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To the editor:
This is in response to the Wake Forest Weekly Oct. 3, 2013 article, Citizen experts fight fire with fire.
Things just keep getting curiouser and curiouser, folks. Is the town of Wake Forest the new Alice in Wonderland where up is down and down is up?
According to public tax records, Wake Forest taxpayers have paid millions of dollars since 1983 to the privately owned Wake Forest Fire Department, Inc. which is almost entirely (approximately 98 percent) funded by Wake Forest taxpayers.
This private corporation has amassed over $5 million in assets including real estate properties, fire station buildings, fire trucks and apparatus which are not owned or controlled by the taxpayers who bought them.
The contract for fire services between the town and the WFFD, Inc. can be terminated by either party upon 90 days notice.
Upon dissolution of the WFFD, Inc., per Item No.10 of the contract between the parties, only the “assets and equipment that are titled in the town’s name shall be returned to the town.”
Upon termination of the contract and/or upon dissolution of the WFFD, Inc. would the town have virtually no fire protection whatsoever?
The documents on file with the NC Secretary of State clearly show that the WFFD, Inc. has not specified that upon dissolution, the town would be the recipient of its multi-million dollar assets.
Research shows that while other municipalities have privatized fire protection personnel, they have retained ownership of all assets paid for by their taxpayers.
Research also shows that 90 of all fire departments in the U.S. are composed either entirely or mostly of volunteers and that the municipalities own all assets associated with fire protection.
According to the WFFD, Inc. website, in 1982 a formal proposal was made to the town board calling for the town to contract fire protection.
The town administrator went on record at the time recommending against this arrangement citing his concern for the “town taxpayers.”
In 1983, the Wake Forest Fire Department, Inc. was chartered. Wake Forest became the first municipality in the state to contract fire protection to another non-governmental, private corporation.
Regarding the proposed fire station to be located on Jenkins Road, (Wake Forest Fire Chief Ron) Early (the chief) advised earlier that Wake County will not contribute any of the $2.4 million necessary to build and outfit this proposed facility because the county feels that those residents in the fire district served by the WFFD, Inc. are already adequately served by existing fire stations.
So, guess who will be paying for this new fire station which the county says isn’t needed and that we county residents in the vicinity of the proposed fire station don’t want?
You, the taxpayers of Wake Forest, who are already more than adequately served by the four existing Wake Forest fire stations, will be paying for it via your tax dollars!
Wake County asserts that only two of the existing four WFFD, Inc. fire stations are necessary, folks. Of the estimated 500 calls this proposed fire station will receive, only 25 will be fire related, per Early.
And those calls will also be answered by numerous other fire stations in the area. The county residents who live in Wake, Franklin and Granville counties who will be served by this proposed fire station will be provided excessive fire protection (per Wake County standards) at the expense of the Wake Forest taxpayers.
Do you really want to pay $2.4 million for a new fire station that you don’t need, that Wake County says none of us need?
Early says he wants the fire station on Jenkins because it’s what’s best for the community. Whose community? Is the only entity benefitting from this sweetheart deal the privately owned WFFD, Inc. which would add millions of dollars of assets to their bottom line, all at the Wake Forest taxpayers’ expense?
According to the 2012 annual report posted on the WFFD, Inc. website, “177 fire departments out of 1,729 in NC hold a public protection classification of Class 4 or lower, placing the Wake Forest Fire Department within the top 6.8 percent regarding insurance classification ratings.”
Without adding another multi-million dollar fire station, Wake Forest already has an ISO (Insurance Services Office) public protection classification which is in the top 6.8 percent.
If you feel that your tax dollars are being wasted by the excessive and unnecessary (per Wake County and even insurance public protection standards) building of fire stations in and around Wake Forest and the privatization of such which could leave you without fire protection within any 90-day timeframe, please plan on attending the next Wake Forest Planning Board meeting Nov. 5, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. at town hall.
The proposed new fire station matter will be heard and voted on at that time. Will your taxes be raised to pay for this new $2.3 million fire station that you don’t need?
Is this privatization of fire services and assets in your best interest? You Wake Forest taxpayers have a dog in this fight.
I have the utmost admiration and respect for all firefighters and appreciate their valiant service to our community. They are the ones who rush toward danger as we are rushing away from it. They are exceptionally brave and honorable human beings. This isn’t about them.