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More on Fire Department dispute
by Duane Williams, KLCB-KTNY Radio
June 21, 2012

The flames are still putting up smoke that is obscuring the facts in the fire that burns between the Cabinet View Fire Department and Fire Service Area, and the Libby Volunteer Ambulance and Libby Volunteer Fire Department.

Russ Bache, a resident of the Cabinet View Fire Service area says, "Tony Berget has not been to Cabinet View Fire Department to look at Cabinet View’s certification, training, or see the insurance that covers them completely. If we do nothing," says Bache, "we will be stopping the progress that this county needs and deserves."
According to Cabinet View Fire Chief Dan Leavell, Commissioner Berget is saying and spreading false and wrong allegations and accusations against the Cabinet View Fire Department and Fire Service Area.

The original bylaws approved by the Commissioners stated the purpose of the Cabinet View Fire Service Area was "to preserve and protect lives and property from loss or damage by fire" for everything within the jurisdiction of the FSA. In 2010, the bylaws were amended to include all-risk services. Amending was permitted in the original bylaws the Commissioners approved in 2002. At no time were services confined to structure protection only. "That is an invention of the Commissioners," says Chief Leavell.

Bache says, "In the state, and around the country, there are many other communities that have the same services Cabinet View is trying to provide and are not being stopped, but are encouraged and helped to offer these services. One does not have to go far to see this in action - look at Flathead County. What is wrong with serving your community to the best of your ability, that is all we want to do," said Bache. "They say we are doing things illegally, well, that is what the law suit is about, to ask that very question: who sets the services for the Fire Service Area. All we want to do is work as a team with all of the Fire Departments and Ambulances services in the county. What a great concept working together for the common good of all. Why is progress a bad thing?" Bache concludes.

Betsy Troyer, a former board member of the Cabinet View Fire Depart has said, "The people need to know the truth. In my 5 years as a board member of Cabinet View Fire Service Area, we tried repeatedly to work with Libby Volunteer Ambulance, only to be told "no" as they did not want us taking away ambulance calls. CVFSA did not want to have an ambulance service, they only wanted to provide Quick Response until LVA shows up, be allowed to respond to motor vehicle accidents in our area instead of Libby Fire. They only wanted to provide the best care possible to their constituents. We asked LVA numerous times if we could train and work together. Every time we were told no. It is documented," says Troyer.

CVFD needed an agreement with LVA to obtain a state license and, according to Troyer, Libby Volunteer Ambulance refused to cooperate, so Cabinet View asked the Commissioners and Sheriff for help. They did not help CVFSA.

Troyer says CVFD has fully trained, qualified EMT's. "The only thing they needed was an agreement with LVA and Dispatch, but LVA and Dispatch refused, and now the Commissioners are saying Cabinet View refused to obtain a license!! The Commissioners actions are despicable," said Troyer.

Chief Leavell says Cabinet View "has seven nationally certified and State licensed EMT’s with three more completing the certification process. We were inspected last fall by the State medical authorities and have everything needed to obtain a Basic Life Support license. The only reason we don’t have one is because Libby Ambulance and Sheriff’s Dispatch will not sign transport or dispatch agreements with us. And the reason they won’t is because Libby Ambulance is deathly afraid we will take their business away from them," Leavell says.

Leavell maintains no one in the Fire Service Area and in the Fire Department has broken any Federal, State laws or County Ordinance. This is another false accusation, says Leavell, given by the Commissioners, leaders and certain members of Libby Ambulance and certain members of Libby Fire to justify dissolving the Fire Service Area.

Lisa Block, a resident property owner in the district, is heading a self-appointed committee of two to bring all the involved parties together, "to the table", to try to find a solution towards healing the "wounds" inflicted upon the "brotherhood" of firefighters and emergency personnel in the county. Numerous times at meetings it has been said "no one will come together" nor mediate a situation that potentially jeopardizes homes and lives. The County Commissioners stated it isn't their "job," so concerned citizens who will continue to be affected by the dissolving of CVFSA are attempting to "make it happen".

Block is composing a letter to be sent to Fire Chiefs and Board members via certified mail inviting these parties to attend. She anticipates having a professional mediator with video recording for documentation purposes, tentatively looking to have this meeting June 27th at 10:00 a.m.

By Duane Williams, KLCB-KTNY Radio, www.todaysbestcountryonline.com e-mail: klcb@frontiernet.net.

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