Endorsement: Yes vote for faster response times, better coverage by Hampshire Fire Protection District
When it comes to a fire at your house, it's all about response time. How quickly department personnel arrive can mean life or death.
If you think spending an extra 46 cents a day would provide peace of mind against the possibility of your house or business going up in flames, you'll vote yes to a pair of referendum questions from the Hampshire Fire Protection District that would equate to a tax increase of about $167 annually to a taxpayer with a $200,000 home.
Hampshire's sole fire station on Washington Avenue is staffed with four crew members at any one time. Deputy Chief Trevor Herrmann would prefer six people on duty, and he'll have that if the tax increase is approved.
With an extra $480,000, Herrman would be to rent space near Route 20 and Interstate 90 for two extra firefighters and a paramedic engine to better cover that portion of the 42-square-mile district. Last year the district responded to 1,175 calls, and 350 of them were in that northern part of the district. Response time ranged from 8 to 16 minutes. Adding firefighters at that second location would reduce response by half, authorities say.
The calls for service last year were the most in the department's history. All told, 475 were fire-related. The added funds wouldn't be just for new staff; they'll also go toward replacing a $300,000 tanker and a $250,000 ambulance in the next few years.
If you placed one of the 1,175 calls for service in 2016, we're fairly certain you'll vote yes. The rest of the district residents should follow suit.