Chelsea Council Member and Chelsea Area Fire Authority Board President Rod Anderson had a letter to the editor published in the “Wall Street Journal” on Aug. 16.
Fire Departments, Greece and the Future of the Dollar
“Regarding Holman Jenkins’s “Our Big Fat Greek Habits” (Business World, Aug. 8): It is true most fire department runs are dispatched to incidents other than a fire or crash. Assisting medical emergencies is a common assignment. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean the department is inefficient. Most fire departments are staffed by full-time personnel, rather than on-call firefighters. Because the medical support missions can be supported with no additional labor costs and do not require additional equipment, capital expense, etc., the cost at the margin is virtually zero. Although it is true in most cases that fire department support is not required at the scene of a medical emergency, it is critical in a non-trivial portion of the incidents, e.g., assisting in lifting obese patients. The cost-benefit ratio for this policy is favorable, and of course the actual cost is negligible.
Fire departments would still be valuable even if they never answered a single fire call. Insurance companies are very careful to evaluate the fire suppression capabilities of fire departments in order to evaluate their risk exposure. Enhancing the capabilities of a fire department often leads to reductions in insurance costs which more than compensate for the cost of the department. This is not to say that fire departments shouldn’t tighten their belts. Our department recently placed in the top 10% of Michigan departments with fewer than half the firefighters on staff recommended by the insurance evaluation organization, and we don’t require five firefighters per truck either.
Chelsea Area Fire Authority