Well, did you tell them?

“‘The biggest misconception is that they think we have the same service level, of full career systems, as [the] Houston Fire Department. And it’s simply not true,’ said Ponderosa Fire Department Chief Fred Windisch.” -After

“The property tax on this required community service is only six cents per hundred dollars of evaluation.  That means a $100,000 property pays only $60 per year.  Our service cost is less than $27 per capita compared to full career fire departments of over $125 per capita.” -Before

This from a local news story following a response time greater than ten minutes to a fatal fire in suburban Houston. That fire claimed the life of a 14-year-old girl. The Cy Creek and Ponderosa VFD’s are big volunteer departments in a heavily populated area; they are well equipped and well trained, with a clear chain of command and, undoubtedly, a complete set of SOP’s. What they are not, is in the station.

We’re used to hearing paid fire departments complain (loudly) about lack of staffing in the station 24/7/365, how often does anyone from a VFD come out and say their response time is inadequate. Have these fire chiefs, now so eager to cry po’ boy in the wake of a dead kid, stood up and said this before?  Why are the volunteers not forming associations to complain about this? If their response time goal is 11 minutes (yes, I know about NFPA 1720), and they are claiming this is adequate, then they are being dishonest.

Be clear: I am not criticizing their performances at this fire or in general. I know some of those guys and they know their stuff and work hard. What I am criticizing is the lack of openness before the fire about what is so easily said after the fire.

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