Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
BRIGHTON — Fire officials say they’ve called off plans to halt service within Brighton’s city limits after delivering a letter to the city on Monday.
The volunteer fire department had threatened to stop answering fire calls by Nov. 30 amid frustration with a fire protection agreement that critics said neglected communication between townships, the city and its department.
In light of recent township trustee meetings and the city’s hire of a dispute mediator, Brighton Fire Chief Bill Farmer said volunteers had newfound — albeit limited — optimism about improvements.
“They quit stalling after five months, six months or whatever it’s been, and they’re moving forward,” he said. “That’s what we said, if they start making progress, we will work with them, but they’d better keep making progress … talking’s better than not talking at all.”
While it removes a distressing deadline for negotiators, the letter said the community may not be entirely out of the woods yet.
“We will continue serving the community of Brighton for fire protection as long as forward progress is being made in negotiations with the city of Brighton,” the letter said. “We will monitor the situation with good faith and the expectation of forward progress and will reassess the situation at a later date.”
Washington County Attorney John Gish, whose office represents townships protected by the fire agreement, said he was relieved to have more time. Gish had asked township trustees to bring firefighters back to the table at a meeting last week.
“I saw that as a small win as we continue to negotiate this,” he said at a County Supervisor meeting Tuesday morning. “Tonight … we are meeting again, and I’m hopeful that we’ll again make some more progress on that issue.”
Brighton Mayor Melvin Rich confirmed letter’s delivery and content, but declined to comment on it.