Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dunwoody Fire Department?

Will Dunwoody soon have its own fire department?  Based on talk at Monday's council meeting look for a feasibility study soon on the financial aspects of Dunwoody creating 1. it's own fire department and 2. creating a new fire district, teaming up with Big Brother Sandy Springs and their fire department.

Take a look at your tax bill and see the increase in the millage rate for fire services.  The amount we pay to DeKalb County for fire services will be higher next year than what we to the city for all other city services, combined.  Could we start our own fire department and provide equal or better services than we now receive from DeKalb, at a lower price?

One immediate concern from taxpayers will be costs.  Our police department is way more expensive than we anticipated, and the police chief wants more money and more staff, this year and for the next few years.  Would a fire chief do the same?  Can city staff and consultants accurately predict the funds/equipment/staff needed to service the city? One thing is for sure - if we anticipate creating a fire department, we need to hold off on adding additional police officers.  With our own fire department we'll have two chiefs talking 'public safety' to council and staff.

The city has three fire stations now, with DeKalb fire fighters residing in them.  That's a big savings as we won't have to build new fire stations.  But fire trucks and rescue units are expensive.  And fire fighters have more gear.  It would take a few million dollars to get started with our own fire department.  If we go this route, I really prefer the lime-green colored trucks over the red version.

See HERE for an analysis of having our own fire department. King John has more info.

Having our own fire, or sharing with Sandy Springs, solves a good bit of the current hassle of the E-911 system at ChatComm (or does it take us further down the rabbit hole?).  I think police and fire vehicles would need two radio systems (analog and digital) so they can communicate with DeKalb County in certain instances. Maybe two radios would be easier than trying to figure out other compatibility issues.

Building inspections would be under our control as well.  Maybe then we could have an unbiased fire inspector checking out our schools to make sure those modular education centers trailers are safe, and that the schools are not over capacity.

In addition to fire/rescue, the city will need to look at ambulance service (nowadays it's called EMS).  Sandy Springs uses Rural Metro.  See here.

Will we see a Dunwoody fire truck in the 2011 parade?  I doubt it.  But 2014?  Most likely.  DeKalb may have priced themselves out of the fire business in Dunwoody.  It would be a big blow to DeKalb as lots of fire money flows out of Dunwoody to subsidize the other areas of DeKalb.

Coming soon we'll discuss the Dog Park, and also a movement for Play Here, a ballot initiative for the 2013 Dunwoody ballot.  This ballot initiative won't be $50 million and won't involve theaters or farm houses. It will focus on active recreation for the youth of Dunwoody.