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City discusses mutual aid agreement with county

Agreement expands upon areas that each would help other fight fires

POSTED: January 22, 2008 5:04 a.m.
GAINESVILLE — The Gainesville City Council met with the city’s fire chief Thursday to discuss the parameters of an expanded agreement that would mean city and county fire departments would share each others’ burdens.

Hall County Fire Services and the Gainesville Fire Department have been hammering out changes to a 10-year-old mutual aid agreement. Though local fire officials have discussed expanding the agreement over the years, it has not been formally revised since its creation in 1997, said Gainesville’s interim Fire Chief Jon Canada.

However, Gainesville City Manager Bryan Shuler was quick to point out that many of the areas being added to the aid agreement are already being covered by the respective fire departments.

"We’re taking it on formally, but we have been working with the county in responding ... just like they have been responding to these other areas," Shuler said. "So it’s not an immediate, all of a sudden, we’re going to have this large increase in activity."

The agreement could increase the city fire department’s call volume tremendously, but the size of the service areas for each department is comparable. The areas in the county that the city fire department has agreed to respond to are dense residential developments, Canada said.

"Last year, we ran like 454 calls ... as automatic aid," Canada said. "We’re projecting this year, with some of this added territory here, that we’ll run about 690 calls as automatic aid."

Canada did not comment on how the agreement would affect the county’s call volume, because he had not consulted with the county. However, Canada noted that many of the areas in the city that the county has agreed to respond to in an emergency are undeveloped.

Thursday’s discussion was during the city’s weekly work session.

The City Council is set to vote on the agreement on Tuesday at their regularly scheduled council meeting at the Gainesville Civic Center.



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