Whitfield County Fire Chief Seeks 15 More Firefighters

Dalton, GA (WDEF) – The Whitfield County Fire Chief says his department is dangerously understaffed. So, he has a proposal for the county he believes is a win-win situation for all.

"At any given day, Whitfield County operates ten stations," said Whitfield County Fire Chief Edward O’Brien. "Five of those stations have one person at them."

It’s easy to understand how an understaffed fire department can mean trouble for the firefighters and the public alike.

"We are understaffed and there is a lot of time we get on the scene and we’re overwhelmed with the incident," said firefighter Andrew Beavers.

"A lot of times if we’re there quick enough, we can knock the fire down," Lieutenant Allan Kendrick said. "The fire is small. Fire grows double in size every two minutes so our usual response is usually four to five minute response time so with people there quicker, we can knock the fire down quicker."

O’Brien says bringing on 15 more firefighters will raise the payroll 750 thousand dollars.

He says for a homeowner with a 150 thousand dollar house, that’s a 40 dollar a year tax increase.

But the added fire fighters means a significant price drop in insurance.

"ISO is Insurance Service Organization," O’Brien explained. "They’re the one that actually grades departments and they figure out your homeowners insurance rates."

Whitfield County is currently rated a five.

O’Brien said hiring 15 more firefighters will lower that rating to a four which in turn lowers home owners insurance by 160 dollars for that 150 thousand dollar house.

"Plus, it’s going to save on their home owners insurance. It’s a win win situation," said Kendrick.

O’Brien hopes the proposal is approved for 2016.

A series of town hall type discussions will be held in the months ahead.

Categories: Local News

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