7-20-2005 The Mighty Quint

In Washington, I work with boobs every day.--Senator John McCain during an appearance on NBC's "Tonight Show with Jay Leno."

Does anybody remember SAYSO? No? C'mon, that anonymous waste product the Times Leader published while the Wicked Witch of N. Main Street ruled over her reluctant flying monkeys? You remember, right?

Blast from the past: September 2, 2004...

I just wanted to give a little insight into the petition drive of Walter Griffith. The Bergolds happen to be on the campaign committee of Kathy Kane. The Bergolds also manned the phone lines for Tom Leighton when he ran for mayor. Mark Cour is the person that has the Wilkes-Barre online, it does nothing except bad mouth our town and city. He had a one-man crusade about the mayor and the fire chief back in the last administration. So I hope that the Times Leader, being the integrity that your newspaper has, would do a little investigation there and maybe fight to get this put on the ballot. I signed this. I'm a professional businessman. I'm from the North End area and I knew very well what I signed for when I signed the petition and I understood it very, very well.

...So hopefully with the reputation and the integrity that the Times Leader has that you just don't let this thing go by the wayside.

EDITOR's NOTE: We don't think this is up to us, but maybe a group of citizens would want to try to resurrect the idea. Let us know at 829-7242.

In other words, if you're an inept politician, or an inept political wannabe--don't f**k with Thompson Street!!!

It's happening


Woo hoo!

I have some great advice for our anonymous malcontent at Save My City. You see, if you want to pose as some sort of well-informed activist extraordinaire, I suggest that you know what the farg you are babbling on and on about before you let it rip at Blogging for Dummies.

Firstly, the Hose Dudes department has an outlay of $50 million over the course of the next five years. You said: Now quints do cost about $100 thousand more than a standard fire engine, but what does that matter when you have $50 million to spend. Based solely on that childish gibberish, it's become obvious that you do not understand long-term budgeting, nor it's direct impact on the sure to follow profit-and-loss statement. A $10 million per year financial committment means that $10 million in expenses probably balances that departments expenses versus it's outlays, with very little left over. Got it?

But...if we put you in charge tomorrow we'd be bleeding red ink in a big hurry. Quints are only a hundred thousand more. Why can't we get Quints, St. Louis did? Geez! we've got $50 million laying around collecting dust!

I imagine that the $50 million is devoted to specific line items in the fire department's budget. In other words, your call for increased expenditures after the fact suggests that you want what you want, but you'll leave it to others to figure out how to pay for it. Are you a direct descendant of Tom McGroarty? Seems like it.

And the bogus claim that your average 100' Quint costs a mere one hundred thousand more than a commercial pumper, or even a custom rescue pumper suggests than a Google search and a link to a fire-related site does not qualify as investigative wherewithal. Blogging for Dummies at it's best.

Ah, hell. Let's peruse some of that swill:

Friday, July 15, 2005

Now you have to wear more hats.

In the corporate world that is what managers tell existing employees after downsizing has occurred. Downsizing has occurred in the fire department, less firefighters, less apparatus and less stations. At the June press conference the mayor said that the city will invest $50 million dollars in the fire department, he also said that the department will purchase three new fire engines and two ambulances. When you have to work with less, it is better to work smarter than harder. The smarter I refer to here is to get the biggest bang for your buck when looking at purchasing fire apparatus and equipment. Because the department is stretched so thin it makes sense to make sure that Engine companies are prepared for anything, like the concept of the Swiss Army knife. The best solution is to purchase a piece of apparatus called a "Quint", short for Quintuple. This piece of apparatus gets its name from its five features/functions:

fire pump
water tank
ground ladders
aerial device

The best part of a quint is that it can operate as and engine or aerial ladder simultaneously, which is working smarter not harder. Now quints do cost about $100 thousand more than a standard fire engine, but what does that matter when you have $50 million to spend. Seriously at a minimum the city should purchase two quints placing one at South station, 3 and North station, 9. With 75' quints at both ends of the city, and a 100 ' aerial platform, ladder 1, in the center, the city is definitely better protected. Cities around the country are making the switch to quints , in fact the city of St Louis has replaced all of its fire engines with quints.

