BFC, Town Discuss Quarterly Report

BERLIN– Town officials want to see more detailed financial reports from the Berlin Fire Company.

As representatives from the Berlin Fire Company (BFC) presented the Berlin Town Council with a quarterly report this week, Councilman Dean Burrell suggested the agency bring more detailed accounts in the future.

“We just need to be as specific as possible when it comes to allocating taxpayer money,” Burrell said.

BFC President David Fitzgerald and Fire Chief R.J. Rhode presented officials with a report for April 1 through June 30 during Monday’s regular council meeting. They reported that 40% of BFC fire/rescue calls were in town, while 60% of calls were out of town. The busiest day during the quarter was Tuesday while the busiest time of day was between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. The fire company’s expense budget was highlighted by a computer failure, HVAC replacement, an engine repair and rising fuel costs.

On the EMS side, 56.7% of calls (255) were in town while 43.3% of calls (195) were out of town limits. EMS budget highlights, Fitzgerald said, included increased medical supply costs and payroll costs related to shift coverage. He added that cardiac monitors would soon need to be replaced at a cost of $85,000 to $100,000.

“Our EMS account doesn’t have contingency funds for emergencies,” Fitzgerald said.

Councilman Jack Orris asked if any COVID-related grants could help with replacing cardiac monitors.

“We’re looking to see if those qualify,” Fitzgerald said.

Councilman Jay Knerr asked why there was no financial report accompanying the presentation. Fitzgerald said that was because it was the last quarterly report of the fiscal year that ended June 30.

Burrell said he felt the report was rather general.

“You have said some things that I wonder about,” he said. “You talked about the price of gas. If gas has increased I would like to see actuals as it relates to what you have actually spent for gas as compared to the same time last year. That would give us some idea of what is needed going forward.”

He said more specific details would give the council a better understanding of the financial hurdles the BFC was up against.

“That will give us more information as it relates to equitable funding from the town,” he said.

Burrell said that if citizens questioned the BFC’s need for more funding, the council would be able to point to specific figures justifying the need.

“That would put us in a better position to actually gauge the appropriateness of our funding for the fire department and EMS,” he said.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.