Excerpts from the woodstockindependent.com:

With a more focused mission statement and a new four-year strategic plan, the Woodstock Fire/Rescue District is looking to improve as a professional department. The goals include specifics in such areas as staffing, equipment, fiscal responsibility, response times, health and wellness, and training.

65 percent of voters in an April referendum approved a property tax increase to address some of the problems the chief had pointed out in dozens of public informational sessions around the community. They want to restore staffing to 14 a day, up from the 12 that had been enacted last summer as a money-saving move. They want to bring back the jobs of deputy chief and fire prevention officer, positions that were eliminated to address the district’s financial troubles. Unfunded state mandates and rising pension costs caused the problems.

The district’s mission statement now  concisely says the district exists “to protect life and property through efficient and professional service to our community.” That document resulted from two meetings with community members, a risk assessment of more than 900 buildings in the 90-square-mile district, and an inventory of human and physical resources. The ultimate goal of the strategic plan will be to improve response times for fire and ambulance service, which now operates with 35 full-time professionals and several part-timers. Ambulance calls make up 75 percent of the district’s responses.

Once the board approves the plan, administrators will assign various district personnel to carry out implementation. The plan was designed to be carried out over the next four years. As a practical matter, funding from the property tax increase won’t start being available until next May, that will mean an additional $1.25 million the first year.

The plan also will help to determine how resources are used, including personnel, equipment, and money.

But everything the plan envisions would not have been possible without the successful referendum. Once the plan is approved, it will be available to the public on the WFRD website, wfrd.org.

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