The DeKalb County Commission Monday night authorized a property search in the Austin Bottom community for the construction of a fire hall to serve that portion of the county, difficult to reach because of Center Hill Lake.
County Mayor Mike Foster says Putnam County, which has been providing primary emergency services to the 235 homes in the Austin Bottom/Cookeville Boat Dock area, is no longer interested in covering that portion of DeKalb County. \"We've been meeting with the people over there and the committees that have already met have recommended, subject to your (county commission) approval, that we build a fire hall and equip it subject to those people over there getting a minimum of seven volunteer firemen and at least five emergency medical first responders.\"
Foster says hopefully the county can find a site large enough to perhaps offer other services. \"I think it's everybody's feeling that we need to buy an acre of land because, in addition to the fire hall, we're probably going to need some other things, like a garbage collection center.\"
\"Under our mutual aid agreement, Putnam County has been answering the 911 calls in that area for some time and we have been covering a little more of their insurance than normal, but they have decided to stop doing that (answering calls) as of August 1st of this coming year.\"
\"Our 911 people have gone over there, gotten the GPS and mapping done, and have obtained the numbers from Cookeville, Baxter, and those areas, and are ready to change it over on a trial basis July 1st so that we can start answering those 911 calls.\"
\"We've already responded to fires in that area even though Putnam County is still responding. We're sending our trucks and when our trucks get there they (Putnam County) leave. The two or three (calls) that we responded to lately had under 30 minute response times, which is good. In fact, it's better than Putnam County's has been.\"
\"The thing that concerns everyone connected with it, is the true emergency ambulance service call, like a heart attack victim and that's why we're trying to get so many first responders over there.\"
\"There's also an assisted living home over there that has about eighteen residents and lot of the ambulance calls from that area are to take those people back and forth to the hospital.\"
Foster says once a site has been located, he will propose that the county commission make the purchase so that construction on a fire hall can begin.