We feel that the residents of Mesa del Caballo, Wonder Valley and Freedom Acres need to know the truth about their fire department. A letter distributed throughout the fire district on Jan. 24 from acting Chief Hansen indicates that our fire department is doing fine.
This is far from the case. Due to resignations in the aftermath of the recent volatile fire board election, our department is unable to provide any worthwhile service. In fact, our mutual aid with nearby fire departments is on very shaky ground.
Mutual aid agreements are reciprocal, and because we currently lack sufficient qualified personnel on our department at this time, some other departments in the area do not want our help. Aside from the inefficiency of this situation, it could have a major impact on fire insurance rates as our district is being re-evaluated later this year. Instead of improving our rating, and lowering insurance costs, homeowners' rates could skyrocket.
The recent campaign was based on nothing other than personality conflicts, and had absolutely nothing to do with our ability to serve our taxpayers. In fact, we boasted a more professional and better-trained department than we have had in many years.
In Hansen's letter, he claims we are better equipped now for medical emergencies than prior to his appointment. This is an outright lie. There are currently no certified EMTs at any level active on the department.
Prior to Jan. 1, we boasted a small but effective team of eight members, in which seven had successfully completed EMT basic, five had completed Fire Operations I and II, with two more currently in the class. We had four Basic Wildland Fire Fighters and two Advanced Wildland Fire Fighters. We had two engineers proficient at pumping our engine, while the balance of the department had a good working knowledge of engineering. On top of all this we have had a variety of various training in fire and EMS at many levels. Our former team had gained respect from the other agencies we worked with.
Thanks to the State Land Department, we have a Type Six Wildland Engine. Also, thanks to a grant last year from the Mogollon Health Alliance we were able to upgrade much of our medical equipment along with the addition of an automatic external defibrillator which our department has never had before. This tool saves lives. Unfortunately, we do not have the trained personnel to effectively use this equipment.
We have slipped back to the newborn stage of a fire department, again, as we have so many times in the past. The taxpayers should not have to pay the price of starting over again, and again, and again. We recently received another grant from the Mogollon Health Alliance earmarked for emergency medical. Our plan was to send an EMT to paramedic school to advance our level of service to yet a higher status. The current administration plans to use this funding for basic EMT training, which we already have funds budgeted for. As you can see, starting over costs money and can cost lives and property.
We need taxpayers to attend board meetings and demand that the "starting over" stops. If they don't get results, take it to higher levels of government. It's your services they are destroying, and you or your loved ones who will pay the price.
Mesa del Caballo