Silver Lake to consider reinstating points system for paying firefighters

silver-lake-fd-doorThe Silver Lake Village Board is considering reinstating  a points system for paying village firefighters rather than the current hourly system.

The discussion came up at a committee of the whole meeting Wednesday called in part to discuss fire department finances.

Trustee Sotiria Wilber, who chairs the Emergency Government Committee, started off the discussion saying the department is financially strapped due to a combination of maintenance issues and meeting payroll.

“There’s no money …,” Wilber said.

As a possible way of addressing both points, Wilber suggested the board consider re-instituting a points system for paying firefighters. Under a points system, firefighters accrue points for the types of calls and other department functions they participate in during the year. At the end of the year, the budget for pay is divided by the number of points and each member is paid accordingly. Wilber said a point was worth about $3 the last time she calculated it.

Fire Chief Andrew McFarlane said another advantage of the point system might be more personnel responding to calls. The department has only about nine members actively responding to most calls, he added.

“Everyone showed up when there were points,” McFarlane said. “Personally, maybe we would get more activity with the points system; obviously, the wage is not helping …. I just want people to show up on calls.”

McFarlane explained that paying hourly is much more expensive when firefighters are on scene for an extended period of time, as has happened twice recently for mutual aid calls. Under a point system, an extended call still counted just as a single fire call.

McFarlane said he hesitated to suggest it, but not having the fire department respond to medical calls also could help finances and ease the manpower demands.

Silver Lake Rescue Squad Chief Bob Johnson said having firefighters also respond to medical calls as first responders has helped the rescue squad.

“They’re there as an asset to us,” Johnson said. “It’s more than lift assist or taking vitals.”

However, if firefighters were to stop responding to medical calls the rescue squad would tone out Randall Fire Department or Town of Salem Fire/Rescue for lift assists or other appropriate medical assistance, Johnson said.

The board stopped short of directing McFarlane to stop responding to medical calls or switch over to a points system for pay. Instead Wilber asked him to continue to monitor the situation for March and report back early next month.

21 Comments

  1. Bernard Punsley says:

    Incredible. “there is no money”. How ’bout some more baggos and brats? We just spent $250, 000 for a vacant library building……we’re gonna pay our firefighters $3 a point to show up to risk their lives to run into a burning building? How much an hour do we pay our cops? Our police chief? Our village secretary? Our public works director? Our librarian? And our firefighters are worth $3? Incredibly sad. Remember, the #1 reason we don’t have firefighters available during the day to respond is because most of them work outside the village and are not available. The #1 reason they are not showing up at night for EMS calls? What for? To “lift”. AND risk arrest if they try to provide any other EMS service without approval from SLRS. Bet your bottom dollar the rescue squad members are not working for $3. And they staff their station 24-7….why? Because they had the same staffing issues the fire department did…not enough manpower. What an incredible slap in the face to the fire department. You firefighters reading this…if I’ve offended you…tough. I’ve tried my best to stand up for you…..if you think your services are only worth $3…………then keep selling those burgers and brats. You want to let SLRS keep wagging your tail………maybe they’ll toss you a bone every once in awhile.

  2. Bernard stop says:

    Bernard, you really need to stop. Everyone knows that Silver Lake isn’t in the best shape, but you running your mouth is only further dividing the village. Judging by the way you speak, I sense you have a monetary interest in only one aspect of government. While I agree money seems to be just thrown around the village like candy at a parade, nothing will get accomplished with you just speaking.

  3. Bernard Punsley says:

    Simple solution to the need for Silver Lake Rescue Squad to have additional personnel on scene to help “lift assist”. Since SLPD usually sends a police officer to the call, couldn’t they help lift? Not only would this keep the firefighters available to answer fire calls, it would not cost a dime to not have them respond. The police officer is already getting paid, they all seem like pretty healthy, physically fit officers to me….I think they should be able to help lift a cot with a patient on it. Sending a 16 year fire truck out with 3 firefighters on it at 3 a.m. to help ‘”lift” a patient seems like an exhorbitant waste of our resources, especially when one considers replacing that fire truck will probably run close to a half million dollars! Police officers are already on patrol..they would not be “tied up” out of service for a long period of time, and could still respond to another emergency call if they needed to. Something that could be a cost effective alternative to what we currently have.

