Memo contradicts Alameda fire chief in drowning

Raymond Zack
June 10, 2011 6:58:34 AM PDT
There is a new twist in the case of a man who drowned while Alameda firefighters stood by and watched. One of the explanations the fire chief gave for their inaction apparently doesn't hold water.

Police and firefighters watched as Raymond Zack, a suicidal man, went into the water at Robert Crown Memorial State Beach and drowned. Alameda interim Fire Chief Mike D'Orazi told the Alameda City Council the day after the drowning that budget constraints led to the loss of the department's water rescue ability.

But a memo from 2009 indicates that money was available for water rescue training, but apparently was never used.

"We have been approved funding to recertify instructors and train new swimmers," Division Chief Dale Vogelsang wrote in the March 19, 2009, memo. "However, until this training is completed, per OSHA requirements, no members may be used as rescue swimmers."

According to the Contra Costa Times, $20,000 is currently allocated to train Alameda firefighters to perform water rescues.

The interim chief has said that there has been a change in policy; whoever is the senior firefighter on the scene of a water rescue can make the decision on whether to go in or not.


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