How much should we pay for a Brigantine Fire Department that rarely fights a fire? Why send a firetruck to a medical emergency? Click to listen to excerpts from past NPR story.
A big but little understood fire department expense is not salaries, it’s retirements and those healthcare and pension benefits. Brigantine currently has $4.5 million in un-funded pension liability for public employees. That number is growing fast, but few on City Council want to discuss that inconvenient truth.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire departments respond to way less fires, 40% less than they did 30 years ago.
Fires in Brigantine just don’t happen as much anymore.
Sprinklers and new, stricter building techniques make places less likely to burn. Yet fire departments are still set up in the same way: big trucks, over-staffed fire stations, and lots of expensive firefighters. In Brigantine, they work 2 days on….4 days off. A third of that time they are sleeping, yet still getting paid.
That fire engine driving by begs the question that lots of Brigantiners are asking. If everything’s changing for the Brigantine fire department, why are we paying for it in the same way? How much should we pay for government services? It boils down to this. What’s a firefighter worth these days?
People love Brigantine firefighters. They’re heroes. They ride on big red engines, and people cheer. They deserve that honor.
But there’s a limit as to what Brigantine taxpayers can handle for this un-bridled loyalty to the fire-fighters.
As a bargaining tactic, Brigantine Fire Captain’s Platt, Maguire and Councilman Simpson use amped-up fear. They warn….. ‘if you don’t take care of the FD, it’ll take longer to get to you when you have an emergency, and that means people may die’. Most do not like that low-down threat.
Many questions persist. What kind of fire department does Brigantine want and need? How much can Brigantine actually afford to pay retirees? Does Brigantine need to send a firetruck to a medical emergency? What if Brigantine had paramedics in the fire station instead of just firefighters? Do we need the current fire department structure?
What do you think? Leave a comment below.