February 20, 2013

Letters to the editor: Storm adds to firefighters' to-do list

On Sunday, Feb. 10, as the recent record-breaking storm ended, Portland citizens, business owners and visitors were seeing our fire department already out on city streets clearing the nearly 2,000 fire hydrants, which were mostly buried under 3- to 5-foot snowbanks.

click image to enlarge

Drifts cover the sidewalk along Moulton Street in Portland on Feb. 9, making it impassable following the Blizzard of 2013. After the storm, city firefighters took to the streets to dig out nearly 2,000 fire hydrants, a reader says.

2013 File Photo/Gabe Souza

This is no easy task, considering our department's reduced on-duty staffing level for six engine companies, four ladder companies, the heavy rescue and four advanced life support ambulances.

That means that the 33 firefighters (three per truck) and eight firefighters on ambulances throughout the city clear these hydrants. Also, the fireboat firefighters (two) and the Air Rescue crew (three) at the Jetport clear the hydrants in the immediate area of these two locations.

The efforts of numerous citizens help clear some of these hydrants, and I know it is appreciated by our firefighters, as they churn through the streets waiting for an alarm or an emergency to only temporarily interrupt this physical detail.

We do not usually think of these yellow "fire plugs," as they were called, unless water is needed to extinguish a fire that kills, injures or destroys people and property.

The conflagration on July 4, 1866, destroyed more than 1,500 buildings here. Because of this, city leaders established the construction of a water system to Portland from Sebago Lake. Water began to flow through those pipes and into these hydrants in November 1869 to better safeguard our city.

Water continues to flow here today, and our firefighters continue to clear the hydrants. We should all feel proud and thank these men and women and the responsibility they uphold. They are truly "first responders" who are there for us in any emergency, usually in less than four minutes.

No better tax dollars and service can be spent.

Michael Daicy

retired firefighter, Portland Fire Department



Lifting combat ban allows progress toward equality


It's about time! Bravo to the Pentagon and to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta for allowing women the chance to fight alongside their male counterparts on the front line.

Women have been in dangerous situations since the beginning of our military, nursing soldiers on the battlefields. But it wasn't until President Truman's Women's Armed Services Integration Act in 1948 that females could officially participate in the U.S. military.

The philosophy that women are inferior to men was not new to me, growing up in rural Maine. To see how highly males are valued in the community, one would simply need to compare the turnout of a boys' soccer game to a girls' game at my old high school. And even though we were more skillful, had a better record and were more humble, the "heroes" of the town were always the boys.

Gender inequality is alive and well in this country. On average, women are still only paid 77 cents for every man's dollar.

Even in my field of social work, a field that is made up overwhelmingly of women and is known for fighting against social injustices, the higher up the position ladder you look, the more men. In fact, the directors of the two agencies I have worked for have both been male.

There have been advances in the fight against gender inequality.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act has made it more difficult for employers to discriminate on the basis of gender.

Women are obtaining secondary education more quickly compared to men.

And with the announcement of the lifting of the ban on women serving in combat zones, the importance of the roles of women in the military will be cemented.

Sara Cyr-Jordan



Guns in home or business can present risk to owner

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