Fire board president hot under the collar
In response to the letter from Ross Talbott that was published in your Friday/Saturday edition: As President of the Board of Directors for the Burning Mountains Fire Protection District. I am not allowed to campaign for or against the issue that is before the voters. I am allowed to correct false or misleading statements. The backbone of our organization is and will be the brave men and women of our volunteer fire service. As a district resident, I ask them to risk their lives and give up significant time for my benefit. As a member of the board, I have a responsibility to use taxpayer money wisely to provide the best service possible. As a 25-year veteran of the volunteer fire service and former chief, I feel a particular responsibility to provide up-to-date training, mandated protective gear, and adequate equipment to allow the firefighters to do their job. It should be noted that Talbott Enterprises Inc. has been the single most supportive employer in the District when it comes to allowing firefighters to respond during the normal workday.
Mr. Talbott’s arguments against the mill-levy increase seem based on ignorance. He claims to know the intent of the district, yet hasn’t attended a board meeting since the voters chose not to return him to office. While he may hold any opinion that he chooses, opinions based upon fact are often the best. Point by point from his letter:
His first paragraph fails to mention that BMFPD is woefully underfunded and that we are prohibited from incurring any bonded indebtedness.
1) While the department does not operate an ambulance, we are dispatched at the same time as the ambulance and must provide First Responder training to the firefighters and service to victims.
2) Search and Rescue is a separate group, as is CSP, CBI and others. So what?
3) I am surprised that Mr. Talbott (as Captain of Station 3) does not realize that there are in fact multistory buildings in the district and more are proposed in the new developments. It might be noted that while fire codes can address some of these issues and place the burden on the developer rather than the general population, Mr. Talbott never supported adoption of fire codes while he was in office.
4) BMFPD IS dispatched to hazardous materials events. Mr. Talbott’s position is typical of the “head-in-the-sand” approach that gets firefighters killed and does not serve the public well. A small volunteer department from Dunsmuir, Calif., was dispatched to a derailed train in a river canyon (sound familiar?). This turned into the single largest haz mat event in U.S. history.
5) Existing stations are not adequate at this time. Two need substantial work to complete them. To promote the notion that revenue streams from new developments will pay for increased service does not accurately reflect history or reality.
6) Schools and fire departments are separate issues.
Mr. Talbott has lost touch with the requirements of modern firefighting. Two years ago, under his administration, the department’s entire annual training budget was $1,000. This would not pay for the minimum mandated training let alone the additional training requested by many volunteers. Both Mr. Talbott and I are longtime volunteer firefighters. We need to realize that, like all other species of dinosaur, we must evolve or cease to exist.
I encourage our district residents to talk with volunteers and go to the polls to make informed decisions.
Brit C. McLin
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