In reviewing the Revenue Items from the 2016 budget relating to the Fire Department, it appears the Revenue item pertaining to $17,000 the County provides the White Springs Fire Department is just considered Public Safety Revenue but not listed specifically under the line item expenses for the Fire Department.
Under Public Safety there are two reserves: A Police Vehicle Reserve of $20,157 is shown under revenue but under the expense column it shows the $20,157 as being payable on the loan for the vehicle Detective Brownfield is using and there is a Fire Equipment reserve of $12,498.00. I am not certain where the Fire Equipment reserve comes from but the $17,000 Fire Department Contract should be listed as a reserve at least or provide additional equipment under the Fire Department Expenses. The money paid by Hamilton county was intended for the Fire Department we were told when we checked on the missing personal protection equipment (PPE). Instead note below that we have budgeted only $5,000 for PPE, which doesn’t purchase many PPE. We were told that currently we have five PPE for Certified Firefighters. If we are short, of course, our new fire chief can kipe a few items of equipment and show it had been given to us.
Under the Volunteer Fire Department Count the 2016-2017 budget shows estimated Fire Department Fire Call Income of $3,000; Fire Department Fundraising Events of $5,471.82 for a total of $10,991.00. During this time and prior to Kevin Pittman becoming our chief our fire rating by ISO is at a class 10 and we had firemen that live 20 miles or more, with no ability to use our pumper truck or other equipment, things have to change. Last year there was income of $2,550 from October 15th to July 16th, when we had Steve Stith as our Fire Chief.
Let’s look at the Fire Department Expenses budgeted for 2016-2017. The Fire Chief’s Salary (for our new Fire Chief Kevin Pittman) increased from $4,326.00 to $5,766.00. Hopefully there was consideration made for at least $10.00 or more a call to reimburse our firemen for fuel costs to and from White Springs…but that does not show nor has the Town valued its firefighters..
The other expenses included $1,400 Fire Fee; $698 Fire FICA for our chief; $3,600.00 Travel and Training however we do not know what the intent of this is; to reimburse volunteers; to assist volunteers to secure their certification? What? $480 Cell Phones; $1,045 Telephone Service; $1,200 Propane Utility; $3,071 General Insurance Fire; $1,000 Fuel; $150 Reporting Software; $2,266 Supplies/Other; $500 Fire Extinguisher Certification ; $5,000 Personal Protection Equipment and $250 Membership. These expenses total $26,776.
The Total Volunteer Fire Department Revenue (which includes a HEAVY $7,991.00 in FUNDRAISING EVENTS) IS $10,991.00. If one added $12,498 in reserves and the $17,000 Contract for Firefighters through Hamilton County, the Total Revenue for the Volunteer Fire Fighters should be $40,489 or $32,498 without fundraising. I mention this because the total Fire Department expenses are $26,776 so apparently it is OBVIOUS THE TOWN DOES NOT UTILIZE THE FUNDS WHICH IT RECEIVES FOR THE FIRE DEPARTMENT WHICH THOSE FUNDS ARE INTENDED FOR. WITHOUT USING THE $12,498 IN RESERVES BUT HOLDING THEM FOR A FUTURE DATE, THE TOTAL REVENUE ANTICIPATED IS $27,991, SO NEEDLESS TO SAY, ALTHOUGH THE POLICE DEPARTMENT WAS FAVORED AND PAID FOR IN FULL IN SPITE OF LOW REVENUES, THERE STILL IS NO CONSIDERATION FOR OUR CURRENT AND FUTURE FIREFIGHTER VOLUNTEERS. Anyway, the Town has never really saved but rather has depleted any and all reserves. I understand the Police vehicle reserve has accumulated for over 10 years, but did not show previously on the budgets as the item did in the 2016-2017 budget. Bill Lawrence previously was attempting to save money for a new vehicle. And in the expense portion for the Police budget the entire reserve will be spent toward paying off the police vehicle or at least a chunk of it.
Most Volunteer Firefighters are a fraternity of firefighters who build a camaraderie where they play and work together including their spouses and loved ones. I cannot foresee where we can hope to have such a fraternity in White Springs, especially since Firefighters are note the chosen ones of the Town of White Springs. White Springs expects fund raisers but if there is no fraternity and a chief who really loves his firefighters and fights for them, how will they manage? In other towns they have many fundraisers; fireman’s ball; pancake breakfasts; spaghetti dinners, etc. But since John Peeler was fired for no cause, there have been no such fundraisers.
Volunteer Firemen are not paid but should receive something for each call they are on. With Certification requiring some 240 hours of training in a school setting, it is difficult for those who work a job to be able to volunteer. There needs to be a program whereby we may have more volunteers and where the town assists individuals who wish to be part of the Firefighter fraternity in securing their certification.
Karin for the blog