Thursday, July 19, 2012

Training Injuries

People are always talking about tradition, but they forget we have a tradition of a few hundred years of nonsense and stupidity, that there is a tradition of idiocy, incompetence and crudity - Hugo Demartini  

When a fire chief acts recklessly such that individuals die or are injured, an investigation is warranted.  Not if you are Stephen Hrustich.

Thus far 3 and maybe 4 individuals have died due to Hrustich's mismanagement and incompetence. Yet he continues to receive his six figure salary while barely working a total 20 hours per week for the villages of Endicott and Johnson City.

The Fire Starter has learned that several months ago, Hrustich conducted an ill-fated training exercise.  Although unqualified, Hrustich supervised a"bail-out" training session where fire fighters practiced using a rope system to escape a building.  Due to Hrustich's incompetence, two fire fighters suffered serious injuries when the equipment they were using was not properly assembled and they plunged to the ground.  One injured fire fighter may well have his career cut short due to Hrustich's incompetence.  Several other fire fighters had minor injuries.

Despite Hrustich's incompetence and recklessness leading to a possible career ending injury, no action has been taken to investigate or discipline Hrustich.  
Recently, several North Las Vegas fire fighters were injured during a training session.  Unlike leaders in our villages, City officials have stated that the chief must be held accountable.  The chief has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.

NORTH LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- As you're about to see, training to fight fires can be as dangerous as the real thing.

News 3’s Mackenzie Warren obtained video of an accident during a training drill in January that lead to last week's suspension of the North Las Vegas Fire Chief.

What was meant to be practice got a little too real. That day, four men were hurt—two badly. Shortly after, the exercise burned up a partnership between two fire departments and now six months later, the accident could cost Chief Al Gillespie his job.

Urgent radio calls and expletives from onlookers provide insight into the failed live fire drill. Three different cameras captured the accident, as two veteran firefighters bailed out of the drill just in time. And after the two men got out, it was a matter of seconds before the flames intensified. A camera mounted above the training exercise shows a different view of the escape—both of them suffering first and second degree burns.

As the flames continue to rip, the drama continues, when two fuel sources spontaneously ignite - they weren't supposed to - and blow the plywood windows right off the makeshift building.

North Las Vegas Fire Chief Al Gillespie is now feeling the intense heat. Because of the January mishap, the city has placed Gillespie on paid administrative leave. Gillespie’s department was in charge that day.

“As fire chief he understands his role and responsibility for all aspects of that department and he doesn’t take that lightly,” says City Manager Tim Hacker. Hacker is the one to decide whether the chief will keep his job. “To make sure that there was the appropriate level of communication and cooperation and in essence, I’m concerned with oversight,” says Hacker.

Hacker's decision will be based partly on a report ordered by the city of Las Vegas that reveals a lack of communication and no evacuation plan. A briefing was held before the live fire drill—but the report describes the meeting as “disjointed.” The report also reveals there was confusion amongst firefighters about who was in charge and a discrepancy over how many firefighters were actually in the burning building.

In all, four firefighters were hurt—two of them seriously: a Henderson and a Las Vegas firefighter. It’s likely no coincidence the city of Las Vegas has since called off an agreement to train with North Las Vegas fire. And now Hacker is left to assess the damage...

“It’s important to me that when we are working with other entities that we are holding ourselves to an even higher standard,” says Hacker. “Because we are influencing those relationships.” He will make a decision about the chief in the coming weeks. Hacker’s calling the botched training an “isolated incident” and wants all jurisdictions to have confidence in North Las Vegas.

Now we return to the Villages of Johnson City and Endicott.  3 confirmed dead.  Several fire fighters injured; one perhaps career ending.  Countless examples of recklessness.  Yet neither village has taken ANY action to protect the community and fire fighters from this worthless "leader".

The time to act is now; before someone else is injured or killed.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How Many Need To Die?

"A system of morality which is based on relative emotional values is a mere illusion, a thoroughly vulgar conception which has nothing sound in it and nothing true." - Socrates

  As incredible as it may seem, it has happened again.

