Friday, September 9, 2011

Agat Fire/Rescue Field Day

Agat/Rescue #3 crew, l-r FFII JJ Cruz, Capt. Matt Poppe, FFII JP Sanchez, Lt. Jerry SN Barcinas, and Lt. JK Borja 

We all know that the Guam Fire Department has a lot of emergency alarm responsibilities.  We respond to structure fires, auto fires, wildland fires, medical emergencies, ambulance transports, hazardous materials, bomb threats, land rescues, sea rescues, typhoons, earthquakes......You name it and we respond to it whether it is an emergency or a non-emergency call for assistance. WE are THERE!!!

And what do we do in our "spare time". We train for all of those emergencies. We conduct inspections so that we can attempt to make structures safe by education and compliance. We go out to the the schools and give safety talks to the students, we help train school staff, and we donate a lot of time teaching first aid and CPR. We do a lot that most people don't realize. But that is OK because we know what we do. And above all of this, we maintain our stations as best as we can with the resources that we have. And those resources usually come out of our own pockets.

Here is one example that I am talking about. The other day, I was driving through the Agat Mariana and I happened upon the Fire/Rescue #3 crew outside conducting yard maintenance, or as we term it, "field day". Now we usually do this every Saturday at our stations, but during the rainy season, we do it whenever we get a "dry" day.

Here are some photos I took of the crew wrapping up their field day.....

Final touch up.

Picking up the "zacate".

Trimming the shrubbery.

Final look. 

Nice and clean. Great job guys!!!

You see, they don't just save lives, they have other skills as well!!!  HeHe.

Firefighters take pride in their work and their surroundings. But sometimes we are limited by the funding. And in cases like this where all the tools are brought in from home, we pay out of our own pockets. Gas, bushcutter whip, oil, etc. It all comes out of our pockets.

So the next time you pass by a fire station, a rescue station or other fire department building and notice something that needs fixing or upkeep, remember......don't think negative about the firefighters. Maybe we are just saving money from our family's pockets so that we can take care of those things at the station.

It's all from the heart!!!!

Until next time....

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bill 295....Polygraph for Fire Recruits. Is It Really Needed???

Senator Adolfo Palacios has authored Bill 295, which requires any person appointed as a Firefighter to undergo and pass a polygraph examination and a psychological examination, just to name a few of the potential requirements, as a condition of their employment. I can see a few problems with this already. But read the KUAM News story about this by reporter Nick Delgado....

Bill changes requirement at GFD, DOC

Posted: Sep 05, 2011 4:16 PMUpdated: Sep 05, 2011 6:15 PM
Guam - Controversy sparks over a pair of measures that seek to enhance the hiring requirements for the Guam Fire Department and Department of Corrections. Public Safety Oversight Chair Senator Adolpho Palacios wants current Department of Administration hiring requirements for fire fighters and corrections officers mandated.   
As a minimum qualification, Bills 295 and 296 would require all DepCor and GFD uniformed personnel submit to and pass a polygraph examination among other things. "It doesn't get amended unless we are involved and those have proven to be good standards and I don't think it would change it could only get better," said Palacios.
But GFD and DepCor officials wonder how it could get better, and are worried the measure would only make it more difficult for them to add to their already short staffed departments. DepCor spokesperson Lt. Antone Aguon and GFD Spokesperson Joey San Nicolas share the same concern, saying, "This bill intent is good but the issues we are concerned is of course the polygraph side of it, second we already have the POST Commission that is in the process of setting these standards and updating it. So this bill may be a little premature," he said.
"Specifically the polygraph and background investigation, we don't know what the cost to conduct those parts of the hiring process so and as it stands now we have no financial ability to support it should the law be enacted today," he added.
Palacios says the measure would put the two agencies in line with the Guam Police Department's minimum qualifications. He adds either way the POST Commission may have to review both measures, as they play a valuable role in setting the requirements for the island's law enforcement agencies.
Here is Bill 295.....

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

Well what do you think? I personally think that this bill, though the intentions are good, is a little over the top for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, the function of employment qualifications is the responsibility of the Government of Guam Department of Administration, which works closely with the Civil Service Commission, as mandated by Guam law. And of course, as we all know, all the mandates start out in the Guam Legislature.

Secondly, though technically the Guam Legislature can do just about anything they want to do, this function is an  Executive Branch function. Therefore, unless specifically requested by the Executive Branch, the separation of powers between the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch should be respected. There is a reason for those separation of powers.

Thirdly, the fire service on a national level, which includes Guam, already has established standards for all the firefighter positions. That is how firefighters, regardless of rank, obtain their National Certifications.

How much more will this cost and who is going to pay for these added costs? Administering a polygraph is not free. Typical charges vary. Here is one sight for reference. And then again, how much would a psychological examination cost and who would administer this? In any regard, these tests will definitely add to the expenses of an already cash-strapped government. A source for these added expenses should be identified within the legislation.

And my last point is that a firefighter is not appointed to the firefighter position until they have successfully completed the fire academy training. This means that they had already been hired as Fire Recruits and had undergone about 6 months of fire academy training. So if this bill, the way it is currently written, proposes to have all of these qualifications required once one is appointed as a firefighter, and that person or those persons do not pass one of the proposed requirements, the Government of Guam has just wasted 6 months of Fire Recruit salary, training and other Government expenditures. This amounts to a lot of money.

I propose that thorough research be done before this bill is place on the docket. A sloppy bill costs everyone a lot of money. This bill is obviously flawed and not necessary. We should expect better work out of an elected official.

If Senator Palacios wants to change the qualifications of any Government of Guam employee, he should work with the entities that are mandated to perform these functions.

Why is Senator Palacios trying to work against the very systems previous Guam Legislatures have help put in place? Does Senator Palacios want to take over all the HR (Human Resources) and Pay and Classifications duties for the Government of Guam??? Then step down as a Senator and put you application in for the job.

I wonder if that would require Senator Palacios to submit to and pass a polygraph and psychological examination? Do you think he would pass??? Who knows....

Until next time....