Lots of Heat at Fire District Board Meeting

While we were unable to attend last night’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish Fire Protection District No. 1 Board of Commissioners, one of Lincoln Parish News Online’s (LPNO) correspondents was able to file this report:

The LP Fire District Board met Tuesday evening at 5:00 PM, with 6 of the 7 board members present, as well as 5 Police Jurors and several citizens. Chief Dennis Ford was absent, having had a medical procedure earlier in the afternoon.

Once Chairman Tom Thompson finished the invocation, the dust filled the air in the meeting room as new board members began to sweep with a new broom and assert themselves in the board’s business. First up was approval of the agenda. Mr. Willie Hendricks, who serves as mayor of Simsboro and who in that capacity appointed himself as Simsboro’s representative on the Board, questioned the proposed agenda, mainly because it contained “public comment” as the last agenda item prior to adjournment .

Mayor Hendricks cautioned the Board: “You cannot place public comments at the end of the meeting after action has been taken on all the agenda items; this does not comply with state law”. A motion to rearrange the agenda was offered and seconded, but the motion failed on a 3-3 tie as one board member, Mr. Herbert Lyons, was absent. A motion was offered and seconded to approve the agenda, however best this observer could tell, that motion also failed on a 3-3 tie; however Chairman Thompson seemed oblivious to this and led the meeting forward anyway.

Board members refused to approve a proposed Public Comment policy which was extremely restrictive and obviously nowhere near compliance with state law, and suggestion was made to review the policy of the Police Jury before taking further action.

A proposal to change worker’s comp coverage from LWCC to Fire Comp was approved after members were assured the coverage was identical but the cost was approximately half as much per year.

The board considered changing the retirees’ medical insurance policy: currently the District only has one retired employee, and the policy has been to cover retired employees’ health insurance costs 100% until they are Medicare eligible, with the retiree eligible to keep their spouse on the policy at full cost. The proposed change would require retired employees in future to pay 50% of the cots for the same period, explained Ray Robinson, and this would be a very necessary cost savings and would be in line with other public employees and , as Chairman Thompson pointed out, would also be identical to the deals which Mike Fulton, who is retired from the Dallas FD, and Mike Hilton, who is retired from the Ruston PD under the same terms. Some members questioned the advisability of committing to even 50%, pointing out that this would be a commitment to all employees going forward and could overwhelm the board’s finances in the future. As the polity stands now, the board has the authority to set the amount the retiree pays for coverage and there is no fixed amount.

John Barnett questioned a provision in the proposed policy, to cover heart and lung ailments at 100%; chairman Thompson stated that according to Dennis Ford this was a requirement of Louisiana law for firemen. Board members seemed skeptical. (I think the board took no action here, and did not change the policy, but I might not remember correctly)

The board approved keeping Blue Cross as their insurance provider, reporting the lowest cost and good service.

The board approved a change to the policy which had required employees to live in Lincoln Parish, they will now consider applicants who live outside the parish.

A big dustup came when Chairman Thompson requested approval to publish the proposed 2013 budget. Mayor Hendricks objected, stating that in his opinion, the proposed budget as presented was almost meaningless, in that it did not include prior years ending balances, among other deficiencies, so it did not present an accurate and adequate picture of the fire district’s spending and financial condition. Mayor Hendricks asked the board how many of them really want to put the proposed budget before the public, knowing it is not right? No hands went up, so it’s back to the drawing board and a race against time to craft a more acceptable budget and get it published and approved prior to years’ end. It was agreed that the entire board would serve as a budget committee, and would arrange a special meeting to get this done. Chairman Thompson suggested they wait until Dennis Ford could be present, as he had all the information needed for the budget.

39 Responses to “Lots of Heat at Fire District Board Meeting”

  1. Angry_Taxpayer! Says:

    Will no one hand Tommy Thompson a copy of Robert’s Rules of Order? Is he really that ignorant of procedural rules? No wonder the Fire District Board is broke! Their finances are in worse shape than Jonesboro’s, and that’s saying something because Leslie Thompson set out to deliberately wreck Jonesboro! Thompson? Could they be related? (I’m speaking metaphorically here.)

    The Fire District Board is broke due to all of the employees now on the payroll of this “volunteer” effort. When the Fire District was first proposed, I wrote a Letter to the Editor warning that there would eventually be a call for paid professional firefighters and was admonished that this would never happen and wasn’t even a thought. Well, the unthinkable is happening just as I predicted. There’s no solace in being correct as my taxes will increase along with everyone’s to pay for this unneeded boondoggle.

    I also pointed out at the time that the tax money collected could be set aside to pay for any parish residences destroyed by fire much cheaper than establishing the infrastructure for a rural fire district. This reasoning is still true as we taxpayers are about to be asked to pony up for a professional parish firefighter force that we neither need nor want. The original volunteers, so gung ho at first, have aged, lost interest, or moved on to other things. There just aren’t enough fires to warrant this expense and the insurance savings do not justify this expense.

