Editorial: Don't let study be the end

Living in a civilized society means, in part, that if your house goes up in flames a squad of firefighters will show up to douse the blaze.

That’s a fact most of us thankfully don’t have to think about much, but it’s one of the many amazing and complicated facts we take for granted every day.

In the Town of Bethlehem, fire departments over the past 13 months have worked with a private company on a study of fire service in the town, and how it could be done better and cheaper. The results were recently released.

We hope residents will use this report as an opportunity to better acquaint themselves with what they’re paying for. We’re guessing not everyone has the time to sift through its 200 pages though, which is why Greg Fry has a full story on the findings.

The conclusions are not that surprising. Manitou Inc. figures the town’s residents are getting good, responsible fire service for their tax dollars, and makes some sensible suggestions for improvements.

First of all, we must applaud the town’s fire districts for conducting this study. “Shared services” and finding “efficiencies” have been the chief buzzwords of municipal government for the past couple of years, but all too often these end up being mere talking points.

Which brings us to our second point. We would implore our fire services to take action on the recommendations of this report. Don’t let these pages collect dust on a shelf (the Town of Bethlehem already has a small library of such work), even if that means making some sweeping changes.

The report mentions the possibility of consolidating the town’s five fire districts down to two and eventually one large entity, a pretty big change. John Lutz, chairman of the inter-district collaborative planning task force, told us it's important for fire departments to maintain their identities. We’d submit it’s more important the residents of this town receive the best fire protection possible, especially if it can be provided at a savings. Let’s not let an aversion to change get in the way of progress.

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