BELLAIRE VILLAGE Council may be feeling some heat after a decision it made at Thursday’s meeting.
Council members opted to cut ties with the Neffs Fire Department. The move came in light of the village’s dealing with a six-figure budget deficit.
The vote was taken despite the absence of two council members. We believe such an important matter should have received attention of the entire body.
In opting to go separate ways with the Neffs FD, council now plans to institute a volunteer fire department.
The move undoubtedly will prove a major money-saver for the All-American Town. That is a given.
The question that must be answered, however, does the switch place the village in harm’s way?
The Neffs Fire Department has served the village faithfully since replacing the paid Bellaire Fire Department. Neffs FD boasts a qualified and certified staff.
Properly staffing a volunteer fire department is no easy task.
Sufficient manpower is of primary concern. Having enough volunteers to handle the responsibilities 24/7 is debatable at best.
Equipment to properly outfit volunteer members will be costly. Turnout gear does not come cheaply.
Shadyside and Mead Township recently joined forces to form the OR&W Fire District to deal with the problems the Bellaire VFD is now facing.
The Neffs Fire Department is a proven commodity while a volunteer fire department in a community with major budget concerns may be a risky proposition.
Bellaire residents may also experience another downside of the change. Insurance rates may rise due to the unproven nature of a volunteer fire department.
Adequate fire protection is not too much to ask for. Only time will tell whether Bellaire Village Council’s cost-saving move ignites into a dangerous one as well.