Letter: Fire commissioners have been fiscally prudent

Editor,

I would like to clear up some items that have been said about me and North Whidbey Fire and Rescue. It has been said that the apparatus are not maintained and the buildings are in need of repairs.

NWF&R has a finance policy, as required by the state, which gives the chief authority to do repairs on both buildings and apparatus. In addition, all fire apparatus are inspected and repaired annually to National Fire Protection standards by an outside fire vendor. Routine building maintenance is up to the discretion of the fire chief unless the costs are higher than the authority given him by policy. By maintaining and updating our apparatus and equipment, we have been able to lower our insurance rates, saving our taxpayers on the cost of their fire insurance.

There have been questions on why NWFR has not hired career firefighters. The cost of career firefighters to staff one fire engine 24/7 takes 12 firefighters at a cost of over $1 million. To accomplish this, we would require a tax increase of over 65 percent. This year we have hired our first full-time firefighter. NWFR currently collects approximately $1.6 million from property taxes. At this time, 100 percent of our budget is spent on operations. All NWFR board decisions are made at open public meetings and are available to the public through established public record request as required by state law. When WhidbeyHealth gave notice they were cancelling the basic life support ambulances with the fire department, I negotiated a contract with WhidbeyHealth to maintain basic life support ambulances in the fire department to better serve our community. The additional $160,00 allowed NWFR to increase the pay of our part-time employees.

It has been said that a commissioner does not need to have knowledge of fire laws and regulations. It is important that a fire commissioner knows and understand the laws and safety regulations that apply to fire departments in order to make educated decisions that use taxpayers dollars effectively and efficiently. Not knowing the laws and regulations can lead to misspending, injuries and lawsuits. My opponent has stated that Mr. Hoover asked me not to run. That never happened and Mr. Hoover has asked the paper to print an retraction. She also has an obvious conflict of interest since her significant other is a lieutenant in the department.

Marv Koorn

Oak Harbor

Editor’s note: NWFR Firefighter Richard Hoover at a meeting had asked if Koorn was running and said he “did not support (Koorn) because he did not trust him,” according to meeting minutes. Hoover also told a reporter in April he supported an open letter to the editor that encouraged others to run for the board.

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