Fire coverage concerns

A resident of Cass Township is proposing that the Webster City Fire Department provide service for an additional half of his community.

Dr. Mark Dearden, who proposed the idea, the township’s trustees and other community members met on Tuesday to discuss the proposal. He initially talked to the trustees in October during their annual meeting. His proposal calls for the trustees to enter talks with the city of Webster City to assume fire coverage for part of their community.

Currently, Dearden said a quarter of the township is already covered by the Webster City Fire Department. This proposal would make the Webster City department responsible the southern half of the community instead of the Woolstock Fire Department. Dearden said the safety of his family was his primary concern when creating the proposal. At his home, the Webster City Fire Department is 3.3 miles away, while the Woolstock Fire Department is 6.7 miles away.

“Minutes count when your house or barn is burning,” Dearden said in his proposal.

The size and staffing availability of the departments were other reasons why Dearden hopes to see the change. While the Woolstock Fire Department is staffed by volunteers, which he said makes staffing daytime hours difficult, the Webster City Fire Department has several full-time employees. He also said the Webster City department is better equipped.

In his initial proposal, Dearden said he has heard of occasions where the Woolstock Fire Department wasn’t able to respond to some fires in the township at all. In those cases, Dearden said the Webster City Fire Department had to respond.

“I have four children living in our two story home. I don’t want to see them hurt or to die because a fire department wasn’t able to properly respond to a fire call,” Dearden said.

The township could see positive financial implications if the switch was made, according to Dearden. Personally, Dearden said his home owner’s policy costs $746 more annually because it is in the Woolstock Fire District instead of Webster City’s District. He said other community members who would be covered by Webster City could also see considerable savings.

Currently, Dearden said similar arrangements with Webster City are in place for Emergency Medical Services in Cass Township. The community had previously looked at having Webster City cover a larger portion the township 10 years ago. A petition circulated to change coverage in a manner similar to his proposal, but it was dropped.

Now, Dearden said that Cass Township trustees are waiting on information requested from Webster City before they make a decision. He said they may call a special meeting on the matter as well.