Date: May 18, 2018 From Jack Riggle, President Whalehead Property Owners Association
The Corolla Fire Service District and the attendant taxation matter will come before the Currituck Commissioners at their 6:00 PM meeting on Monday, May 21st.
WPOA Members have a chance to be heard at this meeting. Jack Riggle will take the summary of any comments and present them at the meeting. Consequently, your response is urgent and needs to be very timely.
Why is there any issue? We thought the Service District had been agreed to and that the approximate tax for Corolla would be $.04 per hundred of assessed value. Last week we learned that the manpower requirement is to be increased and the assessed tax will be $.01 higher; this from an April 23rd Report on the Creation of the Corolla Fire Protection Service District.
In a letter to Corolla owners, Al Marzetti, the Vice President of the Fire & Rescue Squad as well as the President of the Fire & Rescue Foundation, laid out his case for keeping the plan as originally proposed and taking issue with the County Plan.
There are those who feel the original two man round the clock team will be adequate and they are not in favor of any increase from the initial proposal. Others see the merit in the increased manpower to better facilitate firefighting, particularly in our summer months when our houses are full and when we seem to have had the most fires.
Tim Bostaph is a WPOA Board Member and until earlier this week, was President of Corolla Fire & Rescue. Below he provides some background on the Fire District and its intended cost – he was responding to another of our Board Members:
First off I want you to understand this will create a ‘combined’ paid/volunteer squad with the volunteer chief in operational charge.
The original letter all Corolla property owners received last spring (2017) was from Corolla Fire & Rescue Squad (CFRS) i.e. the firefighters. I and then chief Rich Galganski signed that letter. That letter ESTIMATED a cost of .04/100 for 2 FFs at each station. After 94% of respondents agreed with the need for a tax district CFRS formally briefed and requested county to establish the district. As an all volunteer force up to this time we have, and still are, relying on someone to go to the station, get the first out engine and take it to the scene. Hopefully other volunteers will show up at the station or the scene in order to 1. pull hose and hook up the hydrant, 2. break the hose at the right spot to attach to the engine, 3. operate the engine pumps, and 4. put water on the fire. Under the best circumstances the fastest volunteer response can do this is 30-45 minutes. Sometimes we are lucky to have an EMT on duty at the station who is qualified to drive the engine, but that is only one person. When the professional FFs (Melton/Riley/et al) looked at our request and situation they realized that to have a truly effective first out firefighting response it would require 4 FFs on that first out engine. THIS IS A NATIONAL
FIREFIGHTING STANDARD. Also, functions that paid professional firefighter can perform (which volunteers can’t due training/age) require 4 persons to perform. Hence the extra penny in tax. There will be 4 at each station year round. Fire knows no season. Some have said we don’t need pd FFs at all because we haven’t had a major fire in 2 years. Firefighting isn’t about the past but the future. Remember 3 years ago (5 major fires and at least 12 houses destroyed or damaged). The FFs will perform other functions such as maintenance, hydrant testing, continuation training. Also remember that all of these paid FFs are also EMT qualified (we have a lot of medic calls year round).
As to monthly call breakdowns, we do keep them. There are fewer calls in Jan than July. This last Jan we had 12 calls of various sorts. Thru April we have had 72 total, ahead of last years calls.
Chief Melton’s letter states: Subsequently it was determined by the county that 2 personnel/station was insufficient for proper first-out engine response and proposed 4/station including a fire lieutenant overseeing both stations per shift along with a district fire captain.
If the county would thoroughly explain how this subsequent determination came about, it would go a long way toward calming those who still see the county as (if not an “adversary” or “boogey man”) frequently trying to overmilk its cash cow.
One thing Chief Melton didn’t mention is why Corolla is considered ‘urban’ vice ‘rural’ . It is because of our population density for a large portion of the year. The designation for the entire year is based on the highest density level occuring at any time in the year. 60,000 a week for many many weeks, and lesser but still high numbers for a lot more weeks makes us URBAN.
The use of the term ‘boogey man’ to describe the opposition to the tax district originated with me not Melton (but I’m glad he used it). The opposition is not about 2 versus 4 firefighters. It is about Ocean Sands and the other tax districts they have or are setting up for storm water, legal fund against developer, water treatment, etc. The leaders of OS are the new president of CFR Foundation and ‘president-for-life’ of Corolla Civic Assn. If you received emails/survey from CCA as well as the foundation letter this should be intuitively obvious that this is a coordinated effort to block creating the service district.
You may have heard or read that some in CFRS fear that having 4 paid FFs will reduce volunteers. Not the case. While it is true some feel this way, reality is that despite knowing there will be paid FFs we still have people volunteering. The real truth is that most do not stay once they see how much training is required and the number of calls we have, or if they are working, inability to respond. Our volunteer numbers have been steadily going downhill for years. We now have 35 (and they travel, have visitors, etc). At 28 we lose our ISO certification.
The Corolla Fire and Rescue May 7th letter, the April 23rd County Report on the creation of a Fire District and the Corolla Civic association document are available on the WPOA.org site as separate documents
Bottom line to our owners and members – make an informed decision about the matter and let Jack Riggle know your position by Noon, Monday, May 21st. via an email addressed to Jack@JackRiggle.com email Jack Riggle