Fire Chief asks City Council to remember fire, EMS during upcoming SPLOST negotiations

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Fire Chief Danny Thompson

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – As city and county officials begin meeting to discuss how special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) revenue will be divided in the coming year, Dawson County Fire Chief and EMA Director Danny Thompson appeared at Monday’s City Council meeting to ask for funding help for his department.”

“We need your help to be able to serve,” he told council members.

The city does not fund a fire department, so Dawson County Fire Department and Emergency Services is charged with serving both governments.

Thompson pointed out there are seven fire departments with an eighth to be completed before the end of the year. Only five are staffed full time with a minimum of 14 firefighters. There are five engines and three med units.

The county does not have a ladder truck that will reach above 24 feet. “There are many buildings higher than 24 feet that we can’t serve,” he said. “If we call for a ladder truck, it comes from downtown Cumming. If it is on call, it has to come from McFarland. There is not a lot I can do for those over two stories. We will do everything we can to facilitate a rescue but we have limitations.”

Thompson said n 15 buildings the county are more than 24 feet tall, including all schools, the old courthouse, Administration Building and several apartment complexes.

He also point out that state regulations require that a fire department have 14 firefighters on scene to begin interior firefighting. “Our current staff is 14. That means we must have every firefighter respond. That leaves nothing in reserve.”

He pointed out that the fire department responds to approximately 30 structure fires a year.

As to med units, the county has had three med units since 1998 when it responded to 968 calls.  Units need to be replaced every three to four years at an average cost of $410,000. Fire engines need to be replaced every 10-12 years at a cost about $650,000. A new ladder truck would cost approximately $1.2 million.

Council expressed an interest in helping Thompson to adequately fund his department.

Council members unanimously approved a bid of $192,000 by Southeastern Tank & Tower to repaint and refurbish the water tower at Burt’s Crossing.

Council also recognized Public Works Director Trampas Hansard for completion of the Code Enforcement Officer Leadership and Management Level III program through the Carl Vincent Institute of Government and Georgia Association of Code Enforcement. Certification required 261 training hours and completion of written exams.

 

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