In response to a story published in the News-Journal and Delaware Online
by: Lou Angeli
The firefighters' responses that have been posted here are comments from their hearts. A fter all, theirs is an avocation, a job that pays nada...zilch. Delaware's volunteer firefighters and EMT's are a very special breed, the type of person who keeps alive one of America's greatest qualities -- the spirit of volunteerism.
As far as audits are concerned, there's no big deal. Most companies conduct their own 3rd party audits by licensed CPA's. So here's what Mr. Wagner will learn. To meet NFPA recommendations, adopted long ago by Delaware's fire companies, is not an inexpensive proposition. By some estimates, to train and equip a volunteer firefighter to the NFPA-1001 standard runs in the neighborhood of $10-$12K.
That pumper you see racing to the scene of a fire or auto accident is one of over a hundred operated by Delaware Fire Companies. Price tag: $250K plus. And as the fire service assumes more responsibilities -- such as HazMat and specialized rescue -- additional equipment and training is required, and such highly technical training comes at a steep price.
Audits will reveal to the Minner administration that volunteer fire companies have responded to the important need for better daytime response by hiring "paid" personnel to cover peak hours. Citizens certainly won't challenge such a program, because when it's their turn to make the 9-1-1 call, trained personnel are at their front door in minutes regardless of the time of day.
Mr. Wagner will also learn that to reward those who provide such a crucial service to the community, fire companies spend a few bucks for Christmas parties, the annual Banquet and perhaps a summer picnic. I believe that most will agree that such rewards are a small price to pay for the dedication of so many.
Regular audits are a great idea, and it's doubtful that fire companies will not cooperate with Mr. Wagner's office. After all, fire companies are corporations and their board members would be the fall guys if they fail to comply.
Just a note: Ranroad's random comments that theft and misuse of public funds is "common" -- well I'm unable to say from what orifice he pulled that information, so I'll simply note that his comment (ie common) has no basis in fact.
Historically, firefighters in this State vote the democratic ticket -- and any seasoned Delaware politician will tell you that volunteer firemen are the swing vote. Whoever the Republicans choose to go up against the next Democratic gubernatorial candidate, should place Route 52 on hold for a week or so, and make his/her first stop Delaware's Fire Stations. Thanks for allowing me to voice my opinion.