Fire Service

Dear?Editor,

I have read the comments in the paper and online. I have been in this valley since I was 5. I have watched the deterioration of the valley.

Right out of high school I started in fire and EMS field. That would have been about 30 years ago. My father took me to the fire house not only in Baltimore but in Wheeling when we moved here. I just have a lot of questions that someone needs to research.

I have nothing against volunteers and would back them if they were trying to do the right thing. Volunteers are still a very important part of every job in life. Look around and you will find them everywhere.

The questions here are many and someone needs to look at the whole picture. Neffs operated using levy money in Bellaire. This levy has not been looked at since it was passed. It should be up to the voters to decide if they want paid or volunteer.

Next let’s discuss the EMS side. Why is this not in question? They are not being turned over to a volunteer staff. They are being given to a private ambulance company. Shockingly, this company runs in the area and the general manager is going to be the new volunteer fire chief of Bellaire.

If this is a cost saving measure then why is it not being turned over to volunteers also? The village will still have an ambulance and could send their billing money to the general fund. Why has that question never been asked?

Yes everyone knows that Neffs filed chapter 11 bankruptcy. They also should know that they are current on ALL their bills. Chapter 11 is a protection to reorganize. Everyone also knows that most of their issues are from Workers Compensation. In which BWC has been in the paper.

My coworkers from Neffs Fire Department have been working hard to instill confidence in the public that we will be here as long as they need us! We have been striving everyday to improve the buildings, vehicles and staff training. Sometimes even if those funds come out of our own pocket. We do this because we care about our community and our profession. Did I mention that Bellaire taxes come out of our paychecks also.

Another topic is the equipment. I am sure everything was listed with both sides in the beginning and will be dealt with accordingly. Costs will be a factor no matter what is done. Some things need replaced and others will in the future. No matter who is there. However some repairs are minimal when you have paid crews to maintain equipment daily.

Personally they are looking at areas that have had volunteer departments in place for 75+ years. Some of them are struggling at times too. If this were truly feasible issue, then why was it not done when Bellaire disbanded years ago? Specially before people were working long hours and multiple jobs.

Will this change your insurance rating? YOU BET! Will it cost? Everything has a price. What will it cost the Village in Workers Compensation for volunteers? What about the costs for ladder, pump and pack testing fees the Village will have to pay? The fuel cost for the vehicles? A long with the utilities and building maintains, vehicle maintained? Would I like to see people’s jobs stable? YES! This valley loses enough jobs and income to other areas all the time.

Thank You,

Charli Gast

Bridgeport