You might not consider them close friends right now, but the Cheney fire fighters are standing by to save your life 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“When someone calls 911, we’re going to be there in two to four minutes,” said Battalion Chief Michael Ault. “The [Emergency Medical Services] levy passing really helps ensure that we have that two to four minute response time.”
If the levy passes, property owners in Cheney will be required to pay a property tax of 50 cents per $1,000 of assesed property value. The money will be used for two main purposes; to maintain staff and purchase new equipment. According to Ault, the Cheney Fire Department currently provides around-the-clock service with eight full-time staff members and 15 volunteer fire fighters. “We are hoping to add additional staff, increasing the number of resident fire fighters,” said Ault.
Having more resident fire fighters has two benefits. “Additional staffing gives us the manpower to respond to multiple calls,” said Ault. He said that 10 to 12 percent of the calls they respond to happen simultaneously. For example, they could be fighting a structure fire and subsequently be called to serious medical situations. Maintaining staff allows the fire department to respond to all calls quickly and efficiently. If the levy doesn’t pass, “It probably wouldn’t be as solid of a service,” said Ault.
He compared the fire department to a good sports team, saying that it’s important to have a good starting line-up, but a strong bench gives the team more depth.
Without the levy, the fire department would have a starting line-up, but not the strong bench necessary to respond to multiple calls in a timely manner.
The second benefit of additional staff is that the fire department provides jobs for college students. They currently room and board four college students who are trained fire fighters.
They work shifts and respond to calls just like the rest of the staff. “It’s a great program for the community, and they do a very good job for us,” said Ault.
In addition to the added manpower, the fire department plans to use some of the money for new defibrillators and other equipment. “We are really dedicated to the people of Cheney,” said Ault. “The levy guarantees we can keep the same level of service to Cheney and Eastern.”