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Is fire district carrying fight too far?

Original post made by Renee Batti, associate editor of The Almanac, on Mar 20, 2007

The following letter by Brian Schar was published in the Almanac's March 21 print edition:
First, the Menlo Park Fire Protection District leadership attempted to pressure Menlo Park and Atherton to require fire sprinklers.
Then they demanded signoff authority on building permits. Now, the district's leadership has gone from aggressive nannying to an outright threat to our liberty, by suggesting that the district has the authority to enter and inspect any property without a warrant and without the owner's consent.
Such unbridled blanket inspections have been ruled unconstitutional across the nation. However, that is no comfort to those Menlo Park and Atherton residents who will be subjected to the intrusion of district officials into their homes before a court halts the inspections.
It is time to rein in the district, and redirect its efforts from invading our homes to making sure our firefighters are trained and equipped.
Brian Schar
Laurel Avenue, Menlo Park

Comments (2)

Posted by Sparky
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 23, 2007 at 1:55 pm

I couldn't agree more that our firefighters should be properly trained and equipped. When it comes time to turn on the siren and rush to a blaze, we want a fire department that knows what thy are doing. It's obvious the fire department is doing the right thing in working to PREVENT fires. I would welcome fire inspectors into my home or business at any time to help prevent a fire from happening. Unless someone has something to hide, I don't know who wouldn't welcome an inspection. It certainly can't be as intrusive as a blaze. Here's a question to consider: Should the fire department determine whether the hydrant nearest your home has sufficient pressure and is within a proper distance to properly squelch a fire; and that your street and driveway provide enough access for a fire engine? Or, are you satisfied that the Thereon Building Department provided adequate review and approval during the time when it was run by Mike Hood, the official who suddenly retired and quickly moved away shortly before questions began circulating full speed? Maybe we're all making too much of this. After all, we could just sit around and wait for a big honking house to burn to the ground. Who cares if there's a chance the fire hydrants sized for a 1948 home couldn't provide enough water for a new home three times larger. What are the odds my kid could be at a sleep over birthday party at the house and be in the converted basement media room without any exits when the fire hits. Just because Atherton has a history of city management fiascos isn't any reason to worry. Just because Miike Hood had a boss -- City Manager Jim Robinson -- who didn't seem to notice anything wrong or do anything doesn't really alarm me. I'm sure it was just routine that Robinson clammed up and circled the wagons with the lawyer as things heated up last year. And that grand jury, well, they're just an outside third party that brought this to our attention. Maybe that nice Mayor Carlson will write another article for the Almanac. He's so reassuring and he's a fancy lawyer, he must know more about these things than the people down at the fire station. He knows about construction, too. He had a brand spanking new home built for his family in Atherton, back in......when that helpful Mr. Hood ran the building department. His house hasn't burned down, so all this hubbub about inspections shouldn't worry anybody.

Posted by RoverII
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 23, 2007 at 5:14 pm

Sparky couldn't be more accurate in sizing up some of the town's thinking, unfortunately, in my opinion.

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