Editor: Just returned from a trip and read through your Veteran’s Day supplement. My father (WWII) and one son (Iraq) served in the Army and both received well deserved recognition for their service. I was in the Army from 1969 to 1978 and did not receive the same respect from many of the folks and media in this country.
I am, however, eternally grateful for the way all veterans are treated in the present and your supplement made me smile.
My wife and I retired in 2013 and moved to Heber City from KC. We visited this valley for years and fell in love with the people and the scenery.
Obamacare, Fire Department and Starship
Editor: Government is performing just as a nation of ambivalent sheep would hope; giving out goodies to those who can keep them in office. Nationally, our socialist leaders are desperately trying to save the most ill-conceived alteration of our way of life ever attempted with Obamacare. Locally, our county council is in “ramming speed” mode on forcing us into their concept of doing good for the people no matter the need, cost or effectiveness.
We need only to look at the Summit county model to see where this will take us.
The Park City fire department budget is approximately $15 million. That is very close to the budget for ALL of Wasatch County, and a review of the build-out plan that our fire department is following will put us where Park City is today.
Beside the lawsuits against our fire department/county council, our leaders are taking us down the most expensive path with the lowest return imaginable.
Fires in the United States have been reduced by 50% since the 1970s. If population growth is included, fires have been reduced by 76% per capita. Projections from the National Fire Prevention Association (NFRA) are that the trend will continue.
The question is: if we have 25% of the problem we had 30 years ago, why have costs and manpower continued to increase at the same rate as everything else?
Don’t be fooled by the “we haven’t increased your taxes for years” yarn, the tax revenue to the fire department has increased almost every year because of growth and higher property values. It wasn’t that long ago that I looked at the $300 thousand fire budget which is 1/10 of today’s.
Any business looking at a 76% decline in demand and a 2000% increase in cost would be laughed out of town, but our leaders have a different plan which I will discuss later.
Zero percent of the fire departments in the U.S. are volunteer. Less than 15% are full time. Virtually all of the Full-Time departments were established around the turn of the LAST century—-(1800/1900, And they were the biggest cities with very large fire problems).
When the decline of fires began, those big departments could no longer justify their size so they began looking for other ways to exist. A few of the departments took on Emergency Medical Services with the proper amount of emphasis and training such as Seattle where “medic one” is the most elite and highly respected part of the whole department. Their training, management, medical oversight and accountability is outstanding. Most of the departments however, just grabbed medical through political fiat and treated it like a stepchild. The obvious result was poor medical service at the expense of a glitzy fire service. The medical arm brought in substantial revenue which the fire chief could use for a new ladder truck. That ladder truck would attend more parades, funerals and political events than it would go to fires, but hey, it looks good.
The National Institute for Health, along with emergency physicians across the land have been trying to get emergency medical services treated on a par with other first responders, but the fire lobby in Washington (and in state capitals) is extremely powerful. If you don’t know the relationship between fire and political patronage, you are missing the biggest link in municipal debt/bankruptcy.
Our volunteer fire department has served us very well for many years. With good training and equipment, they have demonstrated a capability equal to or better than many larger departments.
There is no need to change that model now.
The line of people (Non-relatives of councilmen and firemen) ready to be of service is very long and very impressive, but as things are today, it’s only about job protection and empire building by bringing family and close friends into the fold.
In summary, our County Council and fire department are taking us in a direction more similar to Detroit and Stockton than what the facts tell us we should do.
But quoting one of our councilmen: “it’s not about facts, it’s about politics”.
When our taxes begin looking like Park City, remember what I have been saying to the council since 1999 when they started the Jordanelle fiasco. My comments are a result of many years of research into the international/national and municipal fire services, many interactions with NFPA and NFS statisticians and frequent disagreements with this county council.