(Editor's note: Mr. Chapman's letter exceeded the 500-word limit in the newspaper's letters policy. The first part of the letter is appearing today, and the second part will appear in Monday's Craig Daily Press.)
To the editor:
I've been holding off submitting this letter in hopes that the officers of the Craig Rural Fire Protection District would wake up and use some common sense.
I'm a former fire chief and firefighter with the Craig Rural Volunteer Fire Department who worked under the same fire district as the current firefighters do.
Who in their right mind would build a burn tower next to a trauma center?
The hospital was worried about their filter system and the smoke.
I'm concerned for the people walking from the parking lot to the hospital who have respiratory problems.
Also, what about a hunter or others being brought by private vehicle with a possible heart attack?
He sees the flames coming from the tower and thinks they're getting the crematory ready for him.
Next to the hospital is positively the wrong idea.
Another issue, and the biggest, I think, is the burn tower located in Hayden 17 miles from here.
Hayden is willing to work with them.
Our department could take 15 men — half the crew — and part of their equipment on a rotating basis.
We here in Craig would be covered for fire protection with the other half of highly-trained firefighters.
I, personally, do not know each of the current firefighters.
The majority of the ones I do know, however, are excellent public servants and I want them to have the best training.
However there are limitations.
If this fire board is so set on wasting this large amount of money, then the tower should be built in an industrial area or lots they already own behind Kmart.
I feel the reason they want it next to the hospital is for visibility purposes.
You know, show and tell. At this time, I'd like to make a few comparisons.
Yes, the current department has had better training than we "old timers."
But, what we lacked we made up for in sheer guts and common sense.
This $1.5 million that the present board wants to spend on one training center is more than the total amount spent on two new pumper trucks, numerous small attack trucks and all expenses of the department in the 20 years I served.
Yes, times are different, but not that different.
In those days, we had between 350 and 400 fires per year.
Today, they have far less thanks to much better building codes and public awareness to fire safety.
Today, the department "runs hot" on all ambulance runs.
In the old days, we didn't chase the ambulance, we drove it.
We were totally responsible for fire and ambulance services.
Carl K. Chapman