Letter to the Editor: Explaining the role of the fire district board

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Dear Editor:
You have asked for a response to criticism of how the Board of the Meeker Fire Department conducts its business. The response is best provided by a description of who we are and what we do.

We are representatives of the taxpayers who are charged with responsibly using our friends, neighbors and community members’ tax money to provide lifesaving fire and emergency medical services.
Some of us have experience on the fire department; some more than others. Others have good community and business experience but little fire department exposure before serving on the board. We all serve on the board for no other reason than we care about our community. We all came to the board in public process and if we want to continue serving we stand for election by the residents and taxpayers.
We conduct the business of the board once a month in a public meeting open to everyone, avoiding executive sessions in all but the most sensitive matters, and then only in compliance with strict legal requirements.
We debate how the taxpayers’ money should be spent and require accountability of fire department personnel.
Except to congratulate and praise them, we don’t talk about our volunteers’ and employees’ personnel matters publicly, and definitely not in the newspaper. Our fire chief has resigned, and we wish him well in his next endeavor. We don’t always agree with each other; sometimes we disagree with each other strongly.
One thing we all agree on is that we always try to wisely and responsibly use taxpayer money to ensure that when the members of this community, our neighbors and friends, our employers and employees, our school children, visitors, husbands, wives, daughters and sons are in danger, our volunteer firefighters and EMTs are well trained and equipped, arrive quickly, put out the fire or save the life as effectively as possible, and, in the end, return home safely to their families. If you want to call us “good ol’ boys,” we won’t take offense to that because there was a time when that described an honest, humble, hardworking, respected rural person, and that is what we try to be at the Meeker Fire Department.
Doug Overton
Meeker Fire and Rescue Board