City, county agree on fire coverage -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

City, county agree on fire coverage

January 16, 2004

Tift County-- The city of Tifton and the Tift County commission have signed an interim agreement on fire suppression services in the unincorporated portions of the county. But the new agreement includes some plans that make county volunteers nervous about their future.

As it stands now, the Tifton Fire department is the first responder for fire calls within the city limits and in unincorporated areas of the county, even though volunteers may arrive on the scene first.

"A lot of times we're a lot closer, because it's in our community, and when we get paged out, we're the first ones there," said Volunteer Fire Chief B. B. Ball.

A joint resolution that would have expired last month has been extended until July of 2005 and ensures that city firefighters will be continue to be first responders. "They've had training, so it's not like we're disbanding totally the volunteers, we just want to make sure that the citizens of this county are protected with fire services and they shouldn't worry about not having fire protection," said County Commissioner Daughtry Melton.

The county will continue to pay more than $50,000 a month for the service until another plan is implemented. Also as a part of the joint resolution both parties agreed to develop a plan to offer full time county wide fire fighting services and have that plan ready to be considered by July.

Options include everything from staffing several full-time fireman at all seven county stations full time, to allowing the city to totally take over the fire services in the entire county.

But for now, things remain the same. "Rest assured that the citizens of Tifton-Tift county have nothing to worry about as far as fire protection because if something should happens the city will respond as well as the volunteers," said Melton.

And whatever happens, they promise no Tift County resident will be without fire protection. In the resolution, Tifton Fire Chief Mike Flippo is named head of fire suppression services for the city and the county.

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