Most of Monday’s City Council meeting was dedicated to honoring and rewarding the Fire Department of Twin Falls. Fire chief Les Kenworthy presented promotions to several fire fighters and fire officers, welcomed two new fire fighters to the department, and awarded fire fighter and fire officer of the year awards to Dan Gould and Tim Lauda, respectively. The City Council and several members of City staff congratulated the promoted and newly hired fire fighters in person after the ceremony.
Les Kenworthy continued the meeting after the rewards by presenting the city council with the department’s 2020 report. The fire chief reminded the City Council that, as per Twin Falls’ master plan, the fire department’s goals in 2020 were focused on aligning the department with the national response guidelines for fire departments, and maintaining the ability to mount a response to all possible hazards. Mr. Kenworthy dedicated a lot of his presentation to the effects that COVID-19 has had on his fire fighters. He claimed that it has taken a high toll on his fire fighters, and that the sanitation rules that he has implemented (to follow federal guidelines) are really taking a large toll on his fire fighters.
The chief mentioned that none of the members of the fire department have contracted COVID-19 on the job (despite the many, many cases they have apparently seen in the community), and that they have only had at most two fire fighters out at one time with the infection. After this dire report, the chief went on to tell the City Council about how well the plans are going for building the new fire training center, as well as a new fire station. He also had officers in his department tell the Council about their focus on fire fighter nutrition and fire starter prevention programs.
Finally, toward the end of the meeting, Chief Kenworthy returned to the podium to request the extra-budgetal purchase of a new fire truck. The department will not take possession of the new fire truck until 2023, it will cost us (the Twin Falls taxpayers) an extra $750,000, and will be bought as part of a “cooperative purchase agreement” (more on that in a forth coming article) which costs more and ties the purchase to more layers of government. Not to worry, dear taxpayer, the fire chief reminded the City Council that they still have CARES act money to spend, and this fire truck meets the requirements for it! As a general reminder to you, dear reader: CARES act money is funded by your taxpayer dollars.
The City Council approved the request with no questions, and a unanimous (that’s all seven city council members) yes vote.
CALL TO ACTION: If you are tired of having a City Council who asks no questions and rubber stamps every spending request presented to them, you need to show up on November 2, 2021 to your polling place and vote. There are three seats in contention for the City Council, and all three of them are crucially important. For more information about how you can get involved, head to our Activist Training Page.