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  1. #1
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    Angry Fla. Volunteers compete for fire services

    From the front page. So what is everyone's opinions on this. And lets try and keep it clean.


    I dont agree with a volunteer department trying to squueze out a career department. I have nothing against volunteer departments but this type of activity is what gives volunteer departments a bad wrap.

    LAUDERDALE-BY-THE-SEA, Fla.-- Reporting to a gas leak in shorts and deck shoes. Using a fire truck to trim palm trees. Sending crews rushing to an emergency rescue -- of a dog in a canal.

    Such are the complaints against the town's volunteer fire department.

    Volunteer firefighters don't consider such incidents problems, but rather examples of neighbors helping neighbors.

    However, the Broward Sheriff's Office's Department of Fire Rescue -- the town's other fire service -- considers such behavior dangerous.

    The battle between departments has played out for months in front of town commissioners and residents. Who should provide fire protection: volunteers or professionals?

    The red-hot issue spread through the town of 7,000 people recently when volunteers proposed squeezing out paid firefighters to take over fire calls for the entire seaside community. Lauderdale-by-the-Sea is one of the few Broward County towns with a volunteer fire department, along with Coral Springs and Plantation.

    Tonight at 6, both volunteers and professionals will meet at City Hall, 4501 Ocean Drive, for a fire service workshop to discuss the issues.

    Fire service wasn't an issue until annexation in 2001 nearly doubled the size of the town.

    Volunteers had exclusively served the original section of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.

    Annexation of the area known as South Beach brought with it the county's paid fire service.

    The plan was for the new area to keep their paid service and the original town to keep the volunteers. That plan began to fall apart when the annexed area was charged $522 a year in fire protection fees and the older part of town only $92.

    After attempts to merge the two fire services failed, commissioners decided to adopt one fee for the town, $260 per household.

    Now, volunteer Fire Chief Jim Silverstone, also a town commissioner, said his 60-person department is ready to handle fire calls without help from professionals. Silverstone said the town passed a resolution last year that said the volunteers could take over if they are fully trained, certified and their service is "fiscally prudent."

    Silverstone said his department would be able to provide services for $500,000 a year, compared with $2 million a year for the professional fire rescue.

    Volunteers, who have served the area since the 1950s, would keep the hometown image residents have come to expect, Silverstone said.

    "A lot of fire departments, if your cat is stuck in a tree, they won't answer," he said. "But we will."

    Todd LeDuc, deputy fire chief for the paid service, said volunteers aren't ready to go it alone.

    "No one has got hurt or killed yet, but it's a matter of time," LeDuc said.

    John Frailey, Lauderdale-by-the Sea district chief for the professional firefighters, registered 12 of 17 complaint letters against the volunteers.

    According to the complaint letters:

    Aug. 29 : Silverstone allegedly went into a "potentially explosive environment wearing a T-shirt, shorts and deck shoes" to investigate a gas leak. The building had been evacuated by professional firefighters. Silverstone said he arrived first to the scene and evacuated people standing too close to the building. He was dressed inappropriately because he came directly from work, a few blocks down the street. Silverstone said he was asked to enter the building by Sheriff's Office fire rescue crews. June 27: Volunteers used a fire engine to trim palm trees, a misuse, Frailey said. A neighbor reported a fireman "lying on his back trimming a palm tree with a chainsaw." Silverstone said it was a training drill for rookies to practice with chainsaws, skills that are used in the event of hurricane cleanup, he said.

    Sept. 23, 2005: Volunteers created a safety hazard when they sent fire crews on an emergency call to rescue a dog in a canal. Silverstone said he has no regrets about rescuing the dog. He said the pet belonged to Jim Pollock, volunteer assistant fire chief.

    Mayor Oliver Parker said he plans to ask each department about their role, ongoing problems and the cost of their services.

    "They need to show they can do the job," said Parker of the volunteers. "Whether they can show us that, I don't know."

    Residents have mixed opinions.

    Karen Webster, 60, said she likes having both departments.

