North Park Fire Protection Chief Joel Hallstrom is concerned over an increased demand for 911 calls in his district. In 2017, the volunteer fire department responded to 1,750 calls for service—nearly five per day and 193 more calls than 2016.
“We rely on other neighbors as much as they rely on us. So for fires and other large incidents, there’s a bigger group of people who are responding to assist each other,” said Hallstrom.
That demand is now becoming a burden on the department’s budget.
“The costs for us to do business, in general, have increased just from a perspective of equipment replacement costs,” he says.
Changing demographics, less tax income – following the recession – and a new, assisted living facility are all factors. Most firefighters get paid very little, like volunteer firefighter Marshall Taft.
“It’s really just a balancing act to make sure we get enough time with family, but we’re also here to help the community,” said Taft.
Chief Hallstrom plans to push a referendum for this year’s general election in November, potentially providing more funds to maintain facilities and equipment and help keep staff.
‘It’s a tough sell, that we struggle to provide what our taxpayers need for protection and people don’t want to pay more. And I understand that, but there’s a certain point where it’s very difficult for us to do what we do for very little money,” said Hallstrom.