Special thanks to The Daily Astorian and Nancy McCarthy for the positive news on March 5, "above the fold" and "top left" ("Gearhart rings second alarm for fire truck"). Yes Gearhart, the fire department once again will be asking for your support with a "yes" vote.

While the citizens of Gearhart saw shiny engines and prompt response to the 259 incident calls in 2008, they don't realize that 2,700 volunteer hours were involved. In addition, another 3,600 volunteer hours were involved in training and education to be able to provide quick and accurate response. For our small department, that totals more than 250 volunteer hours per person in 2008. Yes Gearhart, we are dedicated to the saving of life and property in our community.

Our dilemma is that we do this stationed in a fire hall that was constructed in 1959. This fire hall is older than most homes in Gearhart and is the oldest in Clatsop County. During most storms, a stream of water runs through the fire hall from the south-facing doors out under a back wall to the north.

Then we get the tone. Our pagers tone low to high, then high to low. That's us. It wakes us from a slumber or interrupts our otherwise normal life. We hustle to the station, pack up with our gear then board a 13-year-old fire engine for first response. We dispatch our 8-year-old rescue unit because it is the newest apparatus we have and it has all the medical equipment we might need. Then more of us show up at the station, and we dispatch our 22-year-old engine.

This is the engine we need to replace. We call it 2921. It takes at least five minutes to warm up and build enough air pressure to be safe to drive. It is non-Occupational Safety and Health Administration compliant with its open back, exposing firefighters to elements and severe injury in an accident. It's great to drive, but belongs in a museum. Only four of us were here when 2921 was purchased new, more than 22 years ago.

As some of the citizens might note, we take care of our equipment. You will always see shiny clean vehicles, well kept, frequently maintained and always ready. We take pride in our equipment. If you decide to vote "yes," we'll take care of that new engine. That's our promise.

While most of you drive vehicles newer than our equipment, isn't it time to support your first responders in your community? A cost of $58 per year for your $200,000 assessed value home is not a lot to ask. After all, it is then tax deductible, so it really costs you less. You will be hearing more about this in the weeks to come.

Oh yeah, we'll continue to support the community. Last year we gave away 1,200 hot dogs on the Fourth of July. And we'll continue to provide fire safety education in the local schools. We are here, ready and dedicated. For those who voted "yes" on the last ballot, we greatly thank you and hope that you will again vote "yes." For those of you who voted "no," we ask for your support.

Gary Burns

president, Gearhart Volunteer Fire Department