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County fire chiefs express slow burn

Jason Ferguson
Published: Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

A group of Custer County fire department chiefs and firefighters were present at the Custer County Commission meeting Dec. 27, airing frustration over an overall lack of communication between themselves, the commission and county fire coordinator Ned Westphal.
The flashpoint for the frustrations was a recent meeting of the Custer County Commission in which the commission approved an emergency $25,000 to replace a fire tender for the Argyle Fire Department. Some area fireman voiced concern that Argyle did not have to make a request to get the money through the county fire advisory board, although the commission specifically stated the $25,000 had to be OK’d by the advisory board first.
The county has two funds to help non-district fire departments in the county. The first fund, known as the revolving fire fund, is a $30,000 fund that the non-district departments take turns spending for equipment upgrades each year. The second fund was at the crux of the discussion at the Dec. 27 meeting. It is an emergency fund of $250,000 that is used for emergency equipment replacement for departments that have equipment damaged or ruined at a fire call. The fund was set up after the Galena Fire, at a time when counties were solely responsible for firefighting costs on fires in their county, which is no longer the case.
The $30,000 from the revolving fund is actually interest gained on the emergency fund money, and some at the meeting expressed concern that when money is taken out of the emergency fund, it in turn will lower the revolving fund. Some also expressed frustration they didn’t even know the emergency fund existed.

A group of Custer County fire department chiefs and firefighters were present at the Custer County Commission meeting Dec. 27, airing frustration over an overall lack of communication between themselves, the commission and county fire coordinator Ned Westphal.

The flashpoint for the frustrations was a recent meeting of the Custer County Commission in which the commission approved an emergency $25,000 to replace a fire tender for the Argyle Fire Department. Some area fireman voiced concern that Argyle did not have to make a request to get the money through the county fire advisory board, although the commission specifically stated the $25,000 had to be OK’d by the advisory board first.

The county has two funds to help non-district fire departments in the county. The first fund, known as the revolving fire fund, is a $30,000 fund that the non-district departments take turns spending for equipment upgrades each year. The second fund was at the crux of the discussion at the Dec. 27 meeting. It is an emergency fund of $250,000 that is used for emergency equipment replacement for departments that have equipment damaged or ruined at a fire call. The fund was set up after the Galena Fire, at a time when counties were solely responsible for firefighting costs on fires in their county, which is no longer the case.

The $30,000 from the revolving fund is actually interest gained on the emergency fund money, and some at the meeting expressed concern that when money is taken out of the emergency fund, it in turn will lower the revolving fund. Some also expressed frustration they didn’t even know the emergency fund existed.

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