Fire Board Member Searching For Solutions


by Ed Blose
Secretary, Mesa del Caballo Fire District Board of Directors

In response to your article of Dec 31, 1999 titled "Fire board resigns, Tired of Taking Heat," I would like to make several comments.

Although my original intention was to resign from the Mesa del Caballo Fire District Board of Directors, I had to reconsider when a number of my neighbors convinced me that I could serve the community of Mesa del and the district much better by staying.

My main goal has always been, and will continue to be, to do what is best for the entire community, not just a few vocal individuals. For more than 14 years, I have led every major improvement in this community, from forming a sewer district that led to a government-funded septic system to (helping develop) our beautiful paved streets.

I have to admit, I did not realize how difficult a task I had undertaken when I agreed to an appointment to this fire district board of directors. However, I would hate to say that I left my position without making a positive difference for the people in my fire district, and I still hope to accomplish that goal.

After taking my position on the board, I immediately uncovered what I considered major problems within our fire department and our fire district.

A committee of seven district residents was formed by the board. They were commissioned to study the situation and come back to the board with recommendations. The committee met with John Ross, Payson fire chief; Rich Underkofler, Payson town manager; Gary Hatch, Diamond Star fire chief; Frank Hansen, acting (Mesa del) fire chief; and the East Verde Estates Fire District Board of Directors. The committee came back with the following recommendations:

1. Forming a temporary merger with Diamond Star Fire Department that could ultimately result in a permanent merger. This would allow us to keep our fire department, while combining governing bodies;

2. Contract fire and emergency medical services to the Town of Payson. This would give us access immediately to professional fire department personnel equipped and trained to handle all emergency situations;

3. To hire an administrator to work with a chief and the board to get our own fire department back on track.

At this point, I would like to clarify my stand on all of the above recommendations. I believe they are all viable solutions to the problems that have existed for several years, and continue to exist today. My intention as a board member was to choose the one that would be the most cost effective, while maintaining the best emergency service possible for the residents of this fire district.

Keeping our own department seemed to be the choice of the people in the district. However, this meant either spending major dollars to hire an administrator or taking on the challenge of making the changes ourselves. I'm sorry to say, the result of trying to accomplish this was evident in your article last week.

I would hope that the people in the Mesa del Caballo Fire District realize that any special election held to replace fire board officers, whether they resign or are recalled, will be charged to the taxpayers of this district. So don't depend on rumors to help you make decisions. Know the facts.

Your next year's tax dollars could depend on the decisions you make today.

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