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Firefighters eye adding new positions in county

By MARINA WATERS

Staff Writer

[email protected]

Public Safety officials are hoping to add new positions in Washington County.

During the Public Safety Committee meeting on Thursday Jan. 5, Fall Branch Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jim Dawson said information about possibly adding full-time firefighting positions in Washington County will soon be forthcoming.

The positions are something county commissioner Pat Wolfe said is a need for the county—and has been for years.

“We’ve always needed people during the daytime at these fire stations. Those volunteers just fill so many spots,” Wolfe said. “It’s something that like I said, has been looked at I know firsthand since ’98. And it all boils down as much as anything to money. Also, we’ve never had a real good suggestion as to who’s gonna be in charge.”

However, EMS could play a part in these new roles; Dawson also said during the meeting that EMS could possibly be involved in administering the new positions as well as placing some of their personnel into the new positions.

“To have two (full-time firefighters) there (at each fire station) that you know are going to be there if you have a fire you can call and get a truck there on the move—it’s got a lot of possibilities if EMS can help out,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe also said the discussion is only in the preliminary stages, but that the conversation which will also concern funding the positions will continue.

“You’re not just talking about a salary; you’d be talking about benefits also,” Wolfe said. “It’s going to be a pretty big load of hay as far as trying to fund it, but at least it’s a starting point that we’re going to be looking at.”

The main concern among public safety officials is staffing during the day time. Though volunteer firefighters aid the community, Assistant Chief at Sulphur Springs Volunteer Fire Department Bruce Brocklebank expressed his concern for protecting the area while volunteers aren’t available.

“It’s going to be an uphill battle, but we need to get our communities protected especially during the daytime,” Brocklebank said. “That’s going to be the thing, is during the daytime when 90 percent of our volunteer members who receive nothing are at work.”

Though more information will be coming, the public safety committee also discussed adding a full-time cook position at the Washington County Detention Center. County commissioner and detention center head cook Mike Ford said they made over 62,000 meals last month. The motion was passed.