    It is time to follow the lead of states like Alabama and shut down this expensive lesson in unneeded services. These guys rode in and scared everyone with tales of rural fires run amok that defied common sense and the statistics showing very little fire activity. We were seduced by tales of lower fire insurance and now Louisiana has the highest property insurance rates in the country. Voters thought they were getting something for nothing, but they really got nothing for something. It’s time to return to our senses and boot this boondoggle out!

  2. Pro-Fire Dept Says:

    Obviously there is truth in “Firefighters are not appreciated until they are needed!” With any rural growth, also comes a need for additional protection. Something for nothing…. isnt that called welfare! Therein lies the problem with the nations economy not just local or fire district. People have forgotten how to work and earn what they deserve. Handouts, 47% of the nation is looking for one.
    The problem is, this protection was provided for free for so long by brave hard working people. The demands of the fire dept. are not limited to just putting out fires. They are highly trained individuals with training in medical, rescue, and many other areas. This service was started as volunteer, many years ago when people cared about their neighbor and their community. Most people dont even know their neighbors anymore. Actually it was started because people didnt want one persons fire to extend to their property and beyond. These volunteers knew how to work and protected VERY small communities. Not 499 square miles. The problem with a volunteer fire dept is that there are no longer people willing to truly volunteer. I have seen the publications wanting volunteers, and very few step up apparently. People cant leave their jobs at 10 am to go fight fire. I have a question, angry taxpayer, are you a volunteer? If my loved ones are trapped in a burning house, wrecked vehicle or in need of medical attention, i want highly trained professionals to get there as fast as possible. My loved ones are priceless! I will pay $72/year, for lower homeowners and the comfort of knowing that someone is coming promptly in the event of an emergency. I voted to pass a QUARTER OF A PERCENT sales tax to fund the fire district. Let me clarify that is .0025. Lets do some math……. for every $100,000 dollars spent in this parish, the fire district gets $250! To my understanding firemen are not firemen for the money. Most start at minimum wage or just above. Its takes years of dedicated service before these guys actually move into middle class income. If you were to do some research, Im willing to bet that you would find many firemen with families either hold down a second job or have government assistance. So please “Mr./Mrs. Angry Taxpayer” leave my protection alone until you really have hard facts. Im sure that Alabama will be willing to accept you as a resident if you so care to sacrifice your protection.

    • Angry_Taxpayer! Says:

      Whoa! The first thing any of you fire department supporters throw out there is the question of whether I’m volunteering and I’m sick of hearing that lame strawman argument! It evades the point I made that we don’t need a rural fire district in the first place! Former Volunteer below illustrates the fact that you fire district administrators have orchestrated the system to run off the volunteers in a self-fulfilling prophecy of needing paid professionals!

      Fire departments were created for cities to keep fires from spreading to buildings in close proximity to one another as found in metropolitan areas which threatened to consume the entire city if allowed to spread. Rural areas have buildings spaced far enough apart that spreading fire is not the threat that it poses to metropolitan areas.

      Highly trained professionals? Would this be the same highly trained professionals who let Greg Gossler’s house burn to the ground up in Dubach while spraying a constant stream of water on the roof? These fools didn’t realize that a roof is designed to shed water and that one must cut a hole in the roof to allow water to get at a fire! Even the lathings burned out from under the metal roof as you all sprayed water on it! It’s this kind of idiocy that infuriates me when you guys start clamoring for taxpayer money!

      After watching the government failures in dealing with Katrina and Hurricane Sandy, I’ll continue to rely on myself as much as possible instead of believing that the government is ever going to show up and lend a hand! I’ll also continue to stop and lend a hand where I can if I’m unfortunate enough to come upon the scene of an accident. I take all the help I can get, but I just don’t stop being self-reliant in the mistaken belief that government is going to be there for me!

      The problem with your math is that our taxes aren’t limited to just that quarter-cent tax, but include a host of other taxes along with it! These taxes add up, and you guys only know to ask for a little more. There’s never a point where you are willing to admit that’s enough or that’s too much! It’s always a little more!

      You guys have been pushing that line about highly trained professionals to argue for a professional firefighter force since the inception of the fire district! This after you all swore that you’d never ask taxpayers to support paid firefighters. I knew this would happen and said so at the time. You always start thinking about all the wonderful things you could do if only you could convince the taxpayers to give you just a little revenue.

      Save the tugging at the heartstrings and “it’s for the kids” rhetoric for those naive enough to fall for that crap! The teachers’ unions have already exposed that sham argument for what it is! You guys are out for all you can get and the hell with us taxpayers!

      As for your comment about Alabama, I used to be a resident of Alabama where I learned that they ran off the fire departments when the administrators sought to pressure the volunteers to quit so they could agitate for paid professional firefighters despite their promises that this would never happen. They’ve already been through this charade! Alabama also doesn’t have mandatory car insurance and its rates are much less than Louisiana’s! I often wish I was back there when I have to pay the increased costs for insurance coverage here in Louisiana! We have some of the highest insurance rates in the country!

