Firefighters seek answer from County Commission for funding proposal and community support

Published 5:18 pm Wednesday, February 12, 2014

By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal

The Lowndes County Association of Volunteer Fire Departments wants an answer from the Lowndes County Commission at it next meeting regarding a funding proposal it made last May. And they want community support.

The proposal is for the distribution of ad valorem tax funds distributed to volunteer fire departments from the Lowndes County Commission.

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Rodney Rudolph, president of the Association, received agreement from Association members at their regular meeting held Tuesday night to call for representation from all departments and communities at the County Commission’s regular fourth Monday meeting set for Feb. 24 at 6:30 p.m. to ask for an answer.

Rudolph said the call volume for the departments has increased and “We won’t be able to continue to operate without these funds.”

He said he did not care if enough people came to move the County Commission meeting to the County Courthouse. And in addition to at least one person from every fire department, Rudolph said, “We need everybody in the communities to stand behind their fire departments.”

Currently the funds are distributed by the County Commission to the departments.

Under the proposal, the funds would go to the Association and each volunteer fire department would get 50 percent of the funds. The remaining 50 percent, however, would be disbursed by the Association based on calls made to the departments “that are not the primary responding agency” in an area of jurisdiction.

If one department receives 100 calls but only responds to 10, it would get only 10 percent of the remaining 50 percent of funds. The other department would get the remaining funds based on the percentage of calls the department made in areas that are not in its primary response zone.

According to the proposal, the disbursement of funds would not be affected by mutual aid response “as long as the primary department is on scene and active in the operation of the incident.”

But for a department to receive any funds from the commission, it would have to be in good standing with the Lowndes County Association of Volunteer Fire Departments.

To be in good standing a department must be current in dues of $100 per annum, the department must respond to 90 percent of the calls in its assigned area of responsibility and must have radio communication with 911 and provide a telephone backup number in case of radio failure.

The department must also attend 75 percent of the association’s monthly meetings.

The department will have one year to respond to assigned calls and two years to become certified.

Departments will be required to do incident reports of all calls in order to have call volume reports for the forestry and commission purposes, and the department must have an active training program in place and be documented by insurance survey office standards.

Commission Chairman Robert Harris told Rudolph last May that the commission would take the proposal under advisement.

In other matters, the Association voted Tuesday that all volunteer fire departments start using the Incident Command System, and that they use “plain English” instead of the 10 Code whenever possible.

The Association also agreed to send a letter recommending standards for dispatch calls to the E911 Board and hold Yellow Dot Program training at their next meeting.