This volunteer three-member non-partisan board sets fire suppression policy and disperses tax money collected from the residents of the District to five Volunteer departments, which include most of the southern half of Albany County outside the city of Laramie. The five rural fire departments are: Big Laramie (four stations), Centennial (two stations), Vedauwoo, Little Laramie and Tie Siding. Only residents of the District will vote on these candidates. There are two four-year terms available in 2016. Those elected will join Art Sigel who has two years left on his term. No response was received from Joseph O. Witt.
What motivates you to run and makes you especially suited for this public office?
Jon K. Essley: For the 37 years I have lived in Laramie, I have always been involved in community service: 17 years in the Laramie Soccer Association and 27 years in the Wyoming Army National Guard. Upon retiring from the National Guard I have looked for additional ways to serve the community. As a 10 year member of the Tie Siding VFD, I decided I can best serve Albany County by utilizing my military and firefighting experience as a board member of the Albany County Fire District #1.
What is the greatest need of the district in terms of equipment and personnel and how would you pay for it?
Jon K. Essley: The core of a good working Fire District is maintaining a well trained and equipped volunteer force. Volunteers are our number one asset and proper training and equipment ensures the safety of our volunteers in this hazardous environment. Through long range financial forecasting and responsible budgeting, the district can maintain its operational status with the existing mill level funding. Additional departmental growth can be attained through revenue earned on State and Federal fires, local department’s fund raising activities, and participation in state and federal grant processes.
Does the District need more requirements (or education on guidelines) for homeowners on defensibility of rural structures? If so, how would you accomplish this?
Jon K. Essley: Although Albany County does have a program to reimburse rural homeowners in improving the defensibility of their property, the defensibility concept should be seen as a continuous improvement program. Homeowners need additional education or guidance on how they can constantly improve their defensibility. As an example, beyond clearing trees and undergrowth around structures, homeowners can improve driveways for better accessibility of fire trucks and continually improve fire breaks on other parts of their property. Educating landowners is a cost effective way to improve defensibility of property in Albany county.