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Don't be fooled by county-wide fire district
March 18, 2017
It has come to my attention that certain people in authority are pushing for a county wide fire district. While this sounds great on its face, there are many problems with this plan.

  • Volunteers will get paid better
     o False Administration will be better paid, staff will be hired, and volunteers will be ran off by paid staff. Volunteers who do basically the same job will be limited on how much they can be paid due to an opinion letter by the US Department of Labor, while paid staff/Chiefs will be paid handsomely.
  • We have better response to fires
     o Mostly False We can look to Boundary Ambulance to see what the plan is. Under Chief Lindsey (Chief of Boundary Ambulance) he removed outlaying ambulances and gave them away. Then he bought a large two wheel drive ambulance which is unusable in the winter when roads are bad, and is unable to fit down many rural people’s driveways. Response times have went 15 minutes in some areas to 45 minutes before an ambulance is there. It is worse in the winter.
  • It won’t cost that much
     o False Look at what was put forward at North Bench, $1.67 per $1,000 assessed value. So, let’s look at a property and house valued at $200,000. $334.00 per year for less coverage then you had when paying the average of $75.00 a year for your dues. Almost 4 ½ times more then you are paying now.
  • The people that are pushing for this, Chief Rohrwasser, South Boundary Fire Chief, and Chief Lindsey, Chief of EMS Boundary Ambulance and a Bonner County resident, only want the best for our community.
     o False Look at who are pushing for this. North Bench Fire chief who earns under $1,000 a month (I believe closer to $600), If Chief Rohrwasser becomes the Chief of County Fire, you can rest assured he will need to be paid more. Deputy Chiefs will see a huge pay raise. Yet the people doing the work, will see little to no pay raise, or simply ran off.
  • This will reduce my homeowners insurance
     o False Show me when insurance is lowered by going to a county wide fire. The current fire departments already provide that. So, no your insurance won’t be lowered.
  • The department will be able to get better equipment
     o Mostly false Stations with low call volume will have reduced equipment on hand. Again, look at Boundary Ambulance and the removal of outlaying ambulances. The argument was made that the outlaying ambulances are not used much so Chief Lindsey gave away these ambulances. The same will happen at County Wide Fire. You can bet that North Bench will get better equipment, equipment that wont be able to make it up a driveway because it is to rugged.
  • Honestly it cannot be that bad
     o True, If you are a chief that is pushing for this. Look at the departments currently, South Boundary has how many show up on a call? Very few, two or three people, and they are a taxing district. North Bench has a better turn out, but they are not on the tax rolls 4 to 6 people. Hall Mountain Fire and Curley Creek Fire, have large turnouts on fire and medical calls, their fire fighters are not paid. What does this show? The higher ups get big wages, but the boots on the ground get little.
  • County wide fire will be better trained
     o Mostly false The select few will receive training, above and beyond, to the point of being wasteful. This way they can flower up their resume and show everyone all the training they have. Meanwhile the volunteers will have to prove they are worthy of even basic skills training. Even if the volunteers are pulling the burden of manning stations. Then when something that looks good to the paper or a large incident then the paid staff will show up and take over.

There is a meeting that has not been made public, but I am letting you know. It is set for 6 p.m. Thursday, March 23, at the extension office behind the courthouse. Don’t let them shine you on and sell you a bill of goods.

Voice your displeasure with this course of action. Voice your displeasure with how the ambulance service is being run. Many of us would like to see you show up and demand that certain people step down and resign.
Bonners Ferry
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