Time to send a clear message

Town council made the wrong decision last week when it voted not to replace a full-time firefighter at the Fort Frances Fire Hall. Now it’s up to residents to get councillors to change their mind.
One way is to sign a petition being circulated around town. Another is to voice your concerns directly, either by telephoning individual councillors or showing up at next Tuesday night’s council meeting at the Civic Centre (which has been pushed back one night due to the Victoria Day holiday).
The debate over the future of our fire department, specifically whether it should continue to be a mix of full-time and volunteer firefighters or a strictly volunteer corps, has been raging here for years. But just last March, it was pretty clear at a public meeting that town residents supported having a full-time complement.
Town council apparently didn’t get the message. Or maybe it did, which is why the matter was decided quietly behind closed doors last week in hopes of keeping the public in the dark.
Sure, it’s just one position—for now. The trouble is, what will council do when the next full-time firefighter retires, and the next, and so on? Replace them, or basically declare the positions redundant until we no longer have a full-time complement due to attrition?
Meanwhile, we, the public, who are footing the bill, have no say in the matter.
If council chooses to ignore public opinion, at least it should listen to the experts. Naturally, the full-time firefighters have a vested interest in keeping their jobs, but the volunteers also are speaking out against last week’s decision.
They’re the ones putting their lives on the line when responding to a fire or some other emergency. They’re the ones who know the importance of full-time firefighters being at the ready 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
After all, they have families, too.
Let’s all send a message to council: reverse last week’s decision, replace the vacant position, and keep a full-time complement of firefighters at the fire hall.
Is that clear enough?

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