Service Cuts Have Resulted In Sharp Rise In Number & Frequency of Fire-Related Deaths
A2P Notes: This is filed under “Scoops & Scores,” because you read it here first!
The graph, above, is simple to read. As the number of firefighters in Ann Arbor has declined, the number and regularity of fire fatalities have increased sharply. Let’s be clear, “fire fatalities,” as well as “crime statistics” are people. They are our neighbors, friends, and work colleagues. They are sons, daughters, mothers and fathers. A “slight rise in crime,” means more women were raped in Ann Arbor, dozens more homes were invaded, and there were more cases of loss of property and life. More people who live in our city are being victimized. More people who live in our city have burned to death in fires with more regularity than ever before.
A recent “fire fatality” happened in January 2011. His name was Jacob Rachford. Rachford, 20, died at the University of Michigan Hospital from fire and smoke inhalation when his house at 2275 Westaire Court went up in flames, the result of a kitchen fire. Jacob Rachford was a graduate of Community High School. He was a diver at Pioneer High School and enjoyed rock climbing and skydiving. That’s what his Mom told AnnArbor.com. She added, “He was just my baby.”
Four months after Terri Rachford’s son, Jacob, died in a house fire, John Hieftje told AnnArbor.com that he is “comfortable” with the cuts to emergency services that he has made over the course of the past decade, as well as with proposed cuts. He is “comfortable” that, it appears from the data presented in the fire fatality chart above, more people than ever before are dying in Ann Arbor as a result of the closure of a fire station, the severe cuts made to our fire personnel, and revolving “shut-downs” of fire stations to save money. Jacob Rachford is dead and four short months later, to justify past cuts, as well as currently proposed cuts to emergency services, Ann Arbor’s Mayor told AnnArbor.com he is “comfortable.”
The graph, above, was emailed this morning by the Ann Arbor Fire Fighters Union to John Hieftje and every member of the Ann Arbor City Council. This past Sunday, former Fire Chief Dominick Lanza contributed an opinion piece to AnnArbor.com in which he included staffing data from several cities to show that Ann Arbor’s current fire staffing is well below that of comparably-sized towns.
Charleston, S.C. 19 fire stations
Population: 120,000 Firefighters: 305 Decatur, Ill. 7 fire stations Population: 109,000 Firefighters: 118 Peoria, Ill. 12 fire stations Population: 113,000 Firefighters: 196 Lansing, Mich. 8 fire stations Population: 114,000 Firefighters: 200 Topeka, Kan. 12 fire Stations Population: 122,000 Firefighters: 250 Ann Arbor, MI 5 fire stations Population: 110,000 Firefighters: 86
Lanza goes on to write:
Cuts in fire and police services have led to serious issues. In fire services, it has led to more fire loss and possibly loss of life. In police services, there have been armed daylight robberies of banks, jewelry stores, credit union, etc. Safety services is not the place to cut any further and in the case of fire staffing needs to be increased by at least 20 firefighters to provide adequate protection. Why didn’t I say these things when I worked in the city? I wasn’t asked or given the opportunity by the council or the media. However, now I can.
Meanwhile, to justify a decade of cuts to emergency services, John Hieftje makes up facts for AnnArbor.com to repeat verbatim without verification. On April 26, 2011 in an interview with the AnnArbor.com editorial board, Hieftje was quoted as claiming, “There’s about 12 or 13 times a year, as I understand it, where they even hook up to a fire hydrant, so that possibility is fairly remote.”
An official with the Ann Arbor Fire Department, when asked where Hieftje got that number, told A2Politico, “We don’t note anywhere on on our reports whether we hook up to a hydrant. There’s no record of that anywhere. Plus, we respond with the pumper truck, and often don’t need to hook up to a hydrant.”
When AnnArbor.com caught Hieftje making up other information, instead of documenting then refuting the misleading and factually inaccurate claims, Stanton posted a notice at the top of his piece that, “A factually incorrect statement made by the mayor has been removed from this story.” Removed? Newspapers don’t remove factually inaccurate statements made by politicians. Newspapers reveal, document, refute and report.
An anonymous reader put it best in a comment below the one in which Stanton casually points out that AnnArbor.com, in essence, covered up Hieftje’s false claims:
Is it appropriate to just remove those paragraphs?
My problem is not so much budgets that need to be tightened, but politicians – our mayor and our city manager – misleading the public with inaccurate information. And that information being communicated via AnnArbor.Com and other media.
I think it is totally wrong to just remove those paragraphs and note it in a comment 131 comments later.
How about adding to the article that you did some fact checking and found that the mayor’s comment was untrue?
Or, using today’s technology, strike through those statements and add an explanation that readers can see when they hover over the sentences that have been crossed out.
To just delete an untruth told by the mayor days later is so wrong. The issue IS these inaccuracies.
John Hieftje is “comfortable” that more women were raped in Ann Arbor this year than last year. Hieftje is “comfortable” that there are have been more armed robberies in Ann Arbor this year than any year since 2005. John Hieftje told the media and the public that he sees Terri Rachford’s loss of her son, Jacob, as an outcome with which he is “comfortable.”
Are you? To contact Hieftje and Council with your concerns, click here.
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