Gaston Fire District Local Option Levy 5-Year Replacement, Nov 7, 2023 Ballot
Gaston Fire District is asking voters to support emergency response services by levying $1.01 per $1,000 assessed value for five years beginning in 2024. The levy would replace the current levy of $0.67 per $1,000 local option levy.
Why is it important to have 24/7 staffing?
Having a crew ready to respond at a moment's notice saves lives and minimizes fire growth. By staffing the station with a paid firefighter and a volunteer the response to emergencies is less than 2 minutes, prior to providing 24/7 coverage the average response time was over 10 minutes.
Continue to grow the Volunteer Program
The volunteer program allows the Gaston Fire District to fill in behind the career staff, to respond on second calls for help, or to bring additional apparatus and personnel to a large scene. There is an expense for volunteers. It costs nearly $5000 to outfit and train each new volunteer. There are ongoing training, PPE, and support costs associated with volunteers
Technology is part of our everyday life, the fire service is no different. Many of the programs and tools we use have electronics in them, require subscription services, or need to be replaced as newer technology becomes available. An example of a large cost that is unavoidable is the heart monitors we carry. These pieces of equipment cost over $20,000 each. They are vital to our delivery of medical care to the community.
What services does Gaston Fire District Provide?
Gaston Fire provides fire response to medical, rescue, and fire emergencies to the communities of Cherry Grove, Laurelwood, and Gaston.The firefighters and medics provide life-saving care at medical emergencies, Extricate and treat people in accidents, and fight structure, industrial, and wildland fires.
What is the Levy For?
The levy would maintain 24/7 staffing at the station, allow the District to sufficiently cover the costs associated with the goal of maintaining adequate response times, provide protective clothing, equipment, and training for the volunteer membership acquire, upgrade, renovate, and improve apparatus and equipment, and upgrade technology equipment and software.
Support 24/7 Staffing at Fire Station
Gaston Fire moved their career staff to a 24-hour shift to allow staffing around the clock. This is a change in how they were doing business before. In the past, two career firefighters would respond from the station during the week from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. On the weekends from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., there was a single paid member on duty during the day who would wait for a volunteer to show up before they could respond. This change was possible with the implementation of a live-in student volunteer program.
Acquire and Upgrade Apparatus and Equipment
The fire apparatus we respond on are starting to age. We have two fire engines that are 14 and 15 years old. Our water tanker, the vehicle that brings water to rural fires is 36 years old. These three vehicles and other vehicles will need to be replaced in the future. Funds raised from the levy will provide the funding to purchase them when needed. The vehicles are well maintained and they are expected to last past the recommended 15-year replacement however the time to plan on how to replace is now.
What happens if it doesn't pass?
If the levy does not pass the District will do its best to maintain 24/7 coverage. However, in order to purchase needed equipment and pay normal operating expenses, the District may need to adjust this schedule. The District may not be able to sustain the current staffing model in order to replace outdated equipment and pay for normal operating expenses.
Gaston Fire District is dedicated to providing quality fire, EMS, and Rescue respones to protect life, property, and the environment