In November, voters in the White Lake area are being asked to approve a millage for a 5 year period where they are asking for 1.65 mills for some incredibly necessary upgrades and improvements. It's not an indefinite period of time and it's being asked by those who daily, put their life on the line to protect the rest of us. We at the Muskegon Channel have always sided with those in public service and what's needed at the White Lake Fire Authority, you'll see is truly a small ask for what's provided.
Let's go back a bit. The current main station in Downtown Whitehall has been there since the 50's. It's unable to hold the equipment and tools needed in today's line of first response work. What was once a "fire barn" with a dalmatian out front in the classic minds eye has become a central spot for fire trucks, EMT's, water rescue, life saving supplies, implements to extricate people from crashed vehicles and more. The current building isn't even properly vented for the exhaust the trucks put out when started so, when a call comes in and the vehicles roll out...the lingering cloud lasts a while. The administrative area of the fire department is smaller than a single axle travel trailer and as the need for services has increased space has gotten so tight, even holding a department meeting requires the moving of all the vehicles out of the bays and the garage becomes a makeshift conference room. There's one essential vehicle that can't even fit inside the old facility.
There is also a very large need to replace 2 of their trucks. The average life span of an emergency service vehicle according to Pete McCarthy who you'll hear from in a little bit, is 20 years and White Lake Fire has one that's 25 and one that's 29. Their life span has passed and and replacements are needed for the safety of their expansive community. With the size of their service area, knowing what it's going to cost the average homeowner is best answered by calling your local municipality or consulting your taxable value of your home by .00165. So, for an example if your house has a taxable value of $100,000 it will cost you $165 dollars. No one wants to pay more taxes, but imagine if in your time of need the services are not there. Makes $165 bucks seem pretty paltry.
As we mentioned, Pete McCarthy is a Captain with the White Lake Fire Authority and I caught up with him as he was setting up for the WLFA Open House held Friday night at the station. We took a few minutes to talk about the growth of their services as well as the cramped space they have grown past and what's to come should the voters agree this is a necessary improvement for the booming White Lake Area. Take a listen.
We stand with our first responders. We have yet to come across any ask from a public safety organization that's not been thoroughly researched and proven needed. The White Lake Fire Authority is just that. The White Lake area is filled with everything from multi family to huge stately mansions. The calls for service range from dirt roads to one of the busiest highways in the state. Showing up with a pumper truck is still a service, but so are calls for drug over doses and other modern social plagues. A request like this is why society is set up. Community is built on combined resources to take care of each other in time of need and supporting those who take the job. Please know the facts and vote November 5th and help the White Lake Fire Authority serve their beautiful part of Muskegon County.