Thursday, July 31, 2014

Bridgeport Building and Grounds Meeting July 29th 2014 - Fire Department Safety Assessment

Bridgeport Fire Chief Pat Nelson gave a presentation about the Fire Department Special Assessment that will be placed before the Bridgeport voters.
They discussed two different options.
The first option is a $45.00 assessment that would cover only maintenance and repairs of the existing Fire Department Building and the maintenance of the fire apparatus and equipment.
The second option is for a $55.00 assessment that would cover a new building for the Fire Department and also the maintenance of the fire apparatus and equipment.
There is no new staffing included in the assessment and the assessment would be for a 10 year period.  Also important to note about the assessment is that none of this money is captured by the Bridgeport DDA Board.  Some residents seem to be concerned about that and that needs to be clear to the residents.  The residents also need to know that if things change: such as some of the repairs don't need to be made, the financial situations change, the fire department is able to get some grant money for some of these repairs or new equipment, then the assessment would be adjusted accordingly.  Translation - The township would adjust the assessment down to perhaps $40.00 instead of the $45.00.  It would be reevaluated on a yearly basis I believe and adjusted as needed.  I don't believe they can adjust it over the $45.00 assessment.  I know many people in our community won't believe that the township will adjust the assessment down but we will just have to have faith and trust them.

The Building and Grounds Board members voted to go with the $45.00 assessment and they will present that to the Township Board.  We really need a new fire department building but sadly there is little chance to get that $55.00 assessment passed by the voters.  They will look at possibly going with another option in the future for something like a bond to finance a new building.

This meeting was a little over a hour long and very informative.  Chief Nelson gave a very detailed report on the condition of the fire department building and the equipment, the upcoming needed repairs etc.  The current building was built in 1972 and is in need of some major repairs.  Are residents aware that the second story floor is separating from the wall?  Most residents have no idea how much fire apparatus and equipment is used by the department and the costs involved in maintaining it or replacing it.
There was some excellent  discussions in this meeting by Chief Nelson and the board members about the needs and problems faced by our fire department and our community.  Are residents aware that one of the old vehicles broke down on the way to a call for a cardiac arrest?  One of the members mentions a Bridgeport resident Joey Popp who is alive today because of our emergency services here.  I suspect most residents have no idea how often our fire and police departments are called into service.  You can see the statistics on the calls they respond to on the Bridgeport Township website and the calls are posted in the weekly Birch Run Bridgeport Herald newspaper.  When you look at the statistics they are just numbers to most people, until it is your house that is on fire, until it is you or one of your family that is having a heart attack, until it is your home that was just broken into.  Sadly it not until then that many people realize the importance of the services our fire and police departments provide.  I have heard talk from some in this community that we do not need a fire or police department -- Maybe in some utopian fantasy world that might be true, but it is not true in our present world here in Bridgeport.

There was some very honest and important discussion in this meeting.  The Bridgeport residents need to hear the information and understand it.  Then they need to make a decision, will they vote to support our Fire Department, and also our Police Department, and help to ensure the safety and quality of life for our community and it's residents?  I hope they do.

** Chief Nelson has stated on several occasions that if anyone would like to stop by the Fire Department and look around and talk with them they would be more than happy to show you around and answer your questions.

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