As a result of a letter to the editor Nov. 17, the Pine-Strawberry Fire Board chair has raised many more questions than answers. He has clouded the issue with unrelated facts and apparently seems to have been misinformed.
The issue is, the justification of three more chief positions that the board chair has stated in his comment is needed from his personal operational viewpoint.
His decision was made in part due to “simultaneous calls that occur often” within our district. I think we need to see the stats on this one Mr. Chairman.
This easily accessible information would show if and when call types have notably changed within our jurisdiction with regard to an increased number of “simultaneous” calls leaving our district without proper coverage at a command management level thereby justifying three more chief positions.
Additionally, the board chair stated his decision was also influenced by the fact these new positions were included in the 2007 five-year plan. One significant change that has occurred since then however, a worldwide recession whereby most companies are drastically reducing spending to “forecast” what may lay in our future. Something the board may want to seriously consider.
Additionally, his comments referenced sending district personnel on wildland fires (in the middle of our peak fire season) resulting in net income to our community. He again has missed the point.
The question is, why then is the board allowing our highest paid, most experienced employee, the chief of the department, to leave our district during our most vulnerable time of the fire season with very little economic return on our investment?
An individual returning with additional medical unit leadership experience for the better protection of our forest and community? Please! Here again, nothing more than personal gain (in overtime) and not for the betterment of the community. Of course we respond to our neighbors’ calls for assistance, commonly referred to as mutual aid, a concept that has been around for years.
The chief is as the board chair stated, “not overworked” in his opinion and is doing a professional job with regard to managing the office. My response to this is, to avoid a “fox in the henhouse” effect, there must always be a division of duties with regard to fiscal responsibilities, especially with a budget well in excess of a million dollars.
An office manager with financial experience is without a doubt a much-needed position. As the board chair stated, he “reluctantly agreed to give those responsibilities to the chief.” The citizens of our community cannot afford to let this one slip by.
Mark L. Boys