    "If one's busy at least you are going to have the other," said Webster, who lives in the annexed part of town.

    Gil Morrow, 47, who lives behind the volunteer firehouse, said volunteers are ready to handle calls alone.

    "They are fully capable to handling the area," Morrow said. " From what I see, they are doing a good job."
    Last edited by Tann3100; 09-27-2006 at 10:12 AM. Reason: put original article in
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    I would need a whole lot more information before I could make a call on this situation. The bigger question to me is why is the Sheriffs Dept. providing paid fire services.
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    Hmm, an area that was protected by vols until the Govt annexed more area, which included a paid service. People got upset that they were paying so much more for the paid service so they let them pay less and forced those in the vol area to pay more. Seems pretty simple to me....let the paid keep covering the paid area and let the vols keep covering the vol area. The vol's budget should be increasing now that their area is paying a higher tax for it, although I'm guessing that extra money is not going to them but to someone else.

    I'm betting there is more to this story as well.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tann3100
    I dont agree with a volunteer department trying to squueze out a career department. I have nothing against volunteer departments but this type of activity is what gives volunteer departments a bad wrap.
    As Bones clearly points out, the volunteer dept was already well established. They're not trying to "squueze" anyone out, they just want to go on protecting the very same community that they have for decades. Let's try to have just a little objectivity here before we call for a huge IAFF rally. When was the last time anyone heard of a vollie dept replacing a paid one?


    On a different note, it made me nauseous how many times I saw "volunteers or professionals" in that article. THAT is what gives volunteer depts a bad rap, implying that they're less than professional.
    Last edited by Chauffer6; 09-26-2006 at 04:56 PM.

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    First off, I have no problem considering a volunteer firefighter a professional provided he acts like one. As a military reservist, I've been on that side of the fence. Volunteers can act like professionals, and some career guys don't. However, if the Volunteer Chief thinks it's okay to walk into a gas leak in shorts and deck shoes, and sees nothing wrong with responding lights and sirens to an animal emergency for the Asst. Chief's dog, then I would say that his professionalism is lacking.
    Last edited by gunnyv; 09-26-2006 at 05:41 PM. Reason: spelling

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chauffer6
    As Bones clearly points out, the volunteer dept was already well established. They're not trying to "squueze" anyone out, they just want to go on protecting the very same community that they have for decades. Let's try to have just a little objectivity here before we call for a huge IAFF rally. When was the last time anyone heard of a vollie dept replacing a paid one?


    On a different note, it made me nauseous how many times I saw "volunteers or professionals" in that article. THAT is what gives volunteer depts a bad rap, implying that they're less than professional.

    If you read my article I have nothing against vollies. HOw many times has this happened a bunch. Ive seen places here close to me where a vollie department approached the city government and said we can do this alot cheaper let us take it over.

    So in other words get your facts straight and read what I said before you assume and make a *** out of yourself.

    Oh and I agree with bones but the way I read it was that they were trying to do away with the whole paid department and go strickly vollie city wide.
    Last edited by Tann3100; 09-26-2006 at 06:10 PM.
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    The volunteers seem to have a long history there with the paid guys trying to squeeze in - and put the squeeeze on the taxpayer. Pay more for less ?? I think not.

    Clearly the vollies there can do it - like they do in 85% plus of the country !

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    Thumbs down And...............

