ARMA — Fire Chief Mike McLeod addressed the Arma City Council Monday evening about the lack of staff the Arma Fire Department currently has available.
“What I’ve done to help that is I’ve been able to pick up some kids from Pittsburg and what I’m requiring them to do is spend a couple of nights a week there,” McLeod said. “What we’re doing is we’re compensating them with a pay per-call. It’s $15 basically a night — the city picks up $15 and the county is picking up $15. Basically for the new guy to be there from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., we’re paying them $30.”
However, McLeod said they are really hurting for participation during the day hours and that if some accident happens, the city will be undermanned.
“One of the things that I’ve been seeing since with my new job — I’ve been traveling to like Junction City, I’ve been doing all the emergency manager meetings ... and you would be amazed at some of these other cities, how much more prepared they are than we are,” McLeod said.
Police Chief Jeremy Allen agreed with McLeod’s assessment and said the need is there.
“Day volunteerism is gone. People won’t come out when they got to leave a $25 an hour job for $12 to fight fire for four hours, they’re not going to do it,” Allen said. “What I see — my personal opinion — is to keep people on the Arma Fire Department, you’re going to have to pay them. It’s something you’re going to have to think about.”
Allen asked if a fire breaks out at 2 p.m. and there’s no one at the fire department, “What if it’s your house? Or your mom’s house?”
City Clerk Bette Lessen said before the current administration, most of the city staff were volunteers themselves for the fire department.
“When a daytime fire happened, two to three of them went out,” Lessen said.
Bualle agreed to allowing city staff to volunteer their time and leave their current jobs in the case of a call.
Bualle asked McLeod to attend city council meetings once a month to give a report on how the fire department is doing and McLeod agreed he would keep the council up to date every month.
The council approved continuing the city's current health insurance plan with Blue Cross Blue Shield for 2016, and standard traffic ordinance 604 and uniformed public offense code ordinance 605, which are approved annually by the city.
The council also spoke about ideas on which to use the funds offered by the Crawford County Health Department as part of the Public Health for Actions Prevention grant the health department received. However, Bualle — who missed the meeting that Director Janis Goedeke attended — didn’t realize the funds could only be used in the planning stages, not the construction stages, so discussion didn’t go any further.
The next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m., Nov. 2.
(Jesse Brown is a staff writer for The Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter @JesseBrown_MS.)