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Labor Day Fire Department Squad Update

9/6/2018

LABOR DAY FIRE DEPARTMENT SQUAD UPDATE

Mayor Richard Dell’Aquila

 

As Mayor and Safety Director of the City of Seven Hills, I am writing to express our disapproval of a false social media story that was circulated over the recent Labor Day weekend. Apparently, an as yet unidentified person (or persons) spread a false story that our residents were left unprotected by emergency response vehicles on Sunday due to both squads (ambulances) being out of service. The truth is that while one of the two Fire Department squads (both over 10 years in hard service) was in the shop for repair, the second squad developed a problem Sunday with the air suspension system that assists in loading patients. That much of the online story is accurate.

However, those circulating the tale on social media failed to disclose that the City of Seven Hills maintains police and fire mutual aid agreements with the communities around us so that we are prepared for incidents just like this. Soon after the second squad breakdown, our Fire Department had already borrowed a Broadview Heights Fire Department replacement squad. Under existing contingency protocols, had there been an intervening emergency, our EMS staff would have responded in another emergency vehicle to stabilize the patient, simultaneously calling for a mutual aid squad from a neighboring community to transport the patient. Thank you to everyone involved in properly managing these issues over the past weekend, as well as our mutual aid partners and everyone with the City of Broadview Heights.

Thank you also to our current City Council members for being so highly proactive, in less than one year, to assure that our Fire Department is properly staffed and equipped. As soon as the budget was prepared this past spring, Council ordered a new squad ($267,000 & awaiting delivery), while also spending thousands to maintain the old squads, purchasing a vehicle exhaust extraction system for the firehouse (about $50,000), hiring new firefighters, thousands in squad repair bills and to upgrade safety equipment. All this could have, and should have, been done last year by the old Council.

We all know the harm caused in Seven Hills by uninformed opinions and polarizing falsehoods on social media. This is not a good thing, but it has, unfortunately, become the norm online. So it is important to recognize it and deal with it, especially when it misleads our residents and insults the professional reputation of our Fire Department. This is likely some of the worst, potentially unsafe, social media chatter yet in our city.

Our safety forces take an oath to serve and protect our residents and others in our community. They are required to uphold those standards in all respects. It is for this reason that I have instructed our Fire Department leadership to conduct a full investigation into whether any of the circumstances that led to this incident originated from within that Department, and to provide my office with a written report for follow-up.

Again, on behalf of the City, we regret any concerns or distress these phony claims may have caused and will work to root out the source of these false alarms to prevent another such occurrence.