Thursday, January 14, 2010

Fire Department to Make 20,000 Contacts This Winter Under Guise of Replacing Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Detector Batteries

The true purpose: to find homes that are really rentals

By: Fines and Fees are We, Welcome to Ogden

Please be advised that the Mayor has now assigned the Fire Department to make 20,000 contacts this winter, knocking on doors of single family homes under the guise of replacing smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector batteries.

The true purpose is to find homes that are really rentals. The information is uploaded nightly to City Hall, so that the fines and fees can begin for the violators.

All training, for the Fire Department and having engines respond as first responders to medical emergencies will cease until the goal has been met.

More revenue means more hair brained schemes by the little guy on nine.

My advice is: if the fire department comes a-knocking, stay cozied up to the fire place, hope the health department doesnt show up either, and don't answer the door.

By the way, this action is in retaliation for the Fire Fighters endorsing Council Candidates deemed to be unfriendly to the Godfrey Administration.

28 comments:

Danny said...

Amazing story, Rudi.

Another stunner, is that I hear the fire department is the city's official fireworks enforcer. That's right, if you light off illegal fireworks and somebody complains, a pumper truck shows up at the door and a fireman writes you out a ticket.

It seems appalling to have the fire department doing petty law enforcement, not to mention wasteful.

On the other hand, the city's "good landlord program" seems like a good idea to me, and I don't mind seeing people forced into participation.

On yet the other hand, I hear tell Ogden has about 3 times as many firefighters as cities of comparable size. Rather than create "make work", we should adjust their ranks to a nominal level reflecting local averages and use the money saved for something else - how about tax cuts?d

curious 1 said...

Can we have a map of rentals in the city to actually see where the rental homes are located. I keep hearing that 64% of all Ogden homes are rentals is that a true number.

How many rentals are LLC and out of state owners. Where is the code enforcement on rental properties or are they given a pass since the developers seem to have a cosy arrangement with the city.

I'm also curious at what properties the Mayor owns.

Rob said...

This is good advice: If you do not know who is knocking on your door, the better option is to NOT answer it. No one can make you open your door without a search warrant. And, folks, to get a search warrant they need probable cause that a crime has been, is being, or is about to be committed.

So just don't answer your door.

Fireman Joe said...

Danny-this is not "make work", the mayor is pissed off and this is his revenge. If we follow his orders and someone in your family stops breathing it's more important that an engine crew continues knocking on doors than start providing medical care.

just another humble servant said...

The Taxpayers are actually getting a bargain in the Fire Department.

Back in the mid eighties the general fund financed 100% of the fire department budget, today the general fund finances approximately 55% of the department budget. This is because of the innovation of cross trained EMS and Firefighters. The EMS enterprize fund genersted by the Fire Department by providing ambulance service and Paramedic service pays for 45 positions in the fire department.

There are 5 fire engines in the city with three person staffing per engine, which is below the NFPA recommended staffing levels. There are 4 ambulances, and three Paramedic trucks in Ogden, with one Paramedic rig assigned to the upper valley by contract through Weber County.

The call volume per firefighter in Ogdne Fire Department is higher than any along the Wasatch front.

It's easy to say we have three times more than other cities when you just look at a number on a piece of paper, but you have to look at the demographics, services provided, and actual cost to the taxpayer.

It's apples and oranges, and it's pretty hard to explain all of the comparitives here, but in Ogden we are getting a bargain.

u decide said...

So if you cut the Fire Department by two thirds, that would mean there would be 2 fire engines to cover the city, and 1.5 ambulances, and 1 paramedic rig.

Who's house do you let burn, and who do you let die because an ambulance and medic isnt there to respond?

Do we not cover the north, west and downtown of Ogden and just cover the south and east bench? Those are pretty hard decisions to make.

the smart thing to do said...

Consolidation

Consolidate the Fire Departments in Weber County, do away with duplicate and overlapping services, eliminate a ton of fat at the top. Create one Fire District. Place them under the direction of a Board consisting of representatives from all entities instead of a Mayor.

The only problem is that there are too many Chiefs who dont want to give up any of their territories. Create one Law Enforcement district.

And while your at it take a peek at law enforcemnt also.

Danny said...

Rob,

It's easy for you to say not to answer the door.

But for most people, not answering the door when somebody in uniform is knocking is a pretty tall order.

But your advice is good in the sense, that whoever it is, don't let them in without a search warrant.

Note however, that the code enforcement people issue themselves their own entry warrants to inspect for code violations, when they feel they have a valid complaint.

But whoever it is, I would be reluctant to let them in without a valid document that they hand to you.

You can always say, no, and see what happens. I've done that before. The cop got really mad, and threatened me, but he left, and I heard nothing more from him.

