Thursday, April 4, 2013

CFD Sends Ladder 23 and Crew on a Road Trip to Indy

But are we being taken for a ride?

According to an email Cedar Posts received this week, Charlotte Fire Department's retired Ladder 23 and its crew are heading north to Indianapolis later this month to make a five day appearance at the annual FDIC (Fire Department Instructors Conference), promoting fire department apparatus manufacturer Smeal.

Click on this banner ad from Smeal to see the Ladder 23 promo
 The conference will be held April 22-27 in Indianapolis were "Attendees are invited to stop and meet the crew and hear stories of Ladder 23's exploits, and share their own experiences."

The Smeal company web site promotes the appearance on another page:


That’s how many runs Charlotte Fire Department’s Ladder 23 made in its 10 years of service. The Smeal-built 105’ Rear Mount Aerial Ladder racked up 177,000 miles -- enough to travel around the world 7 times.
Photo Courtesy: Smeal Fire Apparatus Co.

Now in reserve status, Ladder 23’s long service life is a testament to the durability of Smeal Fire Apparatus Co. Ladder 23's stats are impressive to say the least:

In Service Date: 1/10/2002
Calls: 40,423
Miles: 177,000
Engine Hours: 13,550
Aerial Hours: 301
Fuel: 76,542 Gallons of Diesel
Oil: 1,890 Gallons
Tires: 158
Structure Fires: 806
Vehicle Fires: 201

Photo Courtesy: Smeal Fire Apparatus Co.

Photo Courtesy: Smeal Fire Apparatus Co.
The durability and longevity of Ladder 23 is why Charlotte Fire Department ordered another Smeal apparatus (a new 2012 - 105’ Rear Mount Aerial) to continue its legacy. Ladder 23 is now one of three Smeal units that is in reserve status.

Charlotte Ladder Trucks 23 Reserve and New 23 Photo Courtesy: Smeal Fire Apparatus Co.
New Ladder 23 joins Charlotte’s active Smeal fleet of 39 Engines and 15 Aerials. Charlotte Fire Department has an additional four Engines and two Aerials on order for delivery in the near future.

Captain Buddy Caldwell of the Charlotte Fire Department sums up the value of a reliable vehicle this way:

"A truck is a fire fighter's life for 24 hours when they're on shift. They trust that truck to be dependable, to get them to every call, and to function the way it's supposed to function when they get there. It's an integral part of their job. And it's all got to work."

Ladder 23 and its crew will be making a special appearance at booth 3537 at FDIC (Fire Department Instructors Conference), April 22-27 in Indianapolis, IN. Attendees are invited to stop and meet the crew and hear stories of Ladder 23's exploits, and share their own experiences.

Photo Courtesy: Smeal Fire Apparatus Co.


Cedar's Take:

Sounds like a good time will be had by all, except who is paying for this adventure?

Cedar Posts emailed CFD Captain Mark Basnight the department's PIO, asking about the trip, the costs, who was going and who was footing the bill. Captain Basnight responded by saying that our "source/information was inaccurate".

Basnight's, dodge leads CP to assume that you the tax payer is paying for this junket to Indy.

Beyond, employee costs, hours lost, meals and lodging there is the expense of moving a $750,000 piece of equipment 1200 miles round trip.

CP emailed Captain Basnight again asking if he was refusing to confirm or deny that Ladder 23 and Charlotte Fire Department personnel were traveling to Indianapolis for the FDIC event.

At 8:24 p.m. Captain Basnight responded with this carefully crafted reply:

From: "Basnight, Mark"

Date: Thu, 4 Apr 2013 20:24:53 +0000

To: Cedar Posts

Cc: McMillan, Kimberly<>; Dulin, Jeffrey<>; Granger, Richard<>; Hannan, Jon<>; Key, Howard<>; Kinniburgh, Robert<>; Basnight, Mark<>; Beteta, Carlos<>; Brisley, Robert<>; Cannon, Robert<>; Gilmore, Jackie<>; Gist, Dennis<>

RE: Trip to Indianapolis

Once again thank you for contacting the Charlotte Fire Department, We sympathize with your quandary, however it is your responsibility and good journalism to allow enough time for an adequate response to meet your deadline. We will offer the following statement:

The Charlotte Fire Department will be allowing three firefighters and a reserve ladder company (formally Ladder 23) to attend the 2013 FDIC in Indianapolis. These three firefighters and the communities they serve will benefit from them attending one of the world’s premiere firefighter training conferences at the expense of the Smeal Corporation. Additional firefighters may choose to attend, however it will be at their own expense.

