I felt the need to respond to the article (BDN, Oct. 5) about the Bangor fire chief being named chief of the year. What a great honor for Chief Jeff Cammack.
I and many of the firefighters in the Bangor Fire Department were shocked to hear of the award. I say that because of the recent problems within the department. Staffing continues to be sacrificed. At times, throughout any given day staffing may drop to 15 members. Minimum manning used to be 18.
Over the past year or so, the chief dropped it down to 17, promising it would return to 18 with the new budget, then maybe in August we can bring it up again. Now it’s October and we are shutting down ambulances.
At such a minimum level the city has to shut down equipment. Recently it has been closing rescue 1, which operates out of the Main Street fire house, the city’s busiest ambulance location.
Along with staffing problems come the recent cuts within its fire prevention office. Currently there is only one fire prevention officer doing the work of what used to be two. Many of the programs within fire prevention have been cut.
Then there are the current issues with contract negotiations between the city and the firefighters. The Professional Firefighters of Bangor Local 772 IAFF went into negotiations 21 months ago asking for one thing only, a cost-of-living raise. The fire chief then opened the entire contract, from what type of shift all the way down to how checks will be distributed to the firefighters at the outside stations.
On one day the chief says there is a sick leave problem, the next he says there are too many firefighters earning bonus sick leave because they have not used any sick leave. Firefighter morale is at an all-time low and it doesn’t seem to matter to the chief of the year.