Fire District 1 members attended the Parish Council meeting Jan. 17 to refute allegations of negligence and unresponsiveness brought before the Council at its December meeting by James Edwards, a concerned citizen.
Assistant Chief Charles Roge spoke to the Council to “set the record straight” (READ HIS SPEECH BELOW). Volunteer firefighter John Greely also spoke on behalf of the admittedly understaffed team at FD1.
“A fire rating of 10 is inexcusable,” said Councilman Russell Rachal. “Let’s get this show on the road and get more volunteers signed up to protect the people of the district.”
Chris Posey, a resident of FD 1, claimed the fire district has failed to file its required reports through the state fire marshal’s office since 2013. Posey said he knows of 16 people who turned in volunteer applications and no one has been contacted.
Newly elected Council Chair Patsy Ward Hoover said she’s received calls from residents complaining about their high insurance rates, which are affected by the fire district’s rating.
Harry Hawthorne, newly elected chairman of the FD 1 Board, said it costs him $17,000 per year for insurance on his home. He said the fire district has enough volunteers in name, but no one shows up to fires. He also claimed that 20 percent of the people that turned in volunteer applications never came to their scheduled interviews.
“People don’t want to be bothered,” he said. “It’s a lot easier for your neighbor to take care of your problems for you.”
Parish President Rick Nowlin said he feels the board is heading in the right direction. It has recently appointed three new board members. Nowlin offered to appoint Hoover and Rachal to an advisory committee to see if an amicable solution could be found.