Fire Captain Says Cuts To Blame For Injury

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A Sacramento Fire Department captain who broke his back in a fall while fighting a house fire over the weekend says a lack of manpower directly led to his injuries, but department officials disagree.

Fire Captain Gene Dibble said a ladder tilted back while he tried to climb to the roof at a Rancho Cordova home Saturday night, throwing him to the ground and jamming his equipment into his spine, breaking it.

Captain Dibble said he was the last man to climb the ladder, and nobody was available to hold the ladder steady.

“We literally ran out of people. Ordinarily we would have had someone there to anchor the ladder. There was no one left,” he said.

At least 50 firefighters have left the department and haven’t been replaced due to budget cuts over the past three years, Dibble said, and rolling brownouts have kept fire engines out of commission for 24 hours at a time to save costs.

Dibble said he is expected to recover from his injuries, but “I could have easily been a parapalegic.”

“If we’d have had the adequate resources that usually would have been there, this certainly would have been avoided,” he added.

Sacramento Fire Department spokesman Captain Jonathan Burgess disagreed with Dibble’s criticism, saying the amount of firefighters dispatched has not changed over the years.

22 firefighters were at the Saturday night fire, but some additional units may still have been traveling to the scene when the accident happened, Burgess said.

The fire department hopes to end rolling brownouts soon thanks to a $5 million grant from the federal government last week, which will be used to hire 27 firefighters.

Dibble will begin rehabilitation next week.

More from Derek Shore
  • jeannie

    Wow. It is great to hear he is not paralyzed! I hope he can fully recover. I greatly appreciate our firefighters.

    • bob

      overpaid clowns can’t even climb ladders

      • Ray Kevin

        that ius so true , You would think they should know how to operate a ladder! I can see it now the ladder was like straight up and down and it fell backwards like the keystone cops!! LOL ! Thats the only way this could have happened unledd someone pushed it back!

  • Mike

    Get these fire crews back up to full strength!! It is a crime what the City is doing to our firefighters!! I hope they just watch the next time one of those politicians that voted to cut the FD has a house fire.

    • Darryl

      If are that concerned about it why don’t you and your rich friends pull out YOUR wallet and pay the 5 million dollars for the 27 fire fighters instead of taking it from me and the other hard working Americans in America?

    • Ed

      They’re overstaffed as it is

  • city employee

    How can a spokesman for there dept disagree with a Captain what a moron.
    i am a city employee and everyone has taken huge cuts and havent hired back anyone over the years and we have it really really tough
    Look at your parks look at the crime That spokesman must have gotten a raise were i would have fired him after that horrible comment on our fire department


      Hey city employee,

      If you have it so tough, please QUIT. That would be one less worthless POS on the dole.

      • KittyBacon

        Dole = unemployment

  • HadEnoughDoubleSTandard

    I will point out the obvious here. If there is no money to pay for these extra employees, what would you propose these towns do? I have an idea. Maybe reform exorbitant salaries/benefits to a reasonable amount, then no one would have to be laid off. Yes we need these services but these are not lucrative times for any of us. Reality needs to set in at some point. Those of you who complain about cuts need to realize that money does not grow on trees. Considering this man is being very vocal about this, who wants to bet he will sue taxpayers? The public unions are out of control. They should not be allowed to extort money from us.

  • Bob Madden

    The cuts didn’t cause this. The decades of overspending that made the cuts necessary did. Unfortunately, those that did this are probably all in nursing homes drooling their oatmeal by now. I don’t envy the current politicians who have to clean up the mess.


    Another bogus claim from a pansy- ass public union employee. Waaaa. I hurt my back holing a ladder. Join the real world where we always struggle to do with less.

  • Ray Kevin

    They had the neccesary people available except the captain was suppose to be the guy holding the ladder and decided to climb even though I doubt he was needed up there! Like to side with you but the fact is you should have stayed on the ground!

  • Frank Inez

    I hope the firefighter who fell has a speedy and full recovery. That said, if he didn’t tie-off the ladder, he is the cause of the accident.

  • BettyO

    This man looks so out of shape. I thought firefighters were supposed to be physically fit to handle the job. Last man on the ground needs to stay there, common sense.

  • Jim Dandy

    Did they bother to test this guy for drugs or alcohol?

  • Thomas Hendrick

    I blame the union. If they weren’t paid so much with such extensive benefits, there would be more firefighters on the job. So this guy should lead the way and say “I should get a pay cut and pay more for my health insurance premiums so the city can afford to hire more.”

    Yeah, right. He’s going to do that? No. He’s just getting ready to sue the city and leach more off of the taxpayer’s dime.

  • hughes209

    Ok I appreciate our firefighters, but this captain is definitely over weight. These guys get huge benefits via the taxpayer the least they can do is keep themselves in excellent shape and health.

  • gommygoomy

    Always complaining. Always CRYING.
    “Us Firefighters Union Guys deserve everything you suckers pay us, cause we run in to burning buildings.
    Us Cops deserve everything you suckers pay us, cause we run in to buildings where guys with guns are.
    Yeah? And who makes you do that? Who CHOSE to “Run in to Buildings, on fire? Who CHOSE to run in to buildings where bad guys have guns?
    YOU DID.
    You’re always COMPLAINING how BAD ya got it. How HARD your job is. How DANGEROUS it is. These are the Professions you CHOSE. Nobody held a Gun to your Heads. Are we forever grateful that you chose these jobs? NO. Cause if it wasn’t you, it would be someone else. You’re not Human Cannonballs. Your positions would be filled, quite quickly, I imagine.
    It sounds like you’re not UP TO IT. It sounds like, MAYBE you should go find something else to do.
    I don’t hear our TROOPS crying about facing down REAL BAD GUYS. Guys with IEDs. Guys with MORTARS and ROCKET PROPELLED GRENADES.
    How much you wanna bet, that YOU WHINERS are making more money than they are? Huh? Is that fair? Or should you be making LESS?
    SHUT UP. And DO YOUR JOB. And, if you can’t? Then GTFO!

  • oracle2world

    I think he is due for a medical disability retirement at a $100,000+ pension.

  • oracle2world

    By the way …

    Exactly what is a Fire Captain doing climbing a ladder? I thought his job was to direct the firefighters that climbed ladders and hosed down a fire.

    There is something the Sacramento Fire Dept. isn’t talking about. And I think it has to do with 22 firefighters being on the scene and one Fire Captain doing something really really stupid to himself.

  • Rene DeJordy

    These people never stop complaining. Nothing short of having to do no work will satisfy them. We are sick of this!

  • John

    I guess we’ll have to cut their pensions and benefits and paid time off so we can afford more firemen. Ask and ye shall receive.

  • Paul

    No matter the number of firefighters there will always come a time when more would be nice. But this is an issue of common sense. Do you staff a department for the 99% of the fires that occur or the 1%? If you can call units from other departments to help cover the 1% why would you pay the extra cost to cover the 1%? It makes no sense. There is nothing wrong with cutting back and living within your means. The only ones who have an issue with doing this are liberals and unions.

  • Bob

    Headline should read “Union Greed to blame for injury”.

  • henry

    If others had preceded him up the ladder, and he was the last one on the ground and the Captain as well, and one would presume coordinating activities dealing with the fire, why did he even attempt to climb to the roof? Hoe should have known better. He should have known the ladder would be unstable and unsafe. Isn’t tone of the first things your taught at these academies is SAFETY!!!???

    Me thinks he’s looking for a tax free retirement check.

1 2 3 8
blog comments powered by Disqus
The Taz Show
LIVE: Monday through Friday from 6am – 6pm ET

Listen Live