All of our firefighters are heroes in my eyes. Each one deserves more pay, more benefits and a huge thank you from the public they serve and rescue.
But, I don’t support this Fire Bond Referendum and here’s why:
Through the Mutual Aid Agreement between the Cherokee County Fire Department and the city of Canton, each and every time a 911 call originates within the city limits, a Cherokee County unit responds along with a city unit.
Duplicate coverage right there.
The county requires all firefighters to be EMT certified. While some of our city firefighters are EMT certified, it is not a city of Canton job requirement. (All city firefighters meet state standards.) Of the county firefighters, 45 percent are paramedics. This means they are able to dispense medication. Twenty-five more firefighters employed by the county are in paramedic school right now.
County station #9, on Highway140, just about a mile from Laurel Canyon and Great Sky, is on the list to be refurbished and equipment replaced if needed. This station is fully staffed with full-time county firefighters.
The Cherokee County Fire Dept. has a dive team, and search and rescue team, a rope team and HazMat. If the 911 call comes from the city of Canton, we’re covered in these areas.
The county is ready to build more fire stations, they’ve been taxing the population of Cherokee for sometime now to gather the funds to do so. The county is a larger pool from which to gather tax dollars. The city of Canton wants to build three new stations with an estimated price tag of $6 million dollars, the city’s tax pool is much, much smaller, thus a higher tax to be paid by Canton city residents. Plus, we’d be paying taxes for the same thing, twice.
The city of Canton councilmen have resisted talks with the county to consolidate fire departments. I hear them say that to give up fire as a city service is to reduce the services offered to maintain a city charter. OK, don’t merge city and county fire departments.
But instead of the city building three new stations, let’s spend some money on the two we have and get them modernized and better equipped. Let’s spend some money on training the excellent staff we have.
Let’s spend some money and give these heroes a pay raise that they so deserve. Let’s align our city’s job requirements with the county’s and have all of our firefighters with a minimum of EMT certification.
Let the county spend the tax dollars collected on county fire stations. I see this as a WIN-WIN for citizens and officials.
It is my opinion, that it doesn’t really matter what the name on the side of the truck is, just as long as a truck gets to the emergency. Unless you live next door to a fire station you’d better be able to get yourself out of a fire in your home.
Our homes are highly flammable with materials inside that create poisonous vapors and fire moves quickly. Knock on wood, but if there is ever a fire at my house I’m praying that the truck that arrives first, carries an EMT and a paramedic.