Who Will Respond?

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The alarm sounds.

The firefighters respond.

When will we back them up?

The house fire in Mesa del Caballo started in the chill hours before dawn, apparently triggered by a space heater. Despite the early hour, neighbors ran out into the street, grabbed garden hoses and tried unsuccessfully to help the desperate family save their three dogs. Those brave and willing neighbors barely kept the fire from spreading to other houses before crews arrived.

Those firefighters — professionals and volunteers alike — answered the call in the darkness. Fire trucks from Houston Mesa, Payson, Hellsgate, Whispering Pines and Beaver Valley all responded, honoring a mutual aid agreement that binds the mostly small, scattered fire departments.

But we have relied too long on their willingness to answer the call — despite the fragmentation and divisions among the policymakers. Too many communities have no fire protection at all — or a struggling, underfunded, undermanned community department.

The policymakers in Payson, Gila County and Star Valley must undertake a more comprehensive and coordinated approach. We need a regional fire district to raise money for thinning and prevention efforts — and a far more coordinated effort to bind together Payson and the seven struggling community fire districts.

The alarm has sounded. Who will respond?

Comments

Barbara Rasmussen 1 year, 1 month ago

The system as it is now is not broken. The local fire departments work closely with one another and respond accordingly. If a fire district is formed who is going to foot the bill? The taxpayers! Their taxes will increase by a lot not just a few dollars here and there. And if it were to go to a system where people pay for their fire protection and someone decides not to pay into that system the first time they need fire personnel/apparatus and have to pay out of pocket expenses into the thousands of dollars it would be an eye opener. i am 100% against a Fire District forming in the area. Bad idea, very bad idea!!

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H. Wm. Rhea III 1 year ago

I agree with Barbara. If other communities want fire protection, they should pay for their own and not expect those communities who have it to dilute their services by covering larger areas and taking in a minimal payment, if one at all! When you live where there are no emergency services, you choose to go without them. It's very sad when there is a fire, no matter where it's at, but if that is a concern, then don't move there and go where it is available.

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