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Saturday's Letters to the Editor

EDITOR: Is it really fair or accurate to say that 100 people, in a county of approximately 470,000, participating in a forum on disposable plastic bags indicates the building momentum for a bag ban as your headline proclaims? (“Momentum builds for plastic bag ban at Santa Rosa forum,” pressdemocrat.com.) As of 8:20 a.m. Thursday, the poll on your website indicated that more than 100 people “oppose any ban.” That was 50 percent more than the people who support the ban “at all stores.”

LEE COLE

Santa Rosa

Firefighter pay

EDITOR: Any honest discussion of fire district salaries must include the unique elements of fire service employment (“Dozens earn $100,000-plus at local fire districts,” Wednesday).

Firefighters work 240 hours a month; 40-hour workers, 192. Firefighters work 48 consecutive hours with no guarantee of breaks, meals, sleep. There are no holidays.

Unlike other businesses, when a firefighter can't work, the vacancy must be filled. As in all jobs, required work beyond set work hours is overtime. An injured firefighter may not work for months; each of his/her shifts must be filled until the firefighter returns to work.

Put in corporate terms, a fire chief is the president and the chief officers are the vice presidents. As with management positions in all industries, chief officers are salaried and earn the same amount regardless of the hours they are required to work.

These are facts, not emotional rhetoric.

That said, firefighters are paid in part for risks they take, the horrific circumstances they face and the long-term toll the job takes on their health. Firefighters are not paid to be heroes; they are paid to do hard, sometimes ugly, rarely glamorous work.

Discussion and review are always good, but the facts — not emotional responses — must be the basis of the discourse.

VIRGINIA HAMILTON

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