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KokomoFireFan's Jason Wheatley Writes Letter to the Editor

Recently, KokomoFireFan's founder, Jason Wheatley, wrote a letter to the editor to the three Kokomo newspapers. In his letter, Wheatley addressed his issues with Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight's disregard and disrespect for the Kokomo Fire Department.

After sending his initial letter to the Kokomo Tribune, Wheatley received word from the editor stating that his letter was, "Much too long for publication. We prefer letters of about 250 words in length."

Wheatley then edited his letter down to a satisfied length  restrictions and sent his letter again.

After just over two weeks of waiting, the letter was published on Saturday, September 24, 2016.

Here is the edited letter as published:

Jason Wheatley of Middletown sends this Jeer for a perceived lack of respect for the Kokomo Fire Department from City Hall:

“I was born and raised in Kokomo but had to move away in July of 2011. Even though I am no longer a resident of my hometown of the City of Firsts, I am still invested in what is happening in the community. I manage to stay in-the-know on current events, thanks to friends and the various media outlets covering the area.


“In the aftermath of the devastating EF-3 tornado that hit the area on Aug. 24, I could not help but notice that Mayor Goodnight, when being interviewed by the media, praised the efforts of the Kokomo Police Department, Street Department, Parks Department and other city departments, but he neglected the Kokomo Fire Department.

“Please don’t misunderstand, each of those departments received the recognition they rightfully deserve for their efforts, but the Fire Department deserved recognition from the mayor as well. Kokomo firefighters were out checking for trapped and injured victims, among other things, immediately after the twister had passed through the area. So, why weren’t they recognized?

“It has been brought to my attention by multiple, reliable sources that Mayor Goodnight barred Kokomo firefighters from hitting the streets of Kokomo for their annual ‘Fill the Boot’ campaign to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Kokomo firefighters had participated in this campaign for the last 62 years — it is a tradition. My sources tells me the mayor cited safety concerns as his reason behind barring them from collecting in the streets. This excuse is not acceptable, as firefighters have not had any safety problems in the past 62 years.

“Why the disrespect?” 

Here is the original letter in it entirety:

Mayor Greg Goodnight’s mistreatment of the Kokomo Fire Department is getting absolutely ridiculous, and it is really starting to get to me.

I was born and raised in Kokomo but had to move away in July of 2011. Even though I am no longer a resident of my hometown of the City of Firsts, I am still invested in what is happening in the community. I manage to stay in-the-know on current events thanks to friends and the various media outlets covering the area.

In the aftermath of the devastating EF-3 tornado that hit the area on August 24, I could not help but notice that Mayor Goodnight, when being interviewed by the media, praised the efforts of the Kokomo Police Department, Street Department, Parks Department, and other City departments, but he neglected the Kokomo Fire Department. Please don’t misunderstand, each of those departments did, and continue to, received the recognition they rightfully deserve for their efforts but, the fire department deserved recognition from the Mayor as well. Kokomo firefighters were out checking for trapped and injured victims, among other things, immediately after the twister had passed through the area. So, why weren’t they recognized?

It has been brought to my attention by reliable sources, that Mayor Goodnight has barred Kokomo firefighters from hitting the streets of Kokomo for their annual “Fill the Boot” campaign to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Kokomo firefighters have participated in this campaign for the last 62 years – it is a tradition. My source tells me the Mayor cites safety concerns as his reasoning behind barring them from collecting in the streets. This excuse is not acceptable as firefighters have not had any safety problems in the past 62 years.

The truth is, Mayor Goodnight does not respect the Kokomo Fire Department nor does he care about the safety and well-being of its firefighters. This is evidenced by the past actions he has taken against the department.

First, he cut the number of firefighters in the department to a bare minimum which puts firefighters at a greater risk for injury.

Second, he ordered the disbanding of Rescue #2, a critical piece of equipment needed at auto accidents and structure fires. This piece of equipment is responsible for extricating victims trapped in an auto accident, search and rescue at structure fires and other tasks. The City has one rescue truck, located at Station #1 Downtown, which is responsible for the entire City. Before Rescue #2 was disbanded, Rescue #1’s response area covered the northside of the city north of Markland Avenue while Rescue #2 responded to calls on the southside south of Markland Avenue. Now, not only are the firefighters more at risk of peril, so is the entire community; especially the southside now that Rescue #1 is the only Rescue Company in the city. In the event of serious auto accident or structure fire on the southside; in Indian Heights for example, the time that it takes for Rescue #1 to respond from Downtown is almost double the time it would take for then-Rescue #2 from Station #2 on Center Road to respond. When it comes to serious incidents, every second counts in the preservation of life and property. All of the Engine Companies are cross-trained on Rescue Company tasks and responsivities and utilize them when necessary but, their primary concern is gaining control of and extinguishing the fire as quickly as possible. They are not able to accomplish that task as quickly when they must also perform Rescue Company tasks. Performing both functions simultaneously can be difficult and puts firefighters in greater danger.

Third, Mayor Goodnight terminated health benefits for Kokomo Fire Department retirees. Retired firefighters depend on quality health benefits because they are at a greater risk for cancers and other physical and mental health-related issues due to the exposures they have encountered while working for so many years. The retirees have earned and deserve such benefits for putting their lives on the line day in and day out while selflessly serving the community. It is least the City can do to show its appreciation for them.

I am not sure why Mayor Goodnight chooses to disregard and treat the Kokomo Fire Department so badly. I would strongly encourage him to participate in a Fire Ops 101 course. Fire Ops 101 is a course that firefighter unions offer to give elected officials, decision makers, and the media a chance to see and experience first-hand what firefighters do, what they deal with on a daily basis, and just how difficult the job can be. If Mayor Goodnight got just a taste of what being a firefighter is like, perhaps he might gain some perspective and start treating the Kokomo Fire Department with the dignity and respect it rightfully deserves.

Jason Wheatley
Middletown, IN



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