To the News Enterprise:
How convenient that an individual in the hamlet of North Creek (there appears to be some confusion that there is a Town of North Creek) is seeking a consolidation of all of the local volunteer fire departments because the one department would maybe be located in North Creek.
OK, so — don’t stop to think about the time it would take for a department to respond to a call to Garnet Lake, North River, Bakers Mills or Riparius.
Don’t stop to think that if a consolidation were to take place that the Town would probably have to maintain the fire department as a paid department with 24/7 coverage due to the large area being covered.
Don’t stop to think of the extensive training that would need to occur to staff this one department, as most volunteers don’t have the Fire Fighter II plus EMS training that is now required for paid fire fighters.
Don’t stop to think about all the time and energy each of these volunteers puts into their departments (their own time and sometimes their own money).
Don’t stop to think that at all hours of the day and night, whether working or not, these volunteers are ready whenever their pager goes off.
The amount of money they get from the Town of Johnsburg barely covers a truck payment and yearly expenses (fuel, phone, lights, etc.). Fund raising is a big part of their income — which, with the economy the way it is, is very difficult.
How about you all stop and think about the ramifications of closing all of the volunteer fire departments in the area before any final decisions are made, do some research, talk to the residents of each fire district, talk to the volunteer fire people about their dedication and committment to their community.
Certainly New York state hasn’t forced anyone’s hand at this point to the knowledge of the Chiefs of the local departments. The extra training they are doing is at their own discretion — the more they know the more than can do for their community.
Regarding the contracts for the volunteer fire departments — the Town has forced their hand in getting what they deserve for their services — when they go to a call they don’t get gas mileage, when they go to training in another Town, they don’t get gas mileage or their lunch or dinner paid for, when they’re out all night sitting on lines down (for those departments that actually do this), they don’t get paid for this.
Each of the volunteer fire departments are paid a minimal amount of money by the Town to provide fire protection services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. It is a service they provide. In addition, each volunteer fire department owns its own equipment, property and buildings — this is not the property of the Town to do with what they choose.
All that is being asked is that all things be taken into consideration before any decisions are made at the voice of one individual who is pushing this consolidation. Maybe that individual could become a volunteer fire fighter and see what it takes, or at least be thankful that we have volunteers who put others before themselves.
Jean Comstock, Johnsburg