Clock ticking down for F’ville Fire Dept.

Barring a last-minute change of heart by either the Fayetteville or Fayette County governing bodies, a consolidation is on the horizon for the Fayetteville and Fayette County Fire Departments.

That would leave Fayetteville without its own fire department, but it would also remove that expense from the city’s financial responsibilities.

At last week’s county commission meeting, County Administrator Jack Krakeel said a “general” agreement has been reached to allow the departments to consolidate as one that would remain operated by the county.

The proposal calls for the county to absorb the city agency. In turn the county will benefit by assessing the fire tax on all Fayetteville properties, which will provide a solid stream of revenue for a fund that has been lagging in the past several years with the downturn in property values.

A joint meeting of the Fayetteville City Council and the Fayette County Commission will be scheduled within the next few weeks so staff members can make the detailed presentation before either governing body considers a formal vote on the matter.

Among the details hammered out include the resolution of about $1.4 million in fire impact fees the city currently has on hand, which would be used by the county to replace the city’s aging ladder truck, and also the use of the current city fire station on Johnson Avenue at Ga. Highway 85.

Krakeel noted that the joint meeting will require being advertised as a special called meeting per Georgia’s Open Meetings laws.

F’ville-County fire departments’ merger affects dozens

By BEN NELMS
bnelms@TheCitizen.com

Fayette County and Fayetteville governments are in ongoing discussions about consolidating fire departments, with the county fire department taking over firefighting responsibilities inside the city limits.

While any decision is likely weeks away, The Citizen took a look at the overall staffing for each department.

Fayetteville Fire Chief Alan Jones said the department is staffed with a total of 35 employees. Of those, 30 are firefighters assigned to shifts while the remaining five are supervisory, clerical and fire prevention employees.

Jones said there are no part-time firefighters at this time. As for volunteers, those numbers have dropped significantly, Jones said, adding that the department currently has five volunteers.

The Fayette County Fire Department has a total staffing of 152, including 135 firefighters and 17 others in the headquarters operation. Those include a variety of positions in capacities such as training, prevention, emergency management and administration, said Chief Allen McCullough.

The county department current has no part-time firefighters and less than half a dozen volunteers, McCullough said.

Pertaining to certification, the state is undergoing a change in the basic, intermediate and advanced EMT requirements.

Jones said all firefighters are required to obtain the intermediate EMT certification within 18 months while new hires will be required to obtain the advanced EMT certification.

Though not required, McCullough said the county’s intermediate firefighter/EMTs are being upgraded to the advanced EMT certification, adding that all positions held by lieutenants and above carry a more intensive paramedic certification.

Pertaining to the potential merger, the Fayetteville City Council will hold a June 21 work session on the issue. The council is expected to get an update on the talks with the county and to discuss other options prior to moving forward with a joint city-county meeting. The meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers and will precede the regularly scheduled council meeting at 7 p.m.

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