Part 3: Competing visions: Rift complicates future of Arrow Rock Community Fire Department

Friday, December 30, 2011
Arrow Rock Firefighter Patrick Baker rolls the fire hose during a basic firefighting course. (Contributed photo)

Editor's note: This story is the final of three exploring the challenges of operating a rural fire service, with the focus on Arrow Rock's experience, past and present.

Former Arrow Rock Assistant Fire Chief Steve Bertani estimated it takes 15-18 minutes for outside fire assistance to arrive in Arrow Rock.

Fire can damage a lot in 15 minutes.

The Arrow Rock Community Fire Department depends on the mutual aid of Marshall and Slater fire departments for serious structure fires. With the 10-mile distance in mind, Bertani and six other volunteers strove to improve the Arrow Rock's fire protection.

The group wanted updated, safer and more reliable equipment. When some volunteers felt the fire department's board of directors lacked reception to their concerns, Bertani along with Patrick Baker, Jackie Baker and Dan Keller relinquished their ties to the organization.

"There are firefighting standards, and we feel we should be meeting those standards," Bertani said.

They attribute lack of communication and a generation gap to the rift. A disagreement founded in training, equipment and age has left Arrow Rock, Nelson, Napton and dues-paying residents in Cooper County with a weakened fire department.

Just months before, Arrow Rock first responder Mike Dickey thought the organization seemed stronger than it had ever been in his 25 years of service.

"Once we started the formal training, I told my wife this is the first time in 25 years in this department that I feel like I'm actually learning what I'm supposed to be doing when I go to a call," Dickey said.

Dickey had hoped Bertani and the younger generation of firefighters would take the department in a more professional direction.

"Right now if we have a call, the only truly able-bodied person who is trained is that gentleman right there," Dickey said with a nod to firefighter Jason Hunter. "Firefighting is generally a younger person's game."

Dan Keller turned in his gear and radio well after Bertani and the Bakers. While he stopped responding to calls weeks ago, a strong tie to the community made forfeiting his connection difficult.

"I grew up here," Keller said. "I grew up four miles up the road. I've lived here all my life. I know everybody, and that does weigh heavily on my conscience."

Whenever a structure catches fire in Arrow Rock, E911 sends out the Marshall or Slater fire departments simultaneously with Arrow Rock's first responders. With a small fleet of firefighters and an $11,000 yearly budget, the group of volunteers understandably needs help for larger calls.

Bertani, who had come to Arrow Rock with 8 years of experience from St. Louis, had implemented formal training. The traditional practices of the department didn't match up to the basic standards he had known in his career as a firefighter.

Chairman of the Board Tom Beamer stressed Arrow Rock's role as a volunteer fire department has always been to address emergency situations with its limited resources and abilities. The team ensures a victim is breathing, stops any bleeding and radios information to an en route ambulance. As volunteers, excellent care has never been their true job description, according to Beamer.

The chairman explained if they were actually supposed to save buildings the $50 dues would increase dramatically. He cited the cost of insurance, and noted if funding like that was available, the group could potentially handle the roles provided by mutual aid. However, the department's call volume doesn't nearly match that of Slater or Marshall, and therefore its budget doesn't mimic the neighboring towns either.

Bertani, the Bakers, Keller, Hunter and his wife, Alicia, have the training to offer excellent care, but not necessarily the equipment. Jackie Baker is an LPN. Alicia is a certified first responder. Bertani, Keller and Patrick are trained to enter a flaming structure, even if Beamer believes as volunteers the group doesn't have to take that risk.

Having completed training, the young members wanted equipment fit for entering a burning building. Bertani along with Keller, the Bakers, the Hunters and Dickey continuously cited the current equipment as unreliable and unsafe.

"If we have to go in, we know the risk, okay," Keller said, noting the department's deficient equipment. "But you know, we want the odds in our favor, and all we want is some help."

Beamer explained most of the time the Arrow Rock Community Fire Department fights fire from the outside. He also said the organization would never require an unwilling or uncertified volunteer to enter a structure. But the inactive firefighters along with active firefighters Jason Hunter and Dickey recognized a deeper purpose to entering a building.

