It’s a slice of small-town America that’s disappearing across the country. Just like the mom-and-pop hardware store, the volunteer fire department is being replaced with big-city professional departments.
In the Florida Keys, only two all-volunteer departments have managed to hang on, along with volunteers serving on paid departments. They keep busy tending to injured car crash victims on the Oversea Highway, and putting out boat and house fires.
But Key Largo, the largest of the volunteer fire departments left in Monroe County and around since the 1950s, is struggling for volunteers. And major change may not be far behind. The department’s leadership and the taxing board that oversees its budget said this week that the all-volunteer model is becoming unsustainable as the cost of living continues to increase in the Keys. A proposal to bring on more paid firefighters would mean a tax increase.
Two former city firefighters, both African Americans, have filed a lawsuit against the city, claiming they were the victims of racial discrimination, retaliation and a hostile work environment, especially under the leadership of retired Fire Chief Joseph Dooley.
The 15-page lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Superior Court in Union County, charges that Joseph Braxton and Mark Bullock were subjected to "racial comments and jokes" daily.
Other retired firefighters, the lawsuit alleges, reported that Dooley "routinely made disparaging remarks about African-Americans, Jews, women, Hispanics, Poles and other groups," before and after he became chief.
The lawsuit was announced Wednesday during a news conference by the New Jersey Clergy Coalition for Justice (NJCCJ).
My Central Jersey
Kansas City’s interim fire chief, Donna Maize, will become the first woman to lead the department, the city announced in a press release Wednesday.
Maize, who was serving in City Manager Troy Schulte’s office, took the helm as interim chief in September when Gary Reese stepped down. Schulte on Wednesday appointed her to the permanent position, which she had indicated previously that she didn’t plan on pursuing.
“I thrive on the positivity I receive daily from the department and see a renewed sense of purpose in our responders,” Maize said in the release. The Kansas City Fire Department has long played a role in Maize’s life. Maize joined KCFD in 1992, where her father was also a firefighter, and the two fought several blazes together.
The Kansas City Star
Lloyd Musick was driving south on Route 309 in Lynn Township on Tuesday night when he came upon an overturned truck that had just been in a crash. He stopped his vehicle and joined two others to help out the victims in the wreck, authorities said.
Musick didn’t know the people involved in the 5:30 p.m. crash at Route 309 and Mountain Road at the base of Blue Mountain, but he was the type of person who would help anyone in need, according to those who knew him.
As Musick and others helped crash victims, a minivan driving south on Route 309 hit the three Good Samaritans, injuring two of them and killing Musick, 49, of Summit Hill, Carbon County, authorities said.
On a GoFundMe page, Musick’s daughter, Kaitlyn, describes her father as “a firefighter, a husband, a father, a brother, a friend to anyone who needed one, and a proud pappy."
The Morning Call
The sign on the door at Firehouse 7 says it all: “THIS PROPERTY CLOSED BY ORDER OF THE BOARD OF HEALTH.”
Asbestos was detected on open surfaces inside the North Plymouth station, prompting the site to be locked down until further notice.
Both the town manager and the Board of Health both issued declarations ordering Firehouse 7 closed. The latter order prevents anyone from entering the station until an environmental expert can assess the safety risk.
“The town is engaging an environmental hygienist to go in there with the appropriate gear,” said Birgitta Kuehn, chair of the Plymouth Board of Health. “That person will determine if it is safe to remove the firefighters’ gear so they can perform their duties. All firefighters at Fire House 7 have been relocated to other stations.”
Plymouth Wicked Local