At first glance, all of that swill sounds pretty freaking smart. Not bad coming from AnonymityVille. The only problem being that the hose dudes have a contract in place. And that contract mandates that five men are required to man a quint. RUTRO! That's right, 3 on the engine and two on the truck responsibilities. Now, with current staffing levels being what they are, how in the hell do we put 10 men on two new quints, and then operate the remainder of the Wilkes-Barre Fire Department on a per-shift basis??? And with that said, a ladder truck requires only two men.

And if that's not enough, the $480,000 in grant monies that the former McGroarty administration had intended to purchase a 100' quint with was re-directed towards the eventual purchase of Ladder 1 by the fire department itself because of the fact that a quint would not work at then current staffing levels. Uh-hum...staffing levels that pre-dated the Leighton administration.

What we have here is yet another sterling example of why we should allow the adults to manage the city. Chief Lisman and his veteran underlings know what they need, and Tom Leighton has budgeted enough money for them to purchase what they need to protect us.

Now sit and spin on that Swiss Army knife!!!

And since linking to fire-related content has become the ultimate rage--let's do it.

This Boston.com story comes in at a whopping seven pages, so even those enjoying a bit too much livation should be able to remember at least some of it. Hold on. You'll have to log in to read it in it's entirety. No problemo, kiddies. Simply use my very own e-mail address--zorcong@aol.com--and "Denise" as the password.

Slower arrival at fires in US is costing lives

Indeed, in 2002, only about half of the local fire departments in the state -- 54 percent -- met the fire industry goal of arriving within 6 minutes of the first alarm at 90 percent of building fires. Across the nation, the showing was even worse, with only 35 percent of departments meeting the response time goal.

The national picture is somewhat brighter when only departments with full-time as opposed to volunteer firefighters are considered. Still, only 58 percent of such departments consistently met the standard. And that on-time performance has worsened steadily from 75 percent in 1986, when alarm times began to be reported.

In the 1970s, scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology found that after a fire breaks out, people have about 17 minutes to escape before being overcome by heat and smoke. Today, the estimate is 3 minutes.

"If you get to a fire early, you get there before flashover," said Dunn, the retired New York deputy fire chief, referring to the moment when a burning building gets so hot that walls and furniture spontaneously ignite. "And this saves lives of the occupants, and the firefighters' own lives, and property."

For these reasons, the National Fire Protection Association, or NFPA, set a 6-minute standard -- a guideline, not a law. In 2001, a 27-to-2 majority of its national panel of fire chiefs, firefighters, and others in the field set this goal for communities with full-time firefighters: 1 minute for the dispatcher handling a 911 call to alert firefighters; another minute for a full company of four firefighters to slip into their gear and get on the road; and 4 minutes to drive to the fire.

A 6-minute guideline also holds for ambulances responding to medical emergencies, based on the time before a heart attack causes brain damage.

Perfection is not expected: The NFPA recommends that each of the goals should be achieved 90 percent of the time.

The standards were opposed by the National League of Cities and many small fire departments. They argued that one benchmark could not fit every community, that the studies on flashover were insufficient, and that the cost of adding firefighters and stations would be overwhelming.

Communities across the country routinely adopt NFPA standards for electrical codes and other safety measures, but few have adopted the response-time standard. It is rare for response times to be measured by communities and reported to the public.

Still, the International Association of Fire Chiefs endorsed the standards as the minimum that fire departments should achieve.

Hmmm. Six minutes or less, heh? And across the entire nation, only 35 percent of fire departments are meeting the response time goal??? So, according to the latest, exhaustive sampling, Wilkes-Barre's response times to emergencies are what the NFPA would call top-notch.

So it seems that doing more with less--being even more efficient than previously thought possible--is not proof of a general public being put at increased risk. Despite the loss of two decrepit eyesores and a couple of severely aged and rusting engines; our fire department is still exceeding the standards by which so many other fire departments are deemed to being not up to snuff from a public safety standpoint.