Additionally, the group feared lives could be lost during the mutual aid's commute.

"If someone can go in and find somebody and get them out before the house is fully engulfed," Dickey said. "Well that's one of the reasons you go into the house, to make sure there's nobody in there."

The board obliged with requests for newer gear and purchased two suits this year. But the firefighters' desire for independence from Marshall and Slater grew along with the wish list of materials. Beamer reminded his volunteers of the tight budget. While he agreed the department needed to be updated, he disagreed with many of the items they requested.

In an attempt to prepare the Arrow Rock area for any emergency, the younger firefighters had asked for a list of items totaling up to $76,932. The group prioritized the items as immediate, short-term and long-term, but felt as though the board dismissed their requests. While the board approved some updated equipment, many of the items on the list were considered unnecessary.

Keeping in mind the fire department's limitations, Beamer explained spending $1,000 for salvage covers seemed like a waste of money. Additionally, he saw no need to purchase foldable traffic cones and LED traffic batons when the fire department already had standard cones to block off areas and flashlights to direct traffic. Having never needed a rope for a rescue, Beamer dismissed the rope and rope bag the firefighters requested as well.

"(Bertani) wanted to bring this station up to 2011 from 1980 in one year," Beamer said. "Arrow Rock does not do anything fast."

Beamer carefully noted the limitations of a fire area as opposed to a fire district such as Marshall. Districts receive funding through taxes, whereas areas must rely on dues, fees, grants and fundraisers. With an $11,000 budget, the chairman said it's impractical to suggest Arrow Rock acquire the same amenities of the Marshall or Slater fire departments.

"You can't spend money on stuff that you're going to use maybe once in the station's lifetime," Beamer said gesturing to the wish list the firefighters had submitted.

Several firefighters and first responders, both active and inactive, believed the Arrow Rock Community Fire Department should strive to handle their own calls instead of relying on mutual aid. Seven volunteers submitted a letter to the board on Oct. 13 addressing concerns of equipment, specifically the need for a new pumper.

Bertani explained the pumper had been unreliable on numerous occasions, and the letter sought a solution for obtaining a new truck. As the department's mechanic, Patrick Baker said taking equipment this unreliable on calls seemed unwise.

"If you had your car, and it kept breaking down would you go off to Texas in it? I wouldn't," Patrick said. "It's the same thing. You have no idea, it's been unreliable so many times."

When the pumper went for repairs, some firefighters felt the void left the area unprotected.

Then a string of brush fires occurred toward Malta Bend. The firefighters feared Slater or Marshall might be occupied with their own call and unable to respond, if the Arrow Rock first responders needed assistance.

"We were sweating bullets down here because we did not have our primary truck at that time, ..." Dickey said. "You cannot absolutely rely on [mutual aid], so we need to be as independent as we can be within budgetary restraints."

Beamer acknowledged the concerns addressed in the letter, but he noted the volunteers had yet to arrive at a feasible solution for obtaining a new truck. He recognized the group had valid questions, but said they lacked attainable answers to their concerns.

Before the inactive members left, they'd hoped to rally some support within the community to generate funding for better equipment. Dickey felt there were people in the area who might donate money for repairs or even a new truck, if they knew the department needed help. He also mentioned when the department first formed, townsfolk raised $16,000 to build the firehouse, purchase a truck and buy some equipment. After the house used in a Tom Sawyer film burned down in 1972, the Historic Arrow Rock Council organized basket dinners, fish fries and street dances to fund the department.

"The community got behind in developing the fire department, and it was seen as an urgent need," Dickey said. "Having lost the house that had been in the movie was a big incentive for that."

Almost as immediately as Bertani, the Bakers and Keller quit, Beamer found replacements for the department. However, the disbanded firefighters had already received formal training.

"So they've lost a few and they've gained three, if that's how they want to look at it," Bertani said. "But they've lost trained personnel to gain three untrained personnel."

Beamer said the new team members have begun training and are enthusiastic.

He also noted the department is eagerly seeking more members.

"Anybody we have is important, I can't say that they're not important people or that we can do just as well without them," Beamer said. "I can't say that because we need the hands."

