County fire department feels picked on

Darrell
Darrell Cole
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Members of the Westchester Fire Department feel as though they are being picked on by the Municipality of Cumberland and the area's municipal representative agrees.

"The department's morale has been stretched to the limit, they question what role they are playing in the protection of their community," Chief Charles Moore said.

Members of the Westchester Fire Department feel as though they are being picked on by the Municipality of Cumberland and the area's municipal representative agrees.

"The department's morale has been stretched to the limit, they question what role they are playing in the protection of their community," Chief Charles Moore said. "Is the county running the department with the fire brigade doing all the work? Does the word volunteer mean anything anymore?"

The fire department and the county have been at odds over the purchase of a new pumper truck last year and the county's demand that the department fork over $50,000 to help pay for it. The fire department says it does not have the money and the county has cut off its operating grant.

Moore said his members feel as though the county is attempting to make an example of them and appears to be forgetting that the Westchester department, like others in the county, is run by volunteers.

"They became volunteer firefighters to serve and protect their community, not get into a political debate with the county as to what money belongs to them," Moore said.

The chief said money has been provided to the department for years on good faith with no strings attached with more raised in the community.

"Westchester has always submitted their financial reports for viewing by the county so why is there an issue now as to the legalities of their spending," Moore said.

As requested by the county, representatives from both the municipality and the department met recently discuss the impasse without coming to a solution. The fire department has agreed to an independent audit of its books and feels it has done done everything asked of it.

Coun. Kathy Redmond is frustrated with how her fellow councillors have acted on this matter and feels this is not how volunteers should be treated.

She's also miffed that she had to learn about the impasse through the media and that the county chose to discuss the matter in a closed door session when it had no business doing so considering it wasn't a personnel, contractual or legal issue.

"You don't do this to volunteers. They haven't done anything wrong but they are being made to feel that they did," Redmond said. "Westchester has said all along it's willing to contribute but it simply doesn't have $50,000."

dcole@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Westchester Fire Department

Geographic location: Cumberland, Westchester

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments