2nd fire station for Gantt?

Published 12:59 am Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A second fire station could be in the Gantt area’s future, volunteers announced Monday, but only if the town agrees to dispose of the newest fire truck and to purchase two used trucks.

The discussion began when members of the Gantt Area Fire and Rescue Inc. presented its five-year capital plan at the town council workshop; however, council members, including Mayor Missy Grissett, questioned if the department could afford to construct, equip and operate a second station.

Capt. Doug Noon said the GAFR department services the second largest area in the county, with the majority of its calls located in the northern part of the area. Noon said the department has a mutual aid agreement with all area fire departments and covers from the northern county line, down Bush Isle Road, to Dunns Bridge Road and Oakey Street.

“We need a place where we can hit as many areas pretty quickly and cut response time,” Noon said. “The population above the town of Gantt pays just as much property tax and deserves as much services as town residents do.”

A new station could also mean a lower insurance rating (ISO ratings) for residents living within its five-mile radius, he said. Area ISO ratings range from a 7 to a 10, depending on where the home is located.

Currently, the department has one pumper truck and one brush truck in service. Noon and other members present said there is an $81,000 balance remaining on the loan for the pumper truck. By selling it and purchasing two used trucks, it would reduce the department’s outgoing debt, Noon said. Lease payments on the vehicle total more than $15,000; however, Noon said another department has expressed an interest in purchasing the vehicle at a gain.

“But that truck is in the city’s name, so we can’t do anything with it,” he said. “The town has to agree.”

Volunteers also announced the department is in current negotiations with a landowner for a new site “about two miles up the road” from its current location.

Noon said the department’s goal is to have a crew assigned at each station. Last year, he said, the department responded to 40 calls for service.

Each year, fire, emergency medical and rescue services receive a special 3 mill ad valorem tax. It can be used to cover training, supplies and equipment, as well as liability insurance. Funds are also received from the state forestry commission.

A report filed with the Covington County Commission showed that in 2012, the department received a total of $36,302 in revenue; spent $34,782 in expenditures; and had a carry-over cash balance of $22,665.

Council members agreed before serious discussions could begin on the project, the department must present cost estimates for the new construction project and the used vehicles; a sell price of the pumper truck, and budget information on how the department plans to cover those costs.