March 2007 - Column:

Conversation with the General Manager
How secure are our fire and emergency services?

By Jim Owens

General Manager
Stan Stewart

Question:   Are we still assured adequate fire and emergency medical service under the new Memorandum of Understanding between Dawson and Pickens County?

Answer: We believe the new aid agreements and Memorandum of Understanding will help us improve fire services, emergency medical response and transport will not change.  With the internal improvements taking place and both counties agreeing to mutual aid with us, we should improve service levels. The POA board has made the fire service a high priority and staff has been hiring, training, and acquiring adequate equipment for some time.  We are ready to “take the next step.”

Question: Why did we need to start our own volunteer fire department?  Is our ISO rating in jeopardy?

Answer: The new agreements will have each county responding to fire emergencies within their portion of Big Canoe.  The volunteer fire fighters have been only associated with Dawson and would not automatically be called to a fire on the Pickens side.  By creating our own department our volunteers will respond automatically to either the Dawson or Pickens side.  This will allow better protection and better distribution of manpower!

Our ISO rating is in better shape than it has been for years – and our fire service is better too.  Both counties and the Board working together put resources where they can do the most good.  Our personnel are more experienced and better trained!  We are moving in the correct direction – thanks to many but especially to our volunteers – we have to have them!!

Editor’s Note: Smoke Signals’ Managing Editor John Shivers substituted for Jim Owens on this column while Jim enjoys some R&R.


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