The DeKalb County and Alexandria Volunteer Fire Departments have formed a partnership to render specific firefighting services to each other as needed through an automatic aid agreement. The effort is meant to improve response times to fires, especially to residents in the county who are within five road miles of the Town of Alexandria's Fire Department.
(CLICK LINK BELOW TO VIEW MAP WHICH SHOWS AREAS IN BLUE COVERED BY THE AUTOMATIC AID AGREEMENT)
The Alexandria Mayor and Aldermen recently adopted the agreement and the DeKalb County Commission approved it Monday night during the regular monthly meeting. The agreement, effective for five years starting January 1, 2015 was signed following the county commission meeting by County Mayor Tim Stribling and Alexandria Mayor Tony Tarpley. Looking on during the signing were County Fire Chief Donny Green, Alexandria Fire Chief Brian Partridge, and Assistant Alexandria Chief John Partridge.
Chief Green told WJLE prior to the meeting on Monday that the agreement, which has been in the making for several months, will provide better fire protection and added benefits for residents in the Alexandria area. Under the agreement, both the Alexandria and DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Departments will automatically respond to fires in the county that are within five miles of the Alexandria Fire Department and dispatched by the DeKalb County 911 Emergency Communications District. "It basically provides a new area of coverage that will be within five miles of the City of Alexandria's Fire Station that will extend out into the area beyond the city limits of Alexandria including the areas of Lower Helton Road, New Hope Road, and up Nashville Highway back toward Liberty and on the south side of Highway 70 in the Upper Helton area," said Chief Green.
The county already has in place mutual aid agreements with fire departments here and outside DeKalb County which call for them to assist each other with resources and manpower when needed. But this is the county's first "automatic aid agreement" . "The significance of this is that in this five mile area, the City of Alexandria Fire Department will be dispatched out on the initial call of any fire that happens in that five mile area. The result of having this automatic aid agreement will allow us to have quicker response times to structure fires and to other types of fires that happen within that five mile area. Hopefully this will result in less risk for injury and death and minimize property losses by quicker response times. And to those homeowners who have properties in that five mile area beyond the city limits of Alexandria, they will be able to realize savings on their homeowners insurance when up until now they have been unable to because of their being outside the City of Alexandria's jurisdiction and not within five road miles of one of our fire stations out in the county," said Chief Green.
The agreement also calls for the county fire department to automatically respond to structure fires inside Alexandria along with the Alexandria Fire Department. " Alexandria is going to realize some benefits from this as it works both ways. We will be assisting them on structure fires in the city limits of Alexandria. Under this new automatic aid agreement we will be called in initially as they are to assist with structure fires in their jurisdiction," said Chief Green.
Each department will maintain its own jurisdictional authority and if at any time either party wants to opt out of the agreement they may do so by giving a 30 day written notice. The agreement also includes compliance provisions which each party must adhere to including maintaining the proper training. "It is a lengthy legal agreement and in it there are compliance requirements for both departments. We have to maintain training that meets state and ISO requirements as far as training and personnel and they have to maintain the same. These are not individual department policies. These are state laws that both sides have to comply with and failure to comply by either side will result in the agreement becoming void. We certainly don't want that to happen and we're going to work hard to make this agreement work because it is a benefit to our citizens but it does have a lot of legal aspects in it as far as compliance that will have to be closely monitored by both sides," said Chief Green.