My View

By Don Sorchych | July 9, 2008 Don Sorchych
The July 3rd and 4th fireworks were superb!

A few yelled, “STOP”
The July 3 fireworks were fantastic!
Town Marshal Adam Stein said it was the largest crowd he had seen in years. Danny Piacquadio, co-owner of Harold’s estimated near three thousand people squeezed into Harold’s.

But it was a near miss as a thunderstorm threatened from the east. Rural Metro Fire Chief John Kraetz urged starting early and it was a good thing they did, since winds increased continuously throughout the event.

Fireworks guru Dan Nelson’s signature finale, drew huge applause and was the best, most raucous, and spectacular ever!

Fortunately Mayor Vincent Francia stuck to his guns as a small cadre of nay-sayers demanded cancellation.

Here are the purveyors of fear:

Mayor, Council and Town Manager,
In light of the serious fire threat we ask that you cancel the fireworks displays in town this year. The fire fighting resources nationwide are stretched to the limit and the risks of a conflagration are beyond severe. I have personally extinguished embers on the top of Brenner’s Hill in years past; literally yards from existing homes … we simply cannot afford the risk.
editorial cartoonPlease have the courage to make what is likely to be an unpopular decision. Failure to exercise responsible leadership on your part exposes the citizens of this town to unacceptable risk and exposes you, the town, and local sponsors of the event to extreme liability.
We expect you to act in the interests of the citizens when it comes to safety in the community.

Kees and Liz Rietsema

• • •

Mayor, Council and Town,
Since none of you have responded to my earlier emails, I ask again that you consider the consequences of your actions. In California and AZ towns have time to evacuate; in Cave Creek there will be ZERO time to evacuate. Placing fireworks in the midst of the town which is nothing but a tinder box threatens not only property but lives.
What is your plan when spectators, citizens and fire resources try to share Military Road in a panic situation when a fire is started? Think about the Cave Creek Complex Fire…what was your response when fires were within miles of the town … and now you are contemplating exposing the town to the very same risk … a risk you can avoid?
You are creating the conditions for loss of property and life. This is not about the restaurants nor rural metro… it is about you exercising your basic responsibilities towards the people of this town …
Please come to your senses and make a decision that makes sense.
I remind you that in the event the unthinkable happens you will be held responsible … this should be regarded with the utmost seriousness.
Please do not gamble with the lives or property of the people of this town.

Kees Rietsema

• • •

Dear Mayor,
Like you, I was so looking forward to the fireworks tomorrow night and the 4th. We have many friends coming out from Phoenix. However, I look out and I smell smoke and I become more concerned about the fire possibility.
It's scary and not much scares me. I think of not only the human life but the wildlife and wonder what amount of money could be worth the risk involved in putting on the fireworks show? Unlike many, I supported Usama 3 years ago when he declared the fireworks off. I think it would be prudent to do the same this year.
How are you feeling about this?

Anna [Marsolo] and Paul [Diffenderfer]

• • •

Dear Mayor and Council Members,
Anna was kind enough to copy me on her note. I would like to take this opportunity to point out to you that the last measurable rainfall in Cave Creek was on May 13, 2008, .02". Yes, we had quite a bit of rain over the few months before. This provided us with a beautiful spring and lots of new growth, which is now dry and brittle.
We have double the chance for a mishap, in the fact we have two nights of fireworks, not just one. I respectfully request thoughtful consideration on this topic.
Best Wishes to all of you and your families for a safe holiday weekend.

Shea Stanfield
PS ... At last report the fire that just passed through Crown King is moving east toward I-17... and is not contained at this writing.

• • •

Dear Mr. Reitsma et al
Thank you for your e-mail.
I’m scurrying among many meetings today so I don’t have time to be detailed in answering your concerns. The short answer is everything is in place to insure the safety of the community, the community’s citizens and the community’s visitors during the Independence Holiday fireworks displays on July 3 and 4.
I have personally met with the local commander of the sheriff’s office, Captain Roshka, and Rural Metro Fire Chief John Kraetz and of course, with Cave Creek Marshal Adam Stein, who is in charge of the two-day event. These gentlemen have briefed me of not only their plans of operations for the events(s), but of those plans that have to do with the event of emergencies. Both firework sites have been inspected and approved by a state fire inspector and our local fire chief. After being briefed by these gentlemen I am confident that every eventuality has been addressed to insure community, citizen and visitor safety.
Some but not all of the two-day operational plans are as follows: Multiple water soaking of sites by the town’s public works crew; multiple firefighting units stationed on site as well as wildfire fighters stationed throughout Town; fire engines stationed on site and throughout town; ambulances stationed on site and another in the town; sheriff’s police officers on site and throughout town for traffic and crowd control; parking for citizens and guests is being accommodated at Messrs. Kite and Thorstensen’s who have volunteered their properties, as well as at Stagecoach Village so as to alleviate congestion and allow for smooth flow of vehicles and immediate passage of emergency vehicles should the need arise; parking attendants and shuttles from these locales are provided; paramedics are on site and stationed with emergency response vehicles, etc. Evacuation plans to insure human safety and property concern are in place should the situation dictate.
Most of the police officers and firefighters have secured the town’s safety before (in other words, they have worked the event) and are familiar with the town’s layout, its streets, roadways and businesses, etc.
As you are aware, the town cancelled the July 3 and 4 fireworks due to the Cave Creek Complex Fire a few years ago. The fire was still burning during the Holiday period and it did not seem appropriate to conduct the fireworks with firefighters still on the fire line. The fire works were moved to August that year, at which time the firefighters who fought the Cave Creek Complex Fire were honored by the town at a special event at Harold’s. Every other year, the fireworks events on July 3 and 4 were conducted without incident under similar conditions which we are experiencing now (high heat, little or no rain, dry conditions).
I am late for a meeting and have to fly.
I trust, Mr. Rietsma, [and others] that the above addresses your concerns.
In any event, I wish you the best of America’s Independence Holiday.

Mayor Vincent [Francia]

• • •

Who was right?

The July 4 fireworks were equally spectacular.

I wonder what our founding fathers, who risked all, including their lives, would say?