      • Pro -Fire Dept Says:

        Hey Hey Mr. self reliant angry taxpayer. I was trying to be informative in my previous paragraphs. It seems that you like to belittle and degrade the people that are willing to risk their life to save yours. There are statistics that prove that we need a rural fire dept. The fire district answers to 400-500 calls a year. When your house catches on fire, step back and watch all that you worked for go up and please call 911 so the fire dept can come protect your neighbors house! I wouldnt imagine that you would be a pleasant person to be around, so volunteering isnt really an option for you. I am not a fire administrator, just a taxpayer that is proud we do have someone to call when needed. Night, day, sleet, snow, rain, holidays, regardless these guys will come. You are correct in the fact that fire depts were developed within the cities. You are incorrect, however, that we have buildings with adequate spacing to prevent fire spread. This parish has numerous trailer parks, subdivisions, etc. Do you not watch the news of wildfire spread. Just last year south of lincoln parish, we had a major fire that burned numerous houses. West LA and East TX had large fire that burned numerous houses and buildings.

        I mentioned in my previous paragraphs that you should get hard facts. It seems to me that you are accusing the wrong people of burning down a house as so described by Captain Smith. It also seems that you focus on what was lost and fail to mention all that has been saved. Let me guess your life has been perfect. You dare to call the brave men and women of this nation that serve their communities fools! Mr. self-reliant you appear to be the only fool.

        If you were to come upon an accident, would you know what to do? Are you trained in rescue or medical? Or would you call 911? Volunteers are great people and I support their effort. Do you want a volunteer doctor diagnosing your ailments? Who trains volunteers? Trained firemen I would assume! If we have strictly a volunteer fire dept then more buildings and lives could be lost due to a delayed response. As far as taxes go, we are discussing fire dept, not all taxes as a whole. It amazes me how the anti-tax crowd focuses their belittlement towards firemen, police, and teachers. These are the most needed services within the civil service infastructure. Mr. Unhappy my math is correct and im sure you spend alot less than a 100K annually.

        A professional fire dept is important not only for protection, but also for the economic growth of Lincoln Parish. Of course you dont approve of that, since your heart still resides in the unprotected counties of Alabama. If we dont have adequate fire protection, we have increased homeowners insurance. How much do you save on your
        homeowners at a class 4 rating? Lower homeowners will promote the younger generations to move here and boost our local economies as opposed to living in other parishes and commuting. I dont believe a quarter-cent sales tax is putting people into poverty and definitely not telling the taxpayer “to hell with you”.

        We have some of the highest insurance rates because our state is sue happy! Facts Mr/Mrs Self-Reliant angry taxpayer. Provide facts to the community instead of your anti-tax beliefs. Tell the community how Lincoln Parish is improving and quit belittling these hard-working brave men and women. Thank them for their dedication and their willingness to save your life regardless of how much you disapprove of their effort. Your solution is to put these men and women in the unemployment/welfare line so we have take care of them regardless. Its cheaper to keep them employed.

        I will not go away, because I am tired of your negativity. Your negativity towards these men/women is uncalled for and very disgraceful. Focus your efforts on the bigger government. Their the ones giving themselves pay raises and free health care, while cutting funding to critical areas of our society. Go Fire!

  3. Volunteer Says:

    Perhaps if the people in charge of the tax dollars that fund these Fire Departments has as much “professional” training in accounting and ethics as they do in fire control and proper rescue methods the taxpaying citizens would’s feel so underserved. We won’t even broach the subject of Federal Grant funding, that was the free meal ticket that many people jumped on in order to once again, take advantage of the taxpayer. The System is broken and until someone has the courage to do the “right thing” you will get more of the same which is abuse of your hard earned money and that “fire” in the minds of taxpayers will only be extinguished when the people in charge come to the conclusion that along with job comes responsibilty and accountability to the taxpayer.

    • forever volunteer Says:

      Obviously you are misinformed. The firemen have nothing to do with allocating tax dollars. They attempt to work with what they are provided. If federal grants are available, why wouldnt you want them used in our own parish. Its our $, and i would rather have it used in Lincoln Parish. What is the “right thing”? Getting rid of a fire dept? Obviously you are not a true volunteer either. If you were, you would want the dept you volunteer for to grow and prosper and provide better protection. Please clarify your last sentence.

  4. former volunteer Says:

    The problem with the department is one certain position. If the leadership in the department were changed to someone who actually cares for his volunteers you would see an influx of old volunteers coming back to do what they love while serving the community. This man thought that if he ran his volunteers off he could show the need to hire all of these paid firefighters and have an unlimited budget to turn this department into the one he came from, Ouachita Parish. Thankfully his plan is blowing up in his face and angry_taxpayer if you be patient I think you will see some changes that you will approve of.

    • forever volunteer Says:

      Obviously you weren’t a “true volunteer”. For what reason did you start volunteering? Hopefully to serve the people of Lincoln Parish in a time of need. So your telling us that one man detered you from helping a whole parish. Wow! Your heart must not have been in it. What are “old volunteers”? Are you refering to “old” as in not physically capable of being a firemen. Maybe mentally incapable. Please clarify. Former volunteer are you capable of climbing on your hands and knees thru 800 degree house only to find a victim that has to be dragged out. Not everyone was meant to be a firemen as not everyone was meant to be a doctor. Demographically things change with time. I support the paid firemen that help protect this parish. This fire dept has moved forward and it would be degrading to the citizens to take this parish backwards.

