MY TURN: Northern Lakes Fire levy could make big difference

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Imagine you’re relaxing at home and you’re suddenly experiencing chest pain like you’ve never felt. You know enough to suspect you’re having a heart attack, so you dial 911 and tell the dispatcher your problem. She tells you the fire department paramedics will be responding. What she doesn’t tell you is that it will probably take about 11-plus minutes for the paramedics to arrive, because you live in the Garwood district or further north of there. Worse yet, you suddenly collapse because your heart has stopped beating. Your loved ones are there with you and begin CPR, but how long will they be able to keep that up, knowing that brain damage can occur within four to six minutes of your heart stopping and their CPR isn’t effective?

Imagine you’re relaxing at home when your neighbor starts banging on your front door, yelling that your car is on fire and it’s parked right next to your garage. The fire is too intense to be affected by the garden hose you spray on it, and now the garage siding is starting to smoke. You’ve called 911 and the dispatcher has told you the fire engines have been dispatched. What he doesn’t tell you is that the response time will be about 11-plus minutes, unless it is 5 p.m. on a Friday afternoon and then it could be longer because you live in the Garwood district or further north of there.

What if the currently empty fire station on Hudlow and Garwood had a fully manned engine company that could respond to either of these emergencies? Imagine the greatly shortened response time our emergency personnel would have for your emergency!

The fire department’s own statistics show that the average response time for their “primary response area” for the first arriving engine company from Station 1 in Hayden is five minutes, 10 seconds, Station 2 in Rathdrum is 4 minutes, 50 seconds and to the area for the proposed station in Garwood, on Hudlow, is 11 minutes, 45 seconds.

“Ah, but I don’t live in the Garwood district or north of there. I live right here in Hayden, just down the road from the fire station. Why should I be concerned? Why should I vote in favor of this levy?” You should be concerned because Station 1 on Hayden is the busiest station for the Northern Lakes Fire Department and their firefighters could well be on a fire or medical call when you need them. Who ya gonna call now? The station in Rathdrum could/would respond but what’s their response time, especially if they’re stuck at the railroad crossing? Coeur d’Alene fire could respond with mutual aid but they may also be busy with emergencies in their own city. If the station at Garwood was an active station, fully manned, then they would be able to respond to your emergency. Plus, those firefighters who work a very active station would have an on-duty relief crew, an option that isn’t available now.

Do you pay fire insurance? Do you rent? I pay fire insurance and you bet landlords certainly do. Did you know that the insurance industry rates fire departments? For many of us, our fire insurance rates are partially determined by those insurance industry ratings. Adding additional manpower and opening the station in Garwood will have a favorable impact on all of us within the Northern Lakes Fire District.

This proposed levy is strictly for hiring six (6) new firefighters. It is NOT for raises for the fire department personnel. It is NOT for buying new firefighting equipment. Improvements to the Garwood station will be paid for out of capital funds that have been saved for that specific purpose.

The bottom line? The cost of this levy for property owners is $1.72 per month, $20.64 per year per $100,000 of assessed valuation and this does not factor in exemptions you may have for that property. A property with an assessed valuation of $300,000 will have $61.92 added to the property tax. That’s some inexpensive “insurance”, if you ask me! I’ve voted “Yes” on the permanent tax levy override and I’m asking you to do the same. Remember, it could make all of the difference if it’s your emergency.

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