  4. 80/20 rule says:

    Punsley understands the 80/20 rule. In this case, 20% of the problems are consuming nearly 100% of the time and effort. Take care of those problematic 20% items and life will be good. The problem is money. The money problem is because of where the money is being spent. When the Fire department gets half of what it had last year and at that less than what it should have gotten for several years to maintain top notch equip, vehicles and peeps, then the elephant in the room is whatever department “is ” getting the money. In the village it is the police department. I think that Punsley does teach, not just speak. Students however, need to listen. Learning, as has been evidenced, seems to be out of the picture. The population around us and some of the folks who have trusted the trustees (get it?) are realizing that they trusted the wrong people. I hand it to Punsley for taking the time to write. And, for puttng up with some of the terrible comments made against him instead of the elephant.

  5. staffing problems says:

    In response to the suggestion of Fire responding to Rescue calls for lifting.
    Sounds like SL Rescue should step up their staffing. That shouldnt’ be a mutual aid task. That is a staffing problem in their own company. Why should a governmental body be helping a private company with their staffing? Either they are going to rescue us or they aren’t. I think we contracted with them to rescue us. Doesn’t that mean to staff with sufficient personnel. Am I incorrect?

  6. Bernard Punsley says:

    @Bernard Stop……..wow…..that’s some real wisdom you just dished out. Or “laying down some smack”…as “the Rock” might say. I’m “running my mouth” and dividing this village. REALLY????????? Try attending a village board or committee meeting when Mike, Colleen, Al, Dean and the rest of the “whiners” are bullying and berating citizens. Watch Chris charge up to the board table to berate a board member over….get this..DUMPSTERS! As for me “just speaking’…are you serious? I’ve offered numerous suggestions and potential solutions on this forum. Have I berated and bashed folks? You bet! Did they deserve it? You bet. I’m constantly amused at how I get credit for “dividing” this village. Other than folks telling me to shut up, I have yet to see anyone, yourself included, offer ANY viable alternatives or solutions to the problems facing our village. My “monetary interest in only one aspect of government”(your words, not mine)is most puzzling? I dont’ know what “aspect” you would be referring to. I’ve made it pretty clear I have concerns over the financial crisis facing our fire department, but that has carried over to the rest of our villlage budget woes as well. We have consistently stuck our heads in the sand over the dire straights that we are in. Which part of “we have no money”(Soti Wilber)for the fire department did you not understand? What alternatives have ANY of my detractors offered to help resolve any of our financial woes, fire department included? NONE! You “Bernard Bashers” who hold both myself and my vision for this village in disdain…..what are your alternatives? If one person(Bernard) could totally divide this village all by himself/herself?, which is what most of you BB’s whimper about, what does that say about the complainers?? Whiners and snivellers. I shall continue to be the voice of reason for our beloved village.

  7. Bernard Punsley says:

    @Staffing Problems: You NAILED it! We “contract” with a private employer to provide “services”, and then we are expected to “augment” those services with our own employees and equipment, at our expense, with no reimbursement. Sweet deal for the private contractor, not quite the sweet deal for village taxpayers. As our firefighters have now been relegated (downgraded?)to being little more than “cot jockeys” and providing “sherpa service” for the private contractor, our board response to that is to provide them with “points” that they can cash in at the end of the year for prizes. And if our fire department chooses not to participate in this “budget drainer”, the private contractor will ask Salem or Randall taxpayers to pay to provide “lifting service” for free. I’d like to see what the fuel costs alone would be just to send a vehicle from Randall to Silver Lake and back, just to pick grandma up and carry her out to the ambulance. But if that’s what it takes to keep our fire department budget functional, I’m all for.

