Scott Tibbs
Printed in the Herald-Times, 06-22-1999

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Fire safety is not partisan

To the Editor:

Defenders of Mayor John Fernandez have said that those who are criticizing the Mayor over the handling of the Knightridge fire are playing partisan politics. But no matter how many times the accusation of partisanship is uttered, it will not change the fact that there are serious problems with the Bloomington Fire Department. Public safety is not a partisan issue.

At the Knightridge fire, the first three fire trucks on the scene were unable to effectively pump water. The first has been unable to pass a pump test since 1994, and should never have been put into action as a pumper. Despite failing miserably at Knightridge, this truck is still in use. The fact that this truck is still in use shows a lack of concern for public safety on the part of the administration.

The third truck on the scene had the wrong fittings for its hoses. The problem with the third truck should have been known and fixed well before Knightridge. And despite the administration's spin, veteran firefighters have testified before the Fire Safety Commission that the first thing that must be done when arriving at a fire is to put water on the blaze.

The Mayor has said repeatedly that the Board of Public Safety is the "appropriate" place to investigate Knightridge. But both Board of Public Safety President Betsy Walsh and City Attorney Linda Runkle have stated that it is city policy for the BPS to forgo an investigation of a fire when a lawsuit is filed. Either Mayor Fernandez is ignorant of city policy or he is lying to the citizens of Bloomington.

Finally, I find it interesting that the Indiana Daily Student has written two very informative articles on the investigation of the Fire Safety Commission while the Herald-Times has ignored this important story.