County board moves ahead with get­ting fire plan on bal­lot

The Standard Journal - - Local - By AGNES HA­GIN

The Polk County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers will vote whether or not to place a 20-year fire plan on the Novem­ber bal­lot dur­ing its reg­u­lar meet­ing on Au­gust 5.

The pro­jected to­tal mill rate to sup­port these op­er­a­tions is 8.850, which equates to $354 per year for a prop­erty val­ued at $100,000.

The 20-year plan was de­bated dur­ing a lengthy work ses­sion on Mon­day, July 21.

The fire plan calls for re­duc­ing the num­ber of sta­tions from seven to nine and to re­lo­cate each, ex­clud­ing Lake Creek, to achieve greater cov­er­age within the un­in­cor­po­rated ar­eas of Polk.

Chair­man Marshelle Thaxton ques­tioned ten­ta­tive lo­ca­tions of Prior Sta­tion, Col­lard Val­ley, Hills Creek, John­son Lake, Mor­gan Val­ley and Vin­son Moun­tain.

He is con­cerned about the dis­tance vol­un­teers would have to travel from some of the sta­tions for ad­e­quate fire cov­er­age.

“We can al­ways change a pro­posed lo­ca­tion,” Man­ager Matt Den­ton said. “This is only a pro­posal on pa­per.”

Ini­tially, six new sta­tions will be con­structed dur­ing the first phase of the plan. In year three, two fire­men would be added to sta­tions two, four, five and seven on a 24/7 ba­sis with three shifts op­er­at­ing at each site. Ad­di­tion­ally, three bat­tal­ion chiefs will be added.

Dur­ing the sec­ond phase, two fire­men will be added to sta­tions, one, three and six giv­ing those sites the same cov­er­age as other sta­tions. These would op­er­ate three shifts per week with two paid fire­fight­ers per shift. The to­tal num­ber of paid staff would be 46.

In years 11 to 15, the to­tal num­ber would be 67 or three paid fire­fight­ers at each sta­tion.

Dur­ing phase four (16 to 20 years), each site would be staffed by four paid fire­fight­ers for a coun­ty­wide to­tal of 88.

Com­mis­sion­ers have in­di­cated that vol­un­teers will re­main ac­tive dur­ing the con­ver­sion to a paid de­part­ment.

Agnes Ha­gin/ SJ

Man­ager Matt Den­ton, right, presents facts on 20-year fire plan to Chair­man Marshelle Thaxton and other Polk com­mis­sion­ers dur­ing re­cent work ses­sion.

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