And years ago, the Mecham administration hired a bunch of "code enforcement officers" to go around ransacking rentals for "code violations" under the pretense of "safety". In reality, they expected the new "officers" to be "revenue positive" and pay for themselves with the fines they would create. The legislature outlawed it! Another time Ogden made itself famous. Sheesh.

And on the fire issue, do we not still have 5 fire stations? That's a lot of fire stations for 90,000 people, compared to other cities. But I admit my info on the subject is minimal and outdated. All city departments should be examined. I have called for cuts in Godfrey's business budget and his personal slush funds many times.

As far as doing 20,000 inspections before doing emergency calls, yes, it sounds like the insanity typical from Godfrey. And as I said, it is a great article from Rudi.

just another humble servant said...

Danny
We do have five fire stations in Ogden.

1. at 22 and Lincoln

2. at 21 and Harrison

3. at 3rd and Washington

4. at west 24th street

5. at 3450 Harrison

Eliminate two thirds and you have less than 2 left.

Danny said...

Humble servant:

OK. I can do that math.

The question is, do we really need five, or do we need two?

How many simultaneous fires or ambulance calls do we need to be able to cover, and in the event of a major fire, can we not call upon neighboring communities?

There are statistical ways to calculate these things. I feel these calculations should be done.

If there is need for a reduction, I would tend to favor voluntary buy outs, rather than layoffs. Then, everyone is part of the process, except the administrators, who would have less to administer.

But we should do the study, and then work toward the right level whatever it is.

As a fireman, the main effect is you would have a choice of taking a buy out, or not. It would be your choice, if the study called for a cut.

I know it is a sensitive issue.

t top said...

They are mostly looking for squalid basement "apartments: with no exits, no windows, and no bathrooms.

These highly dangerous holes are often sub-sub leased, and are death traps, for both firefighter and the immigrant children forced to live in them by their lawless parents.

We need more firefighters doing fire inspections, more code enforcement ridding the city of blight, and more police writing tickets for idiot driving.

And, more law abiding citizens. Ogden really needs more more of those.

just another humble servant said...

Danny we can go on forever about the needs. I suppose it's a matter of how much of a gambler are you?
There are times when all of Ogdens ambulances and paramedic rigs are busy on calls. Then the mutual aide from other Cities kicks in, we recieve aide from those cities, leaving them un proteced.

Ogden does have mutual aid agreements with area municipalities and the county, and I must say Ogden it getting the better end of the deal because we rely on the others so much. I wonder when the other local governments are going to cry fouls because they dont get the same amount of use from mutual aide as does Ogden.

As a taxpayer and Ogden Resident, I dont really believe we are over staffed, I dont like high taxes any more than you or my neighbor.

What I dont appreciate is the fact that the City is playing developer, and giving tax dollars to the big boys who can afford to pay their own way, and kick the hometown businesses in the teeth.

Government was estabilshed to serve the citizens, not the big developers.

Godfrey is no better than the turds in DC trying buy their way out of tough economic times with tax dollars. I am truley concerned for the financial condition of our City, and cutting essential services is not the way to cut corners.

Fireman Joe said...

Danny, South Ogden, North View, Riverdale and Roy are already fed up with leaving their own communities unprotected while their ambulances cover calls in Ogden. A structure fire will also send mutual aid in both directions.

If we had 2 stations last year they would have run nearly 10,000 calls each.

Curmudgeon said...

On the number of fire stations:

I'm not competent to say what Ogden needs by way of numbers. I would point out that number of simultaneous fires is not the only standard that I think matters. So does response time. And with only two stations serving a very congested Ogden, we'd need to know how average response times would increase over what they are now.

And response times are one of the factors that go into insurance ratings. If paring down the FD leads leads to a lower insurance industry rating for Ogden fire protection, homeowners' insurance rates [and business owners' insurance rates] will rise.

These are not simple matters. Beware of simplistic answers.

Danny said...

There are many good points being made here.

Humble Servant's comments about the calamitous Godfrey playing developer are excellent.

Fireman Joe also makes a good point.

And Curm's point about insurance and response time are valid too.

I didn't intend to stir up a hornet's nest, and I certainly didn't want to cause concern to the firemen.

I feel much of the concern comes from the fact that no one trusts Godfrey. In fact, I suspect Patterson is drooling right now over the fact that somebody on this blog has upset the firemen.

mark johnson said...

oh you guys are just paranoid.
just let Matt do whatever he wants because he is the boss and that is all that matters and if you don't like go somewhere else. this is his town, the people voted him in and that is all the matters. you can't impeach him, you can't even make him go to jail and many as as some of you would like to see that. so there................. brouhaha.

Danny said...

