Randall to pay for firefighter physicals

Faced with a state directive to assess some firefighters for respiratory health, the Randall Town Board did that requirement one better and will also have firefighters undergo a physical exam, both paid for by the town.

The measure was approved unanimously, but only after extensive discussion about whether the town could afford it in lean financial times.

Chairman Bob Stoll championed the move, saying it is crucial to make sure firefighters who go into burning buildings wearing breathing apparatus are sufficiently fit.

“Immediately, your physical fitness is challenged just by the equipment you have to wear,” Stoll, who also is a fire department captain, said.

But Supervisor Rose Nolan raised the issue of whether the town could afford the estimated $5,500 to $6,000 expenditure.

“I love our firefighters; they’re the best,” Nolan said. “$6,000 is a lot of money.”

Rather than tap the town’s budget she suggested dedicated fundraising efforts or grants to pay for the exams.

That $6,000 would cover 48 firefighters. The department has about 40 active members currently.

But Stoll was adamant that the cost was the town’s responsibility.

“You’re asking firefighters to risk their life … now you’re going to ask them to pay for it?” Stoll said.

Bruce Melling, a Plan Commission member and accountant, speaking as a private citizen, said he felt the challenge of finding room in the 2011 budget for the cost of the exams was not insurrmountable.

“You can move some numbers around to find the money,” Melling said. “And if you can’t, I’ll help you.”


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