Today's Letters: County fire force is well-equipped

Published April 16, 2007

As president of Hernando County Professional Firefighters, I am weary of the criticism and discredit our department is receiving as a result of the conflict between the Hernando County Commission and the Spring Hill Fire Rescue District Commission.

Unfortunately, this conflict was taken to a higher level when fire Commissioner Leo Jacobs decided to pay a visit to Hernando County Station 24 and ask our personnel how does a "lesser" department think it can compete with or take over a "greater" department. Fortunately for Mr. Jacobs, our union vice president was on duty at the time and was not able to respond to Mr. Jacobs in quite the fashion he would have if he had been confronted off duty.

Even more sickening for one of our members was the way he was treated while off duty. This member was approached by Spring Hill supporters and asked to sign a petition to keep the fire commission. He politely declined and as a result was publicly ridiculed as "the enemy."

Perhaps what amazes me most was the audacity displayed by some residents to spread lies and fiction about Hernando County Fire Rescue while in a church during the public meeting April 10 at St. Frances Cabrini.

The reality is that both departments have their strengths, and both have weaknesses. I believe it to be common knowledge that 80 to 90 percent of the calls responded to by both organizations are medical in nature. Does it not seem ironic that the "lesser" department staffs six 24-hour ambulances as opposed to the four staffed by Spring Hill? And, while it is true that Spring Hill staffs fire engines with more personnel, Hernando County Fire Rescue is rapidly addressing the problem of fire engine staffing with the help of our elected county commissioners. Starting this month, four of our eight engine companies will be staffed with a minimum of three personnel at all times, similar to all four engines in Spring Hill.

Contrary to the opinion of Jim Tomlinson's April 13 letter to the editor, our equipment isn't quite as far behind as he would like to believe. As a matter of fact, by the end of July four of our engines will be capable of fighting fire with compressed air foam systems. While somewhat pricey, these systems are considered cutting edge for fire suppression. They have drastically reduced the time needed to extinguish a residential fire.

Even though Hernando County has not purchased a ladder truck, our four brush trucks and three tankers have done wonders at protecting the whole county during this active brush fire season.

While the comparisons could go on and on, it proves very little in regard to the current issue.

Our union has never objected to the firefighters and residents of Spring Hill standing up for their department and what they think is right. We simply wanted to be left out of the controversy. Our performance speaks for itself. However, we will not stand by and allow unwarranted attacks on the hard-earned pride and reputation of our department. We owe that to the citizens we serve.

Jason Brazinski, Ridge Manor

Read ordinance before you vote

I will not repeat all the information that so many residents have voiced. I support and praise all the members of the Spring Hill Fire Rescue District, their leaders and the fire commissioners. What I have to say to the people of Spring Hill is to know the facts before you voice your opinion.

I challenge all residents who are indecisive, who do not think it matters, or who agree with the county commissioners, to know the facts. Go look at the ordinance your commissioners want to pass. Make your own decisions. Look and see what is being removed; more importantly, look at what is being added.

I have read it. I am certain that if you take the time you will see the kind of complete control the county is taking. They may not change anything this year, or next, but they have the power to at any time. If the ordinance passes, you are transferring them land, buildings and equipment. They are taking millions of dollars from you at the strike of a pen.

Forget all the scrabbling you have heard between the fire commissioners, county commissioners and the Fire Department. Ignore the little stuff people rant about: the ladder truck, remodeling stations. That is small stuff. Not everyone agrees with everything, even in the largest of businesses. Read the ordinance with your business hat on.

If you do not take the time to know 100 percent what the real issue is, then you cannot complain later. Then, if you are still all right with it, stay home and allow it to happen. If not, you need to protect yourselves by doing something to oppose the ordinance.

