Dave Roberts: Let’s be honest — part 1
April 22, 2011
(Editor's note: Mr. Roberts' letter has been split into two parts. The second part will appear in the Saturday Morning Press)
To the editor:
I've been in fire service for more than 20 years, and my family has been involved in fire service for more than 60 years as volunteer firefighters, board members of special districts and career firefighters, so I know a little about what I write.
Chris Nichols and Bill Johnston are out of control.
I'm responding to what they've been trying to feed the taxpayers of this district.
First, the fire board has tried three times to do this, and it was only by stating money would be used for "operational expenses including the acquisition and maintenance of firefighting equipment" that they got this measure passed.
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By their own admission, they left language off the ballot question. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out why. How many times do you have to hear no?
Next, Bill Johnston wants to build a training center next to the new hospital that would include a live fire building and five-story tower, reason being so he can train like they work.
There's one building more than five stories in the district that I know of, one four-level hotel. The rest of the structures are three stories and under, except for a couple of grain elevators. Sounds like a good investment to me.
This is another good one — a live fire building produces tons of smoke, and where does he want to put it? Why, right next to the new hospital, in the middle of new development that's going to come to Craig.
Wow, that's a great idea.
Chris Nichols stated the district is growing and property values are going up. I don't think they've been making land for a long time, and my property value is not going up.
The fire board stated the department has "increased its level of service to include hazardous materials response, high-angle rescue, confined space rescue, swift water rescue, medical response, and arson investigation to name a few."
Let's look at that.
When I moved here in 1995, they had a HAZMAT team, so that's not a new service, confined space rescue requires specialized breathing equipment that I was told the department does not own (the power plant has it, so I guess they could borrow theirs) and swift water rescue would require a boat, which is not listed on the department equipment list, unless they run up and down the shore throwing stadium seating at the poor victim.
The department has no paramedics on staff, even though more than one has applied.
Typically, more than 70 percent of fire department calls involve EMS. That might be a handy thing to have.
Craig Fire/Rescue responds to about 300 calls per year. More than half are medical assists to the hospital ambulance service, so they want to build a second firehouse, hire a paid staff, other than our chief, to run about 150 calls a year.
Let's be honest. This is about putting someone's name on a building, not serving this fire district.