Our Opinion: Council urged to equip firefighters

News Tribune editorial

The Jefferson City Council has heard the chorus sounded by residents and will introduce a bill today to purchase life-saving fire equipment.

City voters on Aug 7 rejected a dedicated quarter-cent sales tax projected to raise $41 million over its 15-year span for the Fire Department.

A familiar refrain from opponents went something like this: We support firefighters, but we fear passage of a new, designated tax will allow elected officials to divert revenues to pet projects.

Opponents also questioned the city’s budget priorities, particularly the failure to provide state-of-the-art equipment to firefighters who not only battle blazes, but serve as first responders who provide medical care to accident victims.

A proposal scheduled to be introduced would spend an $815,000 to purchase: 76 air packs with spare cylinders, 75 handheld portable radios, 25 sets of structural gear and seven sets of natural cover gear.

The money would come from the city’s fund balance. Fire Chief Bob Rennick thanked the bill’s sponsors for being “gracious enough” to advance the proposal. “At this point, this is Step 1,” Rennick said. “The equipment that’s on their list was considered to be a top priority.” We encourage council members to approve this measure. People in danger of losing life and property as fire or accident victims depend on the well-trained, wellequipped responders. This proposal will help firefighters and the residents they assist.

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