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City manager does disservice to firefighters

Re: Clearwater clashes with its firefighters, story, July 21.

I have been fortunate enough to work with the brave men and women of the Clearwater Fire Department for the past 13 years, so I was disturbed when I read some of the comments made by Clearwater City Manager Bill Horne in a recent article.

The tragic fire at the Dolphin Cove condos has nothing to do with labor management relations or any ongoing negotiations between the unions and the city. When firefighters speak up to demand better equipment and staffing, it is because they want to be able to continue to protect the public while still maintaining the ability to return home safely to their loved ones.

Public safety is a serious business with life and death consequences. A bad day as a firefighter or a police officer can mean that someone does not come home. Our Clearwater firefighters need better gear and more people. The city should give it to them. There is no price tag that can be placed on a human life. Those of us who put our lives on the line daily know that all too well.

Horne made a comment that was published in your paper that had to do with the resignation of the city's personnel director. "They're still getting over that," Horne said. "Paul O'Rourke often buffered us from some of the animosity. (Now) no one's holding the fire union president's hand." This was by far one of the most unprofessional things that I have ever heard a city official say.

The feelings that our firefighters are voicing have nothing to do with the resignation of a city employee. They have to do with the fear that they carry while doing a job that the vast majority of the public would never dream of attempting. The feelings have to do with surviving a tragedy where people died and firefighters were burned. To equate the concerns of our firefighters subsequent to a tragic fire with ongoing labor negotiations is a slap in the face to these brave men and women.

Paul O'Rourke was a fine man and a professional, but he is gone now. Life goes on, and the unions continue to represent their memberships. I know (union president) John Lee very well, and I have never seen anyone have to hold his hand. In fact, I have never seen any city official have to hold the hand of any firefighter or police officer while they do their job each and every day.

As for anyone having to be buffered from animosity, I can only say that the city unions represent their members in the most professional way that we know how. It's business, not personal. Animosity never enters into it, and I am sorry that Horne thinks that way.

The public safety professionals of Clearwater will show up every day and put their lives on the line for the public. That's what we do.

T.J. Donnelly, president,

Clearwater Fraternal Order

of Police Lodge 101459

Questions hang over

condominium fire

Although you have had many letters from different people about the Dolphin Cove fire, I wonder about a few issues that were missed.

Why was 911 not called at the onset of the fire? Why did the resident in the condominium where the fire started wait over 10 minutes before calling 911? And didn't the person who tried to use the wall-mounted fire hose realize that if there are kinks in a hose, water won't come out? Why was the water turned off that runs to those hoses? More importantly, why was this resident declared a hero?

The real heroes are the men and women who went in to fight a fire that was devastating to all concerned. Clearwater's firefighters and paramedics are here to help and save people _ the kind of people you can trust with your life.

One last comment: I suggest that the mayor and the city commissioners go on a ride-along with one of the rescue lieutenants. Providing time and scheduling permit, all they would need to do is make a request of the department and/or fill out a form and return it to the administration office.

Karen Keegan, staff assistant,

Clearwater Fire & Rescue

Great ovations make

for great memories

Re: One of Williams' greatest ovations: Yankee Stadium, letter, July 22.

I was delighted to read about the time Ted Williams was saluted by the fans in Yankee Stadium, the home of the Boston Red Sox's archenemy.

It must have been around that time that I was in Boston's Fenway Park catching a Yankee-Red Sox game. Joe DiMaggio played for the Yankees that day despite a foot injury. Late in the game, Joe hit a clean single and limped to first base. The crowd went wild as Joe tipped his hat.

Because of his injury, he was replaced by a base runner. When Joe came off the field, the crowd of 40,000 stood as one and cheered this legendary Yankee. This mass salute went on for at least 10 minutes. Like that Yankee salute to Ted Williams, the Red Sox salute to Joe DiMaggio was an out-of-the park home run!

Fred Nassif, Clearwater

This was not the time

to add to tax burden

Re: Dunedin rejects 7 percent tax rate hike, story, July 13.

I have great respect for the Dunedin City Commission's decision to reduce the size of government spending rather than increasing property taxes. Municipal governments must learn to reduce spending during times of economic uncertainty just as each of us as individuals is required to tighten our belts because of recessionary pressures. This is the wrong time to add more financial burdens on already stressed household budgets, and I applaud this commission's courage in making the tough decisions.

Nancy Hart, Clearwater

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