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/ firenews.net / contents / news/ 03162004b

FireNews.net
Trinity Re-Examines Fire Service

Published TUE MAR 16
 
TRINITY - Trinity officials are forming a task force that will evaluate the city's current fire-protection arrangement and possibly look into the feasibility of changing the system to allow one agency to cover the entire city.

Currently, the Guil-Rand Fire Department serves most of the city. The Fair Grove Fire Department has jurisdiction over a portion of western Trinity near Thomasville.

"The idea is to get the task force to see if ... our residents are getting equitable service," said City Manager Ann Bailie. "I think we need to look at response times, at equipment, at the issue of volunteer and paid, and whether or not that makes any difference whatsoever. ... I think the objective (of the task force) will be to look at all that and the tax rates, and come up with a recommendation as to whether or not we should keep it the way it is or look at having a unified district, and, if so, which department should provide it."

When the idea of forming a group to study these issues was broached at the council's retreat in January, the consensus then was to pursue it, Bailie said.

At a meeting Tuesday, the City Council may finalize appointments to the task force, which, as currently envisioned, will consist of two council members and two city residents, though Bailie said she may recommend that more residents serve.

The city has solicited applications from residents to serve on the task force in the hopes of finding people with experience in emergency services and/or a background in quantitative analysis.

The majority of the city's 17 square miles are within Guil-Rand's jurisdiction. Residents within its coverage area, which includes all of Archdale and parts of northwestern Randolph and southern Guilford counties, pay a tax rate of 10 cents per $100 of assessed property value annually for fire protection.

In addition to the section of Trinity that it covers, Fair Grove responds to fires within portions of eastern Davidson and northwestern Randolph counties.

Within Trinity, its coverage area includes large residential subdivisions such as Steeplegate, as well as homes in Colonial Country Club.

Residents within its coverage area pay 6.5 cents per $100 of assessed property value each year for its services.

The task force could begin meeting later this month. It's not yet clear how long it will take to complete its work or when it will present its findings, along with possible recommended changes, to the council.

One issue the group likely will take up has to do with the procedure for changing fire district boundaries within the city, a matter about which there is some confusion.

Trinity City Attorney Bob Wilhoit said he and Randolph County Attorney Aimee Scotton are researching this with the help of Ben Loeb, a professor of public law and government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Government and an expert on fire protection law.

Wilhoit said Loeb's initial interpretation of the matter is that the county board of commissioners has authority over district lines.

But settling the issue depends in part on how each fire department was formed - whether through a referendum or action by the commissioners, for instance. This is still being researched, Wilhoit said.

He added that he expects these issues to be settled within the next two weeks.


    


- Submitted by West McBride, High Point Fire Department, CFP-588. Reprinted from High Point Enterprise.

- FireNews.net Staff

Copyright 2004 - CAROLINAS FIRE PAGE - FireNews.net
    


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