      • former volunteer Says:

        I am perfectly capable of crawling through a burning house at this time. I started volunteering to help my fellow citizens and because I enjoyed the work and the family of volunteers that were around when I began. Once this department was allowed to hire all the paid fire fighters the moral of the department hit rock bottom. Volunteers were put to the back burner and disrespected in drill and on the fire scene. I was ridiculed by paid guys b/c I was unable to make ever single fire that was toned out. Instead of thanking me for showing up when I could I was disrespected and looked down up on because i didn’t make the previous fire. I don’t know about you but I don’t particularly enjoy putting my life on the line and having to place my trust in people who don’t respect me nor act as if they want me around. For the record I still volunteer and serve my community just not as a fire fighter with these big headed egotistic LPFD guys who think they are God toward the volunteers just b/c they actually get a paycheck. The volunteers are the ones who do this for free, now that deserves respect.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    It is interesting to note that Willie Hendricks appointed himself.
    The rules say that a commissioner will be appointed by the governing body of Simsboro. I can see where Will can nominate someone but they would have to be confirmed by the council.
    So far that has not happened. It would be interesting to find out if Willie is officially a member or not at this point. I think Willie is trying to divert attention away from all the things he trys to pull in Simsboro.

    • anonymous Says:

      From my understanding, Brother Hendricks is upset about the Simsboro Fire station being temporarily closed. This country is in a financial bind. The effects of this bind are felt down to the local areas. Its also my understanding that he wants a strictly volunteer fire dept. Does the fire district have that many volunteers? If so, how come their not manning the station? How many volunteers are in the Simsboro area? How much tax revenue is generated from the Simsboro area? Just wondering.

      • former volunteer Says:

        He could be that he is upset with the LPFD. When this latest sales tax was passed he was promised that the Simsboro station would be manned 24/7. Now it has been closed and I’m sure he wants answers.

  6. Captain/Paramedic Robby Smith, LPFD Says:

    to Angry_Taxpayer!,
    IF you do not want a fire department, please let me know your address or stop me in the drive way when your family is trapped in a burning structure, when a loved one is pinned in a mangled mass of metal, or when your cold angry heart starts to attack you. I will gladly turn around, go back to my house and wait to help someone who appreciates it.
    As for Greg Gossler’s house, when was this fire? was it not when the department was full volunteer? Your comments are spoken as an uninformed person of the operations of a fire department. Many factors dictate how a structure fire, or any emergency, is mitigated. First priority is always life. A comanding officer must weigh risk versus reward in hazardous situations. Is there a life to be saved commiting memebers to enter the hazard zone? If yes, then the answer is always go! Risk a lot to save a lot. How long has the fire/hazard had before the departments arrival? If the structure is already lost, why would you risk a persons life for it? If entry can be made and the occupants possesions and home be saved, well, that is what ALL of us firefighters wait for. Its what we do, go in to the smoke and flames and do our thing. You refrenced cutting a hole in the roof to allow for water to reach the fire. That is totally wrong. Roofs are opened up to ventalate the super heated smoke and gases and to localize the fire. To put firefighters on the roof of an unstable structure is asking for trouble.
    Every fire department, no matter the size or place, Monroe, shreveport, the grand FDNY, they all lose structures. its the nature of fire. They didn’t set the fire, but they killed themselves to save it. All firefighters give their all to save their fellow man. Its not about spraying water on fire, its about saving lives. To say that any firefighter is a “fool”, well sir or madame, shame on you.
    If you can not tell, I am a proud volunteer with the Lincoln Parish Fire Department. As far as my opening comment, if you or any of your family is ever in need, I will ALWAYS give my all to save them or you. No matter your or any other missgudied soul who is against the fire service, I will always faithfully do my duty and if necessary, lay my life down for someone in harms way. That holds true for anyone who I may come in contact with, the fire department haters and supporters alike.

    BTW, I have the decency and fortitude to use my real name and rank. I am not hiding behind a user name, that is for all who coments.

    • former volunteer Says:

      Cap. Smith,
      If i’m not mistaken you were one of the paid firefighters hired after the sales tax was passed. You have since left LPFD professionally to go back to Monroe Fire. What was your reasoning for leaving? I was on the dept when you were hired and you and your attitude along with a couple of others were the reason that myself and other volunteers left the dept shortly after. I find it ironic that as a paid fire fighter you didnt want anything to do with the volunteers except for disrepecting and degrading them, but now you are one of those volunteers.

    • Cowboy Says:

      So, are you saying that the official policy of the Lincoln Parish Fire District Board is to allow the houses of those who disagree with their expansion plans to burn to the ground despite the fact that their taxes support the Fire District? As a Captain, you appear to be in a position of leadership and privy to details of their institutionalized attitude towards the citizens of this parish. Is it also the policy of other first responders in Lincoln Parish to ignore those who criticize local government?

      The attitude you display towards Angry_Taxpayer! has clued me into your real agenda of it being all about you and not about public service. These are rather ham-handed tactics to display against the taxpayers who support your job! You guys are on the same level as the teachers’ unions in demanding more of our tax dollars like it was your right and we’re being petty in questioning your arrogant demands.