For any additional information, we stand by our original offer to meet with a representative of Cedar Posts in person to discuss any further details.

If you choose to rest your reputation and credibility on the word of your source that is completely your decision.

(Not including this entire response would be bias, inaccurate, irresponsible and poor journalism).

Eternally committed to duty & service,

Mark Basnight | Captain

Public Information Officer

Office of Media & Public Affairs

Charlotte Fire Department

228 E. 9th Street | Charlotte NC | 28202

704.336.2094 Media & Public Affairs Desk

Based on the above email, it certainly sounds like the trip is on Smeal's nickle.

Charlotte's Fire Department is now running almost exclusively Smeal Apparatus, which is built and headquartered in Nebraska, despite the fact that American LaFrance and Seagrave fire trucks are made here in the Carolina's.

Which makes you wonder what is going on?

If Smeal is paying for the trip what is the give back?

And whatever happened to the competitive bid process?

Well, North Carolina law is pretty loose when it comes to the rules under which the competitive bid process can be circumvented.

It is a given, that having the same source for all equipment, makes some sense. Many departments have their favorites, for years American La France was the single provider to FDNY which now has given those bragging rights to Seagrave, who makes fire fighting equipment in of all places Rock Hill, South Carolina.

Fire Engines and Ladder Trucks aren't cheap and with all the money that changes hands it seems reasonable that Charlotte's City Council might ask a few questions.

Which brings up a second point. Why in the world does Charlotte dispatch 3/4 million dollar rigs to unknown medical calls?

Ladder 23 ran 40,423 calls, of which 806 where structure fires and 201 where vehicle fires.

The rest? Looks like 39,416 where first responder calls. Meaning more than 97% of the 177,000 miles racked up over 10 years was for something other than fire. 

I got to admit, if I'm the guy having the heart attack, I don't care if they show up in a quint like ladder 23 or a moped. But much of the time these calls are for drunks passed out on a park bench. 

Wouldn't it be more cost effective to staff a dozen tricked out Ford 350 Rescue Units like they do in other cities?

CP doesn't know the answer, but folks who have lived in Charlotte awhile remember when the county took over the Mecklenburg Ambulance Service and later started training fireman to be EMT's and Paramedics as well. The reasoning was to "Supplement Medic" but now it may be time to look at a more cost effective solution.

And maybe the FDIC is a good place to compare notes with other departments.

CP Update:

Thanks to all who have commented on the above story. The point was not to say CFD was doing something shameful or to even point a finger. But it clearly hit a nerve. CP sources indicated the "several" department members were going to the FDIC event. This conflicts somewhat with Captain Basnight's final response. Except that he "hints" that other members might also be going at their own expense.

What is most interesting is Captain Basnight's intinal suggestion that we meet personally to discuss CP's questions about the trip. This ploy is common with CMPD's PIO who likes to use intimidation to suppress negative questioning.

Captain Basnight found himself in a tight spot, perhaps if the department had issued a press release several weeks ago when the decision was made to send one of "our" reserve ladder companies to Indianapolis, the Captain would have been more forthcoming.

The citizens and taxpayers of Charlotte have a right to know about these events. Sending a ladder company to represent Charlotte in Indianapolis is something we should all be proud of, sadly the clandestine manner in which it was planned and the "push back" response from our department diminished that fact.


Anonymous said...

Wonder why Basnight felt he needed to cc everybody in command?

Cedar, it looks like you shook their cage pretty hard.

What do you suppose they are or ride about?

Anonymous said...

In the North Texas area (Dallas, Ft Worth, a whole bunch of satellite/bedroom communities) all jurisdictions charge minimum fees for medical responses. $300 or more minimum and it can be well over $1000 just for answering a call. That has stopped many of those irresponsible "I needed an aspirin" things and other minor excuses for calling 911 and having an ambulance and fire truck and usually several police (and police cars) show up. If Charlotte does not, they should.