Renee Duncan, Spring Hill

Brooksville police chief to retire April 5 story

29 years show chief's dedication

I am writing in response to an article about Chief Ed Tincher's decision to leave Brooksville. I had no idea the chief had been with the department for 29 years. That certainly is a very long time and speaks volumes about his level of dedication to Brooksville. No one stays in a place this long unless he cares deeply. His dedication and his commitment to the city should be appreciated and celebrated. A man who gives 29 years of his life serving the people is one to admire.

Being a chief of police is a difficult and often thankless job. Anyone who has ever lived any part of their life in a manner that is in any way closely connected to law enforcement already knows this. A police officer has to make judgment calls all the time and almost always there will be some people who favor his choice and some people who don't. A good chief of police knows he isn't going to be everyone's best buddy. That's the nature of a law enforcement job. Most people realize you can't please all of the people all of the time, and that you can only please some of the people some of the time. In Chief Tincher's case he seems to have pleased most of the people most of the time. If not, he would not have lasted 29 years.

Chief Tincher commented on the "Farley Report." I am not impressed with the report, so I'm not a bit surprised by Chief Tincher's parting comments to Jim Farley. Anyone can write a report full of allegations; what's important is substantiating the allegations. Getting the facts is basic to conducting an investigation.

With regard to Chief Tincher's comment about council member Joe Bernardini micromanaging, it is my opinion that Mr. Bernardini would have better served the city by withdrawing himself from the entire process, as is customary whenever there is a personal connection to anyone involved.

Tincher commented that his wife and child have been hurt most. I pointed this out to the city's administration on many occasions. I feel that no matter what kind of feud existed between city employees, Mrs. Tincher and her son were innocent victims. The city owed them a public apology, period. The only one sensitive enough to realize this is Chief Tincher. Isn't that ironic?

In closing I'd like to wish Chief Tincher the best. Even though I was not here for all of his 29 years, I know how to recognize dedication and commitment when I see it. I'd like to thank him for his dedicated public service. People may hate it when we get pulled over or stopped for speeding, but the bottom line is we need police protection. I greatly appreciate all the chief has done in his 29 years of service.

Deborah J. Brown, Weeki Wachee

Who allows stores so close?

Whose idea was it to have Home Depot and Lowe's right across the road from each other? Obviously an ill-conceived idea!

Now the same stupid idea will be repeated with another Wal-Mart when we already have a huge one on U.S. 19 that can service the entire Spring Hill area quite well. Who's doing all this ill-conceived planning?

Lillian Fischer, Spring Hill

No going back when farms gone

There has been a lot of debate about the proposed Hickory Hill housing development, and it's not an easy decision facing the county commissioners. If there is no overwhelmingly convincing reason why we should take these beautiful rural lands and turn them into yet another golf course, then maybe we shouldn't. After all, once the bulldozers have graded the land, the wildlife have run off to their "sanctuaries," the miles of asphalt have been laid down over the cow paths and the concrete slabs have been poured to support the new skyline, there is no going back.

Wouldn't it be a shame if we look back and realize we failed to recognize that the real value in rural lands is just that - the rural setting that continues to dwindle and disappear throughout Florida?

If Hickory Hill is approved, I hope the last farmer to leave the county remembers to take with them the "Best Rural Community of the Year" signs that greeted us when we arrived.

Cal Winger, Spring Lake

Your voice counts

We welcome letters from readers for publication. To send a letter from your computer, go to www.tampabay.com/letters and fill in the required information. Type your letter in the space provided on the form, specify that you are writing the Hernando section of the newspaper, and then click "submit." You also may cut and paste a letter that you have prepared elsewhere in your computer.If you prefer, you may fax your letter to (352) 754-6133, or mail it to: Letters to the Editor, Hernando Times, 15365 Cortez Blvd., Brooksville, FL 34613.All letters should be brief and must include the writer's name, city of residence, mailing address and telephone number. When possible, letters should include a handwritten signature. Addresses and telephone numbers will not be printed. The Times does not publish anonymous letters.Letters may be edited for clarity, taste, length and accuracy. We regret that not all letters can be printed.