Clanton Fire Chief presents plan for full-time station

Published 12:15 pm Friday, October 22, 2021

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By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

Clanton Fire Chief David Driver presented cost estimates for staffing the downtown fire station 24/7 to the Clanton City Council on Oct. 21.

The department is averaging eight calls a day.

“It is getting to the point where we almost have more calls than we can handle,” Driver said.

He said 80% of these are medical related.

Driver said he has already had some volunteers express interest in a full-time position if it is created. He anticipated that if the council approved the proposal this month, then it could likely be fully operational in December.

The proposed plan includes three shifts, requiring the city to hire nine full-time fire fighters or firefighters who also have paramedic training.

Driver said each shift would have a ranking officer from the department or someone designated by the chief as “officer of the day” and two firefighters or firefighters who also have paramedic training. The plan would be for the ranking officer to be a captain for shift A and a lieutenant for shifts B and C. He said one per shift would need to be a firefighter with paramedic training, so the fire truck will be an advanced life support unit.

Driver said this was a proposal and may need revision if the council decides to move forward with establishing a full-time station.

Hiring the full-time staff needed was estimated at costing $573,048 per year. Driver explained that this assumed each of the employees would opt in to the family coverage insurance and that all of the firefighters would be paid at the paramedic rate of pay. The salary could be less if some of the firefighters do not have the paramedic training.

“This does not include overtime,” Driver said. “This does not include part-time people to fill in.”

Council member Wade Watley thanked Driver for compiling the proposal.

“I am excited about the opportunity because I think this is really needed,” Watley said. “I am in full support … Have we looked at how we are going to fund it?”

Council member Awlahjaday Agee said he felt the funding could be worked out.

“I think everyone is for it, and we need it,” Agee said. “We just have to get to work and get it done.”

Mayor Jeff Mims also mentioned that the city does have some funds in reserve that could be used to get this started.

Watley said there is also some savings expected in the future from changes to garbage pickup.

“I don’t think we could do it right now,” City Clerk Jonathan Seale said. “I know we need it right now, but right this second, I don’t think we can.”

However, he said there were some things “in the works” that would put the city in a better position to fund this in the spring.

There is $240,000 in the fire department’s current budget for paying the volunteer firefighters and part-time employees. Driver said about $150,000 could be shifted to pay the full-time employees.

In addition to improving emergency response times and service to the community, having a full-time station would help the department’s Insurance Service Organization rating. The department is a Class 4, the lower the class the better. Driver said if there were the three people in the proposal, plus the ambulance paramedic, the department would likely receive an improved score and become a Class 3 at the next ISO survey.

He said having a full-time station would make the city more appealing to potential businesses and provide a cost saving on homeowner’s insurance in the city.

When a vote will be made on the proposal in unknown.