The Craig Rural Fire Protection District has started its annual campaign to sign up probationary firefighters -- a process that has become an act of desperation as much an annual necessity.
The department employs 19 individuals who invest hundreds of hours each year to train and respond when needed. Nineteen people are barely enough to respond to the current call load. More than 25 percent of the department is eligible for retirement in the next two years, and when they do, the department will be sorely understaffed.
With no increase in funding, it only seems reasonable that services will have to be cut somewhere.
In Moffat County, Craig Fire/Rescue responds with highly trained firefighters who have the knowledge and the know-how to not only fight fires, but also to assist ambulance personnel, perform auto extrication, respond to hazardous materials incidents and gas leaks and much more.
We think these services are critical to Moffat County, to the city of Craig and to every resident who lives here.
The public said no to a fire district mill levy increase. Twice.
Now it's time for taxpayers to understand the implications of the decision they made. If nobody wants to ante up for the operations of the fire department, and nobody wants to commit the time and effort to volunteer for the department, then who will respond when your house is on fire or your loved one is in a serious rollover accident? Somebody has to do it.
At the very least, taxpayers need to step up to the plate as volunteers, because without a full-time force, volunteers are all that's left.
Talk to friends and coworkers and encourage those interested in joining the fire department to apply before Sept. 1. The public has to make a choice. If the recruitment effort isn't successful and the mill levy isn't increased, it will take a major tragedy or loss of property before the community responds.
We hope it doesn't get to that point.