I believe that the movement to have the fire stations in Dorothea and Fortuna reopen is ill conceived. There should be a comprehensive restructuring of the fire service, which should include the use of volunteer trained firefighters. Volunteerism is a basic institution in communities large and small across the United States of America, and the US Virgin Islands, the last time I checked, is still a territory of the USA. There are many benefits to volunteerism, aside from the economical benefits to the community it provides a ready pool of worker from which to draw when money becomes available for appointment. The volunteers also receives benefit because they gain a sense of usefulness, that of commitment to a mission. With proper legislation, that can be done and should be done. The only drawback I see is the politicians, the demagogues and their demagoguery. They know what is right but lack the moral courage to stand up or sit up for what is right and proper and play into the hands of some vocal minority groups.
I understand the plight of the residents of Fortuna and Dorothea; they need the services. I learn that residents of Dorothea offered their services as volunteers and were turned down, allegedly by a union. The union should not have any say in administrative policies that promote the welfare of the community. Unions are to look out for their members' welfare, their working conditions, that is all. Even salaries should be based on a scale established by the classified service that applies to all government employees. But that is a topic for another article.
The restructuring of the fire service is a big order for the senate, but they can get outside help; they do not need to reinvent the wheel. The restructuring should include regular training and retraining. Regular upgrade of equipment, include an EMS unit attached to the outpost stations. The service should be completely professionalized, with members gaining college degrees in the fire fighting science and investigation.
If the senators really want to address the needs of this community they have to stop the piecemeal approach and develop a comprehensive plan that addresses all the infrastructure needs and establish a timetable, to include a revenue source, to implement the plan. It is a challenge, I acknowledge, but together we can do it.
The Governor vetoed the opening of the Dorothea fire station allegedly because of lack of fund. In other words, and it make sense to me, if there is not a consistent revenue source to pay for the services it makes no sense to open the station to close them as soon as the appropriation is dried up. That happened before, is that what the residents of those communities want? I really do not think so, do you? The citizens have to demand more sincerity from the politicians. Politicians the world over are untrustworthy individuals, duplicity is their game. The senators, in their usual demagogic manner, are threatening to override the Governor's veto, what a charade!
Will the people fall for their game again? Are we going to demand a comprehensive plan to address our infrastructure needs or are we going along with the politically expedient piecemeal approach? Remember people power, make your demands for a full program with a definite timetable to address all the infrastructure needs. The ball is in the people's court.
St. Thomas, VI
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