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Volunteer Firefighters Stage Walk-Out

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HORNBROOK, Calif. – Not a peep can be heard from the Hornbrook Volunteer Fire Department as its six staff members have resigned to their normal jobs.

“It’s disturbing, it’s heartbreaking,” said Assistant Volunteer Fire Chief Lee Buckley. “I hate to see the community suffer because of these safety concerns.”

Those concerns led the force to vote off teammate Roger Gifford, a volunteer who also happens to be a member of the department’s board of directors. Buckley says Gifford encouraged the team to resist law enforcement, secretly video-taped other volunteers, and made frequent racist and sexist remarks.

Those actions, he says, eroded trust among the team.

“When you’re advancing into a burning structure or pulling a patient out of a car, we have to have that trust,” said Buckley. “If you don’t have that trust, you don’t need to be there.”

But that vote was shot down from department’s Board of Directors – which argued in a statement that investigations into misconduct should be handled internally.

When pressured to reinstate Gifford, Buckley and his team walked away.

“We operate as a team,” said Buckley. “It’s kind of like a brotherhood, we’re one big family.”

But even without that family, Hornbrook residents aren’t entirely on their own. CAL FIRE already aids the department for everything within Hornbrook borders thanks to an automatic aid agreement.

Now, instead of the department’s six volunteers, they’ll lean on neighboring agencies.

“It’s going to increase response time for those additional resources. It’s not going to do anything to our response time though,” said CAL FIRE Shasta Valley Battalion Chief Daryll Laws.

Buckley says while residents are in good hands, he hopes that plan-B situation can end soon.

But he says his team won’t come back until they know they’re working with people they can trust.

“If you have been in the fire service you’d understand where we’re coming from,” said Buckley. “Safety is our top priority.”

3 comments

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  1. Goblin says:

    Hornbrook is in California’s State Responsibility Area, so CalFire always has been obligated to cover them.

    Seems like Mr. Buckley there, in addition to having an personal axe to grind, and a cavalier attitude about personnel and privacy laws, is a fan of exaggerating his own importance.

    And why does this guy still have access to the firehouse if he resigned?

  2. Keith S says:

    NOT speaking to any of the other comments “Goblin” made as I am not in or near the situation but CalFire is NOT obligated to cover Hornbrook just because it is in SRA. CalFire’s sole duty is to the Wildland so the other types of calls discussed in the article of “burning structure or pulling a patient out of a car” are not covered.

    1. Goblin says:

      Sorry Kieth, but that’s a crock. “Pulling a patient out of a car” is a job for trained EMTs – not firefighters, first off. But even so, medical response IS part of CalFire’s mission.

      http://www.fire.ca.gov/communications/downloads/fact_sheets/MissionStatementPoster_Final.pdf

      Secondly, California’s “fire tax”, which is only assessed against HABITABLE STRUCTURES in the SRA was clearly paid by everyone in Hornbrook. As per the above mission statement, structure fires are a responsibility of CalFire, and claiming they aren’t would surely come as news to every firefighter in that organization.

      http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=prc&group=04001-05000&file=4210-4214

      http://bofdata.fire.ca.gov/sra_viewer/

      Try to get your facts straight next time.

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