Lowell seeks solution to volunteer firefighter shortage

2013-06-30T19:30:00Z 2013-06-30T20:59:12Z Lowell seeks solution to volunteer firefighter shortageMelanie Csepiga Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
June 30, 2013 7:30 pm  • 

LOWELL | Some councilmen are hoping a planned meeting between the town and the trustees of West Creek, Cedar Creek and Eagle Creek will find answers for an increasingly strapped Volunteer Fire Department and ambulance service.

Lowell Town Council Vice President Craig Earley, D-1st, isn't so sure.

The council wants to expand the volunteers' roster to address a daytime emergency response shortage.

Earley, who is the liaison to both entities, told his fellow councilmen last week he needs some firm ideas on where the money to fund more firefighters will come from before talking with the townships.

"We need money. The townships have no money. We need to find what money we can get first," he said.

However, Earley's request to meet with a financial consultant was denied. Council President Edgar Corns, R-5th, and Councilmen Robert Philpot, R-2nd, and Donald Parker, D-3rd, opposed it.

While council members agreed expanding the roster is a good idea, no one offered any ideas on where the $2,500 to $3,000 to equip each additional firefighter would be found.

A 35-person cap on the roster was put in place two decades ago to avoid overextending township funds.

"It's becoming a critical issue," Earley said.

Tri-Creek emergency medical services personnel are sometimes needed to man the firetruck during daytime hours because of a lack of volunteers at that time.

"If you had another ambulance in town, the EMTs wouldn't be answering fire calls," Parker said.

The issues that drove town leaders to seek fire territory approval two years ago have not changed, Earley said.

An initial attempt was rejected by state officials due to improper documentation.

The second look at establishing a fire territory was quashed by the early withdrawal from the effort by Rosemarie Morrow, trustee for Eagle Creek Township, and the subsequent decision by Cedar Creek Township Trustee Alice Dahl to not participate. Dahl cited opposition to a new tax.

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