The Texas House sent Houston's pension reform package to the governor's desk Wednesday, marking what Mayor Sylvester Turner hopes is the beginning of the end of a 16-year fiscal crisis, and giving him a landmark achievement in his second year in office.
Turner, who has made passing the reforms the centerpiece of his tenure, alternated between grins and gravitas Wednesday night. He cheered the bill's passage, but also warned that more work lay ahead, a clear nod to a series of referendums looming this fall.
"There is no challenge that this city cannot address, no mountain we cannot climb if we stand together," the mayor said, flanked by dozens of police and municipal workers, civic leaders and senior aides.
Inman Fire Chief Chris Cothran said Tuesday the city council should begin thinking about funding a 24/7 fire department. At Monday’s budget work session, Cothran proposed $243,000 in new funding to pay for roughly 10 firefighters to cover two 12-hour shifts, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
He said the number of volunteer firefighters has dropped in recent years, jeopardizing quick response times to a fire. And that could cost lives, he said. “Volunteers are hard to get,” he said. “I’m just trying to close the gap and provide better protection.” Councilman Ray Rogers was the only member who responded to Cothran’s proposal.
“This is the first I’m hearing about increasing staff of the fire department,” Rogers said, noting it would take a more than 20-mill tax increase to fund Cothran’s request. “It did catch us off guard. In concept, that’s certainly an admirable goal.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday took a page out of former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s playbook, creating a $3 million program to help up to 100 police officers, firefighters and paramedics purchase homes in “targeted” Chicago neighborhoods.
Daley did the same thing in the early 1990’s with only mixed results. The program was championed by Daley’s then-Budget Director Paul Vallas, who would go on to become CEO of the Chicago Public Schools. Vallas is now a top administrator at Chicago State University.
Now, Emanuel is offering up his own “public safety officer homebuyer assistance” program in a two-fold effort to improve public safety in neighborhoods plagued by gang violence and rebuild long-neglected inner-city neighborhoods.
First responders in Miami County have access to more of the overdose-reversing antidote naloxone than ever before after officials received 50 dosages last week from the state’s emergency stash of the drug.
The Indiana State Department of Health last year set up emergency caches of naloxone kits at five sites around the state in the event first responders ran out of the drug and were unable to obtain it through normal means, according to ISDH Director of Public Affairs Jennifer O'Malley.
The Peru Fire Department requested the kits last Tuesday to replenish the county’s stockpile.
Now, the fire department has distributed the kits to the Miami County Sheriff’s Department and volunteer fire departments stationed around the county to fight the spike in opioid overdoses.
It’s no secret that firefighters have a special relationship. They spend every other day together and rely on each other to have their backs. Two firefighters from West Licking Fire Department are proving that bond goes further than just the firehouse. One man needed a kidney, so another firefighter gave him one.
Seth Coakley found out he had a rare kidney disease nearly 13 years ago and he struggled to talk about it. He didn’t want to ask for help so he didn’t. When his health took a turn for the worst he finally told the brothers at the fire house. Their quick response was overwhelming and it ultimately landed him the kidney he needed.
“In our profession you hear about the brotherhood all of the time.” For Dan Alward, that brotherhood goes beyond a fire call.