Monday, August 20, 2007

Answering the Call

In my print column today, I talked about my respect for those who climb out of bed in the middle of the night to answer the call when a fire alarm goes off.
It has been on my mind since last weekend, when we first reported on the raging fire in Parkside that left two young borough firefighters in Crozer-Chester Medical Center dealing with critical burns.
I had hoped that the newspaper’s coverage could focus on Chase Frost and Dan Brees, the firefighters seriously injured in the inferno that engulfed the townhouse on Park Vallei Lane.
I think we’ve done that. We’ve tried to update their conditions and have reported on several efforts to help the volunteers of Parkside Fire Co. in this time of need.
But there is something else that has been ongoing since last weekend. There has been a consistent undercurrent of questions of who responded to the fire scene early that Saturday morning and who did not.
Callers to our popular Sound Off column specifically were asking why Parkside’s next-door neighbor, Brookhaven Fire Co., was not called.
We did not want to point fingers. We wanted to keep our focus on the two injured firefighters. But at the same time we did not want any misconceptions to fester in the community.
So reporters Cindy Scharr and Rose Quinn, who do the bulk of our police and fire reporting and have the closest ties with both groups, put a note in their Thursday Cop Shop column trying to shed some light on the situation.
Brookhaven was not at the fire because they were not on Parkside’s “run” list. That’s the list of those who are called in to respond when one of the volunteer organizations gets a call.
The item pointed out that Brookhaven is not on Parkside’s “run” list, thus they did not respond.
Nothing more, nothing less.
We weren’t looking to point fingers, to assign blame or indicate the result would have been any different had Brookhaven responded. We simply wanted to clear up who was called and why.
The item did not sit well with Parkside Fire Co. I got a call from their chief Thursday morning. He especially did not like the timing. He and his personnel are dealing with the devastating injuries suffered by two of their own. I told him I understood his concerns and assured him we had no interest in pointing fingers.
On Sunday Quinn revisited the situation. It seems it has become something of a sticking point between the two fire companies. Again I want to assure all those involved that we are not looking to assign blame. I’m not even sure there’s blame to be assigned in this tragic instance.
We simply are looking to report on what is now clearly a matter of public interest in these two towns.
By the way, on Sunday, on the same page, we also updated the latest efforts to raise funds for the two injured firefighters. Members of the Prospect Park and Norwood fire companies hosted a car wash on Saturday. Members of the Morton Fire Co. were collecting donations along Route 420.
It is a close-knit band of brothers, these men and women who answer the call when that alarm sounds.
No, they wont’ always agreed on specific protocol. And they likely won’t always agree on how we cover these stories.
But I want them to know that our concern is with them, as well as with the two young men who still lie in Crozer-Chester Medical Center recovering from serious burns.
By the way, if you want to help, here’s how: Donations for Chase Frost and Dan Brees can be directed to Parkside Fire Co., 107 W. Roland Road, Parkside, PA 19015.
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Moving Beyond 10,000 Losses: An occasional look at why it’s so difficult to be a Phillies – hell for that matter a Philadelphia – sports fan. Well, right on schedule, the Phils drew even with the Padres in the N.L. Wild Card race, and then immediately threw it into reverse. They coughed up four-run leads on successive days against one of the worst teams in the league in the Pirates. Now they are staring at an absolutely crucial home stand, with the both the Padres and Mets in town this week. It will be interesting to see how the Phils react.

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The Daily Numbers: 13 brand spanking new Chinook-47 F helicopters built by Boeing delivered to the 101st Airborne at Fort Campbell, Ky. They are latest in the long, proud history of the Chinook..


64,000 dollars being spent this year for road resurfacing by Rose Valley.


21 bucks, what a slew of soggy fans paid to get into the Eagles Carnival Sunday and rub shoulders with their favorite players and coaches, not to mention the Eagles Cheerleaders.
264 people slain on Philadelphia streets so far this year, the latest being a man shot in the face early Monday morning on South 58th Street.


3 people sickened by a toxic solvent found in the trunk of a car that was dropped off at Deptford Mall in New Jersey.


2 hit-run accidents over the weekend in Philadelphia. A 13-year-old girl is in critical condition after she was thrown from the hood of a car she apparently jumped on.


87 suspected Internet predators bagged by the state attorney general’s office as they continue their campaign to keep kids safe online.


6 suspects now in custody in the execution-style slayings of three college students in Newark, N.J. Police believe they now have all suspects behind bars.


4.3 percent unemployment rate in Pennsylvania in June, that’s up from 4.1 percent the month before.


240 Internet media enthusiasts and bloggers who convened in Pittsburgh over the weekend. No, I was not among them.


6 coal miners who continue to be trapped in a cave-in in Utah. Officials now are saying the bodies may never be recovered. Family members are irate, saying the company is giving up on them.


6 people killed in flooding in Minnesota. We’re only going to get rain, albeit heavy at times. The next two days will be a soggy mess. [retty much a repeat of Sunday.


12 inches of rain that could hammer the Cayman Islands as Hurricane Dean continues to wreak havoc in the Caribbean with 150 mph winds. Jamaica managed to avert a direct hit by the storm.


0 runs given up by Phils starter Kyle Lohse over six innings against the Pirates Sunday.


4 runs Lohse gave up in the 7th, as the Phils blew a four-run lead for the second straight day.


5 games behind the Mets, and 1 game behind the Padres, where the Phils stand in both the N.L. East and Wild Card races.



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I Don’t Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): Hey, it could be worse, this could be your vacation week. Oh, it is your vacation week. Sorry.



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Today’s Upper: So it never rains in the Hook, eh? Never mind. The Daily Times/Exelon Champs ‘N’ Charity Classic will carry on, even if the men’s title will not be decided until Saturday. Look at it this way. It’s that much more time for us to raise money in the fight against cancer. That’s the real spirit of the tourney anyhow, and it’s one that a few raindrops will never douse.



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Quote Box: “It’s the next significant generation change in the capability of the Chinook platform.”

-- Ken Eland, program manager for Boeing’s CH-47F program.

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