Contact Maggie Menderski at mmenderski@marshallnews.com

Related Stories

Part 1: Part 1: Arrow Rock's history punctuated by devastating fires
http://www.marshallnews.com/story/1799579.html

Part 2: Practical limitations define the role of Arrow Rock fire department
http://www.marshallnews.com/story/1799912.html

Comments
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  • It would seem that if people are trained and willing to volunteer their time to protect and serve their community, then it would be a good idea to find a way to protect them as they do their job. It seems that the requests were put into an order for now and in the future. As Mike Dickey said, the community would rally around the need and I'm sure fundraising efforts would be supported.

    With all of the historical buildings in Arrow Rock and the homes of numerous families in the area, it would seem that the community would expect "excellent care" all of the time. If I had a loved one in a burning structure, you better believe that I would want the responders to go in after them. I would hate to be a volunteer that would feel helpless to save a person's life because they had inadequate equipment to perform their duties.

    If the Friends of Arrow Rock protested the lack of fire protection like they did the post office closing, I bet things would get done. I don't think because Arrow Rock is a historical town that it should be stuck in the past as far as it's community services are concerned. Get with the times and protect the people that live there.

    -- Posted by RedAngel on Fri, Dec 30, 2011, at 10:26 PM
  • What are these people thinking, chasing off younger trained personell. Leaving one man to do the job. These requests the younger first responders put in doesnt sound unreasonable. As a dues paying member I would like to think I would have help when I needed. Ive seen this younger generation first resonders out doing training, they seemed to know whatthey were doing and were training every week. They were puting the effert into it. It doesnt make sence to chase off help that is willing to risk their lives everyday. I felt comfortable paying my membership knowing that I would have help when needed. Why should I pay membership now if I'm not going to get the help when I need it. if I have to rely on another department that is 18 minutes away why not just pay the other department to come. I do not want to see this department go, as a community we all need to step up and help this department strive to be better. so they can protect us and themselves when the public needs them.

    -- Posted by Nugget on Fri, Dec 30, 2011, at 11:55 PM
  • Sounds to me like the fix was there and they let the men leave before trying. I've seen this in other local departments. Easy fix is double the dues. get more money coming through the door. Its insurance and rates go up! The fellow in the picture above has dedicated himself to the Dept. and some of his training come from Bertani, I've also personally watched him be trained at MUFRTI in the winter. Keep it up Hunter and the other men, seems like you guys are the only ones that care, get use to it because its not just in Arrow Rock.

    -- Posted by SalineFire on Sat, Dec 31, 2011, at 8:20 AM
  • Commenting has been enabled again. No personal potshots, please. Comments on the issues will be fine.

    -- Posted by Eric Crump on Sun, Jan 1, 2012, at 8:49 AM
  • This is disturbing that this has been going on since Oct. and this is the first I have heard of this. I pay my dues every year and find out that we have not been protected!! I think the community needs to get together and have a meeting so everyone is correctly informed about what is going on. I do not like being left in the dark about this situation. If the fire department is going to come and not even go in and try to save my life why would they even come in the first place? I understood in the past that the money taken at the gate from the craft festival went to the fire department, but have heard that they only receive $500.00 !!! Where does the rest of the money go ?? What is going to happen to my house insurance premium if this is not resolved? This is why we need a meeting because I bet everyone else has many unanswered questions too !

    -- Posted by fresh air on Sun, Jan 1, 2012, at 10:51 AM
  • This community needs to get together and back the younger generation who are willing to risk their lives every day. All they seem to be asking in return is safe, working, and reliable equipment and trucks.

    As a member of this protection area it seems that some forget that this fire department protects many communities and not just the town of Arrow Rock.

    I also heard that the department only gets $500 of the gate money from the craft festival. There are also many people in the area who know why and when those people are asked they respond that the chairman stated the fire department didn't need the money.

    -- Posted by Concerned Peer on Sun, Jan 1, 2012, at 3:12 PM
  • I think a meeting is a wonderful idea, but some points should be cleared up first.

