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how much equipment is enough

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  • how much equipment is enough

    This is mostly for volunteers. When you have a station full of equipment, such as 2 or 3 engines, 2 tankers, 3 brush rigs and a special operations unit and you have a taxpayer comes into the station and sees all of that equipment. Especially if you are trying to get a new engine and they ask why, do you need so much? All they see is higher taxes. There statement is are you firemen crazy.

  • #2
    I have had the question posed to me several times and my answer is sometimes complicated to break down into something short and to the point.

    I have explained to the taxpayers that some of the apparatus serve a specific purpose and not all of them are the same. Unless you are really lucky and have ALL brand new apparatus and replace them all at the same time every five years or so, it might be hard to choke down the millions of dollars lumping in their throats. Explain that they are replaced at intervals on a rotating basis over 20 years or so unless damage or other circumstances warrant. My house has a 15-year replacement plan for engines and a 20-year replacement plan for rescues, aerials and specialty vehicles. As far as I know, that's pretty much a standard. I could be wrong though. Some areas have high run rates and wear vehicles out quicker and some areas are still running with 1950's apparatus first due but only get a couple of jobs a year.

    The best thing that we do is to have an open house every year which lets the public see how their tax dollars are being used. They see that they are being protected by volunteer firefighters with the best available equipment and all with safety of the firefighter and the public in mind.

    If that doesn't work, explain to them that if the apparatus was used JUST ONCE and a tragedy was avoided or a fire contained, that piece is worth every penny spent.

    Lt. Kevin C. (aka Pokey)


    • #3
      Try to convince the public that they should give out of their pocket to help their community. If you are funded by taxes, consider yourself lucky. My department is in desperate need of funds to replace a 1973 tanker that is actually an old railroad oil truck and is no longer road worthy and very dangerous to drive, and we've got a 1978 Mini-pumper that needs a new transmission so bad, we can't guarantee that the next trip out of the station, it won't leave us stranded. I know it must be hard having to confront angry taxpayers, but if the municipality passes the tax increase, they don't really have a chioce but pay it, around here , you have a choice of donating or not donating, we do get some funding that comes from the county tax base, but it's not even enough to begin to cover operational expenses. I know this really isn't an answer to your question, but consider how much easier it is to attempt to explain why you need a new truck, than to beg for money to fix an old one.


      • #4
        A year or so ago in our annual fund drive mailer we included a questionaire about the fire department and the peoples view of us as a whole. Well, 99.999% of the responses were positive but there was one that stuck out. A man wrote:
        "I understand that you wash the fire trucks after every call, and whenever they leave the station. This seems like an awful waste of water to me."
        Well, He'll think so when the $350,000+
        bill comes in for the new one because the 1979 pierce we have rusts to the ground!


        • #5
          People from the public do not realize how much a fire department pays for it's equipment. The bottom line is that this equipment is needed to do our job.

          Fire Departments don't just roll up, grab a line and put the fire out. The public doesn't realize that we run MVA's, Medical calls, Ambulance assists, Car fires, Hazmat calls, Inspections, Search and Rescues, etc, etc etc. The perfect example: Another hall in the area made it into the local paper for a house fire. The article said: "Firefighter's check their oxygen tanks after putting out a house fire." The thing is, they were changing bottles on their BAs.

          Public education about what a fire department does is the best way to show people that, yes, we do need all this equipment. Also, explaining each piece to them and how it has saved a life gets the point across.


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