-Please let me begin by saying that I do NOT personally know Chief Raines. But in my opinion he was much more professional than Mr. Thompson in the media coverage you are referring to. I would also like to add that you misquoted Mr. Raines. His statement was that the current system "was the most COST effective way" to provide fire service in this county. I will assume that was merely an accident and not an effort to confuse the issues before us. Will the county not have to replace the buildings, equipment, and FULLY staff these districts? (Please keep in mind that 3 paid county firefighters are not enough to FULLY staff the districts in question and goes against guidelines set forth by the state. Also keep in mind that the average salary of a NC firefighter is about $42,000 and fire trucks cost about $200,000 a piece.) It is safe for the general public to assume that there will be an inital cost to this consolidation. Therefore where this funding will come from is a valid question.
-In reference to the contracts that you mentioned...are these contracts not a means for these volunteer departments to be dispatched to calls? I am NOT saying that these are the only stipulations outlined in the contracts, but technically the nonprofit organizations in question have met all the state requirements needed to serve their communities. The problem is they can not do that efficiently without the county dispatch system. If you are trying to imply that they are not meeting local LAW requirements then I would ask you why the county would even need to wait till the end of these contracts to terminate these agreements?
-Since you seem to be fimilar with the fire service, I am sure that you know that the "rosters" taken at each call are in reference to the firefighters ON-SCENE and not everyone who responds to the station house is counted. If a volunteer responds to the station and finds they are not needed they may not stay for the duration of the call. That firefighter would not be counted on the roster even though they were available to respond. Can that truly be considered an EXACT representation of volunteers available as you have suggested? And can it be assumed that seperate "head counts" might be a way for a volunteer department to keep an IN-HOUSE record of the volunteers who respond not only ON-SCENE but were available if they were needed? If you feel their is fraud in the system I believe that we would all like you report it to your superiors.
-I would also like to mention that the volunteer officers are elected by a vote of their peers. Peers who's lives may one day depend on their decisions. But saying that there are not requirements that have to be fulfilled is a misrepresentaion of the facts. The indiviual charters for these nonprofit organizations outline requirements for these officers both in regards to experience and training. Not to mention that many of, if not all, the volunteer chiefs are also members of the NC Fire Chiefs Assosciation which also has guidelines for membership. As for the rest of the volunteers training, in NC to be a certified firefighter both volunteers and their paid colleuges meet the SAME REQUIREMENTS for the SAME CURRICULUM sometimes from the same instructors. May I also add that there are several of the volunteers who work or have previously worked as "career" firefighters and/or "career" EMTs. Just as many "career" firefighters in our area began their fire service in the local volunteer departments.
-I think that everyone can agree that our government (from the national to the local level) often uses NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS to help aid the community and provide comminty service. Calling these volunteer departments "corporations" does not change the fact that they DO NOT MAKE A PROFIT and their members are NOT COMPENSATED for their service. To come on a public forum to spout misinformation and "conspiracy" theories is something that neither side of this debate should partake in, as I'm sure we can all agree. I hope in the future we can all refrain from attacks on ones character to distract from the validity of their arguments.
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