    Several points.
    1. Someone should be beating up the Newspaper for not getting the definition of "Professional" straight. Implying that professionalism is conferred by a paycheck is just flat out wrong. Professionalism is EARNED thru Education, Experience, and (Most Importantly) Attitude. The Paycheck is irrelevant.
    2. Sheriff's Department? That is ........ never mind.
    3. Being that I am a retired Career Firefighter and Officer, some will get quite bent out of shape by this, but what's wrong with the Volunteers trying to shove the Career operation out? Government is always looking to contract out Services, just that when Fire is mentioned, suddenly it becomes a problem. Why?? Low bid is Low Bid. If you can do it EQUALLY well, but for less money, then you should get the contract. The fact that it involves Fire Services, instead of Street cleaning is absolutely immaterial.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hwoods
    Several points.
    1. Someone should be beating up the Newspaper for not getting the definition of "Professional" straight. Implying that professionalism is conferred by a paycheck is just flat out wrong. Professionalism is EARNED thru Education, Experience, and (Most Importantly) Attitude. The Paycheck is irrelevant.
    2. Sheriff's Department? That is ........ never mind.
    3. Being that I am a retired Career Firefighter and Officer, some will get quite bent out of shape by this, but what's wrong with the Volunteers trying to shove the Career operation out? Government is always looking to contract out Services, just that when Fire is mentioned, suddenly it becomes a problem. Why?? Low bid is Low Bid. If you can do it EQUALLY well, but for less money, then you should get the contract. The fact that it involves Fire Services, instead of Street cleaning is absolutely immaterial.
    Harve, I will have to respectfully disagree with you. When services are contracted out it is usually to a for profit company. It is my personal opinion that public safety should not be compromised for the sake of the almighty dollar.

    The key point in your statement is "equally" well.

    Can the volunteers in that area ensure adequate staffing and response time 24/7/365?
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo
    Harve, I will have to respectfully disagree with you. When services are contracted out it is usually to a for profit company. It is my personal opinion that public safety should not be compromised for the sake of the almighty dollar.

    The key point in your statement is "equally" well.

    Can the volunteers in that area ensure adequate staffing and response time 24/7/365?
    We don't disagree Cap, When I said Equal, I meant just that, with factors like staffing on the floor, (like PG) not on the Beach. Other items including, but not limited to, Training, SOPs, Outreach Programs, Inspections, etc. MUST also be AT LEAST equal to what is provided by the "Other" service. If you want to have your team play in the league, they have to meet the same franchise requirements as the other teams.
    Last edited by hwoods; 09-27-2006 at 07:33 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tann3100
    If you read my article I have nothing against vollies.
    I never said or meant to suggest that you did. But your initial post, coupled with the "" emote sure did come across like you were angry that a bunch of vollies were coming out of nowhere and trying to squeeze out this career dept, which is clearly not the case.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tann3100
    HOw many times has this happened a bunch. Ive seen places here close to me where a vollie department approached the city government and said we can do this alot cheaper let us take it over.
    And have they succeeded in pushing an established career dept out? If so, can you tell me exactly what depts this happened to? I'm genuinely interested. As you say yourself, let's get the FACTS straight, not just rumors or conjecture.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tann3100
    So in other words get your facts straight and read what I said before you assume and make a *** out of yourself.
    No offense, but I find it slightly amusing that you're telling ME to get my facts straight and read what was said, then the very next thing you say is this:

    Quote Originally Posted by Tann3100
    Oh and I agree with bones but the way I read it was that they were trying to do away with the whole paid department and go strickly vollie city wide.
    Now who's the one who needs to read and get their facts straight? You started this thread based on the incorrect assumption that there were a bunch of vollies trying to put union brothers (if this Sheriff's dept run agency even IS union) out of work by squeezing them out. We've already established that is not the case.

    I have no personal stake in either agency in this article, but I feel like we all have a stake in how we, as FIREFIGHTERS, are perceived by the public. Issues with career depts (like the chucklehead stealing the rig last week) bother me just as much as issues with the vollies. I don't sit here as a vollie pointing and snickering and saying "good! that makes us look better!" anytime a negative incident occurs with a paid guy or dept. Nor do I feel the need to be an alarmist for either side of the issue when it comes to paid depts taking over vollie territories if those particular vollies can no longer adequately protect the public. I do take issue with the over generalization and stereotyping that goes on. Just because you're paid doesn't mean you're automatically "professional", and just because you're volunteer doesn't mean you aren't every bit as "professional" as the next guy. And I'm not talking about the literal definition of the word, meaning "one's profession", I'm talking about the more common meaning of the term, as in "to provide a high standard of service".

