Advertisement

Editorial: Let citizens do fire study

June 16, 1998

Last week the Washington County Commissioners received a $90,000 study of county fire/rescue operations. But although the report ran on to 400 pages, it seems some chapters were left out. We recommend the next board of commissioners name a citizen group to fill in some of the blanks.

Are we being too critical of the report done by Carroll Buracker and Associates? Consider the following:

- Should paid fire/rescue personnel should be hired? The consultants said individual companies didn't give them enough information to make a determination. We didn't buy this; even if the the companies don't have information on runs made (or missed) because of personnel problems, those records should have been available from county-paid dispatchers.

- Should there be a fire tax? The study doesn't make a recommendation, nor does it express an opinion on whether the county provides too much or too little cash to each company.

Advertisement

The study did make a series of common-sense recommendations, like handling purchasing for the individual departments on a county-wide basis and development of a volunteer recruitment and retention program, but it didn't deal with the key question facing the county fire/rescue system.

As the volunteers' ranks continue to be thinned by increasing training requirements and the demands of their paying jobs, the number of paid personnel in the system will grow. The Buracker study says these people should work for the county instead of the individual companies, but gives no hint of how the county could persuade volunteers to give up their independence on this or other issues. These are proud, independent people who risk their lives for no pay to provide a public service, and they will need some strong incentives to persuade them to change.

In August 1991, a local citizens' group called Focus, Inc., issued a report that recommended central purchasing, standardization of operations and a method for adding career fire/rescue personnel. Instead of paying an outside group to tell us what we already know, the county board should recruit a group like Focus to grapple with the issues this report didn't cover.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|