      We all realize the country is broke and big government is unsustainable, but the only way to shrink government is to first stop expanding it. When considered alone, every function of government can be made to seem as if it is so necessary we can’t live without it, but we have lived without it and will definitely live without it when government goes broke.

      By the reasoning displayed by the supporters of fire district expansion, we should raise taxes even more so we can have a fire hydrant in front of every rural home just in case. Where does one draw the line at being ridiculous? As I understood it, the volunteers had to obtain training in order to serve as firefighters, but they were looked down upon and thought not good enough.

      The Fire District Board is on the verge of being broke, has no budget, is spending money without accountability, and acting pretty much like the town of Jonesboro. We all see how that’s worked out. I believe reasonable people would agree that having the Fire District develop a working budget to get a clear picture of their finances would be a good first step in making any future determinations. Also, someone should learn state meeting laws and begin applying them to Fire District Board meetings. These amateurish actions on the part of the Fire District Board are exactly the things which cause us citizens to mistrust government in the first place.

      • former volunteer Says:

        Passing the budget will not do much good. The Chief hasn’t stayed within budget since he has been with LPFD. Things will not get better until he is wrangled in and heavily supervised on his spending.

  7. Christopher Hughes Says:

    Angry taxpayer, all I can say is have you ever lost a loved one in a fire? Wel,l I have and I hope you never have to face that. I can tell you this I sleep alot better knowing that if my house ever does catch fire that there are people on the way and I dont have to count on volunteers only, who may be at work or have to go to work before the fire is out. The full time firefighters do a job that most couldnt handle or wouldn’t do for the small amount of pay they recieve for a job they love. In my opinion soldiers, policemen, and firefighters are the most underpaid people in this nation. Before you start in on me for saying that I have been in the armed forces and I volunteer for this same department you want to get rid of. I will say this if you get rid of the paid guys I will no longer volunteer for a department that doesn’t support their own. Not only will you be putting 9 men out of work you would be hurting their familes. So, before you start ranting, think of the wives and children of these firemen. When they walk out the door, they honestly don’t know if they will walk back thru that door the next morning. They aren’t doing it for the money, I promise you they do it cause they love the job and care for the people of this parish. So I would gladly pay twice what I do now for more full time firefighters.

  8. Captain/Paramedic Robby Smith, LPFD Says:

    If any are interested, the structure fire that was referenced in the comments happened on 1/3/2002. The first alarm came in at 1523 and the first arriving unit called on scene at 1531. The last FD personnel cleared the scene on 1/4/2002 at 0930. 27 fire personnel responded. This fire was on Will Rd in Dubach, the very northeast corner of the parish.

    From talking with the few who are still affiliated with the department who where at this scene, entry was made into the structure for extinguishment. The interior crews made it to the upper floor and encountered heavy fire conditions. Other crews where tasked with salvaging contents.

    As I was not at this fire, I can not say what went right and what went wrong. It sounds to me as if the fire had spread beyond the capabilities of the extinguishment crews and the decision was made to transition from an offensive attack to a defense one (pull out from the hazard zone and control the spread from a safer vantage point).

    Many factors come to play when deciding a plan of action on an emergency scene, as I have mentioned before. Also, the amount of time the fire was growing before detection. Then, alarm and response time has to be factored in. All of this shows the very need for full time paid firefighters to be stationed within the parish. Of the 27 who responded, only 3, I believe, where paid staff. One was Chief Kirkland, the other two where 8-5 Monday through Friday. They did not work the traditional firefighter duty shift. When firefighters are on duty, at the ready, te response times are drastically cut down. Now, an eight minute response time to that part I the parish is very respectable. With full time 24 hour firefighters, one can reasonably expect the same time, but apon arrival there will be 3 firefighters ready to go in harms way to save a life or the property in question. Within a few seconds to minutes, their backup in the form of the volunteers will arrive on scene.

    Again, I use my real name and rank. I challenge all who post to do the same. It’s easy to take the cowards way and not stand up and make yourselves known.

  9. Pro-Fire Says:

    Seems like you kicked a hornets nest angry taxpayer!

  10. Captain/Paramedic Robby Smith, LPFD Says:

    Seems as if some on the police jury, the LPFD Board of Directors, and even some of our own members have an agenda. Good ‘ole boy politics in motion.

  11. Captain/Paramedic Robby Smith, LPFD Says:

    The “fools” just responded to a structure fire at the OSB plant outside of Simsborro and shocker, it’s still standing.

  12. Mr. Ed Says:

    The problems some object to seem to come from a combination of the fire board’s leadership either being ignorant of, or refusing outright to follow, Louisiana law; and overspending to the point that the district will be bankrupt within 2 to 3 years.
    The law spells out in detail how public business and meetings should be conducted, and they are not doing it.
    Also the public voted by a narrow margin to create an all-volunteer rural fire department; Neil Kirkland presided as the district was built and the original bond issue was paid off, He told the Police Jury about the time he retired that in his estimation the district had sufficient reserves to survive very nicely on the annual structure fee without any additional taxes. Now, not only is the fund balance almost gone: we have passed an additional 1/4 cent sales tax, but the district is still overspending and as far as anyone can tell, there is no plan to align spending with income.
    Most people don’t realize that either the board or the chief or both have a plan to create a full-time, professional fire department. NO one has asked the taxpayer or voter, they are just doing it. No one knows what this will cost, but whatever it costs, it will mean employees, retirements, health insurance, from now on, and no way to undo it. I for one have questions and I support someone getting it straight and at least telling people what it is going to cost before not after it is done.