To change the subject, I've gotten some good advice off this blog. Roosters, Two Bit Street Cafe, and Sonora Grill come to mind.

Here's a question. Does anybody have any strong feelings about giving up the land line phone and using only cell phones?

I can't see paying the $26 a month or so, when I can add a cell phone line for $10 or so.

Astute/profound thoughts, anyone?

Fireman Joe said...

Danny, it ended all my sales calls, worth it right there.

Dan S. said...

Danny: Don't forget The Pizza Runner!

Giving up the land line was the right decision for me. But there are lots of good reasons to keep a land line so you should consider those carefully before you decide.

Badge Smiffer said...

Once a year, the City Council gets to have a rather extensive audit on a department of its choice. The audit is designed to find the shortfalls and excesses of said office, from funding to employees. This a a major league audit and is performed by the heavyweights of the audit industry. Many changes can be, or have been, made in the audited departments depending on its findings. The cost to the City, of this audit, is at or about $40,000 to $60,000, depending on the auditors chosen by the Council.

A couple of years ago, Dorrenne Jeske campaigned to have the Fire Department audited. Her rational was that the firefighters were understaffed and the audit could very well determine that and the correct number of fire fighters would then come aboard. The downside to this was that the audit could find that there might be more fire fighters than necessary and the City would then rid itself of them. Sort of a Catch 22, I suppose.

But the audit found that the Fire Department was two (2) fire fighters short, and all went well for everyone. Jeske's intent, of course, was to adjust the number of fire fighters for safety, both for the fire fighters themselves and the citizens. Hers was a just cause.

I don't remember if the City hired those two fire fighters or not, but to say that the Fire Department is over staffed is incorrect. The right number of fire fighters need to man the trucks, the ambulances, etc. And, of course, there has to be enough fire stations to provide these services.

Most income raised by the Fire Department is through increased ambulance service. Maybe the CO2 detectors and Smoke detectors now fall under increase the income stream. I doubt that the aforementioned door knocking is really the political faux pas that some suggest it is. I'm sure Jeske would know.

Amy Wicks said...

When the City Council passed the ordinance requiring carbon monoxide detectors the intent was really just to get the equipment into the homes of Ogden residents. No heavy handed enforcement was anticipated, just reminders in various newsletters, newspaper articles and IF the fire department had reason to make contact with a citizen (say out on a medical call or otherwise) they would ask if the resident was aware of the requirement. If they didn't have the equipment, the would get information on how to obtain one for well below market cost.

We have codes requiring smoke detectors in all buildings and you can see and smell smoke. With our older housing stock and many cases involving death or serious disability resulting from carbon monoxide exposure over the years it only makes sense to ensure that citizens (and first responders going into a building) have benefit from this important piece of equipment that should be in every home, apartment and commercial building.

The carbon monoxide detector ordinance was never intended to raise revenue for Ogden City or increase the workload for our fire department.

Fireman Joe said...

Councilwoman Wicks,
The detectors are just an excuse for the mayor's rental survey. Knocking on doors and asking a few questions isn't all we have been told to do, we are also supposed to peek over fences and snoop into backyards to count utility meters. Information will be entered into some type of electronic device that is uploaded nightly. Is the council even aware of this project? If new electronics are being purchased where is the money coming from? Who is organizing all the information we collect, someone who is not doing their assigned job or a new hire?

Curious 1 said...

Snooping into backyards is perfect for a Geiger. Maybe he was hired with stimulus money and din't need to be reported to the city council.

Badge sniffer said...

"faux pas"....always wondered how one spelled that word.

Thanks for the correction.

After reading Wicks post, I believe she's right about the Carbon Monoxide detectors not being a revenue stream but rather a safety issue (that's why I used the preface "maybe"). But I'm quite sure that the alleged 20,000 door knockings to be are certainly not driven by some political enemies list either.

history tells all said...

Hey does anyone know if hansen is going to run the ticket quota bill again this year?

beaver said...

history...

I don't about ticket quotas, but I hope to hell he doesn't drag out another moronic mandatory helmet law. I guess we'll have to see if Kimber tells him to this year.

hates conspiracy theories said...

Or, or!... the fire dept just actually cares if people are using smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms... because it's you know their job. Conspiracy theories belong to the small minded.

phoney agendas said...

Ok HCT

Why then are the Administration going to the trouble of asking fire fighters to find out if the homes are rentals, purchase some type of PDA that uploads the information nightly to the enforcement office, and why did they admit that they are attempting to catch violators who are not licensed for rental units, and instruct fire fighters to peek over fences and back yards for multiple power and gas meters?

Firefighters are not bitching about doing the friggin work, they are not happy with the false pretenses for the so-called home safety inspections.

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