Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Alaskan Media Catches Up on Steese Fire Story

As well you know, way back on Jan. 4, the way the Fairbanks Daily News Miner had covered the home that burned down at Fox really hacked me off. The ADN picked up the story, and the story grew legs and went national on some fire service related sites if recent traffic here is any indication.

Well, today, finally, the FDNM published an editorial with some context. Don't look now but this is a rare moment where I am agreeing with its editors. Dermot Cole, the FDNM columnist, had published a piece on the story in the Jan. 6 edition. And the ADN picked up their more recent content in their Alaska Newsreader today.

Not that I'm expecting anyone will apologize to Steese or anything. But at least some people are thinking larger picture now.

But beyond expanding boundaries and bringing the folks at Fox into the fire service district, we need more VOLUNTEERS. Yes, local people, I'm talking to you.

Moreover, looking beyond Fox, you can't just solve the problem by endlessly expanding existing fire service areas. Otherwise you would end up drawing unrealistically huge fire service districts that are so big that by the time an engine, tankers (remember we are in the land where hydrants are rare) and enough personnel are on scene ... the house is a complete loss anyway.

So yes, redrawing some boundaries will bring in more revenue, which will help with the need for additional equipment, apparatuses and paid staff. (And I must point out how dependent local departments are on grants money, it is not all coming from the folks in fire service areas.)

But longterm, we will still come back to the need for more locals to get off their butts and help their communities out by volunteering.