June 28, 2012 PLYMOUTH EAGLE.
Recent events in Plymouth Township have prompted officials to hire on-call volunteers to work at the two remaining fire stations on a full-time basis.
We think that’s a good start. We think it is unfortunate that two incidents and a death took place before officials took the situation seriously enough to attempt to actually “right size” the staffing they gutted. When the Lake Pointe fire station was closed, did officials really think it would not impact on the quality and service of emergency medical aid to the community? When only four firefighters and trained paramedics were left on duty at each of the two open stations, did these men and women not realize the jeopardy in which they placed the members of the community who trusted them to serve in elected office?
When the ladder truck was returned to the City of Plymouth, did it never occur to these township officials that the limited staff they still had might need such a piece of equipment if there were a roof fire on more than a single story home or an evacuation needed from a roof in a medical emergency? Did these people not realize that a fire truck of any type needs brakes? That a pumper truck from 1989 might need maintenance if it were going to be the only piece of equipment at a fire?
We remember distinctly one of these officials, when voting to virtually cancel fire service in the township, saying that no one on the board would ever vote for any measure that would put the public in danger, because after all, they live here, too.
That has obviously been proven grievously incorrect.
A grandmother at Bradbury Park Homes, literally across the street from Fire Station number one, died when she fell into the pool after suffering a heart attack in front of her 4-year-old grandchild. The first ambulance to respond from Beck and Territorial roads had only three staffers, and five were needed to provide the needed airway care required to save her life. The advanced airway procedure she needed also requires equipment only available on an Advanced Life Support ambulance.
Paramedics from Huron Valley Ambulance did their best to help, but without the correct equipment and the necessary staff, this woman lost any chance she had to survive.
But these board members wouldn’t ever vote to endanger anyone, would they?
That incident followed the difficulty faced by a roofing contractor who suffered a spinal injury. He remained trapped on top of a home, unable to get the specialized hospital care necessary, because the Plymouth Fire Department no longer has a ladder truck needed to move him. A fire department without a ladder truck now serves Plymouth Township.
When the brakes failed on the fire truck on way to a house fire, it certainly didn’t prove a danger, right? And when the pumper truck engine failed, that was merely a temporary delay in fire suppression, according to officials’ characterizations of events.
Then we see the costs, which despite the carefully constructed records, clearly indicate the escalating fees spiraling upward as the township repeatedly has to call Northville Township for aid, and now pay these on-call volunteers a higher average hourly rate than the former full-time firefighters were paid. The township is on the cusp of exceeding the former budget for a full-time, equipped and ALS certified department.
It has long been rumored that the gutting of the Plymouth Township Fire Department was rooted in political payback rather than fiscal responsibility. These situations and costs, along with the determined effort to deny township residents the opportunity to vote on the issue, would certainly seem to lend credibility to that claim.