Donn Coenen: In support of Measure I for Higgins Fire District
This March 3, we will be asking to fund Higgins Fire District with Measure I on the ballot. No one likes to vote to increase our taxes. Sometimes we need to fund our community’s safety net.
The supporters of Measure I have many solid reasons. This will improve emergency response times along with coverage across the entire fire district, adds paramedics and re-staffs Dog Bar area fire station, and maintains local control over our long-term investments in our district. The fire department hasn’t received an increase since the 1980s.
There are also some hidden benefits that come from having a local fire department. We have dozens of formerly trained firefighters that still live in our community. They still have the knowledge and skills to actively help in the event of an emergency or incident. Some of the firefighters and volunteers, young men and women, are from our local high school. This was their first job with real responsibility. Some of them are still serving our community in other ways but still have had the training and others have moved onto other communities.
I would like to tell you about three former volunteers I know very well, my three children. They are now in their 40s and have moved onto other jobs but their training has gone with them. My daughter, Jaimie, trained at Higgins Fire Department and is now a rural route postal carrier. Early in the morning she drives out of Grass Valley to the Greenhorn area to deliver mail. If she were to encounter an emergency, because of her training at Higgins, she knows how to respond. People on her route would not know that she has had the training unless she encountered an incident. She is a hidden benefit that no one realizes.
My son Kris spent nine years as a volunteer and his brother Erik was also a volunteer. We live three miles from Higgins Fire Station. When there was a fire or emergency, they would grab their gear and go directly to the scene. Their training gave them the ability to assess the situation at the scene, take control, and render first aid. In a emergency minutes can make the difference. Kris now lives in Smartsville and works at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. Though others are trained in first aid, it is always a benefit to have more and he is also trained as a firefighter.
Erik lives in Citrus Heights and works restoring apartments. He travels a lot. On the road he encounters many obstacles. Having the training he’s able to handle most things that can come along and help where needed. He also has two young energetic boys. So the training comes in handy there, too. Here are two more examples of hidden benefits to the community where they live.
This brings me back to the former volunteers that still live in our area. I know several of them. I’m 68 years old. If I ever find myself in a situation where I need emergency assistance, I hope one of those former volunteers is nearby. They learned their skills, responsibilities, and became a great asset to our community because of their training at Higgins Fire Department.
We are so fortunate to have Higgins Fire Department. These good men and women firefighter/paramedic and volunteers live in the area. They are part of our community. We have an opportunity to reopen a firehouse, provide for paramedics, and improve response times. I enthusiastically urge you to support and vote for Measure I by March 3.
Donn R. Coenen lives in Grass Valley.
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