    • Pro-Fire Says:

      Mr Ed do you support the idea of a full time, professional fire department? I understand that currently we have 11 full time, professional firemen. 1 Administrative Assistant and 1 Secretary. Please correct me if im misinformed. It seems that the issue at hand is do we move forward with fire protection or do we go backwards. It seems that we are getting the fire protection as needed, but the budget is not balancing. To move forward we would have to allocate more $ to the fire district to continue the fire protection that has been established already. Regardless if the taxpayers were asked permission for a professional fire dept, one was established using taxpayers dollars. The taxpayers voted that they wanted fire protection and manned stations. I understand that the department was established as all volunteer. Not insinuating that your pro or anti professional fire, but why should we unravel what has been established and operating for 12+ years as a professional fire dept. Valuable statistics can be accessed on the Lincoln Parish Police Jury website under Fire District. In the years 2006-2009 there was significant fire loss, even as high $1.5 million in 2008. The statistics called for additional manpower. After numerous professional firemen were hired, this fire loss dropped dramatically, eventhough structure fires remained fairly the same. It appears that the taxpayers dollars are being used to achieve adequate fire protection. If Lincoln Parish were to revert back to an all volunteer dept. these statistics would change for the worse. It seems that the fire district needs to be stabilized.

      Lets face it Mr. Ed, that this is the Lincoln Parish/Ruston area, and very few things can be hidden. The citizens of Lincoln Parish need to know that there is a power struggle for control of the Fire District. It reminds me of the House and the Senate. We have commisioners that cant get anything accomplished because they are to busy negating each other. Commissioners that are influenced both by the Police Jury and the fire administration. Lets not point fingers at one entities hidden agendas, when the other side has agendas of its own. One side strives for a “Hostile Takeover”, as the other struggles to maintain control. Its not just about budget. Should the fire dept be managed by a committee that doesnt even understand how fire protection works? Are we willing to sacrifice protection in order to maintain a reserve? A reserve that belongs to the taxpayers anyway. A reserve that has ran a professional fire dept for 12+ years without additional revenue. If the 1/4 cent sales tax had generated as much revenue in the last 3 years as it did in 2009 then the fire district wouldn’t be having financial issues. Recession! In the end, the only people who suffer are the tax paying citizens of Lincoln Parish. One final question. If the paid fire dept is abolished, will you be giving me my 1/4 cent sales tax back?

      • Mr. Ed Says:

        As reply to ProFire: I do not support a full-time professional fire department for the parish.
        My reasons are: I voted in an election to create an all-volunteer force, and I knew what it would cost me when I voted. I do not know what a completely professional force will cost, but I can imagine it will be expensive: salaries, benefits, retirement, equipment, etc from now on. I do not agree that the fire district can just decide unilaterally to build the kind of fire department they want or think is needed, then present taxpayers with the bill. I know there are people who own homes in rural Lincoln parish, which are basically uninsurable, and they will no doubt have to pay the added cost. I am concerned that the better-off people, in the parish may be willing and able to pay the added costs (I am able but not willing, at least not without more information), and I am afraid we might be adding to the cost of living in Lincoln parish without considering that we are making it harder for poorer people to live here.
        If there is a hostile takeover here, it is the fire department insisting on doing what they want and demanding people fork over the money to pay for it, whatever amount that is. and no one can object because, after all, fire is bad. Sort of like the old canard used to sell school tax increases: “After all, it’s for the children.” Seems to me the police jury as the parish government is trying to do their job, finally, and get some of this stuff under control of elected officials who are accountable to the taxpayers and voters.

        • Angry_Taxpayer! Says:

          Mr. Ed is exactly right and makes the point I’ve been trying to make that the current Fire District administration is pulling a bait-and-switch in trying to replace what the voters approved with something else entirely of their own creation.

          I get the feeling reading these comments from supporters of the fire board that dissent will not be tolerated. I appreciate the anonymity of this comment section because I’m afraid one of the fire board supporters might take it upon themselves to create a fire hazard for me during the middle of the night.

          I’ve got nothing against dedicated people, but attempting to create a paid force when only a volunteer force was approved by the voters is dishonest and evasive. Each volunteer has their own reasons for serving and I do not question these reasons. I’m against expansion of government when we clearly can’t pay for what we have now. There are very few things I would consider important enough to violate this.

          The Fire District Board must get its finances in order first so we can have a clear picture of exactly what its situation is. Mr. Ed is right pointing out that it’s impossible to argue against fire protection. Fire protection with paid firefighters is an expense we can’t afford. We pay more taxes than just the fire tax, and these taxes are adding up in a bad economy.

  13. GothicA Says:

    Firemen this is not about you at all. Stand clear.

    • Loyal to my duty Says:

      Our work is proof that we do our job, but all –it rolls down hill. So actually it is in the end.

