Fire Alarm

Promises, promises: My compliments on your recent column regarding Rural/Metro ("Deadly Politics," Robert Nelson, August 14). I experienced a 13-minute response time. My child of 11 months did not survive. Rural/Metro mismanaged the call, sent the wrong station.

I was a major part of the "yes" vote in the election. The "no" vote managed to successfully run a campaign of misinformation. After the election, these points remain: A promise of automatic vehicle locators on the trucks has not been done. Additional firemen on the trucks as other cities do, not done. Changing the methods of tracking response times, not done. The list goes on.

After the election, nothing has been done to better our fire services. I don't want anyone to suffer the agony of slow response times like I did. I think there should be a citizens committee to monitor Rural/Metro's every move to ensure we citizens get what we deserve. You can't tell me that when you pay for the same services that exist now, with the same staff, identical if you will, then remove the profit, it would cost more. This is elementary. It would cost taxpayers less, and we'd get the automatic aid. For profit is not the way to go.

Rural/Metro cares about one thing: profit. Firefighters care about saving lives. They have a servant's heart.

Nick Barbisan

On the cheap: I wanted to compliment you on your column "Deadly Politics." I was the only member of the Scottsdale City Council to support the creation of a municipal fire department and I actively campaigned for the initiative to do so. You hit the nail right on the head when you pointed out that Scottsdale voters went for cheap rather than good fire service and that the indirect subsidy that Rural/Metro receives from the municipal fire departments surrounding Scottsdale has helped them keep their costs down.

In a further irony, the dedication and professionalism of the Rural/Metro firefighters (who supported a municipal fire department 100 percent) have prevented the sort of tragedy that would demonstrate clearly to Scottsdale residents the risk that they are taking by staying with Rural/Metro. I hope that such a tragedy never occurs and that the residents of Scottsdale never have to find out the hard way what is wrong with Rural/Metro's fire service.

Bob Littlefield
Scottsdale City Councilman

System Failure

Fostering neglect: I am concerned, as a former Arizona foster child, by the way that the whole issue of abuse of children is being handled ("Gentle Exit," Amy Silverman, August 21).

I am startled to find that the people assigned to review and upgrade the system are the very ones who are being reviewed. It is similar to leaving the fox in the chicken house. I was also a little perturbed to find that there are no former foster children involved in real change in the Arizona system.

What I am hearing is that the general public is assuming that all abuse is coming from abusive home situations. Not so. In fact, there are studies, funded by the United States government, that state something entirely different. The report said that children who are placed in foster care are four times more likely to be abused in care than if left in the homes they started in. It also states that more than 50 percent of those in our jails and prisons are people who spent some time in foster care.

Another report states that more than 180 children died in foster care, either by neglect or abuse by foster parents or social workers, in Washington, D.C., alone in the two-year period 1999-2000. None of these deaths were caused by the "offending" families.

I have to wonder if we aren't failing to find a real answer, but instead are using the time-honored answer that everyone is well aware does not work. Can we not find another way?

I think that I would, as a taxpayer, prefer to pay for an aide to teach parents things like housekeeping, budgeting, good hygiene, etc., than to remove children who are happy and bonded from a home purely for issues that can be easily solved. Also, I would prefer that children remain with their biological family if at all possible. It allows them continuity and does not force a child into a situation for which the child is not prepared. Also, it does not push the child into a different socioeconomic standard for which they are ill-equipped to fit in, thus causing even more issues with self-esteem.

When is the governor, and all the people who have known these truths, going to realize that real change has to start from the ground up? As it is, they are simply stacking more blocks on a crumbling foundation.

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