Fayette County and City of Fayetteville officials have returned to the table to discuss delivery of fire fighting services and emergency medical services between the city and county, both sides saying they hope to arrive at an outcome that is mutually beneficial and best serves county and city residents.
Tuesday afternoon, Fayetteville Fire Chief Alan Jones delivered a presentation to the city’s mayor and city council members expressing concern that the Fayette County Department of Fire and Emergency Services (FCDFES) no longer automatically dispatches a medic truck to fire calls inside city limits. He said the county does automatically send a medic truck to its own fire calls outside the city, and he noted that city and county residents alike pay an Emergency Medical Services tax.
FCDFES Deputy Fire Chief Tom Bartlett also attended the Tuesday meeting, and he said medic trucks are always on call and can always be dispatched to any city incident when necessary, but he acknowledged that automatic dispatching of the trucks to fire calls had been ended per a directive by Fayette County Manager Steve Rapson.
Wednesday morning, Rapson pointed to the Sept. 11, 2014 Mutual Aid Agreement signed by city and county officials, which only guarantees that both fire departments back each other up with “one approved Class A fire pumper… and staffed with not less than two (2) State of Georgia Standard and Training Council certified firefighters and minimally trained to EMT-1 level to respond”.
“The agreement says one fire pumper and two firemen,” said Rapson. “Doesn’t say anything about an EMS unit at all.”
Rapson explained he learned in July that medic trucks were still being dispatched in the city automatically, and he told his Fire Chief David Scarborough to stick to strictly what was listed in the Mutual Aid Agreement. Rapson also said any two firefighters the county sends into the city on the automatic aid agreement will be trained in advanced life support procedures, anyway, just the same as any two county officers that might arrive on a medic truck.
Jones noted in the Tuesday meeting that an advantage of having the medic truck automatically dispatched to city or county fires is that, in addition to having the medic truck on hand, those extra two responding personnel could also engage in fire fighting if necessary.
Rapson says if the city needs extra fire fighters, they should call for an extra fire truck.
Jones and City Manager Ray Gibson said they had gotten word several weeks ago from Rapson that the county intended to cease the automatic dispatching of medic trucks to city fire calls, but they both said they thought a meeting between the departments would have taken place in the meantime to discuss it before it became official.
Wednesday morning, Fayetteville Mayor Ed Johnson, County Commission Chairman Chuck Oddo, and other top brass from the city and county met to begin ironing out the issue.
Jones, one of the Wednesday morning meeting attendees, said he looks forward to continuing the dialogue and getting something placed in writing that helps the county and the city better communicate and ensures county and city residents are getting the best in fire and emergency medical services.