“If you’re having a heart attack, do you want your response time to be five minutes or do you want it to be a half hour?” she asked. “We’ve been doing an excellent job and taking care of the people in our community. We’re on top of the game, but we need finances to continue that.”
The renewal levy would be used for daily operations, maintenance, equipment, salaries and the like if it passes, McDaniel said.
McDaniel and another firefighter are the department’s only full-timers. Six part-timers and 12 volunteers make up the rest of the department’s staff. Currently, the paid staff works 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Sunday, and the volunteers cover the overnight shifts, McDaniel said.
In addition to the higher demand for service, the sagging economy combined with state mandates that include additional training and certifications are making it more difficult to find volunteer firefighters, McDaniel said. As a result, the department plans to use the funds generated from the property tax increase if it passes to hire up to six part-time firefighters and go to 24-hour shifts on the weekend, he said.
Part of the money also would be used to build sleeping quarters for the additional firefighters, he added.
Although these are tough economic times, Townsend said New Jasper Twp. residents have been supportive of the fire department. So she’s confident that they’ll approve both levies.
“We seem to have concerned citizens, and they’re educated enough to know what we need,” she said. “They’ve been very supportive in many, many ways. It’s been a great community, and we take good care of them and they take good care of us.”
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