  14. Angry_Taxpayer! Says:

    It appears that my comments have brought the fire district opinion enforcers out to protect their turf.

    You can spin the Greg Gossler fire all you want, but we were there watching and saw everything. The only thing “saved” was the tin roof.

    I’ve lived in a number of states, but I’m from Louisiana and currently live here.

    Good old boy politics? Like the fire board deciding to create a professional fire force without asking the voters?

    So, if I understand the fire fighters comments above, I can expect no assistance from the Fire District, despite the fact that I pay taxes to support this, because I do not blindly support their hidden agenda and dare to question their motives? So much for inviting public comment!

    Yes, I do have some emergency training, but the most important characteristic needed is someone willing to stop and help their fellow man.

    I do not denigrated emergency response personnel, but I do think those in charge acted in a less then professional manner and I disagree with the Fire District Board’s underhanded policy of marching Lincoln Parish to a professional force of rural firefighters which we never asked for nor was a plan for this ever presented to us the voters.

    As for Christopher Hughes, I’m sorry for your loss, but firefighters arrive after a fire is already well underway and the remote corner of the parish in which I live would mean relatively little if i waited for them and refused to be proactive in my response to such a tragedy. I do not know the circumstances of your loss, but I believe you are confusing it with the issue at hand.

    • forever volunteer Says:

      Mr. Angry you speak of helping your fellow man in several of your paragraphs. In your last post, you stated that you stood by and WATCHED Mr. Gossler house burn. What happened to lending a hand to your fellow man. You stated you had emergency training. My conclusion is that your emergency training wasnt adequate enough to give you the confidence to help. Stand down Mr. Angry!

      • Angry_Taxpayer! Says:

        We stood back out of the way while the supposedly trained firefighters did their job. We weren’t trained and did not seek to impose ourselves in the middle of their duties. We watched as the fire department went about the business of attempting to extinguish a fire. If we had dared to intervene, you would be admonishing me now for getting in the way, so I can’t win in this situation. The firefighters were there doing their jobs, so we stayed out of the way. That’s why!

  15. Christopher Hughes Says:

    Angry taxpayer I live within a mile of the parish line. I know if there were only volunteers it would take alot longer response time to get to me. The regular firemen stay at the station and can be in a truck and on the way in alot less time than volunteers can get up and drive to a station and then finally respond with a truck. As for what happened with my uncle the LPFD did everything they could but honestly there was nothing that could be done. That being said they treated my family in a very professional manner that is why years later I have joined them as a volunteer. Also that is why I will defend them here on these forums or where ever need be they are like family to me. That is why I will continue to be proactive with a response because all firemen and women dont get the thanks and support from the public that is due to these men and women who go to work every day and are willing to put there lives on the line for people they don’t even know for one of the lowest salaries out there. Instead of being negative on these boards you should be here supporting them cause whether you wanted the help or not if you needed them they would be there regardless what you say about them.

  16. Captain Robby Smith, LPFD Says:

    Apparently my entire comment wasn’t read, if so, one will clearly see that I will never put anyone’s life or property in jeapordy. Here is the direct quote from the comment, “. As far as my opening comment, if you or any of your family is ever in need, I will ALWAYS give my all to save them or you. No matter your or any other missgudied soul who is against the fire service, I will always faithfully do my duty and if necessary, lay my life down for someone in harms way. That holds true for anyone who I may come in contact with, the fire department haters and supporters alike.”

    That was missed by some readers who have gotten the wrong idea and for that I apologize. My intent with these comments were never to imply that anyone from LPFD would ever stand by while someone is in need. As stated, I will and do give my all for my fellow man. I am a firefighter, that is my calling. The LPFD will always respond to any call for help, no matter who it is, wether they pay the fire structure fee or not. No matter if they are residents of this parish or not.

    As for my position with LPFD cowboy, I am not privy to any “institutionalized ideas” of anyone with the board or administration. I do however take offense when someone belittles or degrades any of the responders. I am a volunteer just like most of the people who respond. We give of ourselves and don’t ask for anything more than a thank you every now and then. To be told you are a “fool” and basically have no clue as to carry out your duty, that I take as a slap in the face. I will call that out every time I hear it. My duty as a captain with this department is to evaluate the hazards and make safe, effective decisions of how to mitigate the scene. I do not place myself above any other responder, nor do I believe I know more or better how to do the job than the next guy. I have however been in the fire service for over 12 years. In that time I have amassed extensive amounts of training and specializes skills. I have experienced many diverse calls and can use these to form a plan of action on any scene I may happen to be a part of.

    To former volunteer, no I was never nor am I now an employee of LPFD. I am however with MFD, that you have correct. I am not sure where you’re getting I have an attitude toward volunteers, as I am a volunteer. I am for this department. You apparently know who I am, although wrong on some parts. Who are you?

    I sincerely hope this clears up any question of my willingness to serve anyone in need.

