A group of residents addressed their concerns to a local volunteer fire department Monday night after a News 9 investigation discovered a lack of response to fire and medical calls.
In 2019, Woodcrest’s response rate averaged around 66%. In 2020, the response rate increased to an approximate 67%.
“This is not against the firefighters,” Velva Shanase said. “Something has to change. Not in two years, not in three years, it has change and it must change soon. That’s the bottom line. The community is growing, and you knew it was growing.”
Wayne Bush lost his brother-in-law in 2018 on a call that went unanswered by the Woodcrest Fire Department.
“We have got to do something,” Bush said. “Whether we pay firemen, if our taxes go up, so be it. It’s got to happen, and you guys are in charge. You have to help us get it done.”
Woodcrest’s Fire Chief Luke Young said it’ll cost over $200,000 to bring on at least three full time staff members. It is something they’ll need the community’s support in doing.
“Title 19 and raising the millage are going to be the two biggest pushes to get where we can achieve this,” Young said, during Monday night’s meeting.
Change won’t happen overnight. Fire department leaders said they’ll need the community’s help to make it happen.
“We would welcome having a citizens group that wants to go out into that 18 area and get signatures for us because that is the hardest thing you’ll have to do,” one board member told the crowd.
Residents in the Woodcrest Fire jurisdiction are able to begin a petition process to turn the entire area into Title 19. That additional funding could potentially help staff full time firefighters.
If enough signatures are gathered, it would then go to a public vote.