Volunteer with your checkbooks

Volunteer with your checkbooks

There are 10 comments on the Evening Sun story from Oct 14, 2010, titled Volunteer with your checkbooks. In it, Evening Sun reports that:

In about 60 B.C., Julius Caesar created what was probably the world's first fire department.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Evening Sun.

Dr Oz

Duncannon, PA

#1 Oct 14, 2010
Editor,
You are exactly correct. Volunteer fire companies thrived in the 1970's, when the "one income family" was the norm. Today, single income families are rare.
Unfortunately, the cost of living, school taxes, municipal tax increases stretch the purse strings kinda tight. I am inclined to complain less if I know my municipal tax increase is going to fund the fire/EMS/police agencies. I would much rather pay a 0.3 to 0.5 mill tax increase for these services verses having my local fire department resort to susbscription service, meaning if I don't pay my subscription, they won't put out my fire. This still occurs in some areas of the US. Don't confuse subscription fire service for subscription ambulance service, ambulance subscription doesn't work the same way fire subscription does.
The county-wide issue seems like a good idea at first. But just like the state, where most money goes to the larger cities. Most of that money would probably end up in Gettysburg instead of the areas where it might be needed more.
Volunteering generously with our wallets if we can't volunteer as firefighters is greatly appreciated by the volunteer firefighters. Some of just can't do that. Perhaps there is another option. If you can't or aren't interested in being avolunteer firefighter, you can still volunteer to help out at the fund raisers. Having been a volunteer firefighter for 25+ years, I will tell you that some great friendships have been forged through the volunteer fire service. Volunteering is what you make of it. You can make it a fun time, or you can make it feel like an unpaying job.
If you just help your local fire company at a few of their fundraisers and give some of the firefighters a bit of a break, you will be greatly appreciated. Who knows, you might find that you have a new feeling of pride in yourself... Something to think about.....
John

Hanover, PA

#2 Oct 14, 2010
Very true and lets not forget that when it comes down to it the Townships, boroughs and municipalities are required BY law to provide this fire protection. Your volunteer departments off set this huge burden they would have to pay for. Let me think about this for a second, would I rather give approx $60-$70 dollars a year in the form as a tax or would I rather be paying 4-5 times that amount becasue the local governments have to pay for a fully staffed 24 hour fire department. Think about for a moment how much that will cost you in the end.

Good bad or indifferent lets make this clear, if this tax does not go thru give your volunteer department a matter of a few years and they will not be able to respond because every one of their members are burnt out from all the fund raising they do and you will have NO choice in the huge tax that would be given to you for your "paid" fire department.
NoCasino

Parkville, MD

#3 Oct 14, 2010
Fire Tax, yes. Too many people ignore donating to their local fire department. Keep the fire tax and please, please donate to your local fire company annually. Thank You.
Fire Marshal Bill

Lancaster, PA

#4 Oct 14, 2010
NoCasino wrote:
Fire Tax, yes. Too many people ignore donating to their local fire department. Keep the fire tax and please, please donate to your local fire company annually. Thank You.
DAMN I am agreeing with NoCasino?

First, many of these people not supporting the local FD, are not really ignoring, but they come from areas where the fire departments are completely supported by their tax dollars, and they think that is the case here. When they relocate because of the low taxes they don't realized just what they are or are not getting for these lower taxes.

As for the additional cost being four or five times what it close now, I believe that may be a bit low for annual cost, as there would be maintenance on the apparatus and facilities, as well as utilities. And that for each engine/pumper they should have four people around the clock minimum, and when you allow for sick and annual leave each engine will require about 15 people to be employed MINIMUM depending on what kind of shift these people will work. Now with 34 municipalities in the county, should each have only one engine company, that will mean about 500 jobs. Now we have to calculate not only the salaries for these fire fighters, but health insurance, and other benefits such as retirement, uniforms, and training this will drive the cost way up. And there is all the periodical re-training that is required. This ups the cost.

Then you have to think of the cost of initial start up. Since most departments in the county are corporations, and have their own equipment and buildings the municipalities would have to start from scratch with all of this. I would imagine they could construct simple pole buildings with the appropriate facilities, nothing fancy of course, for $100,00 to $150,000.
and then the apparatus starts at about $450,000 now and equipment for that pumper about the same.$2,000 in turn out gear for each of those 15 fire fighters is another $30,000 and a minimum of five pieces of Breathing Apparatus per station at $4,000 each and the cost continues to rise.

And this is just for a pumper/engine, when we start to talk about rescue units and aerial apparatus the cost goes up.

Those of us living here and being served by volunteer fire departments just have no idea how good we have it. And I don't think the proposed fire tax will still meet the requirements of the departments to keep operating, even with volunteer personnel staffing the apparatus.
John

Hanover, PA

#5 Oct 14, 2010
well said,

I myself am a volunteer for this said department and I can 100% say 15 years ago this was a common thing, we LOVED fundraising and that was part of the whole volunteer thing. But now most of us (just like everyone else) has to have a part time job or two to make ends meet. Now look at it this way myself puts certin priorities in my life before others, family and Job comes first and if I have to miss a bingo or any other fundraising activity I will miss it in a heart beat.

As a side note I would ask that anyone that does not support a minor tax to help their local fire department, get an application and HELP. We all (local fire departments) need help even if its just fundraising. If any of you would like to know exactly what it entails to be a volunteer send me an email and I can give you a break down of the training requirements just to BEGIN to go on emergency calls.

