Cumberland Times-News


May 19, 2014

Privatization not the answer to issues involving fire department

— It is somewhat ironic that the front page articles about privatizing, reducing or changing the Cumberland Fire Department to combination or volunteer appeared while the city and firefighters are at impasse in negotiations (“Future of city fire department unclear,” May 12 Times-News, Page 1A).

To me, the articles appear coercive and threatening to the fire fighters.

Privatization. (Really?) For-profit privates are not the golden goose. Privates negotiate stipends, money, fees, housing apparatus, etc., and revisit requests for increases often.

The taxpayers frequently require special taxing in order to pay for these requests. Government has no control on manning, response fees for service, and looses valuable ancillary service provided by government services. Most monies collected by privates leave the area to corporate offices.

Most volunteers are dedicated men and women who train hundreds of hours, hold jobs, raise families and respond to calls, with no payment, just personal rewards.

Sadly, they are facing the same issues as the career firefighters; lack of trained personnel and reduced funding and increased demand.

At one time there were waiting lists for EMT classes, today some classes are canceled due to lack of students. Some volunteer companies have had to add paid paramedics, EMTs, and operators to cover hours manpower is short. It is a national problem, not local.

Volunteers would be subject to background checks, physicals and hundreds of hours training. The current mutual aid agreements between Cumberland Fire and local volunteer companies have worked admirably benefiting each.

We do not need to rethink our department. Nor do we need to continue to use tax dollars to pay an out of area attorney to continue this impasse at what cost. Resolve the issue, fix it and move on.

Bill Beeghly, retired deputy chief

Cumberland Fire Department


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