Instead of creating all of this public rancor for political ends, we should be congratulating and thanking on bended knees those that race towards that which usually has us fleeing.

Quint this!!!

I'm growing very, very tired of the non-stop drivel that there were no discernable connections between Saddam and those loonies promising death to all that believe differently than they do.

I purchased the 9/11 Commission Report and took in all of the 567 pages it had to offer. From what I read, Saddam was pushing the budding jihadist envelope and then some. But the media and the national democrats said otherwise. I shower on a daily basis, but I was left scratching my head.

I realize that the average bloke has not the time, nor the need to read the 20-page Weekly Standard expose published July 18, 2005 and titled The Mother of All Connections, but it would prove to be an eye-opener for those of you that bothered to read it.

I get really frustrated when I hear factually-bankrupt left fielders such as Kevin Lynn going off about "documentation" proving that Bush lied, despite the fact that said documentation doesn't hold up for a fleeting nanosecond upon closer scrutiny.

If the Downing Street memo--a document that proves nothing more than planning far, far ahead does take place in those hallowed halls we rarely set foot upon--is proof of a lie, then why is it that a New York Times story would be quickly forgotten by those of us that can't see fit to support their president in a time of declared hostilities, and search endlessly for the answers as to why we caused World War IV?


May 22, 2004


U.S. Announces It Intends to Move Tons of Uranium From Baghdad


IENNA, May 21 The United States has informed an international agency that oversees nuclear materials that it intends to move hundreds of tons of uranium from a sealed repository south of Baghdad to a more secure place outside Iraq, Western diplomats close to the agency say.

But the organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has taken the position that the uranium is Iraqi property and that the agency cannot give permission to remove it, a diplomat said. The diplomat said that the United States was unlikely to be deterred by that position and that American officials had contacted the agency on the matter this year, before the Iraq insurgency flared last month.

"I think that if the stuff had not gone up in intensity," the diplomat said, "they would already have moved on this."

An official with the American-led Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad confirmed that moving the uranium was under consideration.

"The story I've heard is that no decision has been made as yet," the official said. "That was some months ago. When it was discussed, the view was that it was just too expensive to ship. I doubt that anything has changed."

The official added that keeping the material in storage, even amid the instability in Iraq, could be safer than trying to move it. Nuclear experts outside the government said that if the material was moved, it would probably be airlifted and placed in a repository in the United States.

A spokesman for the National Nuclear Security Administration at the Energy Department, Anson Franklin, declined to comment directly on any possible operation involving the Iraqi uranium.

"We do not discuss potential future or ongoing operations," Mr. Franklin said.

The repository, at Tuwaitha, a centerpiece of Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons program until it was largely shut down after the first Persian Gulf war in 1991, holds more than 500 tons of uranium, none of it enriched enough to be used directly in a nuclear weapon.

The repository was an object of widespread looting by villagers after the American-led invasion last year. The villagers were for the most part apparently interested in using the barrels that hold the uranium for activities like cooking and storing water. They simply dumped out the uranium sludge and took the barrels. Although most of the barrels and all but a small amount of the uranium were recovered, the episode was an embarrassment to the United States and left traces of radioactive contamination throughout the village.

Nuclear experts had mixed reactions to the possibility of moving the uranium. The president of the Institute for Science and International Security, David Albright, said officials had long privately discussed plans to take the uranium out of Iraq.

"I would say it's a wise thing to do," Mr. Albright said. "The idea of theft isn't crazy."

But Tom Clements, a senior adviser with the Greenpeace International nuclear campaign, said he believed that continuing problems with radioactive contamination in the village should be dealt with before any uranium was moved.

"We don't think that the United States has properly followed up on the radioactive contamination," Mr. Clements said.

Besides, he said, referring to occupation troops at Tuwaitha, "I would be concerned that they would be pulling some of the protective force off the site in order to deal with the problems in the rest of the country."

"I wonder if that's the motivation for moving it," Mr. Clements said.