    In any case, if these vollies down there are indeed yahoos and aren't up to the task, then perhaps they should be replaced with a superior service, no question about it. I don't live there or know a thing about them other than what I read (and there are always more sides to a story), so I'm certainly not fit to judge them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnyv
    However, if the Volunteer Chief thinks it's okay to walk into a gas leak in shorts and deck shoes, and sees nothing wrong with responding lights and sirens to an animal emergency for the Asst. Chief's dog, then I would say that his professionalism is lacking.
    On the first case, the volonteer fire chief arrived first on scene, start the evacuation and reported a size up for a natural gas leak. Then the 'pro' arrived and said it was only a solvent smell from the paint shop and asked the volonteer fire chief to go inside to continue the evacuation. It was really a natural gas leak, and the 'pro' chief who arrived on scene later try to blame it on the vol chief.

    On the second case, the volunteers were dispatched by the 'pro' dispatch as for any other emergency call. When it was known that it was for a drowning dog, the response mode was downgraded.


    The main issue is that the 'pro' dept is trying for the last few months to destroy the volunteer department. Breaking their contract the 'pro' are now not dispatching the volunteer on some type of fire, refusing to provide pre fire plan, refusing to provide common training sessions, ignoring the volunteers on the fire scene. In fact the 'pro' would like to take over the volunteer. That's why the volunteers are fighting back.

    The 'pro' have only one engine with a crew of 3, and their next automatic aid is more than 8 miles away (far above the maximum 5 miles mandated by ISO for automatic aid). At the same time, the 'vol' have 2 engines and 1 squrt and are responding with an average of 14 certified FF on scene.

    On the last two structure fires that the town had this year, the volunteers were on scene BEFORE the 'pro'.

    I understand and agree why the paid firefighters are fighting to try to keep their job here where they average only one call a day. However, trying to play a dirty fight by going door to door to say that the volunteers are unsafe and that the pro are the only real guys in town is a miscalculation from their part. Everyone is doing mistakes, pro or vollies. If the vollies enter the same kind of mud war by reporting to the public what wrongdoings these 'professionals super-heroes firefighters' are doing on a daily basis everybody will loose.
    Last edited by patrickf; 09-27-2006 at 10:23 AM.

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    Just for the record, BSO took over the operations of the Fire-Rescue division from the Broward County Commission in October of 2003. The BSO does not provide fire protection to Broward County, the BSO Fire Rescue Department does. BSO descibes itself as a "Full Service Public Service Agency", the city FD's in Broward that were brought under BSO in '03 brought all their full time FF's with them. BSO only provides the administrative support. No different than any other Public Service, it's just called the Broward Sheriff's Office; although it's still strange seeing a red engine with "Sheriff's Office" on the side pulling up on the scene. The FF's I've spoke with seem to like the BSO arrangement, it works well for them.

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    So where can I find the article that started this thread?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chauffer6
    I never said or meant to suggest that you did. But your initial post, coupled with the "" emote sure did come across like you were angry that a bunch of vollies were coming out of nowhere and trying to squeeze out this career dept, which is clearly not the case.


    And have they succeeded in pushing an established career dept out? If so, can you tell me exactly what depts this happened to? I'm genuinely interested. As you say yourself, let's get the FACTS straight, not just rumors or conjecture.


    No offense, but I find it slightly amusing that you're telling ME to get my facts straight and read what was said, then the very next thing you say is this:


    Now who's the one who needs to read and get their facts straight? You started this thread based on the incorrect assumption that there were a bunch of vollies trying to put union brothers (if this Sheriff's dept run agency even IS union) out of work by squeezing them out. We've already established that is not the case.

    I have no personal stake in either agency in this article, but I feel like we all have a stake in how we, as FIREFIGHTERS, are perceived by the public. Issues with career depts (like the chucklehead stealing the rig last week) bother me just as much as issues with the vollies. I don't sit here as a vollie pointing and snickering and saying "good! that makes us look better!" anytime a negative incident occurs with a paid guy or dept. Nor do I feel the need to be an alarmist for either side of the issue when it comes to paid depts taking over vollie territories if those particular vollies can no longer adequately protect the public. I do take issue with the over generalization and stereotyping that goes on. Just because you're paid doesn't mean you're automatically "professional", and just because you're volunteer doesn't mean you aren't every bit as "professional" as the next guy. And I'm not talking about the literal definition of the word, meaning "one's profession", I'm talking about the more common meaning of the term, as in "to provide a high standard of service".

