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Thread: The FDNY must help its marshals

  1. #1
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2002

    The FDNY must help its marshals

    The FDNY must help its marshals


    My husband, Fire Marshal Ronald Bucca, was killed on the 78th floor of Tower 2 on Sept. 11. I mourn his loss, and my grief is intensified as the anniversary of that horrible day approaches. But my grief is intensified because I know that the organization Ron worked for and loved, the Bureau of Fire Investigation, is in desperate need of support from the city.

    Marshals are among the most highly trained people in the Fire Department. They are FDNY's law enforcement team and the liaisons to other agencies.

    As a marshal, Ron investigated accidental and arson fires, made arrests, served subpoenas, testified as an expert witness in court, provided special security details, closed illegal social clubs and gathered data on products for consumer safety.

    The assignment Ron loved best was serving on the FDNY's Terrorist Task Force. But the job lasted only a few short months before being eliminated by budget cuts. Last year, when it was so desperately needed, the FDNY had no such resource.

    That's symptomatic of a penny-wise, pound-foolish approach to the Fire Department and the Bureau of Fire Investigation. Four years ago, there were 212 marshals and 41 supervisors. Today, the numbers are 151 and 35. On any given night, there is barely enough manpower to provide three men and a car in each borough. Staten Island does not even have its own fire marshal base.

    There is no longer a Social Club Task Force to investigate and close dangerous and illegal clubs.

    There is only one part-time marshal and part-time supervisor for a juvenile unit that once was staffed by six.

    The radios lost on 9/11 have never been replaced. As it was, when Ron went into Tower 2 that day, the marshals had only one radio per team. He was never able to contact his fellow marshals.

    The Bureau of Fire Investigation lost five cars that day. The cars that are left have not been decontaminated, and the bureau is being asked to return the replacements because of budgetary restrictions.

    I've visited fire marshal bases and found crumbling ceilings, computers that don't work and furniture that consists of castoffs from other offices or whatever marshals bring in themselves. The building housing the Manhattan base was recently renovated - except for the marshals' office.

    If all this is so demoralizing to me, I can't imagine what the marshals must feel. Here they are, a unique and essential part of one of the premier fire departments in the world, yet they don't have the everyday essentials they need to do their jobs.

    I know Ron would never have left the people he was with on the 78th floor, but so many others might have been saved if there had been terrorist-incident awareness training, proper radios and good interdepartment communications. This was an attack Ron foretold after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, something he unsuccessfully tried to persuade the department to train its members for.

    Nothing will bring Ron back, but if our leaders truly want to respect the job that was so important to him, they will end their shoddy treatment of one of the first lines of defense against future terrorist attacks.

    Bucca is a registered nurse.

  2. #2
    Administrator Brian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    CT, USA
    This is so true. I was a marshal for a few years, and it was amazing how things worked with so little support.

    Imagine working in a place where you had to bring in your own chairs and supplies. Where the desks were acquired sometimes through donated hand-me-downs from banks and other businesses that wanted to help.

    Does anyone remember typewriters? Marshals do. They had to buy their own word processors.

    And the reason anything gets done is from the marshal's dedication, even through low morale and lack of respect from the rest of the job.

    The Fire Department as a whole is extremely effecient, always working under budget. And it is done only through the dedication of it's members, who are constantly paying for things out of their own pockets. That's why it is so offensive when we hear that there needs to be budget cuts, and still no raises. (Productivity for Pay is not a raise).

    Will things change? Not likely. The members are too dedicated to not get the job done, and the city knows it. So, FDNY will continue to be under budgeted.

    How about, instead of all of these cities that are donating equipment and trucks to the FD, instead donate a raise to them? The city would have paid for the trucks themselves, but they get away with not giving raises because they say they can't afford it. But what about the savings they are getting from not having to purchase trucks? Where did that savings go?

    Things are getting back to normal....
    Brian Shea
    Co-Director of Fallen Brothers Foundation
    (foundation charity dissolved 2006)

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