The last time we checked in on Wilmington (DE) Fire Department Chief Anthony Goode he was wielding an axe, breaking out a car’s windows to help his firefighters make a hydrant connection. Chief Goode not only did the deed but made his motivation very clear in a direct message to the public on his blog and social media.
Today, Chief Goode is making as much racket and using the same tools (minus the axe) to let the Wilmington City Council know that he won’t sit quietly while they cut positions and impact the safety of the citizens of Wilmington and his firefighters.
The move by the City Council comes just a few days into the new fiscal year and a budget the council approved. It would cut almost a half million dollars and seven currently vacant positions. It comes on the heels of a consultant’s report that claims two of the city’s busiest companies aren’t needed.
The proposal came from Councilman Mike Brown who apparently is not a fan of Chief Goode and the department. Brown believes his ordinance would allow the Wilmington Fire Department “to operate at maximum efficiency.”
In a lengthy post on his Wilmfirechief site, plus Facebook posts and Tweets, Chief Goode lets the council and the public know what he thinks of these latest cuts, the consultant’s report and the skewed priorities of council members. Here’s an excerpt:
As the Chief of Fire I am telling the City of Wilmington that continued reductions will have an effect on our ability to serve you! Our response times will increase, we will not have the needed resources on seen to effectively provide services in a timely manner. Property loss resulting from fires and other incidents will increase. All of these things and more, moral will drop, recruitment efforts will fail because who wants to work for a entity that constantly threatens to eliminates jobs. The City’s economic growth will be effected, insurance ratings will increase!
“I cannot sit back and quietly allow residents, visitors, businesses, property and of course the lives of our firefighters to be placed in harm’s way,” Goode said.
Brown’s ordinances cites the length of time the vacancies have gone unfilled as evidence that they can be eliminated with no impact on the department’s operations.
Eliminating vacant positions wouldn’t actually save the city money, Goode said, unless the department closed down certain fire engines. City council lacks the authority to close engines, so the eliminated positions would need to be filled by overtime hours.