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Officials to study idea of city fire department
by Bobby Tedder
btedder@neighbornewspapers.com
August 07, 2012 05:05 PM | 845 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dunwoody administrators may soon crunch the numbers and other pertinent information related to the formation of a city-run fire department.

District 1 Councilman Terry Nall asked the city manager’s office to formally revisit local government’s options for fire and rescue services during the governing body’s last regularly scheduled meeting.

“Staff is currently working on a comprehensive report for council to address the feasibility of a Dunwoody Fire Department,” Dunwoody City Manager Warren Hutmacher said. “The report will look into several aspects of potential implementation including costs, operation timeline, and review of current services.”

Those findings will be released at an upcoming council meeting, he added.

Nall highlighted cost, coverage and dispatch and fire marshal efficiency as the four factors leading to his request.

Last month, DeKalb County set its millage rate for the fire prevention district at 3.29 mills — a 30 percent bump since the city manager’s initial review two years ago, Nall noted.

“We need to gain control over this increasing cost,” he said. “We also need to see if we can improve our coverage using the same fire service millage rate dollars or less through another service model, which might include forming our own fire and rescue department.”

Nall also cited the need for the city to better control its fire and rescue coverage as well as the dispatch process itself. The latter involves delay issues stemming from a purported disconnect between DeKalb 911 information technology, or IT, staff and the overall county IT staff about how their software interface program will connect to the DeKalb County dispatch center.

The final area to be scrutinized as part of Hutmacher’s review of options is fire marshal service.

Nall supported District 3 Councilman John Heneghan’s assessment that the current system of sending construction plans and event paperwork down to the DeKalb County Fire Marshal’s Office is not as efficient as having the plans reviewed here would be.

“My request to the city manager is neither a slap to DeKalb County nor an indictment about the DeKalb fire employees in Dunwoody,” Nall said. “However, the DeKalb fire chief has an obligation to manage his equipment and staff over a very large service area.

“Our sole responsibility, though, is right here in Dunwoody,” he added. “I have no preconceived notions about the results, but I look forward to hearing the city manager’s current review of our options.”
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