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City's fire personnel deserve more help

Published Oct. 18, 2005

Dear Editors: On Oct. 12, the Tampa Tribune published an editorial urging the Tampa City Council to uphold Mayor Sandy Freedman's veto of proposed increases in the city budget for more firefighters. The editorial suggested that to spend this money would equate to lavishing money on a fire department that is just fine.

The Tampa Fire Department is NOT just fine, and at least the City Council has the courage to deal with this problem responsibly.

City Council members heard the evidence of increased alarms and fewer firefighters. They heard about poor equipment and delayed responses to medical emergencies. The council questioned the fire chief, the public safety director, budget officials and heard from firefighters as well as other interested individuals. The council also found the funds to offset the cost of the proposed increase, and after two public hearings the council amended the mayor's budget to provide for more firefighters and equipment.

They did their job, and they played by the rules.

Mayor Sandy Freedman vetoed the budget increases, and she has stated that she will not spend the money to hire additional firefighters.

So much for democracy and playing by the rules.

Mayor Freedman is playing politics with public safety, and everyone's welfare is at stake.

By their actions City Council members have shown that they can take a complicated issue, find out the facts and make a tough decision for the public good. For that they deserve more than pressure by the Tribune or political posturing by the mayor. For their actions, the council members deserve the respect of everyone who wants good responsible government.

The Tampa firefighters thank the City Council members for their fair consideration and efforts.

The Tampa firefighters also ask Mayor Sandy Freedman to keep politics out of public safety.

Bob Weiss, president,

International Association

of Fire Fighters Local 754