    In any case, if these vollies down there are indeed yahoos and aren't up to the task, then perhaps they should be replaced with a superior service, no question about it. I don't live there or know a thing about them other than what I read (and there are always more sides to a story), so I'm certainly not fit to judge them.

    You know what I will admit I was wrong and do apologize because I took what the article was saying the wrong way.


    Now who's the one who needs to read and get their facts straight? You started this thread based on the incorrect assumption that there were a bunch of vollies trying to put union brothers (if this Sheriff's dept run agency even IS union) out of work by squeezing them out. We've already established that is not the case.
    Now where in any of my post did I say they were try to put union brothers out? In what post did I even mention union? So lets not bring up a union issue when in no way did I intend it to be .

    Now onto the other part in nowhere did I say that the paid guys are more professional. I dont beleive just because we get a pay check makes us any more professional. I seen paid guys act like yahoos and likewise so thats not a issue with me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tann3100
    Now where in any of my post did I say they were try to put union brothers out? In what post did I even mention union? So lets not bring up a union issue when in no way did I intend it to be .
    You're right, you didn't say that. I took it to be implied by your saying "I dont agree with a volunteer department trying to squueze out a career department" coupled with the fact that your signature displays your IAFF affiliation. Since the vast majority of career depts are union shops, it stood to reason you had a problem (as I think most union guys would) with union brothers being put out of work for any reason, much less by volunteers. If I was wrong, and that wasn't the underlying point of your post, then I apologize.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tann3100
    Now onto the other part in nowhere did I say that the paid guys are more professional. I dont beleive just because we get a pay check makes us any more professional. I seen paid guys act like yahoos and likewise so thats not a issue with me.
    That part wasn't directed towards you at all, it was just in general. More of the fact that the article itself so many times kept making a distinction between "volunteer" and "professional", which always gets me as it makes it sound like unless you get a paycheck, you couldn't possibly provide a "professional" standard of service.

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    I am the proud Chief of the VFD in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea. In brief, this is a political turf battle that may develop into an unsafe environment for our troops – on both sides. That is unacceptable. This is not about Vols vs. Career. We are both professional in our duties. An interesting fact is most of the structures in town are build to hurricane code. We average about 350 calls a year of which 5 requires the use of a water supply. We train constantly with highly qualified instructors and have one of the highest passing rates in the state along with one of the highest passing scores for the state required firefighter 1 certification. We have simply earned the right to keep on doing what we love and which we are proud to do and are continually finding ways to improve.

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    Glad you made it in chief and welcome. Maybe you can shed light on this. So your department dont want to take away nothing you all just want to keep serving the same area that you have always served until it was annexed I take it?

    SO what brought all this on?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chauffer6
    You're right, you didn't say that. I took it to be implied by your saying "I dont agree with a volunteer department trying to squueze out a career department" coupled with the fact that your signature displays your IAFF affiliation. Since the vast majority of career depts are union shops, it stood to reason you had a problem (as I think most union guys would) with union brothers being put out of work for any reason, much less by volunteers. If I was wrong, and that wasn't the underlying point of your post, then I apologize.


