Some officials allowed to take fire department vehicles home
On Saturday afternoon, July 12, as I was leaving the Korean Festival at Kapiolani Park, I saw a couple and two children get into a white sedan, with a Honolulu Fire Department seal on the door, and drive away. This car had been parked in a lifeguard-designated parking space for quite a while. This gave the impression that an HFD employee was transporting his family to the festival in an official vehicle while parked in a convenient parking space not available to the public. Is it customary to allow HFD vehicles to park in lifeguard spaces when not on an official "fire call," and official vehicles used to transport family members to unofficial functions?
Answer: The car is used by Fire Chief Kenneth Silva and it "was an appropriate and approved use," said HFD spokesman Capt. Terry Seelig.
The chief had permission from the city Ocean Safety Division to park in the lifeguard stall, he said. Ocean Safety personnel would have contacted the chief, "who would have returned to move the vehicle," if they needed the space.
Seelig explained that some HFD employees are required to take their department vehicles home to respond to emergencies or other official duties "at all times." Because of this, they are authorized to use the vehicles for personal business.
The fire chief, in addition to being available for emergencies, represents the department at meetings and other functions after normal working hours and is authorized to use the department vehicle for personal business, Seelig said.
"This balance between personal time and official duty is required of the fire chief and several other HFD staff, including the deputy fire chief, the assistant chief of fire operations, the public information officer, the standby fire investigator and the standby fire equipment mechanic," he said.
"The use of their department vehicle for personal business allows them to remain available for essential public service, sometimes at the expense of their family's personal time," he added.
On July 12, the chief was with his family prior to performing an official duty later that afternoon, Seelig said.
Q: Is the Hawaii Fire Fighters Association having a fundraiser? I received a call from a man named Gary, but when I asked what station he was with, he said he wasn't with a station. Is this a scam?
A: The Hawaii Fire Fighters Association has contracted the services of First Down Promotions and Valley Productions to solicit donations for a benefit concert Nov. 21 at the Dole Cannery Ballroom.
Donors will receive a receipt and a self-addressed envelope to be sent directly to the association's office at 2305 S. Beretania St., Room 202, Honolulu, HI 96826, a spokeswoman said.
Proceeds will underwrite some of the association's community relations, health and safety projects, as well as HFFA recreational programs.
Call 949-1566 for more information.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
The Honolulu Fire Department's chief is Kenneth Silva. Originally, this article incorrectly identified Earle Kealoha, who is an HFD captain, as the chief.
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