I am writing in response to the meeting held on Aug. 16 at the Ashville fire hall in regards to the purchase of a building in the hamlet of Ashville to be turned into a fire station.
One of the first issues that everyone addresses is the cost. The purchase of the building is bid at $85,000. This is only the initial cost. It would have to be renovated, equipment purchased, and then maintained. An article in The Post-Journal stated that there is $500,000 in the treasury, so money is no object, but nobody mentioned that a large part of that is already used in the budget for the year, so that amount is not an accurate figure. Questions about this need to be addressed. We also have to look at the issue of dollars to keep the equipment that we already have in good working order and to be able to purchase new if needed. We pay a fire tax to have fire trucks available to us, but the ambulance is a real bonus for us and our tax does not cover this. If the fire department did not supply this, we would have to rely on an ambulance to come from Jamestown.
Another concern is the response time to a call. The Stow building is about as close to the center of North Harmony as you can get. We are fortunate enough to live in a time with mutual aid. This means that when a 911 call comes into Mayville, it is dispatched to surrounding areas as well, so we are protected by surrounding departments. The firemen that come to your rescue may not even be from the Ashville department. This mutual aid system keeps the response time to a minimum.
Not every life will be saved and not every house fire put out. If the fire in a house is already too far gone when the call comes in, it wouldn't matter if the fire station is across the street. It won't be saved anyway. And if a rescue call comes in and a fireman is standing next door, if he doesn't know how to use the equipment, that person won't be saved anyway. Nothing is perfect. They all respond as quickly as possible to give the same protection to everyone.
Someone mentioned at the meeting that having a station in Ashville and having people hang around there would get others interested in joining the department. I remember when the old station was in the center of town. People did hang there and it looked like all they ever had to do was wash their cars and smoke cigarettes when maybe they should be home with their families. This lack of productive time is not something I would encourage my kids to do. Instead maybe some of the funds people want to spend on another building would be better spent on educating young people about our services and encouraging them in a positive way to join the department.
Another concern is that the chairman of our commissioners cut short some of the important facts that some were trying to inform the people about, including the fire chief himself. Why would he not want that information to be told?
Everyone has their own opinion why we do or do not need a new station in Ashville, and whatever decision is made not everyone will be happy. But if we use common sense, get out of our boxes, look at the big picture, and study the facts, I'm sure everyone will see that we are all protected equally with the facility that we already have.
These firemen are all volunteers and do their very best to protect all of us whether they are in Ashville or surrounding departments. If you want to make a difference in your world, maybe you should consider joining.
Linda Gleason lives in Ashville.