Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Run-Around

Getting permission to interview a firefighter is harder than getting a hold of the president.
Here is the run-around I received from the SFFD. First I went down to station #12 planning to be in and out in a matter of an hour or two. Wow, was I wrong. I knock on the door at about 2pm on a rainy Sunday afternoon thinking I would receive an interview with one of the many fighters they had on duty. In response to my request of the station chief I was told I needed the Division Chiefs approval who was at station #5. I call station #5 and get a hold of Division Chief Lt. Lopez, if I recall correctly, and he gives me permission to interview one as long as no personal facts on a specific fire such as victims names and things of that nature are divulged. I have no problem with this so I knock on station #5's door again. I enter and tell the station chief the news. No longer is the Division Chief's approval good enough, I must now receive permission from the City Fire Chief. Let the fun begin. On Monday I call the City Fire Department Headquarters and seek permission. However, upon talking to a secretary, I am told I actually need permission from the Public Information Officer. I call her and leave a message-- no reply. The next day I call again and ask to talk to her from her secretary who tells me she is out for the week and she is the only one who can give me permission. So, am I to assume during this week, firefighters are absolutely inaccessible by any media? I take her word and wait eagerly till the Monday. I call and she picks up! Finally... not so fast Jacob. Mindy Talmadge, the Public Information Officer, tells me I must submit a inquiry for permission stating my intent and the nature of the story so that the City Chief can approve it. Hmmm? I'm thinking to myself, why couldn't I just sent the email directly to the Chief a week ago? Oh well, I type my letter (which is posted below) and email it to Mindy. Three days pass and I call her to see what my status is. Oddly, we call each other at the same time and leave each other messages at the same time as well. The OK is in, now I can have my interview. Wait just a minute Mr. Marx... you now have to call Lt. Chris Cheung to receive permission as well as schedule a date and time to meet with Ken Corderro at Station #12. I get on the horn again and reach Lt. Cheung-- So Jacob, what time would you like to meet with Ken Corderro? Me-- I was informed I needed to schedule a time through you so you could send a notification to the station. Lt. Cheung-- you need to talk to Ken first to schedule a time that he is working. This does make sense, that is, seeing what time works for Ken before I get permission, again. But, this is not what I was told to do. Anyways, I call station #5.... no answer. Really? I call again and again and again and again... no answer. I call the next day at 9 am. I reach a woman but I'm informed Ken will be out till 5pm, when he will get back from training. I call at 5:07pm (that is today), he is not back yet. Here I am, it is 5:55 and I am about to call again, wish me luck...

1 comment:

....J.Michael Robertson said...

Dead baby was better.