SUN PRAIRIE (WKOW) -- About 100 people showed up at the Joint Finance Committee meeting Tuesday evening to support Sun Prairie's Volunteer Fire Department (SPVFD).
The arguments over the creation of a new full-time fire and EMS department, which would replace the volunteer department, lasted more than three hours.
The talks were interrupted by outbursts from supporters and there was even a squabble between Alderman Dave Carlson (District 4) and an SPVFD member, as they grappled over a piece of paper. Alderman Hariah Hutkowski (District 1) told Carlson it was "the most immature thing I've ever seen in my life."
Alderman Jonathan Freund (District 2) recognized there were still several questions left unanswered with regards to the proposed department's budget, and no decisions would be made yet.
At the beginning of July, Sun Prairie's city council voted to replace SPVFD with a full-time fire department, and disband the more than 120-year-old volunteer department. Its concern was reducing response times to increase public safety.
"Time counts, especially when lives and property are in danger. I think the only way we can guarantee an instant response is by having people there," Carlson said.
However, an SPVFD spokesman countered that even with the creation of a full-time department, travel time would not change because of the size of the city.
"I think the council will find that the department and the fire chief are all for having a station that's 24/7, but let's work together and do it together. Not just throw everyone out in the street and say, ‘we don't need you folks anymore,'" SPVFD supporter Ed McMahon said.
Supporters of the volunteer fire department say they too want full-time emergency responders; however, they wish the city and the volunteers would find a way to work together.
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