The ambulance has the transport capability and EMT personnel. The fire truck has oxygen equipment. I think it is Federal Law that the ambulance is not permitted to carry oxygen.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Basnight was caught off guard by your email. These crooks hate it when anyone is looking over their shoulder because they are all running some sort of scam.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 5:00 there is no scam here just Cedar Mouth stirring up trouble.

Move along.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Cedar Posts is trying to spoil their little party. Everyone knows Charlotte has no oversight, police, fire, sanitation, airport, you name it they are all taking bribes, kickbacks and more.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Basnight should check HIS sources. It's world wide on the internet you cocky piece. Maybe he should go get some help from Brisly.

Anonymous said...

Basnight what a pious prick!

Confuse and obfuscate even when it doesn't matter. Total douch bag.

I'm going tell you it is well known the department has a bunch garage queens thanks to Smeal.

Anonymous said...

This is the same Basnight that runs drivers off the road like he is going to do something at a fire. What an ego he has. Sounds like Cedar hit a nerve.

As far as the medical calls, I remember years ago before I retired, the ladder companies only ran medical calls when the engine company was tied up. Now, I think they share the calls so everybody is worked equally. Too much whining in the stations.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Basnight copied everyone in command because that's who he works for dum dum... Geez! if you don't have anything intelligent to say don't say anything at all

Anonymous said...

Most of you sound like a bunch of grumpy old men (more like women) with too much time on your hands. Seems like CP once again attempting to make something out of a whole lot of nothing. Get a life :0)

Anonymous said...

Basnight was doing exactly what he was suppose to do... He gave you the facts on a bunch of crap CP tried to make into a story. This is CP's calling card, a bunch of disgruntled cops who should spend more time doing their jobs than stirring up bogus stories to draw the wrong attention to themselves.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Now it seems disgruntled firefighters are working with??? That's right, you guessed it...disgruntled cops to conjure up silly stories with little depth or validity. OK children, cut the crap and get back to work! Find something a lot more constructive to do with your spare time.

Anonymous said...

Don't know why Basnight is tring to coverup the trip.

Clearly CFD is not as excited as Smeal is about the trip. Why?

Anonymous said...

This whole conversation (or does this even qualify as a conversation) concerns me as a long-time resident of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. If this is in fact disgruntled police officers and firefighters airing out dirty laundry, you should stop and find a more constructive way to work through whatever issues there may be. I have no dog in the fight and I have the utmost respect for police officers and firefighters, however after reading this and other content on CP, I'm beginning to wonder.

Anonymous said...

Looks like a pretty legitimate event for Cedar to ask about. I don't know any one with CFD who is unhappy. Station 24 B shift here. Plus I am glad I am not going to Indy long ride and not much to look at.

Anonymous said...

Hello, is it possible this story is has become such a big deal amongst some (a select minority who want to listen to this horse manure) because the local Firefighters Association pissed the Chief off and lost their voice? Now, they've joined forces with disgruntled cops who lost their voice with the Police Chief... Or could it be firefighters who sell fire trucks as a part-time business and are upset because CFD is not buying their product??? Hmmm, makes you wonder... Cut the crap!

Anonymous said...

9:36 CMPD has some major issues, CFD is rock steady and most the crews like the chief and command.

Sure we could be paid more and some additional PTO would go a long way to make me a happy camper.

Anonymous said...

Basnight has always been a jackass. Don't see anything wrong with Smeal covering expenses, but I will bet the house there is more to this and that Basnight freaked because Cedar was poking around.

Anonymous said...

Good Post Cedar!

Anonymous said...

Good post, Cedar!

Keep up the great work and don't stop digging!

There is much more to this!

Don't let the jackasses put you off the trail!

Billy Fehr said...

Once again Cedar, great post.

Anonymous said...

Some of y'all must have the reading comprehension of 5th graders, I don't see anywhere the Cedar takes issue with the Department other than they where not very forth coming.

Anonymous said...

Basnight not a bad guy just has too much time in the hood gets all angry over nothing. But you cedar like pushing their buttons.

Anonymous said...

