Perry's Plan to Staff New Fire Station

9:13 AM, Mar 6, 2013   |    comments
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Construction on Perry's new fire station is a couple of weeks behind because of weather, but once construction is finished, how will the city staff it?

Perry has needed a new fire station for several years now, but funding was always an issue. Chief Joel Gray says they hope to have the new station up and running by April, but his next big task is staffing it.

"It's not uncommon to have both of those trucks on individual calls and that third call comes in," says Gray. 

He says adding a new station ought to lower Perry's ISO rating, saving you money on your homeowners insurance. But it won't, at least not yet, because the group that sets the rating saw that the new station wasn't staffed.

The city needs new fire hydrants, more equipment for its trucks and more firefighters. Currently at Station 1, six firefighters are on duty all of the time, operating two trucks.

Chief Gray says they need to double that and to do it, they want to add a fire service fee. 

"One of the benefits to the fee as oppose to a tax is, the fee is a set amount so annually it's not going up or sliding backwards with the tax digest value." explains Gray.

Right now Perry pays for its fire services through the General fund. 

Gray says adding a service fee will raise money specifically for  fire services and he says if city council decides not to adopt the fee, property insurance will go up.

"Would you rather pay the city with what we anticipate to be a lower amount either through higher taxes or through a fee or possibly a combination, or do you want to pay an insurance company for the higher coverage?" asks City Administrator Lee Gilmour.  

Chief Gray says the fee would give "...citizens not only the next level of service and quicker response but for a set fee amount it's locking in their insurance rating."

Gray wants permission to hire part-time firefighters, which would relieve some of the current firefighters on duty.

Council will vote on his proposal Tuesday night, but it's a separate issue and doesn't solve the staffing problem at the new station.

To add more to an already large problem Gray says when the ISO did their evaluation last July, they said Perry needs yet another fire station, Station 3.

It could be several weeks before council votes on whether to add the new fire service fee.

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