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City council to discuss fire department issues
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    Though there are other items on the Statesboro City Council’s Tuesday evening agenda, none will garner the attention or go into as much detail as the fire service delivery agreement between Statesboro and Bulloch County.
    Included with the agenda packet, given to all the councilmen, is a 90 plus page report which includes an 11-page executive summary by City Manager George Wood detailing the background of the fire services agreement, his view of the legal process, the city staff’s proposal for amending the agreement and questions about the county's decision to create their own fire department.
    In a press release Monday, Wood, commenting on the negotiations, said, “This is a very important issue that affects people’s lives and property. I think it is time to turn down the rhetoric, and turn up the analysis of the data on this public policy issue. Under OCGA 36-70-20 et seq, it is clear that any change in the funding or the service area must be mutually agreed upon, or ultimately decided by mediation or court order. Our meeting tomorrow is the first step in providing detailed information to the public.”
    Also in the press release, Mayor Bill Hatcher encourages Statesboro citizens and county citizens within the five-mile fire district to attend the meeting and voice their concerns. Both he and Wood believe that many questions will be answered at that time.
    One of the more interesting items in the report was a summary of the mutual aid response for structure fires outside the fire district. Out of 13 calls, only six were actual structure fires. Then, according to the report, “Of the six fires, SFD personnel extinguished four and arrived on the scene before any County personnel arrived, In one instance, SFD firefighters arrived to find a County fire truck on scene, but the diver did not know how to operate the truck. In another instance, the fire occurred 200 yards from the fire station in Brooklet, in the middle of the business day and no unity from Brooklet ever responded.”
    Also included is a letter from the Brooklet Fire Department Chief Stave Vezo, dated January 26, 2006. In it he requests the SFD to respond to “any and all” emergency calls in Brooklet from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday due to the nature of the volunteer fire departments, namely that “the majority of personnel are unavailable for emergency response situations due to work schedules, employer non-compliance and/or other responsibilities which carry most individuals outside the city limits of Brooklet.”
    In a response, also included in the packet, Wood states it would be unfair to tax the residents of Statesboro and the Fire District then provide free service to the citizens of Brooklet and that the issue need to be handled by the City of Brooklet.
    The city council meeting starts at 6 p.m. and will be held at Statesboro City Hall. Those who are interested in more information can log onto and click on the link to the city manager's report and recommendation.
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