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Gene Schull Jr. comments – LFP Fire situation

March 15, 2009 by WLKM 

I am writing as a taxpayer and property owner of Lockport Twp. as well as a volunteer fireman with the current L.F.P. Fire Dept. These are my personal opinions and observations.
 
Whether you were “for” or “against” the new fire station, the truth of the matter is that the structure is here…like it or not. Somehow we must find a way to move on and put all of the hard feelings and misinformation behind us and see that the residents of Lockport are provided with the fire protection service that they deserve.
 
Hindsight is always 20/20 and perhaps if the twp. and fire boards had first brought up the issue to the taxpayers when they were first entertaining the idea of purchasing the land that the station now sits on, that would have been the first step in the right direction. As everyone knows, there has been a whole host of issues; some true and some downright ridiculous.
 
In these tough economic times, the new station could not have come at a worse time when so many people are losing their jobs or suffering pay cuts in order to keep their jobs. I don’t want to see my taxes go up either, but thankfully I live on the side of the township line so I can be served by my own fire. dept. The residents of Lockport voiced their response in not supporting a new station on several occasions and so of course that must be followed. But, I also find it hard to believe that our elected officials of Lockport didn’t come up with a more creative way and maintain a willingness to work with the Fabius and Park boards in order to work things through. How could they let this get so out of hand and now the door is apparently closed.
 
So, where do we now stand? Well, we’re in the process of dissolving a 51-yr.partnership with the other two townships and probably a real reputation that we are now the township not the most easy to work with. How sad! I wonder what the remaining members of the originally formed fire dept. of 1957 and families of those members who are now deceased must think. They worked for a long time and it took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to form this joint department only to see our current elected officials let us down and let it be dissolved. Shame be upon them.
 
I have been a member of the current L.F.P. fire dept. for more than 20 yrs. and spent 10 yrs. before that with the T.R.F.D. also as a volunteer. Being a “volunteer” is probably misleading to some. I understand, although I did not personally hear the comment, a private citizen asked why we are paid if we are a “volunteer” dept.? We are really “part-paid” as we do receive pay on a per call basis and we have a rotation schedule for certain types of calls. For example, I receive $11 per hour for any call I report to. This does not cover my fuel costs or general wear and tear on my personal vehicle. Any lights, sirens, etc. are at my own personal expense. I cannot and do not claim any of these costs on my personal income tax (it has to be over $3,000/year in new equipment costs to do so). Nor do we receive any type of insurance benefits or a contribution to a pension fund. My check this past month was just over $29.00. So, you can see that I’m not in this for the money by any means. Is this an unfair amount to ask when we all know that any fire/rescue personnel are called out in all types of weather, all hours of the day or night? Never mind the fact that it can be extremely dangerous at times as well. I know that I can speak for my fellow firefighters and say that all of us are in this to provide a service to our fellow citizens and must also say that I think we are darned good at it. I challenge you to find a better group of people to work with and obviously I trust any one of them with my life. Unfortunately, all the backstabbing, untruths and all the other uncomplimentary things being said about the fire station issues has cast all of us in a bad light. I, for one, don’t think this is a fair assumption and take offense when it reflects on us…the firemen.
 
Perhaps some of the finger pointing should be at our own township officials. Do you think you are being properly represented? They are PAID by us to represent and serve the taxpayers of Lockport Twp. I think my $11.00 per hour pales in comparison to the $1,000+ per month salary that the Supervisor, Treasurer and Clerk of Lockport Twp. receive. Not only that but all board members receive a generous contribution of taxpayer money to their PENSION FUND. Now if the Lockport Twp. Clerk, Wayne Timm, wants to “trim some fat” out of the Fire Dept. budget, maybe he should also be looking within his own board’s payroll/pension budget!
 
Mr. Timm recently printed an article in the Three Rivers Commercial-News suggesting that maybe a “Fire Authority Board” should be considered. Hmmm…how about a partial Lockport Twp. board recall of certain members??
 
Sincerely, 
 
Gene Schull, Jr.

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