SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


NTVFD...Show us the numbers!
By Ed Fry


January 10, 2007
Wednesday PM

Dear Viewpoints and North Tongass Residents:

Again, more half truths and sugarcoating; politics I do not do. Disapprovingly, the qualifications of an EMT I or II are a level that does provide some basic care, but they do not concur that of a Paramedic; the original article quoted a salary (did not mention benefits) of over $70K. When I retired from the lower 48, my base salary as a State certified Paramedic/Firefighter/Firefighter Instructor was no where near that salary, even with benefits and a funded Florida State Retirement Pension!

I would love to see the numbers, not political gibberish and solipsistic approach on the matter. A 19% increase on Ms. Hendrickson's house may be that for her, but it is not that for others as the mil rate is based on a taxable value (ad valorem). Publish it (the real numbers)! Residents need to educate themselves on THEIR fire and EMS service. When an emergency happens, we all want someone there when the numbers 9-1-1 are called. When they are called, national averages of 6 minutes are the benchmark to follow for fire departments. Ask the question, what is the current ISO rating?

Understanding the ISO: The Insurance Services Organization rates the ability of fire departments to protect property from fire based on many factors, including the equipment, water supplies and personnel in a department's district. This rating is used by some insurance companies as a base for homeowner's insurance. An ISO rating of 10 is the worst, where no fire protection is available, while a rating of 1 is the best. Simply adding a third does not automatically change the rating; in fact there is a lot that has to be done to meet a rating and bring a rating up to a different classification. To better understand this, check out the rating system at: or call them at 1-800-444-4554. Give them a call or visit their website, do not take someone's bias.

I did call the ISO to field some questions about additional personnel. It was exactly what I knew. Chief Dave Hull instead of telling everyone that their insurance may (May, political term used to keep them out of hot water) goes down. It is quite a different answer when you call. The Chief can provide the department's capability on paper to the ISO, including their proposed addition of a firefighter and the ISO in turn will calculate their rating. The turn around time is 30 days as mandated by law. Let's ask Mr. Phillips and Chief Hull to do so. Publish the result with the addition and without the addition of the new firefighter. Show us the numbers.

Another question to ask would be the true salary of the "qualified" individual without benefits, likewise what of the total salary (percentage) is benefited? For instance, if a Firefighter makes $30,000 per year as a base salary and the benefit package is 34% of that base salary then the total liability to taxpayers is $40,200. Keep in mind that this is a base and does not cover overtime, training (which should be a separate line in a public zero balance budget).

As a resident of North Tongass I would like to propose (as well as other residents to question the following):

1. Mill age and fee breakdowns for property owners with calculations based on the $50,000 increments (should be easy with an excel spreadsheet).

2. A published letter from the ISO, with the rating before and the rating after the addition of the firefighter.

3. A true listing of the salary and benefits breakdown (item by item) with projections of yearly increments up to 10 years.

4. A matrix showing the residents of the differences of the scope of practice with EMT I, II, III and MICP (MICP is the Alaska equivalent of Paramedic).

5. A projected savings on response times and history of the mean, median, and mode of the response times for the last 5 years.

6. Property loss for the last 5 years from fire as a baseline.

In all fairness to us, the accountability for services meets our return on the investment. Bias has no business in politics, but as we know it cannot be stopped!

We are watching!

Ed Fry
North Tongass Resident
Ketchikan, AK

Received January 10, 2007 - Published January 10, 2007



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