Volunteer fire dept. plan up for board consideration

Published 5:00 am Monday, June 7, 2004

Lincoln County supervisors are expected to begin hearing fireprotection concerns during their meeting Monday.

Lincoln County Fire Coordinator Clifford Galey said he will beout of town at a business convention Monday, but he suppliedsupervisors with a copy of the Lincoln County VolunteerFirefighters Association conceptual plan. The plan outlines generalguidelines the volunteer departments could take to provide betterservices and secure improved fire ratings.

“We’re asking the board not to improve specific things, such asan equipment purchase, but to approve the overall conceptual planto give us an idea on where they want us to go in the future. Thenwe could approach them with how much it would cost to getthere.”

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The conceptual plan becomes even more important in the aftermathof the city’s annexation ruling, Galey said, because county firedepartments are losing between $12,000-20,000 in tax revenues fromthe proposed annexation area.

“Our limited resources are becoming even more limited, and we’regoing to need guidance on how the county wants us to use thoseresources,” he said.

A special chancellor earlier this month approved an annexationthat would more than double the city’s size. The city hadoriginally asked for a 16.6 square mile area, but the judgerejected territory west of Interstate 55 and a private landowner’sproperty in the northeastern corner of the annexation area.

The annexation could take effect within the next few months, butcitizens objecting the annexation have said they will appeal. Theappeal could delay the actual annexation for more than a year,according to consultants.

Once the annexation is finalized, Galey said, the county’s firedepartments will have to make some adjustments.

“I can tell you that the volunteer fire departments are probablygoing to have to redraw their lines, at the very least,” hesaid.

Heuck’s Retreat, Hog Chain, and New Sight VFDs are those mostaffected by the annexation, Galey said, and will lose largeportions of their coverage areas to the city.

The county has eight volunteer departments with ten firestations. Bogue Chitto and Zetus have two stations. Other stationswere in the process of securing funding for auxiliary stations,Galey said, and Heuck’s Retreat VFD has been donated land forone.

Galey said he was not sure how the annexation and subsequentredrawing of fire district lines would affect those plans.

Also, he said, the annexation will force the county to redo itsE911 dispatch list. County residents in the proposed annexationarea will have to be relisted into the city district and otherswill have to be relisted following the redrawing of the county firedistricts. Galey said he did not know how much those relistingswould cost.

In the meantime, Galey said the city’s annexation efforts willnot affect citizens’ fire coverage because the city and county havemutual aid agreements.

“We want people to know that even with the city annexation we’reout there for them and we’ll respond if needed,” Galey said.