Strategically placed fire stations and manned trucks were
discussed during a Dunwoody town hall meeting with Interim Dekalb County CEO
Lee May, last Thursday, at Dunwoody United Methodist Church.
Dunwoody City Councilman Terry Nall was concerned with how some North Dekalb fire stations do not adequately serve residents in response times. “If you live near a fire station count yourself fortunate,” Nall said. “There [is] one fire station in Brookhaven; in all of Brookhaven. Do you have any plans to reposition or even add new fire stations so that you can have closer proximity to residents and businesses?”
Fire Rescue Chief Edward O’Brien said the county is working with a consultant on a strategic plan to address the problem.
Additionally, May said there should be four people on each fire truck, but three is the current norm. A total of 783 certified fire and rescue personnel have been authorized, but only 600 are actually out in the field.
“This year has been an unusually high year for people leaving police and fire,” said May. “We have to figure out something to do to close that gap. We have to be very aggressive.”
May said filling the gap would take 3-4 years.
O’Brien said three people on a truck is okay but four means a difference in safety and insurance. “NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) says that that’s the best amount to have. It’s more efficient on the scene, safer for our personnel, gives us quicker attacks on fires,” said O’Brien. “We’re not shutting trucks down like you’ve heard of in Atlanta and other cities over the past few months and years. We’re keeping all of our equipment in service.”
The standard of four helps with homeowners insurance, O’Brien added.
The department loses about 4-5 employees per month. A total of nearly 50 new employees will have started by the end of October, according to O’Brien.
"We also have to aggressively begin a hiring level to offset the people that are leaving," May said.
Chief O'Brien will soon retire after 28 years in Dekalb County.
"It’s an indictment on us when we have to continually go outside our boundaries to find talent to lead our department. I think we have to go through that exercise but we have to have people that are competitive, that are vying for positions in our county who are homegrown," May said.
Tell us what you think. Is Dunwoody adequately served by Dekalb County Fire and Rescue?