Letter to the Editor

Why volunteer use of the fire station makes sense

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Greetings. I am writing this letter in regards to the usage of the Alta Fire Station by department members that has been brought to the forefront over the last couple of months. I would like to clear up a few things. First and foremost, the "private parties" that are held at the station by the members occur about 15 times per year and include family holiday gatherings, graduation parties for our junior firefighter members as they graduate high school, and baby showers and birthday parties for the next generation of volunteer firefighters. They are not "a bunch of high school kids whose parents are gone for the weekend" types of parties. There is no alcohol allowed at these gatherings and there is a strict set of rules that all members who use the station are required to follow.

There has never been an issue, this includes not going in and around the truck bay area. Our members are well aware of the cost and care required to maintain a fire department, so they are ones least likely to abuse it. The members also know all too well, that at a moment's notice their gathering can be interrupted and asked to leave if the department needs to use the space. These small gatherings that have been held in the past are family events of the actual fire department members. Allowing them to use the station infrequently is just a small token of appreciation to them and their families for their service to the community. These department members leave their families at all hours when the call goes out for assistance, whether it is the middle of the night, during a child's school event, or on their day off just to help any community member in need. AS A VOLUNTEER.

The Alta Fire Department is a group of 26 men and women who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for you. Currently we are down five members from full strength with more retirements coming in the near future. What we are experiencing falls right in line with the rest of the nation and the decline in volunteerism. We provide 24/7/365 fire, rescue, and EMS services to the city of Alta and the townships of Elk, Nokomis, and Maple Valley. As of July 31st of 2016 we have responded to 107 calls for service and the members of our department have invested over 4,100 hours of their time into meetings, trainings, and community service events.

If you are interested in joining the Alta Fire Department, please feel free to contact me or any other Alta Firefighter.

I hope this has served to clarify the "private party" issue that has been in the news lately. I care about the community, and value the opinions of its members. If anyone needs any further clarification of this, please contact me. I also encourage community members to come speak their voice about this matter at the next city council meeting or send a signed letter of support or opposition to: Alta Fire Chief, PO Box 36. Alta, IA 51002

I'd like to offer a quick plug for the upcoming Alta Fireman's Appreciation to be held on Saturday, August 13 at the Alta Community Building from 5-8. We will be serving pork burgers grilled by the BV County Pork Producers along with sides. Attendance is by free will donations this year, so please come out and join and support your local Alta Fire Department. We will also have a firefighter obstacle course for kids. Funds raised at this event will be used toward the purchase of a new tanker truck.

If anyone would like to discuss this matter or any other fire department matter, I can be reached by phone at 712-229-1350 or email at kirkreetz@gmail.com.

Thanks for your support.