FYI
EMT- 140 hours $300
CPR 3 hours $65
Bloodborne Path 3 hours $30
EVOC (driving) 16 hours $50
ITLS (trauma) 16 hours $200

Haz mat Operations 24 hours
Fire-
Intro 16 hours $95
Support 48 hours $125
Extierior 42 hours $150
Interior 60 hours $175

Engine Co ops 16 hours $75

Vehicle Rescue-
Awareness 16 hours $75
Operations 16 hours $75
Technician 24 hours $95

Incident command
ICS 300 16 hours $100
ICS 400 16 hours $95

This is just the basics and as everyone can see when you volunteer you are volunteering to put ALOT of time into training and as you can see the hours required for the BASICS are alot for everyone who has a family, Job and other social obligations.
double standard

Portsmouth, VA

#6 Oct 15, 2010
But what is wrong with MT JOY paying $35,000 a year split between all 4 fire departments. Isn't that enough?

$35,000/4 =$8,750 each if it were divided equally among each of those departments. That is clearly enough stipened to cover any costs that the department might encounter throughout the year even if that exact same amount were contributed by 2-3 other municipalities. For estimates sake, take $9,000 * 4 =$36,000. Compare that to the township's operating budget and see how long they would make it operating on $36,000 a year. Why is it OK to ask an essential public safety agency to operate on it?

Even at $86,000/4 =$21,500 each if it were split equally.

I'm obviously being sarcastic.

Did MT JOY consider what other benefits the other municipalities are providing to these departments? For example, insurance, fuel, interest free loans, etc? I hope the other townships considering enacting this tax seriosuly consider it. You never know just how good something is until its gone. A little now or alot later.
Fire Marshal Bill

Lancaster, PA

#7 Oct 15, 2010
double standard wrote:
But what is wrong with MT JOY paying $35,000 a year split between all 4 fire departments. Isn't that enough?
$35,000/4 =$8,750 each if it were divided equally among each of those departments. That is clearly enough stipened to cover any costs that the department might encounter throughout the year even if that exact same amount were contributed by 2-3 other municipalities. For estimates sake, take $9,000 * 4 =$36,000. Compare that to the township's operating budget and see how long they would make it operating on $36,000 a year. Why is it OK to ask an essential public safety agency to operate on it?
Even at $86,000/4 =$21,500 each if it were split equally.
I'm obviously being sarcastic.
Did MT JOY consider what other benefits the other municipalities are providing to these departments? For example, insurance, fuel, interest free loans, etc? I hope the other townships considering enacting this tax seriosuly consider it. You never know just how good something is until its gone. A little now or alot later.
First IN MY OPINION, distributing it equally is possibly an unfair way of doing it. I would suggest basing the distribution on the number of incidents the fire apparatus responded to in the past year. That way the department responding to the most incidents and putting the most mileage and work on the apparatus will be reimbursed the most. But then again looking at that different ways that would be unfair in the eyes of others.

But I do agree that withholding the money is not fair. And as I real Mt. Joy does not have a fire department within their boundaries so should these departments not renew their contract it could become very expensive for the township residents.

Although there are companies who will provide the service for the township on a contract basis, providing, the building, apparatus, and personnel. But I'll bet it will cost more than $35,000 a year.
The Point

Carlisle, PA

#8 Oct 15, 2010
I think everyone has lost the point of the topic.If I read the original topic correctly, Mt Joy Residents are the ONLY Township citizens in the county paying the Fire Tax. In addition, the MJT township always paid additional money from the General Fund to the Fire Companies that was 3 x's more than any other township. It appears that the issue is EQUITIABLE distribution of the Donations so that the OTHER townships will step up to the plate. Additonally, hopefully, many citizens do DONATE annually to the local fire departments. I do donate generously and don't begrudge the money at all. I wouldn't even mind keeping MJT's donation the same IF I KNEW that the other townships did the same. I live near one of the Fire Stations and I hear those sirens going off all hours of the day and night.. God Bless the Volunteers, their families and Thank You. And I thank MJT for doing their more than their share!!!!
The only thing that upset me was that when MJT called in the Fire Departments to discuss lowering their donation and why, the very first thing the fire companies did was to threaten MJT to not put out fires in MJT. That gave me a pause to think.
Dennis

York, PA

#9 Oct 15, 2010
The sad part is that this makes all of these fire co.'s seem greedy. You see fire dept's fighting the townships over money, then turning around and wanting to tax the people that you protect. Pretty soon the public will want to give you the finger rather than a donation. It's a sad state that we are in. I know what it takes to be involved in a vol. fire co., and I use to enjoy the fund raisers when I was younger, but things change. The internal battles are a big part of that. I for one am proud to be a vol., I believe in what I do for the community and stand by many others who are not ready to just let the vol. fire co. slip away.
YC Twp

Reading, PA

#10 Oct 15, 2010
Dennis wrote:
The sad part is that this makes all of these fire co.'s seem greedy. You see fire dept's fighting the townships over money, then turning around and wanting to tax the people that you protect. Pretty soon the public will want to give you the finger rather than a donation. It's a sad state that we are in. I know what it takes to be involved in a vol. fire co., and I use to enjoy the fund raisers when I was younger, but things change. The internal battles are a big part of that. I for one am proud to be a vol., I believe in what I do for the community and stand by many others who are not ready to just let the vol. fire co. slip away.
On the surface it may look like there greedy, but if the public is educated by there local fd and municipality as to what they do and what they need it makes sense.

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