    The firemen that left the dept. did it on thier own, and they were two of the three that had their training paid for by ARFD. Quitting the dept. does not seem to be the best way to help the dues paying membership.

    This dept. has not said anyone should be left in a burning building, but instead use ones own judgement on safty on entering same.

    Unsafe equipment is a term used by a few, when it is compared to a Tax Based District, which ARFD is not, it is an area dept.

    To this point in time, no one, member or not, has been denied protection.

    ARFD has an agreement with Blackwater, Marshall, and Slater for help going both ways.

    The cost of outfitting one fireman with personal protection equipment is approximently $1500, this equipment is at the dept. for all who needs it and new equipment is planned as needed.

    Members have expressed the fact of $50 being too much.

    Being an area dept. aproximently 100 propertys are not paid for, but still have protection, also this protection comes at a very high cost to the non-member.

    The ARFD also serve has first responders to all ambulance districts in its area.

    Now that this has been said, let quit the blameing and work together to continue for a better dept, please!

    The only answer is tax based if you fell a need for change that can be afforded.

    -- Posted by x fireman on Sun, Jan 1, 2012, at 4:59 PM
  • True. The firemen and first responders who left the department did it on their own. However, they did it because of constantly being denied better, reliable, usable and safe equipment. They only reason that ARFD did pay for any additional training it was because those few asked about it, otherwise ARFD didn't have any knowledge of the training.

    Just because you don't have a tax based department doesn't mean that you can't have decent and working trucks and equipment. There are many small rural departments across the country who are not tax based and have better and safer equipment. There are numerous grants available to help small departments that the board of the ARFD didn't even know about or attempt to obtain. However, the younger group found many during research and have applied for the grants to help better the department. The younger group has been very eager to do fundraising events to help only to have their ideas turned down by the board stating that the additional funds are not needed.

    Yes, there have been plans made to start replacing the old gear, and yes it does cost $1500 per person. However, why wouldn't they let those willing to do the fundraisers and raise the money needed to outfit those needed with the proper gear? Fire gear is to be thrown out at least every ten years regardless of how often it is used due to the break down in the fire retardant fibers. Did you realize that the gear at ARFD is well over 20 years old? That to me is just ridiculous. And to know that these younger guys, even with that knowledge were still willing to go into burning buildings and risk their own lives to save ours. Why would anyone not work with them and communicate a plan with them to keep them involved. These are the group of guys that I would trust with my life and the kind of people that I would want protecting my life and property.

    An increase of dues to me isn't a bad idea, however it is not necessary to be tax based when you have a group of people willing and able to do fund raisers and write grants to obtain any additional funding that is necessary. The thinking that you have to be tax based to get anywhere is an old time and lazy way of thinking.

    -- Posted by Concerned Peer on Sun, Jan 1, 2012, at 5:33 PM
  • By the way, the few that stepped down and resigned from the department were the ones who responded to calls and had the knowledge and training of what to do on a scene. That knowledge wasn't paid for by the department.

    These few resigned due to feeling as if they were no help to the community when they didn't have the proper equipment to help when needed. It is really hard to get to a scene when the truck is out of service, don't you think? Their pumper truck was out of service for over 6 weeks and the chairman of the board and fire chief wouldn't even tell the firemen where the truck was or what was going on with it. With that kind of communication how is anyone supposed to feel like they are truly able to help anyone out? I don't know about you, but I would feel more worthless than feeling helpful.

    -- Posted by Concerned Peer on Sun, Jan 1, 2012, at 5:38 PM
  • The chairman has never said craft gate wasn't needed,or that fund raiser couldn't be held.The craft gate $500 is a donation from HARC and not a rite of the Dept. If this subject is of importance to you I would suggest you should get involved and active in it. Meetings are held at the station at 6:00 p.m. the first Thursday of each month all welcome and needed.

    -- Posted by x fireman on Sun, Jan 1, 2012, at 8:36 PM
  • WHY the "old school", "fix it with duct tape", "let's just get by" attitude within the Arrow Rock Community Fire Department? Especially in this day and age of technology and government funded assistance (that is readily available) for volunteer departments in need. Do you realize how many rural, volunteer fire departments across the country would give their right arm to have just ONE of these formally trained, enthusiastic, physically able, willing to run into a burning building (for FREE), emergency responders live in THEIR community??? The main goal is to ensure that the future of Arrow Rock, the surrounding communities and its citizens is protected and the past is preserved, correct? This is not a scratch you head, "let me think about it" situation!