We have detailed the way in which Endicott and Johnson City Fire Chief Hrustich has mismanaged the respective fire departments.  We have detailed how firefighters and residents have been placed at risk due to his reckless cutting and under staffing.  We have shown how on at least two occasions, Hrustich's "risk management" has led to the death of a resident.  Just two weeks ago, we detailed an incident where a resident collapsed on Arthur Avenue in Johnson City and due to Hrustich's order, the four fire fighters on duty were not allowed to respond to the call.  The fire fighters could have responded within less than two minutes and provided CPR and other life saving assistance.  Unfortunately EVES was busy and it took them 8 minutes to respond and the resident died.

As shocking as the incident of 2 weeks ago was, it is even more shocking that it has happened yet again.

This past Saturday evening, the Johnson City Fire only had four fire fighters on duty.  In keeping with the long discredited policy, Hrustich ordered that the fire fighters not respond to Delta emergency calls.  The fire fighters were only allowed to respond to Echo calls where cardiac arrest has occurred and death is imminent.  However, even the casual observer can see that a Delta call can quickly turn into an Echo call where death is imminent.

A call came in Saturday evening of a man having collapsed at 278 Harry L Drive.  It was initially a Delta call so the Johnson City Fire Department was not allowed to respond.  The call quickly escalated to an Echo call.  UVES responded and was on the scene withing 4 1/2 minutes.  They were unable to resuscitate the man and he died.

The response time by UVES was within normal tolerances.  UVES was available and responded promptly.  But the Johnson City Fire Station, was just 2 blocks away.  Johnson City fire fighters could have responded in less than a minute.  Instead, they sat helplessly obeying the order of an incompetent.

What will it take for the Village of Johnson City to recognize its error and terminate this sad excuse for a manager. The Village Board is responsible for the health and safety of Village residents and employees.  There is now ample evidence that Hrustich is reckless and incompetent and emotionally unsuited to a position of such grave responsibility. 

One can be sure that if this was Bruce King's twin brother, Luke Slota's father, Greg Deemie's son, Rick Balles' brother-in-law or Diane Marusich's husband, there would be action.  But why should it have to hit that close to home for action to be taken?


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hrustich Must Go

"Facts are stubborn things." - John Adams

We have written about the many failings of Joint Fire administrator Steven Hrustich.  We have detailed the devastating effect of his mismanagement and incompetence.  We have written of his dishonesty.  We have written of his recklessness.  To date, no action has been taken by either municipality.

Let's review:

  • The appeals court in the Meany discipline case found that Hrustich had lied under oath.  Ironicallly, this was what Hrustich had accused Meany of doing.
  • Hrustich recklessly commands fire scenes from the road without any first hand knowlege of the fire scene.
  • Hrustich has advocated the elimination of firefighters which has resulted in under staffing which has placed firefighters and citizens at risk
  • His half-baked staffing policies have led to the death of at least two residents.  Firefighters were left to sit helplessly while a resident died on the ground unattended.
  • He is absent from both departments more than he is present.  He spends no more than an hour or two at each department per day and is paid a salary of $125,000.  he is accountable to no one.
  • He has been the subject of no confidence votes of both Endicott and Johnson City firefighters.  These no confidence votes detail numerous instances of misfeasance and malfeasance.
  • He responded to emergency calls with lights and sirens driving recklessly and at a high rate of speed placing fellow fire fighters and citizens at risk.  He even responded to a call with lights and sirens and at a high rate of speed with his children in the "Command Vehicle".
Despite the foregoing, there has been no disciplinary action taken against Hrustich.  Why should anyone be surprised that Hrustich thinks he is above the law and the rules don't apply to him.  Apparently they do not apply to him.

Recently Hrustich was involved in a motor vehicle accident while driving the Johnson City Command Vehicle.  He apparently "rear-ended" another vehicle.  Was he texting or using his cell phone?  Was he drunk or high on drugs?  Was he "otherwise distracted"?  We don't know because little or no investigation ensued. But the photo tells the whole story.

 Hrustich was obviously not paying attention and then tried to pass a vehicle in front of him on the right.

Does anyone think that if this had been one of the firefighters under Hrustich's command there would not have been a full investigation?  Do you really think that if it had been a union leader Hrustich would not have been looking to terminate them?

Enough is enough!  Hrustich has to follow the same rules as everyone else.  The sum of his offenses exceeds by an order of magnitude, everything he has accused others of committing.

The facts lead to only one conclusion.  Hrustich must be fired.