By Fritz Tegatz, CVFRS Board President
The CVFRS operating budget is 5 percent of the total tax bill, or five cents of every tax dollar you pay. What do you get for your money? CVFRS provides fire protection, paramedic level rescue service, vehicle extrication, ice rescue, water rescue, rope rescue and hazard material incident management. If you are in a bad way, we show up, anytime, day or night.
The paramedic level rescue is staffed with paid, certified, EMT, AEMT, and Paramedic personnel. It has been a paid rescue service for years. This ensures that the Town of Charlotte has two trained medical staff that respond from the station within 90 seconds to a 9-1-1 call. Over time, volunteerism has decreased, the training required for certification has increased, and competition for a decreasing labor pool is increasing. This is not a local issue but a statewide, even a nationwide, problem, recently addressed in Senator Bernie Sanders’ townhall meeting. The cost of this paid staff is the bulk of the CVFRS budget. If you do the math, two employees working 24 hours a day, 365 days a year adds up fast. Many of our paid staff are part-time per diem employees. They are students or full-time employees of another service and work a 12-hour shift or two at Charlotte. As competition for these employees increases from places like UVMMC that pays more, their availability decreases. In order to stabilize our workforce, CVFRS is replacing per diem employees with full-time employees. This adds the cost of benefits for those employees. The increase in our budget this year is to cover the cost of those benefits for three employees, and to pay competitive rates as dictated by the decreasing labor pool.
The fire protection, vehicle extrication, ice rescue, water rescue, and hazard material incident management services continue to be staffed entirely by volunteers. The fire volunteers are subject to some of the same stresses as the rescue staff. The time mandated for training, showing up at all hours, family responsibilities and jobs (sometimes two) all add to the problems of keeping up the roster. Reality, many of us are just getting older.
CVFRS is managed completely by volunteers, unlike any other Town entity such as the Senior Center and Library that have both employees and volunteers. The original budget request this year included funding to recruit paid management. At the request of the Selectboard, this was removed from the budget request. The need for the position remains.
The CVFRS website, contains a wealth of information about our service. You can find the list of volunteers, who they are, how much employees are paid, budget details, everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask. If you can’t find the answer you are looking for, please use the “contact us” feature. Your question will be answered in the blog section so all can see, or we can contact you directly if you wish.
Thank you for your support.
CVFRS Board President