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Dearing firehouse will become future home to EMS personnel

Several projects are in the works and were discussed at the monthly Dearing Town Council meeting last Monday evening.

Mayor Sean Kelley was unable to address the amendment to the Automatic Fire Suppression Agreement between the county and the Town of Dearing, which was foremost on his mind. At the November meeting, a special planning session was called after a school official came and complained of the lack of emergency personnel response when an ambulance was called to Dearing Elementary School. School officials were concerned not only with the slow ambulance response time, but with the fact that no first responders came.

That was when Town Council members learned that the auto aid agreement signed in 2001 was for fire suppression only. Town Council members said the wording of the agreement, which said "in the event of fire or other emergency," led them to believe it was for any type of emergency.

At the request of Mayor Kelley, McDuffie County Fire Chief Bruce Tanner drew up an amendment to the agreement to include first responders for medical emergencies. The amendment was approved by the McDuffie County Commission during their meeting Wednesday, Dec. 5, according to Commission Chairman Charlie Newton. Mayor Kelley, however, had not been notified of the approval before the town council meeting, so the council was unable to vote on it. The Mayor said that he will call Chairman Newton to confirm the approval and the council will vote on the amendment at their January meeting.

Another cooperative project between the Town of Dearing and the county that was approved at Monday's meeting is splitting the costs of adding ambulance space to the Dearing Fire Station headquarters.

Last month, the town council approved amending a mobile home ordinance so the county could replace the existing mobile home that serves as a substation for the emergency medical technicians. However, county commissioners decided against purchasing another mobile home because it would need to be replaced again after a few years. The proposal made by Chairman Newton to split construction costs of the addition was approved unanimously by the commissioners last Wednesday and by the Dearing council on Monday.

"It will look much nicer than a trailer sitting there," Councilwoman Daisy Ansley said.

In response to a question from Councilman Kristopher Wells, Mayor Kelley confirmed that the county will pay for the expenses of removing the old mobile home and filling in the land. The old substation is in such deplorable condition that EMTs refuse assignments there because of health hazards from moldy conditions inside the building.

Mayor Kelley said the addition should include a shower area, kitchenette, commons area and two bedrooms, all of which can be shared by current EMTs and a future Dearing fireman.

The county will pay up to $30,000 for the project. Chairman Newton said the money will come from the Emergency Medical Service Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds.

"And I hope it won't even take that much," he said.

Mayor Kelley said Dearing will use funds from their CDs or money market accounts for their half of the construction costs.

"That's where the money comes from for all of our purchases over $15,000," he said. "And the most important thing is we will have an ambulance available whenever we need it."

Web posted on Thursday, December 13, 2007

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