By Guy Busby, Government Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org
SPANISH FORT — The city of Spanish Fort will vote Monday, April 18 on taking over firefighting duties in the municipal jurisdiction.
The city council held its first reading Monday, April 4 on an agreement with Spanish Fort Fire Rescue. Under the agreement the city will take over the department's trucks, stations and other inventory. Paid firefighters would become city employees.
Councilman Curt Smith said the city and firefighters have been working making the department a municipal agency for several years.
Mayor Mike McMillan said city officials have been working with Chief Roger Few and the fire department to complete the transition.
"It's not been an easy task, so I want to thank Chief Few for all his efforts in this," McMillan said. "We all know our fire department is a very valuable asset for the city and I look forward to the marriage and the long term."
McMillan said the fire department will be an asset to the city.
"I think it's important to note that we are blessed with a great fire department, great leadership and I don't want to see that end in any form or fashion. I don't think it will with this agreement," McMillan added.
Few said department officials are also looking forward to the transition.
"It has been a work in progress, and I do appreciate everybody's diligence on moving it forward," Few said.
The council voted unanimously April 4 to approve the first reading of the resolution for the city to take over the department's assets and jurisdiction. The Volunteer Fire Department will remain a separate entity, operating as a non-profit organization to raise money for firefighting in Spanish Fort, David Conner, city attorney, said.
"Basically, in its most simple form, the fire department, the city would assume the fire department's jurisdiction," Conner said. "The district boundary would remain the same at a minimum for two years after that time. It may stay the same forever, but for two years there will be no changes at all."
He said the volunteers will continue to work with the city as it operates the department.
"The fire department would like to continue its corporate existence for the purpose of raising funds and assisting in providing benefits that they provide, such as work comp and other services and programs they provide to encourage the volunteer spirit and to help those because without the volunteers, the fire department would not be as successful and would not be able to provide the level of service that it provides and even with the city taking on the department, we still are going to need volunteers that are ready, willing and able to serve and so that helps them do that," Conner said.
Conner said the city has provided funding for the department for many years. The current city budget includes $1.67 million for the fire department.
Conner said paid firefighters will become city employees at municipal pay grades equal to their current salaries.
McMillan said the city and department have to work out details before the takeover is complete. The city needs to complete an inventory of department assets and compile a complete list of accounts payable and receivable.
"There are a few blanks that we filled out over the next few days regarding things like
inventory and items that they plan to keep," McMillan said. "We should be able to have that prepared and ready for your approval at the next meeting."