If you need help from the Lee County Fire Department, you might not get what you need, but you will get what you pay for. The Department is woefully under funded and short-staffed. Unfortunately, it took a fatal fire to get the attention of the people who control the purse strings.
Twelve-year-old Tony Long was trapped in his burning home. The first firefighters on the scene did all they could to rescue him, but they needed more help. The National Fire Protection Association says every fire truck should have a crew of at least four firefighters, but every Lee County truck only has two.
That means at any given time, no more than eight firefighters are on duty spread throughout the whole county.
County Commissioners had a chance to hire more firefighters this year, but they cut three jobs from the proposed budget. It's part of a dangerous pattern. Even though Lee County is one of the fastest growing counties in Georgia, county services and staff aren't growing at all because County Commissioners are too scared or too stubborn to look voters in the eye and tell them the cold, hard truth. In order to deliver necessary services, fill vital vacant county jobs, and properly handle continued growth, the county is going to have to raise taxes.
When cutting jobs and services puts lives in danger, it's no longer an option.
After that fatal fire, the fire chief went to commissioners and told them he's got to have more manpower. He did the right thing, now it's time for county leaders to do the right thing too and pay for the protection the citizens of Lee County deserve and should demand, even if it costs them a little more.