  8. 80/20 Insight says:

    80/20…..your insight into some of the problems facing this village, and Mr.Punsley’s attempts to address them is helpful. While I will admit Punsley can be a bit crude at times, even irritating, he does sometimes try to offer some ideas. Most of his detractors seem more interested in putting him down than looking at what he is actually saying. They rarely offer any type of ideas or alternatives of their own(something he repeatedly challenges them on). I think he has offered prudent advice on more than one occasion. Perhaps he needs to work on his delivery a little bit better. As far as him being responsible for completely dividing this village………..ah….he ain’t that good!

  9. Big Man says:

    I must say it takes a big tough man to come to a third rate online blog that caters to certain remarks and blocks others and then to bash people. I’d be real proud of myself and what i’ve amounted to. I’ll bet mr and mrs punsley are so proud as well!

  10. Bernard Punsley says:

    @Big Man: you mean like you just did? Yur mamma n daddy must be reel proud of there Big Man. You go big fellow! Keep eatin’ them cupcakes!

  11. Note to Big Man says:

    Big Man slinging sludge, complaining about where he is allowed to sling it , complains that others bash all the while he does it himself. Does he vote too?
    If he does, it is without facts.

    Note to Bernie! Keep on writing. Your words are enlightening! Your words piss others off; They must be the ones who have been found out in the charade all these years. Thanks for being a whistle blower.

  12. Concerned citizen says:

    It really seems like Bernard has most of the facts… Why do we pay SLRS to handle rescue calls IF they also need our FD? They need to step up their game, if they can’t ‘lift’ a patient then why are they OUR rescue? If they need to call for back up, then why would I call them in the first place? I wonder if Salem Rescue calls for Fire Dept back up on a rescue call? Our Fire Department needs our support, and they need to be compensate for their services.

  13. Bernard Punsley says:

    Well…if I have truly managed to “divide” this village, as so many of my detractors assert, by definition that must mean there are quite a few folks on my side of the issues! I’ve sought from Day 1 to try and stand up for the things that are RIGHT for this village. And that immediately put me in the limelight and under scrutiny of “the other side”! Any time I’ve pointed out “issues” in this village, I’ve been accused of “dividing” the village. For those folks out there that approve of being bullied at village meetings by certain crowd members, screaming at board members, vandalizing a board member’s vehicle, potentially illegal quarter of a million dollar library purchase, repeated ethics violations by board members, massive cutting of fire department budget, continued lack of support of our fire department by certain board members, “blind loyalty” to a private ambulance corporation that our board has virtually no control over, the continued “ostrich approach”(you know, stick your head in the sand and the problems will go away)by many to the problems facing our village, some of us do not find that palatable. I guess that makes some of us..”the other side”. While the whiners and snivellers may outshout us, they have presented virtually no solutions to our problems. I would encourage more citizens to attend the village board meetings and see the clique that REALLY runs our village@

  14. Bernard Punsley says:

    OK Folks…I think I have FINALLY come up with a plan to resolve not only the fire department financial problems, but the rest of the villages as well. While I was initially skeptical of the “Point System” for paying our firefighters, I actually have had some second thoughts over the idea. Instead of issuing our firefighters “Points” for responding to calls, training, etc. I propose issuing them “Queen Bucks” instead. (no..NOT Dairy Queen bucks!) These tokens earned would be used to compensate our firefighters for their efforts, pay for fire truck tires, air packs, turnout gear, equipment replacement, etc. If this system works, we could also refinance the library building using the paper money(oops…I guess we already DID that!) The Queen Bucks would work something like Monopoly Money(no hotels in this game, just libraries and fantasy leases for $1/year). Featured on the front would be a picture of Queen Sue, the reverse would feature a “Big Al “finger (#1!), aimed at any serfs in the village who would dare question the status quo. While the “Queen Bucks” are just like Monopoly Money(they aren’t real and they don’t really buy you anything, but they sure make you feel better), they could even be issued to citizens to help pay for their SLRS transports! Or pay for parking or speeding tickets in the village. I think there is a serious potential for this plan, something the board should take a look at as they look to support their fire department. “Queen Bucks”….it has a nice ring to it!!