    -- Posted by MaryEllen2 on Sun, Jan 1, 2012, at 9:03 PM
  • I think we need to stop and look at this very close and stop with the he said she said stuff. But i also feel that the younger and better trained people should be brought back and let them take this department into the future.The past members have done the best they new how but don't u think it is time to pass the good of the department on and move forward.It is great to have Marshall and Slater to help out but i am sure they should not be called on every call structure yes but but they both have a wide area to cover.I understand money is tight every were but if i read the article right the list of stuff was put into three different needs from were i am from that is called planing or a ten year plan.It was very disturbing to me the comment that was made that this department is not about giving excellent care or putting out a burning building just to protect area around it.I would think people would pay a higher due if they new what the were getting but with comments like that higher dues or even thinking about tax support are out. When the people that left resigned we have not seen the training like before people notice this.I would like to say why not give the younger generation a chance i think u would be better off.

    -- Posted by Tool on Sun, Jan 1, 2012, at 10:37 PM
  • Why doesnt the older generation hand over the dept to the younger generation and give them a chance to be great. "out with the old, in with the new". You dont know how good it will be unless you give them a chance. They have the training and are willing to get more training. We all need to pull together to get the younger generation to take over and give them the support they need. This will be the only way to "save"the dept to make it stronger.

    -- Posted by Nugget on Mon, Jan 2, 2012, at 12:14 AM
  • I believe the Part 3 of this three part story only reported the tip of the iceberg. The problem within the fire departemnt started around the first of 2011. The department "elected" new commissioners, a.k.a directors, in a totally new way from previous departmental eletions. Then, new "by-laws" were written (which focused on ways to dismiss anyone who did not meet the new, more rigid mandates). "Community" and "Volunteer" were eliminated from the fire department title. Titles were handed out like rewards for siding with those who wanted to control the fire department. The comraderie was gone, cliques were formed, and the infighting started. Most of the time the pot was being stirred by one individual or one of "his people". This individual appeared to want the "volunteers" to become "full time, on call 24-7 responders". Something few of us could be because of other commitments. As a "volunteer" group, we tried very hard to meet the needs of Arrow Rock and the surrounding community. However, this attitude was not good enough for them. I resigned because I knew I was not going to be "good enough" for this individual. Rather than work toward a comman solution with the "older group", this individual and "his people" decided to show their support to the community by resigning. His attitude seemed to be, "my way or I am taking my toys(a.k.a. 'my people') and going home". Seems awfully short sited and self-serving to me. Personally, I don't know if the fire department will ever be all things to all people, but now I worry this story has created an image of the Arrow Rock Community Volunteer Fire Department that will tarnish it for a long time to come. I certainly hope not.

    -- Posted by Been There, Experienced That on Mon, Jan 2, 2012, at 12:28 AM
  • You are correct that many problems started in the beginning of 2011. However, I have spoken with all resigned personel and they all had their own reasons, not a one of them followed the individual that you are speaking of. The department had become another family for the younger group. They trained hard to be prepared for anything that could be thrown at them. As for being on call 24/7... Well, that is just part of the emergency service. I don't know of any ambulance or fire department that is Monday-Friday 9-5. Part of being a member of a volunteer emergency service is realizing that. Do you realize that 70% of the country's fire service is volunteer based? What do you think would happen nation wide if they all had the attitude of not being on call 24/7?

    -- Posted by Concerned Peer on Mon, Jan 2, 2012, at 6:32 AM
  • Isn't it nice that the Saline County Rural Fire Department and the Slater Fire Department are sent by E911 to the Arrow Rock fires!!! Shouldn't the folks there be paying a membership to one of these associations since it has been stated that Arrow Rock has an $11,000 budget for fire protection--that won't even keep tires on a fire truck, let alone own one. Let's ALL do our part for fire protection, sounds like Arrow Rock is NOT DOING THEIRS!!!

