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Clanton Fire Chief gives update on full-time department grant

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

The Clanton Fire Department is looking for a new way to fund a full-time fire station after its  Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant application was denied.

This grant would have provided funds to have all three Clanton stations staffed full-time.

“We knew that it was going to be competitive,” Driver said. “We knew going into it that there would be tens of thousands of fire departments across the country applying for it. We just, unfortunately, did not get it. Now, we have to move on to our next step.”

Now, Driver is preparing data for the cost to staff the downtown fire station 24 hours a day.

During a Clanton City Council work session on Oct. 7, Driver said he plans to present a proposal at the Oct. 21 work session.

“We are not slowing down at the fire department,” Driver said. “We had 221 calls in the month of September.”

He said there are also annual fire hydrant and other inspections that are required.

“The way we are set up right now … we just cannot get everything done,” Driver said.

Three firefighters per 24-hour shift and a few part-time employees to cover vacation time will be recommended in the proposal. This would be in addition to the onsite paramedic as a part of the partnership with Regional Paramedical Services. Through the partnership, the paramedics are city employees. RPS provides the ambulance and the driver. Each partner provides some of the equipment needed.

Staffing a full-time station was not included in the budget. However, Driver said he felt the need was too great to be put off until the next fiscal year.

“With the new houses coming in and all the new people coming in, it is just getting to the point where we are going to have to staff a fire station in order to keep up with it,” Driver said. “I don’t want us to end up like other places and the community outgrow the fire department because it is getting close.”

Volunteers would continue to be needed, but to a lesser degree than now.

“We would still need the volunteers, but they would be in a limited role,” Driver said.

Some of the funds in the fire budget that had been designated to pay volunteers could be used toward paying the full-time firefighters. However, Driver said additional funds would be needed.

Currently, the volunteer firefighters are paid $22 per fire call and based on their EMS training level for medical calls.

Many of the volunteer firefighters have the qualifications to apply for a full-time position. Driver said a few have already expressed interest in applying, if the council were to approve a plan.

Council member Billy Singleton said having full-time firefighters will also help the city’s fire (ISO) rating, which could potentially help residents have lower homeowner’s insurance rates.