Parent and Business owner claims right to Fire Department information

To the Fire Department:

I am an individual who cannot attend all the meetings going on in this community, try as I might. I have a business, a daughter to raise and a home life, and frequently I rely on others to attend Fire Department meetings so that I can get an unbiased report of the contents of the meeting. I also depend on the newspaper to give me a full report of what goes on in the meeting, which I feel I cannot get from the Fire Department staff alone – the newspaper records the meetings and verifies information before printing. There are several others whom I know are grateful to the individuals who attend these meetings and voice our concerns about issues that exist in businesses that are being supported by our taxes. We are grateful that these individuals take time out from their busy lives to make sure our Commissioners are held to account for the decisions they make, and when wrong, that they correct them. The Assistant Battalion Chief fiasco was one such mistake, and it would not have been corrected had we not attended the meetings and demanded that something be done. You lost the trust of many in the community when you filled that job behind closed doors, and even your own volunteers were kept in the dark.

Every report I have received from someone who is on the payroll at the Fire Department is glowing. You all think you are doing such a great job. Why do you think there are so many of us out here who are complaining? You are spending money that we pay in taxes, that we entrust to you in the hope that you will honor the task at hand, spend our money wisely and frugally. Instead, it looks as if you spend your time trying to figure out how to expand your domain, add more jobs, and inflate the costs of running this small island Fire Department. It looks as if you beat down your volunteers until they give up in discouragement and walk away. It looks as if you are intent on having a fully paid professional Fire Crew. It looks as if you are no longer working on our behalf, but your own. And so we complain, and attend meetings, and demand to know what happened and how you plan to correct the situation.

It is our right to have a full accounting of how our money is being spent. It is our right to be involved in every aspect of the running of the Fire Department. When we are not being informed about these issues, it is our right to demand that we be informed. If the Fire Department were being run efficiently, if meeting minutes were available on the Fire Department’s website as they are supposed to be, if the Commissioners were doing their jobs, then we would not need to attend these meetings. In my opinion, we should not have to spend our precious time making sure you are following the rules.

There is a saying among retailers that for every four people who complain, there are 96 others who didn’t complain but just walked away and ceased being a customer. I wonder how many in our community have just walked away?

Chyeryl Jackson is the owner of Poppies.