Eton to Cut Fire Department
ETON, Ga. (WDEF)- The Eton Fire Department is soon to be no more.
This decision to cut the department is leaving firefighters and citizens concerned.
Eton has 824 residents as of the 2020 census.
These residents have been depending on the Eton Fire Department for emergency service.
Aaron Stanley, a part-time firefighter for the Eton Fire Department, said, “I am currently a part time firefighter for the city of Eton. But after April 13th that will no longer happen.”
Stanley and nine other part time firefighters in Eton are frustrated over what they believe is a lack of communication.
Stanley said, “We’re just trying to make the citizens aware of what’s happening. Not only are 10 employees losing their jobs, but also it affects the whole community of Eton.”
Eton Mayor Billy Cantrell has announced that Eton is entering an agreement with Murray County to provide fire services for the city.
He was unavailable for comment today but did issue us a statement regarding the city’s decision to get rid of its department.
He says that there are two primary issues that drive this decision; safety and economics.
In terms of safety, Cantrell says that the structure of the department, which relied on part time firefighters who had full time positions in other departments, was quote, “may not be the not the best and safest for the citizens.”
He goes on to say that nearby county fire stations in his opinion provide equal or better response times.
However firefighters don’t see it that way, as a house fire that was ongoing this morning in Northern Murray County proved the potential drawbacks for Eton.
Stanley reacted, “If there was an incident in the city of Eton, the only other two options you have are stations 1 which is on (Highway) 225 south in Spring Place or station 2 which is on old Highway 411 in Ramhurst.”
In terms of economics, Cantrell says that relying on the county fire department would keep the city’s ISO rating at 4 and prevent taxes from being raised.
He says that Eton is working on an agreement to move Advent Health E-M-S into the city’s current fire department building.
Stanley says this process began with the previous fire chief retiring, and a new one has not been hired.
They believe the explanations they’ve been given for the closure are unsatisfactory.
Stanley said, “Why did the citizens not get input? Why were they not aware? The citizens found out when we found out. And it’s still very quiet, he’s not responding to anybody.”
We did also speak with a representative from Murray County.
They did confirm that there is a temporary agreement for the county to cover Eton, but that a longer term agreement is still being worked on, contradicting Mayor Cantrell’s statement that there is a long term deal signed.
Stanley and other firefighters are planning to protest the decision at next Tuesday’s city council meeting at Eton City Hall.