I was curious about how the Payson Fire Department conducted its public meetings compared to how the Mesa del Fire Board conducted its (meetings), and I was very pleasantly surprised.
Mr. John Ross, the Payson Fire chief explained that questions and participation from the public were welcome, and that public concern and questions were important to his department because they were an indication of how the public felt about his, and his fellow firemen's performance. How refreshing.
The Mesa del Fire Board did not allow questions. Its policy was to have you submit the questions in writing, and it would get back to you.
At two of the last four meetings, people who asked questions were asked to leave. In one instance, a man who had the nerve to insist on an answer was threatened by a master of arms who was appointed on the spot.
The man's questions were why there's so much dissension on the board, and was there any truth to the rumors that the department was going to be turned over to Payson.
In my conversation with Mr. Ross, I was impressed by his concern for the welfare of the Mesa del community without regard to politics, and particularly with his suggestion that the members of the community get involved and decide for themselves what the future of the fire department will be.
A fire department is not a political group. Its sole purpose is the preservation of lives and property, financed by tax dollars paid by the community.
We are entitled to full value for the tax dollars paid, and our volunteers who work at their own risk and time are entitled to better leadership and guidance than has been shown to date. Any board member who isn't there to promote the growth and development of the department shouldn't be there. I'm certain that the now expressed desire to disband the unit wasn't mentioned when these people were seeking election to the board.
Hopefully, the community will get involved, keep the fire department here, and elect members to the board who reflect the wishes of the community. It would be nice to attend a meeting that is run by a board that is interested in what the public is concerned about, especially since that same public is paying the bills.
Threats of increased cost for fire protection would have no foundation when intelligent utilization of available assets and stable leadership is provided. It's up to us to find and provide the people to lead our volunteers who continue to work despite the dissension they've had to deal with.
If we don't decide these matters to our satisfaction, others will decide for us, and we won't be happy with what they decide.