Public needs answers on fire coverage

Published 10:09 am Friday, April 9, 2010

Apparently the Washington Township Trustees feel the lack of fire coverage for residents is their problem and their problem alone.

What happens if there is a natural disaster or crisis that would require assistance from nearby agencies to ensure public safety?

Then it wouldn’t be just Washington’s problem for long.

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Decatur Township had provided fire service for its neighbor under a $3,500-a-year contract but that agreement has expired. Decatur Fire Chief Gene Cox announced last week his department could not continue providing the assistance without a contract due to insurance and worker’s compensation regulations.

Washington Township Trustees Jerry Kelly and Doug Dickens, as well as Fiscal Clerk A. Wayne Keels, either didn’t have any information or basically refused to talk about it with The Tribune, although 911 director Lonnie Best has been told the issue is being addressed.

That simply isn’t good enough for the taxpayers in Washington Township and it simply isn’t good enough for the taxpayers in neighboring townships like Decatur that could find themselves in danger if a wildfire got out of control and spread into their districts.

Of course, the problem comes down to money. The township has no fire levy and a recent biennial state audit that cost roughly $7,000 depleted the township’s budget.

But the township’s leadership should have brought this to the public’s attention sooner and also must be up front with efforts to remedy this potentially life threatening situation.

This is a problem that could affect far more than just Washington Township, so everyone deserves to know the solution.