Letter: Chain for fire board
My name is Mark Chain and I have served on the Board of the Carbondale Fire District since 2006. I am running again for re-election this May.
Many of you may know me from my time working for the Towns of Carbondale and Basalt from 1983 – 2004 or in more recent years as a land use consultant. My philosophy as a board member has been to try to implement the 2004 – 2014 Master Plan, listen to citizen input, provide adequate Fire Protection, maintain our ISO insurance rating (reflected in lower home insurance costs) and continue to have ambulance service provided by qualified paramedic on all calls.
From 2006 through 2008, the district completed construction of facilities and upgraded the ambulance service, including increased hiring/training paramedics to upgrade the ambulance service. The last few years the Board of Directors has been responding to the recession which hit the valley in mid-2008. The underlying issue has been how to continue to provide adequate ambulance services given existing revenues. I have been asked why don’t we just reduce the levels of service (staff, number of ambulances, etc.)? The answer is that the number of calls did not significantly decline — so demand is still high. A second answer is that the population here is aging rapidly and with the expansion of Valley View Hospital, senior residents continue to live here rather than move away.
One of the Board’s strategies in dealing with the demands of our ambulance service (which is 80 percent or more of our calls) was to go for a mil levy increase this past November. For a number of reasons this failed. The Board has since appointed a Citizens Advisory Task Force to look at our operations, budget, and levels of service, transparency and public communications. Their recommendations are coming to us in July. A fresh set of eyes will be useful.
I backed the creation of this Task Force because every 10 years an organization needs a new master plan, strategic plan or other process to update and analyze its operations and current/future challenges. I am still committed to the paramedic level of ambulance service, my family has used it, and it changed my life. My belief is that the citizens of the district want this service to continue — and the question is how to make it efficient and fund it. I will continue to work to provide this service. I hope you will support me and provide your vote. You can call me at 970.309.3655 to discuss. Thanks.
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Time for South Bridge