ABSTRACT: In an effort to elucidate the recent past, present and projected future of the Carmel Fire Department’s situation, the remarks of Carmel Professional Firefighters August Beacham (Part I) and Mitch Kastros (Part II) at the Special City Council Meeting on 25 March 2009 are transcribed. August Beacham’s remarks appear below and Mitch Kastros’s remarks will appear tomorrow.
City of Carmel-by-the-Sea
Special City Council Meeting
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
East side of Monte Verde Street between Ocean and Seventh Avenues
IV. Orders of Council
B. Receive report and provide policy direction regarding contracting fire protection services to the City of Monterey.
"Honorable Mayor, Members of the Council. My name is August Beacham. I’m the President of the Carmel Professional Firefighters."
"Five years ago, you and City Administrator Rich Guillen had the foresight to bring in Chief Miller to assist Chief Rawson with the restructuring of the Carmel Fire Department. It’s been an amazing five years. At the time morale was at an all time low, equipment was in disrepair, and the basic infrastructure was falling apart, the hydrants being a case in point There was little accountability or structure. Under the leadership of Chiefs Rawson and Miller, the Carmel Fire Department has undergone an amazing transformation. Currently, I cannot think of a time in my 22 years here at Carmel Fire that morale has never been higher. We are more productive and better trained. We are excited to come to work and serve the citizens of Carmel-by-the-Sea."
"There are some concerns that merging with the City of Monterey Fire Department will take away the hometown firefighters and replace them with people that do not know the unusual characteristics that make Carmel unique. Fortunately that’s not the case, under the proposed contract with Monterey, Carmel Firefighters can stay in Carmel. Also, there shouldn’t be any concern with Monterey Firefighters coming in to cover our station or to cover our shifts; many of those Monterey Firefighters started their careers as paid calls with the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea. We already have a close working relationship with the firefighters there. Many of you have noticed their engines and truck parked around Carmel; that’s because we’re already conducting joint training exercises with them and the Monterey Duty Chiefs have been responding to our major calls as the incident commander for some time and the system has been working very well."
"On the subject of training, the training division at Monterey Fire is exemplary. Division Chief Roth provides excellent training and educational opportunities that we have not had in the past at Carmel Fire. As firefighter technology advances the amount of training and expertise required of firefighters also increases. The professional training provided by Monterey Fire ensures that firefighters in Carmel are prepared to handle any emergency that is dealt to us."
"Merging with Monterey also ensures sustainability of the Carmel Fire Department. Twenty years ago, we had over forty volunteers firefighters from which to hire from; today the volunteer ranks has dwindled to single digits as training requirements and changing demographics have put pressure on the training program. Monterey Fire can provide a large pool of qualified firefighters with which to fill vacancies. This system also ensures that all firefighters meet the standards for the positions that they fill."
"Carmel Fire is a unique department in a unique village; the citizens know and recognize us. We, the local firefighters, work well within this system and will continue to do so under the proposed arrangement with Monterey. The professional firefighters have voted unanimously for the proposed MOU with Monterey and support this proposed contract for services."
"Five years ago I was ready to leave Carmel Fire Department for elsewhere. Today, I have never been more proud to be a firefighter for the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Let us continue to proudly serve the citizens of Carmel by voting for the contract for services."
(Source: Archived Videos, Special City Council Meeting, March 25, 2009, 40:00 – 43:23)