Ditto... Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader??? Apparently not... You guys sound like a bunch of babbling idiots! If you had half a clue what was going on and pulled your heads out your xxxxx you'd know that Basnight is just a pawn in all of this. He works for the Fire Chief and I would imagine says very little without speaking with the Chief. You sound like grade school children throwing rocks and calling names because the man is doing his job and not siding with you... I may not agree with everything Basnight or Fire Admin has to say, however I'm not going to be childish and resort to name calling. What's the story here anyway or is this just a forum for a whining??? Sounds like to me the story is simple, CFD is sending 3 firefighters and a fire truck to FDIC at the expense of Smeal... Keep digging??? Digging for what? It's you babbling idiots that give the rest of us firefighters a bad rep... Grow up or better yet if you think you have it soo bad here, GO FIND ANOTHER JOB!

Anonymous said...

Defend Basnight if you like but here is a jackass, make that condescending jackass lecturing Cedar on his journalistic merit. This from a guy who lies and spins the facts for a living.

Cedar how about posting your emails to Basnight?

Anonymous said...

Basnight what a tool.

Oh sorry I didn't call him a name did I? Opps my bad.

While his email warns Cedar that:

"Not including this entire response would be bias, inaccurate, irresponsible and poor journalism"

I'm sure he didn't expect that this blog would publish everyone's email addy.

Ha joke is on them!

Thanks Cedar!

Anonymous said...

So what I am seeing is that Cedar found out about the trip and asked Basnight about it.

Basnight sent a shit reply and then thought better about about it after Cedar asked again.

Basnight's published reply is out of line and reflects poorly on the department.

Fire Admin might feel they are above such matters but the public has a right to ask and receive truthful answers.

If that is not the case then they should be removed from the job.

Anonymous said...

anon 8:36.....


Anonymous said...

Yea ! We are not trashing the police department anymore !
Good job airing the dirty laundry fire department .
Next stop: the heinous hordes at Medic!!

Anonymous said...

7:21 isn't kinda early for you libtards to be up?

Since when is it bashing when someone is telling the truth and pointing out facts in a fairly positive light?

I don't see any bashing in this post.

I think I remember Cedar posting a photo of a clear fire hazard at Belk SouthPark back around Christmas and Basnight's response was he was "not on duty".

Tell me how is that "Eternally committed to duty & service"?

The guy is a bad joke!

There call it bashing if you like. Truth stinks doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

Opps the Belk Fire Harzard Story was in September and Captain Committed to Duty and Service Basnight says "I'm not on the clock"

Anonymous said...

CP you are correct there are others going but it is not at their own expense.

Most will go and later submit their expenses as "training" time.

Another back door is to submit an Overtime request. Or just have them put in for PTO and then go on the trip.

Not that any of this is bad.

But Basnight's "These three firefighters and the communities they serve will benefit from them attending one of the world’s premiere firefighter training conferences" is utter BS.

Everyone know FDIC is a party, a car show for firefighters where many of the vendors have nothing at all to do with fighting fires.

Anonymous said...

I'd have to guess that Smeal is sending the guys from 23 on their dime because it is the premier fire conference in the nation and they can put their products up next to Pierce, Seagrave, E-One, and the other big names. I may be wrong but I think Smeal was having some financial troubles in recent years and this is probably a good PR ploy to help their product, which I've always thought were pretty good trucks. I've been to FDiC a couple of times and I've seen a bunch of Charlotte firemen there but they are typically attending with the departments they volunteer for in their off time so again, I think Smeal is paying for this venture.

...and to the CFD guys that have posted about the 'disgruntled cops' that post on this blog, I hope this doesn't turn into a big cop vs fireman bash fest. As a whole we really feel like we have a good working relationship with you guys and I wouldn't want some blog to tarnish that. We unfortunately don't have a union to take our side on important matters and the closest thing we have likes to sit silent so sometimes it helps to listen to some people come here and air the laundry, even if its nothing more than listening to the gossip bu Cedar does have the ability to dig up some good stuff.

But if we have to bash, can we throw Medic under the bus? I'm in for that all day.

Anonymous said...

Is anyone else missing the obvious in the photograph? Where is the diversity in the picture that the City of Charlotte claims to be a huge supporter of? Every department in the City is a JOKE, especially with people like Basnight leading the way!!!

Anonymous said...

You want to know about CFD diversity? Cedar Post needs to ask questions about the city expending tax funds for “The Neptune”, hand pump fire engine & all of the other "historic" apparatus owned by CFD. That's a good use of tax payer funds!