County drops firefighter enforcement | Hillsboro Star-Journal


County drops fire department app

Personal editor

Volunteer firefighters who want to continue receiving text messages, maps and fire alerts on their cell phones will have to pay $11 a year for the service starting in July.

Commissioners voted 4-1 Monday to stop paying for active 911 service for county firefighters.

The service is used primarily to notify firefighters of controlled burns.

Commission Chairman David Mueller said the county agreed to pay for Active 911 when the county’s emergency services radios switched to a new system four years ago.

Fire departments were having trouble getting radios to work in some areas, and some were even using cell phones to communicate at fire scenes.

Active 911 is an app that firefighters have on their phone. It shows a map of where a fire is, queries firefighters, and has other features.

“It’s a great resource for firefighters,” Mueller said.

But some firefighters have complained of late and incomplete notifications.

Firefighters are called by radio for actual fires, but used Active 911 instead of radios to receive notifications about the controlled burn.

When the county agreed to pay for the service, the deal was made on a temporary basis, Mueller said.

World events sparked discussions among county commissioners when rapidly rising fuel and oil costs following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine raised concerns about the price of fuel used by the county, particularly road and bridge service.

Engineer Brice Goebel showed the commissioners on Monday the monthly fuel bids for the department, which buys most of the fuel for the county.

Fuel prices seem to have risen even before the invasion.

Epp’s service in Elbin offered $16,965.70.

MFA Oil offers $18,401.40.

In January, Epp’s offer was $15,144.20. In February, Epp’s offer was $16,806.90.

In other cases, commissioners have discussed but taken no action on county residents carrying out work on roads that adjoin their property.

Road and deck crews sometimes have to make repairs after owners have done a poor job, Goebel said.

Goebel said if a repair was so poorly done that an accident resulted, the county could be held liable.

“I think the thing we can do to avoid liability is a one-paragraph policy that says we don’t allow anyone to work on a county road,” Commissioner Kent Becker said.

Becker said rural residents doing roadwork were a problem everywhere and recounted how he once tracked an oilfield bulldozer to another county.

“He wasn’t doing a very good job,” Becker said.

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