    That part wasn't directed towards you at all, it was just in general. More of the fact that the article itself so many times kept making a distinction between "volunteer" and "professional", which always gets me as it makes it sound like unless you get a paycheck, you couldn't possibly provide a "professional" standard of service.
    Thanks bro (Handshake). I agree with you that most media try to make it seem as if a volunteer Dept. is less professional that a career dept. I do think if they want to differ the two they need to come up with a new way. As I said I have seen yahoo's on both sides of the fence and seen volunteer departments that were more professional than some of the paid departments I know of.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tann3100
    Glad you made it in chief and welcome. Maybe you can shed light on this. So your department dont want to take away nothing you all just want to keep serving the same area that you have always served until it was annexed I take it?
    I think its the other way around. The city (served by the volunteer fire departent) annexed area that was previously unincorporated (which was served by the BSO's Fire/Rescue Division)

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    The area in question “referred to as old town” was an unincorporated area. It was served by a career dept. with one engine and a med unit which served the entire town. By the way we are talking about a total population of about 6,500. The population in old town was about 2,600. The career department took over that area from another Vol. dept. some time ago. Before the annexation an agreement was made between the new and old parts of town to keep what was in place and have each pay accordingly. Political pressure changed that agreement without public input about 2 years later. The public rose up. The town then passed a resolution directing the VFD, with town’s support, to be the sole fire suppression entity in town, once it addressed some concerns. That became our goal to which we have made great strides to achieve and I believe have accomplished. We are now saying we have done our part and it’s time to readdress the resolution.

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    Quote Originally Posted by k3twpfire
    I think its the other way around. The city (served by the volunteer fire departent) annexed area that was previously unincorporated (which was served by the BSO's Fire/Rescue Division)
    You are correct - the annexed area was served by BSO. We are actually considered the Town of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea. The Town is a half mile wide and about two miles long with the western border being the Intercoastal Waterway and the eastern border being the Atlantic Ocean, the southern border is the city of Fort Lauderdale and the northern border is the city of Pompano Beach.

    I am the Chief’s Executive Assistant and the Chaplain for the Lauderdale-By-The-Sea Volunteer Fire Dept. We having been serving the Town since 1961.

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    I'm sure the area wasn't just annexxed. The public had some input into weather they wished to be annexxed and the majority ruled.
    Once annexxed the area should recieve the same level of service as the other incorporated areas of the annexing city. This being Public safety or garbage collection. They should have been made aware of what the levels of service would be prior to any vote and then made up their minds to vote for or against annexation based on their level of comfort with the service provided and the tax rate. Not living there I don't know if this was done or not.

    Larry

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    Quote Originally Posted by k3twpfire
    I think its the other way around. The city (served by the volunteer fire departent) annexed area that was previously unincorporated (which was served by the BSO's Fire/Rescue Division)
    I think you're right. The Town(Vol) annexed the outlying area served by BSO(Career). Now both organizations are serving the Town.

    The thing that got me from the article was that when the Town annexed the outlying area the residents of the outlying area complained that their Fire Tax was higher then those in the Town center ($300 vs $92'ish?). In other words, the residents who were paying for the paid service were upset that those being served by the volunteer service were paying less. Now they've equalized the Tax so that the residents served by the volunteer service are paying significantly more then they used to and essentially subsidizing the paid service for the outlying area.
    Last edited by voyager9; 09-27-2006 at 01:21 PM.

  25. #25
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    Arrow Clarification

    Quote Originally Posted by REVANANT
    I'm sure the area wasn't just annexxed. The public had some input into weather they wished to be annexxed and the majority ruled.
    Once annexxed the area should recieve the same level of service as the other incorporated areas of the annexing city. This being Public safety or garbage collection. They should have been made aware of what the levels of service would be prior to any vote and then made up their minds to vote for or against annexation based on their level of comfort with the service provided and the tax rate. Not living there I don't know if this was done or not.

    Larry
    The people in the annexed area voted to become a part of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea and as part of that there was a stipulation that they wanted to keep their career fire service - BSO. So the Town created two fire districts - and said if you want keep your service in the newly annexed area you will pay for it, and in the old part of Town you will keep the volunteers and pay for it. In the annexed area the fire assessment was $532 and in old part of Town it was $92 for the volunteers. Then through a lot of politicking, misinformation, and fear mongering - the volunteers were consolidated with the career department. The citizens in the annexed area fire assessment went down to $262 dollars and citizens in old Town went up to $262. And it goes on from there.

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