To the editor of THE EAGLE:
In reference to Mr. Walsh’s letter of June 18, the Lanesborough’s Fire Association was created in February 1925, incorporated in 1934, and in 1961 entered into an agreement with the town of Lanesborough. The agreement essentially came down to the town purchasing equipment for fire and EMS protection and the association owning and maintaining the property and buildings that the town equipment resides. This agreement was revisited and reaffirmed in the early 1990s. This has been a positive relationship for the town and fire association since.
The association continues to own and maintain the buildings and property. When the school or highway department needs a new roof they approach the taxpayers and the taxpayers allocate funds for the expenses. They do not hold a bake sale or conduct a fund drive; it is purely a taxpayer expense.
When the Fire Association needs a roof, it solicits donations and holds work parties and invests considerable amounts of sweat equity. When the association built the fire station in the early 1970s, members worked every day after work and every weekend for over year to do site work, build the building, wire, plumb, paint and do all the work associated with the building. The fire association has always been careful with the funds donated to it. I can readily attest to the frugality and fiscal responsibility being a member for over 30 years and holding most offices within the organization including being a past fire chief.
The attempt of Mr. Walsh to sabotage the fire department’s effort to replace aged and unsafe equipment did not fool anyone at the town meeting especially the moderator, who did the correct thing to rebuff those efforts. The association members are at the station every Wednesday, Saturday and many other times training, working on equipment and endeavoring to improve the level of service that it delivers to the community. These men and women donate thousands of hours of their time each year. The fire association funds are not secret; they are posted annually in accordance with state law.
Mr. Walsh was correct in writing that the men and women of the fire department and association do an outstanding job as volunteers. Their level of professionalism is incredible, and there are so many community outreach efforts like the annual fire safety camp for kids, fund-raising for rescue equipment to save the town money, and a plethora of other activities. Perhaps Mr. Walsh should invest his time doing something to improve the community instead of attacking those that care and sacrifice the most for it.
CHARLES E. GARRITY III
The writer is Lanesborough deputy fire chief and Berkshire County fire coordinator.