Wilmington, NC

#1 Feb 6, 2012
The extreme venom spouted by a number of former volunteer firemen in New Hanover County is puzzling. They act like the county swept in and kicked them to the curb. This is just not true. The county did assume control of the stations and they are now staffed full time. The volunteers are still allowed to volunteer, the only change is who is in charge of the station. Why is this such a concern? I could understand how some of the displaced chiefs and assistant chiefs might have their noses out of joint, but the status of the rest of the volunteers remains the same, with the exception of who is in charge. If your goal is to be a volunteer fireman, what difference does it make who is in charge?

The volunteers did a wonderful job for many years, and the communities they served owe them their thanks. But, these changes are for the best. The stations now have coverage 24-7. Response times have been reduced. They now have EMT coverage. The ratings of the stations have improved, meaning lower homeowner insurance costs. The volunteers can still volunteer if they choose to do so. It is human nature to resist change, but once change occurs, and the change didn't cause the world to end after all, why can't everyone move forward in a positive way.

Final point: Some of the VFD's wound up with property and fire stations titled to them. I don't claim to understand how this happened, even after reading the explanation given from the county, especially since these properties and buildings were funded with taxes and donations from the public. Also, no one else was allowed to bid on providing these services, hence a monopoly, which I don't think is allowed or should be allowed by law. Here's the rub, some of the VFD's now rent these properties back to the county. I feel the taxpayers have a right to know who gets to keep this rent money and how it is spent. In a perfect and reasonable world, these properties should be signed over to the county without any further expense to the county. As for the fund raisers, why would the VFD(S) need to raise money anymore? If it is for charity as some have claimed, name the charity(s), and provide a public record of what was taken in, and how it was distributed. Unless you have something to hide, this should not be a problem. As of now, no news coverage on this issue, and no response from the state representatives of New Hanover County.

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