We’ve been dark for a couple of months — busy with other things, but also reluctant to wade in to what has become some very nasty business. We care a great deal about this City, but sometimes you just say — as many of our resident friends do — “I’ve got more productive pursuits to apply myself to.” But we’re coming out of the ground after this time and observation to set out our views, fwiw….
We have read countless posts on SeabytheCity and Facebook and articles in the Long Beach Herald. We’ve attended 3 City Hall meetings where “the issue” was in play. We are not expert, but have attempted to be reasonably informed and have looked at all sides of this issue.
Our observations at a high level:
We believe that given the number of apartment buildings and the proximity of homes to one another in many LB neighborhoods and that we are on a barrier island, that Long Beach should have a paid FD and not rely solely on a volunteer force as is done in most LI communities.
However, we remain of the view that what’s best for Long Beach is more emergency medical services (EMS) and if changes to the FD will make more EMS available – because of cost reallocation and any other measures (for instance, shift/staffing/rank changes), those changes should be made. There undoubtedly are various areas of reasonable disagreement related to “the issue”; however, it is irrefutable that Long Beach’s greatest need, by magnitudes, is EMS.
A restructured LBPFF (and where applicable, how the City govt and vol FD interacts with it) must include (a) reduction in the supervisor/non-supervisor ratio, (b) promotion only on an as-needed basis based on objective criteria as to the need and the merit, (c) concrete steps for cooperation/coordination between paid and vols, (d) a hard look by an auditor/consultant at allocation of resources to paid and vols, and (e) a contract that reflects the foregoing. Even if there were not layoffs and no new EMS, all of these things should be done!
There are fair criticisms of the City government on this process and the motivations behind it, but that does not change our view of what’s best for Long Beach at the end of the day. We hope for more civil dialogue on these difficult issues and that changes can be made that make things better for the City and all FF in the long run.