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Volunteer firefighters gather petition against merge plan

READ MORE: Volunteer firefighters gather petition against merge plan
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Volunteer firefighters in New Hanover County are fuming because the county may soon dissolve their stations. Firefighters have more than 500 signatures on a petition to try and stop the county from consolidating volunteer fire departments to make two districts in the county.

The volunteer fire departments would be run by the county fire department. The firefighters would become county volunteers, and there would be one chief each for the north and south districts.

County Manager Bruce Shell says it would cut down on response time, lower insurance rates for county residents and provide firefighters with better training, But volunteer firefighters are not happy about it.

"We're after to slow this process down, let the people have a say," Wrightsboro volunteer firefighter John Coleman said. "Regardless if you're for it or against it, let the taxpayers have a say in it, not a half a dozen people up there making a decision for 200,000."

County Commission Chair Jason Thompson says consolidating the fire departments would not cost taxpayers any extra each year, but volunteer firefighters are not buying that.

County commissioners tentatively plan to meet with the fire commissioners board at the end June to vote on the recommended merge.

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New Hanover County Fire

A comment was made regarding the general publics' lack of knowledeg in reference to how a fire department is operated. I hate to admit it...but I agree with the comment. I've been a career union firefighter/paramedic for 23 years and I've come to realize that the majority of the lay public has no clue as to how we operate outside of fire suppression. What's my point you say? Well...letting the public decide for themselves what is best for them may not be the best option. It really sounds like ya'll have a turf was brewing. Consolidating the fire services can be the best option if it is done correctly. Consolidation does not always mean a lower ISO rating though. Ask yourselves these questions. When or if this consolidation occurs will every fire station be staffed with at least one engine company with four multi-roll (firefighter/EMT or Paramedic) personnel each (national standard by the way...see NFPA 1710 and 1500)24/7? Is there a reliable water supply throughout the district (hydrants)? Is everyone-including the volunteers- trained the same ie; NC Firefighter II-EMTB-NC Haz. Mat. Ops.-NC Rescue Tech. etc.? How many annual training hours will each firefighter be required to have? How new is your apparatus? Is the appropriate equipment carries on the apparatus? What are the average response time for various alarm assigmments? In otherwords, how long does it take to assemble 16 firefighters (not including a command officer) at a simple residential structure fire at any given time of day? That is a national standard by the way! These are all things that ISO looks at. If you want improved services...it is going to cost money...don't let anyone fool you.
Now then....volunteers....don't get your panties in a wad. Look at Prince George's County Fire and Prince William County Fire. Those are county run fire departments that took over the volunteer fire departments. The volunteers still exist there and have there autonomy. So as far as I am concerned,your arguments have no merrit. What are you afraid of....training. If you have not gone through an accredited fire academy or received you NC Firefighter II License/Certification and your EMT then you have no business on the fire ground....you are a liability.
I know you are all afraid of big government but what you are talking about is small potatos compared to the big picture (Federal Goverment). Example: the US Capitol Police Department....one building...upaward of 1500 police officers! Heard it from the mounth of an employee myself. Consolidation of fire services is nothing new in this country. Don't be afraid of change. Just ask some questions? Just ask the right people! Just food for thought!

Exactly what we do not need!

Having the scantily run organization known as New Hanover County Fire Rescue, which is the best kept secret in New Hanover County, have absolute control over the County fire district is preposterous. The New Hanover County Fire Chief and his group of cronies is an enormous joke. They are on the cutting edge of mediocrity. Their own employees who should be a part of a strong brotherhood are left in the dark on the majority of decisions and plans within the Fire Department. They value docility over ingenuity, and do not recognize individual excellence, unless it has to do with achieving the title of head minion. What the tax payer ends up with is a conglomerate of C-List players who are poorly trained and poorly treated. If the New Hanover County Fire Rescue take over gets approved, hope that you will be annexed by the City of Wilmington quickly.

Are you really sure of your comments

The system you dtate will not work. I can show numerous examples of where it does work and work efficiently and more cost effectively (Hanover and Roanoke counties in Virginia) so what facts do you base your information on? As far as employees being in the dark... are you one? I believe that this is a case of where change is affecting the individuals who don't want change and are not looking at the common good of the community. I am not oblivious to the pros and cons of consolidation, but I also know that each district would not require as many pieces equipment or fire apparatus to meet the ISO rating. In fact there is a good possibility that the consolidation could lower the ISO rating reducing both residential and commercial insurance premiums. The reduction of ISO rating,(in the top 5 questions businesses locating to an area ask)could stimulate economic development and monitary stimulus to the region. I am sure you could not argue this would be a plus. Consistant training in the organization verses how many different training programs and standards? I can continue with these but I think my point is clear. Is this really about the people making the decision, since most of our puplic is ignorant to the true workings of a fire department and only go on what you tell them, is this really service delivery or is this about our oown turf we want to protect as our domain.