It used to be that when you called 911 for an ambulance in Cleveland, you were likely to get a fire truck as well. Firefighters played the role of heavy artillery, capable of cutting open a car or extracting the injured from tight situations.
So in April, CFD purchased a paramedic pumper — a fire truck pimped out with life support and medical equipment — to be stationed at Engine Company 36 on East 131st Street. That's a good thing, right?
Wrong, according to EMS brass.
In many cities, EMS operates within the fire department. But in Cleveland, it's an autonomous agency. And bosses fear the paramedic pumper is an encroachment on their turf. "The EMS is afraid of a Fire takeover," says firefighters union secretary Mike Norman.
So EMS has taken to stationing an ambulance outside of Company 36 to ensure that it beats the pumper to emergencies.
Worse, EMS has also changed how it handles calls. It used to automatically relay information to the CFD at the moment it received a call. Now, says Norman, firefighters aren't dispatched until EMS deems it necessary, meaning they're significantly slower reporting to accidents, shootings — even fires.
"They're not sending us on burns," Norman says indignantly. "They're not sending us to multiple-victim emergencies. They can't control the traffic. They don't have extrication tools. They're trying to limit our effectiveness. They're trying to cut our runs down to the point where they can justify being autonomous."
In 2003, Scene chronicled atrocities at the Summit County Animal Shelter, where supervisors did their best to channel the spirit of Michael Vick. Dogs were denied food so that they wouldn't produce waste, and some were purposely euthanized even when they had an adoptive family waiting ["House of Horrors," October 22, 2003].
At the center of it all was Jim Farrance, an impressively sadistic pound-keeper who enjoyed watching dogs fight to death. The bosses simply turned their heads. But when Scene's story appeared, Farrance was fired.
Yet it appears he's still in the business of playing Josef Mengele on the public dime.
On May 29, Akron Animal Control got a call: Barbara Murphy's boxer had gotten out again. The excitable four-year-old has a habit of sneaking out of the house and running around Goodyear Heights. "The dog doesn't bite," says Murphy's neighbor, Pam Walker. "She just flies all around."
Unfortunately, it was Jim Farrance who responded to the call. Turns out he'd gotten a new pound-keeping job with the city.
Farrance reminded the women that he was supposed to be off the clock, eating supper at home with his family. So he made sure to take it out on the dog.
Farrance got in his truck and chased the dog through busy intersections for about 10 minutes. "He was gunning it," Walker says. "He was chasing that dog through the streets like a cowboy."
After the high-speed chase, Farrance returned to Murphy's house. He grabbed his catcher's pole and flopped the bleeding dog on the driveway like a dead fish, before writing Murphy a ticket for a $300 fine. "I was screaming," Walker says. "I was sure he was gonna kill her."
A vet would later confirm that the dog had been strangled to within an inch of her life. Walker called the city to complain. But it turns out Akron had no choice but to hire Farrance. After our 2003 story, Farrance, who had been working for the city and the county, was fired from both jobs. So he sued Akron.
Three years later, the two sides reached a settlement: Farrance was hired back.
"I don't know why he got his job back," says Dale Sroka, manager of the city's 311 call center, which oversees Animal Control. "It was a secret agreement, and I don't know if the city just didn't have a case against him or if they just wanted it to go away."