    -- Posted by farmerwife on Mon, Jan 2, 2012, at 10:22 AM
  • It boils down to the current leadership only expects the very minimum at best. They were upset that anyone would expect more. Change bad, people who want change bad. They had people who wanted to do the maximum for the community with what they had. Those people ran up against a brick wall of years of the lowest expectations. The current leadership believes the people they are serving deserve the very least they can give. They run around with their blue lights and sirens for what? To get there in a hurry to wait for someone else to come do their job.. Fire does not know if you live in a city or in the country. It does not know if you are a highly paid urban department or a small area underfunded volunteer department. It will take your life and property just the same. That absolute minimum is never exceptable. Those who strive for this should never be in leadership. We are talking about lives and property here not about who is old and who is young.

    -- Posted by rushmore on Mon, Jan 2, 2012, at 10:26 AM
  • As one of the mentioned new trainees to the Arrow Rock Fire Dept, I felt the need to respond to some of these postings as well as the article itself as I believe the author of it was very biased against the remaining members of the department and should have stated the opinions of those that quit were just that, their opinions, not necessarily based in fact. First, the members that quit did so AFTER myself, my husband and our son started training. They left us to scramble for more training on our own AFTER they said they would continue it, On one occasion we sat outside the dept waiting for class to begin and no one had the courtesy to tell us they weren't showing up to teach. The pumper truck was out of service as it needed a new transmission. Other depts in the area knew of this and covered for us during that time. The people that quit wanted a different truck, and because of budget issues, it seemed a better idea to see if we could fix this one and get it running. I was at the meeting where the members that quit were asked to wait until the truck got back and wait for the results of the pump test to see if it worked. If it did not, the issue would be reopened and discussed further. The pump test proved the truck works again, but the members that quit did not wait for those results, they just quit. Our dept survives on the dues familites in our jurisdiction pay each year. It is VERY difficult to get alot of families to pay these. If we were to raise the dues, even less people would pay. Yes, we get $500 from the craft festival and we work the gates to receive it, but the festival money also goes to the town. Fundraisers have been held in the past, but the cost to put them on have begun to eat up anything that was taken in, so they stopped. In the current economic climate it is difficult to believe that any new efforts would have a different result, but the members that quit were ENCOURAGED to look into options to have these again. As for training and equipment, the dept gets equipment and grants through the Conservation dept and the remaining members are very active in looking for new items that will benefit the dept as a whole. We recently received a new saw that can be used to extricate people from cars as well as lights to attach to helmets so that as we work we are hands free. Bunker suits DO NOT need to be replaced every so many years as stated, and that fact is from the state fire marshall. It depends on amt of use and washing which would break down the fire retardant material. New equipment isn't necessarily better equipment. Whether anyone likes it or not, money does come into play in the dept just like in everyones lives at home. We only have so much, and it needs to last us. We never know when something will need to be repaired. A new fire truck costs over $300,000. Used trucks are just that, used. It could be we would purchase someones elses problems. Again there is NO guarantee we can raise more money from the community so we are doing the very best with what we have and are always on the lookout for new things that we can afford to enhance the dept. Common sense is much needed in a volunteer force like this. NO ONE is asked to do more than he or she feels able to or safe doing. We protect the community to the best of our ability and for anyone to say otherwise is being less than truthful. We are in the position of being in a mutual aid situation. We have the ability from where we are positioned to respond to an emergency call quicker, and those few precious moments allow us to survey the situation and render aid to those in need. In my short tenure on the force I have responded to 7 first responder calls, along with the members of my family and others from the dept. There has been NOTHING but respect and professionalism from those I serve with, as well as kindness and caring as we tend to those we are helping. Training is a valuable tool as well as learning from others experience as we work together. I have learned more on how things work and how to proceed in different situations from those who have served the longest. They have ALOT to offer too. The members that quit had a vision for the dept that although very nice was lacking in common sense and reality. We are NOT a tax based dept and I do not know if we ever will be. I for one believe my taxes are high enough and as the economy struggles other people probably feel that as well. I, as well as the other members of my family will strive to give the community our very best as we train and respond to whatever emergencies arise. All this infighting is accomplishing is hurting people who don't deserve it, so please everyone lets look inside ourselves and strive to find a way towards peace and understanding on all sides. Thank you, LynnRose Johnson First responder/ fire fighter trainee Arrow Rock Fire Dept.

