While following the discussion on this page regarding compensation for our firefighters, I was reminded of the story of the “Pied Piper of Hamelin” where a town besieged by rats promises to pay a piper to rid the town of this plague. Once the piper successfully did his job, the town refused to pay him for his services. As a result, the piper proceeded to summon all the village children away and they were never seen again.

While not a perfect parallel, I think this story reflects some similarities to the debate about whether we pay our firefighters too much because there aren’t many fires. Some recommend that they be paid as EMT’s and quoted $14 an hour as a typical EMT salary and adequate for their services.

I disagree with this position. I look at paying firefighters as an inexpensive insurance policy against the disaster of fire that continually threatens our town. I see these men and women as highly trained, courageous and willing to face challenges at a moment’s notice to save both lives

and property.

Checking my property tax bill, I saw that less than $11.00/month goes to Idyllwild fire protection services or just about 4% of my total bill. This will vary depending on the value of your property, but it still seems like a worthwhile expense to me.

I think the best way to honor these dedicated professionals is to pay them in a manner that reflects their skill level and importance to the community. They may seem overpaid when there’s

no fire, but they are beyond value when they come to save your life and/or property.

In other words, let’s not be “penny wise and pound foolish.”
Bob Greenamyer