The Carbondale Rural Fire Protection District hosted the first of five meetings with its new advisory task force Tuesday night.
Everyone who applied to the task force was accepted, and 16 of 17 members were present: David Briscoe, Davis Farrar, Tom Flynn, Richard Fuller, John Hanes, Ken Harrington, Allyn Harvey, Michael Hassig, Connie Hendrix, Lance Luckett, Ray Sauvey, Jason Sewell, Mo Shalabi, Carl Smith, Joanne Teeple, and Chuck Torinus. John Colson was out of state and unable to attend.
The group will meet monthly through July and will have a chance to influence the fire department’s financial planning and public education program.
The district faces myriad challenges. Last year, voters struck down a mill levy proposal intended to offset low property taxes. The fire department, which has 18 paid employees and 65 volunteers, covers 320 square miles, and runs ambulance service for the area, has been scrambling to compensate since. Several fire board seats are also up for election in May.
Tuesday’s meeting was mostly orientation for the group, and included an overview the district’s history, roles, and resources. According to Fire Chief Ron Leach, the next meeting will be more in depth.
“The April meeting will be a close examination of the fire district’s operations and public expectations,” he said.
Task force members were given some opportunity for early feedback. In a “force field analysis’” the group rated the fire department on a five-point scale. The most common rating was 4 out of 5, with a mean rating of 3.9.