    -- Posted by PunkyRose on Mon, Jan 2, 2012, at 11:05 AM
    Response by Eric Crump/Editor:
    I'll stand by all three articles in the series. Each was well-researched and balanced. There is always more to the story (any story!), so thank you for sharing your perspective on the issues facing Arrow Rock Fire Department.
  • Well said PunkyRose!

    -- Posted by Been There, Experienced That on Mon, Jan 2, 2012, at 12:56 PM
  • The word "VOLUNTEER" next to "FIREFIGHTER" does NOT mean you can pick and choose, depending on YOUR schedule, as to which calls you will or will not show up to.

    Synopsis 1: You are "volunteering" your time to ladle soup into bowls at a local soup-kitchen. (I am a huge supporter of doing this, so am not slamming soup-kitchens.) Let's say you have last minute plans, or don't feel well, or just forgot to show up. Will anyone die because you did not make it to your "volunteer" soup-kitchen shift? Of course not!

    Synopsis 2: An elderly citizen in our community, having a massive heart attack, stroke or catastrophic fire; he pays his annual dues to ensure his calls will be answered. His LIFE is in the hands of the ARFD. (15 - 20 minutes to get the PROPER & CORRECT care for a massive heart attack or stroke is WAY too late. PERIOD.) His wife, his children and grandchildren are relying on the skills that our emergency first responders of this "volunteer" fire department have educated themselves with, to SAVE HIS LIFE!

    The word "VOLUNTEER" having to do with ANY emergency service, seems to mean 2 completely different things to these 2 generations.

    Is it "wrong" to want to strive to be better? To educate yourself as much as possible regarding the area of your chosen community service? I would think for the citizens within this fire district, it would instill a peace of mind and confidence in the ARFD to know their responders, younger AND older, fire OR medical, care this much to want to continue education, have training classes, are arriving on scenes in safe gear, have working equipment and most importantly arriving with the knowledge of how to

    deal with any situation that they are confronted with. So, "self-serving" used to describe a "certain individual"? Hardly. I see nothing but "community-serving". But then again I guess it depends on what YOUR definition of a "VOLUNTEER" firefighter or emergency responder is.

    -- Posted by crosswords11 on Mon, Jan 2, 2012, at 1:49 PM
  • Dear crosswords11.....please good back and re-read Part 3. Which of the 2 generations walked away from thier "community-serving" commitment? Touche'

    -- Posted by Been There, Experienced That on Mon, Jan 2, 2012, at 4:46 PM
  • I agree with RedAngel. If the Fire Dept would put forth as much effort in striving to make the dept better as the town did to stop the young man that was trying to expand his family swine operation a few yrs ago they would probly have a top notch dept. with newer trucks and gear. I know that the older ones don/t want to see much change it took several years to get just the first set of radios and then it wasn't enough for each firefighter to have.

    There needs to a change and if so I think you would get the younger ones back as well as some new ones. Yes you need funds to operate but how long can they contiue to only take in $11000.00 and spind $15-25,000.00. Time to change the Guard. The Fire Dept isn't owned by the town as soom think it is the Arrow Rock Comm. Fire Dept. Have an info meeting

    -- Posted by seen it happen on Mon, Jan 2, 2012, at 9:40 PM
  • If you ignore all of the hearsay in the comments section and focus only on the personal quotes from the article, I think it is pretty clear where the problem lies. I read the article thoroughly several times, and each time I was astounded and appalled to read that some do not feel that this department should be expected to provide "excellent care". That is difficult to misinterpret. What is the point of doing anything if you aren't going to try to do it excellently? Excellence should especially be demanded in the case of a fire department, where lives may be at stake. As for the volunteers who recently left the department (none of whom I am acquainted with), I can understand why they were frustrated to the point of leaving. Not only are they lacking the equipment they need to achieve their most excellent standards, but proposals for new purchases and ideas for fundraising seemed to be flatly denied with little consideration or explanation as to why they were denied. I would personally have anxiety about staying with an organization where this sort of behavior consistently occurred. Maybe the department doesn't need to be drastically overhauled in one year, but a plan for strategic and gradual improvements should certainly be implemented. Any organization, no matter the size and budget, must have a strategic plan in order to function. Maybe if more people would take a stand against the flawed manner in which the fire department is being managed, changes will finally happen.

