To The Daily Sun,
I often find myself wishing we could do things the same way we might have done 70 years ago.
In 1950, the Sanbornton Volunteer Fire Department responded to somewhere around eight calls. 2016 produced 443 calls in Sanbornton. These days, Sanbornton Fire and Rescue call members get paid to respond. However, it is still a volunteer department in nature. Members get paid only when they show up. Until recently, I thought that Sanbornton did not need full-time staffing other than the chief. I thought, "We are a small community and have plenty of experienced and devoted personnel to cover the needs of the town." This feeling has changed for me recently.
I have been a firefighter in Sanbornton since 2013. Volunteering for fire and EMS is about helping your neighbors on the worst days of their lives. Members leave their beds in the middle of the night (often in the worst weather), leave holiday gatherings, kids' birthday parties and parenting duties. Spouses are left stranded at the grocery store and longstanding plans are canceled at the last moment. The members do not drop what they are doing and leave their day jobs because of the $11.50/hour they are paid for the time they spend on the call. They do it because they want to help and they know when their pager goes beep that one of their neighbors is asking for their help.
I have no plans to pursue my EMT, even though it would make me more useful to my department and my town. Similarly, I can only go to so many calls. It is a fact that there are many more qualified and dedicated members than me. I am just a firefighter and I go to the calls I can. The department could keep up with our increased call volume with 10 more volunteers. However, this would require at least 40 applicants due to the high dropout rate. It's just not for everybody.
After much thought and discussion, I realized that I cannot ask my fellow department members to increase their level of involvement if I am unable to do so myself. Chief Dexter is asking the townspeople for funds to hire two full-time EMT/firefighters at town meeting. These trained individuals will not work together all the time, nor will they work 24 hours a day. They will simply help alleviate the burden on the volunteers, the people who will continue to make sacrifices for their town and their neighbors.
Come vote at Sanbornton Town Meeting and support your Fire Department.
- Category: Letters
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