From: Reid Shimabukuro

Subject: Brush Fire (Lualualei)

Dear Mr. Cox,

My name is Reid Shimabukuro and I'm the President of the Federal Firefighters of Hawaii.  Local F263 is the Union representing all Federal Firefighters in the State of Hawaii.  I would like to thank you for your concern for the Leeward Coast Community during this early brushfire season.  I've taken the time to read the article in yesterday's Star Advertiser and would like to add a little more insight that may be of greater concern.  In July 2011, the Union received an email from Fire Chief Glenn DeLaura that he would be closing Fire Station 11 (Lualualei).  Immediately after receiving his email notification, the Union responded with detailed questions as to "why".  Chief DeLaura responded to 80% of our questions stating it was "non-negotiable".  The Union prepared a notice of an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) for failing to bargain or consult about these changes.  FFD Management and the Union had a "face to face" meeting on July 28, 2012.  

In this meeting, Chief DeLaura stated that Naval Magazine Lualualei was changed from a Category A Installation to a Category B.  What does this mean?  Category A requires fire protection 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  Category B requires no fire protection at all and can be covered by Mutual Aid.  FYI - Chief DeLaura has had no further meeting with the Union to further elaborate on our questions.  He's "browned out" Fire Station 11 (Lualualei) as a "cost saving" measure and has completely disregarded our cost saving suggestions by the Union.  On 22 April 2012, the Federal Fire Department officially reassigned all employees assigned to Fire Station 11 and implemented an SOP on how Station 11 would be covered.  A rotation of crews would be rotated from their normal response area and relocated to Station 11 between the hours of 0800 - 1530.  From the very beginning the Union objected to this idea for several crucial reasons:

1.  Government Contractor BAE starts their work day at 0730.  FFD starts their work day at 0800.  This means that their would be no fire protection for the first few hours of the morning.  Be advised that BAE is contracted for weapons movement.  Some of these weapons are classified as 1.1 High Explosives.
2.  The overlapping work start times will cost more in overtime and fuel consumption.
3.  Fire Crews will be required to travel during the heart of traffic periods which poses greater risks during rush hour.
4.  The contractors will have no Fire or EMS protection at the start of their workday.
5.  BRUSHFIRES would be at greater risk with no Fire Protection.
6.  The Tracking Station at Yokohama Bay will be at greater risk because the nearest fire company would be traveling from a much longer distance.

Mr. Cox, the list goes on and on.  We've given our Fire Chief every opportunity to address these valid concerns and he has simply disregarded our concerns.  Now we are faced with a Brushfire that could have been prevented or minimized had the original Fire Company been in Station.  Normally, an Engine Company and a Brush Truck would be in station, now with Chief DeLaura's change, there may be only an Engine Company on any given day.  On Monday, the day the Brushfire started, only Engine 102 was in station.  Had this fire started anytime after 1530 there would be no one in the station.
As for Chief DeLaura's comments in the Star Advertiser regarding having helicopters available to assist, the request was made by the Battalion Chief on scene but was denied by our Deputy Fire Chief of Operations Glenn Kaauwai.  I don't know the exact reasons for denying the request but read in the Star Advertiser article that "high winds" may have been the reason.  The local news reported that 5 helicopters were assisting to extinguish the fire on Monday so I would question the excuse of "high winds".  

I'm available to answer any questions that you may have and as you are probably aware, not everything can been covered or addressed in an email.  Thank you for your time and for being ever vigilante to protect our Aina!

Very Respectfully,

Reid Shimabukuro
Federal Firefighters of Hawaii - Local F263
(808) 255-9253
Date: June 7, 2012 9:49:44 AM HST