Rural fire board proposal means decrease in service

| May 20, 2020 1:00 AM

As a retired fire chief and past 16-year volunteer firefighter, I implore you to take action if you are a resident of the Whitefish Fire Service Area and recently received a letter about their upcoming contract negotiations with the City of Whitefish.

I can see this critical issue from both sides. If we take no action we could be facing response times of 30 minutes for both fire and ambulance as opposed to the current average response time of 90 seconds to have crews on the road en route the emergency. If you take no action, the consequences could be dire and irreversible. Is it money or pride? The board’s action could be putting our lives at risk.

Whitefish rural board already raised our rates by 60% with no plan for those dollars, and now are proposing to decrease our level of service.

Our area located outside Whitefish city limits has been served efficiently by Whitefish Fire Department for many years. Whitefish is a professionally staffed combination fire department that has 24-hour per day coverage. The current board is proposing they cancel that contract and start their own volunteer department as an option. Volunteerism is down nationwide and if there were an additional 10 to 15 volunteers they propose to start this new department, those individuals would already be volunteering at the city of Whitefish Fire Department, which currently only has a few volunteers to supplement the career staff.

Please take immediate action by writing before June 1. Tell them to negotiate in good faith with the city of Whitefish and maintain our current level of service. Please see Whitefish Fire Service Area Information on Facebook for additional details and updates.

Scott Miller, Whitefish