    • former volunteer2 Says:

      Former volunteer it appears that you wore your feelings on your shoulders as did many other volunteers that backed out. With new admin comes new SOP’s. The new Admin demanded that ”all volunteers” be properly trained to handle fire situations. This was done because lpfd didnt want liabilities. lpfd wanted to protect itself from lawsuits that could be brought due to an “untrained volunteer” making a mistake out of ignorance. not saying that your dumb just ignorant to proper fire control methods. Some of these volunteers felt as if they didn’t need this training. Some bowed out respecfully and still continue to support LPFD. Some didnt like the change to the department and quit and continue to blame lpfd/admin for their cowardly choices. Some volunteers remained with the dept and demanded even more training and still continue that volunteer effort and training today. These volunteers are still required to meet drill and conduct themselves as highly trained firemen. These volunteers are still respected and consider very much apart of the lpfd. As a former volunteer myself, I responded as much as i could, trained as much as i could handle. however it did amaze me that come time for social gatherings, all volunteers showed up. I have watched this fire dept grow from volunteer to a semi-paid and am proud of that. I do agree with several other people that the rules should be followed and finances stabilized. This dept does not need to go backwards it needs to be stabilized.

      • former volunteer Says:

        I have no problem with the dpeartment wanting volunteers properly trained. It is absolutely neccessary or else someone will get hurt. But when staff and the chief himself start to disrepect volunteers b/c they have a life outside of the fire dept is when I draw the line. Thats why I backed out of the dept. I can take picking and joking around, I take it everyday and dish it out. What I am talking about is blant disrespect by paid guys feeling they are supior to dumb volunteers.

        • Pro-Fire Says:

          I love that last sentence. “….. they are SUPIOR to DUMB volunteers”. (translated as “superior to dumb volunteers”) Thats enough said. For the real firemen (the ones who support firemen regardless if their paid, volunteer, old, young etc.), you know the true meaning of this brotherhood. For the posers such as former vol and the other anti-fire supporters, you will never have that bond, you will never understand the brotherhood. Former volunteer you are not a fireman and would be a disgrace to this brotherhood if you ever had been one. Angry taxpayer you feel that everyones fire protection should be inadequate because you chose to live in the most remote area of this parish. Slightly selfish! Angry taxpayer if you happen stumble upon another emergency situation please continue to stand back and watch, while the trained firemen do their job. You would probably make the situation worse if you attempted to help. Gothica you are correct in the sense that its not about the firemen but in the end they will be the ones that suffers along with the rest of the parish. Mr Head you are greedy and want to deprive your community of a needed service. The less fortunate people would rather have the valuables that they have worked so hard for, be saved, not replaced. They are probably incapable of replacing all their belongings and probably cant afford higher insurance premiums. Im fairly sure your tight ass will not lend a dollar. Mr Ed it seems that you cant decide if your for paid or not. In one sentence its anti and then the other its well i need more info. Cowboy, yipee kiyay!!!!! The Fire District is not broke, yet! There is a surplus, but it is diminishing as with everyone elses savings accts. in the U.S. Maybe this wouldnt have been the case if the Police Jurors would have been more involved from the beginning. So Cowboy, doesnt seem that the fire district board is the only entity that hasnt been doing their job for the taxpayers. I do agree that a plan needs to be formulated so that fire protection can CONTINUE! So Cowboy do you really ride horses? or do you pose as former volunteer does. My fellow pro-fire its about time for me to end this nonsense. This will be my last entry due to the decreased level of intelligence and comprehension that comprises this forum. “ITS NOT A JOB, ITS A CALLING!!!” Go Fire

          • Anonymous Says:

            First off I’m not a poser. As I said before I still volunteer in my current community. I am still a part of the fire fighter brotherhood and completely understand the brotherhood. What LPFD has is nowhere close to a brotherhood, it’s more of a high school clique. You have to be one of us to mean anything. I have been a part of several departments in different communities and have never witnessed a poorer excuse for a brotherhood than what takes place at LPFD. Now you wouldn’t know that because you are one of the clique, but take a step back and just look how LPFD treats not only some of their volunteers but other departments in the area.

            • Pro-Fire Says:

              I couldnt help it, one more reply because this is so fun. Whatever Poser! Obviously you have no loyalty either unless you wouldn’t flip flop dept. I have you pegged. You are the volunteer that loves to wear the T-shirt and and go sliding in sideways at the scene. Its me its me, Poser with a Tee. “Woohoo got a fire boys, lets roll” I could only imagine your radio traffic as ” yall know where that is, thats back behind billy bobs barn, you know bubbas mommas house”, sound familiar? Professionalism is demanded regardless if your volunteer or paid. If you wear the cross represent it. Its really about a trust issue. Firemen do not want a half trained fireman to be in the middle of “hell” with them, only to bail out in the heat of battle. They want somebody that is dedicated to the end. Please dont stereo-type all the firemen at the LPFD, some completely support the “true volunteer”. Well this has been great and I am sure that you will hear from me again in the near future. Go Fire!

              • Anonymous Says:

                Flip flop? Sometimes as a volunteer you real job takes you from one place to another. No matter where I live I enjoy serving my community. It would be quite difficult for one to travel 100+ miles to respond to a call. Doesn’t look like you have me pegged at all. I try not to include all the firemen at LPFD b/c I know for a fact that all do not act this way but I wish some wouldn’t give the rest a bad name.

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