Of the uranium, 500 tons is naturally occurring ore or yellowcake, a slightly processed concentrate that cannot be directly used in a bomb. Some 1.8 tons is classified as low-enriched uranium, a more potent form but still not sufficient for a weapon.

Still, said Thomas B. Cochran, director of the nuclear program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, the low-enriched version could be useful to a nation with nuclear ambitions.

"A country like Iran," Mr. Cochran said, "could convert that into weapons-grade material with a lot fewer centrifuges than would be required with natural uranium."

The centrifuges are used to purify the material.

Because uranium takes billions of years to decay, it emits fairly small amounts of radiation. But it can still create health problems, and some villagers have complained of nausea and unexplained rashes.

Whatever its actual health risks, the uranium could sow terror over wide areas if dispersed by a conventional explosive. Such a "dirty bomb" remains a prime concern for counterterrorism experts in the United States and abroad.

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency visited Tuwaitha in June after the looting reports. The team determined that at least 20 pounds of the uranium was unaccounted for, but decided that it had probably not fallen into the wrong hands.

"A few grams of natural uranium compounds could have remained in each of the approximately 200 emptied containers when upended by the looters," the agency wrote in its inspection report.

A second diplomatic official expressed puzzlement as to why the United States was considering moving the material, after the material has been presumably secured and resealed. Except for the incident immediately after the invasion, the official said, "this stuff has been there, secure, quiet, not a problem to anyone, since 1991."

Tuwaitha also contains dozens of other radioactive materials that cannot be used to make nuclear weaponry but that emit much stronger and more dangerous radiation than uranium. The officials said it was unclear whether the United States planned to move that material, too.

Because of the intense radiation, the potential dangers of transporting that material are higher, said Daniel Hersch, former director of the Stevenson Program on Nuclear Policy at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who is president of the Committee to Bridge the Gap, a nuclear policy organization in California.

"There, you have more problems," Mr. Hersch said. "But again, the situation in Iraq is so unstable that that material might benefit from transport to more secure locations."

No Weapons of Mass Destruction? Right! That would be because we put the clamps to this lunatic for well over a decade, that's why. Left to his own devices, sooner or later, one of his devices would have exploded in an American city. Dubya removed his sorry ass from the equation and he was right to do so. Some day this world war is gonna end.

I hope we win.

We held our next-to-last block party meeting last night. Trust me, this is going to be one ass-kicker of a party. I'm not trying to recruit more party-goers by bringing this up. What I am attempting to do is to give a shout out to anyone that has attended in the past, or would like to attend for the very first time. If you want in, drop me an electronic pulse. I don't want any hard feelings brought on by an oversight on my part. I'm a busy guy and I tend to forget lots of stuff. If you want in, lemme know.

I've posted our updated yearly flyer below, but that updated flyer barely scratches the surface as far as the copious amounts of food, fun, games, prizes, music and citizenship that can be expected is concerned.


And, as per usual, we are asking city businesses that we staunchly support to donate modest prizes and such to our yearly event. Without their help, this event would be much less than what it has grown into being. Just this afternoon, I received quite the bag of nifty goodies from Corba Beverage on Penn Ave.


Look...plenty of folks have run screaming to the more bucolic reaches of this county while this city slid further and further towards the abyss. But the spirited folks on this tiny street stayed and fought for a better Wilkes-Barre. And our block party is our way of showing that this tiny street is an oasis in the desert that this city came close to becoming, but... can be very easily duplicated by the average citizens of Any Street, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Reverse-gentrification? Drug assholes? Not on our watch. Not on our street. You may not want to party with those of us that populate this smallish street, but please follow our example iffin' you're hoping for a much-improved Wilkes-Barre.

Not many streets in this city exude enough pride in their city and their street to even stage a block party in the first place. And no other street in this city can lay claim to the longest running--16th annual--block party in this city. Then again, there's only one Thompson Street in Wilkes-Barre. We may be small in stature, but we make the most noise.

Party On!!!

Lemme know.