Emmet County Firefighters Take Exception to Cuts in Lifesaving Equipment Funding

Firefighters in Emmet County are taking exception to cuts in funding for life-saving equipment.

Emmet County Commissioners approved a budget that slashes funding for local fire departments in half, and could take it all away next year.

“We felt we should voice our concern about this and bring it to the commissioners’ attention,” Resort Bear Creek Fire and Rescue Chief Al Welsheimer, said.

Chief Al Welsheimer is the president of the Emmet County Fire Chief’s Association.

“You’re taking essential services away from us and these are lifesaving tools,” Welsheimer, said about the cuts.

Five of the seven fire departments in Emmet County have the lifesaving equipment, like the Jaws of Life, on hand.

The money for the equipment, repairs and training have been provided by the county.

This year that money was cut from around $37,000 to $15,000 dollars to be shared by each department and it will likely be $0 in 2020.

“Dropping that to the $2200 or $2000 this year that we will be getting and [next year] basically phasing that completely out, that could be devastating to a department we are already struggling with budget crunches and are trying to cut back on our end of it,” Welsheimer, said.

Emmet County Administrator John Calabrese says the county was forced to cut a lot to stay on track/

“We had a difficult time balancing the budget this year so we had to make some significant cuts across the board,” Calabrese, said.

“I come from a fire background. I was a fire chief. These folks in Emmet County do a great job, we have great fire departments, It’s certainly nothing against them. It’s strictly numbers,” Calabrese, added.

Chief Welsheimer says he is stressing the importance of county funding and this equipment at the Emmet County Commissioners meeting Monday night.

“Some people think we just put this in our budget and use it for whatever we want we actually have a list of detailed items of what we spend this on,” Welsheimer, added.