02-15-2001, 05:51 PM #1NFD270Firehouse.com Guest
Cutting Medical calls in Ozark/MO Firefighters cut med calls
I just wanted to know what everyone thought about the story on the Ozark Fire Department cutting medical calls because of a rejected tax levy increase???
I live in Ozark, Missouri but volunteer in a town about four miles to the west which is Nixa. When I heard about the tax levy being rejected, I was very upset because the people of Ozark are just impossible to deal with. Most are the old folks who have been here for 50 years or more and hate change. They make up 80% of the town's population and make it very hard to get anything done. The rest, with exception of 10 or so percent, are your average uneducated red neck that hates paying taxes in the first place. When I heard that Ozark would have to cut medical calls, I was very disappointed because I knew the reason. I know everyone of the people in the story very well and I know how dedicated each and everyone of the firefighters on the Ozark Fire Department are dedicated to helping anyone in a time of need, no matter the time of day. What Jake said about the first responders showing up in numbers when someone needs help is true. And for the voters of this small town of around 9,000 to reject this proposal for a levy increase so that better fire protection could be provided is just assanine. If you saw the displayed poll results, only 600 people max. actually turned out to vote. I had forgotten the date on it or I would have had my parents go vote, because all of these men and women are so commited to protecting us and these morons we protect are happy to see us when we show up but won't pay a little more on their property taxes so that the fire department can purchase some better equipment to update the old, and build on to the existing central firehouse to provide some living quarters. The central firehouse was never actually completed and the dispatch is horrible because it is county wide. OFD currently has around 14 apparatus, most of which are outdated beyond their years. (many are over 30 years old) The department even keeps the 1930's parade truck on the active roster. Still, they firefighters tough it up and make due with what they have
The department I am on has conflicts with Ozark due to long back rivalries. Even with this, I will not hesitate to say that I support the Ozark Fire Department and appreciate all that they do in protecting us and maintaining high levels of training with the little money they have. I am behind Chief Jake Archer and Buster White, as well as the others all the way. I back them 100% for being selfless in protecting myself and others. This is not a job they have to do, they do it because they want to help others in need when towns are too small to support paid fire departments.
Please, tell me what you think and give me your opinions. As for Jake and the rest of OFD..... GOOD LUCK GUYS...I'm behind you no matter what......
Cadet Adam Spencer
Nixa Fire District
Nixa, MO 65714
02-15-2001, 06:55 PM #2LT334Firehouse.com Guest
While I dont know all of the circumstances of the situation, it all seems a little odd to me. If the department has been providing a service with a 74,000 dollar budget, Why did they need a 290,000 dollar budget to provide this service? I agree with you that it is very tough to get a tax levy passed with the wide diversity of people out there. However maybe they should have taken smaller steps than asking for an almost 400% increase.
02-15-2001, 08:18 PM #3RJEFirehouse.com Guest
Yep, smaller steps sounds great.....but it cuts both ways.
Where I grew up, 40% of the area was Catholic. Nothing wrong with that, except they all sent their kids to the parochial school run by the church. 30% was farmers, who paid mega-high property taxes, because of the large chunks of land they owned. The rest was middle class suburbia. If every suburbanite voted yes, we still couldn't pass a school bond. For 22 years!
Then the area exploded with development. The new people didn't know, didn't care, "hey yeah, I support the schools..." and as soon as the demographics changed enough, every bond and levy passed, because the new residents were embarrassed by the run-down schools.
The fire dept was completely different, though. During the "no taxes" days, we did the $20/year, sticker on your door thing, plus fundraisers. And in 1978, our front line pumper was a 1966 Boardman on a Ford conventional. In 1979 (about when the demographics shifted), we shut down the dept in August, because we ran out of money for gas (run numbers had exploded, due to the development). In Nov. '79, we passed an FPD with a bond to go with it. In the next 5 years, we bought 3 pumpers, a truck, a tanker, two squads (1 med and 1 brush), and built a new station to replace a rented one (in a warehouse - that didn't work!).
We got that 400% funding increase, but it took a major change in the community. The schools, and the FD benefitted. But we caught a lot of flack when we locked the doors that summer!
Then again, a lot of newcomers didn't know we were volunteer until then - and they really lobbied for us.
BTW, we were only shut down for 4 days - in that time enough private donations came in to buy us gas until the bond passed. And if anything big would have come in we'd have gone anyway, and paid for the fuel ourselves.
02-15-2001, 08:24 PM #4CatchFirehouse.com Guest
I've got to agree with lt334. That's a huge jump for taxpayers to make in one vote. I'll also agree that going from $74,000 per year to $290,000 is extremely dramatic. Instead of complaining about what you didn't get, be glad for what you do have. I'm the chief of a department with a budget less than $10,000 per year. Our vollies don't get paid a dime for calls, no matter how long, late, or life threatening. We also do it with one pumper (25 years old), a brush truck (22 years old), a tanker (36 years old) and a rescue we got from the Dept. of Conservation. It may not be the right thing for the community to keep us that underfunded, but we don't complain and make the best of what we do have. Just hope that missing the "non-lifethreatening" calls doesn't come back to haunt you.
