Setting the record straight

As board members of Hualapai Valley Fire District, we cannot remain silent in the face of the Citizens for a Safe Fire District ad in the Sunday Miner. The people who have been so busy trashing HVFD care nothing for the people we serve. They are on a mission to destroy a vital service to the unincorporated areas north of Kingman and Mohave County. We therefore want to set the record straight.

They Say: HVFD was "The First Department in Mohave County to be fined $20,000 for a live burn OSHA violation." The Truth: What they don't tell you is that it wasn't OSHA - no OSHA regulations were ever alleged to have been violated. The truth is city of Kingman firefighter Bob Borker, based on second-hand information, fabricated a list of "violations" (per Borker, not OSHA regulations) and convinced his union IAFF/PFFA president, Tim Hill, to file a complaint based on Borker's fabricated list, with the Arizona Department of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH). The original complaint was e-mailed to Larry Etchechury, director of the Arizona Industrial Commission, who serves at the pleasure of the five-member commission, headed by Chairman Brian Delfs. Delfs is an officer of PFFA, serving the union under the leadership of Hill. PFFA Magazine, Vol. 11, Issue 2, 2007, p. 38. The ADOSH investigators "investigated," found nothing but were forced to "investigate" again by ADOSH Director Etchechury. Delfs voted in an Aug. 8 commission meeting to make the fine $20,000, apparently ignoring the obvious conflict of interest. The ADOSH citation, which cites no federal or Arizona laws, will be proved to be groundless before a judge on Jan. 31; there will be no fine.

They Say: This is "The first time HVFD has suffered this much employee turnover." The Truth: We don't know where they get their statistics. Perhaps they should ask how many former HVFD personnel now work for the city of Kingman. Whatever "turnover" there has been, HVFD is fully staffed. Many of our newer personnel have come to us already credentialed and experienced.

They Say: "The first time in over 10 years HVFD is consistently unable to provide a paramedic (ALS) at each one of its fire stations." The Truth: HVFD currently has more paramedic coverage than ever before. As an example, as of Nov. 15, Valle Vista, for the first time ever, now has paramedic coverage, 24-7.

They Say: "The first time in Arizona history, the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) has stepped in to file a lawsuit against a fire district for wrongful termination." The Truth: Yes, our point exactly. In fact, Borker campaigned for his seat as president of the local union on a platform to take down HVFD and its fire chief, Wayne Eder. And Hill recently bragged in his "President's Message" in the IAFF Magazine, p. 37, that "The PFFA and the IAFF have committed all of our combined resources ... we will do everything in our power to see that this chief [Eder] ... is removed along with those board members who support him." We wonder if union members across Arizona know that their dues are being spent on high-priced out-of-state big-labor lawyers and election consultants, not to mention local political advertising, just to bring down a rural fire district. It's like using a sledgehammer to kill a gnat! All over a handful of union egos.

They Say: This is "The first time HVFD has pulled out of joint dispatching and refused to perform training with its closest neighbor [city of Kingman Fire Department]." The Truth: What they aren't telling you is that the city of Kingman raised its annual fee for HVFD participation in "joint dispatching" so high, HVFD was forced to find an alternative, which turned out to be much more cost-effective and efficient. HVFD has never been invited or refused to train with the city of Kingman Fire Department. In fact, the city of Kingman has not conducted a fire academy in many years, where HVFD has conducted three fire academies in the four years since Eder was hired. Many of the Kingman's firefighters were trained at HFVD and then were hired away by KFD.

They Say: This is "The first time the school district ever had to buy equipment to pass a fire inspection." The Truth: Anyone who has ever opened a business or renovated or added-on to a commercial or government building knows this is nonsense.

They Say: "HVFD refuses to hear or act on matters of public interest" and "will not allow an open 'call' for public comment." The Truth: The board has offered to place items of public concern on its agenda, but Borker and company do not want an open forum. They only seek opportunities to ambush.

They Say: This is "The first time HVFD has had so many issues with performing proper emergency medical care to its citizens." The Truth: The only emergency care "issues" HVFD has faced recently are those churned up by Borker and his cronies. The HVFD and its dedicated and experienced staff have been totally vindicated by the Arizona Department of Health Services. In one instance, the finding was that "disciplinary action is not warranted"; in another instance, HVFD's EMS training program passed a DHS audit, and eight HVFD firefighters successfully completed in-house academy for state EMT certification; all HFVD "graduates" are qualified and ready to take the national examination.

Let us be perfectly straight. Your HVFD Board of Directors and fire chief are committed to providing HVFD taxpayers the best possible service and truth of all issues and will not be intimated by the likes of Mike Collins and Bobby Borker in performing our duties!

Jimmie Bodenhamer and Edward Schrum

HVFD Board of Directors