staffed stations.

Henry Wilson Jr., New Port Richey

$180,700 salary seems out of line

The Pasco County Commission is ready to extend County Administrator John Gallagher's contract paying $180,700 annually with a two-year extension plus the option for a two-year renewal? Where are the holidays he is giving up?

Citizens of Pasco County, wake up! Ask yourself a few questions. How many unpaved roads are in the county? Your emergency services are at the bottom compared to other counties around you. We are losing staffing on fire engines.

How long is the list of employees who just lost their livelihoods? Or those who lost a lot of money if they were lucky enough to be rehired to a different position?

"It's about getting the organization in the right place it needs to be," Gallagher said Thursday. Where is that? Job well done. Why just $180,700?

Rick Someillan, Lacoochee

Gallagher should let deputy step up

I was shocked to see John Gallagher had the gall to inform the County Commission he has decided to delay his retirement by at least two years and perhaps four years at his own choosing. Add to that, three commissioners are delighted to hear this and will support this decision.

For the past 27 years, Gallagher has ruled Pasco County. He has selected Michele Baker as his chief deputy. This is without a doubt the best decision he has made. Ms. Baker is extremely qualified as she demonstrated in both Miami/Dade and Pasco.

Initially, Gallagher faced blatant corruptions. He immediately set proper standards to be followed and cleaned house as required. During the following 25 years, Gallagher has put his agenda in place. He has created a staff that has controlled all monetary processes. The commission has been told the dollars they are permitted to work with, irregardless of the true department needs. I cannot remember when the commission questioned the numbers they were given.

The budget process is a joke. It certainly appears the sharpest ax falls on our first responders. We must question why the real hard-working employees of the county are facing reduced hours or layoffs. Gallagher is responsible for protecting these people who face possible bankruptcy and foreclosures. Yet Gallagher and his staff have not shown good faith and concern by reducing their salaries by 10 percent. Don't forget, every penny helps save jobs.

I see no signs of a contingency program in place for the economic times we are in. Gallagher admitted his lack of providing continuity for assistant county managers. Gallagher has had 27 years to pave the way for the future, but now says he does not want to retire. What about his $180,700 salary? Obviously, he did not complete his trusted position and still wants more time.

He has two choices. He can retire then double-dip like ally Ann Hildebrand, or he can take the honorable step and turn the reins over to Ms. Baker.

Herb Moltzan, New Port Richey

Re: Anonymous letter in tbt*

Error-filled letter is not typical

We are incredibly embarrassed because of the anonymous student addressing President Barack Obama's speech regarding longer school days and school years.

We all hope that the readers of the tbt* letter do not hold this against the thousands of other students, nor Pasco County in general. We have amazing teachers and adults who have taught most of us well, and the letter is not an example for any of the Pasco County students.

Students at Pasco High School, and I'm sure this goes for the rest of the county schools, were in utter disbelief when we read it. Some were angry; others had cramping stomachs caused by laughter. When our teachers showed us the article in class it became the topic of the day. Some of us wondered if it was a conspiracy or if one of our fellow students really thought his or her letter was legitimate.

We did agree with the point of the letter. We hope we will have a say in the final decision. However, most of us realize the facts and did listen to President Obama's speech and understand why he feels that a longer school day and school year may possibly be needed. And if more kids start writing like that, I sure wouldn't blame the government for changing the school system.

The point of me writing is because of the embarrassment I and all my fellow classmates felt and the disappointment we all saw in our teachers' faces. The majority of us would love to go somewhere in life and excel to our highest expectations.

Erica Dutrow, Dade City

Pasco's two-person fire crew is too risky 10/05/09 [Last modified: Monday, October 5, 2009 6:01pm]
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