Just my two cents.
02-16-2001, 12:24 PM #5iwood51Firehouse.com Guest
Likewise, our vollies don't get paid anything, however, as you seem to already have a $10 per man per call rate established, I'll pose this question:
Why do 10 people show up for a night time EMS run (as was stated in the article). Why not have a set crew of 3 or 4. that will save you $60 or $70 per EMS run.
What is your call volume?
02-16-2001, 05:41 PM #6FiremanBuckFirehouse.com GuestOriginally posted by NFD270:
"...your average uneducated red neck..."
"...these morons we protect are happy to see us when we show up."
The term our department uses is "customer service". The people that we serve are our customers no matter how uneducated they are or how moronic they behave. As a result, we had over 70% approval on our last levy vote.
My suggestion to the Ozark FD is to hold community meetings with coffee and cookies to educate the voters on why the department needs the monies. Perhaps lower your expectations, reduce the levy amount and work with the community to develop a pared-back budget.
Just my $0.02.
South Bay Volunteer Fire Department
Thurston County, Washington
02-18-2001, 11:19 AM #7ArmyTruckCompanyFirehouse.com Guest
If I only had a budget of 74,000 dollars, I'd be DAMNED if I were going to pay for cookies and coffee!!!!
I can say that I appreciate and respect the chief's decision to limit runs to life-threatening only. But in a cummunity of a large population of elderly people, he better be extremely careful and learn how to sidestep landmines!!!
And I agree with iwood....10 bucks a head for every run can get expensive....especially when you only need 2 or 3 for an ambulance run- why not set up duty crews to handle calls at night?? We have EMS and fire duty crews to handle runs from 2300-0600 every night...cuts down on everyone getting out of bed for a BS run, or for an ambulance run.
The people of the town will live to regret the decision not to approve the tax increase- weather it be when the mayor calls because his wife broke her ankle (Sorry sir, thats not a life threatening emergency....) or one of the councilpersons homes are on fire, and the first out piece breaks down because it is so old.....
"Loyalty above all else, except honor."
02-18-2001, 03:26 PM #8CatchFirehouse.com Guest
First, I have to ask a question from you NFD270...Does Cox Ambulance have a rig in Ozark? If so, why in the world would you need 5 or more people first responding. I think 1 or 2 would be sufficient, plus it's money saved. I could easily see either A) the Ozark community getting hacked because of this decision or B) someone ending up dying because dispatch called the call "non-lifethreatening" and something went wrong. Either way, it could be career suicide for OFD's chief. It's not a good thing when a fire department gets into a ****ing contest with the community it protects. After all, it's the community's opinion that matters in the end.
02-19-2001, 05:46 PM #9NFD270Firehouse.com Guest
Thanks for posting your opinions... I agree I was a little harsh on the public... But the reason I am is because I care so much for the community, and it really bugs me to see all of this just die... Now I agree that average redneck and morons was harsh; but you have to live in Ozark and see all of this go on.... This town is so political and it is run by the elderly people that seem to have been around since it was founded.... The town is really based on the good ole' boy type of treatment and It is very stupid. The rural district is tax supported....the city department, however, is supported through city taxes and what they are trying to do is get a tax levy passed... This is so they can get the money to run a department and hire some watch people... Now I agree there are some ways to work around problems when money isn't available... A perfect example is the medical calls..... Yes... Cox Health Systems has a rig in Ozark... But that rig is not specifically assigned to Ozark, instead it goes along with two other 24 hour ambulances based in the other towns, and a 12 hour ambulance based at one of the manned stations... However, these ambulances don't stay in one area. Instead, they cover the every part of Christian County and for the most part do a good job, but they are also often called to different counties because Cox Health systems is in trouble due to staffing problems caused by continuous fighting... So this leads to the problem of an ambulance not always being available.... I agree that ten dollars is a little steep for each call and think that there can be changes.... I also think that there are some more changes that need to be made... As I said before, I am on a conflicting department and not OFD. But since I live in Ozark, I have to still support them because I know about this town and it really disgusts me sometimes.... The town is so political and run by the same people that nothing can pass or be improved because they don't wanna pay taxes.... The high school I attend is over 50 years old and the roofs are leaking unbelievably. We have no air conditioning which I will admit to being pampered on because it is a nice luxury... The saddest part though is that these people rejected flouridation of the water supply which comes from a local river because they didn't want to pay the taxes and heard that ingesting flouride is bad for you.... If they think that is bad...take a look at the water....it is contaminated by raw sewage and human waste, as well as different chemicals and people swim in it.... the town has no swimming signs in the river because it is so contaminated....All of these people are missing teeth but would rather have that than clean water to drink....It is just beyond me.... Don't think I'm bad, I just don't get along well with this town and As some of you have said on here.... This town will one day realize how big of a hole they have dug themselves in....Keep replying, I enjoy hearing what others have to say on the matter........Everyone stay safe......
Cadet Adam Spencer
Nixa Fire District
Nixa, MO 65714
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