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Council OKs fire study
Department looks for ways to improve services
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    A Wednesday decision by Statesboro City Council could result in improved fire services for people living in and around the city.
    Councilmen agreed unanimously in an evening meeting to commission Mizelle, Hodges and Associates, Inc. to conduct a fire service study for the Statesboro Fire Department.
    The city will enlist the services of the Dublin-based consulting firm to hopefully identify possible means for improving the quality and/or efficiency of local fire services, said Tim Grams, Fire Commander for the Statesboro Fire Department.
    “Basically, we want to do an evaluation to see where we are — if we need to add stations, trucks or anything else. We want (the firm) to come in and review how the fire department operates and see if we can become more efficient and provide better service to the community,” Grams said — noting his belief that service is already exemplary. “It is something we began talking about a little more than one year ago. One of the core missions that the department has is to provide the best fire service possible, in the most efficient way possible. That is hopefully what this study will tell us.”
    The approximately four-month study should begin in a few weeks, said Grams, and will cost $17,500 — money for the project was budgeted for this year.
    As part of the study, the firm will evaluate the city’s Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating, which affects property owners’ insurance premiums.
    “They will look at our ISO rating to see what we need to do to maintain our class-3 (rating), or maybe even lower it to class-2,” Grams said — the ratings are on a 1-10 scale with class-1 being the best.
    Employees for Mizelle, Hodges and Associates are former employees of the Insurance Services Office and have extensive knowledge regarding the system, said Wendell Turner, Statesboro Public Safety Director. 
    “We want to have someone look at the department that knows ins and outs of ISO standards, and can give us a neutral and detached opinion about where the future of our department needs to go,” Turner said. “What they will do is: come in and look at our personnel, equipment, apparatuses and station locations to see where we stand.”
    Other factors being evaluated through the study include “the way (the department) delivers service, how (the department) dispatches response to emergencies and the amount of individuals sent to fire locations,” Grams said.
    According to the fire commander, much of the study’s findings will likely be known in time for next year’s fiscal budget — beginning in July — allowing officials to make decisions based on the new information.
    “We are really looking forward to (the study) and hoping to gain a lot of information. We feel like we have an obligation to do things as cost effectively as we can,” Grams said. “This is a really good thing for us. It could shed some light on both the good, and things that can be improved upon.”
   
    Jeff Harrison can be reached at (912) 489-9454.

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