April 24, 2012
Reply to: Chief Christopher Maeder
It is regrettable that once again, Assemblyman Joel Miller has attacked the fire service. Mr. Miller has proposed legislation that if passed would cripple emergency services personnel ability to mitigate emergencies and turn firefighters into politicians. In Mr. Millers press release dated April 18th, he makes a number of claims that are half truths at best. I do not recall seeing Mr. Miller at the Fairview Fire District’s budget presentation last year where a number of taxpayers offered their comments or concerns resulting in a change in the budget there on the floor. As a matter of fact, the last time I recall seeing Mr. Miller in the Fairview Fire House was September 2008 where he called the ambulance a “meat wagon.” Mr. Miller continues to assault the Fairview Fire District without offering a reasonable solution to the problem, nor has he made himself available to listen and learn about the unique issues in the Fairview Fire District.
To the best of our ability, the Fairview Fire District has controlled our budget. If you look at the Fairview budget for 2012 and compared the budget to the 2008 you would see a nominal increase in the operational budget. The budget for 2012 was $3,230,725 where as the budget for 2008 was $3,210,200. The tax levy for 2012 is $148,975 less than 2008. Reduction in tax base has forced residents to pay higher tax rates despite the reduction in levy and budget amounts. These problems are out of the hands of the commissioners and without help from our state government will not improve. What Mr. Miller fails to mention is his inability to pass a substantial piece of legislation in his 18 years in office. We have asked him to support dorm fees for public safety and billing for EMS. Both have fallen on deaf ears as Mr. Miller has not done the work needed to get a bill passed through legislature.
To quote Mr. Miller, he once again “shot my mouth off and clearly it was another instance where my brain did not catch the thoughts before they fell out of my mouth.” To also quote Mr. Miller in an open October 2010 letter found on his website “It would certainly appear that Fairview Fire District is trying to keep their budget flat in response to the needs of the taxpayers, and they have clearly limited any purchase of equipment.” Lastly I would like to quote Mr. Miller again” It certainly would appear that the accusations against our fine fire departments were not justified and although I never meant to disparage any of our brave firefighters, some took offence. Let me reiterate; the fire fighters serve our communities and put their lives and limb on the line for us every day. They deserve our complete support, praise, and appreciation.” One would wonder why Mr. Miller once again changes his opinion of the firefighters, officers, volunteers, and commissioners of the Fairview Fire District with his incestuous remarks.
The career and volunteer members of the Fairview Fire District provides a superior service to our residents; just ask them. We continue to do more with less here at Fairview. Mr. Miller fails to thank firefighters here at Fairview who do not receive time and a half for overtime unless it is with less than fourteen hours notice. Additionally, he does not seem to care that the career firefighters have given back on their contract multiple times over the years as they recognize the financial situation here at Fairview.
Looking at our response numbers, Fairview personnel are often responding to emergencies within one and a half minutes. Additionally, our average response time for 2012 is three minutes and one second. These response times have resulted in a number of lives and property saved. There are a number of individuals who live in the Fairview Fire District who are alive today because of the well trained career and volunteer personnel. Additionally, there are a number of residences within the district lines that had fires and were saved from the wrecking ball due to an immediate response and an aggressive attack. We provide a full service fire department with outstanding customer (taxpayer) service. We do not pick and choose who we provide services to, however Mr. Miller has suggested in the past that we should.
Mr. Miller will be suggesting that we cut back even more and do our dangerous work with fewer career personnel. He will be suggesting that we can shed personnel if we get rid of our ambulance response. If we were to contract ambulance response, the members of Fairview would continue to respond to EMS calls, however with a piece of fire apparatus that will wait for an ambulance to arrive. There would be no reduction in career manpower as we are already at bare minimum. Mr. Miller would have a better understanding of what bare minimum is if he had taken us up on the offer to attend a training session where we would have put him in gear and participated in the training session. Mr. Miller would better understand the minimal costs of Fairview’s ambulance service if he had simply called, emailed, or stopped by the firehouse. Instead he chooses to lurk in the shadows.
Why doesn’t Mr. Miller and the state work with Fire Districts to allow us to bill for EMS services and generate revenue for the Fire District? Without billing, it is the insurance companies who are getting the free ride. Can you say special interests? Why doesn’t Mr. Miller work with the fire district to negotiate with the users of our valuable services a fair compensation? These are great questions for the assemblyman who will answer with more half truths and hot air that we have become accustomed to.
In January, we will have a new representative in the New York State Assembly who may be able to get at least one piece of legislation passed that will provide true relief to the taxpayers of Fairview. Assemblyman Miller will be at home collecting his state pension for his years of “service.” Mr. Miller will receive his state, taxpayer funded pension check despite his record of doing little or nothing for his Fairview constituents. Unlike the first responders of the fire district, Mr. Miller has continuously failed the residents of Fairview.
Fairview Fire District personnel, both career and volunteer are ready and prepared to respond to calls for assistance twenty four hours a day and seven days a week. As the records can clearly show, our work regularly produces more results than Mr. Miller’s entire 18 years of “service” in the New York State Assembly.