Board may track fire, EMS costs Feb. 24, story
Statements on fire service not accurate
I believe this article and the subsequent release of the final Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability report do not accurately portray the true situation in Pinellas County.
As a fire service professional I am puzzled by the continued legislative efforts to mandate something against the fundamental principle of home rule. These are difficult economic times for all forms of government. However, it is not up to the Legislature or the county to dictate to the citizens of any municipality their level of fire service.
The statement that the system is not sustainable is simply an opinion based on incomplete information. The residents of St. Petersburg have an internationally accredited, ISO-rated Class II fire department. Only the residents of St. Petersburg pay for that fire service. It should be their choice. There is a long-standing disagreement that the county subsidizes fire through EMS money. If EMS dollars went away tomorrow, St. Petersburg would still be protected by 12 engine companies and four truck companies.
The statement that there are no cost efficiencies whatsoever is totally incorrect. Many of the smaller communities in Pinellas have enjoyed the cost of limited resources while receiving consistent levels of service. For example, residents in several communities pay for a single engine company. However, should they have a structure fire, they receive a full response (two more engines and one truck) from neighboring communities at no additional cost. Functionally, fire service in Pinellas County is consolidated.
There are varying agendas as stated in the article. The fire chief's goal is saving lives and property in the most efficient and cost effective manner possible. Responsible consolidation efforts need to look well beyond costs and control.
James D. Large, fire chief, St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue
Bullies on bikes a problem on trail | Feb. 28, letter
Cyclists often seem arrogant, suicidal
I, too, have a bad impression of many of the bicyclists at Fort De Soto. Not only are the ones who use the off-road trail sometimes rude and reckless, as the writer suggests, but those who ride on the Bayway often veer out of their bike lane onto the road. Are they just arrogant or are they suicidal?
I don't care how much right they have to be there. Those skinny little bodies on their skinny little bikes will be road kill if a driver has a blowout or even just veers slightly to the right.
Kathy Wyss, Tierra Verde