City Council Wises Up
LAST YEAR THE VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON, City Council embarked on a campaign to whittle their fire department below minimum standards to keep from shrinking non-essential services any further as their budget was going into the red. Earlier this year on January 2 we posted an article (HERE) that began:
VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON, DECIDED SIX MONTHS AGO that the city’s fire department was overstaffed, so the city council voted to close one of their firehouses, and mothball one of their only two ladder trucks as well. It was Station 6, home to both an engine company and a truck that was deemed unnecessary and scheduled for a December 31 shutdown with the 30th being the last day of service.
The focus of that article was the closing of Station 6 and the strong community protest against the move with a large gathering on the firehouse apron the day it shut down. At the rally a former city councilor spoke: “This could have been avoided,” she said. “If the council had set it as a policy — fire stations will not be closed, public safety would not be compromised — staff would have had to find a way. We needed a couple more stations, not to be closing them down.”
The organizer of the rally, Mary Elkin pledged that they would continue to lobby and pester the city council to re-open their firehouse and their efforts appear to have swayed the council. Fire Station 6 was revived and opened again on November 7. The Columbian reported:
Noting there are few happy endings in government cutbacks, neighbor Mary Elkin on Sunday night proclaimed that the reopening of Fire Station 6 "says a lot about the great city we live in."
Elkin is president of Friends of Fire Station 6. She lives just 12 blocks from the Burton-area station with her husband, John, and son Robert. "It doesn’t make any sense to close a fire station," Elkin said before the evening’s speeches. "That’s one of the things our taxes should definitely pay for."
A two-year $2.3 million federal grant was a key ingredient in allowing the station to reopen. But Elkin said there is no need to apologize for taking federal dollars, explaining, "Hey, that’s our money."
Mayor Tim Leavitt, in stark opening comments, said the city has cut $30.6 million during the recent tough times. He said the station was reopened because of the federal grant, work by neighbors, a contract agreement with the Vancouver Firefighters Union and an open-mindedness by city council members. But he said the two-year grant is a "stopgap" measure and there is no guarantee another closure could not occur.
Then, Leavitt read a declaration, saying the station is "open and in service to our community."
Read the entire story in The Columbian HERE.
The ladder truck had been relocated to Station 5 and is remaining there after its former quarters has opened. It was the topic of an unusual story when the former station closed. From our report in January we said:
Truck 6 is being shut down also and it ran its last call late Thursday night shortly after midnight. The truck was dispatched to an auto accident on Interstate 205 and was parked in the right lane blocking the accident scene when an airport taxi slid on a patch of ice and crashed into the ladder truck. Truck 6 is out of service.
Vancouver FD photo
Thanks and a hat tip to Firefighter Dave.
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