Residents Speak Out Against Plan to Close Volunteer Fire Department
WEDDINGTON, NC — It was an emotional night in Weddington with less than three months until the Providence Volunteer Fire Department is set to close. As residents and firefighters made their final pleas, WCCB Charlotte’s Audrina Bigos took a look at the numbers and what was on the line.
Community members gave a standing ovation to firefighters who stepped up to speak.
“You suckers that voted for this, every one of you ought ta be thrown out on your booming ears!” said one resident.
Emotions were high as the Weddington Town Council moved forward with a vote to end its contract with the only fire station in town. Now, there are threats, tears, and accusations.
“Going through with what you’ve decided is political suicide,” said one community member. “These people have memories. They will vote you out.”
“There’s a lot more at stake than dollars and cents,” said another.
“Terminate 47 jobs and end a 60-year tradition of community service,” said yet another resident. “All to satisfy your personal agenda.”
Residents also responded to what Mayor Bill Deter told Bigos in an interview last week about the decision to close the Providence Volunteer Fire Department.
“The train has left the station,” said Mayor Deter in the interview.
At Monday’s meeting, one resident replied, “Respectfully request that you put that thing in reverse and back it up.”
The Providence Board of Directors says the town is losing 47 certified firefighters and EMTs. While audits show the department is above water, Mayor Deter points to the savings.
Under the contract with Providence, Weddington budgeted just over $920,000 in total fire costs. That includes $124,000 going to Wesley Chapel Fire Department, about $50,000 to Stallings Fire and $100,000 set aside for things like a new fire truck. The new contract with the Wesley Chapel Fire Department is just over $700,000.
“I cannot walk away, the council cannot walk away, from a $230,000 savings and a $100,000 reduction in our taxes,” said mayor Deter.
The Providence department says it has cut all expenses, but will not make cuts to personnel.