    -- Posted by ARpuzzgal on Tue, Jan 3, 2012, at 4:36 PM
  • Well here we go again. The Arrow Rock group getting what they want. Sad to say this kind of topic as been going on long before the beg. of 2011. New ones come asked to be on the dept and after awhile they are the ones on the front lines doing the work and asking for better suits better safer trucks and then kicked to the curb. Some of the truck that the Dept are running come from the conv.(great program) but they are very old trucks from the militry, some of which you can not find or hard to find parts for. The tanker they have is an army 6x6 does max speed of 45mph maybe and is not safe to be on the road full of water and an unskilled driver behind the wheel.

    One would think with all the historic buildings in the town and the historic center there worth over millions in tax payer money that you funded that the Arrow Rock Fire Dept would be well equiped. I work very hard for my house and business and so does everyone else in the district but to have a board member say that we don't expect to save the homes just the out buildings is to say the least a slap in the face. I'm sure just like RedAngel stated on the comment if the town spent as much time on the post office closing and as much time as they spent on keeping a young man from expanding his familys business a few years ago there would be a new building trucks and etc.

    Do you know that the town board has to approve any purcheses that Fire Dept whats( at least they did in the past)

    The Fire Dept belongs to the people that live in a certain radius of Arrow Rock not just to the town as some may think. I fell there should be a annual meeting of the Dept for all to voice a concern and to see finanicals of the dept.

    This is only the tip of ice berg. The old guard as run so many good vol. out because the young ones would like a change and are there to protect households and know the risk of doing it. I salute a vol. who would be running in a burning house as someone is running out to save a life.

    You also need to think about the water issues in the country as there is and will be a running out of water issue until things can change county wide as well as in the fire district

    -- Posted by seen it happen on Tue, Jan 3, 2012, at 8:12 PM
  • Well i agree with seen it happen it is so sad that the current leadership is so stuck in there ways.I would like to see a area meeting and that way the dues paying members as well as non paying can have there say.Have you ever wondered why some people do not pay dues well would you if the fire department has the attitude of the current one.I would also like to say that the comment of Been There,Experienced That did you not quit before the other people did that is what you said right. I also think calling the people that resigned toys was very second grade.I think that every body should be very upset with the current leadership and should want answers.

    -- Posted by Tool on Tue, Jan 3, 2012, at 9:34 PM
  • You mention Tom Beamer is chairman of the board. Who are the other board members?

    -- Posted by AnneD on Wed, Jan 4, 2012, at 1:06 PM
    Response by Maggie Menderski/Staff Writer:
    Anne, thank you for your interest. Other board members along with fire chief Bob Hunter were contacted for comments for this story. We were referred to the Chairman. The board members are Bruce Satterlee, Larry Blevins and Jim Bird. Former board member Gary Smith recently resigned. Best, Maggie.
  • Dear Mr. Crump....What happened to the outstanding comment offered by PunkyRose earlier this morning (Jan 4, 2012)? It was a very well written observation of how the ARFD needs to move on to serve the community. Please repost it for everyone to read and hopefully support.

    -- Posted by Been There, Experienced That on Wed, Jan 4, 2012, at 4:24 PM
    Response by Eric Crump/Editor:
    There have been a number of generally good comments on this series that have been deleted because the writer also engaged in disrespectful comments aimed toward people they disagree with. On a couple of occasions, the writer revised and resubmitted and all was well. That's what I recommend.
  • Maggie, thank you for the response.

    -- Posted by AnneD on Fri, Jan 6, 2012, at 6:43 PM
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