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LS firefighters back on job, but they never really left

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Pictured: Board President Mike Hoskins has invited the Lakeshore community to attend a firefighting training from 11 am to 1 pm, Saturday, April 4, at the station house. "Meet the firefighters and learn how you can become more involved," Hoskins said.

As Michael "Mike" Hoskins predicted last week, the voting membership of the Lakeshore Volunteer Fire Department reinstated all firefighters during an emergency meeting on Saturday, March 28. Hoskins serves as president of the Lakeshore VFD Executive Board of Directors.
During a Saturday, March 14, membership meeting, the volunteer firefighters had been terminated by a total of 11 votes.
Last Saturday's 72-0 vote backed a decision made by the Lakeshore VFD Executive Board of Directors on Thursday, March 19. Two members abstained from voting. At that time, the board signed Hoskins' nine-page letter of dissent, as well as a resolution challenging what they considered to be illegal terminations of the firefighters. However, regardless of their status, firefighters had remained at the ready should a blaze breakout in the Lakeshore area, according to Hoskins.
Also at the time, Hoskins stated unequivocally, "If the board's decision is not upheld by the membership (on March 28), we will all resign as a cohesive unit." "The membership cannot force us to enforce an illegal action, which the terminations on March 14 were."
By their overwhelming vote of confidence, the membership supported the board's recommendations. The vote reinstated the terminated four firefighters and rescinded an earlier membership decision to supersede the bylaws with the 44 standing rules.
During the earlier membership meeting, resident Katherine Richardson had presented 44 proposed amendments to the department's by-laws. According to Hoskins, Richardson serves as chairman of an investigative committee appointed to examine certain improprieties that had allegedly occurred on the watch of the last Lakeshore VFD administration. However, the investigative committee's report on the purported improprieties has yet to be presented.
Richardson apparently asked for the firefighters' termination because no background checks had been conducted and no firefighters were certified, a condition that is not required by law, Hoskins had noted.
Last Saturday, Richardson defended the decision to terminate the firefighters because she felt lack of training could lead to "injury and deaths" not only to firemen but also to support personnel.
However, on an earlier television news broadcast, one resident asked rhetorically, "How much training does it take to throw a bucket of water on a fire?"
Additionally, other residents expressed concern that without a fire department, it would be difficult to obtain homeowners' insurance and that the VFD would eventually lose its charter.
After the meeting - and the membership's decision - Hoskins said, "This was a victory for the department and its firefighters. However, though that battle may have been won, I feel the war is still on."
The Lakeshore VFD will hold a training session from 11 am to 1 pm, Saturday, April 4, at the station house, 9019 Wharton's Dock Road. Hoskins has invited everyone in the community to come out, meet the firefighters, inspect the fire equipment and, more importantly, "...learn how they can become more involved."