MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Letters

January 7, 2013

THE PEOPLE SPEAK – Brushy Mountain VFD board elections tonight

— Tuesday at 7 p.m. is when members are elected to the Brushy Mountain Volunteer Fire Department (BMVFD) Board Of Directors. The BMVFD receives tax money, so it is imperative that board members are elected who understand business and administration.

All board decisions should be filtered though the bylaws “BMVFD Purpose”; often this is not the case. Decisions are typically made without any analysis of relevant information. Result — misspent taxpayer dollars.

The board has never implemented, nor has any plans, to lower the department ISO rating to lower homeowner’s insurance rates. BMVFD once could maintain structure fire flow rate of 240 gal/min; the board unwisely reduced that capability to 80 gal/min. Required hose and water source testing is rarely done. Equipment maintenance is virtually nonexistent.

The department operates as a rogue dictatorship run by two long-term members. A pliable board usually rubber stamps anything presented. Board members are chosen by their value as firefighters, not, unfortunately, due to business or administrative knowledge. Bylaws are ignored. Oklahoma Open Meetings and Open Records Acts violated. A lawyer recently was paid to further obstruct access to records. There appears to be misappropriation of BMVFD money. The board refuses to fulfill its obligation for fiscal oversight of the department. One board member stated he is not interested in finances as long as the bills are paid; this is malfeasance by definition. Neither the Muskogee County sheriff nor the district attorney will address these repeated, provable, and ongoing violations of Oklahoma laws.

The firefighters do a commendable job fighting grass fires; not so much structure fires. Exposures are protected, however, there are significant skills lacking in structural fire attack. During my last year at BMVFD (16 total), I observed four structure fire responses in which the water tanker was left at the station; a violation of Standard Operating Procedures and an indication of poor training. See http://brushymountainvfd.org.

Any potential board member with business, financial, or legal experience is desirable, but anyone seeking improvements in BMVFD operation would be effective. Come — get nominated — bring voting members — make a difference!

JOHN MARTIN

Muskogee

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