July 12, 2013

Letters to the editor: Truth about fireboat accident still elusive

I read the "Investigatory Findings" report describing the grounding of the city fireboat ("Report on Portland fireboat accident leaves questions," July 6). It is not worth the paper it is printed on.

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The report on the investigation into the 2011 accident involving the Portland Fire Department’s fireboat “is not worth the paper it is printed on,” says a reader who calls for a “much more thorough” inquiry.

2011 File Photo/Tim Greenway

I am not being critical of its author, Deputy Chief David Pendleton, because I do not know what constraints were placed on him when he was assigned to do the investigation.

The report seems to be one huge whitewash of the incident, a cover-up of epic proportions. I am amazed and disturbed that the then-fire chief, the city manager and possibly all the city councilors would accept this "I see nothing, NOTHING!" report (to quote Sgt. Schultz of "Hogan's Heroes").

I suggest that the taxpayers of Portland deserve a much more thorough investigation and a clear explanation. The accident investigation division of the Maine State Police should be assigned the task.

They should be charged with interviewing all 14 people who were on the fireboat, individually. We know how the accident happened; we now need to know why it happened.

Each person should answer as to why they were on the boat (the claim of a "training mission" is ridiculous), what refreshments were aboard, where they were at the time of impact, whether they were injured and what they did and observed after the impact.

As an analogy, what if the two firemen had taken a fire truck and careened through the streets of Portland with 12 civilians on board and eventually ran into something, severely damaging the fire truck? What would their punishment have been? Why the difference?

I grew up on Munjoy Hill, and my father served on the fireboat in the 1950s and '60s. I remember being on the boat when it was tied up. I know of no civilians, myself included, being on the boat when it was away from the dock.

Harry White


Noise, trash from fireworks not 'the way life should be'


As a year-round resident of Maine living on Stover's Point in Harpswell, I have just survived the most invasive, noisy and filthy five days of our lives in Maine.

I love having the celebration of our country's independence. I love having the town fireworks in celebration of the national holiday. However, Baghdad, though more life-threatening, could not have been noisier or more disturbing than the five days from July 4 through July 8 were here on Stover's Point.

The filth left behind on our beach by those who have participated in personal fireworks displays is repulsive -- trash, animal feces, fireworks paraphernalia and party leftovers, to list the most offensive.

Stover's Point Beach cannot withstand the effects of that type of abuse. Maine is now sixth in the nation for the dirtiest beaches, and our beach has now joined the ranks. How long will tourists come to Maine if that is our reputation. Time to wake up!!

The legalization of private fireworks in the state of Maine has destroyed the pristine, quiet, clean, private and peaceful life that we in Maine have always treasured and protected. Although the purpose of the "fireworks for all" law is to promote tourism, the long-term effect of the law will be one that will substantially diminish the numbers of visitors to our state.

The target tourist for the state of Maine comes here to enjoy the peace, solitude, natural beauty, outdoor adventures and "the way life should be." We cannot lose sight of that vision or we, all who live here and all who visit, will lose our very personal and very treasured realization of our lives in Maine, no matter how long or how brief.

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