Letter to the Editor: All is not well at the Rivermont fire station

Rivermont residents may pass their fire station daily assuming that all is well and in good order.  It is not.
 The Rivermont community and diligent volunteers developed, expanded, and sustained their fire station generously over multiple decades.  But time, economies, demographics, and Mother Nature have taken their toll on both the facility and the shrinking cadre of volunteers keeping it together.  These stressors are decimating rural fire/EMS operations like ours throughout the country.  The risk of seeing our station shut down is not an idle threat.  Available members and funding diminish each year as mounting costs and repair burdens deplete diminishing incomes.  Our station is aging and near the end of this downward spiral.
Many assume that 911 calls will bring an adequate fire/ems response.  But this does not just “happen.”  Responders must be available, equipped, and from a reasonable distance.  After 5 p.m., Rivermont  volunteers pick up the slack for Warren County Fire & Rescue.  These volunteers are a diminishing handful of local people who, in many cases, have spent years compiling thousands of required training hours on their own time essential for fighting fires and/or managing medical emergencies.  The available pool of these responders and the facilities they require are at risk.  This concerns us all.
Warren County has proposed a well-considered sustainable solution.  Officials have evaluated the most efficient use of resources balanced against community needs.  Despite what side of this debate you are on, objectivity is in order for everyone.  Bear in mind that some homeowner and business insurance rates may rise with no local fire station.  You or a loved one may agonize with an acute life-threatening illness or injury for 30 minutes or more if local fire/EMS service within our community disappears.  Your participation and  financial contributions also remain an essential component for our fire/EMS service to thrive.  Tax dollars and grants fund a fraction of essential annual operating costs, capital improvements, safety equipment, and apparatus replacement/repair.
This is our fire station, our concern, and it requires our attention as a community to hammer out a solution. Participate with us in local and county meetings to support a long-term solution.
Allen Ris, Rivermont

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