By REBECCA HAZEN
Chiefs representing different fire departments in the county were at the Dade County Board of Commissioners meeting on Thursday, Nov. 4, to present their needs for new Self-Contained Breathing Apparatuses (SCBAs).
An SCBA is a respiratory device that contains and delivers breathable, compressed air to the fire fighters working in hazardous conditions, also known as air-packs.
“We started on this project back in 2019. We came to you in 2020, and I think most all of you had a heart attack when we requested what we needed. So, we’ve worked on it. It’s been a good process, but we still need some help,” Rodney Ross, Chief of the New Salem Fire Department, said.
The 2019/2020 request was to replace all current SCBAs on all apparatuses, including 165 SCBA frames, 165 air masks and 330 air cylinders. The estimated cost was about $1 million.
Since then, all seven departments have agreed on one type and brand, which will be interchangeable on all incidents, and will reduce the overall cost of packs and the number of air packs needed overall.
The fire departments researched grants to assist with the purchase, and insurance services office and state requirements.
Calls that require use of SCBAs include structure fires, commercial fires, vehicle fires, all fire alarms, HAZMAT situations, and live fire training. On a five-year average, in Dade County, 17 calls a month require SCBA usage.
The fire department’s SCBAs have or will be expiring in the next year. The majority of the SCBAs are 1990-2002 models and have recently fallen out of compliance or are non-serviceable. The seven departments currently use three different brands.
In Feb. 2021, the departments submitted a grant to FEMA for consideration to assist with the purchase. All seven departments contributed funds for grant writing assistance. In Sept., the departments were awarded $115,090.09.
The new request from the fire departments is to replace SCBAs and spare cylinders on engines and ladders, 93 SCBA back frames, 93 air masks and 186 air cylinders.
The fire departments have chosen to go with the 3M Scott Safety brand from MESFire, which had the lowest bid at $668,778.19.
In addition, the city of Trenton has signed a letter of intent to pay for 13 SCBAs needed for the city department, which will cost $85,421.98.
“One reason why you haven’t seen these come up before, is because the majority of us received grants about 12-15 years ago,” Ross explained. “We didn’t have to go to the county for that money. This is not something that just popped up overnight. This is something that we’ve got to have. I don’t want to see anyone get hurt because of out of compliance equipment.”
The commissioners agreed to have Attorney Robin Rogers check to see if the purchase of the SCBAs could be covered by American Rescue Plan funds, but they believed that it would be covered.
“I do thank you that you have come to us, and you have agreed to go uniform. I would ask in the future that you consider that,” Commissioner Robert Goff said. “It makes it easier on us.”
The board of commissioners also approved many proclamations and board reappointments.
The board approved a proclamation designating the month of November as Adoption Awareness Month, and Hospice Month.
The board approved the reappointments of Dorayne Stephens to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, Donny Williams to the Board of Assessors, Verenice Hawkins to the Board of Health, John Case to the Limestone Valley RC&D Board, and Peter Cervelli to the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission.
The commissioners also heard proposals for purchases.
Joe Chambers with the Dade County Jail asked for a new generator and automatic transfer switch for the Jail, noting that the parts were old and have needed a lot of work lately, and when the power goes out, it’s both a safety and security issue. The commissioners gave the approval for the Jail to open bids for the generator and switch.
Barry Irwin with the Dade County Sheriff’s Office asked the commissioners for new Ford Explorer vehicles. Some of the Officer’s fleet includes high-milage vehicles. Irwin noted that their insurance coverage prefers to insure vehicles under 150,000 miles, and a few of their vehicles are at that amount.
The commissioners approved a bid for two vehicles, not to exceed $190,000, which includes all the equipment needed in the vehicles.
Commissioner Lamar Lowery reported that there were 226 EMS calls for the month of Oct. There were 205 fire department calls and 1,368 police calls for service.
Lowery also noted that where he lives in Dade County, there is no internet service, but construction workers have started to hang cable.
“Hopefully, by the end of next year, we will have broadband internet. It is great news,” Lowery said.
Commissioner Philip Hartline reported that fall soccer is currently being played at the Dade County Sports Complex. In addition, work on the back field is finished, and he hopes that the field will be able to be used next year.
Commissioner Melissa C. Bradford reported that she has driven around the different roads where striping has been done. The roads that have been finished are Bible Gulf Road and Tatum Gulf Road. There have been 137 work orders for the month of Oct.
Bradford also thanked the public for everyone who voted for her in the election.
Commissioner Goff reported that the SPLOST revenue for last month was up $2,000, compared to Sept.
County Executive Ted Rumley was absent due to illness.
Donna Street, with the Dade County Public Library, reported that the library has hired a manager, Mindy Hayworth, who will start in early Dec. Also, once again the library is searching for a Youth Education Coordinator.
There are new winter hours for the library. The library will be open from 10-6 on Tuesday, 10-5 on Wednesday, 10-6 on Thursday, 10-3 on Friday, and 10-2 on Saturday.
Donna also gave a Trenton-Dade Historic Preservation Commission report. The Historic Preservation has created a calendar for purchase, for $10. The calendar can be purchased at the library, and at the Administrative Building. The calendar features the paintings of Meredith Brock Bishop.
Sarah Dyer, UGA Extension Agent, also gave a report on ongoing and upcoming events.
The Dade County 4-H Livestock Show Team attended the State Market Goat Show in Perry. Afterward, the team had fun at the local fair.
The next Tri-State Beekeepers Association meeting will be on Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Dade County UGA Extension and 4-H Agricultural Center.
George Williams, chair of Alliance for Dade, reported that the Alliance has grown to 83 investors, with a goal of reaching 100.
There are still some booth spaces left for the Dade EXPO – Jolly Holidays. To sign up to become an exhibitor, an application can be found online at alliancefordade.com.
There were just under 50 visitors at the Welcome Center in October, and over 10 visitors from Dade County residents.
Don Townsend gave the financial report. As of Oct. 31, the general fund had a balance of $1,842,615. Total available SPLOST VI funds are $510,961. Total general fund revenue for the month as of Sept. 30 was $959,819.91. Year to date, $1,975.745.93 in revenue has been generated. Expenses for the month of September were $1,104,969.51. $1,195.834.06 was budgeted.