Chairman Cleve Hartley said Public Safety Director Randy Lacey has met with Rockmart Fire Chief Todd Queen to discuss this issue.
Lacey said automatic is not to be confused with mutual aid agreements.
With automatic aid, a fire call would not only go to the nearest county station but also to the Rockmart Fire Department. Mutual aid involves personnel being called when there is a specific need, such as a large residential or commercial fire.
Hopes are to get coverage up to a 5-mile radius of Rockmart to include Van Wert or other local areas where no county fire station is located. This could help lower the ISO rating, which in turn could result in a decrease to insurance rates.
In addition, plans are to contact Bartow County officials about a possible agreement that would extend coverage from Taylorsville.
Commissioner Jason Ward advocates a long-range plan that would outline needed steps and a time line for action.
“We are taking steps in the right direction,” Harley said. “We can’t do everything at once but we can do it slowly and accomplish the same goal.”
Commissioner Marshelle Thaxton agrees with this viewpoint. However, he predicts that those who implement a professional fire service must make tough decisions.
His vision is to take care of Aragon and Taylorsville areas with volunteer fire stations and set up the first manned station at Fish Creek. Other volunteer stations would provide support until each one was phased into the program.
If this became true, local voters would have to agree to a 2-mill tax increase or about $1.8 million to fund the consolidation program.
Lacey said automatic aid agreements are a viable option for the present. He is not in favor of making any arrangement that would downplay the vital role volunteers provide in fire coverage.
“Manned stations can work,” he said. “But it would need to be with the assurance that all would get the same consideration.”
Currently, Polk has 9 volunteer stations. Station 1 is located at Blooming Grove; Station 2 covers Antioch and Station 3 is at Vinson Mountain. Others include: Station 4, Aragon; Station 5, Prior Station; 6, Fish Creek; 7, Youngs Grove; 8, Esom Hill and 9, Lake Creek.
Thaxton reminded this is not the first discussion on the subject. One report on consolidation of fire services was completed in 1994.