Monday, October 8th, 2012 10:10 am
By Shelley Rossetter
For the Tampa Bay Times
Cory Solomon wanted to make himself useful.
Recently divorced, he didn’t want to end up at the bar after work each night. To fill his time, the truck driver added volunteer firefighter to his repertoire.
It’s a calling steeped in American history. Volunteer firefighters evoke an image of simpler times and small-town traditions.
During his six years of service, Solomon, 40, became part of a family. Loud and big, but always watching each other’s back.
Now, that could all change.
Hillsborough County is rethinking its use of volunteer firefighters associations after an audit raised concerns about the costs and lack of oversight.
A task force has until mid November to determine how volunteers will fit into the department’s future.
“The world is changing,” Hillsborough County Fire Rescue Chief Ron Rogers said Friday. “The old model won’t work and we’ve got to do something different moving forward.”
Three of the six associations have already turned operations over to the county. The Cork-Knights and Dover-Turkey Creek associations stepped aside after they failed to produce the tax records required of nonprofits. The North Brandon association ceased operations when the county declined to renew contracts at the end of September.
Without county funding, the other stations — Bloomingdale, Lutz and Sundance — are expected to follow by the end of the month.
For Solomon, who volunteered at the North Brandon station, the recent concerns didn’t come as a surprise.
“There’s a man in this fire department that has a vendetta against volunteers,” Solomon said of Rogers.
Rogers insists that is not the case. “This is not about trying to kill the volunteers,” he said. “I respect what they do. I respect their heritage.”
Read the full article on the Tampa Bay Times site.