Defending San Luis Obispo firefighters
August 26, 2011
As I sat in the recliner returning from my 57th call in three days this morning, I wanted to comment on San Luis Obispo firefighter Rob Farino’s recent Opinion piece. I am one of the “L.A. Firemen” that is being used as a measuring stick against San Luis Obispo city firefighters.
This is an opportunity for me to not only reflect on the comments slamming Rob’s character but the entire fire service in general. I find it only fitting that I respond in the same comforts that everyone else has—on the beautiful Central Coast, without fear of major crime, traffic, gangs, drugs and our beautiful 72 degree weather.
This is not a statement defending Rob’s $26-dollar per hour wage, his decent retirement, or San Luis Obispo Fire Department’s ability to keep collective bargaining. He makes a wage to support his family in the San Luis Obispo area and it gives him the opportunity to live in the community in which he serves.
No, this is in response to the attacks that have been made against firefighters and police and the job they do on CalCoastNews, the Tribune and the Dave Congalton show. As most of you sit behind a computer screen in the safety of your workplace or home and attack our local public servants as being overpaid, under-worked, and then blamed to be the the root of so many of the City’s financial problems, I would like you to realize you are attacking your first and last line of defense against the cancerous abuse of the public health care system that riddles many areas today.
I know what you’re thinking—that could never happen here, we’re immune from the problems occurring “down south”. Tell that to the fine tax paying citizens of Lennox, Watts, San Bernardino, Moreno Valley and East Palmdale just to name a few cities I have served and I will continue to provide excellent service for the next 20 years.
They too were once immune to the abuse, yet now riddled with the problems that everyone here living in San Luis Obispo has come up to escape. If this comment seems foreign to you, pack up the kids and take a vacation, not to Hawaii, or the Grand Canyon, yet spend some time in the communities you would hope not to be forced to get off the freeway and get gas on your way to Orange County or Palm Springs. If you need “pay per hour” hotel recommendations let me know, I’m sure most San Luis Obispo residents will need no more than that to understand my point.
Call me cynical or a little jaded, but you can not say I don’t have first hand experience of being a fireman, which most of the people here making these comments lack. Rob Farino is the type of person you want in defense of these problems. He seems educated, eloquent and very passionate about his job.
One day, in the not so distant future, as our precious community changes and our way becomes threatened, like so many others have, you’ll gladly pay him or anyone else $26 dollars an hour to come to your aid. I can promise you San Luis Obispo’s call volume will go up, you will need and want our police and fire services. So I respectfully beg to you be careful towards the hateful and ignorant stones being thrown towards the ones sworn to protect you.
Please value our police and fire departments. As the old saying goes; We’re not paid on a daily basis for what we do; but for what we are willing to do!
Aaron Salmon serves as a firefighter in Los Angeles.