  15. Embarrassed SL resident says:

    Roger Johnson wants the fire dept to be what it used to be. Hey let’s put beer back in the fire station that’s good incentive to keep the station staffed. This is what our board wants, they have no vision to move forward. Times have changed therefore we have to adapt to change. Silver lake fire used to be a leading dept west of the I but times have changed and when you don’t adapt to change we get to the point where we are at. I certainly don’t want to have people with Rogers thought process on my board so he will NOT get my or my families vote.

  16. Bernard Punsley says:

    The SLFD Fire Chief says one of the biggest problems he faces keeping members is the bickering on the board, along with the lack of support. Karen Erb’s response is to get rid of those board members that support the fire department. And take away training requirements for firefighters, of course, so we can “recruit” new members. She points out in her Voice of the People letter that Salem FD members are “cross trained”…eg…can perform both fire AND rescue duties. But she wants Silver Lake firefighters to not only NOT have to meet minimum state REQUIRED training sanctions for our firefighters, she doesn’t want them to have to be required to obtain any EMS training either….too time consuming. Kind of curious as to what type of requirements they have “across the tracks” at SLRS to become a member. Wouldn’t want anything to deep to discourage folks from joining!

  17. Big Man says:

    Actually they are real proud of me! I just made the honor roll! Congrats on picking on a high school kid behind a fake name on an Internet forum!

  18. Bernard Punsley says:

    @Big Man……..ahh……listen Junior…..seems to me YOU started not only bashing me, but my parents as well(Mr. and Mrs. Punsley). Guess your folks never taught you that saying ‘if you can’t say something nice about someone”…. so if you are a “high school kid behind a fake name on an Internet forum”(your words not mine). You made the honor roll…..congratulations. Your application for Clown College has been accepted. MR. & Mrs. “Big Man” are real pleased.

  19. Big Man says:

    Lol and you are doing a fantastic job leading by example as an elder engaging with me!

  20. Bernard Punsley says:

    A couple of considerations here folks. The Queen asserts that since SLFD previously “made rescue decisions” without rescue’s approval, when SLRS “made fire decisions” without rescue’s approval…”they were even”. Her words, not mine! In fire’s case, they UPGRADED the level of care provided to the patient. In rescue’s case, they DOWNGRADED the level of service required on the calls. I guess the Queen was not paying attention when the rescue chief admitted his member was guilty of gross negligence. I’ll give him a lot of credit for admitting that. Remember, despite Karen Erb’s inane assertion that fire members should NOT be trained in EMS(read her Voice of the People letter, in case you think I’m making this up and picking on her), most of the firefighters are “cross trained” in fire AND EMS…..so they DO have the knowledge and training to make a decision on a medical call. The opposite cannot be said about rescue members making a fire decision. When your life or a family member’s life is on the line, do you want a decision made by a highly trained fire member on scene, or a rescue member enroute who is not on scene. Attorney Gray might be able to interpret the law, but she has no “on scene experience”. In a related matter, Antioch Fire Department is now providing paramedic service(they dropped Antioch Rescue). Perhaps the SLRS chief could provide some insight into how this is possible? When the ad hoc committee suggested combining fire & rescue under one unified command that the village would have authority over, they were lambasted. What were those folks in Antioch thinking? A fire department providing paramedic level service under the auspices of a village authority under one unified command? Come on Antioch, ya gotta be kiddin’, right?

  21. Bernie fans says:

    Bernie fans, let us all get out there and vote. Dodge, Snelling, Wilber. We can make a difference!

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