Drum said his department is comprised of three full-time, 11 part-time and 22 volunteer staffers, handling a fire district of 24.7 square miles.
“We have a limit of 40 members and five juniors,” he said. “However, we are required to have 28 members to operate as a fire department with two stations: a main and a substation. So we meet that standard. We currently have three juniors included in the 36. It is hard to say how many we actually need, because not all of our members are active.
“We run calls for service and emergency and routine-type calls,” he continued. “We do pre-incident surveys throughout the district on businesses and hard-to-reach structures. We have a lot of schools, so we do fire prevention, career days and stand by for sporting events. We also do daily apparatus checks, equipment checks and station maintenance and upkeep. We also do hydrant maintenance and any other public relations event that may pop up.”
Drum said Pumpkin Center’s fire district hasn’t seen much commercial growth.
“But residential growth is moving very fast,” he noted. “We have big (3,500-square feet and larger) houses being built without any water sources (hydrants) nearby. So water movement is the biggest plan we have to come up with. An example is either by trucks or by adding another department to the call card. With limited help during the daytime hours, you now have to worry, ‘Is that truck going to respond?’ So there is another plan that has to be made. To ease some of that stress on getting units out the door and answering that call is why I feel you are seeing more and more paid staff. We have been backed into a corner as leaders––not because we have a limited amount of personnel. I feel it is due to the fact we have a limited amount of active personnel.
“The fire chiefs and boards of directors have one job and one job only,” Drum added, “and that is to ensure that the citizens of that district are getting the protection they need. So sometimes decisions have to be made that are unpopular to both the membership roster and the citizens of that district. But a decision has to be made. As an example, if I go into a shop to get my oil changed, I expect an oil change––not just a new sticker. So we as leaders do everything we can to ensure that when someone calls 911, they get the help they need. Whether we agree with that type of service or not, people have got to get the help, and that is what matters. Unless we change society’s way of thinking, we will continue to battle this issue. Just imagine if all of our 36 members were active, and all the calls for service were answered in a reasonable amount of time. Do you think the question of whether paid staff was needed or not would come up? I don’t think it would.”
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