I’m going to kick off this week’s column by going all the way back to the tail end of last week.
When I wrote about the two new deputy chiefs at the Rutland City Fire Department, I left out a discussion of the department’s promotion process, which the leadership said has been formalized for the first time anyone can remember.
It starts with certifying rank-and-file firefighters to serve as “acting officers” when needed — a subject I did touch on — which gives them a chance to see what leadership positions are like and the management to see what the firefighters are like in leadership positions. This in turn makes them eligible to take a written exam for promotion to lieutenant.
The department then looks at résumé, work history, contribution to the department, off-duty call responses, certifications and education — both formal and informal. On top of that, oral interviews are conducted in front of a panel.
Chief James Larsen said they are discussing adding a tactical exercise to the process, in which a candidate goes through a simulated incident in which he or she must make decisions as the first officer arriving at the scene of an incident.
“It’s a timed event and they have to do a lot of quick thinking, just as they would on a call,” he said.
The Gift of Life isn’t what it used to be.
The Red Cross doesn’t want to do massive one-day drives and had to be convinced to do one more for the city to finally set the national record in 2013. Since then, the annual blood drive has tried different approaches to drum up hype and get donors to turn out but has lost its sense of identity. When I covered it last year, I felt none of the sense that I was at a major event that characterized the record-attempt years.
Stripped of the banner tracking progress by the hour, of Terry Jaye broadcasting live, or the entertainment and the sense of camaraderie among the people waiting their turn at the Paramount Theatre, it felt less like a focal point for all of our hopes and dreams about Rutland and more like just a blood drive.
I talked a little about this with organizer Steve Costello this week as I was writing about the Summer Gift of Life Mini-Marathon — created to help keep the energy going around its winter sibling. The summer drive takes place noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Holiday Inn.
“It’s been progressively harder to create a sense of excitement around the event,” he said.”There’s certainly still a strong core of local donors ... but it’s harder to get the donor who might only donate once a year to turn out. ... It’s far more challenging now, frankly, to meet our goals than it was when we were shooting for records.”
Costello said that he expects discussions soon about how to reinvigorate the blood drive.
“It clearly has lost a step,” he said.
Monday, the Board of Aldermen meets at 7 p.m. The agenda includes a request by College of St. Joseph for money from the Zamias fund and a proposed housing project on Lincoln Avenue.
Remember that pension board meeting scheduled for last week? It got moved, and now it’s at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
The Planning Commission meets at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. Discussion topics include a municipal planning grant and the rewrite of the zoning bylaws.